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Saturday, 20 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 20 Jun 09

Indian Express

Indian Express

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

Reform of Perish

By proactive

1000 policemen (including PAC, RAF, STF and SOG), battle a lone dacoit for 52 hours. Four policemen are killed and two senior officers injured before he’s finally overpowered and killed. These are statistics that no self respecting force would be able to live down in a hurry. Coming on the heels of the Pradhan panel report on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the Chitrakoot encounter is yet another pointer to the urgent requirement of police reforms. With India being plagued by international terrorism and Naxal violence, these warning signs pointing to repeated failure of our police and paramilitary forces in dealing with any substantial threat cannot be ignored any longer.

While police forces are increasingly being thrust into pitched encounters with armed miscreants, numerous infirmities in the entire police setup prevent effectiveness. Recruitment is beset with corruption and often used as a means of political patronage. The recently unearthed CRPF recruitment scam and the UP police recruitment drama being played out as a turf battle between Mayawati and Mulayam are prime manifestations of this – and, one fears, merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Inadequacies in training of policemen and officers to tackle the emerging challenges have been pointed out time and time again. The training needs to evolve, encompassing counter terrorism and basic ‘military’ skills. The standard of physical fitness of the average policeman, and his dexterity in handling his weapon, need drastic improvement. The days when the baton was all that he needed to wield are long gone. Interestingly, most of the weapons issued to the constabulary are actually fit as mere batons and no more. Today when terrorists and criminals are armed with sophisticated automatic weapons, bulk of the police force is armed with .303 Lee Enfield Rifles of pre WW I vintage. Hand held communication equipment is scarce, as was evident from the visuals of commands being shouted across during the Chitrakoot encounter. The images of a 19th century force battling a 21st century foe would have been comical had they not been so chillingly ominous in their portents. In this day and age when the required hardware is indigenous and affordable, it is difficult to comprehend the reason for not being able to arm and equip our police forces, save for the apathy of the government and its preoccupation with other mundane issues.

Morale of the force also needs to be addressed. The pay and allowances, service conditions and quality of life of the ordinary policeman leave a lot to be desired. Similarly officers are plagued with constant political interference, frequent transfers and sundry intimidation, often preventing them from discharging their duties conscientiously. While all these, and many more related issues, have been highlighted by successive committees and commissions, mere lip service instead of action has been the norm. The government needs to read the sign of times at long last, and initiate urgent measures enabling our police forces to tackle the challenging times ahead.

Terror training camps alive and kicking in Pakistan

A majority of terror training camps are housed in Northern Areas and Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Around 2200 militants put up in these camps who belong to different terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed..

ATLEAST 42 terror training camps are alive and functional in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir directing their activities against India and training recruits in sabotage and military tactics. This startling revelations has been made by Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), a nodal agency, which runs under the aegis of union home ministry.

Based on inputs by the entire gamut of Indian intelligence agencies, the MAC in its latest assessment has held that there are atleast 34 active terror training camps in Pakistan, while eight have been identified as holding camps for the trained recruits.

A majority of these camps are housed in Northern Areas and Pakistan occupied Kashmir. As per MAC, a number of these camps were shifted or emptied after Pakistan came under terror scanner in the aftermath of Mumbai terror attacks.

Indian intelligence agencies also put a number of around 2200 militants put up in these camps. They belong to different terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed and some minor ones.

The reports of these functional terror camps can be termed as a further setback to the attempts of the two countries to resume bilateral talks, which were suspended in the wake of Mumbai attacks.

Two Pak ‘spies’ held in Jaisalmer
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, June 19
The police has arrested two persons from Jaisalmer who were reportedly working as spies for Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. Interestingly, both of them are Indian citizens.

Addressing a press conference here today, ADGP (Intelligence) Devrajan said the accused have been identified as Morey Khan (33) and Abbas Khan (47) of Hajibalekhan Ki Dhani in Ramgarh area of Jaisalmer. Morey Khan is a contract labourer. He also used to sell bedsheets and blankets in Jaisalmer. He had visited Pakistan last year and had stayed there at his cousin’s place. Similarly, Abbas Khan had also gone to Pakistan in 2007. His sister is married there.

Morey apparently told cops that a couple of persons, reportedly from intelligence agencies, had approached him when he visited Pakistan and asked him about some information on Indian Army. Since then he had been giving them inputs, mostly through mobile phone. Morey had been informing them about troop movement and location of army posts. He was also receiving money for the job from his bosses in Pakistan.

The accused have been booked under Official Secrets Act and are being brought to Jaipur, said the ADGP.

Russian military plane violates Indian airspace

Press Trust of India, Saturday June 20, 2009, Mumbai

A Russian military cargo aircraft AN-24 rpt AN-24 with six passengers and two crew members on Friday night intruded into Indian airspace from Pakistan and landed at the international airport in Mumbai.

As the plane entered into Indian airspace without the right code, it was escorted to Mumbai airport by Indian Air Force planes, a spokesman of Mumbai International Airport Limited told PTI here.

The MIAL spokesman said the plane with Russian markings came from Pakistani airspace carrying six passengers and two crew and was escorted over the Mumbai airport by IAF planes.

The cargo aircraft landed at the airport at around 2240 hours after being allowed by the Air Traffic Control.

Security forces have surrounded the aircraft.

The MIAL spokesman said the plane with Russian markings came from Pakistani airspace and was escorted over the Mumbai airport by IAF planes.

The cargo aircraft landed at the airport at around 2240 hours after being allowed by the Air Traffic Control.

Security forces have surrounded the aircraft.

Shopping for AWACS
by Lt Gen(retd) Baljit Singh

At last, the Indian armed forces have the Airborne Warning and Control System after 40 long years of striving. It is perhaps the most potent battlefield, force-multiplier conceived and manufactured after WW II.

The Yom Kippur offensive launched by the restructured Egyptian armed forces against Israel in the early 1970s had achieved complete tactical and strategic surprise. The seemingly impregnable Bar-Lev defence line along the East Bank of the Suez canal was breeched and the Israelis were almost routed.

This was the moment when the AWACS made its maiden appearance to shore up the beleagured Israelis in the Sinai desert. And the tide of battle was thereafter so decisively reversed that but for international pressure, the Israelis were within a whisker of capturing Cairo!

All the post-war analyses were unanimous that all other factors apart the unexpected application of the AWACS contributed decisively to the outcome of that war.

Little wonder that the armed forces the world over were willing to pay any price to acquire the AWACS. But the Americans would not part with it. The Russians were desperate to close with the military technology gain of the Americans but it was not till the 1980s that they inducted into service their first-generation AWACS.

It was natural, therefore, that when in 1986 General K. Sunderji visited Russia as a state guest that he would request his hosts for a look at the AWACS. The idea was to either buy outright a few AWACS or obtain them on lease on the lines of the nuclear-powered submarine.

When the subject was broached with the Russian Defence Minister during the meeting in a glittering hall in the Kremlin, the Soviets used innocence and guile to convince us that they had never heard of the AWACS, let alone possess them. At this stage I slipped a sketch of the American AWACS photocopied from the Janes Weapon Systems compendium to General Sunderji.

That was the beginning of a serious proposition being turned into a hilarious game of bluff and banter. The Defence Minister said with a straight face that in the spirit of the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, would we let them have the photocopy of the technical profile of the American AWACS?

After a lengthy duel of mischievous world play, General Sunderji agreed to part with the photocopy on the assurance of the minister that it would remain a guarded secret! And that India would have the first AWACS produced in Russia!

Our week-long visit ended at Tashkent. The penultimate day was taken up with displays and demonstrations of training simulators of a whole range of weapons and automotives.

On the last day we were to relax watching an exclusive performance by the Bolshoi Ballet Company and by the Uzbek folk dancers. Now before we retired to our rooms, our tour liaison officer, a two-star General, mentioned that he had arranged a farewell picnic-breakfast the following morning.

The picnic site was the 500 hectare State Lemon Farm, about 60 km from Tashkent. Try as we may but there was no fathoming the reasons for this unscheduled picnic. And on one pretext or another our host would open yet another bottle of vintage wine till at last there was heard the approaching drone of an aircraft.

As the aircraft made low and deliberate, repeated passes over us, our host turned to General Sunderji and said, “Sir, doesn’t this resemble the photocopy of the American AWACS you showed us? Had you mentioned that you wanted to see our ASDACS (Acquisition and Strike Directing Air Craft System) we would have gladly flown you in it all the way back to New Delhi !”

General Sunderji laughed, reached, out to a bottle of Champagne on the table and raised a toast to the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace and Friendship ! But what we have now is neither the AWACS nor the ASDACS but a hybrid comprising the American Falcon radar manufactured by the Israelis and mounted on Russian IL-76 aircraft provided by us. Such are the games which the super powers play with their client states.

2 Air Force officers killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Ambala, June 19
Two officers of the Ambala Air Force station were killed in a road accident on the GT road near Mohra village late last evening.

The deceased have been identified as Shashi Bhushan Panday (25), a resident of Jamshedpur, and Sthis Pragy Vasu (23) of Calcutta. According to information, they were coming from Shahbad towards Ambala when some unidentified vehicle hit their motorbike near Mohra village. They died on the spot.

The police has registered a case against the driver of unknown vehicle and is investigating the matter.

Pakistani jets pound Taliban strongholds in Waziristan

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad

June 19, 2009 15:11 IST

Pakistani fighter jets pounded Taliban [Images] strongholds in the volatile South Waziristan tribal region on Friday as the death toll from the series of US drone attacks in the region rose to 13. The warplanes hit targets in preparation for a full scale military operation which Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said would take off as soon as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud was spotted.

"We are looking for him... Once we know where he is, then we will not miss him because we have the F-16s. They are very precise, they have laser-guided bombs and they can work better than a drone," he claimed. The jets struck Taliban hideouts at Sarwakai, Madiyan and Barwang in South Waziristan Agency near the border with Afghanistan during early morning strikes, reports said. "Warplanes targetted the places where Mehsud's militants are active and we have unconfirmed reports of casualties," TV channels quoted military officials as saying.

"Eye witnesses were quoted as saying that Taliban dug out upto 13 bodies from the rubble, some of them, badly mutilated," local officials said. Upto three drones fired four missiles on a training school run by Taliban commander Malang Wazir in raids on Thursday. There were also reports of air strikes on militant positions at Landikotal in the troubled Khyber Agency. Ground forces targeted and destroyed several militant hideouts at Nawagai in Bajaur tribal region. Dozens of militants have been killed in recent operations by security forces in Bajaur.

Mukhtar told Dawn News channel that the "government has taken the principled stand that if Baitullah Mehsud hits us in some place in Pakistan, we will hit him... wherever he is hiding". Though he described the threat posed by Mehsud as "not very serious", Mukhtar said the local Taliban chief was "creating chaos in this country by sending suicide bombers". In reply to a question, he said the government did not have any information that Mehsud was "an agent of the Indiansor the Americans". "He is one of the miscreants as far as we know. He is fighting against the interests of Pakistan. So we have to watch our interests. This is our war," Mukhtar said. He said Mehsud was getting financial support from the "drug trade" and "people from all over the world" who were sending him money thinking he was fighting against the US. Taliban commanders from Waziristan who have broken away from Mehsud have claimed in recent days that he is being backed by India and the US.

Referring to the military offensive against Taliban in the northwestern Swat valley [Images] and nearby areas, Mukhtar said the operation in this region "has practically ended" and people displaced by the fighting would be allowed to return to their homes from June 20. The return of the displaced people would be completed within 90 days, he added. Meanwhile, militants blew up two schools on Friday in Bajaur Agency. No loss of life was reported in the two attacks. The number of schools destroyed by the Taliban in the semi-autonomous tribal region has now gone up to 49.

Black box of AN-32 recovered

Ravi Sharma

BANGALORE: Eight days after an AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force went down in Arunachal Pradesh, its flight data recorder (black box) was recovered during a combined operation by the Army, the Air Force and civil porters.

The aircraft was returning from a routine sortie when it went down near Tato village in West Siang district on June 9, killing all 13 Service personnel aboard.

Officials from the Eastern Air Command (EAC) told The Hindu that poor weather conditions and the inhospitable terrain delayed recovery of the black box. It would be taken to the EAC’s headquarters in Shillong and hopefully offer important evidence. Though initial reports based on eyewitnesses – who saw a ball of fire going down behind a hill – suggested that the engines could have developed a snag, the officials said “nothing conclusive could be said till the black box is analysed.” The question is whether the pilots misjudged the weather conditions when they took off from the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground .

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