Total bandh in Jammu over Jammu massacre
23 July 2001
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Jammu and its neighbouring townships were tense on Monday following the murder of 12 Hindus in three separate incidents in the mountainous district of Doda during the weekend. Latest reports from Kishtwar, the tehsil headquarters, say that police has found 12 bodies of the victims of violence up in mountains. Of the slain men are four members of a village defence committee abducted by gunmen from Chatroo area on Saturday. Earlier reports had suggested that apart from the five defence committee members the gunmen had killed 15 unarmed civilians in cold blood at Cheergi, a remote village in Kishtwar. But the police said on Monday that investigations revealed that only eight persons had been killed at Cheergi and another five after their abduction from Chatroo area. It is still not clear as to how many killers had descended on Cheergi village before targeting the civilian population there. Earlier reports put their number between 10 and 12, but the police on the basis of the eyewitness reports said only two people were involved. Most of the shops in Jammu remained closed and only skeleton transport services plied on the roads. The other towns including Udhampur, Kathua and R.S. Pura observed partial bandh in response to a call issued by the BJP and its supporting outfits. Hundreds of police and paramilitary men were on high alert in Kishtwar, the second major town in Doda district, which has almost equal population of Hindu and Muslims. Several thousand townsfolk were present at the cremation of the slain villagers. The police denied reports suggesting that Kishtwar had been placed under indefinite curfew in view of growing communal tension. Jammu and Kashmir’s minister of state for home Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, accompanied by director-general of police Ashok Kumar Suri, was camping in Kishtwar since Monday morning to take stock of the situation. Union minister of state for home I.D. Swami who together with his colleague minister of state for civilian aviation Chaman Lal Gupta and senior home ministry officials arrived in Jammu from New Delhi earlier during the day could not fly into the area which witnessed the gory incidents during the weekend. They could not go to Kishtwar either due to inclement weather. Mr Swami and others later held close door meeting with senior divisional officers at Jammu to review the situation, official sources said. Meanwhile, a mine blast triggered along the Baba Dawood-e-Khaki road at Khanyar in interior Srinagar city wounded five BSF men and three civilians. A report said that one of the injured civilians later succumbed in hospital. An official release issued here on Monday says, “While Pakistan was engaged in peace talk with India, its sponsored militants stepped up violence in Jammu and Kashmir, shedding blood of the people.” It adds that during the first fortnight of July, militants conducted as many as 197 incidents of violence across the state as against 131 incidents reported in the last fortnight of June. The incidents of “cross-firing” increased from 65 in last fortnight of June to 91 during the last fortnight of this month. The civilian casualties also increased during this period. As against 25 civilians killed in last fortnight of June, militants killed 44 civilians during this month. The number of abduction of civilians and their killing rose from 5 to 9 during this period. Thirty-eight security personnel were killed this month as against 21 in the previous fortnight. During the escalated violence 108 militants were also killed in different encounters and operations during the first fortnight of July. In the previous fortnight, 79 militants were killed. However June accounted for 217 militants casualties which is among the highest toll in a month.