|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
June 2, 1999
Military up in arms against 'safe passage' for infiltrators
Another war has broken out, this time with the armed forces and diplomatic corps on one side and the political leadership on the other.
The armed forces and diplomats fear that political talks between Indian and Pakistani leaders will jeopardise the military operations against Pakistan.
The controversy has arisen over the reported statement of Defence Minister George Fernandes that Indian troops are willing to provide "safe passage" to the militants holed up in the mountains in and around Kargil, back to Pakistan.
The diplomats and defence forces have categorically rejected any such proposal. "There is only one way out," declared external affairs ministry spokesman Raminder Singh Jassal, "and that is the armed intruders withdraw immediately before the Indian army encircles them and kills them all."
His counterparts in the army and air force, Brigadier Mohan Bhandari and Group Captain Raja Ram, respectively, voiced the same refrain.
The army today declared that it is seeking to encircle the invaders. This will cut off their supply lines and prevent reinforcements from Pakistan reaching them. "We are making progress in our efforts, and should be able to give a positive report shortly," said Brigadier Bhandari.
Killing the infiltrators will send a strong message across the border about the treatment potential intruders can expect. And by capturing some of them alive, India can win a diplomatic victory, especially since the Indian side is convinced that many of the armed intruders are actually Pakistani soldiers in mufti.
This will also demoralise the Pakistani Army's rank and file, especially if it is perceived that the government in Islamabad was unable to save their colleagues.
But Fernandes has clarified that he had not offered safe passage, but only stated that should Islamabad raise the question, New Delhi would consider it.
The army has claimed to have received intelligence reports that Pakistani soldiers are crossing the Line of Control to retrieve the bodies of the slain intruders. "This is being done because many of these intruders are actually Pakistani regulars and Islamabad does not want the world to find out," said Brigadier Bhandari.
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force has placed on record its gratitude for the support of the people and the Government of India through letters, e-mail and Internet messages appreciating the sacrifices of its officers and men. Squadron Leader Rajiv Pundhir's funeral was attended by 20,000 people.
Lieutenant General (retired) V R Raghavan has warned that any proposal to allow safe passage to the armed intruders would demoralise the armed forces.
INFOTECH | TRAVEL |
BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | WORLD CUP 99
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK