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Thursday, 3 December 2009

From Today's Papers - 03 Dec 09

Army begins probe into battery blast
Kusum Arora
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 2
A four-member team of Army officers today inspected the site of last evening's battery blast in Jalandhar Cantonment and initiated investigations.

Though authorities still claim it was an accidental blast and ruled out any possibility of sabotage or terrorist-related activity, questions continued to be raised. Experts maintained that a battery-related blast could not be powerful enough to kill four. A senior Army officer said sabotage could not be ruled out as batteries were usually safe.
The Army authorities have stopped all activities near the site and did not allow anyone, including the police, mediapersons and photographers, to go near it.
Sources said the postmortem of the bodies would be conducted tomorrow. It was delayed for want of constituting a medical board, they added. Authorities are also learnt to have sought the help of the forensic experts.
The authorities maintained that the impact of the blast was such that the bodies were badly mutilated. Station Commander of Vajra Corps, Brigadier AK Sharma, said he had called ammunition and vehicle experts to probe the matter. "There have been cases in the past when batteries suddenly exploded . But an explosion of this magnitude claiming four lives is indeed strange. Experts are looking into it and we are cooperating," he said, ruling out the possibility of sabotage or a terrorist blast.

Navy objects to helipads for Ambanis, Ratan Tata
NDTV Correspondent, Wednesday December 2, 2009, Mumbai
The Navy wants to cancel flying permissions for the helipad atop Mukesh and Anil Ambani's current home Seawind at Cuffe Parade in Mumbai, and the helipad on top of Wellington Mews in Colaba, used by Ratan Tata.

The reason: They are too close to the naval dockyard, and other vital naval installations.

"I want to clarify that no permission has been given to Mr Ratan Tata. The permission was sought by Taj Wellinton which is located in Colaba. It is within the local flying area of INS Shikra which controls all operations in this area. In case of pilot error, the helicopter will land on top of the naval dockyard on top of the ships which are presently in the naval dockyard and therefore we have not given any No Objection Certificate (NOC) for any helicopter operations from Sea Wind," said Vice Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, Western Naval Command.

The Navy also says helipads on top of private buildings pose a risk.

"The Navy has sought reconsideration of this NOC and cancellation of this NOC because Wellington Muse is located within the local flying area of INS Chikra and is in very close proximity of the naval dockyard and other sensitive installations in this area," Bhasin said.

But the municipal corporation had cleared the Ambani's helipad, and the one at the Taj Wellington has an NOC from the Air Force, raising doubts over whether the Navy's objections are based on genuine reasons, or wounded ego.

Navy Day Today
Warship-building process too slow, says Navy chief
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
With growing strategic needs to protect the coastline, fuel supply lines from the Gulf and to combat piracy, the Indian Naval Chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma, today sought a change to warship-building methods and strategies of the country. Terming the pace of construction as too slow, the Admiral, addressing the annual press conference on the eve of Navy Day, said there was need to do much more.

"The construction schedule is where our shipyards lag", Admiral Verma said, even as he separately said the Navy was looking to have another construction line for conventional diesel-powered submarines. This would be in addition to the existing one at Mazagon Docks, Mumbai, where the Indo-French joint project for the Scorpenes was on.
On the nuclear submarine, he said the INS Airhant, inaugurated on July 26 this year, would be inducted in the Navy within two years and it would be equipped with ballistic missiles. He refused to set a date on when India would acquire the Nerpa, a Russian Akula-class N-powered submarine.
On building additional N-powered submarines, he hoped that the government would not let the huge investments in nuclear submarine building wither away after the submarines were commissioned.
Admiral Verma, who took over from Admiral Sureesh Mehta a couple of months ago, was candid as he made out the case for speeding up warship building in the country. The Navy had currently given orders for 34 ships in three different shipyards of the country, but the rate of delivery was only one ship per year, he said, adding that the Navy would be forced to go in for imports.
Over the next decade, the Navy's fleet strength will be 40 ships (34 from Indian shipyards and six from abroad) and 60 aircraft and an equal number of helicopters. The new orders will take the number of warships to 160 and aircraft to about 290. It currently has 130 ships and another 190 aircraft and helicopters in service.
In the next year alone, the Navy will get delivery of two frigates, six fast-attack crafts, two survey vessels and a fleet tanker.
The Admiral said he was in favour of having a larger private participation in warship building. Larsen and Toubro has set up the country's largest shipyard in Tamil Nadu and had announced some two months ago that it was ready to take orders of the Navy.
He allayed fears that the post-26/11 Mumbai attacks, the Navy had changed its focus. It remained focussed on its primary task of the country's security on the high seas.

New Delhi, December 2
In what is a serious blow to the image of the Indian Army, administrative and disciplinary action has been initiated against 41 officers, one JCO and four retired officers for allegedly selling their personal weapons in the grey market.

Minister of Defence AK Antony, in a written reply in the Parliament said, these were non-service pattern weapons that are sold at dirt-cheap rates to the officers for their collection. These are not weapons of the Indian Army. Antony said, a Court of Inquiry was held to enquire into the circumstances under which some serving/retired army personnel had sold/purchased/disposed off firearms and ammunition of various calibers. The District Collector, Sriganganagar had provided a list of officers who sold their non-service pattern (NSP) weapons, which included two Major Generals and two Brigadiers. The Court of Inquiry however did not find them involved/blameworthy in the matter. 25 officers who were in possession of more rounds of ammunition than authorised for their NSP weapons have been censured.

Sending 30,000 US troops to Afghan to cost $30 bn
Press Trust of India / Washington December 02, 2009, 18:30 IST

The US, which just pulled itself out of recession, would be spending a whopping $30 billion in the first year to foot the bill of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said today and assured worried countrymen that he will work closely with Congress to cut the costs and budget deficit.

"The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated," Obama said. "Our new commander in Afghanistan -- General (Stanley) McChrystal -- has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated. In short: The status quo is not sustainable," he said.

In his 35-minute prime-time national address, he sought to convince an increasingly sceptical nation that resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan and continued existence of al-Qaeda across the border in Pakistan were direct threats to the US.

"America -- we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering," Obama, also the Commander-in-Chief of the US military, said at the elite US Military Academy, West Point in New York.

"Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I'll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit," the US President said.

The US, world's largest economy, climbed out of recession as it grew by 3.5 per cent in the third quarter ending September 30 -- the first quarterly expansion in a year -- thanks to higher consumer and government spending among others.

General's kin says Army Chief knew of land scam
Anubha Bhonsle
BLAME GAME: Lt General P K Rath's brother says top shots are playing games as if nothing has happened.

New Delhi: As if the embarrassment was not complete for the Army with three of its top generals being indicted in the Darjeeling land scam, one of the General's brothers has now told CNN-IBN that the Army Chief was well aware of what was going on.

"General V K Singh and General Deepak Kapoor are all well aware of what has happened. If the media looks into the details, they will know that these fellows have been aware of it. Yet, everyone is playing games as if nothing has happened. They are letting this tamasha (circus) go on," said Lt General P K Rath's brother, Pratap Kumar Rath.

A 70-acre area of land close to the Sukna military station is at the heart of the conflict and the allegations against the three top generals are that they paved the way for a No Objection Certificate (NoC) to a trust - Agarwal Geetanjali Education Trust - to set up an affiliate school of the prestigious Mayo College in the area.

An NoC is needed for any land usage close to a military station.

In his statement before the Court of Inquiry, Lt General Rath has not denied giving the NoC. However, his brother says, "What is being inquired into when not a single inch of land has been transferred to anybody during this period?"

Meanwhile, Mayo College in Ajmer has denied any plans of opening an affiliate in Sukna.

In a statement to CNN-IBN college authorities have said: "We do not know the Agarwal Geetanjali Education Trust and no one has been in touch with us."

The alleged fraud gets only more murky and many questions arise including:

    * Did the Generals have anything to do with a private trust?

    * Did they push for the deal?

    * Why was General Avadesh's name a part of the trust brochure?

    * Were the antecedents of the trust checked before the NoC was given?

Chief of the Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor says, "It is only once the concerned authority approves the Court of Inquiry that we will think of what is to be done. It will come to me post that."

The Court of Inquiry report is now with the Eastern Army Commander even as the latest allegations by one of the general's family members is causing intense embarrassment to the men in uniform.

Centre announces 'significant' troop cut in J&K
Last updated on: December 02, 2009 23:25 IST
The government on Wednesday announced withdrawal of a 'significant' number of battalions of the Central forces from Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] in a noteworthy confidence- building measure following the initiative for holding 'quiet' dialogue with the separatist groups.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram [ Images ] told the Rajya Sabha that the decision had been taken in view of improvement of law and order situation in the state.

He also sought to reach out to separatist outfits of north east like the United Liberation Front of Asom and Naxal groups, saying the government was ready to hold dialogue if they abjured violence.

Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on internal security, he said the government would maintain zero tolerance towards terrorism, whether it is in the shape of 'jihadi' violence or Hindu extremist violence.

He said India [ Images ] remains vulnerable to terrorism as he noted that outfits like the Lashkar-e Tayiba have forged alliances with the Al-Qaida and Pakistan has not changed its attitude.

On the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Chidambaram said violence in the state has been the lowest this year and the Centre is willing to take 'what appears to be a risky step of withdrawing a significant number of battalions of security forces' and hand over law and order to the state police.

He said the process has already been initiated but refused to quantify the personnel being withdrawn.

Earlier in the day, Chidambaram told the Upper House of the Parliament that Kashmiri groups have responded positively to the Centre's initiative of 'quiet talks' and hoped a solution will emerge.

He said the government would not shy away from talking to any organisation, some of which are demanding self-rule.

Chidambaram noted that Jammu and Kashmir had a number of groups with a number of demands. And even though some groups had demanded the right of self-determination or self-rule, "I do not think we should shy away from talking to any group."

Referring to the north east, the home minister said ULFA is likely to make a political statement in the next few days and if that contains willingness to talk, the government is ready for a dialogue, provided the outfit abjures violence and gives up the sovereignty demand.

The statement assumes significance as ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa has been reportedly detained in Bangladesh and is expected to be handed over to India soon.

Chidambaram said 'all but three states in the North East are entirely peaceful.. Our problems are in Assam and Manipur. Manipur is a cause for worry. I intend to pay greater attention to it.'

In Assam, he said an interlocutor is talking to four groups. The leadership of Dima Halam Daoga has been virtually neutralised and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland is coming forward for talks, he added.

In Nagaland, there is some uneasy truce, both factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland are being pursued to come to the negotiation table, he added.

India Entraps the US in Afghanistan

Kashmir Watch, Dec 2

By Sajjad Shaukat

Although the US President Obama has announced that he will send an extra 30,000 US troops to fight the war in Afghanistan, yet his revised strategy also includes exit strategy as he has indicated that withdrawal of forces will start in July 2011. In this context, on November 15, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had already revealed, "We're not interested in staying in Afghanistan" for a long time.and set a start date for military withdrawal. 

Frustrated in achieving their goals, the US-led NATO countries have seriously been considering withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan in future owing to growing domestic pressure coupled with daily casualties of their personal and rising cost of war.

Particularly, America has been bearing huge losses, amounting seven trillion dollars in the total cost of war against terrorism, increase in defence budget and acute financial crisis inside the US homeland.

On the other side, India wants to entrap the US permanently in Afghanistan in order to achieve its secret designs against Pakistan and Chinain the Indian-held Kashmir by damaging American global and regional interests.

It is basis of Indian shrewd diplomacy to engage the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan for unlimited period. In this regard, prior to his visit to the US for getting sophisticated technology including American support for a permanent seat for New Delhi in the UN Security Council, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh already exposed his cunning diplomacy by showing his illogical approach during his interview to the Washington Post and Newsweek. He remarked that India "wants to resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan", while accusing the latter of "sponsoring terrorism…planning another Mumbai-type attack in India." He called for the US pressure on Islamabad to rein in extremists. He also said that he would encourage the American leadership to stay in Afghanistan. Besides, Singh warned that Afghanistan could fall into a civil war if the US exited, while saying: "It is very important that both the US and the global community stay engaged in Afghanistan."

During his trip, Singh who was warmly welcomed by the American president and other high officials left no stone unturned in convincing Washington raising alleged concerns regarding Pakistan and Afghanistan in connection with militancy, while emphasing  a strategic partnership and common values of democracy. Under the pretext of common goals, his insistence was that both US and India which can collectively resolve global and regional issues like hunger, security and nuclear disarmament in wake of a common menace of terrorisma sustained commitment to continue assisting Afghanistan.

Indian PM Singh was frustrated when on November 25, 2009, President Obama in the joint press conference made it clear that Washington wanted "encouraging ways in which both India and Pakistan can feel secure and focus on the development of their own countries and their own people…our core goal is to achieve peace and security for all the peoples in the region, not just one country or the other." Obama also praised Pakistan's military operations in Swat and South Waziristan by explaining that Islamabad had made progress in fighting terroristshoping for anti-terrorism cooperation between all regional parties for the benefit of the people of Pakistan and India.

However, Manmohan Singh who repeatedly indicated that Pakistan has nothing to fear from India created a sense of fear for Americans in order to ensure presence of their troops in Afghanistan. In this context, confused in his objectives, in his meetings at Washington, DC, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Woodrow Wilson Centre, he re-iterated, if insurgency "succeeds in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it shall be catastrophic" not only for India and the US but also for whole the region. He again urged the needs of greater American pressure on Pakistan to curb terrorism.

Nevertheless, by setting aside Islamabad's perennial offers for resumption of dialogue, the major aim of Singh's American trip was to indoctrinate the US high officials through Indian false propaganda that Pakistan has been sponsoring terrorism in both Afghanistan and India. In fact, India wants to entrap America permanently in Afghanistan which has become a most conducive place for Indians to fulfill their covert aims.

Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Indian secret agency, RAW with the support of Israeli Mossad has well-established its networks. Particularly, India has been running secret operations against Pakistan from its consulates in Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandhar and other sensitive parts of the Pak-Afghan border. It has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan to strengthen its grip. And from there, Indian RAW has been sending well-trained militants along with arms to Pakistan in order to attack the security personnel including western nationals. New Delhi which wants to get strategic depth against Pakistan has not only increased its military troops in the counry, but has also decided to set up cantonments. In this respect, puppet regeme of Hamid Karzai encouraged India in using the Border Roads Organisation in constructing the ring roads by employing Indo-Tibeten police force for security.

Regarding Indian activities in Afghanistan, on September 20, NATO commander, Gen. McChrystal in his report on the Afghan war admitted: "Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan including significant development efforts…is likely to exacerbate regional tensions."

Worried about withdrawal of the US-led allies from Afghanistan, India with the cladestine support of Indo-Israeli lobbies has already started a propaganda campaign in the West to implicate Islamabad. Even in an interview with the CNN, Singh remarked "Pakistan's objectives in Afghanistan are not necessarily in harmony with the American objectives…the Pakistan government and the Army are not moving to remove the Afghan Taliban" and that "Pakistan has not done enough with regard to pursuing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks," while, he presumed that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal could fall into the wrong hands.

While showing realistic approach by rejecting Indian blame game against Pakistan, the US, UK and some other western countries have already refused official involvement of Islamabad in the Mumbai carnage of last year. Besides, in the recent past, a team of Indian intelligence officials left the US disappointed after a week-long stay as they were not allowed interrogating a Pakistan-born American national David Coleman Headley, arrested by the FBI on charges of plotting a major terror attack in India.

Now, American officials and media have started focusing on Hindu fundamentalism in face of recent leakage of the Justice Liberation Commission, admitting the official involvement of the BJP leadership in the destruction of the Babri Masjid (Mosque)and over other developments like human violations in the Indian-held Kashmir including violence against the Muslim and the Christian communities.

However, if US-led NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Karzai regime will fall like a palace of cards due to the growing Taliban militancy. Even New Delhi will not be in a position to maintain its network in wake of the successful guerrilla warfare of the Taliban. Therefore, India is doing its utmost to convince Washington to have a long stay in Afghanistan. Failed in this objevtive, it can even act upon dirty ticks to get the foreign forces entangled in Afghanistan.

In this context, first, with help of some so-called Indian Muslims, Indian RAW will increase attacks inside Afghanistan, targeting especially American soldiers with the sole aim to revive old blame game of the west against Islamabad for cross-border-terrorism. Second, RAW is likely to arrange another Mumbai type terror-carnage in India to get the sympathies of America and Europe, and to further distort the image of Islamabad.

Third, with the help of Indian army officers and RAW, Hindu terrorists can overcome the obstacles in the acquisition of the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). As regards the acquisition of WMDs, some Indian army officers and RAW could already be in cooperation with the Hindu fundamentalist organizations. They could also get or produce dirty nuclear bombs. While, western apprehensions are still found that some extremist Muslim militant, based in Pakistan's tribal areas are in pursuit of WMDs to use them in America and any European country. India has intensified its propaganda campaign regarding the insecurity of Pakistan's atomic assets. In this context, as a last option, India could use these fatal devices in the West, especially the US homeland not only to ensure NATO troops in Afghanistan, but also to incite them to attack Pakistan. Indians could also implement this most dangerous scheme so that the major western powers could demand Islamabad to roll back its nuclear programme.

Major defence deals up for grabs
3 Dec 2009, 0159 hrs IST, Peerzada Abrar, ET Bureau
BANGALORE: With the Indian defence sector developing the blueprint for the latest long-range tracking radars (LRTRs), outsourcing contracts worth
crores of rupees will be up for grabs. Scientific advisor to the defence minister Vijay Kumar Saraswat told ET that DRDO plans to outsource much of the work to develop six to seven LRTRs worth Rs 6,000-Rs 7,000 crore to outside players. This would include everything from manufacturing ancillary gear to the sophisticated software needed to run these programmes.

This has attracted a lot of interest from companies such as Bharat Electronics, Astra Microwave, L&T, ECIL, TCS and Wipro. Mr Saraswat, who is also the director general of DRDO, said they would try to tap the combined synergies of research conducted by individual industries and the R&D carried out in their own defence labs spread across the country for the project. "Modern warfare is not going to be fought in the battle field, but in control rooms," said Mr Saraswat.

The latest range of radars being designed will be an upgraded version of LRTR, already developed by DRDO in collaboration with Israel, which are capable of detecting very small targets in the 600-800 km range and can spot objects as small as a cricket ball. The Indian defence stable already includes the likes of Swordfish, which has a range of 600 km, and more popular ones like Rohini and Revathi. The DRDO plans to upgrade the capacity of Swordfish to 1,500 km by 2011. The Indian defence is leveraging on the technology offered by private players to develop network centric warfare systems.

Infact, a more ambitious project that the defence sector has taken up is the Battle Management System which provides tactical command and communication from the headquarters down to foot soldiers.

Integrating this system involves a lot of networking of data.

Defence officials said they have floated tenders for the test project of Battle Management System, which is currently worth a few hundred crore which can even run up to a few thousand crore once fully implemented.
"The project aims to integrate the air force, army and navy," an official said. "This includes the development of sensors, digitally-enabled weapons, information grids, which will enable the efficient functioning of the weapons," Mr Saraswat said.

Infact, one of the recent fully-digitised systems integrated by the defence sector is the Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS). According to major general Rajesh Pant, additional director general information systems in the Indian army, they have successfully inducted 'Shakti' ACCCS, which is a network of military grade computers which provide decision support for all operational aspects of Artillery functions from the corps down to the batteries. "We are automating this. This will be with the artillery at all levels in a year," he said.

The defence sector is also embarking on designing and developing an UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) or combat Drone, which will not only conduct surveillance, gather intelligence and transmit it but will also help to detect the target and destroy identified objects.

"The UCAV can be controlled at the command control centres which may be situated at a different location," Mr Saraswat said. Even if one centre becomes defunct, the drone can be controlled and guided by other centres.
The network centric warfare systems of Indian defence will also include cognitive intelligence systems which can analyse the brain-using sensors or even ultrasonic waves. This can be used in dealing with cases of espionage and army intelligence gathering. "We have begun research at our life sciences laboratory. But it is still at an infant stage. A soldiers' mind can be monitored in real time," he said.

Mr Saraswat said technology is also being used in making weapon systems more tough so that it can withstand large shock loads and develop bunker buster systems which can penetrate deep into the earth.

"This will increase efficiency in ground-to-ground attack, ground-to-air, ground-to-sea and even underwater attacks," he said.

Indian Navy chief to meet Chinese delegation
December 2nd, 2009 - 5:45 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma will meet a visiting Chinese defence delegation Monday to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two navies.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Navy Day Dec 4, Verma said India and China share common concerns.

"The Chinese delegation is here. I will be meeting them in the evening (Wednesday). I may be meeting them for the first time but there have been occasions earlier when officers from both navies have interacted," Verma told reporters.

"The main thrust during the discussion is that whatever is coming in the media should not be misunderstood," Verma added.

The Indian Navy has for long expressed apprehension about the increased presence of its Chinese counterpart in the Indian Ocean region and hopes to blunt its thrust through greater cooperation. A joint exercise by the two navies has been in the offing for some time now.

"Chinese energy flows through the Indian Ocean Region. I expect the concern are similar to ours…. We are both growing economies," said Verma.

Earlier this year former Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta had made the first visit by an Indian Navy chief to China.

During the International Fleet Review held to mark the 60th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), Indian Navy's guided missile destroyers INS Mumbai and INS Ranveer, the guided missile corvette INS Khanjar and the tanker INS Jyoti also participated.

Indian and Chinese warships have been making calls at each other's ports as part of growing confidence building measures between the two sides. The two nations, who fought a brief but bloody war in 1962, have been steadily ramping up their military ties.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2006 during a visit to Beijing by then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee that said they would hold joint military exercises, join forces in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts and also cooperate in search and rescue operations.

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