| A policewoman walks past a bullet-riddled pillar at the Raghunath temple. (AFP)
New Delhi, Nov. 25: India blamed Pakistan for the terrorist strike on the Raghunath temple in Jammu yesterday, with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani saying the attack was carried out by the Al Mansooran group, a front of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Advani placed a detailed report on the incident in both Houses of Parliament today, saying the attack was part of a deliberate design to create a communal divide in Kashmir.
The deputy Prime Minister, however, expressed confidence that the people of the state will not let this happen.
Twelve persons, including a policeman, a CRPF jawan and a militant, died in the attack and around 52 were injured. Curfew has been clamped in Jammu as a precaution, the minister said.
Sunday’s attack has been a setback for improving ties with Pakistan. With the successful completion of elections in both Kashmir and Pakistan, the international community had hoped for a thaw in ties between the nuclear neighbours.
But the deputy Prime Minister’s statement today clearly signalled a hardening in India’s position on talks. He even wondered if the spurt in violence in Kashmir was linked to the formation of a new government in Pakistan.
Advani said the violence in the Valley could also be linked to Pakistan’s decision to free Lashkar chief Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed. Soon after he was freed, a senior member of the militant organisation vowed to continue the jihad in Kashmir and publicly called for stepping up terror strikes in the state.
Members of Parliament are aware that the UN in a resolution — after the September 11 terror strikes in the US — has made it mandatory for all UN members to ensure that terror is not incited from their soil.
By freeing the head of the Lashkar, an outfit New Delhi blames for some of the worst attacks in India, Pakistan has clearly violated the UN resolution.
Keeping this in mind, the Union home minister said: “Terrorists have shown their disdain for international opinion and efforts of various countries, which have been trying to apply moral and diplomatic pressure to end cross border terrorism.”
Advani said a suicide attack on the Pamposh Hotel Complex in Srinagar on November 22 and an explosive device placed near the Jawahar tunnel moments before an army convoy was to pass, were run-ups to the main attack at the Raghunath temple.
“These terrorists have demonstrated their total lack of concern for the overwhelming yearning for peace demonstrated by the people of Kashmir when they braved violence and exercised their right to vote in the recent Assembly elections,” the deputy Prime Minister said.
He assured Parliament that the government was committed to providing all necessary assistance to the state in its fight against terrorism. Minister of state for home I.D. Swamy, accompanied by the CRPF director general, have been sent to Jammu for an on-the-spot assessment.
Advani went through a step by step account of how the attack took place. While one terrorist was shot in the main attack, the second terrorist ran towards the nearby Shiv mandir, lobbing grenades and firing as he ran.
The policemen on duty closed the doors of the Shiv temple preventing the terrorist from entering. The area was cordoned off and the terrorist killed today morning.
The state administration had informed the Centre that additional forces had been put in place in the temple after the earlier attack on the temple in March.
In both Houses of Parliament, members stood up as a mark of respect for those who died in yesterday’s attack. Advani asked all members to join him in condemning the incident and those responsible for the attack.