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Devotees continue to visit Shiv Khori shrine despite Reasi terror attack

REASI: Undeterred by the terrorist attack on a pilgrim bus that left nine dead Sunday evening, devotees keep steaming in to visit the Shiv Khori temple as usual, reposing faith in the security forces and the god.

On Tuesday, devotees were seen making a brief stopover near the site of the incident near Teryath village of the Poni area and raised slogans like 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and 'Bharatiya Sena Zindabad' and praying for the dead.

"We came to know about the terror attack through news but decided to continue our journey to have darshan of Mata Rani (Vaishno Devi)," Parmeela Bajaj, a part of a 20-member group from Maharashtra, told PTI.

The group was on its way to Shiv Khori temple after praying at Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine when it stopped at the scene of Sunday's terror attack to have a look at the spot where the attacked bus still lay in a gorge.

"Whatever happened was terrible. The dead included a two-year-old boy and his mother ... We pray for the departed souls," Bajaj said.

Terrorists opened fire at the 53-seater bus, which was on its way to Katra from the Shiv Khori temple, causing it to veer off the road and fall into a deep gorge. Forty-one persons were also injured in the attack.

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

"Fear is natural but we have full faith in our security forces who defend our country without fear for their lives. We have faith in our Lord," Mangla Mahajan, also from Maharashtra, said.

A massive hunt is on for three suspected foreign terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit, with 11 teams of police, Army and CRPF jointly combing the dense forest area for a third day on the trot.

"We have full confidence that our forces will track down the terrorists and punish them. When it comes to our army, we have no fear," Mahajan said.

Nitin, another devotee, said there was no doubt in their minds about their safety when they left their home state for Jammu and Kashmir.

"We performed darshan at Vaishno Devi and are now heading for Shiv Khori ... The attackers will be punished as our army is carrying out a massive hunt for them," he said, adding, "We pray for good sense to prevail in the enemy camp otherwise our forces will wipe them out." Authorities said there was no drop in the rush to the famous Vaishno Devi shrine, located in the Trikuta hills, over 80 km from Shiv Khori temple.

"Adequate security arrangements are in place at both Vaishno Devi and Shiv Khori temples. A fresh security review of both places was carried out in the wake of the terror attack," an official said.

Security has been beefed up on the main road leading to Shiv Khori from both the Reasi and Rajouri sides with the deployment of additional security forces, the person said.


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