Friday, August 1, 2008

Flashback ’88: When Srinagar heard first explosion

Srinagar, July 31: Twenty-years ago, a large explosion hit Central Telegraph Office here, which sent shockwaves across the establishment. This was the first major blast in the Valley, which attracted international attention towards Kashmir.

The blast, which occurred during the intervening night of July 31 and Aug 1, 1988, many consider, was the start of armed resistance in J&K.

Nearly everyone still traces the militancy start to what was popularly known as the targhar, or telegraph office, blast. The blast, reportedly carried out by the activists of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, symbolizes the paradox of change in J&K.

Not so many people at that time knew that dozens of Kashmiri youth have crossed over the Line of Control (LoC) and have returned with bombs and bullets. This was the start of the armed rebellion.

After the sudden death of then Pakistani president General Zia-ul-Haq in an air crash on August 17, 1988, anti-India and anti-Russia protests were held in different parts of Srinagar for several days. Present insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, many consider, was the brainchild of Gen Zia.

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