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 
Play-safe brief for Kargil probe
No one to rescue but the dead
Gaisal gasps for life
Hollow words and empty pockets
BJP trio sticks to bastions
Congress bahu list
Silence before Narmada deluge

New Delhi, Aug. 3 
The Subramaniam Committee, which begins its ?review? of events leading to the Kargil incursions tomorrow, has been instructed by the Centre not to fix responsibility on individual officers.

Highly-placed sources said the three-member panel has been advised to go about the inquiry in a ?general? manner and not make it ?individual-specific?.

This implies that no officer, either from the army establishment or civilian intelligence agencies, will be targeted for failing to detect the intrusions or assessing the security threat from Pakistan. ?The focus will be on systemic problems,? a source said.

The committee has also been asked to suggest measures to plug loopholes in the intelligence network as well as improve co-ordination between civilian and military intelligence.

The panel comprises defence commentator K. Subramaniam, Lt Gen. (retired) K.K. Hazari and journalist B.G. Verghese. Joint Intelligence Committee chairman Satish Chandra is member-secretary to the committee.

As the Opposition has been suspecting all along, the review appears headed to sweep all criticism under the carpet. Even before the inquiry has begun, some government officials have written it off as a ?joke?.

The review will formally begin with senior armymen making their representation before the committee. Defence sources said the army will be represented by director-general of military operations Lt Gen. N.C. Vij and director-general of military intelligence Lt Gen. R.K. Sawhney.

The two officers will brief the committee on the army?s perception of how Pakistani soldiers could make inroads into Kargil as early as February.

This will be followed by representations from the Research and Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau.

The most contentious issue for the army will be the contradictory positions held by the top brass and Brig. S.S. Suri. Suri was removed as commander of the 121 Brigade which was posted in Kargil when the intrusions took place. He was subsequently posted at Srinagar, Secunderabad and Ranchi. His whereabouts now are not known.

Suri had written a series of letters to his immediate senior in Kargil, Maj. Gen. V.S. Budhwar, as well as army chief V.P. Malik, listing basic intelligence-gathering equipment required to maintain surveillance along the LoC.

He had also warned officers in the Northern Command and at the headquarters of impending trouble in Kargil, contrary to army claims that Suri wrote no letter to the office of the army chief before the incursions.    

Gaisal (North Dinajpur), Aug. 3 
Gas cutters whined and cranes described ponderous arcs over the blackened, metallic hulk of piled-up carriages. Armymen climbed 30 feet to reach bogies still suspended in mid-air, scrabbling for the belongings of jawans. From time to time, they brought out a body ? twisted, crumpled, ripped open ? to join the others that lined the field beside the railway tracks.

No cries of help came from the ghastly wreckage; only arms and legs hung limply from mangled carriages. Local residents have lived with the sight of crushed bodies since yesterday. Now they will have to get used to the stench of charred, rotting flesh.

The Delhi-bound Brahmaputra Mail and the Avadh-Assam Express headed for Guwahati collided because they were travelling on the same track around 2 am yesterday. Forty-five bodies were recovered from the trains today and 15 died in hospitals, taking the toll to 275. Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) officials said the toll will soar because bodies are trapped under the debris and in the three coaches that were disentangled late tonight. Officials said it is now more of a salvage operation because the chances of passengers surviving are dim.

Railway minister Nitish Kumar today resigned from the Union Cabinet owning ?moral responsibility?. Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee has not accepted Kumar?s resignation. Vajpayee is understood to have asked him not to ?hurry? his resignation. Their meeting scheduled this evening did not materialise. (Report on Page 6)

Rescue operations, slow to take off yesterday, were smooth today. Two cranes arrived from Malda and Alipurduar to lift the bogies so that they could be cut open.

Though the army has not been officially called in, it has joined railwaymen. Two bogies of the Brahmaputra Mail were carrying jawans. Of the 47 bodies identified, 25 are of defence personnel.

The bogies have been silent since the last muffled cry for help was heard around 8 am yesterday. The quiet is broken by the sobs of survivors. Post mortem is being carried out near the site.

Villagers from Malda and Cooch Behar came to see the wreckage. By afternoon, about 50,000 people were at the site. The police had to lathicharge them as they inched closer to the trains.

The injured have been admitted to five hospitals in Islampur, Kishangunj and the adjacent BSF base. About 300 passengers are being treated.

Chairman of the Railway Board V.K. Agarwal said the accident could have occurred because of equipment failure or human error. ?I am not clear how it took place. I have not seen such an accident in my career,?? Agarwal said.

The Prime Minister has announced the formation of a commission to look into railway safety. This being one of the worst train disasters in the country, the statutory inquiry is being conducted by the chief commissioner of railway safety, S. Moni.

NFR officials said the cabinman of Kishangunj is still absconding, but the cabinmen of Gaisal and Panjipara have returned. ?Since investigation is on, we cannot take any action against them,?? a railway official said.

As in the afterwash of any big accident, politicians swarmed in. Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee could not reach because of the throng. Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi and RJD chief Laloo Yadav arrived in a huge convoy and alleged that passengers from Bihar are not being treated properly.    

Gaisal (North Dinajpur), Aug. 3 
The crane lifted a bogie and pindrop silence pierced Gaisal. A woman hung motionless from the coach, her clothes bloody. A child, twisted and maimed, fell 50 feet to the ground with a thud. A headless corpse lay slumped over.

The body count rose today and with it, more and more people thronged here in vans and trucks. They came from Malda and Cooch Behar. They stared quietly as the crane lifted a bogey high in the air. But as it was being set on the ground, there were shrieks. Some people even wept hysterically as the corpses came slithering out.

And there was anger. Villagers screamed at the delayed operations. A swifter response could have prevented so many bodies from being lined up on the platform. ?Help came over an hour after the accident and that too, the authorities were handicapped. They did not have gas-cutters. Many more lives could have been saved,?? shouted one villager.

Tempers began to fray and the 50,000-odd mob at the site surged towards the pile-up. Policemen swung their lathis, chasing the crowd away. But a fresh wave followed, only to be met with a fresh lathicharge.

The rescue drive turned into a salvage operation today. The last gasp for help was heard at 8 am yesterday, six hours after the incident. The first task this morning, when the two cranes arrived from Malda and Alipurduar, was to free the bogies and cut them open. Thirty-five bodies were recovered. Some were brought out after boring holes in the coaches and some were dragged out by armymen, who clambered into the bogies of the Brahmaputra Express searching for belongings of compatriots.

Mukesh Kumar of 14 Rajput Rifles and Ratan Lal Bishnoi of the EME Regiment were on the Mail. ?I was standing near the door, savouring the night breeze when I heard a blast. I started to fly like a bird,? Kumar said. He landed on a mound of mud and lost consciousness. Bishnoi doesn?t remember how he got out alive

Two coaches are still jutting 60 ft in the air. Officials said at least 70 bodies were trapped inside. The stench of putrifying flesh has started to fill the air in Gaisal and villagers hoped the bodies would be extricated soon, and they could breathe easier.

Sub-area commander of Bengdubi A. Parmar claimed villagers were looting without a care. ?The twisted bodies have little respect. Looting the dead means the end of civilised society,?? said a jawan.    

Kishangunj, Aug. 3 
Nitish Kumar may have quit as railway minister, owning moral responsibility for yesterday?s mishap at Gaisal, but most survivors lying in hospitals here and in places in North Bengal have not received what he had promised a day before his resignation.

Instead, the 400-odd injured have been swamped by waves of VIPs and VVIPs, oozing sympathy and little else. Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi and her husband and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Laloo Prasad Yadav drove to Gaisal and Islampur sub-divisional hospital with a convoy of 15 vehicles. Motorbikes and jeeps that led and followed the entourage proudly flaunted green RJD flags as they drove in and out of Bengal.

Earlier, Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee was here and at Sri Gujari Memorial Hospital with her supporters. Before her came West Bengal Congress working president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi.

Ministers, Ashoke Bhattacharya, Partha De and Minati Ghosh also called on the injured. Bhattacharya and his Cabinet colleague Srikumar Mukherjee visited the site yesterday.

Left high and dry by the government, patients at Kishangunj Medical College were jittery about the high-profile visits.

Lying in bed with a bandaged head and chest, Jamaluddin Bakht of Barpeta, Assam, remarked: ?We have not received anything from the government. Nobody has come to us.? He was not aware of Nitish Kumar?s announcement that the government would give an immediate relief of Rs 5,000 to all injured and arrange for their treatment. However, Bakht is full of praise for the medical college staff. ?We have been well looked after,? echoes Sukhdev Rai of Samastipur.

Medical college superintendent Jogendra Singh and final year students Shanti Bhusan and Ajoy Singh regretted that they could not save more people because of a late start in rescue operations by the railways.

?We rushed to the site within half-an-hour with 40 students. We treated people till this morning,? he said. Sixty of the injured have been brought to the college.

Like their compatriots in Kishangunj, patients at Islampur sub-divisional hospital also received the VIPs reluctantly. ?Lalooji came and told me that I require an immediate CT scan, but left no money with which I could organise the scan,? said Hari Om Gupta, in blood-soaked pyjamas and a cotton vest.

Lying on the floor of a small room with seven other male patients, 20- year-old Kavita Oraon from Alipurduar awaited the arrival of her relatives. She and 25 others were going to Bagpet with Dinesh Kumar, who owns a tract of about 800 bighas. ?I was taking the boys to work as farmhands and Kavita to work as an assistant at my brother?s nursing home,? said Kumar, sporting a deep gash in his face.

Dhana Naik of Bichkaman, near Falakata, has a fractured leg. He goes to Uttar Pradesh every year as seasonal labour. ?We get Rs 800 a month as well as food, clothes and accommodation,? he said.

The injured complained they have not received adequate treatment. Some had not been able to contact their relatives as they live in remote areas.    

New Delhi, Aug. 3 
Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee will contest the Lok Sabha polls from Lucknow for the fourth time in succession, while home minister L.K. Advani has been re-nominated from Gandhinagar. The third in the BJP triumvirate, human resources development minister M.M. Joshi, will remain in Allahabad.

The BJP today released a list of 138 candidates after a two-day meeting of its election committee, chaired by party chief Kushabhau Thakre. Vajpayee was present throughout and reportedly took a keen interest in the selection of candidates for every state and not just the heartland.

As many as 63 sitting MPs were selected. Former Delhi chief minister Sushma Swaraj has opted out, but her predecessors M.L. Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma will slug it out from Delhi Sadar and Outer Delhi. While Khurana holds Sadar, this is Verma?s first shot at Lok Sabha polls.

?Sushma has conveyed to the poll committee that she would not like to contest but instead campaign for the party. The party has accepted her wish,? BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said.

Party chief whip in the Rajya Sabha V.K. Malhotra has replaced Sushma in South Delhi, a seat she has won twice. BJP sources said the idea of giving Verma a ticket, despite his dismal record as chief minister, was to pin him down to a constituency and ensure he did not damage the party?s prospects in the others. The same rationale worked for Khurana.

Sumitra Mahajan, the four-time MP from Indore who said she would not contest, has been persuaded to change her mind. But Baburao Paranjape, the Jabalpur MP who was also unwilling to fight again, has been replaced by Jayashree Banerji, a former Madhya Pradesh minister.

Vijayaraje Scindia, MP from Guna, has ?retired? from polls due to ill-health. In her place, the party has put up Deshraj Singh Yadav, a sitting MLA and a non-entity who, sources conceded, had practically ensured a cakewalk for the Congress? Madhavrao Scindia.

Sushma, who seems to have been pushed to the periphery, was further slighted when her prot?g?, Satya Pal Jain, was denied renomination from Chandigarh to make way for BJP vice-president K.L. Sharma, a nominee of Verma. Sharma had earlier represented Outer Delhi, while Jain had won twice from Chandigarh.

The other change in Delhi was to pit mayor Anita Arya against the Congress? prospective candidate Meira Kumar in Karol Bagh. The other sitting MPs ? Jagmohan, Vijay Goel and Lal Behari Tiwari ? have been renominated.

The BJP sprung a surprise by fielding vice-president and former chief of its scheduled caste morcha Bangaru Laxman from Jalore in Rajasthan, a Buta Singh stronghold. Laxman is from Andhra Pradesh and has no roots in Rajasthan. Sources said the decision may have been prompted by the infighting in Andhra, where Laxman wields clout.    

The Congress today released a poll candidates? list packed with names of senior leaders? wives, a move that violates the spirit of the Panchmarhi declaration, reports our special correspondent.

The spouses of the former and present chief ministers of Orissa ? J.B. Patnaik and Giridhar Gamang ? are on the list. So are the wives of the Pradesh Congress Committee presidents of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.    

Jalsindhi (MP), Aug. 3 
The grey, overcast sky is reflected in Usman Mansuri?s face. He is waiting for the moment when his home in Sakarja will be washed away by the furious waters of the Narmada.

?The babus (surveyors) somehow did not come to our village. They went back after surveying the neighbouring village. It will be too late when they come back,? says a despondent Usman, whose house falls in the submergence zone of the Sardar Sarovar Project.

Even the birds in the Narmada valley have fallen silent in the face of impending doom. The only murmur of protest can be heard from the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists, who have been holding a month-long satyagraha here, and prize-winning author Arundhati Roy?s ?Rally for the Valley?, which started in New Delhi last Thursday.

The Gujarat government had sealed all entry points from and into Madhya Pradesh to stop the rallyists from reaching Jalsindhi. The Madhya Pradesh government?s request to allow the activists to go via Hapeshwar in Gujarat to reach the satyagraha site here was turned down.

The Gujarat government posted police at Rendha, Ferruna and Hapeshwar ? the entry points from Madhya Pradesh. Unsuspecting villagers were also forced to walk miles to enter Gujarat.

Sampatbai was stopped from visiting her pregnant daughter in Kawant in Gujarat. She had no clue about the rally against the Narmada project. ?Lekin Narmada ko kyon bacha rahe hain,? she asked.

The 600-odd activists led by Roy were forced to take a treacherous route through areas where the river is in spate. They were welcomed here today by NBA leader Medha Patkar and several tribals.

Roy told the 150-odd satyagrahis, who are protesting the submergence of 245 villages, that she was behind them. She questioned development which pushed the poor towards greater poverty.

The Booker Prize winner, who walked for five hours from Mathwad to Jalsindhi, said dams would never benefit the poor, but only line the pockets of the builders. ?The waters of the Sardar Sarovar Project will never reach the millions for whom it is meant,? she said.

The NBA has received a tremendous shot in the arm from the presence of Roy.

Baba Amte today went to the extent of calling her an incarnation of Saraswati. Many villagers along the rally?s route from Indore to Jalsindhi were convinced that she is a filmstar.

But even as the media glare is on Roy, the victims of the Narmada project have been forgotten. Itnabai, whose house has been submerged, says NBA activists forced her to stay behind. ?Stay here and we will fight for you they say,? she wails. ?They promised us they would stop the dam work, but it has started again. We too want to be rehabilitated.?

Another villager, Apsing, says: ?We would have gone anywhere that the government would have asked us to. But the andolankaris stopped us.? Nearly 80 families have been moved to Hapeshwar and rehabilitated.

The story of development and dams is never simple. Even the goddess of small things will have to do some hard thinking to figure out the end of the plot.    


Maintained by Web Development Company