The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blood on earth confronts Advani

Srinagar, March 25: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani was nearly mobbed this morning by wailing relatives of the 24 Kashmiri Pundits who were killed on Sunday night at Nadimarg.

The relatives pointed at the moist ground where the blood of the victims had spilled.

“Look, this is our blood. We have lost everything and we don’t want to live here any more,” they said.

“Adequate security was not provided despite bringing to the notice of the administration the movement of suspicious persons during the preceding week,” they told him.

Advani said it was the “responsibility of the government to protect Pundits both inside and outside the Valley”.

“There has been a security lapse. Though the primary responsibility for security lies with the Centre and that of development with the state, yet both the Centre and the state have to work in complete harmony and coordination in this regard.”

He assured “foolproof security arrangements for all the Pundits living in the Valley”.

“If you are not safe here, we shall make alternative arrangements for your safety. It is the aim of the enemy to force the few Pundits left in the Valley to move out. But if that (moving out) is what is needed to protect you, we will not hesitate to move you out.”

Advani hoped the Pundits would take the right decision because “if anyone wants to leave, the state government will provide all help but that is what the enemy wants”.

“Pundits living in various parts of the country have been meeting me and aspiring for their return to the Valley. However, your feeling will be brought to the notice of the Prime Minister and considered in the Cabinet Committee on Security,” Advani said.

On his return from Nadimarg, Advani said at a press conference here that the “cold-blooded murder” and “all the militant violence in the state is the handiwork of our neighbouring country”.

The deputy Prime Minister regretted that “Washington had not exerted as much pressure on Pakistan on terrorism in Kashmir as in (the) case of (the) Taliban”.

Advani rejected demands for imposition of Article 356 — raised by some BJP leaders —saying the Centre did not favour such a move in any state.

In the afternoon, Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited Nadimarg along with state unit chief Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni and Makhan Lal Fotedar to commiserate with the survivors. She said: “Security needs to be further strengthened. We will meet to discuss the issue.”

The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government has already ordered a review of the security in all minority-community localities in the Valley.

He has also ordered an inquiry into security lapses, if any, in adequately responding to the Nadimarg residents’ fears, conveyed to the deputy commissioner, about the movements of suspicious elements in the village.

Mufti said the security cover, consisting of a dozen policemen at 270 minority community habitations, “needs to be re-examined in view of efforts of militants to pick up soft targets and create fear psychosis”.

Security panel meets

After Advani landed in the capital this evening, the Cabinet Committee on Security met to hear his assessment, reports our special correspondent from New Delhi. The panel then authorised him to call a meeting with state representatives, including Mufti and the Governor, to discuss ways to strengthen security.

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