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May 17, 1999
Kargil commissioner, police chief have a narrow escape
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Kargil's district magistrate and police chief escaped unhurt when Pakistani shells hit their official residences in the otherwise deserted town today. No one was injured in the shelling.
Pakistani troops targeted the town again this morning, raining shells on it. Two shells hit the heavily guarded houses of the deputy commissioner and the senior superintendent of police. The houses were damaged.
This is the first time Pakistani shells have hit the area of Kargil where top government officers are housed.
Both the SSP and the deputy commissioner had taken shelter in underground bunkers built near their houses just before the attack as shelling had intensified through the day.
"Their timely retreat to the bunkers saved them", a police officer told Rediff On The NeT.
In view of the continued heavy shelling of Kargil and Drass, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah cancelled his visit to the affected areas.
The situation was reviewed at a high-level meeting in the state capital presided over by Abdullah and attended by Chief Secretary Ashok Jaitley and Director-General of Police Gurbachan Jagat.
Abdullah directed the officers to provide relief to the affected populations of Kargil and Drass which have fled to Sanku village.
But a Kargil resident reached by telephone from Srinagar said those camping at Sanku are facing hardships as they have no rations and there is a scarcity of essentials.
Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Khurshid Ahmad Ganaei told Rediff On The NeT that efforts are being made to provide free rations to the locals.
"I have directed the deputy commissioner to visit Sanku and provide all possible support to the people," he said.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer in Srinagar admitted for the first time that in the week-long fighting on the Line of Control near Kargil, 25 intruders and 10 Indian soldiers were killed.
This morning several shells hit Kargil and Drass. A resident of Kangan on the Srinagar-Kargil highway said reinforcements are on the way to the towns.
He said army convoys carrying supplies and additional troops were seen driving up the highway. But no military officer was available to confirm this.
A senior police officer in Srinagar said a massive operation continues at both Drass and Kargil to flush out militants. But he said it could take some more time to remove the terrorists from Batalik and Drass. "The forces can easily tackle these intruders, but the terrain is difficult. We will neutralise them at the earliest," he promised.
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