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 
All-clear flag flutters in Kargil
India wins Asian anchor mantle
Supreme Court bail sets Khemka free
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, July 26 
Sweeping back the last of the intruders from Batalik and Mushkoh, the army declared today that Indian territory ?is now free of Pakistani presence?.

The army announced that the pushback mission ? which had lingered and claimed several lives even after India suspended strikes early this month ? had been accomplished and the sanctity of the Line of Control restored.

The intruders who had stayed back in certain pockets and were executing an alleged Pakistani gameplan to alter the LoC have been driven out after an offensive over the weekend, defence officials said.

But the Indian army establishment refused to disclose the final toll. With heavy shelling continuing from the other side, the army had admitted yesterday that at least 25 Indian soldiers had died between Friday night and Sunday morning.

The army said it will provide within a day or two a full list of jawans who have been killed. Before Operation Vijay was effectively halted more than a fortnight ago, the toll on the Indian side had crossed 400. The army said that at the last count, 498 Indian soldiers had been killed.

Political expediency had energised the army over the past three days. At a meeting between Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and defence minister George Fernandes, the details of hastening an end to the conflict had been discussed.

It was difficult for the government to further delay the final exit of the Pakistanis. India had won this war some time back on the diplomatic front, but it had to clear the intruders to allow the Prime Minister to make an announcement from the Red Fort ramparts on August 15.

The army had also become more wary about Pakistan?s intentions. A senior army officer pointed out today that the Indian military establishment was convinced that the Pakistanis were making a belated effort to alter the LoC.

That is why they had directed a section of their regulars (mostly from the Northern Light Infantry) to hold on to a few crucial positions near the LoC as long as possible.

Yesterday, the army had said it had cleared the last point in the Drass sector. During overnight operations, the infantry vanquished the remaining infiltrators in both Mushkoh and Batalik. This morning, Indian flags were finally hoisted in both sectors.

Lt. General N.C. Vij, chief of the directorate-general of military operations, said: ?All pockets of intrusion have now been vacated and there are now no Pakistani intruders in Indian territory.? He added that the army was fully prepared to meet any challenge.

Welcoming the Centre?s decision to set up a panel to ?review? the events leading to the Pakistani aggression in Kargil, Lt. Gen. Vij said the armies of both countries are ?in the process? of occupying new positions on the LoC with both sides resorting to heavy shelling.

An Indian Oil Corporation dump was hit by shells from across the LoC.

Lt. Gen. Vij said that Pakistan had recently deployed a force equivalent to two brigades in the Kargil sector and replaced some of its Northern Light Infantry regiments.

While the two DGMOs had agreed not to deploy any troops within a kilometre on either side of the LoC as part of confidence-building measures, the ?Pakistanis have not honoured this agreement yet?.

The National Security Advisory Board today met here to discuss strategies to check subversion. The session, chaired by home minister L.K. Advani, focussed on Jammu and Kashmir.    

Singapore, July 26 
India?s ambition of emerging as a major player in Asia received a fillip today when the Asean Regional Forum endorsed its views on important regional and international issues, including non- proliferation and disarmament.

The Indian position was strengthened further when the European Union (EU), its largest trading partner, called on Delhi and Islamabad to respect the Line of Control and work together to ?end all external support? to militants in Kashmir.

But in a line which did not go down well with the Indian leadership, the EU highlighted the ?frequent violation of human rights? in Kashmir and urged Delhi to take steps to ?bring about an s improvement in the human rights situation there?.

Foreign minister Jaswant Singh described the sixth session of the forum, the highest security platform in Asia-Pacific, as an ?unqualified success?.

Referring to EU?s observation on human rights, he said: ?We are not apologetic about our human rights record.? Singh added that the National Human Rights Commission and its state subsidiaries were independent and competent enough to ensure the issue was addressed properly.

At the forum?s last meeting in Manila a year ago, India was busy lobbying with participating foreign ministers to keep any reference to its nuclear tests out of the chairman?s statement. Having failed in its efforts, Delhi had taken the unprecedented step of dissociating itself from the critical paragraph in the statement.

?The movement in one year?s time is noteworthy,? Singh said, referring to the change in the forum?s attitude towards India. He claimed India has emerged as a ?major stabilising force? in Asia.

By initiating the Lahore dialogue process and through its mature handling of the Kargil conflict, India has won many friends internationally and established itself as a responsible nuclear weapons power.

Without naming India or Pakistan, the forum asked the nuclear twins to show restraint and called on them to adhere to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and revive the Lahore process. But the chairman?s statement, which endorsed Delhi?s views on most key issues, made it clear the world was now ready to accept India as a ?stabilising force? in Asia.

The forum did not mention either the Kargil conflict or the Kashmir issue, indicating that it supported India?s line that all outstanding issues between Delhi and Islamabad should be settled bilaterally through negotiations.

Singh said the foreign ministers? views on non-proliferation and disarmament were a vindication of India?s ?constructive approach? on the subject.

Delhi?s stand on small arms, which contribute to the threat of cross-border terrorism, was also echoed in the forum, Singh said.

The EU, however, decided to bring back the focus on South Asia by referring to the Kashmir issue. Indicating that it could play the role of facilitator in India-Pakistan talks, the EU spokesman said: ?We would like to emphasise that we are willing to contribute positively to an atmosphere of confidence.

?However, the responsibility for choosing between the path of confrontation and the avenue of dialogue, and for the consequences of their choice, rests firmly with India and Pakistan,? he added.

Though Singh welcomed the EU statement, he made it clear that the forum?s views were much more important than that of an individual member.    

July 26 
Shamit Khemka, arrested on charges of posting a hate site on Internet, was released tonight in Calcutta after the Supreme Court granted him bail.

Khemka, the first ?cyber undertrial? in the country, was being held at the Alipore Central Jail for nearly a month as his bail pleas were rejected thrice by courts in Calcutta.

Issuing the bail order, an apex court division bench of Justices K.T. Thomas and M.B. Shah said Khemka must furnish a bail bond to the satisfaction of the trial court in Calcutta and report at Lalbazar once a week.

Acting on a faxed copy of the Supreme Court directive, the sub-divisional judicial magistrate of Alipore granted interim bail to Khemka for 12 days. Khemka has been asked to appear before the magistrate on August 7 with a certified copy of the apex court order. Khemka, who left the court after 15 minutes, barred himself at his house in Southern Avenue, refusing to speak with anyone.

In Delhi, defence lawyers Fali Nariman, Lalit Basin and Nina Gupta said Khemka should have been given bail earlier as the prosecution had not made out any cognisable charge against him. They argued that the FIR did not mention any offence or charge that could be taken cognisance of.

Khemka was arrested on June 22 by the detective department from his house, alleging he was the host of an Internet site which heaped invectives on political leaders of the state.

His lawyers said their client disowned the website. Khemka vouched he had not created it and that someone else had hacked his site, they added.

However, counsel for West Bengal K.T.S. Tulsi said the accused was posting provocative material on the site aimed at disturbing communal harmony.

Khemka?s lawyers said the protests against him in Calcutta were organised by people who had not bothered to access the website and were only depending on hearsay.

Supporters of Amra Bangali, a chauvinistic fringe group, had manhandled Khemka last month while he was being taken to the Alipore court.

The first information report against Khemka was filed under Sections 120 B, 419, 504 and 153 A of the Indian Penal Code, charging him with criminal conspiracy, fomenting communal disharmony and disturbances, and cheating.

Gupta said Section 153A (promoting disharmony among communities) alone is a non-bailable offence but the prosecution had brought no evidence to show that Khemka was guilty.

Contesting the criminal conspiracy charge, Gupta said the prosecution had failed to name any other person as party to the conspiracy. ?After all, for any conspiracy, there should be two or more people. The prosecution surprisingly did not disclose any other name and hence, Section 120 B for criminal conspiracy also fell flat,? she said.

On Sections 419 and 504, no details were produced before the magistrate who ordered the arrest of Khemka, Gupta said.

The defence lawyer said it was more than 27 days since Khemka?s arrest and there was no ground to detain him further.

Reacting to the ruling, Khemka?s lawyer in Calcutta, Bishnu Charan Ghosh, said: ?One of the sections under which my client was held may have been non-bailable, but there has to be evidence to support it, and the police cannot be given indefinite time to investigate. In that sense, the Supreme Court order was expected.?    

Today?s forecast: Few spells of light rain accompanied by showers or thunder showers

Temperature: Maximum 33.1?C (1?C above normal)
Minimum 27.4?C (1?C above normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 92%
Minimum 66%

Rainfall: Trace

Sunset: 6.19 pm
Sunrise: 5.07 am

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