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 
Tiger troops in close-combat range
India cool to Pak signals
Delhi hits Sharif with army tape talk
Mystery death of former model
Calcutta weather

An action station near Tiger Hill, July 3: 
Heart in mouth, the brigadier stands by the road as a fusillade from the artillery battery rips through the air towards Tiger Hill. Here, inside a bunker, a major and a captain receive frequent calls on the field telephone on the minutiae of moves.

Eight hundred metres away, a shell clips a corner of a ridgeline and rocks tumble down the cliff in a mini avalanche.

It is 7 pm.

The assault on Tiger Hill is beginning to peak.

More than 20 batteries of Bofors, 130 mm, fire volley after volley from positions lower down. One Bofors shell, let loose in a blast of fire and smoke, cuts through the early evening in a sliver of white light, and like a cricket ball leg-cutting, swings late and turns into a ball of fire milliseconds before it explodes on a snow-covered ridge near the top of the summit.

At this action station, a subedar-major says that in one narrow spur the army and the intruders are just about 800 m away. By the time this goes into print, they could be eyeball-to-eyeball or engaged in close-quarters combat.

Back in the bunker, a man in length and a man across, the infantry major notes that it?s a colder and windier evening. ?That?s good for us,? he says. It could make the going slower but the clouds could provide natural cover.

Army Gypsies, jeeps and one-tonners zip fast and furious across a valley of green millet and yellow mustard. The brass is around in good strength. The Signal Corps has wired the length and breadth of the valley.

Air strikes, like last night, are expected. In Kargil this morning, the roar of supersonic fighters and intensified shelling shook doors and windowpanes. According to an unconfirmed report, five of an infantry unit, including one officer, probably a major, died of shrapnel injuries.

The night sky is shot through with tracers and flares. The operation to take Tiger Hill could take about 72 hours.

Heavy casualties

In Batalik, Indian soldiers ran into heavy weather, with progress being extremely slow, adds our Delhi bureau. Yesterday, the army had claimed a particular enemy position was about to be taken and one had been regained. Today, the optimism was missing.

Fierce fighting was raging for three intruder-occupied positions in Batalik. Though the Ladakh Scouts initially moved up at a quick pace, on Friday night, the going was tough.

Of the 23 soldiers who died today, most lost their lives in this sector. The army claimed 21 Pakistani soldiers had died.

Close to Tiger Hill, exchange of machinegun fire at close range was heavy. Reports reaching Delhi indicate that on Tiger Hill and along ridgelines in Batalik, Pakistani forces have been reinforced.

The toll has crossed 240. There were three officers among the 23 casualties. The victims are Major C.B. Dwivedi from the Regiment of Artillery, Captain Jintu Gogoi from Garhwal Rifles and Lieutenant Keishing Cliford Nongrum from J&K Light Infantry.

Lt. Nongrum?s father issued a moving statement to personnel of his son?s unit. ?I am proud of my son and I wish to convey to everyone in his unit that they must not feel disheartened on losing their leader. I am sure that we will win.?

For the first time, the army today said it had begun burying enemy soldiers.

Sharif for US

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tonight rushed to the US to hold talks with President Bill Clinton on the Kargil conflict, adds agencies. Sharif is accompanied by foreign minister Sartaj Aziz and foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed. Clinton, who spoke with Sharif twice today, will meet him tomorrow, White House spokesman Jake Siewert said in Washington.    

Islamabad, July 3 
Amid reports of an Islamabad-initiated peace move, Pakistan foreign minister Sartaj Aziz today expressed hope of de-escalation on the Line of Control through diplomatic efforts.

India has refused to respond to signals coming out of Islamabad, saying that Pakistan must clearly spell out what it is doing to withdraw the intruders from Kargil.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Delhi declined to comment on Aziz?s statement about expectations of de-escalation. ?There is no change in the situation on the ground,? he said.

Earlier in the day, Aziz had said: ?There is no further escalation and there is at least an expectation that a de-escalation process may begin.?

?It (de-escalation) has not started because firing is still going on along the LoC,? he said.

?If India were to accept the dialogue route and at least start discussions on the ground situation as to what was happening or who has violated or who is where, then probably the process of de-escalation would start.

?So I will say I am cautiously hopeful. I can?t say that I am optimistic at the moment.?

Reports in the Pakistani media have suggested that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will speak to his Indian counterpart as part of the peace initiative being set in motion by Islamabad.

The Indian foreign ministry spokesman said no contact between the Prime Ministers had taken place in the past 24 hours, nor had India received a formal proposal from Pakistan to de-escalate tension.

The Times of London today reported that Pakistan has prepared a blueprint for withdrawal of intruders from Kargil. Speculation about a pullout started after Sharif held a meeting yesterday with the three defence chiefs.

The newspaper claimed that even the army, so far adamant on continuing the conflict against the wishes of politicians, ?looks like giving in?.

?All Pakistan needs now is a way of saving face,? the report said. With Islamabad working itself into a diplomatic corner, New Delhi is in no mood to offer an escape route and appears prepared to wait for an unqualified Pakistani surrender.

The Times report said the two countries were using secret diplomatic contacts to resolve the crisis.

Sartaj Aziz confirmed such ?back-channel? interaction, but said this cannot be a substitute for diplomacy.

?Our proposal to India is very clear. That is, sit down and talk,? he said, iterating the invitation to Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh to visit Islamabad.

Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Tariq Altaf accused India of refusing to reopen official channels of communication. ?They have shut the door on all dialogue so far,? he said.

India is sticking to its position that talks cannot be held until Pakistan recalls the intruders.

Along with messages of ?let?s sit down and talk?, Pakistan is continuing its customary India-baiting.

?The question is what is LoC? Who is sitting where? It needs verification and these violations, on either side, should be corrected,? Aziz said. He said Pakistan had invited UN observers to check the LoC and see if there had been any violations. If India is so worried about intrusion, ?why is it not allowing UN observers?? Aziz asked.

This is a provocation Pakistan has repeatedly used, knowing well India?s long-standing position against third party role.    

New Delhi, July 3 
India had sent a special officer to Islamabad last month with the specific aim of driving a wedge between the Pakistani Prime Minister and the defence establishment on the Kargil conflict.

Vivek Katju, joint secretary in the foreign ministry?s Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan division, was sent to Islamabad to play before Nawaz Sharif a purported taped conversation between the two seniormost Pakistani generals that discloses how the army set the agenda for the civilian administration.

In the dialogue, army chief Pervez Musharraf and chief of general staff Lt Gen. Mohammed Aziz talk about the execution of the Kargil operations and the role the civilian government in Islamabad was to play.

Asked about Katju?s trip, foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal said the diplomat visited Islamabad for important consultations with high commissioner G. Parthasarathy. Jassal denied that Katju was sent for any meeting with Sharif and stressed that the diplomat did not hold any parleys with anyone in the Pakistani government.

The reason behind the Centre?s denial is that it would not like anything to come out at this stage which would suggest that it was trying to strike a deal with Pakistan.

The government?s decision to send Katju to Islamabad was based on its reading of the situation in Pakistan. New Delhi feels the Pakistani military establishment had kept Sharif in the dark on the Kargil operations. He, therefore, will be more amenable to look for a quick solution.

Earlier this month, the government had released transcripts of the taped conversation between Gen. Musharraf and Lt Gen. Aziz. Delhi claimed that the dialogue discloses the Pakistani army?s plan to unilaterally alter the Line of Control and reveals how the Kargil operation was meticulously designed to internationalise the Kashmir issue.

At the meeting with Katju, Sharif reportedly agreed with India about the consequences of the Kargil conflict, but asked for a face-saver to wriggle out of the mess.

The Pakistani Prime Minister apparently asked India to set a timeframe by which the Kashmir dispute could be solved. But Delhi turned down the proposal.

The Vajpayee government is yet to make a proper assessment of the extent of Sharif?s involvement in the Kargil operation and is not even sure at what stage he was taken into confidence by the army. However, Delhi believes that at the end of the day, it is Sharif with whom it has to deal and he, therefore, cannot abdicate his responsibility.    

Calcutta, July 3 
The decomposed body of a 48-year-old woman was discovered today in her Ballygunj apartment five days after she is suspected to have been murdered.

The deputy commissioner of police, south, Ranjit Pachnanda, said that around six this evening the Karaya police station received a call from a resident of a multistoried building, Mainak, on Gariahat Road saying that a stench was emanating from Flat 902.

The police immediately rushed to the building, opposite the Birla Mandir, and broke open the door to the ninth floor apartment to find the bloated body of a woman, without any clothes, sprawled on the kitchen floor.

Pachnanda said the woman has been identified as Leena Sen, wife of a chartered accountant P.K. Sen, who is about 15 years her senior.

Preliminary inspection of the decomposed body has shown blisters around the neck, suggesting that she may have been throttled. ?We also believe that a sexual engagement ? it may even have been an assault ? had taken place before she was strangled,? said the deputy commissioner of police, detective department, Narayan Ghosh. No weapon was found at the spot.

While the couple usually stayed in their Prince Ghulam Shah Road house in Jadavpur, Leena Sen would occasionally spend a few days at her rented Mainak apartment where she used to live before she got married in her days as a fashion model.

The couple tied the knot four years ago and for both it was a second marriage.

According to the police, on the evening of June 29, Leena Sen left her Jadavpur home in a taxi to keep an appointment with her dentist. However, when she did not return home even the next day, her husband filed a missing persons diary at the Jadavpur police station. Thereafter, all attempts to trace her proved futile.

Records at the Jadavpur police station show that in his complaint Sen had stated that occasionally his wife would leave home ?on some pretext or the other? to resurface on her own in a couple of days.

Jadavpur OC Salil Bhattacharya, said: ?I think Sen was trying to convey to the police that his wife was mentally disbalanced.? He said no attempt was made to search the Mainak apartment since Sen told them he had visited the place and found it locked.

The police said Leena Sen?s first marriage was to a South Indian named Bob. The marriage in 1975, however, lasted only six months. Thereafter, Leena worked in short spells in many companies, finally joining a chartered accountancy firm where she met P.K. Sen, who now has his own audit firm. While he has a son, who stays in New Alipore, Leena Sen?s mother lives in Sundari Mohan Avenue.    

Today?s forecast: Few spells of light to moderate rain with one or two showers or thundershowers.

Temperature: Maximum 33.6?C (1?C above normal)
Minimum 24.4?C (2?C below normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 98%
Minimum 69%

Rainfall: 26.4 mm

Sunset: 6.22 pm
Sunrise: 4.59 am

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