May 1999 News

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Pak bid to capture road link in Kargil foiled

21 May 1999
Daily Excelsior

IMPHAL, May 21: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today asserted India would take firm steps to prevent infiltration by Pakistani troops in the Kargil sector, which has seen large-scale infiltration from across the border.

The Indian Army is fully equipped to deal with the problem and would flush out the infiltrators, he told reporters here.

People in Kashmir are fed up with violence and militants are now being brought in from outside to the state, he said, adding local people are no longer supporting them.

Referring to insurgency in North East, the Prime Minister appealed to ultras to participate in dialogues for peaceful solution to their problems.

If there is violence, it has to be brought under control, Vajpayee said during his discussions with the Chief Minister and security officials on Manipur situation adding, he felt people in general wanted peace in the region.

Our Special Correspondent and agencies add from New Delhi:- India today asserted that all necessary action will be taken by the armed forces to put an end to intrusion by heavily-armed Pakistani-backed militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil sector where the Army has gunned down at least 73 terrorists in the last one week.

All necessary action will be taken by the armed forces to complete their task of putting an end to this intrusion (which began on May nine). Pakistan should be aware from its own experience that such foolhardy ventures against India can never succeed, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said here.

In a strongly-worded statement, he said this was yet another instance of Pakistan’s persistent efforts to send terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC) in pursuit of its designs in Jammu and Kashmir.

We call upon Pakistan to observe its obligations under the Simla agreement, in particular, to desist from violating the International Boundary and the LoC in J and K, the statement said.

Defence sources said while 73 terrorists had been killed and several injured in a massive operation to clear the 16,000-18,000 feet high mountain in the Kargil sector occupied by them, the Indian Army had lost 16 personnel since the offensive began.

The Army has achieved substantial success in combating the Afghan-type of operations directed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in a bid to revive militancy and take-over the vital road link to Leh passing through Kargil region.

Heavy artillery exchanges and mortar firing continued today between Indian and Pakistani armed forces, the sources said while expressing confidence that an estimated 300 militants would be neutralised soon.

Armies of India and Pakistan exchanged heavy artillery fire for more than one hour close to the Siachen glacier in Ladakh, according to a message received here on Friday. The message said that Indian forces returned fire after Pakistanis resorted to heavy shelling on two Indian pickets.

The Pakistani shelling in the Siachen glacier area, according to Indian defence analysts, assumes importance at a time when four to five companies of armed infiltrators from across the border had moved into the Indian territory beyond the Zojila section to capture certain positions under Indian control.

And, significantly, at a time when majority of these intruders appeared designed to gain control of certain tactically important terrain, particularly of the national highway between Drass and Leh, Pakistani military leadership allowed disturbing scenario along the Indo-Pak border, namely, shelling by Pakistani forces in Tulail, Keran and Uri sectors for third consecutive day on Friday.

Pakistan-aided infiltrators and terrorists have failed to dislodge Indian border guards from three high-altitude posts in Kargil sector of Ladakh, even as strong batches of armed men from across the border successfully manipulated their undetected entry into the Indian territory before the outbreak of clashes between the armies of the two countries hit the headlines .

The fierce battle between the Indian troops and Pakistani and Afghan infiltrators, which has resulted in heavy casualties, was triggered soon after Indian field intelligence units (FIUs) reported the "capture" of certain pockets by the Pakistani troops in Kargil sector. A top Government source divulged here on Friday that the unexpected "thrust" from the Pakistani troops and infiltrators a week ago had put the Indian side at a "disadvantage".

The answer from the Indian troops, the source explained, had to be "thunderous" as the Pakistani shelling killed "quite a few of our men". The source, currently working in the Defence Ministry, justified the attempt by Lt Gen Krishan Pal, GOC of 15 Corps, to avoid doling out the correct information about the killings on the Indian side. The source said that while the Indian side lost more than two dozen men, casualties inflicted on the Pakistani side were quite heavy, in the neighbourhood of 80. This also included about 15 Pakistanis who got killed in the wake of the operations by the Indian Army on Thursday and Friday against Pakistani infiltrators.

The source said that even as Pakistani troops and infiltrators "have now been put at a disadvantage" as a result of the operations by the Indian troops, Pakistani shelling on Indian forces and their formations at least four pockets in Kargil sector continued for the 13th day on Friday. And while the sound of gunfire by Pakistani troops triggered a sharp reaction from the Indian side, the defence authorities in the equally sensitive and strategic Leh sector of Ladakh were directed by New Delhi to set in motion the mechanism for tracking down the ISI-sponsored intruders.

The directive was issued after intelligence sleuths informed the Ministries of Defence and Home that an unspecified number of infiltrators from across the line of control (LoC) had managed to sneak into some pockets of Leh sector. The directive assumes significance in the context of two developments – one, Pakistan-controlled media having chosen to step-up propaganda in support of Pakistani offensive in Kargil sector and, second, the disclosure by two captured infiltrators about the ISI’s plan to include Leh tehsil also in its anti-India scheme of things.

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