Friday, January 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bid to capture Indian post, 6 shot
Fernandes reviews security arrangements
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah speaks during a meeting
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah (right) speaks during a meeting of high security officials in Srinagar on Thursday. Defence Minister George Fernandes looks on. — Reuters photo

Jammu, January 10
Pakistani troops resorted to heavy firing and shelling in several sectors today at a time when the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, was in Srinagar to review the security scenario at a meeting of the Unified Headquarters where, besides the Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah and several senior functionaries of the Army, police, paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies were present.

In the Pakistani heavy mortar shelling, one child was killed and two civilians were wounded at Kasba village in the Poonch sector. The Pakistani troops used heavy-calibre weapons, mortar guns and small arms to pound Indian border villages at Krishna Ghati and Bhimber Gali in the Akhnoor and R.S Pora areas.

Defence Ministry sources said several houses suffered minor damage. Since yesterday, the Pakistani troops had resorted to firing and shelling at Machel in Kupwara district and Chor Batla in the Kargil sector, besides the Sunderbani area of Rajouri.

The sources said the Indian troops retaliated and damaged several Pakistani bunkers and inflicted some casualty.

Meanwhile, the Defence Minister asked the security and intelligence agencies to remain vigilant and meet any challenge from across the border.

Dr Abdullah was said to have called for bold action against Pakistan for restoring peace. The state also demanded deployment of additional forces so that the areas vacated by the troops following military build-up by Pakistan were not left without security cover.

The Defence Minister was also briefed by senior Army functionaries.

Meanwhile, six Pakistani soldiers were killed and scores wounded when the Indian troops foiled a major attempt by an armoured regiment of the 30 Corps of Pakistan army to capture Chhatri Post along the LoC in the Chhamb sector early this morning.

Highly-placed security sources said here this afternoon that the Pakistani troops, backed by heavy artillery, launched a fierce ground assault at 3.55 am, targeting forward bunkers and isolated communication towers. They rained 82 mm mortar shells for about 45 minutes on frontier Indian positions. Soon after, they opened fire from 105 mm artillery guns and the Regulars could be seen jumping out of their bunkers and crawling towards the LoC, the sources said.

Sensing trouble, the Indian troops opened fire from heavy artillery guns and in the first 30 minutes of the fiery showdown, destroyed three Pakistani armoured personnel carriers (APCs).

The sources said some frontline Pakistani bunkers were blown to smithereens when the troops scored direct hits, killing six Regulars.

A Pakistani fuel oil and lubricants depot caught fire when a shell hit it causing unknown damage to the barracks of the Regulars nearby.

Meanwhile, a report from Srinagar said an activist of the ruling National Conference and six militants were among at least eight persons killed in separate incidents in Jammu and Kashmir since yesterday.

Unidentified gunmen entered the house of Ghulam Hassam Ganai, an activist of the ruling National Conference, at Kalaroos in Kupwara district last evening and shot him dead. One report said Mr Ganai had been kidnapped by the militants two days ago and was killed yesterday near his house.

Three militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, two of them Pakistanis, were killed in an encounter with the security forces in the Achchabal area of Anantnag district in South Kashmir yesterday. They were identified as Irfan and Hyder Ali, both residents of Pakistan, and Mohammad Maqbool, a local militant. A security force jawan was also killed and three were inured in the exchange of fire. Three AK rifles, eight magazines and a wireless set were recovered from the site of the encounter.

One militant was killed and another injured in an exchange of fire with the security forces at Krangsoo near Mattan in Anantnag district of South Kashmir this morning. Two houses were also gutted in the exchange of fire between the militants and the security forces, the police said. The slain militant was identified as Nissar Ahmad Rather, alias Ishtiyaq. Zahoor Ahmad, alias Majid, was apprehended in an injured condition. One AK rifle and two magazines were recovered from the site of the encounter.

A militant of Ansar-ul-Islam, identified as Abdul Ahad Pandit, alias Basit, of the Tangmarg area was killed in an encounter with the security forces near Kunzar today. An AK rifle, three magazines, 56 rounds, four grenades, a carbine and a pouch of carbine were recovered.

One foreign militant of the Lashkar-e-Toiba was killed in an encounter with the security forces in the Kralgund area of Kupwara district yesterday. He was identified as Abu Fida-u-Rahman, a Pakistan national, the police said. An AK rifle, three magazines and 127 rounds were recovered from the site of the encounter.

The militants set off a landmine at Marmat in Doda district of Jammu region today, injuring two policemen.Back


Troops ready, but tanks lack NVDs
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10
Even as the process of “troop mobilisation” has been completed and that for “battle preparedness” undertaken, there is a big question mark over the equipment which is available with the Indian Army to fight a war.

The Army is facing almost a similar situation as it did during the Kargil intrusion with the shortage of sophisticated equipment. Although in high spirits to take on any eventuality, the troops stationed along the borders in the Western sector would be short of some very essential equipment.

According to reports, while a large number of tanks, mostly T-72s, have been deployed along the border in the western sector, but none has the now essential “night vision equipment”. The Army which has the largest inventory of the Russian-made and now indigenously produced T-72 tanks would be at a loss at acquiring targets at night as a result of this shortcoming.

Sources disclosed that the Army had received just a few state-of-the-art T-90 tanks, which although were fitted with the night vision equipment but would fall short of taking on the intensity of attack during the night. India recently received the first instalment of T-90 tanks from Russia and the next lot is not expected soon.

Reports also said that while the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was supposed to have developed the night vision equipment for the tanks, till now it has not been able to do so. The Army had specifically been told that it should not seek the night vision equipment for the tanks from abroad as the DRDO was on the verge of developing one.

But this was in 1988 and in more than 13 years since then, not even one night vision equipment has been produced which would satisfy the Army requirements. The largest tank inventory with the Army continues to remain without this critical equipment which would give it the decisive edge over the enemy even during the night.

Incidentally, India has a clear decisive edge over Pakistan in any field...whether it is the troops, the equipment, the Army, the Air Force or the Navy.

Meanwhile, sources here said that Army had completed the mobilisation of troops along the entire border in the western sector. The troop mobilisation which started after the December 13 attack on Parliament House was completed earlier this week.

Apparently now the troops, specially the strike corps, would be undertaking the exercise for the battle preparedness. According to reports the present exercise will also take a few days and only after that will the troops be ready for an “offensive”, that is, if need be.

With the mobilisation complete, sources said India was also unlikely to withdraw its forces from the “front” in a hurry.

This specially as the government was determined to deal decisively not only with terrorism but also with Pakistan in future possible negotiations.Back

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