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Sunday, 9 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 09 Aug 09

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Soldier's body disrespected, claim locals

Press Trust of India, Saturday August 8, 2009, Kalpetta

The body of a cadet, who drowned during training at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun, was brought to Kalpetta in Kerala on Saturday in a decomposed state without properly embalming it, prompting local people and politicians to call it a "disrespect" to a soldier.

The body of Sabu Varghese, who died on August 3, was brought to his native village near Ambalavayal for burial in a wooden coffin without proper embalming, the villagers complained.

Congress MP from Wayanad, M I Shanawaz, and CPM MLA from Sultan Battery, P Krishnaprasad, asked the authorities to look into the matter which, they said, amounted to showing disrespect to the soldier.

Prasad said it was surprising that the body was not properly embalmed before sending it here as was normally done in such cases.

Shanawaz said the matter would be brought to the notice of Defence Minister A K Antony.

Armed forces tribunal comes into being
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
In what will emerge as an important milestone for the Armed Forces, President Pratibha Patil today inaugurated the much-awaited Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).

While inaugurating the tribunal here, the President said: “The establishment of the tribunal, an exclusive court for the members of the Army, Navy and Air Force, will enhance their confidence and trust level in the system of dispensation of justice in relation to their service matters”.

At present, about 9,000 such cases are pending before various courts across the country, most of them with the High Courts. Apart from the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts, she said the tribunal would have exclusive jurisdiction in nearly all issues relating to the conditions of their service, ranging from tenure to seniority, promotion and pension benefits.

Aggrieved armed forces personnel will now be able to appeal against sentences handed down by court martial. “The tribunal will also act as the appellate forum for the Armed Forces personnel against the verdict of court martial. This meets a prime demand of the forces,” the President said in her speech.

The President, who is also the Supreme commander of the forces, said the functioning of the tribunal should be excellent.

India, China to resolve border row peacefully
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
India and China concluded another round of talks on the vexed boundary dispute this evening, reporting satisfactory progress in their negotiations and pledging to maintain peace and tranquility along their border pending a final settlement of the boundary row.

A joint statement issued at the end of the two-day talks said the Special Representatives (SRs) of the two countries -- National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Chinese State Counselor Dai Bingguo -- discussed a broad agenda that included the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest, apart from the boundary question.

However, the two sides kept under wraps the mechanism they propose to work out to finalise the framework for a final settlement, covering all sectors of the boundary.

Probe on into N Korean ship case, says Navy chief
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
Within hours of the Coast Guard having detained a North Korean ship near the Andaman Nicobar islands, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta, today said the suspicious ship was carrying genuine merchandise.

The Naval Chief told correspondents on the sidelines of the function to inaugurate the Armed Forces Tribunal: “As per reports available, the ship was carrying cargo containing genuine merchandise (sugar).’’ The vessel has been detained since last night.

A Navy spokesman confirmed today that the Coast Guard had detained a North Korean ship that had dropped its anchor off Hut Bay in Andaman and Nicobar Islands following interception.

The Coast Guard first launched its Dornier aircraft after the ship did not respond to signal and a warning shot was fired. The ship was later escorted to Port Blair.

According to preliminary information, the crew of about 40 has been detained and investigation was in progress.

A suspicion has been raised on the statement of the captain of the ship, who said the vessel left Thailand and was heading towards Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, while he had informed the authorities in Thailand that the vessel was heading to Iraq.

Intelligence teams from the Navy and other services have left for Port Blair to join the probe. In response to a question that some time back the Navy had detained another North Korean ship that was carrying components of missile to Pakistan, the Navy chief said that case was different.

The captain of the ship has claimed that that the vessel had entered the country’s territorial waters due to mechanical problems. The Navy is keen to check his engine log.

Coast Guard promotions kick up a row
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
Top-level promotions in the Coast Guard have kicked up a controversy. A deputy inspector- general in line for elevation to the rank of inspector general has alleged malafide and bias in the promotion process.

Under present service conditions, inspector- general is the highest rank that cadre Coast Guard officers can aspire to reach, with the higher ranks of additional director-general and director-general to be held by officers of the rank of Vice-Admiral on deputation from the Indian Navy.

In a petition filed before the Delhi High Court, DIG KPS Raghuvanshi has alleged that the Promotion Board No.1 held on July 23 was conducted after amending the annual confidential report (ACR) criteria just a month prior to the selection. The board had considered 12 officers of the 4th and 5th Batches.

The Delhi High Court yesterday issued notices to the Central Government and other respondents in the case, with directions that any further decision taken by the government would be subject to orders of the high court.

The petitioner has contended that the amendment violates the Statutory Promotion Rules, 1986, and it lacks objectivity, transparency and is framed with a view to manipulate the merit list based on the ACR profile of officers falling in the zone of consideration. The petitioner has also challenged the actions of the respondent department in endorsing his ACR despite not having observed the performance of the petitioner for mandatory period as required under regulations.

Seeking quashing of the amendment in the promotion policy as well as setting aside of the promotion board proceedings, Raghuvanshi has contended that the respondents did not feel the necessity of introducing amendment to ACR criteria for the promotion board held in April 2009.

Demand for national war memorial has to become reality: Antony

Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 8, 2009, 16:01 IST

Defence Minister A K Antony today said the armed forces' demand to have a national war memorial has to "become a reality" and hoped to "find out a solution" on the issue.

"Our government is very particular that long pending demand and aspiration of the armed forces for war memorial has to become a reality... I hope, that by cooperation of all concerned, we will be able to find out a solution at last," he told reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Antony said the construction of the war memorial was Government's priority.

"The very fact that Prime Minister has appointed a Group of Ministers (GoM) shows the priority we are giving to the war memorial," Antony said.

On Monday, the Prime Minister had constituted a Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony and Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy to look into the issue of finding a location for constructing a National War Memorial in Delhi.The GoM will decide on the appropriate location of the National War Memorial after considering all aspects of the relevant proposal. The proposal for a War Memorial, given an in principle approval during the Vajpayee regime, has been in the pipeline for some years but the issue of finding a location has put a hold on its implementation.

While Defence Ministry has suggested that the Memorial should come in the open space behind the India Gate hexagon, Urban Development Ministry and Delhi Urban Arts Commission are opposed to the view on the grounds that it will not gel with the layout of the area done up during the British era.

Govt concerned over increase in infiltration in J-K: Antony

Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 8, 2009, 15:11 IST

With army foiling several attempts by militants to sneak into the country from across the Line of Control in recent days, Defence Minister A K Antony today said the "increase in infiltration" was a "matter of concern" for the government.

"Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir has come down substantially but in the last one month, suddenly a tendency of increase in infiltration is there... Normally in J and K, on the onset of winter, there is some rise (in infiltration), which is a matter of concern," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function to inaugurate the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Observing that the atmosphere was improving in the state, he said, "We can't have complacency in Jammu and Kashmir. Eternal vigilance is needed and we can't take any decision regarding the state in a hasty manner."

On August 2, nine militants were killed in five different encounters along the Line of Control in the state. Congratulating the security forces for the peaceful conduct of the Amarnath Yatra, Antony said, "the militants and terrorists are very upset about the successful conduct of yatra without any incidents."

India, Russia close to final testing of air-launched BrahMos

Press Trust of India / Moscow August 8, 2009, 12:13 IST

Indian and Russian scientists are close to final development and testing of the air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

A Russian defence official said a new takeoff engine for launching of the missile in air and at extreme high altitudes had been developed.

Alexander Leonov, Director of the Russian Machine Building Research and Production Center, said: "we are ready for test launches."

Leonov was quoted as saying by the Itar-Tass news agency that the initial test firing of the missile would be undertaken from the Sukhoi-30 MKI, but did not specify the exact dates.

After testing, the IAF would be launch customers for the air launched BrahMos cruise missile, which will make the Indian Air Force, the only force in Asia to have such a capability.

The BrahMos is already inducted in its ship to shore role and land-to-land versions in the Indian Navy and Army.

Leonov for the first time disclosed that Moscow and New Delhi were also "very close" to designing and testing of the submarine launched version of the BrahMos missile.

India's indigenous nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant, which has been launched for final sea trials, could be using the Indian made K-15 nuclear missile.

But experts say that its upgraded versions would have facilities to carry BrahMos cruise missiles.Though Leonov did not directly comment, Russian sources have indicated that the Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear submarine being leased to India this December has the capability to launch underwater BrahMos missiles.

Gorkhas to scale Mt Leo Parigial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
A thirty-member team of the Gorkha Brigade will attempt to scale Mt Leo Parigial, the highest mountain peak in the Zanskar Ranges of Himachal Pradesh. The team was flagged-off from Pooh by Brig VK Batura, Commandant, 14 Gorkha Training Centre (GTC), today.

Led by Major Shamsher Chauhan of 14 GTC, the team comprises members from all Gorkha regiments of the Army, according to a statement issued here today. Mountaineers from 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th Gorkha Rifles congregated at 14 GTC for a rigorous two-month training programme before launching the expedition.

The rugged and treacherous peak of Mt Leo Parigial lies at a height of 22,222 feet above sea level and is stated to be the most difficult peak in the Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.

The expedition will traverse through Nako (13,000ft) and set up a base camp at 13,648 feet, advance base camp at 17,978 feet and Camp I at 18,241 feet before attempting to scale the peak. The total duration of the expedition is expected to take 22 days with the scaling of summit likely to be between 20 and 24 August.

First indigenously made T-90 tank to be inducted into Army

Tags: Russian T-90 tank , New Delhi

Published by: Noor Khan

Published: Sat, 08 Aug 2009 at 18:31 IST

New Delhi: In a major step towards its induction into the Army, the Heavy Vehicles Factory will roll out the first indigenously manufactured Russian T-90 tank on August 24.

"The first T-90 tank, produced under license from Russia will roll out on August 24," Defence Ministry officials said here.

The localised licensed production of the Russian made tanks started in 2008 after India resolved the stalemate over the transfer of technology of the tanks.

India has signed a deal with Russia to supply 310T-90s in 2001. Of these, 186 were assembled from kits at the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, near Chennai. Later on, an agreement was also signed for the licensed production of another 1,000 T-90s.

This, however, was delayed due to Russia's reluctance to transfer technology, prompting India to purchase another300 tanks from the country last year.

In another significant development, the Indian Army will conduct competitive trials between the T-90 and MBT Arjun tanks will start in October this year.

"The Army will complete training its personnel on the MBT Arjun by September. So, we can start the trials by October," officials said.

Antony promises action on national war memorial soon

TNN 9 August 2009, 12:59am IST

NEW DELHI: Rattled by the growing criticism that the government continues to sleep over the long-standing project to build a national war

memorial (NWM), the defence ministry on Saturday promised concrete action on the issue soon.

"Our government is very particular that the long-pending demand and aspiration of the armed forces for the NWM has to become a reality...I hope, that by cooperation of all concerned, we will be able to find out a solution soon,'' said defence minister A K Antony, on the sidelines of a function to inaugurate the Armed Forces Tribunal.

"The very fact that the PM has appointed a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the matter shows the priority we are giving to the NWM,'' he added.

The GoM, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, with Antony and urban development minister Jaipal Reddy as members, will look into the issue of finding an appropriate location for constructing the NWM in Delhi.

As reported by TOI earlier, the NWM proposal -- first mooted in the 1960s -- is still stuck in the long corridors of political and bureaucratic apathy. Virtually all defence ministers, past and present, have promised it but to no avail.

The bone of contention is that while the armed forces want the NWM to come up near India Gate on the Central Vista, the urban development ministry says it will not gel with the layout of the area.

The "conceptual design'' for NWM prepared by Army basically revolves around a landscape-type memorial around the chhatri (canopy) near India Gate on the Central Vista, with "retaining walls'' for inscribing the names of the martyrs.

Incidentally, the British thought it fit to honour the 84,000 Indian soldiers killed fighting for the British Empire in World War-I and the Afghan campaign by constructing the majestic India Gate on Rajpath. But the armed forces lament that there is no NWM to remember the soldiers, sailors and airmen who laid down their lives to guard an Independent India.

Drowned IMA cadet's body arrives to grieving parents - unembalmed

(Source: IANS)

Published: Sat, 08 Aug 2009 at 16:57 IST

Sulthan Bathery (Kerala): Sabu's poor parents and the entire village was grieving, waiting for his coffin. When it arrived, the smell of putrefying flesh inside filled them with anger instead. How could the Indian Army send back one of its dead in such a manner, they are now asking.

Villagers in the small hill town of Ambalavayal near here in Wayanad district are upset over the "disrespect" shown by the Indian Army to the body of 23-year-old Sabu Varghese, a gentleman cadet at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun who was found dead in a swimming pool of the academy Monday.

Sabu's father is heart-broken over the condition in which the body was sent.

"My wife and I are casual labourers. On Monday morning I got a call from my son's officer saying that my son has suffered an accident. I immediately asked him what I should do and he said nothing needs to be done. I was soon told that my son has died," said Varghese.

The family was then informed that the body would arrive soon.

"Our endless wait began. The body arrived late Wednesday evening and I was shell shocked to see the box in which it was kept. It was just a wooden box. There were a few army officials and they advised me not to open the box. I insisted on seeing the body of my son and opened the box. All I could see was his teeth and nothing else. No one was able to stand near due to the stench.

"Is this way the army treats its people?" asked Varghese, sobbing.

A neighbour and a political worker, 73-year-old K.R. Unnniry, told IANS: "We were first told that the body would arrive on Tuesday, and we sent an ambulance to the Karipur airport (near Kozhikode). Later, we were told that the body would arrive only on Wednesday."

He said when the body arrived on Wednesday "it was smelling and we were shocked because we found out that the body had not been embalmed".

"It was a horrible sight because we found the body was wrapped in a plastic sheet with a cloth placed on top of it. When we removed the cloth, to see the face, the flesh of Sabu's face was stuck on the cloth. This is an unpardonable act done by the army," said Unnniry.

As the news spread, over 1,000 people gathered to share the family's sorrow and anger.

According to locals, Sabu was a bright student and after working in the army for nearly four years as a clerk was selected to join the IMA.

"We are poor people and I was so happy when my son would tell me about the Indian Army. Our joy knew no limits when he said that soon he would be an officer. But what I got was this... The army should never treat anyone like what they did to my son," said a weeping Varghese.

Wayanad Lok Sabha MP M.I. Shahnawaz (Congress) said that he has taken up the issue at the highest level.

"If there is any lapse on the part of the officials it will be seriously dealt with," said Shahnawaz.

The villagers have now placed all their hopes on Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who belongs to the state. They are hoping he will take suitable action against the erring officials who did not embalm Sabu's body.

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