Shutdown in Valley against Brakpora massacre
4 April 2000
Srinagar: While as the entire Kashmir valley observed a total shutdown in protest against the killing of seven civilians by SOG and CRPF at Anantnag, militants shot dead a counter-insurgent as also three Government officials in an ambush near Pulwama today. In other militancy-related incidents, unidentified gunmen shot dead a village Chowkidar at Tantraypora, Pattan, and security forces eliminated a Pakistani militant near Verinag in south Kashmir. Todayís shutdown against the infamous Brakpora massacre had been called by the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC). However, reports available from different parts of the Valley suggested that the strike was irrespective of political ideologies. Even the Government functionaries did not object to the bandh and, consequently, all the Government offices, banks, educational institutions, public schools and ration depots remained closed for the day. Members and activists of all mainstream political parties including the ruling National Conference, BJP, Congress, PDP and CPI(M) looked equally enthusiastic in making the shutdown complete. CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami visited Anantnag and Achhabal localities but he complained that he was not allowed to visit Utarsu and Brari Angan villages. All the seven civilians killed and nine others injured were residents of the two villages, situated near Achhabal. Tarigami described the killing of the seven innocent civilians as an inhuman and unjustified act of the unbridled sections of security force. Resident of the affected area, Abdur Rasheed Dar, who happens to be the NC MLC and Chairman of Legislative Council, accompanied the Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah to the site of the shootout. Even before the judicial inquiry he has immediately ordered, Dr Abdullah declared the firing by SOG and CRPF personnel ''unwarranted, unjustified and unacceptable'' and took no time to replace the DC, DIG and SSP. In conversation with the visiting mediapersons, Dr Abdullah said that there was no evidence of firing from amongst the processionists. He regretted that SOG and CRPF did not use tear-smoke nor did they try to disperse the mob by sprinkling water. He reminded that in the aftermath of the Chithi Singhpora massacre, there were numerous violent processions in Jammu but police tackled the situation nicely with the use of lathi-charge and tear-smoke. When asked to comment on the multitude of allegations against SOG Dr Abdullah remarked that the entire organisation was not bad. He said SOG had done a remarkable job in eliminating militants and restoration of peace in the State but there were some ''bad elements'' in the organisation who would be weeded out without any hesitation. Reports available from Anantnag said that the Chief Ministerís visit, interview to Doordarshan news and immediate transfer of the senior officers have assuaged the hurt feelings of the people and tension has receded to a large extent. On the other hand, BJP vice president, Abdur Rasheed Kabuli sought immediate dismissal of the Chief Minister and claimed that the NC Government had miserably failed to handle the present situation in the Valley. While addressing a press conference here today, Mr Kabuli even dismissed the announcement of the judicial inquiry as ''an eye-wash''. He held the NC Government responsible for ''anti-people policies'' and alleged that by way of flying in aeroplanes and helicopters and playing golf, the Chief Minister had brought the State on the threshold of total bankruptcy. Reports said that people came out on streets at several places in the capital city and resorted to stone-pelting on vehicles so as to enforce a total shutdown. Police used mild lathicharge and dispersed the angry groups. However, some modes of vehicular traffic plied normally in the afternoon. Meanwhile, all the seven dead bodies were laid to rest amid emotional scenes at Brari Angan and Utrasu villages this evening. All the nine injured, admitted at different hospitals, were declared as out-of-danger today. Curfew continued at Anantnag district headquarters as also at all the major townships without any relaxation today. Official sources said that a relaxation could be considered on Wednesday, provided that tension receded further. Section 144 CrPC was imposed on Pulwama town today in apprehension of trouble. Four killed at Pulwama Meanwhile, four persons got killed and an equal number injured when militants showered bullets on a counter-insurgentís Taxi at Trisal, near Pulwama today. Official sources told EXCELSIOR that a group of eight local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen laid an ambush mainly to eliminate a prominent Ikhwan member and counter-insurgent source of Army, namely Abdus Salam Paul S-o Ghulam Qadir Paul of Koil village. They targeted his Taxi, bearing No: JK01-4192, at Trisal when he was returning from Armulla village at 1230 hours. He got killed on spot while as three Government officials, travelling in the same vehicle, also died. They have been identified as Patwari of Revenue Department, Mohd Sadiq Malik S-o Ghulam Rasool Malik of Tantrepora, Chowkidaar of Revenue Department, Mohd Shaban Butt, S-o Ghulam Mohd Butt of Tumhall and PDD Inspector Abdul Ghani of Chandgaam Pulwama. Four pedestrians were also hurt in the incident. They have been identified as Mohd Salim Reshi of Chantipora,Mohd Yousuf Ganai of Quil, 12 year old girl Shehzada, D-o Bashir Ahmad of Trisal and Hilal Ahmad Butt. All of them were later hospitalised. Meanwhile, at 7 pm this evening, some unidentified militants shot dead a Chowkidar at village Tantrepora in Palhalan area of Pattan tehsil. He has been identified as Habibullah. In an encounter between the security forces personnel and the militants, a Pakistani militant was gunned down at Dooru Verinag. He has been identified as Mohd Saleem Balouch of Pakistan,the sources said.