SRINAGAR Former minister and prominent Shia leader, Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari escaped with minor injuries while as 11 people were killed and 11 others injured in a landmine explosion at a congregation in a Pattan village Friday afternoon. Tension gripped several areas in this capital city and elsewhere soon after the news about the blast spread. Quoting a spokesman, an agency report said the Hizbul Mujahideen group had owned the responsibility for the blast.
According to reports, a powerful landmine explosion took place at 4.15 p.m. when Maulvi Iftikhar was about to address a 1,000-strong congregation in connection with the death anniversary of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – according to Shia belief – at Gundi Khwaja Qasim near Pattan in Baramulla district.
Eyewitnesses said the Maulvi asked for shifting of the pulpit away from the spot which – had, incidentally, come directly trader the sun No sooner did he begin moving towards the pulpit, a massive explosion rocked the spot in the Imambara ground blowing up several persons.
An agency report said 11 people were killed and as many were injured on the spot. However, the inspector general of police, Dr Ashok Bhan, put the casualties at nine persons killed and 11 injured, some of them seriously. He said four of the injured had been discharged after first aid.
However, Maulvi Iftikhar escaped with bruises. He and some of the others injured in the incident were rushed to the institute of medical sciences at Soura. The institute director, Prof Me’raj-ud- din, this evening described Maulvi Iftikhars condition as ‘stable’ and that he has been admitted for observation’. Though conscious, he was in pain”, he said adding that a team of doctors examined him and observed bruises at his back and nape of the neck Talking to reporters at the institute, Maulvi Iftikhar said he was feeling better.
Soon after the incident, agitated supporters of Maulvi Iftikhar poured into the streets at a number of places in the downtown city and elsewhere including Zadibal,. Saidkadal, Lawaypora, Chenabal, Hanjiwera and some other areas in Baramulla district. A’ house and a medical shop were ransacked and a private vehicle damaged near the spot. At some other places, irate youth pelted stones on passing vehicles.
IGP Dr Bhan, told Observer News Service late this evening the situation was, by and large, well under control and the security had been beefed up. “Security forces have cordoned off Gundi Khwaja Qasim and some adjoining villages and are conducting searches”, he said, adding that not much could, however, be expected as those who
had planted the improvised explosive device (DED) might have left the spot much earlier.
The chief minister, Dr Earooq Abdullah, accompanied by the chief secretary, Ashok Jaitly, this evening visited Maulvi Iftikhar at the Soura Institute. In a statement, he said the gruesome incident should shake the confidence of those perpetrating violence in the name of religion “My heart goes to the bereaved families of the innocent victims”, he said.
Expressing grief, Governor, G C Saxena, said it was an attempt to provoke sectarian passions and violence! He expressed sympathies with the bereaved families.
The attack on Maulvi Iftikhar came barely a month after the minister of state for power Ghulam Hassan Bhat, was killed in a landmine blast in Anantnag district
Maulvi Iftikhar is the sitting MLA from Pattan constituency which he fought as a Congress nominee supported by the ruling National Conference. He was the minister of housing and urban development before he was asked to quit the cabinet after he fell out from the chief minister, Dr Abdullah.
LIST OF DEAD:
Bashir Ahmad Gazi, SI (wireless), Surateng, Sgr Nisar Ahmad s/o Ghulam Rasool,Miigund (Pattan) Muhammad Qasim s/o Ghulam Raza, Hawal, Srinagar Mirza Muhammad Hussain (HusaLala), Qamarwari, Sgr, Muhammad Qasim s/o Mohd Raza, Kralapora, Mirza Hasan, Qamarwari, Sgr, Ghulam Ahmad Wani, Babapora, Magam Bashir Ahmad Joo, Bemina,
LIST OF INJURED: Muhammad Jafar, Asgar Ali, GhulamMubammad Mir , Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, Muhammad Akbar Rather Ghulam Ahmad Ganai, Ghulam Hussain Wani Muhammad Afzal Ganai
(Kashmir Observer, June 03, 2000)
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