A pall of gloom enveloped Dahuna town in Palghar district of Maharashtra on Tuesday as bodies of the two women Amarnath Yatra pilgrims, killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, were flown there.
Thousands of people from the picturesque seaside town and neighbouring villages trooped to the city centre as the bodies of Usha Mohanlal Sonkar, 56, and Nirmala Bharat Thakur, 57, were received in Dahanu by their relatives, neighbours and friends.
Both women hailed from Santoshi Nagar in the town, around 100 km north-west of Mumbai.
The bodies of all seven pilgrims who died in the terror attack on Monday and the injured persons arrived from Srinagar at Surat in Gujarat by an Indian Air Force plane shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, said Surat Resident Deputy Collector S.D. Vasava.
"Thereafter, the two bodies were handed over to the Maharashtra government officials who made their own arrangements to transfer them to Palghar," Vasava told IANS.
A grieving Mohanlal Sonkar, a fruit and vegetables vendor, recalled how his sister Usha was very keen to go on the pilgrimage and that he could not accompany her due to other engagements.
"She was the only sister we seven brothers had. A very religious and God-fearing person. Our world was shattered when we got a call early today from the authorities," her younger brother Guddu said amid tears.
The Thakur family is also yet to come to terms with Nirmala's death. Her relatives said though she went on short pilgrimages annually, this was the first time she went on the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir.
"My mother was sitting by a window and was hit directly by a bullet while her friend Bhagyamani Thakur was injured in the leg as shattering glass hit her," said Nirmala's son Pradip Thakur.
Her husband Bharat, 60, who wound up the family's dairy business three years ago to lead a retired life, was in a state of shock over his wife's sudden demise.
Besides the two women, eight other pilgrims from adjoining towns of south Gujarat like Vapi, Udwada, Daman and Navsari had also gone for the three-week pilgrimage from July 2.
Earlier this afternoon, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis arranged for a state government helicopter to bring the bodies of Usha Sonkar and Nirmala Thakur from Surat.
"Maharashtra strongly condemns the cowardly attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir. Our deepest condolences to the bereaved families," he tweeted, announcing a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the two women.
Meanwhile, several NGOs, Muslim groups, social bodies and Leftist parties organised demonstrations and protests in different parts of Mumbai on Tuesday to condemn the attack on the bus of Amarnath Yatra pilgrims.
Mumbai's famed dabbawalas will hold a protest on Wednesday at Lower Parel before starting their day's work of delivering tiffin boxes to Mumbaikars, their spokesperson said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)