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When Faith Wins over Fear: 4000 Amarnath Yatra Pilgrims continue their Journey Unabated

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JAMMU, July 14, 2017: A fresh batch of over 4,000 pilgrims left here for the Amarnath cave shrine on Friday, an official said. The pilgrims progress has increased steadily despite a terror strike on a yatra bus in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 10.

“Another batch of 4,105 yatris left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas at 3.40 a.m. in an escorted convoy of 191 vehicles for the valley,” the official said.

“The number of pilgrims has gradually started increasing since Monday as the daily arrivals have been going up after the terror attack,” another official said.

Authorities have tightened security ensuring no vehicle carrying pilgrims moved on the highway unescorted.

It has also been decided that in addition to escort vehicles accompanying the convoy of pilgrims, armed guards would be deployed inside each yatri vehicle during the journey.

On Monday, six women and a man were killed while 19 other pilgrims were injured as the terrorists sprayed bullets on an unescorted private bus from Gujarat carrying the pilgrims from the Himalayan cave shrine.

The attack took place in the Khanabal area on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.

Over 1.90 devotees have performed the pilgrimage since it began on June 29.

The 40-day Amarnath Yatra will end on August 7 on ‘Shravan Purnima’ coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival. (IANS)

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Know about the Famous Amarnath Cave in Jammu and Kashmir!

Here are some facts and stories about the very popular Amarnath Cave situated in Jammu and Kashmir

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Amarnath Cave
Amarnath Cave, Jammu and Kashmir. Wikimedia
  • The Amarnath Cave is a popular pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Founded by Buta Malik, a Muslim shepherd, whose family is offered donations even today
  • Amarnath as its name came later after the name Amareshwara was used for many years

Jammu and Kashmir, July 21, 2017: Jammu and Kashmir’s Amarnath Cave is among the most popular pilgrimage sites in the region. Devotees believe it to be a sacred place because according to Hindu mythology, it was chosen by Lord Shiva to reveal the secrets of immortality to his wife, Goddess Parvati. Amareshwara was the first name of the tirtha, but later the name Amarnath became popular.

There are multiple references to the Amarnath caves in the Rajatarangini written by Kalhana. Rajatarangini book VII, V.183 states that Queen Suryamati “conceded under her significant other’s name agraharas at Amareshwara, and masterminded the sanctification of trishulas, banalingas and other [sacred emblems]”

ALSO READ: Amarnath Yatra: Adhere to these Do’s and Dont’s While on the Pilgrimage

Jonaraja in his Chronicles of Kashmir (which is a continuation of Rajatanganini) explores that Sultan Zainu’l-abidin also visited the tirtha of Amarnath while waterway to the left bank of Lidder valley was being developed. Today, the trench is known as Shah Kol.

The melting of the ice lingam and the journey to the Amarnath was also mentioned in Rajavalipataka. Yusuf Khan, Kashmir’s legislative leader at the time, mentioned these things to Akbar, who added Kashmir to his empire in 1586.

[bctt tweet=”The Amarnath cave was discovered by Buta Malik, a Muslim shepherd” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

During Shah Jahan’s reign too, the Amarnath yatra was a famous pilgrimage destination. Panditraj Jagannath, in his tribute to Shah Jahan’s son in law, wrote in ‘Asaf Vilas’ that Indra (the king of divine beings) himself visits the Amarnath to come see Lord Shiva.

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Emperor Aurangzeb visited Kashmir in 1663 with a French doctor Francois Bernier, who mentioned the Amarnath cave in his book “Goes in Mughal Empire” Another voyager Vigne, in his book “Goes in Kashmir, Ladakh and Iskardu” describes the Amarnath as a spot for explorers and pilgrims from all over India.

The cave was first discovered by Buta Malik, a Muslim shepherd.

– by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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Muslim driver’s Presence of Mind saves 50 Amarnath Yatra Pilgrims during the Terror Attack

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Amarnath Cave Shrine
Pilgrimage to the Amarnath Yatra. Wikimedia

Surat, July 11, 2017: Call it Salim Sheikh Gafoor’s sheer presence of mind or quick thinking, but it saved for sure over 50 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims from certain death during a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, though he himself attributes his heroism to the Almighty.

“The moments I heard the gunshots, I bent down a bit while holding the steering wheel and pressed the accelerator. It seems God gave me a lot of physical and mental strength and I began driving at around 70-80 km per hour,” Sheikh told media persons here on Tuesday while recalling his brush with death along with 50-odd passengers.

“Harshbhai, who was sitting next to me in the bus, was hit by a bullet. The passengers were screaming and asking me to stop the bus. But I didn’t, as had I applied the brakes even for a minute, I knew for sure that nobody in the bus, including me, would survive the attack,” said the Muslim driver, who has been hailed for saving the 50-odd Amarnath pilgrims.

ALSO READ: Terror Strikes Again: 7 Amarnath Pilgrims killed, 32 Injured in a Terror Attack in Anantnag

Expressing sadness over the death of seven pilgrims and injuries to 19 others in the attack on Monday night in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, he recalled that each one of the 60-odd pilgrims in the bus was happy after a ‘darshan’ of Lord Shiva and their visit to Srinagar.

“Unfortunately, it all turned into a tragedy,” Sheikh said.

He said he kept on driving for 2-3 km before halting at the nearest military camp. Thereafter, the Army men took over and helped move the victims inside the camp and rushing the injured to nearby hospitals.

It was only after 9.30 p.m., more than an hour after the attack, that Salim called up his own family.

His cousin Javed Mirza told a local Gujarati television channel: “I am proud of him. Though it is sad he could not save seven pilgrims, but he was able to save more than 50 others.”

As for getting separated from the security convoy before the attack, Sheikh said: “We started from Srinagar around 4 p.m. in the evening but had to take a two-hour stopover as a bus tyre got punctured. We had otherwise decided to halt at a camp for pilgrims near the military camp.”

“Since we got delayed while getting the flat tyre mended, three-four other buses from Uttar Pradesh which were with us drove away with the security while we were left behind,” he said.

Sheikh, who spoke to several television channels on arrival in Surat by a special Indian Air Force aircraft along with bodies of the attack victims and survivors, said he could not see how many terrorists attacked the bus since it was already dark.

Condemning the attack, he said he would be happy if the terrorists involved were killed.

“They must be killed. The security forces personnel told us they will kill the terrorists. We are now waiting for the good news. I will be able to experience peace, sleep well and eat only on receiving the good news (of the killing of terrorists),” he said.

He said it was not the first time but his fifth trip to the holy cave of Amarnath, driving pilgrims on behalf of Om Travels of Valsad in south Gujarat.

The tour began on July 2 and the pilgrims were scheduled to travel to Amarnath and the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Trikuta hills of Jammu and Kashmir, before returning to Valsad.

He said he had ferried the passengers for ‘darshan’ at the Amarnath cave on July 8 and was driving towards Katra on the fateful evening.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who reached Surat airport to receive the bodies of the victims in the afternoon, was all praise for Sheikh and said his government would recommend his name for a bavery award to the Centre.

“I don’t know about that (bravery award) but driving is the only thing I know and only source of income for me. What else can I do? I will continue driving the bus. But for now, the scene (of the attack) keeps playing in front of my eyes,” he said. (IANS)

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Terror Strikes Again: 7 Amarnath Pilgrims killed, 32 Injured in a Terror Attack in Anantnag

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Amarnath Cave Shrine
Pilgrimage to the Amarnath Yatra. Wikimedia

Srinagar, July 11, 2017: A terrorist attack in Anantnag killed 7 Amarnath pilgrims from Gujarat, 6 of them women, and left 32 injured, when they were traveling on a bus on Monday, July 10.

A similar incident happened 17 years back on August 1, 2000, when an armed attack was staged against the annual yatra which draws lakhs of Hindus from across India to the state. In that incident, around 30 pilgrims and local porters were killed near Pahalgam.

Around 8:20 pm on Monday night, the pilgrims’ bus (GJ09Z 9976) was fired on near Khanabal when it was on its way to Jammu, mentioned ANI report.

Police revealed that the bus was not a part of the yatra convoy, which is being provided elaborate security and it was also not registered with the authorities either.

A police official said, during the attack, the terrorists first attacked a bullet-proof bunker of the police at Botengoo. After the police retaliated, the gunmen moved on and fired on a police picket near Khanabal.

PM Narendra Modi has called Anantnag terrorist attack, a cowardly act and an evil design of hate and that the attack deserves the strongest condemnation from everyone.

The militants fled when the police retaliated but they started firing indiscriminately and therefore, the bus which was carrying the yatris got hit.

Even though the police accounts suggest that these yatris were a secondary target, some of the pilgrims who survived the attack said the terrorists had directly targetted them.

(This is a developing story)

– prepared by a Staff writer at NewsGram