Tuesday, February 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Holed-up ultras surrender
Tribune News Service & UNI

Army officers discuss the operational strategy
Army officers discuss the operational strategy on Monday to clear the mosque. — PTI photo

Army personnel jump out from an armoured vehicle
Army personnel jump out from an armoured vehicle during the siege of the mosque on Monday. — Reuters photo

Srinagar, February 4
With the surrender of two militants holed up inside a mosque at Tarzoo near Sopore in north Kashmir the 30-hour long siege ended this evening.

A defence spokesman told TNS here that the two militants surrendered at about 5.40 p.m. today, after repeated appeals to them through some of their relatives and village elders. Efforts continued throughout the day for the surrender of these militants of the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen, so as to avoid any damage to the place of worship, defence spokesman said.

They got shelter in the mosque at Ambarpora in Tarzoo village near Sopore town of Baramula district yesterday in the afternoon, when security forces cordoned off the village for conducting searches on the basis of a specific information.

The two local militants - Firdous and Suhail - came out of the mosque and surrendered to the security forces after a day-long persuasion by their relatives, and senior security force and civil officials, Inspector-General of Police K. Rajinder Kumar said.

They also handed over two rifles, one grenade, six magazines and about 100 rounds of ammunition.

No damage was done to the mosque and the operation ended peacefully, he said.

This is for the first time that the militants holed up in a mosque had surrendered to the security forces.

Last year two militants were given safe passage after they remained holed up in a mosque at Shopian in south Kashmir for a night.

On all other occasions, the security forces killed the militants who took refuge in the places of worship.

Elsewhere, at least 10 persons, including seven militants, a woman and a child were killed and three others injured in separate incidents while five suspects were apprehended in the Kashmir valley since yesterday.

The police here said four suspected militants were killed in an encounter with the security forces at Kralgund in Kupwara district today.

In another encounter in the Lolab area of Kupwara district two militants of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen were killed today. Two AK rifles, eight magazines and 100 rounds were seized from the site of the encounter.

Three labourers from Bihar were injured when suspected militants hurled a grenade in busy Lal Chowk market place at Anantnag today.

One militant and a security force jawan were killed in an encounter at Hajinar in the Tral area of Pulwama district in south Kashmir yesterday raising the death toll to four. As already reported two militants were killed in the incident.

Suspected militants shot dead a woman, Khazeeba and her grand daughter, Ulfat when they intruded into their house in the Keller area of Pulwama district last night.

Four suspected militants of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen were apprehended by the police and the security forces in the Berwah area of Budgam district last night. Four AK rifles, 10 magazines, 170 rounds and four hand grenades were seized from them, the police said.

One suspected militant was held from Kupwara district and some arms and ammunition were recovered from him.Back


Pant hints at headway in talks

New Delhi, February 4
Indicating some headway in roping in the 23-party conglomerate Hurriyat Conference in the forthcoming elections, the Centre’s interlocutor K.C. Pant today said it was high time the amalgam leadership proved their representative character.

“Some steps have been made in this direction. These people (Hurriyat leaders) never talked about polls but now the thinking has changed,” Mr Pant told reporters after meeting former Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir Wajahat Habibullah, who had reportedly held informal consultations with Hurriyat leaders.

Asked about the announcement of forming of a separate election commission by the Hurriyat Conference, Mr Pant said: “It is not a child’s play to form such a body. Four heads put together cannot make a such a supreme body in democracy.”

The Centre’s interlocutor went on to say that since the Hurriyat Conference was an amalgam of 23 parties, there could be differences between some of the groups.

“Some leaders might like to come forward and participate in the elections,” Mr Pant said.

Asked whether there was any contact with Hurriyat leaders, Mr Pant said there have been “no official” talks with them. However, he skirted the question when asked whether any informal talks were being held with them.

Mr Pant said people in Jammu and Kashmir had understood that Pakistan was harping on the Kashmir issue for its own interest and not for the interest of the people of the valley. PTIBack

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