Mufti govt’s ‘soft’ attitude leads to spurt in militancy
24 November 2002
New Delhi: A top level meeting tonight of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the deputy PM, Mr LK Advani, and the defence minister, Mr George Fernandes, reviewed the situation after heavily-armed terrorists attacked the Raghunath Temple in Jammu today, the third major strike in the state in as many days. At least 12 people were feared killed and dozens injured when terrorists stormed two temples. This is the second time Raghunath temple has been the target of militants this year — in March at least eight people died in firing around the 150-year-old temple — and after the attack on the Akshardham shrine in Ahmedabad, the most serious attack on a place of worship. Refusing to be drawn into making critical comments against the state government, senior officials at the Centre said the immediate need was to ensure that the terrorists who had holed up in the temple were “dealt with”. Officials said they anticipate a series of strikes on places of worship, especially in the run-up to the tenth anniversary of the Babari Masjid demolition (on 6 December), after which security in major shrines all over the country has been tightened. But they refused to comment on the Jammu and Kashmir government’s policies. The spurt in militancy comes in the wake of the newly-appointed state government’s perceived “soft” policy on militants, with the release of several prisoners in recent days, despite the Centre’s reservations. Both the Prime Minister and the deputy PM have indicated their reservations about the state government’s policy of releasing detained militants, saying there should be a committee to monitor these releases. According to agency reports from Srinagar, Mr Sayeed today asked the security forces to ensure that innocent civilians were not harmed or put to inconvenience while dealing with militancy. He reviewed the overall security and law and order situation in Kashmir valley at a meeting of senior police and paramilitary officers. BJP reaction: The BJP described the terrorists attack on the Raghunath temple in Jammu as “tragic.” It said the Jammu and Kashmir government should reconsider its policy of being soft with militants. The party chief, Mr M Venkaiah Naidu, and three party spokespersons said in one voice that the Jammu and Kashmir government should review of its policy of being soft with militants. Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra said it was time for the state government to sit together with the Centre and evolve a policy for tackling terrorism.