Terrorist attack was designed to demoralise people, forces’
23 May 2002
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Following is the text of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s statement distributed at a press conference in Srinagar on Thursday: I am pleased to meet mediapersons at the end of my three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. I had stated in Parliament that I would visit J&K after the end of the Budget Session. At the time, I didn’t know that two incidents would cast a ring of shock, sorrow and outrage around my visit. My visit began on May 21 when I visited a military hospital in Jammu to meet survivors of the gruesome terrorist attack at Kaluchak on May 14. This attack, first on a Himachal Road Transport bus and later on an Army camp, was carried out by terrorists based and trained in Pakistan. The fact that many of those killed in the carnage were children and women shows the barbaric nature of Pakistan- sponsored cross-border terrorism. On the very day of my arrival came the tragic news of the assassination of Shri Abdul Gani Lone, a respected political figure of Jammu & Kashmir. There is no doubt that Lone was gunned down by the enemies of peace because of his courageous voice against the gun culture, a voice that was beginning to get more and more influential. I join all the peace loving people of J&K in mourning the death of this great son of Kashmir and spirited champion of Kashmiriyat. The terrorist attack at Kaluchak was designed to demoralise the people of India and our security forces. Similarly, the dastardly assassination of Abdul Gani Lone was designed to demoralise and silence the forces of peace, normalcy and democratic dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir. The same sinister design was also evident from the terrorist attacks on J&K Legislative Assembly in Srinagar on October 1 and on the Indian Parliament on December 13. These acts of violence are a part of the twenty-year- long campaign of terrorism, extremism and subversion in J&K and in other parts of India, planned, aided and abetted from across the border. We will not let Pakistan carry on with its this proxy war against India any longer. As I said in my address to our brave jawans at Kupwara yesterday, India has accepted the challenge thrown by our neighbour and we are preparing ourselves for a decisive victory against the enemy. My presence at today’s meeting of the unified command in Srinagar, along with our home minister and defence minister, is also intended to convey the message of India’s resolve and readiness. Both in Jammu and in Srinagar, I met a large number of delegations belonging to various political parties and social organisations. They also included representatives of Kashmiri pandits and border migrants. There was a ringing common theme in what all of them said to me — that is, the people of Jammu & Kashmir want peace and normalcy to return at the earliest. Militancy has no future in the state because it has only brought suffering and pain to the people, irrespective of their religion or region. What was also common in the representations made by all the delegations was their eager welcome of the forthcoming elections to the J&K Legislative Assembly and their demand for free and fair polling. My government has already said — and I reiterate today that we are committed to holding free and fair elections in the state. Governor Shri Girish Chandra Saxena and chief minister Shri Farooq Abdullah have apprised me of the various requirements of the state. In response to what I have heard from the state government and the various delegations, I am pleased to announce a package for J&K covering many development and security issues. The package has a specific focus on generation of employment opportunities for the youth of the state. I have a message for the people of Jammu & Kashmir: Your pain and anguish is mine too. It is shared by all the people of India. We are with you in your sorrow and we will be with you in your joy.