June 1998 News

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35 Hurt in Shalimar Express Blast, Advani in Jammu Kashmir

23rd June 1998

JAMMU: Thirty-five passengers were injured as the engine and nine bogies of the Delhi bound Shalimar Express got derailed tonight, following a powerful bomb explosion at the railway track near Ria Morh between Bari-Brahmana and Vijaypur, 20 km from here.

Railway officials said the explosion took place at around 9.25 pm, blowing off a portion of the railway. The train had left Jammu Railway Station at its scheduled departure time of 8.55 pm.

Senior civil and police officials, besides the railway authorities, rushed to the spot immediately after hearing about the explosion. People from nearby areas also reached there and started rescue operations.

The injured were rushed to the nearby hospital for treatment. The police have registered a case and started investigations.

Sources said the explosive appeared to have been planted on the railway track by militants who infiltrated into the state from across the border. This is the second successful attempt to blow up the railway track in the same areaby militants during the last six months. Half a dozen bogies of a train were derailed, injuring some passengers, in the previous explosion.The police control room, however, maintains that only eight persons were injured in the blast tonight.

Elsewhere, ten people, including five civilians and an Army jawan were killed and 100 villagers injured in a day-long fierce encounter between militants and security forces at Faislabad village near Surankote town in Poonch district on Monday. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister L K Advani said in Prem Nagar today that "a Government that cannot protect its people has no right to rule."

Addressing a public meeting, Advani referred to the recent spurt in militant violence, especially the recent killing of 25 members of two marriage parties in Doda district. "We had sought votes from the people on the promise of providing them protection," he said, adding "it is certainly not a good government if people are killed at a marriage function."

"Today, I cannot blame anybody for this, as I am in the Government," he said.

"I am blaming myself for the situation," he said and added it was the fundamental duty of a government to protect its people. He regretted the number of security forces deployed in the district had decreased after the installation of the Bharatiya Janata Party Government at the Centre. "I will hold an inquiry into the matter," he said.

Appreciating the people of Doda for not migrating in the wake of militancy, the Home Minister said the same courage will have to be shown by the security forces and the government. "Give me some time for taking all possible steps to protect your lives," he told the people.

Earlier, Advani had a tough time replying to the queries of the villagers at Chapnari, the site of the massacre of 25 baraatis, and also the public meeting at Prem Nagar. The BJP leaders, including the party's state president Daya Krishan Kotwal, told the Home Minister that people were angry with the party in view of its failure to fulfill the promise of containing militancy.


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