May 1999 News

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Plan to shift kargil town

15 May 1999
Daily Excelsior

NEW DELHI, May 15: In one of the biggest counter-insurgency operations, Army today started flushing out nearly 100 Pakistan-backed armed infiltrators from Line of Control (LoC) in Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir where at least 23 people, including 15 Pakistanis, have been killed in exchange of fire since May nine.

Shelling and firing from across the border, which continued for the seventh day today, has forced local inhabitants in the district and far-flung villages to migrate to safer places, official sources said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Army started shelling in Drass, the world’s second coldest place which is about 40 km from Kargil, since the wee hours yesterday.

A heavily armed posse of about 100 militants, mostly Pakhtoons who had infiltrated into the area in North Ladakh, were being flushed out by Army and other security agencies sources said.

Pakistan’s desperate attempt to reach the Srinagar-Leh Highway has been thwarted and efforts were afoot to install confidence among the terror-stricken people of the region, the sources said, adding the aim of this attack was to create tension in this area as all traditional routes of infiltration had been blocked.

The sources quoting reports from Field Intelligence Units (FIUs) in the Kargil area said this was possibly one of the largest counter-insurgency operations of the Army during the past decade in the sensitive northern border state.

Meanwhile, The Jammu and Kashmir Government will ponder over a contingency plan to shift Kargil town and its villages out of the shelling range of Pakistani troops, if the situation remained bad due to continuous firing from across the border, Minister of State for Works, Qaamar Ali Akhoon said today.

"The contingency plan is always there, but for a shorter period of time. In case situation remained bad due to continued firing and shelling we have to do something about the shifting of these areas to safer places," Akhoon said in an interview to PTI at Jammu.

However, at present there was no plan to shift entire border town of Kargil and its villages to some safer places to save people and their properties from continuous Pakistani troops shelling. "It is a very sensitive matter and has to be dealt with very carefully," he said.

Akhoon, who is also NC MLA from Kargil constituency, said Kargil town had been turned into a complete battle field due to heavy Pakistani troops shelling during last few days.

More than 60 shells had exploded in the border town damaging several residential houses in an Army colony, a major explosive depot and other structures. People had fled the town and villages and sought shelter in Sura Valley due to Pakistani troops shelling, he said.

With situation going from bad to worse day by day due to continued Pakistani soldiers shelling, Kargil dwellers have decided to move to international fora to press Pakistan to stop unprovoked and indiscriminate firing on civilian areas in frontier Ladakh region of the State.

Akhoon said "we have decided to move to the United Nations Organisation (UNO) for putting pressure on Pakistan Government to put a full stop to its continued shelling and firing on civilian areas particularly Kargil town."

He said the State Government had already written to International Human Rights Organisations, including Asia Watch, and the Amnesty International to visit the towns affected by the Pakistani troops shelling.

"We wish to live in peace. Why Pakistan is not allowing us to live in peace? our education, development, business,tourism and transport services have almost come to grinding halt due to intermittent shelling every month in these areas", he said.

Although, shelling in civilian areas was against the international laws, but that country continued to break it."That is why we have decided to move to international for a to deal with such law breaker." he said.

Thirteen different villages, Kargil tehsil, Drass block and Batlik areas have been severly affected during last six days of shelling by Pakistani troops. Entire population of Khargu, Kargil town, Hunderman, Kak Sar, Batlik, Bhadgam,Hardas, Chandgund, Harkatu, Shililchey have shifted to safer areas of Suru Valley so far, he said.

More than 40 people were killed, over 100 injured and 87handicapped due to Pakistani shelling during last three year-period, he said. (PTI)

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