November 2000 News

Day after bloody Tuesday sees drop in violence

29 November 2000
The Indian Express
Muzamil Jaleel

Srinagar: Ceasefire: Day Two. Rumours of militant attacks shatter the tranquility but at the end of the day, there was no major violent incident. There were two killings in the Valley: a former militant and a counter-insurgent. Two major tragedies were averted when police detected and later defused powerful Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from the Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar and Pulwama. ''An IED with more than two kg of explosive was planted in a public toilet in Tourist Reception Centre. It was detected in time and immediately defused,'' said Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) A.K. Bhan. ''There were chances of civilian casualties if this IED hidden in the toilet had detonated,'' Bhan said. In another similar incident, a powerful battery-fitted IED with around 10 kg of explosive was detected on a road in Pulwama. ''It was defused before exploding,'' Bhan said. He said both the IEDs were detected after people informed the police. ''We did not get information about the IEDs from our sources. Alert civilians called us. It is a very positive sign. It shows how much the people are yearning for peace to return,'' Bhan said. Though there was no major attack by the militants, Bhan said the level of violence had not completely gone down. ''We cannot expect everything to normalise within a day, that too when the ceasefire is unilateral,'' he explained. Militants killed a former militant of the Hizbul Mujahideen while he was coming out of a mosque at Mattan in Anantnag after offering morning prayers. The deceased. Mohammad Ibrahim, had quit militancy a few years ago. In another incident, militants gunned down Mashooq Ahmad Bhat, an activist of the counter-insurgency Ikhwan, at Ikhrajpora colony in Srinagar. The complexity of this unilateral ceasefire came out late yesterday evening at Panzla in north Kashmir when an Army patrol had a face-to-face with a group of militants, leading to a shootout. A Pakistani militant, Kafeel-u-Rehman, was killed. According to the Deputy Inspector General of POlice (north Kashmir) Dilbagh Singh, the Armymen asked the group to stop but the militants- most of them foreign mercenaries- opened fire. ''The militants fled, taking advantage of the darkness. Later on, a body of a Pakistani militant was recovered,'' he said. He maintained that the troops had not launched any offensive. ''The ceasefire is being effectively implemented,'' he said. In fact, police officers and security force personnel are confused what will their men do when they have a face-to-face with militants. In Srinagar city, the Border Security Force bunkers had colourful posters wishing the people a Happy Ramazan and a prayer for peace. However the checkings and friskings on roads leading to towns such as Bandipore were still going on. A senior Army officer based in north Kashmir told The Indian Express that it was premature to analyse the situation. ''We hope that the militants on the ground will not attack, but we have not lowered the guard. We are vigilant,'' he said. Though the second day of Ramazan ceasefire was comparatively quite peaceful, it can prove yet another lull before the storm.


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