THE KARGIL FUND Set up by The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika
More than a hundred soldiers have already died in the undeclared war in Kargil. Many more are lying injured in hospitals. No assistance is compensation enough for the mother who has lost her son or the wife her husband. But we, the citizens of this country, need to help, in however small a way. The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika are setting up a fund with that modest aim in mind. The fund is being started with an intial contribution of Rs 5 Lakh from the ABP Group. If every reader of The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika donates a small sum, we can raise a huge amount for the families of the soldiers killed or injured in action. As a token of appreciation, both papers will publish the names of donors contributing Rs 500 or more. This is a time to ask yourself what can you do for the nation.   Only account payee cheques and drafts - payable to 'ABP Kargil Fund' - will be accepted. Put the cheque/draft in an envelope with your name and address. Write 'ABP Kargil Fund' and mail it to or deliver (between 10 am and 6 pm except on Sundays) at  
6 Prafulla Sarkar Street 
Calcutta 700001 
Diplomacy in pullout versus ceasefire tussle
US mission with peace road map
Intruders cleared from one Batalik ridge
Atal convenes all-party meet on Rajya Sabha session
Night-long raid on tutor?s house
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, June 26: 
India is considering a US-backed proposal for a ceasefire to facilitate withdrawal of Pakistan army regulars from Kargil. But it is caught in a dilemma on whether to accept such a plan before Islamabad gives a firm commitment to pull back its forces.

Even if an acceptable formula is worked out, the problem for both sides, however, will be in making it saleable in their respective countries.

US deputy assistant secretary of state Gibson Lanpher, who arrived here tonight, will hold talks tomorrow with Indian officials. Whatever the outcome of the talks, India is likely to play down the US proposal.

Indicating increased US presence in settling the Kargil crisis, Islamabad today announced that efforts were on to set up a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Bill Clinton.

In Pune, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee claimed India is in total control on the warfront.

?India wants peace with Pakistan, but it cannot be one-sided,? Vajpayee said. He declined to disclose if Delhi will breach the Line of Control, saying: ?The issue is a matter of our rananiti (war strategy). I cannot give a definite reply at this time.?

The Prime Minister, however, warned: ?India will neither overreact to Pakistani provocation nor display restraint that crosses the threshold of tolerance.?

He added that though Delhi is displaying restraint, ?we will not be found wanting in taking appropriate measures to protect the country?.

Last night, the US proposal to offer an ?exit corridor? to Pakistani intruders was discussed at an emergency meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security.

Though details of the US proposal will only become clear at tomorrow?s meeting with Lanpher, India has already been apprised of the nature of the peace package. India is likely to question if there is any guarantee that Pakistan will honour its part of the bargain if Delhi accepts the US proposal. Officially, India denied having received any proposal.

The announcement about the Clinton-Sharif meeting was made in Islamabad by Pakistan army chief General Pervez Musharraf. He said talks are being arranged to find a ?compatible solution? to the Kargil crisis, but added that Kashmir will also be discussed.

?The strategic issue is Kashmir, it is the biggest political issue. This and the military issue of Kargil should be tackled simultaneously,? Gen. Musharraf said.

On withdrawal of troops, he said a decision would have to be taken by the government as ?it is a political question and should be asked to the Prime Minister?. But he said Pakistani troops will not be withdrawn unilaterally.

Gen. Musharraf ruled out the possibility of another war between the countries. ?The situation is tactical in nature and it has military aspects,? he said, adding a solution to the Kargil issue should be acceptable to India, Pakistan as well as the US.

In an interesting shift in position, China today warned India and Pakistan that the worsening Kargil situation could invite increased western intervention. It called on the two sides to immediately announce a ceasefire and go in for negotiations.    

New Delhi, June 26: 
Diplomatic sources are talking of an American ?road map? leading to a solution on Kargil despite the external affairs ministry spokesman?s assertion that the US deputy assistant secretary of state in the South Asia bureau, Gibson Lanpher, is visiting New Delhi on a briefing mission.

The sources said Lanpher will apprise Indian officials of the discussions between US army General Anthony Zinni and the Pakistanis, and explain to Indians what is realistically possible in order to defuse the Kargil crisis.

If the Indian response is positive, Gen. Zinni will immediately return to Rawalpindi to pursue the hitherto undisclosed proposals which will bring peace to Kargil.

Once any loose ends to these proposals are tied up, the Americans will host a grand summit meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Bill Clinton to compensate for any loss of face that Pakistan may suffer as a result of the pullout.

It is Washington?s assessment that India will not object to such a grand gesture. On the contrary, the US feels that India would welcome any step that will strengthen Sharif?s hands since it would enable India and Pakistan to quickly return to the Lahore process.

But the problem that the BJP-led government is facing is somewhat piquant. While New Delhi is pleased that the Americans ? and others ? are blaming Pakistan for the Kargil crisis and want Islamabad to pull out its forces as well as the militant intruders, the government is keen to avoid the charge that it has facilitated third-party role in Kashmir.

For this reason, Lanpher is likely to be welcomed ?correctly?. So far, only one meeting has been fixed for Lanpher in New Delhi. He will meet the joint secretary in charge of Americas, Aloke Prasad, who will be joined by the official in charge of Pakistan, Vivek Katju.

Meetings with secretaries or ministers, if at all, will be scheduled only if India finds any US proposals on Kargil ?not only realistic, but also prudent?, sources said. South Block has taken the view that in accordance with protocol, Lanpher?s interlocutors here should be roughly his counterparts in the Indian set-up.

Lanpher will, therefore, find his reception a sea change from what he received in Islamabad, where he had access to the highest echelons of the army, the bureaucracy and the political leadership. Indian officials are keen to emphasise that South Block?s ?correctness? in arranging ?peer group? meetings for Lanpher should not be mistaken for ?coolness?.

Congress leader Natwar Singh has already said Kashmir has been internationalised. The Congress will be vociferously joined by the Left and others in its criticism of the government if there are any hints that the US is playing a mediatory role.

While the government will have to do some tight-rope walking, there are doubts if it can indefinitely keep up the pretence that the Americans are not playing a third-party role.    


The planes screamed their way towards Batalik, their shrill whines waxing and waning across the night sky. As the war raged fast and furious in the Batalik sector, India managed to clear intruders from the easternmost of the four ridges in Batalik, where the action was concentrated.

The clean-up operations could not be carried out on the other three because the army was crippled by not being able to go beyond the Line of Control (LoC).

One army officer said paracommandos were used on the ridge which was recaptured. But they could not be deployed on the other three, a version that the army did not officially confirm.

The officer said paracommandos need at least 400 sq. metre of reasonably even ground to land.

The terrain, as well as the fact that the fourth ridge was about four km on the Indian side of the LoC, helped them touch down. In the case of the other ridges, though, they did not get enough space to float down.

Hamstrung by the craggy landscape, the army has now surrounded the other peaks in a U-formation. Unlike in the case of the recaptured ridge ? where an ?encircle-and-finish? operation was carried out ? the army?s U-formation at the base of the other three ridges is moving up.

But the intruders ? comfortably perched on the snowy heights ? are firing back with 5.5 inch guns, free-flying rockets and Chinese calibre weapons.

Along with the airstrikes, Indian artillery pounded away at enemy positions, giving cover as the U-formation closed in to throttle the infiltrators. ?The operations will continue, but maybe not with the same intensity,? said Colonel Avtar Singh of the 121st Brigade.

Knowing that it cannot breach the LoC, the army is counting on a greater strength in manpower to choke the intruders ensconced on the three other ridges. ?It will take some time,? was all Colonel Singh could say, knowing it would be foolhardy to put a deadline on the operations.

The army believes that there are not more than 300 intruders on the heights. Sending in more and more reinforcements, it wants to outman ? and thus ? outgun the enemy.

Clearing the Batalik ridges will take time, but the army believes it is not impossible. What must be more worrying for it is that there are indications that it could soon have a Siachen on its hands in this sector.

An army officer said unlike some positions along the LoC ? which are ?unheld? in winter ? troops maintain a physical presence all round the year in Siachen.

Chances are that such a vigil may be necessary here, too. ?We are already doing it in Siachen. There is no reason not to do it elsewhere,? said an army officer.

But the army is all too aware that if the Siachen-like situation is extended, it will be costly in terms of both money and men.

This report could be filed from the warfront, courtesy Iridium India Telecom.    

New Delhi, June 26: 
The Opposition will try to pin down the government over its failure to prevent Pakistani infiltration during the Rajya Sabha session likely to be convened in the first week of July.

Opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, had complained to President K.R. Narayanan that the ?caretaker? government was not taking the nation into confidence over the situation in Kargil.

Sources said bowing to pressure, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee has called for an all-party meeting on Monday to decide whether a Rajya Sabha session should be convened. The Prime Minister himself had said in Patna yesterday that the government would consider a brief session of the Upper House to discuss the war-like situation, though his party is against the idea.

The BJP fears the Opposition will try to gain mileage out of the session by harping on its failure to thwart Pakistan. However, Congress leader Natwar Singh said he could not understand why the government was hesitating to convene a Rajya Sabha session.    

Calcutta, June 26: 
A number of albums, documents and letters seized from the house of Sohini Pal?s tutor after a night-long raid could provide the key to the mysterious murder of the Pal family at their Oxytown home.

On June 17, the decomposed bodies of Sohini, her father, mother and sister were found with their throats slit after neighbours complained of a stench coming from their house.

A post mortem examination has revealed that the sisters were raped before being killed. But the police are still far from cracking the case.

The raid followed yesterday?s 12-hour-long interrogation of the tutor ? with whom Sohini is believed to have had an affair ? and his estranged wife at the CID headquarters in Alipore. The tutor?s home is adjacent to the Pal house.

The search, which ended early this morning, yielded several photographs from the tutor?s private album, letters and garments, including a sari that did not belong to his wife. Most of the articles seized were collected from the tutor?s wardrobe.

Though the tutor and his wife share the same house, they sleep in separate rooms. Eyewitnesses said around 11.30 pm, a convoy of police vehicles entered Oxytown and stopped outside the tutor?s house. He and his wife were brought to their house in one of the vehicles.

Curious neighbours clustered outside. But the police shooed them indoors. Despite the long search, however, the police still lack clinching evidence that might lead to the first arrest.

Later today, the tutor and his wife were again summoned to an undisclosed place for questioning.

The police have twice visited the house where the Pals used to live. It has been padlocked since the crime was discovered. They searched the house for clues and then cleaned and washed the floors.

?The house even looks ghostly. It has now become an object of curiosity for people visiting the neighbourhood,? said an elder of Oxytown.

Political parties have decided not to be left behind. Hand-written posters by the Trinamul Congress and the CPM have been stuck on the walls of houses. ?The mystery has to be solved as soon as possible,? one poster said.

Some residents of Oxytown have told the police that they saw a yellow taxi parked at a vacant street corner not far from the Pal house on the night of the murder.

The road was deserted that rainy night, more so because of the India-Pakistan World Cup match. The couple of residents who did see the cab paid little attention. Now some feel that the taxi might have been used by the assailants.    

Today?s forecast: Cloudy sky with one or two spells of light rain.

Temperature: Maximum 32.5?C (Normal)
Minimum 24.5?C (2?C below normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 98%
Minimum 64%

Rainfall: 42.6 mm

Sunset: 6.22 pm
Sunrise: 4.56 am

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