Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites

Loading

Friday, 4 June 2010

From Today's Papers - 04 Jun 2010

Asian Age
Asian Age

Indian Express
Asian Age
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Asian Age
Telegraph India
Indian Express
Indian Express

Telegraph India
Indian Express
The Pioneer
Times of India
Times of India
Times of India
DNA India
DNA India
DNA India





Strategic ties with US Revival of Bush era interest in India 
THE Barack Obama administration seems to have realised that it was improper on its part to send out hints that the US would not be as much interested in developing strategic relations with India as it was during the two tenures of former President George W. Bush. This impression can be gathered from US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns’ speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday before the beginning of the second phase of the strategic dialogue between the two countries. Mr Burns has made it clear that the US will support India’s case for permanent membership of the UN Security Council when the issue of its expansion comes up. The US is likely to forcefully demand the induction of new permanent members in the Council in the near future. Whether the new permanent members will have the same privileges as the old ones have remains to be seen.  Both the US and India need each other to fight global terrorism. They together can hope to prevent terrorist attacks like 9/11 and 26/11. India is now in a position to play a major role for promoting nuclear non-proliferation after acquiring a new status as a result of the 2008 Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. India and the US remain committed to operationalising the historic accord with New Delhi ready to get the controversial Nuclear Liability Bill passed by Parliament. The Liability Bill is essential for undertaking nuclear trade with India.  President Obama must have also realised that India cannot be ignored if he wants to ensure successful implementation of his Af-Pak strategy. Relying too much on Pakistan has only further complicated the situation. India’s contribution to the use of development as a weapon to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan has earned world-wide appreciation. India can do more in cooperation with the US. This and the resumption of the peace dialogue with Pakistan, if it leads to easing of tensions in South Asia, can go a long way in changing the climate in the region. The US and India together can, in fact, considerably alter the course of global affairs.








Junior’s wife accuses Lt Gen of sexual misconduct
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, June 3 A serving Lieutenant General, has been accused of sexual misconduct by the wife of a junior colleague. The woman, the wife of a colonel, has alleged that Lt Gen AK Nanda had molested her when she was accompanying her husband on an official visit to Israel some two weeks ago.  Late this evening, the Indian Army’s Public Relations wing issued a terse three-paragraph response, saying: “There are some allegations (against Gen Nanda). Preliminary investigations show that there are number of loopholes in the account of allegations. Further investigations are in progress”.  Gen Nanda, who is the Engineer-in-Chief of the Indian Army, had visited Israel along with a team of more than half a dozen officers. Since most airlines offer a free ticket to a companion, at least three officers had used this facility and taken their spouses along. This included the Colonel, who was technical secretary to Gen Nanda, said well-placed sources.  The colonel has since been transferred to Bhopal following his reluctance to work under Nanda in the aftermath of this episode. A new technical secretary, Col Sanjeev Dalal, has taken over the job.  The woman (name held back to protect her identity) on returning back to India complained to the Army Chief's wife Bharti Singh, the President of the Army Wives Welfare Association, who promptly put it up before Gen VK Singh. Just two months ago General VK Singh on taking over had asserted that any there would be no compromise with maintaining the image of the force and its “core values, ethos, and tradition will receive due attention”.  The PRO clarified “Lieutenant General AK Nanda has neither resigned nor has been asked to put up his resignation. He is holding the appointment of the Engineer-in-Chief”. In the afternoon certain news channels had quoted sources while claiming that General Nanda had resigned.  Meanwhile, sources said, all the Army officers who had gone to Israel had been questioned about the incident that form the allegations levelled by the woman.







Army inquiry against Lt Gen for sexual misconduct
NDTV Correspondent, Thursday June 3, 2010, New Delhi Armysexscandal-216x250_army.jpgIn huge embarrassment for the Army, a Lieutenant General, AK Nanda, who works in the Army Chief's office, has been accused of sexual misconduct by the wife of a junior officer.  An investigation is on, but the Army says the charges may be false and the General's wife stands firmly by him.  The Army has denied reports that Lt Gen Nanda has been sacked or asked to quit. Two very senior officers are reportedly investigating the charges.  The wife of Nanda's technical secretary had complained that he molested her during a visit to Israel last month. Nanda and his team had gone to Israel along with their families on an official trip. The technical officer holds the rank of a Colonel.  Nanda, 59, is the senior-most Army officer to face such charges. He is one of eight Principal Staff Officers to the Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh, and as such, a key advisor. Army sources say while an inquiry is on, prima facie, major loopholes have been found in the allegations and there is suspicion against officers within the Engineering Directorate. The sources say this could be an attempt to frame Nanda.  Some officers, the sources say, stand to benefit if Nanda goes out now.  Nanda had taken over as Engineer-in-Chief about a year ago. He had earlier served as the Director General of the Border Roads Organisation.  The Army sources say that on the trip to Israel, the officers' wives had joined them much later. Nanda's wife, Neerja, has also made a statement defending her husband and saying she was with him all through the trip and no such incident happened. (Read: General's wife stands by him)  The junior officer's wife complained against Nanda to the Army Chief's wife Bharti Singh, who is also the president of the Army Wives Welfare Association.








Retired Air Marshal to head Mangalore crash inquiry
Press Trust of India, Thursday June 3, 2010, New Delhi mangalorecrashstory1.jpgAir Marshal (Retd) Bhushan Nilkanth Gokhale, a fighter pilot and a former vice-chief of IAF, will head the Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the Mangalore air crash set up by the government on Thursday.  Making the announcement nearly two weeks after the crash in which 158 people were killed, an official spokesperson said here the CoI has been asked to complete its investigation and submit the report by August 31.  The Gokhale inquiry would investigate all aspects of the crash of the Air India Express Boeing 737-800 at the Bajpe Airport on May 22.  The plane was operating on scheduled flight IX-812 from Dubai to Mangalore when it plunged into a ravine after overshooting the runway on landing.  An official notification said, "Finding it expedient to hold an inquiry into the circumstances of the accident, the government has appointed Air Marshal (Retd) Bhushan Nilkanth Gokhale to hold the investigation."  The government also appointed four experts from different fields to assist Gokhale as assessors.  The assessors are Capt Ron Nagar, a former Flight Inspector and pilot of erstwhile Indian Airlines, former DGCA officer S S Nat, Babu Peter, Executive Vice President, (Engineering) in GoAir and former Director in Indian Airlines, and former Executive Director of Airports Authority of India Gurcharan Bhatura.  Director (Airworthiness) at DGCA, S N Dwivedi, will be the Secretary to the CoI, which would be headquartered here.  Gokhale, who became the Vice Chief of Air Staff in 2006, has flown the most sophisticated fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force--the Sukhoi 30 MKI.  During his IAF tenure, he has flown over 3,500 hours on a variety of combat and trainer aircraft and seen active operations during the 1971 Indo-Pak hostilities.  Gokhale, a qualified flying instructor and a fighter combat leader from the prestigious Tactics and Combat Development Establishment, was also the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Training Command.  Earlier in the day, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had said large amounts of data and material have been collected by various agencies, including Air India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the US National Transportation Safety Board, from the Mangalore crash site.  All the material had been taken over by the Inspector of Accidents, which would now hand them over to the CoI.  "The Black Box (Flight Data Recorder), the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Digital Flight Data Acquisition Unit have all been recovered," Patel said.  Several theories relating to the crash -- like the plane taking an "incorrect" flight path or missing the touchdown point or suffering a brake failure besides pilots' fatigue or a judgemental error by them -- have been suggested by technical experts but all of them have said the final report of the probe should be awaited.







China welcomes Indo-US strategic dialogue
Press Trust of India / Beijing June 03, 2010, 16:41 IST  China today hoped that the first ever Indo-US Startegic Dialogue would contribute to the peace and stability of South Asia.  "We are happy to see normal state to state relations between India and United States. Hope that the two countries relations could contribute to peace and stability of South Asia," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a media briefing.  She was asked to comment on the strategic dialogue between the two countries.  Meanwhile, the state-run China Daily said in an article that the India-US strategic dialogue being held by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and US Secretary Hillary Clinton in Washington could "put more pressure on China".  "Washington is hosting the first-ever strategic dialogue between the United States and India in hopes of forging stronger ties, a move observers say may put more pressure on China," it quoted Hu Shisheng, a scholar of South Asia studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, as saying.     Hu said New Delhi hopes to see more dedication to practical fields such as nuclear cooperation and technology transfer, while Washington wants its partner to further open its market and show continual support on the Iranian nuclear issue.     "The US may hope to get from India what it failed to get from China, and through a strengthened cooperation with another Asian giant, pressure on China more on many issues," Hu said.








US committed to back India's UNSC bid
June 04, 2010 03:53 IST Tags: Krishna, Calling India, Hillary Clinton, Afghanistan, Barack Obama Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment  Calling India   a "rising global power", the US said on Thursday that it was "definitely committed" to consider New Delhi   for a permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council and pitched for its greater role in meeting challenges in the region like securing Afghanistan.  Launching the first-ever Strategic Dialogue with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna  , Secretary of State Hillary Clinton   sought to dispel "doubts" that the US sees India "only or mainly in the context of Afghanistan and Pakistan" and that America "will hasten our departure from Afghanistan leaving India to deal with the aftermath." She said America felt that India had not "fully embraced" its role in regional and global affairs and said the US was "definitely committed" to consider New Delhi for a permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council. "We don't have any way forward yet on the United Nations Security Council reforms but we are obviously very committed to considering India," she said, addressing a joint press conference with Krishna after the inaugural session of the Strategic Dialogue. "At this point, as you probably know, there is no consensus over all...but we are definitely committed to the consideration of India," she said in response to a query what is stopping the US from endorsing India for a permanent membership in an expanded UNSC.  During the Strategic Dialogue, the two sides discussed situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan region and decided to step up cooperation in a wide range of areas, including security, defence, nuclear energy, climate change, education and agriculture. They also decided to launch a new dialogue on climate change and set up working groups on food security issues. The two sides also agreed to meet again in New Delhi next year. Krishna said the two countries had a very good exchange of views on reforms necessary not only in the international economic architecture, but also in the global political and security architecture, including the UN Security Council, so as to reflect contemporary global realities.  The minister said both the countries agreed that terrorist groups operate as a syndicate, leveraging each other's assets and strength, and are increasingly converging together on motivation and targets. "Hence, a segmented approach towards terrorism, especially in our neighbourhood, would not succeed," he said in an apparent reference to Pakistan. He said India was pleased with the way the counter- terrorism cooperation between the two countries has progressed and that they have agreed to intensify it further.  Clinton described India as an "indispensable partner" and a "trusted friend." "We believe that a rising India is good for the United States and good for the world. Our two nations, great democracies, dynamic and interconnected economies and engines of progress, understand that our fortunes in this new century are increasingly linked," she said. "Our people are more connected today than ever before, and we face complex global challenges that will be difficult to solve without the United States and India working together," she said. Noting that both India and the United States have experienced violent extremists, Clinton said she and Krishna discussed the importance of India's leadership to promoting security, stability and prosperity across Asia and beyond. The two countries are collaborating on a counter-terrorism cooperation initiative to improve information-sharing and capacity-building, and they agreed to expand cooperation in cyber security.  "We are deepening our already-extensive military- to-military partnership," she said. Krishna said both India and the US shared concerns about developments in Asia, including on the Korean peninsula. "We have a common interest in advancing security and stability across Asia. We shared our perspectives on South and Central Asia, East and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean Region," he said. He said India and the US have a shared convergent goal of a stable, peaceful, pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan, which protects the rights and the dignity of all sections of Afghan society. "India and the United States are partners in achieving these goals. I conveyed our view that these goals can be best advanced through sustained international commitment to Afghanistan, by building Afghan capacities for governance and security through initiatives that are led and controlled by the Afghans themselves," he said. "We agreed on the importance of avoiding choices that lead us into the dark alleys of the 1990s, and the importance of safeguarding the gains and progress that have been made since then, especially with regard to the position and rights of women in Afghanistan," Krishna said. He said today's dialogue has further increased understanding between the two countries on the nature and source of terrorism that threatens both our societies.Krishna also sought the US to relax export control restrictions on high-tech goods sought by India.  Earlier, in her opening remarks at the start of the dialogue, Clinton said: "India is a rising global power and already a regional power in Asia. Thus more the need to work closely with India to meet the immediate challenges in the neighbourhood including Afghanistan." "India and the US must play a leading role in shaping the destiny of the 21st century," he said. Hailing India's contribution towards rebuilding of Afghanistan, Clinton said New Delhi has stakes in the future of the trouble-torn country."In this dialogue, we will confront regional issues, most importantly securing Afghanistan's future. India and the US and countries of the world have a stake in Afghanistan and India's contribution to Afghanistan's future, including 1.3 billion dollar assistance have been positive and significant," she said.        She talked about "doubts in America that India hasn't fully embraced its role in regional and global affairs or will not make the economic reforms needed to faster additional progress. "So with this dialogue, the level of confidence that we have established by ourselves, we will confront these concerns directly and candidly." In his opening remarks, Krishna said, "We both have an abiding interest in a stable international order and in the maintenance of peace and stability in Asia and beyond, and a tremendous opportunity is now before us to work together to achieve this objective."  At the joint interaction, Clinton thanked Krishna for India's generous contributions in Afghanistan. "It is clear that what India has been doing in development projects are very significant, and we look forward to finding ways to collaborate," she said. Observing that charting an energy future that is secure and sustainable is a crucial challenge for both the countries, she said: "I'm pleased that we have completed a nuclear reprocessing agreement nearly six months ahead of schedule, underlying our commitment to the civil nuclear accord of 2008." "We are building on the partnership to advance clean energy established by President Obama and Minister Singh, including by expanding our work together on energy efficiency, smart grids, force management and so much else. And we are committed to working on an action plan on shale-gas cooperation prior to President Obama's trip to India."  On economy, she said the two delegation discussed the importance of capitalising on the doubling of their trade over the last five years, bringing together experts from across our government to focus on macroeconomic policy, financial-sector reforms and infrastructure financing. Clinton said US and Indian Cabinet secretaries and ministers will meet on June 22nd in Washington with the members of the US-India CEO Forum to hear recommendations on specific steps the two governments can take to expand trade and investment. She said the dialogue must extend beyond these official channels "to our homes, our businesses, our communities, our universities, every aspect of our respective societies -- to build mutual understanding and respect between our peoples."  Krishna noted that the institution of the Strategic Dialogue was a reflection of the deepening and broadening of our relations between the two countries. In her unusually lengthy speech – lasting more than 13 minutes -- Clinton touched upon a wide range of issues from counter-terrorism to climate change, clean energy, food security, international security, bilateral cooperation in the education sector, the civilian nuclear deal and went on to praise India's role in Afghanistan.        She assured the Indian delegation that the US is well aware of India's concerns in the region, Afghanistan in particular and would work with New Delhi to address those. Krishna said the global nature of the security challenges being faced today, particularly the threat posed by transnational terrorism, requires the two countries to cooperate more closely than ever before. "Though the epicenter of this threat lies in India's neighborhood, it reaches far and wide all across the world as we have seen time and again and most recently a few weeks back in Times Square," he said in an apparent reference to Pakistan. "Given the fact that the groups who preach the ideology of hatred and violence are increasingly coalescing, sharing resources and operating as one, it is incumbent upon all of us, to focus our efforts laser-like on every one of them," he said.         Targeting only one or other of such groups would only provide false comfort in the short term and will not usher in long term stability," he said in an obvious reference to Pakistan's inability to act against LeT, blamed for the Mumbai   attacks. Besides Krishna, other members of the Indian delegation are HRD Minister Kapil Sibal  , Minister of State for Science and Technology, Prithviraj Chavan  , Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia   and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao  .         The US delegation included Energy Secretary Steven Chu; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns and Deputy National Security Adviser Michale Froman. Responding to a question, Krishna said the relationship between India and the US, will go a long way in sending out a message clear and loud, that these are two democracies which believe in equality, which believe in equal respect, and which also believes that we have a bigger role to play in shaping the destinies of humankind. "And this strategic dialogue is moving in that direction," he asserted.   Clinton said she and Krishna would respectively be presenting a report on this dialogue to US President Barack Obama   and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh  . "I hope that our press on both sides will focus on it, because we really are committed to trying to invigorate the actions that will demonstrate exactly what Minister Krishna talked about, our commitment to advancing humankind," she said.   "So I know that it won't necessarily get headlines in either one of our media, but, you know, working to expand access to higher education is a huge deal. Working to better coordinate on science, technology and innovation, exchanging scientists, supporting centres of excellence, who knows what benefits will flow from that? Working to improve the productivity of agriculture, exchanging views on how best we can deal with health issues that are, you know, going to overwhelm our respective health systems," Clinton added. "I mean, there's just so much, so much richness, so much of a commitment, and I'm very much looking forward to this cotinuing work," she asserted.   Responding to a question, Clinton said the current partnership represents both continuity and change.   "As Minister Krishna said, we have a long, enduring relationship with India, going back to independence.   We have had many partnerships that have proven beneficial, to both of our countries, going back through that time.   Certainly the Green Revolution, which was an American-Indian project, stands as one of the great achievements of the 20th century or perhaps all of human history," she said."So the continuity that was evidenced by my husband's (Bill Clinton   as the US President) efforts to reach out to India -- evidenced by President (George) Bush's continuing efforts and a commitment to a tangible demonstration of the modern state of our relationship with the civic-nuclear deal -- has now come to a point where we wish to both continue and deepen the enduring relationship," Clinton said adding that both India and the US want to broaden the base of that relationship.  So the comprehensive agenda that is encompassed by this strategic dialogue goes far beyond one project or one visit or any single aspect, Clinton added. Instead we are committed to not only working government to government, as we have been today and as we have for the last year, but also building on the very strong foundation that exists between the Indian and American peoples, she said. Asserting that this "is an affair of the heart, not just of the head", she said the relationship between India and the United States and between the peoples is rooted in common values, shared aspirations. "We know we have different historical experiences. We have different cultural perspectives. We understand that. But underneath it, in addition to our common humanity, there is this commitment to democracy and diversity, to the rule of law, to the empowerment of people that sets the United States and India apart," she said. Clinton said this is a relationship that is so rooted in "our" values, and that's it stands the test of time, despite the vicissitudes that come between any two great countries or any two people, for that matter.  "But persisting and understanding and working through on a basis of mutual respect is how we intend to build an even stronger relationship through the mechanism of this strategic dialogue in the years ahead," she said. Krishna welcomed the Obama Administration's National Security Strategy which identified India along with China and Russia   with whom the US needs to broaden its strategic partnership. "President Obama's strategy statement is a very welcome development, from India's point of view. While we always feel comforted with our association with the United States, our partnership has gone through various vicissitudes. But one thing stands out very clear, that it is an enduring partnership. And we would like to continue that partnership," he said "While doing so, we do appreciate the enormous responsibilities that partnership puts on India, perhaps on the United States also. Well, India is willing to discharge its part of the responsibility. We are thankful to President Obama for the kind of strategy statements that have been made on his behalf. And, well, needless for me to say that millions of Indians are looking forward to President Obama's visit later this year to India," he said. "I was delighted to learn at lunch how deep the ties between India and Afghanistan go back. It is clear that what India has been doing in development projects are very significant, and we look forward to finding ways to collaborate," Clinton said.  Observing that charting an energy future that is secure and sustainable is a crucial challenge for both the countries, she said: "I'm pleased that we have completed a nuclear reprocessing agreement nearly six months ahead of schedule, underlying our commitment to the civil nuclear accord of 2008" "We are building on the partnership to advance clean energy established by President Obama and Minister Singh, including by expanding our work together on energy efficiency, smart grids, force management and so much else. And we are committed to working on an action plan on shale-gas cooperation prior to President Obama's trip to India. We have launched a new dialogue on climate change, discussing how to continue the progress made in Copenhagen and work more closely together," she said. On the economy, she said the two delegation discussed the importance of capitalizing on the doubling of their trade over the last five years, bringing together experts from across our government to focus on macroeconomic policy, financial-sector reforms and infrastructure financing. "US and Indian Cabinet secretaries and ministers will meet on June 22nd in Washington with the members of the US-India CEO Forum to hear recommendations on specific steps our two governments can take to expand trade and investment," she noted. Clinton said the dialogue must extend beyond these official channels "to our homes, our businesses, our communities, our universities, every aspect of our respective societies -- to build mutual understanding and respect between our peoples," she said.  Responding to a question on Afghanistan, Krishna said India made its position very clear at the recent London   conference. "There we spelled out that anyone or any group of persons who disassociate themselves from various terrorist outfits and who are willing to go along accepting the Afghanistan constitution and then the Afghan-led government by President (Hamid) Karzai, then we should not have any problems in dealing with them and then in bringing them to the mainstream of Afghan society," he said. Observing that India and Afghanistan have a very close relationship, going back to centuries, Krishna said India has a historical and civilisation affinity with Afghanistan. "Our contribution in Afghanistan is of very constructive nature. It is not military-driven. It is development-driven. We are concentrating, in spite of the price that we have had to pay," he said referring to the numerous terrorist attacks on Indians in Afghanistan. "I visited Kabul twice, and then I have conveyed to those who are working under such difficult circumstances, where India has been the target of attack -- and we know the reason, and that knowing the reason, knowing the motives, we are going to stay in Afghanistan to defeat these terrorist mechanisations," he asserted.  Responding to a question, Krishna said this relationship between India and the US, will go a long way in sending out a message clear and loud, that these are two democracies which believe in equality, which believe in equal respect, and which also believes that we have a bigger role to play in shaping the destinies of humankind. "And this strategic dialogue is moving in that direction," he asserted. Clinton said she and Krishna would respectively be presenting a report on this dialogue to the US President Barack Obama and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "I hope that our press on both sides will focus on it, because we really are committed to trying to invigorate the actions that will demonstrate exactly what Minister Krishna talked about, our commitment to advancing humankind," she said. "So I know that it won't necessarily get headlines in either one of our media, but, you know, working to expand access to higher education is a huge deal. Working to better coordinate on science, technology and innovation, exchanging scientists, supporting centres of excellence, who knows what benefits will flow from that? Working to improve the productivity of agriculture, exchanging views on how best we can deal with health issues that are, you know, going to overwhelm our respective health systems.  Clinton said there is no military solution to most conflicts. "This is not unique in that regard. There have to be political decisions that go along with military actions. We have told President Karzai most recently on his visit that we understand that. And we support his efforts. But of course, we want to be kept fully informed. And we want to be able to work with him," she said. "It is clear that there are some people who call themselves Taliban   who already are coming off the battlefield. They want to return home. They have no ideological commitment. Then there are others who tried to blow up the peace jirga," she said. Clinton said this is a painstaking work to try to identify those with whom there may be the opportunity for some political reconciliation, and others for whom there is no prospect. "They have to be defeated and deterred from their continuing violence against the people of Afghanistan, against our troops," she said. "They have to be rooted out of their safe havens in Pakistan, where they are being a very grave threat to the government of Pakistan now." So this is a matter that, crosses borders, poses a transnational threat, as we have seen on numerous occasions, and must be undertaken with full awareness of that," Clinton said. The Secretary of State said the US has been very clear in its approach that its thinks that there is basis for reintegrating Taliban fighters back into society. "But we do not believe anyone should be either reintegrated or reconciled on a political basis without renouncing the Al Qaeda  , renouncing violence, committing to live by the laws and constitution of the nation of Afghanistan," Clinton said in response to a question.








This is not zero tolerance, Mr. Prime Minister
Siddharth Varadarajan Share  ·   Comment  
Central Reserve Police Force soldiers take oath during a graduation parade on the outskirts of Srinagar, Wednesday, June 2, 2010. The alleged human rights violations by the security forces in J&K has been a matter of concern. AP Central Reserve Police Force soldiers take oath during a graduation parade on the outskirts of Srinagar, Wednesday, June 2, 2010. The alleged human rights violations by the security forces in J&K has been a matter of concern.  The Central government's professed commitment to human rights is worth nothing so long as it won't allow the soldiers indicted for murdering innocent civilians in Kashmir to be prosecuted for their crimes.  I asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an unfair question during his big press conference last month. How could he speak of zero tolerance for human rights violations in Kashmir when his government would not allow the prosecution of army officers and jawans charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation for the murder of five innocent civilians at Pathribal in Kashmir in 2000? The question was unfair because there was no reason to expect India's chief executive to be aware of the status of an individual case, no matter how gruesome. Or to know why one branch of his government had made out a case for murder against a group of soldiers only to have another branch, the Ministry of Defence, do its utmost to ensure that the indicted men never stand trial.  Like many other questions that day, therefore, mine also went unanswered. I wasn't surprised or disappointed because the reason I asked it was to extract a commitment from the Prime Minister. You see, 10 years ago, I visited a woman named Raja Begum in Anantnag. She was the mother of Zahoor Dalal, one of the five men murdered in Pathribal. Throughout the time I spent in her house, she wept quietly in one corner and didn't say a word. All the talking was done by another relative. As I left, I made one last attempt, asking her whether there was anything she wanted to tell the people of the country. “Zahoor can't come back but those who did this should be punished before my eyes,” she replied. “Why did they pick up an innocent man and murder him? If there is a government, if there is justice, the people who did this must be punished.”  I wrote about Pathribal and its aftermath countless times but wanted to make another push for justice in this case. My question to Dr. Singh, then, was really Raja Begum's, the partial discharge of a debt journalists accumulate as they run from story to story. And as expected, the Prime Minister promised to look into the matter. I have no idea what enquiries or exertions he has made on the case since then but the facts themselves are quite simple. And, in the context of the recent exposé of fake encounters in Machhil in Kupwara, they reveal a pattern of impunity that ordinary Kashmiris will be condemned to endure until India gets a Prime Minister brave enough to put a stop to it.  A group of terrorists, most probably from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, arrived at the Chattisinghpora village in Anantnag district in the dead of night on March 20, 2000. They made all the Sikh men assemble and gunned them down in cold blood. Five days later, L.K. Advani, who was Union Home Minister at the time, told a nation still recovering from shock that the heinous crime had been solved with the killing of five “foreign militants.” In an FIR filed on March 25, officers from the Rashtriya Rifles and the Special Operations Group of the State police said they had managed to corner and kill the five terrorists in a fierce encounter at Pathribal-Panchalthan. The bodies of the men, which had been burned beyond recognition, were buried in a common grave.  Unfortunately for the army, the five men killed were not terrorists or foreign nationals. They were civilians who had been picked up in and around Anantnag on March 24. Apart from young Zahoor, the others named were Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Mohammed Malik, Juma Khan and Juma Khan. Such was the randomness of the operation that it had actually netted two men of the same name from different villages. As the families of the five men searched frantically for their missing relatives, suspicions grew that the “terrorists” buried in the common grave may not be whom the authorities claimed them to be. Protests were held demanding exhumation of the bodies. The demand was rejected, leading to an ugly incident in Brakpora on April 3 where the Central Reserve Police Force opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing nine.  The bodies were eventually exhumed and positively identified by the families of the five missing men. But the government baulked at the implications and insisted on DNA matching. Blood samples were collected, which all turned negative. This was because the police and local doctors, acting on whose instructions it is still not known, switched the samples. When the tampering was exposed in March 2002, fresh samples were collected which conclusively established that the five “terrorists” killed in that so-called joint operation by the Rashtriya Rifles and the police on May 25, 2000 were none other than Zahoor and the others who had been abducted by the security forces the night before.  The State government then ordered a CBI investigation into the killings. The agency took four years to come to the conclusion that the five men had indeed been murdered. It filed a charge-sheet in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar, against Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt. Col. Brijendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Subedar I Khan of 7th Rashtriya Rifles, accusing them of murder under Section 302 of the Ranbir Penal Code. That was in July 2006. Four years on, the trial has yet to begin.  With the full backing of the Army brass, the Ministry of Defence and the Government of India, the five soldiers challenged their indictment on the grounds that the government had not granted sanction to prosecute them. The CBI took the view that the requirement of prior sanction mentioned in Section 7 of the Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 was only for protection of persons acting in good faith and that abducting and murdering innocent civilians could by no stretch of imagination be considered something “done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.” The Principal District and Sessions judge in Srinagar before whom the case was committed offered the Army the option of trying the soldiers in a court martial. But the Army refused, and the matter went to the High Court which ruled in favour of the CBI in July 2007 that prior sanction was not required. At this stage, the Army (represented by the General Officer Commanding, 15th Corps) moved the Supreme Court, which admitted the appeal in September 2007 and stayed further proceedings before the trial court. Since then, the matter has not moved at all. For some reason, notice to the Jammu and Kashmir government, listed as a co-respondent to the CBI in the GOC's petition, was only served in December 2009.  If the Central government was really serious about ensuring justice, it could have done one of two things at any stage after 2006. It could have granted sanction to prosecute the five army men, ending the legal wrangling over the CBI's indictment there and then. Or it could have gone along with the CBI's rational argument that the protections contained in the Armed Forces Act (and indeed in Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code) cannot be extended to cover blatant criminal acts like the murder of innocent civilians. But, no, none of this was done, for the promise of “zero tolerance” of human rights violations is just an empty slogan.  If the Prime Minister feels I am being unfair, let him end the sickening litigation that is preventing Raja Begum and countless other mothers and fathers and sons and daughters of people wrongly killed by the security forces from getting justice. But ending impunity is not just about righting the wrongs of the past. It is also about deterring future criminals. If the men responsible for murdering Zahoor Dalal and four others at Panchalthan had been tried, convicted and punished, I am certain the soldiers who kidnapped and murdered three young Kashmiri men in Kupwara on April 29 in order to claim cash rewards for bravely killing three “terrorists” would not have so easily done what they did. A case against the army officers has now been filed but if Pathribal is any guide, that too will not go anywhere.  The Prime Minister is going to Kashmir next week. When he is asked questions about these cases, he will have to do more than simply promise to look into them.








After Russia and Israel, India to develop missiles with France
 Manu Pubby Posted online: Fri Jun 04 2010, 00:00 hrs New Delhi : After moving ahead with similar projects with Russia and Israel, India is set to finalise a missile co-development project with France to manufacture a new range of Short Range Surface to Air Missiles (SRSAM) for the armed forces. The joint project, which will involve the DRDO and French missile manufacturer MBDA, is likely to be finalised within the next few months.  While India and France initiated the project in 2007 — it is mentioned in the joint statement on defence cooperation between the countries — the project has taken more than three years to finalise. Sources say that the final terms of the agreement are in the process of being finalised. The next generation air defence missile, which will be inducted by the Army, Navy and Air Force, could also be made available for export.  The joint development is likely to take the course of the Indo-Russian Brahmos supersonic cruise missile project that has already borne fruit for the DRDO. India has also recently signed a deal with Israel to co develop a long range surface to air missile to protect its warships and vital assets on the ground.  The Indo-French missile, which has tentatively been named ‘Maitri’, will replace the ageing arsenal of Russian missiles that are currently being used by the armed forces to protect airfield and other vital installations. Sources said that the project could be signed as early as August this year to kick start the manufacturing of the missile.  Over the past three years, MBDA and DRDO have finalised the design and performance parameters of the missile to suit the needs of the armed forces. Besides providing the armed forces with a modern air defence missiles, the project will also add a new capability with France that presently does not have a similar missile in production.  India and France are also close to signing an estimated $ 2.2 bn deal to modernise the fleet of Mirage 2000 fighters.







Army plans to use micro devices to monitor terrorists
PTI Share  ·  
Nanotechnology could transform surveillance techniques in the near future. File photo The Hindu A CRPF Jawan stands guard after a grenade attack in Srinagar. Nanotechnology could transform surveillance techniques in the near future. File photo  The Indian Army plans to induct new-age gadgets such as micro audio bugs and video devices to keep a watch on terrorist hideouts and their meeting places and activities, apparently taking a leaf out of James Bond flicks.  “Possible nano-technology applications are micro-audio bugs and video recording devices with high capacity data storage to plant at likely meeting places of terrorists, over ground agents and sympathisers,” the Army said on the possible uses of Nano-technology products in the ‘Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap’ for the Defence Ministry.  Nanotechnology is an expected future manufacturing technology that will make most products lighter, stronger, cleaner, less expensive and smaller in size.  “We are planning to use these micro devices, which would be too small to be detected, for keeping a watch on movement and activities of terrorists”, Army officials said here.  “Nano-size air and ground sensors can also be placed in specific areas and activate them when we want to monitor the activities there,” they said.  The Army also envisages use of micro-sized energy devices which can power unattended sensors and devices in remote areas or places which require extremely light weight power sources like light-weight man portable radars, missiles, UAVs and other systems.








Indian Army Steps Up Presence in Orissa and Chhattisgarh 
Times of India, May 28, 2010  Army may step in, chief to meet Chidambaram  NEW DELHI: With Army chief General V K Singh meeting home minister P Chidambaram after the latest incident involving Maoists on Friday, the armed forces are finalizing action plans to meet any contingency if their role in the ongoing anti-Naxalite operations is extended beyond the present training, surveillance and logistical.  “If the government orders us, we will have to step in and take the lead. Drawing up of concrete contingency plans have gained momentum after the Army commanders’ conference earlier this month discussed the likely developments and resources required for the anti-Naxalite operations,” said a senior officer.  The 1.13-million strong Army is already expanding its presence in Naxalism-hit states like Orissa and Chhattisgarh, with two “sub-area headquarters” coming up at Ambarda and Jagdalpur.  “Then, the Para-Special Forces training establishment at Nahan in Himachal Pradesh is likely to be shifted to Chakrabhatta near Raipur, where 2,700 acres of land with an airfield are being allocated,” said an officer.  “Though the sub-area headquarters headed by brigadiers are static organisations, they will help if more Army units are deployed in the region. Along with the police and paramilitary forces, the aim is to dominate the ‘Red Corridor’,” he added.  The armed forces, however, still remain strongly opposed to being directly employed in the anti-Naxal operations, given their commitments in counter-insurgency duties in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East as well as along the borders. Defence minister A K Antony, on his part, has also held the armed forces will not be deployed in a direct role in the operations.  The Army, which has already trained around 47,000 police and paramilitary personnel, has instead proposed the setting up of a separate and dedicated counter-Naxalism training establishment to train “homogeneous companies” of paramilitary and police personnel.  While the Army currently provides training and advise to police forces, IAF has deployed Mi-17 helicopters for reconnaissance, logistical and casualty evacuation duties in the anti-Naxal operations, apart from occasionally providing AN-32 transport aircraft.  On Friday, the IAF also deployed a Chetak, a Dhruv and two medium-lift Mi-17 helicopters from the Kalaikunda air base to assist in relief work at the site of the train derailment in Jhargram in West Bengal, even as an AN-32 aircraft carried a medical and surgical team from Jorhat.



No comments:

Post a Comment

 

Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal