Grenade attacks J-K’s new nightmare
9 June 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: KASHMIRIS are not new to grenade attacks. But the explosions in the past few months have become deadlier and more frequent. What’s more, militant outfits used to own up to such attacks earlier. But of late, militants and security agencies have been trading charges, each accusing the other of lobbing grenades at public places. Police say 90 per cent of grenade attacks on security forces miss the intended target and it is the common people who die. People now live in constant fear of such random explosions. An attack can happen anytime, anywhere. Some people have taken to take a bus even for very short distances, in the hope that they will escape death by spending as little time on the streets as possible. Ironically, though, it is the bus stands that are the most vulnerable to such attacks. On Monday, 20-year-old Mast Zeba of Beerwah was killed in a grenade explosion at Batmaloo bus stand and her body remained unidentified till yesterday. Three other persons were killed and 21 injured in that incident. In fact, in the past six days, six civilans have been killed in eight grenade attacks. Another 60 were injured. The public outcry against these attacks has been fierce, forcing the Hizbul Mujahideen, the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad to condemn grenade attacks in public places. They termed the explosions the handiwork of pro-government gunmen who were out to malign militants’’. The Hizbul spokesman said: ‘‘The outfit has imposed a ban on (attacks in) public places so that further loss of life is stopped. However, militants are exempted from the ban during crackdowns and raids conducted by security forces.’’ The Lashkar’s statement said that it had formed a squad to track down the ‘‘elements involved in such acts’’. The police, meanwhile, throw up their hands in despair. State DGP A.K. Suri said there can be no mechanism to stop such incidents unless people come forward to identify criminals. ‘‘Only constant vigil can prevent these attacks. Any number of police personnel you deploy cannot stop this on their own,’’ Suri told The Indian Express. Two months ago, the BSF had busted a gang of ‘‘grenade-throwers’’ in Srinagar city and around 15 youngsters were arrested. The boys, mostly teenagers, were allegedly lured by a militant outfit which had tasked them to throw grenades at security pickets in the city. A joint team of police and security agencies also busted another gang with the arrest of five grenade- throwers in Kupwara. And while security agencies and militants trade charges, the people just want the nightmare to end. Sajid Rafiqui, who runs a computer institute here, wants an explaination from both the authourities and the militants’ leadership. ‘‘Both parties are claiming to be well wishers of people. They have to prove it and stop such anti-people activities. They should reign their men,’’ he said.