Saturday, June 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

Grenade attack on Army camp
SRINAGAR, June 9 — Militants lobbed grenades at an Army transit camp in the heart of city this afternoon. Elsewhere in the valley Eighteen person, including 12 militants and three security personnel, were killed in the state since last evening in militancy-related violence.

Qureshi to set up smaller PCC
JAMMU, June 9 — The new PCC chief, Mr Mohd Shafi Qureshi, has left for Delhi to consult the AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and other senior party leaders on the issue of reconstitution of the PCC in Jammu and Kashmir. The 64-member PCC has already been dissolved and Mr Qureshi has decided to set up a smaller committee.

Home Minister L.K. Advani with the folk dancers on the occasion of Sindu darshan festival at Shyey, Ladakh on Thursday.  PTI photo
Home Minister L.K. Advani with the folk dancers on the occasion of Sindu darshan festival at Shyey, Ladakh, on Thursday. PTI photo

Sentimental return for Pandits
TULLAMULA (Ganderbal), June 9 — Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits thronged Khir Bhawani temple on the occasion of Jesht Ashtami, the annual festival here to seek the blessings of goddess Ragnya Devi. It was a solemn occasion and a “reunion” for many migrant Hindus from the valley with their relatives and local Muslims here 25 km north of Srinagar.


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EARLIER STORIES
  DD Kashir launched
SRINAGAR, June 9 — DD Kashir, the dedicated Doordarshan channel for Kashmir, was formally launched here this evening by Jammu and Kashmir Governor Girish Saxena at a colourful programme replete with a strong presence of local culture.Top






 

Grenade attack on Army camp

SRINAGAR, June 9 (UNI) — Militants lobbed grenades at an Army transit camp in the heart of city this afternoon. Elsewhere in the valley Eighteen person, including 12 militants and three security personnel, were killed in the state since last evening in militancy-related violence.

Pakistani troops fired shells from across the border in Keran, Karnah and Teetwal sectors throughout the night. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

An official spokesman said militants lobbed at least four grenades from an unidentified place towards camp Toto Ground at about 1 p.m. Three of the grenades exploded within the camp but there were no casualties. The fourth grenade was defused by a bomb disposal squad. Security forces cordoned off adjoining areas and launched a house-to-house search operation. This was the third militant attack on the camp in the past two years.

Security forces killed a militant at Dangerpora Sopore during a search operation last evening. An AK rifle and some rounds were recovered from the slain militant. The house of one Ghulam Nabi Dar was damaged in the shootout.

Special operations group (SOG) personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir police recovered six powerful improvised explosive devices from a hideout at Khadinyar Baramulla. The SOG arrested militant Firdous Ahmad Malik alias Ferra Kawa at Noorbagh last evening.

JAMMU: Four militants, including three foreigners, were among five people killed in separate militancy-related incidents across the Jammu region since last evening.
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Qureshi to set up smaller PCC
From M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, June 9 — The new PCC chief, Mr Mohd Shafi Qureshi, has left for Delhi to consult the AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and other senior party leaders on the issue of reconstitution of the PCC in Jammu and Kashmir. The 64-member PCC has already been dissolved and Mr Qureshi has decided to set up a smaller committee.

Despite his sincere efforts for resolving the problem of groupism that has eaten into the vitals of the state unit of the Congress Mr Qureshi has not so far succeeded in his mission. He had series of closed door meetings with senior party leaders in Jammu and Srinagar with a view to understanding the problem of dissension. He was, according to the party sources, baffled when several leaders indulged in mud-slinging.

However, he was given the impression that during the past 10 years those Congressmen who remained loyal to the organisation had been sidelined and defectors were given key posts in the PCC. The problem that bothers Mr Qureshi is that certain known defectors continue to hold influence in the organisation and have a hold on a section of the people. As such it would be against the interests of the party to ignore them and accommodate those who despite being loyal Congressmen, have become deadwood.

Another problem facing him is that the dissident camp led by Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad has yet to show its loyalty to Mr Qureshi. Except for a couple of leaders, including Mr Madan Lal Sharma, others did not bother to attend meetings chaired by Mr Qureshi. According to reports senior party leader Ghulam Rasool Kar, who has been PCC chief twice, has a feeling of having been humiliated by the AICC leaders who did not instal him as the PCC president.

Sources close to him said Mr Kar had staked his claim twice for the post of PCC chief. He had met all those who matter in the AICC when reports had reached him that Mr Mohd Aslam was being replaced by some effective leader as PCC chief. He had argued with the AICC leaders that he was the seniormost party leader and he was the only person who had kept the Congress flag flying during the turbulent period between 1990 and 1994.

But Mrs Gandhi cast her dice in favour of Mr Qureshi in order to revamp the party in the state under his dynamic leadership. It was because of the Kar factor that on his first visit to Srinagar Mr Qureshi could not get a rousing reception as was the case in Jammu. Mr Kar did not pay even a courtesy call at the residence of Mr Qureshi or at the PCC headquarters where the new PCC chief addressed party workers.

Mr Qureshi has sent a message to Mr Kar to hand over the Khidmat Trust building and the printing press to the PCC. He has also sought a detailed account of the assets of the Khidmat press and the income earned during the past 10 years. Mr Qureshi has decided to restart Khidmat, an Urdu daily which acted as the official organ of the Congress for decades in the state.

Mr Kar is the sole trustee of the Khidmat premises and he has not so far obliged the PCC chief by showing him the accounts and handing over the premises to the PCC.

In the light of these developments the task of Mr Qureshi in reconstituting the PCC would not be easy. Reports indicate that in case he opts for a small PCC it would add to the problem of groupism in the organisation. Indications are that some of the disgruntled Congressmen may either join the PDP headed by Mufti Mohd Sayeed or the National Conference.

Party sources said since Mr M.L. Fotedar, a Nehru-Gandhi loyalist, has become close to Mrs Gandhi once again his services along with that of Mr Ahmed Patel would be sought in giving a final shape to the PCC. Mr Fotedar intimately knows all senior Congress leaders and he could guide Mr Qureshi on the reconstitution of the PCC.

Whatever may be the problems that face Mr Qureshi he seems to be determined to revive the Congress. There are apprehensions that the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, who sees in Mr Qureshi his main political opponent, may use his influence to sabotage the PCC chief’s plan of strengthening the party in Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Qureshi could pose a threat to Dr Abdullah if he opted to form a front with Mufti Sayeed. But Mr Qureshi ruled out the possibility of joining hands with the Mufti. He told newspersons in Jammu recently that a united front of parties with common ideology could be considered but his immediate task was to revive the Congress.Top

 

Sentimental return for Pandits
From Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

TULLAMULA (Ganderbal), June 9 — Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits thronged Khir Bhawani temple on the occasion of Jesht Ashtami, the annual festival here to seek the blessings of goddess Ragnya Devi. It was a solemn occasion and a “reunion” for many migrant Hindus from the valley with their relatives and local Muslims here 25 km north of Srinagar.

Long queues of pilgrims from distant places and from outside the valley could be seen since the early morning. The two-day annual festival concluded today. Most Kashmiri Pandits employed in various state and central government offices here also visited the temple to offer obeisance. Local Kashmiri Muslim could be seen providing assistance to their Pandit brethren on the occasion. A number of make-shift stalls were set up to provide material for offerings.

The colours of the water of the hexagonal spring at the shrine, which this time had turned bright blue, was covered with colourful floral petals. According to Pandits, the blue colour which is being seen for the first time in five years, augurs well. According to mythology it symbolises peace in Kashmir. “Its colour was black for many years, which reflected bad days for Kashmir”, said a Pandit. Chaman Lal Pandita, a migrant who had come from Jammu to offer prayers. He expressed the hope that the flue water would contribute to the return of peace” to Kashmir, so that Pandits could return to their homes.

For Prem Nath formerly from Tral it was an occasion for meeting his relatives who did not migrate along with the others a decade ago. For others Like Hira Lal Pandita from Anantnag district, who has been in Udhampur after the mass migration, in 1990 it was an occasion of “high sentiments” to be in the valley again. “ The moment we crossed Jawahar Tunnel, it was like a home-coming. The feel of my childhood days of youth after a gap of ten years,” he said.

The government had made elaborate security arrangements on the occasion. Senior civil and police officers supervised arrangements. Special bus services were provided from Jammu, for pilgrims.

But a number of pilgrims from towns outside the valley complained of inadequate arrangements for accommodation. Various social religious and philanthropist organisations performed hawan and arranged langars.

The shrine is surrounded by huge chinar trees with a hexagonal spring in the centre in which the deity is housed in a small white temple. The legend goes that Lord Rama worshiped Mother Ragyna during his exile and asked Hanuman Ji to shift the seat of the Mother at after his exile was over. It was taken to Shadipora and later to the present site as per the wishes of Mother Ragnya conveyed in a dream to one Pandit Raghunath Gadroo. The historic temple of Khir Bhawani was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 and later renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh.Top

 

DD Kashir launched

SRINAGAR, June 9 (UNI) — DD Kashir, the dedicated Doordarshan channel for Kashmir, was formally launched here this evening by Jammu and Kashmir Governor Girish Saxena at a colourful programme replete with a strong presence of local culture.

Mr Saxena, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley said the launch of the channel had helped to highlight the local talent and culture of the valley.

However, Mr Saxena in a clear reference to Pakistan Television added that truth was normally the first casualty in any propaganda warfare and expressed the hope that the new channel would set the record straight and attempt to give the truth to the people.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan and comperes Sajid Khan and Ruby Bhatia presented the colourful starlit show which followed the formal launch of the channel which had been started on a trial basis on Republic Day this year. Today’s function was the commissioning of a 10 kw-high power television transmitter which will increase the reach of the channel to a radius of 40 km.Top

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