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Sunday, July 25, 1999
8 hurt in bus stand
Centre's parsimony squeezes J&K
8 hurt in bus stand explosion
SRINAGAR, July 24 (PTI) Eight persons were injured when militants exploded a grenade at a crowded bus stand in Anantnag town today.
Certain militants hurled a grenade at a police patrol party which missed the target and exploded at the bus stand, injuring eight persons and damaging two buses, official sources said. Four seriously injured persons were rushed here for specialised treatment.
Elsewhere in Jammu and Kashmir, three persons, including a Pakistani intruder, were killed and three intruders arrested since yesterday.
Militants kidnapped two persons from their houses in Poshnar-Chattergul in Anantnag and shot them dead.
One Pakistani intruder was killed and his three accomplices arrested in Kathua district of Jammu region yesterday.
Security forces raided
militant hide-outs in Kupwara and Anantnag districts and
seized a number of arms and ammunition, including 8 kg of
RDX, anti-personnel mines, rockets, remote control
devices and missiles.
Centre's parsimony squeezes J&K
JAMMU, July 24 The Centre has withheld Rs 80 crore which it had committed for modernisation of the police in Jammu and Kashmir under its Rs 190 crore action plan.
The Centre had initially assured the state government that Rs 80 crore would be made available at the beginning of the current financial year. But the Union Home Ministry later asked the state government to furnish a utilisation report of the first instalment of Rs 43 crore released last year.
So far the state government has been able to submit the report because of the Rs 43 crore only around Rs 30 crore was utilised on the police, including for the raising of two battalions.
Informed sources said the state government 'deducted' over Rs 11 crore at the source. It is not known what the state administration spent the money on through it is speculated that because of the unprecedented cash crunch part of the funds were diverted to a private company engaged in construction of the 385 mw Bhagliar power project in the Jammu region.
The state government had, in the absence of counter guarantee from the Centre released over Rs 160 crore for the Bhagliar project.
Despite this diversion of funds experts blame the Centre withholding money which the state needs immediately for modernisation of the police in the wake of major incidents of subversive violence. These experts are of the opinion that the centre could have deducted Rs 11 crore from the second instalment of Rs 80 crore and released the remaining 69 crore.
It is not just the police department that the state government has reduced outlays for or deducted central funds. Other departments too have faced with severe problems with the government adopting a policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The cash crunch is so acute that even government employees, pensioners and Kashmiri migrants do not receive their dues in time.
What is particularly disturbing is the inordinate delay in the disbursement of wages to members of Village Defence Committees and Special Police Officers, who have done a good job in containing the activities of militants in Rajouri, Udhampur and Doda districts. The delay in modernisation of the police, which included upgrading of weaponry of the police, VDC members and SPOs, is said to have limited counter insurgency operations. With VDC members and SPOs forced to fight militants, equipped with automatic weapons with outdated rifles, the militants have a distinct advantage.
The recent carnage at Lahotia village in Kishtwar has confirmed that VDC members and civilians have the courage to take on the militants but lack the weapons and ammunition for it.
Three youths of village Lahotia returned fire when militants attacked on July 19 and for about half an hour continued to trade fire with the militants killing two and forcing the others to flee. Eyewitnesses said had the three youths, Ramesh Kumar, Amrik Singh and Bushan Kumar not retaliated, militants may have massacred all civilians of the village.
Undeterred by shelling
KARGIL, July 24 The only people not to leave this town when artillery and mortar shells rained in May and June this year and also in 1997 and 1998 were 30-odd members of the five Sikh families. Instead of migrating to a "safer" place elsewhere in the district as was done by the rest of the population, these five families preferred to take shelter in the "bunker" of a gurdwara in the vicinity of their locality.
Interestingly this town of five Sikh families has two gurdwaras, including a historic gurdwara of Guru Nanak Dev.
"It was in the late nineteenth century that a Sikh family moved to Kargil from Sargodha district, now in Pakistan. This family of my great, great grandfather came here for business as Kargil used to be on the silk route and numerous caravan carrying exotic merchandise, including silk, brocade, carpets, felts, tea, poppy, ivory and other items used to transit through this town on their way to China, Tibet, Yarkand & Kashmir," says Dr Davinder Singh, a medical officer, posted here.
"It is basically our family that has never left Kargil after we came here more than 100 years ago. My grandfather, Mr Rattan Singh Rattan, was a famous Punjabi poet. Of his two sons, my father, Mr Gurcharan Singh, retired as a senior functionary of the Jammu & Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation while my uncle, Giani Avtar Singh, has been in the business of general merchandise. I did my medicine from Government Medical College, Srinagar, and now I am posted here," reveals the young doctor.
His two other uncles, both doctors, have settled in the USA.
Mr Rattan Singh Rattan built his house in the beginning of this century. It was in 1922 that the Sikh families all descendents of great grandfather of Mr Rattan pooled their resources and constructed a gurdwara. Now it is a imposing four-storeyed structure. In the basement of the gurdwara building are bunkers which are spacious enough to accommodate the entire Sikh sangat of the town. This gurdwara has religious ceremonies performed everyday, all 365 days in a year.
The other gurdwara, the historic one, holds special congregations only on Sundays. The legend goes to Guru Nanak Dev, during one of his "udasis" was on his way back to Punjab from Leh he made a halt at Kargil. This historic gurdwara Charan Kamal is now maintained by 3 Punjab Regiment.
The construction of the present building of the gurdwara was started by men and officers of first battalion of Sikh Light Infantry in 1978. In 1983, 13 Sikh Light Infantry completed the building.
On May 9 this year when the ammunition depot here was attacked, one of the shells had landed in the gurdwara premises. "But no shell has ever landed on the gurdwara building," reveals Hav Jagdish Singh, the granthi or sewadar of the gurdwara.
Men and officers of the Army frequent this gurdwara to pay their obeisance.
Dr Davinder Singh says the local residents, mostly Muslims, have been very cooperative and nice to them. "The Sikhs and Hindus live together in our mohalla," he says. He had his schooling in Kargil.
He says Sikhs of Kargil have only one grouse. When the government constructed flats and houses for "people who have come from outside and settled here", they were not considered for allotment of housing sites or flats.
1772 pilgrims begin Amarnath yatra
JAMMU, July 24 (PTI) Amarnath yatra began today with the first batch of 1772 pilgrims leaving Jammu for Pahalgam, the base camp.
Delayed by three days of its normal schedule, the yatris (pilgrims) left in 90 vehicles from MAM Stadium here around 6 a.m. amid tight security for Pahalgam, official sources told PTI.
Of the pilgrims, 1357 were men, 240 women and 175 sadhus. They left in 29 passenger buses, eight mini buses and trucks besides 53 light motor vehicles.
Chanting religious hymns and slogans like Har Har Mahadev, Om Namah Shivay and Chalo Amarnath Chalo, the pilgrims left in beautifully decorated vehicles.
"The Amarnath yatra caravan is escorted by mobile security and tight security arrangements have been made en route to the cave shrine," a top security official said here.
He said road to Pahalgam had been sanitised and guards deployed along the route to avoid any untoward incident.
The caravan is scheduled to reach Pahalgam later in the evening and arrangements for food, accommodation and transport had been adequately made by the government, the sources said.
The yatra, scheduled to commence on July 21, had to be postponed in view of shortage of security arrangements.
There was heavy rush of pilgrims on the registration counters outside the state, the sources said, adding over 60,000 pilgrims had so far been registered by the different centres of the Tourism Department in the country.
About 30 places in Jammu city, including community halls of serais and temples, have been identified for lodging the yatris, they said, adding adequate telecommunication facilities would be provided to the pilgrims.
All government departments and social organisations have been asked to keep a close liaison with the yatris and ensure that all necessary facilities were provided to them, the sources added.
The registration counter established by the Tourism Department at Jammu would provide all necessary information and guidance to the pilgrims, especially about lodging and availability of transport facilities, they said.
SRINAGAR, July 24 (UNI) One of city's well-known hotels Broadway, reopened today after a period of 10 years.
Dr Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister, was the chief guest on this occasion.
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