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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 01 Nov 2011





India needs to ramp up infrastructure along LAC

All along the backbreaking drive on the 109-km dirt track connecting Loma, Fukche and Demchok, it is disconcerting to see how India has failed to lay a metalled road on a flat plain-like plateau in South-Eastern Ladakh despite its announced focus on ramping up infrastructure along the Chinese frontier.  The story of the dirt track repeats itself if an approach is to be made to Chushul, another area on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. Rather, for Chushul - it is the place where the epic battle of Rezang La was fought in 1962 - there are two approaches and both are dirt tracks. One road takes off from south of the Pangong Tso lake and the other one takes off from Loma. Men like Phuntsog Namgayal, local councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill District Council, echo the demand saying “we have lot of troubles, at least the road should be good”.  Loma, around 180 km south-east of Leh and located along the banks of the Indus, is the bifurcation point for two important approaches towards the sensitive LAC. A left turn takes off to Chushul and the last 68-km stretch is a dirt track. New Delhi now wants to make up and is planning a road to Chushul that will travel a different route and be behind the mountains hence movement on it will be outside visual range of the Chinese.  The other road from Loma goes across a bridge on the Indus and leads to a dirt track to Fukche and Demchok, both located smack on the LAC but 20 km apart, west-to-east. The 109 km drive takes more than three hours in one of the high-end SUVs.  Sources point out that the road work on the stretch had hit a hurdle as the area falls under the “Chumathang cold desert wildlife sanctuary” which was notified around 10 years ago.  There is not a single tree along the route and the population, as per government records, is less than 900. A few hundred wild animals like the Kiang - a kind of mix between a horse and a donkey - inhabit the area. In the second week of October, an independent survey of the animal population was completed and it is hoped the road work will commence in the next fiscal after formal clearance from the environment impact assessment committee.  India’s planning on this front has been faulty despite it having stationed its military outposts at Demchok and Fukche since 1965 and even earlier at Chushul. In contrast, China set up its military posts across the LAC in 2008. Along with the posts have come fully metalled roads, well-stocked storehouses and concrete accommodation for its troops. The difference between India and China’s infrastructure is glaring in these parts of the LAC. The Chinese efforts are visible as one looks across the Indus that runs along the LAC. The Chinese watch towers at Domshele and Demchok are triple-storeyed concrete structures and are visibly well-protected and insulated.  Only now has India ramped up facilities for its jawans at Chushul and provided them with the latest DRDO-built accommodation where inside temperatures can be controlled even if it’s snowing outside.


PC backs Omar on AFSPA, says CCS wanted a review

Tribune News Service  New Delhi, October 31 Clarifying that the latest debate on removing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir was not a knee-jerk reaction, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had given its go-ahead as part of an eight-point agenda for the state announced in September last year.  Just 10 days ago, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced that it was time for the AFSPA to go in certain areas and even hinted at a deadline. The J&K unit of the Congress flared up, with Saif-ud-din Soz objecting to Omar’s announcement, saying the Congress was not consulted on the matter. The BJP and the Hindu-dominated Jammu region joined the chorus of protest.  Today, Chidambaram treaded carefully and was firm on how the review was a wider political decision. “The process of the review is a CCS decision of restoring normalcy in the state and this is not something unusual. Let the Chief Minister come back to us after conducting a review. This is a CCS decision and I am part of the CCS,” he said.  There is “nothing unusual or new” if the Chief Minister of the state wants to quicken the process of review of AFSPA, he said.  “If Congress, an ally of the coalition government in the state, desires “more consultations”, that is perfectly understandable. There can be more consultations in the Cabinet too. In a democracy, we can have consultations any number of times,” he said.  Speaking to reporters here this afternoon, the Home Minister cited how the apex decision-making body on security matters, the CCS, had mandated in September 2010… “request the State Government to …. review the deployment of security forces in the Kashmir Valley, especially Srinagar, with particular reference to de-scaling the number of bunkers, check-points…. in Srinagar and other towns, and to review the notification of areas as disturbed areas”.  The ‘disturbed areas’ referred to in the CCS note were areas listed as ‘disturbed’ under Section 3 of the AFSPA. This section empowers the Central Government and the Governor of the State to declare an area as ‘disturbed’. There is no connection with any other Act like the Disturbed Areas Act, said a top official.  Highly placed sources in the Government today clarified that it was a misnomer that the Disturbed Areas Act and the AFSPA were linked to each other. “Both acts are independent of each other,” said a senior functionary while explaining that the DAA lapsed in 1998. It was an act passed by the J&K Assembly. The AFPSA was imposed in 1990 by an Act of Parliament. It is not true that once the DAA is removed, the AFSPA is automatically revoked, said the official.  Declaration of an area as a disturbed one under AFSPA can be undone only through a notification and once that is done, the AFSPA does not apply to that area. The Centre had identified Srinagar and Budgam as two districts wherein the ‘disturbed areas’ tag could possibly be removed. Slowly, the Army had moved out of these areas and handed over large parts to the paramilitary forces.


IDSA report: China could enter into Kargil-like war on India

A report compiled by Ali Ahmed of IDSA stated that China can launch a war against India so as to teach the latter a lesson. The attack could come from China to heavily dent India's attempt of being a super power in South Asia.

WHILE BOTH the Asian countries want to reach $100 billion in bilateral trade by the middle of the next decade, and peace and stability account for their emergence as super powers - a report written by Ali Ahmed ‘A Consideration of Sino-Indian Conflict’ for the independent think tank Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) has spelled a clear warning.  Share    IDSA, which falls under the ambit of Ministry of Defence, mentioned in its recent report that India had recently had stepped up its presence in terms of presence by adding 4,000 troops along the restive regions in Arunachal Pradesh. India, which even after five decades is recuperating from the blow it suffered during the 1962 Sino-India war, and should be as prepared today as it should be tomorrow, said the report.  The report stated that if China attacked, it could be a limited war confined to a specific section of the border or LAC, limited in duration and amenable to a negotiated termination, as quoted by the Hindustan Times. If indeed the reports are true, then China will be moving in a very calculated manner usurping few possible theatres like Arunachal, Sikkim, Ladakh and the Central Sector. With the eastern sector severely under threat, China’s move of setting up bases in Pakistan will compound the troubles furthermore before they reach India’s heartland.


Generation shift in army

New Delhi, Oct. 31: When the new vice-chief of the Indian Army takes charge tomorrow, he will herald a generational change in the top brass as he will be the first officer commissioned after India’s last full-fledged war in 1971 to rise to the post.  Lt Gen. S.K. Singh takes over from Lt Gen. A.S. Lamba who retired today after 40 years in service. As a young officer, Lt Gen. Lamba became a war veteran within a couple of months of being commissioned in 1971.  He was a second lieutenant in his artillery unit that gave fire support to the Indian infantry in its dash through the Pakistani ranks on the Jessore-Khulna-Dhaka axis as the Indian Army charged into the then East Pakistan capital and forced the surrender on December 16 that year and midwifed the birth of Bangladesh.  With Lt Gen. Lamba retiring today, there are only four more officers in the Indian Army — including the chief, Lt Gen. V.K. Singh — who were commissioned into service in the year of India’s last full-fledged war.  After the war, Lt Gen. Lamba, who was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery, converted to a paratrooper. Packing commanding authority into his diminutive figure, Lamba went into combat again in counter-insurgency in Nagaland and Manipur and with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka.  “When you see action at such close hand when you are so young — I was barely 19-20 years of age in 1971 — there is little to be afraid of for the rest of your life,” he told The Telegraph in a recent conversation.  Lt Gen. Lamba commanded a Mountain Brigade, the 16 Infantry Division, the elite 21 Strike Corps and the Army Training Command headquartered in Shimla.  Lt Gen. S.K. Singh, who takes over as the vice-chief tomorrow, has commanded a brigade in the Siachen Glacier, an infantry division on the Line of Control, a corps in Jammu and Kashmir and the recently created South Western Command headquartered in Jaipur.  Lt Gen. S.K. Singh could have an unusually long tenure as the vice-chief — over two years. He is from the regiment to which the late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw belonged, the 8 Gorkha Rifles, and is its colonel commandant. Top


Army to confer Lt Col rank upon Dhoni, Bindra

New Delhi: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra will don the olive green uniform on Tuesday along with combat specialist Deepak Annaji Rao, who is being conferred with the honorary rank of Major.  The Defence Ministry had decided to confer the rank of honorary Lt Col on the two sportspersons for their contribution in the field of cricket and shooting respectively whereas Rao is being honoured for imparting special commando training to the armed forces for the last 17 years.

Mumbai-based trainer Rao has also imparted lessons in close quarter battle techniques and commando combat training to Army Chief General VK Singh earlier in his career.  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 like Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar who have been conferred with honorary ranks in the armed forces.  Kapil Dev is an honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army, while Tendulkar is an honorary Group Captain in the Indian Air Force.


Lt Gen S K Singh to take over as Army vice chief

New Delhi, Oct 31 (PTI) Lt Gen S K Singh, a veteran Gorkha soldier, will tomorrow take over as the Vice Chief of the Indian Army succeeding Lt Gen A S Lamba who retired today. With more than two years of service left, Lt Gen Singh will have the enormous task of ensuring that Army's future force structures are capable of meeting current and future obligations more effectively based on a 'Threat-cum-Capability Approach', officials said here. In his career of over 35 years, Lt Gen S K Singh has commanded a Brigade in Siachen Glacier, an Infantry Division on Line of Control, 14 Corps in Leh and was the South Western Army Commander in Jaipur before moving to the Army headquarters. "He has the privilege of being Colonel of 8 Gorkha Rifles (Sam's Own) since April 2006, of which Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw was the first Colonel Post Independence. Lt Gen Lamba, who retired today, was responsible for the close integration of military operations, intelligence, operational logistics and perspective planning as the Vice Chief. He had been intimately involved in the ongoing process of "Transformation" of the Indian Army and steered the same with focus on reorganisation of headquarters, force restructuring and accretions. Meanwhile, Lt Gen Gyan Bhuashan, a Mahar Regiment officer, will replace Lt Gen S K Singh in the South Western Army Command.


Indian Army will fail in Kashmir: Imran Khan

Lahore: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan led a massive gathering of his supporters in Lahore as he sought to galvanise his fledgling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party by raking up the issue of the rights of Kashmiris and seeking withdrawal of Indian troops from Jammu and Kashmir.  The rally near the Minar-e-Pakistan monument, which was attended by over 100,000 people, was aimed at projecting Khan as a serious contender in Pakistan's political arena ahead of the 2013 general election.  Over the past few months, Khan's party has sought to enlarge its support base in Punjab, the country's most populous province.  Khan's nearly 50-minute speech largely focussed on the problems and challenges facing Pakistan, including corruption and crippling power outages, but he used the occasion to take up several populist issues, including the Kashmir dispute.  "I want to tell Hindustan that the 700,000 troops you have kept among the Kashmiris. No army has been able to solve any country's problems at any time," he said to cheers from his supporters.  "Did the Americans succeed in Afghanistan? Is the Indian Army more powerful than the US Army? When the Americans couldn't succeed, how can you succeed with 700,000 troops that are involved in excesses?" he alleged.  Khan, whose party did not participate in the last general election and fared poorly in previous polls, called on India to give "Kashmiris their rights and call back the troops".  He said his party would "stand with the Kashmiri brothers and speak for their rights at all forums".  He said the rally marked the culmination of a movement begun 15 years ago by the Pakistan Tehrik to tackle the country's problems, including corruption, inflation, rising prices, lack of education, unemployment and an energy crisis.



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