|HOME | NEWS | THE KARGIL CRISIS | REPORT|
June 5, 1999
Army produces evidence of Pak intruders
Chindu Sreedharan in Srinagar
The Indian Army on Saturday produced evidence to back its claim that the intruders it is currently fighting in the Drass-Batalik region are regular Pakistan Army troops.
Identity cards, weapons issued by the Pakistan army, and other documents were on display at a crowded press conference in Srinagar. These were recovered from three intruders killed in action in the Batalik sector on June 3.
The documents showed the three as belonging to the Pakistan Army's Northern Light Infantry- Lance Naik Mirbaz Khan and Sepoy Saib Khan of 4 NLI and Sepoy Mehboob Ali of 3 NLI.
It is the NLI that defends Pakistani positions along the Line of Control in the affected area.
"They were killed six, seven km inside on our side of the L0C," Brigadier Ashok Chopra of 15 Corps, Srinagar said. "We also recovered two G-3 rifles and an MG-3 machinegun from them," he added.
The bodies, which were not shown to the media, would be handed over to the Pakistan army at the border at "an appropriate time."
The recovered weapons had the marking POF -- for Pakistan Ordinance Factory.
Meanwhile, the casualties on the Indian side, as per official figures, have reached 281-- 51 killed, including four officers and four junior commissioned officers, and 230 injured, of whom around 25 per cent are in serious condition.
Fourteen personnel are missing in action.
Unofficial reports, however, place the dead near 60 -- a few of the missing have been killed and can be seen lying on the snow, but heavy firing makes it difficult to recover their bodies.
Brigadier Chopra said the areas of firefight were Yaldor, Maskio, Drass and Batalik. He claimed there was no front open now in Turtuk and Chorbotla.
"Our troops are sitting on the LoC there," he said, "there had been some intrusion but we have pushed them back."
Reluctantly answering questions on the success of Indian troops, he said in Drass and Masko, the army was "still in the process of advancing". Supply lines had been cut off from one direction.
In Drass, the intruders had been pushed back some four to five km from the ridges near the Sringar-Leh road where they had been earlier positioned.
"They are sitting at heights overlooking the highway," the brigadier said.
In Batalik, however, the intruders were ''very far from the road'' and could not observe it.
"The objective of the operation seems to be to cut the road off from the Ladakh region," the brigadier said, adding, "we are sitting behind them in some areas. Now it is a question of clearing them."
Asked whether the Indian troops had violated any part of the LoC during its operations, the brigadier replied in the negative.
He also denied media reports that the Indian Air Force had used napalm against the intruders. Such reports, he said, were "absolutely incorrect."
And how long would it take to sanitise the area?
"The operation will take time," the brigadier replied.
Till when? September? December? Before the Srinagar-Leh road closed for the winter?
The brigadier refused to comment on that
For the first time in 11 days, no air strikes were carried out on the heights occupied by the intruders, but this was because the army plans for the day did not envisage attacks by the IAF fighter planes and helicopter gunships.
Asked whether the Kargil sector had been barred for journalists because a major assault was expected, Brigadier Mohan Bhandari, deputy director of military operations, said in New Delhi he was not aware of any such ban.
He said according to his information the Srinagar-Kargil highway was open to civilians.
However, a Srinagar report said mediapersons had been banned from the sector because of ''operational reasons.''
''I think it's your guess,'' Brigadier Bhandari said when asked if a major attack had been planned by the Indian Army.
Brigadier Bhandari said the number of intruders killed was still being assessed by the army.
While the army has been maintaining that 400 intruders have been eliminated, a senior officer in Srinagar said today that 200 had been killed so far.
He said reliable intelligence inputs indicated there was growing disgruntlement among the infiltrators who were willing to surrender positions because of severe logistic problems.
Group Capt K Rajaram, joint director of air operations, said the air strikes had not been suspended altogether. Today, the planes did not take off because there was no need.
Denying that air attacks had been hampered by bad weather or were suspended, he said all the attacks were conducted in conjunction with the army.
If the army reached a point where air strikes were not required or could hamper their operations because of proximity of troops, then air operations would be put off.
Brigadier Bhandari said he was not aware of reports that eight helipads had been built by the intruders on the Line of Control.
Additional reporting: UNI
BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | WORLD CUP 99
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK