Wednesday, July 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S


J&K killings are not jehad: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
India today sent out a clear signal to Pakistan to end its sponsorship of cross-border terrorism and said the killings of innocent people in Jammu and Kashmir could not be “glorified” as “jehad”.

Expressing its readiness to engage in “quiet, serious diplomacy” for building up a relationship of peace, friendship and cooperation, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee blamed Pakistan for its refusal to end cross-border terrorism, saying this was the “main hurdle” in the creation of a conducive atmosphere.

In an identical statement in both Houses of Parliament, the Prime Minister said: “We cannot ignore the fact of terrorism and violence in the state, which is exported from across the borders. We cannot accept that the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir today, with its foreign mercenaries and generous assistance from abroad, is anything but terrorism,” he said.

The Prime Minister, however showed his resolve in solving the complex issue of Jammu and Kashmir and made it clear that India would continue to seek dialogue and reconciliation with Pakistan.

A structured discussion on the summit would be held in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha enabling members to seek clarification from the government.

While giving an overview of the Agra summit the Prime Minister said New Delhi would persist with its efforts to convince Pakistan that bilateral cooperation “should not be held hostage to the resolution of any one issue”.

Debunking reports that the talks had been a failure, he said “though we could not conclude a joint document in Agra, we did achieve a degree of understanding.”

The Prime Minister said while India would build on this, its concerns in vital areas — such as cross-border terrorism — “will have to find a place in any document that future negotiations endeavour to conclude”.

Mr Vajpayee said he had accepted President Pervez Musharraf’s invitation to visit Pakistan but gave no indication on when he would do so.

About the extensive talks he had with the Pakistani President on July 15 and 16 which lasted for over five hours, the Prime Minister said he had taken up specific issues including that of the 54 Indian PoWs in Pakistani jails and the extradition of the known terrorists and criminals.

India has been seeking the extradition of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, his accomplices and the hijackers of Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar.

Mr Vajpayee said he had conveyed in clear terms to the Pakistani side that India had the will, resolve and strength to counter terrorism and violence till they were decisively crushed.

Sticking to his one-point agenda, General Musharraf focussed almost exclusively on Jammu and Kashmir the Prime Minister said.

Referring to the confidence-building measures including the easing of visa restrictions, announced by New Delhi ahead of the summit, Mr Vajpayee said his government was committed to implementing them.

He maintained that there was no worthwhile purpose in debating whether or not Jammu and Kashmir is a ‘core issue’ and said the two sides had to eventually abandon the quest for a joint document since Pakistan insisted on a “settlement” of the issue as a pre-condition for normalisation of ties.

Countering Islamabad’s persistent demand that the wishes of the Kashmiri people should be taken into account, Mr Vajpayee said his government was willing to listen to all streams of Kashmiri opinion as long as they abjure violence.

"Bandit Queen" Phoolan Devi shot dead in Delhi

NEW DELHI, July 25 (Reuters) - India's former "Bandit Queen" Phoolan Devi was shot dead in New Delhi on Wednesday, police said.

"She was shot outside her house. She was brought to hospital...where she was declared dead," senior police official Suresh Roy told Reuters.

Aaj Tak television said 37-year-old Devi was shot by unidentified gunmen and was taken to the capital's Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.

Devi became a member of the Indian lower house of parliament in 1996, was defeated in 1998 elections and made a comeback in 1999.

Devi rose to notoriety in 1981 when 22 upper-caste men were massacred in the northern Indian village of Behmai. She denied leading the killers but surrendered to police in the central state of Madhya Pradesh in 1983.

She was later portrayed in the film "Bandit Queen" as a rape victim from a low-caste community of boatmen whose career of crime began as a search for revenge on her attackers.




Swami briefs Advani on J&K situation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
The Minister of State for Home, Mr I.D. Swami, who had led a two-member fact-finding team to Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of stepped-up terrorist violence which resulted in the massacre of Amarnath yatris and villagers in Doda is understood to have briefed the Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani on his return here last night.

The Minister of State, who was accompanied by Mr A.K. Bhandari, Special Secretary in the ministry in charge of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs, were, however, unable to reach the village which was the sight of the carnage because of inclement weather. Both of them had detailed meetings with senior security and state government officials in Jammu where the present strategy was reviewed and suggestions made to augment security in the remote areas in the wake of threats by jehadi groups from across the border in the post Agra summit era.

While Home Ministry officials were reluctant to reveal details of the meeting since the written report was yet to be submitted, sources said the Minister of State for Home in his briefing to Mr Advani identified certain weak areas in the security apparatus.

The sources said it was also discussed that while the security forces had several successes, the militants still were able to strike at will since the forces were spread thin, especially in the remote areas and because of the inhospitable terrain.

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