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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 02 - 03 Nov 09

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India on high-alert against Mumbai-type attack

NDTV Correspondent, Monday November 2, 2009, New Delhi

Three weeks short of the first anniversary of 26/11 attack, is another Mumbai-type attack imminent? Officials warn that it is, and the attack could once again come from the sea.

The Home Ministry says there are fresh inputs warning of a similar terror attack, and this time the targets could be cities of Kolkata, Mumbai and possibly Bangalore.

Adding weight to the alert are the rare public warning by key ministers in the last couple of days.

"I've been warning Pakistan every time, to not play with us again and to stop with the Mumbai game. I'm warning Pakistan for the last time. If Pakistan attempts to send terrorists into India again, India will not only foil those attempts but also give them a crushing response," Home Minister P Chidambaram had said at a public meeting on Sunday.

On Monday, Defence Minister A K Antony highlighted the presence of terrorist camps across the border.

"Large number of terrorists camps are operating across border. Unless serious and sincere efforts are made to control the terrorists it is very difficult to improve relations. Even now, there is continuous effort to push trained terrorists to J and K and India. It is a serious matter for concern for us," Defence Minister A K Antony said.

The government has issued a nationwide alert against such an attack in coming weeks. It is basing this alert on a wide variety of inputs, from a spurt in infiltration in Kashmir to the arrest of an American, David Headley, in Chicago.

The FBI say he was plotting to attack India and Denmark. Headley's communication with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) has sent alarm bells ringing in India and the US.

Home Ministry sources, however, say that Indian agencies are ready with counter measures, even retaliation to tackle any attack.

Pak must get serious to tackle terror: Antony

Thiruvananthapuram, November 2
Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday warned that relations with Pakistan can improve only if it takes serious steps against terrorists waging war against India.

“In relations with Pakistan, the main impediment is that there are still a large number of terrorist camps operating across the border. There is a continuous effort to push terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has to take serious efforts (to tackle terrorists), then only relations can improve,” Antony told reporters after giving out Trivandrum Press Club journalism awards here.

When asked if the government will use the Army against the Maoists, he said: “We are very clear that law and order is a state subject. The Centre will only help them (the states) with paramilitary forces. Army can be called in only as the last resort, when all other options have been exhausted.”

Asked about the Indo-ASEAN free trade agreement, Antony criticised Kerala’s Left Front government which has opposed the treaty.

“Minister of Commerce Anand Sharma wrote to the Chief Minister (V.S. Achuthanandan) in August regarding all the aspects of the negative list. People here are trying to make a political issue out of this. This should not happen,” said Antony. — IANS

Pak intruder held at Kutch border

Ahmedabad, November 2
The Border Security Force has apprehended one Pakistani national trying to sneak into India from the Kutch border, officials of the BSF said here today.

The intruder, a Pakistani, had tried to intrude into the country from Vighakhot border of Kutch yesterday but he was apprehended by BSF personnel on the border, BSF officials said.

The person has been taken to joint interrogation centre (JIC) in Bhuj where he is being interrogated by various security agencies including the state police, officials said.

The arrest of the man comes just two days after a warning by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to Pakistan that any more terror attack from that country would be retaliated “very strongly” and intelligence inputs of another possible terror attack like 26/11 of Mumbai.

The BSF had last week seized a Pakistani boat, which had intruded into Indian waters near Sir Creek area of Kutch on last Friday, but its occupants managed to escape. Meanwhile, the BSF has also arrested a mentally challenged Indian resident who was trying to cross over the border to Pakistan from Kutch. — PTI

Army portal still shows old pay scales
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 2
Advertisements promising a “life of pride” in the Indian Army notwithstanding, the ‘sarkari babus’ seem to be losing track of methods to woo the target audience -- youth. For, in this era of computerisation and youth’s reliance on websites and search engines like Google, authorities have forgotten to update the pay scales on the official website

Annually, thousands of youth apply to become officers in the Indian Army and the website is a prime source of information. But, it still lists old pay scales, which were revised and tripled over a year ago. In fact, new wages make the Army one of the most lucrative career options for youth and the website does not showcase this at all, despite the force having a huge shortfall of officers.

The website missed out on the most important information — salary — a youth desires to know, said Sandeepak Singh Yadav, a youth from Rewari, who called up The Tribune to narrate the lack of information on the website.

As per the official website, a Lt Colonel is in the pay scale of Rs 13,500-17,100. But post-revision, the scale concerned has tripled to Rs 37,400-Rs 67,000. The website has similar salary errors for all ranks starting from the Lieutenant to the Chief of the Army Staff. Similar gaffes are visible in matter of rank pay or grade pay. The website says a Captain gets a rank pay of Rs 400 while a Colonel gets Rs 2,000. After implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission in October last, these were increased manifold and an officer at the level of Colonel gets more than three times what has been quoted on the website.

Interestingly, the forces had fought a pitched battle over their rank and status. So much so that it had snowballed into a major issue with the Prime Minister setting up a group of ministers to look into the matter. And finally, most of the demands were met.

A source said a full-fledged directorate looks after recruitment and such a miss in today’s web-enabled world is a “serious gaffe”. Youngsters today look up to websites for information and the official website should have had the same and even should have compared it with other career options. Also, it should list out each benefit in cash and provide a gross income.

2 Dogra celebrates 150th Raising Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
A special sainik sammelan and release of the First Day Cover marked the commemoration of the 150th Raising Day of 2 Dogra, the senior-most battalion of the Dogra Regiment today.

Addressing the sammelan, Brig SL Kapur (retd), senior-most Commanding Officer of the Battalion exhorted all ranks to strive for professional excellence and uphold the glorious tradition and ethos of the regiment. The oldest surviving member of the battalion, Sepoy Pala Ram, who had joined the unit in 1935, too was present at the occasion.

Serving and retired officers, JCOs and other ranks, including some veteran war heroes, were present.

A book authored by Sqdn Ldr (retd) Rana TS Chinna, “Team -38”, depicting the history of 2 Dogra, was also released on the occasion.Lt Gen (Retd) HS Bedi, and Maj Gen (Retd) Karam Singh were among other senior officers to attend the regimental function. It was on this day in 1965 that the battalion was honoured with its 22nd Battle Honour.

China to develop space military capabilities

Ananth Krishnan

China’s Air Force will begin to develop “offensive operations” in space, a high-ranking military official has said in a seeming departure from Beijing’s recent opposition to space militarisation.

People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Commander Xu Qiliang said on Sunday that space militarisation, or the development of weapons and defensive technology in outer space, was a “historic inevitability” and that “competition between military forces is moving towards outer space”.

He said “some developing countries”, in addition to “major air force powers”, were changing their military strategies to improve their space capabilities, a remark analysts said was likely directed at India and the United States.

“Logically, it seems that he is alluding to India’s space capabilities,” said Brigadier Arun Sahgal, an expert on China’s military at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi. Mr. Xu’s comments, made in an interview with China’s state-run Xinhua agency ahead of the PLA Air Force’s 60th anniversary, are a departure from recent positions Beijing has adopted, at least publicly, on space militarisation.

In January 2007, Beijing received widespread international criticism for carrying out a test in which it destroyed a weather satellite using a medium-range ballistic missile. This was believed to be the first satellite intercept test in two decades, and led to fears that it would lead to an outer space arms race. Since then, Beijing has sought to downplay its space programme, calling for “peaceful development” in outer space and backing an international treaty to limit space militarisation.

Against this trend, Mr. Xu’s comments calling for China to develop its space weapons capabilities have surprised analysts. In the interview, Mr. Xu said the PLA Air Force was also working to improve its detection and early warning, air strike and anti-missile air defence capabilities. “Superiority in space and in air would mean, to a certain extent, superiority over the land and the oceans,” he said. He added: “Regardless of its extent of development, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force will never pose a military threat to any country.”

Asked about China’s developments in space militarisation last week, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik said India was against space militarisation. “In fact, the entire world is against this,” he said.

UN Congo peacekeeping force to pull aide to some Congo army units after civilian killings


November 2nd, 2009

KINSHASA, Congo — The United Nations says it will suspend military help to Congolese military units implicated in the deaths of civilians in volatile eastern Congo.

Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende on Monday urged an investigation into the 62 civilian killings between May and September.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy says the killings happened in North Kivu province.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission started backing the Congolese army earlier this year in its effort to oust Rwandan Hutu militamen.

Eastern Congo has been wracked by violence since Rwanda’s 1994 genocide spilled war across the border. Hutu militias that participated in the massacres of more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus sought refuge in Congo.

Tackling Maoist Violence
Army to train state police personnel
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 1
Perturbed by the growing demand for central paramilitary forces by the Naxal-affected states to tackle Maoist violence, the Centre has decided to get a select group of the state police personnel trained by Army officials in jungle warfare (guerilla war) so that they could take on the ultras more effectively.

Sources in the state police headquarters revealed that the plan was already finalised in consultation with the Union Home Ministry and quite a few meetings between the officers of the Bihar police and the Army officials had been held in this connection.

Four battalion headquarters of the Bihar Military Police (BMP) had been selected as training schools for the purpose. The Centre had already provided Rs 1.5 crore to each of these upcoming schools for developing infrastructure and procuring equipment. Around 250 police personnel selected from the District Armed Police and the BMP would be trained in one batch at each of these training schools.

The state Home department will constitute a team of senior police officers who would select the policemen for this special training and also their trainers. The IG (operations) and Brigadier of Danapur cantonment would be permanent members of this committee.

The local sub-area office of the Army has already provided a list of retired Army officials to the state government for the selection of trainers. In all likelihood, the training schools would become functional by December 2009, said ADG (Headquarters) Neelmani. After undergoing rigorous training for three months, the trained police personnel would be included in the Special Task Force (STF) raised by the state government exclusively to take on the Naxals.

As a part of its anti-Naxal operation, the Centre had also provided Rs 18.90 crore to Bihar government for creating special infrastructure, strengthening security around police stations, building roads and helipads in Naxal-dominated areas. The money would also be spent on providing armoured vehicles and bulletproof jackets, besides latest weapons to the police.

Maoists are also reported to have raised an exclusive women’s brigade to counter the Centre’s offensive against them. The Centre has decided to deploy its newly raised COBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) force against the Naxals in Bihar very shortly.

The strategy of the Maoists, as indicated by intelligence agencies, is to put their specially trained women commandos in front to keep the COBRA force engaged in a gunbattle while their armed squad comprising men would be put on ambush duty from behind. Naxals had recently demonstrated their newly recruited women commandos by making them parade with their weapons in a combat outfit in a forest under the Dumaria police station of Gaya district.

Army dishes out bonanza, doubles house rent
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 1
Realising that the cost of living had gone up and it was impossible to provide government housing to all its officers and jawans, the Indian Army has doubled the house rent allowance. This will apply to those who have not been allotted official houses and have to take accommodation on rent in civilian areas.

Orders of the Army Headquarters in this regard have been circulated to all regiments, officials said while adding that these have been implemented with immediate affect.

A number of officers and jawans are forced to take places on rent in civilian areas, especially in cities like Delhi and Chandigarh, where accommodation is not enough and is very expensive to rent out a decent two-room place.

The Army also ramped up the scales of accommodation applicable to all its officers and jawans. Notably in case of barrack style accommodation for “single-living” jawans, that is the pattern of living in most forward bases, the jawans will have more space. This will be bigger living area and in some case the increase is 40 per cent of the existing area. The common room will be doubled while the jawans will have bigger bathrooms and more number of urinals.

Provision for desert coolers, educational rooms and computer rooms have been made. For varying seniority of officers geysers, AC and Kota stone flooring will be the new standard of fittings allowed in homes. The kitchen will have a proper utensil and cutlery storage cabinet. As of now, officers get it done with their own money. The review of the new scales of accommodation was carried out after 20 years or so and since then living conditions have changed considerably.

No report of Taliban presence in Jammu and Kashmir: Top army commander

PTI 1 November 2009, 03:20pm IST

JAMMU: There were no reports of presence of the Taliban in Jammu and Kashmir, a top army commander has said, but maintained that the troops remain well-prepared to tackle threats of any nature from any terrorist group.

"As far as Taliban is concerned, they are too involved in Pakistan and authorities there are sorting them out," Lt Gen Jaiswal, who recently took over as GoC-in-C of Northern Command, told reporters at Udhampur, 66 kms from here.

"Taliban is active in Pakistan and there are no reports indicating there presence in Jammu and Kashmir," he said yesterday, adding the army remains prepared on the Line of Control to meet threats of any nature by any terrorist group.

On the situation along the Line of Actual Control, he said peace and tranquillity prevails with both sides patrolling upto their perceived lines as per the agreed border management posture and there are no deviations from this.

Some "areas of difference" remain between India and China on the perception of the LaC in Ladakh region and these are being addressed on the diplomatic front, he said.

Building on defence capability and preparing for any contingency is an ongoing process, he said and added that from the defence point of view, "we are aware of the ground realities and prepared to deal with any contingency."

In reply to a question on incursions and intrusions along the LaC, he said incidents reported in the media are merely "transgressions" and not incursions. "There have been far less such transgressions this year compared to last year," he said.

To another query if the quantum of threat is more from Pakistan or China, Gen Jaswal said, "If any contingency comes from any side, we are ready to face it."

‘Clinton’s ‘charm offensive’ failed to address Pak’s major grouses, including India’


November 1st, 2009

WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s maiden visit to Pakistan was marked by blunt talks by the top US Diplomat reprimanding the hosts for its dilly-dallying attitude towards countering the terror menace. While some were impressed by Clinton’s clear-cut strategy of reminding Islamabad regarding the impending threat posed by the extremists, others said she ignored some of the major issues concerning the troubled nation.

During her interaction with some of the leading journalists of the country in Lahore, Clinton admitted that the US had committed some mistakes in the past, one of which was supporting the successive military regimes in the country. Clinton’s candid admittance charmed many journalists, but not all were impressed, as they believed she circumvented the real issues, including that of alleged Indian interference in Pakistan.

“The charm offensive is fine, but she is operating in a totally different orbit. The issues that are causing problems between the US and Pakistan fall in a different (area),” The Independent quoted Talat Hussain, a leading news anchor, as saying.

“The issue is that the US has a policy and Pakistan finds it problematic,” Hussain added.

Experts believe that Clinton’s tough talk and her blunt remarks over Islamabad’s unprofessional attitude over tackling the impending threat has given the Pakistani leadership the ‘much needed’ dose of reality and made them realise that it will have to perform on the ground rather than just cry for the lack of international support.

Clinton, during the round table conference with the representatives of the Pakistani media, made it clear that the Pakistani leadership must understand that there is trust deficit between both the countries and that it can only be reduced by working together.

“Trust is a two-way street. There is trust deficit.It will not be sufficient to achieve the level of security that Pakistanis deserve if we don’t go after those who are still threatening not only Pakistan, but Afghanistan, and the rest of the world,” she said.

Experts said Clinton’s words clearly conveyed a tough message to Islamabad, however, its effect remains to be seen. (ANI)

Army fears ’spillover’ terror from Pakistan in Kashmir


October 31st, 2009

UDHAMPUR - The Indian Army Saturday ruled out Taliban presence in Jammu and Kashmir but warned of a possible “spillover” if the situation in Pakistan worsened. It also expressed concern about “agitational terrorism” in the state, referring to the frequent street protests and shutdowns.

General officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal denied the Taliban had entered the state but said that there was a “possibility of spillover if the situation in Pakistan goes out of control”.

“A stable Pakistan is in our interest,” Jaswal told a news conference at the Northern Command headquarters in Udhampur, 66 km north of Jammu.

He said that the situation in the subcontinent, referring to the highly volatile situation in Pakistan, where terrorists are frequently targeting civilians and the security establishment, “could have its effect on Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India too”.

Jaswal said that though violence in Kashmir was on the decline since 2006, with just 36 incidents of violence reported this year as compared to 276 in 2006, he pointed out that “agitational terrorism” was a cause for worry.

The term agitational terrorism refers to street protests and shutdowns that started with the Amarnath land row agitation in the Kashmir Valley last summer, halting normal life for weeks together.

Widespread protests in 2009 too rocked the state with the latest being over the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian.

Jaswal, in his first media interaction after taking over charge of the command Oct 1, noted that militancy had come down and assured that the army was in a position to tackle all crises.

“The Indian Army would be able to overcome all the situations in the state,” he said.

“Militancy is down. It is visible in the faces of the people, who have shunned fear and come forward to provide us information,” the senior commander added.

Jaswal said that Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), despised by the people of Kashmir, was “a shield to the soldiers working for a cause”. He stressed that the army would ensure that no human rights violations occurred, but added that “minor aberrations here and there cannot be ruled out”.

“My orders are to the troops — not only fight insurgents but also insurgency because that is the root cause of the whole trouble.”

As regards equations with China, he said: “We are in a mode of strategic trust with China, but the Indian Army is prepared to meet any eventuality.”

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