Tuesday, January 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Troops won’t be withdrawn: George

Bangalore, January 7
Defence Minister George Fernandes today ruled out the pulling out of troops from the Indo-Pak border despite Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf ordering selective withdrawal of his troops.

Talking to newsmen on the sidelines of the ongoing Eighth Partnership Summit of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here, he said India would continue to build international pressure against Pakistan as part of its diplomatic efforts. However, a deadline could not be set for such initiatives, he said and added that the next course of action could be taken only by those who were involved in such efforts.

He said the diplomatic teams consisting of MPs and former diplomats would begin their world-wide tour in a couple of days. “They will visit all country capitals which matter”.

Mr Fernandes said, “We are not setting any deadline cautiously when there are people within the country who want to make such diplomatic efforts”.

Replying to a question, he said, “We are not pinning hopes on diplomatic initiatives, it is a process”.

He said Pakistan was continuing to say that the extremist activities across the borders could not be described as terrorism. But, the ISI was still calling all the shots, as even a couple of days ago a Pakistani citizen was caught in Siliguri for acting as an ISI agent, he pointed out.

He said the organisations which perpetuated crossborder terrorism were receiving funds in Pakistan. “From where do organisations such as the Lakshar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad get sophisticated weapons which even the Army thinks twice before buying them”, he wondered.

Mr Fernandes said, “Unlike other countries we have borne the brunt of terrorism”. Proxy war had been going on for the past two decades on the western front and for five decades in the North-East.

To a question, he said the flashpoint along the Indo-Pak border had not been reached yet. “Our soldiers are disciplined and are not going to do anything to create a flashpoint. At the moment our men are guarding the frontline and so is Pakistan”. UNI



4 VDC members shot dead
5 Pak soldiers killed in Poonch
Tribune News Service and PTI

Jammu, January 7
At least 10 militants and eight civilians were killed and 16 others were wounded in several militancy-related incidents in the Jammu region today.

According to official reports, militants barged into a house at Sanwa village near Banihal and opened fire on members of a Village Defence Committee (VDC), killing Chattar Singh, Baldev Singh and Bharat Singh, all brothers. They took away two rifles from the slain VDC members. They also hurled a grenade in which 12 persons, including seven women, were injured.

The militants attacked the house of another VDC member and opened indiscriminate firing in which three persons, including a VDC member, were killed and four wounded. Here also the militants hurled a grenade.

In the Budhal area of Rajouri, the militants gunned down two civilians — Bagh Hussain and Nazir Hussain — when they refused to give them shelter and food. At Baglial village of Rajouri, two militants entered the house of Mohammad Azam and demanded food. When he refused, his tongue was cut off by a sharp-edged weapon. As he raised the alarm, the militants fled but were spotted by a patrol party which killed them.

In a fierce gunbattle between foreign mercenaries and the security forces, seven terrorists were killed at Kota village of Mendhar in Poonch district.

A group of foreign mercenaries sneaked into Harlan village of Tathri in Doda district with the purpose of setting ablaze a school building. A local militant, Jaffar, belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen, resisted the attempt but was gunned down. The foreign militants later torched the building.

A report from Srinagar said two employees of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) were killed and three injured when the militants fired at a BRO depot and later set it ablaze in the Jamsalan area of Udhampur district.

Meanwhile, five Pakistani soldiers and one Indian Army jawan were killed in a fierce exchange of mortar and artillery fire in Poonch sector today.

Defence Ministry sources said in the Indian retaliatory firing five Pakistani soldiers were killed and several others wounded. More than six Pakistani bunkers across the Poonch sector were destroyed.

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