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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

From Today's Papers - 01 Jun 2010

Asian Age

Indian Express
Indian Express
Asian Age
Indian Express
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Asian Age
Asian Age
Indian Express
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Indian Express
Indian Express
Times of India
Times of India
DNA India




Lone woman heading DRDO high-altitude lab awarded 
Chandigarh, May 31 Defence Research and Development Organisation’s only woman scientist to head a high altitude research laboratory, Dr Shashi Bala Singh, has been conferred DRDO Scientist of the Year Award by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  She is serving as the director of Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) at Leh since 2007 and has contributed immensely to the understanding of high altitude physiology and pioneered research to counter several high altitude maladies like hypophagia and cognitive impairment. — TNS







Tribunal tells Army to produce GCM papers 
New Delhi, May 31 About 35 years after five soldiers were sacked and jailed in the Samba Spy Case, the Armed Forces Tribunal today asked the Army to produce their court martial documents, raising their hopes of clearing their names in the infamous scandal.  On a petition by Gunners Banarasi Das, Milkhi Ram, Satpal, Harish Singh and Balkar Singh, the Tribunal Bench headed by Justice SS Kulshreshtha said the Army should produce the documents by June 30 failing which “adverse inference” will be made about the Army’s contention.  Banarasi Das, Milkhi Ram, Satpal, Harish Singh and Balkar Singh, were sacked and jailed in 1975-76 after being held responsible of spying on the basis of statements their two colleagues Gunners Sarwan Dass and Aya Singh. They served jail terms between seven and 14 years.  The appeals of the soldiers, making efforts to get their names cleared, were among the cases transferred from the high court to the Tribunal after it was launched in August last year.  “This is the first time in over 34 years since the case came up that we would get to see the court martial documents. I am hopeful that this will make it easier for us to get justice,” said Deepak Bhattacharya, counsel for the five gunners.In the case of two other accused, Captain AK Rana and Captain RS Rathore, whose pleas are still pending in the Supreme Court, the Tribunal said it would hear their case on September 7. Rana said that he and Captain Rathore were acquitted of spying charges by the Delhi High Court in 2000 but the verdict was challenged by the Army in the Supreme Court.  Rathore said that in custody of the Military Intelligence for over two years, Sarwan Dass and Aya Singh kept on adding names of officers and men in the list of spies working for Pakistan resulting in arrest of over 45 people around 1978-79. — PTI








Pak withdraws objection to J-K power projects  
New Delhi, May 31 In a significant development, Pakistan today withdrew its objection to construction of Uri-II and Chutak hydel power projects in Jammu and Kashmir.  At the Indus Water Commissioner-level talks here, the Pakistani side said it had no objection to the designs of the two power projects after the Indian side provided details of these, official sources told PTI.  Pakistan had earlier raised objections over the 240 MW Uri-II project being constructed on Jhelum river in Kashmir valley and the 44 MW Chutak plant being built on Suru, a tributary of Indus river in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh province.  Pakistan had claimed that the projects would deprive it of its share of water.  The breakthrough came on the first day of three-day Indus Water Commission talks. The Indian delegation is led by Indus Water Commissioner G Ranganathan while the Pakistani side is headed by his counterpart Syed Jamaat Ali Shah.  This is for the first time that Pakistan has accepted the the designs of power projects at the level of Permanent Indus Commission, sources said. Earlier, it took a ministerial meeting to make Pakistan agree to Salal power project.  Under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan has exclusive right over three of the common rivers -- Indus, Jhelum and Chenab -- while India has exclusive right over Sutlej, Ravi and Beas. The two projects are in an advance stage and are likely to be completed by the end of this year.  Earlier, Baglihar and Kishenganga power projects had been delayed for long because of Pakistani objections.  On the 450-MW Baglihar project, Pakistan had even moved the World Bank, which has the role of neutral arbitrator under the Indus Water Treaty in the disputes between the two countries arising.  The project could go ahead only after the World Bank gave its clearance with suggestions for some minor changes in design of the dam. Kishenganga project is still under dispute, with Pakistan refusing to give up its objections.  During today's talks, India agreed to continue providing Pakistan with advance flood warning for the coming Monsoon season. India has been providing flood data to Islamabad since 1989 as a goodwill gesture. The flood data enables Pakistan to prepare and reduce damages in case of flash floods.  During the three-day talks, Pakistan is likely to raise certain issues regarding the Baglihar power project and the Nimoo Bazgo project of Jammu and Kashmir.  Baglihar Power Project is a run-of-the-river power project on the Chenab River in the southern Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had dedicated the 450-MW Baglihar hydro electric power project to the nation on October 10, 2008. "There are some pending issues which Pakistan is likely to raise during the talks," sources said.  According to NHPC, the proposed Nimoo Bazgo H E Project is a run-of-the-river scheme to harness the hydropower potential of river Indus in Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir. The project is likely generate 239 Mega Units of power. — PTI








No decision yet on fielding Army to fight Naxals: Antony
Press Trust of India, Monday May 31, 2010, Pune Rattled by a spate of deadly attacks by Maoists on security personnel and civilians, the government on Monday said it was examining "all the pros and cons" of deploying the Army in anti-Naxal operations.  "We are carefully examining all pros and cons... and once a decision is made it will be binding on the military," Defence Minister A K Antony said but made it clear that the government had not firmed up any view on the matter so far.  "The armed forces will also accept whatever decision government takes and implement it with vigour," he said.  Antony was speaking to reporters after taking salute at the passing out parade of 118th course of National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla, about 20 kms from here.  The Defence Minister refuted reports that the Union Cabinet was divided over the issue of bringing in the armed forces to combat the Naxal violence.  Denying that the matter came up for discussion during his recent meeting with Army Chief General V K Singh, Antony said it was a routine call.  On the Naxalite menace, Antony said government was taking seriously the "emerging scenario" in which both national and internal security had assumed prime importance.  After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the government was taking utmost care to step up land, air and coastal security and the armed forces were fully alive to increasing threat perceptions stemming from international terrorism, he said.








Exploring Army option in Naxal ops: Antony
Ishfaq Naseem Posted online: Tue Jun 01 2010, 02:40 hrs Pune : Two days after the attack on Jnaneswari Express, Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday said that India's security threat has only increased and the government is examining the issue of involving the Army in the anti-Naxal operations. Replying to queries of mediapersons on the sidelines of the National Defence Academy (NDA) passing out parade here, he said, "We are examining all pros and cons of the involvement of Army in anti-Naxal operations and once a decision is taken, it will be binding on the Army. The armed forces will accept the decision taken by the government and implement it with vigour."  Antony said earlier there was a notion that war is confined to land alone, but post-26/11 there has been stepping up of the coastal security too. "The government is taking utmost care to strengthen the Army, Navy and the Air Force. We have carried out many modernisation plans," he said.  Asked whether there was a split within the government on the use of Army against Naxals, particularly when Union Railway Minister Mamata Banarjee has sought a CBI probe into the attack and Trinamool MP from Serampore Kalyan Banerjee called West Bengal police chief foolish for blaming the Naxals for the train attack, Antony said that there was no split within the government on how to combat the Naxal menace.  He said there was neglect on the part of earlier governments to raise the infrastructure in the border areas in Northeast. "We have realised this and are in process of developing more divisions and landing space," he said. Replying to whether the government has any plans to increase the troop strength in J&K, he said there were no such plans at the moment. "The government has a policy of zero tolerance on the issue of human rights violation in the state and there would be no cover-ups to shield the guilty," Antony said.







Encounter row: J-K hopes this time Army cooperates
Muzamil Jaleel Posted online: Tue Jun 01 2010, 02:07 hrs Srinagar : Officials of Jammu and Kashmir Police investigating the alleged fake encounter by the Army at the Line of Control on Monday took blood samples from the parents of the three dead men for a DNA test.  The police are planning to seek the custody of the accused officers of the Army’s 4 Rajputana Rifles battalion for questioning. Unlike similar incidents in the past, there is a slight hope that they would get the custody of the officers as the case falls outside the ambit of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Army top brass has promised stern action.  Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told The Indian Express that he was confident of the Army’s cooperation. “This time the assurance of full cooperation has come from no less than the Defence Minister (A K Antony),” he said.  Pointed out that the Army had earlier never handed over its officials even after the police chargesheeted them in similar fake encounter cases, Omar said: “Maybe this is a test case.”  He said the government was waiting for the completion of the magisterial inquiry led by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, before approaching the Defence Ministry for the custody of the Army officials. “She (Divisional Commissioner) has been given two weeks and I am confident she will conclude the probe earlier than that,” the Chief Minister said.  A senior J&K government officer involved with the case said the Army is expected to cooperate as “the fake encounter was a deliberate criminal act with an intention to murder innocent civilians for benefits, and could not be termed a counter-insurgency operation and hence does not fall in the line of duty”. The state government will argue that the Army officials cannot therefore hide behind the protective shield of the AFSPA, the officer said.  In the past, the Army has resisted any move by the J&K police to get custody of its officials named in alleged fake encounters, including in the highly publicised Ganderbal (2007) and Pathribal (2000) cases.  The police will be sending the nine samples collected on Monday — three from the men whose bodies have been exhumed and six from their parents — to the Central Forensic Laboratory.








A tragic court martial
By Shankar Roychowdhury Jun 01 2010  Rs 1,762 crores. That is the extent of the alleged procedural irregularities in post-Kargil defence purchases notified by the Special Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and briefly reported in the media. The ministry of defence (MoD) had in turn referred the cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), both of which, after 10 years of investigation and constant prodding since 2004 by no less than the Supreme Court of India itself, have now reported that none of the cases had involved corrupt practices. The MoD has accordingly decided to close all these cases less two in which the CBI had filed First Information Reports about five years ago, but investigations are still continuing, so far without any results.  But before proceeding further, a brief recapitulation may be in order. The Indo-Pak conflict at Kargil occurred from May 8 to July 14 1999, in which India suffered 527 killed and 1,363 wounded. During this brief but violent high-intensity war, many procedural anomalies and inadequacies had come to light, especially in respect of under provisioning and resultant shortages of several types of weapons, equipment and ammunition, which adversely affected the operations of the Indian Army. The government holding office at that time, taken by surprise and caught completely on the wrong foot, sought to rectify its errors and make up military shortfalls on an emergent basis and also enhance the Army’s operational capabilities for future contingencies even while in the heat and confusion of an ongoing conflict. A total of 129 defence procurement contracts were signed for a total of Rs 2,175 crores, and immediately after the end of hostilities, a special report by CAG was initiated to examine these procurements with the stated objective “to assess the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of the defence procurement process in emergency situations”. The CAG commenced its task in 2000, examining the 123 contracts totaling Rs 2,163 crores which were placed before it. The report, which was finally tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 11, 2001, highlighted irregularities and delays in the fast-track procedures for defence procurements, and criticised its almost total failure to obtain the necessary stores and equipment within the duration of active hostilities, besides paying excessive prices, and also acquiring equipment not optimally designed for use in the specific environments of the Kargil region. In short, the CAG findings indicated that the defence procurement procedures did not meet the requirements for urgent emergency situations, and required corrective action to function effectively if similar contingencies occurred in the future.  All totally unexceptionable so far, but the picture commences to fragment and disintegrate shortly thereafter. What was originally intended to be a major strategic review of defence procurement procedures from which parameters and guidelines for future eventualities could be evolved, became instead merely a pedestrian audit report of procedural errors in the Kargil acquisitions, a dust-cloud of minutiae necessary enough in its own place, but which obscured the main strategic issue of reforms in emergency defence procurements. Perceptions based primarily on accountancy could not comprehend the compulsions of geo-politics, the exigencies of the “fog of war”, or the total uncertainties of the extent and duration such a conflict could possibly take, the first of its kind between two countries possessing nuclear weapons.  The CAG report and the controversies that flowed from its findings were manna from heaven for politicians of all varieties who lapped it up and rushed to extract maximum political benefits from the situation, without any thought or concern for implications in the longer term. The political savagery in the aftermath of the CAG report became in effect the “real” Kargil War, a free-for-all within and outside the Parliament and in the columns and chat-shows of a carnivorous media avid for circulation and TRP ratings. Perceptions were highly partisan, ideology fixated, and personality oriented. The adversaries here were no longer Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry to be evicted at all costs from Tiger Hill and Tololing, but the political parties and personalities sniping heavily from both sides of the sharp political divide.  The fallout from the CAG report multiplied earlier tensions from Bofors, HDW, and Tehelka and was itself further reinforced by the episode of Israeli Barak missiles for the Indian Navy that was to follow shortly. The decision-making processes sustained splinter injuries from motivated and often tendentious media speculation and commentary, which inhibited the defence procurement and modernisation of the armed forces, creaky and spasmodic at the best of times, and brought it to an almost complete and grinding standstill for over a decade. The resultant opportunity losses have never been fully calculated and, in all probability, never will be. The Krasnopol, a cheaper and less expensive Russian version of the American Copperhead terminal laser homing artillery projectile, and the Israeli Barak air defence and anti-sea skimmer missile, acquired under operational urgency for Operation Talwar, the naval operation in the Arabian Sea during the Kargil War after the indigenous Trishul quick reaction air defence missile long promised by the Defence Research and Development Organisation failed to attain acceptable operational standards before commencement of hostilities, both featured in the CAG report, and provide typical examples of kneejerk vituperation motivated by either rigid and obsolete political dogma, or radicalised religious agenda about the countries of origin.  The conclusions of the CBI and CVC and the decisions of the MoD to close the cases mentioned in the CAG report, confirm that the intense and frenzied mudslinging and elaborately-constructed allegations by political parties were actually fabrics of deception primarily designed to achieve the political objectives of regime change without any thought of consequences to the vital interests of the armed forces, and ultimately to national security itself. The political objectives were successfully achieved, but not so the national interest which were ill served by the controversies. Ultimately, of course, defence modernisation will attain its true stature only when meaningful indigenisation is achieved, which is still some distance away. But in the interim, who will answer India’s defence forces for the decades lost and wasted by political controversies?



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