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Hunt on for terrorists behind J&K massacres

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has instructed officials to trace the culprits and if possible parade them before the public.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 12:46 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A massive hunt is on for the terrorists behind the massacres of 35 Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, with the Government focussing on neutralising these "bands of killers" rather than deploying more security forces.

"The band of killers is still at large. There may be more such killers," Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told a meeting of his senior officers late Monday after the killings in Udhampur and Doda.

He has instructed officials to trace the terrorists and if possible parade them before the public to pay for their "beastly acts".

Home Minister Shivraj Patil arrived on Tuesday with a high level team of officers to assess the massacre spot at Basantgarh in Udhampur, but he would skip Doda because Azad has already visited the area on Monday.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is also slated to visit the area.

One incident took place on Sunday night in the mountainous and densely forested Kulhan area of Doda, about 200 km from Jammu, when terrorists pulled the 22 victims out of their homes and sprayed them with bullets and also used sharp-edged weapons.

The massacre came close on the heels of the killings of 13 Hindu shepherds in Lallalan Galla, a mountainous pass in Udhampur district, on Sunday.

The Government is now trying to focus on the neutralisation of the terror groups as it believes that will send a much more reassuring message to people than deploying more forces.

"This is achievable," an official source said and cited the arrest of the terrorists responsible for serial grenade explosions in Srinagar April 14.

Azad held a late night meeting monitoring the progress of efforts to trace the killers. "They are monsters, but they cannot hide forever," he said.

Several columns of the Army are on the job.

The incidents come just two days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets with the Hurriyat Conference faction headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

First Published: May 02, 2006 12:46 IST