In an audio clip released by the Hizbul Mujahideen, a militant outfit has assured Amarnath Yatra pilgrims of safety during the pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir this year. The 15-minute video clip, circulating on WhatsApp, carries a still of Riyaz Naikoo, the commander of the militant group.
“Our fight is only against India’s occupation of Jammu and Kashmir,” Naikoo purportedly said in the clip. “We have nothing against the people of India or Amarnath pilgrims who come here for religious reasons. However, they should not connect the pilgrimage to the political issue of Kashmir.”
Adding ahead, Naikoo said that the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims need not fear to come to the state. “We have hundreds of thousands of Biharis who come to Kashmir as laborers or beggars and are found in every nook and corner of the Valley. Has there been any instance of them being harassed in so many years?” he asked.
Last year, at least eight people were killed and 17 injured in an attack on a bus carrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims. This year, the pilgrimage, as planned, will take place between June 28 and August 26.
The Amarnath Yatra began on Wednesday with the first batch of pilgrims flagged off from the base camp. “With the cooperation of public, all security agencies and development agencies, we have put a scheme in place and are trying our best to address concerns of the yatris,” said advisor to the Jammu and Kashmir Governor Vijay Kumar.