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Thursday, 26 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 26 Nov 2015

3 militants, civilian killed in attack on Army camp
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 24
Three militants, who tried to storm an Army base close to the Line of Control (LoC) in Tangdhar sector of Kupwara district, were killed in a six-hour-long gunfight. A civilian working at the camp was also killed while two Army men, including an officer, were injured in the gunfight.

This was the second unsuccessful attempt by militants to storm an Army base in Tangdhar area this year. Srinagar-based defence spokesman Lt Col NN Joshi said a search operation was under way in the area.

Defence sources said a group of heavily armed militants lobbed grenades and opened fire at a 3/1 GR battalion at Kulsuri Ridge in Tangdhar sector, around 135 km from here, around 7 am today. They made an unsuccessful attempt to sneak into the camp.

“The group probably entered from the Sanjoi side of the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) last night. The LoC is only 5 km from the encounter site. Initial indications suggest it was a pre-planned attack,” a Defence official said.

“A civilian employee of the Military Engineering Service (MES) contractor and a Junior Commissioner Officer were injured,” sources said. The civilian, identified as 22-year-old Tanweer Ahmed, succumbed to his injuries later. The JCO was taken to the Kupwara military hospital where his condition was stated to be stable.

An oil dump situated there caught fire during the exchange of fire and two vehicles of the Army and a hut were damaged.

The Quick Reaction Team (QRT) of the Army and elite commandos were rushed to the area to take on the militants. A Deputy Commander of 104 Brigade, a Colonel-rank officer, led from the front and had a narrow escape during the gunfight. “A bullet grazed his ear, causing a minor injury. After being treated, he again led the operation,” sources said.

The militants later tried to take shelter in residential houses near the camp. “Three militants were killed during the operation and three assault rifles were seized from their possession,” they said. Combing continued in the area to ensure that no militant was hiding there.

The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the attack. A caller who identified himself as spokesperson of the outfit Muhammad Hasan Shah told a Srinagar-based news agency that the militants of the group stormed the camp. The militants inflicted heavy damage on the forces, he claimed.

On May 31 this year, four militants were killed after they crossed the LoC and were intercepted by soldiers near Bakhiyan village, close to the Army’s 104 Infantry Brigade headquarters.
Beijing shows might in South China Sea
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 25

The Chinese navy has recently completed a series of ‘realistic confrontation training exercises’ in the South China Sea (SCS) which could set the tone for renewed tension in the disputed waters.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fielded a new type of ‘submarine’. However, it is not clear if the vessel was one of the new Type 94 Jin-class nuclear submarines. Multi-type of destroyers and frigates carrying anti-submarine helicopters were part of the exercise.

Sources said the vessel was a submarine submersible ballistic nuclear (SSBN)—- in other terms, a nuclear-powered sub capable of carrying nuclear missiles. This was second such exercise within weeks.
Police await Centre’s nod to prosecute Brigadier
Charges of abduction, murder invoked against the Army officer
Ishfaq Tantry

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 25
The Jammu and Kashmir Police have invoked charges of abduction, murder and disappearance of evidence against a brigadier-level officer of the Army, accused of the custodial death of a chemist from the Rawalpora locality of Srinagar in 2002.

In its status report, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the police has told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that the investigation into the 14-year-old case had been completed and the Central government nod for prosecution of accused Brigadier Kishore Malhotra was awaited.

Brigadier Malhotra was a Major in the 35 Rashtriya Rifles in 2002 when the incident happened.

The officer was subjected to four days of sustained ‘custodial interrogation’ by the SIT between October 6 and 9 this year, the report accessed by The Tribune has further revealed.

On November 23, a single bench of the High Court, while hearing a petition in the case, asked the police to file the latest status report about the investigation by Tuesday and ‘also report that the charge sheet has been filed’.

Manzoor Ahmad Dar, a resident of Rawalpora locality on the outskirts of Srinagar, was arrested by the Army on January 19, 2002. His wife Jana, in her testimonies before the courts, has maintained that an Army contingent led by Kishore Malhotra, then a Major with the 35 Rashtriya Rifles, had raided their house in the dead of the night.

Later, a judicial inquiry by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Budgam, had also ‘substantiated’ that Manzoor was ‘picked up by armed forces personnel of the 35 Rashtriya Riffles during the intervening night of 18/19 January 2002’.

“The custodial disappearance has occurred near about 14 years ago, which clearly indicates that the disappeared person could have died in custody of the 35 RR and accordingly, Section 302 of the RPC (murder) is invoked,” the SIT submitted in its status report, adding that offence under Section 364 (abduction) is already established against the accused Army officer.

“On the direction of the apex court and the High Court of J&K, accused Major Kishore Malhotra, now Brigadier, appeared before the SIT on October 6, 7, 8 and 9, 2015. During custodial questioning, the accused did not admit to the custody of the victim, nor lead to the recovery of the body (of Manzoor). Accordingly, offence under 201 of the RPC is invoked,” it added.

Stating that since direction of the Supreme Court was not to arrest the accused Brigadier during questioning, the SIT has further told the High Court that the “investigation of the case stands closed and charges under Section 364 (abduction), 302 (murder) and 201 (disappearance of evidence) of the RPC invoked.”

It added that the case file along with the records had been sent to the government for accord of sanction to prosecute the accused Brigadier.
In a First, INS Vikramaditya to Host Combined Commanders' Conference Next Month
New Delhi:  The Combined Commanders' Conference of the three services will be held next month onboard India's latest aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in Kochi, which will the first venue outside the national capital to host the crucial defence meet.

The move came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address at the Combined Commanders' Conference in Delhi last October, suggested that the armed forces could organize such conferences on ships, or in forward area cantonments or air-bases, instead of only in New Delhi.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the annual Combined Commanders' Conference onboard India's latest aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on December 15," defence sources said.

Though the conference was originally scheduled to be held in October, it was postponed due to the Bihar elections.

Besides the Prime Minister, the conference will be attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and other senior members of the Cabinet.

The Combined Commanders' Conference, also known as the Unified Commanders' Conference, is crucial as national defence policy, doctrine and operational challenges are discussed in detail.

Exhorting the armed forces to be prepared for a "future where security challenges will be less predictable...threats may be known, but the enemy may be invisible," PM Modi had said last time "full-scale wars may become rare, but force will remain an instrument of deterrence and influencing behaviour, and the duration of conflicts will be shorter".
Three militants, civilian killed in Kupwara army camp attack
The militants attacked from the rear side of the camp at 6.15 AM, which resulted in few vehicles catching fire, defence sources said.
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Three militants were killed when they tried to storm a camp of 3/1 Gorkha Rifles at the border town of Tanghdar in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Wednesday. A civilian injured in the attack later succumbed to his injuries.

The Army’s Para Commandos neutralised the militants who were part of a fidayeen squad, said officials. Militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman of the outfit said the militants had caused “heavy damage” to the Army.

Defence spokesman Lt Col N N Joshi said: “The searches are still on. Three AK rifles were recovered from the possession of slain militants.’’ He said the militants couldn’t sneak inside the camp, but fired some grenades that caused fire in the part of the camp where oil was stored.

Five months ago, the Army killed four armed militants in the town that is otherwise considered free of militancy due to large presence of Army personnel on account of its proximity to the LoC. Sources said Wednesday’s attack left the army worried as militants had managed to come close to the camp.

Officials said that around 6 am, three heavily armed militants tried to enter the camp located in the main Tanghdar town. They attacked an army officer and a civilian employee of Army’s Military Engineering Service who were in the camp’s generator room. Both were evacuated to hospital, where 22-year-old Tanveer Ahmad, a resident of Tanghdar, succumbed to his injuries. The injured Junior Commissioned Officer is undergoing treatment at the Army hospital at Dragmulla Kupwara.

Sources said the militants approached the camp from the rear side, placed some IEDs near the camp and fired grenades towards the oil depot that caused a fire in the camp. Some barracks and vehicles were damaged in the fire. The fire, officials said, was later brought under control.

The Army’s Quick Action Team responded swiftly and engaged the militants who took cover in the nearby Darshik forests. Para Commandos were called and the militants were killed after an eight-hour gunfight.

Officials said it was possible that the militants had crossed the LoC through the Kalsuri range and then approached the camp from its rear side.

A senior Army officer said Wednesday’s attack was an attempt to replicate last year’s attack at Mohura in Uri near the LoC when militants attacked an artillery base killing eight soldiers, including an officer, and three policemen. All the six militants were killed in that attack.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 25 Nov 2015

Angry Russia calls off talks with Turkey
Moscow warns of serious consequences I UN calls for de-escalating tension
Moscow, November 24
President Vladimir Putin called Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet a stab in the back administered by "the accomplices of terrorists," saying the incident would have serious consequences for Moscow's relations with Ankara.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm at the incident and hoped that all countries involved in air campaigns in Syria would take steps to avoid such incidents in the future.

The fallout of the downing of the jet came immediately as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled a visit to Turkey for talks with his counterpart.  "The decision has been taken to cancel the meeting that was planned for tomorrow in Istanbul between the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey,” Lavrov said in televised comments.

Besides, Russia's state tourism agency Rostourism recommended  suspending sales of tour packages to Turkey, RIA news agency reported.

Speaking in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday before a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, Putin said the downed plane had been attacked inside Syria when it was 1 km (0.62 miles) from the Turkish border and had come down 4 km (2.49 miles) inside Syria.

That contradicted Turkey's assertion that the aircraft had been warned multiple times that it was straying into Turkish airspace before it was shot down. "Today's loss is linked to a stab in the back delivered to us by accomplices of terrorists. I cannot qualify what happened today as anything else," said a visibly furious Putin.

"Our plane was shot down on Syrian territory by an air-to-air missile from an F-16. It fell on Syrian territory 4 km from the Turkish border. It was flying at 6,000 metres 1 kilometre from Turkish territory when it was attacked." Putin said Russian pilots and planes had in no way threatened Turkey, but had merely been carrying out their duty to fight Islamic State militants inside Syria.

"We established a long time ago that large quantities of oil and oil products from territory captured by Islamic State have been arriving on Turkish territory," he said, saying that was how militants had been funding themselves.

"And now we get stabbed in our back and our planes, which are fighting terrorism, are struck. This despite the fact that we signed an agreement with our American partners to warn each other about air-to-air incidents and Turkey ... announced it was allegedly fighting against terrorism as part of the US coalition." If Islamic State militants earned hundreds of millions of dollars from trading oil and enjoyed the protection of the armed forces "of entire governments" no wonder, said Putin, they behaved so boldly. "We will of course analyse everything that happened and today's tragic events will have serious consequences for Russo-Turkish relations," he said.

Turkey is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Russians, and the two countries enjoy active diplomatic relations.

Putin expressed anger at Turkey's decision to convene a meeting of NATO to discuss the incident, suggesting Ankara should instead have swiftly tried to contact Moscow. — Agencies
Defence panel suggests 75 changes for better service conditions
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Several suggestions have been made by the Committee of Experts convened by the Defence Minister to recommend ways and means to reduce litigation in the Ministry of Defence and strengthen the mechanisms for redressal of grievances of defence personnel.

The five-member committee submitted its report to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today. The 509-page report contains 75 recommendations that touch upon various aspects of pension and service matters, discipline, vigilance and promotion issues, military justice reform, issues concerning civil employees and areas of potential disputes. Scores of senior functionaries in the services and MoD were examined and relevant documents and orders scrutinsed.

The committee has recommended greater personal interaction and opportunity of hearing in the system of formal complaints and petitions so as to give a better role to human interaction rather than the one-way noting sheet method and to assist in providing outlet and catharsis to individuals related to their grievances.

Greater constructive usage of social media, including initiation of blogs by senior commanders, to promote an interactive process with the rank and file, has been propagated. A face-to-face “collegiate” system of decision-making in various aspects rather than the file circulation method has been suggested along with more transparency in matters related to promotions and confidential reports.

Recommendations on military justice reform include steps that can be taken without any legislative change such as introduction of permanent infrastructure for Court Martial at specified stations to reduce ad hocism and reduction of command influence. A high level study group to ensure that reforms in these very important areas are not ignored and are configured with the times and the best national and global practices, has been recommended.

The committee has also recognised other areas of potential disputes, including those of disabled cadets, women officers and Short Service Commissioned Officers and several recommendations for more amiable service conditions have been put forth. Service and pension-related policies, including those affecting disabled soldiers and widows, form an important part of the report.
India accuses UNSC of creating refugee crisis
United Nations, November 24
India has accused the UN Security Council of creating a refugee crisis by failing in its responsibility as it (India) asked the international community not to close the borders for refugees and cautioned them against propagating racism and xenophobia.

“Saving lives, providing protection and upholding human dignity cannot but be the first priority. The need is to maintain open borders and not close them,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Bhagwant Bishnoi told the UN General Assembly here yesterday.

Asserting that nations need to refrain from the temptation of reducing benefits available to asylum-seekers, he said erecting “razor wire fences” to keep out refugees undermines the notion of common humanity and “strikes a blow at the very concept of the United Nations”.

“It is also important that we do not speak the language of racism and xenophobia,” he added.

Blaming the powerful Security Council for creating the refugee crisis, he said the failure of the UN organ to deal with the situation highlights the crucial need for its reform. “It is ironical that the crisis is actually created by the council, through its acts of omission. By failing to fulfil a responsibility reposed on it by the larger membership, to find a political solution to the conflict. The need for reform speaks for itself,” Bishnoi said.

Criticising the UNSC, he said some resolutions by the council lead nations to believe that boats used by refugees to escape persecution “constitute a threat to international peace and security and that they need to be seized and destroyed”. “To us, it would seem that the council has decreed that people cannot flee for their lives unless they use vessels whose sea worthiness comes up to the standards set by the International Maritime Organisation. Is this what is meant by the R2P or Right to Protection? By securitising refugee movement, the council has legitimised a response that is morally challenging in extraordinary proportions,” he said.

The High Commissioner for Refugees has noted that about 60 million people have been displaced as a result of war and persecution, unprecedented since the Second World II.

Over 4,000 lives were lost crossing the Mediterranean last year and more than 3,511 this year alone.

“The Mediterranean is truly the most dangerous border-crossing in the world. It is also a fact that refugee crisis may be here to stay with us for a while. It is truly a humanitarian crisis of exceptional proportions. The moral implications of the manner in which we handle it will be equally significant,” he said.

Bishnoi said the tragic deaths at sea are only because of the lack of safe passage and if land routes were available, asylum seekers would not have to take to the sea. — PTI
Indian Army looks to indigenise production of cold-weather gear
The Indian Army plans to replace specialised imported winter clothing with indigenous gear for its personnel deployed at altitudes over 5,000 m in the Himalayas, where temperatures vary between -10°C and -60°C.

It aims to locally source items like boots, jackets, gloves, thermal innerwear, and rucksacks, which have been acquired mainly from Finland, Norway, and Switzerland for more than three decades.

Alongside equipment such as tents, ice picks, shovels, and crampons, all of which have also been imported, production of winter clothing will eventually be indigenised, army officials said.

Under the government's 'Make in India' initiative, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has identified local vendors to develop a range of 'extremely cold-climate-weather suits' (ECCWS) and related apparatus, prototypes of which will soon undergo trials.


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