|Thursday, October 3, 2002,
Fresh wave of violence in J&K
Srinagar, October 2
Polling in the Lolab constituency, was countermanded following the assassination of former Law minister and National Conference candidate Mushtaq Ahmad Lone during an election rally on September 11.
Five BSF jawans of the Battalion were killed and another injured in a separate incident when suspected militants detonated a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) at Pastuna Sheer, near Tral, about 40 km south of here, in Pulwama district this morning. However, according to PTI, the blast claimed the lives of six jawans. The explosion took place when road opening party was on a routine check on the Shikargarh road at about 8 a.m. The security forces immediately cordoned off the area and launched a search operation to flush out suspects. Till the last reports came in, there were no reports of any arrests, even as the search operation was being concluded. Those killed were identified as SIs Bakhta Ram and P. T. Pagarva. Head Constable Garian
Singh, constables Maheshwar and B. Kumar. The IED had been planted by suspected militants on the main road to Srinagar, which was to be used for the transportation of polling staff this morning. Tension gripped the area when militants opened fire on three booths during yesterday’s polling.
This is the second major attack by suspected militants in Pulwama district since yesterday. The Hizb-ul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for both incidents. Six BSF jawans were killed and two others seriously injured when militants detonated an IED at a mini-bus carrying them at Panzgam near Pulwama about an hour after the polling was over last evening.
The people are agitated over the killings of three National Conference workers in the Haihama area of the Lolab Assembly segment in Kupwara district. They were identified as Mohammad Yusuf Dar, a village head, Sonaullah Khan, both residents of Jogatyal, and Ghulam Qadir Bhat of Gotlipora in Haihama.
The killing led to protest demonstrations in the area against the police, who resorted to firing in air and lathi charge to disperse a procession of demonstrators, resulting in injuries to over 15 persons, including a police officer. The demonstrators blamed the police and the security forces for the “murder” of the three persons reportedly witnesses in a murder case
According to reports, some village elders of the area were summoned by the security forces yesterday for a routine meeting. The meeting was over by 7 p.m. and while they were returning the three persons were fired upon and shot dead by unidentified gunmen about one km away from the camp.
The Lashkar-e-Jabbar militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the killings of three persons, saying all three were associated with the National Conference, according to a local news agency. The outfit constituted recently has claimed the responsibility for the killings of most of the political activists since the beginning of electoral process.
The incident has created panic in the area, where campaigning was restarted after the Election Commission issued a separate notification on September 13 calling the National Conference to
nominate another candidate by September 20. The National Conference later nominated Qaisar Ahmad Lone, nephew of the assassinated former minister, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, who filed his nomination papers.
With this the total number of killings of political leaders and activists has gone up to 17 since the poll process started in Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the BSF here today claimed to have achieved a major success with the arrest of a top Pakistani militant of Al-Umar outfit from Srinagar city. Identified as Shabir Ahmad Zargar, he is reported to have been the chief of Al-Umar commando force, a striking wing of the Al-Umar outfit and a close confidant of Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, alias Latrum, chief of Al-Umar, presently in Pakistan. Mushtaq Latrum was released in exchange of Indian Airlines passengers at Kandahar on January 1, 2000 along with Moulana Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Omar Sheikh, indicted in Pearl’s murder case.
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