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Sunday, 7 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 07 Mar 2010








Punjab offers gallantry benefits to all
Also announces 40 pc allowance hike for awardees from state
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
Punjab, described as the sword arm of the nation, has offered to extend certain benefits to gallantry award winners across the nation regardless of their domicile.

Announcing this here today, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said Punjab would be willing to pay the same allowance being given to gallantry awardees belonging to Punjab to those from any other state where the local authorities are unable to do so.

Addressing members of the War Decorated India (WDI) at their triennial convention here today, Badal also announced a 40 per cent increase in the allowances being paid by the state government to gallantry awardees in Punjab.

The WDI is an association of recipients of the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), Vir Chakra (VrC) and awards given for gallantry in war or in the face of the enemy. It does not include recipients of other awards for bravery. About 200 gallantry award winners, their family members or widows from al across the country attended the two-day event here.

Stating that his move does not have any political connotations, Badal said that Punjab has been in the centre of all wars and the state identifies itself very closely with the armed forces. “It is not the question of money, but that of the izzat of the soldiers. It is the least that we can do,” he said.

While some states like Punjab and Haryana have extended considerable benefits to gallantry award winners in the respective states, many other sates have neglected them or are doling out a pittance. In some states allowances have not been revised for decades and the allowance per month even for the highest award is still in two digit figures.

Punjab pays a monthly allowance of Rs 10,000 to PVC recipients and Rs 8,500 and Rs 5,500 to MVC and VrC recipients respectively. Punjab has a tally of four PVCs, 52 MVC and 250 VrCs, out of which only 17 MVC winners and 110 VrC winners are surviving.

At present, there are about 1,550 surviving soldiers who were decorated for gallantry in various wars fought since independence. The numbers are steadily decreasing. So far only 21 officers and men have been decorated with the PVC, the highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy. Out of these 14 were conferred posthumously. Only three recipients of the PVC - one pertaining to Siachen operations and the other two to the 1999 Kargil conflict, are surviving.

A major issue with decorated soldiers is that when it comes to recognition ro grant of benefits, they get a raw deal vis-à-vis freedom fighters or eminent sports persons. The ministries of home affairs or sports are able to have their way when it comes to the welfare of its beneficiaries, but the defence ministry on the contrary, is unable to effectively pursue the interests of the veterans.

Also, a large number of cases where land was promised to gallantry award winners or their widows are pending with various state governments even decades after the awards were announced. Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had ordered a review of all pending land grant cases a few months ago after some gallantry awardees had apprised him of the situation.







Maoist objective is to overthrow Indian state: Home Secretary

NDTV Correspondent, Friday March 5, 2010, New Delhui


Union Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai said on Friday that the Maoist objective was to overthrow the Indian state by 2050, possibly with the help of ex-armymen.


Speaking at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis in New Delhi, he said a detailed analysis of Naxal operations showed that they may be helped by ex-Armymen. Also, documents found showed that the Maoist agenda was to overthrow the Indian state by 2050.


The home secretary said the Maoists were not serious about talks because they weren't under enough pressure to do so. The estimated annual income of Maoists is Rs 1,400 crore.


Right now, they were looking to regroup and build their own army towards their plans. And, Mr Pillai said, they were using administrative vacuum and underdevelopment to do this.


The home secy has also warned that Maoists may move into Bihar as the state has elections coming up and perhaps want to go soft on Maoists.


Analysis of Naxal attacks has revealed detailed and precise planning. Some aspects that point to possible involvement of ex-army and ex-para military personnel:


    * Lethal use of improvised explosive device (IED)

    * Precise, pin-pointed intelligence-based attacks on vulnerable posts/camps

    * Practice of swift retreat/melting away after attacks with arms looted from security forces


It was a virtual face-off between the Home Secretary and writer-activist Arundhati Roy who challenged Pillai's statement that Maoists are virtually building an army to overthrow the state of India.


Arundhati Roy said that the Maoists would take Home Secretary's suggestion that they were a formal army as a compliment.


Arundhati Roy said that Naxals today are a guerrilla force, not an army. She also said that she does not justify the Maoist violence.






Pak must dismantle terror camps: Antony

Thiruvananthapuram, March 6
A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stressed on the talks being the only way of resolving the disputes with Pakistan, Defence Minister AK Antony said while India preferred to carry on talks with Islamabad, it should take firm action to dismantle as many as 42 terrorist camps operating on its soil.

“Unless these terrorist camps are destroyed, it is a difficult situation. We want some action (by Pakistan) to dismantle these camps,” he said.

On infiltration from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir, Antony said the situation in the state had improved and tourists had started visiting it again. However, there were forces that still create trouble. “Normalcy is returning and tourists are coming. But some forces against India have not reconciled with the situation. So, they have redoubled their attempts to infiltrate but our forces have by and large checked their attempts,” Antony said.

After Mumbai terror strikes, Indian forces had been maintaining an “eternal vigil.” It was due to the alertness of the defence forces that many attempts by terrorists to strike were foiled, he said. — PTI





Flats for jawans: Panel raps MoD for delay
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 6
In a scathing remark on the delay in construction of houses for armed forces jawans, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Defence has said that the Ministry of Defence was “rather casual” in handling the project. It suggested that the project’s execution be decentralised and handled by the command-formation of the forces for speedy completion.

The committee said that the ministry could not properly analyse the progress of works under Phase-I of the Married Accommodation Project (MAP) under which apartments are to be provided to jawans, airmen and sailors of the Army, Air Force and Navy, respectively. It said that the ministry - even at the time of seeking approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for extending the probable date of completion of construction did not analyse the progress - as was borne out by the fact that works at certain stations continued to be plagued by delays beyond the extended date.

The panel said that MoD did not pay adequate attention towards aspects relating to establishment of the main executive agency and the work procedures required to be put in place before embarking upon a project of such nature.

The Cabinet Committee on Security gave permission on May, 2002 for construction of 61,658 dwelling units during Phase-I to be executed between 2002-03 and 2005-06. The number of dwelling units approved for construction under Phase-I was subsequently reduced to 58,391 and the probable date of completion was extended by three years to January 1, 2009.

The Committee said it was “distressed” to find out that the construction of dwelling units under Phase-I had not progressed as planned. There had been a delay ranging from three months to over three years in completion of projects in as many as 79 out of 86 stations of Phase-I.

The Committee, presenting its report in Parliament earlier this week, said it was “perturbed to note” that even after reducing the dwelling units for construction and the three-year extension, the Ministry could construct only 41,088 dwelling units as on October 31, 2009. This was a huge gap of 20,570 dwelling units in comparison to original Phase-I targets.

The Committee further noted that the MoD had fixed March 31, 2012, as the probable date of completion of Phase II but had not drawn any time-schedule for the remaining phases. It had specifically desired that a realistic time schedule for expeditious completion of all four phases of MAP be drawn out without any intervening period among these.

The Committee also said that the Ministry has neither prescribed any time frame for completion of the Married Accommodation Project in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East nor had it shown any progress.






Sergeant’s wife, daughters found dead

Shillong, March 6
An Indian Air Force (IAF) sergeant's wife and two minor daughters were found dead at their residence in the Eastern Air Command cantonment here, officials said today.Praveen Akhtar (26), wife of sergeant Shamim Akhtar, was found hanging along with her daughters Samita (5) and Sania (3) yesterday, an IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ranjib Sahoo said.

The bodies have been sent for post mortem examination,” DIG (crime) Vivek Syiem said.— IANS






Two more British soldiers killed in Afghanistan: Ministry

AFP, Mar 7, 2010, 01.00am IST

LONDON: Two more British soldiers have died in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence here said today, as Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid a surprise visit to the restive nation.


One soldier died today of wounds from small arms fire that took place the day before as he patrolled near Sangin, in Helmand Province, the MoD said in a statement.


"He was on a deliberate operation against insurgents to the south of Sangin District Centre, near Patrol Base Suffolk, when he was shot," said Task Force Helmand spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield.


"He died boldly taking the fight to the enemy and will not be forgotten," he added.


The second soldier died yesterday in an explosion in the same region, Wakefield said. Both incidents were not connected to the ongoing Operation Mushtarak to crush the Taliban insurgency, the ministry added.


Next of kin have been informed in both cases. The announcements come as Brown said the major anti- Taliban push in southern Afghanistan offered a "beacon of hope," during a lightening, eight-hour visit to troops in Helmand province.


The latest deaths brings to 270 the number of British troops killed since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.


Britain has around 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, largely battling Taliban militants in Helmand.






Shut 42 terror camps for talks to succeed, India tells Pakistan


Daily Times Monitor


LAHORE: Indian Defence Minister AK Antony on Saturday asked Islamabad to shut down 42 terrorist camps – which, according to him, are functioning on Pakistani territory – if it wants Indo-Pak talks to succeed.


“Pakistan has not made any serious attempt to disband the camps that are functioning close to Jammu and Kashmir. The decision for bilateral talks has been made consciously and it was not an ad hoc one,” the Times of India quoted Antony as saying in Thiruvananthapuram.


“Although there was no breakthrough [at the foreign secretary talks] ... the process [of talks] will continue,” he added.


The minister said the central Home Ministry and the Jammu and Kashmir government had evolved a formula to check infiltrations and help “terrorists” return to normal life.


“Many have surrendered too. With the conditions becoming normal, there is an increase in tourist arrivals in Kashmir. Attempts for terrorist infiltration [still exist] ... [but] the armed forces are vigilant on the border,” he said.


About the US supply of arms to Pakistan, Antony said Washington should make sure that the weapons were used against militants along the Pak-Afghan border.


He denied that the Indian government had any information that the Chinese were covertly facilitating Indian Maoists. “The army will give logistic support to the state police (of Maoist-affected states). Paramilitary forces will be used for training state police.”


Antony said the acquisition of defence equipment and aircraft had increased considerably over the last five years.\03\07\story_7-3-2010_pg7_7








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