August 2003 News

'4,500 militants poised to enter Kashmir'

17 August 2003
The Daily Times

NEW DELHI: Some 4,500 Islamic guerrillas are waiting to sneak into Indian Kashmir from Azad Pakistani, India's junior Defence Minister Chaman Lal Gupta said on Sunday.'The infiltration from across the border has actually increased this month and 4,500 militants are waiting for an opportune time to cross over,' the Press Trust of India quoted Gupta as saying in Chandigarh. 'But our forces are alert and we are committed to thwart the enemy's designs,' the minister said, without elaborating on the source of his estimates on the alleged size of the contingent.Gupta said he was unsure of Islamabad's 'sincerity in normalising relations with India.'For any peace talks to succeed, it is important that they first dismantle the infrastructure they have created to give a boost to terrorist activities.'They should dismantle the terrorist training camps. The earlier they understand it, the better it will be for the interests of both the countries. Otherwise we will keep our options open,' he said.The accusations came two days after Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee urged Pakistan to end its support to cross-border militancy and boost trade but also offered another olive branch to end hostilities. 'I ask my friends in Pakistan we have fought for 50 years and how much more blood must we shed? We have to combat poverty, unemployment and backwardness,' Vajpayee said in an address during India's 56th Independence Day on Friday. -AFPIndian firm to introduce IHK cell phone serviceSRINAGAR India's state-run phone company will launch cell phone services for the first time in parts of Indian-held Kashmir this month, an official said on Sunday. Mobile phones were banned in Kashmir for years because authorities feared militants might use them to assist their insurgency. Indian Telecommunication Corporation Limited has built the infrastructure to run the service in the region's two main cities, Jammu and Srinagar, said the company's general manager George S Marshal. Registration for 52,000 cell-phone connections will begin Monday, he said. -AP


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