Four feared killed in IAF chopper crash
Tribune News Service
Jammu, October 30
An Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper crashed and plunged into the Chenab at Trungal in Doda district today. The rotors of the ill-fated chopper got entangled in the cable of a ropeway hung by the locals to cross the river.
Although the authorities have yet not confirmed the total causalities in the tragic incident, all four crew members on board were feared killed, as the chopper was drowned into the reservoir of the Baglihar hydroelectric project. Only one body has been recovered so far and the rescue operation is going on.
MI 17 IV chopper is a Russian made helicopter with a good flying record. It is considered the life line for the residents of inaccessible areas of the region. A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident.
Deepak Kumar, DIG, Doda-Ramban range, told The Tribune that the IAF chopper, which was on a regular sortie, was flying over the reservoir of the Baglihar hydroelectric project on the Chenab when it got entangled in the cable of a ropeway at Trungal village.
It crashed and plunged into the Chenab.
Quoting the IAF authorities, the DIG further informed that four crew members were on board and only one body had been recovered. He said a team of divers from the Civil Defence had been pressed into service.
Rajdeep Singh, an eyewitness, said over the phone that he along with some locals was standing on the opposite side of Trungal village when the incident took place. "The chopper was coming from the Batote side when it crashed and plunged into the river with a big bang," said Rajdeep, who ferries passengers on the Chenab from Trungal to Zangli. He said he along with five other villagers were the first to reach the spot. "A badly mutilated body was lying on the bank of the river," he added. Although the authorities had not disclosed the identity of those who were on board, sources said the body of Wing Commander Garh had been recovered.
Although senior officers are tight-lipped over the incident, the sources said the ill-fated chopper was returning from the Nawapachi area of Kishtwar district. The IAF carries regular sorties to the mountain-locked Nawapachi area to transport ration, arms and ammunition for the troops stationed there. The IAF also provides assistance to the civil administration in supplying ration and other essential commodities in times of crisis.
Srinagar, Oct. 30: An Indian Air Force helicopter crashed in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district this afternoon.
Defence officials said the four crew members on board were missing but sources said they were feared dead. The crash occurred during a routine sortie.
The crash came after the Indian Army killed a suspected Pakistani soldier and a militant during an infiltration attempt in Kupwara aided by covering fire. Army sources said they had found a Pakistani army identity card on the bodies of one of the two intruders. "The card belongs to sepoy Zuhaib Ayaz of the Pakistani army's Punjab regiment," an official said. The death or arrest of Pakistani soldiers on this side of the LoC is rare.
Pakistani troops fire mortars across LOC, two intruders killed
by Indo Asian News Service on October 30, 2009
Srinagar, Oct 30 (IANS) Pakistani Army troops fired several mortar rounds at the Indian positions in the Keran sector of Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district Thursday, an Indian defence spokesman said here Friday.
This is the first major ceasefire violation on the LoC this year.
Pakistani Army fired 14 mortar rounds at our positions in the Keran sector of the LOC Thursday night, Lt. Col J.S. Brar told IANS.
'There was also some movement in the area and our troops retaliated with small arms fire. During the search of the area, bodies of two terrorists were found along with arms and ammunition,' Brar said.
An identity card of the Pakistani Army was also recovered from one of the slain terrorists.
'We have recovered two AK-47 rifles, one UBGL, one satellite phone and one mobile phone with a Indian SIM card,' he said.
'We have sought a flag meeting to convey our concern over the ceasefire violation in no uncertain terms,' Brar said.
Pakistan pleads for weapons aid
October 30, 2009
ISLAMABAD–Canada's arms embargo against Pakistan adds to the dangers faced by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, a Pakistan government official says, demanding Ottawa end its 11-year-ban.
"Canada needs to step up," Abdul Basit, a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman, told the Star. "We can see that other countries are increasing their aid to Pakistan. Look at the U.S. with what it's doing with the (aid boosting) Kerry-Lugar bill. Canada's arms embargo on Pakistan is short-sighted.
"These terrorists move across the border (from Pakistan) to Afghanistan and kill Canadian soldiers. Why would Canada not want to help us in this battle? Canada needs to change this policy."
Pakistan is ensnared in a landmark battle with Islamic militants who call themselves Taliban and fighting has been fierce in South Waziristan, the country's tribal region that has acted as a lawless safe haven for insurgents
When Pakistan began its military campaign, senior officers said they were concerned because the army and air force lack enough night-vision goggles and unmanned aerial drones. Canadian companies make both products well yet aren't allowed to sell them here.
Pakistan doesn't understand why, Basit said.
The subject of Canada's arms embargo has been debated inside the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad for more than a year as some staffers tried to make a case to Ottawa that Canada should offer support to Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban. Canadian officials in Ottawa have said no.
During a visit to Islamabad in May, Defence Minister Peter McKay told the Star Canada was open to ending the ban. "Doing military business in the future, and trade in particular, is something that is under consideration," MacKay said at the time after meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari.
But a day later, the ministry flip-flopped and said in a press release the policy was not under review.
Western diplomats say there are several reasons Canada may be refusing to budge. Canadian officials are still upset that Pakistan secretly used Canadian technology in the mid-1990s to develop its nuclear programs. (As did India.) Trust also remains an issue.
Islamabad has repeatedly been accused of misusing aid money that was supposed to be spent on its battle against terrorists.
Last year, for instance, the U.S. general accounting office released a report that said the Bush administration had provided $2 billion worth of aid to Pakistan without any proof the money had been used for its intended purpose. The Pentagon, for instance, spent $20 million (U.S.) for the construction of new roads for the army and $15 million for new bunkers. There was no evidence that either project was finished, the report said.
Now, the U.S. is offering to significantly increase military and non-military aid to Pakistan. The Kerry-Lugar bill would triple U.S. aid to Pakistan to $7 billion over the next five years, although many Pakistanis oppose the bill because they say its strict conditions undermine their country's sovereignty.
Canada, meanwhile, has committed $32 million through 2011 to support Pakistan-Afghanistan border management and training.
Recently, Canada supplied Pakistan with scanners that are designed to search trucks for arms and munitions. The trucks were supposed to be sent directly to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. But for more than six months, the scanners sat in storage in Karachi because of a debacle over invoicing.
"It was a classic case of bribery," said one Western diplomat familiar with the case. "The local people in Karachi wouldn't let the scanners go until the bribes had been paid."
Canada's foreign affairs department said in a statement "Canada's policy regarding military exports to Pakistan, announced in 1998 following Pakistan's nuclear weapons test, remains unchanged. There are no plans to lift restrictions on military exports to Pakistan."
Satish Chandra, a former Indian ambassador to Pakistan, said Canada is doing the right thing by maintaining the embargo, even though other countries such as the United States freely sell arms there.
"Canada tends to be a lot more sensitive and careful about providing arms to conflict-zone areas than the U.S. does," Chandra said. "The U.S. has such a broad agenda that it turns a blind eye to many things. Canada doesn't."
A Western diplomat said Canada risks losing its influence in Pakistan by enforcing the weapons ban. "It's not like Pakistan has no options," the diplomat said, adding China would likely covet closer ties to Pakistan and provide military aid.
Singapore and Indian Armies conduct Bilateral Artillery Exercise
11:05 GMT, October 30, 2009 The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Indian Army are conducting a bilateral artillery exercise in Devlali, India. Code-named Agni Warrior, this year's exercise involves soldiers from the 23rd and 24th Battalion, Singapore Artillery, as well as the Indian Army's 283 Field Regiment.
As part of the exercise, the two armies carried out a combined live-firing with the SAF's FH-88 Howitzer guns and 155mm Battery guns from the Indian Army on 26 October 2009. Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Neo Kian Hong, who was on an official visit to India from 25 to 27 October 2009, witnessed the live-firing with Director-General Artillery Lieutenant-General K R Rao. MG Neo also met the SAF and Indian Army troops during the exercise. The exercise, which is the fifth in the Agni Warrior series, began on 9 October 2009 and will conclude tomorrow.
This series of annual exercises underscores the warm defence ties between Singapore and India. Apart from joint exercises, the SAF and the Indian Armed Forces interact regularly through visits, courses, seminars and other professional exchanges.
US, other leading armies want to train, learn from Indian Special Forces
October 30th, 2009
AGRA - The Red Devils, the elite Special Forces of the Indian Army, are most sought after by the leading armies of the world who want to learn and train with them for their courage, professionalism, adventurism and spirit of soldiering.
Para commandos are elite special forces of Indian Army. They are the largest and most important part of the Special Forces of the country. The parachute units of the Indian Army are among the oldest airborne units in the world. On April 15, 1952, by absorbing three parachute battalions the Parachute Regiment was finally formed.
"I think the US Army and its Special Forces wants to train with us. They are actually surprised by achievements and experiences, which the Indian Army has. That is why they all want to interact and have training with us," Colonel of the Parachute Regiment, Lt. General P C Katoch told ANI.
"It is not the Americans alone with whom we are training. We are also training with British and Russian forces," Lt. General Katoch said during the paratroopers' reunion in Agra on Tuesday.
US Army Special Forces have learnt HAHO ((High Altitude High Opening) techniques from Para Commandos in 1992, underwater training in 1995 and anti-terrorism training in 1997.
A team of US soldiers came to Agra in 2002, which is home to the Indian Army's elite Paratroopers Training School, where Army and Navy personnel are trained. It is also the base of the 50th Para Brigade.
Replying to a question on benefits of exercising with US soldiers who operate in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lt. General Katoch said: "Of course we are benefiting with their experience. It is a process from where you learn from each other and know how they operate and types of equipment they use."
He also added that the Indian Army is ready to have a joint exercise with Pakistan if they give up their designs of spreading terror inside India.
Commenting on the deployment of Special Forces in Naxal affected areas; Lt. General Katoch said it is for the government to decide and whenever a decision is taken, the Special Forces are ready to operate anywhere.
The US and soldiers from France, UK, Israel and Italy have sought India's help to train in counter-insurgency operations at the counter insurgency and jungle warfare school (CIJWS). By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)
Special Forces modernisation keeping in view Taliban menace: Army Chief
October 30th, 2009
AGRA - To guard the territorial integrity and national security from any quarter, the Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, has assured that security forces are ready to face any challenge from the Taliban, and added that Special Forces modernisation is being done keeping in view asymmetric and fourth generation warfare.
Para commandos are elite special forces of Indian Army. They are the largest and most important part of the Special Forces of India. The parachute units of the Indian Army are among the oldest airborne units in the world. On April 15, 1952, by absorbing three parachute battalions the Parachute Regiment was finally formed.
"I like to assure everyone that we are ready to face any challenge," General Kapoor told ANI when asked about the preparedness of the Army in wake of growing Taliban menace in neighbouring countries.
A fortnight ago Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud said that India is the next stop for Taliban fighters after they create an Islamic state in Pakistan.
"There are whole lot of new equipments, which is being thought of for Para Special Forces modernisation, especially in view of the fact that asymmetric warfare, and fourth generation warfare is a matter of concern and from that perspective we are trying to modernize entire Para Forces," said the Army Chief during the paratroopers reunion hosted by the Parachute Brigade here on Tuesday.
Since the mid-1990s the role of Para commandos as a counter terrorist force has increased substantially. They are now actively involved in counter terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir to conduct pro-active raids against militants hiding in the countryside and mountains.
Commenting on the preparation of the Special Forces for 21st century warfare, Colonel of the regiment, Lt. General P C Katoch said: "One can see what is happening in the J-K, Northeast, there is outside interference. Parachute Regiment and Special Forces are all prepared for it all along."
As part of the modernisation of the Special Forces, a hi-tech warfare training is being given to the troopers, who have been equipped with light weight weaponry to enable them to take swift action during combat operations.
The Special Forces, which is also known as the Red Devils for their courage and professionalism, have been equipped with Travor rifles that would prove beneficial to the troops, deployed in counter insurgency operations.
The Special Forces will also get helmets fixed with night vision binoculars and earpiece for communication purposes. The body armour will comprise of lightweight bulletproof vests and shoes. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)