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Sunday, 27 June 2010

From Today's Papers - 27 Jun 2010

Army chief opposes AFSPA dilution 
New Delhi, June 26 Amid moves by the political leadership to make the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) “more humane”, Army chief Gen VK Singh has voiced his opposition to any change, saying demands for dilution of the Act were being made for “narrow political gains”.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised amendments to the Act that gives sweeping powers to the Army in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East, to make it more humane. Home Minister P Chidambaram is also known to be in favour of diluting some of the provisions of the Act.  The Home Ministry has finalised its views and sent a note to the Cabinet. Comments of the ministries of Defence and Law have been sought before the Cabinet Committee on Security considers amendments.  Describing the AFSPA as a “misunderstood Act”, Army chief told a defence journal, “All who ask for its dilution or withdrawal, probably do so for narrow political gains”. Any dilution “will lead to constraining our operations”, he added.  He said, “We are very clear on the subject that soldiers operating in hostile environment need legal protection to ensure that they perform their tasks efficiently”.  The killings of three Kashmiri youths by the Army in a suspected fake encounter in Machil in Kupwara district on April 29 has sparked off widespread protests in the Valley and strengthened the demand for amending the Act.  Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as well as political parties in the state are clamouring for dilution of the Act so that any Army personnel involved in extra-judicial killings are held accountable through civilian legal process rather than Army’s internal mechanisms.  However, Gen Singh stated that adequate measures had been instituted at organisational and functional levels to ensure that the powers entrusted through the Act were not misused. — PTI

China bans armymen from blogging 
Press Trust of India, Updated: June 26, 2010 23:12 IST  Beijing:  The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has banned Chinese armymen from using blogs on the Internet to protect the servicemen from "online traps" and ensure data confidentiality.  PLA Internal Administration Regulations which came into force on June 15, prohibited soldiers from creating website, homepage, or blog on the Internet.  The revised regulations also banned soldiers from issuing "longly hearts" and job hunting advertisements on mass media.  "It means soldiers cannot open blogs on the Internet no matter he or she does it in the capacity of a soldier or not," Wan Long, the political commissar of a regiment in the Guangzhou Military Area Command, Beijing News quoted the PLA Daily as saying.      "The Internet is complicated and we should guard against online traps," he said.  "If information of military officers and their unit aroused attention of people with ulterior motives, it will pose threat to confidentiality of the armed forces," Commander of the Xigaze military sub-command in Tibet Autonomous Region, Yang Jigui, told Xinhua.

India wants more action from Pak on 26/11: Chidambaram
Ajay Kaul and Rezaul H Laskar/PTI / Islamabad June 26, 2010, 17:10 IST  Home Minister P Chidambaram today said India wants more action from Pakistan against those involved in the Mumbai terror attacks and expressed confidence of a "positive outcome" in the matter after his meeting with his counterpart Rehman Malik.  Briefing reporters about his meetings with Malik, Chidambaram said India believes that more people were behind the attacks and more people should be prosecuted.  "We know that seven people (are being) prosecuted in the case. How far the prosecution has proceeded, it is for the Pakistani government to tell," he said, when asked about the status of Pakistan's trial of the 26/11 attacks case.  He also noted that the trial of seven people, including LeT operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, was adjourned for a week today.  "We think that more people were behind the attacks and more people should be prosecuted. That point has been made to the Pakistani government and as I said, I wish to remain positive on the outcome of the meeting with Rehman Malik," the Home Minister said.  Terming his over 2-hour-long meeting with Malik yesterday as good, he said they both identified what needs to be done other than what has already been done.  "I think the meeting that I had with Rehman Malik was a good meeting. We spoke with each other. We spoke directly to each other and I am confident that something good will emerge out of that meeting. So, let's try to remain positive," he said.  Chidambaram, the first Indian Home Minister to visit Pakistan in three decades, met Malik at the Interior Ministry here, and sought action against JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the Mumbai attacks.

Karachi-bound ship carrying arms of UN peacekeepers: Police
(Lead) June 26th, 2010 SindhToday        Kolkata, June 26 (IANS) The Karachi-bound ship intercepted on the Hooghly Friday was carrying arms and ammunition used by troops of different nations that had participated in the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia, a top police officer said Saturday.  The union home ministry has asked the security agencies to bring the Liberia-registered ‘Aegean Glory’ to the Kolkata dock for a thorough investigation.  The ship is likely to reach there Sunday noon, West Bengal Director General of Police (DGP) Bhupinder Singh said.  “It was found that the ship was carrying explosives of a few nations that participated in the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL),” he said.  The ship was slated to unload the military cargo at different ports to return the weapons of the nations that participated in UNMIL that began in 2003 to contain the conflict arising out of the second Liberian civil war.  The vessel loaded the military cargo at Monrovia port in Liberia, started its journey May 17 and sailed to Port Louis in Mauritius June 4.  “The ship unloaded a part of its military cargo first at St. Louis and then at Cox Bazar port near Chittagong in Bangladesh. It set sail for the Kolkata dock to unload some military cargo that belongs to the Nepal Army,” Bhupinder Singh said.  The information was obtained after quizzing the captain and the 19 crew members, who are from Greece, Romania and Ukraine.  The documents seized from the Greek captain, however, had no mention of Pakistan, where the vessel was to sail finally for unloading the remaining cargo, Singh said.  “The rest of the military cargo, including rocket launchers, smoke bombs and anti-aircraft guns, apart from other sophisticated arms and ammunition, was meant for a Karachi-based major rank officer, Khalasulla Khan. But this was not mentioned in the documents,” the DGP said.  “The state Intelligence Branch officials have been asked to contact the New York-based Movement Control officials of the UN Mission to get detailed information about the ship,” he added.  All the security agencies concerned and the external affairs, defence and home ministries were alerted after the interception of the ship.  The 152.35 metre-long vessel, slated to unload a part of its cargo in Kolkata, had anchored at the Sandhead in the Bay of Bengal Friday afternoon and later arrived at the Sagar island, where a pilot boarded the ship to guide it up the Hoogly.  The pilot, being suspicious about the nature of the cargo, alerted the port authorities, who in turn informed the Customs, Indian Navy and Cost Guard officials and the ship was intercepted on the Hooghly river channel at Diamond Harbour Friday evening.  During investigation, it was revealed that the city-based clearing agent, Cristal Shipping, responsible for unloading the cargo, had neither submitted the Import General Manifesto (IGM) to the port authorities nor the Bill of Entry to the Customs officials that the ship was carrying grade-I explosives, which is mandatory.  The clearing agent was interrogated and said that he was kept unaware about the nature of the cargo.  “After the ship is brought to the Kolkata Dock System, the customs officials will open the container cargo to find out its contents. The officials will tally the weapons count kept in the container with the list made by the security officials after interrogation of the captain of the ship,” he said.  “If any discrepancies are found, legal action will be taken against the owner of the ship and the crew members,” the police chief added.

IAF's first C-130J-30 Super Hercules ready for flight test
news        26 June 2010                           Washington: The first of six C-130J-30 Super Hercules on order for the Indian Air Force is ready for a flight test after emerging from the paint shop at the Lockheed Martin's Marietta plant in Georgia, the American manufacturer said Friday. The six aircraft were ordered by the IAF in 2008 and this was the first billion dollar contract secured by any American defence supplier in India in decades.   The first C-130J Super Hercules in IAF colours  ''The aircraft now enters flight test in preparation for delivery at the end of the year,'' Lockheed says. ''The six C-130Js will give the Indian army and air force new special operations capabilities.''  The six C-130J-30s will cost the IAF $1.059 billion.  The stretched-fuselage C-130J-30 will be delivered to the IAF in approximately six months time.  The lead aircraft is shown carrying the registration KC-3801 beneath its wing.  The programme for India includes training of aircrew and maintenance technicians, spare parts, and ground support and test equipment.  Also included is India-specific operational equipment designed to increase special operations capabilities.

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