Wednesday, May 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pant starts dialogue with Shabir Shah
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 29
Describing the Jammu and Kashmir issue as an old problem, Mr K.C. Pant, Centre’s chief negotiator on Kashmir, today said that there was a need for patience and understanding to evolve solutions.

Talking to mediapersons outside the residence of senior separatist leader, Shabir Ahmad Shah, where the two had over an hour-long meeting this morning, Mr Pant said the meeting was held in “good atmosphere”. He added that it was the beginning of the dialogue. “What his (Shabir’s) anxieties were and concerns were, he has explained. I have taken note of them”, Mr Pant said. The Jammu and Kashmir issue was full of “complexities” he said adding the process of dialogue was not that it could be decided in a meeting or so. “So we have to be prepared, patient to understand each other to build up trust and then to go ahead and see how things develop and evolve solutions”, Mr Pant said.

In his comments, Mr Shah expressed concern over yesterday’s statement of the Foreign Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, describing Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India. “I am upset and hurt over Jaswant Singh’s statement... it is painful”, Shah said adding it was brought to the notice of the Centre’s chief negotiator, Mr K.C. Pant. “When the whole world is pressing for talks to solve the Kashmir problem, which is a nuclear flashpoint, Jaswant Singh should not have said this”, he commented.

Answering questions, Mr Pant defended the statement made by the Foreign Minister and said it was not a news to anybody. “Everybody knows that this is India’s stand, Mr Pant commented.

Mr Pant held that human rights angle was important and the government was sensitive to it. He disclosed that the Army had provided him details of the instances of the alleged violation of human rights, which also included the number of complaints they had received and the number of inquiries held and the number of persons punished for the violation of human rights.

Reiterating his demand for an end to the violation of human rights in Kashmir, while appreciating Prime Minister’s invitation to General Pervez Musharraf, Mr Shah demanded “more of positive measures to be taken” to make possible “congenial atmosphere in which a comprehensive dialogue to resolve the Kashmir conflict can thrive”. In his two-page letter addressed to Mr Pant, Mr Shah, Chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) sought the involvement of Kashmiris in the talks.

“Now that a seemingly serious step has been taken by the Government of India in this direction, what else can the people of J&K hope pray for than a result-oriented dialogue.

The alleviation of our sufferings depends on the success of this dialogue. Let narrowly conceived perceptions be abandoned so that the high road to peace yields itself to sight”, the letter addressed to Mr Pant said.


Truce revoked to soothe people
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
The objective of revoking the unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir was to reduce the harassment caused to the people at large as the political process had failed to make any headway.

There has been widespread resentment about the alleged high handedness of the security forces since the imposition of the ceasefire in the sensitive border state. The perception in the Union Government is that ending the ceasefire will remove the sting and provide the direly needed soothing balm to the average citizen.

The decision to end the cessation of combat operations against stepped-up terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir also removes the shackles imposed on the security forces thus giving them a free hand in going whole hog in dealing with the Pakistan-aided militants.

Even though it is widely held that the hardliners in the BJP-led NDA have held sway in revoking the seven-month old unilateral ceasefire aimed at checking any further deterioration in the law and order situation in the valley, the security forces will no longer have to meet the challenge of terrorism with one hand tied behind their back.

Authoritative sources said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman and the Union Government’s main interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir K.C. Pant presently in Srinagar to assess the feelings among a wide cross section of public opinion “cannot be rushed.”

It is not anybody’s case that neither the political parties nor the Kashmiri militants can be forced into evolving a consensus on bringing peace to Jammu and Kashmir. This is particularly so as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s ceasefire initiative as a policy has failed.

It is apparent that Mr Pant wants to feel the pulse of all sections, including the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), pertaining to the Centre’s peace effort. Mr Vajpayee has said in Manali that it will be worthwhile for the APHC to first hold discussions with the Union Government’s pointsperson. Having an interface with Pakistan’s Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf is something which comes much later.

There is a growing feeling in government circles here that the George Bush administration in Washington wants the Indo-Pakistan dialogue to get under way despite divergent views on the protracted Kashmir tangle. While India maintains that Jammu and Kashmir is an inalienable part of this country, Pakistan insists that Kashmir is the core issue and must take precedence over other matters.

Considering the well-known positions of the two neighbours, there is a growing realisation that military rule in Pakistan cannot be wished away with Gen Pervez Musharraf at the helm of affairs. Therefore, the talk in the corridors of power is veering round to strengthening the hands of Gen Musharraf for embarking on any purposeful two way partnership aimed at reducing tension in South Asia.Back


Bid on Omar Abdullah’s life

Srinagar, May 29
Union Minister of State Omar Abdullah today escaped an attack on his life when militants fired grenades at a women’s college building here injuring four girl students and a woman, minutes after he had left the premises.

Pro-Pakistan Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in a call to a local news agency claimed the responsibility for the attack.

Militants fired three rifle grenades in quick succession towards the women’s degree college at Nawakadal in downtown Srinagar around 12.30 p.m., 10 minutes after Omar Abdullah left the college after a function, official sources said.

“Our activists launched the grenade attack when the Union Minister and son of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was present in the college,” a spokesman for the outfit told a local news agency.

The spokesman said the attack was aimed at the life of Omar Abdullah.

The Union Minister had gone to the college to inaugurate a science laboratory and computer branch.

The grenades fell in the college premises injuring the four girls and a woman. The sources said the injured were rushed to nearby SMHS hospital where they are undergoing treatment.

The security forces immediately sealed the entire area and launched a hunt to nab the militants involved in the incident.

A possible tragedy was averted with the timely detection of two powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Jammu and Kashmir, where militants attacked the house of a ruling National Conference leader and exchanged fire with the security forces at three places since yesterday.

Four militants were arrested and a big cache of arms and ammunition was seized in the valley during the period, an official spokesman said here today.

He said two powerful IEDs planted in two gas cylinders weighing 5 kg each were detected by BSF troops under Wathoora bridge on Srinagar-Chrar-e-Sharief road early today.

The militants fired at the house of National Conference leader B.A. Nengroo in Pulwama district last night. A police guards posted at his residence returned the fire and repulsed the militant attack, the spokesman said.

JAMMU: At least seven Bangladesh nationals were killed by the BSF in the Hiranagar sub sector of the Jammu region on Tuesday while they were trying to cross over to the Pakistani side.

According to official sources, a group of some Bangladeshis was trying to cross over to the Pakistani side from the Haria Chack area of Hiranagar tehsil of the Jammu region in the wee hours today when the BSF men deployed in the area, assuming that they were militants, opened fire on them.

Seven Bangladeshis were killed on the spot, the police said. However, the BSF was terming them as ‘’intruders.’’ PTI, UNI

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