Guj CM receives bodies of Amarnath Yatris; Salim keen to hear militants death

Guj CM receives bodies of Amarnath Yatris; Salim keen to hear militants death

Guj CM receives bodies of Amarnath Yatris; Salim keen to hear militants death
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday received the dead bodies of all the seven pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra killed by militants in Jammu and Kashmir at Surat airport, even as the state government announced a financial compensation for the next of deceased and injured.

“The government of Gujarat will give Rs 10 lakh to family members of the martyrs of Yatra and Rs 2 lakh to those injured in the dastardly attack,” Vijay Rupani, chief minister, said at the airport waiting for special Indian Air Force aircraft to arrive with 51 pilgrims, including the dead bodies of those killed who were flown in from Srinagar. He was accompanied by state deputy chief minister Nitin Patel and state Bharatiya Janata Party president Jitu Vaghani.

Six women and a man were killed and 19 others injured, when militants attacked an unescorted bus from Gujarat at Khanabal in Anantnag district on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. Of those killed, five belonged to Gujarat and Daman, while two were from Dahanu. Of the 19 injured, eight belonged to Maharashtra.

Among the deceased include Usha Sonkar and Nirmala Sonkar from Dahnu in Maharashtra, Ratilal Patel and Hasuben Patel from Vadoli in Daman, Surekha Patel and Laxmiben Patel from Valsad in Gujarat and Champaben Prajapati from Gandevi in Gujarat.

The bodies of these were sent to respective places from Surat airport via ambulances. Several people were seen gathered at the natives of those deceased. The security across the state was also beefed up, with strong police presence across several places.

The Gujarat Government also activated helplines for information on the Amarnath Yatra victims. The 40-day Amarnath pilgrimage began on June 29 this year and is slated to end on August 7. So far, nearly 1.40 lakh pilgrims have reached the cave shrine.

Meanwhile, Gujarat chief minister was full praise for Salim Shaikh, the driver of the Om Travels bus which was attacked by militants. Salim, on seeing his bus been attacked ducked and drove the vehicle for over two kilometres of the hilly area before stopping the vehicle next to a military camp.

“We shall recommend his name for a bravery award. Because he drove the bus in that situation, lives of the other 50 persons in the bus could be saved,” Rupani said.

Meanwhile, Salim while speaking to media persons said that their bus had got delayed due to a puncture. “It took us two hours to travel 90 km and as it was late, security personnel had left,” he said. The group was also planning to visit Vaishno Devi, after having completed Amarnath Yatra on July 8.

Talking about the attack on Monday night, Salim told media persons that he could not see the attackers due to cover of darkness but once he realised that the vehicle had been attacked, he ducked and pushed the pedal hard. “The person sitting next to me got three bullet injuries but somehow Baba gave me strength and I kept driving. Everybody in the bus was shouting and asking me to stop the bus but if I had braked, perhaps I may not have been alive and many more would have lost their lives,” he said. “Military personnel there was a huge help. They have taken our numbers and told us that they will kill them (the militants). We are now waiting for good news and the day they are killed, would I sleep well and be able to eat good meal,” Salim said.

Meanwhile, leader of Opposition in the state of Gujarat, Shankarsinh Vaghela demanded imposition of Presidential rule in Jammu & Kashmir. “This is the failure of the security system. I demand presidential rule in Jammu & Kashmir not just to secure lives of Amarnath yatris or quell militancy. If Indian government seeks to keep Kashmir valley and quell terrorism, it must let go artificial alliance and detach from PDP’s Mehbooba,” he said.
 
Harsh Desai, the 24-year-old son of bus owner Jawahar Desai, who was a coordinator for the trip, too was injured in the incident.

He was one of the first ones to walk out of the special Air Force plane that landed at Surat airport. Bandaged on nose, shoulder and hand, Harsh said that he kept on egging Salim to keep driving till they reached a military camp. “The Srinagar ASI has promised me that he would kill them (militants) and send me their photographs on WhatsApp,” he added.

Reports of protests against the attack from across the state began coming in throughout the day. In Ahmedabad, Muslims from minority-dominated Juhapura locality came out in protest, demanding strict action against Pakistan for supporting terror. They raised slogans against Pakistan and displayed placards expressing opposition to attack.

The right wing organisations as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal too took out protest marches in Rajkot, Jamnagar and Valsad in South Gujarat, against the attack, burning symbolic effigies of terrorists and raising slogans against Pakistan.
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