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Monday, 12 December 2011

From Today's Papers - 12 Dec 2011

Pak empowers military to shoot down drones New defence policy unveiled
Islamabad, December 11 The Pakistani military will shoot down any US drone that intrudes the country’s airspace under a new defence policy in which troops have been given greater liberty to respond to incursions by NATO and allied forces in Afghanistan, according to a media report.  “Any object entering into our airspace, including US drones, will be treated as hostile and be shot down,” a senior unnamed Pakistani military official was quoted as saying by NBC News.  The defence policy was changed after a NATO air strike on two military border posts killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26.  Following the air strike, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani issued a communiqué that gave troops in the field full liberty to respond to any future attacks without consulting their superiors.  Kayani issued multiple directives since the November 26 attack, including orders to shoot down US drones, senior military officials said.  Pakistan also shut down all NATO supply routes and asked the US to vacate the Shamsi airfield in Balochistan province by December 11.  The airbase is reportedly used by CIA-operated drones that target militants in the tribal areas along the Afghan border.  A senior military official in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, told NBC News yesterday that the evacuation of the airbase would be completed within the deadline.  Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps took control of the airbase last evening after most US military personnel left. Civil aviation officials too moved in yesterday. — PTI
Expedite decision: Army Chief to Antony
New Delhi, December 11 Army Chief General V K Singh is learnt to have urged Defence Minister A K Antony to expedite the decision on his statutory complaint which asked the Government to treat May 10, 1951 as his date of birth, which will give him ten more months in office.  The Defence Ministry had decided on July 21 that the earlier date of May 10, 1950 will be considered as Gen Singh’s date of birth on the basis of two opinions given by the Attorney General and the Law Ministry and this was stated by the Defence Minister in Parliament also.  After the Ministry took this decision, Singh had levelled allegations that the Defence Ministry "lacked objectivity" and was "biased" on his age issue.  Singh is slated to retire on June 1, 2012, but if 1951 is accepted as the year of birth he may remain in office for another 10 months.  Gen Singh had filed a statutory complaint with the Defence Minister on August 25 seeking a re-examination on the issue, in a first by an Army Chief.  The General had asked Antony to take a decision on his date of birth purely on the basis of merit and available evidence.  Gen Singh is learnt to have sent the reminder with the Minister more than 90 days after he had submitted his statutory complaint.  As per the Army Act, a statutory complaint has to be addressed within 90 days but the Defence Ministry says these rules are not applicable to the Minister or the Ministry.  Army headquarters refused to comment on the development and so was Gen Singh’s office.  Meanwhile, Defence Ministry sources said the Ministry was still processing the "voluminous" statutory complaint received from the Army Chief and if and when such a reminder comes, it will be taken note off.  The complaint filed by Gen Singh, along with the documents he has annexed to support his claim, runs into almost 500 pages and includes all the previous correspondences with the Ministry on this issue.  The controversy on Gen Singh's age surfaced in 2008 when he was considered to be appointed as Eastern Army Commander. The Adjutant General's (AG) branch--the official record keeper for salary and pension - has been following 1951 as his birth year while the MS branch, which looks after promotions and postings, shows it as 1950. — PTI   Age issue  The Defence Ministry had decided that May 10, 1950 will be considered as Gen Singh’s date of birth  After the Ministry took the decision, Singh alleged the Ministry "lacked objectivity"  Singh is slated to retire on June 1, 2012, but if 1951 is accepted as the year of birth he may remain in office for another 10 months
Paramilitary forces face staff crunch
New Delhi, December 11 More than one lakh posts, including 25,000 in the BSF and 17,000 in the CRPF, are lying vacant in seven paramilitary forces in the country.  Home Ministry officials said of the 1,00,883 vacant posts in the paramilitary forces, 74,816 posts are of constables, 22,016 posts are of Junior Commission Officers and 4,051 are of Group A officer.  The BSF, which guards Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangladesh borders, has vacancy in 25,674 posts, CRPF, which is engaged in anti-naxal, anti-militancy and general law and order duties, has vacancy in 17,019 posts, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), which guards Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders, has vacancy in 21,316 posts while in Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), deployed in protection of airports and industrial units, 17,320 posts are not filled.  The Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Force, primarily deployed in the icy heights along the Sino-Indian border, has 17,388 vacant posts, while Assam Rifles (AR), deployed in the Northeast, and National Security Guard, the special commando force, have 1,585 and 581 vacant posts respectively. "We have been trying to fill the vacancies as early as possible. But recruitment, training and finally deployment of a policeman is a time consuming exercise. "We hope to fill all the vacancies in the next two years," a Home Ministry official said.  During the last three years, the Home Ministry has taken several steps towards capacity building of the Central paramilitary forces which include sanctioning of 116 additional battalions and raising of 36 new battalions.  As many as 21 more battalions are in the process of being raised. The strength of a battalion is around 1,000 personnel. A total of 95,540 personnel were recruited to the seven paramilitary forces in 2009-10 and 2010-11.  An additional 92,168 constables (GD) are proposed to be recruited in 2011-12. Seventeen new training institutions are being set up. — PTI  The force No of vacancies  BSF (guards Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangla borders) 25,674  CRPF (engaged in anti-naxal, anti-militancy) 17,019  SSB (guards Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders) 21,316  CISF (protects airports and industrial units) 17,320  ITBP (deployed along the Sino-Indian border) 17,388  AR, (deployed in the Northeast) 1,585  NSG (special commando force) 581
Indian-origin British lawyer fights for Kargil martyr
Palampur: Twelve years after the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan, a new battle is on - to get justice for an Indian Army officer who was tortured by Pakistani troops for days before his mutilated body was handed back.  British lawyer of Indian origin Jas Uppal has launched an international campaign to highlight the plight of Capt Saurabh Kalia, who was killed, along with five other soldiers, in the 1999 conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. She is demanding the blacklisting of Pakistan for the purpose of giving international aid.  "I am campaigning to discover the plight of the Indian prisoners of war captured and detained by Pakistan during the India-Pakistan war in the 1970s. Yet again (in Saurabh's case) the government of India failed to seek justice (at the international level)," Uppal told IANS in an interview via e-mail.  Saurabh, of the 4 Jat Regiment, was the first Army officer to report incursion by the Pakistani army on Indian soil. He and five soldiers - Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh - were on a patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they were taken captive by Pakistani troops May 15, 1999.  They were tortured for weeks before being killed. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to the Indian authorities June 9, 1999.  Saurabh's father N K Kalia and his wife Vijaya, settled in this tea garden town, have been raising their voice against violations of human rights and brutalities and asking India to take up the issue of war crimes at the international level.  Uppal told IANS in an interview: "Now that India is a superpower it should be taking the lead in relation to human rights. It should value its security forces and its people."  She said she had reported Kalia's case to international human rights organisations like the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch and raised the issue in Britain.  In a missive to M Fabricant, a member of the British House of Commons, last month, Uppal said: "I am appalled to learn that the former president of Pakistan (Pervez) Musharraf, who was president of the country at the time of the Kargil incident, is a guest of this country and has been living here for some time.  "I would be grateful if you could raise the matter with our prime minister and the foreign office. Further, I hope that our government will take this case seriously and the ongoing breaches of human rights into consideration when they make aid donations to Pakistan. Any financial aid should be subject of the country's observations and record in relation to human rights," she wrote.  In a reply to Uppal's letter, Fabricant said November 15: "I have, therefore, raised the issue of human rights and aid to Pakistan with Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Alistair Burt."  "The West has no idea about these atrocities. If they are made aware they will never support giving aid to Pakistan," said Uppal, who launched a campaign to secure the release of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh sentenced to death in Pakistan for spying and bombings.  Satisfied with the initiatives of Uppal, the parents of Saurabh have been pinning their hope on getting justice.  "Our only grudge with the Indian government is why is it shirking to call the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army as war crimes and why it fails to take up the scourge at the international level," said N K Kalia, 63, who retired as a senior scientist from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.  He said the external affairs ministry informed them under the right to information act that "the government of India had conveyed the anguish and anger of the Indian people to the foreign minister of Pakistan during his visit to Delhi June 12, 1999. An aide-memoire was also handed to Pakistan June 15, 1999. However, Pakistan denied our claims."  "This was not sufficient enough to express anguish over war crimes. We are demanding that the government highlight war crimes at international fora so that other prisoners of war do not meet the same fate as Saurabh," he said.  Saurabh, who was posted in Kargil soon after passing out of the Indian Military Academy, did not live long enough to even receive his first pay packet as an officer.  Asked by IANS if she had raised the issue of the five other Indian soldiers who were captured and killed along with Captain Kalia, Uppal said she had "mentioned ALL the soldiers".  "I only know the name of Capt Saurabh Kalia. I do not know the names of the other soldiers; so I cannot refer to them by name as I would like to do. I do not have contact with families of the other soldiers."  She added that if provided their names and family contact details, she would refer to them by their respective names.
Seven injured in Army recruitment stampede
VISAKHAPATNAM: Seven youth sustained injuries in a stampede during an army recruitment rally for soldiers at Visakha rural armed reserve forces base at Kailasagiri here on Sunday morning. The stampede took place when the gates of recruitment camp at AR grounds were opened and thousands of aspirants who had reported for the recruitment rally rushed in. The recruitment camp for candidates of north coastal districts, Yanam, East and West Godavari was held to select youth for a career in the Indian Army. Initially, there were rumours that two candidates had died in the stampede, created panic among the candidates and their parents. However, there were no deaths and only some candidates had suffered injuries. They were shifted to the King George Hospital.  Army authorities expected a total participation of 5,000 candidates, but there almost 15,000 youth turned up up for the recruitment drive. Because of heavy congestion and lack of space to accommodate the candidates at the Indira Prayadarshini Stadium, the authorities had shifted the venue to AR camp at Kailasagir for the verification of certificates. Once the certificates were verified by the authorities, they were to be allowed to participate in the physical tests at the Indira Priyadarshini Stadium. But the last minute change created confusion among the candidates. Candidates alleged that there was no proper arrangements at the venue to organize the recruitment rally at the AR camp.  More than 9,000 candidates, mostly from Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakha began their wait outside the venue from Saturday night. The incident took place at 5 am when the youth rushed in, toppling over each other. Many candidates told TOI that they had spent the night at the venue to ensure that they could get in first, so that they could participate in the 5 km run as early as possible to catch their return busesAfter the incident, police officials visited the venue and deployed rapid forces to control the crowd. The recruitment officer Colonel VK Singh said they did not expect such a huge response for the recruitment rally.  The candidates were in a hurry to participate in the physical tests and jostled at the time of certificates verification leading to the stampede. He said generally the local police would take the responsibility of bandobast at the venues of recruitment, but they, too, had no idea about the number.  Because of the problem, the authorities extended the dates of the rally for another three days. As per schedule, the procedures should end by December 14 but the district assistant joint collector S Satyanarayana announced that the recruitment would continued till December 17.
DRDO to develop robotic soldiers for Army
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has planned to build robotic soldiers and mules, as part of unmanned fighting systems for the future, according to a senior official from the organisation.  Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a new research facility being set up with BEML at Avadi, on the outskirts of this city, V K Saraswat, scientific advisor to the defence minister and director-general, DRDO, said, “We are working on building soldier robots that can work like a human soldier. Such robots need a data base; artificial intelligence to carry out activities. DRDO is planning to build such a robot.”
It has also planned to design a robotic mule, to replace the real ones, used by soldiers to carry heavy luggage in mountainous terrain, said Saraswat.  DRDO had already developed Daksh, a remote-controlled robotic vehicle for detecting and destroying dangerous objects like bombs. Daksh was approved by the Indian army for induction, he said.  The army will start trials of the DRDO designed and build Arjun Mark-II battle tank from next October, said P Sivakumar, director, CVRDE. He said the army had ordered 124 units of the Mark-II and more were expected “We will be completing the supplies of the Mark-I version by March 2012. Already, 110 units are supplied, out of the 124 ordered,” he said.  The Indian tanks, he said, were far cheaper at Rs 21 crore as compared to Rs 56 crore each for an American battle tank of similar nature. CVRDE will source the battle tank engines and transmission systems from BEML. At present, these are being imported.  On commercialisation of the technologies developed by DRDO, Saraswat said revenue through this was around Rs 30 crore a year and growing. The offset clause is in an evolving stage, having been raised in some cases to 50 per cent from the earlier 30 per cent. Under this rule, a foreign vendor has to procure equipment worth at least 30 per cent of the order value from India in case the latter exceeds Rs 300 crore.  Saraswat said the offset was at 50 per cent in the case of the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft tender.
Indian army man jailed for leaking sensitive info to Pakistan
New Delhi: A Delhi court has sentenced an army man to seven years in jail for doubling as a Pakistan intelligence agent and supplying sensitive defence-related information to the neighbouring country, said Indian media reports.  District and Additional Sessions Judge OP Gupta jailed Anil Kumar Dubey, 39, convicting him under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act for passing on secret information to Pakistan about the movement and deployment of army troops in India.  According to the prosecution, the Special Cell of Delhi Police had arrested Dubey from his home at Mahipalpur on October 20, 2006 on a tip-off that an alleged Pakistan High Commission employee would be visiting him to procure some sensitive information.  The jawan was passing on secret information to Pakistan about the movement and deployment of army troops in India.  Police had caught Dubey while he was handing over a bag, containing some CDs and other documents, including some notifications pertaining to army’s anti-insurgency operations, to the alleged Pakistan High Commission employee, Mohd Farooq.  Raids at Dubey’s house led to recovery of three cheque books, two of which belonged to Farooq and one to Shamshad Hussain, another alleged Pakistan Embassy official.  Police in its search of Dubey’s desk at Army Group Insurance Bhawan also recovered documents pertaining to new dialling system and AGI journal of the year 2005, the prosecution said.  As Farooq enjoyed diplomatic immunity, he was handed over to Pakistan High Commission through Ministry of External Affairs, while Dubey was arrested, it said.  On Dubey’s submission that the papers alleged to be passed on to Farooq in 2006 were of 2003 and were outdated from the angle of espionage, the court said, “The documents may be old for one and new for other. It depends upon the degree of progress with which two countries are proceeding.”  “The dialling system adopted in 2003 in India may be unknown to Pakistan till 2006. Question is as to what justification the accused had to supply the said information?,” the judge pointed.

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