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 
Second wave of Pak infiltration
South Block lost for words on US
Crown of captain in death
Oxytown victim on Higher Secondary roll of honour
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, July 16: 
No less than 500 Pakistan-backed infiltrators, armed with sophisticated weapons and communications equipment, have crossed the Line of Control into India since the mid-May launch of the military offensive.

Alarming reports received by the Prime Minister?s Office and Union home ministry said the infiltrators had positioned themselves in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir close to the LoC and international border. These include Doda, Rajouri and Poonch sectors, and the upper reaches of Udhampur district along the Pir Panjal range.

As the latest intelligence report on the second wave of intrusions set alarm bells ringing, Delhi extended the troop pullout deadline by a day in a move bound to be interpreted as a sign of weakness by the Opposition.

Echoing national security adviser Brajesh Mishra?s statement yesterday, army spokesman Col. Bikram Singh said the new deadline was set for dawn on Saturday.

In Gilgit, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was optimistic the ?disengagement? process would be over by evening. But army spokesman Brig. Rashid Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad that Pakistan had asked for another two-day extension.

There were indications here that India would grant another extension. Delhi is reported to have shifted its Friday deadline on ?request? from Islamabad.

The report on incursions from Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir ? India is yet to figure out if these infiltrators are Pakistan army regulars or mercenaries ? attributes the cross-over to the pullout of troops from these areas for operations in Kargil.

Since Operation Vijay began, army officials in Delhi have only once claimed that troops blocked an infiltration attempt in Rajouri. They have maintained that Turtuk, to the north of Kargil, is the key area from where infiltration is taking place.

What is alarming is that infiltrators have ?occupied? several posts close to the LoC and international border after units of the 15 and 16 Corps were pulled out for operations in the war zone. The army has all along said it has taken enough precaution.

The report has also alerted the government that about 4000-5000 mercenaries are waiting across the LoC, opposite the Kupwara sector in Jammu, to cross over. This appears to be part of a plan by terrorist outfits like Markaz-e-Dawa-ul Irshad, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen to carve out a ?Greater Kashmir? from parts of India-occupied Kashmir.

The idea is to push in as many ?Mujahideen? as possible to foment violence and bring about a demographic change. The programme aims at including parts of Himachal bordering Doda into Greater Kashmir. Chamba is also a target area.

Besides, if a Kargil-like incursion can be made in areas around Poonch and Rajouri, Kashmir can be segregated from Jammu, and Srinagar cut off from the south.

The report says the incursions occurred because of slack vigil by the army and BSF. It has also hinted at a complicity between security forces and infiltrators.    

New Delhi, July 16: 
Facilitator, mediator, third party. Labels usually roll easy off the glib tongues in South Block. But not this time.

The mandarins in the ministry of external affairs like neither of the three available descriptions of the role the United States played in resolving the Kargil crisis. And, they don?t have a better tag to hang on Washington.

Ever eager to pat themselves on the back for the rare diplomatic coup where the US spoke glowingly of Indian ?restraint? and ?mature handling of Kargil?, foreign ministry officials go into long-winded explanations for the part performed by Washington.

?The US had mentioned a sequence of steps, like most other major world powers, that they wanted to be taken to end the conflict. They spoke about withdrawal of intruders, cessation of hostilities and finally a return to the Lahore dialogue process,? foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal said. No more, no less.

In private, South Block bureaucrats admit that the role played by the US was much more than what other countries did. At Washington?s initiative, the G8 came out with a statement at their Cologne summit sequencing the steps it wished India and Pakistan to take.

The US sent a general to talk to the army top brass in Pakistan. An emissary visited New Delhi also.

During his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Bill Clinton called Atal Behari Vajpayee to say which way the talks were going.

Did it amount to long-distance mediation? A senior foreign ministry official argues it was Clinton who decided to call; Delhi did not ask for it. Nor did it ask Sharif to go to Washington. ?If he decided to go and surrender before the US, what can we say?? he asked.

India?s sensitivity to third-party participation or mediation is well known. In South Block, the nomenclature ?facilitator? also stinks, of third party and mediation.

Aware of India?s allergy, Washington has dismissed all talk of mediation. But in what is seen by American commentators as gathering contradiction in the US stand, Clinton has also expressed ?personal interest? in South Asia.

Many experts see Washington?s ambiguous ?semi-engagement? and ?semi-disengagement? stand as unstable and difficult to sustain, given South Asia?s new nuclear equation.

Few Indian officials deny that the Kashmir dispute has been internationalised. But they argue that by doing so New Delhi has benefited as most world powers have sided with it.

?We know where to draw the line? is the confident reply of an Indian foreign ministry official to the question whether the way has now been paved for a greater US role in South Asia. That confidence is yet to tested.    

Calcutta, July 16: 
Kanad Bhattacharya?s parents didn?t know their lieutenant son had been promoted as captain. Nor did he.

That was until yesterday. And, now it doesn?t matter any more.

Three weeks before his 25th birthday, Captain K. Bhattacharya of the 8th battalion of the Sikh Regiment dropped out of the list of missing into the list of the dead. After nearly two months, the craggy and cruel terrain of Kargil yielded the body of young Kanad.

It was May 21, before Kargil was publicly acknowledged to be the theatre of an undeclared war. The place was Tiger Hill.

Its recapture a month and a half later made little difference to the Bhattacharya family, engulfed by the darkness of premonition in their sun-less drawing room in deep down middle-class north Calcutta.

Jawan Jaspal Singh was with Kanad on that day. He, with two other jawans, have visited the Bhattacharya home on BT Road.

All three were injured in action on that day, but they came ? their wounds of different kinds still festering.

Late last month, father Kamal Kanti, mother Purnima and the two sisters, Jaba and Purba, sat silently before the three jawans as Jaspal recounted Tiger Hill, May 21....

We had reached a height of about 13,000 ft and knew that the enemy was entrenched about 4,000 ft higher. Suddenly, there was a hail of bullets ? they had come down and encircled us in a U-formation.

We were outnumbered and had to scatter and dig ourselves in to avoid being hit. The exchange continued for over four hours. Two of us froze to death from being pinned to the ground for so long. We returned to our base camp in Drass after darkness fell.

Capt Bhattacharya was not among them. They found the body of the last Indian officer missing in action today, west of Tiger Hill.

For close to two months, the Bhattacharya family has been eating up every word emitted through the lipsticked lips of television news readers, poring over every line in newspapers and knocking at army headquarters? door for information.

The journey between the deluding heights of hope and the depths of despair started when 56 Area post office began to return the letters written to Kanad from BT Road.

?We were very worried. We went to Fort William to find out what had happened. While returning, we read a report in a Bengali paper which said he was missing in action,? elder sister Jaba said.

A telegram to army headquarters brought forth the reply that he was missing since May 15. Two days later, another followed, correcting the date to May 21. Then came the three jawans who fought with him shoulder to shoulder on the slopes of Tiger Hill.

?Ever since childhood, Babu (Kanad?s pet name) had wanted to join the army,? his father said, recalling how the entire family, particularly mother Purnima, had opposed it.

?But I was a very proud man at the pipping ceremony (where the rank is awarded) at the Officers? Training Academy in Chennai on February 20 this year. He had completed 10 months of very rigorous training after getting through the written exams and interviews.?

One memory leads to another. Kamal Kanti goes back over 20 years to the day Kanad was interviewed at St James School in Calcutta for admission to nursery. James Mason, the principal then, asked the little boys to perform. Kanad recited a rhyme:

Boxing is not hard at all/ Whether you are big or small/ So come and box with me.

In time Kanad became a karateka. ?He didn?t tell us about that (the karate lessons), of course,? says Kamal Kanti, recalling his son?s days in high school and Jaipuria College.

When he was last with his family for two weeks after being commissioned, he would comfort his mother whenever the series Param Vir Chakra was showing on TV. ?One day you?ll see me getting a medal like that,? he would say.

Lieutenant in life and captain in death, Kanad?s body is on its way home from Kargil.    

Calcutta, July 16: 
She was not there in the press of anxious young faces around the notice board at Behala?s Vivekananda College. Against roll 710211 and number 0616, the score read 736. But no one was looking.

Triparna Pal is dead. And, police are still looking for her murderer. She will never know 736 is one of the highest marks in the commerce section of her college in the Higher Secondary examinations. The results were announced today, a little over a month after she was killed with her parents and sister Sohini in their Oxytown home.

Her friends and their family members were there at the college, jostling and pushing to snatch a glimpse of the list. Almost no one asked about the 17-year-old girl who had fared so well, except a college teacher.

?Not many of Triparna?s college mates have been able to do as well as she has. A total of 736 with letter marks in accountancy is no mean achievement,? she said.

Her scores in the other subjects were nearly all above 60 per cent: Bengali 115, English 130, Business Economics 124, Business Organisation 131, Economic Geography (fourth subject) 133.

?It is sad she is not alive to share the glory of such a fine performance,? the teacher added.

Few of her class mates, preoccupied with their own results, were willing to talk about Triparna. ?She was from Vivekananda Mission school and we knew that she would do well in the exams,? said Mou Mukherjee, the only one to talk. ?She was very reserved and kept to herself.?

But Mou would rather not talk about the grisly murders. ?The thought of the way she was killed still gives me sleepless nights. We don?t want to discuss it,? she said.

A neighbour of the Pals in Oxytown, Nandita Mukherjee, said many in the locality had been talking about Triparna since the results were declared. ?But no one wants to do this openly... People here don?t know when they are going to be picked up by the police for questioning.?

Sohini?s tutor, who has been repeatedly interrogated by the CID, was even more cautious. He was romantically linked to Sohini. ?It will not be prudent to show any interest in Triparna?s results,? he said.

?Occasionally Triparna would come to me for guidance when she was studying in class X,? said the tutor, ?but I never coached her on a regular basis.?

Triparna?s aunt, who stays in nearby Sarkarhat, said her mind played strange games with her today.

?I know Triparna is no longer with us, but we have been spending anxious moments since morning because we knew her results would be out today.?

The sadness that still hangs heavy in the air at the family?s ancestral house at Sarkarhat was tinged with reveries about how happy Triparna would have been had she been here today.    

Today?s forecast: Generally cloudy sky. Possibility of one or two spells of showers or thundershowers

Temperature: Maximum 32.4?C (Normal)
Minimum 26.6?C (1?C above normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 92%
Minimum 70%

Rainfall: Traces

Sunset: 6.21 pm
Sunrise: 5.04am

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