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  
ABP LTD 
6 Prafulla Sarkar Street 
Calcutta 700001 
India
 
 
 
Bloodbath in battle for Black Hill
15 killed in Poonch midnight massacre
Indian diplomat battered in Pak tit-for-tat strike
Free hand for forces in flushout
Calcutta weather

 
 
BLOODBATH IN BATTLE FOR BLACK HILL 
 
 
BY SUJAN DUTTA
 
Bimbhet (Drass), June 29 
A senior army officer?s rage and expertise in ballistics has pitted the Indian army here in the fiercest battle since Operation Vijay was launched. The assault on Phealong Peak, a rocky massif that stabs the sky between Tiger Hill and Tololing ridge, is on. In the largest toll taken on the Indian army in a single assault, 25 soldiers, including three officers, died in the attack. The toll on the other side is estimated at 15.

Unofficial reports of the battle that escalated suddenly after 8 pm on Monday suggest the army has all but captured Phealong or Point 4700 ? known as Kali Pahari (Black Hill). Troops were apparently given a deadline to clear the peak.

The assault on Kali Pahari began after a senior army officer worked out that someone sitting on Phealong Peak was guiding Pakistani gunners as they fired from across the LoC.

?I have never seen anything like this before. Hundreds of shells were hurled by Bofors Howitzers and 130 mm guns at the base of the hill,? said a police officer who is a distant eyewitness.

?We could see the heights lit up every few seconds. It was a clear night and the silhouette was visible. But the apex was shrouded in thick, black smoke. On the approaches to the top, there were pyres that glowed suddenly and just as suddenly died down. Those were our shells exploding. We could make out tracers. The noise was loudest around 9.30 pm.? The battle continued till 6 am on Tuesday.

The operation is being carried out mostly by the Rajputana Rifles (Raj Rif), the crack regiment that cleared Tololing ridge. For the past week, Raj Rif has surrounded Phealong on three sides.

There is no official word yet, but information gleaned from soldiers in the Signal Corps and with Supplies indicate that mopping up could continue through the night.

On Monday night, under a full moon, with no vegetation or boulders to provide cover, the intruders retaliated. Around midnight, some hundred Indian field guns opened fire simultaneously, lighting up the mountain in orange and red flares. The Phealong assault has provoked Pakistani gunners who intensified artillery fire in the hills just beyond Drass.

?Kal tak to hum unka hisaab pura kar denge,? said a Raj Rif subedar now billeted with his squad at Drass. He has two days left of a seven-day rest granted since he came down from Tololing.

There are two reasons why Phealong has not been a one-night operation: on its right flank, as seen from Drass, the mountain sticks out like a thumb. The convex cliff would challenge para commandos, mountaineering specialists who could take the lead in the assault. On the left flank, Kali Pahari?s incline is less steep.

Seen from this spot in a valley itself 10,660 feet high, the height is some 14 km as the crow flies. The left flank has several horizontal folds and three humps. These recesses afford both sides cover. ?We have to take it nook by nook, cranny by cranny,? said the Raj Rif soldier. A reason for the sudden assault on Kali Pahari is partly explained by an incident that may become part of military lore.

About two days ago, a senior army officer ? a member of the brainstrust supervising Operation Vijay here ? came to Drass town. He wanted Room No 1 in the government?s tourist bungalow. But the caretaker said the room was reserved for VIPs.

It was late and the officer moved to Rooms 2 and 3 in another cottage. Just as he was sitting down to dinner, an explosion made him jump out of his skin. When he went out, he saw that the structure that housed Room No 1 was a pile of smouldering rubble.

Using his artillery experience, the officer worked out that though the projectile was fired from across the LoC, the Pakistani gunner was accurate because he was directed by someone sitting atop Phealong. Within 48 hours, the army stormed Kali Pahari.

It is feared that the swiftness with which the assault has been launched could mean that Kali Pahari?s capture might prove costly. But it is a job that had to be done to secure Drass and NH1A that runs through the town.

There is another reason. The aerial route from Kali Pahari to Tiger Hill is about 4 km. This means the two peaks are within firing range of each other. Every officer and footman says Tiger Hill will be the hardest to clear. The capture of Kali Pahari, whose summit is at Tiger Hill?s shoulder, will mean that Indian machine guns and mortars can target the enemy on the 5,080m-high peak.    


 
 
15 KILLED IN POONCH MIDNIGHT MASSACRE 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Srinagar, June 29 
In a dead-of-the-night strike that sent shockwaves through Jammu, militants massacred 15 villagers at Morabachai in Poonch district, capping a vicious spiral of infighting between two Hizbul Mujahideen factions.

A senior police officer said on phone from Jammu that heavily-armed militants barged into the homes of three civilian families around midnight and sprayed them with bullets. Five women, six boys and a child were among the 15 persons killed.

The gunmen fled the village in Surankote tehsil immediately after the carnage, locking up the houses and setting them on fire. It is feared that some of the victims may have been charred to death. Two women from Saruti were also gunned down.

Though no outfit has claimed responsibility, police said the self-styled area commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, Kaunser Mehmood, had engineered the killings. He is reported to have crossed over to the Indian side of the LoC last year after receiving arms training in terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Mehmood?s acrimonious relations with a colleague and rival, Mohammed Khaliq, could be at the root of the killings, the police said.

As news of the carnage broke, outraged villagers held demonstrations. Later they took out processions against the alleged inactivity of securitymen.

The police said the victims? remains would be buried late this evening. Senior police and security force officials have rushed to the spot. Security has been beefed up in the district.

Army chief General V.P. Malik met Union home minister L.K. Advani at North Block soon after news of the massacre came in. Defence minister George Fernandes also attended the meeting.

Advani will land here tomorrow on a two-day visit and immediately leave for Kargil to assess the ground situation on the warfront. This is the home minister?s first visit to the state since the incursions.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has ordered a magisterial inquiry. He condemned the killings as a ?dastardly act which only reveals the level of frustration among the rank and file of the militants?, and promised not to let the killers ?flee the clutches of law?.    


 
 
INDIAN DIPLOMAT BATTERED IN PAK TIT-FOR-TAT STRIKE 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, June 29 
A day after India expelled a staff member of the Pakistan High Commission on charges of espionage, Pakistan retaliated by arresting an employee of the Indian mission in Islamabad and battering him.

The government said N.R. Doraiswamy, a staff member of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, ?was pulled out of the staff car from outside his house by about 10 Pakistani intelligence operatives at 7.45 am. The driver and the mission security guard, who were also in the car, tried to intervene but were manhandled and pushed aside by the intelligence operatives.?

The secretary (east) in the foreign ministry, Nareshwar Dayal, told the Pakistani high commissioner to ensure the immediate return of Doraiswamy and said his well-being was Islamabad?s responsibility.

Doraiswamy was released shortly before noon, a foreign ministry spokesman said. ?He had been badly beaten and was severely bruised.?

The spokesman told the joint defence and foreign affairs briefing that the ?abduction was a pre-planned act, in complete violation of the Vienna Convention and the bilateral India-Pakistan code of conduct for treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel?.

He said New Delhi has lodged a strong protest with Islamabad against this ?brutal act?. The Centre demanded that ?Pakistan adhere to the Vienna Convention and the bilateral understandings on the subject of treatment of diplomatic and consular personnel in either country?.

In a counter-charge, the Pakistani High Commission protested the arrest of staff member Dil Fayyaz and said it was a ?clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations?.

Fayyaz was caught ?red-handed? taking ?sensitive? documents from an Indian Air Force officer in Hindon near Modinagar yesterday.

He was returned to the Pakistani mission in the evening. But he was declared persona non grata and told to leave the country by July 5.

In a statement, the Pakistani mission said Fayyaz had been missing since the evening of June 27.

It added that he was ?abducted by the Indian intelligence agencies and kept in illegal custody for more than 24 hours under false charges while also being manhandled?.

The statement said the Pakistani foreign ministry and the high commission in New Delhi have rejected allegations of espionage levelled against him.

?Such Indian allegations are part of the propaganda campaign launched by the Indian government, specially since their military escalation along the Line the Control, in an attempt to malign Pakistan,? the statement said.

?Under no circumstances can the official?s abduction and detention be justified or condoned.?    


 
 
FREE HAND FOR FORCES IN FLUSHOUT 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, June 29 
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has given the three service chiefs a free hand to plan operations to evict the intruders as the diplomacy drive has yielded little.

At a meeting of the CCS today, the government, however, asked the military establishment not to breach the Line of Control for the time being.

??The consensus (at the meeting) was that diplomatic initiatives cannot entirely resolve this conflict and military operations to evict the intruders must continue,?? government sources said.

The CCS assurance appears to be aimed at clearing apprehensions in the military establishment of a weakening of the Kargil campaign in the wake of reports that the government is considering a US-brokered deal with Pakistan, allowing safe passage to the intruders.

But the government is now having second thoughts on whether the parleys can make much headway. Though New Delhi feels the talks should go on, it is veering around to the view that the military campaign cannot be diluted. The Centre, therefore, is willing to give the service chiefs a comparatively free hand.

This is a departure from earlier indications to the military establishment from Race Course Road that diplomacy takes precedence.

The CCS today told the service chiefs that diplomacy would not interfere with the operations and the government is committed to throwing out the infiltrators from Kargil.

The committee, comprising the Prime Minister and the ministers for home, defence, external affairs and finance, reasoned with the military bosses that the safe-passage formula was not under consideration of the government to the extent being suggested in the media.

Besides, they argued, with supply lines yet to be cut off, the Pakistanis enjoyed a free run in much of the terrain. ??Safe passage??, therefore, was only a euphemism for ??free access?? the intruders already had.

With the diplomacy drive slowing down as nothing concrete has emerged from the hectic initiatives over the weekend, the military campaign is now back in the limelight.

This explains why the government summoned the three service chiefs this evening and discussed in detail the Kargil operation, whose progress has been painfully slow.

Today?s CCS meeting, unlike other days, continued for over two hours, with the government taking stock of the effort to flush out the infiltrators.

The debate on crossing the LoC to cut off the intruders? supply route is believed to have been reopened. The service chiefs pointed out on the map where exactly they needed to breach the LoC to bring about a swift end to the undeclared war.

Before this evening?s talks, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and home minister L.K. Advani met to discuss the current status of the Kargil battlefield and the internal security in view of last week?s New Jalpaiguri station blast and the escalation in militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Home secretary Kamal Pandey was a special invitee at the meeting where last night?s Poonch massacre was also discussed. Vajpayee sought details on the steps being taken under Operation Rakshak to contain insurgency in Kashmir.

Soon after the CCS meeting began, the service chiefs were briefed by the government on the twin visits of US deputy assistant secretary of state Gibson Lanpher and the Pakistani special envoy Niaz Naik.

The military top three were asked for their opinion on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?s request for a ceasefire and a return to the talks table. Vajpayee said Sharif?s message, carried to India by Naik, had been rejected by his government.

The Prime Minister assured the service chiefs that the government would not strike any deal without apprising them.

The army provided detailed intelligence inputs received from field personnel. These reports suggested that though there had been no let-up in the operations, the Pakistanis were getting reinforcements and targeting new areas as was evident during the attack on south Siachen.

Army chief Gen. V.P. Malik voiced concern over the build-up on the Pakistani side.

Last week, the CCS had frowned on Gen. Malik?s statement that ??there was a need to look beyond Kargil??. The government had said it was a loaded statement suggesting that the army wanted to cross over but was being held back by the political establishment.

What the government wanted to point out was that the army should have been more discreet and not portrayed the picture of an ??indecisive?? government in an election year.    


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

Temperature: Maximum 32?C (1?C below normal)

Minimum 25.6?C (1?C below normal)
Relative humidity: Maximum 98%
Minimum 80%
Rainfall: 4.8 mm
Sunset: 6.22 pm
Sunrise: 4.58 am
   
 

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