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  
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Calcutta 700001 
Govt plugs intelligence loopholes
Fierce fight as intruders dig in
US-buoyed India eyes global role
Khemka moves SC for justice
Sachin set for captaincy comeback
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, July 23 
Wiser after the Kargil debacle, the Centre is putting in place a more efficient intelligence gathering and distribution mechanism.

It has asked intelligence agencies to send ??quality information?? to Delhi instead of despatching dossiers of unanalysed data which say very little.

Though Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee today reiterated there was no intelligence failure in Kargil, the Centre has decided to crack the whip on agencies responsible for gathering information vital to national security.

The home and defence ministries as well as the Prime Minister?s Office want them to be more responsible and not send general information only to say later they had warned the government.

Vajpayee held a meeting with home minister L.K. Advani this afternoon and discussed how to improve the entire process of intelligence gathering and assessment. Advani later met defence minister George Fernandes on the same issue.

All three agreed that intelligence organisations will have to stop despatching commonplace information. Instead, the plethora of agencies, including the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the intelligence arms of the three services, will have to ensure that facts collected by field operatives are processed faster and passed on to headquarters.

The information will then be sent to the joint intelligence committee (JIC), an integral part of the National Security Council. The JIC prepares assessment reports on the larger security threat.

Apart from faster transmission of data, Vajpayee and Advani are insisting on quality intelligence with specific details. Pre-Kargil RAW reports had little information on the extent of intrusion and the areas targeted.

In contrast, the RAW report of July 19 on the ??infiltration?? in Jammu was more detailed. It provided the approximate number of militants who had sneaked in, the routes they followed and even gave names and photographs of some leaders. The government wants intelligence of this nature.

Till now, even after the NSC was set up, the agencies have been engaged in a game of one-upmanship. The government wants these squabbles to end and has asked the agencies to contribute more to the general information pool. Previously, intelligence was handed over to the JIC general pool only on a ??need-to-know?? basis, in other words, as specific responses to specific questions.

The Prime Minister is briefed twice a week by the heads of the RAW and IB. But these meetings are often cut short because of his engagements. Security matters are seldom discussed in detail. The Prime Minister will henceforth reserve time for the agencies which will, in turn, have to make the most of the meetings.

Advani was never briefed by department heads dealing with internal security. He will now meet these officials every fortnight.    

New Delhi, July 23 
Pakistani infiltrators today refused to yield the remaining positions along the Line of Control, triggering fierce fighting in Batalik, Drass and the Mushkoh valley. Late tonight, the Indian army was on the verge of wresting Muntho Dalo in Batalik.

Last night, the Indian military establishment issued orders that infantrymen move up the craggy slopes with artillery cover as talks between the directors-general of military operations had proved futile.

At DGMO-level talks held some time ago, it was decided that Indian and Pakistani troops would position themselves 1 km away from the LoC on either side, and that infiltrators would vacate the last few positions in India without any fighting.

But after 48 hours of waiting, the Indian military establishment is convinced the Pakistanis will not leave. It feels the intruders will hang on to the little territorial and strategic advantage they have and insist these areas fall within their side of the LoC.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee agrees on the need for an offensive. So does defence minister George Fernandes. Accordingly, commanders on the battlefront were given the go-ahead to step up the attack.

For the past few days, Indian artillery has been pounding Pakistani positions. Troops are now certain that the intruders will reinforce their strength if there is no retaliation.

Last evening, the army said there were about 60 Pakistani regulars in Mushkoh and 40 each in Batalik and Drass.

As the war gathered fresh impetus in Batalik, the army claimed it had killed 23 Pakistani regulars. Initial reports suggested there were many Indian casualties as well. But there is confirmation only of about 12-15 soldiers being injured in exchange of artillery fire.

The army today admitted it is progressing slowly in all three sectors. Troops are apprehensive as six soldiers were killed and several injured in the Mushkoh valley after they unwittingly stepped on landmines and booby-traps.

In Mushkoh, fighting was raging at several spots on the slopes of Point 5353. Though troops have demolished six bunkers, it appears there are several more on the slopes as the Pakistanis are well entrenched.

There was exchange of small arms fire along the LoC in Kaksar, from where the infiltrators withdrew long ago.

It was in Kaksar that the Pakistanis violated Indian air space by sending in a helicopter. It hovered in the area for almost five minutes and went back in the face of anti-aircraft fire and missiles.

There was heavy cross-border exchange of artillery and mortar fire in Jammu. In Rajouri and Poonch, shells landed by the dozen.

Indian troops retaliated at regular intervals, and claimed they killed seven Pakistani soldiers. A BSF jawan was critically injured in Pakistani firing last night.    

New Delhi, July 23 
Bolstered by its diplomatic success during the Kargil conflict, India is now trying to shake off its South Asian shackles and emerge as a world player.

The US perception that India should not be seen as a nation perpetually in conflict with Pakistan has encouraged New Delhi to use the forthcoming Asian Regional Forum meeting as a platform to regain the status it enjoyed during the heyday of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The Forum is the largest security forum in the Asia-Pacific region, with the US, the European Union, China, Japan, Russia and the 10 Asean members as its constituents. India wants to be present at the summit with its head held high, unlike last year when it had turned itself into a pariah after the nuclear tests.

Foreign minister Jaswant Singh is leading a high-powered delegation to the Forum which will meet from July 26-28. Singh arrives in Singapore tomorrow for pre-summit talks with US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan.

Although the Forum was formed as recently as 1994, Asean has been in existence since 1960, when the Cold War was at its height. In those days, Delhi saw Asean as a pro-US and anti-Soviet bloc and stayed away, declining the invitation to join the grouping.

The shift in India?s stand came after the end of the Cold War and during P.V Narasimha Rao?s regime. He emphasised a ?look east policy? and took initiatives for Delhi to play a meaningful role in the region. Though India became a full-dialogue partner in Asean in 1996 and was subsequently invited to join the Forum, its association with the bloc was limited to economic relations.

When India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests last year, South Asia became a focal point of discussion for Forum members. At its Manila meet last year, Indian officials were busy controlling the test-induced damage, but could not avoid critical references.

Over the past year, most global players, who were keen that India and Pakistan sign the CTBT and NPT, have entered into dialogue with Delhi. But the most significant change has been Washington?s tilt towards India during the course of the Kargil conflict, followed by China?s neutral stand.

Jaswant Singh goes into the summit with the confidence of having secured the international community?s acknowledgement as a responsible nuclear power.

India sees the occasion as a chance to build a ?pluralistic, cooperative? security regime in the diverse Asia-Pacific region.    

Calcutta, July 23 
Shamit Khemka, arrested last month on charges of fomenting communal disharmony on his Internet site, has moved the Supreme Court in his fight for justice.

Khemka?s counsel Bishnu Charan Ghosh said the young man took the decision two days ago after being denied bail by the Calcutta High Court and the lower court. ?He filed a special petition in the Supreme Court seeking bail and protesting against the injustice by the state government and the police,? Ghosh added. The Supreme Court will hear the case on Monday.

Khemka was arrested by the detective department from his south Calcutta home for abusing political heavyweights of the state on his site. His counsel said he was charged with hurting religious sentiment and bringing hatred among two groups of people in the state.

?His script on the Internet does not cause any animosity among two groups of people,? his counsel maintained, adding the charges were ?baseless?.

Several police officials feel that Khemka?s move may snowball into a national debate on the merit of the case and affect the image of the Calcutta Police. They said Khemka?s ?crime? was much less serious than what it was made out to be and that he is being denied bail because of political pressure.

The detective department hurriedly sent to Delhi the deputy commissioner of police (special cell), detective department, Manoj Malviya, and officer-in-charge of the press section, Sanjib Bose, who was in charge of the probe. They were sent to meet the prosecutor.

The investigating agency?s determination not to leave an escape hatch open for Khemka was evident from its urgency. Even the officer-in-charge, who is not entitled to air fare, was flown to Delhi.    

Calcutta, July 23 
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is firm on having one captain for both Tests and one-dayers.

That the Australian (Mark Taylor-Steve Waugh) and England (Michael Atherton-Adam Hollioke) experiment won?t be attempted will, in the next couple of days, be conveyed to the selectors.

This should put at rest ?talk? that the powers-that-be may favour splitting the captaincy between Sachin Tendulkar (Tests) and Ajay Jadeja (one-dayers).

More important, it?s now pretty clear that come July 28 ? when the five selectors meet in Nagpur ? and Sachin will get back the captaincy.

That Jadeja isn?t a certainty in Tests rules him out. As for Mohammed Azharuddin, he isn?t even in the frame. At the moment, it?s a one-horse race.

As was indicated by The Telegraph on July 4, even Azhar?s famed luck would, this time, not get him anywhere. And, going by the mood, the change at the top will be welcomed.

Azhar has been captain right through the Nineties, save the 17-month period (beginning August 1996) when Sachin was boss.

?There will be a change and, in my opinion, we aren?t looking beyond Sachin. Quite definitely, he is the logical choice,? insisted a very senior BCCI mandarin, speaking exclusively late this afternoon.

It is understood that the BCCI?s views on the captaincy will be ?conveyed? to the selectors, a majority of whom are, in any case, looking forward to effecting a change.

?Performance, national sentiment.... The selectors have much to take into account. Moreover, they can?t pretend either to be blind or deaf,? remarked somebody close to the quintet.

Still, the selectors have been awaiting ?some signals?. Indications are they won?t have to wait till July 28.

That Sachin should be handed back the captaincy was ?discussed? both during the closing stages of the recent World Cup ? after India?s exit ? and immediately after, in London, by those in authority.

In fact, many with influence had wanted Azhar?s head after last September?s debacle in Toronto (losing 1-4 to Pakistan) and the embarrassment in Zimbabwe (humiliating defeat in the one-off Test).

However, that India made the mini-World Cup semi-finals (Dhaka) and, then, won the Sharjah triangular (November) forced Azhar-baiters to pull punches.

But be it home or overseas, defeats haven?t exactly been few and far between and failure to go beyond the Super Six, in the World Cup, came as the proverbial last straw.

The script could have been different had (a) Azhar himself been among the runs and (b) the ?feedback? from players been favourable.

Actually, many had hoped Azhar would himself step down but, as he hasn?t ?obliged?, ouster is certain. Today, there is a good chance Azhar may not even make the cut purely as a player.

Incidentally, Sachin?s first assignment as captain had been to Sri Lanka. The start of innings No.2 is also destined to be there.    

Today?s forecast: One or two showers or thundershowers

Temperature: Maximum 32.9?C (Normal)
Minimum 26.3?C (Normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 97%
Minimum 66%

Rainfall: 2.4 mm

Sunset: 6.20 pm
Sunrise: 5.06am

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