December 2000 News

Serial blasts shatter Ramzan truce lull

1 December 2000
The Statesman

Srinagar: For the first time since the Ramzan ceasefire call, militants today set off a series of bomb blasts and grenade attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, leaving 12 injured. Two car bombs and and two grenades were set off between 11.30 a.m. and 2.45 p.m. at two places in Srinagar and one at Baramulla, an official spokesman said. At least 12 civilians were injured when a grenade, aimed at passing Army vehicles, missed the target and exploded at Pattan Main Market in Baramulla. Three of the injured were in a critical condition. The two car bombs were detonated near the J&K High Court complex in Srinagar?s crowded Jehangir Chowk area. Using tactics similar to the 10 August blast in which a journalist was killed, militants used the first car blast as decoy to attract a crowd, but failed. As securitymen were keeping onlookers off the blast site, another car packed with explosives blew up in 15 minutes. Militants also exploded a grenade in central Srinagar. No one was hurt. Meanwhile, cracks have shown up within the government over the ceasefire as ?ground level officials? have reportedly raised objections while senior home and defence officials have welcomed it, say North Block sources. ?The feelings of the armed forces have been conveyed to the two ministries. It is up to them to react,? said a senior Intelligence official. A defence official said: ?The ceasefire does generate difficulties within the forces. Higher-level officials able to see the bigger picture welcome a political initiative as they are fully aware that there is no military solution to insurgency. That appreciation of the situation does not always trickle down.? Sources said the forces apprehended militant outfits would use the lull in the offensive to regroup, identify potential security weaknesses and plan assaults on high-profile targets. Besides, soldiers who have toiled to restore a level of control find it difficult to accept the order to lay off midway. Pointing to these problems, a top Army officer, however, emphasised, that the forces were not opposing the ceasefire in principle. A high-powered meeting was reportedly convened by the two ministries on Wednesday night to take stock of the post-ceasefire situation and analyse Intelligence reports. ?The IB report has blamed the government for demoralising the armed forces, especially in the valley,? said an official. Despite the ceasefire, securitymen last night raided a militant hideout in Rajouri and seized some ammunition and explosives. Incidentally, Mr LK Advani, while speaking at a BSF parade today, said ?though the security forces had been instructed not to initiate firing, they are duty-bound to prevent killings and infiltration by militants?. He also urged Pakistan to seize India?s new peace initiative. Chinese pat: After an initial hesitation, China today welcomed the ceasefire offer, hoping that it would lead to better Indo-Pakistan relations. ?We welcome all efforts conducive to the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan,? the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said.


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