January 2000 News

Panic in Jammu

30 January 2000
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

JAMMU: Following a series of attacks on Republic Day and later, Jammu is in grip of fear as reports on militants' presence continue to pour in. Authorities admit that Jammu is now the target as Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence has planned to expand its network.

Police had recovered a number of solar-ignited rockets from militants meant to disrupt the Republic Day. Security was beefed up, yet the militants fired at least eight rockets of which four were directed at the MAM Stadium, venue of Republic Day parade. All the four missed the target and landed in Tawi islands. Much earlier, two militants, who police claim were part of the "fidayeen" (suicide squad) of the Pan-Islamic Laskhar-e-Taiba were killed after they escaped from police custody.

The R-day attack was followed by another on the house of National Conference MLC, Mr. Javed Hussain Shah in Roop Nagar. He himself was the commander of the pro-Pakistan Al Jehad outfit before switching loyalties to the security forces. A number of rounds were exchanged by his guards with the militants who first threw grenades. Even as police highups are not clear about the identity of the attackers, the incident triggered panic in Roop Nagar, were Kashmiri pandits who migrated from the valley live.

The next day dawned with an alarming message. The Government quarters colony at Company Bagh in the heart of city reverberated to a bomb blast. Though no human life was lost a majority of Kashmiri Muslim officials who reside there were taken aback. This will invite the wrath of the police and security forces on them and they would be viewed with suspicion, said a Muslim official of the Civil Secretariat.

Reports of militants' presence in various localities of Jammu continue to pour in. A few days ago a report on the presence of two Afghan militants on the outskirts of Gool Gujaral was being discussed everywhere. Eyewitness said the two had their meal at a Kashmiri Pandit's house. Mr. Radhavinod Raju, IG, Jammu Zone, said, "We also heard about that but it was not confirmed". He, however, said that at least five militants had been arrested in Jammu city in the last three days. "We are excepting to get some vital clues about militant plans here", he told The Hindu. Mr. Raju said that Jammu was the target but "we are also devising our plans accordingly".

The entry of militants into Jammu worries the authorities most. The Government facing a tough time in valley, Doda, Rajouri and Poonch is finding it difficult to cope up with the situation. A senior security official said that after Kargil the situation had deteriorated with the withdrawl of the security forces.


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