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Saturday, 29 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 29 Oct 2011





AFSPA decision put on hold Opposition mounts; CRPF also says it ‘can’t operate without immunity’

Tribune News Service  New Delhi/Srinagar, Oct 28 A decision on revoking the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been deferred. This became clear following a tweet by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who indicated that the issue would be discussed by the state Cabinet after the Darbar moves to Jammu by November 7.  Neither Abdullah’s Cabinet, which met in Srinagar on Friday, nor the Cabinet Committee on Security, which met in New Delhi last evening, apparently discussed the issue even as a debate rages after the CM’s public announcement last week that the controversial laws were about to be revoked from some parts of the state.  Even the core group meeting of the security forces in Srinagar today, chaired by General SA Hasnain, did not have AFSPA on its agenda although it reviewed the situation after five grenade attacks by militants this week.  Home Ministry sources conceded that the Cabinet Committee on Security had favoured gradual withdrawal of AFSPA, which was invoked in J &K in two phases, first in 1990 and thereafter extended in 2001. The Act provided immunity to armed forces (Army, CRPF, BSF, ITBP included) from prosecution for any action taken by them in order to maintain public order. The actions specified in the Act included search, detention, arrest and elimination of suspected terrorists.  While Army Chief General VK Singh refused to comment on the issue, CRPF Director General K Vijay Kumar today categorically asserted that 70 of its battalions deployed in J&K would require some kind of ‘legal cover’ and would not be able to operate without such protection.  His force, the DG clarified, was not concerned with the presence or absence of AFSPA, as long as the protection is there. While he did not spell it out, he apparently was indicating to certain provisions in the CrPC, which, however, is not followed in Jammu & Kashmir. That, or any other law, it seems, would be acceptable to the armed forces as long as it provides them immunity.  Sources, however, maintained that invoking a provision of the CrPC in J&K would be very tough as the same CrPC also allows overriding powers to SHOs.  Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, meanwhile, urged the government to desist from revoking AFSPA. He had visited the ‘disturbed’ state last year as a member of an all-party delegation and had been informed that over 2,500 applications seeking sanction to prosecute members of the armed forces were pending with the Centre.  Withdrawing AFSPA would not only act as a disincentive to the armed forces, called in to assist the civil administration, but would also ‘incentivise’ seperatists and militants.  Panun Kashmir, the organisation of Kashmiri Pandits, also joined the chorus of protest. Its spokesperson pointed out in Jammu that 15 encounters had taken place between militants and the armed forces on the LoC last month. With as many as 42 terror camps operating across the border, it would be wrong to describe the situation in Kashmir as normal, he added.


India, China to hold boundary talks in Nov

Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, October 28 The Special Representatives (SRs) of India and China on the boundary dispute are expected to hold the 15th round of their talks here on November 28-29, informed sources said today.  National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon will lead the Indian delegation at the talks while the Chinese team will be headed by State Councillor Dai Bingguo.  The talks are being considered important against the backdrop of recent developments in Sino-India ties, especially Beijing’s vehement opposition to the agreement between India and Vietnam for oil exploration in the South China Sea and the increasing Chinese activity in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). China claims full sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.  However, what has been appreciated in New Delhi is the fact that China has discontinued the practice of issuing stapled visas to Indian nationals from Jammu and Kashmir.  The two sides had for quite sometime been discussing the dates for the meeting between the Special Representatives. The proposal was to hold the meeting in October end but later it was decided to schedule it after a possible meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia summit in Bali on November 18-19.  The two sides have so far held 14 rounds of talks but made little progress in resolving the lingering dispute.


The tale of an infantry spouse

I started my life as an infantry spouse way back in 1984. I was a young girl with stars in my eyes and a spring in my walk. Life seemed beautiful, to say the least. I looked forward to happy matrimony and togetherness. But destiny had some other plans. Within a fortnight of our marriage, my husband got posted to Ladakh. I was working in Kolkata [ Images ], which also happened to be my in-laws city, so I stayed put there, pacified by a promise of frequent communication.

Those were the days when the postman had the power to make or break our day; and the shrewd fellow knew it. His comings and goings were carefully monitored by all, but especially by the 'separated' families.  There were wonderful days when the postman brought 3-4 letters at one go, but these bountiful days were preceded and followed by many 'dry' days. To be fair to the infantryman, the fault didn't lie with him as he was sincerely writing a letter a day, (which was something that my in-laws just couldn't believe) …the real culprit was the weather and the terrain.  His high altitude post was dependent upon air support for day to day maintenance, which had its own limitations. Our communication was dependent upon factors beyond our control, and even when it did happen, we always received stale news, which was at least a week old. Now when I think of those days, I can still feel the excitement and the disappointment each day brought.  Finally, 'peace' dawned in the form of a posting to Kanpur, and I was ecstatic. Life in the 'paltan' was full of fun because we had a wonderful crowd. Setting up a home in our two-room quarter boosted my spirits, until one fine winter evening, my husband announced that he was leaving for some firing or something the very next day. I recall the tears that wouldn't stop flowing. Poor hubby didn't know how to handle them. Help came in the form of a senior officer's wife, who understood that my tears were not only for the impending separation but also for the lack of another quilt to keep me warm at night. An offer for quilts and moving into the neighbour's spare bedroom was made but I chose to go home to my mother instead.  My 'maika' remained a great support even during our next posting. I was seven months pregnant with our first child when we reached Udhampur one fine afternoon, only to be told that the officer was slated to go for some firing for about two weeks the very next morning. I realised the ubiquitous connection between my husband's firing expeditions and my parents' welcoming arms; and off I went to my 'maika' once again. In those days traveling was not as easy as it is now, but that is another story…  The third posting to Dehradun coincided with our younger son's birth. Within two weeks of our arrival at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), the junior decided to pop out, even though it was the P.O.P (passing out parade :- the famous commissioning parade) time. Poor chap didn't know how busy his dad was going to be at that time. Four days after his birth, when we were discharged from the hospital, I boarded the IMA bus with the baby in one hand and the suitcase in another. The hubby dear was surprised to see us, as he was just taking off in an ambulance to bring us home. I have a feeling that he was secretly relieved and proud of his independent wife!  By now, I was a mother of two, who had understood that God helps those who help themselves; and that was the beginning of a new empowered me. I handled everything from children's immunisations to their college education; from household budget to stock market investments; and everything in between.  Today, after 26 years of married life, when I look back, I see the distance I have travelled. The best thing that ever happened to me was marrying an infantry officer. Frequent separations (and I didn't run off to the 'maika' anymore), challenges of single-handedly parenting two growing up boys, and the modern pace of life saw me blossoming from a simple small town girl to an efficient army wife.  Over the years, I have grown exponentially and a lot of credit goes to our infantry way of life. Now, the separations have become few and far between. Children have flown the nest. I have more time to develop my hitherto dormant skills, and life feels wonderful.  When I look at the young brides of today, and hear their cribs about the husbands not being there when they need them, I think of my own self at that age. Little do these young girls know that these are the times that will strengthen them for life. I have tried saying it in that many words but have realized the futility of imparting wisdom before its time. In my heart of hearts I know that these very girls will one day share their stories of triumphant and empowerment, courtesy the infantry way of life.  Moving from place to place, adjusting in all kinds of accommodations, queuing up for children's school admissions, not being able to reach the near and dear ones when required etc build a character that is made of steel and yet carries a rare compassion for others in similar situations.  Things have changed a lot during these 26 years; both in the army and in the general way of life. Cell phones have not only lessened our dependence on the postman, but also made a mockery of the distance; hence, separation is not that unbearable as it used to be in our days. Infantry battalions have more light vehicles and all officers own four wheelers, so new born babies don't arrive home in a bus or a three ton.  But all said and done, there is no challenge greater and more fulfilling than being an infantry wife. The camaraderie of an infantry paltan, the feeling of being in a home away from home, the strong bonds between friends, and of course, the growth that comes from a life lived to the fullest, can't be described in words.  The field-peace-field tenures make us infantry wives stronger in all respects, and that is our triumph, our glory, and our victory. And, how can I forget the children? They are the biggest beneficiaries of this nomadic life. Moving from place to place, they learn the important skill of being able to adjust under all circumstances. Going to ten schools in twelve years makes them learn how to prove themselves time and again, not only to their teachers but also to themselves. They also learn how to make friends easily and yet not get too attached to them. Of course, communication and soft skills come easily to all 'fauji' kids, and infantry kids are no exception! In our case, the satisfaction of parenting two successful boys has made life all the better!  Today I am 52 but haven't lost the stars in my eyes and the spring in my walk…Thank you, Infantry.


Dhoni to don ranks of Lieutenant Colonel on Tuesday

New Delhi: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra will don the olive green uniform and be conferred the rank of honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army on Tuesday.  The Defence Ministry had decided to confer the rank of honorary Lt Col on the duo for their contribution in the field of cricket and shooting respectively, and their commitment to the Army on various occasions.  "On November 1, the two officers are scheduled to be granted the rank of honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army," Army officials told PTI here.  Dhoni led India to World Cup victory earlier this year and was instrumental in taking the team to the No. 1 spot in Test rankings for the first time ever.  Bindra had won the only individual Olympic gold medal for India at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.  Both these sportspersons have joined the ranks of senior cricketers - Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar - who have been conferred with honorary ranks in the armed forces.  Kapil Dev is a honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army, while Tendulkar is an honorary Group Captain in the Indian Air Force.  The Defence Ministry has also cleared a proposal to fly Dhoni and Tendulkar in IAF's frontline Su-30MKI fighter aircraft at the Lohegaon airbase.


China and India at War: Study Contemplates Conflict Between Asian Giants  Read more:

There are plenty of reasons why China and India won't go to war. The two Asian giants hope to reach $100 billion in annual bilateral trade by 2015. Peace and stability are watchwords for both nations' rise on the world stage. Yet tensions between the neighbors seem inescapable: they face each other across a heavily militarized nearly 4,000km-long border and are increasingly competing against each other in a scramble for natural resources around the world. Indian fears over Chinese projects along the Indian Ocean rim were matched recently by Beijing's ire over growing Indian interests in the South China Sea, a body of water China controversially claims as its exclusive territorial sphere of influence. Despite the sense of optimism and ambition that drives these two states, which comprise between them nearly a third of humanity, the legacy of the brief 1962 Sino-Indian war (a humiliating blow for India) still smolders nearly five decades later.  And it's alive on the pages of a new policy report issued by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, an independent think tank that is affiliated with India's Ministry of Defense. "A Consideration of Sino-Indian Conflict" is hardly a hawkish tract — it advocates "war avoidance" — but, by spelling out a few concrete scenarios of how conflict may look between the two countries, it reveals the palpable lack of trust on the part of strategists both in New Delhi and Beijing. The report applauds long-term Indian efforts underway to beef up defenses along the Chinese border, but warns that Beijing may still take action:      In future, India could be subject to China's hegemonic attention. Since India would be better prepared by then, China may instead wish to set India back now by a preventive war. This means current day preparedness is as essential as preparation for the future. A [defeat] now will have as severe political costs, internally and externally, as it had back in 1962; for, as then, India is yet again contemplating a global role.  While a lot of recent media attention has focused on the likelihood of Sino-Indian clashes at sea, the IDSA report keeps its scope trained along the traditional, glacial Himalayan land boundary, referred to in wonkish parlance as the LAC, the Line of Actual Control. Since the 1962 war, China and India have yet to formally resolve longstanding disputes over vast stretches of territory along this line. Those disputes have resurfaced noticeably in recent years, with China making unprecedented noises, much to the alarm of New Delhi, over its historical claims to the entirety of the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh — what the Chinese deem "Southern Tibet." The Chinese even rebuked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for having the audacity of visiting the Indian state during local elections in 2009.  Not surprisingly, it's in this remote corner of the world that many suspect a war could kick off, particularly around the historic Tibetan monastery town of Tawang. India has reinforced its position in Arunachal with more boots on the ground, new missile defenses and some of the Indian air force's best strike craft, new Russian-made Su-30 fighters. After decades of focusing its army west against perennial threat Pakistan, India is tacitly realigning its military east to face the long-term challenge of China.  The report speculates that China could make a targeted territorial grab, "for example, a bid to take Tawang." Further west along the LAC, another flashpoint lies in Kashmir. China controls a piece of largely uninhabited territory known as Aksai Chin that it captured during the 1962 war. Indian press frequently publish alarmist stories about Chinese incursions from Aksai Chin and elsewhere, playing up the scale of Chinese investment in strategic infrastructure on its side of the border in stark contrast to the seeming lethargy of Indian planners. Part of what fuels the anxiety in New Delhi, as the report notes, is the threat of coordinated action between China and Pakistan — an alliance built largely out of years of mutual antipathy toward India. In one mooted scenario, Pakistan, either with its own forces or terrorist, insurgent proxies, would "make diversionary moves" across the blood-stained Siachen glacier or Kargil, site of the last Indo-Pakistani war in 1999, while a Chinese offensive strikes further east along the border.  Of course, such table-top board game maneuvers have little purchase in present geo-politics. Direct, provocative action suits no player in the region, particularly when there's the specter of American power — a curious absence in the IDSA report — hovering on the sidelines. Intriguingly, the report seems to dismiss the notion that China and India would clash in what others would consider obvious hotspots for rivalry; it says the landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan would likely be treated as a neutral "Switzerland", while Nepal, a country of 40 million that entertains both Beijing and New Delhi's patronage, is more or less assured that neither of its big neighbors would risk violating its sovereignty in the event of war.  Moreover, the IDSA seems to rule out either side encouraging or deploying proxies in more clandestine struggles against the other. The restive border regions on both sides of the LAC are home to resentful minority populations and more than a few insurgent factions. India and China — unlike Pakistan — have little precedent in abetting militant groups and strategists on both sides would be wary of fanning flames of rebellion that no one can put out.  Yet what seems to stoke Sino-Indian military tensions — and grim prophecies of conflict — are precisely these feelings of vulnerability. The uncertainties posed by both countries' astonishing economic growth, the lack of clear communication and trust between Beijing and New Delhi and the strong nationalism underlying both Indian and Chinese public opinion could unsettle the uneasy status quo that now exists. Managing all this is a task for wooly-heads in New Delhi and Beijing. But don't be surprised if more reports like this one come out, drawing lines on the battlefield.  Read more:


Infantry Day celebrated by Pather Infantry Division

AMRITSAR : Panther Infantry Division celebrated the 64th 'Infantry Day' on October 27th 2011. On this occasion a solemn wreath-laying ceremony was organized at the Dograi War Memorial located at Khasa Military Station. Wreaths were laid at the war memorial by Officiating General Officer Commanding, Panther Division, Commander Dograi Brigade and other senior officers, as also two minute silence was observed in reverence of all those valiant Infantrymen, who sacrificed their live for the nation.  It was on this day in 1947, that the first Indian Army unit, 1 SIKH, was airlifted to the besieged Kashmir valley, just in time to save the Srinagar airfield from falling into enemy hands. Being the first day of the first post-independence operation launched by the Infantry, the day is observed as 'Infantry Day' as reminder to all Infantrymen of their unparalleled saga of grit and valour. An army spokesperson informed that Infantry, the prime arm of the Indian Army is replete with the glorious history of warfare over centuries. It has brought laurels to the nation, in all the four wars that India has fought post-independence in 1962, 1965, 1971, OP Vijay (Kargil) in 1999 and Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka.  He further informed that with their dedication and professionalism , Infantry had earned that respect and admiration of their counterparts, the world over. Besides guarding the nation's frontiers over sixty three years of its turbulent history, Indian Infantry battalions had performed creditably in internal security, counter-insurgency and UN peace keeping operations added he



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