LeT terror before talks
J&K CHIEF Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had an early lunch to thank for the delay in his visit to the Sher-e-Kashmir Park in Srinagar, the scene of Sunday's fidayeen attack.But not everyone was so lucky. Seven people (two policemen among them) died and over 20 were injured in the attack. Two militants were also killed in the exchange of fire with the security forces.india Updated: May 22, 2006 01:13 IST
J&K CHIEF Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had an early lunch to thank for the delay in his visit to the Sher-e-Kashmir Park in Srinagar, the scene of Sunday's fidayeen attack.
But not everyone was so lucky. Seven people (two policemen among them) died and over 20 were injured in the attack. Two militants were also killed in the exchange of fire with the security forces.
The timing of the strike was not a surprise. Two days ago, Azad had said that the "boys will do some mischief before the second round-table conference on Kashmir (May 24)". The central security agencies too had suspected such a terrorist hit.
Azad was the target of one of the attackers, who fired at the podium where the CM would have been seated had he reached the venue on time.
"I thought, 'Let me have something to eat before I leave for the rally. That made the whole difference," Azad told HT over phone.
The attack took place around 1.10 p.m. "My lunch delayed me by 15 minutes. When I was about to leave for the rally venue, the security men came and stopped me, saying a fidayeen attack had taken place." The CM said had he left at 1 p.m. as scheduled, "I don't know what would have happened".
Two fidayeen in police uniform were involved: one inside and the other outside the park, offering cover to the first.
One of them first hurled a grenade and then opened fire near the podium, where several Congress leaders -- including PCC chief and sports minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, MoS for roads and building Gulchain Singh Charak and MLA G.A. Mir -- were seated.
Later in the day, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and Al-Mansoorian (a LeT front) and claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to a local news agency.
After the attack, the CM said the round table would be held as per schedule. "I won't chicken out because of such terror attacks," he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the "cowardly" attack and said he would go ahead with his two-day visit to Srinagar from May 24 for the second
round-table conference on Kashmir.
"The prime minister said that it is only through dialogue that a lasting solution can be found," a statement from his office said.
Singh said such attacks would not weaken the resolve of the people of J&K to seek a peaceful resolution to the problems facing the state.