Terror Strikes Continue, 4 Tourists Killed In Blast
25 May 2006
The Times of India
Srinagar: Terrorists, unable to disrupt a round of political talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Kashmiri leaders, targeted unarmed tourists on Thursday as Singh flew back. At least four tourists, including a child, were killed in the blast caused by explosives planted in a bus. An unprecedented security dragnet around the convention centre for the last two days and barricades and patrols that virtually shut down Srinagar left little scope for any serious terror attack. But as the security relaxed on Thursday afternoon when Singh cut short his visit and flew back, the terrorists struck the bus, which initial reports said was carrying tourists from Gujarat. At least two other passengers were critically injured. On a request by BJP leader L K Advani, the defence ministry arranged for a special Air Force plane to fly the bodies of the victims to Gujarat on Friday morning. Seeking to give a meaningful conclusion to two days of talks, Singh on Thursday proposed creating five working groups to grapple with the complex issues of how much power the government in Srinagar should have and how ties across the frontier with Pakistan can be bettered. 'I believe the time is now ripe to agree on the concrete mechanism for taking this process forward so that we can address issues which concern the people of this beautiful state, Singh told reporters before flying back to Delhi. Singh decided to cut short his visit to two days instead of three days. 'The PM has decided to fly back to Delhi on Thursday evening to end the inconvenience caused to the tourists due to placement of security arrangements in the Valley,' Sanjaya Baru, media advisor to the Prime Minister, said. The working groups agreed on at the round-table, which was boycotted by the moderate and hardline Hurriyat factions, were to be on confidence-building measures between communities, improving relations across the LoC, ensuring good governance and forging efficient ties between Srinagar and Delhi. Singh said he has instructed security forces to be 'more mindful' of human rights and be sensitive to liberties and self- respect of ordinary people. 'It is our collective responsibility to create an atmosphere where the people of the state can be free from the fear of oppression and terrorist activities and go about their normal lives like their fellow countrymen,' he said. 'If this requires strengthening the state police both in numbers and materially the central government will be willing to support that.' On the peace process with Pakistan, Singh said he had repeatedly conveyed to President Pervez Musharraf and the people of Pakistan that India was sincerely committed to peace and development in this region. 'Our government is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. There is also realisation that terrorism is an enemy of civilised societies,' he said. Shops and business establishments remained closed and streets wore a deserted look with security forces and police personnel deployed in strength. Schools and colleges had been shut for two days in view of the alarming attacks that rocked the city ahead of Singh's visit and even on Wednesday.