|Monday, May 8, 2000,
6 killed, car with arms impounded
20,000 orphans, widows in Kashmir
Advani takes motor boat ride on
Setback to Centre-Hurriyat talks
Railway project limps along
6 killed, car with arms
SRINAGAR, May 7 At least six persons, including four militants, were killed in separate incidents in Jammu and Kashmir since yesterday, while the police impounded a car along with some arms and ammunition here last evening.
Three militants were killed in an encounter with the security forces at Majlta-Manwa in Udhampur district of the Jammu region yesterday. Two AK rifles and five hand grenades were recovered from the site of the encounter, a police spokesman stated here this evening. The police said that a Jammu and Kashmir police party assisted by security forces noticed a group of militants moving under suspicious circumstances. They were signalled to stop, but instead they opened fire at the search party and an encounter ensued, the police said.
One militant was killed in an encounter with security forces at Cheerward forests in Anantnag district of south Kashmir yesterday. The identity of the militant was yet to be ascertained. One AK rifle, two magazines and eight rounds were recovered from the slain militant.
The police impounded a Maruti car and recovered two rifle grenades, one grenade thrower, two IEDs and 40 kg of explosives from it at Chhota Bazar here last evening.
A police patrol intercepted a Maruti car, whose driver was signalled to stop near Chhota Bazar. Instead of stopping for identification, the occupants of the car fired at the policemen. Under the cover of firing, the occupants escaped, leaving the car behind.
One suspect was apprehended in a raid at Gratabal, Zakoora on the outskirts of the city last evening.
Militants shot dead a 70-year-old man, Haji Zulf Khan at Bazipora, Ajas in Baramulla district when they intruded into his house yesterday.
Another person was shot dead by militants at Kanjwal, Handwara in Kupwara district. He was identified as Pir Ghulam Nabi.
One woman was injured when an explosive device went off when she was collecting firewood in Pazalpora village of Baramula district. She had been hospitalised, the police said.
UNI adds: Security forces have been put on high alert following intelligence reports that militants may strike in the city on Monday as the Civil Secretariat and other offices reopen in Srinagar.
State Chief Secretary Ashok Jaitly was apprised of the elaborate security arrangements made in and around the secretariat following recovery of more than 150 kg of explosive material, including RDX by the security forces here recently.
A Defence Ministry spokesman said the explosive material was enough to make more than 40 powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which could have caused severe damage to life and property.
He claimed the IEDs were likely to be used at the time of reopening of offices here.
Mr Jaitly was told that the frisking of visitors and employees would be done at various points by different security agencies.
A UNI correspondent who visited the adjacent areas of the Secretariat saw security forces in full battle gear patrolling the streets to ensure militants do not fire any grenade or rocket towards the five-storeyed building.
JAMMU (FOC): As part of the ongoing operations launched against militants in the Samba sector, the Army killed three militants in an encounter near Mansar on Sunday.
On May 4, Mohd Riaz, alias Betab, a self-styled district commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group in Kathua district, who was involved in several militancy-related incidents, had been eliminated in the Majalata area of Udhampur district.
In the early hours this
morning, all three militants were trapped in an ambush.
In an hour-long exchange of fire, all three militants
20,000 orphans, widows in
SRINAGAR, May 7 About 20,000 children and women have been rendered orphans and widows in the decade-long armed conflict in Kashmir. Their life conditions have been deteriorating in the absence of a systematic financial support.
Stating this here yesterday, Mr Martin Kelsey of the Save the Children Fund (SCF) said work had been started to identify the cases specifically, and 48 cases had been taken up in the first instance. Mr Kelsey, Country Programme Director of the UK-based international SCF organisation, was addressing newsmen after releasing a report of the research project, "Impact of Conflict Situation on Women and Children in Kashmir," carried out by the Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir.
He said conflicts destroyed homes and exposed women and children to dangers and the organisation was concentrating on providing all possible support to such victims. The aim of the research project sponsored by the SCF emphasised on the impact of conflict, which led to dropping in education and financial stability.
"We are concerned about the impact of conflict on children and women", Mr Kelsey stated. He added that the conflicts forced children to work at a premature stage and undergo hardships. "We have already responded to the report... and try to provide educational support", he said.
Referring to the working of the organisation, SCF (UK), Mr Kelsey said it was focussed on working for humanitarian needs of the children and the women who were victims of conflicts. He added that through studies of such cases in 70 countries of the world faced with conflicts, "we make public more aware about the problems of the children and women".
Giving details of the project report, Dr B.A. Dabla, Head of the Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir, under whose supervision the research was conducted in all six districts of the Kashmir valley, said 300 children and an equal number of womens cases were studied. The report had been submitted to the SCF last year. A majority of the women expected all kinds of support in future from relatives, government organisations and NGOs.
Similarly, orphans, whose cases were studied, "have developed particular ideas about the society in which they would like in future". These societal features included peaceful society, religious ethos, a situation without orphans and widows, social justice for all, a highly literate society, right of independence for all, progress and development for all, people free from all diseases, stress and conflicts and an active cultural life.
The details of the report revealed that 95 out of the 300 women widowed had to shift to other places from their usual places of residence after the death of their husbands, while 188 had no such experience. After the death of their husbands, 40 out of the 300 women had to go outside their homes for earning money. The major source of monetary support to these women included government relief, parents support, part-time business, husbands left-over money and working on land etc.
After the death of their husbands, the widows in general developed three sets of problems: first, emotional stresses, denial of inheritance rights, sexual harassment and social undesirability; second, mismanagement of home affairs, losing control over children and developing an inferiority complex; and third, loneliness, physical insecurity, overburden of domestic and other works and compulsion for re-marriage.
The study of 300
children in this connection revealed that 163 children
had to shift from their place of residence to a new
place. The most crucial problems which the concerned
children faced after the death of their fathers included
economic hardships, psychological setback, denial of love
and affection and apathy by relatives and friends.
Setback to Centre-Hurriyat talks
JAMMU, May 7 The prospects of parleys between the Hurriyat Conference and the Centre have further dimmed, at least for the time being, because of the attitude both sides have adopted since the past one week.
During the past seven days there was euphoria in Delhi giving an impression that leaders of the Hurriyat Conference might break the ice by accepting to hold talks with the Centre. When the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, announced in Nagpur on Saturday that the Centre would not extend any formal invitation to the Hurriyat leaders for talks he swept the issue of talks under the carpet. Not only this, his statement confirmed that the Centre had adopted conflicting stand on the issue.
Weeks before the release of senior Hurriyat Conference leaders, the Central Government and the state government had repeatedly stated that there was no question of holding talks unless the guns were silent in Kashmir. As pressure mounted for the release of the Hurriyat leaders clear indications were given by men who matter in the PMO that talks could be held with the separatists for resolving the Kashmir turmoil.
Possibly it was part of the plan that the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, visited Srinagar a week ago. Though officially it was announced that he visited the regional engineering college and the HMT watch unit, which could have not been the sole agenda for a Defence Minister and that too at a critical juncture, inside reports said that he wanted to know the reaction of the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, on the plan of holding talks with the Hurriyat leaders. It is in this connection he had called on Syed Mir Qasim, a former Chief Minister, with the hope that he could act as a bridge between the government and the Hurriyat leaders.
Hints from men in the PMO and that from Mr Fernandes are said to have prompted Molvi Umar Farooq and Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, to pay an unscheduled visit to Delhi. They had motivated Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Chairman, Hurriyat Conference, to join them in Delhi, which he did.
Once in Delhi these Hurriyat leaders did not receive any visible signal from the Centre regarding its willingness to hold talks with the result the Hurriyat leaders met senior embassy officials of various countries, including the Pakistan High Commissioner.
Mr L.K. Advani, has accused the Hurriyat leaders of lack of consensus on the issue but informed sources said the Union Home Minister, who has, of late, been supporting Dr Abdullah, and the PMO had different perceptions on holding talks with the Hurriyat leaders. Feelers for talks had been sent from different niches of the Union Government without having first discussed the matter in the Cabinet or among senior BJP leaders. The result was confusing signals from these niches similar to the ones that were available from the Hurriyat Conference.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani made it clear from day one that he was for tripartite and not bilateral talks. This line was also followed by the JKLF chief, Mohd Yasin Malik. And Mr Abdul Gani Lone, another senior leader of the Hurriyat Conference, who had initially supported bilateral talks, too stated that the solution to the Kashmir issue could be found if tripartite talks were held.
As the confusion persisted the Hurriyat leaders have been able to escape the ignominy by announcing that they had gone to Delhi to act as a bridge between India and Pakistan. Otherwise they would have been straightway blamed for having visit Delhi for a sell out.
A section in the Hurriyat is in favour of bilateral talks. They are for exploring the possibility of involving Hurriyat leaders in the restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir so that other related issues could be discussed at a later stage. But the Hurriyat leaders find themselves in a pitiable position with no control on youths, especially the foreign mercenaries, calling the shot in the state.
But the exercise for
bringing the Hurriyat leaders and the government to the
negotiating table has not been given up. The success
depends on the sincerity the two sides show. Observers
here believe that there was no harm in holding talks with
the Hurriyat leaders provided the issue of Kashmirs
accession was not reopened. But the Hurriyat leaders want
unconditional talks. Many of them are not for discussing
the Kashmir issue within the ambit of the Constitution.
Hence it may take more time to see the two sides drawing
close and all depends on the security situation. Once the
militants are forced to be on the run, the Hurriyat
leaders may grab even an informal offer for talks.
Advani takes motor boat ride on
SRINAGAR, May 7 It was a ride that perhaps symbolised the gradual return of normalcy to the summer Capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Adavani, accompanied by the Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena and the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, took a motor boat ride on the Dal lake this afternoon.
Mr Advani, who was on a one-day visit to the state went around the Dal lake even as some tourists were enjoying ride in shikaras.
The Home Minister inquired from some of the tourists as to which state they belonged to. He later told correspondents that some families that he had met were from various states like Gujarat, Karnataka.
During his brief sojourn Mr Advani also interacted with a few house-boat owners who told him that revival of tourism was their only hope.
Later, Mr Advani said he planned to write to different ministers and urge them to make efforts to revive tourism.
He said the state
government had slashed the hotel tariff by 30 per cent to
encourage tourism and hoped the tourism ministry would be
able to propagate it.
Railway project limps along
UDHAMPUR, May 7 (UNI) Work on the Jammu-Udhampur railway line, which was to be completed in 1988, is proceeding at snails pace even today.
About 17 years ago the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi inaugurated the project by laying of foundation stone of a railway station at Chariawail village on April 14, 1983.
The entire stretch of the line was to be laid within five years.
At the beginning progress was smooth and 13 km of track was laid as per schedule. But later, lack of funds slowed down the pace of work.
During the current year the central government allotted an amount of Rs 30 crore for completing the remaining part of the railway line from Jammu to Udhampur and Udhampur to Katra.
But the tempo of work on the project reveals that it could take five years to more for the line to be completed.
The estimated cost of
the 53.2 km long railway track at the time of its
inception in 1983 was Rs 55 crore which has now reached
Rs 300 crore.
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