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Friday, 4 May 2012

From Today's Papers - 04 May 2012






Delhi HC blast accused kill Army jawan in Kishtwar
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS

Jammu, May 3
An Army jawan was killed in an encounter with militants in the Palmar area of Kishtwar district here last night. The group of militants that killed the Army jawan reportedly included militants who carry a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh each on their heads in connection with the Delhi High Court blast of September 7, 2011.

“We all know that only one group of militants is active in Kishtwar district, which is wanted in the Delhi High Court blast case by the National Investigation Agency (NIA),” Kishtwar SSP Bhim Sen Tuti told The Tribune on the phone.

Asked about the exact figures and identity of militants involved in the yesterday’s encounter, the officer said, “There was one group, probably of two to three militants. Since the encounter took place around 11 pm last night, it was not possible to ascertain their exact number, leave aside their identities.”

The militants were able to make good their escape taking advantage of darkness, Tuti said. “The operation has been called off,” he added.

The slain jawan of the Territorial Army has been identified as Noor Hussain.

Slain jawan was a decorated soldier

Territorial Army jawan Noor Hussain had been awarded the Sena Medal for killing two hardcore militants in 2007

Talks on Sir Creek from May 14
India, Pak to discuss counter-terrorism on May 24, 25
Tribune News Service

Islamabad, May 3
India and Pakistan are set to hold talks on two key issues later this month as part of the resumed dialogue process. Top officials will discuss the Sir Creek issue on May 14-16 in New Delhi while the Home/Interior secretaries will meet to discuss counter-terrorism in Islamabad on May 24-25, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said in Islamabad. This was subsequently confirmed by MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin here.

Indications are that both countries consider the Sir Creek issue as one which can be resolved if there is political will on both sides. Even at their meeting in New Delhi earlier this month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had expressed the hope that the Sir Creek and Siachen issues were doable.

The Home/Interior secretaries are expected to sign the liberalised visa agreement between the two countries. The accord is likely to ease restrictions on travel and promote trade and economic relations.

India and Pakistan revived their peace process in February last year after a gap of over two years following the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

The two sides are said to be in touch with regard to dates for talks on the Siachen issue. Once they have completed talks on oustanding issues at the official level, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will visit Islamabad in July to review the progress in the dialogue process. Islamabad is hoping PM Singh will be able to visit Pakistan before the year end. Zardari had renewed Pakistan's invitation to Singh during his recent visit to India. The Indian leader was born at Gah village (now in Pakistan).

‘Internal security is shared responsibility’
Responding to the six-hour debate on Demands for Grants (2012-13) of Home Ministry, P Chidambaram, Union Home Minister, called on the states to do their bit, in terms of resources as well as cooperation on crucial initiatives such as the NCTC and the anti-Maoist drive. Excerpts from his reply in Parliament on Wednesday:

IN terms of terrorist violence, there was a time when every year we had five to six major terrorist attacks. Since Mumbai, we have had three major terrorist attacks and I am the first who wants to admit that the three are blots. But if you go back to 2001, every year we have had five to six major attacks, and in the run-up to Mumbai, we had an average of seven attacks a year. Now in the last three and a half years, we have had three terrorist attacks. No one can deny our capacity to deal with terror has increased.
Home Minister P Chidambaram speaking in the Lok Sabha
Home Minister P Chidambaram speaking in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

I believe security can be enhanced by enhancing our capacities in three areas. First is intelligence. Without intelligence there is no security. The second is capacity. We need more policemen, arms, equipment, vehicles, and schools to train them. The third is we must have a complete and common understanding that as a nation we are willing to take firm, pre-emptive steps to control any kind of threat to internal security.

On the first two there is no quarrel. We all agree that we need to expand our intelligence capabilities. Everybody has welcomed MAC [Multi-Agency Centre]; everybody has welcomed State MAC. It is MAC and SMAC which seamlessly share intelligence 24x7 with every important functionary in the Intelligence Establishment that has given us this capacity to deal with terror. Every Chief Minister has acknowledged that MAC and SMAC have made a remarkable difference to our intelligence capacity.

Do it together

On capacity, honourable Members tell me do this and do that. But who should do this and who should do that? There are 5 lakh vacancies in the state constabulary today, against a total sanctioned strength of 20 lakh. Who should fill them? Who should appoint policemen and acquire weapons?

I am willing to take the responsibility. But do I have the capacity to take this responsibility? What about the responsibility of the state governments? You tell me take all these responsibilities, roll back National Investigation Agency (NIA); roll back National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID); roll back National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). What I am trying to say is that this Hamletian dilemma must go. Remember the famous words of Hamlet: “To be or not to be”. What do we want to be? In this troubled neighbourhood, in the year 2012, internal security of this country is a shared responsibility. The states must come forward to accept their share.

The Constitution says in List-II that law and order and public order are the responsibility of the state governments. It also says, in Article 355, that it is the responsibility of the Central government to protect every state against external aggression and internal threat. We have to read these provisions together.

Last year, the Government of India spent Rs 40,000 crore on police. All states put together spent Rs 60,000 crore. I have repeatedly urged the Chief Ministers, saying, “You point to my share of the Budget and look at your share for police in your Budget.” Unless we accept the principle of shared responsibility, it cannot develop the capacity to deal with threats to internal security.

The NIA [National Investigation Agency] is a fledgling organisation. In three years, we have entrusted [it] with 40 cases, out of which 22 have already been charge- sheeted. I cannot recall any other fledgling organisation which has hit the ground running.

The NIA makes no distinction between a terrorist belonging to one religion or another religion. It makes no distinction between a terrorist belonging to one faith or another faith, one caste or another caste, one language or another language. The NIA has registered cases against those who call themselves "jihadi" terrorists. There are 12 cases. NIA has also registered cases against those who mistakenly believe in some kind of a right-wing fundamentalism. There are nine cases like that.

Let us not run down the NIA. NIA's track record has been the best among the new organisations.

Then, there is a myth India cannot deal with terrorist attacks whereas the US has had no terrorist attacks since 9/11. At least half a dozen Members said this.

Let us disabuse ourselves of this wrong notion. It is only a tribute to the successful propaganda machinery of the US. There were three actual terrorist attacks in the US. The Los Angeles Airport shooting was on July 4, 2002, in which three were dead and four were injured. Little Rock Recruiting Office shooting was on June 1, 2009, in which one was dead and one was injured. Fort Hood shooting was on November 5, 2009, in which 13 were dead and 30 were injured. There were three merely successful terrorist attacks. The shoe bomber was on December 21, 2001, the underwear bomber was on December 25, 2009, and the Times Square bomb on May 1, 2010.

I am not taking any sense of satisfaction. All I am saying is every country is vulnerable today. But do not be under the misapprehension that India is more vulnerable than other countries. I say India is no more vulnerable, but India is no less vulnerable than any other country.

Some questions were raised about the BSF Amendment Act and the NCTC [National Counter-Terrorism Centre]. But I do not know whether this was the right time for me to speak extensively on NCTC because there is a Chief Ministers’ meeting coming up on the 5th of May. There was some question about the BSF Amendment, which is now before the Rajya Sabha.

Let us take the BSF Amendment Act. Section 139 confers powers upon the BSF. Whatever powers are there are there. That section is not being amended. All that we are doing is this: The Preamble to the Act made long ago says that the BSF can be deployed in the border. Today, I am forced to deploy the BSF in the interior districts of two states: Odisha and Chhattisgarh. There are 30 companies of the BSF in Odisha and 30 in Chhattisgarh. The Act does not allow me to deploy them. Therefore, we ask you to amend the Preamble, amend the Section which says “border areas” to “any other area in the State”. The BSF cannot be deployed unless the Chief Minister wants it to be deployed. When I deploy it on the border, the power is there. When I deploy it in an interior district, it should not be a sort of same power. Not a single additional power is being given.

The same is with the NCTC. Section 2(e) of the UAPA [Unlawful Activities Prevention Act] was made in 2004, long before I became the Home Minister, which introduced “designated agency”. We amended the UAPA Act in December, 2008. The Lok Sabha added Section 43 (a) to 43 (f). Section 43(a) refers to designated agency. It says “designated agency may, under certain circumstances, counter terrorism, arrest and seize articles.” But the moment you arrest, you must hand them over to the nearest police station. This is a law made by Parliament. In fact, some of you should have asked me: “We passed the law in 2008. What were you doing for three years?” But when I finally get a consensus within the government and we have an NCTC, you turn around and say that I am encroaching upon the states’ powers.

What power am I encroaching upon? When a counter-terrorism operation is undertaken, the first police officer there would have to arrest, and the next Section 43(b) says when you arrest, you will hand him over to the nearest police station. Please tell me, where is the encroachment on states’ powers?

TACKLING MAOISTS

I want to conclude [with] what our government considers the gravest threat to internal security: the CPI (Maoist).

A number of Members say hold talks. I have no objection. Just tell me, who should I talk to? When we hold talks, should there be violence, should there not be violence? I am on record having offered to the CPI (Maoist), please say that you will not indulge in violence during the period when we hold talks and I will immediately fix talks. In the North-East, we impose more stringent conditions: You must lay down arms; you must surrender; your cadres must move into camps.... Only then we will hold talks. With Naxalites, we only say, during the period we hold talks there should be no violence. There has been no response to this. In the absence of a response, I have to pursue my two-pronged strategy. One prong is security action, the other is development work.

Under the IAP, we have spent Rs 3,300 in the last 18 months and 66,000 works have been completed in 60 districts. Yet, the CPI (Maoist) targets – two principle targets are school buildings and roads. Police are not put by me in school buildings. It is because the state government, which leads the operation, has no other accommodation, puts the policemen in the school building. I ask Chief Ministers to build infrastructure, to give barracks.... I don’t blame you. You have difficulty with money and resources. But the point is, school buildings are targets; roads are targeted. Why? The CPI (Maoist) does not want the children to go to schools; does not want roads to be built. If roads are built, the whole hinterland will be opened up. Be that as it may, I have no objection to talking to the Maoists.

Let us not have any illusion about what the CPI (Maoist) want. They are not unclear as we are unclear about them. They are very clear about their objective... that the parliamentary system of democracy must be overthrown through an armed rebellion. That is their record, that is their document, and that is their interview. Power must be seized through the barrel of a gun.

We can talk to them about grievances, poverty, illiteracy, lack of development. But please tell me, as to whether we can talk to them about overthrowing of the parliamentary system through an armed rebellion? Let us not have any illusions. They know their goal. We are the ones who are misunderstanding their goals. Civil society organisations, many of them, have completely misunderstood their goals and objectives, which is why some hon. Members call them misguided. They are not misguided. They are guided by their objectives. We are misguiding ourselves by misreading their objectives. Nevertheless, I make the offer once again. The government is willing to talk to the CPI (Maoist), provided they abjure violence during the period of talks.

Army prepared, alert over Sino-Indian border security issues
Lucknow: The Indian Army is alert to security issues on the Sino-Indian border and is prepared for the security and defence of the nation, a top commander said Wednesday.

Referring to China as a “competitor”, Lt. Gen. Anil Chait, the new head of the Lucknow-based Central Command, said at his first press conference that the command was “aware of the security issues on the border and would like to assure the people that the Indian Army was prepared for the security and defence of the nation”.

When asked if the army was also ready to take on Maoist guerillas, he said that in case they were asked to do so, “the army was alert and ready to do what was expected of it”. However, “such a situation has not arisen”, he said.

Reuters

He said the charter to fight Maoists lay with the home ministry and the army was at the periphery, socially networking and rehabilitating alienated people.

On the command’s role during emergencies and natural calamities, Chait said 200 columns always were ready to provide assistance to the state governments in rescue operations.

Referring to last month’s incident of pilgrims getting stranded in Kedarnath due to heavy snowfall, he said the armymen reached the spot within four hours.

The Central Command, which covers Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, is celebrating its golden jubilee.

India has hardened its stand on Siachen: Kayani
Islamabad: Pakistan's powerful Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Thursday contended that India had hardened its position on the Siachen issue, especially compared to the situation in 1989, when the two sides were "close to a resolution".

Speaking to the media during a visit to a high-altitude Army camp in Siachen sector that was hit by an avalanche on April 7, Kayani indicated that India had toughened its stance on the issue and there had been "some kind of regression".

He reiterated that there should be "a peaceful resolution of the issue". "We were close to a resolution in 1989 when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi came to Pakistan. It didn't materialise. I don't want to go into technicalities. There have been several meetings," Kayani said.

"At the last Defence Secretary-level meeting, there was some kind of regression. Because the term used earlier was authentication but in the last meeting, the Indian side said they want demarcation of the LoC (Line of Control)," he added.

"Having said this, we still have to talk. There is nothing like a peaceful resolution. The best thing is a peaceful resolution but short of that, we will do what we are supposed to do," the Army Chief said while responding to questions.

"It takes two hands to clap," he added. Asked about the Indian response to his comments last month about the demilitarisation of Siachen, Kayani said his remarks were "received positively except for some ifs and buts, but that is understandable because there have to be CBMs between the two countries and then we have to move forward. Let's hope we can move forward."

In Pakistan, he said, there was support "across the board" for what he had said. "It was received positively here," Kayani said.

During an earlier visit to the site of the avalanche at Gyari on April 18, Kayani had called for all issues between India and Pakistan to be resolved to ensure "peaceful co-existence" which would allow the two sides to focus on development and welfare of the people.

Kayani had also said at the time that Pakistan hoped that the Siachen issue is "resolved so that both the countries don't have to pay the cost".

Pakistani officials have for long contended that the two countries came close to an agreement on Siachen in 1989 during a meeting between then Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto.

In recent days, senior Pakistani officials have called for the implementation of that "agreement".

Responding to a question on whether Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership had revised the policy on Siachen after the avalanche, Kayani said he would not comment on the issue as it was "too early" to say anything.

"When the time comes, we will talk about it. The next (round of) talks are coming up," he said.

Kayani travelled to the Gyari sector for the third time today to review the search for 139 people, including 127 soldiers, who were buried under dozens of feet of snow by the avalanche.

Search teams are yet to find any trace of the buried men. "The rescue operation will not be called off. The minimum we can do is recover the bodies," he said.

The Army Chief was briefed about progress in the search operation, including efforts to create a water course to drain a lake that was formed after the avalanche blocked Gyari River.

Officials told him a satellite data link, made operational today, would allow real time video monitoring of the operation from the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Kayani spent time with the troops and lauded their motivation in the face of tough conditions and extreme weather, a military statement said. He appreciated their resolve to uphold the Army’s tradition of "not leaving a man behind, until humanly possible, regardless of the cost".

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

Indian and Pakistani troops have been engaged in a standoff on Siachen, described as the world’s highest and coldest battlefield, 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 on the glacier due to the adverse weather than combat.

Indian army suicides blamed on 'poor leadership'
Former Indian army officers have blamed "a lack of discipline" and "poor leadership" in the forces for more than 1,300 suicides by soldiers since 2001.

On Wednesday, the government said that stress and personal problems were the main reasons for the deaths.

Analysts say the figures show that more soldiers have died "fighting internal demons" than militants.

Indian army operates in some of the toughest conflict regions in the world, including the Siachen glacier.

Tens of thousands of soldiers are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir and the northeast where they are battling low-intensity conflicts and insurgencies.

According to the latest government figures, since 2001, 1,362 soldiers from the army, navy and air force have killed themselves while 83 have lost their lives in cases of fratricide - soldiers killing colleagues.

A majority of the cases have been reported from the army soldiers deployed in the Kashmir Valley and the northeast.

"Possible causes for soldiers committing suicides or fratricide are stress, personal problems and financial problems," Defence Minister AK Antony said in a written statement in parliament on Wednesday.

"The physical and mental well-being of the personnel is factored in while planning deployment for counter-insurgency operations," he said.

The minister said that the government had taken several steps "like counselling, improvement in food and clothing, married accommodation, leave concessions" to improve the situation.

Retired officer, Major-General Ashok Mehta, however, says that the numbers are "not alarming" in an army of a million soldiers.

He said the figures were higher when the insurgency was at its peak in Indian-administered Kashmir.

But, he says the soldiers work under tremendous pressure and that "very little work is done in post-conflict psychosomatic disorders" in the army.

They are separated from their families for long periods and often denied leave during tough counter-insurgency operations.

Maj-Gen Mehta says "if suicides are happening and soldiers are killing each other, it is a manifestation of a lack of discipline which goes straight to the leadership - unit level and above".

Newly-Appointed Director General of Artillery, Indian Army, to Address Future Artillery India Conference in New Delhi
As the Indian Armed Forces encounter mounting pressure to speed up the country's artillery procurement process, the newly-appointed Director of the Indian Armed Forces' Artillery Directorate, Lieutenant General Anjan Mukherjee, will be delivering the keynote address at Defence IQ's Future Artillery India conference in June, on the strategy for the nation's artillery modernisation over the next decade, and where investment will be prioritised.

Formerly the Director General, Financial Planning, Lieutenant General Anjan Mukherjee has assumed the position of 34th Director General of the Directorate of Artillery at a decisive time in the Indian Army's military upgrade plans, as critics warn of serious implications should the procurement of new artillery equipment continue to be delayed:

"The failure to modernise the Indian artillery is likely to have adverse repercussions for national security. If there is any field of defence procurement in which the government must make haste, it is this one," Brigadier (Retd) Gurmeet Kanwal, former Director of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi, told Defence IQ this month.

Meanwhile AK Anthony, the Indian Defence Minister, has continued to stress his government's continued commitment to ensuring India has the optimum artillery resource at its disposal:

"Arms and equipment including gun systems in the Indian artillery are available in adequate quantity," he noted, but added that "modernisation of artillery, which entails replacement of the equipment of older technology, is an on-going process and is being given priority to ensure that the artillery remains equipped with modern weapons systems".

Speaking on day one of the conference, Lieutenant General Mukherjee will be joined on the expert speaker panel by other key decision makers involved with the nation's artillery modernisation programme, including:

    Major General Vikas Joshi, Additional Director General, Directorate Artillery
    Lieutenant General J.P. Singh (Retd), Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff
    Lieutenant General Vinod Nayanar (Retd), Former Director General, Directorate Artillery
    Major General P.K. Chakravorty (Retd), VSM, Former Additional Director General Artillery


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