Thursday, March 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak troops strengthen positions along LoC
Nine ultras shot in encounter
TNS and agencies

Srinagar, March 21
Nine militants and a special police officer (SPO) were killed and two policemen and a soldier injured in a nightlong encounter at Laru-Mandi in Poonch district of Jammu region.

Our Jammu correspondent reported a major build-up by Pakistani troops at the Line of Control.

Elsewhere in the state, a ruling National Conference activist and two militants were among five killed. Six others, three of them securitymen, were injured during the past 24 hours.

Two militants surrendered along with arms and ammunition in Kupwara while forces averted a major tragedy when they detected and defused a powerful improvised explosive device planted by militants at Tappar on the national highway this morning.

Official sources said troops of the Rashtriya Rifles and the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police sealed the entire Laru-Mandi area late last night when they were informed about the presence of 30 militants in the area. The forces were fired upon heavily by the militants with automatic weapons.

In the ensuing encounter, nine militants, reportedly belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen, Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen and Al Jehad, and an SPO were killed. A soldier and two policemen were injured.

Three rifles, four grenades, a pistol and two remote-controlled devices were recovered from the slain militants.

In another incident, militants hurled a hand grenade at a security picket at Magarmal Bagh, near here, today, injuring six persons, including three securitymen.

Sources said militants shot dead NC activist Mushtaq Ahmad Mir at Kupwara in north Kashmir late last night.

The body of Nazir Ahmad Lone was found at Gantamulla in Baramula district. Nazir was missing for the past three days.

Security personnel gunned down two militants in an encounter at Rajouri late last night, while a woman died in a shootout between militants and the security forces at Mahakund area in Udhampur district last evening.

Jammu: The non-initiation of combat operations against militants, announced by the government of India as part of the peace process have seemingly provided ample opportunity to the Pakistan troops to fortify their positions across the LoC during the past over three months.

Reports reaching here from across the border reveal that after the Pakistani authorities responded to India’s ceasefire by withdrawing half a dozen battalions of the forces from the LoC, Islamabad introduced a three-tier strategy to strengthen border posts and pickets and to step up infiltration of highly trained militants militants into Jammu and Kashmir.

Under the three-tier plan heavy army vehicular movement has been noticed across the LoC. Reports say the vehicles are carrying construction material for raising bunkers in populated border villages from where the Pakistani forces can open fire on Indian posts. These vehicles have been seen carrying heavy weapons for which well-fortified stores have been built.

Sheds have been built at several places across the LoC, right from Kargil to Rajouri where trained militants are lodged before being pushed into Jammu and Kashmir.

The third strategy evolved relates to emphasis on imparting arms training to fresh recruits. Several ‘tanzeems’, engaged in fomenting anti-India hysteria across the border, have been engaged in motivating young boys in the 10-17 age group for joining training camps. “Catch them young”, is the strategy adopted by these “tanzeems’.

After indoctrinating them and motivating them for fighting “jehad” in Kashmir, these young boys are given a month’s training in handling of pistols, assault rifles, grenade and rocket launchers. After training the boys are screened and those physically tough and with a strong mind are sent for three months’ training in handling sophisticated weapons.

During these three months they are taught the art of scaling difficult mountain peaks and alpine forest belts. Some of them are sent to the Afghan border to get training from the Afghan guerrillas in commando strikes.

The increased emphasis on training by the ISI is the outcome of reports by several Afghan rebels fighting in Jammu and Kashmir that since Indian troops are more professional than the erstwhile Soviet forces, it is difficult to fight with them in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani agencies have, therefore, decided to raise a force of rebels who can match swords with the Indian forces.

Reports say Pakistani field commanders have conveyed to Islamabad that they do not foresee any immediate threat from the Indian troops and the current ceasefire period be fully utilised on strengthening the border posts so that in case of any conflict on the LoC, the Pakistani troops could create problems for the Indian forces.

As the Pakistani forces continue to derive advantages from India’s unilateral ceasefire, the Indian troops have been placed in an uncomfortable situation. Most of their time is being spent on carrying our regular patrolling on the LoC to check infiltration and on watching the movements of the infiltrators within the state.

Since November 28, when the ceasefire was forced, till date the rate of elimination of militants has declined while the killing of civilians and Indian security personnel has increased.

According to these reports, not more than 260 militants were killed since November 28 against 537 in the three-month pre-ceasefire period. The killing rate of civilians has increased by 42 per cent. During the three months preceding November as many as 28, 202 civilians have been killed against 300 during the past 110 days. Similarly, the killing of security personnel has gone up by 30 per cent.Back


Bharat Ratna for Lata, Bismillah Khan
Tribune news service

New Delhi, March 21
At a colourful function today, President K.R. Narayanan decorated melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan with the nation’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.

Along with them, five Padma Vibhushan awards were also conferred on renowned sarod player Amjad Ali Khan, a former Director of India Statistical Institute, Dr C.R. Rao, a senior MP from the ruling party of Japan, Mr Hosei Norota, and a chemical engineer, Mr Man Mohan Sharma.

Noted cine artist and a villain of many Bollywood films Prank was also decorated with Padma Bhushan by the President amidst loud clapping from the audience.

Industrialist Rahum Bjaj, cardiac surgeon Naresh Trehan, musician Bhupen Hazarika, media baron Aroon Purie, energy specialist R.K. Pachauri and famous US surgeon Dr Chitranjan Singh Ranawat, who had operated on Mr Vajpayee’s knee, were decorated with Padma Bhushan.

Over two dozen eminent personalities from various walks of life were given Padma Shri by the President.Back

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