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Sunday, 17 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 17 Jul 2011






Inshore patrol vessel ‘Rani Rashmoni’ launched

Visakhapatnam, July 16 Union Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju launched the fifth Inshore Patrol Vessel (IPV) of the Coast Guard at a function here yesterday.  The launch of the vessel, ‘Rani Rashmoni’, constructed by Hindustan Shipyard, is a significant step in the context of security and maritime needs of the country, he said on the occasion.  The vessel has an overall length of 51.5 metres, breadth 8.36 metres, depth 4.55 metres, loaded displacement of 275 tonnes, and a crew of 35.  Raju said Hindustan Shipyard had been able to overcome its financial crisis after being taken over by the Defence Ministry in 2010. The Defence Ministry had cleared all its overdue and extended financial support for modernisation and investing new technology and training to fill up the gap, making the shipyard one of the best in the country, he said.  Complimenting the shipyard for achieving milestones in production, he said the Ministry of Defence was considering placement of orders with the shipyard for construction of high-value ships and submarines.  Raju said the Indian Navy, Port Trust and Coast Guard had placed orders with the shipyard for its requirements.  He said the shipyard had delivered 164 vessels and repaired over 2,000 ships since its inception in 1941 and was capable of undertaking modernisation and refitting of submarines. — PTI









SC withdraws order on ex-servicemen grievance panel

Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, July 16 Eight months after the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to set up the Armed Forces Grievance Redressal Commission, it has withdrawn the order.  The commission, to be based at Chandigarh, was envisioned to be set up within two months of the order with the mandate to look into service-related problems faced by serving, retired military personnel and their dependents and forward its recommendations to the Centre. In its order, a few days ago, while hearing a petition filed by the widow of an army Major, the apex court observed that the Solicitor-General had submitted that a scheme had been put in place by the government for looking after the welfare of ex-servicemen.  Under the scheme, nodal officers have been posted across the country and there are special schemes that have been introduced for the purposes of medical benefits and re-settlement of ex-servicemen. In view of this, the Bench decided to withdraw its order for establishing the commission.  The commission was to be headed by a former Supreme Court judge and was to comprise of a retired Chief Justice of a high court, two senior retired service officers and a civil servant nominated by the central government as its members.  On November 15, 2010, while taking up a petition filed by Pushpa Vanti, the Bench comprising Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra, had expressed dismay over the plight of veterans whose representations and complaints before the authorities concerned often met no redressal.  Pushpa Vanti, whose husband had fought three wars, was getting only Rs 80 per month as pension. The commission was to independently look into the grievances of service personnel without the government having any say in its functioning, though all civilian and military authorities were directed to extend full cooperation to it.










Paramilitary forces get 67,500 new AK 47 rifles 15,000 guns, 32,500 pistols from Europe on anvil

Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, July 16 The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) are re-arming in a big to meet the emerging internal security challenges emanating from various quarters.  The induction of 67,500 AK 47 rifles, which were ordered by the MHA in September, 2010, is now complete. Though this number is sufficient to equip 67 battalions, these expected to be distributed to some select units and specialist companies in all CAPFs that are actively engaged in counter-terrorist operations and combating left-wing extremism and Naxalites.  The CAPFs comprise among others, the Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security force and the Seema Suraksha Bal. These were earlier commonly referred to as paramilitary forces.  Also on the anvil are about 48,000 modern assault rifles, sub-machineguns and pistols manufactured in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, that will beef up the firepower and combat potential of these forces.  According to available information, the MHA has sanctioned Rs 290 crore for the purchase of these weapons and their ammunition. Some of the types of weapons so being procured are already in service with the CAPFs.  The European weapons being procured include 2,800 Swiss SIG-551, SIG-553 and SIG-556 assault rifles, 700 SIG pistols, 44,500 Glock-17, Glock-19 and Glock-26 pistols from Austria and 12,756 MP-5 sub-machineguns from Germany. Some of the pistols are small and easily concealable under civilian clothes. All the aforementioned weapons are widely used by the special forces and specialist police units the world over for different missions and roles, including VIP protection.  In addition, 385 multi-grenade launchers and ammunition are being procured for the CRPF, the ITBP and the BSF units deployed in the left-wing affected areas. The estimated cost of these weapons is Rs 18 crore. Various types of bullet-proof and mine-protected vehicles, safety equipment and other paraphernalia for counter-terrorist and anti-naxal operations is also being inducted. A number of battalions from the CRPF, BSF and ITBP are actively deployed in such duties.  Induction of contemporary generation weapons notwithstanding, bulk of the over 1.5 million strong CAPFs continue to be equipped with the older generation 7.62 mm self-loading rifle of Belgian origin, the indigenous 5.56 mm INSAS, 9mm Browning pistol and the 9 mm Sterling carbine.







India changes strategy towards Pakistan

DESPITE WEDNESDAY’S serial blasts in Mumbai, India has decided to go ahead with the scheduled foreign minister’s meeting. Welcoming India’s decision, a leading Pakistani daily said that it was a positive sign. Although certain media reports had blamed Pakistan for the attack without evidence, India decided to rise above the blame game and go ahead with the already scheduled foreign ministers’ meeting. Mumbai on July 13 witnessed a series of bomb blasts, the worst since the terrorist attack in 2008. A total of 19 people were killed and 130 others were injured in the attack.  It was Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s statement that highlighted the shift in the country’s policy towards Pakistan. Rao said in a statement that Pakistan had `altered’ its stance on terrorism.  According to the newspaper, terrorism has foiled peace efforts between the two countries several times in the past. It is a positive sign that India has risen above the blame game this time, it added.  The India-Pak relations hit their lowest point after the previous Mumbai attack. It was only after a meeting between Indian PM Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Thimphu, Bhutan, on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit in 2010 that the ties got back to normal.









Will Natgrid provide us infallible security?

THE TERRIBLE triple terrorism attack in Mumbai has again raised demands for increase in counter-terrorism measures. Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Congress General Secretary (PM in waiting) Rahul Gandhi’s declaration that no place in India is safe and there is no perfect protection against terrorism left unpleasant taste in the mouths of all citizens. If we see, a country like North Korea has never faced terrorist attack. The US government has also been able to deliver what it promised its citizens after the 9/11 attack and there have been no significant, successful attacks on their soil in a decade. In case of India, we are still searching for reliable security measures. Each terrorist attack is followed by public outrage, compensations and condolences, promises of tight security etc. and after few months citizens are left to the mercy of God. This cycle continues until next terror strike. Why do we fail to control it again and again?  “India is banana republic, our leaders will never wake up until their relatives get killed in such attacks,’ said an angry college student.  “We Indian are banking on their false promise; it is time to handle our security ourselves. Government must privatize it,” added an engineering executive.  The Natgrid is brainchild of P.Chidambaram, the project is motionless and non-started. Its aim is to link existing databases of individuals, including banking information, land records, Internets logs, phone records, guns record, driving license, property records etc. These databases will be used to evaluate the actions of people and see if they indicate prospects of terrorist activity, its planning or support. It could help to eliminate the risk of terrorist attack on domestic front. But the project is still awaiting approval from Cabinet Committee on Security.  Question arises: will it help to provide us infallible security? First the project is hanging due to private activists as it is based on a faulty principle which raises serious privacy concerns of citizens. The Indian constitution gives rights of privacy; besides, there must be a balance of power between the government and the citizens it serves. This should be solved before the government tries to make it operational. Secondly, police reform is another issue that needs attention. Finally, there is a possibility that some minister or a government agency might use the information to blackmail someone for personal gains. It raises public debate about how they are going to control it?  How the system is going to manage so much of population data, including migrants. Our security system is old and India inherited it from British Raj. It would be best if instead of Natgrid , India forms the US style panel, which has a human intelligence system and efficient sharing of investigative information on controlling attacks.









'Adarsh land was in defence ministry's possession in 2004'

Former city collector Pradeep Vyas on Saturday told the judicial panel probing the Adarsh Housing Society scam that the corrigendum issued by Maharashtra [ Images ] government on the ownership and possession of the land on which the society stands, was "factually incorrect". He also conceded that the land was in defence ministry's possession then, contrary to the corrigendum.  Sushil Kumar [ Images ] Shinde, currently a Union minister, was then the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.  The government, on August 16, 2004, had issued a corrigendum to a Government Resolution of July 9, deleting the words "possession is with the defence department". The GR was regarding the ownership and possession status of the land.  One of the serious allegations in the Adarsh scam is that the government sanctioned construction of building on defence land. "The corrigendum is factually incorrect. I had written a letter to the government on August 10, 2004, saying that defence was in possession of the land but ownership is of the state government. I, however, did not tell the government that the amendment of the GR was wrong," Vyas said.  The former collector, one of the accused in the case registered by the Centra Bureau of Investigation, further said the amendment was carried out at the request of the promoter of Adarsh Society.  "It is true that at the time of the GR, the land was not in the possession of the state government. There was no document of title with the Government of Maharashtra," Vyas said.









Tata Motors in the running for big Indian military contract 

Tata Motors' acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover raised its profile among military customers as well as the world's luxury auto markets. Tata ( TTM , quote ) surprised some analysts by bidding for a contract to develop and sell $10 billion in lightly armored personnel carriers to the Indian army. Some heavyweights in the Indian defense sector are competing for the sale, along with rival car maker Mahindra & Mahindra (thinly traded here as MAHMF , quote ), which has its own military connections. True, Tata is best known for ultra-low-cost cars like the Nano, aimed at entry-level drivers. So a few analysts are dismissing the idea that this company has any serious chance of winning the contract. But remember, Land Rover got its start as an adaptation of British military vehicle designs, and plenty of these durable cars remain in use throughout the world's armies. Markets have focused on the "Jaguar" side of JLR, which Tata bought in early 2008 from Ford Motor ( F , quote ) for barely $2.3 billion. Jaguar's luxury passenger cars are in high demand in China, Europe and other markets. Maybe now is the time that Land Rover served as Tata's ace in the hole on the military side. We will know more when Delhi releases its short list of candidates by the end of the month. Meanwhile, TTM looks like it has momentum behind it, and a win here could add enormous upside for this company, which still only does $20 million in revenue a year:  Read more:









Siachen Glacier: Army strikes healthier postures

Yoga is the latest weapon in the arsenal of the Indian soldiers posted in the forbidding heights of Siachen Glacier—better known as the highest and coldest battleground in the world where guns have been silent since 2003.  It takes more than equipment to conquer those heights, on the other side of which is sitting the Pakistan Army. The life sciences laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are using the ancient wisdom like yoga and contemporary innovation like growing strawberries and vegetables in the otherwise barren Ladakh region to make life better for soldiers in the glacier.  The DRDO’s Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS) lab has devised a yoga regime for the soldiers posted in the region.  At altitudes varying between 10,000-23,000 feet and temperature dipping to -65 degree Celsius, slight physical activity on the part of the soldiers leaves them gasping for breath; a little negligence can either cause sunburn or frostbite. Food goes stone cold as soon as it is taken off the burner, washing your face becomes a luxury and the drinking water smells of kerosene used to melt the snow. The three months on the glacier in a two-year tenure in the Siachen-Saltoro region could be a  real test of one’s physical and psychological mettle.  “At those heights, the physical capacity and the load carrying capacity of the soldiers decrease considerably due to lack of oxygen. Also the body is constantly losing heat to the environment. We have sought to minimise the affect of harsh climate through yoga,” DRDO’s Chief Controller of Research and Development Dr William Selvamurthy elaborates.  The soldiers need to perform certain form of exercise at those heights to accustom their heart and lungs to the low oxygen content in the atmosphere. According to the research conducted by DIPAS, the oxygen demands during yogic exercises are much less compared to other form of conventional physical exercises.  So far, 2,000 army personnel posted at the Ladakh-based 14 Corps have been trained in the yoga, they in turn would impart the knowledge to all soldiers going to the region.  Besides yoga, the DRDO’s plantation drive in the cold-desert of Ladakh has literally started bearing fruit. Due to the efforts of Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), located in Leh and an obscure village of Partapur, the region—completely devoid of rainfall—now boasts of growing strawberries, pears, peaches and watermelons. Today the region produces 13 types of apple due to collaboration of scientists and local farmers.  “We have been working really hard to provide fresh food for the soldiers at Siachen. Now we have the capacity to supply 5,000 metric tonnes of vegetables to the army,” Selvamurthy says. DIHAR is celebrating its diamond jubilee this year.  The initiative is important for the Indian Army, as its soldiers voluntarily give up non-vegetarian food as they start their posting at various camps on Siachen Glacier. They go by the belief that meat and tobacco on the glacier would bring ill-fate for the unit and its members in Siachen, where more than enemy bullet the extreme weather can take you down. And the DIHAR scientists are rightly helping the local population in growing various plants,  making use of economical methods for green-house and trench cultivation.  “DIHAR has made a hybrid cow and buffalo that is capable of giving 18 litres of milk per day,” said the distinguished scientist.  Selvamurthy sums it up: “We have been mandated to increase the lethality, survivability, efficiency and sustainability of our soldiers at that altitude. After all it is the man behind the machine that matters the most.”









‘Mismatch in Indian procurement process & US license regime’

NEW DELHI: Noting that there was a “mismatch” between Indian procurement requirements and the American license regime, the US business chambers has strongly pitched for finding “breakdown” in these procedures and also recommended issuance of a list of “pre-approved” technologies by the US to India. Participating in the 8th meeting of Indo-US High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG), led by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and US Undersecretary of Industry and Commerce Eric Hirschhorn, the companies from India and the US discussed the commercial and business ties.  Presenting recommendations in defense sector, US-India Business Council President Ron Somers said “disappointed over the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) procurement and the fact that our companies felt that the challenge was from our side…..the US government pre-approves technologies that they will be willing to transfer to India.  “We want action to match the rhetoric. The rhetoric is India has arrived, that India is a strategic partner of the United States. Therefore, let’s have a list of all technologies that we are willing to transfer to India, so that our country can engage substantially with India”.  Somers suggested that four case studies – two from each country – should be done to find out the “breakdown” in the procurement process in India and license regime in the US, including missile control regime.  In aviation sector, India would like to harness opportunities in areas of aircraft and aircraft components, air traffic management, aviation safety, security and capacity building.  Underperformance  Earlier, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said at the Opening Plenary India’s high technology ties with the US have underperformed, particularly in commercial sectors, and pitched for promoting cooperation in R&D, design, commercialization and production.  “There is a shared perception that the HTCG has in a sense underperformed and underachieved, especially in commercial sectors.”  “While the focus has been on conventional trade and market access, we must now focus equally on promoting cooperation in research and development, design, commercialization and production,” Rao said.  She said the two sides must not only focus on barriers to trade, but also on commercial opportunities in the broadest sense.  In the defense sector, India would lay emphasis on building national capacity through joint production, joint research and development and transfer of technology, Rao said adding that such collaborations would create the same kind of mutual benefit that we see in other economic sectors.  “Regulatory framework in both countries should evolve in a manner that facilitates trade and expands opportunities for collaboration in defense equipment and services,” she said.  Rao said the two sides should look at innovative models to harness opportunities in aviation sector, aircraft and aircraft components, air traffic management, repairs and maintenance, aviation safety and security and capacity building.  Rao said the best was to make progress in the HTCG was to identify tangible and time bound goals for each sector.  “We are likely to be more successful if we identify one or two key goals each year rather than a wide array of diffused goals and priorities,” she said.  “It is equally important to identify specific activities and national actions that would enable us to achieve the desired outcomes,” Rao said.  Speaking on the occasion, US Undersecretary of Industry and Commerce Eric Hirschhorn said that India and the US must continue efforts to eliminate policies that discourage research and innovation.  “We must find new ways to breakdown tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade that stifle cooperation,” he said.  US export controls affect less than one per cent of trade with India, Hirschhorn said adding that US authorities have approved 400 export licenses for controlled technologies and 99 per cent of applications had got permissions.








Problems and prospects in Afghanistan endgame

According to populist wisdom (its leading proponent is Imran Khan), if America were to quit Afghanistan right away, Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s problems of terrorism would simply melt away. But that is not the GHQ’s view, even though it has never formally said as much, because it doesn’t want to be perceived as supporting America in Afghanistan in any way. Only Gen Pervez Musharraf is on record as saying that a quick and unplanned American exit from Afghanistan “would be a disaster” because it would lead to civil war, anarchy and disintegration of Afghanistan, with hugely destabilising blowback consequences for Pakistan.  Ahmad Mukhtar, the defence minister, has referred rather unthinkingly to a related dimension of the problem. Speaking about the recent US suspension of $800 million in military aid to Pakistan, he warned that if American money to fight the terrorists was not forthcoming, Pakistan would be obliged to withdraw its army from the western border with Afghanistan (147,000 troops, 900 border posts), and let Nato/ISAF suffer the consequences of cross-border attacks from Al-Qaeda/Taliban networks safely havened in Fata. It didn’t occur to him that the Pakistani army is stationed on the border partly to discourage American boots-on-ground incursions into Fata and partly to block the same Taliban-Al/Qaeda network in Afghanistan and Pakistan from establishing a long-term base area in the northern and eastern regions along both sides of the Durand Line as a launch pad for seizing Pakistani territory.  Rather more disturbing are serious analyses that argue that if American money is not forthcoming, the Pakistani military might get “upset” and not help America, perhaps even going so far as to “initiate peace deals with the militants,” the implication being that “the Taliban terrorists will then take a heavier toll of American lives in Afghanistan.” This is a patently ridiculous and dangerous line of thinking. First, the peace-deal phenomenon of earlier times was between the Pakistani military-political administrations and the Pakistani Taliban, and not between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistanis. Second, it was proven to be a disastrous policy when it simply enabled the Pakistani Taliban to seize more Pakistani space and become stronger over time, instead of abandoning their aggressive designs against Pakistan. Third, as Saleem Shahzad’s book makes clear, it is precisely the link between Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban that is a current problem for America and a potentially graver one for Pakistan in the future. So any Pakistani “peace deals” with the Afghan Taliban are likely to prove even more destabilising and dangerous for Pakistan than the defunct ones with the Pakistani Taliban. Incidentally, the Pakistani military’s existing covert peace deals with the Haqqani network and various Mullahs in Waziristan (Pakistani assets) are already the core straining issue between Washington and Islamabad, and the last thing that we should be threatening to enlarge and strengthen!  Thankfully, the ISPR has set the record straight. “The Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan have become sanctuaries and launching pads for attacks on Pakistan by a host of terrorist groups and their leaders,” says Maj-Gen Athar Abbas. He ticked off Nato-ISAF for abandoning their military posts in these border Afghan regions and emboldening them to attack Pakistan’s Lower Dir regions. Imagine if the Americans were to flee Afghanistan without a plausible stabilising endgame, Kabul would fall to Al-Qaeda overnight and the terrorist network would overwhelm into Pakistan like a tsunami.  Therefore, if America’s endgame in Afghanistan is problematic for many reasons, Pakistan’s input is no more credible. The US is caught in the matrix of President Obama’s short-term domestic political goals and the Pentagon’s long-term and ambitious international outreach. Pakistan too cannot escape the grip of its own defence ministry which stubbornly insists on exclusively defining both national security and national interest in the context of a defunct notion of Pakistani nationalism and misplaced obsession with India. Consider.  The fact is that the military strategists of America who want to “save” Afghanistan from their Al-Qaeda enemy and the military establishment of Pakistan which wants to “secure” Afghanistan for its Taliban “assets,” have both got it tragically wrong. If they insist on having it their exclusive way, they will lose both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Consider.  America’s strategy in the run-up to the Afghan endgame is inconsistent and contradictory. Ten years after 9/11, with $1 trillion down the drain, Afghan “nationhood” is out, counterinsurgency is being substituted with counterterrorism, troop surges with troop draw-downs, and not all good Taliban are dead ones. So key Taliban leaders have to be targeted by drones in order to soften up their resistance and make them amenable to a US-sponsored power-sharing arrangement in Kabul. But this strategic direction-change is tripping up for two reasons.  First, the post-2014 “Base-Afghanistan” envisioned by Washington is critically based on two factors which are eroding faster than they are being consolidated. The first is the failure to build a reliable Afghan National Army that can do America’s bidding—Taliban infiltration has made it an unreliable future adjunct. The second is America’s inability to create a viable puppet regime of strongmen that can capture space and sustain stability00as testified by the assassination of the police head of Northern Afghanistan, Gen Dawood Dawood, two months ago, and that of Hamid Karzai’s powerful, alliance-building brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, last week, followed by the abortive attempt on the life of Home Minister Bismillah Mohammadi the same day. America’s man in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, has never been more vulnerable than he is now.  The second is a continuing American failure to persuade Pakistan’s defence establishment to help knock out the core Al-Qaeda/Taliban troublemakers in Fata. A carrot-and-stick policy that is based on “peanuts-for-aid” for Pakistan (compared to $200 billion spent in Afghanistan) and that ignores or denies Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns (the need for a stable if not fully “friendly” Afghanistan on its western border in post-America Afghanistan) will not work. American unaccountability and unilateralism has also fuelled anti-Americanism in Pakistan.  Pakistan’s strategy of continuing to obsess about India and making it an element of the future Afghan matrix on the basis of its Taliban “assets” is also coming a cropper. These Taliban “assets” were problematic even during Mulla Umar’s reign from 1996 to 2001 when they refused to recognise the Durand Line as the international border with Pakistan, refused to kick out radical Islamic sectarian elements belonging to the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and refused to break relations with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, even though they were plotting against both America and Pakistan. These same Afghan Taliban “assets” have since networked with Al-Qaeda in Fata to give birth to and sustain the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan which has exacted a toll of 35,000 Pakistan civilians and over 3,000 Pakistani soldiers in the last two years.  The real aim of the Al-Qaeda/Taliban network is to infiltrate the Pakistani state, pit it into conflict with India (new Mumbais), erode the army’s fighting capacity by de-motivating its rank and file, seize control of its nuclear weapons and transform its territory as a base area for a world Islamic revolution. On the basis of Mullah Umar’s past record, the Haqqani network’s current liaison with Al-Qaeda, and Al-Qaeda’s future ambitions, the Pakistani military’s rigid protection of such assets is souring its longer-term “strategic” relationship with the international community, America in particular. This is something it can ill-afford, given its military, trade and aid dependency on the West.  Pakistan and America should put their interests and concerns squarely on the table, conduct joint operations and abstain from airing their political differences or applying countervailing pressures through the media. America’s carrot-and-stick policy won’t yield dividends with Pakistan just as Pakistan’s “double-game” breaches the trust redline. Washington’s plans for Afghanistan must not exclude Mulla Umar and the Haqqani network, just as Islamabad’s plans must not be exclusively based on them. In fact, America and Pakistan must not stake their all on their perception of their interests in the end-game in Afghanistan, because its final outcome holds no great guarantees for either of them.








No special activity on Indo-Pak border post blasts: Indian Army

Bbcnewsupdate:Indian Army said that there was no unusual activity seen along the Indo-Pak border after the three Mumbai blasts.  Commander of 16 Corps, Lt Gen J P Nehra told reporters on saturday  at Nagora-base headquarters, 17 kms from Jammu that “On the pakistan side border there is no unusual activity seen after Mumbai blasts”.  His statement came two days after the blasts ripped through the country’s financial capital of the Inida.  In the three  at Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar left 19 dead and more than 130 people injured.  Gen Nehra told reporters that “We are alert. If any thing (misadventure) was done by enemies on our border, they will get a befitting reply” .  “Investigation agencies are doing their work, when the results would emerge, you all will know,” Corps commander said.








Illegal Arms Trade of Indian Army

Although high-ranking officers of the Indian Army like Chief of Army Staff, Gen. V.K. Singh, Lt. Gen. Surendra Kumar Sahni, Lt. Gen. S.K. Dahiya, Maj-Gen. Anand Swaroop, Maj-Gen SP Sinha, Maj-Gen. Anand Kapoor, Maj-Gen. Gur Iqbal Singh Multani, Brig. Guredeep Singh including a number of low-ranking officials were found involved in corruption of various forms such as irregularities in procuring meat and dry rations for the troops, stationed at Siachen, unauthorised construction of a golf club building at Ambala cantonment, possessing disproportionate assets, smuggling of large quantities of defence liquor etc., yet involvement of the 27 officers of the Indian Army in illegally selling of arms and weapons is most surprising.  In this regard, on July 7 this year, even Indian media disclosed this new mal-practice of Indian Army officials. Army sources of India admitted that the officers, mostly lieutenant colonels and colonels, had faced a court of inquiry following a public suit filed in the Rajasthan High Court by an advocate who said that the officers were selling their private weapons to people of dubious character.       In this respect, The Economic Times revealed on July 7, 2011, “the weapons were bought by these army officers from the Central Ordnance Depot of Jabalpur and later sold to civilians in violation of the Arms Act, the petition had contended. The Supreme Court is presently hearing the case.”  Sources also suggest that disciplinary action has been initiated against these army officers after the court of inquiry indicted them, and further course of action in the matter, “be it court martial or otherwise would be decided after legal vetting.”  It is not the new practice of Indian Army officers’ illegal involvement in arms sale. In this connection, in 2005, an army inquiry had found misuse of the privileges, given to service personnel to purchase private weapons. Indian Army officers including a few seniors had similarly bought weapons from private suppliers, when they were on a posting in Bhutan as part of the Indian military training team there. In that case, after probe, the army court of inquiry had indicted 25 officers who were punished, but did not face a court martial.  However, despite various investigations and punishments, illegal arms trade of Indian Army officials have continued. In this context, some cases of unauthorised weapon’s sale by the army officials either remained undetected or were deliberately not disclosed by the Indian high-ranking military officers in order to save the image of the Army. Only those cases were admitted, which had already been disclosed by the media—or came to surface as some source indicated the same with solid evidence.       In this context, in October, 2010, The news of Indian army scandal pointed out that 72 officers including a serving Colonel and three Lieutenant Colonels were found involved in an illegal arms selling racket on sensitive international borders.  The Indian officers serving in border districts of Rajasthan and in the Indian Army Training Team (IMTRAT) at Bhutan were found involved in an illegal arms selling racket. The 72 named officers sold both prohibited and non-prohibited bore to dealers and private persons by violating the Army Act and Customs Act.  While describing as very serious matter—the involvement of Indian army officers in illegal sale of arms, The Supreme Court of India had questioned as to what the Ministry of Defence and the army commanders were avoiding to file a proper affidavit in the matter. The Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar remarked, “it is wondered whether the weapons had landed in the hands of dacoits,” adding, “the weapons could well be used in acts of terrorism.”  The Supreme Court said that the affidavit by the centre was entirety eyewash as it had not mentioned the names of any senior officers of the rank of Brigadier and Major General, who were part of the illegal arms selling racket.  While raising objection in the affidavit, the bench also remarked that it was mentioned that 40 officers sold their weapons, but it was also stated that only four top-ranking officials were involved in the racket of illegal weapons’ selling. The court took serious notice, saying, as to why a junior officer of the rank of Captain submitted the affidavit, showing the non seriousness of the Indian Army in the highly sensitive case. It emphasised that there was a need to maintain some decorum and that some higher authority should have filed the affidavit.  Additional Solicitor General, Vivek Tankha also explained the issue as very serious one, and his remarks lodged a strong protest from a high official who was compelled to say that he had raised the question of national security, while the government filed an affidavit through a junior army officer. At this point, the bench questioned as to how an army officer can file an affidavit on behalf of the Ministry of Defence? We cannot go by this affidavit.      Various sources suggested that the affidavit filed by the Indian Defence Ministry had stated that four top-ranking officers of the Indian army obtained weapons, supplied to their colleagues, but illegally sold to gun houses, arms dealers and even to civilians. And 40 other officers sold their own weapons and 25 others were found in possession of ammunition in excess to their privilege.  On December, 2010, a case of 41 officers, one JCO and 4 retired officers of the Indian Army relating to sale of Non Standard Pattern (NSP) weapons came to surface. They were found to have sold the NSP weapons without taking sanction of the competent authority. In that respect, court of inquiry investigated into the case and identified six arms dealers who bought the illegal arms from the army personnel.  Besides, some other developments also show that despite tight security and preventive measures, it is very easy for the Indian Army officers to steal arms and ammunition from Indian depot. For example, on April 6, 2008 in the house of Bajrang Dal fundamentalists in Nanded, a bomb went off. The investigations proved that the militants belonging to the Bajrang Dal were found in the bomb-making and attack on a mosque in Parbhani in 2003. Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra arrested a serving Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit along with other army officials, indicating that they were helping in training the Hindu terrorists, providing them with the military-grade explosive RDX, used in the Malegaon bombings and terrorist attacks in other Indian cities. ATS further disclosed that Lt. Col. Purohit confessed that in 2007, he was involved in bombing of Samjhota express, which brunt alive 69 Pakistanis.  India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) is now convinced that besides Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit, other Indian army officials and a Hindu right-wing leader Swami Aseemanand were directly involved in the Samjhota Express blast. In this regard, a court in Panchkula, Haryana has recorded Aseemanand’s statement in the blast case before a magistrate. His earlier confession was recorded in the Mecca Masjid case, which is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).  It is interestingly notable that Dr. J C Batra, who is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, was asked to give opinion on Aseemanand’s confession. He appeared very defensive and stated that Swami’s statement does not have much legal value as circumstantial evidence is also needed, while adding that RSS is being wrongly implicated. And without naming Indian Army officers, he also stated that there could be others involved who are not being exposed. In this context, a Pakistani parliamentarian, Mian Abdul Sattar, parliamentary secretary for planning and development, who was accompanying him, later said that he was told by JC Batra that the Indian Army was involved in this case and there “are efforts to shield it from getting exposed”. Nevertheless, Leaders of the Indian extremist parties, Shiv Sena, BJP, VHP and RSS are now pressurising the Congress regime to release the culprits.  Nonetheless, mostly, we see some odd cases of corruption in the Indian armed forces which include lower-ranking officials, but involvement of the senior ranked army officers in various mal-practices is a matter of concern for the whole Army. It is due to this fact that over the years, the confidence of the soldiers over their military leadership has been dwindling.  But, in the present case, 27 officers have been facing charges for illegal sale of weapons procured from Indian ordnance factories. On the whole, one can conclude that it proves illegal arms trade of the Indian Army.  Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.




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