SRINAGAR: At least 16 Hindu pilgrims were killed and many more injured on Sunday in a bus crash in India-held Kashmir just days after gunmen shot dead eight worshippers making the same holy visit, police said.
The bus plunged into a gorge in the disputed region where hundreds of Hindus make the annual pilgrimage to a Himalayan cave revered as the abode of Shiva.
“Sixteen people are now confirmed dead, 19 [others have] serious injuries and eight others minor injuries,” the state’s police force said in a statement.
Some of the worst injured were being airlifted to hospital, while others were taken to local clinics for treatment, police said.
For the second time in a week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences to the pilgrims who died making the holy journey.
The tragedy came as another Hindu pilgrim died from injuries sustained six days ago when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus full of worshippers.
“One lady who was injured in the July 10 attack succumbed to her injuries in hospital,” S.P. Vaid, the state’s director general of police, said.
Tens of thousands of Hindus travel to India-held Kashmir every year to visit a phallus-shaped ice formation in the Amarnath caves that is worshipped as a symbol of Shiva.
The caves, situated high up in the mountains, can only be reached on foot or on horseback, and are seen as a symbol of religious tolerance in the disputed region.
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2017