Monday, June 4, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

14 ultras shot in gunbattles
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Jammu, June 3
The security forces today achieved one of the biggest successes in the past 10 years when at least 14 hardcore militants, most of them foreign mercenaries, were killed in two separate incidents in Poonch district.

According to the SSP Mr Kamal Saini, the police received information that a big group of foreign mercenaries had established a hideout at Aurangabad Dhok village near Sujla in Poonch and a joint operation was launched with the help of the Army.

The hideout was cordoned off late last evening. When the police and the troops neared the hideout they came under heavy fire. But before the militants could cause any damage the police and the troops smashed the hideout. When the gunfire stopped a search was carried out and the bodies of four slain militants were recovered.

Mr Saini said all of them were Pakistani nationals and belonged either to the Lashkar-e-Toiba or the Al Badr.

He said the elimination of these 10 militants had saved the Poonch belt as this group had been assigned the task of blowing up vital bridges and convoys of the security forces, besides attacking soft targets to create scare among the people.

In another encounter between the security forces and the militants, at least four foreign mercenaries were killed at Kachal Bala village near Surankot in Poonch district. The encounter, which started early this morning, was continuing till the filing of this report.

Meanwhile, the security forces foiled an intrusion bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district while two persons were killed and one injured in Jammu division since yesterday, official sources said.

The sources said the troops laid an ambush when a group of militants was infiltrating into the Indian side via Mendhar sector early yesterday.

As the militants entered into the Indian side, the troops challenged them and in the ensuing firefight one militant was killed while others managed to cross towards the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

During a search in the area, the troops recovered one AK rifle, 20 kg of explosives, besides Rs 2,000 in Indian currency.

SRINAGAR: The security forces scuttled militant attempts to trigger explosions in the Kashmir valley with the recovery of two powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The BSF detected and defused a 15-kg IED at Mangloora on the Srinagar-Gulmarg road in north Kashmir on Sunday, a police spokesperson said.

A similar device, planted in a pressure cooker and left on the road at Chipora in Kupwara district, was defused by experts on Saturday night, he added.



Hizb offers to cease fire

Srinagar, June 3
The Hizbul Mujahideen has said it will halt militant operations in Jammu and Kashmir if India and Pakistan adopt a “realistic approach” to solve the Kashmir issue.

“Our activities will lessen proportionally to both the countries giving up their rigid stand to solve the Kashmir problem in a realistic approach,” chief commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Abdul Majid Dar told PTI in an exclusive interview after the group withdrew its ceasefire in August last year.

By the same realistic yardstick, the 46-year-old Dar admits that a solution could not emerge in only one meeting between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf.

“We know there cannot be miracles overnight. Our judgement criteria will be the joint statement issued after the meeting between the two leaders. If we feel that both are agreeing to solve the problem and in principle agree, that this is a dispute and want to solve it according to the wishes of the people, we will react accordingly,” said Dar, who came into prominence in July last year when he suddenly announced unilateral ceasefire.

Asked why the Hizbul Mujahideen had stepped up its activities even after the second initiative of the Prime Minister in inviting Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf for talks, Dar said “the initiative of Vajpayee was abrupt and we never knew he will take such a stand.”

About the recent visit of the government’s interlocutor on Kashmir, K.C. Pant, the Hizbul chief said “it is also a confused move. Last year we announced ceasefire. If government would have announced that the Hurriyat Conference and the Hizbul Mujahideen are invited for talks and simultaneously engaged in a dialogue with Pakistan, probably a solution would have emerged by now.”

“Even if the government had announced the similar measures during the Ramzan ceasefire, it could have helped in confidence building in the state,” Dar, who has visited Pakistan thrice, said.

Outlining the action plan of the Hizbul Mujahideen in the present scenario, Dar said “we welcome the Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting. Though it is late but it is a positive step.” He said “if both the countries move away from their beaten tracks, we will be most happy and we will cooperate.”

Dar made it clear that the Hizbul Mujahideen would not be a “hurdle” in any peace moves. “We will never create hurdles because we know our people are dying. Some fools alone will allow this bloodshed to continue.”

Referring to Kashmiri Pandit migrants, the Hizbul chief said “we want that they should return. In fact all those who even fled to Pakistan. But who will guarantee their stay? Even some government agencies could attack them to tarnish the image of militants.” PTI


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