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Sunday, 26 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 26 Aug 2012



Drone strikes kill top Afghan rebel

Key Pak Taliban leader also dead


Washington/Islamabad, August 25

Badruddin Haqqani, the key operational commander of the Al-Qaida linked Haqqani network, and top Pakistani Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah are believed to have been killed in US drone and air strikes in the tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Badruddin, the son of Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, is ranked as a deputy to his elder brother and the network's chief Sirajuddin and was believed to be killed in one of the five volleys of drone strikes in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan since August 18.


Four of the missile hits took place in Shawal Valley, considered to be traditional area of operations of the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, and US reports said he may have been killed in the August 21 strike near Miranshah.


One senior Pakistani intelligence official said Badruddin had fled a compound that he and other militants were in after it was hit by a missile, then was killed by a second drone strike on a car that he was in. There was no official word on Badruddin's fate from the Haqqani network.


Senior US officials were quoted by the New York Times as saying that they had strong indications that Badruddin was killed in a drone strike. "Our informers have told us that he has been killed in the drone attack on the 21st but we cannot confirm it," said one of the Pakistani intelligence officials.


If Badruddin's death is confirmed, it could deal a major blow to the Haqqanis, one of the United States' most-feared enemies in Afghanistan.


Meanwhile, a statement by coalition forces in Afghanistan said that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leader Mullah Dadullah was among 20 militants killed in a "precision air strike in Shigal wa Sheltan district (of) Kunar province yesterday."


Dadullah, whose real name is Maulana Mohammad Jamaluddin, was made the commander of Taliban in Pakistan's Bajaur Agency in 2010. His deputy Shakir too was killed in the air strike, the statement said. — Agencies

Terror King Badruddin Haqqani


    Badruddin Haqqani: Key operational commander of Haqqani networkKey operational commander of Haqqani network, ran its day-to-day militant operations, handles high-profile kidnappings and manages its lucrative smuggling operations

    Son of Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, he was ranked as a deputy to his elder brother and network chief Sirajuddin

    Thought to be in his mid-30s, he was a member of the Miranshah Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban's four regional commands that controls the group’s activities in Af-Pak region

    Badruddin was one of the nine Haqqani family members designated by the US as global terrorists


Who is Mullah Dadullah


    Mullah Dadullah Pak Taliban commanderWas self-proclaimed Taliban leader in Pak's Bajur tribal area that lies across the border

    Fled to Afghanistan to escape an operation launched by the Pakistan Army

    Responsible for movement of fighters and weapons, as well as attacks against Afghan and coalition forces

Talks on with Pak to resolve Sir Creek issue: Antony


Porbandar, August 25

Defence Minister AK Antony today said that efforts were on to resolve the disputed Sir Creek issue with Pakistan.


"The dialogue process is on to resolve the issue with the neighbouring country, but can't tell any time limits," Antony told media-persons after inaugurating Remote Operating Station (ROS) of the Coastal Radar Network at Porbandar today.


Sir Creek is a 98-km disputed territory between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands, which opens up into the Arabian Sea. The Sir Creek divides the Kutch region of Gujarat and the Sindh province of Pakistan.


Antony inaugurated the Gujarat leg of the ROS as part of the coastal radar network, which has been envisaged to provide security cover for the coastline. Earlier in the day, he inaugurated a similar system in Maharashtra.


"With the inauguration of this system, the country will be able to meet any challenges that arise either from outside or within", Antony said. The system would function round-the-clock to keep a constant vigil on the activities on the sea, he said. — PTI

PM to meet Zardari at NAM Summit

Ashok Tuteja/TNS


New Delhi, August 25

Even as Washington tightens its noose around Tehran over the Islamic nation’s controversial nuclear programme, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is leaving here next week for Iran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit to be held on August 30-31.


The PM will have bilateral meetings with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the margins of the summit to review bilateral relations as well as international developments, particularly the situation in Afghanistan.


Briefing reporters here today on Manmohan Singh’s visit, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said the PM would also have meetings with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and the leaders of Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. A ‘pull-aside’ with the new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was also a possibility.


The summit will be preceded by a customary ministerial meeting on August 28-29 and a senior officials’ meeting tomorrow and the day after. The theme of the ‘Tehran Summit’ is ‘Lasting Peace through Global Governance’ in accordance with the NAM practice. It would focus on global, regional and sub-regional issues, including the conflict in Syria, as well as the issues relating to development and human rights and social issues.


Asked if the NAM Summit or the Iran issue had figured during his recent talks with US Ambassador to UN Susan Rice, Mathai said, “We did discuss matters relating to Iran but formally no such issues were taken up.’’


His comments assume significance against the backdrop of the fact that the US has been nudging India to reduce its engagement with Iran and also considerably slash its oil imports from the Islamic republic as part of Washington’s attempt to isolate Tehran.


The Foreign Secretary, however, noted that economic relations between India and Iran had only strengthened in the past two years though the balance of trade was heavily tilted in favour of the Islamic republic, primarily because of oil purchases by India. “We would certainly like to expand our exports to Iran.’’


Giving figures, he said the total bilateral trade between the two countries in 2011-12 was to the tune of $ 15.9 billion. Of this India’s imports were worth $ 13.5 billion and exports amounted to $ 2.4 billion.


Mathai also made it clear that India would abide by the sanctions imposed against Iran by the UN and ignore those slapped by individual nations like the US. However, he admitted that the sanctions by the US and other Western nations had caused some problems in trading with Iran, like bank guarantees and shipping.

When India was threatened with nukes

Raj Chengappa


WHY did India, a nation born on the principle of non-violence, decide to build and equip itself with the atom bomb, the world’s most destructive weapon? Shivshankar Menon, the erudite National Security Adviser, speaking at a global nuclear conference in New Delhi last week, gave two reasons: The first “is the contribution that it makes to our (India’s) security in an uncertain and anarchic world.” And the second, he said, was that “on at least three occasions before 1998 other powers used the explicit or implicit threat of nuclear weapons to try and change India’s behaviour.”


In his speech Menon did not reveal the details of the three occasions on which India was threatened. When I called to check, he preferred to direct me to an analysis given in a lecture delivered in 2000 by India’s renowned defence strategist, the late K. Subrahmanyam. In that lecture Subrahmanyam had pointed out that three senior Pakistani strategists had gone on record to state that Pakistan’s threat of a nuclear counter had deterred India from attacking it on three occasions.


According to Subrahmanyam, the Pakistan analysts claimed that in 1984, India and Israel planned to combine forces and launch an attack on Pakistan’s Kahuta nuclear installation but abandoned it when Islamabad sent out signals that it would retaliate with a nuclear strike. Then in 1987 they claimed that during the Indian military exercise “Operation Brasstacks”, India had contemplated invading Pakistan but was again deterred when Islamabad flashed its nuclear card. It was the same year that veteran Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar interviewed Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist AQ Khan, who revealed that Islamabad did have the bomb.


The third time was in 1990, when Kashmir was on the boil and war clouds loomed over the sub-continent. Pakistan threatened India with a nuclear strike. I can confirm that episode because along with a colleague I interviewed the late former Army Chief Krishnaswami Sundarji in April 1990. Though retired, Sundarji told us that Islamabad would be living “in a fool’s paradise” if they thought that India would not hesitate to use its atomic weapons if Pakistan decided to launch a nuclear attack. The US was so perturbed that it sent one of its envoys, Robert Gates, to Pakistan and India to bring down the temperatures.


There was actually a fourth time too that India was threatened with implicit use of nuclear weapons, something Subrahmanyam also pointed out. That was in 1971, towards the end of the Bangladesh war, when the US sent its nuclear armed aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal to warn India against launching a full-scale invasion of Pakistan.


Menon also cited the Enterprise incident to me as did Brajesh Mishra, the former National Security Adviser, when I called him up to check on his list of nuclear threats to India. So the logic given by Indian strategic experts is sound: that given the nuclear sabre-rattling being done by our neighbours and the US, there was enough justification for India to develop nuclear weapons as a credible deterrent, though not as an offensive weapon.


My own research on the subject, which I published in my book Weapons of Peace (it’s out of print, so this is not a plug!), pointed to India deciding to go nuclear much before these events. If anything, the threats of attack only speeded up the decision-making. Though India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru championed the cause of a nuclear-free world, he did give tacit support to Homi Bhabha, the then chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, to go ahead with developing the technology to build the bomb around 1955.


Before the 1962 Chinese invasion, when India had evidence that China was preparing to explode a nuclear weapon, Bhabha apparently told Nehru that India should “take precautionary measures” and optimistically estimated that if given clearance the nation’s atomic scientists could make a bomb in two years. Nehru is said to have brushed aside Bhabha’s offer. It was only after Nehru’s death in 1964 and after China exploded its first nuclear device, that Indian scientists were cleared by the then Indian Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, to develop a device for a Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE) in 1965.


After Shastri’s death in 1966, India’s nuclear bomb plans were put on hold for a while, till his successor Indira Gandhi gained in confidence and stature. In 1970, Indira Gandhi ordered a reluctant Vikram Sarabhai, the then Atomic Energy Commission chairman, to begin preparations for a PNE. This was almost a year before the Bangladesh war. But the threat by the USS Enterprise did firm up Indira Gandhi’s decision to go ahead with testing a nuclear device. The formal order was given in 1972 and India conducted its first nuclear test in May 1974.


I beg to differ with Menon on one point though. In his speech last week the National Security Adviser asserted: “Since we became a declared nuclear weapons state in 1998 we have not faced such threats. So the possession of nuclear weapons has, empirically speaking, deterred others from attempting nuclear coercion or blackmail against India.”


My research indicates this statement is not quite correct. During the 1999 Kargil, when Indian threatened to invade Pakistan, Islamabad did send out signals that they may resort to the use of nuclear weapons. Brajesh Mishra confirms that India did keep its nuclear weapons ready during the Kargil War but states that Delhi had no evidence that Pakistan was preparing to carry out a first strike.


The US, though, seemed most concerned that the Kargil War would end in a nuclear conflagration. The then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif confirmed this to me in an interview in 2004, when he was in exile in Jeddah, stating that it was the first question Bill Clinton asked him when he met the US President in Washington DC in the midst of the Kargil crisis in 1999. It may not suit the argument put forward by some of India’s strategic analysts, but the danger of India and Pakistan going nuclear in the event of a major war between them does remain.

Twenty Two Fateful Days





Indian Version




“As India’s Defence Minister made it clear from the outset, the capture of Lahore was never the Indian Army’s objective in the operation. It was not counter plated, firstly, because, if captured, Lahore would have proved a heavy liability, both militarily and political sucking up a considerable proportion of our troops badly needed elsewhere; secondly, the Indian Army, then still going through the process of reorganization and therefore in a state of flux, was not prepared for a task of that magnitude, physically and psychologically.




“If territorial conquest was our objective, we would have needed an infinitely larger force than the six and half divisions we had at our disposal as against the six divisions the Pakistanis had arrayed against them. Thus, incidentally, the comment of the Western Press that the Indo-Pak fighting was a ‘war between quality (Pakistan’s) and quantity (India’s)’ was incorrect.




“The same night, that is September 6, Ayub tried another trick. Some 500 paratroopers drawn from Pakistan’s commando unit known as the ‘Special Service Group,’ were dropped in sticks of 60-70 near the forward Indian air bases of Pathankot, Adampur Jullunder, Halwara (Ludhiana) and Ambala. They were armed with machine-guns, automatic guns with telescopic sights and sabotage implements.




“But once again a Pakistani trick went awry. The para-troopers were dropped too far away from targets and too late, so that they arrived at their rendezvous out of schedule when it was getting light and were found out before they could do any damage.




The majority of them were captured on the very first day, and the rest rounded up in the next few days. Hardly any damage was done by them to our air bases.




“The 7th Indian Infantry Division, heading for Ichhogil Canal, along the Khalra-Burki-Lahore axis, overnight flexed its muscles and prepared the ground for the main operation by eliminating two enemy strong points, Theh Sarja Marja and Rakh Hardit Singh. The main attack however began at 5.30 A.M. the next day, September 6.




“Our forces’ swift advance indicated that they achieved complete tactical surprise. The Ghawindi barrier was crossed on schedule. The first major opposition was expected at Hudiara Drain, halfway between the border and Ichhogil Canal. The Indian forces reached the Hudiara Drain at 7 A.M., and were greeted by heavy artillery fire.




“By 10 A.M., the Hudiara village was captured by the Indians. The idea now was to get behind the well-defended Hudiara Drain. By 5 P.M., the nearby village Nurpur was taken. When the enemy noticed that we had got behind him, he blew up the bridge across the 140 ft. wide Hudiara Drain and retreated. After this battle, the Pakistanis withdrew their armour to the other side of Ichhogil Canal.




“On September 7 morning, the Indian forces struck in the direction of Burki. By 2.30 P.M. that day, our engineers had flung a Bailey bridge across the Hudiara Drain, and by dusk our forces were in Barkha Kalan. All of September 8 was taken up with cleaning up the area of enemy snipers and stragglers.




“On September 9, the attack was mounted on the well-defended Burki village, situated on the east bank of Ichhogil Canal. Eleven solid, cement-concrete pill-boxes, placed at a thousand yards interval, guarded the approaches to the village. These pill-boxes were well camouflaged to look like village mud huts. Each pill-box was 15 feet square, with 3 ft. thick walls and roof made of reinforced cement concrete, and 6 ft. inside height and 5 ft. outside height (above ground).




“Three of the four walls had each a steel-shuttered aperture for guns, while the fourth side had the entrance door. Each pill-box was manned by three men, one handled a machine-gun, another a Bren-gun, and the third an automatic rifle, and was stocked with 20,000 to 30,000 rounds of ammunition. The pill-boxes were so sited that they covered the gaps between them by effective cross-fire.




“Phase one of the Burki operation comprised the capture of Burki village by one battalion, and phase two aimed at securing lodgment by another battalion on the east bank of Ichhogil Canal.




“The battle of Burki began at 8 P.M. The enemy fought for every inch of ground. Both sides used tanks, even though it was night time. In addition, the Pakistanis put across one of the heaviest artillery barrages ever experienced by an advancing force. They fired 120 mm mortars, 8 inch guns, 105 and 150 mm guns as well as radar-equipped super-heavy guns. Some 2,500 shell rained over our men in the course of 45 minutes. By 9.30 P.M. the village of Burki was wrested from the Pakistanis. In order to do that, our Jawans had to silence each one of the eleven pill-boxes. And how they did it is a saga of personal heroism.




“Having attained its objective by September 10, thereafter, this Division kept itself busy consolidating its positions and patrolling, till cease-fire came on September 23. It had under its control 150 square miles of Pakistan territory, the largest chunk in this sector.




“Further north, in the Wagah sector, 16th Indian Division driving along the Grand Trunk Road, was moving so fast that by 10-30 A.M. one of its battalions found itself on the east bank of Ichhogil Canal, and then it crossed the canal to the other side and reached the Bata factory in the outskirts of Lahore.”




Pakistani Version




Pakistani version has been taken from the book “My Version” by General (R) Mohammad Musa published by Wajidalis Limited, Lahore from Page No.49 to 51.




“The invaders appear to have been under the impression that they wouldn’t meet much opposition in securing their objectives, including the city of Lahore. Hence, perhaps, the confident and boastful promise General Choudhuri made to his officers that he would meet them at the Lahore Gymkhana Club that evening, and the announcement by the BBC that Lahore had fallen! But, instead of entering Lahore in triumph, the Indian forces were held up all along the front by our forward troops, who stabilized the situation and gained complete control over it within hours of the start of the fighting, as stated by me in my Order of the Day to the Pakistan Army issued on the afternoon of 6 September.




“The attack on West Pakistan was launched on a very wide front-from Sialkot to Kasur-most probably, with the intention of dispersing our forces. If this was one of the aggressors’ main aims, it wasn’t achieved. We had considered it while evolving our plan. On the contrary, by opening up so many fronts, they themselves dissipated their resources, which prevented them from gaining an overwhelming superiority for a breakthrough in one or two key areas.




“On 12 September, Patrie Seale of the ‘Observer’, London, expressed a similar view when he reported that:-




‘... But on the ground India has been driven to a stalemate. Seeking to disperse Pakistan’s smaller force she had dispersed her own. She has not made a single thrust in overwhelming strength on any sector of the front ...’




“The enemy’s main thrusts from East Punjab were directed against Lahore and Kasur. All along that front, they met stiff opposition and their advance was stopped, as had been planned by us, on the BRB canal (referred to by India as Ichhogil canal), although, in some localities in the Lahore sector, our troops had just arrived and were still engaged in improving their positions when the attack came. The delay in occupation of battle locations on this front might have been due to misunderstanding of GHQ signal, which should have been checked up with the Director of Military Operations by the Divisional Headquarters immediately after receiving it, if they had any clarification to seek.




“‘Dhakarta Daily Mail’, of 11 September, has thus described the battle on this front during the first few days of the Indian attack:-




“.. Pakistan forces have not only repulsed Indian attack at Wagah sector of the Lahore front but have also penetrated into the Indian territory and have captured a number of Indian posts. Foreign correspondents based in India and Pakistan were more or less unanimous in their assessment, as revealed in their dispatches and reports, that the Indian offensive has failed to make any appreciable dent into Pakistan’s defence’.




“On 16 September, ‘Times of India’ wrote:




‘It is clear from the fury with which the enemy (Pakistan) is fighting on all fronts that it has not been easy for the Indian Army to advance into Pakistan territory.’




“The paper quotes two senior Indian Army Officers as saying:-




‘Let us not forget that the Pakistan Army consists, not of disorganized rabble, but of professional soldiers ...’




“In this connection, the Economic Weekly (India) stated:




‘It is incredible how our political and military leadership continues to harp on the fact that it was not intended to occupy Lahore and Sialkot’”.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister opposes Indian training for Lankan troops

Jayalalitha Jayaram, the chief minister of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, today accused the central government of concealing the training it gave to the Sri Lankan Army officials from the state government.

In a letter written to the Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, Jayalalitha noted down that the training programs for Sri Lankan officers were conducted in the state of Tamil Nadu, even after the state government made it clear that they doesn’t approve of such measures.


Following the recent opposition from the state government, nine officers from the Sri Lankan Air Force, who were undergoing training at the Tambaram Air Force Base near Chennai, were relocated to the Yelahanka Air Base in the state of Karnataka. Jayalalitha had blasted the move saying that the Sri Lankan officers should have been sent back to their home country, rather than allowing them to complete their training at Yelahanka.


The Tamil Nadu government is also opposing the central decision to provide training to two other Sri Lankan officers, Captain Hewawasam Kadaudage of the Sri Lankan Navy and Major Dissanayaka Mohottalalage Vengra of the Sri Lankan Army. The two Lankan officers had started their training from this May onwards, which is expected to last for some 11 months.


The duo is undergoing training at the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), located inside the Wellington Cantonment, in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu. The DSSC is one of the oldest military institutions in India, and at any given point of time, a large number of foreign staff is present for training and other purposes.


Jayalalitha, the leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party, has been at loggerheads with the Indian National Congress (INC) lead central government for the last several months. Tamil Nadu is populated mostly by the members of the Tamil ethnic group, who show a lot of concern about the Tamil minority of Sri Lanka. Ever since the elimination of the Tamil dominated rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Sri Lankan Army, the Sri Lankan Tamils have been complaining of increased incidents of discrimination and marginalization by the Sinhalese dominated government.

Prithvi-II missile test-fired successfully

Hyderabad, Aug 25:


The Strategic Forces Command of the Indian Army on Saturday successfully test-fired the Prithvi-II missile. The surface-to-surface nuclear-capable missile was test-fired from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha at 11.04 hrs.


The trial, carried out by the user was part of the continuous exercise to gauge its effectiveness in real-time situations. It was launched from a mobile launcher, according to a Defence Ministry press release.


The Prithvi-II is capable of attacking targets at ranges up to 350 km. It has been inducted into the defence forces. The Strategic Force Command, which has the responsibility for the missile launch, has, as part of regular training, conducted the test. The objective was to demonstrate the control and guidance system and improve training.


The single stage liquid propelled vehicle is one of the first missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Bharat Dynamics Ltd has manufactured the missile — which is 9 metres long and can carry a payload of up to 500 kg — for the the Indian Army.


All the radars, electro optical systems located along the coast have tracked and monitored all the parameters of the missile throughout its flight path. An Indian Navy ship located near the target in the Bay-of–Bengal witnessed the final event, the release said.

Tejinder pursuing "sinister anti-national agenda": VK Singh

New Delhi, Aug 24: Former Army Chief Gen VK Singh told a Delhi court that ex-Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, who has filed a criminal defamation case against him and four other Army officials, is pursuing a "sinister anti-national agenda" to malign and demean the Indian Army.


In his reply filed before Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) Jay Thareja on Tejinder Singh's plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to him, Singh said Tejinder was "maliciously" prosecuting top serving and retired Army officers.


"The application moved by the complainant (Tejinder) vehemently opposed as the same is merely an outcome of the whims and fancies of the complainant who is pursuing a sinister anti-national agenda of maligning and demeaning the Indian Army for reasons best known to him by maliciously prosecuting top serving and retired officers of the Indian Army," Singh said in his plea.


The former Army Chief said he has an "impeccable service record quite contrary to that of the complainant (Tejinder)" and the application seeking cancellation of bail is aimed at "harassing" him.


Besides the former Army Chief, others who were earlier granted bail are Vice Chief of Army Staff SK Singh, Lt Gen BS Thakur (Director General of Military Intelligence), Major General SL Narshiman (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Col Hitten Sawhney.


The other four also opposed Tejinder's plea saying that it is "misconceived" and there is no ground for cancellation of bail granted to them.


Tejinder had on Aug 8 filed an application seeking cancellation of the bail granted to them saying that four of the five accused have not appeared in the court to attend the proceedings and they might tamper with the evidence.


Tejinder had filed the complaint against the five alleging that he was defamed by the Army through its press release issued on Mar 5, which accused him of offering a bribe of Rs 14 crore to the erstwhile Army Chief to clear a deal of 600 trucks, a charge refuted by him.


In his reply, the former Army chief said that he neither has any access to the documents nor the resources to influence any Army officer and he has not tampered with any of the files pertaining to the Mar 5 press release.


During the hearing, the court reserved its order for Aug 28 on the plea by the four serving Army officers for conversion of the case into a warrant case under section 259 of the CrPC, instead of summons case.


It also reserved its order on the plea by the four serving army officers for re-summoning the file of Ministry of Defence pertaining to the issuance of the Mar 5 press release.


During the proceeding, except Sawhney, none of the four accused appeared before the court and moved applications through their lawyers for exemption from personal appearance.


Advocate Anil Aggarwal, who appeared for Tejinder, opposed the plea seeking exemption from personal appearance but the court allowed the applications for today.


All the accused had appeared before the court on Jul 20 in response to the summons issued against them and the four serving officials had moved the court for conversion of the case into a warrant case saying, "This is not a normal defamation case and it needs more elaboration."


The court had said that if the case is converted into a warrant case, the trial will take 20 years to conclude.


All the five accused were granted bail by the court on Jul 20 on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 each.


In his complaint, Tejinder has accused them of misusing their official position, power and authority to level false charges against him.


The press release had blamed Tejinder, former chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency and some disgruntled serving officers of the Military Intelligence of planting story in the media relating to purported tapping of some sensitive phones in the capital.


The court had said it was "prima facie" satisfied that the Mar 5 press release was "defamatory" as "ex-facie" serious allegation of "bribery" has been made against Tejinder, who had a long and distinguished career in the Army.

Defence in disgrace

There seems to be no end to scams in the Indian Army; the latest being the CBI charging two colonels, Kulbir Singh and A.K. Singh, of the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Khadakwasla, Pune, with selling NDA jobs. It rattled the defence establishment, prompting Defence Minister A.K. Antony to order the transfer of the NDA chief, Lieutenant-General Jatinder Singh.

What shocked the authorities was the audacity of the colonels, who allegedly ignored the norms and hoodwinked their colleagues. Though from the beginning the CBI had alleged that Kulbir Singh, staff officer to the NDA chief, conspired to get money for jobs, the defence ministry swung into action only after the agency came up with details of telephone conversations between the accused officers about collecting money from those who had applied for various posts at the NDA.

The academy intended to recruit for 97 posts, including lower division clerks, drivers, cooks, malis, chowkidars and safaiwallahs. About 8,000 candidates applied. A.K. Singh allegedly secured the custody of the answer sheets of the recruitment examination and excluded the other members of the examination board from vetting the answer sheets. It is mandatory that all the members of the board go through them. Also, he allegedly kept the answer sheets unsealed in his custody, violating the standard operating procedure that requires answer papers to be sealed with signatures of all the board members.

Kulbir Singh, who was the presiding officer for the recruitment examinations of Group C and Group D posts, allegedly had maintained a roster of the candidates to be favoured, with the amount of money received against each candidate's name. The investigation revealed that he conspired with Balkrishna Kanojia, who runs a food stall in Pune, and Vishnu Prasad, an employee of Kanojia, to get in touch with the applicants in May and June.

It is alleged that some of these candidates even submitted blank answer sheets after the written examination. “Scrutiny of answer sheets has revealed that additional marks were given to candidates by putting more correct ticks in the multiple choice question papers,” said the CBI, opposing the bail application by A.K. Singh.

The current CBI probe focuses on how the officers could have tampered with the answer sheets. “The possibility that the applicant [A.K. Singh] got sufficient time to remove the incriminating evidence against him cannot be ruled out,” observed D.R. Mahajan, CBI special judge.

In his submission before the special judge, the CBI deputy superintendent of police claimed that Kulbir Singh had admitted to giving 052 lakh to A.K. Singh. However, defence counsel Suchit Mandada told THE WEEK that “the money recovered by the CBI belonged to local businessmen” and the colonels had nothing to do with the money.

In a major twist, the CBI is now probing the role of Jatinder Singh in the scam. His brother allegedly received some of the money paid by the candidates at a meeting with Kulbir at a Mumbai hotel.


Officers' mess

l Colonels Kulbir Singh and A.K. Singh of the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Khadakwasla, Pune, are charged by the CBI with selling jobs at the NDA.

l A.K. Singh allegedly got the custody of the answer sheets of the recruitment examination and excluded the other members of the examination board from vetting the answer sheets.

l Kulbir Singh, who was the presiding officer for the recruitment examinations of Group C and Group D posts, allegedly had maintained a roster of the candidates to be favoured, with the amount of money received against each candidate's name.

l The CBI is now probing the role of the former NDA chief Lieutenant-General Jatinder Singh in the scam. His brother allegedly received some of the money paid by the candidates.


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