Saturday, March 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Local held for Sikh carnage
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 24 — The Jammu and Kashmir police has arrested Mohammed Yaqoob Wagey, for his alleged involvement in the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chhati Singhpora village on the night of March 20.

Announcing the arrest here this evening, the Union Home Secretary, Mr Kamal Pande, said the Jammu & Kashmir police effected a “major breakthrough” and that during interrogation Wagey told that the carnage was perpetrated by a joint group of 17 mercenaries most of them foreigners.

“The 17-member terrorist group was armed with one LMG and 16 AK 47 rifles. The group was jointly led by one Abu Mahaj of the Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) and Saifullah of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM)” Mr Pande told reporters at a hurriedly-convened press conference at North Block.

He said the terrorist outfit LeT consisted exclusively of foreign mercenaries with its headquarters at Muridke, twelve members of this group were present while five belonged to HM.

Mr Pande said Wagey was a resident of Chhati Singhpora and was arrested by the Anantnag police yesterday. He joined the terrorists rank a year ago and was given a wireless set through which he used to communicate with the group.

On earlier occasions, some members of the group, including Maqsood Abdul Rashid, used to visit the village and Wagey used to organise their meals and provided logistic support, the Home Secretary said.

He said Wagey was well-known to the Sikhs and was identified by local residents. The arrested youth had also disclosed more details about the people involved in the carnage, Mr Pande said adding it would be premature to disclose this information since investigation was in progress.

Wagey had been remanded in police custody by Judicial Magistrate concerned at Anantnag.

The Home Secretary ruled out the failure of intelligence while stating that there were intercept suggesting attack against the community.

“This is for the first time in past 13 years since militancy began in J&K that the Sikhs were attacked” he said adding that the terrorists could have picked them to hit soft targets and create mayhem in the state.

Asked about the steps being taken to safeguard the lives of Sikhs who are spread across 130-odd villages in the state, Mr Pande said already police or paramilitary pickets had been placed at 30 places and 30 more were being covered shortly. The rest would be completed in a few days’ time, he added.Back


Tohra stalls migration plan by Sikhs
From M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, March 24 — Following assurances by the state government that a security cover would be provided to Sikhs residing in various villages in the Kashmir valley, senior Akali leaders Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Bhai Ranjit Singh have succeeded in persuading members of this minority community to drop their plan to migrate to safer places.

Mr Tohra and Bhai Ranjit Singh discussed the issue of the impending Sikh migration with the state authorities in Srinagar and in Anantnag district. They mentioned 150 villages in the valley with Sikh concentration and sought a firm assurance from the state government that foolproof security would be made in these villages.

Mr Tohra said at the Jammu airport that evidence collected from Chatti Singhpora village pointed to the involvement of foreign mercenaries in the carnage. He, however, said he could not say anything definite on the matter.

Mr Tohra and Bhai Ranjit Singh held a detailed discussion with leaders of Hurriyat Conference in Srinagar who reportedly informed the Akali leaders that no separatist group or militant outfit was involved in the carnage. The Hurriyat leaders told the Punjab leaders that they would come out with a statement shortly regarding the agencies that were behind the carnage.

Mr Tohra gave Rs 51,000 to each of the bereaved families and Rs 11,000 to those wounded in the incident. He said he would visit the village again and distribute more relief to the victims.

Mr Tohra, in reply to a question, opposed the demand for Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir.Back

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