AFSPA removal figures in Parrikar-Mufti meeting
Tribune News Service
Srinagar, May 22
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had an extensive review of the security _situation in the border state of Jammu and Kashmir grappling with infiltration and recruitment of youth into ranks of militant groups.
Parrikar, who is on a two-day visit to the state, met Governor NN Vohra, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Corps Commanders of 14 and 15 Corps. Parrikar also visited the Siachen base camp, his first visit to the world’s highest battlefield. He was accompanied by Army Chief General Dalbir Singh and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command Lt Gen D S Hooda.
The controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was also discussed during the meeting between Mufti and Parrikar, sources said. Prior to meeting Mufti, the Defence Minister also met the Governor.
“The Governor and Parrikar discussed various important matters relating to effective management of internal and external security, particularly in the backdrop of infiltrations from across the International Border in the past one-and-a-half years and more recent encounters in the Valley,” an official spokesman said.
Parrikar later met Mufti Sayeed and the two leaders discussed the political and security issues as mentioned in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) which works as roadmap for the PDP- BJP alliance.
“All the issues of the CMP, including AFSPA, were on the table during the meeting between the two leaders,” said a PDP minister.
In the programme, the PDP and the BJP had suggested a way forward on the controversial AFSPA by denotifying the Disturbed Areas Act in phases. While the PDP was in favour of the removal of AFSPA, the BJP was against any such move.
An official spokesman said the Chief Minister also requested the Defence Minister that Tatoo Ground in Srinagar be vacated by the Army so that civic facilities could be developed there.
Parrikar began his tour by visiting the Siachen base camp in Ladakh .
"The minister was briefed by General Officer Commanding, 14 Corps Lt Gen B S Negi, on the overall security situation in Ladakh region along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the Chinese side and Line of Control (LoC) on the Pakistani side,” sources said.
Lashkar, Pak flags waved at separatist rally in Srinagar
Tribune News Service
Srinagar, May 22
Flags of Pakistan and militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba were waved at a demonstration on Friday in Srinagar’s old city. The rally ended up in clashes between stone-throwing protesters and security forces personnel as separatists held a series of protests in the region.
The white and black flag of Lashkar and the green and white of Pakistan were waved by protesters outside Jamia Masjid in the Nowhatta locality of the old city here, immediately after the mid-day weekly congregational prayers ended.
The protesters marched from the mosque premises and attempted to move out to the road when they were intercepted by a heavy posse of police and central paramilitary personnel leading to clashes in the locality.
The police and paramilitary personnel fired smoke shells to disperse the crowd, which was attempting to march to the nearby office of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s Awami Action Committee, an eyewitness said.
Mirwaiz Umar, who heads the moderate Hurriyat Conference, continues to remain under house arrest for the past two days after he was barred from commemorating the 25th anniversary of his father Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq.
The moderate separatist amalgam in its statement condemned Mirwaiz Umar’s detention and described it “insulting to the religious sentiments” of the people.
The waving of militant and Pakistani flags, though not rare in Kashmir, came into focus last month after one such incident led to the arrest of hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam.
In several demonstrations over the recent years, protesters have also waved the black flags of the Al-Qaida and the Islamic State which had led to detentions and police investigations. A separate demonstration was also held by members of the hardline Hurriyat faction of Syed Ali Geelani, who also continues to remain under detention, to protest against the sentencing of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
Another demonstration was held by separatist outfit Kashmir Tehreek-e-Khawateen of Zamrooda Habib, who demanded that Kashmiri prisoners in jails outside should be transferred to prisons here.
IAF gives ‘VIP touch’ to Mi-17 choppers
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 22
With the Mi-8 helicopters on the last leg of their operational life and plans to induct the Italian Agusta Westland machines having run aground over corruption charges, the IAF is modifying the newly acquired Russian Mi-17 V5 choppers to meet the requirements of ferrying the nation’s top leaders.
Five Mi-17 V5 helicopters are being modified at the Air Force’s No.3 Base Repair Depot (3BRD), and the project would be completed in about six months time, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command, Air Marshal Jagjeet Singh told The Tribune.
Modification of the choppers includes refurbishment, air conditioning and soundproofing of the cabin, installing passenger seats as in airliners, making provisions for a small toilet and adding other necessary security and communications paraphernalia.
While seats have been sourced from Air India, some of the equipment being installed has been imported. Each item, whether technical equipment or furnishing articles, is being certified to meet the required aviation standards for stress, fire resistance, impact survivability and other security concerns.
The modified choppers would be inducted into the Air Headquarters Communications Squadron based at Palam, which operates a mix of helicopters and fixed-wing executive jets for ferrying VVIPs. The squadron’s Mi-8s, which wear a blue livery distinct from the low-visibility grey drab worn by other IAF aircraft, have been in service for almost three decades and are at the end of their technical life, after having undergone repeated life extension certifications. The IAF had started de-commissioning the earlier versions of Mi-8 helicopters in the mid-2000s.
The Air Force had ordered a total of 139 Mi-17 V5 helicopters to replace the Mi-8 and the older versions of the Mi-17. These were assembled and flight tested by 3BRD, where technical facilities are also being set up for their maintenance and overhaul.
Settling border issue key for India-China relations, says NSA
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 22
Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser (NSA) and Special Representative for border talks with China, today made it clear that ‘settlement’ of the border issue is ‘critical’ for India-China relations.
Doval and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi had last met on March 23 for the 18th round of talks on the border dispute.
Speaking at the annual K F Rustamji lecture, Doval dwelt on China’s emergence as world’s economic power and its ‘special relations’ with Pakistan, saying “both are nuclear powers and do not have the democracy as we have”.
Though Pakistan has an elected government, Doval was probably hinting at _how the Army has controlled the levers of power in Islamabad.
Rustomji was the first DG of the BSF when it was formed in 1965. Doval, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, said, “We might have to see China border in a different way once the boundary issue is settled.”
The border between India and China is not demarcated on ground. “For bilateral relations with China, border is a critical and vital issue,” he said speaking on the topic “Challenges of Securing India’s Borders; Strategising the Response”.
All advancement made in relationship with China gets centred around border settlement, said the NSA adding that the bilateral relations with China were looking up and there was a need to remain at a “very very high alert”. He cited the example of Eastern India: “We are concerned about the eastern sector where the claims have been made on Tawang (in Arunachal Pradesh) which is totally in contravention of the accepted principles”.
With Burma, China has agreed to the 1914 drawn ‘McMahon’ line and accepted it as border. However, China disputes the same line with India.
Sir Henry McMahon was foreign secretary of the British Indian government. In Tawang there is a settled population and other areas which have been participating in the national mainstream.
Doval termed the issues with China as ticklish which needed to be settled through talks. The comments by Doval came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to China asked Beijing to “reconsider its approach on some issues that hold us back”, an apparent reference to the long-pending boundary issue.
Doval also suggested to the BSF to look at borders in a new way and develop long-term studies on patterns on infrastructure, road and people’s behaviour across the border. “Come out of the narrow border guarding duties and prepare data that will help Indian policy formulation”, he said. The BSF is deployed on the borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Creating border infra need of hour: Rajnath
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said the government was giving top priority to creating border infrastructure, while the BSF was planning to install a system consisting of the latest sensors, communication and surveillance devices along the borders it guards. The system is called the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management Solution (CIBMS), sources said.
There are also plans to install a similar system along the India-China frontier for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
Rajnath Singh said there was a need to create more Border Outposts (BOPs). The existing BOPs will be strengthened to provide all the basic facilities for the troops staying there. The minister said development of the border infrastructure had never been given the priority it deserved. Development includes improving the road network for faster response, fencing, flood lighting, hovercrafts and more speed boats for riverine areas.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had released an Expression of Interest for the CIBMS in 2012, according to the sources. “It remained in cold storage until October last year when the BSF sent a proposal to the MHA for installing CIBMS along the borders it guards (India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders). The government is currently working on it,” said the sources.
G Mohan Kumar is Defence Secy
New Delhi, May 22
G. Mohan Kumar, an Orissa-cadre IAS officer of the 1979 batch, was appointed as the new Defence Secretary here today. Kumar, who hails from Kerala, will take over from RK Mathur, who superannuated after a two-year tenure.
Kumar is working as Secretary, Department of Defence Production and is India’s points-man in the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative with the US. Ashok Kumar Gupta, a Tamil Nadu-cadre IAS officer of the 1981 batch, will take over as Secretary, Department of Defence Production, replacing G. Mohan Kumar. — TNS
Parrikar to begin two-day J&K visit on Friday
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will begin his two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.
Col. S.D. Goswami, spokesman of the army's Udhampur based northern command said the defence minister, who will be acompanied by the Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh, will visit all the three regions of the state.
"This will be Manohar Parrikar's second visit to the state since he took over as the defence minister in November last year," Col. Goswami said.
Parrikar will first visit the Ladakh region.
Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda, chief of Indian Army's Northern Command, and Lieutenant General, B.S. Negi, commander of the army's Leh based 14th Corps will receive Parrikar at the Leh airport on Friday morning.
Defence sources told IANS that Parrikar will discuss the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that forms the de facto border between India and China in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
A briefing is scheduled to be given to the defence minister regarding the situation on the LAC that occasionally hits news headlines because of incursions by the Chinese army.
"The defence minister will reach Srinagar in the afternoon where he will hold discussions with Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. He will spend the night in Srinagar," sources in the state government said.
Lieutenant General Subrata Saha, commander of army's Srinagar-based 15th Corps will brief Parrikar about the situation on the line of control (LoC) and also about the anti-militancy situation in the hinterland, according to defence sources.
Parrikar will visit the Jammu region on Saturday where he is likely to interact with the soldiers on the forward positions in Poonch district.
During his Jammu visit, Lieutenant General K.H. Singh, commander of army's Nagrota based 16th corps will accompany Parrikar.
Before concluding his visit on Saturday, Parrikar will pay obeisance at the Mata Vaishnoo Devi Shrine in Reasi district of Jammu region.
Reports also said in order to get a firsthand account of the extremely hostile weather and terrain conditions under which soldiers are guarding the country's frontiers, the defence minister may also visit the Siachin Glacier in Ladakh region.
Situated at 5,400 metre above the sea level, Siachin is the world's highest battlefield.
On April 13, 1984, the Indian army snatched the control of the Siachin Glacier from Pakistan army.
Naib subedar, Bana Singh, a resident of Jammu and Kashmir received the country's highest bravery award, the Param Vir Chakra (PVC) for leading the Indian army's Siachin operation from the front in 1984.