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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 09 Aug 2011

Navy War Room leak case: Indian jails bad, Shankaran tells UK court  
New Delhi:  In what can turn out to be a major setback for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Ravi Shankaran, one of the main accused in the infamous Naval War Room leak case, is looking for a legal route to escape extradition.  Shankaran, who is currently in a UK jail, has told a British court that Indian jail conditions are too poor.  He has used the same argument as Purulia arms drop case accused Kim Davy. A Danish court had refused to extradite Kim Davy to India citing poor prison conditions.  Shankaran allegedly sold classified info to companies bidding for naval contracts. He had fled India, but was arrested in the UK in May last year.  

Embarrassment for Army, police: Man killed in Poonch encounter not a militant  
Jammu:  In what could be a major embarrassment for the police and Army, it now turns out that one of the so-called 'Lashkar militants' killed in an encounter less than 24 hours ago, was not really a militant but a civilian resident of Poonch.  Army sources now say that their whole operation was based on an input from two men - one from the Special Operation Group of the police and the other from the Army. Based on their information, the Army launched the operation and killed him.  Both the men have been arrested. During their interrogation, the two men said they found the mentally disturbed man roaming in a market in Rajouri; they took him along and conducted the fake encounter to earn favours from seniors.  Independent inquires have been ordered by the police and the Army into the incident.  Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has, meanwhile, strongly condemned the killing of the civilian saying the guilty should be arrested. He also said that the Army and the police were misled. (Watch)  

Army encounter in Jammu fake?
he top Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ] militant commander claimed to be have been killed by the army and police in a joint operation on Sunday in Jammu region turned out to be a mentally challenged civilian.
In a major embarrassment for the security forces, the slain person has been identified as a local Hindu villager, who was mentally challenged.  The security forces had on Sunday claimed to have gunned down a top commander of the LeT outfit along with another militant in Hari forests near Surankote. However, the security forces had recovered only one body from the encounter site and identified him as Abu Usman, divisional commander of the LeT outfit.  A senior police officer said, "A soldier of the Territorial Army and special police officer of the police had supplied wrong information to us, on the basis of which it was claimed that a top militant commander has been killed in the encounter."  He the TA jawan and the SPO have been detained and a case has been registered in the local police station in Surankote. This is a major gaffe coming close on the heels of the custodial death of a 27-year-old youth in north Kashmir [ Images ] Sopore town last week.   The special investigating team has already arrested two policemen and produced them before a court in Sopore town which has remanded both to police custody for five days.  There have been repeated protests at many places in the Valley since 30th July over the youth's death in custody.

Suicides remain a big killer in armed forces; toll already over 70 this year
NEW DELHI: Indian armed forces continue to haemorrhage, and badly at that, even without going to war. Army, Navy and IAF together are losing well over 500 men every year, with counter-terrorism, road accidents and suicides being the main killers.  While the yearly tolls due to terrorism and road accidents have been brought somewhat under control over the last few years, though they are still unacceptably high, stress-related deaths or suicides continue to hover around the 130-140 mark.  Latest figures, provided to Parliament by defence minister A K Antony on Monday, show that over 70 soldiers have already committed suicide this year. Since 2005, around 780 people have taken the extreme step of ending their lives in the highly-disciplined environs of the armed forces.  While the figure for suicides stood at 142 in 2007, it climbed to 150 in 2008. It dipped to 111 in 2009, before climbing up again to 130 last year. "Fragging" or to kill a fellow soldier or superior, too, also continues to account for a few deaths every year.  All this shows that the much-touted measures put in place by the defence ministry, with Antony himself taking personal interest, to curb stress-related deaths are not working too well.  Senior officials contend that while prolonged deployment in counter-insurgency operations in J&K and North-East do tell on the physical endurance and mental health of soldiers, the main reasons for the high suicide rate are "domestic, family and financial problems".  "Posted far away from their native places, jawans come under tremendous stress for their inability to take care of the problems facing their families back home, be it property disputes, financial, marital or otherwise," said an official.  Antony, in fact, has repeatedly written to all chief ministers to make state civil administrations more responsive to grievances of serving soldiers and their families, who mostly come from rural areas.  The Army, in turn, contends the suicide rate is "much higher" in the armed forces of developed countries. "The suicide rate in the Indian Army was 6.7 per lakh in 2009, lower than the national average of 11 per lakh. The suicide rate in armies of France, US and Britain was 19, 17 and 14 per lakh, respectively," said a senior officer.  MoD, on its part, has taken several steps which range from appointment of psychological counsellors and augmentation of psychiatric centres in J&K and North-East to grant of liberal leave to jawans and yoga training.  Something also has to be done about the erosion in the quality of leadership in the forces. A study by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research, in fact, held that "perceived humiliation and harassment, over and above occupational and familial causes", at the hands of their superiors often serves as the final "trigger" in stress-related cases in the armed forces.

Defence diary
Pune Parents of new recruits interact with officers  Parents of 150 out of a total 450 new recruits at the Southern Command intreracted with the officers of the headquarters recruiting zone on Rajendra Sinhji Marg on Friday. Curious parents of the new recruits from five districts of Latur, Pune, Nagar, Usmanabad and Beed gathered at the recruiting zone in the Southern Command for a breakfast followed by an informal interaction with the officers. The officers briefed the parents about the advantages, pride and benefits of being a part of the Indian Army. "The whole idea has been to create awareness amongst people and to reach out to the remotest places in the country. Their sons have joined the Army and now they have an idea about what it means to be a soldier. Now, they will go back to their villages and urge people to join the Army," said Col Bharat Dabral, director recruiting, recruiting office (HQ), Headquarters Recruiting Zone, Pune. The recruits are an outcome of the rallies that took place at the five locations between March 29 to April 13. 21-year-old Krishna Honde is only the third person in his village to join the Indian Army. "He failed thrice before making it into the Army this time. He has always been wanting to join the Indian Army and I am proud of him," said Popat Honde, Krishna's father. the recruits would be sent for training at various centres across the country for training on September 2.  PIB for TA for Southern Command conducted  Preliminary Interview Board (PIB) of the Territorial Army (TA) commission exam for Southern Command was conducted at August 7 at the Army Public School in the city under the aegis of TA Group HQ, Southern Command. For the first time, the PIB was held at three locations Pune, Jaipur and Bangalore to make it easy for candidates from southern states, Rajasthan and Maharashtra- Gujrath and Goa to appear for the written test. In the two- hour test that started at 10 am, the Pune centre witnessed 209 candidates taking the exam followed by 154 at Bangalore and 152 at Jaipur. Colonel B S Bali, Commanding Officer, 122 Infantry Battalion (TA) Madras was the presiding officer for the exam. The overall exam was coordinated by Lt Col K S Jaggi, Addl Officer, TA, Group HQ, Southern Command and Lt Colonel K Sarkar, AQ, TA Group HQ, Southern Command. The results of the PIB would be declared on August 12 and the interviews will take place between August 19 and 20.  CME goes green  College of Military Engineering (CME) undertook a joint tree plantation drive on August 4, wherein 5000 saplings of ornamental, decorative, fruit and medicinal trees like Gulmohar, Neem, Jamun, Rainforest, Ashoka, Euclyptus were planted by around 200 officers and soldiers of CME, 30 volunteers of Tata Motors and 150 students of VIIT Engineering College, near the CME lake area, in an endeavour to give a cleaner and greener environment. Speaking on the occasion, Brig H S Dhanny said, “CME can be called the lungs of Pune with the industrial area of PCMC on one side and Pune city on the other. The sprawling green college campus which is a home to around 142 species of resident and migratory birds and other animals, not only benefits the population of approx 8,000 CMEites consisting of servicemen, civilian staff and their families, but also helps in maintaining the bio-diversity of Pune and over five lakh people who reside all around the College”. He lauded the civil-military partnership in such efforts at environmental protection. The College is laid with beautiful gardens, fruit orchards and four manmade lakes with pisciculture or fish harvesting. Prashant Ahir, general manager (HR), Tata Motors was also present on the occasion.

INSAS rifles troubled Indian Army men: Raju
New Delhi : The Indian soldier's primary weapon INSAS rifle gave them major trouble for long until the problems were rectified a few years ago.  The problem was an oil spray right into their eyes from the rifle immediately after it was fired.  This was stated by Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju in the Lok Sabha Monday in a written reply to questions from members.  "Prior to 2003, Indian Army had reported a problem of oil spray in the eyes of the firer," Raju said.  Among the defects noticed in the rifle were improper heat treatment and material, firing of segregated ammunition lot and improper drill by the user.  In each of these defects, corrective action has been taken, Raju said.  "Based on the feedback, corrective action was taken and the design was modified. Since then, no adverse feedback has been received," he said.  "Besides, the remedial and improvement measures suggested by the defect investigation team are intimated to the manufacturer and the user."  Raju also noted that the use of INSAS had caused some minor accidents during firing practice.  Since 2009 to July this year, there were 178 accidents or defects. There were 68 such incidents in 2009 and 69 in 2010. This year, till July, there were 41 such reports.  In these years, army personnel suffered minor injuries in these incidents. 2009 saw six men injured. In 2010, there were just two injuries. Till July this year, only one incidents has been reported, Raju added.  He said the army has a defect report system in place and the authorities concerned immediately conduct an investigation with other relevant agencies to look into the causes of the accident.

China's Defence budget double of India's
Reflecting its fast-paced military buildup, China's Defence budget is more than double of the allocation by India for its Armed Forces.  Answering a question in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Monday China spent USD 78.63 billion on its armed forces last year whereas India's defence budget for 2010-11 was USD 33.20 billion.  Asked if India would hike its defence budget in due to increased spending by the neighbouring countries, Antony said, "Budgetary provisions for Services are made on basis of an assessment of their requirement for force modernisation, development of critical combat capabilities and overall national policy."  "Keeping these factors in view, the allocation for defence services has been rising steadily from Rs 1,05,600 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 1,64, 415 crore (USD 37 billion) for 2011-12," he said.  In percentage terms, Pakistan's defence spending has increased by almost double in three years from 2008 to 2010.  In 2008, Pakistan spent USD 3.43 billion which rose to USD 6.40 billion in 2010.  Meanwhile, answering another query, Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju said HAL has bagged an order to export seven ALH Dhruvs to Ecuador in global bidding.  "It is the process of setting up a regional maintenance centre to cover after sales services, technical and logistic support in the entire Latin region," he said.

OFB to take action against six defence firms
New Delhi, Aug 8 (PTI) The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is taking action against six defence firms, recommended for blacklisting by the CBI in a graft case, after giving a personal hearing to them.As per a CBI report, six companies including Israel Military Industries, Singapore Technologies, German Rheinmetall Air Defence and the Russian Corporation Defence were involved in payment of illegal gratification to former OFB Chairman Sudipto Ghosh. The other two Indian firms named by the CBI in the case are R K Machine Tools and T S Kisan Company Limited. "In April 2011, the Ministry has directed OFB that in accordance with principles of natural justice, before taking any decision on the show cause notice it would give personal hearing to the firms. Action is being taken accordingly by the OFB," Defence Minister A K Antony said in reply to a Lok sabha query.The Minister said that in respect of the four foreign companies, the CBI has said that there is a prima facie or circumstantial evidence of payment of illegal gratification to Ghosh and the matter is being further investigated by it."OFB has also issued a charge sheet to Ghosh under Pension Rules," he said.The OFB has issued show cause notices to Rheinmetall, Singapore Technologies and Corporation Defence in February this year and received their replies in April.All the companies have denied the charges levelled against them and sought personal hearing and specific evidences based on which action was proposed against them.Answering another query, the Minister said that no Indian Navy personnel was found guilty in a probe for receiving illegal payments from an American firm."A Board of Inquiry was constituted in October 2009 to investigate into allegations of illegal payments to Indian naval officers by York International... No naval personnel was found guilty," he said.

Vice Chief of Indian Army to Address Soldier Modernisation at New Delhi Conference 
As the Indian Armed Forces embark upon one of the most sweeping, multi-billion dollar infantry modernisation programmes in the world, the Vice Chief of the Indian Army, Lieutenant General A.S. Lamba, will be briefing delegates at Defence IQ's Soldier Modernisation India conference in October on the strategy for future infantry development, and where investment will be prioritised.  Faced with the increasing threats of urban insurgency and sophisticated acts of terrorism, the Indian Armed Forces are currently carrying out the most thorough soldier modernisation programme the country has ever seen. Begun in 2008, the Futuristic Infantry Soldier as a System (F-INSAS) programme aims to improve the lethality and sustainability of Indian infantrymen over the next ten years by investing billions of US dollars into creating a fully integrated soldier, equipped with the highest level of digitised technology for increased situational awareness and real-time updates, as well as lightweight protective clothing and equipment to minimise injury whilst maintaining mobility.  Speaking on day one of the conference, Lieutenant General Lamba will be joined on the expert speaker panel by other key decision makers from the Indian Armed Forces involved in the F-INSAS programme including:      Lieutenant General J.P. Singh, Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army      Lieutenant General Nerender Singh, Director General Infantry, Indian Army      Lieutenant General N.P. Singh, Director General Information Systems, Indian Army  In addition to specific plans for soldier modernisation and the future technology that will be introduced into the Indian Army, these senior officers will be briefing delegates on current capability gaps, opportunities for tenders and the Indian Armed Forces' procurement process for new technology and equipment. 

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