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Thursday, 5 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 05 Apr 2012
Czech firm Tatra calls Ravi Rishi's bluff
Czech heavy duty truck maker says neither Vectra nor its chief control Tatra
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, April 4
Calling NRI businessman Ravi Rishi's bluff the Czech Republic-based Tatra, a.s. has said "neither Mr. Ravi Rishi nor his investment company, Vectra Limited, control or have ever controlled - directly or indirectly - Tatra, a.s.

In a statement, the Czech heavy duty truck makers said, "The British company Vectra Ltd. (which is owned by Rishi) is a minority stakeholder in Tatra Holdings and in principle holds one of the four votes".

This is contrary to what Vectra would like people to believe with regard to its relations with the Tatra truck. According to declaration published in the Vectra group website (, "Vectra is the largest shareholder of the consortium Tatra Holding s.r.o. that owns Tatra a.s.".

The Tatra, a.s. statement, issued from Koprivnice in Czech Republic by the company's media representative Vladimir Bystrov, said Rishi would be asked to give an explanation about the CBI probe against him.

"Tatra will request Mr Rishi and Vectra Ltd. for an explanation about any investigation against him and Vectra Ltd by the Indian CBI as it relates to sales of products branded with the Tatra name. Otherwise, Tatra, a.s. has no responsibility for actions taken or claims made by unrelated third parties with whom it has no relationships" the statement added.

Rishi, who is already facing a CBI probe, has been accused of floating a company by the name of Tatra Sipox and entering into a criminal conspiracy with the Bangalore-based BEML for subverting the contract for supplying Tatra, a.s, trucks to the Indian Army.

The Tatra statement sent to The Tribune does not touch upon the issue of the mysterious Tatra Sipox reportedly based in Surrey in UK. According to Tatra, it sends portions of the truck to India for final assembly by the BEML.

Tatra also makes strong comments about Ural India, a joint venture between Motijug Agencies Ltd. of India with Uralaz of Russia. It said that over the past 20 years, Tatra, a. s. had never received any complaints from BEML or its customers expressing dissatisfaction with the quality, service life, or technical specifications of Tatra trucks.

"Tatra continues to receive orders for its component parts for several hundred trucks for the Indian market each year, including current production orders in 2012", the statement said.

'Criminal conspiracy'

Rishi, who is already facing a CBI probe, has been accused of floating a company by the name of Tatra Sipox and entering into a criminal conspiracy with the Bangalore-based BEML for subverting the contract for supplying Tatra trucks to the Indian Army. Tatra would ask Rishi to give an explanation about the CBI probe against him.

Minority stakeholder

The British company Vectra Ltd. (which is owned by Rishi) is a minority stakeholder in Tatra Holdings and in principle holds one of the four votes.
PM trashes 'coup fears'
Says report of key Army units' movement in Jan shouldn't be taken at face value
Ashok Tuteja & Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Delhi/Vishakapatnam, April 4
The government today vehemently denied a newspaper reports that two key Army units had moved closer to the National Capital in January without prior notice to the government. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the report "alarmist" and said it should not be taken at face value.

"Well, the Defence Ministry has clarified the position. These are alarmist reports. These should not be taken at face value," Singh said on the sidelines of an investiture ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

Asked about the uneasy relationship between the government and Army Chief Gen VK Singh, he said: "The Army Chief's office is an exalted office. All of us have an obligation to do nothing that lowers its dignity."

An English daily today carried a front page report saying that the Army's Hisar-based Mechanised Infantry and elements from the airborne 50 Para Brigade in Agra had moved towards New Delhi on the night of January 16, without following the standard operating procedure of informing the Defence Ministry in advance.

According to the report, the movement happened the day the Army Chief approached the Supreme Court with his date of birth row with the government, and a day after Army Day celebrations.

The report raised several questions, with the civilian administration finding it difficult to give a satisfactory response. The government says the movement of the units was normal, but it is unable to explain whether the movement on the night of January 16, too, was in the Defence Ministry's knowledge.

In Vishakapatnam, Defence Minister AK Antony described the media report as "absolutely baseless". Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function welcoming INS Chakra, a nuclear-powered submarine, he said, "Fears of a coup by the armed forces are absolutely baseless" and expressed confidence that the Army would not do anything to undermine democracy.

Antony said, "The Army has already explained this (movement). It is a usual, natural activity… nothing unusual. We are absolutely confident of the patriotism of the armed forces."

Asked about the report that the Defence Ministry was not informed of the Army movement indicating a communication gap, the minister said, "There is no communication gap between the functioning of the armed forces and the MoD." He went on to say that there was nothing wrong in relations between the armed forces and the ministry and he was comfortable with the Service Chiefs.

why the alarm bell

    Jan 16-17: A mechanised infantry battalion from Hisar and elements of 50 Para Brigade move towards Delhi without informing the MoD, as per a report
    The movement happens the day the Army Chief took the age row to the SC
    The government says the movement was normal, but can't explain whether it was in the MoD's knowledge
Navy inducts N-powered sub
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Vishakapatnam, April 4
Adding lethality to its sea-based force, India today inducted Russian-made nuclear-powered submarine 'INS Chakra' into the Navy, joining an elite group of nations possessing sophisticated warships. Defence Minister AK Antony formally commissioned the Shchuka-B class Nerpa, rechristened INS Chakra, into the Navy at the Ship Building Complex here in Andhra Pradesh.

The submarine, leased for 10 years from Russia under $900-million contract, sailed for 40 days from the far eastern coast of Russia all the while remaining submerged, in what was a show of its endurance.

The 110-metre-long 8140-tonne (12,000 tonnes when submerged) undersea behemoth is of the Russian stock of Shchuka-B class of submarines. This particular one leased to India was named the K-152 Nerpa and was commissioned in 2009.

The submarine has specially designed propellers and casings to cut out engine noise from being picked by enemy ships, over-flying choppers or radars making it one of the stealthiest 'hunter-killer' submarines in the world.

The NATO list of codenames classifies it as "Akula", meaning the black Shark. The Russians claim its noise levels are so low that it matches the leading submarines in the fleet of the US Navy. Under international obligations, Russia cannot transfer nuclear missiles with a leased submarine, but India can have its own fitments, if it has them.

With a maximum speed of 30 knots, the submarine can go up to a depth of 600 metres and has an endurance of 100 days with a crew of 73. The vessel is armed with four 533mm torpedo tubes and four 650mm torpedo tubes. India became the sixth nation on the globe to have a nuclear-powered submarine in its fleet after the US, UK, France, China and Russia.

India's rival is Asia, China, has an estimated half a dozen nuclear submarines named the 'Jin class". China has so far refrained from supplying any such vessel to its ally Pakistan. It is after a gap of more than 21 years that India will operate a nuclear-powered submarine.

India had leased and operated a Charlie class Russian nuclear submarine in 1988 till 1991 for training its personnel on such submarines.

A nuclear-powered submarine is seen as a game changer due to its ability to remain under water. Diesel-electric powered submarines, which the Indian Navy uses, have to surface every 3-4 days to 'breathe'. But, the INS Chakra can stay under water for 100 days.

In modern sea warfare, a submarine is easily detected when its surfaces to breathe.

For the crew, the submarine has a special safety feature called the 'rescue sphere' which will allow the entire crew to be seated in an enclosure before the rescue sphere detaches itself from the vessel to surface from under the sea.

Minutes after welcoming the submarine, Antony said India's home built nuclear-powered submarine, the Arihant, will be ready for sea trials this year. The vessel was launched in July 2009.

adding lethality

    The 110m-long 8140-tonne (12,000 tonnes when submerged) undersea behemoth belongs to the Russian stock of Shchuka-B class of submarines
    The NATO list of code names classifies it as 'Akula', meaning the 'Black Shark'
    With a maximum speed of 30 knots, the submarine can go up to a depth of 600m and has an endurance of 100 days with a crew of 73
Troop report alarmist, don't take at face value, says Prime Minister
New Delhi:  The Prime Minister today described as "alarmist" a report in the Indian Express that says in January, the Army moved two units towards Delhi in January without informing the government.

"The Defence Ministry has already clarified its position. These are alarmist reports and should not be taken at face value," Dr Manmohan Singh told journalists at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Defence Minister AK Antony said the report is "absolutely baseless." He added, "We are absolutely confident about the patriotism of the Indian armed forces."

Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar clarified, "The points raised in the (Express)) report have already been clarified by the Army... such exercises are conducted by the Army from time to time."

The Indian Express says that central intelligence agencies reported that on the night of January 16, there was an unexpected - and non-notified - movement by a key military unit from the mechanised infantry based in Hisar in the direction of the capital. On the same night, the paper reported, another unit - identified as a large element of the 50th Para Brigade based at Agra - had also been moved towards Delhi, which the paper claims caused some concern within the government.  The paper says the movement of the Army units took place as Army Chief General VK Singh took the government to court, demanding that it must accept his claim that he was born a year earlier than his records reflect. He later withdrew his petition. The dispute between the government and the chief over his age greatly frayed his relationship with the defence ministry.

According to the article in the Indian Express, the Army had said that the units were moved to check response time and preparedness during the January fog.

MPs on a parliamentary committee for defence today questioned both the government and the army's vice-chief Lt. General SK Singh about the report.

The main opposition party, the BJP, said that the fractured relations between the Army and the government are a matter of concern. "This is not in the interest of the nation, the equilibrium between the Army and civilian government must be restored and respected," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Coup fears baseless, says Antony
Press Trust of India / New Delhi Apr 04, 2012, 13:23 IST

Defence Minister A K Antony today termed as "absolutely baseless" fears of any coup attempt by the armed forces and expressed confidence that they will not do anything to undermine democracy.

"Absolutely baseless. Army has already explained this. It is usual, natural activities. Nothing unusual. We are absolutely confident of the patriotism of the armed forces. Don't question their patriotism. They will not do anything to undermine Indian democracy," he said at a press conference here.
He was replying to a question about an Indian Express report today that there was an unusual movement of two key army units towards Delhi without notifying government on the night of January 16-17, the day Army Chief Gen V K Singh moved the Supreme Court on the age issue.

The questioner told him that the report raised considerable alarm and fears of a coup and whether the government was afraid of such a possibility and what did it do. Would he rule out the possibility of a coup.

Antony said the armed forces personnel were "true patriots" and "don't question the patriotism of the soldiers who are dying in the frontiers of the country."

"I am proud of the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard," he said.

He also urged the media not to lower the dignity of the armed forces on issues of national security.
'The Indian Express' report "The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt" has, as expected, prompted widespread reaction.

The report is a meticulous reconstruction and a very sober interpretation of the movement of two key Army units towards New Delhi on the night of January 16-17.

Investigated over six weeks and written by Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta; Chief of Investigative Bureau Ritu Sarin and Deputy Editor and Chief of the National Bureau Pranab Dhal Samanta (with help from Assistant Editor in the Investigative Bureau Ajmer Singh), the report draws on highly credible sources.

They have chosen to be anonymous and the newspaper is committed to protecting their identity.

'The Indian Express' sent a detailed questionnaire to the Army and the Ministry of Defence and accurately reported their responses in the report. These responses were reiterated by them on Wednesday.

Neither side explained why the Ministry of Defence wasn't notified, why the troops were suddenly asked to go back and what explanation was offered, if any, by the Army to the Government.

There are some in the government and outside who have questioned the report, even calling it "disturbing" and "baseless". All this, even those comments that attribute false motives, are, we believe, part of a necessary debate.

'The Indian Express' stands by the report.

And in the tradition of its commitment to journalism of courage and the readers' right to know, it will continue its investigation into the events of January 16-17 and the questions these raise.
As journalists, we check facts, and then put them out in public domain: Shekhar Gupta
Sonia Singh : Our top story is a story from 'The Indian Express' which has the nation talking, if not spooked. The Prime Minister said today the Army Chief's is an exalted office and that we all have an obligation to do nothing to lower its dignity.

That's how he responded to the reports of growing friction between the government and the Army Chief. The Prime Minister also called 'The Indian Express' report alarmist and said it shouldn't be taken at face value. Defence Minister A K Antony made the point that nobody can question the patriotism of Indian troops.

Joining me tonight is Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of 'The Indian Express', and also a journalist on this story.

The story has your byline Shekhar. Just to hold up this headline: "The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt.'' Many have said while the story may be valid, this paragraph makes the point that: "To be fair, the MoD's considered view now seems to be it was a false alarm…' Is the headline misleading? Has it actually sent out a message it was completely wrong?

Shekhar Gupta : Well if that was the case, the story would not have run. We are not non-serious journalists. MoD can have its point of view. We have to report that point of view. We also have to report the facts and the reader has to arrive at a judgement in view of the facts. So the fair thing to do is to put all facts in the front, and all facts are in the front and you can draw your own pictures of it.

Sonia Singh : Have the facts been misinterpreted? In recent times, I have not come across a story that has been so divisive in terms of reactions that have come in. 'The Indian Express' has been called a traitor, catering to a particular lobby…'

Shekhar Gupta : Either people call you a traitor, or people say it is a government plant… These are facts. Facts don't hurt anybody. We are journalists, we look at facts, we check them, we assess them… then we put them out in public domain… We put our necks on the line. This is not a blog under a funny name like kaala kutta or safed billi … this is a genuine newspaper story… it is not just under my byline. Look at the other bylines. These are formidable reporters. They are the best reporters you can get… A lot of work has gone into it. We are quite happy to put facts like this in public domain. Let them be scrutinised.

Sonia Singh : When you talk of assessment of facts… many have questioned the use of the word 'spooked', 'alarmist bells rung'… is there an implication that the Indian government possibly thought it was a coup? You have been very careful to say the only 'C' word in the article was 'curious'. Is there an underlined message that the Indian government was worried about a coup?

Shekhar Gupta : What is the story? The story is that night, lots of important people in our armed forces and our political leadership were very worried. It's a story that needs to be told to our readers.

Sonia Singh : Were they worried about a coup?

Shekhar Gupta : I never said that. They were worried about something odd happening. They were confused. The rest is just a recounting of what happened.

Sonia Singh : But spooked about what?

Shekhar Gupta : Spooked about these units… do we know about them, do we not know about them? You said this story is very divisive. The fact is, these times are very divisive. When was the last time a serving chief went to the Supreme Court against the government? When was time a serving Cabinet Secretary went to court against the government? When was the last time a serving home secretary, a defence secretary went to court against the government? This is a very divisive moment. Even when he (Army Chief) goes to court, he doesn't say the issue is settled. He said the court hasn't taken a call on my date of birth, but now I am settling it. And then, there are letters and controversies… These are very unsettled and divisive times. Journalists will fail in their duty if they hide in some bunker and run away from these facts. These facts have to be found, they have to be aggressively investigated… they have to be brought out in public debate.

Sonia Singh : Given these are unusual times, is it fair to take events which the Army maintains are routine movements… does it take it out of context?

Shekhar Gupta : What the Army said is in the story. If you look at the denials today, there is no denial that is not carried in the story. There will be denials… That's the hazard we journalists have to deal with. Then we see over a long period of time the strike rate. We have a very good strike rate. I'd rather say look at our track record, look at our strike rate. There will be denials, but nobody has questioned, either yesterday or today, any of the facts in the story. It is a complex story that has nuances, that has to be told carefully. Questions about style and display are different… but questions about substance, questions about facts? No, thank you very much.

Sonia Singh : Do the facts add up to what the headline seems to imply?

Shekhar Gupta : The headline doesn't imply. The headline states. The headline states people were alarmed, people were worried, many things were done… the story is very well checked out.

Sonia Singh : Alarmed by what? Would anybody have been alarmed if this happened before the tension with the Army Chief?

Shekhar Gupta : That is hypothetical. I can only guess. I am the editor of the paper, but in this story, I am a reporter. I am happy to be back as a reporter. I can tell you what happened that day. Our journalists are working on the story. Hopefully, they will find something else.

Sonia Singh : Today the MPs panel brought out this report on the Standing Committee on Defence … Both the Vice Chief and the Defence Secretary said the report was baseless. Defence Secretary said he didn't come back from Malaysia. (Following the troop movement, Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma was asked to cut short his visit to Malaysia. He returned).

Shekhar Gupta : We are journalists. We can't go by whispers. When we have hard facts, we counter them by hard facts… Defence Secretary came back from Malaysia… We have also said what he did in the evening. You have to either deny specific facts or you can say everything is baseless. Everything is alarmist. Thank you. If you choose to be alarmed, what can I do? Everything shouldn't be taken at face value. Fair comment. Army Chief's is an exalted office. Nobody should bring down its reputation, Very good. It is like motherhood. Who can speak against it? That applies to everybody… to the Army chief, to the Minister of Defence to one who is challenging this Army Chief, people filing legal challenges against the next Army Chief. This is a very murky environment. Media would be doing a great disservice to India if they either stay out of it or if they start picking stuff from the lobbies including the government.

Sonia Singh : 12 hour later no regrets for that story?

Shekhar Gupta : Express has been branded 'anti-national, traitor, scoop that never was' etc. Have been called anti national; traitor, govt stooge, pro corrupt.

When we took our unconventional stand on the nuclear deal, the Anna movement, and now this story… last two intellectual arguments were won. I am 100 pc sure factual argument on this will be won as much as intellectual argument – which is, the govt's handling of this higher defence command has been very poor… Had a situation like this in the early 60s. But it was fixed by 3 PMs… Nehru, who corrected mistakes by bringing in Chavan as Defence Minister; Shastri and Mrs Gandhi. Chavan, Jagjivan Ram were the finest defence ministers.

Sonia Singh : Many have asked if it could have been solved if the Prime Minister or the Defence Minister picked up the phone to VK Singh.

Shekhar Gupta : That is not my call. We journalists are not even flies on the wall. We wish we were… but let me say, if people didn't do silly things, interesting things, how would our lives be so much fun?

Sonia Singh : How would we get the headlines? This headline has caused a huge reaction. Let us see what the headline is tomorrow morning… Shekhar, thanks for joining us in staunch defence of that story which had the nation talking today.
First thing we need is a strong defence minister
Former national security adviser (NSA) Brajesh Mishra spoke in an interview about the controversy surrounding India's military preparedness and its broader strategic implications in the light of outgoing army chief General V.K. Singh calling most of India's military hardware obsolete. Mishra was NSA in 1998-2004 during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. Edited excerpts:

What is the biggest threat facing India today?

China and Pakistan. Putting military pressure on both fronts.

India is lacking in tactical/defensive weapons—so Gen. Singh says—though it has nuclear weapons. How does this fit into the security matrix, especially as Pakistan and China are modernizing their forces?

I will not go into the numbers of nuclear weapons, etc., you should get a fair indication from the missile tests we are doing. So far as Pakistan is concerned, we have the 800km (Prithvi) missile. I don't ask the government are you following the programme we (the NDA government) had. On other things, we know what the situation is like. It is not as dire as the army chief makes out to be on the eve of his departure. What did he do in the past two- and-a-half years?

Is India in a position to fight a conventional war with China and Pakistan together today?

No. (But) I don't think there will be a war. I would say if there is military pressure on India from both countries to keep you busy in South Asia, South-East Asia, the Chinese want that for themselves, so that you (India) don't play a part outside South Asia. They don't want India to interfere there (South China Sea). On the periphery till Somalia, there are a lot of rebellions. This is our strategic area and China does not want us to get out of South Asia because then its claim to be the leader in Asia is taken out. What I say is military pressure will increase and in a few years' time, there may be joint pressure. So far as Pakistan is concerned, they have always thought of themselves as better soldiers and better officers than ourselves, and three times they have been told they are not. They keep on trying. The problem that I see today is that China is doing much more with Pakistan in military terms, financial terms and infrastructure. This is not an all-weather friendship, it's an alliance, it's a military alliance.

Now if Mr (A.K.) Antony (the defence minister) and the Prime Minister have realized that we could be in a situation worse than 1962, then they have to do something about it and do it quickly. They have to ask the Armed Forces to modernize their procedures. You have to get the best with the money that you have, not that you will save money if you go for the lowest bidder.

And the politicians should now forget Bofors. So I would have supported Gen. Singh if he were talking about what would happen to us in the next three, four, five years.

Should we have a relook at the way chiefs of the Armed Forces are appointed—more on the basis of age and seniority than merit? How do you think we can overcome the leadership deficit?

Automatic succession is not possible. Let me put it to you in one sentence. The chief and the senior commanders who are there all over the country, if they don't look after the jawans and the jawans are dissatisfied, they don't deserve to be chiefs, they don't deserve to be in the army. Now people have been talking about the demoralization in the defence forces. I want to ask them—what is the morale of your jawans? Are you talking about them or are you talking about yourselves? Because all these complaints that come from senior officers, they are about their personal grievances, not about the jawans. So it's not easy to answer how do you solve this. The solution comes from coordination and cooperation between the civilian authorities and the military top leaders.

Do you think what Gen. Singh has done is unbecoming of a general? If you were in the government, how would you have handled this?

Early on in our time, we had a problem with Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat. Here, in this case, he was not opposing Antony, he was saying my concern is my date of birth. That is how it began. It began as a personal problem. Finally, the Supreme Court threw out his case. Then he went berserk, shooting here, shooting there.

There is no tangible proof to say that the leaks have come from Gen. Singh?

He has just his personal agenda. As far as the leak of the letter is concerned, I have been in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for six years. The Prime Minister has confidential people who keep sensitive documents. I can't imagine, knowing PMO, that there is going to be a leak from there. The General saying that we don't have anything with which to counter Pakistan, you think PMO is going to...go out and leak that? Please take my word for it. PMO would not do this.

So what is the way out?

I have already suggested the way out. The government should ask him (Gen. Singh) to go on compulsory leave. If he has to go on compulsory leave, then in two months' time he retires.

How do you assess the government's handling of the Gen. Singh's case?

This government is totally indecisive, it's a non-government. The middle class of this country, perhaps farmers also, feels there is no government. If we are going to not reform, but resolve the situation which may go on for some years, first thing we need is a strong defence minister.

Are you suggesting that the incumbent is a weak defence minister?

I am not saying Mr Antony is strong or not. I am not criticizing Antony or one politician in particular. But if he is strong, then he must assert himself. The non-governance idea is also in the minds of the people who are concerned with the Armed Forces. This government is so indecisive they can't answer a question from the press without thinking for 24 hours. The impression is that the government does not act and if it does act after much delay, the ministers quarrel in the open. I have never seen a government so...confused.

What are the implications for national security if an alliance like the Third Front comes to power?

If there is a Third Front with the three ladies and Mulayam (Singh Yadav) and Chandrababu (Naidu), it will not have the majority. The Congress or the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) will have the largest numbers. They will not join the government. So after 12 months or 18 months, next elections will be there. Who is bothered about national security? It is very important. If you are prepared, the world and even your neighbours will come to respect you.

You re-scripted India-US ties— where do they stand now? Do you see the possibility of India-US cooperation in areas such as South-East Asia, for example, when there are differences over Iran?

The partnership between India and the US, to begin with, is going to be very different. They have a global agenda, we have a regional interest. Only in South-East Asia do our interests seem to converge. Now, of course, South-East Asia also means China, so how do we manage that? The point is that if you are at a conflict with Pakistan and China, which country is going to put its boots down on this country to ride on? Americans are already withdrawing from Afghanistan. Until about four years ago, the world was getting ready to accept India as one of the most important (countries) to deal with. Today, (due to) internal problems, we have decreased the rate of growth, next year it might go down. I don't want to sound like a war hawk, but a country which wants to be counted in the world has to have a good economy and a good defence. Merely having 6.9% growth is not enough, on the other side (China) when you look at the 10.4%. If you want to be counted in the world among great powers, you must have assured security and a good economy which would invite foreign investments.

How far are the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalism a threat to India today?

If the Taliban and the Pakistan government are acting together, then I would see that as a threat, but so far we have not seen any evidence of the Taliban being involved.

It does not mean there will not be differences. It will continue and surprisingly (Syed) Salahuddin (head of the Hizbul Mujahideen and chairman of the Pakistan-based United Jihad Council) is saying they will not send any militants to Kashmir, and what he is hoping is when it becomes independent, it will join Pakistan. Taliban, at the moment, I don't see it as a threat. If Americans leave, then all the Taliban has to do is wait and at that point of time, Taliban, Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to be together.
Coup fears not reason for calling back Def Secy
New Delhi: Sources have denied claims that the government had asked Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma to cut short his trip to Malaysia in January this year amid fears of a coup.

The Indian Express had on Wednesday morning published a full page report claiming that the Indian Army had moved two units towards New Delhi without notifying the government on January 16.

The incident happened on a day when Army Chief General VK Singh had moved the Supreme Court over his date of birth row.

The newspaper had mentioned in its report that Defence Secretary Sharma was instructed to cut short his visit to Malaysia and that after returning home, he sought an explanation from Lt Gen A K Choudhary, Director General Military Operations, on the suspected movement of two Army units and its purpose.

However, highly placed government sources confirmed to Zee News that Sharma was called back early but to sign an affidavit which the government had to submit in the apex court in connection with the Army Chief's age row petition.

Sources underlined the move had nothing to do with any coup fears. Also, no such linkage was drawn by either the Army of the PMO.
Congress says army is country's pride, cautions against speculation
Describing Indian Army as the "envy of our neighbours", Congress today rubbished reports on troop movement to the capital, saying that those who speculate by innuendo cause serious damage to the national fabric.

"Army is the hallowed institutional pillar of Indian democracy and it is our pride and our neighbour's envy. It is many of our neighbours' envy.

"Those who speculate by innuendo in sensitive matters must realise that they are causing serious damage to the national fabric," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.

Wondering whether every movement of troops must lead to "this kind of conclusions", he said the subjective conclusions drawn on the basis of speculation and rumours does "irreversible damage" to the fundamental foundations of vibrant democracy.

A newspaper report had stated that two military units had moved towards New Delhi on the night of January 16 as part of a routine exercise which had "spooked" the Defence Ministry. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister AK Antony and the Army have denied the report.

Noting that Congress stands for creating institutions, he said it was easy to destroy them. Singhvi, however, steered clear of questions whether he saw a deeper design behind the report.

Singhvi, who was asked a number of questions including the alleged trust deficit between the Defence Ministry and the army, frowned upon attempts to play politics in the matter.

Asked whether the report was libellious, Singhvi said that he was going beyond legal doctrine. "I am saying national interests have to prevail."

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