Tuesday, November 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pakistan behind attack, says Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 25
India was “determined” to win the war against cross-border terrorism, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today assured Parliament and charged Pakistan with attempting to create a communal divide in Jammu and Kashmir by masterminding acts of terrorism, including last night’s terrorist attack on Raghunath Temple.

Replying to a nearly three-hour-long impromptu debate on the Jammu terror strike in the Lok Sabha, he said there was a spurt in terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir in the past three to four days following certain developments in Pakistan.

The reasons, he said, for the step-up in violence could be the release of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, who had publicly vowed to continue the jehad in Jammu and Kashmir and “farcical drama” of an election and installation of a government in Pakistan.

Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the senseless act of violence and said Pakistan-backed terrorists were desperate to disturb peace in the state. Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha observed a minute’s silence in memory of those killed in the incident.

“Monitoring of the communication network of terrorists indicates that the Jammu attack is the handiwork of the Al-Mansooran which is a cover organisation of the LeT,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Responding to criticism by ruling NDA members in the Lok Sabha on the release of terrorists by the PDP-Congress government in Jammu and Kashmir Mr Advani categorically said the Centre was not consulted in the matter by the state government.

He revealed that the Union Home Secretary had written to the Jammu and Kashmir Government asking it against acting in haste while releasing militants and that it would be better if the Centre was consulted on such issues.

On remarks by Congress members S. Jaipal Reddy and Satyavrat Chaturvedi that the state government had consulted Central intelligence agencies before some detained persons were released, Mr Advani pleaded with members not to rope in intelligence agencies in such matters.

The Deputy Prime Minister made an identical statement in the Rajya Sabha and would reply to clarifications tomorrow.

During the debate, members, cutting across party lines, condemned last night’s terrorist strike with some demanding that Pakistan be taught a lesson to put an end to the menace.

Accusing the government of having no policy on Jammu and Kashmir, Opposition members took the Centre to task, saying that it had failed to take concrete steps to curb cross-border terrorism.

On allegations by Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and others that India was acting under pressure from the USA while dealing with Pakistan, Mr Advani asserted “India does not accept any pressure but at the same time, we do not consider the views of the international community on terrorism as irrelevant.”

The Deputy Prime Minister regretted that the international community was considering only the Al-Qaida and the Taliban as terrorist organisations overlooking the fact that the ISI, which was part of the Pakistani establishment, was a major source of terrorism.

Mr Advani said the state government had informed that at the time of the earlier terrorist attack on Raghunath Temple in March this year, the complex was guarded by two to eight special guards, besides the local police for frisking, etc, which was subsequently replaced by one CRPF platoon.

This was further augmented by deploying more securitymen.

Mr Advani said 12 persons, including a policeman, a CRPF jawan and a militant, were killed. Fiftytwo sustained injuries. A Deputy Superintendent of Police also sustained injuries in the Shiv temple incident when the second terrorist was killed.

The Chief Minister had held a meeting with senior police officials to take further measures for strengthening security in the state, particularly in the Jammu region, he said.

Offering condolences to the families of those killed in the incident, Mr Advani reiterated the country’s resolve to take all possible steps to combat and to defeat the scourge of cross-border terrorism in all its forms.

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