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 
Civilian force for Kashmir war
Atal calls alliance meet, Advani shoots barb
Defiant wait for the deluge
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, July 22 
The Centre will arm nearly 9,000 civilians in the Jammu region to take on the infiltrators. This will help strengthen the attempt to plug the huge shortfall in the number of security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

The plan to arm additional batches of civilians in the Jammu region living in areas close to the LoC and the international border will be implemented within the next few months. Armed civilians of existing village defence committees will be given more sophisticated weapons.

The decision was taken by Union home minister L.K. Advani after consultation with chief minister Farooq Abdullah, newly-appointed special secretary (Jammu and Kashmir affairs) Tilak Raj Kakkar and state administration officials during his visit to Doda today. Advani went to Lihota village where 15 people, including several defence committee members, were gunned down by militants belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen on Tuesday night.

Militants struck again in the Jammu region today, shooting dead three persons and abducting five in a swoop on houses of defence committee members in Panarah Basantgarh village.

Home ministry sources said 1,000 defence committees will be created in Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Udhampur and Kupwara as a bulwark against several pro-Pakistan terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

During his trip today, Advani?s attention was drawn to the eight-hour-long resistance that some committee members had put up against terrorists at Lihota. An official said the armed civilians killed three militants.

Advani feels the defence committees will be an effective ?force? to make up for the shortfall of about 7,000 security personnel, which occurred after army units withdrew from Jammu for operations in Kargil. The army is unwilling to rejoin counter-insurgency duties because it does not want to slacken its hold on Kargil and other mountainous areas along the LoC.

Sources said arming civilians will help strengthen fellow feeling, reduce terrorists? clout in these areas and facilitate the return of the migrants.

Advani is aware that several hundred terrorists, equipped with sophisticated weapons and communication gadgets, have sneaked into Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, the upper reaches of Udhampur along the Pir Panjal range and the Kupwara sector along the LoC. These militants have unleashed the recent spate of violence, killing more than 40 civilians.

Each of the existing 2,500 committees comprises nine civilians headed by a special police officer in uniform. Hence, the creation of 1,000 committees would mean arming 9,000 civilians. The existing committees ? whose .303 rifles are no match for the terrorists? Kalashnikov assault rifles and other varieties of machine guns ? have seldom been in a position to offer strong resistance.

The Centre is considering providing machine guns and additional weapons to some of the committees after assessing which villages in Jammu face the greatest immediate threat from militants. The home ministry has also decided to double the number of special police officers from 3,500 to 7,000.

While the state has been asked to speed up the recruitment drive and select trustworthy persons, the Centre has assured Abdullah that additional funds for security-related expenditure will soon be made available.    

New Delhi, July 22 
Confident after the Kargil campaign, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has launched an initiative to capture political high ground by asking George Fernandes to convene a meeting of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on July 31.

The meeting is being summoned amid rumblings in the BJP over the ?greater alliance? moves which saw the breakaway faction of the Janata Dal ?re-uniting? with the Samata Party and the Lok Shakti, two constituents of the NDA.

While the Vajpayee camp is keen on a wider alliance, a section of the BJP is circumspect. The murmurs ? so far limited to regional pockets ? rose from the top today with home minister L.K. Advani firing a veiled salvo.

?If tomorrow Laloo Prasad Yadav says that I am going to join the NDA, how would Samata and the BJP in Bihar react? It would be a problem for them. That kind of problem is being faced by my party in Karnataka,? Advani said, referring to the state unit?s reservations on admitting the Dal group into the alliance.

The decision to call the alliance meeting ? the first of a series of poll strategy sessions ? was made neither by BJP chief Kushabhau Thakre nor Advani who heads the all-powerful election committee cell of the party. It is Vajpayee and the Prime Minister?s Office which have taken the initiative. All allies of the BJP in the states, including Mamata Banerjee, have been invited.

The Vajpayee camp and the PMO expect some Dal leaders, like J.H. Patel, Sharad Yadav or even Ram Vilas Paswan, to attend. If any of the three is present, it will be a boost to the PMO, which, at the behest of Vajpayee, is trying to rope in new allies in Karnataka and Bihar.

The NDA meeting on July 31 is deemed to be crucial because it will be the first session of the coordination committee after the Kargil conflict.

Vajpayee?s advisers want this meeting to repose faith in the ?Prime Minister?s ability to lead India? to the next millennium as the elected head of a government that is ?modern in outlook, mature and restrained?.

Observers suggest that the meeting might turn out to be a competition among allies to sing praises of Vajpayee, who, they think, has attained the stature of a statesman.

The presence of any of the Dal leaders will only strengthen Vajpayee?s theory that it is best to broker peace with the secular forces.

The Vajpayee camp wants to ensure that the allies project the Prime Minister as the undisputed leader and the July 31 meeting will be a step in that direction.

Vajpayee may not want thorny issues regarding seat-sharing to be left in the hands of Advani alone and may use this platform to lay down his own agenda.

Fernandes, who is vying to emerge as leader of the reunified Dal, may not favour the presence of Sharad Yadav. Yadav, despite being the president of the Dal, never had a mass base and had lost to Laloo Yadav at Madhepura in the 1998 polls.

But the reunification with the Dal is not entirely without its benefits for Fernandes, who will chair the session as convenor of the alliance. Though the electoral impact of the alliance could be marginal, it is expected to help Fernandes consolidate his base which had been threatened in Bihar.    

Vadodara, July 22 
Somabhai Motibhai is waiting to be washed away by the angry, swelling waters of the Narmada. Or, be driven away by the police.

Having already taken part in repulsing an attempt by the police to evict him, 42-year-old Somabhai now sits resolutely, watching the river rise. Death is a hand-shaking distance away from his home at Jalsindhi in Narmada valley.

After four days of ceaseless downpour, three metres separate parts of the valley from a deluge. When it comes, 150 satyagrahis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan?s samarpit dal (dedicated squad) will be in danger of being swallowed up in its indiscriminate rage. Unless the police get to them first.

Narmada has already started claiming the first fields at Jalsindhi.

The Andolan?s leader, Medha Patkar, announced from the site: ?The people have not budged from their houses, or removed their belongings. They will be facing the waters at the cost of their lives.?

Failure of a police operation to evict them has alarmed Gujarat minister Jaynarayan Vyas, who is in charge of Narmada development. He said the activists are ?arming themselves for retaliation.?

Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam chairman Bhupendrasinh Chudasama was even more harsh in his condemnation of the Andolan. ?They can do what they want,? he said, ?the project is nearing completion and there is no way they will be able to stop it.?

Environmentalists are opposing the project ? involving construction of a series of dams across Narmada valley ? as an ecological disaster.

The satyagrahis are determined to see their movement through to its end. ?We are staying put and are ready to face submergence so that the people and nature of Narmada valley can be saved,? they said.

The Andolan has been carrying on a long-running campaign against the project, but this is the first time a showdown of this nature is taking place.

The ranks of the satyagrahis are swelling everyday as people from the 2,000-odd tribal families facing eviction join their suicide mission.

A worried Vyas has asked the police to ?counter the Andolan?s propaganda against the project?.

?They are so frustrated that they are criticising the legal process initiated by the Supreme Court,? he said.

The Gujarat government has moved an application against the Andolan, accusing it of contempt of court.

The Supreme Court today appointed an amicus curiae to decide if Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy, who is now championing the anti-dam cause, had ?undermine(d) the dignity of the judiciary and tried to influence the course of justice.?

The court took exception to her articles in support of the Andolan, which, it felt, ?prima facie? offended the judiciary.

Back at Jalsindhi, Somabhai was waiting. Before being swept away by the onrush of the Narmada, he wants to meet again ?the beautiful lady who comes here once in a while and talks to us as if we are her friends?.    

Today?s forecast:One or two showers or thundershowers

Temperature: Maximum 32.3?C (Normal)

Minimum 25.2?C (1?C below normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 98%

Minimum 66%

Rainfall: 9.7 mm

Sunset: 6.21 pm

Sunrise: 5.05 am

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