By Kashinath Pandita
Pilgrims anywhere in the world are the messengers of peace. They undertake pilgrimages to seek inner peace for themselves and for the world at large.
Shame on Theo-fascists, shame on followers of a false faith and shame on mercenaries who undertake killing of innocent seekers of God’s goodwill to satisfy the inhuman instincts. Do not think that the age of barbarians and cannibals is over. We have them around and we have also around those who worship and adore cannibalism. The fight between virtue and vice or good and evil is the history of mankind and we in this country are in the thick of that battle.
Theo-fascist attacked Amarnath pilgrims somewhere near Khannabal in Anantnag district in which seven pilgrims, six of them women, were killed and 32 others wounded. The previous attack of Theo–fascists on Amarnath pilgrims was in 2000 at Pahalgam in which 30 pilgrims were killed. In between, Theo–fascists never ceased issuing warnings to the pilgrims that they can be attacked. Why do these barbarians attack pilgrims? The answer is simple. They call Kashmir darul harbb meaning the land of war in accordance with the tenets of their faith. It has to be turned into dar-ul-isalam or the abode of peace only by effacing all traces of non-Islamic religion and by destroying their cultural symbols.
A secular and democratic government is supposed to protect its citizenry against the attacks of the crusaders of Theo–fascism. Weeks and months before the commencement of the pilgrimage to Amarnath, entire government machinery in the State and at the Centre was galvanized into action and most meticulous security arrangements were put in place to ensure that pilgrimage passed on without any abnormal and tragic incident. But the tragedy has happened. A number of points need to be elucidated.
Firstly, as the pilgrimage is extremely sensitive, how come that a bus carrying pilgrims remained unregistered with the traffic police and Shrine Board authorities and why was it allowed plying on a vulnerable transit route called National Highway without proper protection. What does it mean to say that the bus was not part of the caravan proceeding to Jammu after completing the pilgrimage? There are no buyers of the theory that the security cover is withdrawn after 7 PM on the pilgrim caravan. Does it mean that after 7 PM, the entire stretch of the National Highway passing through Anantnag district is controlled by the terrorists and that no security will be provided to people travelling beyond the specific hours. If that is the case, then there is much truth in believing that the affected districts of South Kashmir are no more under the control of civilian administration. Why not hand them over to the army and impose relevant security rules and laws to eliminate militancy lock, stock and barrel. Security and safety have no time limit. This security lapse becomes more outrageous when we are told that hours before the terrorists struck at about 8.20 pm, they had attacked two police posts but met with resistance and fled the scene. Why was not this message flashed to all units of security forces posted at various places along the Highway? It is no excuse to say that the ill fated bus was punctured and left behind the caravan as the puncture was being repaired by parking the bus on the roadside. Why did not the traffic police come to know about it and why did it not inform security authorities to ensure safety of the stranded bus? These questions straightaway convince us that there was grave security lapse with dire consequences. Those responsible for the lapse should be sacked immediately. They don’t deserve to be on the pay roll of the Security chapter of the country. It is now the duty of the police and security authorities to hunt down the culprits and bring them to book.
There was threadbare input from the Home Ministry about the likelihood of attack on the pilgrims. Why were these instructions and input taken lightly? For nearly three to four hours prior to attack on the stranded bus carrying pilgrims, the terrorists had been roaming the area and had targeted two police posts as well. Where were the security authorities and functionaries lost during those intervening three or four hours? The so called foolproof security cover, claimed by the security and police authorities has proved farcical. Who is going to trust them for their superfluous claims? The contention that the bus in question was unregistered is untenable. What is the duty of traffic police and why did the concerned functionaries neglect their duty.
We know that three districts of South Kashmir are infested with Theo–fascist gangsters. It is many months that they have been striking at will and causing damage to innocent people. This menace has to be uprooted at all costs. Those who swarm in crowds and throw stones on security forces to obstructing anti-terrorist operations are the worst enemies of the people and their government; they are seditionists. They are testing the patience of the civilian government. These are seditious acts and need to be dealt with under the relevant sections of laws.
Many political leaders, particularly those in opposition, have just done the lip service of condemning the attack and consoling the bereaved families. Is that all what they should do? Are not they concerned with what repercussions the attacks can have in wider space of the country? Is it not their duty to sternly warn the terrorists to surrender and lay down their arms? Is it not their duty to tell their party workers and constituencies to declare that they would help the police in apprehending these criminal elements? Is it not their duty to bring out mass rallies of their party men and protest against misuse of religion as an instrument of achieving political goals? In his tweet, the former chief minister has asked the Home Ministry to ensure safety of Kashmiri Muslim students in Indian Universities. We welcome his expectation that Kashmir-bred Theo-fascism sends a wave of ahimsa across the length and breadth of the country. Had his party and its cohorts played constructive role during the stone-throwing episodes in the valley last year, things would not have gone that bad today. Had not the NC stalwarts defended hooligans and stone throwers and called their acts as “self defence” we would not be facing shame and condemnation today. This is true of some more political groups in the valley.
In final analysis, there is lawlessness in parts of South Kashmir. Government has shown tremendous patience and restraint in meeting terrorist challenge by legal means. In the history of nations, a time comes when the State must exercise its might. Attack on religious pilgrims is the most dangerous thing for our country — a mosaic of religions and cultures — because it endangers peaceful coexistence among people of different denominations.