My AICC Press Brief dated 13.07.2017

The Nation’s conscience has been outraged by the cowardly attack and killing of Amarnath Yatris. No amount of condemnation is enough to heal the wounds and scars of the Yatris in that fateful bus, which was the subject of this mindless act of terror. People are venting out their anger and every Indian has denounced this reprehensible attack. We also salute the courage and presence of mind of the passengers, particularly the driver- Salim Shaikh which saved multiple lives by sheer grit and timely intervention.

The Indian National Congress has always fought terror resolutely, making the supreme sacrifices on multiple occasions in the interest of National Integrity and Security, be it the assassination of Prime Ministers- Smt. Indira Gandhi and Shri Rajiv Gandhi; Chief Ministers, Shri Beant Singh and Shri Vidya Charan Shukla; Shri Nand Kumar Patel, Shri Mahendra Karma and hundreds of others. 

One unequivocal fact remains. Attack on Amarnath Yatra and killing of Yatris happened on account of gross and grave intelligence failure, despite specific inputs as early as on 27thJune, 2017. Nearly 36 hours have passed but neither the Prime Minister nor the Home Minister of the country have come forward to either admit the grave security failure or assure the nation of decisive action.

Today, a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security took place. Thereafter a press conference by two Junior Ministers; MoS Home, Shri Hansraj Ahir, who said “we will look into the security lapses and will fill in the gaps”, while MoS PMO, Shri Jitendra Singh showered praises on the Prime Minister and said that “he is personally monitoring the situation”.

While the Union Ministers and the BJP Deputy CM of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Nirmal Singh is conceding that “there was definitely a lapse in security”; BJP General Secretary in-charge of the state, Shri Ram Madhav sharply contradicted them and said “there was no security lapse”.  Why is the BJP speaking in multiple contradictory, antithetical and discrepant voices? 

We have not even heard a single syllable on the momentous failure on the part of the PM, Shri Narendra Modi on steps being taken. We want to ask the BJP Government that why no concrete preventive steps were taken even after specific intelligence tip off on June 27th? Infact, after every terrorist attack, be it the Uri terror attack or the Pathankot terror attack, similar platitudes are offered by the Government with PM refusing to come forward.

Situation is all the more grave with certain lumpen terrorist’s outfits operating from Pakistan, speaking about use of rogue chemical weapons as is being reflected on many national television channels today.

Certain important aspects of this heinous crime need to be highlighted:-

(i) Despite specific inputs from the IB and other intelligence agencies, it is important to note that, there was not one, but there were three terror attacks.First there was a terror attack at a police bunker at Batengoo, and followed by an attack on a police naka at Khanabal.

An explicit alert was given by the Jammu and Kashmir Police. Just two days before the Yatra began; Inspector General (Kashmir Range) Muneer Khan had issued a warning to all security agencies, based on an input from Anantnag police, warning of a massive attack on the pilgrims.

In his June 27 letter, Mr. Khan said: “Intelligence input received from SSP Anantnag reveals that terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims and about 100 police officers and officials.”

 Then why did the Government not act on such a specific intel input?

(ii) According to the preliminary report of the MHA, the bus was attacked, “not once but twice, in quick succession”. First the terrorists opened fire at the bus at 8.17 pm, near Habba Khaton petrol pump, while it was returning from Amarnath to Jammu and then there was a second attack about 75 metres away from the first spot.

How did the terrorists manage to attack the bus twice during curfew hours?

(iii)Pilgrims along with the vehicles used by them are required to be registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board. Then how was the bus, which had a Gujarat number plate (GJ09 Z9976), allowed to ply?

BJP National IT Cell Chief, Shri Amit Malviya has gone on record on television to say that bus was “registered”. Similar is the version of the drivers and the passengers, who said that bus had a flat tyre and was left out. This is even graver.

Why was the fateful bus left out of the convoy? Why was adequate security not provided to it to ensure safety of the passengers, particularly when it was past 7 PM ie the time after which vehicles cannot ply, in view of the security threat? If this is so, this the grossest failure to provide security to hapless Amarnath Yatris, which has resulted in their killing by terrorists

(iv)As per information, there are atleast 130 check posts in the Amarnath Yatra route. Heavy security cover, along with para military force is deployed in the Yatra route. How 60 pilgrims visiting the shrine did were travelling without security? The pilgrims who were attacked on Monday night had completed their pilgrimage two days ago and had taken a detour for sightseeing. The bus left the Baltal base camp, where there was high security, and moved on the heavily-guarded national highway, apparently not being checked even once. How did this major security lapse happen?

No amount of chest thumping, false bravado and TV studio warfare can now be an escape route for the BJP to hide its massive failures.

There have been atleast 13 major terrorist attacks in the country. After decades, terror attacks have returned to haunt Punjab (Gurdaspur, Dinannagar), after  years there was a terror attack on our Air Force Base Station (Pathankot) and after 15 years there was one on Amarnath Yatra (last attack was in 2002, when BJP was in power). 210 of our Jawans have been martyred in Jammu and Kashmir alone and hundreds of citizens have fallen victims to the bullets of these rogue terrorists aided and abetted by Pakistan.

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is grim. The BJP-PDP Government is unwilling to accept its gross failures in plunging the state into a situation of no return.

How many times do we need to remind BJP-PDP of their Constitutional obligations to govern and provide basic security to the people?

Merely tweeting on Kashmiriyat and replying to a troll will not absolve the Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh of the primary responsibility to maintain peace and tranquility. Since the past 38 months, India only has a part time Defence Minister, which is a sad commentary on state of affairs that are endangering our National Security.

Should the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi not own  responsibility for endangering our National Security?

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