Tuesday, February 6, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

1 killed in police firing
Sikh protesters set ablaze 10 vehicles; Army out
Tribune News Service and UNI

JAMMU, Feb 5 — Violence rocked several parts of the city on which indefinite curfew was imposed in the early hours of today. The Army was called to guard the sensitive areas here. In Srinagar, two Armymen were among three killed and as many injured by militants today.

One person, Mohinder Singh, was killed when the security forces opened fire to disperse demonstrators who were protesting against the killing of eight Sikhs in Srinagar on Saturday. They also attacked a business establishment. Three persons were wounded in the firing and one of them was shifted to the PGI in Chandigarh.

The Divisional Commissioner, Mr Anil Goswami, has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the firing.

A police spokesman said a mob gathered at Narwal and started marching towards Malik Market. The authorities tried to stop them but they turned unruly. After a lathi-charge proved ineffective, the security forces opened fire in which three persons were wounded and one of them succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

At several places, angry protesters, most of them Sikhs, tried to defy curfew restrictions and take out processions. The police lobbed tear gas shells, lathi-charged demonstrators and had to resort to firing into the air. As the situation turned tense in the Nanak Nagar area, the Army was deployed to enforce curfew restrictions.

The protesters set ablaze more than 10 vehicles, including three belonging to the police and the government, and damaged several shops. One transformer was also set on fire. A sub office of the Central Water Commission was ransacked.

According to eyewitness accounts, more than 25 persons, including 10 policemen, had been injured.

A couple of Army columns were deployed to guard Muslim-dominated localities, including Narwal.

Indefinite curfew was also imposed on Udhampur. The police authorities said the curfew was clamped as part of precautionary measures following reports that the two towns may witness violence over the massacre of the Sikhs in Srinagar.

Normal life was paralysed in Jammu and Udhampur. At several places the police had raised barriers to check the movement of vehicles. Entry into highly sensitive areas had been restricted. Buses were off the road and all shopping centres remained closed.

Though the government had ordered the closure of educational institutions only work in all government offices, banks and public sector corporations was affected because of very thin attendance.

The police said a cameraman, working for Hind Samachar was injured at Narwal and had been hospitalised.

Stray incidents of violence were reported from Kathua district. Several political and social organisations, including the State Gurdwara Prabandhak Board, have condemned the massacre. They appealed to people to maintain communal amity.

The Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, and the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, while condemning the massacre, appealed to the people to remain calm.

Muslim leader Syed Shahabuddin also condemned the massacre as “inhuman and viciously motivated” and expressed heartfelt sympathy for the members of the bereaved families.

A report from Amritsar said the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had condemned the attack on the Sikhs.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Badal said the killing of innocent people anywhere needed to be condemned. He also conveyed his condolences to members of the bereaved families.

The Chief Minister asked Dr Abdullah to take steps to install a sense of security among the Sikh community.

Meanwhile, at least three persons, including two Army personnel were killed and as many injured in the valley today.

A report from Baramula said the militants attacked a patrol party at Paripora in Sopore town of north Kashmir this afternoon with automatic weapons.

One soldier Subash Singh was killed and another, Jagan Singh, was injured in the ensuing encounter. The militants also took away the weapon of the injured jawan.

The security forces have launched a massive hunt to nab the militants. A number of villages have been cordoned off.

A jawan committed suicide at Kupwara this morning, the report added.

Official sources said the militants kidnapped Gulzar Ahmad Khan and later killed him at Ganderbal this morning.

The militants hurled a hand grenade towards the security forces at Naid Kadal in the down town city. However, it missed the intended target and exploded on the road side, injuring three persons.

The militants killed Mohammad Hussian, Zed Hussain and Karim Hussain, and one other, near Sunderbani in Rajouri district last night. Official sources said the militants stormed into the house of Zed Hussain and dragged the three out of their residence. They were taken to the nearby Barak forest where they were shot.


Central team meets J&K Sikhs
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, Feb 5 — A four-member Central team led by the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, has said that any decision on the migration of the Sikh minority from Kashmir following the recent killings would be taken by the political leadership.

The team members, including Mr Dhindsa, the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta (BJP), a BJP MP, Mr S.S. Ahluwalia and Mr Trilochan Singh, member of the National Minorities Commission, addressed a large number of Sikhs at Mahjoor Nagar Gurdwara here this afternoon. The team, appointed by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation following the killing of six Sikhs here on Saturday, later returned to New Delhi.

Mr Trilochan Singh asked the agitated Sikhs, gathered for a condolence meeting, to have patience and select a committee of about 20 members to discuss the issue of Sikhs’ safety in Kashmir with the political leadership.

The team had a miraculous escape after a portion of a screen of a BSF aircraft broke while the plane was flying at a considerable height. Mr Tarilochan Singh, told UNI that the pilot of the Beachcraft was able to bring the plane down to safety from a height of over 25,000 feet.


SGPC to take up issue with PM

NEW DELHI, Feb 5 (UNI) — SGPC President Jagdev Singh Talwandi said today that he would take up with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee the issue of violence against Sikhs in the Kashmir valley when they meet tomorrow.

Mr Talwandi, who was addressing a congregation at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib here, said this in reference to the killing of six Sikhs in Srinagar.

The SGPC chief said the Sikh minority community in the valley, which has been targeted for the third time in less than a year was terrified and wanted immediate protection.

Mr Talwandi will also meet RSS chief K. Sudarshan. Talwandi has refused to spell out the agenda of their meeting. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) President Avtar Singh Hit blamed the Kashmiri Sikh killings on the “weak policies of the Centre”, demanding the government immediately withdraw the ceasefire declaration in the valley.

Former APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq condemned the killings, adding that such incidents were aimed at driving a wedge between Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir.

Demanding a probe into the killings by a “neutral body” like Amnesty International, Mr Farooq said, “The Hurriyat Conference has always condemned such incidents where a common person falls a victim of bullets of unidentified gunmen.”

Senior separatist Kashmiri leader Shabir Shah also condemned the killings, adding that the incident was the handiwork of those “who do not want the peace process to succeed.”

The CPM called upon the people, the Sikh community in particular, in Srinagar to maintain calm in the face of provocation.

Condemning the killings, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) said such senseless killings aggravated problems instead of solving them.

A five-member Congress delegation, including Dr Manmohan Singh, will meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee tomorrow to discuss the relevance of the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the massacre of Sikhs in Srinagar on Saturday.

The delegation, including Mr Pranab Mukherjee and Mr Arjun Singh, would seek the safety of minorities in the valley.

Party spokesman Anand Sharma said as the unilateral ceasefire had failed to yield peace in the strife-torn state, the Congress would expect the government to take the Opposition into confidence and spell out its directions, policies, objectives and rationale behind the extension of the ceasefire in the valley.

“Ceasefire is not a licence to kill innocent people to undermine the peace process,” he added.

Condemning the ‘dastardly killing’ of six Sikhs in Srinagar, he said the intention was to create a communal divide in the state by the extremists backed from across the borders.

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