Friday, Sep 30, 2022

'Not Impressed By Missile Antics'

Transcript of media interaction with the official spokesperson: May 25, 2002.

Ms. Rao: Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.

We have some information from the Defence Ministry  about the encounter with terrorists at Rajouri.

Based on information provided by locals  on the presence of terrorists in village Chhawa in the Rajouri area,  five columns of the army along with the Jammu and Kashmir Police were launched for operation. Contact was established with the terrorists at 1830 hrs on 24 May 2002. One terrorist was killed in the initial encounter and dead bodies of two more terrorists were recovered during the search operation this morning (May 25, 2002). Another terrorist was apprehended while trying to escape.

One must note here that the operation was conducted on the basis of information received from locals, from the civilian population and I think this flies in the face of Pakistan’s claims about the people of Jammu and Kashmir being on their side. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is evidenced by what we saw today, information regarding the presence of terrorists in this particular area was provided by the local people to the security forces.

The details of casualties and recovery in the entire operation are as follows:

Terrorists Killed: 3
Army personnel killed: 1
Army Personnel wounded: 3
SPO of J&K Police Killed: 1

The security forces have recovered 5 AK 47 Rifles, 2 Pistols and 2 Radio sets from the terrorists. Initials investigation revealed that the apprehended terrorist is Anjuman Suhail, a resident of Kotli in POK and he belongs to Hizb-ul-Mujaheedin. He claims to have infiltrated from Kotli in March 2001 and was now apparently part of a group tasked to target a newly constructed Hindu Temple in Rajouri.

Apart from the information I had conveyed to you yesterday about Commissioner Patten’s visit and the very clear message that was expressed by Mr. Patten about the need for Pakistan to move quickly and move meaningfully on the issue of control of terrorist groups and organizations and the fact that India’s patience has been stretched beyond breaking point and the absolute clarity with which Mr. Patten expressed himself about the fact that Pakistan cannot turn on and turn off the terrorist tap and use it as an adjunct to diplomacy, you would also seen the statement of the UN Secretary General which was carried in some of the Indian newspapers today, in which the Secretary General has unconditionally condemned all acts of terrorism and said that there can be no tolerance for such acts especially across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The Secretary General has urged General Musharraf to take vigorous action to ensure full implementation of the policy set out in his speech of 12th January.

So you have seen an increasing level of awareness, heightened level of awareness about the situation that confronts India and the problem created by cross-border terrorism and the need above all for Pakistan to take steps to curb the activities of these terrorist groups and to put an end to such policies.

Do you have anything on the Russian President’s invitation to Prime Minister Vajpayee and Gen. Musharraf for talks?
We have spoken to our Embassy in Moscow and the factual position is that at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg this morning when President Putin was asked a question about the current tension between India and Pakistan he reportedly  stated that, he hoped to meet with Prime Minister Vajpayee and also to meet with Gen. Musharraf at the forthcoming CICA Summit in Almaty. And that he hoped that through such meetings tension in our region could be helped to de-escalate.

Did he not talk about mediation?
No. This is exactly what was stated.

Would you react to Pakistan’s missile test?
You are aware of what we said yesterday. Of course we completely stand by that statement.  It’s difficult to understand how this can be called a technology demonstration because we all know, the world knows, that Pakistan has acquired the technology and the material for its missiles programme clandestinely. There is nothing indigenous about this programme and what you are essentially seeing are the fruits of missile proliferation by Pakistan and its delinquent policies and its clandestine approach to the acquisition of such technology. Today’s firing has demonstrated that and one fails to understand why Pakistan has chosen this moment to deplete one of the readymade missiles in its stock. It could possibly be directed at domestic audiences in Pakistan perhaps, as we said yesterday.

Are you hinting at MTCR?
No, I am talking about the clandestine acquisition. I am not in a business of hinting here, I am just giving you a very clear, unequivocal statement of how we view this event and you would have to read it with our statement of yesterday. We spoke of missile antics and …

You said that, do you think that it is MTCR related?
Well, that is something that has to be examined separately. I am not going into that now and we have to talk with our experts and draw the appropriate conclusions after that but you asked me about the firing today. I don’t even call it a test, it’s a firing of a missile. I have explained to you what our position is.

Are you going to react to the meeting offer by President Putin?
Aap pucch rahen the mere se ki President Putin ne kya kahan hain, to humne uske upar, we have tried to explain it to you.

Will there be a joint meeting of India and Pakistan with Russia?
No, these are separate meetings. These are meetings that he is going to have separately, like it is usual at such summits, aam tor pe leaders ke meetings hote rahtein hain, during such summits.. It is normal for bilateral meetings to take place, bilateral, one-to-one, one side to the other. That is the context in which you should view this. 

Can you tell us about the meeting of Atomic Commission going on in Chennai?
Meeting going on in Chennai? I am sorry this is the Ministry of External Affairs. We haven’t lost our way, have we? No, I am not going to talk about the meetings which fall outside the purview of the Ministry of External Affairs.  

No, I have no information. Maybe you could ask the Defence Ministry about that. But, as I said, everything has to be checked on the ground. If there is a sign hanging out our door at this moment, its "deeds not words." 

What is the nationality of the apprehended terrorist?
He is a resident of  Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and this is based on the  initial investigation that we have conducted.  Initial investigations, I have a report of, I don’t have any further details. But, obviously, as the investigations are completed, we will have more detailed data about this person who is the  apprehended terrorist. This started at 6.30 last evening and it went on to the morning of today.

Any contact between Prime Minister and President Chirac?
I am not aware of it, you mean Prime Minister speaking to the French President. I can check on that.

The missile test carried out was indigenous, according to some reports. Do you agree with that?
Maya, excuse me. One of  the channels today referred to or used the word ‘indigenous’ to describe this firing of the missile. Nothing can be farther from the truth. There is nothing indigenous about this missile that was tested today by Pakistan. That’s a Pakistani claim but lets get the facts straight here and that claim is not borne out by any evidence that we have or the world community has.