Day one: 11 killed; Hizbul unrelenting
28 November 2000
Srinagar: Guns failed to fall silent as 11 people, including five militants and four security personnel, were killed and 22 injured on the first day of Ramzan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday even as people in the Valley saw a ray of hope in the Centre''s peace initiative. Militants blasted an Army vehicle at Kreer-Nowpora in Anantnag district''s Dooru belt, 85 km in south from the capital Srinagar, on Tuesday after. At least four soldiers were killed and 14 others injured in the militant action carried through an IED explosion. The vehicle in which the soldiers were travelling also got damaged extensively. Hizbul Mujahideen owned the responsibility for engineering the explosion and claimed that casualties were much more than was accepted. Official sources said that a posse of Rashtriya Rifle''s 36th battalion was on patrol in Dooru area. When the patrolling party reached Nowpora village, their vehicle ran over a deadly IED. The explosion was so powerful that the vehicle was blown up in air and fell yards away. Four soldiers travelling in the vehicle died on spot while 14 others got wounded. The condition of five of them was stated to be critical. A caller identifying himself as spokesman of Hizbul Mujahideen told newspaper offices here that his group was responsible for ambushing the Army vehicle. The Hizb activists had eliminated Power Minister Ghulam Hassan Butt in the same area in the same fashion in May this year. In another incident, five militants belonging to Harkatu-ul-Jehadi-Islami and Teherek-e-Jehad groups were killed in a fierce encounter with the security forces when the militants tried to infiltrate into Saujian in Poonch sector from across the Line of Control. Two civilians were also killed and eight injured in the incident. Security forces later recovered five rifles, two radio sets, some documents and a large quantity of ammunition from the killed militants, a Defence Press release said. Police repulsed militant attacks on the residence of a ruling National Conference leader Ghulam Nabi Mir and a former minister Sheikh Abdul Jabbar in the State since Monday evening, an official spokesperson said here. Meanwhile, outgoing Jammu and Kashmir DGP Gurbachan Jagat on Tuesday said security situation in the State was fast returning towards normalcy and peace. ''Situation is speedily returning towards normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. This is visible from the positive reflections in the State,'' Jagat, who now goes as the new Director General of the BSF, told reporters at his farewell ceremony here. He said some militancy-related incidents are last straws in the stream. However, new Director General of Jammu and Kashmir police A K Suri, soon after taking charge on Tuesday, said there was possibility of heightened militancy in the state during Ramzan. He said the militant activities had been stepped up during the month of Ramzan last year and the year before that. Meanwhile, more troops were sent to the Dooru area in Anantnag district. Even as the area remained besieged till late in the evening, there was no report of any retaliation or search operation by the security forces. Security forces have stopped all combat and search operations against militants at the directions of Prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the month of Ramzan, which commenced on Tuesday. The security forces maintained cease-fire in other parts of the Valley also and there were no reports of any search operation or crackdown from anywhere in the Valley. Militants, however, have rejected the offer as a ''ploy'' and have threatened to intensify attacks on security forces. The Tuesday strike is perceived as a manifestation of militant threat during Ramzan. In another development, Harkatul Mujahideen and Harkat-e-Jihad-e-Islami, the two die-hard Pakistan-based militant outfits, have re-merged and have announced to operate jointly in the Valley. The two Harkats had merged to form Harkatul Ansar in 1994 and earned the name of the most feared militant outfit. However, when in 1996, United States imposed a ban on the Ansar, its cadres broke to their earlier groups and started operating separately. Reports said that the two groups, who are a dominant force in border district of Kupwara, have decided to merge together and operate under a united banner. Jamiatul Mujahideen has also directed its cadres to intensify attacks on security forces in the month of Ramzan.