Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 19 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 19 Apr 2012
CBI raids ex-Army officers’ houses, seizes vital papers
Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
The CBI conducted searches at the residences of two retired Army officers and an official of the Britain-based Vectra group at Noida and in New Delhi today. It recovered some key documents in connection with its probe into the alleged irregularities in getting the supply of Tatra all-terrain vehicles to the army through defence public sector undertaking Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML).

The searches were conducted at the residents of retired Brigadier PC Das at Vasant Kunj and retired Colonel Anil Dutta at Noida and at the residence of Vectra employee Anil Mansaramani, sources said.

The prime investigating agency needed some key documents to support its probe. It constituted three teams to conduct the searches that began early this morning, resulting in the seizure of crucial documents.

The searches were conducted after the agency questioned former BEML director V. Mohan, the company's chief VRS Natarajan and Vectra group chief Ravinder Rishi in connection with the alleged lapses in the supply of Tatra trucks.

After getting inputs from Mohan, Natarajan and Rishi, the agency found it necessary to search the residences of the retired army officials and the Vectra employee to gather crucial documents which could help the agency in the case, the sources said.

Army Chief Gen V.K. Singh blew the lid off the alleged scam after he alleged last month that he had been offered a Rs 14 crore bribe to clear a deal for supplying ‘sub-standard’ Tatra trucks.

The agency was probing why the BEML decided to procure Tatra parts from Tatra Sipox (Britain), a private company, from 1997 when it was doing so through Omnipol (a state-owned unit in Czech Republic) since 1986.

The agency had registered a case against Rishi, some unnamed officials of the Defence Ministry, the army and the BEML on March 30 for the alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and also under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The agency is probing the alleged irregularities in assigning of supply from Czechoslovakia-based Tatra, with which the agreement was originally signed in 1986, to Tatra-Sipox UK owned by Rishi in 1997 showing it as an original equipment manufacturer and fully-owned subsidiary of Czech company, which was against the provisions of Defence Procurement Procedure. The sources said the CBI was trying to find out why BEML officials signed an agreement with Tatra Sipox (Britain) hurriedly on June 14, 1997 in Bangalore, three days after they had a meeting with the firm and its associate companies' officials in Slovakia.
China ‘eyeing’ strong foothold in Maldives
Ousted Prez Nasheed says Beijing wanted to heavily invest in archipelago
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, April 18
Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed today made an eye-opening revelation for India, suggesting increasing Chinese interest in gaining a foothold in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

He said three months before he was ousted from power, the Chinese had presented to him an ambitious plan of investing 1.4 billion dollars in 17 islands in the Maldives.

Nasheed said he did not accept the proposal since it would have meant giving employment to some 30,000 Chinese in his tiny country.

“The move would have radically altered the demographic character of our country which has a very small population,” he added. Also, he said he did not want to pit one country against another, alluding to India and China.

He is in New Delhi on a four-day visit, leading an eight-member delegation from his party. He is scheduled to hold meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai during the stay.

He claimed he had an opportunity to carry out "a counter-coup" against the present dispensation under Mohamed Waheed with the help from some military officers but rejected it due to his strong democratic roots.

Nasheed, who is also the first democratically elected president of Maldives, also pushed for support from the Indian government and its policy-makers for his party's call for early presidential polls to once again establish a popular government in Male.

“A few days after the coup of February seven, I was approached by some Maldivian military officials wanting to carry out a counter-coup and install me as president again. I refused and asked them not to waste my time,” Nasheed said at an interactive session at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). "Brute force is wrong, even if it is me who does it or others," he said.

The Madlives Democratic Party (MDP) leader also expressed fears of Islamic radicals taking control of his sparsely populated nation. "We have to have the elections soon, because in the absence of an elected government in Maldives, the Islamic radicals are gaining ground."

"If Maldives gets into the hands of Islamic radicals, it will not only pose a threat to Maldivians, but also to other nations of the region," he said.
Colonel jailed wrongly, to be reinstated
GCM vitiated, charges could not be proved: AFT
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
After having spent a year in jail on conviction over charges which “were never proved beyond doubt”, a Colonel has been honourably acquitted, with the army being directed to reinstate him in service in the post and rank from where he was cashiered by a general court martial (GCM), along with all consequential service and monetary benefits.

While deciding the case of Col Avijit Misra, the Armed Forces Tribunal held, “The charges levelled against him were not proved beyond doubt and that during the GCM proceedings the accused was denied a reasonable opportunity to defend himself and there was gross violation of the principles of natural justice, which has vitiated the entire GCM proceeding and the findings thereof. Consequently, the punishment inflicted on the accused/applicant cannot stand and is liable to be quashed and set aside.”

The officer’s case was that after taking over command of an infantry battalion deployed on the Indo-China border, he had projected several operational and administrative deficiencies that were the result of perpetual neglect on the part of the higher defence authorities. He was targeted for this and a case was ‘concocted’ against him.

He was tried by a GCM on 10 charges of intent to defraud, extortion and corruption, and for using insubordinate language to a superior officer. The GCM, presided by Brig AK Sahni, had in April 2006, found him guilty on eight charges. He was cashiered from service and sentenced to one year’s rigorous imprisonment. A post-confirmation petition against the GCM’s verdict was also rejected by the Central government.

The Tribunal, in its judgement passed yesterday, observed that the GCM heavily relied on the oral deposition of a witness who himself was a co-accused during the court of inquiry, but instead of being proceeded against he was turned into a prosecution witness in violation of procedures and hence could not be considered reliable. On insubordinate language, the Tribunal held that not only was it a trivial matter with no criminal intent, offensive expressions during the course of a judicial inquiry, as per law, are privileged and cannot be made subject of a criminal charge.

While pointing out the “undue hurry” shown by the GCM on many occasions resulting in the court missing out most vital points on fact and law while drawing up its conclusion, the Tribunal observed that the MoD mechanically considered the post-confirmation petition and did not substantiate enough reasons in the order to justify the GCM’s verdict. “To our mind, there was total non-application of mind on the part of the Central government while dealing with the petition,” the tribunal ruled.
Defence Ministry to move SC to claim Adarsh land

Mumbai, April 18
The Ministry of Defence would soon file a title suit in the Supreme Court to claim its ownership of the land on which the controversial Adarsh building stands.

Its counsel Aniket Nikam, responding to the interim report of the two-member Adarsh Judicial Commission which held that the disputed land belonged to the Maharashtra Government, said "The title to any piece of land cannot be established conclusively through the report of the Commission which has been set up under the Commission of Inquiry Act. Title to disputed property can be established only by filing a title suit in an appropriate court of law which in this case would be the Supreme Court," he said, adding that the Defence Ministry was in the process of filing the title suit.

Describing the report as an "eyewash", Nikam said the Commission had not considered the submissions made by the Defence Ministry that the Adarsh land belonged to them. The report had concluded that the land belonged to the state government solely on the basis of Section 294 of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, which says that ownership of all unclaimed land belonged to the state, he said.

The Commission's report said the Defence Ministry had failed to establish its claim of title to the land in question. "However, this is not so with the claim of the Government of Maharashtra. Their claim stands established in view of provisions of Section 294 of MLRC, 1966," it said. — PTI
Defence preparedness
Action needed to end critical deficiencies
by Gurmeet Kanwal

The Army Chief's leaked letter to the Prime Minister and the CAG's recent report have revealed that the state of defence preparedness is a cause for serious concern. The Chief's letter has brought into the public domain what has been known for long to army officers in service and those who have retired.

What has happened will certainly have an adverse impact on national security as it has given undue advantage to India's military adversaries by publicly disclosing sensitive information about the deficiencies in weapon systems, ammunition and equipment in service in the Army. Now that these facts are in the public domain, surely these will help to focus the nation's attention on the need to speedily make up the shortages and give the Army the wherewithal that it needs to fight and win future wars.

General V.K. Singh is not the first COAS to have apprised the Prime Minister about the poor state of preparedness; his predecessors had done so as well. Gen K.M. Cariappa had gone to Pandit Nehru to ask for additional funds for military modernisation and was reported to have been told, "India does not need an army; it needs a police force." Well, the ignominy of 1962 followed.

The late Gen Bipin Joshi had written to Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to urge him to help the Army to make up for the long-standing large-scale shortage of ammunition. While the shortage was worth over Rs 10,000 crore, Army HQ had reportedly identified a "bottom line" figure without which the COAS said the Army would remain unprepared for war.

Perhaps the country's precarious financial condition in the early 1990s did not allow Narasimha Rao to provide the necessary funds to immediately handle the shortage. A few years later the Kargil conflict took place and the whole nation heard the COAS, Gen V.P. Malik, make the chilling statement on the national TV, "We will fight with what we have."

It is well known that India had to scramble to import 50,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition for its Bofors guns, besides other weapons and equipment. Stocks of tank ammunition and that for other artillery and air defence guns were also low, and it was just as well that the fighting remained limited to the Kargil sector and did not spill over to the rest of the LoC or the plains.

Approximately, 250,000 rounds of artillery ammunition were fired in that 50-day war. The government has authorised the stocking of sufficient ammunition to fight a large-scale war for 50 to 60 days. This is known as the "war reserve". As the Army Chief's letter and the CAG report bring out, not enough new stocks were apparently procured to make up for even the ammunition expended during the Kargil conflict. Stocks of several critical varieties of ammunition for tanks and artillery guns have fallen to as low as less than 10 days' war reserves. Also, ammunition has a shelf life of about 12 to 15 years, at the end of which it is no longer usable for combat but can still be used for training. Hence, the shortages continue to increase every year if action is not taken to constantly remove the deficiency.

The other major issue highlighted in the letter written by the COAS pertains to the continuation in service of obsolescent weapons and equipment and the stagnation in the process of military modernisation aimed at upgrading the Army's war-fighting capabilities to prepare it to fight and win on the battlefields of the 21st century. While the COAS has pointed out several operational deficiencies, the most critical ones include the complete lack of artillery modernisation since the Bofors 155mm Howitzer was purchased in the mid-1980s, "night blindness" of the Army's infantry battalions and mechanised forces, and the fact that the air defence guns and missile systems are 97 per cent obsolescent. The inadequacy of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, with an adverse impact on command and control during war, adds to the Army's difficulties.

This sorry state of affairs has come about because of the flawed defence planning and defence acquisition processes in existence, a grossly inadequate defence budget and the inability to fully spend even the meagre funds that are allotted. Funds are surrendered quite often due to bureaucratic red tape — civilian as well as military, scams in defence procurement and the frequent blacklisting of defence firms accused of adopting unfair means to win contracts.

Long-term defence planning is the charter of the apex body of the National Security Council which meets very rarely due to the preoccupation of the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) with day-to-day crisis management. As such, the 15-year Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) and the five-year Defence Plan do not receive the attention that these merit.

The 11th Defence Plan, which terminated on March 31, 2012, was not formally approved by the government and hence did not receive committed budgetary support that would have enabled the three Services to plan their acquisitions of weapons and equipment systematically, rather than being left to the vagaries of annual defence budgets.

Consequent to the leakage of the Army Chief's letter and the major uproar in Parliament that resulted, the Defence Minister is reported to have approved the 12th Defence Plan 2012-17. While this is undoubtedly commendable, it remains to be seen whether the Finance Ministry and, subsequently, the CCS will also show the same alacrity in according the approvals necessary to give practical effect to these plans.

The defence budget has dipped below 2 per cent of the country's GDP despite the fact that the Service Chiefs and Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence have repeatedly recommended that it should be raised to at least 3 per cent of the GDP if India is to build the defence capabilities that it will need to face the emerging threats and challenges and discharge its growing responsibilities as a regional power in South Asia.

The government will do well to appoint a National Security Commission to take stock of the lack of preparedness of the country's armed forces and to make pragmatic recommendations to redress the visible inadequacies that might lead to yet another military debacle.
Peaceful co-existence very necessary for both Pakistan and India, says Pak Army Chief
Skardu:  Noting that withdrawal of troops from Siachen is necessary to improve 'atmosphere', Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday said the issue needs to be resolved by Pakistan and India.

General Kayani made the remarks while interacting with reporters in the northern town of Skardu after reviewing the search operation for 138 people buried by an avalanche in Gyari sector of Siachen.

He travelled to Gyari with President Asif Ali Zardari.
The army chief said the issue of Siachen needs to be resolved by Pakistan and India.

General Kayani contended that Pakistan had stationed its troops in Siachen in response to a move by India.

"The world knows why we are in Siachen," he said. The withdrawal of troops from the glacier is necessary to improve the atmosphere, General Kayani was quoted as saying by Geo News channel.

His remarks came a day after, the main opposition party PML-N's chief Nawaz Sharif called on the Pakistan government to take the initiative for resolving the Siachen issue with India.

Referring to the search operation in Gyari sector, General Kayani said all efforts were being made to trace the people hit by the avalanche on April 7.

The avalanche, which covered an area of one square kilometre, hit a battalion headquarters at Gyari.

Search teams have focussed on several "priority points" and excavated over 100 feet at two sites in their search for 127 soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry and 11 civilians who were buried under dozens of feet of snow.

The avalanche has raised questions in Pakistan over the troop deployment in the hazardous terrain.

Indian and Pakistani troops have been engaged in a standoff on Siachen since 1984.

The guns have largely been silent since late 2003, when the two countries put in place a ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir, and more troops have died due to the adverse weather than combat.
Agni-5 launch put off till tomorrow due to bad weather
The test has been cancelled as there is heavy lightening in the test range
Press Trust of India / New Delhi Apr 18, 2012, 20:31 IST

The maiden test-firing of Agni-5 Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile, scheduled for today, was postponed at the last moment till tomorrow due to bad weather conditions at the test range off the coast of Odisha in the Bay of Bengal.

The test flight of the first-of-its-kind missile was to take place from Wheeler Island at around 2000 hours but it was put off due to safety reasons and bad weather at the test range.
"The test launch of Agni-5 missile has been postponed till tomorrow due to safety reasons. The test has been cancelled as there is heavy lightening in the test range," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which has developed the missile, said, "Due to heavy lightening in the region, the Agni-5 launch is postponed for safety reasons."

The agency has got a "window period" of two days till April 20 to conduct the test firing of the missile.

A Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) - warning against any flight operations in the area - has already been issued by the agency till the time test launch.

The missile will take 20 minutes to reach its target area in southern Indian Ocean. DRDO has deployed tracking devices and stations all along the route of the test flight to collect data on the missile's trajectory.

The tracking stations will also record the speed and homing in of the missile on to the target.
Ex-Army man moves SC to stop release of Naxals
The Maoists were to be freed in exchange for abducted Odisha MLA Jina Hikaka
Press Trust of India / New Delhi Apr 18, 2012, 15:38 IST

Hours before the deadline set by Naxals for release of their jailed members in exchange of an abducted Odisha MLA, a retired Army officer today approached the Supreme Court to restrain the state government from meeting Maoists' demands.

Major General (retd) Gangurdep Bakshi pleaded with the apex court that the state government should be restrained from releasing the Naxals as they were captured by security forces, which had to put their lives on stake to nab them.
Bakshi, a counter-terrorism operations expert, submitted that his petition be given urgent hearing as the deadline set by the Naxals would come to an end today at 5pm.

Agreeing to hear his plea, a bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Misra, however, pulled up Bakshi for moving the court so late.

"You can't come at the eleventh hour and plead for urgent hearing," the bench said.

The apex court further said it would require the help of the Centre's law officer in the matter and listed the matter for hearing tomorrow.

Bakshi further pleaded that the guidelines framed by the apex court during the crisis arising out of abduction of mega star Rajkumar should be followed and the Orissa government should not allowed to relent for the sake of one person.

In the beginning, the bench expressed apprehension in hearing the case, saying "its intervention might aggravate the problem." It eventually agreed to hear it.

BJD MLA Jina Hikaka was kidnapped on March 24 from Koraput district when he was returning home to Laxmipur after a political meeting.

The Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist), which was behind Hikaka's abduction, had demanded the release of 30 prisoners, including hardcore Maoist Chenda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, accused of killing 55 policemen, in lieu of the 37-year-old tribal legislator's freedom.

Earlier, two Italians, Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo were taken hostage by Naxals on March 14 while trekking in the forests of the Daringbadi area in Kandhamal district.

Sixty-one-year-old Italian tourist Colangelo was released as a "goodwill gesture" on March 25, while the Puri-based tour guide, Bosusco, was released on April 12 after 29 days of captivity after five jailed ultras were freed.
SKARDU, Pakistan — Pakistan's powerful army chief Wednesday said he would like to see the country spend less on defence, arguing that national security depended on development as much as on protecting borders.

Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, said "peaceful coexistence" with arch-rivals India was vital to both countries and the welfare of the people should be a priority.

The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought several wars since independence in 1947 and both spend heavily on their military while millions of their people languish in poverty.

"Peaceful coexistence between the two neighbours is very important so that everybody can concentrate on the well-being of the people," he told reporters.

The general was speaking at Skardu airport in northern Pakistan after visiting the remote Gayari army base in disputed Kashmir, which was hit by a massive avalanche on April 7.

Rescuers are still searching for nearly 140 people buried by the mass of snow and rock at the camp, which lies around 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) above sea level.

Pakistan and India invest significant resources in maintaining a military presence on the Siachen Glacier -- dubbed "the world's highest battleground" -- and the tragedy has sparked lively debate about the human and financial cost of defending an uninhabitable patch of snow and rock.

Kayani said soldiers would do their duty come what may, but defending borders should not be the country's sole priority.

"We in the army understand very well that there should be a very good balance between defence and development. You cannot be spending on defence alone and forgetting about development," he said.

"Ultimately the security of a country is not only that you secure boundaries and borders but it is when people that live in the country feel happy, their needs are being met. Only in that case will a country be truly safe."

He said national security should be a comprehensive concept.

"And therefore we would like to spend less on defence, definitely," he said.

"Any country should do the same -- more focus should be on the welfare of the people."

Pakistan has spent more than half its history since independence under military rule and Kayani is widely regarded as the most powerful man in the country.

He said the decades of enmity between India and Pakistan should be resolved through negotiation and stressed the urgency of halting the damage to the environment caused by troop deployment on the Siachen Glacier.

"Ultimately it's going to affect the River Indus adversely and we understand water is important and water management is very important," he said.

Kashmir has been the cause of two wars between India and Pakistan and the nuclear-armed rivals fought over Siachen in 1987, though guns on the glacier have largely fallen silent since a peace process began in 2004.
Pak will never withdraw army from Siachen unilaterally: Rahman Malik

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal