May 1999 News

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Fresh Pak bid to push infiltrators

18 May 1999
Daily Excelsior

As Pakistani shelling continued in these two sectors of North Ladakh, firing of shells and mortars by them started in certain fresh areas during the past 24 hours, they said.

Indian troops inflicted heavy casualties on the militants and Army regulars dressed like local shepherds during the flushing out operations had cut off their supply lines, the sources said. Number of casualty was not immediately available.

Heavy Pakistani artillery fire was reported near Turtuk post in Kargil sector, besides Batalik and Drass areas. However, Indian jawans kept the infiltrators across the Ridge line despite the latter having the advantage of height, the sources added.

In Batalik, operations were on to fully clear the infiltrators from the heights ranging from 15000 to 17000 feet.

Quoting reports from field intelligence units, the sources said there was a heavy concentration of armed Afghans and Pakistani troops in Gilgit and Baltistan areas of PoK across the Kargil sector. Some infiltrators were held up in these mountains and Army was making efforts to drive them out.

They said some of the wireless intercepts were recorded in Han and Pushto languages which is spoken in Gilgit and Baltistan areas.

The road beyond Sonamarg, nearly 100 km from Srinagar, has been closed to traffic as troops apprehended fresh infiltration from Mengandhob, Bishensar and Kishensar areas, they said, adding the situation was firmly under control of the Army.

Army has gunned down 52 heavily armed Pakistan-backed militants and injured many others since Sunday in Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir where they had infiltrated under heavy artillery fire by Pakistan Army since May 9.

The Army has lost nine men in the operation which began yesterday to flush out militants entrenched in four of the seven ridges in the Kargil mountains, the sources said. However, the names and ranks of the Armymen killed has not been disclosed.

So far, 52 bodies of militants have been recovered which included 28 in Batalik, 10 in Kaksar and 11 each in Drass and Muksooh regions, the sources said, adding that while the number of injured militants was high, their figure was being ascertained.

An estimated 350 militants, dressed like local shepherds, had been pushed in by Pakistan Army under the cover of artillery gun fire to which Indian Army had given a befitting response.

The sources said the operation is on to clear the rest of the ridges being occupied by the trained militants.

Meanwhile, an Army spokesman said that fresh attempts were being made by Islamabad to push in more infiltrators from Pak-occupied Kashmir.

Our Jammu correspondent adds:-

Meanwhile, amid continuous shelling from across the border in Kargil sector, Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah this morning flew into the affected town and held a meeting with citizens, representatives of various political parties and officers.

Dr Abdullah reviewed the security situation in the wake of shelling and took stock of measures taken for the safety of civilian population.

Charging Pakistan for violating the recent Lahore declaration, the Chief Minister regretted that the shelling has put a question mark on their sincerity in normalising relationship between the two countries and warned that no power on earth can snatch even an inch of our soil, Pakistan cannot succeed in pushing the infiltrators to unleash violence and destabilise the State. "People of the State have resolved to frustrate their game plan and to maintain amity at all costs,'' he said adding that Pakistan is destined to fail in its proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir which in any case they have lost and therefore stand exposed before the international community.

Lauding the people of Kargil for bearing the brunt of the hostile neighbour, Dr Abdullah hoped they will continue to maintain vigil and face the enemy unitedly. They have behind them the whole nation in defending the integrity and sovereignty of the country. These valiant people are not alone in their hour of distress caused by unprovoked shelling from time to time as the people elsewhere are equally concerned about their safety, he said.

The people affected by the firing will get all possible assistance from the Government, he said and directed the district administration to see how best they are looked after. He said essential supplies would be despatched from Srinagar on priority and all their problems would be taken care of.

Dr Abdullah was accompanied by the Minister of State for Works, Mr Qamar Ali Akhoon, Director General of Police, Mr Gurbachan Jagat and senior officers. MLA Kargil, Mr Mohammad Abbas was also present in the meeting.

The Deputy Commissioner, Kargil briefed the Chief Minister about the situation in the border district and said that about 9000 families of border villages had to be shifted to safer places in the wake of the firing. They are being looked after by the district administration.

Later, the Chief Minister also visited Drass, Batalik, Shankoo villages, Mashku valley besides Gurez and Tilail areas in Baramulla district to review the situation and have on the spot feel of problems faced to the people. A large number of people met the Chief Minister during his tour and apprised him of their problems. He assured of earnest consideration and mitigating their difficulties.

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