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|May 17, 1999||
J&K CM cancels Kargil visit
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has cancelled his visit to the Kargil and Drass sectors in view of the uninterrupted Pakistani shelling.
Sources said that the Kargil situation would be reviewed at a high-level meeting in Srinagar today. The meeting would be presided over by the chief minister himself.
A senior police officer admitted for the first time today that in the week-long offensive on the Line of Control at Kargil, 25 Pakistani infiltrators and 10 Indian soldiers had been killed.
Several shells hit Kargil and Drass this morning. However, the local army public relations officer refused to comment.
Meanwhile, the state government has launched a major exercise to shift over 8000 residents from 11 villages in the Drass sector. Tension has gripped the villages of Deras, Chokiyal, Ranbirpora, Tasar, Tandrass, Bambat, Goshan and other adjoining areas following large-scale migration and uninterrupted shelling.
The migration began on Friday, and several of the initial batches had taken refuge in the villages on the banks of river Mushko. However , these villages had also been shelled forcing the local district administration to shift the residents to village Sanku, 40 kilometres from Kargil. Sanku had already accommodated 10,000 Kargil residents.
Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmad Ganaei told Rediff On The NeT that buses and trucks have been sent to Drass to bring the people to Sanku.
"We want to shift them safely. However, it will take us some time as the road from Drass and Kargil is not safe in view of the intermittent shelling from across the border," he said.
While some Drass residents were migrating to Zojila, others were fleeing towards the Kashmir valley, he said.
He said 200 tents were being sent to Drass to set up a temporary camp initially for 1200 residents. He said that more tents would be rushed to the area.
The army has been requested to help in moving the people to safer places, he said, admitting that the residents had been suffering a great deal due to the Pakistani shelling.
He said the assistant commissioner (revenue) and senior police officers had managed to reach Chokiyat today. They are overseeing the transportation arrangements, he said.
Deputy Inspector General of Police P L Gupta is also rushing to Kargil in view of the mounting tension.
Official sources said that heavy fighting was continuing in Batalak near Kargil. They, however, declined to disclose details.
The army said that a group of heavily armed militants tried to sneak into India last week but were encircled by an infantry brigade. The army is using helicopters and has air-dropped commandos to tackle the intruders.
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