August 2003 News

Srinagar A Dump For Arms And No Way To Stop It

31 August 2003
The Times of India

New Delhi: Security agencies in the Kashmir valley fear that a large quantity of arms and ammunition has been dumped in the state capital Srinagar. This view has only been strengthened by the shootout in the city on Wednesday and Thursday, during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit, and the subsequent killing of Gazi Baba in a prolonged encounter. As one security officer put it, 'How else can one explain that even after the entire area was sanitised by para- military forces and the local police for the PM's visit, militants managed to attack Greenways Hotel, barely five km from the Sher-e- Kashmir convention centre, where the Inter-State Council meeting was being held with a number of chief ministers and Union ministers attending it.' Some arms and ammunition had been unearthed from illegal buildings during the demolition drive undertaken by the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government recently. Intelligence agencies say that they had information that the arms and ammunition had been smuggled into Srinagar from Pakistan. However, due to the Mufti government's 'healing touch' policy, they did not search for them vigorously, a senior security officer told The Times of India. In the Greenways Hotel incident, two fidayeen militants, armed with AK- 47 rifles and grenades, entered the hotel and killed former National Conference MLC Javed Husain Shah and two other persons, though all hotels and the entire area had been sanitised for the PM's visit. The militants had initially made a vain attempt to storm into the nearby BSNL building, which would have given them greater publicity as they would have succeeded in sabotaging the entire communication network. The terrorist attack, in the presence of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and a host of chief ministers and Union ministers, embarrassed the Mufti government which 'pulled up' the security personnel. The result was evident: Within two days, the BSF zeroed in on the kingpin of militants in J&K, Shah Nawaz Khan alias Gazi Baba. His killing is seen as one of the most significant achievements for the security forces in the recent past, for not only did he mastermind the suicide attack on the J&K assembly, but was also the brain behind the December 2001 attack on Parliament House.


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