Hizb owns up blast, threatens more
28 November 2000
B. Muralidhar Reddy
ISLAMABAD: The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen stUKthe first blow to the Indian ceasefire initiative in Jammu and Kashmir by claiming responsibility for a landmine attack near Anantnag that killed three soldiers. The Hizb spokesperson, Mr. Salim Hashmi, claimed here that ''a blast was carried out by our mujahideen. We attacked an armoured vehicle and it was blown apart by the blast. All the occupants were killed or seriously wounded but we don''t know the exact causalities at this stage.'' Mr. Hashmi said the Hizb would continue its target- oriented attacks against the Indian security forces unless India agreed to take forward the peace initiative by accepting its formulation. The Hizb position is that the ceasefire is meaningless unless followed by at least three concrete steps. These are recognition of Kashmir as a disputed territory, involvement of Pakistan and Kashmiris in a tripartite dialogue, and ultimately allowing Kashmiris to decide their fate. The attack by Hizb militants on the Army vehicle and an open admission of the act by its spokesperson have serious implications for the Indian initiative. The Hizb is perhaps trying to say that it is in agreement with the Pakistan Government and the Pakistan-based outfits, that what the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, has described as ''Lahore-II'' is no more than a tactical move unless followed by steps leading to dialogue. The Hizb attack shows that it is not only unimpressed with the formulation of All-Party Hurriyat Conference on the ceasefire but is not willing to be persuaded to give the initiative a chance. Kashmiri leaders on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) have been engaged in quiet, behind-the-scenes activity to bring round Pakistan-based militants to ensure that they do not indulge in acts that could kill the initiative. Today''s developments show that they have not been successful in their efforts, at least so far. * * * Ansari''s passport revoked By Shujaat Bukhari JAMMU, NOV. 28. The Government revoked the passport of senior APHC leader, Moulvi Abbas Ansari, giving no reasons. In a letter to Mr. Ansari, the Superintendent (Policy) in the External Affairs Ministry, Mr. D.P. Gosh, said, ''With reference to Section 10, sub-clause of Passport Act 1957, your passport is being revoked''; the specific reasons were not given. Mr. Ansari is among the only two leaders of the Hurriyat to be granted a passport on the grounds of being a religious head; the other is Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Mr. Ansari, a prominent Shia leader, had recently visited Doha (Qatar) to attend the OIC summit along with Mr. Umar Farooq. Mr. Abdul Ghani Lone was given a country-specific passport for visiting Islamabad to attend the marriage ceremony of his son on November 19. A Hurriyat spokesperson condemned the Government decision to revoke Mr. Ansari''s passport terming it an undemocratic step. PTI reports: The people of Kashmir were today seen relaxed and relieved expecting a positive change in the coming days. Almost all mosques across the Valley were jam-packed with large numbers coming out before dawn, despite severe cold, to offer morning prayers. ''The ceasefire has created a sense of security among the people which needs to be respected by the other side also to find ways to settle the issue through peaceful means,'' a university professor said. He said people were yearning for peace which could be achieved only with implementation of ceasefire in letter and spirit and sincere efforts to bring other warring sides and secessionist parties to the negotiating table. Talk to Pak: Cong. On the political front, the Congress said the Government should use the opportunity of the ceasefire offer to hold talks with Pakistan. The party spokesperson, Ms. Margaret Alva, said the party would like the Government to be prepared to face any eventuality. Referring to Mr. Advani''s statement terming the ceasefire decision as Lahore-II, Ms. Alva said, ''We do hope and pray that this will not end up as Lahore-I. ''We have seen three unilateral initiatives - bus journey to Lahore, unilateral ceasefire by militants and now the Ramzan ceasefire. We are inclined to believe that on the two previous occasions, not enough ground work was done. This time we hope the Government has done its groundwork sincerely.''