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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

From Today's Papers - 18 Jan 2011

Reducing forces in J&K It should be done with utmost caution  IN view of the considerable decline in infiltration attempts from across the border, the Union government has been seriously thinking of reducing the strength of the security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir for some time. Now it has finally made up its mind to withdraw at least 25 per cent of the paramilitary forces within this year as a confidence-building measure. The step will be a part of the eight-point agenda approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in September last year with a view to normalising the situation in the trouble-torn state, as stated by Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai last week. The agenda was finalised after looking into the demands of different sections of society, including the ruling and opposition politicians in J and K. There have also been complaints that youngsters feel provoked to defy the law when they see pickets of security forces in populated areas.  Viewed against this backdrop, even a limited redeployment of forces in the Valley may lead to a noticeable change in the over-all security climate there. The measure may also send across the message that the situation is becoming normal, boosting the morale of the people. The separatists, who have welcomed the Union Home Secretary’s announcement, should do nothing which can force the government to review its decision. The security forces were deployed on a large scale owing to the proxy war launched by Pakistan. The separatists and terrorist outfits were helping Pakistan in implementing its unholy designs. However, the situation seems to have changed for good because of various factors, including the growing international pressure on Pakistan to abandon its policy of using terror to achieve its geo-political objectives.  The Central government is going ahead with various other confidence-building measures also like providing more facilities for people-to-people contacts and promoting trade between the two sides of Kashmir. Efforts are afoot to ensure that more employment avenues are available to the people in the state. But there is need to keep strict vigil on the situation. Complacency on the security front may be exploited by terrorists and their sympathisers. It is not without reason that Army Chief Gen V.K. Singh has expressed his unwillingness about reducing the deployment of the armed forces in the Valley.
Changing scene in Kashmir It’s right time for negotiations by T.V. Rajeswar    THE recent speech of a senior Hurriyat leader, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhatt, at a seminar organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) on the role of intellectuals in the separatist movement has come as a breath of fresh air in the murky atmosphere in the Valley.  Professor Bhatt said they should stop living in a state of denial and blame game and instead face the truth. The Mirwaiz senior, Moulvi Mohammad Farooq, and Abdul Ghani Lone, killed in 1990 and 2002, were not gunned down by Indian security forces. They were victims of mutual rivalry and done to death by their own people. The Kashmir movement, in his opinion, had been hurt badly by the assassination of thinkers and people who held an opinion. Professor Bhatt was quite blunt when he said that those associated with the separatist movement in Kashmir should first accept the reality and speak the truth.No one can build a movement on lies.  He went on to say that India did not kill either Moulvi Farooq or Lone, and obliquely hinted at Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the self-proclaimed Hurriyat hawk, consistently speaking in favour of Pakistan.  Professor Bhatt expressed the view that the policy of hartal and martyrdom only damaged the Kashmir cause. A hartal had been on for five months and stone throwing became a persistent way of attacking the security forces in which 102 people died. The Hurriyat leader asked what the people gained at the end of all these deaths and long hartals.  Unity among the Hurriyat factions was elusive particularly since Syed Ali Shah Geelani only wanted dominance over every other faction.  Professor Bhatt particularly criticised Mr Geelani’s insistence on his hardline policies and for rejecting a dialogue with the Centre. If his speech indicates that the Hurriyat should unitedly opt for discussions with Central representatives leading to an eventual settlement, it denotes a remarkable step forward towards the solution of the Kashmir problem. Moulvi Farooq had contested elections in alliance with the National Conference in 1982. Sheikh Abdullah was the then President of the National Conference, and this organisation and Moulvi Farooq’s party won most of the seats in the Valley.  The Centre’s interlocutors, now in Kashmir, will no doubt take note of Professor Bhatt’s speech and pursue the matter further.  Professor Bhatt’s meaningful speech at the seminar has indicated that the thinking sections in Kashmir want to have a dialogue with the Centre leading to a settlement. A number of agitating groups had spoken in terms of “Azadi”, but, as the interlocutors have pointed out, it has a different meaning for different people.  It could well be interpreted as freedom of action and freedom of choice.  At the end of the day, it would hopefully crystallise towards a settlement over the quantum of autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir.  On the quantum of autonomy that J&K may be granted, there are several milestones. These are Article 370 of the Constitution, the Instrument of Accession, the 1974 Accord between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah, etc.  As the Delhi Agreement of 1952 had it, the Union Government agreed that J&K should have its own flag in addition to the Union flag, but the Union flag would have the same status and position in J&K as in the rest of India. The Governor, who was known as Sadar-i-Riyasat, was to be elected by the state legislature, but he had to be recognised by the President of India before his installation as such and he would hold office during the pleasure of the President. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India over J&K was agreed to.   The 1974 Accord between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah was a major step forward, and it led to the Sheikh becoming the Chief Minister of J&K. However, the accord left three issues undecided: the method of appointment of Governor, the nomenclature of Governor and Chief Minister, and the jurisdiction of the Election Commission of India extending to Kashmir.  BJP leader Arun Jaitley has stated that he has learnt from reliable sources that the Government of India’s interlocutors on Kashmir are likely to recommend the acceptance of these provisions while recommending the contours of autonomy for J&K.  With the turbulent history of the constitutional provisions governing the relationship between the Government of India and the Government of J&K, any suggestion to reopen these issues and consider the possibility of conceding the question of Governor and Chief Minister would be regressive. The PDP in particular appears to have made these demands, but it is only hoped that the interlocutors would carefully weigh these issues while making their recommendations.  Meanwhile, the interlocutors have sent an interim report in which recommendations have been made for providing incentives for students, and also consider representation in the government for Muslim Gujjars and Bakerwals.  They have suggested strengthening of the monitoring mechanism to deal with human rights violations in the state through the State Human Rights Commission and the Accountability Commission.  Another important recommendation made by the interlocutors is to demarcate specific areas where peaceful protests can be staged against the government — somewhat along the lines of the Hyde Park in London or Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The Union Home Ministry has indicated that action has been initiated on many of these recommendations. Implementation of the recommendations such as jobs for the unemployed in Kashmir would go a long way in ensuring a peaceful atmosphere.  The Prime Minister had constituted working groups in 2005 and 2009 for speeding up development in J&K, including industrialisation and the creation of jobs for the Kashmiri people. Demarcation of specific areas where the local people could demonstrate without fear would also be a positive step towards normalisation. While a large number of youths in detention have been released, it is not clear whether any compensation has been paid by the J&K Government to the families of those young men who lost their lives in the Valley during the confrontation between the security forces and the agitators.  The J&K Government has also removed a large number of bunkers manned by the security forces dotting Srinagar and other towns in the Valley.  Inevitably, the final report of the interlocutors is the next stage.  Hopefully, it will be followed by a high-level discussion between Cabinet ministers like Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr A.K. Antony and Mr P. Chidambaram, and Kashmiri leaders, including representatives of the National Conference, the PDP, the Hurriyat and others. The main aspirations of the people of Kashmir would be known by then.  Fortunately, peace has been prevailing in the Valley for a few weeks, providing an atmosphere conducing to negotiations. There are also reports that a large number of Kashmiri youngsters are queuing up for recruitment in the security forces, and this is indeed a positive sign.
Probe to find if missing files hit IAF deal  Tribune News Service  New Delhi, January 17 A high-level probe has been initiated by the Ministry of Defence to find out whether mishandling of a sensitive file could have vitiated a proposed $ 11 billion fighter aircraft deal for the IAF. Sources termed the Defence Ministry probe as “comprehensive” and will be conducted by an additional secretary-rank official. He is expected to submit his findings to the Defence minister AK Antony by the month-end, sources said today. The defence ministry will ask all the stakeholders in the case to prove that the deal was not affected in any way by the loss of the secret file, which was recovered from a roadside in South Delhi. Meanwhile, an Indian Air Force probe into the missing file case has reportedly given a clean chit to its officials. The file was found on the roadside here. It created a stir as it pertained to the $ 11 billion deal to procure 126 fighters for the IAF.  The Court of Inquiry (CoI) report into the incident, submitted to the Defence Ministry today, is believed to have given a clean chit to the IAF officials.  The file related to the offsets proposal for the fighter jets that fall in the category of Medium-Multi-role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA).  The deal is at a critical stage as the IAF has submitted its final report after carrying out extensive field trials. Six global companies are in the race. Two US companies, three European companies and one Russian firm are competing.
NEW BORN INDIAN SOLDIERS Posted on January 17th, 2011 ALI SUKHANVER   Every year on 15 January, the Indian Army celebrates Army Day to commemorate the appointment of Lt Gen (later Field Marshal) KM Kariappa as Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in place of Sir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander in 1949.  Since then it has been a tradition to present the gallantry and distinguished service awards to the deserving soldiers on this day.    The awards are presented by the Army Commanders in each of the Commands of the Indian Army. Even this year the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen K.T Parnaik, presented 57 Sena Medals and five Vishisht Seva Medals to the awardees for their out standing performance in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command’s Appreciation Cards were also presented to twenty two units from different arms and services which excelled in their respective operational duties in last one year.  President, Family Welfare Organization of Northern Command, Mrs. Anagha Parnaik also interacted with the families of brave soldiers and encouraged them to continue their unstinted support to their spouses in performance of their duty.   The Northern Command of the Indian army is based in Udhampur and consists of three Corps, the XIV, XV, and XVI. All units are deployed along the Line of Control in Kashmir with the exceptions of the 39th Infantry Division, and the 2nd, 3rd, and 16th Independent Armored Brigades. Although the government of India is doing its best to uplift the image of The Northern Command using all possible means yet things are going upside down despite all these efforts. For the last many years there were reports of rising suicides and of random shootouts on colleagues among the soldiers of the Northern Command.  The situation had become a grave challenge for the hi-ups of the Indian Army. To sort out the solution to this problem the army leadership formulated a board of different consultants and analysts in 2009. After a very careful research, the board released a report which pointed out that Indian soldiers deployed in the valley were committing suicides and killing their own colleagues out of acute frustration and depression.  The report said that majority of the soldiers deployed in the valley were married and were away from their wives for very long periods, they were in the grip of sexual frustrations which ultimately transformed into mental frustration. For a long term solution of this problem with the consultation of RAW, a battalion of female sex workers was recruited from far flung areas of the country and posted as Border Guards in the occupied Kashmir by Indian army in September 2009.  The only objective of this recruitment was to provide the opportunities of having sexual satisfaction to the soldiers in the area who were constantly in a state of sexual frustrations. Unfortunately the ‘hungry’ soldiers got so excited by this facility that they ignored all precautionary measures while enjoying the sweet company of these newly inducted ‘delicacies’. By the mid of 2010, the Indian Army hi-ups got them in a state of shock when they were reported that at least 63 out of the total 178 female soldiers posted under Northern Command were suffering from very serious type of sex related diseases.  It was also reported that most of them were pregnant due to unsafe sexual activities. Though the situation was very much painful and insulting for the whole of the Indian army but some of the ruthless analysts were happy over the situation thinking that the army would get a bulk of new born soldiers in case the pregnancies are carried on. They said that the new born soldiers would surely lend a more helping hand to their fathers and mothers in crushing the freedom movement in Indian held Kashmir.   Unfortunately no one has yet suggested that such new born soldiers must also be remembered on the 15th January of every year during the celebrations of Army Day in India and presented with awards and prizes.   Be it the Eastern Command or the Northern Command, it is almost next to impossible for any one to crush the freedom movement in Indian Occupied Kashmir by use of force. The brutal military actions of Indian forces in the valley are simply adding salt to injuries.  Particularly the young Kashmiris are more reactionary and more resolute regarding their undeniable right of self-determination. They demand for grant of basic democratic rights to Kashmiris under UN resolutions and nothing else. Unless their right of self-determination is not realized, the situation in the Indian held Kashmir would keep on getting more painful and more pathetic.  A fact finding team to Kashmir has exposed that since June 2010, 111 deaths have been registered in Indian held Kashmir (IHK) including a large number of students of 8-25 years of age. According to Kashmir Media Service 93,505 deaths including custodial killings occurred from 1989 to October 2010 at the hands of security forces in IHK. Since June 2010, over a hundred protesters have been killed and hundreds more have been arrested in clashes with Indian forces. At present the innocent Kashmiries are passing through the ever-worst phase of their life but the International community has done nothing so far for them.  The scenic paradise of the Indian Occupied Kashmir is once again blazing with flames of fright and terror. Countless innocent Kashmiries have yet been injured and so many deprived of their lives. Schools, markets, offices, mosques and even the small mud-houses are presenting picture of a wasteland. Continuous curfew, non-stop strikes and much more; what must the helpless Kashmiris do in such a pitiful situation when their self-imposed caretakers are busy in showering prizes and awards of honour upon those who are raping their women , burning their houses and slaughtering their children.
Indian Army to be lethal, agile force with two-front war capability The Indian Army Friday said it was going through a transformation to emerge as a 'lethal, agile and networked' force capable of meeting challenges on both the western and eastern fronts with Pakistan and China.  Army Chief General V.K. Singh said it was planning new acquisitions and reforms in its command and control structure that would ensure it 'plugs the gaps' in its operational capability and at the same time be able to take 'quicker, effective decisions' to be responsive to situations.  For that purpose, the army was now thinking aloud on integrating its 'strategic force elements' into a single command, under which its offensive Strike Corps are placed, apart from restructuring its formation headquarters, including the army headquarters.  'The aim of the transformation is to become a more agile, lethal and networked force capable of meeting future challenges. The shift in focus is from being a threat-based force to a capability-based force with effective operational preparedness,' Singh said.  'The capability to fight in both plains and mountains is not country-specific. We are capable of facing any threats on our borders. How we do it is our problem. We will ensure - wherever the threat is, be it on one or two fronts - we will be able to meet the threats,' he said.  On the plans to create a separate strategic command, Singh said the army was trying out a lot of ideas, particularly to bring its strategic capability and assets under one command, but a decision on its headquarters and timing would be decided after a debate.  He clarified that this plan was army specific and had nothing to do with the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) or taking away its assets. SFC, a tri-service command, was set up early this century to handle India's strategic assets including its nuclear arsenal.  Under the transformation plans, Singh said the army was looking at reorganisation and restructuring of its headquarters to 'flatten' the organisation to ensure there was synergy in all of its future theatre battle plans, to enhance optimum operational capability to meet threats, practical training, achieving network centricity, and addressing tri-service jointness.'  That apart, the army would like to ensure all its finances for technological advancements and procurements are used up within the time lines every year and adequately.  For the purpose of effecting this transformation, the army was setting up 'test beds' this year.  Singh said the army intended to induct new artillery guns - four types of artillery guns are being looked at - within this year. The army has already placed orders for about 145 M777 ultralight howitzers from the US last year.  The army also intended to strengthen its air defence through procurements and to ensure its tanks are not night blind by installing devices. It also plans further procurement of deep strike capability weapons such as Pinaka rockets and BrahMos cruise missiles.  To augment its air wing, the army will procure more rotary wing assets, both transport and attack helicopters, and upgrade the existing fleet of Chetaks and Cheetahs.  On the issue of weapons and equipment being obsolete, Singh said at any point of time, any force globally, had 30 per cent modern systems, 40 percent current technology and 30 percent in some stage of obsolescence.  On the possibility of renewing military exchanges with China, Singh said since it was a diplomacy issue, he would leave it to External Affairs Ministry to take a decision.

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