Sunday, December 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

2 jawans die in suicide attack
Bhat warns trouble-makers

By Binoo Joshi

JAMMU, Dec 16 — At least two soldiers were killed and three wounded when two militants of the Lashker-e-Toiba mounted a suicide attack on an Indian Army camp in Mendhar in the frontier district of Poonch, around 200 km north of Jammu, early today.

Official sources said the two extremists sneaked into the high-security Mendhar base camp from where soldiers are deputed to various forward positions along the Line of Control (LoC), which is barely 10 km from the camp. The two extremists opened fire and killed two soldiers and wounded three before escaping.

Lashker-e-Toiba, the group that introduced suicide attacks in Jammu and Kashmir in August last year, claimed responsibility for the attack. Its spokesman, Abu Osama, told reporters on telephone that two activists of his group, Abu Sayaad and Abu Rizwan, had attacked the camp. “Both of them have come out of the camp without any harm,” Osama said.

The Lashker-e-Toiba is against the unilateral ceasefire announced by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to coincide with the holy month of Ramzan. It has vowed to escalate violence during the ceasefire. This is the third suicide attack on camps of the security forces since the ceasefire came into effect on November 28.

Eight security personnel were killed and 14 wounded in the earlier attacks. The first attack took place at a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Anantnag, around 55 km south of Srinagar, on December 2, in which six troopers were killed and eight wounded. The second took place at Shitloo, 60 km north of Srinagar, three days later in which an officer and a soldier of the Indian Army were killed.

An official spokesman said two militants, including a tehsil commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, were killed when the police returned fire after being attacked by them during a patrol at Bhargi-Bandoh in Doda district of Jammu last night. Some arms and ammunition were seized from the slain militants.

The spokesman said militants shot dead two persons, Sonaullah Wani and Mohammad Ishaq, outside their houses at Zinhal-Banihal and Ashar-Banihal in Doda district last night.

A special police officer Fayaz Ahmad Mir was killed in a scuffle with inmates of a house at Gumru of Baramulla district last night, he said. Fayaz, a surrendered militant, and an associate forced their entry into the house of Abdul Gani Baba in the village and tried to abduct his son at gun-point. The inmates of the house resisted the two which resulted in a scuffle in which Fayaz was killed.

The spokesman said a civilian, who was injured in a grenade explosion at Arwani on Wednesday succumbed to injuries in a hospital at Srinagar today.

A house was damaged completely and five others partially in a powerful blast at Kaloosa in Baramulla district last night, he said.

However, the police said militants attacked the houses occupied by the Army with rockets and explosives which caused damage to the property. No one was injured in the incident.

Meanwhile, three militants laid down their arms before police in frontier district of Kupwara last evening, the spokesman said.

SRINAGAR: As differences came to the fore in Hurriyat Conference, its chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat has warned that indiscipline will not be tolerated in the alliance which symbolised the political unity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Individuals or groups committing a breach of discipline would be thrown out of the alliance,” Professor Bhat said addressing a Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar.

The warning comes a day ahead of the crucial meeting of the executive of the alliance.

Mr Bhat said, “The Hurriyat symbolised the political unity of the people of J&K and attempts to wreck it would never be allowed.

He said the Hurriyat desired a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue so that peace and security could be guaranteed in the region.

He lamented what he termed as “continued blood-letting” inspite of the ceasefire and said “side by side with the ceasefire, India and Pakistan should take Hurriyat leaders into confidence to concentrate on resolving the Kashmir issue.”

Mr Bhat said solving the Kashmir issue permanently either by implementing UN resolutions or through tripartite talks only would alone be in the interest of the future.

Earlier, addressing the congregation, former chairman of Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said that the umbrella organisation was likely to open sub offices in Saudi Arabia, the USA the UK and Geneva to utilise every diplomatic resource to marshal greater international support for the Kashmir cause.

“The international community has accepted the Hurriyat as the authentic voice of the Kashmiri people and a step would be taken to articulate Kashmiri aspirations in world councils,” Mirwaiz claimed.

He defended his recent trip to New Delhi along with other Hurriyat leaders which had come in for sharp criticism from sections within the Hurriyat, saying “they were part of the diplomatic initiative which Hurriyat leaders undertook individually or collectively from time to time to apprise the world of the real situation in Kashmir.” — IANS, PTI



APHC to decide on talks today
From Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 16— With a sharply divided All-Party Hurriyat Conference meeting tomorrow to decide whether to enter into a dialogue with the Indian Government or not, Islamabad is faced with a dilemma over its exact role in the future.

With a majority of the senior Hurriyat leaders barring the Jammat-e-Islami leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, favouring talks, Pakistan was leaving no stone unturned to remain in the picture, the sources said.

Since the unilateral ceasefire offer from the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, last month had generated tremendous goodwill for New Delhi, Islamabad’s military government obviously was not in a position to be seen opposing it, the observers said. That was why Islamabad was trying to evolve a suitable strategy to meet the challenge of peace from India, they said.

As Pakistan is coming under tremendous pressure from international quarters because of its financial needs, the military regime in Islamabad has told the Hurriyat leaders that they could enter into a dialogue with New Delhi but with a rider.

Since, the expatriate Kashmiri community as well as the decision making circles in the Western capitals have been telling the Hurriyat leadership that it is time to find a solution to the Kashmir problem and the gun culture must come to an end it is becoming increasingly necessary for Islamabad to evolve a credible response to the emerging situation.

With the international campaign against terrorism gaining ground, both Moscow and Washington have been sending strong signals to Islamabad that it should contribute its mite to wards end terrorism in the region.

But what has taken Islamabad by surprise is the fact that even Beijing is not so supportive of Pakistan’s support to militancy and fundamentalism.

With these factors playing an important role in Islamabad’s calculations, Pakistan’s military leadership seems to be pursuing a twin approach towards Kashmir.

While Islamabad was able to read the mind of the People Conference leader, Mr A.G. Lone when he was in Pakistan to attend his son’s marriage, the Pakistan High Commissioner, Mr Ashraf Jehangir Qazi had separate meetings with the Hurriyat Chairman, Prof A.G.Bhat and the former Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, at the High Commission last week to assess the situation and convey to them Islamabad’s strategy to them.

While earlier the Pakistan High Commission officials used to meet the Hurriyat leaders together in a group holding individual meetings was a new element, the sources pointed out.

On the one hand moderate elements within the APHC are being encouraged to enter into talks and on the other hand hardliners like Syed Ali Shah Geelani are being asked to remain steadfast in their opposition to any track with New Delhi.

If talks fail to develop as expected by Islamabad then hardliners would again be back in currency.

In this background, the Hurriyat leadership was expected to tell the Centre that they should be allowed to visit Pakistan , the sources said. The visit to Pakistan was necessary for persuading the militant groups to end their operations in Jammu and Kashmir so that a conducive atmosphere could be built for a dialogue, the Hurriyat would stress.

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