Thursday, August 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

J&K killings rock both Houses
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 2 — The Amarnath yatra will continue with renewed security for the pilgrims, the government asserted in Parliament today.

Responding to concern and criticism among members cutting across party lines in both the Houses about the killings of more than 80 persons in militant violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, clarified the security was being further beefed up along the yatra route and the yatra would continue.

The J and K killings figured in both the Houses in the morning.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, said the spate of killings were designed to derail the peace initiative of talks with the Hizbul Mujahideen and asserted that nothing would deflect India from pursuing the path of peace in the state.

Speaking before question hour, which was sought to be suspended by the Opposition, Mr Vajpayee said the killings of innocent people in Kashmir were the handiwork of elements operating at the behest of Pakistan.

Congress members had a separate agenda as they contributed to the din by urging a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Jethmalani issue. The House was finally adjourned for two hours till lunch by the Speaker.

The Rajya Sabha too witnessed similar scenes and the Home Minister said a conference of Chief Ministers chaired by the Prime Minister would be held here on August 5 to discuss internal security.

Mr Advani came to Lok Sabha again in the afternoon session to make a statement about the incidents. He made a similar statement in the Rajya Sabha too.

Giving details about the killings, Mr Advani said the state government had initiated precautionary and relief measures. A Special Secretary in the Department of J and K Affairs along with the Director General, CRPF, had been deputed to J and K to review the situation and the security arrangements along with the security forces in the field.

Reacting to Mr Advani’s prepared statement, the Leader of the Opposition and Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, said the government should have expected renewed violence in J and K, especially in the wake of the peace initiative and the ceasefire by Hizbul Mujahideen.

Mr Somnath Chatterjee of the CPM said the killings were clearly due to lack of security and failure of intelligence. He said the fact that only two militants were killed demonstrated that the security arrangements in the valley were inadequate.

Mr Madan Lal Khurana of the BJP too maintained that the killings were due to security failure and urged the government to make available the list of victims’ names and announce compensation for the next of their kin.

Other members of the NDA, Mr Prabhunath Singh of the Samata Party and Mr Anant Geete of Shiv Sena, were also critical about the security arrangements in the state.

Mr Nitish Sen Gupta of the Trinamool Congress, who comprised part of a one-man commission in 1996 to study the conditions of Amarnath yatra pilgrims, said he had recommended that the Army should be deployed in full strength to provide protection to the pilgrims.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Home Minister faced similar attack from Opposition members with most members charging the government with failing to react to the warning that some militant groups may retaliate.



Special alert in J&K
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, Aug 2 — A special alert has been sounded all over Jammu and Kashmir and security tightened in the wake of militant attacks.

An official spokesman said here that the security scenario was reviewed at a high-level meeting held at Raj Bhavan here this afternoon. The Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, the Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, Special Secretary in the Union Ministry of Home, Mr T.R. Kakkar, Corps Commander, Lt Gen J R Mukherjee, Principal Secretary, Home, Mr C Phunsong, Director General of Police, Gurbachan Jagat and Director General, CRPF, Mr T.N. Misra participated.

The meeting decided to take precautionary measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and to thwart the nefarious designs of adversaries to foment sectarian tension within and outside the state.



Lashkar-e-Toiba behind killings

NEW DELHI, Aug 2 (PTI) — The Jammu and Kashmir Government today said there was enough evidence to suggest that the Lashkar-e-Toiba was behind the latest series of killings in the state.

An official spokesman here said the identity of the group had been established following recovery of two AK-57 rifles and other articles from the two militants killed by security forces base in Pahalgam last night.

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