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June 1, 1999
Centre failed to act on intelligence warnings
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The Prime Minister's Office was instrumental in suppressing vital intelligence information, which resulted in Pakistan forces occupying Indian positions in the Kargil-Drass-Batalik sector, senior government officials revealed today.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, these officials said agents in the sector had consistently relayed information about the early melting of snow in the high reaches, which was likely to increase chances of infiltration from across the Line of Control.
But the political leadership turned a deaf ear, fearing a quick reaction would create a "war-like hysteria".
The officials also regretted that the body of Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, who was killed in cold blood after bailing out from his aircraft, which was shot down by the infiltrators with a Stinger missile, was not subjected to a post-mortem by an international jury according to the Geneva Convention.
They said Squadron Leader Ahuja's wounds should have been photographed and displayed to the international media to support the Indian Air Force's charge that he was murdered.
Similarly, the identity card of slain Pakistani soldier Abdul Ayub was not shown to the media.
They said the government should publicise as much as possible proof of the presence of Afghan terrorists and Pakistan soldiers in the Kargil sector.
Meanwhile, external affairs ministry officials said they are aware of Pakistan's game plan in sending Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz to New Delhi for talks.
They said the Nawaz Sharief government thinks that by sending Aziz to Delhi, it will be able to get the IAF attacks stopped, so that it can send in more troops and supplies and secure the positions the Pakistanis have captured.
But the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government has refused to fall into the trap, and asserted that while Aziz is welcome to visit Delhi, there is no question of ceasing the air raids until the last intruder is pushed back or destroyed.
The officials said Pakistan has little option, now that the international community has refused to extend any support to its aggression, but to de-escalate the situation by sending Aziz to Delhi.
They said in all probability, India would make the concession of allowing the Pakistani intruders to return unharmed. A precedent for this would be the way the P V Narasimha Rao government handled the seizure of the Hazratbal shrine by terrorists from Pakistan. Then too, the terrorists were trapped in the mosque and starving to death, before they were allowed to escape in a deal to prevent bloodshed in the shrine and its destruction.
The only hitch is that the Indian Army appears to be against such a concession. It wants all the intruders killed or captured.
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