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?15 minutes made the difference?

Sometimes it pays to listen to your stomach. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad did and lived to see another day.

india Updated: May 22, 2006 01:20 IST
Arun Joshi

Sometimes it pays to listen to your stomach. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad did and lived to see another day.

Azad would have been on the dais on at Sher-e-Kashmir  park in Srinagar when militants stormed it on Sunday afternoon had he not been delayed by an early lunch. "I thought let me have something to eat before I leave for the rally, that made the whole difference," Azad told the Hindustan Times over phone.

Azad returned from Delhi after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and attending CWC meeting on Saturday. He hadn't eaten anything since  morning and hunger pangs were bothering him. Around 1.20 p.m., when the chief minister was about to leave, the militants had struck.

Security guards stopped him in his tracks with the bad news. " You cannot go , Sir," a security officer told him. " The fidayeen have attacked the  park."

" My lunch delayed me by 15 minutes. Had I left  at 1 p.m. as was scheduled, I don't know what would have happened," said Azad.

That he was the target of the attacker needs no elaboration. The militants had jumped on the podium where he would have been seated and opened fire at the crowd. Azad had had some kind of a premonition. “This morning I told IG that apart from  mounting survelliance  at the buildings surrounding the  rally venue ,  no one should be allowed  without proper frisking."