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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US waves terror red flag at Pakistan
New name, same chaos
PMO seeks hostage drama report
Pope plans year-end visit
Calcutta weather

 
 
US WAVES TERROR RED FLAG AT PAKISTAN 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, July 21 
The US has demanded that Pakistan put an immediate stop to cross-border militant strikes and breathed life into an extradition treaty with Delhi that involves cooperation on counter-terrorism operations.

Virtually upholding India?s stand, US secretary of state Madeleine Albright said in Washington: ?Acts of terrorism must stop immediately because such actions make the Kashmir conflict more ? not less ? difficult to resolve.?

Albright also condemned the ?attacks on civilians? and ?those who perpetrate them?, indicating Washington is in no mood to accept that Islamabad did not have a hand in Tuesday?s massacre in Jammu. Senior state department official Matthew Daley blamed Pakistan for breaching ?unwritten law? by crossing the LoC.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee yesterday laid down before President Bill Clinton the steps Islamabad must take for negotiations to restart: withdrawal of intruders, respect for the LoC and an end to cross-border terrorism.

Pakistan today ridiculed India for setting conditions for a return to the talks table. ?It is not for India to do so, the world will force India to set priorities,? Pakistan foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed told reporters in Jeddah.

?The world can no more remain a silent spectator to the fate of Kashmir,? Ahmed, who is accompanying Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, added.

Ignoring Pakistan?s fusillade, India and the US exchanged instruments of ratification to bring into immediate effect an extradition treaty signed in 1997. The pact allows law-enforcing agencies in both countries to cooperate on steps to fight crime, including terrorism.

The new agreement has come in place of the 1931 extradition treaty between the US and UK which continued to be in force between Washington and Delhi till recently. ?The treaty is an important step in India-US law enforcement cooperation... This exchange constitutes yet another milestone in the continuing cooperation between our two democracies...,? a US information department statement said.

While Albright urged Pakistan and India to resume talks under the Lahore Declaration, Ahmed accused Delhi of wriggling out of a serious dialogue to resolve issues. ?It is time India avoids using the name of dialogue as a tactical ploy,? he said.

Ahmed alleged Delhi had been ?speaking the language of war, belligerence, hegemony and brutalities, while we talk with commitment to peace, stability and resolution of dispute through peaceful means?.

He rejected Singh?s stand that outside mediation is not required as India and Pakistan speak the same language.    


 
 
NEW NAME, SAME CHAOS 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, July 21 
A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. Calcutta by any other name will be as chaotic.

If chief minister-in-waiting Buddhadev Bhattacharya had succeeded yesterday in getting politicians of all colours to agree to rechristen the city, one-day-to-be-CM-hopeful Mamata Banerjee showed today nothing has changed.

Kalikata achhe Kalikatatei. Kolkata is still Calcutta.

A breathless rush of people ? on foot, on vans and hired buses ? surged towards Chowringhee, grinding in their wake all traffic on roads leading up to the city centre to a halt for nearly five hours from mid-day.

Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamul Congress were observing Martyrs? Day in memory of the 13 Youth Congress supporters killed in police firing on this day six years ago.

In another part of the city, Paresh Pal, on whose shoulders now rests the heavy responsibility of continuing the legacy of Mamata Banerjee as Youth Congress president, was taking the fight to Jyoti Basu?s lair.

Pal, too, was observing Martyrs? Day, leading a march of Youth Congress activists to the chief minister?s residence in Salt Lake.

For two hours, they fought pitched battles with the police who had thrown layers of security rings around the normally fortress-like house. Over a thousand policemen stood through a hail of brickbats, performing their single-point duty of preventing any protester from entering Salt Lake.

The backwash of chaos poured even into EM Bypass, the high-speed diversion for traffic from north-east to south. The main north-south arteries were choked anyway. The only mode of transport still moving was underground.

As hordes of Trinamul supporters swept through the city, uninformed bystanders caught in the traffic jam and residents crowding balconies to watch the nearly festival-like wave of the three-colour passing by with a rush of noise were left wondering.

Why the rally? Many were not aware. Piu Giri, who was going from Chittaranjan Avenue to visit her ailing uncle at SSKM Hospital, was one of them. Some even thought Calcutta was celebrating Kolkata.

State Congress working president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, who attended Paresh Pal?s failed Operation Basu, said: ?I believe many people thought that today?s political programmes were in celebration of renaming Calcutta and Bengal. But it would be a very sad thing to mix up the two occasions. After all, we lost precious lives.?

Then, there were the anxious calls. ?My son is supposed to return from school at 2.30 pm. I heard rumours that there?s trouble on the streets. Can you tell me if the Park Street area is safe?? asked a father identifying himself as Jalan.

Nothing has changed.

Jamming the four-point Chowringhee crossing, Mamata Banerjee belted out accusations against the ruling Left Front. On the same day in 1993, she had led an abhijan (march) against the Front?s ?atrocities and corruption?.

A hugely-satisfied Mamata Banerjee paraded her nominees for the Lok Sabha elections on a dais planted in the city?s nerve centre. The crowd cheered.

Santanu Saha was amused, even though he had just missed an appointment. ?I have never heard a political leader speak before. This is my first time,? he said.

For him, it was a change.

All that of any note happening in the city was happening to Basu. He got stuck in the elevator for nine long minutes. The lift doesn?t always behave at Writers?.

Kolkata is still Calcutta.    


 
 
PMO SEEKS HOSTAGE DRAMA REPORT 
 
 
FROM CHANDAN NANDY
 
New Delhi, July 21 
The Prime Minister?s Office (PMO) has sought a report at the earliest on last week?s Bandipore hostage drama, convinced the incident was ??fishy and shoddily handled??.

Both Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and home minister L.K. Advani are believed to be not entirely satisfied with the Border Security Force version of the hostage crisis and the subsequent rescue mission by National Security Guard commandos.

A team of officials from three paramilitary units reached Bandipore today and began investigations into the incident, which sources said was the result of ??a disturbing internal matter within the paramilitary force?s residential quarters involving a senior officer??. The inquiry team comprises Indo-Tibetan Border Police inspector-general (headquarters) Diwakar Prasad, BSF I-G (general) V.N. Ray and an officer of the same rank from the CRPF. Its report is expected by Monday.

The home ministry opted for paramilitary officers to ensure a fair investigation. The ministry and the PMO smell a rat in the hostage crisis and officials have raised eyebrows at the several loose ends in the BSF narrative.

Preliminary investigations by the government indicate the BSF?s story was peppered with half-truths. Sitting alongside spokesmen from the army and air force when the Kargil war was still on, BSF deputy inspector-general Mohammad Ziaullah had said that around 2 am on July 13, ??two to three?? Al-Badr terrorists sneaked into the force?s Bandipore campus near Srinagar and took 12 people hostage after killing four persons, including a DIG and the wife of a constable.

Ziaullah said after entering the complex, the terrorists tried to break into the flat of constable K. Munirajappa. His wife apparently heard a window creak open. Suspecting that something was wrong, she went to check and was shot dead. Munirajappa and his two children were wounded.

According to Ziaullah, the sound of gunfire brought other BSF personnel to the building. It was then that DIG S.K. Chakravorty tried to rush to the first floor but was gunned down. Two other officers also died.

What has baffled the government is that even after a week, the BSF is churning out confusing statements on the number of militants killed.

A senior officer says two bodies were recovered after the commando operation and a third militant escaped. A terrorist who was injured died while holed up in the building and his body was buried by civilians. But another officer says the wounded militant is in hospital. This discrepancy has led to speculation that the tale of militants was either cooked up or the terrorists were planted.

That the 12 hostages, including five children and four women, are not being allowed to talk when they can provide first-hand accounts, has also raised eyebrows. Nothing is known about their present whereabouts.

Questions are being asked why Munirajappa and his children were not taken captive, though the militants fired at his wife from close range. The constable is the only person who can say what happened before the shootout. Officials are also wondering why the NSG fired rockets into the building after freeing the captives.

BSF chief E.N. Rammohan admitted that there had been a security lapse. He felt that Chakravorty should have taken cover before approaching the building.    


 
 
POPE PLANS YEAR-END VISIT 
 
 
FROM KAY BENEDICT
 
New Delhi, July 21 
Pope John Paul II is likely to visit India by the year-end.

Sources at the Prime Minister?s Office confirmed the Holy See request and said it had no objection to the visit. The Vatican now has to fix a date.

The Pope will visit either New Delhi or Mumbai, but it is not certain whether Calcutta or any other city will be on the itinerary, church sources said.

By clearing the proposal, the PMO may risk the wrath of hardline pro-RSS elements in the government and the BJP, the sources added. Last year, the RSS leadership had come down heavily on the Pope, alleging he had plans to ?evangelise? India by 2000. The year also witnessed attacks on churches and missionaries in some parts of the country.

Officials in the Vatican embassy here were reticent but said the request has been made to the government. Church sources said the visit was unlikely to materialise before the coming polls, as inviting a religious head during the elections may draw flak from Opposition parties. A papal visit at this juncture will act as a balm for the Christian community which was the target of attacks last year from Sangh parivar outfits, the sources said.

The Pope wants to visit India before December to present a 100-page apostolic exhortation to a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia. The assembly is part of a series of conclaves the Pope has convened in different continents to prepare the church for the next millennium.

Church sources said the Pope has chosen India because of the recent violence against Christian missionaries in the country and the church?s desire to initiate a dialogue with representatives of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. The detailed itinerary will be prepared only after the government?s formal clearance is obtained.

The Vatican had shortlisted India, Iraq and Hong Kong for the visit. China was not keen as the Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The Vatican had approached Beijing through the Chinese embassy in Rome regarding the Hong Kong visit, but the Chinese foreign office rejected the proposal. The Pope had also expressed a desire to visit Iraq, but subsequently chose India.

If the visit materialises, this will be the second visit of Pope John Paul II to India. He had visited 13 Indian cities, including Calcutta, in 1986.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Today?s forecast: One or two showers or thundershowers

Temperature: Maximum 32?C (Normal)
Minimum 25.5?C (1? below normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 98%
Minimum 68%

Rainfall: 27.5 mm

Sunset: 6.21 pm
Sunrise: 5.05am
 

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