Saturday, August 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Mixed response to bandh call

NEW DELHI, Aug 4 (PTI) — The Bharat bandh, called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in protest against the killing of Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir, evoked a mixed response across the country today.

Reports received from different state capitals said the bandh call got little response in Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Meghalaya and in some Southern states, but affected life in Assam and Andhra Pradesh.

Stray incidents of stone-pelting and blockade of suburban train movement marred the bandh in Mumbai where several schools and colleges remained closed.

According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Y.C. Pawar, the situation in the rest of Maharashtra was peaceful.

The police used batons to disperse VHP activists who tried to forcibly close shops and offices and obstructed road and rail traffic in Malda and Nadia districts of West Bengal where the bandh failed to evoke any response.

West Bengal dig of Police R.K. Roy said 37 VHP activists were arrested from different parts of Malda town for indulging in violence.

Private offices, educational institutions, banks and financial houses, markets and shops across Assam remained closed while government offices registered a thin attendance.

Incidents of stone-throwing at buses were reported from certain parts of Guwahati.

Indian Airlines and all private carrier flights, however, operated flights as per the schedule. But the North-East Frontier Railway had to reschedule and cancel several trains.

A Hyderabad report said shops and business establishments remained closed in parts of the city. Adequate police force was deployed to avoid any disruption of law and order.

In Delhi, the bandh failed to disrupt life with traffic plying smoothly and attendance in government and private offices normal.

However, most shopping complexes, including Connaught Place remained closed. The bandh evoked a mixed response in Madhya Pradesh with no untoward incident reported.

Curfew was relaxed today in two of the four police station areas in Surat district of Gujarat. The curfew was clamped yesterday following the death of three persons and injury to 50 in separate incidents of violence that erupted during the VHP-sponsored Gujarat bandh in protest against the Kashmir carnage.

Police sources said an indefinite curfew continued without relaxation in the holy town of Khedbrahma in Sabarkantha district of north Gujarat. In Surat, tension prevailed in sensitive areas. At least 100 persons were arrested in different parts of the state.

Reports from Ajmer in Rajasthan said all educational institutions in the town remained closed. The Rajasthan Police had been put on alert to meet any eventuality and to maintain law and order. Companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Home Guards were mobilised at all communally sensitive places in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota divisions as a precautionary measure.

The bandh evoked no response in Meghalaya with offices functioning normally and traffic plying on road. Classes were held in schools and colleges while traders kept their establishments open.


 NHRC notice on J&K killings

NEW DELHI, Aug 4 (PTI) — Acting on media reports alleging intelligence warnings were ignored by the authorities prior to the gruesome killings of about 100 persons in Jammu and Kashmir early this week, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today issued notices to Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir Government asking them to reply within four weeks.In a suo motu action, the full commission, chaired by justice J.S. Verma, issued notices to the ministries of Home and Defence as well as state government on the basis of reports — “IB warnings were ignored”, “Jammu and Kashmir refusal to heed MHA plea proved fatal” and “accusing fingers pointed Jammu and Kashmir police” — published in national dailies.

The commission, in its order, said these reports alleged failure of the state government to act on the intelligence and other reports.

“If true, it would amount to negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights of a large number of people,” the NHRC said.

The commission issued notices to State Chief Secretary and Director General of Police.

Despite security arrangements, the pilgrims were killed in a shootout at the base camp in Pahalgam on Tuesday and more than 70 persons were also killed the same day in separate attacks in the state.

Meanwhile, NHRC on Friday categorically refused to get involved in the process of initiating dialogue between different communities saying “as far as the issue of human rights is concerned, we will take up the issue but we don’t want to get involved in the process of dialogue”.

It was decided in a full commission meeting here after it received a petition from the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) asking the NHRC to “initiate dialogue in a specific time frame to avoid any further damage to Indian society,” NHRC member K. Ramaswamy told PTI.

“We took up the matter after receiving the petition from GCIC and decided not to get involved in the dialogue process. As far as security of minority communities is concerned, the commission has already sent notices to Centre, state governments and union territories to make proper arrangements for their security,” he said.


Body of German tourist found
From Our Correspondent

JAMMU, Aug 4 — The body of a German tourist, Herfurth Rolf, who was abducted by militants on July 11 in the Zanskar area of Ladakh after they had killed three Buddhist monks, was fished out of Shapat Nullah in the Kishtwar belt of the troubled Doda district on last evening.

The police today confirmed the recovery of the body of Herfurth Rolf. The security agencies had taken into custody some shepherds who had seen Herfurth in the third week of July last.

The police believed that after killing Herfurth his body was thrown into the stream situated on the border of Kishtwar and Zanskar.

The body has been taken to Srinagar where it would be handed over to a visiting German team.

However, the fate of five foreign tourists who were abducted in the Pahalgam area in July 1995 is not known.

Reuters adds: The police said Rolf was abducted by five militants who drove a truck in which he had hitched a ride earlier in the Zanskar area.

The truck was stopped again by four Buddhist monks. The militants opened fire, killing three of the monks, though one managed to escape unhurt.

The militants continued in the truck for about 32 km, alighted with Rolf and shot him dead about a week later on a mountain trekking route.

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