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Amarnath massacre: Anger and anguish roil Gujarat as pilgrims’ bodies arrive

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July 11, 2017

A pall of gloom descended on the airport as the plane landed.

Terrorists on Monday night killed seven pilgrims, including six women, and injured 19 as they struck a bus in Anantnag district. The last time the Amarnath yatra was attacked was in 2001 in which 13 people had been killed.

The streets of cities and towns in the state witnessed angry protests as people burnt the effigies of ‘terror’ and demanded “revenge” from the Narendra Modi government, asking it to “punish Pakistan”.

Protests were held in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Valsad, Mandvi (in Kutch) and Bharuch, among others.

Effigies of ‘terror’ were burnt in Gandhidham and Mandvi towns in Kutch district and Surat. An effigy of a terrorist was hanged by protesters in Valsad.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, were among those present at the Surat airport to receive the bodies, the injured pilgrims and the survivors of the attack.

The injured people and the survivors came out first from the plane, along with the defence personnel who escorted them to their home state from Srinagar.

The chief minister interacted with the pilgrims about the incident and also tried to know the condition of the injured. Ambulances were kept ready to take them to Surat hospital.

Later, the bodies were brought out of the plane one by one.

Rupani along with the deputy chief minister and other state officials paid homage to the deceased.

The chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased from Gujarat.

“51 passengers were travelling in the bus attacked by terrorists. Today, the IAF plane brought bodies of seven persons, 19 injured passengers and those who survived the attack. We have made adequate arrangements to provide medical treatment to the injured at Surat,” Rupani said.

The deceased from Gujarat were identified as Hasuben Ratilal Patel, Surekhaben and Lakshimiben S Patal from Valsad, Ratan Zeenabhai Patal from Daman and Prajapati Champaben from Navsari.

The other two deceased belonging to Maharashtra are Nirmalaben Thakor, a resident of Palghar, and Usha Mohanla Sonkar of Dahanu.

“We have also made arrangements to take the bodies of the deceased to their respective native places. The family members of the pilgrims from Gujarat who died in the attack would get Rs 10 lakh as compensation while the injured will get Rs 2 lakh from the state government,” said Rupani.

Rupani also had a brief talk with the bus owner, Harsh Desai, and driver Salim Shaikh. While Desai sustained injuries, Shaikh survived the attack.

Rupani lauded Shaikh’s bravery as he kept on driving the bus amid heavy firing from the terrorists.(Agencies)

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