July 2004 News

Attack On Dal

31 July 2004
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: If at all one has to take notice of Wednesday's terrorist attack on a Central Reserve Police Force camp in a hotel in Srinagar it is because it is the first of its kind inside the Dal Lake, the pride of our Capital city. One sub-inspector and four jawans of the Para- military force had to make the supreme sacrifice adding yet another glorious chapter to their courageous saga. Admittedly, the death toll has been higher in quite a few armed encounters earlier. If this confrontation is different from the earlier ones it is only because of its immensely popular venue. The Dal Lake has been throbbing with thousands of tourists in the recent months announcing in a way the return of good old days. The Boulevard along it is a very encouraging sight to watch. People from different parts of the country relax as they find the overall environment splendid in terms of natural glory and refreshing because of fresh air and water all around. There are hundreds of them who can be seen thoroughly enjoying the shikara rides in the picturesque Lake any time of the day. Why should the Al-Mansoorain, a little-known outfit that has owned responsibility for the murderous assault, or any other group take the sadistic delight in disturbing peace in such a blessed atmosphere? Clearly they did not want to harm the tourists something that they perhaps could have easily done in view of the fact that they had easy access to them after having managed to penetrate into a well-protected area. Instead they straightway went for the members of the Force and engaged them in an overnight fight. Even while this is true that their prime targets were the men in uniform there should be no temptation to draw a hasty conclusion about their immediate intentions. In no way have they developed a soft corner for the visitors from outside. One has seen a violent demonstration of their evil mindset in the tourist resort of Pahalgam where they had carried out a fatal strike in a restaurant. The encounters in the crowded areas always carry the risk of trapping the innocent people. On that count too one would say that the militants were looking beyond their instant aim. Was it that they just wanted to send a signal that they were not down in the dumps yet? Was it that they wanted to expose the claim of the police that it had wiped out Lashkar-e-Toiba's operational module in Srinagar? After all, the past record has shown that whether it is Al-Mansoorain or any other such body it functions in the same manner in which either the LeT or Jaish-e-Mohammad would before becoming suspects in the eyes of the United States. What does targeting the security forces mean if not spreading a scare among the ordinary citizens, including those coming from other states, that they ought to be cautious? Admittedly, one reason that the domestic tourists have felt emboldened to return to the Valley is the presence of the security forces, apart from, of course, a better knowledge about the local inhabitants and the changed perception of the homespun militant organisations that they should not come in the way of their objective and the well-being of the people. The militant outfits have realised that by scaring away the tourists, who make handsome contribution to the local prosperity, they would only hasten the further loss of their already shrunken support base at the ground level. Good sense has prevailed among them and the majority is pursuing its course in a peaceful manner. However, it is generally believed that the remnants of the foreign mercenaries are averse to changing their dirty tricks and are indulging in mischief time and again as they have done this time as well. Not surprisingly, the Dal incident has caused mixed reaction among the tourists. Yet, happily, there is no panic like the one that was witnessed during the Kargil conflict when almost all the tourists had fled the Valley. It is a firm indication that the hosts and the guests have understood very well that they can't afford to live in perpetual suspicion of each other any longer. This is a healthy understanding. Those venturing to torpedo it should recognise the utter futility of their wicked tactics. The best course for the foreign terrorists and a few of their misled followers would be to make a dignified surrender: they must take the solemn pledge to give up arms for good. This is the sure and the only way they can salvage a lot of goodwill. One sincerely wishes that the placid and heavenly waters of the Dal Lake to which they are now exposed would have a salutary effect on them and make them see the reason. Or, is this thinking merely hoping against hopes?


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