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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 11 Apr 2012
AFSPA amendments under review: PC
n Changes under CCS consideration n J&K interlocutors report to be out soon
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

Jammu, April 10
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said his ministry had proposed three amendments to the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) and those were under the consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Chidambaram was on a day-long visit to the state to review its security situation.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been pressing for partial revocation of the AFSPA and reducing the footprint of security forces in the state in a phased manner.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed three amendments in AFSPA. They are under the consideration of the CCS," he told reporters here after a meeting with J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) leaders.

Regarding the report submitted by the three interlocutors appointed by the Centre, Chidambaram said their report would be made public only after consideration of the same by the CCS. “Once the decision on these amendments is taken, we will make the report public,” the Home Minister said.

The three interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir -- noted journalist Daleep Padgaonkar, noted academician Radha Kumar and former Information Commissioner MM Ansari -- had submitted their report to Chidambaram in New Delhi on October 12, 2011, laying down a roadmap for the government to address all issues pertaining to the state.

Omar has repeatedly pitched for making the report public, holding a debate on it and thereafter implementing the recommendations. Political parties in the state have also been demanding that the report be made public.

Earlier, on arrival from New Delhi in the morning, Chidambaram visited the cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi and paid obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum.

The Home Minister also met senior Congress leaders of the state and discussed various issues pertaining to the functioning of the coalition government.

Although PCC chief Saif-ud-Din Soz denied any discussion on AFSPA in the meeting with Chidambaram, Congress’ Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha member Madan Lal Sharma said Congress leaders had expressed their reservation against withdrawal of AFSPA from the state at this juncture. “I told the Union Minister that time is not ripe for revocation of AFPSA from the state,” Sharma said.

Soz said the functioning of the government was discussed in the meeting. “We told the Home Minister that the Congress has been providing every possible help to the state government to restore lasting peace in the state and ensure smooth functioning of the coalition,” he said and disclosed that Congress leaders discussed some issues regarding the Jammu region.

A delegation of the All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee Kashmir also met Chidambaram and highlighted the hardship being faced by Sikhs in the state.

AFSPA allows armed forces to

n Fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law.

n To arrest without a warrant and with the use of necessary force anyone who has committed certain offences or is suspected of having done so

n To enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests.

n The act also bestows legal immunity to the officials, which means that they can not be sued or prosecuted.

In j&K since 1990

First introduced in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, the Act was later extended to Jammu and Kashmir as the The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 in July 1990.
Bribe offer: Army Chief makes written complaint to CBI
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
Army Chief General VK Singh has formally written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) about the bribe offered to him for allegedly clearing the purchase of all-terrain vehicles for the armed forces.

General VK Singh's written complaint to the CBI mentions that he was offered bribe by Lieutenant General Tejinder Singh (retd) to clear the purchase.

Sources say the complaint details the sequence of events that led to the bribe being offered. Senior CBI officials are examining the written complaint and sources said that the investigating agency was not ruling out registering a complaint against Lt Gen Tejinder Singh.

Senior CBI officials including the Directorate of Prosecution are meeting to examine the complaint and how it will stand scrutiny in court.

The CBI will also seek legal opinion from the Attorney General on the contents of the complaint and a decision on further action will be taken tomorrow after his comments are received.

General VK Singh today sent his complaint along with some documents on the alleged bribe offer. The contents of the complaint are "highly sensitive and confidential". The Army Chief had claimed in media interviews that an equipment lobbyist had offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore, a matter he had reported to the Defence Minister.

Meanwhile, the Patiala House Courts have recorded Lt Gen Tejinder Singh's statement in the criminal defamation case that he filed against General VK Singh and four other Army officers. The court will give its order on April 21 whether or not to summon General VK Singh.

Lt Gen Tejinder Singh filed the case after the Army in a press note named him as the one who offered a bribe to the Army Chief to clear a deal for the purchase of Tatra trucks. Tejinder Singh hit back accusing the top brass of misusing their official positions to level false accusations against him.

Taking cognisance of Lt Gen Tejinder Singh's complaint, the court had asked him to record evidence in support of his allegations levelled against the Army Chief and four others.

Besides General VK Singh, he has also named Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General SK Singh, Lieutenant General BS Thakur (Director General, Military Intelligence).
No ammo shortage, says Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
Defence Minister AK Antony today dismissed reports that the Army had only four days of ammunition as “rumours”, adding that the country was fully prepared and was in a much stronger position than in the past.

Antony, while replying to queries from reporters after inaugurating the bi-annual IAF Commanders conference here today, said, “These are all rumours. I can assure you that the country is fully prepared. There may always be some shortcomings. That is also in the process of filling up (being met with)… You cannot expect 100 per cent requirements (to be) fulfilled.”

Antony was replying to the question as to whether there was only four days of ammunition left with the Army. The same question was yesterday put by Parliamentarians to the Vice Chief of the Indian Army, Lt Gen SK Singh. The General is believed to have talked about the shortage of specific ammunition that is fired to pierce the armour of the enemy tanks and not the entire ammunition.

“On the whole, the Indian Armed forces are in a better position to meet any challenges to our integrity,” Antony said in what is seen as a message to MPs who have summoned the three service Chiefs to question them about ‘defence preparedness’. This will be the first-ever meeting of the Chiefs with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence.

Earlier, while addressing the IAF commanders, Antony assured that the government will provide all assistance for making rapid modernisation plans a reality, but cautioned, “This cannot be accelerated in fits and starts.”
No reporting on troop movement by media:
Allahabad HC

Lucknow, April 10
The Allahabad High Court today directed the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that there is no reporting on movement of troops by print or electronic media. The directive came days after a newspaper report on movement of two Army units towards Delhi had created a storm.

"Without interfering with the independence of media and keeping in view the fact that the news items relating to movement of troops have already engaged the attention at the highest level in the defence as well as in the government, we direct the Secretaries, Home and Information and Broadcasting, the Government of India and the Principal Secretary (Home) to ensure that there is no reporting/release of any news item by the print as well as electronic media on the matter," the Lucknow Bench of the high court said.

On a PIL filed by social activist Nutan Thakur expressing grave concern over the media report on the movement of troops, the Bench of justices Uma Nath Singh and Virendra Kumar Dixit said "the issue of movement of Army troops is not a matter of the kind which should require public discussion at the cost of defence secrecy and the security of the country."

Thakur, in her submissions, said such reports, if permitted to continue, may seriously interfere with the handling of security matters by the Army, particularly the movement of troops from the strategic point of view in field as well as peace areas. — PTI
I did not bribe on behalf of Tatra: Tejinder Singh
Press Trust of India / New Delhi Apr 10, 2012, 12:53 IST

Former Lt Gen Tejinder Singh today deposed before a Delhi court, supporting his complaint for intiating criminal defamation against Army Chief General V K Singh and four others.

Recording his statements before Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar, who had earlier asked Tejinder Singh to record pre-summoning evidence to support his complaint, the former Lieutenant Gen said the allegations levelled against him by the Army Headquarters were absolutely false.
Tejinder Singh told the court that between March 3 and 5, this year, a number of media reports pointed fingers towards Army Chief Gen V K Singh for having allegedly ordered "unlawful monitoring" of mobiles, particularly in the South Block area here.

He said in order to divert the public attention from this news, which pointed fingers at senior functionaries in the Army Headquarters, including Gen V K Singh, the media cell of the Army Headquarters issued a press release on March 5.

Tejinder Singh said the press release, taking his name, laid four allegations against him which were all "false".

He said in the press release, it was alleged that he had offered bribe on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Ltd, which supplies vehicles to BEML.

"The allegation was that I had offered bribe on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Ltd, which supplies vehicles to BEML. This allegation is absolutely false, ill-founded and concocted and I deny the same," Tejinder Singh said.
Army chief, MoD must not speak in different voices

Read more:

For instance, his assertion that 97 per cent of the army's air defence equipment is obsolete ignores the fact that the bulk of the air defence capability lies with the Air Force.

But if the Defence Ministry's annual report is any indication, it is guilty of the other extreme- painting a rosy picture to paper over the rather obvious inadequacies in our defence modernisation.

The Comptroller and Auditor General's report in December showed that the MoD has no reason to pat itself on the back on the issue.

For instance, the CAG report stated that the artillery uses gun systems whose technology dates back to World War-II, blaming both the MoD and the Army for the same.

Fortunately, the situation is somewhat better on the air defences front where positive steps have been taken of late, as came out during Defence Minister A K Antony's meeting with air commanders on Tuesday.

The MoD and the Army chief need to stop using the issue to score points over each other.

After all, it is the security of the country and its citizens that is at stake.

Read more:
HC gags reporting on troop movements

Allahabad High Court today banned the reporting of “any news item by the print as well as the electronic media” regarding the movement of Army troops. The court held that this is “not a matter of the kind which should require public discussion at the cost of defence official secrecy and the security of the country”.

The court dismissed a PIL filed by social activist and freelance journalist Nutan Thakur seeking a direction to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to conduct an inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the report published in The Indian Express on April 4, and to take action if it was false.

The Indian Express had reported that the movement of two Army units towards Delhi on the night of January 16-17, without notifying the government, triggered alarm in the government.

Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice Virendra Kumar Dixit of the Lucknow bench directed the union home secretary, the information & broadcasting secretary, and the UP government’s principal secretary (Home) to ensure compliance of the court’s order.

The petition had said that if the inquiry found that the report was false, action should be taken against those responsible for the publication of a false report on a sensitive matter dealing with national security. The Indian Express, in a statement, said that it stands by the report.

Thakur argued her case herself; Assistant Solicitor General I H Farooqi represented the Union of India.

The bench said it was issuing directions “without interfering with the independence of media and keeping in view the fact that the news items relating to movement of troops has already engaged attention at the highest level in the defence as well as in the government”.

The bench noted that the petitioner had expressed grave concern that reporting on the subject, “if permitted to continue, may seriously interfere with the handling of security matters by the Army, particularly the movements of troops from the strategic point of view in the field as well as peace areas”.

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