Census operations again come to a halt in Kashmir
28 October 2000
Srinagar: Census operations in Jammu and Kashmir have once again come to a halt, with those conducting the headcount refusing to carry on the exercise in Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley on account of inadequate security. The headcount operation was disrupted after Muslim separatists assaulted the employees, who had participated in the census operations in the valley, at several places in Srinagar on Wednesday and Thursday. Armed bands of separatists snatched and destroyed the census records and also physically assaulted the government employees involved in the census operations. Following the attacks, for which the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen has claimed responsibility, the extended session of the census operations, an extraordinary development in itself, have come to a halt. The census operations were extended beyond September 30, the original deadline, after the employees designated to conduct the headcount refused to undertake the work, citing the threat of extremists. The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen had threatened to disrupt the census operations in Jammu and Kashmir after the collapse of peace talks with the Indian government in August. The extremist outfit had threatened to ''eliminate all those participating in the census operations''. The Hizb objection to the census in Jammu and Kashmir was three-fold. According to it, firstly, several thousand Kashmiri Muslims had shifted out of the state. Secondly, many were in jails, and thirdly, a number of them had migrated to the other side of the Line of Control (LoC), a reference to Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The government had attempted to allay fears and assured definite security cover. But the latest attacks have proved that security was inadequate. Those engaged in the census operations have therefore refused to undertake the operations once again.