Tuesday, November 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Mufti must get tough: Swami
Central leaders visit Raghunath Temple
S. P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Union Minister of State for Home I. D. Swami, along with Minister of State for Defence Chaman Lal Gupta, visits Raghunath
Temple. — photo by Amin War

Defence Minister George Fernandes at Raghunath Temple on Monday. — PTI photo

Jammu, November 25
The Union Minister of State for Home, Mr I.D. Swami, today asked the Jammu and Kashmir Government to review its policy towards militants in view of the yesterday’s attack on two famous temples here. He said pursuing its policy of providing a “healing touch”, the PDP-Congress coalition government should release militants only after getting individual cases examined by a screening committee.

Mr Swami visited Raghunath Temple here which was attacked by terrorists yesterday.

Besides Mr Swami, the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the Minister of State for Defence, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, and the Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Omar Abdullah, also visited the temple and went to hospital to enquire about the welfare of 52 persons who were wounded in the attack.

Mr Fernandes had detailed discussion with Governor, G.C. Saxena, and Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed. Sources said that Mr Fernandes discussed the border situation with senior Army officers and he suggested to them to take effective measures to bring down infiltration.

Ms Ambika Soni, AICC general secretary, and Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, PCC Chief, accompanied Ms Sonia Gandhi. The Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, and Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed also visited the temple and the hospital.

Mr Swami said the terrorists, arrested after a great deal of effort by the security forces, should not be released indiscriminately. He said the intentions of the Mufti government could not be doubted but the results indicated that the outcome of the policy was not as desired.

Ms Sonia Gandhi visits Raghunath Temple
Ms Sonia Gandhi visits Raghunath Temple in Jammu on Monday. — AW

A soft approach could not be adopted towards terrorists as about 3000 trained militants were still in the state.

Mr Fernandes was silent and did not respond to any question. His aides said he had no comments to make.

Ms Sonia Gandhi, who was visibly upset over the incident, denied that the state government was unilaterally releasing the militants. The 26 militants were released after the prior clearance of the Central intelligence agencies, she said.

She lost her cool when a reporter pointed out that during her visit here after the massacre of 34 persons at Qasim Nagar during the regime of the National Conference, she had blamed both Centre and the state for the incident. She snubbed the reporter, saying: “Don’t you dare accuse the Congress of being soft towards terrorism. I have lost two members of my family in terrorist attacks”.

She said she had always maintained that in the fight against terrorism “we are united”. She said the country was facing a challenge from terrorism. She described the attack on the temple and the subsequent killing of 13 persons as “barbaric”.

Mr Omar Abdullah said a high-level enquiry should be held to find out how the terrorists managed to enter the temple for the second time.


Ultras will not be spared: Mufti

Jammu, November 25
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has cancelled his Iftaar party scheduled today in view of the attack on Raghunath Temple here last evening.

Expressing shock over this despicable and outrageous act of terror, he said those involved in this heinous crime would not be spared. He instructed the police and the security forces to deal with such elements with a firm hand.

Talking to reporters, he dismissed accusations that the kin of militants were being given government jobs on compassionate grounds.

Blaming Pakistan for continuing its policy of unleashing attacks and cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, he said reports indicated that the two militants, who carried out last night’s attack on the temple, were foreigners. Making a statement in the state legislature on the attack, the Chief Minister said the LeT had claimed responsibility for it. UNI, PTI


Attack not linked with detainees’ release: Cong
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 25
The Congress today said that yesterday’s attack on Raghunath Temple in Jammu and Kashmir had nothing to do with the release of some detainees by the Mufti government.

Congress chief spokesman Jaipal Reddy said the incident was a continuation of a series of militant strikes that had taken place in the trouble-torn state.

Mr Reddy claimed that the detainees had been released after clearance from the central intelligence agencies.

He said none of the released detainees had a militant track record and they had been arrested and released by the previous government also. “Militants are not being released indiscriminately,” he asserted.

Mr Reddy said his claim about the track record of the militants released was based on information gathered from the Mufti. He said in the future too arrested persons would be released only after checking their antecedents.

On the issue of the resignation of Justice Venkataswami, he said the government had never been serious in finding out the truth behind the Tehelka expose and all that it was interested in was harassment of the Tehelka team.

This, Mr Reddy said, had highlighted the need for a Joint Parliamentary Committee inquiry. He added that there was no aspersion on the integrity of Justice Venkataswami.

Meanwhile, the Congress today declared the remaining seven candidates for the Gujarat poll taking its total candidates to 180. The party had left one seat each to the CPI and the CPM.

The seven candidates are Mr Jumabhai Imbrahambhai Rayama (Abdasa), Mr Pradeepbhai Kantilal Ruwala (Ellisbridge), Mrs Nisha Rajput (Dariapur), Mr Pankaj Shah (Shahpur), Mr Farooq Sheikh (Kalupur), Mr Jagat Shukla (Khadia) and Mr Yogesh Patel (Anand).

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