NEW DELHI, July 14: Outraged by yet another massacre of Hindu civilians in Jammu, India on Sunday warned that it would get the perpetrators whoever they are, but diplomats expressed relief that the usual diatribe against Pakistan was noticeably absent amid otherwise angry words.
Although the Press Trust of India quoted External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha as blaming Pakistan for Saturday’s murder in Kasimnagar of 27 migrant workers, mostly women and children, there was neither an official confirmation of the purported remarks at a cabinet meeting nor a public statement blaming Islamabad for the incident.
In fact an official summary of the conversation between Sinha and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who made a telephone call to his Indian counterpart to condemn the massacre, appeared to have scrupulously avoided any mention of Pakistan.
Senior analyst Brahma Chellaney, seen as close to the Indian establishment, told Dawn that he did not expect any accentuation of the border standoff because of the Jammu incident.
“After all there was a similar attack on German tourists in Pakistan the other day,” Chellaney said, implying that India was beginning to realize that the attacks in India and Pakistan could be the handiwork of the same group of people inimical to both governments.
Pakistan too has suggested so in its official response to Saturday’s murders.
An Indian foreign ministry statement said Mr Straw telephoned Mr Sinha and “conveyed his sense of deep shock and outrage over the terrorist attack on innocent men, women and children in Kasimnagar near Jammu on Saturday evening.”
He told Sinha that he condemned the incident strongly, and inquired about who the perpetrators were.
Sinha, according to the foreign ministry brief, said that “as had been seen in recent terrorist incidents, in this case also, nobody had as yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorists involved in yesterday’s attack had mowed down innocent civilians and then melted into the darkness surrounding the area. Investigations into the incident were on,” he added.
What must have helped bring an as yet subdued response from India, was a statement by Kashmir’s All Parties Hurriyat Conference condemning the massacre.
“It is an act of cowardice,” said Javed Mir, acting chairman of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, which is an important member of the All Party Hurriyat Conference. “It is a clear act of terrorism and we condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he added.
Mir is also one of the moderate leaders of Hurriyat. “Whoever has done it should be dealt with severely,” said Mir. He demanded an impartial inquiry into the incident “to expose such killers once and for all.”
Referring to the London-based human rights group, Mir said, “There should be a thorough probe by well-known world groups like Amnesty International into the incident. “I think there is need to probe all such incidents,” he said.
New Delhi is opposed to involving Amnesty or any other group in issues related to Jammu and Kashmir. Authorities have blamed militants for the attack. But so far, no group has owned responsibility for the attack.
Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani who rushed to Kasimnagar said the government would make a formal statement on the matter in parliament on Monday, when it begins its monsoon session.
Meanwhile, the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police A K Suri said on Sunday that “Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-i-Tayiba” is responsible for the attack in Jammu, PTI said.
“There was definite information that the Lashkar has been planning attacks in Jammu,” he said. Suri said the militants who carried out the attack could not have left Jammu and must be in its vicinity.