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 
Atal in mission-end victory cry
Pak pullout hopes alive despite militant outrage
An inch of metal for miles of motherland
Break-in at city police bastion
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, July 10 
In a speech normally reserved for the end of war, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today congratulated the troops for flushing out Pakistani intruders from Kargil, indicating the seven-week conflict is almost over.

?Operation Vijay has given great vijay (victory) to the country. This is a historic moment for all of us,? an upbeat Vajpayee told a meeting of the three service chiefs and army commanders here. ?The enemy?s intrusion and aggression in Kargil has now been decisively turned back. Our military has achieved this.?

The Prime Minister paid rich tribute to the ?brave soldiers and airmen? who laid down their lives or were wounded while trying to achieve the victory. ?Operation Vijay will go down in the annals of our military history as another outstanding example of the valour, discipline and dedication of our soldiers,? he said.

The mood at the meeting was relaxed ? Vajpayee even cracked jokes with defence minister George Fernandes and other leaders present ? signalling that the worst is over for India.

But there is a difference in perception between the political and military establishments on how soon the war will end. The Prime Minister appears to be counting on an early withdrawal by the intruders.

?Most pockets have already been cleared. There, our troops are back on the Line of Control (LoC). The remaining pockets will also be cleared. Residual Pakistani forces will leave or be evicted from south of the LoC in the entire Kargil sector,? he said.

Fernandes told a TV channel later that the flush-out ?should not continue longer, it could end next week? in most areas.

The army is, however, prepared for a fight to the finish. Sources said if the Pakistanis put up serious resistance in Mushkoh Valley and Kaksar, the war could extend to late July or early August. ?Aerial reconnaissance doesn?t show any withdrawal,? air force spokesman Group Captain D.N. Ganesh said.

In Islamabad, militant leaders rejected Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?s appeal for withdrawal. The Mujahideen?s refusal is, however, not being taken seriously by officials in New Delhi. They maintain that the Kargil operation was planned and executed primarily by Pakistani army regulars with a ?sprinkling of Mujahideen?.

The appeal by Sharif is actually meant for the Pakistani troops, they said. It will give the Pakistani establishment the time required to pull out its forces from the Indian side of the LoC.

In a boost to India, Germany today renewed its call to Pakistan to pull back the intruders immediately. The German leadership told Sharif?s special envoy Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in Bonn that ?the agreement reached in Washington between Premier Sharif and President Bill Clinton on concrete steps to re-establish the LoC is the first important step towards defusing the current crisis?.

Even as signs of a withdrawal were awaited, fierce fighting continued along the LoC in Mushkoh Valley where 48 soldiers have died in two days.

The Pakistanis also surprised India by firing anti-tank missiles in the Chhamb sector in Jammu, where they had so far been using ordinary artillery and mortar shells to disrupt civilian life.

Army spokesman Colonel Bikram Singh, however, did not see this as a major aberration and said the Pakistanis were only venting their frustration.

The army has a tough battle ahead in Mushkoh Valley and Kaksar, where the intruders still have an upper hand. There were unconfirmed reports of a partial pullout from one or two positions in Kaksar, which the army denied.

In Batalik and Drass, the army is carrying out mopping-up operations on recaptured heights and is preparing ground for the final assault. More artillery and mortars are being moved up the slopes. Ninety-nine per cent of Batalik and 90 per cent of Drass is back in Indian possession.

The Pakistanis may have given up on Batalik, which fell to India yesterday after weeks of tough resistance, but they are still taking their chances in Drass. The vicinity of Tiger Hill is coming under fierce counter-attack from artillery positions beyond the LoC. Nine Pakistanis and six Indian soldiers were killed in the artillery combat. The death toll has crossed the 300-mark, with Indian casualties standing at 327 killed, 493 wounded and 10 missing.

Four more battalions were today awarded ?unit citations? by army chief Gen. V.P. Malik for their ?exemplary valour and grit?. The 8 Sikh regiment won the citation for its role in the recapture of Tiger Hill, the Ladakh Scouts for its performance in Batalik, and the 17 Jat regiment and 2 Naga regiment for their operations in Drass.    

Islamabad, July 10 
The Pakistan Cabinet tonight claimed the militants had responded ?positively? to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?s appeal to vacate the peaks in Kargil, despite a barrage of statements by the militants denouncing the plea.

An official statement which followed the Cabinet meeting did not give any details of the talks Sharif had with the militants last night. But the Mujahideen, in statements released through the day, brushed aside suggestions of a compromise and vowed not to retreat from the heights.

?All the Mujahideen groups have the unanimous position that they will not abandon their posts. We do not take dictation... either from Sharif or from Clinton. We reject the agreement between Sharif and Clinton which is, in fact, an effort to bail out India from the Kashmir crisis,? said Hamza, a leader of the Al Badr group, speaking from Rawalpindi.

Though the Pakistani official statement did not specify the time frame for the pullout, information minister Mushahid Hussain told a TV news channel that he expected withdrawal ?in the coming days?. ?We can certainly expect... diffusion and de-escalation of the situation in the coming days.?

Fazalur Rehman Khalil, leader of the Harkatul Mujahideen, said the United Jihad Council ? the umbrella organisation representing 15 Mujahideen groups ? would declare its position after Sharif addresses the National Assembly and makes a state broadcast on Monday night.

However, the council issued a statement tonight after conflicting signals had emanated from Pakistan during the day.

Quashing reports of the Mujahideen contemplating a compromise or a partial pullout, the council said: ?The United Jihad Council reaffirms its stand... that a withdrawal from Kargil would be detrimental to the freedom struggle for Kashmir and that the Mujahideen will fight to their last breath to free their motherland.?

A spokesman of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the strongest and most organised of the militant groups, said it will take its ?case before the Pakistani masses? and demand a referendum if it is forced to pull out.

The daily Jungreported that though the Mujahideen rejected a total pullout, they had promised to give up some important peaks overlooking the Leh-Kargil road. They said they would do this because of Pakistan?s commitment to the global community and to reduce the threat of war in the region.

The News said Sharif asked the militants to ?help the government in respecting the LoC and assured them ?we will continue to provide you diplomatic, political and moral support? ?.

Almost all Pakistan-based militant groups, led by Syed Salahuddin of Hizbul Mujahideen, attended the hour-long meeting with Sharif. Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf and other government officials were also present.

Linking Kargil with the Kashmir problem, Sharif is said to have told the Mujahideen that US President Bill Clinton had assured him that he would take a ?personal interest in the matter?.

?It is time when we must wait for the US President?s efforts in finding a solution to the ?problem? as... Clinton had given a categorical assurance and he might also visit the sub-continent in this regard,? Sharif said.

Islamabad, however, emphasised that the Mujahideen have been given no deadline. Pakistan foreign minister Sartaj Aziz told The News: ?There is no timeframe given to the Mujahideen. Let them decide it on their own.?

An official statement from Islamabad said ?the sacrifices offered by the Mujahideen would reinforce the indigenous struggle of the Kashmiris until the realisation of their cherished goal?.    

This war is not about peaks and ridges on this damned frontier; it is about the men trying to hold them against odds that other men and nature have together mounted.

You get only one life and these men have been ready to lose it far from their home and hearth and family for as little as a patch of cold unyielding earth that wouldn?t even offer them space for final rest but which is part of what we proudly call our nation.

In the end, they just become ungainly dead-weights on the backs of unknowing mules, their dignity wrapped in ragged blankets. If they are fortunate, these blankets will somewhere have a little badge of honour pinned ? an inch of metal for miles of the motherland.

?What is there in it for the jawan?? asked a brigade major at the graveyard that a camp deep in Mushkoh Valley had become. ?What is in it for him but death? He will probably get a commendation that he won?t be there to celebrate and in a little while, everyone will forget about him and his wife and children and stricken parents.??

The brigade major was sitting in a rag-tag tent frenetically signing commendations for his martyred troops. The battle for Mushkoh was pirouetting overhead ? artillery and mortar fire zooming from this side and across ? but the brigade major had taken 15 minutes off his operations room to commit himself to giving his dead troops the best and only parting he could in the circumstances.

?I?d rather not sign these high-sounding commendation letters,? he said. ?I?d rather have my men with me, even if I am cursing them. But if they don?t get even this, what will they?? Tears were defying the resistance of his eyes.

It was the third night of fierce battle on the unkind heights of Mushkoh ? the fight was with an entrenched enemy with all of nature?s ferocity on his side ? and the camp was brimming over with the grim news trickling down from the peaks. Close to twilight, the hill overlooking the camp ? worsted route to the battlefront ? became suddenly streaked with troop parties returning. Soldiers on camps gathered at the foot of the hill to receive their mates but this was no hour for hearty welcomes. Many of them were haplessly wounded and with the camp finally in sight, they were running down the perilous slope for succour.

Three jawans of the 2nd Naga unit had bullets lodged in their midriffs; they were bleeding profusely and they were running down for their lives. Even those who escaped injury in the battle weren?t in much better shape. Their faces were black with dust and gunpowder soot. Their eyes were bleary, their general countenance quite delirious. ?We have defeated the bastards,? said one of them. ?But he took the lives out of us.?

Returning soldiers reported an awesomely well-prepared enemy. They were prepared with arms and ammunition for months of battle. They had had so much time on the peaks that they had dug tunnels deep and cosy enough to have as many as 40 troops.

On one of the peaks they had even constructed a temporary seven-foot high mosque with sheets of tin. They were, in fact, comfortable enough to have crafted a metal dome on top of it.

As the injured were being rushed into the bunkered MI room at the base, another platoon came trundling down. There were about 15 men taking turns at carrying a grievously shell-hit Naga soldier on a stretcher. The soldier was lying on his stomach and the gunny bag wrapped around him was soaked with blood.

A little further up, we ran into a four-mule pack slowly descending a ridge; each had a dead soldier slung on its back. Their accompanying mates weren?t even looking up.

By dark, the artillery launched a massive assault on identified enemy concentrations. The attack was inaugurated by stunning bursts of multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) fire. Then came mortar fire from base in Pandrass, just behind the hillfold from Mushkoh. And finally, Bofors guns, recently carted up the treacherous route into Mushkoh, began the noisy finishing job.

From our vantage point, with a clear view of Rocky Knob, one of the major intruder concentrations in Mushkoh, we saw two Bofors howitzers pounding for close to an hour. ?Excellent shot,? the gun commander shouted each time he saw through his field glasses a direct hit being scored.

But the counter-offensive from intruder-held peaks and Pakistani artillery positions behind the LoC was no less shattering. Through the night they blistered Mushkoh?s army camps with field gun and mortar fire.

By dark, Indian soldiers also spotted a remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) sent into Mushkoh to pick up fresh blueprints of Indian troop concentrations.

If something had to give a lie to Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif?s pledges on respecting the LoC?s sanctity, it was probably the flight of the RPV by night into Indian skies.

There are no unilateral withdrawals on this frontier. If Indian troops in some sectors have found the enemy decamped, it is probably only because he had been militarily repulsed. Indeed, even claims that National Highway-1A has now been secured are being constantly taunted from across the LoC.

Pandrass, which falls bang on the national highway, is, for instance, being shelled intermittently through day and night. Even Drass has had its share of shell-scarring even after they ?secured? NH-1A.

But the most insistent evidence of the battle raging on is troops departing for the frontier and troops returning dead or wounded or frazzled. What?s in it for them? At best an inch of metal for miles of motherland.    

Calcutta, July 10 
The nerve centre of Calcutta?s security, Lalbazar, has been burgled.

An amount of Rs 1.10 lakh was stolen from a cupboard in the office of the deputy commissioner (reserve force), at the Calcutta Police headquarters, a complaint lodged at the Hare Street police station today said.

Investigations revealed, however, that the money had been taken from the cupboard a couple of days ago.

Narayan Ghosh, deputy commissioner of police (detective department), said a departmental inquiry has been initiated against reserve force head assistant Partha Chakraborty, the ?custodian of the money?.

?His involvement cannot be ruled out because he holds the keys to the cupboard,? the detective department chief said. Besides, the head assistant did not report for duty on July 8 after keeping the money in the cupboard the day before. He detected the theft on July 9, after he resumed duty.

The head assistant informed his chief, K.L. Tamta, deputy commissioner of police (reserve force), about the theft on July 9, saying he had kept Rs 1.23 lakh in the cupboard on July 7. ?I found the cupboard open and Rs 1.10 lakh missing. The remaining Rs 13,000 was, however, not touched and was still in the cupboard,? Chakraborty told his boss.

Investigators said the cupboard was not forced open. ?It appeared on inspection that keys had been used.?

The original keys were always with the head assistant. He did not leave the keys behind in office when he last attended duty on July 7, before his one-day casual leave. ?He cannot shrug off responsibility,? the detective department chief said.

Forensic and fingerprint experts were called in and they carried out a detailed investigation.

Other staff of the reserve force are also being questioned. Investigators said even though there was a safety vault in the chamber of the reserve force deputy commissioner, the head assistant did not use it to leave behind such a large amount of money. The burglary section of the detective department has been handed over the case.    

Today?s forecast: Cloudy sky with one or two spells of shower or thundershowers

Temperature: Maximum 34.5?C (3?C above normal)
Minimum 26.6?C (1?C above normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 89%
Minimum 68%

Rainfall: 5.5 mm

Sunset: 6.22 pm
Sunrise: 5.02am

Maintained by Web Development Company