Saturday, March 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Lathi charge on protesters
Mirwaiz allowed to move freely
Tribune News Service and agencies

SRINAGAR, March 24 — The police here today lobbed teargas shells and lathicharged a large group of demonstrators outside Jamia Masjid, Nowhatta, after Friday prayers.

The demonstrators were raising slogans like “Saazish ko nanga karo, asli muzrim ko pesh karo” etc while condemning the killing of 35 Sikhs in Anantnag district on Monday last.

The demonstrators took to streets after the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) acting Chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq’s Friday congregation. He expressed concern over the killings of Sikhs. Several demonstrators were injured in the police action. The demonstrators were chased away by the police and the security forces.

The Mirwaiz addressed Friday’s congregation after restrictions on his movement outside his Nageen residence were lifted. These restrictions were imposed five days earlier in view of the visit of US President Bill Clinton to the country.

Moulvi Umar Farooq expressed concern over the killings of 35 Sikhs in Chatti Singhpora and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families. Resolutions were passed in major towns of the valley expressing concern over the killing.

Similar views were conveyed by the Mirwaiz to the members of a Sikh delegation that called on him in the morning.

The APHC also decided to hold a meeting of the executive members here tomorrow.

In Jammu, the police today foiled a bid by a group of protesters to stop the supply of essential items to Kashmir. The police resorted to a mild lathi-charge to disperse the protesters, who blocked the national highway at Gangyal to block supplies to the valley.

The protesters smashed the windows of vehicles and forced shopkeepers to close their shops in Trikuta Nagar, Gangyal and Nanak Nagar. Bus services were disrupted for several hours.

The city itself was relatively quiet after three days of protests. Curfew restrictions were eased for 10 hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Barring some stray incidents work in government offices, banks and public sector undertakings was normal after a span of four days.

Reports said traffic plied within the city and on all inter-district routes and the national highway. Markets were also open.

Condemning the massacre, Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann) chief Simranjit Singh Mann, termed it as a “deep-rooted conspiracy” to create communal clashes and demanded a judicial probe into the killings.

Addressing a congregation at a gurdwara at Jammu before proceeding to the site of carnage, Mr Mann said: “I will demand justice from the Central Government and the United Nations on the gruesome killing of the innocents.”

“We do not commit atrocities on innocent people or any community. Whenever anyone has tried to commit any folly on us, we have given a befitting reply,” he said and appealed to the community members to maintain peace and brotherhood and not be misled by vested interests.

The All Jammu and Kashmir Unity Forum, demanded dismissal of the Farooq Abdullah government alleging its “total failure” in protecting minorities and demanded a high-level inquiry into the massacre.

Meanwhile, for the first time in anti-insurgency operations in the Jammu region troops were heli-lifted to smash a rebel hideout in the Alpine forest belt of Nawa Pachi in Doda district today.

Three hardcore militants were killed and the operation was still on.

Defence Ministry spokesman said on receipt of information that militants had carved out a safe sanctuary in the mountain forest belt troops were heli-lifted to eliminate the militants.

As the troops neared the hideout they came under fire. The security forces immediately retaliated killing three rebels on the spot. Others managed to escape and massive search operations was launched.

In militancy related incidents across the valley two militants were among five persons killed, while forces smashed two hideouts and recovered 16 quintals of rice, sugar and atta during the past 24 hours.

Shops and business establishments reopened this morning and traffic was normal on all routes.

An official spokesman said security forces killed two militants, including a foreigner, during an encounter at Batpora in Srinagar district last evening.

During a routine search operation the forces unearthed an underground hideout in the woods of Puthwan in Baramula last evening and recovered 300 kg of rice, 300 kg of atta and 55 kg of sugar.

In an operation at Kupwara, forces recovered 500 kg of rice, 150 kg of dal, 300 kg of atta and 50 kg of sugar from a militant hideout.

No one was arrested from both places.

Mohammad Kabar Sheikh was injured in a mine blast at Puthkha on the Srinagar-Baramula national highway last evening while another blast took place at Charala without causing any damage.

Forces captured two militants from Safapora in Baramula last evening during a search operation.

Official sources said militants kidnapped Manzoor Ahmad and Mushtaq Ahmad at Pahalgadi in Kupwara district. Their bodies with chopped heads were found in the field this morning.

The sources said the body of a former-militant was found at Babakul in Ganderbal this morning.

Militants shot at and wounded Irshad Ahmad at Kalandanpora here. Back

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