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August 19, 1999
Congress intensifies attack on government's handling of Kargil
The Congress today released more evidence about the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government's laxity in dealing with the intrusion in Kargil and said the government had credible intelligence inputs about the armed infiltration by Pakistanis even before the Lok Sabha was dissolved.
Charging the Bharatiya Janata Party government with "criminal negligence", Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal, a Rajya Sabha member, said the prime minister failed to take the nation into confidence about the situation even when replying to the motion of confidence in the Lok Sabha in April.
Giving a detailed account of the steady stream of intelligence inputs received by the government since August 25, 1998, when the Kargil brigade commander first communicated preparation for a full-fledged infiltration, Sibal said the government wanted the nation to believe that the invasion came to its notice only in May this year. "This is completely contrary to facts on the ground," he said.
Sibal said Information and Broadcasting Minister Pramod Mahajan had claimed in a television programme that the prime minister came to know of the Pakistani occupation of the Kargil posts on April 6 or 7. This also calls for an explanation, he said, as the twelfth Lok Sabha was still in session at the time.
Sibal said the brigade commander had informed his seniors in the army way back in September last year that 500 Afghan terrorists were undergoing training in Gurikote area across the Line of Control.
He said that in a letter dated August 12, the commander placed a request for satellite imagery, remote patrol vehicle, biweekly winter air surveillance sorties and the latest air photos.
A statement of course for the electronic warfare company was also projected.
A request for helicopters was also made on December 4 last year through a letter (HQ/3/Inf/Dv/0428), according to Sibal.
The additional director general, aviation, specifically agreed to these requests, but nothing was done on the ground. The request for additional troops to patrol Mushkoh Valley and Yaldor was also not heeded.
Instead, despite limited snowfall, troops were withdrawn, leaving the borders unprotected, Sibal charged.
Other than the immediate hierarchy, the various requests were within the specific knowledge of the chief of army staff, vice-chief of army staff, and deputy chief of army staff, Sibal said. These are well documented in the tour notes between January 16 and 22 of 1999.
The government has to answer for the bungling in Kargil, he said. The committee set up by the government to inquire into the circumstances leading to the conflict is not designed to provide these answers. At best it will make some recommendations to tone up security, he said.
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