United Front for granting more Autonomy to J&K: Soz

3rd June 1997

SRINAGAR: Union Environment Minister Prof Saifuddin Soz today reiterated the United Front government`s commitment to grant more autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. "It is in the common minimum programme of the United Front," the minister told reporters here.

The two committees set up by the State government for the purpose were likely to submit their reports by August, Prof Soz said. The Farooq Abdullah government would consider these reports before taking up the matter with the prime minister, Mr I K Gujral, he said. Asked how long the UF government would last, the minister said: "It will last its full term."

Meanwhile, three Afghan mercenaries and a woman were among seven people killed in militancy-related violence in Kashmir where 10 subversives were apprehended and two laid down arms since last evening. Three Afghan mercenaries, said to be activists of Pak-based Lashcer-E-Toiba militant outfit, were killed in an encounter with army at Nowgam on the outskirts of Srinagar today.

Some arms and ammunition were recovered from them, official sources said, adding that the encounter ensued during combing operations by security forces. A militant was killed and another nabbed during search operations by troops in Rainar and Khunmuh areas in Pulwama last night.

An AK assault rifle, a pistol, a grenade launcher and some ammunition were recovered from them, the sources said. Ultras shot dead a woman after barging into her house at Shamnag in Baramulla district last night. Police picked up a bullet-riddled body each in Kupwara and Pulwama districts. Both were done to death by militants.

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