Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Sunday, 7 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 07 Feb 2016

50 nations on Indian shores for fleet review
Visakhapatnam, February 6
President Pranab Mukherjee today embarked on Presidential Yacht ‘INS Sumitra’ and reviewed the imposing international parade of fleet at IFR-2016 here where 50 countries across the globe have come together to participate in this show of prowess and preparedness by the Indian Navy.

Mukherjee, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, was accompanied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, among others at the International Fleet Review (IFR). This is the 11th fleet review after Independence and the second international one being conducted in India.

The President was onboard ‘INS Sumitra’ which sailed through a display of 70 ships at anchorage off Visakhapatnam. Speaking after reviewing the fleet, Mukherjee said 50 friendly Navies had sailed across oceans and sent Naval ships and/or delegations to participate in the first IFR on the east coast of India at Visakhapatnam.

“Navies world over have conducted fleet reviews to symbolise their loyalty, allegiance to the nation and strengthening bonds between the sailors and the state. IFR 2016 does that much and much more,” the President said.

“IFR 2016, while focusing on the prowess of Indian Navy, has brought together Navies from across the globe here on Indian shores, signifying our common desire to use the seas to promote peace, cooperation and friendship as also develop partnership for a secure maritime future”, he said.

The review had a combination of ships from Indian Navy as well as frontline Navies from across the globe. The ships from Indian Coast Guard and Mercantile Marine also participated.

In this most formal of naval ceremonies, each ship dressed in full regalia saluted the President as he passed. — PTI
Militant killed in Pulwama gunfight
Yet another policeman disappears with rifle, may have joined militant ranks
Tribune News Service

Srinagar/Anantnag, Feb 6
A former Special Police Officer-turned-militant was killed in a gunfight in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district today. The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant, Raqib Bashir, was killed in a brief gunfight this afternoon.

Elsewhere in the Valley, a policeman decamped with the service rifle of a colleague in Srinagar. He is suspected to have joined militant ranks.

Pulwama Senior Superintendent of Police Tejinder Singh said an operation was launched after receiving inputs that a militant was hiding in Gundpora village.

“As a search was launched, the militant opened fire, to which our men retaliated, triggering a brief gunfight. The militant was gunned down after brief exchange of fire,” he said.

Tejinder Singh said the slain militant had worked as an ATM security guard before joining the police for a day in November last year. He had not decamped with a weapon. Clashes took place between residents and security forces after the killing.

In Srinagar, a policeman decamped with the service rifle of a colleague. He is suspected to have joined militant ranks. The police sounded an alert after the policeman went missing this morning.

Sources said police follower Riyaz Ahmed, a resident of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, fled from the Rainawari police station in Srinagar’s old city along with the rifle of constable Showkat Ahmed. They said Ahmed had been working as office boy at the police station.

“After Ahmed went missing with the rifle of his colleague, we filed a case and started investigation,” said a police official. “Initial investigation hinted that Ahmed might have joined the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen,” he added.

The police raided Ahmed’s house at Khan Sahib in Budgam to locate the absconding police follower, but failed to find him. A few members of his family and friends were questioned by the police.

This was the second incident in Kashmir this year wherein a cop decamped with a rifle. On January 17, Shakoor Ahmed, personal security officer of the Bijbehara Deputy Superintendent of Police, decamped with four AK-47 rifles from the residence of the officer.

Shakoor is believed to have joined militant ranks and is still at large. The police had later recovered two of the rifles that he had taken from Shopian in south Kashmir.

A senior police officer in Srinagar said the trend of policemen escaping with rifles and joining militancy was “alarming”.

Last year, police constable Naseer Pandit, who was posted as security guard to senior PDP leader and then minister Altaf Bukhari had decamped with two AK-47 rifles and joined the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Pandit is associated with the militant outfit and is active in south Kashmir.
In his death, Satara boy makes country proud

On November 17, 2015 Colonel Santosh Mahadik, a highly decorated para-commando of Satara, who was commanding officer of the 41 Rashtriya Riffles, died fighting militants at Manigah forest area in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.

For the second time in the last four months, Satara district of Maharashtra has made the country proud after another son of soil died in the line of duty at the world highest battlefield of Siachen.

Sepoy nursing assistant Suryawanshi of village Maskarwadi in Satara was among the 10 soldiers who were buried under the tonnes of snow and ice after massive avalanche hit their post at the altitude of 19,600 feet in Siachen glacier on Wednesday.

On November 17, 2015 Colonel Santosh Mahadik, a highly decorated para-commando of Satara, who was commanding officer of the 41 Rashtriya Riffles, died fighting militants at Manigah forest area in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.

Of the 10 slain soldiers buried at Siachen glacier, four were from Tamil Nadu, three from Karnataka and one each from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

Indian Army has intensified the operation to retrieve the bodies of the soldiers buried under the mounds of snow and ice. More specialised teams and equipment have been airlifted to the glacier to augment the rescuers at the tragedy site.

"The rescue operation is continuing with additional specialised equipment and teams deployed at the site of avalanche," said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command headquarters.

Indian Army said blocks of snow and ice had fallen on the post burying it very deep into the glaciated area. Heavy snow cutters and major equipment have been pressed into service to clear and cut the ice blocks.

The glaciated area presents temperatures ranging from a minimum of minus 42 degrees in the night to maximum of minus 25 degrees during the day. Specialised teams are braving adverse weather and effects of rarefied atmosphere to locate the bodies.

On Thursday, army declined the offer of help from Pakistani army in rescue mission on the Siachen glacier. More than 140 Pakistani soldiers were killed when an avalanche swept away their camp in Gayari sector of Siachen in 2012.

Situated at the eastern tip of Ladakh, Siachen literally means the Land of Wild Roses. Famous as the highest battlefield in the world, Indian Army is holding posts at unimaginable heights across the largest non-polar glacier in the world. Indian Army has lost hundreds of soldiers to weather vagaries, including avalanches and frost bites, in the last 30 years.

Pakistani army suffered humiliating defeat in 1987 when Indian Army led by Honorary Captain Bana Singh captured their "Quaid" post located at 21,153 feet which was later named "Bana" post.

However, for the last 12 years, the 150 kilometer Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in Siachen, is witnessing calm following the border cease-fire in 2003. Before that the AGPL was a regular battlefield with both armies exchanging artillery and small arms fire to pin each other down.
Despite risk to soldiers, Siachen is vital to India’s security
The death of 10 soldiers in an avalanche at Siachen has brought the spotlight back to the harsh conditions faced by troops at the world’s highest battlefield and also its strategic importance to India.

Islamabad has made repeated demands for demilitarising the glacier invoking the aspect of long-term peace but India has always taken a cautious approach on the issue.

Defence officials say that as long as the glacier is under India’s control, the Pakistani army can’t link up with the Chinese and pose threat to Ladakh. It acts as a wedge between the Shaksgam valley under China’s control and Baltistan, which is occupied by Pakistan.
The Indian Army launched Operation Meghdoot in April 1984 to secure the glacier after Pakistan army occupied the heights at Siachen, a 76-km river of slow moving ice.

Several rounds of talks between India and Pakistan on demilitarising the Siachen glacier --- an old sore in bilateral ties -- have failed with Islamabad refusing to authenticate troop positions on the ground.

In fact, India deployed its soldiers on Siachen after Pakistan began allowing international mountaineering expeditions to the glacier, sending out a signal that it controlled the area. Different interpretations of the 1949 ceasefire agreement by the two countries also aggravated the dispute.
India, which spends Rs 5 to Rs 7 crore daily on guarding the strategic glacier, has deployed around 3,000 soldiers at Siachen where temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees. The location at 19,600 feet where the 10 soldiers died often sees temperatures plunging to minus 42 degrees.

Soldiers have to trek for almost 28 days covering a stretch of 128 km to reach some of the farthest pickets on the glacier, one of the most desolate places on this planet.
Almost 80% posts on the glacier are located above 16,000 feet, with Bana towering above the rest at 21,753 feet. Bana post is named after Subedar Bana Singh who was awarded the Paramvir Chakra for his helping secure the glacier in 1984.

Indian Army has cautioned against withdrawing from Siachen until Islamabad authenticates troop positions on the ground as it would be a formidable task to reclaim the glacier.

India currently occupies dominating positions on the Saltoro ridge with Pakistani posts located 3,000 feet below.

Friday, 5 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 05 Feb 2016

All 10 Siachen soldiers dead
Tribune News Service

Jammu/New Delhi, February 4
All 10 soldiers missing in an avalanche that hit an Army post, located at an altitude of 19,600 feet at the Siachen Glacier, have died.

"Demise of soldiers in Siachen is very tragic. I salute the brave soldiers who gave their lives to the nation. Condolences to their families," Prime Minister Narendra said, confirming the fears about their fate.

“It is with deepest of regrets that we have to state that the chances of finding any survivors are now very remote,” Northern Command spokesp-erson Col SD Goswami said.

With the temperatures in the glaciated area ranging between minus 25 degrees during the day and minus 42 degrees in the night, the rescue teams were braving adverse weather conditions and rarefied atmosphere to locate the survivors, he said.

A ‘wall of ice’ buried the post, a stone bunker bang on the actual ground position line (AGPL), a 109 km-long divide between India and Pakistan, on Wednesday.
Must combat terror jointly: India
Ansari seeks coordinated action by like-minded nations to end menace
Dinesh Kumar in Bangkok
Expressing concern over the “spreading tide of extremism and terrorism”, Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Thursday said such threats required strong cooperation among like-minded nations. He said the need for maintaining safety of sea lanes, which was critical for maritime trade and commerce, maritime security and access to marine resources, continued to assume greater significance as countries in the ASEAN region strived for greater economic integration.

Expanding on the issue, which came for special mention in his speech on “India, Thailand and ASEAN: Contours of a Rejuvenated Relationship” delivered to academics at Chulalongkorn University here, Ansari said, “Non-traditional threats such as piracy, smuggling, trans-national crimes and drug trafficking are on the rise and pose a challenge for our countries and require strong and determined coordinated action.” There was a need, he added, to protect all trade routes and sea lanes of communication from both traditional and non-traditional threats and “all countries using these international waters must act with responsibility and restraint”.

Ansari, who is himself a former diplomat, had a word of advice on tension in the South China Sea. “The evolving situation in the South China Sea demands restraint from all parties. We support collective efforts by ASEAN member states and China to conclude the code of conduct to keep peace and stability in the region,” he said.

Emphasising on the importance of India’s relations with ASEAN, Ansari announced a slew of measures India was taking to deepen relations with this region. These include enhancing the ASEAN-India Science and Technology Development Fund from the current $1 million to $5 million in near future, setting up of an ASEAN-India innovation platform to facilitate commercialisation of low-cost technologies, collaborative research and development projects, implementation of a $21.53-million project on establishment of a tracking and data reception station and data processing facility for ASEAN at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, upgrading the station at Biak (Indonesia) and training ASEAN personnel in space science and technology at Dehradun.

Stating that connectivity with ASEAN in all its dimensions (physical, institutional and people-to-people) continued to be a strategic priority for India, Ansari said special efforts were being made to develop a coherent strategy, particularly for linking ASEAN and North-East India. This means that in some years Indians and residents of ASEAN nations would be able to drive all the way to Vietnam through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia in the east and Singapore via Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia in the south east. Negotiations on the India-Myanmar-Thailand Motor Vehicles Agreement and the ASEAN-India Maritime Transport Cooperation Agreement have already been finalised, while the ASEAN-India Civil Aviation Task Force is expected to oversee optimisation of air connectivity.

Ansari said despite rapid growth of the Indian and Thai economies, bilateral trade and investment remained modest.
879 Army men have fallen to hostile weather at Siachen since 1984
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 4
At the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, hostile weather, icy terrain, sub-zero temperature, low oxygen and high-altitude sickness form a lethal mix, taking a heavy toll on men in olive green than any conflict with India’s arch-rival — Pakistan.

Pakistan has the same story of losing more men to the weather vagaries than skirmishes between the two countries.

As per statistics, 869 soldiers have lost their lives since April 1984 when India initiated “Operation Meghdoot”, airdropping its men to pre-empt a move by Pakistan to occupy the strategic heights.

With 10 more Army men falling to an avalanche, the death toll has now gone up to 879 since 1984.

The Army and the Air Force have been running against time to trace and rescue survivors, if any, among the 10 soldiers who went missing after an avalanche wiped out an Army camp at a height of 19,600 feet on Wednesday morning.

On Siachen’s significance to India and what makes it a dangerous place, Northern Command’s defence spokesperson Col SD Goswami said: “Siachen’s terrain, its strategic location and geographical importance have given it a paramount place in the annals of history. The soldiers deployed on the glacier endure the worst weather conditions throughout the year.

“At times, the troops have to unavoidably take up defences in the areas around steep slopes and crevices, which might send tonnes of snow and rubble crumbling down without any warning and completely obliterate the camps, communication lines, bury personnel and everything else. In such unstable conditions on the glacier, the terrain, climate or altitude can take its toll on anything.”

However, Colonel Goswami added that with rhythm in his steps, faith to serve the nation and prayers on his lips, a soldier goes on his way up to the glacier.

An Army source said that since 1984, the Army had lost 869 of its men at the 76-km Siachen Glacier. A majority of them have died of hostile weather conditions such as avalanches, landslides and floods and in some cases due to the high-altitude sickness, he added.

Indian and Pakistan have been pitted against each other at the Siachen since 1984.

“Loss of appetite, frostbite and high-altitude pulmonary edema (watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body) are some of the diseases to which our men are exposed. There were instances in the past when some of our men contracted Monge’s disease that causes loss of high-altitude tolerance after prolonged exposure, characterised by extreme polycythemia (abnormally increased concentration of haemoglobin in the blood), exaggerated hypoxaemia (abnormally low level of oxygen in the blood) and reduced mental and physical capacity, relieved by descent,” he said.

A defence official said both India and Pakistan had lost more men to hostile weather than conflicts between the two sides on the glacial heights.

“Since 2003, guns have been silent on the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line after India and Pakistan inked a ceasefire in November that year,” he added.

However, a senior Army officer said the past conflicts with Pakistan and China, growing proximity between China and Pakistan via the Karakoram Pass and trust deficit with Pakistan, made strategic Siachen Glacier indispensable to India and it could not afford to withdraw its troops

On an average, India spends Rs 5 crore a day for replenishing supplies to its men at the Siachen.

India controls about two-thirds of the glacier, besides commanding two of the three passes while Pakistan occupies the Gyong La Pass, which overlooks the Shyok and the Nubra river valleys and India’s access to the glacier from Leh district in Ladakh.

Indian soldiers currently hold the strategic Saltoro Ridge which overlooks Pakistani positions.

At 5,472 meters above sea level, the Siachen Glacier is located in the Karakoram mountain range, which has some of the highest peaks in the world. The northern mountains of the glacier mark the watershed between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Bereft of vegetation, the glacier is one of the world’s most inhospitable regions, where the temperature plunges to - 40°C.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 04 Feb 2016

10 missing in Siachen avalanche
Helipad wiped out; rescue ops on as hope fades for Madras Regiment men
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Jammu, February 3
At least 10 soldiers of the Indian Army are missing following a major avalanche on the Siachen Glacier early this morning.

Rescue teams of the Army and the Indian Air Force were sent to the inaccessible spot with specialised equipment as hopes of finding survivors diminished. The rescuers face lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures, which can drop to minus 40°C at night.

The avalanche occurred at an altitude of 19,600 ft when a “wall of ice” buried the post — a stone bunker. A Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and nine soldiers were at the post at the time of the incident, said Northern Army Command spokesperson Colonel SD Goswami.

A nearby helipad, that allows IAF and Army helicopters to land for supplies, was also wiped out. The avalanche occurred in the northern-most part of the 70 sq-km glacier that forms the India, Pakistan and China trijunction.Rescue operations were launched during the day but were called off at about

4 pm as temperatures dipped. “It was risky for the rescue teams. The operations will resume tomorrow,” a senior official said. Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda is supervising the operations.

The Madras Regiment is stationed in the area. Avalanches at such altitudes can be severe. Siachen doesn’t have loose snow and an avalanche involves ice blocks moving down from the heights.

The average altitude in the area is 20,000 ft and even day temperatures are minus 20° Celsius. Indian troops had occupied the glacier in 1984 after fears that Pakistan was trying to take over the area. A 109-km divide between India and Pakistan is called the actual ground position line.

Last month, four soldiers of 3 Ladakh Scouts were killed when their patrol team was hit by an avalanche.

Shoot-at-sight orders at western sector air bases

New Delhi: In a twin-pronged project to protect bases of the Indian Air Force, the Ministry of Defence has issued shoot-at-sight orders against intruders and also asked the IAF to come up with a high-tech security plan for 54 bases across the country. It is expected to cost Rs 8,000 crore.

All air bases in the western sector — Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Rajasthan — have been put on high alert following the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force station. The shoot-at-sight order would apply to any person trying to scale a boundary wall or break in through barbed wires. The second part is infusion of new technology. The MoD has revived a project for a high-tech security system at the perimeter of air bases. — Ajay Banerjee
Details out, OROP to cost govt Rs 7,500 crore more
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 3
The Union Government today issued instructions to allow enhanced pensions to ex-servicemen under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme and also the release of arrears.

The enhanced pension will cost the government an additional Rs 7,500 core per year at current rates and will benefit 18 lakh retired soldiers and war widows.
The Ministry of Defence in its order appended a 204-page list of tables and calculations for each category of pensioners.

The orders on OROP were issued on November 7 last year and the calculations of tables for enhanced pensions were pending, which has been done under today’s instructions.

In case of people who took premature retirement (PMR), the OROP orders would apply only to those who took PMR on or before November 6, 2015, signifying that those who take PMR in future would not be eligible for OROP.

The arrears are for the period between July 1, 2014, and December 31, 2015, and that alone would cost Rs 10,900 crore. About 86 per cent of the total expenditure on account of OROP would benefit other ranks.

The payment of arrears and revision of pension under OROP is to be made by the Pension Disbursing Authorities in four installments, except for family pensioners and pensioners in receipt of gallantry awards who will be paid arrears in a single installment.

The total increase in the Defence Budget for pensions is estimated to go up from Rs 54,000 crore to around Rs 65,000 crore, thereby increasing the defence pension outlay by about 20 per cent.
Prez confers Gen rank on Nepalese army chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 3
In a minor diplomatic coup, India, despite its existing strained relations with Nepal, today conferred Nepalese army chief General Rajendra Chhetri with the honorary rank of General of the Indian Army.

Notably, despite the prevailing irksome issues, New Delhi was keen that General Chhetri visits India first instead of opting to visit China. As India maintains a large hold over Nepal, China has been trying to woo the Himalayan country with sops. This is General Chhetri's first 'port of call' after taking over as chief of Nepalese army in September 2015.

General Chhetri was accorded the rank by President Pranab Mukherjee at an investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

It is a custom and tradition between the Indian and Nepalese army to confer this honour on each other's chief to signify close and special military to military ties. Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh was conferred the rank of General of the Nepalese army in November 2014 when he visited the Himalayan nation.

General Chhetri is on a six-day visit to India. He shall be visiting the Infantry School and Army War College at Mhow and the Artillery School at Deolali wherein he shall be witnessing the training and facilities at Indian Army premier training institutes. During his visit to Lucknow, the General shall be interacting with top military hierarchy of Headquarters Central Command and shall also visit the Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre.
India gets final batch of Mi-17V-5 copters
Russia has handed over to India the final batch of three Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters under a previously signed contract even as it gets ready to ink yet another deal for another 48 such helicopters.

The contract with Rosoboronexport, a company of Rostec State Corporation, entailed a total of 151 units of the Mi-17V-5 helicopter, produced by the Kazan Helicopter Plant, part of Russian Helicopters company.

“India is one of the key markets for Russian helicopters and the largest operator of Russian helicopters in southeast Asia. Today, more than 400 vehicles are operating in the country,” said General Director of the holding company Russian Helicopters Alexander Mikheyev.

Mi-17V-5, supplied to India, are among the most technically advanced helicopters of the Mi-8/17 type. Each Indian Mi-17V-5 has a complex navigation and electronic display KNEI-8. — PTI 


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal