Today: Jun 19, 2024

Reasi bus terror attack: Combing operation launched to track down terrorists; NIA, SIA visit spot

LG announces Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia each for families of victims
5 mins read

Srinagar/Jammu: A massive manhunt is underway for “three foreign terrorists, possibly of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the deadly attack on pilgrims Reasi” that resulted in the loss of nine lives, including a two-year-old, officials involved in the investigation said on Monday.

Based on the statements recorded by those injured in the attack, the officials said they have not ruled out the possibility of a fourth person being present at the spot who acted as a lookout for the three terrorists.

Nine people were killed and 41 injured as the terrorists opened fire at the 53-seater bus, on its way from the Shiv Khori temple to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra, causing it to veer off the road and fall into a deep gorge near the Teryath village of the Poni area of Reasi on Sunday.

The bus was ferrying pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Following the attack, a joint operation was launched involving the police, Army, National Investigation Agency (NIA) and central intelligence agencies.

Survivors of the attack are recording their statements as part of the ongoing probe into the attack, while a thorough combing operation is underway to track down the perpetrators, the officials said.

Among those killed in the attack are two-year-old Titu Sawhney and his mother Pooja from Rajasthan. They were among four people from the state who lost their lives in the attack.

Three of the deceased were from Uttar Pradesh. The driver and the conductor of the bus, both from Reasi, were also among the victims.

The officials said five of the nine deceased had gunshot wounds.

They added that 41 people were injured in the attack and 10 of them had bullet injuries. Some of those injured were undergoing treatment in hospitals across Jammu and Reasi districts.

Security forces suspect the terrorists are hiding in the mountainous terrains of Rajouri and Reasi, and have intensified combing operations in the region.

“A search operation has been launched in the area,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Reasi, Mohita Sharma said, adding that village defence committees have also been geared up.

President Droupadi Murmu described the terrorist attack on a bus carrying pilgrims a “dastardly act” said that the nation stood with the victims’ families.

“I am anguished by the terrorist attack on a bus carrying pilgrims in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. This dastardly act is a crime against humanity, and must be condemned in the strongest words. The nation stands with the families of the victims. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” Murmu said in a post on X.

Earlier, in another post, the President had said she was “deeply distressed to learn of a bus accident in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir in which a number of pilgrims have died”.

“My condolences to the families of the victims. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” Murmu had said in the post, which was later deleted.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha condemned the attack, calling it a part of a malicious scheme to disrupt peace in the region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah have been briefed on the situation, with assurances that those responsible for the attack will face justice, Sinha said.

“An unfortunate incident happened yesterday evening when terrorists targeted the driver of a bus as a result of which he lost control and the vehicle plunged into a gorge, resulting in the death of nine people. A joint operation by police, CRPF and the Army is underway to punish those responsible,” Sinha told reporters at the Government Medical College here after meeting with 18 of those injured admitted to the facility.

He said Director General of Police R R Swain and his team are on the spot, supervising the anti-terror operation.

“Our immediate priority is saving the lives of those injured. We know there is no compensation for the loss of life but to help the families, the administration has approved an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 each for the injured,” Sinha said.

The LG also visited the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Superspeciality Hospital in the Katra area of Reasi to enquire after 14 injured passengers admitted there.

“Met the injured pilgrims at Government Medical College, Jammu & Narayana Hospital, Katra and wished them a speedy recovery. The entire nation stands firmly with the families of martyred pilgrims in this hour of grief,” Sinha wrote on ‘X’.

An official spokesperson said Sinha was closely monitoring the situation and has directed the district and hospital administration to ensure the best possible medical care and all necessary assistance to the affected families. (Combined related stories with inputs from PTI)

LG holds security review meeting

Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday held a high-level security review meeting here, a day after a deadly terror attack on a bus carrying pilgrims in Reasi district.

“Chaired a security review meeting with the officials of J&K Police and Civil Administration. I assure the people that those behind the attack on pilgrims in Reasi and those aiding and abetting them will be punished,” the LG wrote on X.

The post was shared by the office of the LG on its official handle along with two pictures of the meeting.

3 groups claim responsibility, backtrack later

Three “shadow groups associated with the banned terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed” initially claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack on pilgrims in Jammu.

However, following widespread condemnation and outrage over the deaths of nine individuals, including a two-year-old, in the assault, the groups quickly retracted their statements.

The People’s Anti-Facist Force (PAFF), Revival of Resistance (both linked to Jaish), and The Resistance Front (affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba) initially took to social media to assert their involvement in the attack on the bus travelling from Shiv Khori to Katra in Reasi, officials said.

The assailants opened fire on the bus, causing it to plunge into a gorge near Teryath village in the Poni area, resulting in nine fatalities and 41 injuries.

While five victims succumbed to bullet wounds, 10 others are currently receiving treatment in hospitals across the Jammu region.

As images of the innocent two-year-old victim identified as Titu circulated online prompting widespread condemnation, the shadow groups swiftly retracted their claims and instead attempted to shift blame onto government agencies, according to a senior official.

The incident has reignited concerns over terrorism and the safety of civilians in the region, highlighting the urgent need for enhanced security measures and vigilance to prevent such heinous acts in the future, the official said.(PTI)

Reasi attack: Four from Rajasthan, three from UP among nine victims

Authorities on Monday identified the nine victims of the deadly terror attack on a bus carrying pilgrims in Reasi district.

Among the victims are four natives of Rajasthan, including a two-year-old boy, and three from Uttar Pradesh.

Ten people with gunshot wounds are among the 41 pilgrims — mostly from Uttar Pradesh — undergoing treatment in three hospitals of Jammu and Reasi districts, officials said.

Deputy Commissioner Reasi Vishesh Paul Mahajan said all nine victims, including the driver and the conductor of the bus, have been identified.

Driver Vijay Kumar hailed from the Dasanoo Rajbagh village while conductor Arun Kumar was a native of Kandera village in Katra, both in Reasi district.

The other victims are Rajinder Prasad Pandey Sawhney, Mamta Sawhney, Pooja Sawhney and her two-year-old son Titu Sawhney — all residents of Jaipur in Rajasthan — and Shivam Gupta, Ruby and 14-year-old Anurag Verma from Uttar Pradesh.

Mahajan said the district administration is sending the bodies to their respective states.

He added that 41 people aged between three and 50 were injured in the attack. Of them, 10 suffered gunshot injuries and are stable after undergoing surgeries.

Eighteen injured are undergoing treatment at the Government Medical College in Jammu, 14 at Narayana Hospital and nine at the District Hospital in Reasi, Mahajan said.

Among the injured, 34 are from Uttar Pradesh, five from Delhi and two from Rajasthan, the officials said.(PTI)