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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 07 Aug 2012
CRPF jawan killed in Naxal attack

Raipur, August 6
Maoists today blew off a mine-protected vehicle killing a CRPF personnel and injured few others in the Naxal hotbed of Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

The blast that injured about four CRPF and one state police personnel occurred when a 80-personnel strong contingent of security forces were out on patrol at a place under the Aranpur police station of the district .

A helicopter was immediately pressed into service to evacuate the injured troopers and they were later brought to Dantewada.

The mine-protected vehicle was totally damaged in the explosion which is suspected to have been carried out by triggering an Improvised Explosive Device kept under the road on which the vehicle rolled over, a senior official said. Initial reports said two injured troopers are in critical condition.

Senior security officials along with reinforcements have rushed to the area, the official said. — PTI
Senior RAW official in China dismissed

New Delhi, August 6
The Beijing station chief of Research and Analysis Wing has been dismissed summarily following the withdrawal of pleasure of the President.

The Joint Secretary-level officer Amreet Ahluwalia was recently called back and served sacking order under Article 311 (2) which permits such dismissal when the President is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the State, it is not expedient to hold such inquiry, sources said.

In the past also Ahluwalia while posted at Jammu had faced flak from the then Home Ministry P Chidambaram who pulled him up during one of the meetings for poor reporting, they said. Sources said charges were serious which were evident from the nature of dismissal but refused to give any other details about the action taken against him. They said Ahluwalia had problems during his assignments in the past too. — PTI
India must think before it acts on Syria

Delhi must vote with its BRICS partners the next time a resolution comes up in the U.N. Security Council. That is the only way to help the West pull back from a sectarian war

On July 15, an estimated 7,000 rebel fighters owing allegiance to the Free Syrian Army invaded Damascus, the capital of Syria. In a Sturm und Drang operation, captured on amateur video by an observer whose harsh breathing reeks of fear, they raced towards the city in brand new pick-up trucks over barely marked desert tracks from Iraq and Jordan, waving Kalashnikovs in the air. Two days later, at 10.00 am, as a bomb planted in the defence headquarters killed four top generals in the Syrian armed forces and severely injured several of their advisers, they embarked on a reign of terror in Midan, killing anyone who was wearing a uniform or appeared hostile to them. Residents interviewed by the Syrian media after the army took Midan back said the attackers were Arabs, not Syrians, for they spoke a different kind of Arabic.

The Arab League and the western powers convened a meeting of the United Nations Security Council within hours. But instead of demanding that the insurgents abide by Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, their draft resolution condemned Syria for using heavy weapons — in this case helicopters — against the marauders. Russia and China’s veto did not surprise anyone. But India’s decision not to vote with its BRICS partners and to toe the western line instead did.

Why did India do this? For it must surely have known even then that Damascus was only a curtain raiser for the battle that is now being joined in Aleppo. According to Syrian estimates, 12,000 FSA fighters have infiltrated Aleppo. Half of them are foreigners from Libya, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Sudan — in short, al-Qaeda.

If there is a bloodbath in Aleppo, the West is bound to table yet another resolution in the Security Council, this time seeking permission to use “other means” if necessary to topple Bashar al-Assad and “save civilian lives.” Will India again vote with the West? Before it does so, it would do well to remember that its own nation building project is still incomplete. So whatever conventions it allows or helps the West establish on the Right to Protect or Intervene may well come back to haunt it in the years that lie ahead.

New Delhi needs to bear this in mind because there are striking parallels between what Damascus is facing today and what Delhi faced in Kashmir in the 1990s. In 2011, Syria had been under the autocratic rule of the Ba’ath party for 48 years. In 1990, Kashmir too had been under autocratic rule for all but seven of the previous 40 years. However, in both countries the autocracy was a stable one. Young people in particular chafed under the Ba’ath party’s rule in Syria exactly as they chafed against “Delhi’s rule” in Kashmir. But while nearly everyone wanted a change, almost no one wanted it at the cost of a violent disruption of their lives. In neither case, therefore, was the state the first to resort to violence: On the contrary, both insurgencies had to be stoked, so the first to pick up the gun were the insurgents. In Syria this was done by Salafi/Takfiri Islamists who crossed the border from Jordan in March 2011 and holed up in the Omari mosque in Dera’a before launching targeted provocations, and attacks on police stations and government offices.

A third parallel is the intervention of hostile foreign powers bent on converting a domestic upsurge demanding political empowerment into a movement for secession or regime change. In Kashmir, Pakistan did this by disarming the JKLF cadres still in training in Muzaffarabad in 1990 and creating the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. In Syria, Turkey and Qatar are funnelling money and battle hardened jihadis to start a sectarian war that will overwhelm the state.

Last and most important, like New Delhi, Damascus has been trying to prevent civil war by offering the insurgents the alternative of the ballot box. Mr. Assad began, on his own, by lifting all controls on the Internet in January 2011. Over the next six months, he first tried to negotiate peace with the Sunni zealots in Dera’a by sacking the governor and releasing 260 prisoners and 16 clerics, and promising to repeal the Emergency Laws and the ban on political parties that had been in place for 48 years. He fulfilled his first promise five days ahead of schedule on April 20 and his second three months later in July.

Mr. Assad also set up a drafting committee to frame a new, democratic constitution for Syria, but neither this nor his other reforms made the least dent on the hardening resolve of the West and its Arab and Turkish allies to force Mr. Assad and his regime out of power and install the puppet Syrian National Council in its place.

Despite this, Mr. Assad persevered with his attempts to make an orderly transition to democracy. As the task of framing a new constitution neared completion, he announced that the draft would be placed before the people in a referendum. Six weeks before the referendum, he offered an amnesty to all rebels and invited them to join in the voting. They could well have done so for the draft constitution not only required an election within three months of its passing but also contained a clause that would bar Mr. Assad himself from contesting the presidential election after his current term ended in 2014. But, egged on by the “Friends of Syria,” of whom India was regrettably one, they chose to boycott the elections and let the violence continue.
Sneering scepticism

The world learned virtually nothing about Mr. Assad’s efforts because the international media, which reported several of his pronouncements, did so with sneering scepticism and no attempt at analysis. But on February 26, 2012, 57 per cent of Syria’s electorate crowned Mr. Assad’s efforts with success by turning out to endorse the new constitution. The large turnout showed that the vast majority of Syrians still wanted a peaceful transition to a secular democracy, and did not mind Mr. Assad remaining in power to manage the transition. For the Free Syrian Army, whose leaders knew (just as LTTE leader Prabakaran did when forced to negotiate with New Delhi in 1987) that the return of peace would erode most of the support they enjoyed among the people, the only alternative that remained was to bring in foreign fighters in the name of jihad.

The result has been a dramatic rise in casualties after February. At the end of October 2011— eight months after the uprising began — the U.N.’s tally was between 6,000 and 7,000 deaths. By February, the figure had risen to 10,000-11,000. Today the minimum estimate is in excess of 20,000 dead. Christians and Shias have been the main victims in recent months. 50,000 Christians have been driven out of Homs, leaving less than a thousand behind. As a result, the number of doctors in the city has fallen from 850 to less than 50, and functioning hospitals from 45 to 5.
Attack on Christians

The killing of Christians has now spread to Damascus. When the Syrian army retook Midan, the FSA ‘rebels’ dispersed but did not withdraw. Instead they selectively attacked and killed the wealthy, educated Christians of Damascus. The first targeted attack took place on July 23. Another occurred over the weekend of August 4-5. U.N. officials in Damascus have reported a ‘terrible killing’ in the Christian quarter of Damascus. Another exodus is therefore in the offing: the Archbishop of the Syrian church told a U.N. official ‘que dieu me sauve’— only god can save us.

It is inconceivable that Mr. Assad initiated this escalation because his successful referendum in February and Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan, which held the rebels equally responsible for the civilian deaths and did not endorse the western demand for Mr. Assad to step down first, had given him everything he wanted. From that point on, he had nothing to gain and everything to lose from violence. The western powers have their reasons for studiously ignoring his lack of motive, but Delhi needs to remember that they are not India’s reasons.

When the next resolution condemning the Syrian government comes up in the Security Council, there are two good reasons why India must vote against it. The first is to stand by the principle of national sovereignty that underpins the U.N. Charter and reassure its BRICS partners that it is not a fair weather friend.

The second is to give the West an escape hatch to avoid compounding its own mistakes. The recent horrifying rise in sectarian killings; the growing terror of Syria’s Christian population, the beheading of an international staff member of the Red Cross in Yemen, and the creeping spread of sectarian violence in Turkey, have triggered a spate of reappraisals in the New York Times, The Guardian, The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other publications. These reveal a nagging anxiety that the West’s intervention is not preparing Syria for democracy but dragging the entire region towards a no-holds-barred Sunni-Shia jihad that will douse the candle of reason with blood for generations to come.

India has a unique moral position in the world today: it is a working democracy; it threatens no country and is almost completely free from sectarian conflict. A vote by it against military intervention in Syria will therefore carry disproportionate weight. It could give the West a face-saving way of pulling back from a sectarian war in which it will find itself aligned with the killers of Christians and the destroyers of the World Trade Centre.
Olympian Vijay wants to quit Indian army
London Olympics silver medalist shooter Vijay Kumar on Monday said that he wants to leave Indian Army as he has not been given a single promotion in the last six years despite good performances at the national and international levels.
Unheralded Vijay, who is a subedar with 16 Dogra
Regiment, provided the silver lining for India in London Games last week, clinching the second place in the 25m rapid fire pistol event.

"Indian army helped me in shooting by giving me coaching facilities and providing me with pistol and ammunition but I need money for my daily needs," Vijay told 'PTI Bhasha' from London.

"Since 2006, I have won many national and international medals that includes three gold and one silver in 2010 Commonwealth Games. But I have not been recommended by my seniors. I have not given any promotion or honorary award or any other kind of facility," he added.

Six-time national champion, Vijay had won two silver at ISSF World Cup. And though he missed out on a medal in rapid fire event at Guangzhou Asiad, he won two bronze in air pistol and center fire pistol. He also won a gold at Doha Asian Games.

"I have been continuously performing well in shooting, but I have not given any reward. I am still a subedar," complained Vijay.

Asked if he has written to his seniors about this, Vijay said, "Nothing is given in written. It is done automatically. If somebody is performing well, he is recommended by seniors."

Himachal government has announced Rs. 1 crore for Vijay but he is not satisfied with it as he is not been given any state awards so far.

"After 2010 CWG, Haryana, Punjab and other states gave promotion to their players but I have not received any award from my state where Parshuram and Himachal Gaurav awards are given to players who perform well at national and international levels," he said.
Army officers involved in arms racket, Supreme Court told
NEW DELHI: Months after the Army punished 73 officers for illegal sale of their non-service weapons to arms dealers in Rajasthan's border districts, the Supreme Court was told on Monday that Army units deputed in Jammu and Kashmir were found to be involved in 104 cases of sale purchase of weapons of various types.

The Army was forced to take action against its officers after the Supreme Court raised security concerns on the basis of a PIL, which had five years ago claimed that a gunrunning racket involving Army officers was rife in the border districts of Rajasthan.

Rajasthan police had registered 14 FIRs, of which the one filed by Jaipur anti-corruption bureau on July 18, 2007 pertained to 284 cases. The state government, in its affidavit before the apex court, said, "During investigation, 304 more cases came to light on perusal of records and 41 cases pertaining to licences issued from the state of Punjab came to light."

But the shocking part of the affidavit related to involvement of Army units posted in militancy affected Kathua, Kupwara and Srinagar districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The state said, "104 cases pertain to Army companies deputed in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and in respect whereof, the letters were addressed twice by deputy inspector general of police, ACB Jaipur to district collectors of Kathua, Kupwara and Srinagar. The investigation in that regard is pending."

A bench of Justices S S Nijjar and H L Gokhale said it would peruse the affidavits and reports submitted in sealed cover before taking up the PIL for detailed hearing.

If Rajasthan detailed the action for prosecution it had taken against its administrative officials in the case of grant of illegal licences involving non-service weapons of Army officials, the Army too detailed the court martial proceedings and punishment given to the 72 officers and a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) found involved in the illegal sale and purchase of non-service weapons.

Of the 29 officers of the rank of lieutenant colonel, colonel and major found involved in the sale of weapons, 15 were "punished" with "severe reprimand and a fine of Rs 500", two were "reprimanded" and rest were awarded punishment ranging from one to three years loss of service either for promotion or pension purposes.

The 25 officers posted in Indian Army Training Team at Bhutan, who were found to have imported ammunition in excess of the authorized 50 rounds, were all let off with "severe displeasure (non-recordable).

The PIL filed by advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma had in 2007 alleged that the government had not taken action against Army officers despite the Rajasthan home ministry finding that they were involved in selling their non-service weapons to arms dealers and private persons.

The Army inquired into the incidents and told the apex court in 2008 that weapons procured and sold in breach of Army Act and Customs Act were of both prohibited and non-prohibited bore and "a total of 72 officers and one JCO were blameworthy" in these cases.
MoD approves Army’s demand for air assets
New Delhi: Undeterred by the stiff opposition from the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Indian Army’s plan to get combat air assets of its own is set to fructify. According to sources, ‘‘the Army’s demand for air assets has got the approval of the ministry of defence (MoD), which has asked the Army to bring about ‘‘organisational’’ changes to expedite acquisition and prioritise its requirements.’’

Last week, during Army chief General Bikram Singh’s first review meeting with defence minister AK Antony for the next two years’ acquisition, the Army’s demand to build a ‘mini’ air force by procuring Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and improving the airlift capability in the North-East was approved.

The IAF contends that ‘air assets’ are ‘scarce resources‘ that should be handled by a force with operational expertise and requisite ‘air-mindedness’. However, the Army is unconvinced and feels that the IAF can continue with its larger ‘strategic role’ and the ‘tactical role’ should be left to it.

As per plans, the Army is scheduled to get its first attack helicopter developed domestically Rudra soon. Rudra will be armed with 20mm turrent guns, 70 mm rockets, air-to-air missiles and anti-tank guided missiles. Along with this the Army has plans to have at least five fixed wings aircraft for each of its operational commands.

As per the Army’s plans for its aviation wing—mooted in 2007 and to be implemented over a 15-year period ending 2022—the three strike corps would be beefed up with an aviation brigade comprising two squadrons of 12 attack helicopters each, apart from two squadrons with 15 helicopters each for tactical battle reconnaissance and casualty evacuation, top army sources said.

Apart from the 1, 2 and 21 strike Corps, the Army will also provide aviation brigades to each of its 10 pivot or defensive corps, but these would essentially be in the nature of tactical lift capabilities, with some offensive elements.

At present, the Army relies on two squadrons of Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters and Mi-17 medium-lift choppers of the IAF for testing its transformational concepts.

Defence ministry officials, when asked about the army’s aviation plans, said the IAF would continue to play a ‘‘strategic’’ role while the army would acquire its air assets for a ‘‘tactical’’ role.

The Army, obviously, wants to have ‘‘full command and control’’ over the ‘‘tactical’’ operations of air assets so that it could meet its rapid deployment needs and for combat air support.

The Army is already looking at procuring 114 of the indigenously-developed light combat helicopter (LCH), which took to the skies for the first time in March 2010, and 64 of which IAF is buying.
Armed forces put on hold induction of Tatra trucks
The three armed forces have put on hold induction of Tatra trucks for their ongoing projects from BEML in the wake of the ongoing investigations against it.

The defence ministry will take a final call on the issue whether the services should go ahead with the induction of the trucks in consultation with the three services chiefs, ministry sources said.

After the controversy over the trucks broke out in March, not a single Tatra truck has been inducted into the armed forces, they said.

The trucks, which are used for carrying out heavy-duty tasks in the Army and other two services, are to be used for ferrying missiles and their launchers such as the Pinaka multi barrel rocket launchers.

Former Army Chief Gen V K Singh, who retired on May 31 after holding the post of the Army chief for over two years, had alleged in March that he was offered Rs 14 crore bribe by a former officer to clear supply of a tranche of 600 Tatra trucks from BEML.

Hours after Gen Singh's allegations were made public, Defence Minister A K Antony ordered a CBI probe into the whole episode.

BEML's Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) for a long time V R S Natarajan was also suspended by Antony for ensuring fair probe into the charges leveled against the PSU.
73 army personnel punished for illegal sale of arms
New Delhi: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that 73 army officials of various ranks have been punished with disciplinary action for illegal sale of weapons and issuance of licences to dubious persons.

Appearing for the Defence Ministry, Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising told a bench of Justice S S Nijjar and Justice H L Gokhale that the punishment ranged from censure, demotions and witholding of increments.

Both the Centre and the Rajasthan government placed before the bench the status report vis-a-vis the inquiry so far conducted into the allegations.
73 army personnel punished for illegal sale of arms

Rajasthan's Additional Advocate General Manish Singhvi told the bench that the State had investigated 14 cases and had so far filed chargesheet in six cases.

The apex court said it would peruse the reports and posted the matter for further hearing to a non-miscellaneous day.

The court was hearing a PIL seeking direction to the government for taking action against its officers after the NSP weapon scam came to light in 2007 when authorities in Rajasthan's Ganganagar district noticed that several licenses were issued to dubious persons, including terrorists, smugglers and rowdy elements by local authorities without verification.

Subsequent probe by the government revealed a larger racket in which several Army officers, including the ones of major general rank, along with IAS and Rajasthan civil service officers, were found involved in the sale of NSP arms to dubious elements.

For their personal use, the army personnel are issued weapons, known as non-service pattern weapons, from ordnance depots.

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