M A I N   N E W S

Mufti Sayeed escapes grenade attack
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 27
Militants made an attempt on the life of the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, when they fired two rifle grenades followed by firing towards his public meeting at Beerwah in Budgam district of central Kashmir this afternoon. A girl was killed and four others, including a CRPF jawan, were injured when the grenades exploded close to the venue.

This is the first such attack on the Chief Minister since he took over 15 months ago. A suicide attack was attempted by two suspected militants outside one of the main entrances to his official residence on MA Road on October 17 last year.

In today’s attack, the rifle grenades, which fell 300 m from the rostrum on which the Chief Minister was sitting, were followed by firing. This caused panic among the public who took the cover of buildings. One girl, Samreena, of the area died on the spot, the police said, adding that four others, including a CRPF jawan, were injured.

At the time of the attack, the Revenue Minister, Mr Hakeem Yaseen, was addressing the public meeting. The Chief Minister, accompanied by Minister of State Sarfaraz Khan, was present on the occasion.

The explosions caused panic among the public. The situation was, however, soon brought under control. Later, the Chief Minister went on to address the public meeting, which was resumed against the advice of the security people.

He had not been able to visit Bandipura town in north Kashmir following the trouble there since yesterday. The town was under curfew for the second consecutive day today after the protest demonstration by villagers yesterday in which a youth was killed in police firing.

In his address, the Mufti said there was a lot of improvement in the Indo-Pak relations with the leaders of the two countries had initiating measures for a composite dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue. He said the Centre was talking to the Hurriyat Conference and various other steps were also being taken for the restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Chief Minister said his government was trying hard to restore peace with dignity. It was trying to stop atrocities and find an amicable solution through dialogue and not the gun.

He said POTA had not been invoked during the past 15 months of the coalition government and that the STF had been merged with the police.

The Mufti said he wanted to go to Bandipura also to address people’s problems, but there too certain elements had created a situation to sabotage his visit.



Bandipura remains tense
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 27
Tension prevailed for the second consecutive day today as curfew continued in Bandipura town of north Kashmir following the killing of a youth in police firing yesterday. The police lobbed teargas shells and lathi charged demonstrators as they tried to proceed towards Bandipura, even as Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed postponed his rally in the town today.

Several demonstrations against the alleged excesses and human rights violations were also held here today, and many leaders taken into custody. Mohammad Yasin Malik, chairman of the JKLF, was detained by the police while he was proceeding towards the office of the UN Military Observers Group. This led to the closure of shops and business establishments in Maisuma locality in the Lal Chowk area, where the office of the JKLF is located.

The police also resorted to a lathi charge near Jamia Masjid to disperse activists of the Awami Action Committee, who were protesting against human rights violations. At least six activists of the action committee were arrested by the police. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chief of the committee, was not present on the occasion.

A senior separatist leader, Shabir Ahmad Shah, was prevented by the police from proceeding towards Bandipura to express solidarity with the residents of the area following recent incidents.

The police also lobbed teargas shells and resorted to a lathi charge to disperse demonstrators at Kaloosa on the outskirts of the town, 57 km north of here, after the burial of Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, who was killed in police firing yesterday. Angry over the youth’s death, who was laid to rest at his nearby native village, Nathpora, the residents attempted to take out a procession towards the main town. The police lathi charged protesters proceeding towards Bandipura in violation of curfew restrictions. Several protesters, including the chairman of the Human Rights Front, Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, were injured.

Earlier, the body of the youth was handed over to his relatives by the police this morning.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, told the Legislative Assembly in Jammu that the circumstances leading to the police firing would be ascertained. He said the state Director-General of Police would look into the matter and if the allegation of police atrocity was proved right, appropriate action would be taken.

The Minister of State for Home, A.R. Veeri, told the House that an altercation took place between army personnel and villagers of Kudaara, as a result of which some villagers sustained injuries. He said the people, at the behest of militants, proceeded to Bandipura, where they were joined by other mischievous elements. He said the mob damaged the podium and barricades erected for the rally that was scheduled for the Chief Minister today.

The Minister of State for Planning and Development, Usman Majid, representing the Bandipura constituency, held a meeting of officers at Bandipura today. The meeting was attended by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, and the Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir Range. 

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