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August 2, 2000
84 persons killed in overnight extremist violence in J&K
In a rapid and calculated escalation of extremist violence in Jammu & Kashmir, 84 persons were shot dead in six separate incidents in one night in different parts of the troubled state.
The carnage began late on Tuesday evening when terrorists attacked a camp at Pahalgam of pilgrims headed for the Amarnath shrine. Thirty-one persons were killed in the incident, including two policemen and two extremists.
Around midnight, the terrorists struck again, this time in Anantnag district, killing 18 non-Kashmiri labourers who were asleep at a brick kiln near Qazigund.
Nine more labourers were killed in Sindhu Achabal village, also in Anantnag district, while in the northern Kupwara district, seven members of a family of a former militant were shot dead.
In Konda Pogal Paristan village of the hilly Doda district of Jammu region, the homes of Hindu villagers were surrounded and 11 persons were gunned down.
In the same district, eight members of a village defence committee were shot dead near Kishtwar.
Earlier, on Tuesday, the militants had even attacked the registration office for the Amarnath pilgrimage in the heart of Jammu city. Though there were nearly 300 pilgrims in the office at the time of the attack, none was hurt and one militant was killed in the incident.
Making a statement in Parliament on the carnage, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said extremist groups opposed to the ceasefire declared by the Hizbul Mujahideen were raising the level of violence in the state in a bid to derail the peace process. But, he said, the Centre would not abort the proposed talks with the Hizb despite the attacks.
In another statement, Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani claimed that the attacks were a clear sign that the terrorists had been terrorised by the thought of peace returning to the state after 11 long years.
The state government, meanwhile, suspended the annual Amarnath pilgrimage and imposed a curfew in all districts of Jammu division.
Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said the violence was a clear attempt to obstruct the peace talks with the Hizbul Mujahideen. He said the security net over the state would be strengthened further, but warned that there could be more violence by terrorist groups opposed to the talks.
A team of Union home ministry officials is expected to arrive in Jammu later on Wednesday to assess the situation in the wake of the renewed violence. The team comprises Special Secretary (J&K) Tilak Raj Kakkar, Central Reserve Police Force Director General Trinath Mishra and an inspector general of the CRPF. They were accompanied by Jammu & Kashmir Governor Girish Chandra Saxena, who was in Delhi.
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