Wednesday, May 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM in Jammu, reviews security
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 21
With tension mounting on the Indo-Pak border and the shadow of assassination of senior Hurriyat Conference leader, Mr Abdul Ghani Lone, looming large, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, arrived in Jammu this evening on his three-day tour of the troubled state.

Wearing a grim face, the Prime Minister, accompanied by the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, and senior functionaries of the PMO, including Mr Vijay Goel Minister of States, Mr Brajesh Mishra and Mr Ashok Tandon, drove straight to the Military Hospital where he interacted with those wounded in the terrorist attack on the Kaluchak Army camp on May 14. In the attack 32 persons were killed.

On the airport, the Prime Minister was received by the Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, his ministerial colleagues, senior functionaries of the Army, paramilitary forces, police and the civil administration.

In the Military Hospital, he was briefed about the sequence of events that took place on May 14 and was apprised of the condition of the wounded people.

Mr Vajpayee and the team he is heading drove to Raj Bhavan where he met various delegations of political parties and prominent citizens.

The three main delegations that met the Prime Minister were from the National Conference, the Congress and the BJP. Each political group comprised 10 members.

Mr Vajpayee assured the delegations that in case Pakistan thrust a war, India would give a befitting reply. Mr Vajpayee told several political leaders who called on him here today that if Islamabad continued with its proxy war and forced Delhi to react “it would be a bigger battle inflicting heavier losses to Pakistan than in previous wars.”

The Prime Minister told the Jammu political leaders that India wanted friendly relations with Pakistan but if Islamabad tried to create problems it would meet a suitable reply.

When mediapersons asked the Prime Minister to comment on the war clouds gathering in the sky, he looked the other way. It was the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, who intervened and condemned the attack on Mr Abdul Ghani Lone. He said Pakistan was behind the killing of Mr Lone as it did not want the moderate elements in the separatist camps to join the peace initiative. The Prime Minister had a detailed discussion with the Governor and the Chief Minister during the dinner hosted by Mr Saxena on the security scenario of the state.Back


Army withdrawn from Gujarat
Put on operational status along border
Tribune News Service and UNI

New Delhi, May 21
With tension on the border with Pakistan on the rise, the government today decided to withdraw the Army on duty in the riot-affected state of Gujarat and asked the troops to return to their “operational status” along the border in the state.

The decision to pull back two brigades comprising almost 6000 troops, which had been deployed with the specific purpose of controlling the rioters in the state, was taken by the Army Headquarters in view of the situation on the border in the wake of the May 14 Kaluchak massacre, an Army spokesman said.

The current redeployment would comprise approximately 3000 troops, with a brigade already having been withdrawn.

Two brigades of the Army had been withdrawn from the forward areas and deployed in the state in early March to deal with the law and order situation following the outbreak of communal riots.

Troops engaged in Gujarat were mainly shifted from the desert corps in Rajasthan and now would rejoin their formations.

It said such a redeployment had been undertaken keeping in view the “emerging security scenario after the May 14 terrorist attack at Kaluchak”.

JAIPUR: Soldiers had moved into bunkers and guns were in position on the International Border in Rajasthan in view of heightened defence activity on the Pakistani side, sources said here on Tuesday.

The Border Security Force, the Army and the Air Force were in a state of full readiness in the Sriganganagar, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Barmer districts to thwart any Pakistani misadventure, the sources said.

Intelligence sources in Jaisalmer said Pakistan had moved its tank regiment in the Bikaner-Sriganganagar sector. Pakistani army activity had increased on the border after the May 14 terrorist attack at Kaluchak near Jammu.

The movement of army trucks, tanks and heavy machines on the Pakistani side was visible all along the Western Front, the sources said.Back


George reviews wargames

Bikaner, May 21
Defence Minister George Fernandes, Army chief Gen S. Padmanabhan and Air Force chief S. Krishnaswamy reviewed an awesome display of military firepower at the Mahajan field firing range in Rajasthan today.

Sources said Army guns and fighter aircraft participated in the nearly four-hour exercise, part of “Operation Brahmarishi” which was started last month under “Operation Parakram” in the border area.

Air Force Jaguars and MiG fighters dropped laser-guided bombs on ground targets in a fiery show of military prowess, the sources said. The Defence Minister, Gen Padmanabhan and Air chief Krishnaswamy left for New Delhi by a special plane at around 11.30 a.m. UNIBack

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