Sunday, August 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ultras massacre 17 in Doda
Curfew in Kishtwar * Farooq orders probe
M. L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 4
At least 17 members of a community were killed and four wounded when a group of militants opened indiscriminate fire on villagers in Ludar hamlet of Paddar area of Kishtwar in Doda district late last evening.

Intelligence sources suspect Lashkar-e-Toiba to be behind the massacre.

According to the police, a group of 10 militants swooped on Ludar village and dragged 20 males belonging to one community out of their houses. They were taken to the adjacent rocky mountain belt and shot.

Eyewitness accounts said 17 bodies had been recovered so far and the four wounded admitted to hospital. The eyewitness said women in the village pleaded with the militants to spare their menfolk but in vain.

Those killed have been identified as Panna Lal, Balwant Singh, Jyoti Ram, Des Raj, Surinder Singh, Puran Lal, Chanchal Singh, Des Raj, Gori Lal, Raj Nath, Bal Krishan, Girdhari Lal, Madan Lal, Ram Nath, and Mool Raj. Those injured are Mohinder Singh, Chaplat Singh, Mohinder Lal, Dev Raj.

The village nambardar was the first to inform the Atholi police station about the incident.

Chaplot Singh, one of the wounded said that eight or 10 militants in Army uniform swooped on their village late last night. Two of them knocked at the door of “our house” and directed the family members to light an earthen lamp as it was pitch dark.

When none dared to move, Chaplot Singh lit a lamp. “One of the two militants asked for our names. He then spoke to his commander on the wireless. “Mein in sabon ko line par lagaoon” (should I eliminate all of them in one line)”, he asked.

Chaplot Singh, wiping his tears, said: “We were dragged out from our houses and asked to line up. Within seconds each of us has received three to five bullet wounds.” He said 15 fell on the spot and four feigned death after receiving a bullet shot each.

He said the militants spoke to one another in Kashmiri but “conversed with us in Hindustani.”

This is the third massacre in Kishtwar area since May 10. On May 10 seven Hindus were killed in Atholi village. This was followed by the massacre of 12 Hindus, eight in Cherji and four in Chattroo, in the Paddar belt on July 22.

As news of the massacre reached Kishtwar and other towns in Doda district, people took to the streets and staged anti-government demonstrations. A bandh was observed in parts of Kishtwar, Bhaderwah and Doda subdivisions.

Indefinite curfew restrictions were imposed on Kishtwar town after large groups of people took to the streets and indulged in violence, pelting stones on shops and police patrol parties.

A senior police officer said the restrictions were imposed to prevent demonstrators from creating a law and order problem. Police and security personnel patrolled the town to enforce the curfew strictly. In other towns, the situation was tense but under control.

The Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, accompanied by the Director-General of Police, flew to Kishtwar to review the security situation. They met members of bereaved families who expressed deep resentment over the failure of the government in providing security cover to sensitive areas even though three massacres had already taken place.

One of the mourners said at the police station in Atholi, only three or four policemen were on duty against the sanctioned strength of 22. Others complained to the Governor and the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, who flew in a separate chopper from Jammu, that the government had taken no steps to sanitise “grey areas.” As a result, militants were free to strike at will.

Two of the four wounded in the Ludar carnage were airlifted to the Jammu Medical College and two admitted to a Kishtwar hospital.

Enraged BJP leaders, including Mr D.K. Kotwal, Mr Chander Mohan Sharma and Dr Nirmal Singh, blamed the state government for its failure to strengthen the security setup in Doda district. They demanded that the entire district be placed under the control of the Army.

Meanwhile, three top foreign militants of Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami and Jaish-e-Mohammed were killed in a joint operation in Rajouri district today, a defence spokesman said here.

A cordon of the Army and police was set around a house in Jhalas village last night following a tip-off that a group of militant had taken refuge there.

NEW DELHI: A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the massacre of 15 Hindus in Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said late on Saturday night.

The inquiry will look into security lapses, if any, that may have led to the killings,” Mr Abdullah told PTI on telephone from Srinagar.


Pak condemns killings

Islamabad, August 4
Pakistan today condemned the massacre of 17 Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, a Foreign Office spokesman said.

“The latest incident appears to be aimed at discrediting the Kashmir freedom movement,” said the official. DPA


APHC decries carnage

Chennai, August 4
The Hurriyat Conference today termed the massacre of 15 Hindus in Doda district in Jammu and Kashmir as a “naked attack on the humanity and peace process in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“It is the handiwork of those elements who do not want that peace process should be initiated in the state,” former Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq told PTI here.

Mr Farooq, accompanied by another senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone, are in the metropolis to attend a two-day “South Asia Peace Conference” organised by the Association of People of Asia. He also demanded a “neutral” judicial inquiry into the incident. PTI


CCS may meet on Aug 7
Review of Jammu & Kashmir situation
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is likely to meet on August 7 here to review the Jammu and Kashmir situation in the wake of a series of massacres in the state, particularly the Doda region.

Well-placed sources told The Tribune here today that the forthcoming meeting of the CCS — the apex core body for taking policy decisions on security and strategic issues — is tipped to take certain operational decisions for dealing with the stepped-up activities of Pakistan-supported militants and also review the country’s security scenario ahead of the 54th Independence Day. Army Chief Gen S. Padmanabhan may give a presentation to the CCS members detailing the latest ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The forthcoming meeting of the CCS assumes significance as the deployment pattern of the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to come under microscopic examination.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah is said to be unhappy over the utilisation of the available security personnel in the state and is in favour of redeployment of the security personnel in the more sensitive areas. Mr Abdullah is of the view that there is no dearth of security personnel but the available manpower should be better utilised.

The CCS does not normally have a fixed agenda and the members are free to raise any issue. A briefing for the media after a CCS meet is not customary. Headed by the Prime Minister, the CCS has Union Ministers of Defence, External Affairs, Home and Finance and the three Services’ chiefs as members. 

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