SRINAGAR: Pakistan-backed terror outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen has said that the pilgrims going on annual Amarnath Yatra are the guests of terrorists and not their targets.
Riyaz Naikoo, a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander, had said this in a new video clip which has gone viral on the social media platforms.
"Amarnath Yatra is not our target. They (pilgrims) come here to perform their religious rituals. They are our guests," Naikoo said in the video clip.
The Hizbul Mujahideen commander also rubbished reports that the terrorists are planning to attack the pilgrims going on annual Amarnath Yatra.
"We have never attacked Amarnath pilgrims,'' he said.
"We are not at war with the pilgrims, we at war with those who forced us to pick up the gun. We are fighting for our rights and our freedom,'' Naikoo added.
"Our war is against the Indian state and not against the people of India," Naikoo concluded by saying in the clip.
The authenticity of the viral Hizb-ul-Mujahideen video can't be ascertained.
The statement from Hizb-ul-Mujahideen coincided with the flagging off of the first batch of Amarnath Yatris fro the Jammu base camp amid unprecedented security.
The pilgrims from different parts of the country left for the twin base camps of Baltal and Pahalgam in Kashmir, guarded by the security forces in a fleet of vehicles this morning.
From there onwards, the pilgrims will start their journey to the 3,880-metre high cave shrine by foot on Thursday.
Ahead of that, Inspector General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Jammu Sector Abhay Vir Chauhan chaired a meeting of senior officials deployed in the region here to review the efficacy of security arrangement for the Amarnath Yatra.
During the meeting, various aspects of the security were discussed upon among which security of Base Camp Bhagwati Nagar and security of Yatra route were emphasised.
Chauhan also talked about the necessity of optimum utilisation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) on Yatra vehicles. He also reviewed the composition and preparedness of Special Motor Cycle Squad formed by the CRPF for the Yatra.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat also visited Baltal Base Camp to review security arrangements for the Yatra on Monday.
Till now nearly two lakh pilgrims from across the country have reportedly registered themselves for the Yatra.
Such security measures have been taken keeping in mind the ceasefire violations from across the border and various other terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, where currently Governor's Rule has been imposed following Mehbooba Mufti`s resignation as the Chief Minister.
(With Agency inputs)