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Sunday, 1 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 01 Mar 09

Telegraph India

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The Asian Age

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Asian Age

DNA India

Asian Age

Born-again Arjun raring for battlefield

Kartyk Venkatraman Posted online: Mar 01, 2009 at 0521 hrs

Chandipur-on-sea(Orissa) : The much-derided tank has been fitted with new features and has come out with flying colours during trials

At a firing point of the Defence Research & Development Organisation’s (DRDO) 114-year-old Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) — a strip of secluded beach in Chandipur — the Nakul tank with the MBT Arjun’s turret and the Russian T-72’s chassis readies to fire its 120-mm cannon to test target-grouping and ammunition. Several thundering rounds later, DRDO scientists are back in the lab to analyse. The result: satisfactory.

Envisioned as India’s first indigenous Main Battle Tank (MBT) in 1972 following the ‘71 Indo-Pak war, Arjun has been in the line of fire for under-performance from the Army over the past decade. Now, scientists at the proof-testing PXE in Chandipur and main developer Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) in Avadi, Tamil Nadu are upbeat about Arjun’s performance before it takes on the Russian T-90 in comparative trials this summer.

Maj Gen Anup Malhotra, director, PXE, said much of the “teething troubles” of the Arjun have been overcome. “Over the past year, we have been testing the barrel, recoil and breech of the Arjun’s firing mechanism, as well as the ammunition. Between 60-70 barrels have been tested here. The tests are satisfactory, and we will be sending the results to the CVRDE, which is developing the tank. If the Army has objected in the past on certain aspects, they are correct in doing so. If they want to evaluate, it is a good sign. Better now than in battle,” Malhotra said.

CVRDE associate director R Jayakumar said the only common feature between Nakul and the current version of the Arjun is the barrel. “The rest of the turret has been revamped, including the gun control and fire control. Also, as a proactive measure, we will incorporate 12 futuristic technology systems include automatic target tracking, defensive aids, laser warning, tank simulator systems and also automate target tracking,” Jayakumar told The Indian Express.

DRDO officials say the upcoming comparative trials would decide the operational role of the Arjun, such as “strike” and “shock-and-awe”. The T-90 weighs less than 50 tonnes, while the Arjun weighs 58.5 tonnes and is comparable to the American M1A1 Abrams (67 tons), British Challenger (65), German Leopard (68) and Israeli Merkava (67). “We prefer to compare apples with apples, not apples with oranges,” Jayakumar says.

Claiming to have overcome problems including engine trouble and overheating, the DRDO wants to bid for more orders for Arjun from the Army, and is expecting new requirements from the Army. For comparative trials, tentatively scheduled in May, the CVRDE will be sending a full squadron (20) of tanks.

The Army had said after the 2007 winter trials that the Arjun had “failed” in several parameters. Following trials in 2008 summer, the Army’s evaluation of the Arjun has changed, says Jayakumar. “The tanks covered 8,000 km and over 800 rounds were fired during the latest trials without any hitches.”

“It is a misconception that the Arjun has overshot its budget. Till November 1985, only Rs 15 crore were allocated for competence-building and technology. Based on the results, the project was sanctioned that year and an additional Rs 305 crore were allocated. In March 2000, we got the go-ahead to begin production and delivered 15 prototypes for evaluation,” Jayakumar says.

Malhotra adds initial order of 124 Arjuns should not be seen as a cap on acquisition. “The comparative trials would dictate the number of Arjun tanks acquired by the Army in the future.”

The Army continues to be guarded on the issue. “We’re neither categorically accepting or rejecting the Arjun MBT. Any comment will be made after the trials this summer,” said Group Captain R K Das, CPRO (MoD) Kolkata.

Mumbai Effect
Navy gets charge of coastal security
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Kochi, February 28
Aiming to project a tough image ahead of the polls, the government today redefined the role of the Navy and put the command and control of the entire coastal and maritime security under its umbrella.

Normally, the Navy is given such a ‘complete charge’ during wartime. At present, the Navy was responsible for areas beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast. Defence Minister A K Antony today announced the policy shift of the UPA regime, minutes after he laid the foundation of the first-ever naval warship here today.

The move comes just three months after a handful of armed terrorists came via sea to attack Mumbai breaching all lines of defence and exposing chinks in the existing system of surveillance. This had embarrassed the Navy and the Coast Guard and had also started a blame game at the highest level.

The change means henceforth, the Navy will be the overall authority. The multitude of state and central agencies that operate along the coast or in the seas will now assist the Navy in operations. In a way, this will end the duplicity of command and undo small “fiefdoms of power” controlled by various ministries as diverse as shipping and fisheries.

Antony said a national command control communication and intelligence network for real time maritime information, the operations rooms of Navy and Coast Guard, both at the field and the apex levels, would be established. Also, the Navy will control all operations of the Coast Guard. Input of the various agencies will also go to the Navy.

To implement this, the government will set up joint operation centres (JOCs) in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair under the charge of naval commanders-in-chief. The naval commanders will be designated as the C-in-Cs coastal defence.

The JOCs will be jointly manned and operated by Navy and Coast Guard. The number of ships, boats, helicopters and aircraft besides manpower will be added. The Navy would also get 80 fast interception crafts for sea front patrolling.

The Navy would also get a specialised force called “Sagar Prahari Bal” consisting of 1,000 personnel for protecting naval assets.

On the role of the Coast Guard, Antony said it would have a new regional headquarter in Gujarat, which would be designated as ‘north-west region’ and a new post of Commander, Coast Guard, to look after surveillance of the state’s coast. This is important as Gujarat is the only state where we share a common maritime boundary with Pakistan.

The Director-General Coast Guard will be designated as Commander Coastal Command and will be responsible for overall coordination between central and state agencies in all matters relating to coastal security. Nine additional coast guard stations will be located at Karwar, Ratnagiri, Vadinar, Gopalpur, Minicoy, Androth, Karaikal, Hutbay and Nizampatnam.

Antony said the government had also approved the proposal for setting up of coastal radar chain and a comprehensive network chain of automatic identification system stations along the entire coast. These will keep track of vessels below 300 tonnes that will also have transponders fitted.

India to Secure Island Territories for Coastal Security
By Ritu Sharma

Against the backdrop of the increased terror threat from the sea, the Indian government Saturday unveiled measures to increase the security of the country's far-flung island territories and to raise a specialized "Sagar Prahari Bal" marine security force to strengthen coastal security.

Asserting that lessons need to be learnt after the 26/11 "tragic incident", Defence Minister A.K. Antony announced a slew of measures in view of the multiplicity of agencies involved in coastal security and the resultant lack of coordination.

"The government has approved setting up of nine additional coast guard stations to be located at Karwar (Gujarat), Ratnagiri, Vadinar (Gujarat), Gopalpur, Minicoy (Lakshdweep islands), Androth (Lakshdweep Islands), Karaikal, Hutbay (Andman and Nicobar islands) and Nizampatnam (Andhra Pradesh)," Antony said here.

The government has also designated the Indian Navy as the "authority responsible for overall maritime security", both coastal and offshore. In securing the 7,516-km coastline the navy will be assisted by the Coast Guard, the Marine Police of the coastal states and other central and state agencies.

"The navy is getting a new specialized force called 'Sagar Prahari Bal' comprising of 1,000 personnel for protecting naval assets and bases on both the east and west coasts and the island territories," Antony said.

"The government has also approved a proposal for setting up a static coastal radar chain and a comprehensive Automated Identification System (AIS) stations along the entire coast as well as in the island territories," said Antony.

This apart, to augment coastal security in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks when 10 armed terrorists sneaked into the city and wrecked havoc Nov 26-29 last year, Antony also announced the government's decision to set up joint operation centres.

"Joint operation centres will be set up at Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair, and will be manned and operated by the navy and Coast Guard with inputs from diverse agencies. Further, the navy will control all the joint operations with the Coast Guard," Antony added.

With multiple agencies involved in the coastal security resulting in the lack of coordination, a national command, control, communication and intelligence (C3I) network will be set up for real-time maritime domain awareness linking the operation rooms of the navy and the Coast Guard.

"The government has decided to procure Immediate Support Vessels for offshore security by the ministry of petroleum and Indian Navy. In the interim, patrolling using hired craft will be done," the minister added.

Antony was addressing reporters after the keel-laying of India's first indigenous aircraft carrier at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd.

Pakistan Navy Chief does a Flip-flop on Mumbai
By Muhammad Sajjad

The Pakistan Navy chief Saturday virtually did a turnaround on his controversial remark - that there was no evidence to prove Ajmal Amir Kasab took the sea route to India to launch the Mumbai terror strikes - by saying the interior ministry might know better.

"The Pakistan Navy is not directly involved in the investigations into the Mumbai attacks. This is being handled by the interior ministry. Therefore they are better equipped and might have better knowledge in this regard," Admiral Noman Bashir told reporters at the Karachi Shipyard.

He insisted there were no differences between the interior ministry and the navy on the issue. "By no means I'm going against the findings of the interior ministry in this regard," he said.

"The Pakistan Navy has no evidence but that does not mean that the ministry of interior also does not have evidence," he said.

Bashir had Friday kicked up a controversy by saying there was no evidence to suggest that Kasab, the lone terrorist captured during the Mumbai mayhem, had used the sea route from Pakistan to India to carry out the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai that killed over 170 people.

Referring to these remarks, he said he could only speak as the naval chief and that he was not the government spokesman.

Bashir said Pakistan's coastline could not be manned everywhere and there were holes in its security. "So any such possibility cannot be denied out rightly. But what I do not know I cannot comment on because this would complicate the situation further."

Chilling Tales Emerge
as Bangladesh Mutiny Toll Crosses 80

More mass graves, more stories of savagery, and more chilling tales of survival. The full horror of the mutiny at the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters here continued to unravel Saturday, with the death toll climbing to over 80, even as the country was steeped in mourning.

Not only were 10 more bodies, including that of a woman, recovered from two mass graves, but around 50 army officers are still said to be missing after the bloody revolt Wednesday that saw BDR troopers turning on their own officers - who are drawn from the army - over poor salary and working conditions.

Bangladesh, which is observing a three-day morning period till Sunday, is yet to come to terms with what happened. Those who fell prey to the bloodbath were army officers - including BDR Director General Major General Shakil Ahmed - as well as their relatives.

Apparently, there was no single leader of the mutiny. All soldiers of the small lead group seemed to be leaders in their own right - in brutality and all from a force whose main task is to protect the country's borders.

Words of reassurance have come from, among others, army chief General Moin U. Ahmed who told Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: "Rumors are swirling... but the army belongs to you."

"What happened was a catastrophe that has caused an irreparable loss to not only the army but also the country. We will have to think how we can overcome it.

"Think about the children who lost their fathers or the wives who lost their husbands or their relatives," he was quoted as saying.

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon also condemned the incident Saturday.

The mutiny, which was finally quelled by Thursday evening, here has spawned horror stories of how soldiers were forced to fire at their colleagues while some were ordered to dig mass graves.

Major Monir, one of the few to return home after the bloody revolt, has recounted how he cheated almost certain death by smearing his face with his colleague's blood.

"As blood gushing out of Maksud sir's body flooded the floor, I took it in my hands, stained my face with it and pretended to be dead," Monir told The Daily Star. Some BDR troopers came in later and left seeing the blood-spattered bodies and believing Monir and Maksud were dead.

"I watched helplessly as jawans killed officers around me... one of the officers being shot fell on me when I was in the drain."

Arms and uniforms were strewn in the nearby areas and locals, fearing trouble and questioning by the authorities, collected them and tossed them across the compound wall of the sprawling complex.

Some of the personnel also said the mutiny bosses forced them to dig a mass grave behind the BDR mortuary Wednesday evening and dumped the bodies of dead officers.

The mutiny ended late Thursday when the rebels laid down their arms after an amnesty offer, made by Prime Minister Hasina late Wednesday, was followed by threats of stronger action as army troops backed by tanks surrounded the BDR complex in Dhaka.

It now appears that the rebellion was led by no more than 20-25 non-commissioned troopers who forced others to revolt.

Some BDR troopers broke open the armory and forced other paramilitary personnel to take up arms as well. These included men from units outside Dhaka who had come to the headquarters to mark the BDR Week.

"If you don't take up arms and join us, you will be shot," a leader of the mutiny warned a colleague, who like many fled the headquarters Thursday.

He insisted that a majority of the soldiers were against the killing of so many officers.

"There were arguments between the mutiny leaders and other soldiers about the killings. Many tried to convince the leaders that all officers are not bad. But the leaders were furious," he said.

Prime Minister Hasina and some of her ministers have hinted that "vested interests", which they have not identified, were behind the revolt and the killings.

Antony ridicules Pak navy chief's claim on 26/11

PTI | February 28, 2009 | 16:18 IST

Ridiculing the claim by Pakistan navy chief Admiral Noman Bashir that there was no evidence to show that Mumbai attackers had taken the sea route, India on Saturday said its investigation has conclusively proved that they came from the neighbouring country through the maritime route.

"After the terror attack on Mumbai, our investigating agencies conducted a thorough investigation. They have come to the conclusion that the attackers came via sea route," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters.

His comment came when asked about Pakistan navy chief's claim that there was no proof that Ajmal Kasab and other terrorists took the sea route from Pakistan to this country to carry out the Mumbai attacks.

Commenting on his counterpart's claim, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, also said that the 'full and complete' probe by the investigating agencies have proved that the attackers came via sea route.

At the same time, Mehta suggested that the Pakistan navy chief might have been quoted wrongly.

"The English TV channels got the Pakistan navy chief's quote wrong. He spoke in Urdu and he indicated that the terrorists have not used their sea route but they could have used any other sea route to come to Mumbai because the Pakistan navy has a large force. This was what the Pakistan navy chief said," Mehta said.

"But our investigating agencies have done a full and complete probe and produced an excellent document and charge-sheet. This charge-sheet proves that the terrorists used the sea route to reach Mumbai," he added.

Hunt for Bangladesh mutiny dead a grisly task

13 hours ago

DHAKA (AFP) — Bangladesh firefighter Arif Ullah reaches for a handkerchief and retches, overcome by a thick stench of bodies, as he combs a sprawling military compound for victims of a deadly mutiny by border guards.

The 25-year-old has worked on some grim jobs in his seven-year career as a firefighter in the Bangladeshi capital, but this is by far the most grisly task he has ever carried out.

"It's hot and it stinks," Ullah said, as flies buzzed around the flaps of green khaki tents erected over two mass graves into which many bodies had been hurled by the mutineers.

"But we've got to keep going. It's been three days since these guys were buried. They're badly decomposed."

Ullah is one of hundreds of firefighters, navy divers and soldiers searching the grounds of the headquarters of the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) after rank-and-file soldiers opened fire on senior army officers inside the compound on Wednesday in a revolt over pay.

The 33-hour standoff ended Thursday night with 137 officers missing.

Since then, a total of 76 bodies have been found.

Rescuers found dozens of corpses stuffed inside manholes, drains and sewers while 48 bodies were discovered buried in two graves that each measured about 20 feet by 10 (six metres by three metres).

One grave found Friday was deep and concealed by leaves. The other -- discovered Saturday -- was shallow and located in a tranquil, shaded garden plot.

Sheikh Mohammad Shahjalal, operations chief for fire services and civil defence, said the rescuers' difficulties have been compounded by the heat, with the mercury hovering around 30 degrees Celsius in the humid capital.

"We have to exercise extreme caution when removing these bodies because so many are disfigured," he said, as naval divers wrenched off manhole covers, checking for human remains in the sewers.

"Many bodies are mutilated," he said. "It's not just a matter of shovelling them out."

The killings erupted after long-simmering discontent among the BDR ranks over wages and working conditions boiled over. An average trooper earns about 70 dollars a month -- the equivalent to a lowly government clerk.

With a total force of nearly 70,000 troops, the BDR's main role is to patrol and secure Bangladesh's long, porous borders with India and Myanmar.

But Shahjalal, a hardened veteran of rescue operations in the impoverished Muslim-majority country that has been often hit by disasters -- natural and man-made -- says he is at a loss to explain the savagery of the killings.

"It's beyond comprehension how one human being could have done this to another. They not only shot them dead but some of the bodies were badly mutilated with bayonets."

Among the dead was Major General Shakil Ahmed, the head of the BDR who was gunned down in the compound's main Durbar Hall on Wednesday as he prepared to present troops with medals for bravery.

No prizes were handed out -- instead the room now is a scene of mayhem with trophies and medals lying on a blood-stained table, some punctured with bullet holes, and chairs and tables overturned.

Shahjalal promised to leave no stone unturned until all the missing are accounted for so a joint state funeral can be held.

Advocacy groups ask New Delhi to sign Mine Ban Treaty

Nava Thakuria

New Delhi

Sat, 28 Feb 2009:

Indian civil society disarmament campaigners led by Control Arms Foundation of India and International Campaign to Ban Landmines members strongly urges government of India to lead the world towards peace by signing the Mine Ban Treaty and ratify the recently concluded Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Menonable that the historic disarmament Mine Ban Treaty completes nine years of entry into force on Sunday (March 1, 2009).

New Delhi has not signed the treaty till date. India’s antipersonnel stockpile is estimated to be between four and five million, which is the fifth largest stockpile in the world.

“Even after ten years of the entry into force of the treaty, many regions in the world continue to be mine affected. Cheap and easy to make, it was said that producing one antipersonnel mine cost Rs 50, yet once in ground it can cost more than Rs 50,000 to find and destroy. It is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties are caused each year due to landmines. This means 1,500 new casualties are caused each month, and more than 40 new casualties a day,” said Binalakshmi Nepram, Secretary General of Control Arms Foundation of India.

Till now, 156 states have signed the Mine Ban Treaty. India is among the small group of 39 countries which have not signed the treaty. Nine of the 13 mine producers are in Asia namely Myanmar, China, India, Nepal, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Singapore and Vietnam. At the same time some armed non-state actors or armed groups also produce home-made landmines such as improvised explosive devices. India has often claimed that it has never exported or imported antipersonnel mines. However, five Mine Ban Treaty States Parties have reported Indian-made mines in their stockpiles: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Mauritius, Sudan, and Tanzania. India states that no transfer of landmines to these countries took place.

“According to the Chairman of the Lok Sabha Standing Committee on Defence, the Army de-mining forces suffered 1,776 casualties due to mines, unexploded remnants of war and IEDs between December 2001 and April 2005. According to the Landmine Monitor Report 2008, out of the 170 casualties identified in 2007, 89 were civilian casualties and 81 military,” added Ms Nepram.

Landmines and IED casualties dropped worldwide but it has increased in India and interestingly many of the casualties were military. Most deaths have been reported in Jammu & Kashmir along the LOC border, Manipur and Chattisgarh. The use of mines by non-state armed groups is also on the rise.

India’s last major use of anti-personnel mines took place between December 2001 and July 2002 when the Indian army deployed approximately two million mines along the border with Pakistan.

Dr. Anuradha Chenoy, Professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University argues that landmines has killed and maimed thousands in India and many more in all of South Asia. India argues that it has a very long border and many unresolved border issues that cannot be protected without landmines. But more civilians and Indian military than enemy forces are killed and maimed by landmines including children and women.

At the United Nations in 2007, India abstained from voting on UN General Assembly Resolution 62/41 calling for universalisation of the Mine Ban Treaty. In explaining its abstention, India stated, that only the availability of military effective alternative technologies that can perform, cost-effectively, the legitimate defensive role of anti- personnel landmines especially along the land borders would enable India to facilitate the goal of the complete elimination of anti-personnel mines.

“Ten years of Ottawa Convention represent an era or hope and expectations. Antipersonnel landmines ban is a ‘model for change’ in disarmament diplomacy for the 21st century world. This treaty has since inspired several other initiatives in conventional disarmament where civil society, non-governmental organizations, and policy networks have clearly come to take the lead and pressed negotiations in terms of humanitarian laws,” concluded Dr. Swaran Singh, also a Professor at JNU.

Clear mistrust to restart dialogue, India tells Pakistan

Press Trust of India

Saturday, February 28, 2009 9:40 PM (Lucknow)

India on Saturday made it clear that Pakistan will have to initiate steps to clear the "atmosphere of mistrust" for restarting the composite dialogue and act on the "incontrovertible" evidence provided to it in connection with the Mumbai strikes.

In the backdrop of Mumbai terror attacks, "Pakistan needs to first initiate steps which can rebuild confidence and clear the atmosphere of mistrust for restarting composite dialogue," Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma told reporters in Lucknow.

Asking Pakistan to desist from creating confusion through its double speak on the Mumbai terror probe, the Minister said Islamabad should fulfill its obligations to the international community.

"Pakistan has been provided with incontrovertible evidence in connection with the Mumbai terror strikes making clear that the orgainsation which carried it out was based in Pakistan and they need to act on it," he said Asked whether the action taken by Pakistan was satisfactory, Sharma said that the question was not if the Indian government was satisfied.

"There is only one solution and that is to neutralise the orgainsations indulging in terror activities and punish all those responsible for the same and this is the responsibility of the Pakistani government to carry out the job of firmly dealing with them," the minister said.

Commenting on the contradictory statements of Pakistani internal ministry head Rehman Malik and their navy chief, Sharma said, "this was not helping the cause as the stability of not just the region but of the world as a whole was affected by it."

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in India for talks under the Composite Dialogue Process when the terrorist who had set sail from Karachi struck Mumbai on November 26 last year.

Sharma said it was through the diplomatic efforts of the UPA government after the Mumbai terror attacks, that the world unitedly condemned the strikes and Pakistan was made to act which had never happened before.

Taking a dig at the previous NDA government, he said India "emerged as a responsible and strong nation unlike in the past when despite the claims of 'aar paar ki ladai' (do or die battle) the Indian forces were made to spend upto ten months on the Indo-Pak border without any visible results".

On the LTTE threat in the southern parts of the country, the minister said that security forces were capable of dealing with it.

When asked about the "delay" in hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Sharma said that "any convict has the right to appeal and whatever action has to be taken it would be in conformity with the law of the land".

Pak Navy chief backtracks on 26/11; India ups the ante

Vishal Thapar


TRAGIC INCIDENT: About 200 people were killed in the Mumbai terrro attacks carried out by Lashkar terrorists.

Kochi: A day after the Pakistani Navy chief Admiral Noman Bashir said that there was no evidence that the Mumbai attackers travelled by sea, he made a crucial correction.

Admiral Bashir on Saturday admitted that the evidence of the sea route taken by Mumbai attackers may exist with the Pakistan Interior Ministry.

So finally after claiming that he had no proof that Ajmal Amir Kasab and his associates set sail from Karachi, the Admiral was eating his words and saying that may be the proof was with Interior Ministry.

"We are not involved in investigation; it is being done by the Interior Ministry. So they are better equipped. Whatever evidence they have is fine and I will not contradict that. I only said as Pakistan Navy we don't have any evidence," claimed Admiral Bashir.

It's not clear if Admiral Bashir was pulled up, but he did his best to convey the impression that he had not contradicted Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

But it came too late as India, for the second day running, had already defended its evidence in the 26/11 case.

"Our investigating agencies did thorough investigations and only after this they have came to the conclusion that the attackers came via the sea route," said Defence Minister AK Antony on Kochi on Saturday.

In every flip-flop by Pakistan, New Delhi sees a sign of deliberate provocation by the Pakistani military top brass.

"I believe his (Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari) desire to fight against terrorism but at the same time my belief is not adequate. It must be backed by action taken by the government and authorities of Pakistan," said External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Pakistan's military seems ill-at-ease with any attempts by Islambad to own up responsibility for the Mumbai attacks.

As the war of words continues, India can be expected to step up the pressure on Pakistan to come clean on 26/11, which could be further provocation to an unrelenting military intelligence establishment in Rawalpindi.

Taliban could take over Karachi: Pak media

Press Trust Of India

KARACHI TAKEOVER: The Taliban have 'huge caches' of weapons and ammunition, the report said.

Karachi: Taliban militants have established secret hideouts in Karachi and it 'could take the city hostage at any point', according to the Pakistani police.

The Special Branch of police has highlighted the presence of Taliban in Karachi in a report submitted to the Sindh government and the provincial police chief.

The Taliban have 'huge caches' of weapons and ammunition, the report said.

The report provides details about secret Taliban hideouts and their presence in areas like Sohrab Goth and Quaidabad.

Besides living in small motels in these areas, the Taliban are hiding in the hills of Manghopir and Orangi town and in other low-income areas and slums, theDaily Times newspaper quoted the police report as saying.

The daily also quoted sources as saying that the deputy chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban, Hasan Mahmood, was hiding in Karachi. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which is part of the coalition government in Sindh province, has often warned authorities that the Taliban had established a presence in Karachi.

The Daily Times said the Special Branch report had 'terrified' police and security personnel.

45 militants give up arms in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 28
As many as 45 militants, including 32 from the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), today surrendered before the Army at the base of 21 Mountain Division of the Indian Army at Rangiya near here.

There were two women cadres among the 32 ULFA militants who surrendered. Five of the militants were from National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), six from Karbi Longri North Cachar Liberation Front (KLNLF), one from Muslim United Liberation Tiger of Assam (MULTA) and one from People’s Liberation Front of Manipur (PLFM).

The militants deposited a large number of arms, ammunition and explosives, including AK series rifles, RDX, pistols and live ammunition. Welcoming the militants to the mainstream, Maj Gen Chander Prakash, GOC of 21 Mountain Division of the Army, lauded the conviction, courage and decision of the militants to take the pledge to give up arms and join the mainstream.

The ULFA militants who surrendered today included cadres from the outfit’s three active battalions 709, 27 and 109. Army officials said more militants were expected to give up arms soon as frustration had taken deep root among ULFA cadres that was heading nowhere with leaders staying in safe sanctuaries abroad.

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