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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 16 Nov 2011

afspa Row Status quo in Jammu & Kashmir for now
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 15 In a clear message to the people on either side of the raging debate over partial removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir, the Central government is learnt to have asked both sides to let things be as they are - meaning a status quo for the time being.  Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today met Army Chief General VK Singh and the two discussed AFSPA and other security-related issues. Officials termed the meeting as ‘courtesy call’. However, the two, firmly on either side of the anti-AFSPA and pro-AFSPA divide, shared their views over breakfast meeting at the J&K house in central Delhi. A few days ago, Omar had said that he would not take ‘no’ as an answer from the Army over the removal of AFSPA.  Sources said the J&K Chief Minister as also the Army have been advised to let things be same for a while. Omar heads the Unified Command and it has the northern Army Commander as one of its members. The Northern Army headquartered at Udhampur in J&K is of the view that there should be no tinkering with AFSPA but the Army can be withdrawn and can be redeployed in areas where trouble erupts. The rapidly changing situation in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) has also to be kept in mind.  This meeting with Gen VK Singh was the last among a series of interactions the Chief Minister had in the past two days with Central leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister AK Antony and Home Minister P Chidambaram. Omar has been pitching for partial withdrawal of AFSPA from certain areas in the state which have witnessed little violence. The Army feels it is time to consolidate the hard-earned gains and not squander them away.  Both sides remained tight-lipped about the meeting. Omar tweeted “Off to Jammu now. Last engagement was breakfast with the COAS Gen V.K. Singh. That wraps up this Delhi visit.” The Army chief had called on Governor N N Vohra on Sunday here and the two discussed the situation in the state for nearly an hour.
Nuclear-capable missile Agni-IV test-fired
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 15 India’s ballistic missile programme took a step forward as its scientists successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile Agni-IV, that has a strike range of 3,000 km. It is a surface-to-surface intermediate-range missile and can carry one-tonne pay-load.  The success comes more than 11 months after the first attempt to fire Agni-IV had failed in December last year when the missile went out of trajectory and plunged into the sea. Today’s test was also conducted off the eastern sea coast and a mobile launcher was used. In India’s neighbourhood, China possesses a missile, the Dongfeng 31, with a longer strike range.  The Agni-IV is a two-stage weapon system powered by a solid propellant. “The missile followed its trajectory in a textbook fashion, attaining a height of about 900 km and reached the target in the Bay of Bengal. All mission objectives were fully met. All the systems functioned perfectly till the end,” The Defence Ministry said this evening.  The missile is lighter in weight and the composite rocket motor, which has been used for the first time, is said to have given an excellent performance. “The missile reached the target with very high level of accuracy. Radars and electro-optical systems along the coast of Odisha have tracked and monitored all the parameters of the missile,” the Ministry added.  The Agni-IV team is headed by a woman Tessy Thomas, who, in the past, has led her team to success in other projects.
‘Green explosives’ on DRDO’s agenda
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, November 15 Explosives meant to kill and destroy but being designed to minimise damage to the environment without compromising upon their lethality sounds strange. Yet this is what the scientific community is now seriously contemplating.  Being referred to “green explosives”, these bombs, and also propellants for missiles and rockets, would be using ingredients that release lesser toxic elements than the emissions of chemical compositions being used at present.  The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has also initiated work on developing eco-friendly explosives and propellants. “We are also looking to collaborate with some friendly countries in this arena,” a senior scientist who attended the High Energy Materials Conference and Exhibits at DRDO’s Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory here said. “The United Kingdom, Ukraine, Germany and Russia are among the prospective partners,” he added.  According to defence scientists, the fallout of a chemical explosion does not merely end with the detonation, but the adverse effects of the chemicals continue to linger on in the environment for a long time. This not only affects the atmosphere, but also the ground soil and its organic and inorganic constituents, including agricultural-friendly organisms in the vicinity of the blast site. Similarly, rocket engines emit a huge amount of toxic gases and other elements during combustion and their flight through the atmosphere.  “Among the options we are exploring is to avoid the use of certain aluminum-based compounds in rocket propellants. Similarly lead compounds in explosives can be replaced,” Dr A. Shubhanand Rao, Chief Controller, DRDO said. “Also, we are studying methodologies to safely dispose-off such toxic materials, where their use if inevitable, through processes known as green-synthesis,” he added.  DRDO’s High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) is the nodal agency for research and development of explosive materials. It has recently developed CL-20, being claimed as the world’s most powerful convectional explosive. Dr Rao said CL-20 is about 30 per cent more powerful than the RDX. It is now being produced by a private firm, but is an expensive material costing over Rs 70,000 per kg.
AK-47 rifles to get holographic sights
Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, November 15 The Army wants to enhance the “kill probability” of troops engaged in combat operations and in a step towards this direction AK-47 series of assault rifles issued to infantry units deployed in counter-insurgency grid are being equipped with holographic sights to make aiming and shooting quicker and more accurate.  Holographic sight is a battery-operated gadget fixed atop the rifle like a miniature telescope. It has a single lens at the centre of which is a coloured laser-induced microdot that marks the exact point at which the bullet would hit. The Army is initially planning to acquire about 500 such sights.  These sights allow soldiers to shoot quickly with both eyes open, doing away with the need to shut one eye for lining up the fore and rear “iron” sights to take aim. “Consequently, they provide large peripheral vision and desired accuracy even when firing from wide angles and awkward positions,” an officer said. This enables instant target acquisition in and enhances accuracy of fire where effective and judicious use of available ammunition is essential,” he added.  Holographic sights are already in use with Indian Special Forces (SF). These sights are standard equipment on the American Colt-M4A1 and the Israeli Tavor-21 assault rifles that are now extensively used by the Army’s SF battalions.  Holographic sights weight barely 500 grams and run to commercially available batteries. They are also capable of providing limited magnification. More importantly, they do not “illuminate” the target with the red dot like laser designators and pointers, thereby making detection difficult.
Dangerous of Omar to target AFSPA for political gains
With Mr. Omar Abdulla stating that he will not take NO for an answer to his harebrained idea of removing Armed Forces Special Powers Act from certain areas of J&K State while Army saying nayet, it has now become Army verses Abdulla in the state. An unfortunate situation indeed.
IN THE last three years of his tenure in J&K state, misrule, rampant corruption, administrative lapses violent demonstrations by stone pelting youth of last year and recently one of the senior party worker of Mr. Omar Abdulla’s NC party who was last seen entering Mr. Abdulla house, dying, leading to demand of CBI inquiry. All this has resulted in a steep decline of the popularity of Mr. Abdulla the CM. So now he is bent upon playing to the gallery and is back to his old game of Army bashing and demanding partial withdrawal of AFSPA from some districts of J&K - a dangerous game indeed.
Recently, Lt. General Sayyed Atta Hasnain the General Officer Commanding 14 Corps and responsible for the Valley had made a presentation to Omar Abdulla. In his presentation General Hasnan has stated that removal of AFSPA is not just based on local conditions but has major ramifications. The threat from across the border from Pakistan sponsored jehadis has not abated but in actual fact is at an all-time high. There has been a marked increase in cross-border infiltration.  In POK, ISI is still running 42 Jehadi Training Camps. As per the assessment of Intelligence agencies there are 2500 jehadis across the border waiting to get into valley. This is very high figure.  Intelligence is also available that ISI and separatists of the Valley are working on a pattern. Last year, was high on violence and stone pelting in the valley, badly affecting the tourism industry, the main bread earner for the local population. This had annoyed the local public. So this year they are not stirring the trouble and allowing people to earn their livelihood. The tourism in J&K this year has hit record levels with a million tourists going there. This is just lull before storm. In other words despite its sweet talks Pakistan wants to keep this Jehadi Terror gun pointed towards India and we can not take this threat lightly. Recently, even Americans have been warning India of this existing threat.  Let us be clear in our minds that once AFSPA is lifted from certain districts, the jehadis from across the border will make a bee line for these areas for rest and relief. They will make these districts as their base from where they will sally out to launch terror attacks in other areas.  The AFSPA allows Army to fire upon and even cause death against any person working in contravention of law and order in an area declared disturbed by the state government. They can arrest any person without warrant but will have to hand over the same to police within 48 hours. They can destroy any arms dumps, terror training centers, etc. No legal proceedings can be initiated against Army Personnel without the sanction of the central government. It will be appreciated that almost the same powers are also available to local police but unlike police, Army is not answerable to local politicians like Omar Abdulla.  This is what irks these politicians because they want Army also to dance at their tune so they target AFSPA.  It has taken Army two decades to build its intelligence network in the Kashmir valley. In militancy prone states it is not guns and bullets of which Army has no dearth but the local intelligence that delivers the results. If AFSPA is removed from here then this will die its own death and army will be left high and dry and ineffective when it returns.  Army is meant for external security. This Act provides Army the legal protection when Army is used for internal security duties. We have more than half a million paramilitary forces under MHA in the country. Internal security is their job. Army should only be used in internal security duties in a democracy when things have totally gone out of hand.  If Mr. Abdulla is still unrelenting in his desire to partially lift AFSPA from certain areas then it is bound to lead to further untenable demands and situation getting out of control. Mr. Abdulla should declare the entire Valley as undisturbed and remove AFSPA. Army will gladly leave Kashmir Valley. Let Mr. Omar Abdulla and his police control the show in the Valley. Surely Abdulla can not have his cake and eat it too by keeping the Army also in the Valley and then demanding to curtail its powers. Why should Army loose its men to jehadi bullets for the incompetence and political game of Abdulla.?
Mutual Pakistan-India trust must for peace: Imran
The wannabe prime minister of Pakistan, PTI’s Imran Khan, will never utter these words: “occupied Kashmir”, “Jamaatud Dawaa” and “Falah-e-Insaniyat”.  His explanation is quite simple when he says that he deliberately does not use the words “occupied Kashmir” because his whole thinking is about human beings and not territory.  “I think that any country, any area that is under army rule, where there is an army operating is always going to be in a mess. And so, I am really anti-military operation. And I have from day one opposed all military operations, which is why I was called pro-Taliban. And, in Kashmir, I know what is happening to the people of Kashmir, you cannot have hundreds of thousands of troops in an area and think that there will be no violations of human rights. Remember army’s job is never successful in civilian areas.”  He says he deliberately does not use the prefix “Occupied Indian Kashmir”, “Because I think it’s about the rights of Kashmiri people. It’s not about liberating or anything. It’s about whatever the people of Kashmir decide. That should be it now. I do not, any longer, consider it to be some sort of a territorial dispute. I think it’s more of a human rights issue now.”
Khan was being interviewed by Karan Thapar in CNN IBN’s programme, Devil’s Advocate.  Aware of ground realities, the great Khan said when in power he would ban and disarm all militant groups but despite being asked to name the JUD and FeI, Khan refused to do so replying, “Look, I am living in Pakistan. Pakistan at the moment is the most polarised country in the world. A governor gets shot, his assassin becomes a hero. There’s no point in becoming a hero right now in this country where there’s no rule of law. Life is very cheap here. So, just let me put it as a policy statement. Don’t just go into details. As a policy statement, it should answer your question. No militant groups are operating from within Pakistan.”  He said that if Tehreek-e-Insaaf government comes to power, as a policy it will insist on there being no militant groups operating within Pakistan because the world has changed.  “So, the groups that were created during the Afghan jihad, now this is now an outdated concept of having them as assets. The time has come to not only remove all militant groups, disarm them but also a de-weaponisation in Pakistan because it is causing massive problems within the country. So, therefore, once that issue disappears, once there are no militant groups within Pakistan, I think that issue will disappear.  There would not be any militant groups operating within Pakistan. How can I be more specific than that?” he asked.  Khan says that relations between Pakistan and India should be based on mutual trust.  “At the moment Pakistan doesn’t trust India, India doesn’t trust Pakistan. Here there’s a big perception that our water is being stolen; in Balochistan the Indian secret service is active with the BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army). In India the perception is that any terrorist act is financed by Pakistan’s ISI. You can never ever have a relationship based on mistrust. I think the time has come to have a new relationship. And, I believe that you know if you can eliminate the roles of intelligence agencies, where two civilian governments can sit together and say we’ll resolve all our issues through dialogue - I think it’s a way forward because the benefits of peace are enormous,” he explained.  He also pointed out that the Indians should also guarantee us that there should be no problems, either in Balochistan or the areas where Indian agencies are blamed.  Kashmir, Khan said was a core issue because without Kashmir, you will always have a possibility of going back to square one.  “No matter how much confidence building measures you have, if something happens in Kashmir or because of Kashmir, we don’t know, maybe some sort of terror attacks happens from within Kashmir on India, I’m scared, like Mumbai;
Antony concerned over military infra build-up by China along border
NEW DELHI: Even as he reviewed the overall security situation in India's neighbourhood, defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday expressed concern at China's build-up of military infrastructure along the border while holding a "miracle" should not be expected in Indo-Pakistan ties though the recent thaw in bilateral relations was a "good breakthrough".  Apart from discussing the security situation along the borders with China and Pakistan, the security meeting chaired by Antony and attended by the three Service chiefs and defence secretary, among others, also dwelt on J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah's push for a partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from two to four districts in his state.  Earlier in the day, General V K Singh met Abdullah over breakfast, with both agreeing on the need to "lower the temperatures" in what has become a very public battle between the Army and J& over AFSPA.  The Centre has already conveyed to Abdullah that he should wait for some months before pushing for withdrawal of the controversial Act, which provides legal protection to soldiers in their counter-insurgency operations, from areas like Srinagar, Badgam, Jammu and Samba, as reported earlier.  As for the China build-up, Antony said, "We, too, have been improving our infrastructure and military capabilities in the eastern sector. We are doing so not for confrontation, but to protect our territory and also to build an effective that we can protect every inch of Indian territory."
Indigenous technologies played a big role
In the successful flight of Agni-IV on Tuesday, what stands out is the flawless performance of a range of new indigenous technologies developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and according to technologists in the organisation, they represent a quantum jump in the nation's missile technology prowess.The triumph caps three successful flights of Shourya, Prithvi and Agni-II missiles conducted in September last week and has boosted the DRDO's confidence to go in for the Agni-V's maiden flight in a couple of months.  V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said, “The technologies proven in this mission will give us the necessary confidence to go in for the Agni-V launch [with a range of 5,000 km] in a couple of months.” The DRDO did not use any satellite during Agni-IV's flight. Agni-IV, earlier named Agni-II Prime, flew more than 3,000 km on Tuesday from the Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast.  The spectrum of new technologies incorporated in the Agni-IV mission included fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) or composite casing for the second stage, ring-laser gyros for inertial navigation system (RINS), micro-navigation system (MINGS) as redundancy to improve the vehicle's reliability, a powerful onboard computer system, a multi-channel communication system and advanced avionics. The FRP reduced the missile's weight, enabling it to carry more propellants and to have a better range than Agni-II's 2,000 km.  Dr. Saraswat praised Gundra Satheesh Reddy, Associate Director, Research Centre, Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad, and his team for developing the RINS, MINGS and onboard avionics, all of which made it “a fantastic flight.”  “Today, we have a missile which is lighter in weight, highly accelerating, manoeuvrable and unmatched. This missile incorporated the type of redundancies seen in manned missions, providing for robustness and reliability,” Dr. Saraswat said.  The other important technologies that contributed to the Agni-IV's success were better stage separation systems, efficient propulsion, high-energy solid propellants and powerful batteries.  Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, and V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, were sure that the new technologies contributed to the Agni-IV's triumph. The missile was road-mobile (it can be launched from a specially designed truck), “which is state-of-the-art for this class of missile,” they said.  The Agni-IV Project Director was Tessy Thomas.  Dr. Saraswat attacked the technology denial regimes that worked against the DRDO developing these technologies. He said, “All the technology denial regimes that worked against the development of these systems were combated by the DRDO by its developing new materials, composite casting for second stage, the RINS and high-speed processing system for the guidance. The terminal accuracy achieved shows the DRDO's strength in the development of long-range missiles. The mission demonstrates that the Indian missile technologists are in a position to handle technologically and managerially complex missions. India has come of age and developed world-class technologies. Technology-denial regimes cannot deter a motivated country like India to achieve self-reliance.”  Mr. Reddy said the indigenous RINS and MINGS, complementing each other in a redundant mode, were proven in this flight. “We used a powerful onboard computer system with distributed avionics structure and a multi-channel, highly reliable communication system, which controlled and guided the missile accurately to the target.” Reliability  Dr. Sekaran said the new navigation system was basically software-intensive with a lot of built-in logic and redundancy, which provided the missile's reliability. “These are state-of-the-art systems and some of these new technologies will go into India's new missile systems, including the making of Agni-V.”  Dr. Sekaran called Agni-IV “a good, user-friendly weapon for the Army.” For, it could be integrated quickly and transported on road. In Mr. Chander's assessment, the new technologies would lead to freedom of operation for the Army.
Army officer surrenders in dowry case
Having failed to secure a stay from the Supreme Court against his arrest in a dowry case filed by his estranged wife, an Indian Army major Tuesday surrendered before a local court here.  The Army officer, Arshad Zeeshan Siddiqui, was sent to policy custody for five days by the court here.He is presently posted with the Army Aviation Corps in Assam. Siddiqui claimed that he had divorced his wife, who lives in Chandigarh, May 2009 by saying ‘Talaq’ thrice on the phone.  The investigating officer of the Chandigarh police said that Siddiqui had been taken into custody to make certain recoveries from him.  His wife, who had filed a complaint with the women's cell of Chandigarh police against him August 2009, said that the army officer and his family had been harassing her for dowry since their marriage in 2006. The couple has a four-year-old son.  Police registered a case of dowry harassment, cruelty and breach of trust against Siddiqui March last year. However, Siddiqui tried to seek anticipatory bail which was rejected by the Punjab and Haryana High Court here and later by the Supreme Court.  The woman, who requested that her identity be protected, said that a number of things were given to him as dowry following persistent demands. She complained about the constant harassment to the Army authorities but Siddiqui was able to convince them that he had divorced her.  She told media here that for her, the marriage was still not over. She said that she wanted the return of the items given in dowry.
Army Chief to visit Uzbekistan, Khazakhstan from Wednesday
New Delhi: Army Chief General VK Singh will undertake a six-day visit to Uzbekistan and Khazakhstan from Wednesday to look at ways to develop military cooperation with them.  The three-day tour is as part of India’s efforts to bolster ties with Central Asian Region (CAR) countries. The Army Chief will stay in Uzbekistan from 16 to 19 November after which he would proceed to Kazakhstan for a three-day goodwill visit, officials said in New Delhi.  Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh. Image courtesy PIB  This would be the first visit to Kazakhstan in last 16 years by an Indian Army Chief after General Shankar Roy Chaudhury visited that country. For Uzbekistan it would be the first ever visit by an Army General, they said.  These visits are aimed at improving India’s relations with the CAR countries, they said.  India and Kazakhstan had held strategic level talks in 2009 and the Kazakh president was invited as the chief guest during the Republic Day parade then. Two countries have developed close cooperation in fighting terrorism and promoting regional security.  General Singh’s visit will take place after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Kazakhstan early this year.  India and Uzbekistan have signed a number of agreements in areas of trade, commerce, science and technology and agriculture.  During these visits, Indian Army will explore ways to enhance the existing cooperation with these countries, they said.
Extra troops along China border will raise tensions, harm India's interests: Chinese daily
BEIJING: Terming India's decision to beef up the security along the border with China by deploying one lakh additional troops as a "sensitive move", an official daily here said it would result in raising tensions harming New Delhi's interests.  "The action is completely not worthwhile. Currently, India has 40,000 troops in the disputed area, and if the further 100,000 is deployed, the total number of the troops will reach 140,000", an article carried by official People's Daily Online said on Tuesday.  "It will result in a tense situation in the region and harm India's own interests. Increasing troops on the border area is always a sensitive move and it is especially sensitive to increase troops on a disputed border area", it said.  "In an era when precision-guided weapons are developing rapidly, everyone with common sense knows that concentrated troops could be eliminated easily", it said alleging that India is raising the China threat theory to increase defence spending at a time when its annual economic growth rate is falling.  The article followed People's Liberation Army (PLA) daily, the official mouthpiece of Chinese military, terming India's move was aimed at containing China as it considered Beijing as real competitor.  The People's Daily commentary said decreasing growth rates in India is making it "very difficult to considerably increase military spending for military build up amid the economic downturn, so India needs to first create a tense atmosphere and transfer domestic problems in hopes of securing more military spending".  "The spread of the 'China threat theory', the increase of troops to the disputed areas near the China-India border, and the display of a tough attitude toward China all aim to make a breakthrough in further increasing military spending", it said.  India has continued to hold joint military drills with China's neighbouring countries over a recent period, showing it "evidently intends" to contain China.  "In addition, the US needs to rely on India to restrict China. India needs to show its value to US by flexing its muscle toward China so that it could gain its military support and help raise its international status", it said.  "India's troop increase on the border between China and India is aimed at meeting the requirements of the United States and then getting support from the United States. However, will India realise its goal?", it asked.

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