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  
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Calcutta 700001 
Sharif envoy on secret Delhi mission
Clinton aims loan-gun at Pakistan
Courage under fire for 3 kg of rice
Letter hints at modelling trips
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, June 27 
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has despatched a special emissary to Delhi on a mission cloaked in secrecy, triggering speculation that Islamabad is keen to convince India that it would honour the deal being brokered by the US to find an early solution to the Kargil conflict.

The unexpected round of Track II (informal channel) diplomacy by former Pakistani foreign secretary Niaz Naik unfolded on the fringes of meetings between US official Gibson Lanpher, who also reached here from Islamabad, and Indian officials, including National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra.

Foreign ministry sources said Delhi ?just heard out? Naik, who arrived here and left today without any formal announcement, and did not offer any opinion.

The Indian leadership, unsure whether Pakistan will stick to its side of the bargain if Delhi accepts the US proposal for holding fire to let the intruders withdraw, wants a firm commitment from Islamabad.

However, already under pressure following speculation about the role Washington is playing, Indian officials stonewalled queries about Naik?s presence in the capital. A senior official of the Prime Minister?s Office (PMO) neither confirmed nor denied reports about Naik?s mission.

Reports from Islamabad suggested he was carrying proposals to end the impasse. But the PMO official said India has not invited anybody and was not aware of the proposals.

Delhi?s circumspection is understandable, considering the fact that not all in Islamabad are happy with the efforts to defuse the situation. In fact, the Naik mission?s veil of secrecy ? an essential factor for the success of any such initiative ? was ripped in Islamabad itself with a section of the establishment leaking the trip to the media.

Naik has been active on Pakistan?s diplomatic front, explaining its stand on the Kargil conflict. He had been sent by Sharif to various countries in the past few weeks to tell Pakistan?s side of the story.

In line with the customary secrecy, Lanpher, the US deputy assistant secretary of state who accompanied General Anthony Zinni to Islamabad last week, said he had not brought any proposal with him. Indian officials, too, did not give any detail of meetings with him.

Reports had emerged that the US official has brought a proposal asking India to provide ?exit corridors? so that Pakistan can pull out from Kargil.

Significantly, Lanpher, a joint secretary-level official, held a 45-minute meeting with Mishra, who is also principal secretary to the Prime Minister.

Shovelling fuel to speculation of a deal being discussed, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee has convened an all-party meeting tomorrow. Indications are that if the Vajpayee government has been given a proposal to end the conflict early, it will like to sound other parties and weigh the chances in favour of a consensus.

After meeting Lanpher, Indian foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal told reporters: ?It is imperative that Pakistan heed the advice of the international community and take immediate steps to withdraw the armed intruders from the Indian side of the Line of Control and ensure that such violations do not recur.?

The US has advised India that even if the offensive against the intruders is stepped up, India should not shut out contacts through unofficial diplomacy channels, such as Naik?s mission, with Pakistan.

However, in a bid to avert a domestic uproar that could derail the possibility of a deal, the defence ministry spokesman said the air attacks against the intruders have been made round-the-clock and there was no let-up in shelling in Kargil and Drass.

Asked whether India was willing to give any concession to Pakistan, the foreign ministry spokesman said that intrusion had taken place on the Indian side of the LoC and it was for Pakistan to vacate it. He said this could not be viewed as any concession being given by India to Pakistan.

The challenges within Pakistan to a compromise were evident from more quarters today. Reports from Islamabad quoted a top Pakistani army official as reaffirming that his country?s army had intruded into India. Brigadier Tahir Mahmood told a daily the Srinagar-Leh highway was within the striking range of Pakistani army at five points.    

Washington, June 27 
Frustrated by Pakistan?s non-compliance in restoring the LoC, the Clinton administration is considering blocking $100 million in international funding to Islamabad if it does not withdraw its troops from Indian territory.

The measure is a means to increase pressure on Pakistan which has not responded so far to urgent appeals from world leaders. A report in The Washington Post today said that US officials could withhold the next tranche of an International Monetary Fund loan which is due to be delivered next month. The $100-million loan is a part of the $1.3-billion ?bailout package? devised by the State Department last year to prevent Pakistani economy from a collapse.

Pakistan received $53 million last month well after its game in Kargil had been exposed. Although India has not officially asked Washington to stop the funding, various Indian officials have criticised the business-as-usual attitude of the West.

US officials now are openly talking about the presence of Pakistani troops inside India, throwing aside the fiction of ?mujaheddin? conducting the Kargil operation. They have identified the troops as belonging to the 10th Corps of the Pakistani army.

A senior official was quoted by the Post as saying that Pakistan could not afford a full-scale war and quick compliance with international demands to withdraw was essential in view of India?s growing impatience.

US officials are awaiting an assessment from Gen. Anthony Zinni, commander-in-chief of Central Command, who went to Pakistan to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Parvez Musharraf. He is believed to have delivered a tough message and pressed for the need to pull back Pakistani troops from the Indian side of the LoC.

US officials appear to have a dim view of Gen. Musharraf and Mohammad Aziz, chief of the general staff, who ?have spent their careers supporting one mujaheddin movement after another,? the Post reported.

Their appointments in a recent military shake-up ?raise serious questions about the long-term direction of the Pakistani state,? one official said.

The level of concern within the Clinton administration increased manifold after receiving a letter from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee delivered by Principal Secretary Brijesh Mishra in Geneva. The letter reportedly said that India might have to attack inside Pakistan if Pakistan did not pull back troops from Kargil. The letter also mentioned the rising public pressure on the Vajpayee government as a result of the high casualties sustained by the Indian army.

More than 170 Indian soldiers have already died and many more are in serious condition. The army, with little useful support from the air force, is fighting in one of the world?s toughest terrains without adequate gear. There is recognition and appreciation in Washington of the political difficulties of conducting frontal assaults against an entrenched enemy.

The letter appears to have mobilised the administration because it is after receiving it that President Bill Clinton decided to turn up the heat on Pakistan. The Post said that it was Clinton who persuaded the G8 countries to condemn the ?infiltration of armed intruders? and demand full respect for the LoC. The G8 communique specifically did not call for a cease-fire because the world supported India?s right to defend its territory.

?Pakistan is the instigator here. Pakistan has to figure out how to restore the status quo ante,? a senior official said.

Karl Inderfurth, assistant secretary of state for South Asia, who was with National Security Adviser Sandy Berger when Vajpayee?s letter was handed over in Geneva, said the Kargil conflict has been ?enormously disappointing? for the Clinton Administration. ?We didn?t think the next stop on the diplomacy bus would be Kargil.?

US officials also appreciate India?s concern that Pakistan?s top military officers are trying to export Islamic fundamentalism to Kashmir and bring in Taliban-style orthodxy that they so successfully supported in Afghanistan.    

Trespone (Kargil district), June 27 
Rubaiya delivered today.

At 11 am, in a friend?s home at Gundmongolpore, a hamlet in Trespone, Rubaiya achieved what her family thought was impossible.

Three days ago, the woman in her early 20s left for her village Lamochan near Drass, where the army?s battery of Bofors Howitzers is engaged in battle with Pakistani 210 mm guns.

Her father, Abdul Karim, had left Lamochan with his brood of eight for Trespone on May 13. For two weeks, Lamochan had been battered by Pakistani artillery. ?Not a sparrow could stay here,? says Karim of his 40-household village.

The villagers have shifted here and to Mingee, in the valley of the gurgling Suru river where the poplars form a green band that bisects eastern Ladakh?s mountainscape. ?I sent my daughter, not any of my sons, back for some work because I assumed the army and the police would not cause harm to a woman,? says Karim.

Lamochan is about 70 km west of Kargil, a little off NH 1A to Srinagar. For nearly 65 km, the road is exposed to Pakistani firing. There are also checkposts of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the army whose ways the locals dislike because they know they are not trusted.

Rubaiya first got a lift on a lorry till Kargil. Then, she walked till another lorry driver, who was picking up villagers along the way and charging Rs 10 per head, dropped her at Drass. From Drass, she walked the 8 km to her village. ?It was so desolate I was scared,? she says. ?I have stayed there all my life and it used to be so full of people, people I knew, people I grew up with. Many of them are here in Trespone, homeless and living on charity.?

Rubaiya?s father owned some land and livestock. ?I lost two cows and three sheep to shrapnel,? says Karim. ?I had told Ruby to be very careful not only because of the shelling but also because she is a woman and there are so many checkposts on the way.?

As luck would have it, Rubaiya found a family she was acquainted with near Drass. They run a tea stall frequented by soldiers and truck drivers. She put up with them for two nights, slipping out by day to carry out the task she was assigned by her father.

At dawn today, she was told by the tea-stall owner?s wife that an elderly Sardar ? a lorry driver ? had dropped in. He was headed for Kargil. If Rubaiya thought it was worth the risk, she could ask for a lift.

Minutes later, she emerged from the hut looking very pregnant. At Kargil, where she was dropped two-and-a-half hours later, Rubaiya headed for the taxi stand. She asked after an acquaintance, a taxi driver whose native village is Lamochan but who has been living in Kargil for the last two years. He was not to be found.

Steeling herself, Rubaiya walked. At Baru, Kargil?s administrative hub, she was asked by the police where she was going. She said her destination was the emergency wing of the Kargil District Hospital that had been shifted from the shelling zone where it was originally situated.

Two hours later, in Trespone, a breathless Rubaiya delivered: three kg of rice, cash and jewellery ? her family?s savings.

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

Calcutta, June 27 
Police today raided a school in Mahestala where Sohini Pal?s private tutor is the headmaster.

They also combed all the rooms in the Pal residence and seized greetings cards, files and letters which, investigators claimed, could provide clues to the murder mystery.

Among the documents seized was a letter which suggested that Sohini had visited two modelling agencies at Gariahat and Rashbehari Avenue in the first week of June, officers said.

The tutor had accompanied Sohini on these visits, they added. Sources said the agencies had fixed two assignments for Sohini.

The CID will soon collect samples of blood and skin of the private tutor, his wife and a close relative, a chemist, for DNA tests.

The decomposed bodies of Bidyut Pal, his wife Manjulika and daughters Sohini and Triparna were found in their Oxytown house on June 14, three days after they were murdered.

At 1.30 pm today, a convoy of three police jeeps screeched to a halt in front of the private tutor?s house. Witnesses said six sleuths went inside, while a dozen entered the Pal house next door. Sources said the CID believes the private tutor is keeping the sleuths in the dark about Sohini?s affair and the fact that she had been trapped into a racket.

They suspected that the private tutor had hidden incriminating letters and photographs in his school office. But the two-hour search at the school yielded nothing.

Stepping up pressure on Sohini?s tutor, the CID today asked him four questions:

Where are the love letters he purportedly wrote to Sohini?

Why did he not inform the police about the stench from the Pal residence?

Why did he give Rs 10,000 to Sohini?

Who is involved in the racket in which Sohini was trapped?

A theory which is gaining ground is that Bidyut Pal and family were drugged, the daughters raped, and then murdered.

The CID has information that the chemist-relative visited the tutor?s house on the day the Pal family was suspected to have been killed.

The investigators are now trying to verify whether the family was given drugged prasad on the pretext of normalising the strained relationship and later hired killers were called in.

Police today confirmed that Bidyut Pal had received threatening telephone calls a few days before the murder. The CID suspects there could be two reasons for the calls.

First, Sohini could have been privy to some classified information about the underworld.

Second, one of Bidyut?s relatives had reportedly requested him for the safekeeping of gold jewelleries a week before the murder.

The relative was under pressure from unknown quarters. Police suspect the relative, too, could have been behind the incident.    

Today?s forecast:Cloudy sky with one or two spells of light rain.
Temperature: Maximum 29.8?C (2?C below normal)
Minimum 27.9?C (1?C above normal)
Relative humidity: Maximum 97% Minimum 78%
Rainfall:5.3 mm
Sunset: 6.22 pm Sunrise: 4.57 am    

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