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Tuesday, August 07, 2001

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Doda killings find echo in Parliament

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, AUG. 6. The brutal gunning down of 15 persons in Doda district last Friday, echoed in Parliament today with the Rajya Sabha condemning the killings even as the Opposition charged the Government with failure in dealing with terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir despite repeated assurances.

Members in both Houses were agitated over the killings at Sharote Dhar village in Doda district of the State and were sharp in criticising the Government and the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, for their inability to protect the lives of innocent people and prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Chairman, Mr. Krishan Kant, referred to the dastardly killings and said it was the third such attack by terrorists during the past fortnight. ``I am sure the whole House will join me in condemning this heinous act which is against human ethos and has shocked the entire civilised world,'' Mr. Kant said soon after the House assembled for the day and observed silence as a mark of respect to the memory of those killed.

The issue came up again during zero hour, with Mr. Arjun Singh (Congress) taking on the Government's `flip-flop policy' and its inability to grasp the problem. ``It appears that Jammu and Kashmir has become the killing fields of India'' and lamented that everytime a gruesome incident took place, the Government expressed resolve not to allow such an incident recur. He said it was time the Government stood up and took action if it had a J&K policy.

Mr. Alladi Rajkumar (TDP) demanded the Government spell out the steps it was taking to prevent such incidents. He said terrorist attacks had increased after the visit of the Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

In response to demands from members for a statement by the Home Minister, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. O. Rajagopal, said the Government would come before the House after the return of the Minister of State for Home, Mr. I.D. Swami. However, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Manmohan Singh, referring to reports suggesting that Mr. Swami had to delay his visit due to problems with the official aircraft, wondered about the `seriousness' the Government attached to the issue.

In the Lok Sabha, both the Opposition and members of the BJP spoke with fervour. Mr. Priyaranjan Das Munshi (Congress) was extremely critical of Mr. Advani and wondered whether he deserved to continue in office after the latest massacre. Mr. Somnath Chatterjee (CPI-M) demanded a statement from the Home Minister on the steps being taken to protect innocent people. He said the situation in the State had become grave after the failure of the Agra summit.

The issue was raised by Mr. Madan Lal Khurana (BJP) who demanded that the Government act with firmness in dealing with Pakistan- sponsored terrorist. He was supported by Mr. Vinay Katiyar and others of the party and sought a statement from the Home Minister. The House also saw heated exchanges between the Opposition and ruling coalition members which led to adjournment before lunch.

* * *

Bandh peaceful

JAMMU, AUG. 6. Demonstrations and burning of Pakistani flags marked the BJP-sponspored bandh here, to protest the Saturday's massacre in Doda district, which otherwise passed off peacefully even as curfew continued without any relaxation in Kishtwar and Baderwah towns.

Normal life was affected in most of the areas with shops and business establishments remaining closed and vehicular traffic keeping off roads and highways. The bandh also affected work in government offices, banks, public sector undertakings and educational institutions. Some protest demonstra tions were also held in Rajouri, Poonch and Udhampur towns.


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