Pahalgam shuts for hour in solidarity with pilgrims

Taxi Drivers Hold Protest; Netizen Recalls How Locals Came To Rescue Of Yatris Many A Time

KHALID GUL
Pahalgam, Publish Date: Jul 13 2017 1:15AM | Updated Date: Jul 13 2017 1:15AM
Pahalgam shuts for hour in solidarity with pilgrimsFile Photo

To show solidarity with Amarnath pilgrims, an hour-long shutdown was observed in Pahalgam tourist resort on Wednesday, while the local taxi drivers held a protest demonstration.

Seven pilgrims were killed and a dozen others injured when the bus they were travelling came under fire at Botengoo village of Anantnag district on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. The yatris hailing from Gujarat were travelling to Jammu from Srinagar.

Shopkeepers and business establishments downed their shutters in the morning in Pahalgam. Vehicular traffic also came to a halt simultaneously.

Members of the taxi drivers association assembled outside the main stand and held a protest demonstration. Carrying black flags, they demanded an impartial probe into the incident.

“In this hour of grief we stand by our yatri brothers and victim families,” said Mohammad Rafiq, a taxi owner who ferries yatris to Chandwanwari from Nunwan base camp in Pahalgam.

He said yatris were “our guests” and their trust can’t be broken.

Chairman of the taxi drivers association Nazir Ahmad Sheikh asked the government to identify the culprits and bring them to book.

He said that Islam did not allow killing of innocent people.

Zewar Hussain Bhat, a resident of Pahalgam, recalled how local residents provided food and accommodation to thousands of yatris in 1996 when flash floods hit the yatra route.

He also mentioned how recently again local people helped the yatris who were injured in cooking gas blast in the bus they were travelling in.

“This spirit of humanity is Kashmir's moral high ground,” he wrote.

South Kashmir Civil Society also organised a protest march at Lal Chowk locality of Anantnag town against the killing of yatris. 

In a statement, the SKCS called the attack on yatris as barbaric and inhuman.

"SKCS not only condemns the attack of yatris but says that it is an attack on the cultural ethos of Kashmir and we ask for an impartial probe into all civilian killings since 1989 by a judicial commission,” the statement said.