News

DATE=6/3/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-250171 TITLE=INDIA / PAK / KASHMIR / L BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: INDIA IS ACCUSING PAKISTAN OF UNPROVOKED SHELLING OF CIVILIAN AREAS INSIDE INDIAN TERRITORY IN KASHMIR. THE ACCUSATION COMES AS INDIAN JETS CARRIED OUT A NINTH STRAIGHT DAY OF ATTACKS AGAINST POSITIONS OCCUPIED BY WHAT INDIA DESCRIBES AS INFILTRATORS FROM PAKISTAN. VOA'S JIM TEEPLE REPORTS INDIAN OFFICIALS ARE NOW SAYING THEY WERE MISQUOTED WHEN THEY WERE REPORTED TO HAVE OFFERED THE INFILTRATORS SAFE PASSAGE BACK TO PAKISTAN IF THEY STOPPED FIGHTING. TEXT: INDIA SAYS PAKISTAN SHELLED AT LEAST FIVE CIVILIAN AREAS WELL INSIDE INDIAN KASHMIR ON THURSDAY. INDIAN AND PAKISTANI ARTILLERY HAVE BEEN EXCHANGING FIRE ACROSS THE KASHMIR BORDER FOR SOME TIME, BUT INDIAN COMMANDERS SAY THURSDAY'S SHELLING WAS UNPROVOKED AND AIMED AT CIVILIAN TARGETS. SENIOR INDIAN OFFICIALS NOW SAY THEY NEVER OFFERED THE INFILTRATORS SAFE PASSAGE BACK TO PAKISTAN IF THEY QUIT FIGHTING. RAMINDER JASSAL, THE SPOKESMAN FOR INDIA'S MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, SAYS TOP LEADERS IN INDIA WERE MISQUOTED WHEN THEY SUGGESTED THE INFILTRATORS COULD BE GIVEN SAFE PASSAGE BACK TO PAKISTAN. // INSERT JASSAL ACTUALITY // THE PRIME MINISTER HAS BEEN MISQUOTED JUST AS THE DEFENSE MINISTER WAS QUOTED OUT OF CONTEXT. ALLOW ME TO EMPHASIZE, THERE IS NO QUESTION OF SAFE PASSAGE TO ARMED INTRUDERS THAT HAVE COMMITTED AGGRESSION. // END ACTUALITY // COMMENTS MADE BY PRIME MINISTER ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE ON WEDNESDAY REGARDING SAFE PASSAGE BEING GIVEN TO THE INTRUDERS PROVOKED A STORM OF PROTEST IN NEW DELHI ON THURSDAY. SEVERAL SENIOR RETIRED OFFICERS SAID THE PRIME MINISTER'S STATEMENT WOULD DEMORALIZE SOLDIERS AND AIRMEN FIGHTING IN FRIGID CONDITIONS IN KASHMIR. REPRESENTATIVES OF ISLAMIC MILITANTS FIGHTING IN KASHMIR ALSO REJECTED THE REPORTED OFFER OF SAFE PASSAGE, SAYING THEY ARE NOT GOING TO QUIT FIGHTING. INDIAN COMMANDERS CONTINUE TO INSIST PAKISTAN IS DIRECTLY HELPING THE INFILTRATORS, WHOM THEY DESCRIBE AS AFGHAN MERCENARIES. COMMANDERS SAY PAKISTANI ARMY REGULARS ARE IN SOME CASES FIGHTING ALONGSIDE THE INFILTRATORS, ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE YET TO FURNISH DOCUMENTARY PROOF SHOWING THIS TO BE THE CASE. // OPT // COMMANDERS ARE ALSO DEFENDING THEIR TACTICS. ARMY BRIGADIER MOHAN BHANDARI SAYS FIGHTING IS TAKING PLACE AT HEIGHTS OF FOUR THOUSAND METERS, AND THAT IS WHY IT IS TAKING SO LONG TO DISLODGE THE INFILTRATORS. // INSERT BHANDARI ACTUALITY // ANY MOVEMENT IN THAT RAREIFIED ATMOSPHERE, WHERE THERE IS VERY LITTLE OXYGEN, IS DIFFICULT. IT TAKES TIME TO BREATHE AND MANUVER. THEREFORE IT TAKES TIME. // END ACTUALITY // // END OPT // MEANWHILE, AN INDIAN NEWSPAPER SAYS THE INDIAN ARMY IS ABOUT TO COMPLETE A DEAL TO PURCHASE SPARE ARTILLERY SHELLS FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN COMPANY. THE INDIAN EXPRESS NEWSPAPER REPORTS STOCKS OF THE TYPES OF SHELLS USED IN KASHMIR ARE RUNNING LOW, AND THE DEFENSE MINISTRY IS BUYING 25-THOUSAND 155-MILLIMETER SHELLS FOR INDIAN HOWITZERS. THE INDIAN EXPRESS SAYS THE GOVERNMENT ALSO PLANS TO BUY SPARE SHELLS FROM OTHER FOREIGN COMPANIES BASED IN ISRAEL AND RUSSIA. ACCORDING TO THE NEWSPAPER, DOMESTIC PRODUCTION OF ARTILLERY SHELLS HAS BEEN PUT ON HOLD BECAUSE OF DIFFICULTY OBTAINING SPARE PARTS. THE SHORTAGE IS THE RESULT OF SANCTIONS IMPOSED BY THE UNITED STATES LAST YEAR FOLLOWING INDIA'S NUCLEAR TESTS. (SIGNED) NEB/JLT/LTD/KL 03-Jun-99 10:06 AM EDT (1406 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .