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This is an act of desperation: Army

By Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Last updated on: April 06, 2005 21:28 IST
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The state administration and the army top brass have dismissed the militant attack in Srinagar on the eve of the launch of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service as an act of desperation.

Despite the attack on Wednesday, the Centre announced that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other leaders will visit Kashmir on Thursday to flag off the inaugural service.

The PM is of the view that the attack is a desperate act of desperate people, sources in the PM's office said.

A senior Military Intelligence officer based in Kashmir said the bus service should be launched as scheduled because terrorists should be sent a message that India will not be cowed down by their acts.

Sources in army headquarter in Srinagar said if the launch was postponed or cancelled, it would give the militants a psychological victory. The government had taken into account this factor before deciding to stick to the schedule.

As per the assessment by the armed forces, the militants' act was in desperation and was symbolic.

The officer said since a year or so militants have been on the run. 'They know that if the bus service started people on either side of the Line of Control will come into direct contact, and they [militants] will become irrelevant,' he said.

Even though the four militant groups that had issued threats to the bus passengers have claimed responsibility for the attack, the officer said in all probability it was an act by the Al-Mansurian.

Another officer said the tourist centre and the transport office caught fire in the attack because the buildings were made of wood.

Former governor of Jammu and Kashmir Girish Chandra Saxena said, "The suicide attack is an attempt by the militants to derail the peace process."

Welcoming the PM's decision to visit Srinagar as per schedule, he said, "It is for the people and leaders to take a stand when the going gets tough."

Asked if the attack reflected a lapse in security, he said, "Suicide acts cannot be prevented. But certainly, for tomorrow's event security should be tightened."

Of the four organisations that have claimed responsibility for attack, two exist only on paper, he added.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi