Poonch Massacre Aimed At Derailing Pak Peace Talks
27 June 2004
The Times of India
New Delhi: The intelligence agencies suspect the killing of 12 Gujjar Muslim herdsmen near Poonch to be a handiwork of Pak-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and aimed at derailing the Indo-Pakistan peace talks. The agencies feel that the LeT might have carried out the killings, which coincided with the arrival of Pakistan's foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar, out of the suspicion that the victims collaborated with the security forces during the operation Sarp Vinash in the Hill Kaka region. The operation saw more than a 100 LeT terrorists, holed up in the area, getting killed in what was a lethal blow to the group's jehadi agenda. The Poonch carnage came on the heels of the gruesome killing of IRCON engineer Sudhir Kumar Pundir and his brother Sanjay, also by suspected LeT terrorists. The involvement of LeT was indicated by the contractor who managed to escape. According to him the guns wielded by the terrorists had LeT inscribed on it. Intelligence agencies point out that as usual, LeT was being used as a leverage by ISI to put pressure on India. Meanwhile, the central government has reacted strongly to the killing of IRCON engineer, his brother and the Gujjars. Union home minister Shivraj Patil has expressed his shock and has sought report for the whole incident. He has also contacted the state chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The latter has assured better safety and security to the IRCON engineers working on the Kazikond project.