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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 30 Jul 2015

Kalam strengthened India’s defence: Prez
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service
On board the Presidential Aircraft, July 29

President Pranab Mukerjee on Tuesday said former President APJ Abdul Kalam “strengthened” India’s defence and security while remembering his own interactions with the “Missile Man” since they first meet in May 1998 in the aftermath of the nuclear tests at Pokhran.

Kalam, who fathered India’s missile programme, died at Shillong in Meghalaya on Monday night following a reported cardiac arrest. Mukherjee, who was on a two-day visit to Karnataka, cut short his programme listed for Tuesday and flew back to Delhi.

Speaking to reporters on board the special VVIP jet, the President on being asked how he saw the role of Kalam in making India self-reliant in missile technologies, said: “He strengthened our defence and security capability.”

Mukherjee, who was Defence Minister during the first term of the Congress-led UPA alliance (2004-2009) remembered how he had first met Kalam in May 1998. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had invited Congress leaders to be briefed about the nuclear tests.

“Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and myself among others had gone. The technical aspects of the test were explained by Kalam. He was impressive in his presentation,” Mukherjee said. Kalam was the then Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister.

Mukherjee recollected that his personal interaction increased with Kalam in 2004. “I had joined the government as the Defence Minister in 2004 He was the Supreme Commander of the forces. He was keen on the BrahMos missile (a supersonic missile). With his direct encouragement, we have the BrahMos missiles in all three services. It is even exported,” the President said.

Talking about the popularity of Kalam, Mukherjee said: “No President was ever loved so much… When he interacted with children, it seemed that he was one of them.”

Mukherjee compared Kalam’s popularity with that of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru saying: “Nehru got love and affection from children. Kalam looked like Nehru in another form.”

“Kalam became the first President after 1977 to be elected unopposed,” Mukherjee said while recollecting that he received a copy of the Missile Man’s book ‘Beyond 2020’. “He used to encourage me to read and write,” he said.
Army could have finished it off early: Experts
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Punjab Police successfully eliminated the three terrorists holed up inside a police station, but security experts are of the view that the manner in which the situation was handled left a lot to be desired.

Not only were their gaps in inter-agency coordination and intelligence, based upon media reports and TV footage, senior retired officers opined the state police, including the much vaulted SWAT team that had carried out the mopping operations displayed lack of training, equipment and service discipline.

The manner in which the terrorists had laid explosives on the railway track, their choice of target and the weapons they were carrying led some experts to believe they were well trained and had a focused objective. But requisitioning the Army and then keeping it waiting for the SWAT team to arrive, they say, led to unnecessary delays that could have been counter-productive.

The terrorists had reportedly infiltrated from Pakistan through the Shakragarh bulge along the riverine banks of the Ravi, the area that had also witnessed intense battles during Indo-Pakistani wars. This is for the first time that a cross-border attack has been launched in Punjab. Even during terrorism days in the state, weapons were smuggled from across the border.

There is also a belief in the security establishment that yesterday’s attack could be an attempt to ridicule India’s strategy of “giving a befitting reply” to cross-border firing and terrorist incidents and also against operations perceived to have been conducted in Pakistan by Indian intelligence.

“The Army deals with such situations regularly in J&K and there was no reason to first mobilise infantry troops located in the vicinity and then keep them deployed in the outer cordon waiting for police SWAT teams to arrive from far-off locations,” Lt Gen HS Panag, former GOC-in-C Northern Command said.

“Had the army been allowed to conduct the operations, they would have started early morning and finished soon instead of lingering till evening, thereby creating a greater risk for collateral damage or casualties being inflicted by the terrorists of security forces as well as civilians,” he said.

Brig Pradeep Sharma (retd), who has served with the National Security Guards, said the police could easily have used smoke bombs to flush them out and cut off water and electricity to the building to mentally wear them out. “Anti-terrorist operations are not about showing bravado. They are more about patience and psychological pressure. It was luck they chose to take over a police station,” he said.
Suspense over 4th militant prolonged Op
Investigators try to piece together evidence from Dinanagar where a terror attack left 7 dead
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Dinanagar, July 28
Punjab Police’s operation to gun down the three terrorists in Dinanagar on Monday was over in a mere 20 minutes, but the announcement was not made promptly as they suspected more militants may have been hiding inside the police station.

Deputy Commissioner Dr Abhinav Trikha and SSP Gurpreet Singh Toor today said both the Army and the Punjab Police worked on the assumption the entire day that there were four or more militants in the old DSP building in the police station. “We were not in a position to confirm whether the total number of militants was three or four,” said Trikha.

“Though the terrorists were killed in just 20 minutes, the successful completion of the operation was not formally announced as the police’s SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) squad was trying to locate the fourth militant, believing he might have gone into hiding. Even Kamaljit Singh Matharoo, whose Maruti car the militants had snatched before entering the police station, told there were police four terrorists, which gave credence to the assumption,” said a senior police officer.

The situation could have been avoided had the police checked the footage of the CCTV camera installed at the entrance of the police station. “The CCTV footage clearly indicates there were only three heavily armed terrorists who had made their way into the police station,” said the officer. Initially, the cops claimed the CCTV camera installed in the police station was not working.  But some TV channels started showing the video footage of three terrorists making their way into the police complex.

A team of forensic science experts from a laboratory in Mohali arrived at the police station today and collected samples from the complex. A bomb disposal squad defused eight grenades found at the site. An officer said the bodies of the slain terrorists had been brought to the Gurdaspur Civil Hospital for a post-mortem.

DGP Sumedh Singh Saini held a press conference at the Dinanagar police station today evening where he listed the ammunition found by the police from the site.
Col Kohtiyal felicitated for restoring Kedarnath’s glory
Tribune News Service

Mussoorie, July 28
Principal of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIA), Col Ajay Kohtiyal was felicitated at a function held in New Delhi under the aegis of Uttarakhand Kala _Manch for restoring the disaster-affected region of Kedarnath to its old _glory in a year.

The holy shrine was completely ravaged due to flash floods in 2013 and a private company was assigned the task to clear the debris and restore Kedarnath, but the said company failed to deliver on its commitment, _leaving the state government into the lurch.

It was under such circumstances that Col Ajay Kohtiyal took the challenge of reconstructing the bridled paths and restoring the old glory of Kedarnath shrine, which is reverberating with the sound of temple bells _once again.

Col Ajay Kohtiyal, while accepting the award, said the restoration of Kedarnath shows the power of the people of the state. He said the youth in his team took the challenge with full strength and vigour. They were able to prepare the trek routes and _open the shrine to the pilgrims by working under freezing temperatures on most occasions.

Col Kohtiyal also informed the gathering about the work done at Kedarnath by his team. He said there was a need for reverse migration. The people who left the state should have love for their home state and should think of ways to develop their village.

He also shared his experience in the Indian Army and said their sole aim was to serve the country. He said the people of the state should unite to work for the development _of the state.

He welcomed the people to visit Kedarnath and see for themselves the amount of work done by the team from the NIM.

A painting competition was also organised in which several students from the state participated. Col Kohtiyal said top 10 paintings would be taken to Uttarakhand and will be kept at the _CM’s House, Governor’s House and other important places as motivation to the kids.

DIG GS Martolia and ADG Post guard Rajendar Singh were also honoured for their contribution on the occasion.

President of the organisation Brijmohan Upreti and general secretary Pawan Maithani said Kedarnath was standing on its feet once again due to the efforts of Col Kohtiyal and his team who worked day and night to restore its old glory.
NATO backs Turkey on Islamic State

Brussels/Istanbul, July 28

NATO gave Turkey its full political support in fighting militants in Syria and Iraq at an emergency meeting on Tuesday but several nations urged Ankara not to undermine the Kurdish peace process by using excessive military force.

Following a 90-minute meeting in Brussels, Turkey won the backing it sought for stepping up its role in the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State with air strikes. Ankara made no request to its 27 allies for military help and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that it had the second-largest army in the alliance.

Instead, the meeting heard how Turkey was carrying out President Tayyip Erdogan’s sudden change in strategy against Islamic State—an al Qaeda breakaway that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq—and Kurdish militants based in Iraq.

“We all stand united in condemning terrorism, in solidarity with Turkey,” Stoltenberg told a news conference. The killing of 32 young students in a Turkish border town near Syria last week drove Ankara into battle against Islamic State, a move NATO welcomes, shedding its previous reluctance.

Turkey has a 900 km border with Syria and is also concerned about Kurdish militants occupying the frontier area. — Reuters
Army reaches out to students to join forces
MEERUT: Taking cognizance of a recent statement by defence minister Manohar Parrikar that the Indian Army was short of 10,000 officers, the Central Command of the Army has taken an initiative to reach out to students to encourage them to join the forces.

Sources at the UP West Sub Area Command based in Meerut said, "Army Outreach Programme' aims at enhancing students' awareness about the opportunities that await them in the Army. In a bid to motivate children and attract the desired talent for the Army, Lieutenant General Rajan Bakshi, Army Commander, Central Command has taken an initiative to reach out to children across the seven states."

Central Command, with its area of responsibility stretching from 'Himalayas till Bay of Bengal' and covering the seven states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, contributes approximately 40% of the soldiers in the Army.

According to a senior Army officer at the Meerut-based command centre who did not wish to be identified, "Selected serving officers, including lady officers, have been trained in Lucknow under the personal guidance of the Army Commander. These selected officers visit various colleges and schools and address the children to enhance awareness about the opportunities that await them on joining the Army along with leading an achiever's life."

Though this is not the first time such an initiative is being taken up. The initiative began on a trial basis in 2014 by Bakshi in which the Army officers visited 72 colleges and 87 schools across the seven states wherein nearly 27,000 children benefited from the 'Army Outreach Programme'. However, this year the exercise becomes all the more relevant especially after defence minister's remarks regarding shortage of officers in the Army.

"This year, the 'Army Outreach Programme' will be more aggressive one," said an official.
Army never purchased drone from us, says Mumbai firm
A day after the Pakistani Army released pictures recovered from a memory chip of a quadcopter which it said was flown by Indian agencies allegedly for espionage, the Mumbai-based company from whom the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was reportedly purchased has claimed that the Indian Army never bought it from them.

Amit Nichani, the owner of Ascom System Pvt Ltd, told The Indian Express Tuesday that since he was not a registered vendor with the Ministry of Defence, the claims by the Pakistani Army that it might have been purchased from Ascom did not hold ground. “The defence ministry purchases equipment only from its registered vendors. I am not on the vendors’ list of the Indian Army and therefore I have not sold any quadcopter, which the Pakistani Army claims to have shot down on July 15 on suspicion of spying on its soil,” he said. “These quadcopters are easily available on online shopping portals and could have been ordered from there,” Nichani added.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 28 Jul 2015

Terror again: They came to kill, got killed
3 terrorists from Pak gunned down in Dinanagar | SP, 3 Home Guard personnel, 3 civilians among dead
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Dinanagar, July 27
Three militants, disguised in Army fatigue and suspected to be members of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba, sprayed bullets at a moving bus and then stormed the Dinanagar police station before being killed after a 12-hour operation. A Superintendent of Police, three Home Guard personnel and as many civilians were also killed.

“Mission accomplished” was the message flashed by the police’s SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team, comprising highly trained commandos, to DGP Sumedh Singh Saini around 4.45 pm when the operation ended. Baljit Singh, Gurdaspur SP (Investigation), was killed after a bullet pierced his forehead in the operation in which the Army, National Security Guard and special forces commandos were also involved.

Among the killed civilians was a patient who tried to peep from a window of his second floor room at a private hospital adjacent to the police station to see what was happening downstairs.

The attack is being seen as a fallout of intelligence failure. The Punjab Police may have been patting itself on the back for flushing out the terrorists, but senior officers admit the incident could have been averted had the police acted on inputs received over the past few weeks.

Sources said the issue of a possible terrorist strike in the region ahead of Independence Day had come up for discussion at a recent high-level meeting in Dalhousie, attended by police officers from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and J&K.

A top official said the militants had infiltrated from Pakistan through the Bamiyal sector. The nearest point on the international border is merely 20 km from the Dinanagar bus stand. The militants are learnt to have planned to take some Amarnath pilgrims hostage from Dinanagar. But they changed their plan at the last minute and decided to target the police station, said sources.

The terrorists fired their first shot around 5.30 am, which proved fatal for the driver of an Alto car that they had hijacked from the Taragarh-Dinanagar road.

Minutes later, panic gripped the city as the terrorists started firing from a vantage point behind the bus stand. They then entered the police station where they injured SHO Mukhtiar Singh.

Before storming the police station, they fired at a Jammu-bound bus carrying around 70 passengers. Its driver, Nanak Chand, held his nerves and managed to drive the vehicle to safety.

Deputy Commissioner Dr Abhinav Trikha was quick to alert the Army while NSG and SSG commandos were called in from Jammu.

For the next 12 hours, the police station was turned into a battleground with the militants and the security agencies engaging themselves in crossfire. A witness, Punjab Police head constable Sham Sundar who was trapped in his quarter, said the militants had sophisticated weapons, including telescopic guns. “Seldom did their shot miss the target. They appeared to be highly trained sharpshooters,” he said. They were holed up inside the old DSP’s office at the police station. There were also rumours about the involvement of a woman terrorist.

Police personnel from the police districts of Gurdaspur, Batala, Pathankot and Majitha, led by their respective SSPs, reached the attack site two hours after the first bullet was fired. Around noon, there was some confusion about the chain of command to be followed by the security men.

Sources said the Army wanted to take control of the operation, but the Punjab Police did not budge. Amid the cross-firing, the terrorists hurled nearly half a dozen grenades at the security forces. The SWAT team, monitored by the DGP, engaged the militants before gunning them down around 4.45 pm.

Once news filtered out of the police station that the operation had been successful, slogans of ‘Punjab Police zindabad’ ranted the air.

Entered via Bamiyal sector

A top police officer said the militants had infiltrated from Pakistan through Bamiyal sector. The nearest point on the international border is merely 20 km from Dinanagar bus stand.

Planned hostage drama

The militants are learnt to have planned to take some Amarnath pilgrims hostage from Dinanagar. But they changed their plan at the last minute and targeted the police station, said sources.
When bullets flew at dawn
PK Jaiswar/_Manmeet Singh Gill

Tribune News Service

Amritsar/Gurdaspur, July 27
At 5:30am today in Dinanagar town of Gurdaspur, it rained bullets and those struck in the melee didn’t spare armed policemen. Army uniform-clad terrorists opened fire on commuters before storming a police station.

“Initially disturbed by the rattling sounds near the police station, we woke up completely when the continuous sound of rapid firing advanced on us. Soon some heavily armed men stormed the station, firing indiscriminately. We were four policemen present at the spot and we immediately bolted the main entrance from inside. After failing to open the door forcibly, they broke a windowpane and continued firing,” said Head Constable Ram Lal giving a firsthand account of the massacre.

He continued: “Punjab Home Guard Jawan Rajinder Kumar sustained a gunshot injury in the abdomen and fell. I took his rifle and rushed to the terrace and responded to the attack. This continued for about half an hour before the terrorists attacked from atop an adjoining double-storey building. A bullet pierced my arm but I continued fighting. Later, they fired a burst from the assault which hit my left leg and I collapsed.”

Ram Lal and Rajinder have been admitted to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar, while inspector-rank officer Balbir Singh has been admitted to Fortis Hospital. The civilians injured in the attack were Tarun Lahotra, Raman Kumar, Satish Kumar and Satinder Singh.

A trainee wrestler, Tarun was on his way on a bicycle to attend a class when the terrorists fired at him. “I sustained a bullet injury on my shoulder after which I peddled into the SN College from where my coach took me to a hospital,” he said.

Raman and Satish were on a Punjab Roadways bus from Targarh to Dasuha in Hoshiarpur when they were attacked. Raman’s father said the terrorists ambushed the bus, leaving several persons injured.

Dinanagar SHO Mukhtiar Singh and Head Constable Ranjit Singh have been admitted to Gurdaspur Civil Hospital.

Mukhtiar, whose forearm was injured in the firing, said: “I reached the station after the munshi informed me about the attack. A bullet hit me when I was dispersing the crowd gathered at the spot.”

Ranjit said: “I was at the station since morning. The terrorists spared no one. A stray bullet hit my knee around 2pm after which I was rushed to the hospital.”

Satinder said: “I was with my brother at the Dinanagar bus stand when the incident took place. They (terrorists) were firing continuously. As my brother is in security forces, he instructed us all to lie down. His timely advice saved many lives.”

Amarjeet Singh, a dhaba owner, was also killed in the attack.

Injured cops, civilians recall horror

Initially disturbed by the rattling sounds near the police station, we woke up completely when the continuous sound of rapid firing advanced on us. Soon some heavily armed men stormed the station, firing indiscriminately. — Ram Lal, head constable

My father usually opens the dhaba around 5am. When the terrorists struck, he was cooking in the kitchen. On hearing gunshots, he came out and terrorists shot at him too. —Ranjit Kumar, son of a dhaba owner killed in the attack
Attackers disguised their identity well
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
In what can be a sign of relief for security and intelligence agencies, none of the three terrorists killed in the operation at Gurdaspur was a Sikh. All of them are suspected to be operatives of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. Sources in the government said while the sequence of events and details of those killed were being verified, initial findings suggested the terrorists came armed with grenades, global positioning systems and AK-47 rifles. However, they were not carrying any food packets with them.

Intelligence agencies and other investigators are ferreting out information as the slain terrorists appeared to have worked well to hide their identity. No labels could be found on their apparels, including underpants and undershirts worn by them, sources said.

Two hand grenades (having Chinese markings), three AK-47 rifles with 10 magazines were recovered from the spot. The operation took a long time since the effort was to catch the terrorists alive. That would have allowed investigators to pin them and those behind the attack, sources said. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the situation in the wake of Gurdaspur attack with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and chiefs of intelligence and security agencies.

Sources said the Home Minster appreciated the role of the Punjab Police in conducting the operation. It is understood that personnel of the National Security Guard based in Amritsar for training were put on standby.

Echo in Parliament

The attack resonated in the Lok Sabha with members cutting across party lines condemning it amid Congress-led disruptions in the House and political offences by lead players. The BJP-led government attacked the Congress for disrupting proceedings of the House while the security forces were battling with terrorists. The Congress, meanwhile, alleged it was not allowed to speak.  P3
Op frequently revised as Punjab cops wanted to lead
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Dinanagar, July 27
The final manoeuvre to nab the Lashkar-e-Taiba militants engaged in today’s encounter had to be rescheduled on several occasions with the Punjab Police top brass repeatedly denying permission to the Army to take control of the entire operation.

The first helicopter carrying scores of Army men landed at the PAU regional station grounds at 9.43 am after an SOS was sent to the Tibri cantonment officials by DC Abhinav Trikha. The DC, after being given feedback about the latest development by senior police officers around 8.30 am, held hectic confabulations with other administration officers at his camp office.

However, after getting feedback from SSP Gurpreet Singh Toor, the DC sensed that the situation had the potential to go out of hand. At 8.43 am he took a final call. The Army had to be called in. A phone call was placed to the Tibri cantonment officials and the Army was asked to reach Dinanagar as “some terrorists had taken control of a police station in Dinanagar.”

Receiving the information, the Army went on an overdrive. The first of nearly half a dozen choppers landed exactly an hour after the DC had requested the Army to be in a “state of preparedness.” The soldiers were driven from the PAU campus in trucks to the police station, 10 km away.

An hour later, the venue was surrounded by nearly 150 Army men. A senior officer confided that initially the Army officers took a measure of what exactly was going on. Later, around 11.50 am, a senior Army officer requested the Punjab Police to hand over the operation to them. However, he was asked to wait with a senior officer telling him that only DGP Sumedh Singh Saini could take such a decision. The cops were on their toes waiting for their boss to arrive. Finally, Saini reached the operation site around 1 pm - more than seven hours after the militants had fired the first bullet in the city at 5.30 am.

Later, he met the DC, IG (border range) Ishwar Chander Sharma, DIG Arun Kumar Mittal, SSPs of Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Majitha and other senior officials.

“We decided to engage them with intermittent fire till they run out of ammunition. However, when we were ready to take the operation to another level, news filtered in that the terrorists might be ‘human bombs’. Once again we had to change our plans,” he disclosed. At this time, the Army once again asked the police to let them take control. However, this time police officers told them that all intricacies of raiding the old DSP’s office, where the militants had taken refuge, had been worked out and that only the police would be undertaking this operation. Even the 140-odd NSG and SPG commandoes were kept at bay.

Some senior officers had veered around to the view that the Army should be handed over the reigns. However, due to some inexplicable reason, which was never made public, the Army was again asked to wait. A team of the BSF was pulled out from duty from the border and placed at the disposal of the police. Meanwhile, the Army personnel did not sit idle and launched a massive search operation.

Cricket, terror can’t go together: Thakur

The terror attack has put the possible resumption of India-Pakistan cricket ties in jeopardy after BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said, “Cricket and terror cannot go hand in hand.” Thakur, Hamirpur MP, said, “Internal security of the country cannot be compromised at any cost, putting in doubt India’s proposed series against Pakistan in December this year.” TNS

Omar sees a pattern
Seeing a pattern in the Gurdaspur attack, former J&K Chief Minister and NC working president Omar Abdullah said “timing of the attack, methodology and location” were all “eerily similar” to the past attacks in the border belt of Jammu. Omar tweeted: “The timing of the attack, methodology & location are all eerily similar to attacks in the border belt of Jammu.” TNS
Forensic Tests Show Downed Drone Operated by India: Pakistan Army

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Army today claimed that forensic tests of the drone it downed along the Line of Control (LoC) showed it was operated by the Indian Army.

Military spokesman said the visuals retrieved out of the drone indicate that the Quadcopter flew from Indian post.

Initially it remained close to the LoC, continuing surveillance throughout facing towards Pakistani side of the LoC, then crossed over the LoC and pictured a Pakistani post, the spokesman claimed.

The Pakistan Army has claimed that it downed an "India drone (Quadcopter) mission" on July 15 along the LoC.

The army also released images and video clips which show that the quadcopter started its flight from an Indian post and entered into Pakistani territory.

An image retrieved proves that after the purchase of this quadcopter it was taken inside M/S ASCOM office which is an Indian communication and Electronic Firm, the army claimed.

Another pre-flight picture indicates presence of an Indian soldier standing in the vicinity of quadcopter, it alleged.

An image probably taken before test flight of the drone on its arrival in forward areas indicate company headquarters of the Indian Sector, the army said.

An image taken by quadcopter immediately after flight from a post shows an Indian flag which proves that it started its flight from Indian post, it claimed.

But Chinese official media, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC)-run People's Daily Online, earlier reported that the phantom 3 drone was made in China by DJI, confirming Indian stance that it was of Chinese design.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has also said that the drone was not in the inventory of the Indian defence forces.

The Pakistani army today also alleged that there was a "sudden spike both in terms of intensity, caliber escalation and air space violations by India" has been observed along LoC and the working boundary.

"Since 9 June 2015, 35 ceasefire violations have been committed by Indian troops,"


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