Death toll mounts to 38, Srinagar remains shut
2 October 2001
The Asian Age
Srinagar: They said they did it “to defeat the puppetry.” But mostly innocent civilians had to bear the brunt of the act. Not a single member of the Farooq Abdullah government, identified by the Jaish-e-Muhammad as the target of Monday’s suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, was hurt. “29 killed as militants dare government in its den,” reads a Srinagar newspaper headline. But the chief minister was unimpressed. He, during a visit to the sight of devastation caused by the fidayeen attack, vowed to avenge what he termed a cowardly act. The townsfolk are aghast at the bloodshed. Many shops in central Srinagar remained shut on Tuesday. Not many people could be seen on the roads. Fear was evident on all faces. After seeing pictures of humans being blown to smithereens on television and then in local newspapers, every single Kashmiri home is fraught with sadness and depression. The Hurriyat Conference described the incident as tragic. “Whenever the blood of innocent people is shed it should be condemned and probed by the international community,” a statement issued by the conglomerate here says. It, however, asked for a quick peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem to prevent the recurrence of such an incident. Most mainstream and secessionist political organisations also expressed grief at the loss of innocent lives. It is now official that 18 civilians were killed, including 13 government employees, 10 of them working with the legislature secretariat and the rest with other departments. Ten security personnel also perished in one of the deadliest militant strikes in the state’s 12-year-old turmoil. Six charred bodies retrieved from under the smouldering debris of Raj Gargh early on Tuesday are beyond recognition. Also found dead were the three assailants, who, soon after their colleague Wajahat Hussain rammed the explosive-laden Tata Sumo into the main entrance, sneaked into the premises. With that the death toll in the bloody incident has risen to 38. As many as 32 persons injured in the militant act, some critically, are being treated in various hospitals here. Most of them are policemen. All this may have no comparison with the death and destruction caused by last month’s terror attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. This was also not the first such surprise attack by Islamic militants in Kashmir. But what has shocked, and embarrassed, the security forces is the breach of, what they saw as, foolproof security for the Autumn Session of the state Assembly. The fidayeen attack came a couple of hours after the chief minister told the Assembly that surprise virulent actions by militants were on the increase only because they received encouragement and logistic support from Pakistan.