Article By Lt Col (Retd) HS Cheema
Lt Col Srikant Prohit's alleged role in Malegaon blast is under investigation by Maharashtra ATS. It will not be fair for the media or the public to give their final verdict on this till investigations are completed. What ever may the truth the effect of this if true needs to be analyzed from various angles! The first is the Defense personnel's involvement in terrorist activities. As for the Nation, an individual carrying out such activities, irrespective of his background of religion, region, cast or organization should be treated as an aberration and not held against his organization. When we accept that a terrorist has no religion then how can we hold Lt Col Prohit's involvement against the Armed Forces? The fact is that our expectations from the Defence Forces are so high that we cannot see them faltering under any circumstances. We treat them with contempt is a different matter. A Defence personnel is fleeced by shopkeeper for his innocence. He is rudely treated and held to ransom by babus as he has limited time to attend to his domestic affairs. He is emotionally blackmailed by the political parties and the leaders by lip service and enacting dramas. All politicians today in opposition are promising one rank one pension and many more doles on coming to power. They including Mr Jaswant Singh, BJP and Cap Kanwaljeet Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal forget that they and their parties did nothing when they ruled the country in the past for a long time. The election will be over; they will come to power once again only to forget the promises made by them today, like they did in the past. Let them include all issues in their election manifestoes with a condition to resign in case they fail to fulfill the promises. Look at the way the babus are treating Forces in implementation of CPC! Rather than appreciating the Forces Chiefs, they are being criticized by the same babus, past and present for defiance of cabinet decision. They neither know nor are they capable of understanding Forces ethos and commanders responsibility towards their command It is not for nothing that the Forces have never failed the Nation for any task, what ever its nature.
The above not withstanding, the Forces should convert this tragic happening into an opportunity and tie their loose ends. They have a great responsibility towards the Nation and they have never failed to live up to that. For them Purohit is not an aberration, it is a failure if true. Even one such failure from the last saviors of the Nation can have catastrophic effect which the Nation can ill afford.
Harbhajan Singh Cheema
Ex-servicemen enter hiring ring
12 Nov 2008, 0053 hrs IST, Maulik Vyas, ET Bureau
MUMBAI: India Inc is in a Catch-22 situation. The financial turmoil is forcing them to scale down hiring. But with pressures to complete
projects mounting, companies are pressed to hire people who can deliver without charging as much as an experienced hand would demand.
Defence personnel, who have retired after leading disciplined lives for years during their commission with the armed forces, are the right candidates for such times, says a cross-section of HR firms. "You need discipline, integrity, leadership skills to make big projects a reality. Ex-servicemen are the right mix for such times as they can meet deadlines, are better in critical assessment and organisational tasks," says D'Oneil Vaz, CEO of Blue Sky HR, a Mumbai-based firm that typically recruits across all sectors, including retail, banking and IT.
With the same objective, the Directorate of Resettlement, under the ministry of defence (MoD), has started a short duration training programme for ex-servicemen to make them compatible with the needs of the corporate world.
"They have a unique advantage that many employees lack," says Dr MC Agrawal, chairman of executive education programme at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, which has tied up with the MoD. "They are more honest towards their team, more disciplined, open (to ideas) and also have a better style of communicating with their team members," he adds.
During the past two years since the six-month course started at NMIMS, a number of blue-chip companies such as L&T, Citigroup, ICICI Bank, Satyam Technologies, Bajaj Auto and RIL have hired such defence personnel, Mr Agrawal says, adding that the placements for the current batch are scheduled for November 14.
The demand for top talent has never ever been so greater. All corporates seek credible, experienced leaders with the vision to excel skills to design winning strategies, motivate retention, and optimum efficiency to grow. It is a situation where these defence officers have contributed successfully in their organisation and surely are going to continue in the organisation they are going to join, says faculty and corporate lawyer Nadirshaw Dhondy.
Colonel Nevil Malao, who served in the defence forces for more than two decades, says whatever they have done during their service, they will do it in corporate, but the only difference is they have to learn terminology of boardroom.
Malegaon and military
Handle the situation with utmost care
by Inder Malhotra
SINCE almost every issue in this country, even that of terrorism, has been made a football of partisan politics, it is vital that all concerned must resist the temptation to politicise the arrests of a serving Lieutenant-Colonel and a couple of retired Army officers for alleged involvement in the Malegaon bomb blast, which is believed to be linked with an earlier one at Nanded. The matter is as sensitive as it is serious, and has to be handled with utmost care. Of course, anyone guilty of terrorist activity of whatever hue, whether a military man or civilian, must be meted out exemplary punishment. But the arrest of Lt-Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit should neither be underplayed nor blown out of all proportions.
For a start, it would help dispassionately to look at the record since Indepen-dence of the armed forces, especially the Army, the largest service that is also the instrument of last resort against all disasters, man-made or natural. To pretend that no one in the Army is ever affected by strong sentiment prevailing in society would be the height of naivety. To control the post-Partition communal frenzy in the nation's capital, Jawaharlal Nehru had to send for the Madras Regiment. It wouldn't do to argue that this happened only under exceptional circumstances. For, exactly the same regiment had to be deployed during the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in the wake of Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.
In the early years of Independence, Nehru wrote to then Defence Minister Baldev Singh, to bemoan that Sikh Generals, after retirement, were joining the Akali party. Sometime later, he wrote to state chief ministers to deplore that quite a few armed forces officers had started seeking political patronage to secure promotions. In both respects, the state of affairs has deteriorated since then. The search for political godfathers has become rampant. As for post-retirement political affiliations of military officers, they first divided their loyalties between the Akalis and the Congress. After the rise of the BJP as the leader of the ruling coalition, there was a big influx of retired officers into the saffron camp.
In contrast to what happened in Delhi during 1984 when virulent anti-Hindi riots broke out in Tamil Nadu in 1965 and it became necessary to call out the Army, a wise South Indian Lieutenant-General advised both the Defence Minister and the Army Chief to send only the Sikh or Mahar troops to Tamil Nadu — an advice that was accepted immediately.
However, when all is said and done, the undeniable fact remains that the collective ethos and professional integrity of the Army has endured intact not only through the upheavals cited above but also amidst much worse episodes later. During the Emergency in the mid-seventies, the Indian Army simply held the ring and let the political process take its course. The Army's role on combating and ending the horrendous Gujarat riots was even more commendable.
Arguably, the heaviest strain on the Army, its discipline and traditions, came in the wake of Operation Bluestar. Soldiers at the headquarters of the Sikh Regiment shot dead the Brigadier commanding them. In several places largely fresh or junior jawans in the Sikh formations mutinied. The Army leadership restored order and normalcy with remarkable speed. Just over a month afterwards, I stayed without a whiff of worry with a Sikh Light Infantry battalion in Kashmir.
The Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, has said that after the arrest of Lt-Col Purohit, the Army has intensified its internal checks and vigilance to ensure that there are no rogue elements within its ranks. However, an answer is needed to a gnawing question: why didn't the arrested Colonel's apparently suspicious activities come to the notice of the Army's relevant authorities all these years? Especially when, according to reports emanating from the investigative agencies, the officer, formerly of the Intelligence Branch, not only allegedly trained Hindutva extremists but also procured for them deadly RDX?
Without beating about the bush, let me add that investigations into bomb blasts and other terrorist depredations have all too often been distressingly dilatory and uncertain. Assertions made emphatically at one stage have had to be withdrawn later. The latest example of this is the report from Guwahati that the recent bomb blasts in Assam were the handiwork of Bodo extremists. This is a flat contradiction of the investigators' earlier claim that the needle of suspicion pointed to the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HJUI). Ironically, neither of the two "findings" has been presented to any court of law yet. Nor can anyone guess when this would be done, if at all. Yet the leaks keep coming and the media, especially the round-the-clock TV channels, peddling them every hour on the hour.
Only the other day TV news channels went on announcing that the arrested Colonel had spent Rs 60 lakh, without raising the obvious question as to where did a middle-level officer get so much money from. Does the media realise that someone may be using it?
After a case is investigated and taken to court, the judicial process also takes its time. Judges cannot be blamed if there is a shortage of judicial manpower or if the prosecution cannot produce evidence speedily. The Bombay High Court's verdict on the 1993 serial blasts came 14 years later. Any case involving an Army officer that drags on and on cannot but spell disaster. There is already discontent among the armed forces over their pay and status after the Sixth Pay Commission's report. Noting should be done to deepen this faultline. One fundamental question that has been neglected or avoided for decades has become very pertinent in the present circumstances. The doctrines of secularism, rule of law, and equality before the law, though basic tenets of Indian democracy, are plants of very slow growth. But who has tried to nourish these plants? The answer, alas, is: after Nehru, no one.
No wonder then that the secular ideal is under heavy attack in Indian polity from extremism of all kinds, ethnic and other divides. The need to inculcate the values of equality and secularism — irrespective of religion, region, caste or creed — among the armed forces, paramilitary organisations, the police, and the investigative agencies has become acute. Unfortunate-ly, not even the most vocal champions of secular values have paid this any heed. The more agonising question is: would they do so now?
Colors of Indian Flag on Moon Friday
The saffron-white-green of the Indian flag will adorn the moon from Friday night when the tricolor-painted moon impact probe (MIP) of Chandrayaan-1 lands on its surface to begin a two-year investigation of the earth's only natural satellite.
The 375 mm x 375 mm x 470 mm MIP is a honeycomb structure housing the subsystems and three instruments - radar altimeter, video imaging system and mass spectrometer. It weighs 35 kg.
"The MIP's primary objective is to demonstrate the technologies required for landing the probe at a desired location on the moon, qualify some of the technologies related to future soft landing missions and scientific exploration of the moon from close range," according to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
The MIP will take about 25 minutes to land on the moon after detaching at around 10 p.m. Friday from India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1. The Chandrayaan is circling the moon every two hours at a distance of 100 km since Wednesday night.
Chandrayaan was blasted off Oct 22 onboard the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C11) from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota spaceport, about 80 km north of Chennai, and has travelled nearly 384,000 km to reach its final lunar orbit of 100 km from the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan will conduct chemical, mineralogical and photo geological mapping of the moon from the operational circular orbit over the next two years with its 11 scientific instruments (payloads), including MIP.
Two of the payloads - terrain mapping camera (TMC) and radiation dose monitor (Radom) - have already been switched on. "The TMC has taken some excellent pictures of the earth as well as the moon on its journey," ISRO director S. Satish told IANS.
The instruments include six foreign payloads - two from the US, three from the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from Bulgaria. The remaining five are indigenously designed and developed by various centers of the state-run ISRO.
The Radar Altimeter will measure the altitude of the MIP, the analog CCD (charge coupled device) cameras of the video imaging system will take high resolution images of the moon's surface during MIP's descent at a close range and the Mass Spectrometer will measure the constituents of tenuous lunar atmosphere during descent.
Police probe Lt Col, sadhvi's links to Samjhauta blast
Press Trust of India
Thursday, November 13, 2008 (Mumbai/Lucknow)
A Haryana Railway police team reached Mumbai to interrogate Malegaon blast case suspects Lt Col S P Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur after it was established that suitcase bombs, which blew up two bogies of Indo-Pak Samjhauta Express train in February last year, were assembled in Indore.
In Lucknow, self-claimed religious guru Dayanand Pandey, allegedly involved in the Malegaon blast, was arrested by a joint team of Maharashtra police and central security agencies and will be produced before a Nashik court within three days.
As the probe intensified, the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) was tightlipped on reports that the missing laptop of Purohit believed to contain crucial information has been traced.
In Chandigarh, Inspector General (Railway Police), K K Mishra said "our investigations in the Samjhauta probe had led us to Indore after we got clues that the suitcases and stitchings on them which were used in the explosions were procured from Indore." 68 people had been killed in the twin explosions on Samjhauta. ATS is probing Purhoits Indore links.
Pandey, head of Sharda Sarvagya Peeth in Jammu was produced today in Lucknow before magistrate Mukesh Kumar who gave him transit remand for three days. The ATS will produce
him before a Nashik court by November 16.
His Chartered Accountant (CA) V K Kapoor and son Pawan were detained in Jammu's Trikuta Nagar but were released after questioning last evening.
Mumbai, November 13
The missing laptop computer of Lt Col Prasad Purohit, a key accused in the Malegaon blast case, has been found and is expected to reveal crucial details about involvement of other persons in the conspiracy, the police said here today.
The computer was initially not found after the detention of Purohit from Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh and is suspected to contain details of other members of the right wing group Abhinav Bharat who could have had a role to play in the Malegaon blast.
It is also suspected to contain details of persons who had undergone training in camps organised by Purohit and others and details of the monetary transactions that were carried out by members of the group, the sources said.
However, ATS officials refused to comment on the issue saying it was still too early to reveal any details. They also refused to comment on where the computer would be taken for forensic analysis.
Authorities at the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in suburban Santacruz said they had not yet received the computer for forensic analysis.
Ten persons have been arrested so far for their alleged involvement in carrying out a blast in Malegaon on September 29, in which six persons were killed and about 80 injured.
One of the arrested in the Malegaon case, Ajay Rahirkar, had allegedly received funds through 'hawala channels' which were then disbursed among others at the behest of Purohit, ATS officials said.
Investigators hoped to find the details of the transactions in the laptop. Rahirkar, a functionary of the Abhinav Bharat group, had also allegedly supplied money for purchase of six imported weapons to Rakesh Dhawade, who has also been arrested in the Malegaon case.
Dhawade, an expert in guns, has also been arrested for his involvement in the 2004 Jalna blast after evidence emerged of his presence during weapons training provided prior to the blast. The ATS is also probing the possible involvement of Purohit and other members of the group in previous terror acts like the Nanded blast in 2006 and the Jalna blast. — PTI
Nashik, November 13
Lt Col Srikant Prasad Purohit, arrested for his alleged involvement in Malegaon blast, is being tortured in the police custody, his father-in-law alleged today.
In an application filed before the chief judicial magistrate's court here, Army official's father-in-law Vilas Dalvi alleged that Purohit's finger was broken during interrogation and he had injury marks all over his body due to the torture he had to endure.
He has sought that Purohit be exempted from police custody.
Dalvi has also sought that a team of five doctors consisting of two Army doctors, two independent doctors and one government doctor examine Purohit.
Purohit is among 10 persons arrested for their alleged involvement in the September 29 Malegaon blast in which six persons were killed and about 80 injured.
The serving Army officer, who was taken from Panchmarhi in MP for questioning and then arrested, is in police custody till November 15. Scientific tests like polygraph, brain mapping and narco-analysis have been performed on Purohit. The application filed is likely to come up for hearing on November 15 since the judge is presently on leave. — PTI
New Delhi, November 13
Home minister Shivraj Patil said today it was wrong to blame the entire armed forces for the acts of an individual. His remark came against the backdrop of the arrest of an Army officer for his alleged involvement in terror acts.
"If an incident takes place, it would be wrong to blame the whole community for that," Patil told Times Now news channel.
"If a man in uniform has committed some mistake that doesn't mean that all men in uniform are like that," he said. — PTI
Bell withdraws IAF's light choppers proposals
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 13
US helicopter manufacturer Bell has backed-off from the contest to provide 197 light utility helicopters that the Indian defence ministry is seeking and had sent out global request for proposals.
An official of Bell Helicopters Indian Limited confirmed reports that the company was not participating in the competition as the senior management felt it was not feasible for the company to comply with the offsets clause in the tender documents. The official said the company felt it could not comply with the clause and this was the reason for withdrawal. The Indian defence ministry had put down a clause under which the original equipment manufacturer, who gets the contract, was bound to plough back 50 per cent of the deal amount in developing the Indian defence industry.
In fact, this was the re-issue of the fresh tender for its light helicopter requirements. The original was cancelled in December last year following objections raised by Bell over rejection of its bids in favour of French Eurocopter's bid.
Bell and Eurocopter were the two final contenders and India had decided to put its weight behind the Eurocopter after technical evaluation. Bell had contended that India had unjustifiably rejected its bid and had not given it a fair chance to participate in the technical trials of their product. Defence ministry officials are also surprised since it was at Bell's insistence that India re-tendered.
The requirements of the Army and the IAF stood at 384 light choppers. The plan is to buy for 197 of these and the remaining number would be build here in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). HAL has now begun working on development of this class of helicopter and it will produce about 200 of these choppers. Just 10 days ago HAL announced that it would set up a separate helicopter division.
New Delhi, November 13
India has expressed concerns over nuclear weapons falling in wrong hands, due to the "fragile and unstable governments" possessing those capabilities.
"There are continued concerns about the safety of these (nuclear) weapons in some nuclear weapon states, given the political instability and fragility of the governing regimes," Minister of State for Defence M.M Pallam Raju told the National Defence College here yesterday, without naming Pakistan.
"The concern is real and consequential given the enormous destructive potential; if these weapons were to fall in the hands of rogue elements and non-state armed groups," he said delivering a lecture.
Stating that proliferation of nuclear weapons and related technologies continued to be a legitimate concern, Raju said there were growing anxieties about weapons of mass destruction like chemical and biological weapons.
"Experts fear the growth and proliferation of technologies, particularly information technology, bio-technology, nano-technology and genetic engineering may create a permissive environment for nuclear proliferation," he said.
Besides, Raju said, these technologies were likely to increase both the lethality and reach of the existing weapons systems.
Referring to India's "no first use" policy, the minister said the country's strategic interests required effective, credible nuclear deterrence and adequate retaliatory capability, should deterrence failed. — PTI
India seeks UN protection
New Delhi, November 13
Having successfully thwarted an attempt of pirates to capture an Indian merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden region on Tuesday, India has called for formation of the UN peace keeping force under a unified command to prevent pirates' attacks on ships.
In the first action of its kind, the Indian Navy rescued the ship, M.V Jag Arnav, when its helicopter-borne commandoes foiled pirates' bid to board the 38,265-tonne bulk carrier.
The demand for the United Nations' outfit has been made by the Indian delegation at the 101st council meeting of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) underway in London.
India urged the IMO council to recommend the world body to set up a peace-keeping force under a unified command to prevent piracy attacks in international waters off Somalian coast in Gulf of Aden in Arabian sea.
Secretary (shipping) A.P.V.N Sarma called for concerted action to curb sea piracy in the region as 12 per cent of world's sea-borne oil trade, 50 per cent of dry bulk transportation and 33 per cent of global container trade passes through this vital sea lane. Such action by a UN body under a unified command would be far better than disjointed efforts by countries protecting ships with a particular flag or having seamen of a particular nationality.
The delegation also raised the issue of seafarers being detained on criminal charges relating to ship accidents. The South Korean authorities had recently detained two merchant navy officers of Indian origin, when their anchored ship was hit by a support vessel of the Port Authority of that country. Such simple accidents should not be criminalised, the Indian delegation said.
On greenhouse gases emission control in maritime sector, the delegation advocated consensus. — UNI
Boy killed, mob fury on army convoy
Darjeeling, Nov. 13: A 14-year-old student of St Joseph's School (North Point) was crushed to death by an army vehicle on NC Goenka Road here, sparking mob frenzy that shut down the hill town for the day.
Harsh Agarawal's face had been "crushed beyond recognition".
Some officers of the Dogra Regiment, currently stationed at Lebong, were almost lynched by the crowd when they came to inquire into the incident. The officers were slapped and assaulted and Col SS Danu's identity card was snatched away before the arrival of police and the intervention of the Gorkha Nari Morcha. Around 100 women members of the Morcha put up a human wall between the officers and the crowd.
The killer vehicle was damaged, pelted with stones and the glass panes smashed. The other trucks in the convoy were also targeted. The Gypsy that had brought Col Danu was overturned by a mob at Chowk Bazar. Another army vehicle which was coming to town from Lebong, was chased out during the same time.
Harsh, a Class VII student whose school was closed because of the Gorkha Janmukti Vidhayarti Morcha's two-day student strike, was returning from his father's shop in Chowk Bazar around 12.45pm when he came under the wheels of the vehicle, one in the convoy of seven.
Sandip Lakhotia, an eyewitness, said there were three children standing at the bend when suddenly the army truck (OID-139539L) tried to reverse. "The two children managed to duck but one of them fell and was crushed". The bend where the incident took place is narrow and always crowded.
Shiv Agarawal, Harsh's uncle, said: "The skull was completely crushed and the face distorted beyond recognition."
Although heavy vehicles are not allowed to move in town between 8am and 8pm, there were no restrictions for army vehicles.
The driver of the vehicle, Arup Roy of the Army Service Corps, has been arrested but has not yet been handed over to police. The police said the convoy was coming from 17th Mile in Gangtok. The body of the boy was brought to the police station around 3.30pm.
By then, another crowd had assembled in front of the police station. The people smashed the window panes of the building, following which the Commando Force —a team from the district police that functions as the anti-riot force — resorted to a lathicharge.
Asha Gurung, the wife of Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, arrived at the spot and calmed the mob.
Father Kinley Tshering, the rector of St Joseph's school said: "I express my condolence to the bereaved family. The scheduled programmes like socials on Saturday and a school fete on Sunday will be put off till further notice as a mark of respect to Agarawal."
According to police, the army driver will be charged under Section 279 and 304 A of the IPC (rash and negligent driving and thereby causing death) but he will have to be handed over to the military even though the trial will take place in a civilian court.
'You can't plan an operation like Malegaon blast in a day'
Prasanna Zore & Hitesh Harisinghani in Nashik | November 13, 2008 | 12:52 IST
"Indian Army is the only secular institution in India and we don't have to beat drums to prove our credentials like the politicians do," said Colonel (retired) Shailesh Raikar.
Raikar was recently questioned by Mumbai's Anti-Terrorism Squad about his links with Lt Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army who was arrested for being the alleged mastermind behind the September 29 Malegaon blasts that killed six people and injured several others.
Responding to charges that Lt Col Purohit's alleged involvement in the Malegaon blasts and his links with right-wing Hindu radicals had dented the secular ethos of the Indian Army, Raikar told rediff.com: "I am hearing words like caste and religion more often in the last seven months than I have ever heard in my 21-year stint in the Indian Army."
The retired officer said during his posting in Manipur his right-hand man was a Muslim. He had worked with Sikh and Christian officers as well.
"I told the ATS that I know Lt Col Purohit since 2005 when he was posted at Deolali near Nashik and I was posted in Pune at Military Intelligence. Lt Col Purohit is a good friend of mine," Raikar said.
However, he categorically denied that the alleged key conspirators Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Purohit, Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ramji Kalsangra and Sameer Kulkarni ever met in September on the 165-acre premises of the Bhonsala Military School in Nashik where Raikar was serving as the commandant since last seven months.
"It is not possible for a motley group to plan an operation like this (the Malegaon blast) in one day. more so an operation that involves triggering a bomb in an unknown locality. Even when we plan an operation or exercise in the Indian Army, we spend several days weighing the pros and cons of it. Even then we make mistakes during our drills. Do you think 7-8 people can plan such a meticulous operation? If it is possible, then such people should be in the Indian Army," Raikar said, responding to why he didn't think the operation was not conceived on the BMS premises.
According to him, even an institution like the Indian Army needs nine months to train a soldier and 2-4 years to train an officer.
"Do you think these people (the alleged conspirators behind the Malegaon blast) could have been trained for such an operation in a couple of months?"
Raikar joined the BMS in early 2008 after he resigned from the Indian Army, which he had joined in June 1987. On November 11, 2008, he resigned as commandant and will be taking a month-long vacation with his family to Kolhapur, in Maharashtra, and Goa.
"The ATS knows about my plans and I had assured them of full co-operation in their investigation," he added.
Speaking about his friendship with Lt Col Purohit, who was seven years junior to him, Raikar said they had last met in September when Purohit visited him at BMS along with his family.
"He congratulated me on my decision to take a less remunerative job at the BMS after resigning from a well-paying job with the Indian Army."
Raikar's designation puts him in the Class I gazetted officer's grade, the highest paying job for any public servant.
He resigned from the Indian Army for personal reasons. "I wanted stability for my children (Raikar has two children -- the son studies in class VII, and a three-year-old daughter). Army job entails frequent transfers and this had an impact on my son's education," he said.
Raikar, however, has a grouse against media-persons. He believes the media is largely responsible for defaming him and involving his name in the Malegaon blast case. In fact, as the rediff.com photographer took out his camera, the retired officer retorted, "Just because I called you to my house to talk to you does not mean that I have given you permission to shoot pictures. If you are going to take that camera out of your bag you may leave my premise at once."
Refusing to pose for a picture, he said his son was very disturbed by the turn of events and he would not like his son to be harassed in school.
"Everybody reads newspapers and watches TV. The ATS has never mentioned that I was involved with this group. It is the media that is making use of innuendos to link me up with them. I have nothing at all to do with them except the fact that I know Lt Col Purohit as a friend. I have nothing to do with them," he said.
Raikar, who graduated in BSc Statistics from Mumbai University and MSc in defence studies from Defence Services Staff College, Madras University, said he will soon be looking out for a job in human resources, training or project implementation anywhere in India after coming back from his vacation.
"Any job that will pay me well and help support my family."
As this correspondent got ready to leave, Raikar said, "I will flatly refuse we ever met at my house at the BMS. You may write whatever you want to."
Honour status quo
China shouldn't rake up Arunachal issue
by Kuldip Nayar
WE are back to square one as far as the border dispute with China is concerned. Some 12 meetings held on the border issue since the two countries agreed to talk about it have been futile. China's foreign affairs spokesman, Qin Gang, has said: "We deeply regret the Indian side's remarks that Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India…New Delhi has not taken into account the historical facts." Beijing, Gang says, never recognised the "illegal" McMahon Line and that the status of the border state was "never officially demarcated."
Why is the Indian government not frank with the nation? At the end of every meeting, the Indian spokesman has said that the "progress" made on the talks was "positive." Probably, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee who has been rebuffed by China thought he would get away with the speech he was making during his visit to Arunachal Pradesh. He said that "Arunachal is an integral part of India and that China knows about it." This gave the impression as if the matter regarding Arunachal had already been settled. Apparently, it is not so.
China must have told India that Beijing did not accept New Delhi's stand. The manner in which China has been blocking the visit of MLAs or the Speaker from Arunachal Pradesh to its country should have been a clear indication that Beijing was sticking to its old stand. Why are we indulging in wishful thinking?
This is precisely what happened before the 1962 war between China and India. The the first time this writer heard of the Sino-Indian border dispute was in the Union Home Ministry in early 1957. When he complained to a senior official about the East Pakistan border bristling with dangers, the official feigned ignorance. But his one remark, event though cryptic, was significant. He said: "Why Pakistan alone? You will have trouble with China very soon."
He did not elucidate but in reply to insistent queries, he said that there were vague reports of China building a road through Sinkiang. The Foreign Ministry had been informed of the reports many times. Lakshman Singh from UP first informed the government in 1954 about the building of Aksai Chin Road. As our Trade Representative, he used to visit Tibet every year. His contacts were wide, and he met some labourers who had worked on building the road.
A couple of weeks later, the same officer, told his private secretary to put certain papers in the 'Border File'. Asked to elaborate, he explained that since the Ministry of External Affairs refused to entertain information about China's inroads into Indian territory, this was straightaway filed. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru got enraged even at the mention of a border dispute with China.
Laughingly, he remarked that "in our ministry when somebody dos not want to deal with a subject for a long time, he says: 'Put it in the border file'." This writer was to hear this euphemistic description of inactivity often after that. Another time he heard the border problem being discussed threadbare was when Chou En-Lai called on then Home Minister G.B. Pant. As Information Officer to the Home Minister then, this writer knows Pant had the habit of writing down his main speeches and briefs and then delivering them "extempore." That time also there were scores of papers typed and re-typed, meetings with the foreign secretary and much poring over maps till Pant could remember the names of even remote rivulets.
The Pant-Chou meeting, arranged at short notice, was meant to remove the impression then spread by the pro-Beijing Communists that Nehru felt personally hurt by Chou En-Lai's actions and was therefore somewhat adamant about the terms for any settlement. The Prime Minister also wanted to show that he was not alone in taking decisions on the border issue. His cabinet colleagues had to be carried along, and all of them felt rather strongly on the issue.
Probably there was also some pressure from the party which wanted somebody other than Defence Minister Krishna Menon to be associated with the discussions. Pant's reputation was that of a shrewd person, a hard nut to crack.
It may be recalled that before hostilities had broken out, a "solution" of the border was suggested by Menon, but he was overruled by Pant. Menon had told then Chinese foreign minister Chen Yi that India might accept Beijing's suzerainty over the area in Aksai Chin where it had built the road to link Sinkiang and Tibet as well as over a 10-mile strip to serve as a "buffer" to the road. In exchange, China must official accept the McMahon Line and India's rights to the rest of Ladakh..
China had reportedly accepted this and so had Menon who apparently had talked to Nehru. But Pant stood in the way and had the government withdraw its offer through an informal resolution in the cabinet. Even leasing out the Aksai Chin area was not acceptable to the ministers. "We can never trust the Chinese again," said Sardar Patel.
There was also controversy over the border shown in Chinese maps. Nehru raised this point with Chou En-Lai many a time but every time the latter would say that they were Kuomintang Government's maps which his government had no time to correct. However, he was always general in his replies and never even once said that he accepted boundaries shown in the Indian maps.
New Delhi's case was that from the six century onwards it was known that the southern limits of Sinkiang lay along the Kuen Lun ranges and, therefore, the Aksai Chin Plateau and the Lingzi Tang plains were never a part of China or Sinkiang. India has produced 600 pieces of documentary evidence to establish that these areas were utilised by the people of Ladakh and administered by the governments of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. And therefore they are India's.
Subsequently, China attacked India. But that is part of history. The new relationship between the two countries grew when Beijing agreed to have talks on the border. Both had agreed to honour status quo till there was a firm settlement. But Qin Gang has violated that understanding by his outburst. The two countries are too big to push each other. Beijing, more than New Delhi, should realise this.
HCL gets licence to make defence systems
The firm plans to focus on aero structures, hydraulic and landing gear systems in manufacturing, and has expertise in avionics and flight control systems
Mumbai: India's fifth largest IT vendor by revenue, HCL Technologies Ltd, has secured a licence to locally manufacture defence systems and is targeting offset orders from foreign vendors such as Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. for arms deals they strike with the Indian military.
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 being sold to the armed forces.
Customers abroad: Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 jet. Indian firms are expected to get offset orders from global military equipment makers of nearly Rs40,000 crore up to 2011. Mike Fuentes / Bloomberg
Customers abroad: Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 jet. Indian firms are expected to get offset orders from global military equipment makers of nearly Rs40,000 crore up to 2011. Mike Fuentes / Bloomberg
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.
The biggest of such orders will come from local sourcing in a purchase of 126 fighter aircraft, estimated to cost Rs42,000 crore. India is also the third largest arms importer in the world.
"HCL has plans for defence production, especially for offsets. It is currently engaged in discussions with customers on the products," said Ramesh Pillai, HCL's US practice head for aerospace, in an email interview.
HCL joins larger rival Wipro Ltd and firms such as Larsen and Toubro Ltd, the Tata group, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, Max Aerospace and Aviation Ltd and Ramoss India, to secure defence licences since India opened arms manufacturing to private firms.
Airbus SAS and Boeing, both customers of HCL, are in in talks for offset orders for the 111 passenger planes they together sold to National Aviation Co. of India Ltd or Nacil, that runs Air India.
HCL declined to comment about customers.
The firm plans to focus on aero structures, hydraulic and landing gear systems in manufacturing, and has expertise in avionics and flight control systems.
In October, HCL had announced a strategic partnership with Circor Aerospace Inc., that is into design, development and manufacture of fluid controls, landing gear and actuation systems for aerospace and defence applications.
HCL will provide product research and development, information technology and engineering services to Circor worldwide as well as through a team based out of HCL's delivery centre in North Carolina.
Last month, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., the parent of Airbus, said it plans to source at least €4 billion (about Rs24,600 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.
"We have six state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in India... Our infrastructure offers scope for after-sales repair and maintenance service," Pillai said. "HCL is partnering major defence companies in fulfilling their offset obligations. HCL has tied up with the major defence suppliers for discharging offsets."
Army-extremist link sparks concern
Shaikh Azizur Rahman, Correspondent
* Last Updated: November 08. 2008 11:39PM UAE / November 8. 2008 7:39PM GMT
KOLKATA, INDIA // The arrest of two Indian army officers in a bomb attack that killed seven people could mean the upper echelons of the armed services have been infiltrated by Hindu extremists, analysts say.
Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who is the first serving officer in the army to be arrested on terrorism charges, and Ramesh Upadhyaya, a retired major, appeared in court last week on suspicion of involvement in an attack in September in the Muslim-dominated textile town of Malegaon.
The Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), from the state of Maharashtra, where the blast took place, said three more Hindu army officers, including two colonels, could be involved in the terrorism network. Their roles in bombing cases blamed on Hindu extremists are under investigation.
The Malegaon blast is one of several over the past few years, where the victims were mostly Muslim, that has been blamed on Hindu nationalist groups accused of stirring political violence.
Afsar Karim, a retired major general, said: "The Indian army never had such a case when an officer has become [an accused] terrorist.
"It is a question of the infiltration of radical groups in the Indian army. The groups have been trying it for a long time."
AK Anthony, the defence minister, said the involvement of a serving army officer in a terrorist blast was "a matter of serious concern" and the defence authority was "very determined to go to the root of the whole thing".
Army authorities said the arrest of Lt Col Purohit had dented the image of the force.
"The Indian army's prestige has been hurt after our officer's name came up in the Malegaon blast case," said Lt Gen SPS Dhillon, the deputy chief of staff of the Indian army.
The ATS said Lt Col Purohit and Mr Upadhyaya steered the Malegaon terrorist attack "like a disciplined army operation".
The pair, both Hindus, are founding members of Abhinab Bharat, a right-wing Hindu group, and they trained Hindu militant cadres in firearms and explosives secretly, according to the ATS.
They were alleged to have procured explosive materials and helped make the bombs used in the attack.
Lt Col Purohit confessed his involvement in the attacks after investigators produced a transcript of text messages including "we are on the radar of ATS" and "change the SIM card", which he is said to have sent to Mr Upadhyaya a few days after the blasts.
Police investigating the blast initially thought Islamist radicals were behind the attack, despite the blast apparently targeting Muslims.
However, work by forensic experts and the ATS revealed that the explosives-laden motorbike used in the attack was owned by Prajna Singh Thakur, a Hindu nun, who gave it to Ramji Kalsangre, who is accused of planting the bomb in Malegaon.
The leads led police to claim that they had unearthed a "Hindu terrorism" network that has been targeting minorities across the country, possibly for several years.
Eleven Hindu activists, including Lt Col Purohit, have been arrested by ATS in connection with the Malegaon bombing.
One ATS officer, who did not want to be named, said: "The network is spread across some other states where from local police we are not getting best co-operation in our investigation and this is the biggest hurdle we are facing in this case now.
"It is clear that this [Hindu] terrorist network is responsible for bombing at many other places across India over some years," he said.
Writing in the Mail Today, a New Delhi newspaper, Manoj Joshi, a veteran commentator, said: "The arrival of Hindutva terrorism in India – via the Malegaon and Modasa blasts arrests – has been anticipated for some time now.
"Between 2003 and 2006, there have been several unexplained and unsolved bombings targeting Muslims in many small towns of Maharashtra… In all these cases, police carried out some investigations and interrogated members of the Bajrang Dal, and other Hindutva bodies. In most cases the trail ran cold."
Analysts say for almost two decades Hindu militant groups, such as Bajrang Dal, have been involved in militant activities against minorities and in the past few years some splinter Hindu groups have taken to bombing what by many are viewed as "revenge" attacks.
"Hindus are dying [in the hands of Muslim terrorists]. There is a need to fight Muslims head on. We have to prove that we are not eunuchs," said Himangshu Phanse, a former weapons instructor with right-wing Hindu group of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, several months before he died in 2006 while making a bomb in the Maharastrian town of Nanded.
"Counter-attacks are the only way to teach them a lesson and avenge Muslim terror attacks."
Abdur Rauf, a commentator from Kolkata, said, "Even attacks on mosques and Muslim masses have been blamed on Islamic militants. Hindu-heavy communally biased police forces kept shielding those Hindu terrorists and falsely implicated innocent Muslim youths for terror attacks on Muslims.
"We always believed that the army could never be communal and so during communal riots minorities have always sought intervention of army, instead of police. But now this unprecedented involvement of army officers in such communal terror attacks has proved that we were wrong."