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'Militants do not want peace in J&K'

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
May 01, 2006 17:17 IST
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Militants, assumed to be from the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, struck two days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to hold a second round of talks with the moderate Hurriyat leaders. In a pre-dawn strike on Monday, they killed 22 Hindus in two villages in the Doda district.

This toll is likely to rise, as several villagers remain critical. The cremation of those killed is likely to take place on Monday.

The area where the terrorists struck under the jurisdiction of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's Assembly constitutency. He was recently elected with a thumping margain of over 698,000 votes.

Dilbag Singh, deputy inspector general of Jammu and Kashmir, who has served as SSP of Doda, said that the terrain is very difficult, which would mean that even the quickest reaction would take seven hours.

"Some of the hamlets have four to five houses and some have ten. According to revenue records, there are 670 villages in these areas and it is difficult to provide them security," said another senior officer of the J&K police.

In New Delhi, Prakash Jaiswal, minister of state for home affairs, said that this act has exposed the frustration of the terrorists, who oppose peace returning to the valley. "We will do everything to combat terror," Jaiswal told newsmen.

Senior police officers of Jammu and Kashmir police could not be contacted.

Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People's Democratic Party, has condemned the incident. Speaking to in New Delhi she said that whenever there is a move forward on the peace process, such elements, with vested interests in keeping the violence alive, strike back.

"This is a condemnable incident where people belonging to a particular community have been targetted. The people of Jammu and Kashmir will not let their designs to succeed and will fight them with greater vigour and determination," she said.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi