Monday, July 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

16 massacred in Kishtwar
4 VDC members kidnapped
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 22
Shock waves were sent across the state when Pakistan-aided militants massacred 16 members of one community at Cheerji village, 20 km from Kishtwar, in Doda district today. It is the second massacre since yesterday’s killing of 13 persons, including six pilgrims, at Seshnag.

An unconfirmed PTI report put the toll at 30.

An Indian policeman checks the belongings of a Hindu pilgrim before allowing him to move ahead towards the Holy cave of Amarnath
A policeman checks the belongings of a pilgrim before allowing him to move ahead towards the holy cave of Amarnath, at Chandanwari, 111 km southeast of Srinagar, on Sunday.
— Reuters photo

Official reports said that five other persons, including four village defence committee members, were kidnapped at Chattroo in Kishtwar subdivision. While the police said that search operations have been launched for tracing the five abducted persons, unofficial reports said that all five had been killed. There was no official confirmation.

The police said a group of militants swooped on Cheerji village and dragged 16 persons out of their houses. They were taken a few metres away and lined up. Two militants opened fire, leaving 15 dead on the spot. One was critically wounded and the authorities were trying to bring him to Jammu Medical College. However, unofficial reports said that the injured had also succumbed to his wounds.

A pall of gloom fell on the village and groups of women wailed and swooned over the massacre. The police said that in 1995, four Hindus had been killed in the same village.

The police and paramilitary forces were rushed to the village and senior police officers ordered the setting up of a security picket in the village to prevent militants from attacking other civilians.

In Chattroo, militants kidnapped five persons, including four village defence committee members, at gunpoint. Reports here said that the militants forcibly carried the five civilians with them to the forest belt. Villagers immediately informed the police.

Security forces were rushed to the area and search operations launched. The police said that till this afternoon, there was no trace of the kidnapped persons and hence nothing could be said with certainty about them.

A senior police officer said that the Sheshnag incident and the two incidents in Kishtwar were aimed at kicking up communal disorder in the country. The Doda district authorities have secured the help for senior citizens belonging to both the communities to ensure communal peace while the Shiv Sena has given a call for Jammu bandh tomorrow in protest against the two massacres.

Senior government functionaries said that Pakistani agencies, including a section in the Army, were trying to sabotage the peace process and the second round of the proposed Indo-Pak summit by not only killing innocent people but also resorting to heavy firing and shelling on various sectors on this side of the LoC from Kargil to Poonch.

They said that General Pervez Musharraf may not be ignorant of these developments and there was every indication that such acts were being committed to force India to grant concessions to Pakistan on Kashmir during the next round of talks.

SRINAGAR (PTI): Militants lobbed a grenade at the house of Jammu and Kashmir Works Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar while two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were among five persons killed in other incidents in the Kashmir valley since last night, official sources said today.

The grenade fell short of the target and exploded outside the boundary wall of Mr Sagar’s house at 9.20 p.m. yesterday. He was not present in the house at the time of the attack.

Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in a gunfight with the security forces at Shiva in Baramulla district today, the police said.

Unidentified gunmen shot dead a civilian in Kupwara district last night, while the police found the body of another civilian in Anantnag district.

Security forces shot dead a person said to be “mentally retarded” last night when he ignored their signal to stop outside their camp at Manasbal in Baramulla district, the sources said, adding that he was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Militants shot at and injured one person at Ujjam-Dialgam in Anantnag district last evening.

Meanwhile, security forces smashed a number of militant hideouts during search operations at Dardpora, Lolab and Choga forests in Kupwara district and seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition.

The seizures from the hideouts included 13 AK assault rifles and a general purpose machine gun (pika), the police said describing the seizure as a major breakthrough.



Amarnath yatra resumes
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, July 22
The Amarnath yatra, which was suspended yesterday, following the Sheshnag incident in which 13 persons were killed, was resumed today.

A paramilitary jawan stands guard to Amarnath pilgrims at Srinagar on Sunday morning.
paramilitary jawan stands guard to Amarnath pilgrims at Srinagar on Sunday morning.
— Photo by Amin War.

An official spokesman said here that 1,171 pilgrims had darshan of the holy ice lingam of Lord Shiva at the holy cave shrine of Amarnath. With this the total number of pilgrims joining the yatra this year has touched 1.10 lakh.

Bodies of the two of the three women pilgrims killed yesterday in the militants’ firing have been identified, an official spokesman said. They are Mrs Sulba Madan and Mrs Varsha Mohumini Dharamadhikari from Kolapora in Maharashtra. Other yatris killed in the incident included Asim Ghosh (West Bengal), Kunwar Surjeet (West Bengal) and Tukka Ram (Maharashtra).

Meanwhile, the two-member Central team comprising Minister of State for Home, Mr I.D. Swami, and Special Secretary, Home, Mr A. Bhandari, arrived here today to take stock of the situation arising out of yesterday’s killings. Accompanied by the Director-General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Mr A.K. Suri, they flew to Sheshnag, the site of the incident.

Later, they called on the Governor, Mr Girish Chander Saxena, and discussed with him the security arrangements for the yatris. Mr Saxena, who also heads the newly constituted Amarnath Shrine Board, had visited the site yesterday.



More forces for Doda
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 22
A high-level meeting of senior police officers was held here this evening to chalk out the future plan for containing the activities of militants in Doda district.

It was decided to approach the Army and the BSF to make available at least 20 companies of the forces that could carry out patrolling in sensitive areas of the troubled Doda district, especially the Hindu-dominated areas in Kishtwar and Bhaderwah.

The police said one of the injured in the militant attack in Cheerji was battling for life. He has been identified as Deepu. He could not be airlifted to Jammu because the helicopter could not land in Kishtwar owing to inclement weather.



Al Badr threatens to attack installations

Islamabad, July 22
Kashmiri militant group Al Badr has threatened to attack Indian military installations and prominent government and military officials if India does not stop calling Kashmir its integral part. Ahmed Hamza, deputy chief of the group, told Online news agency such acts were not terrorism but categorised as “jehad”.

India would never give up its inflexible Kashmir policy, Hamza said asking Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf not to expect anything good from Indian leaders.

He said External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh’s statements indicated that further dialogue on the issue would be a wild goose chase. IANS


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