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India's Parliament Debates Islamic Militant Violence - 2002-07-16

India's parliament is debating an opposition-sponsored motion that seeks to censure the government for failing to control violence by Islamic militant groups. The debate follows the weekend killings of 28 civilians by suspected Islamic militants in Indian Kashmir. The government will give its official reaction to the massacre later today.

The debate opened in New Delhi with opposition parties attacking the government for its failure to prevent the killings of Hindus in Kashmir's winter capital, Jammu.

Senior leader of the main opposition Congress party, Shivraj Patil accused the government of not having a clear strategy to deal with the continuining violence in Kashmir, which India blames on Islamic militant groups.

More than 30-times this issue has been discussed on the floor of the house, and yet terrorism continues in the country, and yet we who are sitting on the opposition benches do not know what is the vision of the Government of India.

Communist party leader Somnath Chaterjee said the weekend massacre had revealed the "monumental failure" of the ruling Hindu nationalist led coalition in fighting terrorism. "In spite of you this has happened because there is neither any policy, nor any program, nor any action taken, nor any success, nor any victory," he said.

Defense Minister George Fernandes denied charges that government efforts to deal with Islamic militants have failed.

India has been locked in a tense military standoff with Pakistan since a December attack on the Indian parliament. India blames Pakistan for supporting the Muslim militant groups.

Islamabad says there is no infiltration of Islamic militants from its territory into India. Nearly a million troops have been deployed along their common borders for the past six months.

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani is expected to reply to the debate, which will be followed by a vote. It will be India's first official reaction to the weekend massacre in Kashmir. The government is likely to announce measures to strengthen internal security