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A dream bloodied on the road to peace

April 10, 2004 12:13 IST

On Friday, Jaleel Ahmad Khan, 30, gave up the fight against death at the Soura Medical Institute in Srinagar. The toll in Thursday's grenade explosion in the border town of Uri was updated to 11.

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Jaleel's relatives started preparing for carrying the body to their ancestral village in Uri, a town which has swung dramatically between hope and despair this week.

Just a few days back the prospects of the Srinagar-Muzzafarabad road reopening had looked bright. Almost every family in Uri, a border town, has a relative on the other side of the border. The road would bring brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, families separated for years closer to each other.

The grenade attack on Peoples' Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti's rally on Thursday made that possibility a little remote.

Almost the entire town had gathered for the rally to voice their support for reopening the road. The PDP had hoped to garner some support for its Baramulla Lok Sabha candidate, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat, through the rally. The party knows that the Srinagar-Muzzafarabad road link is an emotive issue.

But Uri is now in deep mourning. Eleven people are dead. Over 30 are injured. On the road to peace, a dream lies bloodied.

The technical level talks between India and Pakistan to reopen the road have been postponed. "Thursday was a terrible day for Uri," Mohammad Iqbal, a resident, said.

Iqbal travelled all the way from Uri to Srinagar to enquire about his nephew Showkat Ahmad, who was critically injured in the explosion.

Showkat had left his home in Bijhama village near Uri early on Thursday to join the rally. "I heard from some friends that the rally was going to Muzzafarabad in support of the opening of this road link. I was walking with others in front with the two senior ministers. Suddenly there was an explosion. Smoke rose. It nearly blinded me. I ran. I heard the cries of people. But I kept running. Next I know I was lying in a hospital bed."

Over 30 persons are undergoing treatment in various hospitals in Srinagar. Six of them are critically injured.

Finance Minister Muzzafar Hussain Beig and Tourism Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, who were injured in the attack, have been advised rest by doctors

Mehbooba Mufti escaped unhurt. She is determined to continue her fight to relink the two Kashmirs by a road. 

"The attack will not deter us and instead it has strengthened our resolve to restore peace in the Kashmir valley," Beig told journalists.


Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar