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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

From Today's Papers - 09 Jun 2010






NIA to book Army Major
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, June 8 The Union Home Ministry has sent out a serious poser to the Army, as it has asked the latter to carry out a probe as to who were the sources of the sensitive documents and presentations found on the personal computer of a Major, who is being probed by the National Investigating Agency (NIA).  The NIA will book the Major for possessing documents that were top secret and “were way beyond his nature and sphere of work”, sources confirmed. The Major had about 2,500 presentations and documents on his computer, which was found during the analysis done by the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Hyderabad.  A lot of data from the Major’s computer in Andaman and Nicobar Islands was being regularly transferred to Pakistan that was detected by US agencies that informed their Indian counterparts in April.  The NIA is also following up on leads to find out the sources of the information of the Major, who is being questioned in Delhi, sources in the government said while confirming that the Major, who is from the 21 Bihar regiment, will be booked in the next few days. He is likely to be booked under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.  “It is shocking why the Army on its own has not booked the Major under the Official Secrets Act as the documents and presentations found on the Major’s computer were beyond the level of his seniority and were highly sensitive,” said a source in the government.  Legally, the Army should have booked him even if the Major’s computer was hacked. The question is who provided the documents and where did he source them from. “These are not some documents that are there in the open domain,” a senior official said.  So many files and presentations cannot be given to a Major-level officer in any “good faith.”  The CFSL in its report has confirmed that documents were deleted during the period the computer was supposedly seized by the Army authorities. The dates of deletion have been provided by the CFSL and they match with the period the computer was in custody of the Army. The dates on which the documents had been deleted from the computer, was the period it was not in the Major’s possession, a senior government functionary said.  The sources said the NIA had not shared the CFSL report with its counter parts from the military intelligence, which were part of the joint probe. The contents had been communicated to the Army top brass due to the sensitive nature of the case.










Gen Nanda to face CoI over ‘misconduct’
Tribune News Service  Lt Gen AK Nanda Lt Gen AK Nanda  New Delhi, June 8 The Army today ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the charges of sexual misconduct levelled against Lt Gen AK Nanda by the wife of a junior officer. “A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the charges levelled against Lt Gen Nanda by the wife of a Colonel,” officials at the Army headquarters here said. During the course of the CoI, Nanda would continue to remain in the present post — Engineer-in-Chief.  The wife of a Colonel, who was earlier working as Technical Secretary to Gen Nanda, has accused him of molesting her during an official visit to Israel last month. The woman had accompanied her Colonel husband on an official trip.  Nanda had headed a delegation of Army officers to Israel and at least three of them were accompanied by their spouses. The woman, on returning to India, had submitted her complaint to Army Chief Gen VK Singh’s wife Bharti Singh, who is also the President of Army Wives Welfare Association.  The complaint was forwarded to the Army Chief, who had ordered a preliminary probe by a senior Lt General to see whether prima facie there was any case for further action. The venue and date of the start of the CoI, which is the first formal action taken after a preliminary probe establishes a prima facie case, would be decided by the Presiding Officer, who would be senior to Nanda.









Lt. Gen. to face court of inquiry
By editor Created 9 Jun 2010 - 00:00  The Army on Tuesday ordered a court of inquiry to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against its engineer-in-chief, Lt. Gen. A.K. Nanda, by the wife of a subordinate officer of the rank of colonel.  Defence sources said Lt. Gen. Nanda will continue at his post and perform his duties as usual while the inquiry was on. It will be presided over by a lieutenant-general senior to Lt. Gen. Nanda. Lt. Gen. A.K. Nanda faces allegations that he misbehaved with the colonel’s wife during a May 7-10 official visit to Israel. The colonel’s wife reportedly complained against Lt. Gen. Nanda. The Army earlier said preliminary investigations showed a “number of loopholes” in the account of allegations”. Defence sources said some doubts were raised after it emerged that Lt. Gen. Nanda and his wife, as well as the colonel and his wife, had gone on holiday to Egypt together after the Israel visit. The allegations were levelled by the colonel’s wife after returning to India. The Army had sought to know why the allegations were not levelled immediately in Israel itself.









Capt Saurabh Kalia's torture by Pak army still not 'war crime'
Anand Bodh, TNN, Jun 9, 2010, 03.23am IST CHANDIGARH: On June 9, 1999, NK Kalia had received the body of his son – Captain Saurabh Kalia – with evidence of torture by the Pakistan Army. Eleven years later, 62-year-old Kalia is still fighting for justice – he wants the act to be declared a war crime by the UN.  However, numerous letters to the Centre have failed to move the government to pursue the matter with the world body. Five other soldiers were tortured and killed along with Capt Kalia. "I am ashamed of being an Indian. The country has spineless leaders,"said Kalia.  "In order to declare a war crime, the ministry of defence needs to write to the ministry of external affairs, which then takes up the matter with the UN Human Rights Council. The council then refers the matter to the General Assembly, which can declare war crime. It then goes to the international court of justice. It is the ministry of external affairs that did not follow up the case with the UN," says Colonel (retd) SK Aggarwal, former judge advocate general (JAG) officer.  Pakistan army had captured Captain Saurabh Kalia of 4 Jat Regiment and five other soldiers on May 15, 1999 from Kaksar area of Kargil sector.  They were kept in captivity for over 22 days and subjected to unprecedented torture as evident from their bodies. The bodies were handed over to India on June 9,1999.  Moved by the torture meted out to his son by Pakistan army, Kalia launched a struggle to declare the act a war crime. Kalia wrote series of letter to then Minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh.










Tell It Like It Is
Anit Mukherjee, Jun 9, 2010, 12.00am IST The recent controversy over the orders by the armed forces tribunal to rewrite the history of the Kargil war is in many ways ironical. For, this is an army whose official website wishes away its entire post-independence history by saying: "Post-1948 operations are classified, hence not mentioned." In fact, the military's entire post-independence history is slave to biographical and self-serving accounts.  Unfortunately, most discussions on this subject focus on Indian military history's sensationalist aspects like the destruction of files pertaining to the 1971 operations or the Henderson Brookes report and, though these are legitimate aspects in their own right, this allows a greater travesty of justice to lie unaddressed. The state does not have a procedure that allows the stories of important institutions military, paramilitary, police, diplomacy, among others to be told. And this denial of history not only weakens the quality of Indian democracy but, alarmingly, has negative consequences on the operational effectiveness of all these institutions. India's parliamentarians would do well to concentrate on this issue.  That the defence ministry, among other security agencies, lacks a declassification procedure is beyond doubt. There are almost no official records available to scholars interested in this field. Even scholars at India's "official" and service-affiliated think tanks consisting of IDSA, CLAWS, CAPS, CENJOWS and NMF are denied access to data. As a consequence, they mostly churn out papers on every subject but that which analyses processes within the military. On the rare occasion they do so, it is usually an opinion rather than an analysis with empirical data from official records. A decade after the Kargil review committee recommended the creation of some of these think tanks, the hardware and physical infrastructure has been established but the software, in terms of data, is absent. Like many other recommendations of post-crises defence reforms, this idea too has died in its implementation.  Denial of access also prevents the creation of civilian expertise on these matters, weakening the quality of debate and ultimately India's democracy. As scholars and citizens are denied historical documents, there is little serious study or instruction on these institutions in civilian universities. Discussions on national security issues are monopolised by former officials belonging to these bureaucracies. Hence India's strategic enclave, unlike in most major democracies, almost exclusively constitutes retired officials. Rare is an enclave member who can challenge the institutional myths and official positions of his parent organisation. In the long run, this is harmful for democracy as different perspectives and counter-arguments are not adequately debated.  Lack of a declassification procedure hampers the operational effectiveness of the Indian military, and other national security agencies. There is little emphasis on teaching military history in professional schools of instruction. Even when taught they rely almost exclusively on biographical accounts of the participants. It makes little sense why this is so, especially since no one comes out second best in their own autobiography and hence, unsurprisingly, many of these accounts are contradictory.  Lack of historiography results in a constant "re-learning of lost lessons" and restricts the officer cadre's intellectual development. For instance, while there is current talk of developing capabilities for out-of-area operations, there is little study of India's only expeditionary counter-insurgency operations against the LTTE in Sri Lanka. By not studying the military past, officers are almost condemned to repeat its follies. This is an issue that is perhaps best addressed by the respective service chiefs and especially by the chief of army staff, General V K Singh, if he is serious about improving the military's "internal health".  Despite the urgency of the issue, the debate around declassification is not new and has followed a tortuous path. In the early 1990s, the historical section of the defence ministry, relying on certain official documents, wrote its version of the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. These accounts were restricted and unavailable to most scholars. Later in 2001, a committee was established under N N Vohra to examine the publication of these volumes but, despite its positive recommendation, no action was taken on its report.  Currently, the issue has hit a dead end. The armed forces maintain that they have no objection to declassification but the final decision has to be the defence ministry's. Defence ministry officials, in turn, state that only the classifying agency can decide on declassification!  It appears as if politics prevents declassification. There might be fears, at all levels, that declassification may tarnish the elaborate images constructed of our political and military leaders. Ultimately, it is the duty of young politicians to make the case that they are willing to learn not just from the achievements of their forefathers but also from their mistakes. Not doing so reflects an appalling lack of confidence and insecurity.  Perhaps this is a crusade best led by Rahul Gandhi and other young politicians willing to admit that, to prepare for the future, one must know the past. That does not absolve the rest of the political, bureaucratic or military community. It is time to overcome our collective insecurities. There are stories there that must be told lest we forget.  The writer is a research scholar, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.








J&K’s mercenaries in uniform 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s declaration in Srinagar on Monday that his government will not tolerate human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir might be difficult to implement because of the army’s policy of rewarding soldiers monetarily for each terrorist or infiltrator killed.   It is true that in the interiors of Jammu and Kashmir, the army has been doing commendable work by running development works, vocational training centres, schools, ensuring water supply, building bridges and roadside shelters to protect locals from the harsh winters. People in these border areas – not easily accessed by the civilian administration, especially during disasters -- see the army as the only face of democratic India. But this face has been smeared by some allegedly fake encounters in which ‘terrorists’ and ‘infiltrators’ have been killed by troops and officers eager to earn handsome rewards and promotions along with kudos from superiors.  Anger over what people see as fake encounters spreads to the rest of the Valley, sullying the army’s image and making a mockery of the central government’s declaration of zero tolerance to violation of human rights in the eyes of the people.  For each ‘terrorist’ killed, an army man gets a reward of Rs 200,000 and this is an attractive amount for soldiers and officers – some of who may care more for their bank balance than for human rights.  In the April 30 ‘encounter’ in Machail in Kupwara district (140 km northwest of Srinagar) near the Line of Control, three villagers in search of work were lured by fellow Kashmiris looking for some lucre and handed over to the army as ‘infiltrators’. They were promptly shot dead. The three ‘informers’ were paid Rs 50,000 each and the three armymen against whom an enquiry has been instituted, were paid Rs 150,000 each, said a well placed official source who did not want to be named.  The defence spokesperson and senior army officers were unavailable for comment on the killing and the army’s policy of giving rewards for killing terrorists and infiltrators.  Ordinary Kashmiris are not satisfied by the removal of Col. D.K. Pathania and the suspension of Major Bhupinder Singh of 4 Rajput Regiment as a beginning of the action against the suspected accused in the Machail ‘encounter’.  “Nothing more will be done after this to punish the armymen. We have seen all this in the past and this time will be no different,” said Idrees Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar.  “This is spilling of blood of innocents and it is being done by the Indian Army despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to zero tolerance towards such human rights abuses,” said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.  The main opposition People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti has used this case to bring into focus the issue of demilitarisation and revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. “We believe that the presence of troops and the special powers they have got are at the root of such killings,” she said.  The J&K government on its part feels such killings harm its credibility and existence. “This amounts to destabilisation of our government,” the chief minister’s advisor, Mubarak Gul, told mediapersons last week.  Such killings indeed negate the good work done by the army in the border state. Indian troops, risking their lives, were the first to reach and rescue people in the March 2005 snow tsunami and earthquake in October that year.      “Our army has done a great job. They have virtually saved us from death and starvation,” Gulabo Jan, a resident of Teetwal had told this reporter who visited the area a week after the quake in 2005.  But with the Machail killings, fingers have again been raised against the army and the Indian state. And the army itself has given them a reason.








Army studying tribunal order on Kargil war
 2010-06-09 05:30:00  The Indian Army is analysing an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) seeking corrections in the official records of the 1999 Kargil War because it showed 'bias' against an officer before challenging it in the Supreme Court.  A well informed source told IANS that army chief Gen. V.K. Singh had a meeting with Defence Minister A.K. Antony May 29 and they discussed the possibility of moving the apex court over the issue.  'However, they decided to first study the order closely and analyse all relevant records before considering an appeal,' said a source privy to the development.  The AFT May 26 ruled that Lt. Gen. (retd) Kishan Pal, the Srinagar-based 15 Corps commander during the war, had shown bias against Brig. (retd) Devinder Singh, who was commanding the 70 Infantry Brigade.  The tribunal had asked the army to modify its records to give Singh credit for the victory in Kargil's Batalik sector.  In its judgment, the tribunal said Pal had distorted a subordinate's performance reports, which went into the writing of the war history.  Singh had complained that his performance during the conflict had been assessed incorrectly, which eventually cost him a war medal and a promotion to the rank of major general  Singh claimed that he was cited for award of Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest gallantry medal, but was instead given the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM), a peacetime honour.  'The army is now examining the situation reports to see if a legal basis can be prepared for an appeal in the Supreme Court for quashing the tribunal's order,' the source said.








Major Problems Surface for Indian Army
By Vibhuti Agarwal and Paul Beckett      European Pressphoto Agency     An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard outside a closed market during a strike in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, Tuesday.  The Indian Army, one of the nation’s most respected institutions, has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons.  On Sunday, it removed an officer from command and suspended another over allegations that they killed three Muslim civilians in a staged gun battle in Jammu & Kashmir. The incident took place at the end of April near the Line of Control, the de facto border which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.  The army killed three unidentified people and later claimed they were Pakistani terrorists. It was only after the relatives of the men identified the dead that the army ordered a probe.  That news came hard on the heels of revelations that a senior officer, Lt. Gen A.K. Nanda, faces allegations that he molested a junior officer’s wife during a visit abroad last month. “The Army is probing the charges and, if found true, strict action will be taken,” Virendra Singh, official spokesman of the Indian Army in New Delhi, told India Real Time Monday.  Then there was last year’s scandal when four generals were exposed in a big corruption case involving 70 acres of land in Darjeeling in the eastern state of West Bengal.  Is this an unlucky string of bad publicity or does it point to some deeper issue in the army?  “There is a problem,” says Brig. Arun Sahgal, consultant at the Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies in New Delhi. “The senior leadership has behaved rather un-officer-like.”  Regarding the Kashmir allegations, he said that the Army’s “promotions policy has become linked to operational reports from those areas and there is a tendency to fudge reports or create some sort of actions.”  Saying up front that he was being charitable in his view, he said this was partly a consequence of the length of time that officers now spend in Kashmir, doing several tours of duty because of the continued political stalemate between India and Pakistan.  There is another reason these cases are getting aired: the arrival of Gen. V.K. Singh as the new chief of the army. He took over command April 1 from Gen. Deepak Kapoor and has made it clear that he will brook no nonsense, Brig. Sahgal says. “He understands discrepancies have crept into the system and that the senior leadership in the army has not behaved in a proper fashion.”  Under Gen. Singh, he adds, “There is no question of anybody being supported by the system because of their rank and seniority.”  Before he was promoted to the top job, Gen. Singh had recommended action against the four generals in the land scam case, according to PTI.  Gen. Singh needs to act quickly to repair the rot. Sanjay Kumar, fellow at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, a New Delhi think tank, says the recent incidents among army officers are an eye-opener since corruption until now was thought to exist chiefly among state and district level police officials.  “The image of the institution which protects the country from external invasions has been marred in the eyes of the common people,” Mr. Kumar said.







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