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September 24, 1999
1 killed, 12 injured in attack on Srinagar cinema hall
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
The Jammu and Kashmir government's plan to reopen places of entertainment closed in 1990 following militant threats received a setback today when patrons of Regal Cinema became the target of a grenade attack right after the inaugural show.
One person was killed and 12 others were seriously injured when militants lobbed hand-grenades at the theatre late this evening.
Regal Cinema had reopened this morning after nearly 11 years with Pyar Koi Khel Nahin starring Sunny Deol and Mahima Chowdhary.
Police said militants attacked the viewers with three powerful hand-grenades when they were coming out of the heavily guarded theatre. While one grenade exploded in the midst of the crowd leaving the hall, the others were defused by the bomb disposal squad of the police.
One civilian, identified as Hafizullah, died even as police were trying to shift the casualties to hospital. The others, however, were admitted to various hospitals in the capital. Five of them are stated to be in a critical condition.
The cinema hall, located in the high-security city centre, was renovated over the last few days and reopened this morning under tight security. Police and paramilitary forces were deployed in strength in the area from early morning and all passers-by were thoroughly frisked. The locality was also 'sanitised' using sniffer dogs.
The National Conference government had earlier reopened two cinema halls, Broadway and Neelam, in the high-security areas of the capital. It had plans to reopen other cinema halls and was offering interest-free loans of up to Rs 4.5 million to each of the owners for renovation.
In 1990, the cinema halls downed shutters following militant threats. Since then the authorities have been trying to reopen them.
Senior police and security force officers are now meeting to devise a new plan to ensure the safety of cine-goers. Regal Cinema may remain closed for some time till foolproof security is arranged.
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