Sunday, May 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Decision on J&K truce extension soon: Advani
Shabir Shah writes to Musharraf

Srinagar, May 19
After a crucial meeting at the Unified Command Headquarters here, Home Minister L.K. Advani today said the Centre would soon decide on extention of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir in a manner that will “subserve both peace and security”.

Mr Advani told mediapersons that the Cabinet committee on security would consider measures to be pursued for heralding peace and ensuring security of border people in the state.

“Inputs that we have received today have been very valuable and these would enable the Government of India to take its decision correctly and in a manner so as to ensure that both our objectives, namely of peace as well security, are subserved,” the Home Minister said.

Earlier, Mr Advani presided over a meeting of the Unified Command which was attended by Defence Minister Jaswant Singh and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, even as DFP chief Shabir Ahmad Shoh wrote to Pakistan on the ongoing peace process in Kashmir.

The ceasefire expires on May 31. At today’s meeting Governor G.C. Sexana, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, GOC, Northern Command, the Director-General of Police, heads of different intelligence agencies and senior Home Ministry officials were present.

This was the first visit by Mr Advani and Mr Jaswant Singh to Jammu and Kashmir after Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced a unilateral ceasefire on November 28, the first day of the holy month of Ramzan.

Their visit assumes significance as it will be followed by the visit of Centre’s chief negotiator K.C. Pant to the state.

The meeting was reportedly told about the overall situation in the state, particularly in the Kashmir valley, which has witnessed an increase in the militant activities after the Centre’s unilateral ceasefire. It also took note of the sharp increase in the ‘fidayeen’ attacks on the security forces in the state.

The security was tightened in and around S.K. International Convention Complex where the meeting was held. No mediaperson was allowed inside the hall. However, there was a brief photo-session before the start of the meeting.

Leaders and officers were told that the border remained peaceful with no report of any shelling or firing by Pakistan after the ceasefire came into effect.

They were told that there had been 17 ‘fidayeen’ attacks on security camps in the valley after the ceasefire in which 100 securitymen were either killed or wounded. Killings of political leaders and workers and counter-insurgents also showed a marked increase after the ceasefire.

Official figures here said 36 political leaders and workers were killed by militants after the ceasefire, 31 of the NC alone.

There had been a 100 per cent increase in the killing of counter-insurgents. Surrendered militants, informers, released militants, special police officers and village defence committee members were specially targeted by the militants after the ceasefire.

The meeting was reportedly told that there were 1,530 cases of grenade attack, IED blast, shootout, arson and abduction in which 404 civilians 214 securitymen and 415 militants were killed.

The participants were told that those living in areas near the Line of Control were happy that they could go to their fields without any fear of being hit by Pakistani shells as guns at the borders had fallen silent after the ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) President Shabir Ahmad Shah has written a letter to Pakistani military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf regarding the ongoing peace process in Kashmir.

The letter will be delivered to Pakistani envoy Qazi Ashraf Jehangir in New Delhi tomorrow by a two-member JKDFP delegation, a party spokesman said.

He said secretary general Maulana Mohammad Abdullah Tari and chief organiser Syed Saleem Geelani would leave for Delhi tomorrow to hand over the letter to Mr Jehangir.

Mr Shabir Shah, who has sought clarification from the Centre’s interlocutor on Kashmir, Mr K.C. Pant on whether India is willing to involve Pakistan in the Kashmir dialogue, said yesterday he would hold talks with Mr Pant when he visited the valley in the near future.

He asserted that Kashmiri leaders across the globe, including those in occupied Kashmir, favoured continuation of the dialogue process. PTI, UNI


Advani acted saboteur: APHC
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 19
Blaming the Central Government for sabotaging several peace initiatives on Jammu and Kashmir, the Hurriyat Conference today preferred the “right to self-determination” to tripartite talks for a peace solution to the Kashmir issue.

Speaking at a seminar on the “Kashmir issue and tripartite talks” organsied by the Hurriyat Conference in memory of the late Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Farooq on his 11th death anniversary, the Hurriyat leaders said they were not averse to talks. The talks should, however, be meaningful. The APHC leaders who spoke on the occasion including its chairman, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, and senior executive member Abdul Ghani Lone.

The Indian Government is not serious Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, APHC Chairman, said, adding that the government’s refusal to allow its leaders to visit Pakistan had delayed the peace process.

“Ours was a realistic suggestion” that would have paved the way for peace not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but in the entire sub-continent, declared Mr Bhat.

The APHC Chairman, referring to today’s visit of the Union Home Minister and the Defence Minister for a high-level meeting of the Unified Command, declared it was aimed at “implementing a pro-active policy” in Kashmir.

Both Mr Bhat and Abdul Ghani Lone blamed Home Minister L.K. Advani for sabotaging the talks process and declared that the Hurriyat Conference was the sole representative body of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

They criticised the Farooq Abdullah government for making preparations to manipulate votes in his favour even when the Prime Minister had announced to hold talks for resolving the Kashmir issue.

Hurriyat leaders reiterated that talks were the only solution to the problem adding that it “has been consistently demanding unconditional talks”. Referring to the recent talks offer by the Centre’s chief negotiator, Mr K.C. Pant, the APHC Chairman claimed that these were “within the framework of the Indian Constitution and the ideology of the government”.

He reiterated that APHC leaders’ Pakistan visit was necessary in finding a solution to the Kashmir problem. The talks have to start from Islamabad and flow to Srinagar, Muzaffarabad and Delhi”, he said. A line must be drawn to differentiate between terrorists and militants. “They (militants) Mujahideen will listen to the voice of the people alone for whom they have been fighting”, Mr Abdul Ghani Bhat said.

The APHC Chairman lamented the fact that after having agreed to allow its leaders to visit Pakistan, the government had backtracked. He referred to his two meetings with Mr Mishra, Central Government’s emissary.

Mr Bhat said the Prime Minister had even announced on January 25 that the ministry concerned was looking into the papers of Hurriyat leaders for their visit to Pakistan.


One killed in Srinagar blast

Srinagar, May 19
One person was killed and 14 others injured in a powerful explosion triggered by militants near a crowded bus stand in the city afternoon, official sources said.

The blast occurred as militants threw a hand grenade at an Army patrol near the bus stand in Batmaloo at 1 p.m. injuring two soldiers and 13 civilians, they said. The injured were rushed to hospital where one of them succumbed to injuries, sources said, adding the condition of another injured was stated to be “critical”. No militant outfit has so far owned responsibility for the blast, they added.

Nine persons including four militants and two securitymen, were killed and 16 others injured in separate incidents in Kashmir valley since last night, where militants also triggered a grenade explosion near a crowded bus stand today. UNI

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