Wednesday, October 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

George warns of strikes on PoK camps
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 16
Defence Minister George Fernandes today did not rule out strikes on terrorist training camps operating across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

While sending a stern warning to Pakistan not to encourage or help the terrorists to infiltrate into India, the reinstated Defence Minister said India would be ruthless in dealing with the infiltrators and the kind of methods being used for it. “ When coming to punishing the enemy, there will be no holding back,” he said while addressing a crowded press conference at South Block here.

In what was also his first interaction with the media after being sworn in again as Defence Minister yesterday, seven months after he stepped down in the aftermath of the Tehelka expose, Mr George Fernandes said “ what it essentially means is that the Army will act very decisively and there will be no holds barred on the retaliatory action”.

When asked specifically whether the ruthless action would also mean strike on terrorist training camps across the LoC, the Defence Minister said, “ exact details of the action should not be disclosed as the others will be prepared for it then”. When urged further the Defence Minister said that the media could make its own interpretation. “ A decision (on crossing the LoC) will be taken only at that time...Everybody can come to their own conclusions.”

On hot pursuit of militants camps across the LoC, Mr Fernandes said, “hot pursuit has not been very clearly defined”, and added that the retaliatory action will always be taken.

The Defence Minister clarified that the action taken by the Indian Army in Akhnoor and Mendhar on October 14 and 15 was punitive in nature and was in retaliation to the attempts of infiltration from across the LoC. He added that the ruthless punitive retaliatory action will continue.

He said yesterday’s action was not without provocation or an attempt to act tough while the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was in the region. “This action of the army takes place on a daily basis on the LoC and the international border (IB).

Mr Fernandes said 30 infiltrators were killed and 11 Pakistani posts were destroyed in the firing by the Indian army last evening. On October 5, in another incident in Mendhar 11 infiltrators were killed.

He said “ severe action against terrorism” as demanded by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah “is a big decision and cannot be taken on the spur of the moment”.

The Defence Minister said there had not been much change on the Pakistan’s deployment of troops on the border since the ceasefire was called off in May. In the background of the Afghanistan situation some troop movements had been noticed, but that was purely defensive in nature.

Mr Fernandes said the recent incidents in Akhnoor and Mendhar proved that Pakistan’s desire to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir had not ended. There had been a lean period only when Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was preparing to come to India.

The Defence Minister said his information was that although terrorist training camps existed across the border the activity there had declined to some extent. He also said that there were some reports of foreign mercenaries based in Jammu and Kashmir going back from the valley and some recruits from within the troubled state returning.


Pak continues firing
Tribune News Service

Indian soldiers keep guard on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. — Reuters photo

Jammu, October 16
Panic has gripped thousands of civilians in the border belt of the Akhnoor, R.S. Pora, Poonch and Rajouri sectors following exchange of fire between the Indian and the Pakistani forces during the last two days. Even today the Pakistani guns roared in the R.S. Pora and Akhnoor sector in which one civilian, Jaswant Singh, and one BSF constable, Abhimnayu, were wounded.

Official reports said the Pakistani forces resorted to unprovoked firing on the Nakowal border village in R.S. Pora where the BSF constable and one civilian were injured.



1 killed, 15 hurt in blast in Kashmir

Srinagar, October 16
At least one person was killed and 15 others, mostly students, were injured in a grenade blast at Kulgam in south Kashmir this evening.

Official sources said unidentified militants hurled a hand grenade on security forces at Kulgam in the south Kashmir district of Anantnag this evening.

However, the grenade missed the target and exploded on the roadside, causing injuries to 16 persons, mostly students.

The injured were rushed to hospital where one of them was declared brought dead. The condition of some of the injured is stated to be critical. UNIBack

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