June 2001 News

270 killed in J-K since truce withdrawal

17 June 2001
The Indian Express
Tariq Bhat

Srinagar: Renewed violence in Jammu and Kashmir since the withdrawal of the ceasefire on June 1 is likely to form a sombre background to the impending Musharraf-Vajpayee summit in July. At least 270 persons have died in the valley after the ceasefire was withdrawn. Though militants accounted for 184 of the dead, with a big number comprising foreigners, 50 civilians were also killed and another 150 injured, causing much alarm all around and more or less neutralising all gains of security forces. Some 35 security personnel also fell prey to IED blasts. This time around, however, majority of the militants, 125, were killed in Jammu division either while trying to cross over into India or in encounters in Rajouri and Poonch districts. Kashmir division accounted for 59 deaths. Security forces have since then in the last 17 days or so stepped up their anti-militancy operations in the state. DIG (operations) BSF S.N. Tiwari said that they were now seeking out militants. ‘‘Before the ceasefire we were acting on only specific information, but now we even act on suspicion. We are certainly on the offensive,’’ he said adding they were now receiving greater inputs about militant movements. ‘‘The information about militants has certainly improved,’’ the DIG said. Vigil has been tightened in and around Srinagar too, he said. The rising number of militant casualities is being attributed to the forces’ pro-active policy in wake of the ceasefire withdrawal. During the ceasefire several informers were killed by militants but now the network seems to be working again. What has rattled security forces despite some successes are incidents such as the one in Chrar-e-Sharief on June 8 where six women devotees were killed and scores injured when unidentified gunmen lobbed a grenade on devotees when they were preparing for prayers. Militants also sought shelter in mosques twice on May 30 in Shopian, Pulwama and Shangus, Anantnag in south Kashmir. In the first case, militants were allowed safe passage but in the second, a 30-hour long seige culminated in the death of six Lashkar militants. Security forces fear that despite the militants being on the defensive, violence will flare in the days in the run-up to the summit. ‘‘There is a possibility that as the date for the summit nears, militants will step up their activities and thats where the danger lies. ‘‘If there are civilians killings it will surely vitiate the atmosphere,’’ said a senior police officer. But what is working to the advantage of security forces now is Pakistan’s snub to militants. This has provided the much needed space to security forces to pack a punch to anti-militancy operations in the state.

 

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