|Wednesday, January 26, 2000,
men to keep vigil
Power position in valley to
Travails of border
to hand over soldiers' bodies
20,000 men to keep vigil
JAMMU, Jan 25 More than 20,000 men of the police, paramilitary forces and the Army have been deployed at different places in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure incident-free Republic Day functions tomorrow.
Hundreds of civilians have moved to safer places from areas around the Bakshi Stadium, Srinagar, following circulation of hand bills directing people to leave their houses as the militants plan to carry out major operations to disrupt Republic Day functions. Similarly scores of police checkposts have been set up at various focal points in Jammu city where all types of vehicles were being thoroughly checked to prevent militants from carrying arms and ammunition from one place to the other.
More than 20 checkposts have been set up on the 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. Even cars carrying senior government officials were being stopped for checks.
The sprawling Maulana Azad Sports Stadium, the venue for the Republic Day function has been ringed by several hundred men from the police and the paramilitary forces. Over two dozen police and Army commandos have been deployed within the stadium to meet any challenge from the Fidayeen. The Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, is scheduled the unfurl the National flag here.
Both the sports stadia in Srinagar and Jammu have been kept out of bounds for the civilians, including the sportsmen during the past three weeks.
The state Government arranged special couriers to deliver the invitation cards to political leaders, senior citizens and officers as the state employees have gone on strike.
As a result of this strike there have been no pre-Republic Day functions in the educational institutions. My men have been really over-stretched during the past 15 days to ensure incident-free Republic Day function in the Jammu sports stadium, said a senior police officer.
He admitted that the fear of Fidayeen strike has kept the forces on the tenterhooks. We have accepted the challenge.
Another senior officer said he had been taking his children to witness Republic Day celebrations at the Maulana Azad stadium regularly during the past eight years, but I have decided to go alone this time. He too seemed to have been scared by the reports that Fidayeen had sneaked into Jammu to disrupt the Republic Day functions.
However, senior officers of different security agencies dismissed the threat from Fidayeen as hollow. They said arrangements have been made to eliminate any militant who tried to strike at any vital government installation or attempted the disruption of the Republic Day celebrations in Srinagar and Jammu.
One thing is certain that peoples participation in the sports stadia functions in Srinagar and Jammu will be thin because of inclement weather and the fear of Fidayeen.
Following Fidayeen strike at an Army unit in Tattoo grounds the city of Srinagar today wore a deserted look. Most of the shops remained closed and the majority of people remained indoors. Reports said tomorrow also people would prefer to stay indoors.
Srinagar Police sources confirmed the arrest of over 120 youth from different localities adjacent to the Bakshi stadium.
At a high-level meeting, presided over by the Inspector General of Police, Kashmir range, Dr Ashok Bhan, security arrangements were reviewed.
Security forces have taken positions in houses from the Ram Bagh bridge to Sarai Bala on the Indira Gandhi Airport road running parallel to the Bakshi stadium. Red flags have been hoisted by security forces in the residential areas.
The Works Minister, Ali Mohammad Sagar, who has been camping in the winter capital for the past few days, is scheduled to take the salute at the Bakshi stadium tomorrow. Other ministers and MLAs representing various constituencies including the major district headquarters towns in the valley, are also camping at their respective places to unfurl the Tricolour and take the salute tomorrow.
Power position in valley to
SRINAGAR, Jan 25 With the erection of the damaged 400 KV tower at Wagura near here, power supply is expected to improve by tomorrow.
There has been a 22-hour power cut in the valley since January 14 last following disruption in power supply lines from the northern grid at Qazigund damage to a 400-KV tower at Wagura on the next day. The consumers are getting only two-hour power supply daily at irregular intervals after damage was caused to these lines.
The power breakdown was caused due to disruption in the 220- KV Kishanpur-Pampore line and 132-KV Udhampur-Srinagar transmission line because of a blast of one special 220-KV tower near Qazigund on January 14. This deprived the valley of 230 MWs of power being brought from the northern grid. The power availability further worsened the next day later with the blast at a 400-KV tower at Wagura, which disrupted the supply of 150-KV of power from the Uri project. Thus, the valley with a peak hour consumption during winter months of 750 MWs was left with only 85 MWs. Out of these only 55 MWs were available for the public as the remaining 30 MWs were required for essential supplies like hospitals, water supply and security set up.
According to an official spokesman, the damaged tower at Wagura has been temporarily restored enabling the authorities to provide additional 150 MWs to the consumers in the valley.
The Power Grid
Corporation of India had started restoration work on the
damaged tower near Wagura last week. Reports said that
power supply to the adjacent areas of the area, that was
suspended due to the damage of the 400-KV tower, has been
restored. Power may be supplied to other parts of the
area by tomorrow.
Travails of border villagers
PALLANWALA, Jan 25 Fear is writ large on the faces of over 10,000 residents who had fled this border village to take shelter in camps. These migrants shiver in tattered tents on the school premises at Devi Pur and other adjoining areas because of cold wave conditions and terror of the Pak mortar shelling.
These 10,000 persons had returned to their villages recently after over seventh months when they found that there was lull on the border. "We had started arranging things in our houses which had remained locked for over seven months when we had to run for safety following renewed heavy shelling in and around this village", said Nasib Singh.
He and Nishkant Kumar said on Saturday night "our deep slumber was broken by the roar of medium machine guns (MMGs) and mortar shells. We ran to the backyard of our houses and fled to safer places in the morning".
Budhi Singh said: "We have been experiencing these travails for the past eight months. We have witnessed three wars. We were displaced but for a brief period. This time we have been suffering from penury, poverty and miseries in camps."
Brig Jasbir Singh said: "Our troops did not cross the LoC. The Pakistani soldiers made an attempt to storm one of our posts after violating the sanctity of the LoC which is evident by the way their five armymen were killed deep in our territory."
He warned the enemy that "if they repeated the LoC crossing they would get a befitting reply and Pakistan would be responsible for the consequences that might flow from the retaliation.
Right from Devi Pur up to the last border village of Panjtoot fields have become barren. The government had offered free seed and other assistance to the farmers for carrying out cultivation but the assistance was refused on the plea that whatever crop they would raise would be eaten up by the cattle who continued to move freely when their "masters and owners" had fled.
At least six villages, including Pallanwala and Panjtoot, present a ghastly picture. The small village roads are deserted and so are the long rows of houses. The only movement seen is that of Army vehicles and the cattle who were untethered after their owners fled the villages.
A few youth were seen moving from the camps to their villages to check whether their domestic goods were safe. Others were found hurriedly milching their cattle to run back and feed their children in the camps.
Nasib Singh was critical of the Central Government. He said "Let the Centre think about our permanent rehabilitation. We have not received any help from the government for the past eight months."
He said: "The Government of India should talk to Pakistan and force Islamabad to keep its guns silent."
As he was conveying his anguish the rattle of MMGs and mortar shells disturbed his sequence of sentences. He shouted: "is it possible for us to live under the shadow of gun and mortar fire?"
One police officer said in the past three days Pakistani forces had tried to destabilise peace by pounding border villages not only in the Akhnoor sector but in the R.S. Pora belt too. He said Pakistani forces had again violated the agreement they had reached with the BSF in Lahore in October on what is called ceasefire.
He said lull on this side of the international border had encouraged farmers to carry out farming operations in several hundred villages since October but the renewed intermittent firing from across the border had forced the cultivators to suspend their work.
Many villagers, who have
fled to safer places, wonder as to how long they would
have to suffer like this. More than 10 civilians have
been killed and 40 others wounded in the past over one
year in the Akhnoor sector due to Pak shelling.
India to hand over soldiers'
JAMMU, Jan 25 Following a request by Pakistani officials India has agreed to hand over the bodies of five Pakistani Armymen killed in the Pallanwala sector on Sunday.
Official sources said that the two sides were finalising the modalities for the handover of the bodies. Indications are that the bodies may be hand over to Pakistani Army authorities on January 27 either at the octroi post in R.S. Pora or at a border post in the Akhnoor sector.
Pakistan had blamed the Indian troops at violating the sanctity of the LoC and said that in the Indian attack two Pakistani soldiers were killed and five other Armymen were missing.
But the Indian side insisted that its troops had killed five Pakistani who had attempted to attack Nadyal post and the bodies of the slain soldiers were with the Indian Army, Islamabad has had to accept India's version on the border skirmish in Pallanwala.
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