M A I N   N E W S

Patil visits injured
Bandh complete in Doda, Udhampur 
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 2
Union Home Minister, Shiv Raj Patil, today flew to the Basantgarh area of Udhampur district where 13 Hindus were massacred by terrorists yesterday, and announced all possible help to rehabilitate the dependants of the victims.

Mr Patil did not go to the Kulhand area of Doda district where 22 Hindus were killed by terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit. However, he went to the medical college hospital here to see the nine persons of Doda who were injured due to firing by terrorists in the village.

The Union Minister, who had come here to take stock of terrorist violence, said that the Centre would back Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in the fight against terrorism.

On the other hand, complete bandh was observed here and various other towns of the region today to protest against the massacre of 35 Hindus in the Doda and Udhampur districts. The RSS-backed call for the bandh was given by the BJP, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Shiv Sena and the Panthers Party.

BJP president, Rajnath Singh, has left his election tour midway and arrived here to visit the two massacre spots tomorrow. Mr Sahib Singh Verma was accompanying him.

Mr Patil expressed sympathy with the children orphaned due to the massacre at Basantgarh. Mr Azad and Union Home Secretary, V.K. Duggal, accompanied him.

Later, he reviewed the situation at a high-level meeting in which Mr Azad, Mr Duggal, chief secretary Vijay Bakaya, DGP Gopal Sharma, top officers of the police, intelligence, the CRPF, the BSF and security forces were present.

Mr Patil told reporters that the Centre would provide all help and assistance for restoring normalcy in the state.

He said that selective killing of Hindus was aimed at creating disharmony and hatred between the two communities. He described these incidents as an attempt of the vested interests to scuttle the peace talks.

To a question Mr Patil said that terrorism had become a universal phenomenon and no one could predict where the militants might strike. However, focus of the government was to thwart such violent incidents.

When asked that in wake of the terrorist violence what would be the Centre’s response to the Hurriyat’s demand for demilitarization in their meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow, Mr Patil did not reject the proposal and said that the Centre would apply its mind and see how the military strength could be reduced in the state.

He said that the Centre in consultation with the state government, would formulate some strategy to provide protection to the scattered villages on the mountainous terrain.

Meanwhile, all shops and commercial establishments here remained closed today in response to the bandh call. Local as well as inter-district and inter-state transport services did not operate.

Terrorism-related migrants of the Doda, Poonch and Rajouri districts, who migrated here in 1990 and were living in hutments, blocked the Tawi bridge in the town to protest against the massacre of Hindus.

BJP, VHP and Shiv Sena activists burnt an effigy of Ms Sonia Gandhi to protest against the failure of the government to prevent these killings.

The youth smashed windowpanes of commercial vehicles that came on the road in the morning. A peace march was organised in the Doda town to express solidarity with families of the victims. Life remained paralysed in the district for the second day today as shops remained closed.



200 villagers shift to Doda town in panic
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 2
Struck by panic, more than 200 men, women and children today migrated to the district town of Doda for safety from the hamlets where terrorists massacred 22 persons yesterday. They also demonstrated against the government.

The kin of the victims of terrorist violence were annoyed that the Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, did not visit Doda and confined his trip to Basantgarh village of Udhampur district where 13 Hindus were killed.

It is learnt that local residents of Doda town joined them and took out a big procession, raising slogans against the government for its failure to protect their lives.

They said they would not return to their homes until Army protection was provided in the villages where terrorists moved around freely.

They were camping in the Ramlila ground in the town and the efforts of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Gulzar Ahmad Qureshi, to persuade them to return to their respective villages have remained futile.

Sources said the residents of Doda town were fully supporting them and would not let the police to persuade them back to their villages.

They were demanding that permanent Army and police pickets should be established in their villages.


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