Phase 1 setback, militants strike night before phase 2
23 September 2002
The Indian Express
Muzamil Jaleel & Imtiyaz Bakhshi
Srinagar: Militant violence cast its long shadow over the Valley the day before Phase 2 of the J&K Assembly elections. On a day marked by a series of violent incidents, around four militants occupied a house at Gogjibagh locality near Kashmir Polytechnic College, which houses one of Srinagar’s key polling centres. One policeman was killed when a police party tried to search the house and three others, including a Station House Officer, have reportedly been taken hostage. Militants were firing and hurling grenades at security forces to prevent them from advancing towards the house when reports last came in. The security forces halted operations by late evening, and they are expected to resume their efforts at dawn. Police sources told The Indian Express that the militants sneaked into the three-storeyed house—owned by Sajjad Medicate—on Sunday evening and occupied the top floor. Sajjad and his family were asked to leave this afternoon, and they moved out at 2 p.m. Acting on a tip-off, a police team arrived to search the house. By 5.30 p.m. they had combed the first two floors by 5.30 p.m. and found nothing. But as they moved towards the third floor, they were fired at. Jagdev Singh—the bodyguard of the Superintendent of Police, South—was killed on the spot while the other policemen jumped out of the windows. Elsewhere, scattered incidents of violence kept Srinagar and Jammu on the edge, and Srinagar emptied out by 5 p.m. after several grenade attacks and anti- election demonstrations: • A Lal Bazar polling booth built only two days ago at the Government Boys Middle School came under a grenade attack today afternoon. Nobody was injured. • Six BSF personnel were injured in a grenade attack near another polling station at Nawa Kadal Girls College. However, a BSF spokesman said only three jawans were injured. • A grenade lobbed at the camp of the 128 Bn of the CRPF at Wezernag on the outskirts of Soura landed in the compound. Militants later fired on the camp, injuring a jawan identified as Shyam Singh. The battalion’s commandant, Mahinder Singh, told The Indian Express that the attack caused no major damage. ‘‘We have sealed the area and are conducting searches. We may continue even after tomorrow’s polls,’’ he said. • Mobs protesting the arrest of a local youth, attacked the vehicle of the IGP, Kashmir, K Rajendra, with stones at Nowhatta. • Eight civilians were injured in a grenade attack on a Peoples’ Democratic Party rally in Sangam in Bijbehara, Anantnag district. • Militants hurled a grenade on a CRPF vehicle near Bijbehara police station at 3.30 p.m. The grenade missed the target and exploded on the road, injuring eight passersby. • In Jammu, the Army gunned down four militants at Kaskoot near Banihal in Doda district today. An Army jawan was killed and a Major injured in the exchange of fire. Three of the militants have been identified as Harkat-e-Islami deputy commander Mohammad Sharief Naik codenamed Barkat, Irfan and Wahid.