Saturday, August 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Killings not to hinder talks: PM
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 4 — India will not give up efforts for restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the recent brutal killings of 100 pilgrims and locals in the state, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, said in both Houses of Parliament today.

“The dialogue with the Hizbul Mujahideen is a part of this effort. Other groups who have chosen the path of violence should also realise that the people of Jammu and Kashmir want peace in the state and it is futile for them to continue on the path of violence,” Mr Vajpayee said in his statement in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

Mr Vajpayee, who led a delegation of major political parties to Kashmir yesterday, expressed confidence that the House was one with him in assuring the people of the state and the Nation that “we will not yield before terrorism.”

“I may add that while the fight against terrorism will be continued, India will not give up efforts for restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said the perpetrators of these heinous crimes were foreigners and the arms and ammunitions seized from them clearly established their links with Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The main Opposition Congress, which demanded a judicial probe to assess the “security lapse” staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha along with RJD and RPI members agitated over the Prime Minister’s statement that the government would order a judicial inquiry “if required”.

Replying to clarifications on his statement, the Prime Minister told the Lok Sabha that the Jammu and Kashmir Government had already ordered an executive inquiry to ascertain any security lapse.

“It does not seem that serious security lapses have taken place. The state government has already ordered an executive inquiry. We have no objection to holding any further inquiry and if necessary we can order a judicial probe,” Mr Vajpayee said.

After the Prime Minister made his statement, there was a virtual confrontation between the treasury bench and the Opposition on whether Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi could be allowed to seek a clarification on Mr Vajpayee’s statement.

The House witnessed heated exchanges when Speaker GMC Balayogi ruled that as a special case, he was allowing Mrs Gandhi to speak.

Calm returned after the Prime Minister rose and said the ruling alliance would not object if Mrs Gandhi spoke, although it was contrary to the tradition in the Lok Sabha.

In the Rajya Sabha, Senior Congress member Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded resignation of Union Home Minister L.K. Advani for the government failure to prevent attacks on civilians by militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

His party colleague Mr Arjun Singh demanded a judicial probe into the brutal killings to ascertain security lapses and fix responsibility.

As over 30 members sought a clarification on the statement made by the Prime Minister in the Upper House, Mr Vajpayee’s reply to the clarifications was fixed for Monday by the Chair.

Earlier, question hour was disrupted for about 10 minutes as agitated Opposition members demanded a statement by the Home Minister on incidents of violence against minorities in Gujarat and some other parts of the country in the wake of the killings in Kashmir.

Calm prevailed in the House only after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan assured the members that the government was collecting details on these incidents and Mr Advani would make a statement on the issue.

Naidu defends BJP stand on Kashmir
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 4 — In anticipation of the Opposition increasing pressure on the government over its Kashmir policy, the BJP has decided to come out into open and fully back the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Briefing mediapersons today afternoon at the regular party press conference, the BJP spokesman, Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, strongly defended the government saying “the government was doing everything to the best of its capabilities in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Following the principle of “aggression is the best policy of defence”, Mr Naidu said the Opposition must realise that “we have been in power only for some months while they were in power for 45 years”. In an oblique warning to the Opposition, Mr Naidu said the Jammu and Kashmir issue had been there for the past 20 years and if they blamed the government for lapses then we would have to discuss the origins of the issue.Back


Hizbul analyses talks outcome
Half-hearted step: Hurriyat

SRINAGAR, Aug 4 (PTI, UNI) — Hizbul Mujahideen leaders here were today busy analysing the outcome of discussions their representatives had with the Central Government team and refrained from making any public statements.

The leaders were in touch with their supreme commander Syed Salahuddin in Islamabad where the Hizbul’s top decision-making body is said to be mulling over yesterday’s session in preparation of the next round of talks scheduled “very shortly”.

Meanwhile, Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said a “half-heated step can hardly lead to peace”.

He also wondered why the government of India had “come down” from its stand of no-talks-outside-the Constitution which it adopted vis-a-vis the Hurriyat.

Meanwhile, the security forces killed 14 militants and arrested two others while a security man died in an encounter and a civilian was shot and killed in Jammu and Kashmir in the past 24 hours.

A militant and a soldier were killed and another was injured in an encounter at Lathung village last evening, an official spokesman said.

The security forces shot and killed three militants at Madoon during a search operation last evening. Some arms and ammunition, including three AK rifles, three grenades and 96 rounds were seized.

A civilian was killed by militants at Handwara early today.

The official spokesman said the security forces killed a militant at Nowgam near the Line of Actual Control in north Kashmir last evening. An AK rifle, two magazines, one pistol and some ammunition were seized.

One militant each was arrested by the special operation group of the Jammu and Kashmir police and the security forces from Srinagar and Bandipora last evening. Two pistols, six grenades and eight rounds were seized from them.

Three militants of the Tehreek-e-Jehad Islam were killed in an encounter between militants and security forces during a search operation at Tahratpora in Kupwara district last evening. Two AK rifles, one pistol, six magazines, one wireless set and four grenades were seized. Two unidentified militants were shot and killed at Qazinag in the same district.

The spokesman said that two more militants were shot and killed by security men at Sardhi nullah in an encounter last night.

Three militants were killed when a mine they were carrying exploded inside a house at Madoon Dodaj last evening. One civilian was also injured in the blast.

JAMMU: A heavy exchange of fire between Pakistani and Indian troops was continuing along the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border in Jammu division since last evening, defence sources said here today.

The exchange of firing took place in the Palanwala area of the Akhnoor sector with Pakistani troops having fired more than 9000 rounds since last night, the sources said.

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