We strongly condemn the firing on the bus carrying Amarnath Yatris which ended in the tragic death of seven pilgrims and injury to 18 others.
There can be no justification for any violence and killing, much less of unarmed, innocent people. The victims were not men in uniform, able to return fire, but unarmed civilians making a journey that was sacred to them.
We urge the militants to immediately stop targeting and attacking unarmed civilians. In 2016, when the valley was under the grips of high level of violence, local Kashmiris had come to the aid of the stranded Yatirs, gave them shelter and sent them home safely. The killing of the Yatris goes against the grain of Kashmiri ethos of religious tolerance.
We also call upon the Government of India to immediately set up an independent enquiry into this tragic incident as it is not clear how this bus carrying a large number of Amarnath Yatris had no security cover and how it was able to travel around Kashmir during these difficult days without the knowledge of the authorities. It is necessary to identify the lapses in the security arrangements and establish the facts that led to this tragedy of the bus carrying pilgrims getting caught in a crossfire between the police and the militants. This is necessary to prevent any such tragedy in future.
We also urge the government to start a process of dialogue and consultation with all the stake holders that alone could isolate the elements propagating and resorting to violence and bring peace to a region devastated by unnecessary conflict for decades.
Anuradha Bhasin- Jammu Harsh Mandar- Delhi Jatin Desai- Mumbai
Mazher Hussain-Hyderabad; Ravi Nair- Dehi; Sandeep Panday-Lucknow; Tapan Bose- Delhi
COVA (Confederation of Voluntary Associations), is a national network of voluntary organisations working for communal harmony and community empowerment in India and peace in South Asia and South East Asia through formation of COFI (Countering Online Fanatic Indoctrination) Networks in 12 countries of the region. COVA is also engaged with multilateral bodies like the United Nations Organisation, G20, BRICS, OIC and others for structural transformations of the world order to make society more equitable, sustainable, just and peaceful.