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Saturday, 13 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 13 Jun 09

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PC hints at denying special powers to Army
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 12
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said here today that the Centre would look into the demand of revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and he would discuss it with the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister.

Chidambaram, who presided over the meeting of the Unified Command Headquarters here yesterday, said he had assured Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that the revocation of AFSPA would be looked into in right earnest.

Accompanied by Omar and former Union minister and JKPCC chief Saifuddin Soz, the Union Home Minister was talking to mediapersons here this morning. He said it was a subject matter that had been raised even two months ago and he had said then that he would look into it after the parliamentary elections.

“Since elections are over, the Chief Minister has raised it again. I promise to look into the matter and discuss it with the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister,” Chidambaram said.

On the reduction of troops, the Home Minister said he spent a significant part of yesterday discussing the issue. “We have to carefully go into all aspects and are moving on that road,” he said.

Chidambaram said the Army was responsible for conventional defence on the borders, counter infiltration and counter terrorism within the state, while the paramilitary forces assist the state police in maintaining public order.

He said the maintenance of law and order was the primary responsibility of the police. “We are in the process of drawing the line where primary responsibility will come to the police,” he said.

Referring to the state of militancy in the state, Chidambaram said militancy had been contained and opined that rise in agitational activities should not come in the way of development or interfere in the normal lives of people. “I am not going to list or rank the problems which the state has faced for many years, but these problems require political solutions,” he said.

The Union Home Minister said he was aware about the political issues of the state and a dialogue with people required to address these issues would start at an appropriate time. “We have to engage everyone in the dialogue,” he said.

Chidambaram said he had assured the Chief Minister that the Centre would aid the state government in improving the security environment. He said the Centre would also help the state government in containing terrorism and would like the Army to do it in areas far away from cities and towns, where security is the primary responsibility of the police.

Chidambaram said he had planned his visit to the state two days after taking over as Home Minister. “I met Omar Abdullah in New Delhi and told him that I would like to first visit Jammu and Kashmir after assuming the charge of Home ministry,” he said.

Replying to a question about the Shopian incident, he said the incident was unfortunate and that he had been briefed by the state government about it. “The intention of the Chief Minister is good. There will be a proper action, follow up and those found guilty will be punished,” the Home Minister said.

Officer reveals Pak Army's Kargil betrayal

Press Trust of India, Friday June 12, 2009, New Delhi

A former Pakistani Air Force (PAF) officer has called the bluff of his country's politicians and military on the Kargil battle, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the 1999 conflict in the icy heights of Jammu and Kashmir.

Retired Air Commodore M Kaiser Tufail, a former Director of Operations with PAF when the two countries fought a two-month-long battle and the person who had interrogated IAF pilot K Nachiketa after his MiG-27 had crashed in Pakistan, has come out with all the details of Pakistani military's machinations to execute its vicious plan to hoodwink Indian troops.

In the latest issue of Vayu Aerospace and Defence Review, a magazine published by a private firm, Tufail has written that General Pervez Musharraf, 10 Corps Commander Lt Gen Mehmud Ahmad and Northern Areas Commander Maj Gen Javed Hasan -- the "trio" as he describes them -- had kept the plans to themselves, not even taking their commanders lower down the hierarchical order into confidence.

However, Tufail, who had written a similar and almost verbatim article for 'Defence and Security of India' magazine's February issue this year, said the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in the know of the Army's plans, but had not approved it in toto.

The same trio, in their previous ranks and appointments, had put forth a similar plan on paper to wrest control of Siachen, which was brought to the notice of Sharif's predecessor late Benazir Bhutto. But she was "well-versed in international affairs and all too intelligent to be taken in by the chicanery," Tufail said.

8 jawans blown up in ‘safe’ vehicle

- Maoists take Insas rifles, kill cops


Bokaro, June 12: Within 48 hours of the Goelkera encounter, CPI(Maoist) rebels today killed 10 more security personnel — eight of them Special Task Force (STF) jawans in a landmine-protected vehicle — at Bermo and Nawadih in Bokaro district.

About 50 armed rebels, including several women and reportedly led by wanted Naxalite leader Navin Manjhi, swooped on State Bank of India’s Phusro Bazaar branch in Bermo, 32km from here, around 1.15pm, minutes after Rs 1 crore was deposited in the DVC account.

They split into groups. One attacked a policeman guarding the bank, snatched away his Insas rifle and tried to enter the bank. Seeing colleague Bandhu Oraon in trouble, another policeman, Raju Lohra, rushed to help, but was shot dead.

A second group of Maoists triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) near a four-wheeler as other policemen retaliated. They attacked constable Prabhunath Toppo, pumped in bullets and snatched away his rifle. Three more rifles were picked up from a police vehicle after which the rebels disappeared into a forested area in Nawadih, 17km from Phusro.

An SOS from the police in Bermo prompted an STF team of 13 jawans, led by Nawadih officer-in-charge Ramji Mahto, to set out for Phusro around 2pm.

Their landmine-protected vehicle had barely reached the dense Sarubera forest, 5km from Nawadih, when a powerful landmine blast was triggered by the Maoists. The impact was so severe that the heavily armoured vehicle was ripped apart and parts flung up to 20ft away. Eight STF jawans were killed.

On why a landmine-protected vehicle could not withstand the impact, DGP V.D. Ram said the matter was being probed.

A source, unwilling to be named, claimed the vehicle had developed technical snag even before the mission.

After the blast, the rebels engaged security personnel in a 30-minute encounter before disappearing into the forests. Police claimed a Maoist was injured in the gun battle.

DIG (coal belt) Prashant Singh said it was not immediately clear whether the rebels who triggered the blast were members of the same group who attacked the bank. “We are probing the matter,” he said, adding that Maoists would be given a fitting reply.

The deceased STF jawans have been identified as Amrendra Kumar Lakra, Chandan Singh, Bhushan Tirkey, Jubel Kujur, Teopila Lakra, Ramakant Sharma, Baldeo Singh and Shiv Kumar Bhagat. Police said more than 12 people, including some civilians in Phusro, were injured in the two incidents.

On Wednesday, nine policemen and a CRPF officer were killed when the CPI(Maoist) triggered a blast at Goelkera in the Saranda forest area of West Singhbhum, considered a rebel stronghold.

Phasing out CRPF
J&K police may help bridge divide

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s indication that the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) be replaced by the Jammu and Kashmir police in a phased manner and the latter be accorded a greater role in maintaining law and order in the insurgency-afflicted state is a step in the right direction. Given the scale of the Pakistani-fuelled insurgency and terrorism in the state that took root two decades ago, the responsibility of tackling this extraordinary menace has fallen on the Army and other central security forces. As a result, normal policing has suffered and the state police have been pushed to the sidelines.

Over the years, however, the situation in the state has changed somewhat. Electoral politics, which had remained suspended during the 1990s, has since long been restored. Democratically elected governments are now governing the state. It is thus only natural that the state police return to doing what they are trained and paid for — maintaining law and order. This will boost normalcy in the state. It will help in rebuilding this vital instrument of state, which recruits locals who in turn are able to better understand the local citizenry. This measure should also help in reducing public alienation that exists between the local people and the central forces, a phenomenon that is typical in any insurgency-affected area. Significantly, in no insurgency-affected state in the country have the state police been at the forefront of fighting insurgency and terrorism. The only exception has been Punjab where, post-Operation Bluestar, the state police took on terrorists headlong despite material support from Pakistan. Yet, that too was not without support from the CRPF and to an extent the Army.

While advocating a greater role for the J&K Police, Mr Chidambaram at the same time has ruled out both troop reduction and revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. For, there is neither evidence nor credible signs to show that the Pakistani establishment has dismantled its jihad factory. Islamabad continues to practice terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Hence, the Army needs to maintain vigil along the Line of Control to prevent infiltration. Thus, propping up the state police will also allow the Army and the security forces to better engage in the difficult task of fighting insurgents who continue to slip in due to a mountainous and undulating terrain.

Col, capt face GCM for loss of I-cards
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
A colonel commanding an armoured regiment and a captain from the same unit are being tried by a general court martial (GCM) for alleged lapses that led to the loss of 87 identity cards from the unit during field exercises.

The colonel, to try whom the GCM assembled at Bathinda military station a few days ago, is facing three charges under Section 63 of the Army Act for alleged lack of supervision and violation of security instructions, it is learnt. The General Officer Commanding, 16 Infantry Division, Maj Gen AK Bakhsi, is the court’s presiding officer.

And the court martial of the captain, who was a squadron commander in the unit, would be conducted at Ranchi. Loss of personal I-cards, considered accountable documents, is a serious offence in the armed forces with grave security implications.

A court of inquiry (COI), ordered by Headquarters 23 Infantry Division, had held the officers along with some jawans blameworthy for the loss of the I-cards. The loss was detected in December 2007 even though the I-cards are believed to have gone missing much earlier. The loss had created a security alert in several sensitive states and it was feared that if the cards had fallen into wrong hands, there could be a possibility of an untoward incident on Republic Day.

One of the men responsible for the custody of the I-cards had maintained that the cards were destroyed by burning and a record of the same was kept. When a search was carried out, his card was found in his luggage even though it was mentioned in records of having been burnt. Another jawan suspected in the matter had absconded. Sources claimed that though the Army traced him, he allegedly committed suicide before he could be apprehended.

According to sources, the military intelligence had busted an espionage racket in Bikaner in the eighties where stolen I-cards of military personnel were being smuggled across the border. The involvement of a cook and some other low-level elements had also come to light then.

Blacklisting of Singapore firm to delay howitzers' induction: Army chief

Press Trust of India / New Delhi June 12, 2009, 14:04 IST

The Army today said that the blacklisting of a Singaporean firm by the Defence Ministry recently will "delay" its plans to acquire the ultra-light howitzers for its artillery.

"Till the time the CBI is able to carry out detailed investigation, there will be a delay. To that extent, it will affect the acquisition of ultra light howitzers," Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor said here at a function after inducting the Shakti Artillery Combat, Command and Control System (ACCCS) into the force.

The firm, Singapore Technologies, was one of the seven defence equipment manufacturing companies which were blacklisted by the Defence Ministry after they were allegedly found involved in wrong doings.

The Singaporean firm was the only vendor offering around 150 152mm/52 calibre ultra light howitzers to meet the requirements of the Army.

Referring to ACCCS, Kapoor said the new system will help the artillery improve its lethality in the battle field.

The system has been developed and produced for the Army by the Bharat Electronics Limited, DRDO and the DG (Information Systems) of the Army.

More churning in South Asia : India bolsters defences on China border

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Posted by: Sanjeev Miglani

Power play in South Asia is always a delicate dance and anything that happens between India and China will likely play itself out across the region, not the least in Pakistan, Beijing’s all weather friend.

And things are starting to move on the India-China front. We carried a report this weekabout India’s plan to increase troop levels and build more airstrips in the remote state of Arunachal Pradesh, a territory disputed by China. New Delhi planned to deploy two army divisions, the report quoted Arunachal governor J.J. Singh as saying.

Other reports in the Indian media said the air force was beefing up its base in Tejpur in the northeast with Su-30 fighter planes, the newest in its armoury. The HIndustan Times said it was part of a decision to move advanced assets close to the Chinese border. The IAF base in Tejpur which is in the state of Assam is within striking distance of the border with China in Arunachal Pradesh.

Arunachal evokes especially painful memories for India - for this is where the Chinese advanced deep inside, inflicting heavy casualties on poorly-equipped Indian soldiers in the 1962 war. The Chinese retreated but have refused to recognise Arunachal as part of India, and that along with other disputed stretches of their 3,000 km border has remained at the heart of more than four decades of distrust.

Indeed the renewed Indian defence deployment comes days after the air force chief said China posed a bigger and more potent threat than Pakistan.

And what of the Chinese? What do they have to say to the noises coming out of India? While official China hasn’t appeared to react publicly, the Chinese media has responded. The Global Times said in a hard-hitting editorial the Indian government’s tough new posture ”is dangerous if it is based on the anticipation China will cave in”.

China is in a different league, it says, by way of international influence, overall national power and economic scale and India’s politicians don’t seem to have realised this. On the contrary, they seem to think that they would be doing China a huge favour simply by not joining the so-called “ring around China” established by the United States and Japan, it says.

China is not going to compromise on its border dispute with India, and it was up to New Delhi to figure out why it can’t have stable relations with many of its neighbours such as Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka while Beijing can, the Global Times says.

The Global Times is a popular tabloid and has been taking a strident tone on foreign policy issues. But it is published by the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, and can’t really be ignored.

Are we seeing the beginning of a more open, declared rivalry between the world’s two most populous countries? Where does Pakistan fit in all this? Is New Delhi going to organise its energies and defences to meet the perceived threat from China and leave Pakistan to figure out its own troubles?

And what of the Chinese? Are they going to turn up the heat on India? As this analysis notes, New Delhi is already wary of China’s role in Pakistan, and now reinforcing its fear of strategic encirclement are Beijing’s expanding ties with India’s smaller neighbours such as Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Blacklisting of firms to hit artillery modernisation: Army chief

New Delhi (IANS): Blacklisting of Singapore Technology along with six other defence firms on charges of bribery would delay the process of artillery modernisation in the Indian Army, Gen Deepak Kapoor admitted Friday.

The development is of particular concern as the army has not been able to purchase a single gun in the last 23 years.

"Till the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) is able to complete the investigations, there will be delay and it will affect the procurement of ultra-light howitzers," Kapoor told reporters here.

Singapore Technology's Pegasus ultra-light howitzer was a leading contender for the Indian Army's order for 140 guns worth Rs.29 billion.

"The Pegasus guns were to be field-tested this summer in Rajasthan. The blacklisting would definitely derail the whole programme," an army official said, requesting anonymity.

The other blacklisted companies are Israeli Military Industries, BVT Poland and Media Architects Pvt. Ltd of Singapore and three Indian companies: T.S. Kishan and Co. Pvt. Ltd., R.K. Machine Tools and HYT Engineering Co.

The CBI had registered a case against the former Ordnance Factory Board director general Sudipto Ghosh in Kolkata May 17 under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The seven companies were mentioned in the first information report (FIR) as those that allegedly gave payoffs to Indian officials.

Although no chargesheet has yet been filed by the CBI, the defence ministry "put on hold" all the dealings with the firms till further orders.

The artillery modernisation programme of the Indian Army has been hanging fire for over two decades and has been mired in controversy. The Swedish howitzer gun Bofors was embroiled in a payoff scandal in the 1980s. In 2004, South African firm Denel was blacklisted derailing the artillery modernisation.

Trials of Arjun battle tank to be delayed: Army chief

June 12th, 2009 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor Friday said the comparative trials of the indigenously built Arjun main battle tank (MBT) with the Russian T-90 equivalent have been delayed as the army will first conduct field training with the tanks.

“The Arjun tank has just been delivered to us. It will take three-four months for the regiment to get operationalised. After that we will have comparative trials with the T-90 and assess the tank,” Gen. Kapoor told reporters here.

The comparative trials could deliver the final verdict on Arjun that has been 36 years in the making and has cost Rs.3.5 billion ($71.7 million).

The army had insisted on the delivery of a full regiment (45 tanks) of Arjun before the comparative trials could be conducted. This demand was met when the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) delivered 16 more tanks to the army.

Earlier, the comparative trials were scheduled to be held in May-June, 2009.

“This regiment will now be subjected to conversion training and field practice for three months. After that, the army is planning to conduct a comparative trial with T-90 tanks in October or November to assess the operational deployment role of the Arjun,” an army official said.

The DRDO needs to manufacture and deliver at least 500 tanks to make the project feasible.

The army has made it clear that it will buy no more than the 124 Arjuns it has contracted for because it is unhappy with the tank on various counts. This apart, the army says the Arjun can at best remain in service for five to 10 years while it is looking 20 years ahead and needs a futuristic MBT.

The Indian Army laid down its qualitative requirement for the Arjun in 1972. In 1982, it was announced that a proto-type was ready for field trials. However, the tank was publicly unveiled for the first time only in 1995.

Arjun was originally meant to be a 40-tonne tank with a 105 mm gun. It has now grown to a 50-tonne tank with a 120 mm gun. The tank was meant to supplement and eventually replace the Soviet-era T-72 MBT that was first inducted in the early 1980s.

However, delays in the Arjun project and Pakistan’s decision to purchase the T-80 from Ukraine prompted India to order 310 T-90s, an upgraded version of the T-72, in 2001.

China rejects India's charges about border

BEIJING, June 11 (UPI) -- China Thursday rejected what it said were India's allegations of border crossings by its military.

"We cannot accept such an allegation and expect relevant Indian figures and media be responsible and do something good for bilateral ties," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The two Asian neighbors fought a border war in 1962 and while they are yet to resolve their Himalayan borders, their relations had been improving since then. However, problems have arisen recently, with reports of China making new claims on other Indian territories.

Indian media reports this week quoted Indian defense officials saying they planned to deploy their new Sukhoi 30-MKI advanced fighter jets along the border with China. The reports said the jets would be deployed near where China allegedly made the border incursions.

The Xinhua report, citing the latest Indian media reports, said the China-India border has never been officially determined and that leaders of both sides have said the issue is one of top 10 priorities in bilateral ties.

Qin said through negotiations, China will strike for a fair and reasonable solution with India, while urging both sides preserve the stability and peace in the border region.

Is there no threat from India?

Afshain Afzal

President Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been trying to convince Islamabad that Pakistan should no longer consider India as a primary threat and rather concentrate its energies on fighting terrorism inside the country. Michele Flournoy, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in a recent statement on May 27, 2009 said “I would love to see the Indian government and the Pakistan government re-engages in confidence-building measures and discussions about Kashmir and about other areas of difference.

She added that such an effort would go a long way to enabling the Pakistan government and military to focus on the most urgent existential threat they face, which is the threat from within.” All this sounds good but how US is going to explain the heavy arms and ammunition being smuggled from across the border into Pakistan in the presence of so called highly efficient US and allies forces? I believe US has limited option either to accept its involvement or blame India who has established over 39 posts at Pak-Afghan borders including fully operational Indian Council Generals and cover Border Road Organization (BRO) offices. The recent bomb blasts in Lahore, Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar are not from some religious group but handiwork of Indian intelligence agencies. US cannot deny that the hostile elements in Pakistan are being aided by foreign agencies with cash and heavy arms and ammunition.

US intelligence officials have confirmed that Washington is working to improve cooperation between Pakistan and India to share more information on counterterrorism matters. A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official added that the cooperation also included intelligence sharing on Taliban commanders who are carrying out insurgency against the Pakistani government. In the same regard, the Wall Street Journal also reported that CIA arranged for Pakistan and India to share information on the Pakistan-based Mujahideen organization Lashkar-e-Tayyiaba (LeT). The US also shares regular intelligence with India on Pakistan Army’s operations against elements in Bajaur, the Swat Valley and Buner in Pakistan. In another development mediated by CIA, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service has been thrown open to everyone in India. Earlier, it was restricted only to people with relatives across the dividing Line of Control (LoC). Indian Government has eased the existing rules, as a result of which more people can now travel across the LoC. They don’t need a valid passport but instead a permit issued by the Passport Officer in Indian Jammu and Kashmir would suffice. This permit would be valid for visit any where in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In the same regard Indian Ministry of External Affair has issued clarifications that all Indian national can apply for across LoC travel in Pakistan. Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given go ahead signal to a plan in which ‘triple entry permit’ would be granted to frequent travelers, which will put an end to going through various formalities. It appears that days are counted when the Indian nationals would also be allowed to visit Pakistan without necessary formalities.

Cold War divided the world between the Communists and Capitalists or Soviet and Western blocs but it has now been replaced by new identity groups; this time Free World and Fundamentalists. Although these terminologies are not new but prime focus on them has created new blocks of friend and foes. US is trying to convince Pakistan that Islamabad should not consider India as a primary threat and concentrate its energies on fighting terrorism inside the country. US must understand that its policies in the region and pressure on Pakistan to take military action against fundamentalist Muslims can lead Pakistan to an ethnic crisis which will be difficult to control even by Pakistani future generations. If all the countries of the world abide by International Law and United Nations charter and do not interfere in the internal affairs of any country, peace will be automatically restored and homogeny of society will ultimately take its own course. US is persuading Islamabad to start a new relation with New Delhi but India, which is anti-Pakistan, as its past record also suggests, is not only applauding US’s pressure on Pakistan to take military action against Muslim fundamentalists but quietly pumping in money and arms through Afghan and Indian border in order to destabilize Pakistan.

Through misleading campaign about Pakistan’s collaboration with anti-US, an anti-Israeli and anti-Indian force, India is also not allowing Pakistan and US to come closer. US must understand that one of the basic principles of Pakistan foreign policy is to delay full diplomatic relations with India unless India honours Kashmir’s commitment on the basis of Indian Independence Bill which has also been authenticated by United Nations resolutions on Kashmir. Can US guarantee Pakistan that Indian Army would be pulled out from occupied Kashmiri territories and plebiscite would be held in all parts of disputed Jammu and Kashmir state.

Declining India-China relations: Is war inevitable?

An Indian Air force jet mysteriously exploded in mid air in South Tibet renamed Arunchal Pradesh by Bharat (aka India). South Tibet is Chinese territory which is occupied by Bharat remains a sore point of contention between Delhi and Beijing. India has recently been very provocative towards China. The bellicose statements out of Delhi have exacerbated the relations. What is worse, is the fact that the Indian Air Force had placed some of its planes in Tezpur and other bases right near the McMohon line. Delhi has also provoked Beijing my There are some reports that the IAF plane was shot down after straying into China or near the border.

NEW DELHI, May 24, 2009 (Hindustan Times – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — Taking China’s dramatic military expansion seriously, the Indian Air Force chief has said China poses a more real and potent threat to India than Pakistan…

The entire area is up in revolt against India. Assam wants its independence as do the “Seven Sisters“, the states East of Bangladesh. The plane could have been shot by any of the multiple militants working the area. The Naxalites or the Maoists could have acquired the technology to blow up the IAF planes.

…sore point between the two countries is a series of supposed Chinese border incursions in Arunachal Pradesh in recent years.

“To develop India’s capability to effectively meet future security challenges, the deployment of more troops along the India- China border is necessary,” The Arunachal Governor is a former head of the Indian army, General J. J. Singh.

Arunchal PradeshSouth Tibet remains a huge territorial dispute between China and India. Arunachal Pradesh means “land of the dawn-lit mountains” or “land of rising sun.” South Tibet is located in the northeast corner of the India and bordered on the north by the Tibet region of China and on the east by Myanmar. The dipute began long before the Indo-Chinese War in late 1962. This region acquired an independent political status in January 20th, 1972, when it was declared as Union Territory, an administrative division of India ruled directly by the national government, under the name of Arunachal Pradesh. The state of Arunachal Pradesh Bill was passed by the Indian Parliament in 1986 and with effect from February 20th, 1987; Arunachal Pradesh became the 24th state of Indian Union. Even though Arunachal Pradesh is administrated by India as a state, China still claims most of it as a part of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

…aircraft becoming operational by next week at Tezpur air base in Assam. Eighteen Sukhois in total will be deployed. There are also plans to build more facilities in the region, including four to five airfields.

Then, over the next few years, two Army divisions with between 25,000 and 30,000 troops each would be moved into place opposite the 3,500km- long border with China, along with artillery, medical, signal and engineering units. Officers who took part in the Indian war games said a clash with India was entirely possible, with Beijing trying to position itself as the pre-eminent power in the region.

The new force dispositions were aimed at “enhancing the capabilities of the Army troopers to effectively meet any sort of challenges”, Gen Singh said.India to boost forces at China border. Thu, Jun 11, 2009, The Statesman/Asia News Network

Bharat sees China as a major threat along the McMahon line.

The wreckage of an Indian Air Force AN-32 aircraft that went missing yesterday after taking off from an advanced landing ground (ALG) in Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh was found on Wednesday afternoon along a remote mountainside by a ground search party. All 13 on board are dead — the IAF said there were no survivors and two villagers claimed they had seen the plane exploding in mid-air.

McMahon LineThe IAF Eastern Command in Shillong released the names of seven IAF crew members and six Army personnel who died in the mishap: Wing Commander Gitesh Jit Singh Butalia, Wing Commander P K Saji, Squadron Leader P Siddharth, Squadron Leader Manash Mishra, Flight Lieutenant Varun Kumar, Master Warrant Officer Ramesh, Aircraft Attendant Sanjay Kumar, Gunners V Singh, K Kumar, S Kumar, Naik B S Nanwhegh, Sepoy A K Tirkey and Radio Mechanic R Wangchuk.

The aircraft was being captained by Wing Commander ‘Boots’ Butalia (36), an experienced transport pilot based in Jorhat. IAF officers said he had reported for work after a family vacation in Sikkim. He leaves behind his wife Vaishali and twin boys who turned seven recently. His mother, a school teacher in Chandigarh, was visiting the family in Jorhat and had to be taken to hospital after she learnt of the crash. His father, late Wing Commander N J S Butalia, too was a transport pilot. Indian Express

The Sixty Four thousand Dollar question is, “did the Chinese shoot down the plane”. Even if there is the remotest possibility that the India plane steered North of the red line, then there is the serious possibility of of an international escalation. Obviously both countries will downplay the incident and deny any wrongdoing. However the Indians now know that the red line has been drawn.

NEW DELHI – India is significantly upgrading its military prowess along the border it shares with China, deploying two army divisions along with a squadron of top-of-the-line Sukhoi Su-30MKI warplanes at a critical base in the north-east.

Three Awacs command-and-control aircraft will also be deployed to boost India’s ability to track troop and equipment movements on the Chinese side of the border.

The strengthening of the Indian posture at the border follows recent Indian war games predicated on a Chinese offensive. One conclusion from the exercise, upending the conventional wisdom in New Delhi, was that China was capable of launching an attack very swiftly on India, with no warning. India to boost forces at China border. Thu, Jun 11, 2009, The Statesman/Asia News Network

The exploding Indian plane may or may not have been an accident. However it will expedite India’s concerns along its Northern borders.

NEW DELHI – India is significantly upgrading its military prowess along the border it shares with China, deploying two army divisions along with a squadron of top-of-the-line Sukhoi Su-30MKI warplanes at a critical base in the north-east.

Three Awacs command-and-control aircraft will also be deployed to boost India’s ability to track troop and equipment movements on the Chinese side of the border. The strengthening of the Indian posture at the border follows recent Indian war games predicated on a Chinese offensive. One conclusion from the exercise, upending the conventional wisdom in New Delhi, was that China was capable of launching an attack very swiftly on India, with no warning. India to boost forces at China border. Thu, Jun 11, 2009, The Statesman/Asia News Network

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