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Wednesday, 11 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 11 Nov 09

Kashmir Times

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PM ‘assures’ withdrawal of AFSPA

Agartala, November 10
The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), a tribal party, today claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured them that the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, would be amended so that tribals were not harassed by paramilitary forces.

INPT general secretary Rabindra Debbarma told reporters that the assurance came when they met the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister in Delhi last month.

Pointing out that the act provided unlimited powers to the paramilitary forces, he alleged that about 1,500 tribal youths were arrested by paramilitary forces over the years on “false” charges. The act is in force in 40 police station areas since 1997.

Debbarma also said the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, formed in 1985 to safeguard tribals culturally and economically, had failed to accomplish its mission due to non-availability of funds and adequate powers.

“We have demanded more autonomy on the lines of the Bodo Territorial Council so that funds were directly received by the tribal council. More legislative power should be given to safeguard the interests of tribals, who constitute one third of the population in the state,” Debbarma said.

The INPT leader said the Centre had assured to send a team to review the functioning of the council. — PTI

The Moral Defence Rests

Tenzin Tsundue11 November 2009, 12:00am IST

When Manmohan Singh clearly and courageously said last month that there was no question of his government cancelling the Dalai Lama's Arunachal

Pradesh visit, i was proud. As refugees in India, it is painful for us Tibetans to witness Beijing bureaucrats laying down the law to our host government in arrogant, bullying terms. This visit's historic importance is that it swings back focus on the McMahon Line and therefore Tibet. That's why China was so impatient to shoot it down. The result of this pivotal visit will be a realisation that, without reinstating Tibet as a buffer zone, India will forever be subjected to pressures: militarily, politically, environmentally and, now, over water.

Many Indians do not realise the pressure that Beijing is exerting on New Delhi. They portray the visit as yet another China-Dalai Lama showdown. The fundamental problem China has is with Indian borders. It did not need a Dalai Lama to add to its rants. Dealing with China is tricky; a capitalist nation, ruled by a Communist-style party in the name of socialism, is aggressive and hugely defensive. One cannot lose a point; concede one point and you become subordinate. That is why Barack Obama has armed himself for his first Beijing visit as US president with Dalai Lama power, prepared to punch home points with Chinese President Hu Jintao. After facing Hu, he will still get to meet the Dalai Lama.

A unique bond with the Monpas of Buddhist Tawang has led to the 14th Dalai Lama's fifth visit to India's ''Land of Dawn-lit mountains''. The programme at Tawang monastery is solely to impart Buddhist teachings. It is at a most appropriate time, when the Indian government needs to assert its territorial rights in Arunachal Pradesh. In the face of China's strident claims over Arunachal, the Tibetan leader's spiritual visit to his followers legitimises India's stance in the most significant yet entirely non-verbal manner.

Historically, Tawang was Tibetan territory until early last century. Even today many families in the region retain ancestral tax papers for making payments to the government of Tibet. During the Chinese invasion of Tibet, India unilaterally declared the McMahon Line as the border and swiftly evicted the remaining Tibetan officials from the local administration in 1950. Arunachal Pradesh as a state was formed in 1987; till then it was part of the North East Frontier Agency.

The 6th Dalai Lama by virtue of his birth in Tawang in 1683 made sacred this 2,000 sq km region. The Great 13th Dalai Lama ceded the region to British India in 1914 by signing the bilateral McMahon Treaty in Delhi. The 14th incarnation is today symbolically and silently gifting it again to India. The Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile in Dharamsala have repeatedly confirmed that they honour the 13th Dalai Lama's decision. For the Tibetan populace, within and outside Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India.

In 2004, Sun Yuxi, then Chinese ambassador to India, made that ill-phrased claim over Arunachal not just Tawang, he said, but ''the whole of it''. Former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee rescued Sikkim from China's ambitions by surrendering India's remaining authority to speak on Tibet and, recently, a Chinese map portrayed Kashmir as an independent country.

China is not going to stop there since Beijing refuses to recognise the 1914 McMahon Line and the Simla Agreement also. It is most likely to question the territorial integrity of the remainder of the 890 km McMahon Line, the Demchok region in eastern Ladakh and the Sumdho area of the eastern Himachal Pradesh border. Having one of its vital military installations at Sumdho (Tibet: trisection) between Tibet and Himachal's Lahaul-Spiti, India is expected to counter any attempts on Sumdho with armed might.

As schoolboys in a Tibetan refugee camp, we used to be marched out once in a while for Free Tibet protest rallies. We shouted slogans in Tibetan and English but never understood this phrase in Hindi: ''Tibbat ki azadi, Bharat ki suraksha'' (Tibet's independence is India's security). It never made sense to me until later, when i realised how India had accepted Tibetan refugees fleeing Chinese persecution, nurtured us and reinforced us not with guns but with education.

The Tibetan armed resistance, based in Mustang, western Nepal, and disbanded in 1974, was later reconstituted into a Tibetan battalion in the Indian army known as Establishment No 22, a classified paramilitary force deployed in important operations like the Kargil war. Today, 7,000 Tibetan soldiers under the ministry of home affairs - man the most difficult and dangerous borders in India's mountainous terrain.

For India to keep Arunachal, based on the McMahon Line, the only choice is to recognise Tibet's independence. It cannot legitimise the McMahon Line border otherwise. Faced with this political reality, India may not be able to summon the courage to support the movement for Tibetan independence overtly, but it is important that it stands firm on its position.

* Centre to modernise armed forces: Pallam Raju


Rajahmundry (AP), Nov 10 (PTI) The government is spending 40 per cent of its defence allocation for modernisation of armed forces, Union Minister of State for Defence, M M Pallam Raju, said today.

The government has taken steps to modernise Army, Navy and Air Force to meet challenges, he told reporters here.

Thirty nine ordinance units, three shipyards and eight public sector undertakings in defence sector will be modernised and fire control system improved.

Bramhos missile's naval and land version are ready. We are taking steps to develop aircraft version, he said adding, "instead of transferring the new methods from one country (Russia) to another, we can achieve good results if both the nations (India and Russia) cooperate with each other to produce weapons."

The Centre is strengthening intelligence agencies in view of threats, he said

US warns over Koreas naval clash

The White House has warned Pyongyang against any escalation of hostilities after a North Korean vessel clashed with a warship from the South.

The navy crews exchanged fire near a disputed maritime border between the two countries; each side accused the other of violating the sea boundary.

The two navies have engaged in deadly exchanges twice along their western sea border in the past decade.

The row comes days before US President Barack Obama is to visit Asia.

North Korea is expected to be high on the agenda for Mr Obama, who has decided to send a special envoy to Pyongyang for rare direct talks on the communist state's nuclear weapons programme, according to US officials.

'Grave armed provocation'

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday: "I would say to the North Koreans that we hope that there will be no further actions in the Yellow Sea that could be seen as an escalation."


John Sudworth, BBC News, Seoul

Any military clash between North and South Korea will be regarded by governments in this region as extremely serious.

There are however a number of precedents, exchanges of fire between the two navies that have led to casualties on both sides but no further military escalation.

The South, though, has accused the North of deliberately provoking these kinds of naval clashes to raise tension and increase its leverage in negotiations.

Multilateral disarmament talks have broken down, and the North is seeking bilateral talks with the United States, a forum analysts say it sees as more likely to win it the concessions it seeks.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had urged the North and South to resolve any disputes they have through dialogue, a UN spokesman said.

In the North's version of events, a patrol boat was on a mission to confirm "an unidentified object" on the North's side of the border, and while it was sailing back, South Korean ships chased it and opened fire in a "grave armed provocation".

The North Korean vessel "lost no time to deal a prompt retaliatory blow at the provokers", the North's official news agency KCNA said.

"Much flurried by this, the group of warships of the South Korean forces hastily took to flight to the waters of their side."

South Korean officials said none of their troops had been hurt, while the North's boat had been set ablaze before it sailed away.

"We are sternly protesting to North Korea and urging it to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents," South Korean Rear Adm Lee Ki-sik told reporters in Seoul.

Both sides demanded an apology.

Disputed waters

In October, North Korea's navy accused South Korea of sending warships across the maritime border to stir tensions, and warned that further incursions could spark retaliations.


# 1996: A North Korean submarine runs aground in South Korean waters

# 1998: South Korea captures a North Korean mini-submarine in its waters

# 1999: At least 17 North Korean sailors believed killed in naval fire fight

# 2002: Four South Korean sailors and an estimated 30 North Koreans killed in a naval battle

The communist state's navy said that on one day alone, ships had crossed the boundary 10 times.

South Korea recognises the Northern Limit Line, drawn unilaterally by the US-led United Nations Command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which has never been accepted by North Korea.

The last two major deadly clashes in the disputed waters took place in 1999 and 2002 during battles that lasted less than half an hour.

Both Koreas are part of the Six Party Talks process designed to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Relations between the two thawed slightly in the 1970s, and then in 1991 after both signed a basic agreement with a goal of reunification.

In October 2007 the countries' leaders pledged to seek talks to formally end the Korean War, but this year the tension heightened again and the deal stalled.

North Korea has said South Korea's decision in May to join a US-led initiative to search ships for nuclear weapons caused it to abandon the 1953 truce that had ended the war.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Indian Army chief's visit to Germany to boost defence ties news

10 November 2009

New Delhi: Indian Army chief of general staff, General Deepak Kapoor, will make a three-day visit to Germany, starting Wednesday, in a bid to strengthen defence relations between the two countries.

Gen Kapoor, currently on a four-day visit to Israel, will arrive in Germany at a time when a new coalition government under the leadership of chancellor, Angela Merkel, has just taken over the reins of power.

As part of his visit, Gen Kapoor will hold parleys with Germany's top military leadership and discuss ways of extending cooperation between the armed forces of both the countries.

Defence relations between the two countries have been increasing in the recent past and India was also one of the organising partners in the Berlin Air Show in 2008.

The two countries have also signed a bilateral Defence Cooperation Agreement in 2006.

20 armymen to paraglide from Kamshet to Ratnagiri

Atul Deshpande, TNN 10 November 2009, 07:08am IST

SATARA: Around 20 pilots from the Indian Army will paraglide from Kamshet to Ratnagiri a distance of 362 kms between November 14 and November 30. The pilots, who belong to the Military Mechanised Infantry, will undertake the journey as part of a Southern Command expedition.

The team is currently practising at the Kas plateau in Satara. Famous as Maharashtra's Valley of Flowers, the plateau is fast gaining popularity as an adventure sports destination. The paragliders, led by Colonel S R Nikam, will be practising there under trainer Rajan Juvekar till November 12.

"The same set of 20 men participated in an international paragliding competition in Kerala earlier this year. In February, they paraglided from Goa to Ahmednagar a distance of 420 kms. Last year, the pilots took part in the pre-World Cup competition in Himachal Pradesh," Colonel Nikam said.

On November 14, the team will set off from Kamshet, gliding over the Pavana dam, Tikona fort and the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla. Their route will later take them over Sinhagad, Bhor, Mandhardevi, Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar and the Kas plateau. From there, they will head for Amba Ghat in Kolhapur to arrive at Ratnagiri. "We plan to hold an air show there. The object is to spread awareness about the sport," Juvekar said.

The paragliders will achieve a height of 10,000 ft and will cover a distance of 55 km in a single take-off. In a day, they will cover at least 80 kms.

"Paragliding has two forms of flying motorised and non-motorised. Our team will employ the latter format and will be completely depended on wind and weather conditions," Colonel Nikam stated.

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