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Saturday, 18 September 2010

From Today's Papers - 18 Sep 2010

New Delhi objects to Pak statement
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, September 17 India tonight firmly rejected ‘gratuitous’ statement made by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmud Qureshi on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it amounted to interference by Islamabad in the internal affairs of this country.  ‘’Pakistan should take credible and effective action against infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC) and dismantle the terror infrastructure that exists in the territory under its control. This would be an important contribution towards safeguarding the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who suffer from the consequences of terrorism fomented from across the LOC and the International Border,” MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash said in response to a question.  Qureshi has said that Pakistan would “continue to stand by the Kashmiris in their just cause”, while alleging gross and systematic abuse of human rights in the Valley. He also asked the Indian Government to exercise restraint.  The Indian spokesman asserted that as a vibrant democracy, India had sufficient mechanisms and constitutional safeguards to address issues raised by its citizens in any part of the country.

‘Capt Kohli died as he tried to blow lid off fake encounter’
Jupinderjit Singh Tribune News Service  Jammu, September 17 No job, no compensation, not even an apology, forget justice. This is the fate of families of four labourers, who were allegedly killed in a “fake encounter” in Lolab in Kupwara in 2004. Their case is directly linked to the mysterious death of Capt Sumit Kohli of Chandigarh as the latter was the duty officer at the time of the encounter. These families live in poverty, with no politician coming forward to apply balm on their wounds.  “We spurned the offer of Rs 5 lakh to keep our mouths shut. Had we taken the money, our children would not have been forced to leave school to earn a livelihood,” rues 1971 Indo-Pak war veteran, Madan Lal, father of Bhushan Lal, one of the four dead labourers.  On April 12, 2004, Bhushan Lal along with Ram Lal, Satpal and Ashok Kumar were hired by an Army officer and taken to Kupwara with a promise of giving them a job.  The joy of getting good employment was short-lived. Few days later, the labourers were allegedly killed in a fake encounter. Captain Sumit Kohli of 18 Rashtriya Rifles in Lolab in north Kashmir was the duty officer at that time. The families say they came to know about the encounter through an anonymous letter, which they received one-a-half years after the incident. The letter gave details of the alleged fake encounter and names of 11 Army men.  The families protested and staged dharnas following which a Court of Inquiry was ordered. The Army maintained that the bodies were not of the labourers. It said two Kashmiri families had claimed two bodies and got the compensation too.  Few weeks after getting the letter, the family came to know about Capt Kohli’s death under mysterious circumstances with the Army claiming that he committed suicide.  Madan Lal says he was shocked to see the picture of Capt Kohli in newspapers. He said Capt Kohli had told them after the CoI that “the man who wrote a letter to you exposing the killing of four labourers will ensure that you get justice.”  Even as the Defence Minister AK Antony last week announced a fresh probe into Capt Kohli’s death, the aggrieved family members don’t see any ray of hope.  “We have been through such inquiries by the Army. They will never expose their men. We want a CBI inquiry,” claimed Madan Lal. “Capt Kohli died because he tried to blow the lid off the fake counter. But apart from him, we didn’t get support from any corner,” said a bitter Bali Ram.      Army’s take  “It was an actual operation, which has been dubbed as a fake encounter by some anonymous letters. Still, Army authorities carried out a high-level inquiry that revealed that there was no truth in the allegations made by the letters.”  Col Rahul Pandey, CO of the 18 RR at the time of the encounter, and an accused named in the letters.  Govt’s view  “I am trying my best to get compensation for the families. However, it is a sensitive matter concerning the Army and not much can be done till the fake encounter is proved. I have already asked the Army to give me details of what happened to the labourers. I am awaiting a reply.”  Raman Bhalla, Minister for Relief, Revenue and Rehabilitation

SC: Rs 70 pension when arhar dal is Rs 80?
R Sedhuraman Legal Correspondent  New Delhi, September 17 Expressing shock over the payment of a monthly pension of Rs 70 to a 90-year-old widow of an Army officer, the Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre and the Army seeking its response to a PIL filed by her.  “What is this? You are paying her just Rs 70 a month. Even a kilo of arhar dal costs around Rs 80,” a Bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and TS Thakur observed while passing the order.  The petitioner’s husband, Major Dharam Chand, had died in 1967 after a heart attack. The petitioner, Pushpa Vanti, said her husband could not get regular medical treatment due to the 1962 and 1965 wars. She had written to the government several times demanding higher pension so that she could bring up her two children.  According to her, she is entitled to a pension of about Rs 27,000 a month. She feels ashamed and humiliated to receive Rs 70 as pension when families of sepoys get more than Rs 150 a month. Her husband was a recipient of 14 medals.

Army Chief: Have to wait for political advice on AFSPA 
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: September 17, 2010 15:02 IST Pondicherry:  The chief of army staff, General VK Singh, has said it's not for the army to answer on the Kashmir issue and the political leadership has to take a decision.  On the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) General Singh said, "that's all for the leadership to does not decide all those."  "The whole thing is under active consideration of the Prime Minister. I think we should wait for political advice," added General Singh when asked if a strategic model was the need of the hour.  General VK Singh asserted that the army has brought peace in all regions.

EADS is now Cassidian; Focus on India, Brazil and Middle Eastern Defence Markets
Dated 17/9/2010  EADS Defence and Security, an European firm for global security solutions and systems, today changed its name to Cassidian and announced that India, Brazil and the Middle East will be its focus markets globally.  Announcing the change, Cassidian chief executive officer Stefan Zoller said the firm will remain a division of EADS company and would sell its large portfolio of security systems in the global market.  "Our business is changing. So are our customers. Especially on the civil markets which we address with our security products, it is essential to be perceived as a strong brand," Zoller said in a press release here.  "The new name Cassidian comes from the Latin terms "cassida" (helmet) and "meridian" (imaginary line running north and south). It symbolises worldwide protection and security, thus reflecting the Cassidian claim -- Defending World Security," said Annette Fullenbach, the firm''s communications head.  The firm also introduced its new logo on the occasion.  A globe with hands surrounding and protecting it symbolises the company's commitment to support those whose mission is to protect the world, the release said about the new logo. Cassidian's business units too got new names to highlight their core activities -- Cassidian Electronics, Cassidian Air Systems and Cassidian Systems.  The company will begin to use the new name and logo immediately. Its subsidiaries will retain their present names for the time being, but will immediately adopt the new logo.  "Our business has changed significantly in recent years. We are not two silos - one defence and one security, but a company that offers global protection in a wide sense. Cassidian will soon be a distinguished and reputable name for global security solutions," Zoller said.  The statement said the company would continue with its military air systems, radar technologies, secure communications and nationwide security activities focusing on domestic markets in Europe and also pursuing global developments.  India, Brazil and the Middle East, the release said, were identified as major growth areas. Cassidian has 21,000 employees and achieved revenues of Euros 5.4 billion in 2009.

Farewell to Friday wear - Olive Greens march back to retain army identity
SUJAN DUTTA Former army chief JJ Singh in fatigues      Army Chief V.K. Singh Olive Greens  New Delhi, Sept. 17: General V.K. Singh has quietly changed “Friday dressing” norms at army headquarters.  Officers and soldiers who were required to don “disruptive pattern” fatigues — the uniform they go into action in — are now back to wearing the drab “OGs” — Olive Greens.  The order to wear battle fatigues was issued by General Joginder Jaswant Singh when he was the army chief (now he is the Arunachal governor) in 2005.  “Tiger” JJ ordered that the fatigues be worn to empathise with soldiers who are deployed in operational areas and in hardship postings. A third of the 1.2 million-strong Indian Army is always posted in field areas — for counter-insurgency in the Northeast and Kashmir and in border posts.  “Friday dressing”— a term coined in the fashion world and meaning casual wear for the last working day of the week — came to have an entirely different connotation in the Indian Army. JJ led by example, diligently outfitting himself in crisp battle fatigues with his service revolver always loaded and holstered at the waist.  Every Friday for the last five years, the offices and roads around Sena Bhavan and the integrated headquarters of defence in South Block were awash with men wearing battle fatigues, in peak winter as in scorching summer.  To visitors not used to the sight, the scene could well be daunting: why are so many men looking so battle-ready in the heart of a peaceful capital, many have wondered.  The navy also followed suit --- and even today naval officers and sailors wear the blue uniform that they are required to wear on decks instead of the whites that they are usually in when they are ashore. Air force personnel on duty (such as the Garud commandos) also often wear disruptive pattern fatigues but most stick to wearing the sky blue-dark blue combination. (Aviators wear the G-suit or jumpers if they are flying).  Unlike JJ, the barrel-chested “Ranger”, General V.K. Singh, has decided the culture of the army need not be showcased through its sartorial codes.  But there is a deeper reason for the change in the dress code that the army is unwilling to state officially in public. The army top brass --- the uniform regulations are decided by the Adjutant General’s branch --- is unhappy that central and state police organisations have made the Indian Army’s battle fatigues commonplace.  In Jammu and Kashmir and Lalgarh in Bengal, for example, Central Reserve Police Force and state police personnel have been wearing the battle fatigues, complete with the symbol of the Indian Army --- the Ashoka emblem over a pair of crossed swords --- printed on them on duty.  Army headquarters have written to the defence minister and the defence ministry has in turn complained to the home ministry of this “misuse” of the army uniform. But central police organisations have argued that their personnel are also deployed in operational areas and need the camouflage disruptive pattern --- to blend with the countryside --- to work effectively.  The upshot is that in many regions, civilians are not able to distinguish between the army and the police. The army does not like being confused with the police. So, in Delhi, it’s back to Olive Greens on Fridays. The police cannot plagiarise or strip the army of that uniform, the top brass is convinced.

Apex court anguished over Rs.80 pension to major's widow
2010-09-17 19:20:00  New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday voiced dismay over a paltry Rs.80 pension being paid to the octogenarian widow of an Indian Army Major who fought in the 1962 and 1965 wars.  'Now-a-days you can't even buy a one kilo of pulses for Rs. 80,' observed the bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice T.S. Thakur while issuing notice to the central government and the army chief.  Even before the widow's counsel B.B. Trikha could present his case, Justice Katju expressed his exasperation saying: 'What all is happening?'  Petitioner Pushpa Vanti is the widow of Major Dharam Chand, who joined the British India Army in 1937 and was promoted as a Junior Commissioned Officer in 1946. He was granted permanent commission in 1948.  The court was told that Major Dharam Chand fought in World War II and in the 1962 and 1965 wars against China and Pakistan. He died March 1, 1967, after which Pushpa Vanti was granted family pension of Rs.80.  Pushpa Vanti pleaded that while the family of Sepoys get more than Rs.150 as family pension, she, a widow of a major with 30 years of service, got a meagre Rs.80.  She described her situation as humiliating. She told the court that earlier army authorities used to acknowledge her communications. But after 1975 even acknowledgment of her representation stopped.  The petitioner made several representations to the army authorities and the defence ministry to hike the family pension under special category but in vain.  Trikha, who argued Pushpa Vanti's case, is her son. Before stepping into the legal profession, he was a pilot in the Indian Air Force (IAF).  According to Trikha, his mother made him join IAF because she was disenchanted with the army because of the humiliation she was subjected to after the death of her husband.  Trikha's larger family has contributed five officers to the Indian Army.

Endless wait for a soldier son
17 09 2010 0 0 i Rate This  Quantcast  Praveen Kumar served the Indian Army from 1997 till 2004 without any black mark, say his distressed parents.  The parents of Praveen Kumar are still waiting for the return of their son, missing since November 2004. To add to their agony, the army has dubbed Praveen a deserter and sent them a letter for the final settlement of accounts  Lakshman Bangera and Pushpa have not seen their soldier son for over six years now. Yet they are hopeful that he will come back one day. They feel cheated by the Indian Army who they say have not done enough to locate their son who has been missing since November 2004. What’s more, the family has received a letter from the army for the final settlement of accounts. This has shocked and pained them.  Speaking to Bangalore Mirror from their residence at Perladka Bondanthila near Vamanjoor in Mangalore, Lakshman Bangera, a tailor, says he still feels that his 31-year-old eldest son Praveen Kumar, a Sapper in the Indian Army, will come back at any moment. He said, “We are hopeful that my son is still alive and has not deserted the army as the army claims. He was a very disciplined child and never complained about any problems while he was in the army. However, now the army has sent us a letter to make a final settlement of accounts,” he said.  Praveen Kumar joined the Indian army (MEG) as a soldier in December 1997. On completion of his training at the MEG Centre, Bangalore, he was posted to Jammu and then to Rajasthan. He served the army from 1997 till 2004 without any black mark, say his parents.  In November 2004, he left home after about a month’s vacation. After that there was no communication from him. Since the family did not have his office telephone number, they waited for six months. Praveen’s brother Pradeep Suvarna then wrote a letter to an army officer in June 2005. As if in response, Praveen called home. Pushpa said, “That was the last time I spoke to my son. He said he was very busy and that his seniors would punish him if he received any calls from home,” she said.  Lakshman Bangera is seen holding a letter from the army dubbing their son a deserter.  Two years passed, and when the family got worried why Praveen was not contacting them, they contacted Praveen, a close relative. On Feb 12, 2007, Praveen wrote a letter to the Commanding Officer, 203 Engr Regiment, inquiring about Praveen’s whereabouts. It was then that the family received a copy of a letter dated March 10, 2007, that was addressed to the Superintendent of Police, stating that Praveen had overstayed his leave effective from Oct 9, 2006.  Subsequently, the family received another letter from Pathankot, Jammu, stating that Praveen had deserted the army.  Lakshman says that they have received only two calls from the army, one from an official and another from a colleague. It was Pushpa who received both the calls. The caller is said to have inquired about Praveen and also informed the family that Praveen was missing from the unit.  It is learnt that he was last seen in Bangalore in May 2007. Lakshman says, “It was a colleague from the army who spotted him in Bangalore. If they had seen him in Bangalore, why was he not handed over to the army or the police?”  Pleas to the President of India, Chief of the Army and the Home Minister have failed to elicit a response.  Final settlement In a letter to Pushpa dated Aug 28, 2010, the army said that Ex Spr Praveen Kumar has deserted service with effect from Oct 9, 2006 and will be dismissed from service with effect from Oct 9, 2016, after a wait of 10 years as is the policy. Praveen’s accounts have been finalised and closed with a credit balance of Rs 29,912 and AFPP fund balance of Rs 49,894. As per policy, the AFPP fund balance can only be paid to the beneficiary when the deserter is dismissed from service.

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