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 
US dangles face-saving formula before wary Pak
Atal holds LoC fire for diplomacy
Pak army takes over intruder hubs
Rush for snowgear, tracking gadgets
Pal sisters were raped, says autopsy
Calcutta Weather

Washington, June 24 
The US government is engaged in a secret bout of shuttle diplomacy to find a ?face-saving? formula to help Pakistan walk back from the precipice and withdraw its forces from Kargil.

Efforts to find a solution moved into high gear yesterday as President Bill Clinton sent a senior US general to Islamabad with ?some ideas? and a strong message. At this end the State Department received a special envoy from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss the Kargil conflict. Washington is aware that time is of the essence if any diplomacy is to work.

The US reportedly has also offered to send a team of experts to assist Pakistan to help the intruders return to ?home bases.? Pakistan is said to have accepted the offer on the condition that the US team must take a closer look at the whole Kashmir issue. The US team must also visit India to make it appear like ?third party mediation,? the Pakistani diplomats demanded.

Shahid Hamid, governor of Punjab, held a meeting with Karl Inderfurth, assistant secretary of state for South Asia, in an attempt to squeeze Kashmir as an issue on the table. But Inderfurth reportedly rebuffed him, making it clear that the armed intrusion must first end by reading out the relevant portions of the G-8 communique.

It appears that policy makers are trying to craft a diplomatic formula by which both India and Pakistan could ?declare victory? and go home. The formula could include some small bits for Pakistan to make the retreat more palatable but it is not clear what those incentives might be financial or diplomatic.

Upper echelons of the Clinton Administration have been abuzz with activity and ideas on Kargil over the past week but US officials are tight-lipped about it all. They stress that secrecy is important for success. They expressed surprise that the news of Gen. Anthony Zinni, commander-in-chief of US Central Command, going to Pakistan was leaked to the media. Islamabad even gave a statement, desperately trying to project the visit as an opportunity to ?brief? the Americans about ?India?s military escalation.? But those who read US statements know that the senior US envoy has a different objective.

Gen. Zinni was dispatched yesterday in great secrecy for a final appeal to the Pakistani military. There is a sense in Washington that Sharif is not in full command and direct contact with Pakistan?s army chief is needed to get a clear assessment of the situation. There is also recognition that Sharif has not responded to personal appeals made by Clinton over the phone.

Significantly, Gen. Zinni will not go to New Delhi even though Pakistan insisted that he should visit both countries so that Islamabad does not get singled out for ?special? American attention. But those appeals were rejected in line with the US stand on Kargil which clearly identifies Pakistan as the aggressor.

The Inderfurth-Hamid meeting in Washington did not end amicably either as pressure on Pakistan continued to rise from the international community. Inderfurth reportedly asked the special envoy to withdraw the infiltrators while reading from the G-8 communique which talks of ?armed intruders? and clearly says that ?any military action to change the status quo? is irresponsible.

Hamid tried to paint India as the culprit, saying New Delhi was rejecting Pakistan?s ?peace initiatives.? Pakistan is ready to ?talk? but if India refuses, there is nothing Islamabad can do, he said. The ?artillery duals? across the Line of Control can end on a reciprocal basis after meetings between sector commanders, he suggested.

He asked the State Department to send a ?special observer? to reconcile the ?conflicting claims? made by India and Pakistan. The suggestion carries little weight since the US government appears to have enough ?evidence? to know who is the aggressor and who is the victim.

But Hamid?s ideas are a clear indication that Pakistan is desperately seeking a screen behind which it can do an about turn. What that screen might be is still to be decided. The Indian side, specially the army, may not favour giving Pakistan any face-saving space now that the intruders are being pushed back.

International attention on the Line of Control works in India?s favour according to some observers who believe that it will help revive the Shimla Agreement as the basis for bilateral talks. Hamid also addressed the Pakistani community in the Washington area in the presence of a few US lawmakers, some of whom supported self-determination for the Kashmiris.

Senator Tom Harkin said that he had a long talk with Sharif on the phone but he could not reveal any details. He told Pakistani Americans that he will take up issues raised by the prime minister directly with Clinton.    

New Delhi, June 24 
With the US making a last-ditch effort to resolve the Kargil crisis, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee today made it clear that India has no intention of crossing the Line of Control (LoC), but added it will be difficult to maintain restraint if the world community fails to make Pakistan pull back intruders.

His remarks came at a time when a high-level US delegation has arrived in Islamabad to find a solution to the conflict and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif renewed his dialogue offer on not only Kargil, but the unresolved Kashmir dispute. Sharif, however, warned Delhi that any further escalation along the LoC will lead to a war which would cause ?irreparable? losses to both countries.

Flaunting Pakistan?s nuclear capability, Sharif said his country had emerged one of the strongest in the world.

The Clinton administration has decided to send deputy assistant secretary of the state Gibson Lanpher to Delhi to brief the Indian leadership about the US? assessment of the current situation in Pakistan.

Lanpher ? in Islamabad today and expected in Delhi tomorrow ? will also tell Indian leaders how the Sharif government proposes to end the crisis.

General Anthony Zinni, who heads the US delegation, has extended his stay in Islamabad by a day to meet Sharif. The Pakistan Prime Minister was away from the capital today, visiting troops on the frontline. Zinni today met Pakistani army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

In an unusual gesture that broke protocol, Sharif last night went over to the Chinese ambassador?s residence in Islamabad and spoke at length about Kargil. This move is aimed at reminding world leaders, particularly the US, about Pakistan?s closeness with China. Sharif will be in Beijing on a two-day working visit later this month, where he is scheduled to brief the Chinese leadership on the undeclared war in Kargil.

Vajpayee today went to Rashtrapati Bhavan and held an hour-long discussion with President K.R. Narayanan about the latest developments in Kargil.

Speaking at a private function at his residence here this evening, Vajpayee made it clear that though his troops were facing difficulties in ending the armed intrusion in Kargil, they had no intention of crossing the LoC. ?It is true there are difficulties. But we have no intention of violating the LoC,?? Vajpayee said.

However, he maintained that the restraint being shown by India will have to be reviewed by the government and decisions will have to be taken according to the changing scenario.

His remarks clearly indicate that if the global community fails to force Pakistan to withdraw the armed intruders from Kargil, it may be difficult for Delhi to pursue its current line.    

New Delhi, June 24 
Painting a grim picture of a massive enemy build-up across the Line of Control (LoC), the Indian army today said it had information that Gilgit and Skardu had been placed under Pakistani army rule.

It also disclosed a widespread infiltration plan in many sectors outside Kargil, indicating a Pakistani attempt to open fresh fronts in Jammu and Kashmir and enlarge the scope of the conflict.

The army?s insistence that it has reliable inputs on Pakistani army rule in Gilgit and Skardu suggests a full-scale war alert has been sounded. But army spokesman Col Bikram Singh clarified that the Pakistani army had not got the cooperation of the local people and had been forced to clamp ?localised emergency?.

Col Singh said the emergency would ?enable them to optimally exploit local resources in pursuit of their trans-LoC operations in Kargil.?

The information leak on army rule in the war zone has coincided with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?s visit to Gultari base, north of Kargil, ostensibly to boost troop morale. Skardu and Gilgit are very close to Kargil and home to several Pakistani army formations, especially battalions of the Northern Light Infantry.

Today?s move suggests Pakistan is unwilling to scale down aggression in Kargil and is trying to pile more pressure on Indian defence forces.

Col Singh said the army had information that Pakistan had rallied around 800 more foreign mercenaries for infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir. While about 300 were stationed outside Kanzalwan and Gurez, northwest of Drass and Mushkoh valley, the rest were assembled in areas bordering Poonch in Jammu. Special Service Group commandos have taken position at Gultari for clandestine operations in Kargil.

An earlier Pakistani attempt to push in infiltrators at Rajouri near Poonch was foiled.

The army today paid tribute to one of its lost soldiers, naming Turtuk sub-sector after Captain Haneefuddin. In the early stages of the flare-up, the officer and two colleagues laid down their lives to block intruders from occupying a vantage position in Turtuk.

The air force resumed strike sorties and, in a meticulously-planned operation to simplify the job of ground troops, pounded the Tiger Hill area in Drass. Initial reports suggest the strikes were successful. The air force believes the results will be as positive as those of Muntho Dalo, north of Batalik.

The Indian toll has crept up to 165. The number of injured has risen to 335, and nine soldiers are missing.    

New Delhi, June 24 
More than weapons, the army is in desperate need of warm clothes, mountain gear and specialised equipment required on the treacherous snow-laden ridges of Kargil.

The equipment are gun-locating radars to add further precision to artillery and mortar fire and thermal imaging systems to give the infantry a fair idea of the enemy weapons? location from a safe distance.

Weapons, especially ammunition, are also essential and the army is on a massive buying spree. It has placed orders for purchase with several major manufacturing countries, especially Israel and South Africa.

Ordnance factories in India have also been given specific targets, and efforts are on to enhance their manufacturing capacities.

Some of the snow-gear is a must in this terrain round the year and the defence ministry is not pulling the purse strings. Besides, defence sources said, there was strong suspicion that like Siachen, Kargil might become a round-the-year surveillance affair and these kits would be needed for scaling the heights.

The sources said a team of senior defence ministry and army officers had toured Russia, South Africa, Israel and France in the second week of this month to inspect weapons, sophisticated equipment and high-altitude clothing. Orders worth about Rs 600 crore were placed.

A senior army officer said a scheduled destination, Ukraine, was deleted from the shopping guide because it has been ?blacklisted? by the defence ministry for having sold weapons and military equipment to Pakistan.

India?s new partner in military purchases is Israel, from where the bulk of weapons and equipment would be coming.

As a follow-up to the team?s visit, Israeli ambassador Yeshohada Haim met the Indian defence secretary a couple of weeks ago. Defence sources said buying gun-locating radars is the top priority. To begin with, a minimum of 10 radars would be delivered by Israeli and French firms.

The gun-locating radars will be quickly delivered to the troops in Kargil where Indian artillery units are making do with outdated radar systems. Hamstrung by bad weather and the craggy terrain, the air force has also been unable to provide high-quality reconnaissance pictures to the ground troops.

The radars, usually equipped with a computer, calculate the position of the enemy artillery by tracking the trajectory of the shells fired. The computer provides the co-ordinates of the enemy position to a field gun which can then fire back with pin-point accuracy at enemy batteries.    

Calcutta, June 24 
Before being brutally murdered, Sohini, 21, and her sister Triparna, 17, were raped. The autopsy surgeon?s report, 10 days after the bodies of the two sisters and their parents were discovered, has thrown up evidence of rape and flummoxed clueless investigators even further.

Bidyut Pal, his wife Manjulika and their two daughters were found with their hands tied and mouth gagged in their flat at Oxytown in Thakurpukur, three days after their murder.

A senior state police official confirmed that the post mortem report ?suggested rape of both the Pal daughters before they were tied up and stabbed to death?. Partha Bhattacharya, DIG, CID, when asked about the post mortem findings, said: ?I can only say there are disturbing facts in the autopsy report which require clarification.?

?There are a lot of questions to be answered and only a forensic laboratory test can give a clear picture,? he added. Bhattacharya and other officials of the investigating team rushed to autopsy experts.

Dr J.B. Mukherjee, a renowned autopsy surgeon and former head of the department of forensic medicine at Calcutta Medical College, said rape can be ascertained even if a body is recovered three days after death.

But Dr Mukherjee explained that such findings have to be substantiated by tests showing the presence of spermatozoa. Seminal fluid collected from the body can also provide corroborative evidence, he said. ?These are all theories. Everything finally depends on the surgeon who conducts the post mortem and the condition of the body,? Dr Mukherjee added.

Dr P.B. Das, the autopsy surgeon who had examined the body, refused to comment on the findings. ?I have been asked not to utter a word,? Dr Das said.

Investigators have already initiated the process of testing for the presence of spermatozoa at the forensic science laboratory and are contemplating DNA tests.

The new twist to the investigation into the gruesome murders took the police by surprise. Ever since the bodies were discovered ? throats of all the four were slit after what police suspected to be long torture ? there has been no indication from investigators that the girls might have suffered this cruelty, too, before being killed.

Investigation has so far centred around Sohini?s alleged affair with her private tutor. But after the post mortem, the police will have to look for new angles and perhaps consider the possibility that some animal urge for vengeance might have led to the murders.    

Today?s forecast: Cloudy sky with a few spells of light rain.
Temperature: Maximum 28.6?C (5?C below normal)
Minimum 25.9?C (1?C below normal)
Relative humidity: Maximum 97% Minimum 85% Rainfall: 12.6 mm
Sunset: 6.22 pm Sunrise: 4.56 am    

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