Wednesday, November 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Blast mars first day of ceasefire
3 jawans die, Hizb owns responsibility

SRINAGAR, Nov 28 (UNI, PTI) — The first day of unilateral ceasefire was marred by a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) blast that left three Rashtriya Rifle (RR) personnel dead and 12 others injured at Nowpora Doru, about 75 km from here in South Kashmir this afternoon.

Official sources said a vehicle in which the RR men were travelling was blown up when militants detonated a powerful IED at Nowpora Doru this afternoon.

The sources said three RR personnel were killed on the spot and 12 others wounded in the blast. The injured were hospitalised. The condition of some of them was stated to be critical.

The ceasefire, announced by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for the holy month of Ramzan, began at midnight last night.

The vehicle was blasted on the Srinagar-Verinag road around 2 pm today, sources said.

Militants detonated the IED immediately after the Army vehicle carrying jawans of Rashtriya Rifles passed over it, possibly using a remote control device.

The vehicle was blown up killing three jawans and injuring 12 others, the sources said.

Pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the incident and said it would intensify the attacks during Ramzan.

Hizb spokesman Salim Hashmi telephoned newsmen in Srinagar to claim the responsibility for the blast.

“The unilateral ceasefire announced by the Centre is not a serious effort, but an attempt to ward off the international pressure on it to resolve the Kashmir issue,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, people from Lalpora in the frontier district of Kupwara said it was for the first time in the decade-long militancy that the Army did not check incoming and outgoing vehicles in the district because of ceasefire today.

They said earlier the Army used to check all vehicles at five different checkpoints, but the scene was totally different today with no checking going on, making travel less time-consuming.

JAMMU (TNS): Five militants, two Army jawans and two civilians were killed in an encounter between the rebels and the troops in Dhana village of Sabjian border belt of Poonch on Tuesday.

Police reports said that the troops spotted a group of militants who had sneaked into Indian territory from across the border. They were challenged to halt, but they opened heavy fire on the soldiers.

The troops retaliated, killing five infiltrators on the spot. A large quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from the slain militants. In the exchange of fire, two soldiers and two civilians were killed.

The police said that had the troops not retaliated, they would have been eliminated and the infiltrators would have infiltrated into Mandi belt of Poonch.


PM’s offer aimed at breaking impasse
4 ex-PMs ask Musharraf to respond positively
From T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 28 — The unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during the fasting month of Ramzan announced by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee hopes to rekindle last July’s botched up peace process by involving the elected representatives of the people along with those of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), a predominantly Kashmiri militant outfit.

Mr Vajpayee is keen to secure the participation of all those involved in the protracted problem in J and K in a bid to break the impasse.

Authoritative sources in the government stressed that the focus initially will be on finding the elusive light at the end of the long, dark tunnel without any “outside or third party involvement.” Implicit in this observation is an unambiguous message that the stage is still far away in engaging Pakistan in any talks on the Kashmir problem.

The National Democratic Alliance government firmly believes that the ceasefire will not serve any useful purpose if some accord is not thrashed out with the peoples’ representatives and the leaders of the APHC and the Hizb in J and K in the first instance.

“We need to thrash out the Kashmir issue with our own people first before looking beyond our borders,” noted a source who did not want to be identified. At the same time he made it clear that the Prime Minister’s ceasefire offer is “not directed against Pakistan. Islamabad should not have any misgivings in this regard as India has consistently taken the initiative to normalise relations as evidenced during Mr Vajpayee’s bus yatra to Lahore in February last year. The fallout of India’s genuine desire to build bridges of friendship with Pakistan was met with another stab in the back four months later in June 1999.”

After Pakistan’s misadventure in the Kargil region of J and K, New Delhi had declared that it will not resume the composite dialogue with Islamabad till the neighbour stopped cross border terrorism. That policy remains undiluted despite voices in certain quarters that India should re-engage Pakistan to reduce tension in this region.

In a related but significant development, four former Prime Ministers — Inder Kumar Gujral, Chandra Shekhar, V.P. Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda — described Mr Vajpayee’s offer of ceasefire during the holy month of Ramzan as a “timely initiative. It deserves to be welcomed by all those who are committed to the process of peaceful and negotiated resolution of the Kashmir issue,” they said in a joint statement.

They said categorically that the ceasefire offered a constructive opening to the Kashmiri militant groups to come forward and start negotiations with the Union Government. “The process of negotiations will help them to come out of the clutches of foreign vested interests and in creating an atmosphere for prolonging the ceasefire even beyond Ramzan. This indeed will provide them the needed political space to help in shaping the destiny of not only J and K but the whole of India. It will also enable the Government of India to prepare for a dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the contentious issues.”

The ex-Prime Ministers said Pakistan should take a positive note of Mr Vajpayee’s offer. “Gen Musharraf (Chief Executive of Pakistan) is well advised that his strategy of cross border terrorism against India in Kashmir has not only isolated him from the international community but also unleashed forces of violence and disorder within Pakistan.”

They apprehended that Gen Musharraf may not be able to sustain this strategy any further. “India’s ceasefire offer provides an appropriate context for him (Gen Musharraf) to curb Jehadi forces and create conditions for constructive engagement with India.”

Mr Gujral, Mr Chandra Shekhar, Mr V.P. Singh and Mr Deve Gowda hoped that this ceasefire initiative will not get derailed or vitiated by narrow bureaucratic considerations or parochial and communal pressures. “Peace is the dire necessity in J and K and no one can be allowed to play with it for their narrow sectional interests,” they added.

Simultaneously Pakistan experts said Mr Vajpayee had undertaken a “very good move which is a critical first step.” They were keeping their fingers crossed that the Vajpayee government continued to push ahead with its track II diplomacy besides maintaining contacts with the Hizb and other militant groups although the Hizb has shown a split personality.

They emphasised that the Union Government must ensure some measure of coordination so that the exercise did not amount to a shot in the dark. What is important is that Pakistan should get the sense that the ceasefire offer is not directed against them but a prelude to engaging it, these experts said.

Pak must respond, says PoK leader

NEW DELHI, Nov 28 (PTI) — A senior leader from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, (PoK) now based in Canada, today said Pakistan should sincerely respond to India’s offer of ceasefire and rein in militant outfits operating from its soil, but doubted whether it would be possible.

“Pakistan has the potential to make the ceasefire a success by exercising an effective control over the militant groups like Lashker-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammed operating from various parts of the country,” Mr Mohammed Mumtaz Khan, organiser of the Kashmir People Nationalist Party, told PTI here.Back

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