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Friday, 7 November 2008

From Today's Papers - 07 Nov


PRESS RELEASE (4 NOVEMBER 2008)

Introduction
I feel privileged to be invited to address this conference on two important issues, with which I have a very long association. These are emoluments of Army officers and the violence in Assam.
Emoluments of Army Officers
In his address to West Point, President Eisenhower said, "When diplomats fail to maintain peace the soldier is called out to restore peace. When the civil administration fails to maintain order the soldier is called out to restore order. As the Nation's final safeguard, the Army cannot afford a failure in either circumstance. Failure of the Army can lead to national catastrophe, endangering the survival of the Nation." I would urge our decision-makers to ponder over this statement of Eisenhower.
As one who served in the Indian Army both before and after Independence, I would like to apprise you how the emoluments and status of Army officers have been persistently lowered since Independence. Before Independence, the Army got emoluments at par with the ICS and at some points higher than the latter. After Independence the Government brought down the salary of Army officers to the level of IPS officers, with a slight edge for the former. This resulted in our salaries getting considerably slashed. At the time of Independence, I was drawing a salary of Rs 1300 a month which overnight got reduced to Rs 770. Never before or after, have salaries of serving personnel been reduced so arbitrarily. The old salaries of our contemporaries in the ICS and IP were duly protected. No one from the Army went to court or launched any agitation. We accepted this blatant injustice with a stiff upper lip and enthusiastically went to war in Kashmir in which many of my colleagues got martyred. That was in 1947. We must accept that India of today is very different.
The pay equation between Army and Police officers was maintained till the Fourth Pay Commission, when this started being altered to the disadvantage of Army officers. I compliment the three Service Chiefs for doing their bounden duty in taking up the case of the emoluments of Lt Cols and Lt Gens at the highest level. I am surprised that some journalists, ignorant of facts have been critical of the Army and the Chiefs on this score.
I do not wish to bother you with details. I understand that to scuttle the case of Lt Cols, a red herring of comparing them with Deputy Commandants of Para Military Forces, has been raised. The latter till recently were Class 2 officers and even today are not at par with IPS officers. Moreover, the role and responsibility of the Army is different from that of the Para Military. As for Lt Gens, they got higher emoluments and held higher status than the Chief of Police of a State. That equation is also now sought to be altered to the disadvantage of the Army.
In 1973 Manekshaw was appointed Field Marshal. As Adjutant General I took up the case of the salary of Field Marshal with the Government. It took the Babus 33 years to take a decision and finally Manekshaw got his arrears of Rs 1.2 crores in 2007. The Defence Secretary handed over a cheque for that amount to him. Soon after, I met Manekshaw in the hospital, when he was on a ventilator. I congratulated him. He smiled and in his imitable way said that a Babu had given him a cheque but he was not sure if that cheque would be honoured.
Not only in terms of emoluments but also protocol, the position of Army officers has been persistently lowered after Independence. This applies to the Army Chief downwards and often this has been done afterr the Army has fought a war successfully. The protocol status of a Field Marshal has not yet been fixed in the Table of Precedence because Babudom wants to preserve the higher status of the Bara Babu, the Cabinet Secretary. When our first Field Marshal passed away recently, only a Minister of State attended the funeral. When the first British Field Marshal, the Duke of Wellington, passed away, Heads of States , Ambassadors, Prime Minister and Ministers attended his funeral. Such a cavalier approach of our rulers to the Army, aptly described by Eisenhower as the Nattion's ultimate weapon, is not in our national interest.
Assam
The shocking serial bomb blasts in Assam, the other day, in which over 81 innocent people got killed is a sad reflection on the functioning of the Government which has reduced India to a very soft State. Terrorists have been attacking city after city and our rulers issue only inane statements. In the case of Assam, the Nation is being made to suffer self-inflicted wounds. Way back in the Sixties, forty years ago the then Governor of Assam, B K Nehru, and his Chief Minister B P Chaliha wanted to take measures against the influx of illegal migrants and took up the matter with the Centre. They were told to stop the nonsense. B K Nehru was from the dynasty, a cousin of Indira Gandhi. In his autobiography, Nice Guys Finish Second, he wrote that Chaliha belonged to an earlier generation of Congressmen that had a different set of values. They considered national interest above party interests which was now not so with the present generation of Congressmen. This was a clear indictment of vote bank politics. Thirty years later, as Governor of Assam, I also took up this issue. I submitted a 42 page report to the President of India. I made 15 specific recommendations to check the danger posed by the unabated influx of illegal migrants from Assam not only to the demography of Assam but also to the Nation's security. These recommendations included the repeal of IMDT Act, border fencing, introducing photo identity cards at least in the border districts and updating national register of citizens. My recommendations were ignored. Congress legislators in Assam appealed to the President calling for my recall. Ultimately, the IMDT Act was struck down by the Supreme Court quoting extensively from my report but the Government brought it back through the backdoor, by amending the Foreigner's Act. The fencing of the 260 kilometer land border in Assam supposed to have started in 1985, is not yet fully complete. While I was Governor of J & K, the Army completed a much more sophisticated fencing of 750 kilometers of the border, in far more difficult terrain. As for photo identity cards and national registere of citizens, no action whatsoever has been taken.
There has been total lack of political will to take any action to stop the demographic aggression in Assam due to vote bank considerations. On 10 April 1992, Hiteshwar Saikia the then Chief Minister of Assam stated in the State Assembly that there were 3 million illegal immigrants in Assam. Two days later he was pressurized to say to the Press that there were no illegal immigrants in Assam. On 6 May 1997 the then Union Home Minister, Indrajit Gupta, told the Parliament that there were 1 crore illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India. On 15 July 2004 K P Jaiswal the Minister of State for Home told the Parliament that there were 1.2 crore illegal immigrants in the country. The following day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Guwahati. Obviously under the influence of local Congressmen, he stated that the figures mentioned by his junior Minister in the Parliament were not authentic. A week later Jaiswal told the Parliament that he had quoted figures on the basis of hearsay.
The root cause of militancy and Jehadi violence in Assam has been illegal migration from Bangladesh. For the sake of votes, the ruling party has not only been turning a Nelson's eye to the problem but has been encouraging it.
The influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam continues unabated. The demographic contour of all the border districts, particularly in Lower Assam has changed radically. In many of these districts Bangladeshis are now in a majority. The district of Dhubri which abuts the sensitive Siliguri corridor, called the Chicken Neck,has a 70% Bangladeshi Muslim population. The consequence of this for the entire land mass of the North East can be most serious. It vitally affects not only the people of Assam but the entire Nation. Apart from the Government required totake stringent measures against Jehadi terrorism all the country, it must take prompt concrete measures on a war footing, to counter the unabated influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam.

Lt Gen SK Sinha (Retd)

Isn't it deliberate?

The more I deliberate over the problem created by lowering of the status and pay anomalies of the defence services and bring them at par with the police and the Central Police Organisations (CPOs), the more I am convinced that the web in which we find ourselves today is a deliberately created situation.

What do they indicate? The non-creation of the post of CDS, lowering the pay and status of Lieutenants-General below that of the Directors-General of Police, bringing down the Lieutenant-Colonels at par with the second in command of the CPOs by lowering them to Pay Band 3 and now the alteration of the definition of the rank pay in the Special Army Instructions are deliberate attempts to equate the Army with that of the police and CPOs based on the badges of rank worn.

It is another matter that the junior officers of the police and CPOs were allowed to wear badges of higher ranks of the Army structure, perhaps with a long-term intention of lowering the status of the Army and equating them with these organisations.

Does any one still believe that the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister are oblivious of the goings on? Are the meek bureaucrats capable of doing all these on their own? I think not.

Brig V. MAHALINGAM (retd), (On e-mail)

ATS may grill three more army officers

Two colonels, major under scanner in blasts case

Nikhil S Dixit. Mumbai


The blasts shadow on the army deepened on Thursday with three more serving officers emerging as suspects in the Malegaon terror strike.
After the arrest of Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit on Wednesday for his alleged role in the September 29 blasts, three more senior army officers have come under the scanner of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
According to a senior officer from the ATS, two of them are colonels while the third is of the rank of major. The officer said the ATS had already forwarded a letter to the defence headquarters in Delhi "explaining the roles of these suspects and the need to question them".
Meanwhile, reacting to Purohit's arrest, the deputy army chief said the army's "prestige has been hurt", but stressed that it was a "freak" incident. "Indian army's prestige has been hurt after our officer's name came up in the Malegaon blast case," Lt Gen SPS Dhillon told reporters.
Purohit was arrested in Mumbai for allegedly supplying money and explosives in the Malegaon blast. The officer was posted at the Army Corps Training College and Centre at Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh.
The deputy army chief said the army will take action after it gets a report from the ATS. "This is a freak incident. We have our own mechanism for keeping a check on these things," he added.
The defence authorities are expected to give clearance to question the three officers, the ATS officer said. Once this happens, the officers will be brought to Mumbai. Though he refused to reveal the names of these officers, their place of posting or details about their involvement in the Malegaon blasts, sources indicate one of the colonels is from Pune and another from Deolali camp, Nashik.
Following Purohit's arrest, the entire Army Liaison Cell Unit, a front for the Military Intelligence in Pune, has come under the ATS scanner. A senior ATS official said there is a possibility that others posted at the Army Liaison Cell Unit or those who had worked there in the past could also be questioned.

From http://livefist. blogspot. com/2008/ 11/6thpc- update.html
Dear GoM.

and
Dear Madame Shushma Nath, IAS, Secretary Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, Former Member Secretary, the 6th CPC,


I believe the file of GoM on Armed Forces Pay Anomalies is lying with you. The GoM have wisely and rightly done so. If they have not done so they should do it. Any one who starts the problem must end it. There is a saying in Punjabi "Jo Bole wo Buwa Khole" (the one who replies, then will open the door). Since the all the problems have emanated from your end, You are the best person to solve those now.

Madame, the entire problem has emanated by you not having taken the rank pay into account while preparing the Table given on page 73. Rank pay has been part of basic pay componant since 4th CPC and there is no point eliminating that in 2008 and thereby correct History by degrading eaxch and every rank one step down.

Madame, let us put that aside if it is Controversial. Then Correct the history by going back to the equations of the third CPC. Let that be the bench mark if Rank Pay has become so problematic.

Madame, If you feel Armed Forces made hay after 4th CPC due to Rank pay componant and the injustice needs to be put in order, then please go back and put the things as they were in 1952, just after we gained Independence as per ranks of Precedence in 1952 which was amanded then.

Madame, lots of Cadres including IAS, IPS and other services have made lots of hay under the Sunshine of their own influences and powers, Cadre reviews, and proximity to power. Lots of imbalance have occurred and it is not my case at all to correct history every where and at every step. But why single out rank pay which originated by the desire of Pay Commssions not agreeing to Service proposals. This time around you have not been magnemoious even to consider Service Proposals.

Madame, hence I submit, why have you chosen only the dumb and deaf Armed Forces to be the target for punishment. They have crated least opportunities and avenues under the Sun Shine of Independence. If at all, there has been any progress for them, it was snatched by the greedy competing Bureaucracies right from CCS ti IPS and Upwards.

Madame, please be fair and do not get stuck with IAS phobia of obtaining six years seniority at each and every Armed Forces rank. That ICS phobia earlier needed redressal as Army and ICS worked together upto district levels of administration to maintain "Colony". It has no meaning now as Army has only MoD IAS to interact with. So the young Army lad bossing over an aged Civil Servant is no longer the real issue any where as it used to be. It has no longer any socio-psychological ramifications needing assidious balance. Armed forces have emerged as the real Armed Forces of the Country no longer officered by the Gora sahib needed to be despised by Kalu Ram, ICS. Do not play Colonial games madame.

Madame, I am well aware, and it is evident how IAS wants to be senior to Lt Col at least by six years at director level. Agreed but his desire has gone a little beyond as he wants to stand above an old Colonel and even older Brigadier of 30 years of Service. Some one rightly observed that IAS have become too Greedy..to attain balance.

Madame, it is high Time, IAS pays respect to Uniformed men older than them in age and Service and not lesser in status, historically or otherwise. The situation now is reverse. The Ganges has started flowing back to Goumukh. Request restore balance as what Consideration Kalu Ram, ICS, needed earlier now is the requirement of Sena Naik, General, of your country.

Madame, balance is the name of game I suppose. Director gets two increments at 13 years of service so he becomes two years senior. His one years training is Service, so he is three years senior. Give him an advantage of one more year. Put Lt Col of 14 years if not 13 years in PB-4. So director remains senior to Lt Cols as per same age profiles. That would bring Director to somewhat Col level. just for three years.

However, give this advantage back to Armed Forces at Brig and Maj Gen level. Grant Maj Gen NFSG to selected officers at 22 years service, which IAS is getting at 16years. Balance must be overall and not only at Director level.


Regarding MSP, if it becomes part of Pay at Maj Gen level for all purpose including future increments, why deny the same privilege to lesser folks who actually deserve it more.MSP becomes part of Basic Pay fixation on induction into CPMF and thereby entiled to every thing but is nothing while in fauzi service. That is not logical and justifiable.

You have been granted a historical opportunity by the GoM. I am sanguine an IAS of your stature will make best use of it to restore confidence in IAS and bring in inter services amity. A human being comes to live to contribute and not for destruction

Army in crisis over saffron terror stain

Vishal Thapar

CNN-IBN

http://static.ibnlive.com/pix/common/zero.gifNew Delhi: The arrest of Lt Colonel Shrikant Purohit for his alleged involvement in the Malegaon blast and the possibility of the involvement of more Army personnel is now turning out to be perhaps the biggest image crisis for the Indian Army.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad is reportedly preparing to question one more serving Army officer.

"If there is anything that spoils the image of Indian Army then it obviously makes us feel bad. We all have immense respect for the Army and it is not just us, the country respects the Army too," Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt General SPS Dhillon said.

Investigations by the Maharashtra Police threaten to blow apart the Indian Army's secular credentials.

A robustly secular image is central to the Indian Army's sensitive role in combating religious extremism in places like Jammu and Kashmir. That image is now under a cloud, and the military community is now beginning to wonder if the Maharashtra Police has been responsible in hurling charges without first collecting credible evidence.

Strategic Affairs Commentator Major General Ashok Mehta said, "If anybody is trying to take advantage of this incident for any political advantages then that will be the single biggest damage that the Government or any political party would do not just to the armed forces but to the country also."

A sore point with the Army is that the Maharashtra Police has not shared evidence, if it has any.

The frenzied media coverage of these as yet unsubstantiated allegations has left the Army worried as it could severely dent its image as the most powerful instrument in the hands of the state to defend the idea of a plural India.

Army hands over Lt Col's case to ATS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 6
The Indian defence authorities today handed over the jurisdiction of the case of the serving Lt Col Srikant Purohit to the Mumbai anti-terrorist squad (ATS) even as it is unlikely that any immediate move will be launched to dismiss him from service.

The handing over the jurisdiction was formality that had to be completed before the police could start its on own course.

Separately, reports are filtering in that the ATS may seek permission to question more serving officers who could have been in contact with Lt Col Purohit. The Army has denied the same saying no formal request has been made so far to question anybody else.

This is the first incident of a serving army officer to have been found to have links with anti-national forces and has come as shock to the Armed forces that take pride in itself. Today deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen S.S. Dhillon termed it as a 'freak case'. We are alert but it is one-off case.

The Ministry of Defence has already confirmed that the ATS and followed all procedures required under the provisions of law before the arrest of the Lt Col. This laid to rest any confusion if the colonel was arrested in accordance with procedures of the law, or the permission of the MoD was sought.

Russia on course to deploy missiles in the Baltic

sunit thakurta 06 November 2008, Thursday

IN A clear effort to counter the proposed US missile defence shield over Central Europe across Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia is set to deploy short range lethal Iskander missiles in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

This is a clear indication from Moscow that the US missile defence shield plan has ruffled Russian feathers to such an extent that the Kremlin is drawing up blueprints for a possible future clash with NATO.

Revealing plans to move the Iskander missiles near the Baltic coast on Russia's far west in his first state-of-the-nation address, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would deploy the missiles in the Kaliningrad region to "neutralize, if necessary, the (US) anti-missile system."

On a day when the United States elected their new President, Russia's decision presents a whole new ball game for President-elect Barack Obama, who has to take concrete steps to maintain a critical foreign policy balance with Moscow, when he takes office. Russia's emergence as a major political and economical power after years of chaos following the collapse of the Soviet Union has led to a new form of ideological clash with the Western countries, which is determined by Moscow's key role as a leading energy producer.

Sale of Military Equipment:
US wants India to Accept Conditions

By Lalit K. Jha

New York
India would have to agree to "certain conditions" if it wants to purchase equipment from the US military, a top American official said here without specifying what they would be.

"They (India) would have to agree certain conditions that we think are very important," Admiral Timoty Keating, commander of the US Pacific Joint Command, asserted during his interaction with foreign correspondents in New York Wednesday.

Keating, however, refrained from elaborating further on the "conditions" and said the issue comes under the jurisdiction of the US State Department, which is currently conducting negotiations with India on the matter.

Referring to the tender floated by India to purchase fighter planes, Keating said: "They want to replace their aging fighters. The United States has two fighters in the programme, but the decision has not been made yet. We are cautiously hopeful."

When asked what impact the India-US civilian nuclear deal would have on the military relationship between the two countries, Keating said: "...not directly. I do not think it is quid pro one for one. There are second or third order effect to this signal event - the nuclear deal."

He said there are some areas where the US military was still working with India.

Keating acknowledged that the military relationship between the two countries had improved during the last eight years, which he said had been the goal of the Bush administration. "We have got a very strong relationship with the Indian military."

"The spirit of cooperation, the degree of mutual engagement opportunities, the exchange of personnel, participation of military exercises is significantly better today from our perspective than it was eight years ago. I am assured that the Indian leaders feel the same way," he said.

Keating appreciated India's response to the recent terror attacks and termed them "balanced and matured".

Keating, who visited India for the first time in the mid 1980s when he was in the staff of the Pacific Command, is planning to visit India in the next five to six months. He would be meeting Indian Navy chief Admiral Suresh Mehta in Indonesia next week on the sidelines of the annual Chief of the Defense Conference which will see representation from about 40 countries.

Guts a Pre-Requisite to Fly on Siachen Glacier
By Ritu Sharma

Siachen Base Camp
"Guts are the pre-requisite to fly here". A plaque at the Indian Air Force's (IAF) 114 Cheetah Helicopter Unit aptly summarizes the harsh environment that the aviators have to face while operating on the Siachen Glacier, once known as the highest battlefield in the world at 22,000 ft.

For IAF pilots, landing on some of the world's highest helipads like Sonam (20,000 feet) and Amar (20,114 feet) is a daily affair. Army pilots also push their helicopters beyond their performance limits to maintain the supply to the forward posts located at the frozen frontier.

Considering these operations in the light of regular enemy firing, unpredictable weather, temperatures between minus 40 and minus 60 degrees Celsius, one realizes the guts behind the glory.

"The Siachen Glacier is the most challenging place to land a helicopter. We carry out lots of calculations involving power of the helicopter and load carried in the prevailing density of air, wind conditions and altitude," Col. Ajay Gogna told IANS.

He has been flying the Cheetah helicopter in the treacherous terrain of the Siachen Glacier, dropping supply at various posts and evacuating casualties.

"At times we have to evacuate casualties from difficult terrain and from unprepared helipads. An officer should be mentally prepared to carry out all tasks with perfection," Gogna said.

The pilots operating in the region are called "Fliers of the Roof of the World" and "Siachen Saviors" for the role they assume for sustaining the huge logistical exercise on the glacier.

Kerosene, needed by soldiers to fire heaters and melt ice to obtain water at posts where even a bucket of boiling water turns into ice within 15-20 minutes, used to be supplied by the helicopters till army engineers constructed a special 121 km-long pipeline connecting the Siachen base camp to some positions on the glacier.

A battalion of Indian troops was rushed to Siachen in 1984 under "Operation Meghdoot" to stave off efforts by Pakistani units to occupy the 76-km-long glacier. Since then, the army and the IAF have mounted a huge logistical exercise to maintain troops at forward posts and to evacuate casualties.

The pilots take their Cheetah helicopters, based on a design of 1960s vintage and meant to fly only at altitudes of up to about 15,000 feet, to posts located as high as 21,000 feet.

The medium lift Mi-17 helicopters have been carrying out successful air-drops to the lower level (up to 17,500 ft) helipads in the area and have been the backbone of air maintenance. The Cheetahs then take over the challenging task of ferrying supplies and men to helipads situated up to about 20,000 feet.

The aviators put it this way - "We do the difficult as a routine, the impossible may take a bit longer."

Malegaon blasts case: More Armymen to be questioned?

NDTV Correspondent

Thursday, November 06, 2008 (Mumbai, Ahmedabad)

Sources have told NDTV that Maharashtra's Anti-Terror Squad is likely to request the Army to question more serving officers in connection with the Malegaon blasts case.

Sources said this is based on the interrogation of Lt Col Srikant Purohit who is already in custody.

PTI adds: Mumbai Police will also be probing if Lt Col Srikant Prasad Purohit and others arrested in connection with the Malegaon blasts had any role in the explosions in other parts of the country this year even as the hunt for two absconding accused intensified on Thursday.

Who is Lt Col Srikant Purohit?

# Earlier he was in Maratha Regiment. While he was serving in Jammu and Kashmir, he was put in a lower medical category because of ill health.

# He was later shifted to Military Intelligence and was downgraded to a lower medical category while in Jammu and Kashmir.

# He came in contact with the radical group Abhinav Bharat and one of the prime accused Major Updhyaya, formerly with the Territorial Army, during his postings with the military intelligence in Nasik and Pune.

# He was currently in Panchmarhi, learning Arabic.

# Call records between the Lt Col and Upadhyaya around and after the Malegaon blast are seen as incriminating.

# Police say he played a wider role in the Malegaon blast, and advised the group that carried out the blast on their activities.

Mumbai Police's plans for future investigations were communicated to the Nashik court after it granted the Anti-Terrorism Squad custody of Purohit for ten days.

Officials attached with the interrogation said the initial questioning of Purohit indicated that he had developed contacts with radical elements when he was posted in the Army Liaison Cell Unit, a front cover for Military Intelligence, in 2005-06.

In a related development, a hunt for Ramnarayan Kalsangram and Samir Dange, who are alleged to have planned and executed the Malegaon blasts, in which five people were killed and dozen others injured, has been intensified, official sources said.

Officials said the two were suspected to have planted the motorcycle-laden explosives in Malegaon on September 29.

The ATS has arrested nine persons for allegedly being involved in the September 29 blasts in Malegaon - Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, retired army major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Rakesh Dhawde, Jagdish Mhatre and Srikant Purohit.

Colonel's arrest has upset Army: Dy chief

NDTV Correspondent
Thursday, November 06, 2008 (Mumbai)

Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Purohit, who was arrested by the ATS late on Tuesday in Mumbai in connection with the Malegaon blasts, was sent to police custody till November 15 on Wednesday.

The court has given permission for a narco analysis test on Lt Colonel Srikant Purohit.

The Army's deputy chief, Lt Gen SPS Dhillon has said that no one will be spared, if found guilty, and that action will be taken according to the chargesheet that will be given to them by the ATS.

"The arrest of Purohit has dented the image of Army," he said.

However, Purohit's family has said that he is innocent, a patriot and not involved in such activities.

"We fully support him and are proud of his service to the nation. He had no access to the RDX in the Army depot," the family said in a statement.

They also said that Purohit is being targetted as he had given lectures at Bhonsala School. "He knew Ramesh Upadyay. That doesn't mean he is involved in the case," said a family member.

Lt Col Purohit was earlier in the Maratha regiment. Because of ill health, he was put in a lower medical category while in Jammu and Kashmir, which affects promotions and was later shifted to military intelligence.

He came into contact with Abhinav Bharat or Major Upadhyaya, another armyman, during his postings with MI in Nashik and Pune, sometime in 2004-05.

Purohit was found in Panchmarhi, learning Arabic. Call records between him and Upadhyaya around the time of the Malegaon blasts and after that is seen as incriminating.

But the Colonel's exact role is not clear. He is being investigated not just for training, but for playing a wider role in the blasts.

Purohit is suspected to have helped bomb blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Retired Army Major Ramesh Upadhyaya and his associate Sharad Kulkarni in getting RDX that was used in the September 29 Malegaon blasts.

The Army's deputy chief Lt Gen SPS Dhillon has said that the Army will spare no one if found guilty and that action will be taken according to the chargesheet that will be given to them by the ATS.

Defence buys from US to have strings attached
7 Nov, 2008, 0318 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Increasing defence co-operation may be the next big thing for Indo-US ties after the civilian nuclear deal but a top US official has sa


id that India will have to accept 'certain conditionalities' to purchase defence equipment from the US.

Without going into details, Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of the US Pacific Joint Command, said that there were conditionalities that India would need to fulfil before buying equipment from the US military.
"They (India) would have to agree certain conditions that we think are very important," he was quoted as saying in an interaction with foreign correspondents.

Admiral Keating further said that these issues were being dealt with by the US state department which is in negotiations with India on the issue of purchase of defence equipment. He, however, refused to elaborate on the conditionalities.

The top US official also tried to dismiss any notion that the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement would have any direct impact on the military relationship. "...not directly. I do not think it is quid pro one for one. There are second or third order effect to this signal event - the nuclear deal."

At the same time, Admiral Keating also expressed hope that the 126 fighter jet contract, which is worth $10 billion, would be won by the US. "They want to replace their ageing fighters. The United States has two fighters in the programme, but the decision has not been made yet.

We are cautiously hopeful." India has floated a tender for the purchase of the fighters and six companies are competing for the Indian Air Force order. But Admiral Keating said that the military relationship between the two countries had grown under the Bush administration.

"We have got a very strong relationship with the Indian military." "The spirit of co-operation, the degree of mutual engagement opportunities, the exchange of personnel, participation of military exercises is significantly better today from our perspective than it was eight years ago. I am assured that the Indian leaders feel the same way," he said.

Indo-US military ties have been deepening with an increase in the frequency of joint military exercises between the armed forces of the two countries. Similarly, many defence deals are also on the anvil.

Admiral Keating is expected to visit India in the coming months. He will be meeting Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta in Indonesia next week on the sidelines of the annual chief of the defence conference.

EADS plans to source more components from Indian suppliers

This would be partly driven by potential offset contracts on planes and fighter jets sold to India's Armed Forces

K. Raghu

Bangalore: The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., or EADS, the parent of plane maker Airbus SAS, plans to source at least €4 billion (about Rs24,480 crore) worth of aerospace components and systems as well as software from India in the next 10 years.

This would be partly driven by potential offset contracts on planes and fighter jets sold to India's Armed Forces. EADS also plans to use the country as a low-cost base for sourcing.

Going global: An Airbus SAS A320 airplane assembly line in Tianjin, China. EADS is the parent firm of the plane maker. Nelson Ching / Bloomberg

India's defence offset policy mandates that foreign contractors source components and systems from local vendors for at least 30% of the value of orders of more than Rs300 crore that they get from the Indian military.

"We will do more than the pure (offset) requirement (for) market access. It is the key driver, but not the only one," said Matthias Gramolla, vice-president for strategic sourcing at EADS, in an interview on the sidelines of a conference on supply chain management.

EADS, which makes passenger planes, helicopters, fighter aircraft and rockets, is bidding for contracts with India, the world's third largest spender on arms. India's imports of military hardware and software could reach a cumulative $30 billion (about Rs1.43 trillion) by 2012, according to a study by industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.

India also imports the bulk of its military planes and tanks and is in the market for 126 fighter planes.

Indian companies are expected to get offset orders from global military equipment makers of nearly Rs40,000 crore up to 2011, according to the ministry of defence.

Firms such as EADS and Boeing Co., its American rival, use vendors or suppliers globally to source components and systems and they act as integrators of the helicopters and planes they sell to customers.

EADS currently sources around €100 million worth of aero structures and engine components annually from Indian vendors, but plans to increase it to nearly €1 billion a year by 2020. It sources aero structures such as doors from India's state-run military plane maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and software from firms such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Infosys Technologies Ltd and HCL Technologies Ltd. "We have learnt that the business model of making something in Europe and exporting to the rest of the world, does not work in the future. We have to be present in our global markets," said EADS vice-president Gramolla.

India sending backup to DRC

AFP Published:Nov 06, 2008

India is sending Gurkha troops to join a UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo where rebel forces have tightened their grip on a key town, officials said today.

The announcement came after New Delhi said it was "very concerned" over the safety of some 8,000 Indian troops in the UN mission in the DR Congo (MONUC) as continued clashes between rebels and government forces threatened a fragile ceasefire.

An Indian army spokesman told AFP that an entire battalion of 1,200 Gurkha soldiers would be sent to join MONUC "within the month."

"The Gurkhas would replace our sixth light infantry battalion in the DRC and the deployment would be completed within the month," the spokesman said in New Delhi.

The ministry said the Gurkhas had been specially trained.

"Keeping in view the volatile conditions in Congo, the unit has carried out extensive training and mission sensitisation in Delhi for the past few months in all aspects of UN operations," it said in a statement.

Indian military sources said they were having increasing difficulties in supplying troops in the field with ammunition and rations because of the deteriorating situation.

MONUC comprises around 17,000 troops drawn from eight nations with India and Pakistan the largest contributors.

Last week, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony said he was concerned over the safety of his troops in DR Congo, where three soldiers and an officer were injured in October after coming under rebel rocket attack.

MONUC troops are under orders to open fire on rebel forces if they advance on the strategic city of Goma in the country's east.

Rebels loyal to renegade general Laurent Nkunda have been positioned outside Goma since declaring a ceasefire a week ago after routing government forces in an offensive that has seen them take several towns in Nord-Kivu.

MONUC has only a few thousand troops in Nord-Kivu

He is the founder of Hindutva terror group, say investigators

Praveen Swami

NEW DELHI: Investigators believe that Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, the first serving Indian Army officer to ever be arrested for terrorism-related crimes, was the overall architect of the September 29 bombing in Malegaon.

Purohit, who was arrested by Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad late on Tuesday night, is alleged by the investigators to have set up and controlled the Abhinav Bharat Sangathan, the Hindutva terrorist group thought to be responsible for the attack.

Indian Army officials handed over custody of Purohit at the end of over two days of questioning, during which the officer was confronted with evidence of his links with other key Malegaon bombing suspects. Ministry of Defence officials in New Delhi said Purohit would not have the option of being tried before a military court, as the offence with which he was charged was not related to his duties as an officer.

Police are still searching for key Abhinav Bharat operatives Ramnarayan Kalsangram and Samir Dange, who are alleged to have planned and executed the attack, which claimed six lives.

Five suspects had earlier been held, including Gujarat-based nun and political activist Sadhvi Pragnya Thakur, whose motorcycle was used to fabricate the improvised explosive device.

"We hope Purohit's interrogation will give us a clearer picture of just how the actual operation was carried out," a senior member of the investigation team told The Hindu. "And, in particular, the question of just how the military-grade explosives used in the attack were sourced."

The officials said there was, as yet, no evidence to confirm media speculation that Purohit had sourced the explosives through his military contacts.

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