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Monday, 1 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 01 Mar 2010

 

 

 

 

 

I'm not tainted: General accused of land scam

Karan Thapar

CNN-IBN

PRIDE AND HONOUR: Lt General Prakash talks on Devil's Advocate, breaks his silence.

 

In Devil's Advocate this week, Karan Thapar speaks to Lt General Avadesh Prakash, one of the main accused in the Sukhna cantonment land scam case. The Armed Forces Tribunal has ruled that the Court of Enquiry conducted against Lt General Prakash was unfair. Lt General Prakash, who has maintained silence for three months on the issue, says that that's not the only instance of unfairness that he has faced.

 

Karan Thapar: Lt General Prakash, let's start with the Court of Inquiry conducted by the Eastern Command of the Indian Army last year. You have several reasons for being unhappy with it. To begin with it, you believe its composition was not appropriate for an officer of your rank. Why do you say that?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: There is a provision in the defence service regulation which provides that when military reputation and the character of an officer, or for that matter anybody is a material issue, then the presiding officer of the inquiry has to be senior wherever possible and all the members at least of the same rank. But in that case, the presiding officer, though of the same rank, was junior in service. But, what most importantly was [that] both the members were major generals, junior in rank and obviously junior in service.

 

Karan Thapar: Now, you are referring to the Army Regulation 518. Is this breach of the regulation, merely procedural or substantive?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: I would say it's an important regulation and that's why it is there.

 

Karan Thapar: A second reason why you have complains about the Court of Inquiry is that it breached Army Rule 180 which says that if evidence is going to be given against an officer which could affect his reputation, the officer must be present. That didn't happen in your case.

 

But, the Armed Forces Tribunal, on your appeal, has reopened the case. It has given you access to the deposition of the six witnesses as well as permission to cross-examine them. Is that, in your eyes, partial relief or substantial and full relief?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: I would say that the opportunity given to me now of cross-examining these witnesses would possibly put things in correct perspective because all these officers, the witnesses that came, came in isolation and in my absence. So, some more issues will come to light and put things in correct perspective.

 

Karan Thapar: So, this is partial opportunity but it has given you an opportunity to correct things?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: I believe so.

 

Karan Thapar: One reason why it is important for you to correct things is because you believe that one of the witnesses who deposed when you were not present has allegedly lied to the Court of Enquiry?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Karan, I would not like to name this officer and I would also like to say that I have no bias against him. But, this gentleman alleged that he is a victim of my doings as an MS. But, the fact of the case was this gentleman has asked for a posting to a non-family station because he wanted to retain accommodation in Delhi for treatment of his family members.

 

So it is important that such allegations, which are ill founded, are made in presence of the officer, which in this case is me, so that in case the army rule was applied correctly, this probably wouldn't have happened.

 

Karan Thapar: So, what happened is that this person claimed that you had been unfair and in fact the truth is that he asked for a particular posting and you agreed to abide by his request?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Yes, we did that.

 

Karan Thapar: So again this example shows that the failure to apply Rule 180 in your case is not just a theoretical disadvantage; you have actually been harmed in fact.

 

Avadhesh Prakash: This is one example, there are more examples also but this is suffice to say that this is one example which proves what I have just said.

 

Karan Thapar: Is it then your position that you would have preferred the Court of Inquiry to be scrapped altogether; a new inquiry set up; new presiding officer and new members? Would that have been your preference?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Could be…but anyway, decision has been taken by the honourable tribunal.

 

Karan Thapar: And you are prepared to accept that decision?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: I accept.

 

Karan Thapar: But you would have preferred a new enquiry?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Yes.

 

Karan Thapar: Let's come to your second issue of concern. You believe that the Army Chief did not apply his mind fully to your reply to the show cause notice he sent you for administrative action. Why do you believe that?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: As per my knowledge, the Court of Enquiry was received by the Headquarter of Eastern Command around December 22 or December 23. The show cause notice was given to me on January 11. It means about three weeks of time was taken. I gave my reply on January 22. Then, on January 29, I was given a letter, which says that administrative action has been cancelled and disciplinary action is to be initiated against me. Now, just see the contrast. In those last six days also there were just three working days. You have taken three days to change the action from administrative action to disciplinary action whereas almost three weeks for the Court of Enquiry to be examined.

 

Karan Thapar: So, to clarify what you are saying is that whereas the Army Chief took three weeks to respond to the finding of the Court of Enquiry, he, in fact, has taken just three working days to respond to you show cause notice. And that contrast leads you to believe that he hasn't applied his mind fully to your reply to the show cause notice.

 

Avadhesh Prakash: That's right.

 

Karan Thapar: A second area or a third area of concern that you have is that you dispute what Army Chief said on this programme two weeks ago when he said that he had changed from administrative to disciplinary action after considering your reply. Why do you dispute that?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Now let me tell you one thing. That the letter I got on January 29, the first paragraph says that the show cause notice issued to me by the army on January 11 is cancelled and there is no mention of my reply at all.

 

Karan Thapar: So, let me clarify. If the show cause notice against you is cancelled, as the Army Chief's letter of the January 29 says, then that means your reply to the show cause notice is also cancelled and hasn't been considered. Is that what you are saying?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: That's right because, there is no mention of the reply at all.

 

Karan Thapar: And secondly, you are saying that that letter of January 29 wasn't in any shape or form, referred to your reply?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: That's right.

 

Karan Thapar: So, this leads you to the conclusion that when the Army Chief said on this programme two weeks ago, that he had considered your reply before ordering disciplinary action, he is not telling the full truth?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: I won't comment. It is for you to infer now.

 

Karan Thapar: But, that is the clear inference. Isn't it?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: OK.

 

Karan Thapar: Finally, perhaps most important of all, you believe that when the Army Chief switched from administrative action to disciplinary action, it was in flagrant violation of a established and long practiced military policy dating back to 1993. What proof do you have of this?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: I will show you a letter which is here with me. This letter has been issued by the AG's branch, Army Headquarter, which deals with disciplinary vigilance also. It says, "Once the competent authority, after having applied his mind to full facts of the case decides to initiate administrative action and such action is commenced, at this stage to revert to disciplinary action is not only unjustified, but also legally untenable...unsustainable". The last para of this letter says, "This letter is addressed to the command headquarters." It says that you are therefore requested to bring the contents of this letter to the notice of all concerned for compliance.

 

Karan Thapar: So, that letter which you are quoting to me, a) establishes army policy that once you have started an administrative action and it has commenced, you cannot arbitrarily switch to disciplinary action and secondly, everyone in the army is required to comply with this?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: That's right.

 

Karan Thapar: On the 29th of January, when you received a letter saying that the army was going to take the disciplinary action against you, that also happened to be your last day in service before you retired. Did you, at that point before you retired, point out to the authorities that that was a breach of stated army policy dating back to 1993?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: The letter was handed over to me on 29th at around 11 in the morning. And 29th is the day when you have beating retreat and the offices are closed at 1 o' clock. And that was the time when I was being bid farewell from the MS branch and that's the time I got this shock - that letter that administrative action has been converted into disciplinary action. So I had no time to complain or to tell anyone.

 

Karan Thapar: Do you think the timing of the delivery of this letter was deliberate so that you wouldn't have time to protest that they had actually done it so cleverly to deny you the right to protest?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Could be. But, I am not in a position to answer that question because somebody else must answer this not me.

 

Karan Thapar: Let's take a break at that point Lt. General Prakash. I would want to come back and in part two of this exclusive interview, I want to talk to you about what the press called - Sukhna Land Scam, and then about the indictments that you yourself faced.

 

Karan Thapar: General Prakash, at the heart of what the press calls the Sukna land scam as a proposal to build a school, roughly some 70 acres of land that belonged to the 'Chumta' tea estate; outside the Sukna military station.

 

The charge against you is that you contrived with the developers to circumvent or overcome the army's objection to this school. But you tell me that the army actually doesn't have the power or the authority to object. Of what grounds did you say that?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: As you mentioned yourself , firstly that the land doesn't belong to the army. Secondly, a military station is different form a cantonment. In a military station the local military authorities have no jurisdiction whatsoever on the land adjacent to their area. Therefore, I said that they have no right on this issue of no-objection certificate or any claim on that land.

 

Next point, I also want to bring to your notice, which apparently all of us know. You see in Delhi cantonment - there are schools within the cantonment. But here we are talking of a school outside a military station.

 

Karan Thapar: So, if schools can exist inside a cantonment, there is no reason that why can't they exist outside a military station?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: That's what I'm saying.

 

Karan Thapar: In which case why did the developers seek an no-objection certificate from the co-commander at Sukna?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: I can just presume. May be when they bring up an issue like that, they just want to have neighbourly relations with the military authorities there. That's all can I say.

 

Karan Thapar: But isn't it also the case when developers first approach the co -commander at Sukna, he refused and later on he changed his mind?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: I would like to bring to you notice that in the initial instance - the commercial lease which was there, that was for creating malls and resorts there, which could have been a security related issue. But here the instance has been changed to an educational institute. I suppose that's the reason why co- commander must have changed his decisions.

 

Karan Thapar: So, he changed his decision because the developers had changed what they wanted to build?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Yes, I suppose.

 

Karan Thapar: So, on the basis of what you have just told me now is just that use of the term 'scam' is inappropriate or even misleading?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Absolutely, because the land doesn't belong to the army. No money has exchanged hand. The land remains with the original owners, so where is the scam? I just don't understand that.

 

Karan Thapar: Let's now come to your personal relationship with the developer, a certain Mr Dilip Agarwal. It said that you know him well and that he is a closed personal friend. Would you accept that?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: Yes, in fact that's a first line of my statement in the enquiry. I have said it out in front that I know him.

 

Karan Thapar: Now the indictment against you - the first of the indictment says that in the company of Mr Dilip Aggarwal you met with Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur and you had discussed the school project. Can you accept that?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: Karan, I was in Jodhpur. Mr Dilip Aggarwal had arranged a meeting with the Maharaja and he asked me if I would like to accompany him. I thought that possibly of a dignitary of his status and I said let me go. It was more of a courtesy call. At that point of time, Dilip Aggarwal had not mentioned anything to me in any details about this project. I just accompanied him.

 

Karan Thapar: You make it sound like an innocent meeting. But was it in fact in proper for you meet Maharaja Gaj Singh in the company of the developer?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: Let me clear it again. Just one meeting doesn't give you franchise, I'm sure. I'm not even aware today. There must be even more procedures before you get a franchise. In the hind side, one can presume that it was not correct. But at that point of time I thought it was a harmless thing to do.

 

Karan Thapar: The second indictment against you is that in the company of the developer Mr Dilip Aggarwal, you have also visited the land at Sukna with the proposed school is to be built. Was that not improper for you to do?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: I was on a visit to Sukna. I have spared some time in the evening with the gentlemen, when he approached me and I roam around the area for just five to ten minutes.

 

Karan Thapar: Just five to ten minutes?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: Yes, that's right.

 

Karan Thapar: So, your saying that the time duration was so short, the visit was innocent?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: I would like to say that there were no proposals and any other such things could have been discussed in five to ten minutes.

 

Karan Thapar: But on both these issues- meeting Maharaja Gaj Singh in the company of developer, visiting land in the company of developer would you concede that it looks improper even if it wasn't improper. In fact, it looks improper, it looks wrong?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: That's what I have said. At that point of time in hind side you can percive those things. But I thought there were totally harmless and --

 

Karan Thapar: --With hind sight it looks worst then it did at that time?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: Exactly.

 

Karan Thapar: The final indictment is that you recommended to the co-commander at Sukna that he should give permission for this school and that then you proceeded to also put pressure on him to do so.

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: I admit that I have mentioned to him about this. He had invited me for dinner. Let me give you an example, Like I was a military secretary, I would have got few recommendations from my colleagues, from senior officers and even retired senior officers. After that they would be passed on to the appropriate officer, who would examine those and analyse and put up for direction of competent authority or what ever level. Now if a decision is taken by that competent authority, do you believe that the person who recommended the case would believe?

 

Karan Thapar: In other words you saying that when you have recommended this case to the Sukna co-commander, your are doing what you have done frequently, previously as military secretary, you treated this just like any other thing or you would treat it as military secretary?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: I would say that in any case. In case of co-commander, he is Lt Gen and I'm a Lt Gen. Co-commander is also an important person. There are thirteen of them in the Indian Army. I don't have any direct jurisdiction on him. Therefore, for me, this theory of putting pressure on him or influencing him, I think it appears.........

 

Karan Thapar: So you say that co-commander is as rank as you and he is one among the thirteen. Therefore, he is important and you as military secretary can't put pressure on him?

 

Avadhesh Prakash: That's right.

 

Karan Thapar: You're absolutely sure that what the truth is?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: Of course.

 

Karan Thapar: Listening to your answers on the three indictments I want to put this question to you. If the Army Chief had stood by his original decision of administrative action and not changed to the disciplinary action, would you have accepted that some form of censor as perhaps on an appropriate punishment?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: Now it's a hypothetical question. I really wonder what to answer. In the show cause notice I had already denied those allegations.

 

Karan Thapar: Many people say that at the bottom of these whole story affair, there is a rivalry or a bitterness between Lt Gen VK Singh, the present Army Commander of Eastern command, whose going to be the next Army Chief and yourself?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: This is absolutely wrong. We have been colleagues as young officers; we had our postings together. There is no question of any rivalry or any bitterness. Even during my tenure as military secretary, he is one gentleman, who had never recommended any case to me. I'm very clear on that.

 

Karan Thapar: So there was never an instance when you asked you for something which you have refused or which could have annoyed him? Was there no instance of your rebuffing him?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: No way. I think it is somebody's imagination of some fertile mind which says so.

 

Karan Thapar: Finally you haven't spoken to the press until now. Why have you not told them your full story?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: When I was in army, I was bound by the code of conduct and as soon as I retired my case was subjoined with Armed Forces Tribunal. Then I had decided not to speak to anyone.

 

Karan Thapar: Why you today speaking this to me?

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: I don't know how would I answer it. But I thought I need to speak it to some one or in front of somebody at large. Whatever answers I have given to you, I gave my side of the story. I feel that I must put it across those people for my sake and for my own family. The people have to decide after this interview what is correct and what is wrong.

 

Karan Thapar: In other words you want to clear your name and you don't want to be thought of as tainted General.

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: Exactly. Media has named me as tainted and dagi in Hindi. I just wanted to clear it all. That's the reason I've come over here today.

 

Karan Thapar: General Prakash, a pleasure talking to you.

 

Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash: Thank you.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/im-not-tainted-general-accused-of-land-scam/110854-3-single.html

 

 

 

 

 

Sukna Case
Scam? No money changed hands, says Gen Prakash
Tribune News Service

Excerpts from the interview

Karan Thapar: So, on the basis of what you have just told me, is the use of the term, ‘scam’ inappropriate or even misleading?

General Prakash: Absolutely, because the land doesn’t belong to the Army, no money has exchanged hands. The land remains with the original owners. So, where is the scam? I just don’t understand that.

Karan Thapar: Many people say that at the bottom of this whole sorry affair there is a rivalry or a bitterness between Lt Gen V K Singh, the present Army Commander of Eastern Command and who is going to be the next Army Chief, and yourself ?

General Prakash: This is absolutely wrong. We have been colleagues as young officers, we had our postings together. There is no question of any rivalry or any bitterness. Even during my tenure as military secretary, he is one gentleman who had never recommended any case to me. I am very clear on that.

New Delhi, February 28
The so-called Sukna land scam, which has rocked the Army establishment for the past few months and hogged headlines in the media, is just a lot of hot air, claims the former Military Secretary to the Army Chief, Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash (Retd). The General, who retired on February 1, happens to be one of the officers accused of cosying up to a property developer in Siliguri and of pressurising the Corp Commander to withdraw his initial objection on security reasons to construction work outside the Sukna military station in Darjeeling.

Breaking his silence to Karan Thapar in the CNN-IBN programme Devil’s Advocate on Sunday evening, the retired General claimed that the 70 acres in question belonged to the Chumta tea estate and that developers did not need any permission from the Army. “The local military authorities have no jurisdiction whatsoever on the land adjacent to their area,” said General Prakash in reply to a question.

But asked why in that case the promoter had sought a no-objection certificate from the Corp Commander at Sukna and why the Commander had turned down the request at first, General Prakash replied, “May be… they just wanted to have (good) neighbourly relations with the military authorities there… that’s all I can say.”

He claimed that the Corp Commander’s initial objections were related to the promoter’s plans to put up malls and resorts on the land. But when promoters decided to put up a school instead, General Prakash told Thapar, the Corp Commander ‘must have changed his decision’.

General Prakash admitted that he knew the promoter, Dilip Agarwal, and that he accompanied him to meet Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur in Jodhpur to discuss the possibility of securing the franchise of a school to be set up at Sukna. He also admitted visiting Sukna in the company of the promoter and visiting the land for ‘five or 10 minutes’. In hindsight, he agreed, the actions were possibly errors of judgment and improper. But ‘at that point of time I thought it was a harmless thing to do’, he confessed.

In another candid confession, the retired General admitted to have taken up the issue of the school with the Corp Commander at Sukna. But he defended his decision by saying that as Military Secretary he would receive ‘recommendations’ from colleagues, senior officers and even retired senior officers, which he would then pass on to the appropriate officer for consideration. The officer then would examine the issue, analyse it and put it up for direction of competent authority, he pointed out before asking, “Now if a decision is taken by that competent authority, do you believe that the person who recommended the case is to be blamed?”

Significantly, however, the retired officer dismissed reports of a rivalry between him and Lt Gen V K Singh, chief of the Eastern Command, who is slated to take over as the Army Chief on March 31. In fact, General Prakash handed out a compliment to the future Army Chief when he singled him out for ‘never recommending any case’ to him.

General Prakash, who was indicted by a Court of Inquiry in December, had appealed to the Armed Forces Tribunal which ordered a retrial and gave General Prakash and other accused officers a chance to cross-examine witnesses, an opportunity they were denied during the inquiry.

In the interview telecast on Sunday evening, General Prakash, however, claimed that Army rules did not allow disciplinary action once administrative action had already been initiated. He also felt that the Court of Inquiry was not constituted in accordance with rules and should have been re-constituted.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100301/main4.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IAF carries out firepower exercise

Pokhran, February 28
Showcasing its precision strike capabilities during day and night, Indian Air Force today carried out a massive firepower blitzkrieg using its frontline aircraft such as SU-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, MIG 27 and MIG 29, at the Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan.

The high-voltage exercise ‘Vayu Shakti’, witnessed by President Pratibha Patil, Defence Minister AK Antony and a host of foreign dignitaries, showcased massive bombing, aerial dogfight and day-night air drop of commandos in the Thar desert.

In the two-hour event, 100 combat, reconnaissance, transport and rotary wing aircraft took part in the massive Fire Power Demonstration (FPD) by the world’s fourth-largest air force and displayed the day and night employability of air power by frontline fighter aircraft.

Speaking on the occasion, South Western Air Command Chief Air Marshall P S Bhangu said the demonstration was being carried out after six years and the plan was to hold it more frequently.

Despite yesterday’s crash-landing at Jaisalmer, the Sarang team performed with its ALH Dhruv helicopters. A chopper of the team had crash-landed due to loss of power in flight yesterday while rehearsing for the show.

Along with Surya Kiran and Sarang aerobatic display teams, the Sukhoi-30s also performed aerial stunts.

Russian-origin Mi-35 attack helicopters, Mi-17 medium lift helicopters, IL-76 heavy lift and AN-32 medium lift transport plane also flew over the venue for the day-and-night air drop for specialised operations.

For the first time, the AWACS was used to monitor the mammoth exercise while an unmanned aerial vehicle streamed live video images of the target destruction.

In addition to 70 aircraft which participated in the exercise, 30 aircraft were kept on standby, in both air and on the ground.

For the FPD, mock radar sites, tanks, marshalling yards, terrorist camps, runway, BMP infantry fighting vehicles, blast pens and convoys are among a few of the targets that pilots destroyed.

IAF’s Special Forces Garuds were also para-dropped, who carried out the drill to neutralise a mock terrorist camp.

Displaying jointness among Services, Army’s Special Forces and Navy’s Marine Commandos also took part in the exercise.

The idea of the exercise is to project the IAF’s objectives in its present avatar, as spelt out by Air Chief Marshal P V Naik: “To see first and farthest, to reach first and furthest and to hit hard and 
accurately.” — PTI

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100301/main5.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanawar school land under RTI scanner
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Over half-a-century-old records pertaining to the ownership and transfer of land housing the prestigious Lawrence School at Sanawar, near Kasauli, are being sought under the Right to Information Act. A city resident and former teacher of the school, RK Singla, is seeking copies of five letters written by the Ministry of Defence from 1949 to 1954, whereby the land is claimed by the institution to have been relinquished by the Indian army in its favour.

Besides, a copy of the Rules of the Acquisition, Custody, Relinquishment etc. of Military Lands, 1944, under which this land is claimed to be relinquished, is also being sought. The applicant has also sought the status of the school, whether it is a government, semi-government, public sector undertaking or a private institution.

The school is situated on 127.47 acres located in Himachal Pradesh. The applicant has contended that as per records, the land in question was owned by the Ministry of Defence till 1949. Revenue records procured under the RTI in 2007 also show the Central government to be the owner of the land. Contrarily, however, the school authorities claim the land belongs to them.

The applicant has claimed that his application is intended to unveil the true status about ownership and accountability of this land and whether it is required to set the record straight. 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100301/nation.htm#9

 

 

 

 

 

IAF carries out fire power exercise using frontline aircraft

Press Trust of India, Sunday February 28, 2010, Pokharan

 

Showcasing its precision strike capabilities during day and night, Indian Air Force on Sunday carried out a massive fire power blitzkrieg using its frontline aircraft such as SU-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, MIG 27 and MIG 29, at the Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan.

 

The high-voltage exercise 'Vayu Shakti', witnessed by President Pratibha Patil, Defence Minister A K Antony and a host of foreign dignitaries, showcased massive bombing, aerial dog fight and day-night air drop of commandos in the Thar desert.

 

In the two-hour event, 100 combat, reconnaissance, transport and rotary wing aircraft took part in the massive Fire Power Demonstration (FPD) by the worlds fourth-largest air force and displayed the day and night employability of air power by frontline fighter aircraft.

 

Speaking on the occasion, South Western Air Command Chief Air Marshall P S Bhangu said the demonstration was being carried out after six years and the plan was to hold it more frequently.

 

Despite Saturday's crash-landing at Jaisalmer, the Sarang team performed with its ALH Dhruv helicopters. A chopper of the team had crash-landed due to loss of power in flight yesterday while rehearsing for the show.

 

Along with Surya Kiran and Sarang aerobatic display teams, the Sukhoi-30s also performed aerial stunts.

 

Russian-origin Mi-35 attack helicopters, Mi-17 medium lift helicopters, IL-76 heavy lift and AN-32 medium lift transport plane also flew over the venue for the day-and-night air drop for specialised operations.

 

For the first time, the AWACS was used to monitor the mammoth exercise while an unmanned aerial vehicle streamed live video images of the target destruction.

 

In addition to 70 aircraft, which participated in the exercise, 30 aircraft were kept on standby, in both air and on the ground.

 

For the FPD, mock radar sites, tanks, marshalling yards, terrorist camps, runway, BMP infantry fighting vehicles, blast pens and convoys are among a few of the targets that pilots destroyed.

 

IAFs Special Forces Guards were also para-dropped, who carried out the drill to neutralise a mock terrorist camp.

 

Displaying jointness among Services, Army's Special Forces and Navy's Marine Commandos also took part in the exercise.

 

The idea of the exercise is to project the IAF's objectives in its present avatar, as spelt out by Air Chief Marshal P V Naik: "To see first and farthest, to reach first and furthest and to hit hard and accurately."

http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/indian_air_force_show_of_strength_today.php

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arjun vs T 90: Tank trials to kick off next month

Manu Pubby Posted online: Monday , Mar 01, 2010 at 0310 hrs

New Delhi : After immense pressure from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) the Army has decided to go ahead with comparative trials between the Arjun tank and the T 90 Main Battle Tank (MBT) next month. While it will be interesting to see how the ‘indigenous’ tank holds up to the Russian origin mainstay of the Indian Army, the unfairness of comparing two totally different tanks has rankled experts both within and outside the military establishment.

 

On the face of it, both DRDO and the Army say that the comparative trials are not actually a competition between the tanks but are aimed at defining and finding a role for the Arjun in India’s armoured fleet. However, the Army is feeling the heat from DRDO which is aggressively marketing the trials as a testing point that could pave the way for more orders for the Arjun from the present cap of 124 units.

 

This, after the Army has virtually ruled out the Arjun for further orders and instead wants DRDO to use it as a base for a new tank that would find a place in its war plans. For the Army, the last nail in the Arjun coffin came after the accelerated user trials in 2008 that resulted in a massive setback after the power pack failed four times during just 1,000 km of running.

 

However, after the embarrassment two years agno, DRDO came up with a new theory of comparative trials to ‘prove’ the capability of the Arjun. While the Army has been forced to schedule the tests after intense lobbying by DRDO, the huge difference in the class of the two tanks has irked experts who do not see any scope for comparison between the two weapon

 

systems.

 

For one, at 58.5 tons, the Arjun is more than 10 tons heavier than the T 90. The added weight and size gives the tank several advantages over the Russian machine in terms of more armour, greater capability to carry ammunition as well as extra sensors. The plan to compare a 58.5 ton machine with a 46 ton tank has been described as ‘absurd’.

 

The T 90’s weight is crucial to the Army’s war plans along the long Indo-Pak border, especially in the plains of Punjab. The T 90 as well as the older T 72 were ordered because they weighed below 50 ton — the load carrying capacity of thousands of canal and river crossings all along the border.At close to 60 tons, the Army would find it impossible to deploy the Arjun in the Punjab sector as well as parts of the Jammu region. The Arjun’s weight is the biggest nemesis to further orders. The cost of upgrading all bridge heads to a capacity of 60 tons, experts point out, would be considerably more than the cost price of the entire tank fleet.

 

The comparative trials are also being billed as a trial between indigenous and imported, with opponents of the Arjun being labeled as ‘foreign agents’. However, a point that the Army rightfully makes is that the T 90 being produced in India right now is perhaps more ‘indigenous’ that the Arjun that has 60 percent of its parts imported. The engine, tracks, transmissions and gunners sight —- that together account for 60 percent of its cost —- are all imported.

 

Several officers including former Army Chief Gen VP Malik have reservations over the foreign content of the tank. “I am all for self-reliance. We have to make the Arjun more indigenous than it is today,” Malik had said after the tanks had performed miserably in accelerated trials held in Rajasthan.

 

While they will be ‘indigenised’ in the future, tank building technology is already flowing into the country through the transfer of technology agreement for the T 90 fleet. India also has the past experience of mass producing the T 72 tanks. This also brings out the Army’s worry about the production quality of the Arjun as it goes into mass production.

 

Already, the first squadron of Arjun tanks that had rolled out of the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi faced massive quality issues and had to be sent back for refurbishing. However, the biggest worry that the Army has is not the technology of the Arjun but the reliability factor given its past performance in trials as well the lack of continued testing in harsh terrain and climatic conditions unique to India. The outcome of the 2008 Accelerated Usage cum Reliability Trials (AUCRT) (crucial to clear it for bulk production), where the German engine failed four times, is still fresh in the Army’s mind.

 

While the comparative trials may or may not give the Arjun a certificate of triumphing over the T 90, which is the pride of the Indian Army, the future of the Arjun tank in India’s war plans is still under a cloud. As senior officers of the Army say, the Arjun has been a good start but does not have any future as a main battle tank. “Tanks have a certain shelf life and now we need a new deign looking into the future. We now have a base and expertise to start on the futuristic tank,” Lt Gen KDS Shekhawat, who retired as the DG of Mechanised Forces at Army HQ in 2008, had earlier told The Indian Express.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Arjun-vs-T-90--Tank-trials-to-kick-off-next-month/585683

 

 

 

 

 

India’s Ex-Army Chief reveals hegemonic designs

 

— General VP Malik confirms that Indian army’s aggressive policies created Kargil conflict

—Malik got Israel’s help to save troops during Kargil fiasco

—Calls for India’s readiness to fight war with China

—Former Indian Army Chief shows his poor knowledge about Pakistan Army, ISI

—Criticizes country’s political leadership for forgetting aggressive Chanakya’sArtshastra

—Sounds highly irked by Pak-China all-weather strategic relationship

 

From Christina Palmer

 

NEW DELHI—The former Army Chief of India, General (Rtd) V.P Malik, who currently runs a RAW-sponsored think-tank with the name of ORF Institute for security Studies in India, in a recent lecture has revealed that India’s military leadership thinks in a far different manner that its political leadership and the military leadership of the country is harbouring alarming hegemonic designs, making the Indian Army a permanent source of massive threat to regional as well as global peace, reveal the findings of The Daily Mail.

According to The Daily Mail’s finding, in his lecture titled ‘India’s Strategic Culture and Security Challenges’, General Malik has indicated that top Generals of the Indian Army believe that India must maintain an aggressive and hostile policy towards solving its disputes with regional countries. In his lecture, General Malik gave a clear indication that it was his aggressive mindset that caused the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan in the late 90s. General Malik, who was the main accused of causing immense military shame to India during the Kargil fiasco, owing to his ill planning and lack of strategic vision, now, in a bid to emerge as a highly successful military strategist, showed his continuous poor knowledge about Pakistan Army and Pakistan’s tri-force Intelligence agency the Inter services Intelligence (ISI). The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the level of knowledge of General Malik regarding the ISI and Pakistani army appears to be the same that it was before the start of the Kargil conflict and his lecture indicates that he perhaps refused to improve his knowledge in this direction. In his lecture, the former Indian Army Chief says that the ISI works under the Pakistan Army and the Army refused to place the ISI under the civilian political leadership. The poor General, it appears, while making this assessment, completely forgot that as is evident from the name; the Inter Services Intelligence, even a child gets the idea that it is a combination of Army, Navy and Air Force and not just a wing of Army. The General also had no knowledge that the ISI works under the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Defence is always headed by a politically elected member of the Parliament and is called Minister of defence so the ISI has always been working under the civilian political leadership of Pakistan and it was the defence Minister who refused to place one of his under command organizations to the Ministry of Interior.

The Daily Mail’s finding indicate that in bids to get out of the echoes of Kargil debacle, General Malik continues to make nonsense statements. These findings indicate that it was General VP Malik’s idea to initiate a small conflict with Pakistan in Kargil to measure Pakistan’s readiness to respond to a a military adventure from India. These findings further indicate that even the Americans had reported that India suffered Kargil debacle because of the flop planning of Indian military leadership.

The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that a US report on the Kargil border conflict between India and Pakistan, says the crisis showed up shortcomings in the Indian Army “in intelligence, key equipment, and inter-services coordination” as well as the military leadership’s failure in planning and management.

The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the report on political and military ramifications of the Kargil crisis, prepared by the Joint Intelligence Centre of the US Pacific Command said India inducted “ill-equipped troops” in Kargil-Daras sector to combat Pakistanis.

“After suffering heavy casualties with little success, it took several weeks to build up the troops and equipment needed to launch an effective counterattack,” it said, adding that India’s armed forces learnt several “hard lessons” about operating jointly at high altitudes.

India lost some 520 soldiers during a 50-day campaign that saw battles being fought at heights of up to 15,000 feet. Nearly 1,000 soldiers were injured.

“Acclimatising troops for fighting in Kargil was a stumbling block to operations,” the report said, noting: “it takes about a month for troops to acclimatise to the altitude, let alone fight.”

The report spoke of how units from the Indian Army’s 15th Corps that pursued the enemy towards the ammunition depot at Kargil on May 9, 1999, into the heights overlooking the town, were confronted by Pakistani troops.

“Expecting to encounter a ragtag band of Kashmiri insurgents, the Indian Army instead faced a well-equipped force in shape of Pakistan Army units, standing ready to retaliate from the high ground overlooking the critical Srinagar-Leh supply route. “India used frontal assaults supported by limited artillery in the first weeks of the conflict,” it said. After suffering heavy casualties in such strikes, Indian forces made preparations for an effective counter-attack.

“The Indian Army began its offensive in the first week of June and, using high volumes of artillery fire and supported by Indian Air Force strikes, Indian Army troops recaptured the heights in the Drass and Kargil area.

“The uphill, daylight assaults proved costly in casualties,” it said, and noted that consequently, India made “plans to secure more individual night vision devices.”

It predicted that at the tactical level India would now deploy more remote ground sensing systems to monitor the LoC and unmanned aerial vehicles would also help keep an eye on many infiltration routes “into Indian-held Kashmir.”

“(Then) Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh travelled widely to press India’s view of the Kargil crisis and to reassure world leaders that India would show restraint. His efforts, plus US-led international pressure on Pakistan to withdraw from Kargil, contributed to a diplomatic thaw in Indo-US relations,” the report said.

The Joint Intelligence Centre provides direct intelligence support for all forces assigned to the Hawaii-based US Pacific Command, which is responsible for American security interests in the South Asian region.

The centre conducts current situation analysis, long-range assessments and threat estimates.

The centre, however, said any increase in Indian defence spending in the wake of the Kargil conflict would not be enough to make up for the deficiencies in its armed forces caused by “years of inadequate funding and limited modernisation”.

These shortcomings will “continue to challenge the Indian armed forces to prepare for future conflicts and at the same time, the Indian army needs sane and visionary leaders, not like the ones it had during Kargil debacle.”

The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that General Malik was not only grilled by country’s political leadership for misadventure in Kargil but his own colleagues and even sub-ordinates also gave him a tough time for his failure in Kargil. The findings further indicate that a senior Indian Army officer sacked for failing to take effective action during the Kargil conflict of 1999 has challenged the action against him.

Brigadier Surinder Singh told the Delhi High Court that his removal from the Indian Army was due to the “bias” of the then Army Chief, General V.P. Malik. Judges B.A. Khan and J.D. Kapoor issued notice to the Defence Ministry and Army headquarters.

Singh contended in his petition that he had briefed Malik during his visit to Kargil on August 25, 1998, about the lapses in his planning and strategy to gauge Pakistan Army’s readiness for an Indian attack through Kargil episode. . In May 1999, “the Brigade intelligence team had detected that Pakistan army was preparing itself for an attack by India but senior commanders disagreed” with him, Singh said.

Singh maintained that there were no adverse remarks in his annual confidential report (ACR) that was written on July 9, 1999.

He also sought an independent investigation into the Kargil episode to bring forward the loopholes in VP Malik’s abilities to lead the army and pointed out that similar probes had been ordered by Israel after the Yom Kippur war of 1973 and by Britain after the Falkland crisis in 1982. The Daily Mail’s investigations further reveal that General Malik, who today talks of teaching lessons to Pakistan and China, following General Deepak Kapoor’s war doctrine against China and Pakistan, during the Kargil conflict, went all out to seek Israel’s help to save his skin and Israel did help the Indian Army.

The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that although Indo-Israeli relations for a large part had remained “very quiet,” the Jewish nation had in fact helped India at the time of the Kargil crisis

Jason F Isaacson, International Affairs Director of the American Jewish Committee, told India Abroad in an exclusive interview with the newspaper’s News Editor Suman Guha-Mozumder, Isaacson acknowledged that the “Israeli involvement, the help that Israel was really able to give to India at the time of the Kargil crisis as a friend and ally, had not taken place before.”

“It is becoming clear that democracies like India, Israel and the US have to stick together and nothing has made that clearer than the event [9/11] two years ago,” he said in the interview published in the September 12, 2003 edition of the newspaper.

The Daily Mail’s findings further indicate that General VP Malik also made a mockery of himself when he stated in his lecture that Pakistan Army was supporting and funding the religious militants. He made these remarks at a time when the entire global community was very much appreciative of Pakistan army’s efforts to eliminate militancy and when the troops of Pakistan army are fighting a comprehensive war against the so-called Jihadis and religious militants.

General Malik raised alarms for global community when he urged for preparing a comprehensive military strategy to counter China in his said lecture. He also sounded highly irked by Pakistan-China’s strongest all-weather strategic partnership and stated that that focus of Pak-China relations was to undermine the Indian interests and security.

http://dailymailnews.com/0310/01/FrontPage/FrontPage1.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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