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Saturday, 2 November, 2002, 15:38 GMT
Kashmir killings rock hopes for peace
Protesters burn Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in effigy
Opponents burnt Mr Sayeed in effigy before the ceremony
A new chief minister has been sworn in as the head of a coalition government in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
Mr Sayeed had wanted to work towards a ceasefire with separatists
Mufti Muhammad Sayeed's pledge to try to bring the Indian Government and separatists closer has raised hopes of a new phase in the politics of Kashmir, where 30,000 people have died in a 12-year revolt.

But a series of attacks coincided with the inauguration in Srinagar, the state's summer capital, and a BBC correspondent says the separatists are clearly not impressed.

Security forces and militants were involved in the violence across the territory, which has triggered two of the three wars fought by India and Pakistan since 1947.

In Saturday's attacks:

  • Separatists shot dead a leader of Mr Sayeed's coalition partner, the Congress Party. Mohammad Sikander Khan and two police were killed as they left Srinagar after the inauguration ceremony in an attack claimed by a militant group, al-Madina.

  • Militants shot and killed a police officer in Srinagar.

  • Indian security forces shot dead 12 militants in the Saujian area of Poonch district, near the Line of Control which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

  • Grenades were fired at Mr Sayeed's home in Mowgam three hours before he took his oath of office. A police officer was hurt though the people inside the house were unharmed.

    The inauguration ceremony itself was held amid tight security at a packed auditorium in Srinagar.


    We have challenges ahead and we have realisation but we have to work jointly

    Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
    Leading Indian politicians, including Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, were invited for the swearing-in of the new government - a coalition between Congress and Mr Sayeed's People's Democratic Party.

    Mr Sayeed, 66, told reporters after the ceremony: "It is a historical day.

    "We have challenges ahead and we have realisation but we have to work jointly. I pray to God that I come up to the expectations of the people."

    He campaigned on a platform of fighting corruption, defending human rights and seeking talks between militants and central government.

    The BBC's Altaf Hussain said Mr Sayeed's peace overtures were beginning to put pressure on the militants to co-operate, but Saturday's attacks have apparently shown their contempt for the prospect of making any deal.

    The co-operation needed from the army and paramilitary forces - both controlled by Delhi - could also be harder to secure if the violence continues, correspondents say.

    Novel agenda

    The new chief minister has promised to release all militants who have no serious charges against them.

    Showkat Bakhshi meets his family after release
    Leading militant Showkat Bakhshi is free after 12 years
    A leading militant from the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Showkat Bakhshi, was released on Friday after 12 years in prison.

    He was one of the accused in the abduction of Mr Sayeed's daughter in 1989.

    Our correspondent said this novel agenda had made the separatist political leaders somewhat nervous, as the policies could have been seen as helping ordinary people - but that agenda could now hang in the balance.

    Mr Sayeed will head a coalition of his People's Democratic Party and the Congress party for three years, before a Congress leader takes over for a second three-year period.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Adam Mynott reports from Delhi
    "Sayeed's main priority is to end the 12-year-old separatist revolt"
    The BBC's Altaf Hussain
    "There has been no let up (in the violence) during the elections or after"
    Click here fror background reports and analysis

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    See also:

    30 Oct 02 | South Asia
    29 Oct 02 | South Asia
    28 Oct 02 | South Asia
    28 Oct 02 | South Asia
    26 Oct 02 | South Asia
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