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Friday, 7 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 07 May 2010

No evidence against ‘mole’ Major: Army
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, May 6 The Army and the Defence Ministry today clarified that the computer of a Major has been hacked by an external agency and so far there was no evidence to suggest “an espionage case” against the officer, who is posted in the Andaman and Nicobar Command.  Sources, however, added that this was not a “clean chit” to him. The hard disc of his computer had been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory at Hyderabad. If it showed that the Major had stored some classified data on it, he would surely face action.  The standard operating procedures of the Army state that no sensitive data has to be placed or accessed from computer which has internet.  The Ministry today said “…the matter is still under investigation. However, so far there are no evidences to suggest an “espionage case”. The officer was never under “safe custody and is on duty in his parent unit”. The sources said he was with the Bihar regiment.  The sources said it was being examined if the Major's actions could have resulted from negligence. It was also being seen if he deliberately uploaded the sensitive information on a computer that wasn't secured.  The Major has come under scanner of security agencies in the wake of the alleged transfer of data from his computer to Pakistani agencies. The tip-off about the hacking, according to the sources, had come from a US intelligence agency. The picture of a serving Indian Brigadier attending a training programme in the US was sent to Pakistan from an IP address that was tracked to the computer of the Major.

Navies of Indian Ocean countries to work out anti-piracy plan
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi May 6 India, which had rallied a group of nations to form the strategically important Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in 2008, is now seeking cooperation from the partner countries to keep an eye on sea-borne terror attacks. The second edition of the IONS summit is to start from 10th May at UAE, where India is slated to bring about a move to have cooperation for dealing with piracy and for having a system to share information on suspicious movement of boats that could be used by the terrorists and also gun running.  India will also want to have a system to scan and ensure containers used by merchant ships to trade cargo. Sources confirmed that sharing of intelligence on possibility of sea-borne attacks has been worked out with some countries in the past. This needs to be expanded to have more countries in the Indian Ocean on the same platform. The Indian Navy was handed overall charge of coastal security in March last year, following the Mumbai attacks in November 2008.  Meanwhile, in another important development the navies of the US, the UK and Japan have applied for “observer status” in the IONS, which has 37 nations. The applications would be taken up by vote in the IONS. Notably, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence) Rear Admiral SY Shrikhande told reporters here “China has not applied for observer status in IONS”.  India would also hand over the chairmanship of the symposium to the UAE at the conclave. Admiral Shrikhande, while explaining the observer status, said India was also an observer in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium. There was no chance of these countries of getting permanent member status in the IONS.  The US operates a military base from the islands of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. France has already been a member of the IONS due to its hold over the Reunion Islands. Pakistan, which had earlier opposed the grouping, was also likely to attend the conclave.

  Tri-Service Act Need for a common law for the armed forces 
For eight years, the Ministry of Defence has been engaged in formulating a tri-service Act, which is to be a common law for the three services. Almost from the time of Independence, all ranks of the Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force are being governed by individual service Acts.  In addition to these service-specific Acts originating from related conduct rules enacted during British colonial rule which were oppressive in nature, the Army Act of 1950, the Navy Act of 1957 and the Air Force Act of 1950 are at considerable variance with one another. For example, the Army Act provides for four types of court martial compared to three by the Air Force and one by the Navy. Successive reports prepared by the parliamentary standing committee on defence have, while observing that punishments meted out to armed forces personnel are often not commensurate with the offences committed, pointed to the need for bringing about uniformity in the dispensation of justice to armed forces personnel. Although Britain and several advanced countries have continually been reviewing their military laws, the Indian military legal system is still rooted in a semi-colonial era. Two years ago, the government created an Armed Forces Tribunal in view of the extraordinarily high incidence of armed forces personnel, mostly officers, approaching the Supreme Court and various High Courts for justice. In 2005, the figure of pending court cases had touched a high of 9.450.  The functioning of the Tribunal, which is intended to streamline the redress of grievances of armed forces personnel, can be further smoothened if the services have a uniform law. It took the government 26 years to effect an Armed Forces Tribunal from the day the Supreme Court in 1982 asked it to provide for at least one judicial review in service matters while pointing to serious anomalies in the Army’s justice system. It is to be hoped that the government will take much lesser time to devise a uniform law for the three services.

 Nepal Maoists for regime change Use of street power not good for democracy
by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd)  OUT on the streets of Kathmandu and other towns in Nepal, Maoists are turned out in strength in a show of force to recover political power — which they lost constitutionally — through coercion and intimidation. Their deadline for establishing a Maoist-led government through a “people’s movement invoking peace and constitution” is May 28 when the elected Constituent Assembly will cease to exist without either any integration of armies or a draft constitution in place. This will lead inevitably to a constitutional crisis and President’s rule. The one person the Maoists are loathe to is President Ram Baran Yadav whom they see as instrumental in the collapse of their government in May 2009.  Management of armies and drafting a constitution are really peripheral to the power struggle the Maoists have waged systematically for the last one year. First, they boycotted the House demanding that the President should correct his “unconstitutional action” of reinstating Army Chief Gen Rukmangad Katawal who was dismissed by Prime Minister Pushpa Kama Dahal-Prachanda. This was followed by a three-phase protest and agitation campaign which blocked normal working of Parliament, constitution-making, integration of armies and functioning of the government. Frequent strikes and disruptions by Maoist-controlled labour unions coupled with 12-hour power cuts have severely affected the Nepalese economy and lives of ordinary Nepalis, apparently deluded by the peace dividend.  When the protests fizzled out, the Maoists attempted to introduce a no-confidence motion in the House but failed to collect the requisite number of legislators to bring down the Madhav Nepal-led coalition government, supported by 22 of the 25 parties in the Constituent Assembly. The Maoist Struggle Committee launched its fourth and decisive phase, the last battle, on May 2 by bringing into the Kathmandu valley nearly half a million supporters, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nepal and the formation of a national unity government led by Prachanda. While the campaign for the recovery of power has been waged combining threats, intimidation and extortion, the stakes have also been progressively raised.  Initially, the Maoists sought a parliamentary resolution correcting Presidential action and asserting civilian supremacy. Later they asked for a change of Prime Minister and were willing to accept anyone but Madhav Nepal. Now, backed by street power, they want a new national unity Government led by Prachanda. They are unwilling to negotiate any terms of the famous “package deal” till Prime Minister Nepal has resigned. It seems they wish to replicate the Red Shirts’ successful coercion of the government in Thailand through weeks of street protests and battles. It is hard to dispute that the Maoists have acted as if they are the government while the ruling authority is reduced to a vacillating state, unable and unwilling to govern for fear of undoing the peace process.  The Maoists have neither transformed themselves from a guerrilla force into a political organisation committed to multi-party democracy nor abandoned the armed struggle, for which they are employing the Young Communist League instead of Maoist combatants, who are confined to camps. The late Col Narayan Singh Pun, who negotiated with the Maoists on behalf of King Gyanendra, had predicted in 2007 that in or out of power, the Maoists will subvert democracy to create a single-party state. The most recent internal power struggle among the Maoists has seen the rise of hardliners like Mohan Baidya and C.P. Gajurel at the cost of the moderate party ideologue Baburam Bhattarai who, as Prachanda said, “India wanted to make as the new Prime Minister.”  Prachanda calls the ruling establishment as Delhi’s puppet government. Unprecedented in virulence, Prachanda’s anti-India campaign has spread into the interior of Nepal. During the last one year New Delhi should have engaged the Maoists politically instead of tasking RAW and the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu embassy to bring them around. Being a major political force, India cannot wish away the Maoists. It needs to rework its Maoist policy factoring the China card and the escalating Maoist insurgency in India. For the moment, India has put all its eggs in the coalition government basket.  “Toppling the government at any cost”, the avowed aim of the Maoists so that a people’s constitution can be unilaterally promulgated, is extra-constitutional and undemocratic. Waiting in the wings is the Nepal Army whose successive chiefs have said they will support any legitimately elected government. Prachanda, who once called the Nepal Army a band of thugs and rapists, is now appealing that it work together with the Maoists. He knows that going back to the jungles is not a viable option.  The ongoing indefinite strike, virtually paralysing the government, has the potential to lead to a conflict with the security forces and hurt the economy stricken by 10 years of insurgency, political instability and slowdown in remittances. On the other hand, a negotiated settlement may still be possible before the May 28 deadline to avert a constitutional crisis. Come May 28, legal experts are projecting a variety of scenarios ranging from amending the interim constitution to extending the life of the Constituent Assembly by six months to ordering fresh elections. Article 64 of the interim constitution stipulates that the Constituent Assembly can be extended upto six months in case of an emergency. Any amendment of the interim constitution will require a two-thirds majority which is obtainable only with the Maoists voting in the House.  Alternatively on May 28, the government may cease to exist with President Yadav assuming executive powers. He can declare an emergency, extend the Constituent Assembly by an ordinance or hold new elections. The legal confusion is far from clear. Getting to or remaining in Singha Darbar on May 28 is vital in this power struggle.  Unless the question of power sharing is settled first, an extension of the Constituent Assembly is no guarantee that the constitution will get written and the two armies will be integrated. How are the Maoists going to reconcile their twin demands of Nepal’s resignation and formation of a new government headed by Prachanda? The high-level political mechanism which is an assembly of senior leaders from the three main parties has been meeting to break the political deadlock for the last one year. It is now trying to put together a package deal which includes the formation of a consensus government, integration of Maoist combatants, Constitution drafting, disbanding YCL, Maoists returning seized properties and reaffirmation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement — all by May 24. Prime Minister Nepal, according to this arrangement, is to resign once the agreement is implemented.  The sticking point will be over Prachanda’s acceptability as Prime Minister of a new national unity government, not through Parliament but by consensus. “I will be the next Prime Minister of Nepal”, Prachanda told his ecstatic supporters recently. If this works out, it will signal regime change by coercive street power rather than through Parliament, which is not a good augury for Nepal’s nascent democracy.

Defence to get dedicated communication network by 2013
Press Trust of India / New Delhi May 06, 2010, 17:59 IST  The Armed forces will be able to switch to a dedicated optical fibre network by 2013 which the state-run BSNL will complete by 2012-end paving the way for the Services to release radio waves for commercial use by mobile operators.  BSNL in its status report to the department of telecom and a Parliamentary standing committee has conveyed that the timeline for implementation of the Army and the Navy network is estimated at three years for which the tenders will be finalised by this August and implemented by December 2012.  Radio spectrum is the carrier of voice signals in wireless devices and is key for cellular mobile telephony to operate.  BSNL said it has already completed a similar project for the Air Force which is currently under testing. It added that this network for the Air Force is smaller in scale and size than those of the Army and the Navy. But the bulk of the 45 Mhz spectrum to be vacated will come from the Air Force (42.5MHz).  Total cost of the optical fibre nectowrk for the Army and the Navy is Rs 8,098 crore, while that of Air Force is Rs it was 1,077 crore with the total cost at Rs 9,175.16 crore.  BSNL has been reimbursed for the Air Force project to the extent of Rs 720 crore with the rest to be paid to the PSU in phases, said the report.  Defence with the assurance of getting an alternate communication network under the supersvision of DoT and BSNL would not have to wait till 2013 to release spectrum.  The vacation of radio waves can happen as sought by DoT which could be around this September when the 3G auction winners start rolling out high speed mobile services. Out of the 45Mhz of radio waves to be released by the Armed forces, 25MHz is 3G spectrum.   The Defence forces are major users of spectrum due to the strategic reasons. But the the rapid growth of mobile users has led to the demand for more spectrum. This had led to the government asking BSNL to prepare an alternate network get the defence forces to vacate spectrum keeping the security concerns in mind.

Former Army Chief Fonseka’s Desperate Attempt To Discredit The Government Exposes His Own Mendacity
Posted on May 6th, 2010 Insight By Sunil Kumar  It needs to be put into perspective objectively that Sri Lanka’s ex-army chief recently threatening to “expose” any war crimes committed during the end of the country’s civil war last year and said he would go “out of his way” to assist with a probe,  is a justificationof the charges of treason now being brought against him which  now becomes even more plausible as the man is veritably putting his own neck into the noose and incriminating himself as he was the man in charge of military operations in a military sense rather than administrative which role belonged to the President and if he is suggesting that he would go out of his way to expose what he mostly directed ~as war crimes~ such a statement indicates the desperation the former Military Chief must be in where the noose around his neck seems to be getting tighter by his own doing!   In making a statement of such obstreperous irresponsibility indicative of his current state of mind probably best described as confused, angry  and ruminating given his circumstances of incarceration  he is perhaps attempting to put the Government of Sri Lanka in a spot relative to world opinion which has to be viewed objectively and veritably trashed.   It seems very easy for news sources around the globe to pick up such incriminating opinions and splash them in the media without first delving into the circumstances under which Fonseka was apprehended and indicted for crimes against his country ~charges presented as those of a treasonous nature.   Hence the liabilities which go with the negative publicity for a Sovereign Nation with hardly a semblance of truth,  no real mitigating factors or tangible evidence beyond the rumblings of anti Government elements such as the residual remnants of former Tamil Tiger terrorist scattered around the globe and of course the visible frustrations of an incarcerated former General, rest with the publishers of such exaggerated broadcasts who probably need to rethink about presentations that carry misleading information  which could be detrimental to the well being of Sri Lanka!Particularly with respect to Foreign aid and co-operation.   Towards Fonseka’s role in all this it needs to be said that bold accusations against the President’s sibling and Defence Secretary Gotobhaya Rajapaksha of ordering the execution of surrendering rebels in the final stages of fighting while having the nerve to pass on the liabilities of his own actions according to classified sources which were ruthless and even contravening the Geneva Convention, towards the Defense Secretary is totally unacceptable as it was he himself directing operations on the ground and needs to be made accountable for! Hence Fmr. Gen.Fonseka’s statement to the media  (quote)” “If there is any international investigation, I will fully support that.” evokes laughter as the first peice of information the international investigation if any will find is his own role in the operation which attests to autocracy and ruthlessly self motivated based upon his personal wrath against the Tamil Tigers who tried to assassinate him unsuccesfully and the people he beleived supported them.   On the part of Defence Secretary Rajapaksha who has been accurately analytical as always in his conclusions whether militarily or administratively and relative to the Fonseka accusations who has said that it is probably coerced by international involvement by the many anti Government sources attempting to discredit the GOSL while using Fonseka as a pawn he has probably ” hit the nail right on the head!”    In response to the Fonseka allegatons he has also said (being quoted here)” that former Army Commander General Fonseka, in the run-up to January 26 presidential election, alleged the Army had executed LTTE cadres, who gave themselves up on the Vanni front although Fonseka had subsequently said that the Army did not massacre surrendering LTTE cadres, though being ordered by me, it paved the way for international intervention.” (end quote )surely a contradiction on the part of Fonseka portraying his duplicity.   Emphasizing the greater implications of the Fonseka ‘deposition’ to the world media, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa asserted  that “those bent on destabilizing the country would now exploit Fonseka’s parliamentary privileges to fast track their sinister campaign. Now that terrorists no longer retained a conventional fighting capability, the LTTE rump would strive to isolate the country, he said. The fastest way to achieve their goal was to use MP Sarath Fonseka to justify their baseless allegations.He has further emphasized that anyone throwing his or her weight behind an anti-Sri Lanka conspiracy would be considered a traitor and people should be naïve to believe such behavior could be tolerated.  Responding to a query by The Island, The Defence Secretary has said that the conclusion of the war last year had brought a sense of relief to all communities. Although petty minded politicians may not realize the ground situation as yet, in the absence of the LTTE factor, the Opposition would be powerless, he said. The bottom line is that the Opposition may not have an issue big enough to exploit as a rallying point except unsubstantiated war crimes charges.  During the war, interested parties, including the media, had accused the Navy and Air Force, too, of indiscriminate attacks on civilians and in some instances Indian fishermen. Had they bothered to follow the media coverage of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, they would accept Sri Lanka’s extraordinary efforts to minimize civilian loss of life. He said that even at the height of the war on the Vanni front, the ICRC was allowed to evacuate the wounded out of LTTE-held territory. He said that the government could have finished off the LTTE in an indiscriminately ruthless manner had it chosen to which was not the case! and attest to the bias and baseless falsifications in the Fonseka statement!

India, Pak Trade Fire on LoC
May 06, KONS: The Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir flared up once again on Thursday as Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged heavy gunfire in the Mendhar sector in Poonch, barely days after the two neighbours made a tentative resumption of their stalled dialogue process. The hour-long firing, interspersed with heavy explosions, caused India to lodge a strong protest with Pakistan for violating the ceasefire in force on their borders since 2003, and to sound an alert in the sector.   The Indian military accused Pakistani troops of opening unprovoked fire across the LoC, and shelling positions on this side with mortars. The Border Security Force (BSF), which mans the frontier on the India side, alleged that Pakistan forces resort to shelling across the LoC to provide cover to infiltrators. “The firing from Pakistan was unprovoked, and we displayed extreme restraint. But when there was no let up, we retaliated in defence,” the BSF said. Pakistan said that the Indian army had targeted its positions at several places in the sector and a number of shells had landed close to its pickets. Neither side has, however, reported any casualties in the exchange of gun fire.

BRO builds roads where even goats do not dare
May 6th, 2010 - 10:37 am ICT by IANS -  By Sarwar Kashani New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) For 50 years it has been tirelessly battling swirling snow, heavy rains, scorching sun, desert storms and burning sands to build the lifeline of India’s defence. Yet the Borders Roads Organisation (BRO) is not just a road construction agency as its name suggests but builds airfields and other infrastructure to give the armed forces strategic reach and depth in frontier areas and beyond.  “The areas are so difficult that even goats cannot dare to go there,” BRO chief Lt. Gen. M.S. Badhani told IANS in an interview as the BRO celebrates its golden jubilee Friday.  “We have constructed some 48,300 km of roads, 398 major permanent bridges of 36,000-metre length and 19 airfields in remote areas of the country,” Badhani said, flaunting 50 years of “tireless” work “that includes road connectivity for our defence forces in all directions”.  The army-controlled agency has reached out across India, from its western deserts to cold and icy Himalayan heights in the north and the northeast, and even in Bhutan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.  The BRO was raised in 1960 for speedy development of the road network and infrastructure in areas where India shares its borders with China and Pakistan. But over the years it widened its scope of construction and development in other parts of the country, including Maoist territory in central India, where it has nearly completed National Highway 16 connecting Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.  BRO says it has earned a “reputation of being the only road construction agency to maintain roads in difficult and inhospitable terrain”.  In 1960, it started with just two projects, Vartak in the northeast and Beacon in the north of India. Under Vartak, the BRO has kept road communication trafficable in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam despite incessant rains and heavy landslides.  Conceived in 1961, project Beacon with its headquarters in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar has built and maintained road connectivity from Sonamarg in north Kashmir to far off Leh and Chushul bordering China.  The Jammu-Srinagar road, which remains vulnerable to rain and snow even now, was handed over to Beacon in 1965 and upgraded to a double lane. The project is also responsible for the 200-km stretch of the Leh-Manali road.  With a budget of over Rs.6,000 crore, the BRO is working on nearly 700 roads of 28,000-km length as well as seven airfields in border areas.  The force of nearly 36,000 men and women is also battling the odds - staff deficiency and lack of modern equipment. “We have a nearly 15 percent staff deficiency. The authorised strength is a little over 42,640,” the BRO chief said.  He said the agency was also badly in need of high-lifting helicopters like MI-17 class for transporting men and material to difficult areas.  “The BRO is in need of helicopters of MI-17 class; right now the Indian Air Force (IAF) is very busy, so it is difficult to get its support. We are considering getting copters, from private bodies,” Badhani said.  (Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at

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