October 1999 News


With some force, Pak stops JKLF's attempt to cross LoC

4 October 1999
The Indian Express
By Prashant Sood & Ashok Bhasin

NANGI TEKRI(LoC): The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front's threat to cross the Line of Control fizzled out today with Pakistan police using force to block activists from advancing beyond Madarpura village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, barely 100m from the LoC.

JKLF chief Amanullah Khan said his group will try again tomorrow, according to an agency report from Hajira(PoK).

Army troops were on alert, waiting for any JKLF activists trying to sneak in. The strategy was to first display banners, then fire warning shots in the air and if the need arose, to target the men among the rallyists. But nothing happened here or in the other vulnerable areas of the Krishna Ghat sector, including Balnoi, 50 km east of Poonch, and Salotrai, just below the Nagi Tekri post.

The JKLF had, no doubt, tried to make its presence felt in Madarpur village. From here, one could see banners which had been put up two days ago reading, "No India, No Pakistan-JKLF." Some Congress and BJP activists from Poonch gathered at Jalas, right across Madarpur, to oppose the march Reports said that after Pak police dispersed the group of about 2,000 activists, about 40 of them moved towards Bela Chinar, opposite the Nangi Tekri post, and managed to reach Dharmsal where they were seen raising slogans. They, however, showed no intention of crossing the LoC.

At the Krishna Ghat sector - which was expected to be the scene of JKLF action - troops were on high alter. Peeved at a foreign TV channel's report that the JKLF had crossed the LoC, Army authorities took pains to show that the claims were hollow. Besides their vigil, they said, the activists would have had a trying time crossing the terrain. "While they will have to ferry across the Poonch river if they want to come from either Bela Chinar, Mandol or from Madarpur, they would have to cross Pakistani posts if they wanted to enter Poonch via Tetri and Kot. And then there is Rangad nalla to cross", said Brigadier Vinodh Maini, commander, 10 Infantry Brigade.

ENS adds from Islamabad: Pak police fought pitched battles and opened fire to stop a march by hundreds of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front activists across the Line of Control Eight people were wounded.

Witness said that despite a security crack down, JKLF supporters gathered at Hajira, 12 km west of the LoC. "We want freedom, freedom is our right," the crowd chanted as they broke through the police cordon near Madarpur village.

Demonstrators pelted several hundred police with stones, before the police opened fire with tear gas and then with bullets. The activists scurried for cover. Within minutes several of them ran fro behind buildings to hit police with bricks and rocks. Some policemen were seen picking up rocks and throwing them at the demonstrators.

Police and activists also clashed in nearby Rawalakot town, some 80 km northeast of Islamabad, after JKLF chairman Amanullah Khan emerged from three days of hiding to march towards Hajira with several hundred supporters. His supporters carried him on their shoulders shouting anit-Pakistan and anti-Indian slogans.

It did not appear as if he was going to be able to get close to the LoC. Hundreds of additional police and soldiers were deployed at the border to prevent the crossing, said Nazakat Hussein Shah, a police spokesman in Rawalakot, in Pakistan-ruled Kashmir, about 60 km form the border. "We have our orders to stop them from crossing." he said.

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