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 
Nine killed in blast targeted at jawans 
India, Pak raise escalation bogey 
US sees Kargil cool-off in days 
Afloat on the river of hope 
Calcutta weather 

New Jalpaiguri, June 22: 
Nine persons, including three soldiers, were killed and 65 seriously injured when an explosion ripped through a large crowd of soldiers and civilians at the New Jalpaiguri railway station in North Bengal. 

The bomb, suspected to have been made of RDX, is believed to have targeted army personnel bound for Kargil. Defence and police officials feel Pakistan?s Inter-Services Intelligence had used the United Liberation Front of Asom to set off the explosion, which occurred at 12.10 pm.  

?The greater the beating Pakistan takes in Kargil, the more desperate it becomes to mount attacks on vulnerable areas like North Bengal,? said Gen. Satish Chopra, chief of army staff, Eastern Command. Movement of soldiers has been heavy through North Bengal?s biggest junction since the Kargil conflict erupted.  

The station is situated in the narrow but strategic Siliguri corridor, which connects Sikkim and the Northeast with the rest of the country and is less then 20 km from Bangladesh and Nepal.  

The explosive, probably hidden in a bag, went off in the centre of platforms 2 and 3, blowing off the fibreglass roof and damaging coaches of the Delhi-bound Mahananda Express on platform 2 and Darjeeling Mail on platform 3.  

The blast comes a day after two bags of improvised bombs were detected and defused at Falakata, about 100 km east of New Jalpaiguri. On Sunday evening, a bomb damaged part of the rail tracks on the same spot.  

Most victims of today?s blast were Delhi-bound passengers, their relatives, railway employees, stall workers and porters.  

Mangled bodies lay strewn in different corners of the platforms. One hit the side of the Darjeeling Mail before falling to the ground. Pools of blood had collected beside the luggage of passengers.  

Nineteen of the injured were armymen from different regiments. They were taken to the base hospital at Bendubi. Twenty-two people were admitted to the railway hospital.  

Army officials confirmed that ?a time device was planted close to the military compartment of the Mahananda Express??.  

The blast occurred five minutes before the train was to leave the station. Soldiers shifting to general coaches from the packed military compartments fell victim. Rifleman Ram Bahadur Gurung, Lance Naik Krishna Bahadur Gurung and Rifleman Jim Bahadur Thapa died instantly.  

Ram Bahadur?s rucksack with his kukri lay alongside the trunk of colleague Naik K. Karki on platform 3.  

Border Security Force sub-inspector Man Bahadur Thapa of Kalimpong, bound for Srinagar, said: ?I was in my coach (number 7) when the blast flung people in all directions. Most of them were still trying to board the train.? His colleague Sandip Thatal from Sikkim was killed by shrapnel.  

Most army and paramilitary personnel said they were on their way to Kashmir. However, army officials described them as personnel bound for undisclosed destinations.  

Rattled by the first-ever blast at the station, civil and army authorities in Calcutta were considering tighter security in the region, including Sikkim. The Railways declared ad hoc compensation of Rs 15,000 for relatives of victims, Rs 5,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 500 for those with minor injuries.  

Two of the dead were women. One was identified as Ilsaha Mondol of Dhupguri. Raj Kumar, a civilian, died at the army hospital later in the evening. At least half a dozen persons are critical.  

The Left Front has called a twelve-hour bandh in Siliguri tomorrow in protest against the blast. 

New Delhi, June 22: 
India and Pakistan today upped the ante on the Kargil flare-up with Delhi remaining non-committal on whether its forces will breach the Line of Control and Islamabad stationing anti-aircraft guns at all its airports and key government buildings to fend off a ?possible Indian attack?. 

The nuclear neighbours appeared to be trying to draw international focus by playing on fears of an escalation in the conflict. While India wants world leaders to pressure Pakistan into withdrawing the armed intruders, Islamabad hopes the global community will press Delhi to stop military action and return to the talks table.  

Foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal did not rule out the possibility of armed forces crossing the LoC, but said all decisions will be ?determined by our supreme national security interest?.  

He added that chances of a de-escalation in tension will ?brighten? if Pakistan ends its Kargil ?misadventure?.  

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today accused India of adopting a ?threatening posture? by amassing troops along the border, and renewed his offer for talks.  

But India turned down the offer for dialogue at the foreign ministers? level, saying ?first they have to rectify what they have done on the ground? and vacate the intrusions.  

Pakistan army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf also warned that hopes for peace were fading. ?The threatening posture of the Indian armed forces have contributed to the fading of hopes for peace,? he was quoted as saying.  

The strident postures coincided with the disclosure today that Sharif had phoned British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sunday night, and urged him to persuade Delhi to hold talks.  

?India should be counselled to hold talks instead of taking a narrow and belligerent view,? Sharif said. A 10 Downing Street spokesman said Blair asked him to ?act with restraint?.  

Last night, Sharif held a meeting with top civil and military officials in Islamabad. Reports said Sharif was briefed on the military and diplomatic scenario emerging out of Kargil, and the Pakistani generals again raised the spectre of war.  

Three aspects were discussed: the ?emerging threat? from across the border, the operational preparedness of the Pakistan army and plans to ?frustrate the ulterior motives of India?.  

Reports from Islamabad said Sharif was informed about India?s decision to beef up troop strength along the LoC. Musharraf also held a meeting with his force commanders at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.  

Pakistan has decided to despatch special envoys to key countries to counter the Indian diplomatic offensive on Kargil. Besides, foreign minister Sartaj Aziz will travel to Burkina Faso later this month for the Organisation of Islamic Conference foreign ministers? meeting.  

World leaders, who have all along praised Indian restraint, have begun to worry on whether Delhi will finally cross the LoC. British high commissioner to India Rob Young expressed fear that India will lose international support if it does so.  

But he maintained that any solution to the conflict must begin with withdrawal of Pakistani intruders from India. 

New Delhi, June 22: 
Backed by a consensus among the world?s richest and most powerful group of nations on dealing with the violation of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the Clinton administration is hopeful of de-escalating the Kargil crisis ?within days, not weeks?. 

Washington?s optimism, shared equally by diplomats from the Group of Eight (G8) countries and highly-placed Indian sources, stems from President Bill Clinton?s decision to remain engaged personally in the efforts to end the fighting between India and Pakistan.  

Clinton became personally involved in efforts to resolve the crisis about 10 days ago when he spoke to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and later to the Pakisatani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.  

Subsequently, the Americans went public in their criticism of Pakistan for violating the Line of Control and unambiguously asked Islamabad?s forces to pull back to their side of the Line of Control.  

The Americans have not made it clear either to their partners in G8 or to the Indians what steps they intend to take to defuse Kargil, but with Clinton adopting South Asia as part of his urgent presidential agenda, there is all-round expectation that any impending US initiative is bound to show results.  

The widespread optimism is also based on America?s recognition of Indian restraint in not crossing the Line of Control despite grave provocation by the Pakistanis and loss of Indian lives in trying to regain occupied territory.  

While this recognition has been conveyed to the Indian government at a high level, New Delhi has reciprocated by telling Washington that India?s patience is not inexhaustible.  

Authoritative sources here said the US was aware of the limited time frame within which it must persuade Pakistan to end its aggression.  

India, these sources said, did not want third-party involvement in the dispute; nor is it in favour of a UN role between India and Pakistan.  

The US, for its part, has assured India that they are opposed to any internationalisation of Kashmir.  

Indeed, a Canadian effort in the run up to the G8 summit in Cologne to bring in the UN was thwarted partly with US support in favour of a quick resumption of the bilateral Lahore process between New Delhi and Islamabad.  

Sources here believe that the US, which became actively involved in persuading Pakistan to undo its aggression following the telephone conversation between Vajpayee and Clinton, has a better perception of the ground realities in Kargil following national security adviser Brajesh Mishra?s talks in Geneva last week with his US counterpart Sandy Berger and assistant secretary of state for South Asia, Karl Inderfurth.  

Meanwhile, diplomats of G8 countries said their feedback from Cologne was that although Japan was ambivalent about Kargil until the G8 summit, it had since endorsed the Cologne communiqué describing military action to change the status quo in Kashmir as irresponsible.  

If it is translated into positive action in Tokyo in the days to come, India will see this as a bonus to the already favourable G8 position which just stops short of naming Pakistan as the aggressor. 

Kulan, June 22: 
In the pale light of breaking dawn, Mohammed Akbar straggles every day to the banks of the Sindh. He kneels down and dips his hand in the icy water. He savours the feel of the water, lets its limpid fluidity run against his skin. 

?I touch the water and weep. The river is the only link we have with our land. It flows from where my home is. The flowing water brings new hope for us,? he says. It is a daily ritual of clinging to his roots, of reinforcing nostalgia in the gurgling torrent that passes through Kulan.  

After offering prayers, Akbar returns to the government building that is his home now. ?Our prayers are yet to be answered. I am praying that peace returns to my Pandrass village.? Akbar is one of the 600-odd residents of Matayen and Pandrass who are holed up about 70-80 km from Srinagar in Gagangeer and Kulan, having fled from the battle raging in their own villages across the 11,000-feet Zojila Pass.  

They have travelled about 50 km from home to the settlements here. The government buildings they live in now are far removed from their mud homes in the frozen heights which intruders occupied this spring. They don?t mind that the temperature is 40 degrees below freezing in winter in their land. Some don?t even mind that a war is raging. ?It is better to die in my home than be a refugee here,? says a student.  

Most, however, say they will return only when peace returns to their villages. ?We have already suffered too much. We will go back to our beautiful Pandrass when the fighting stops,? says a refugee.  

As the trucks begin rolling in from Kargil in the afternoon, the dislocated people receive news of their villages. They run up to the drivers and ask if their homes are safe.  

?We left everything behind in Pandrass. We just came away with a few clothes and bedding. We did not bargain that the fighting would go on for so long,? says Hassan, another refugee.  

Haji Rahmatullah of Pandrass is asking anybody he can about his sons. He says his sons ? all state government employees ? are posted in the Mushkoh valley. ?I don?t know if they are alive. No one seems to know,? he says, tears running down his face.?The state government has assured the migrants of all help but has done little to help us.?  

They never ask the government officials and ministers who come visiting.  

?They come here with false promises. Their visits do nothing to make things better for us. They have nothing for us. The government has no money for us,? Akbar says.  

Those who have fled from Matayen and Pandrass are most worried about the winter.  

The cold forces them to stay indoors and demands that essentials be stored from the summer. ?This summer, we have hoarded nothing. Our fields are barren. There is nothing to eat. But we just want to go back,? says Abdul Rahim.  

Going back, though, may not be simple as the battle rages in the snow-bound heights. ?Returning this winter seems almost impossible. I don?t know when we will,? says Akbar. Till then, there?s only the Sindh river to offer a touch of home. 

Today?s forecast: Mainly cloudy sky. A few spells of light rain with one or two showers or thundershower. 
Temperature: Maximum 29°C (5°C below Normal)
Minimum 26.5°C (Normal)
Relative humidity: Maximum 95%
Minimum 81%

Rainfall: 10.7 mm  

Sunset: 6.22 pm
Sunrise: 4.55 am


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