Tuesday, August 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Complete bandh in Jammu areas
Central team visits Kishtwar; Advani convenes meeting
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 6
A complete bandh was observed in Jammu, Udhampur and Kathua in protest against the Kishtwar massacre today.

For the third day the tension-bound Kishtwar and Bhaderwah town reeled under curfew restrictions. The police and para-military forces patrolled the towns.

Mr I.D. Swami, Union Minister of State for Home, and Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, accompanied by the BJP leader, Mr S.S. Bhandari, flew to Kishtwar and then to Atholi village in a chopper where they met groups of scared people and those who were wailing over the dead.

The team was informed that there wasn’t a national security arrangement in the upper reaches of Kishtwar.

The victims told the Central team in case security wasn’t beefed up in the area, many would be forced to migrate. The ministers assured them that security in the entire Doda district was under review. They said that village defence committees would be strengthened and their number increased.

On their return, Mr I.D. Swami and Prof Gupta discussed the security scenario with senior officers of the police, CRPF and the BSF at the technical airport. The Central team was informed that the state didn’t have sufficient forces for deployment in farflung areas. They suggested to the officers to ensure that each police station and security picket had sufficient men to handle the situation.

The Union Home Ministry was contemplating to send additional companies of para-military forces for Kishtwar and Bhaderwah areas. In addition to this the state government would be permitted to raise two more battalions of the police. The NSF may raise seven to nine companies with in the state.

Union Home Minister L K Advani has convened a top-level meeting in Delhi on August 8 evening to review the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir even as pressure mounts on the Atal Behari Vajpayee government to declare Doda a “disturbed area” in the wake of several massacres there by terrorists, according to a report from Delhi.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor G C Saxena and Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah have already been summoned for Wednesday’s meeting .

Significantly, commanders of 14 Corps, 15 Corps and 16 Corps of the Army deployed in J & K, Inspector Generals (IGs) of para-military forces and top Union Home Ministry officials will also be attending the August 8 meeting.

Meanwhile, groups of demonstrators protesting against the Kishtwar carnage torched Pakistani flags and effigies of Gen Pervez Musharraf in Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur. They also shouted anti-Farooq Abdullah and anti-Musharraf slogans.

The protesters raised blocks by burning truck tyres to disrupt passenger transport services. Only private cars were seen plying. Transport services on various routes remained off and most of the shopping centres remained closed.

Reluctant shopkeepers were made to down shutters when protesters resorted to stone pelting.  As a result of disruption in transport services attendance in government offices, banks and courts was quite thin. Skeleton transport services operated on inter-district routes.

The call for the bandh was given by the BJP, Shiv Sena and their sister organisations and had the tacit support of traders, transporters and mainstream political parties.

Mr Balraj Puri, a prominent human rights activist, has decided to send a representation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission seeking UN intervention for forcing agencies and individuals to stop killings in Jammu and Kashmir. While expressing concern over the continued killings in the state Mr Puri said that he would apprise the UN Human Rights Commission about the details of violations of human rights so that some corrective measures were adopted.

Reports from Kishtwar and Bhaderwah said that the authorities would watch the situation and allow some relaxation in the curfew restrictions either late this evening or tomorrow morning. In the meantime the district authorities were engaged in forming peace committees.


Govt put on mat over killings
Advani incapable, allege Oppn MPs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
The government today came in for a sharp criticism in both Houses of Parliament for its “total failure” to deal with the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with members cutting across the party lines and demanding a statement from the Home Minister on the recent massacre in Doda district.

While the Lok Sabha was particularly critical of the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani and his ministry’s inability to control the killings in Doda, the Rajya Sabha members termed Jammu and Kashmir as the “killing fields of India”.

The Congress took the lead in both Houses to raise the issue. While the Congress chief whip in Lok Sabha, Mr P.R, Dasmunshi, pointed out the lack of action on the part of the government during zero hour, it was Mr Arjun Singh in the Rajya Sabha who said there was something basically wrong in the policy over Jammu and Kashmir.

Even as the Lok Sabha witnessed literal chaos with different MPs simultaneously trying to draw the attention of the House about problems, Mr Dasmunshi could make his submission, saying that the Home Minister was “incapable, ineffective and insincere” in dealing with the situation.

He wondered whether Mr Advani deserved to continue in office in the wake of the recent massacre in Doda.

“If a district cannot be protected by the Home Minister, how can he protect the country ?” the Congress leader asked during zero hour.

Mr Dasmunshi said this was the third massacre in Jammu and Kashmir in the recent past but the Home Minister had adopted “callous” attitude to effectively stamp out militant activities aided and abetted by Islamabad. Mr Advani “has failed to ensure the safety of innocent people in Jammu and Kashmir,” he alleged.

The government had been talking about confidence building measures while cross-border terrorism had been continuing unabated, he said.

Opposition members, including CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee, demanded a statement from the Home Minister on what steps the government was taking to ensure protection of people in the state and to deal with the spurt in violence following the failure of the Agra summit.

Mr Chatterjee said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was “serious” and had become “grave” after the failure of the summit. “The Home Minister cannot absolve himself from what is happening in the state. There is a clear indication of lack of security,” he said.

The CPM leader said the government was only reacting to the violent incidents. “Security is not a matter of reaction. The government has to provide protection,” he said.

Raising the issue, BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana, who earlier even chose to ignore Deputy Speaker P.M. Sayeed’s repeated pleas to allow Mr Dasmunshi to complete his statement, said the government should act firmly against the Pakistan-sponsored mercenaries. “How can Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf term the terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir as freedom struggle when innocent men, women and children are being targeted day in and day out ?”, he questioned.

Mr Khurana, supported by party colleagues Vinay Katiyar, Vijay Goel, Mahant Aditya Nath and others, demanded that the Home Minister should take the House into confidence.

Mahant Aditya Nath said adequate security should be ensured and the terrorists given a fitting reply while his party colleague Shankar Prasad Jaiswal observed that innocent Hindus were being targeted. Mr Vijay Goel of the BJP said the security forces should be given full powers to crush militancy.

In the Rajya Sabha, terming the killing as a dastardly act, Chairman Krishan Kant said the massacre was against human ethos and shocked the entire civilised world. Soon after the House assembled for the day, it observed a minute’s silence in memory of those killed.

Raising the issue again during zero hour, the Arjun Singh said the killings showed that Jammu and Kashmir had become a “killing fields of India”.

Whenever a gruesome act took place in the state, the government stood up and expressed its resolve to ensure that such incidents did not recur. “But something is basically wrong”, he said. “The flip-flop policy of the government, the failure of the government to grasp the real situation and the total incapacity is the reason for the suffering of the people in the state”, he said.

“This is no way to deal with a national issue”, he said adding that the government should handle the issue with more seriousness.

TDP member Alladi Rajkumar joined the issue with Mr Arjun Singh and demanded that the Home Minister make a statement in the House as such incidents in the state had increased after the visit of Pakistan President Musharraf.

Sharing the concern, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs O. Rajagopal said Minister of State for Home I.D. Swami would make an on-the-spot study of the situation and the government would then make a statement in the House on his return.Back

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