Srinagar, June 26: Adopting a soft approach towards pilgrims, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo has released a video, saying it has no plans to attack the annual Amarnath pilgrimage and termed Hindu devotees as guests of militants and not their targets.
An audio message believed to be from Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo sought to assure pilgrims that they could go on the yatra this year even without security cover. “You don’t need any security as you are our guests,’’ Naikoo said in the 15-minute audio clip being circulated on social media.
Riyaz Naikoo said: “Amarnath Yatra is not our target. They (pilgrims) come here to perform their religious rituals. They are our guests.”
“We have never attacked Amarnath pilgrims.We are not at war with the Yatris, we at war with those who forced us to pick up the gun. We are fighting for our rights and our freedom.Our war is against the Indian state and not against the people of India,” said Naikoo in the clip.
About 1.96 lakh pilgrims have registered to undertake Amarnath Yatra this year amid unprecedented security
He also termed as baseless the statement of state police chief who has said that militants are planning to attack the Amarnath pilgrims.
The first batch of pilgrims for the Amarnath Yatra was flagged off from the Jammu base camp in Bhagwant Nagar on Wednesday amid tight security.
Chief Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir BVR Subramanyam, Advisors to Jammu BB Vyas and Vijay Kumar, and Kashmir Governor Narinder Nath Vohra flagged off the Yatra.
“Amarnath Yatra is a very significant annual event. With cooperation of public, all security agencies and development agencies, we have put a scheme in place and are trying our best to address concerns of the pilgrims. We will ensure smooth flow of traffic,” Vijay Kumar said.
Last year, eight pilgrims were killed when suspected militants attacked a bus in Anantnag town.