By Safwat Zargar

On Sunday evening, as Narendra Modi was about to take oath as prime minister for his third term, a bus carrying pilgrims from a Hindu religious shrine was attacked by suspected militants in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.

At least nine passengers were killed and more than 40 injured. The victims included the driver, the conductor of the bus as well as a two-year-old child.

This is the most lethal militant strike on civilians in Jammu and Kashmir this year. What is more concerning is that the attack has taken place in an area which is widely considered militancy-free, suggesting that the growing militancy activities in neighbouring Rajouri and Poonch districts have spilled over to Reasi.

Given its proximity to Jammu district, important religious shrines and hydroelectricity projects, Reasi is relatively better developed in terms of infrastructure and road connectivity than Rajouri and Poonch.

This is the second attack on pilgrims in Jammu’s Reasi district since 2022. In May that year, four pilgrims were killed and 24-odd injured when a bus returning from the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine caught fire. While the incident was initially categorised as an accident, subsequent investigations found that militants had attached bombs to the bus.

The attack on Hindu pilgrims in Reasi is likely to put the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government in a spot, as the party has claimed that its decision to scrap Article 370 and downgrade Jammu and Kashmir into a Union territory has brought peace in the strife-torn region.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here.