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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 29 Aug 2012
India inks MoU with Russia for making long-range Smerch rockets
NEW DELHI: India is moving towards setting up a joint venture with Russia for manufacture of long-range rockets, even as the Army launches a fresh bid to acquire self-propelled wheeled artillery guns, in the backdrop of the Bofors ghost and other scandals having thwarted acquisition of any new 155mm howitzers for 25 years.

The defence ministry's Ordnance Factory Board on Monday inked a MoU for a joint venture with Russian Rosoboronexport and M/s Splav 'SPA' for the manufacture of five versions of the Smerch rockets, which have a range of 80km, to arm the multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) acquired from Russia earlier.

The Army has three regiments of the 300mm Smerch MLRS, acquired for around Rs 2,600 crore, which are designed to neutralize enemy troop concentrations and command posts, artillery and missile locations with a land-saturating salvo of rockets.

The Smerch systems can also be transported to high mountain ranges like the ones on the borders with Pakistan and China. ''The JV's aim is to indigenize the Smerch rocket technology. So far, we have been buying the Smerch rockets from Russia,'' said an official.

On the artillery front, the Army has again issued a global RFI (request for information) for acquisition of around 180 self-propelled wheeled guns at a cost which could go upto $1 billion. The armament companies have to submit their proposals by September 20.

Different scandals starting from the infamous Bofors one in the mid-1980s have ensured that the overall Rs 20,000 crore Army artillery plans for acquisition of different types of 155mm/52-calibre guns have been delayed for several years. The planned acquisitions, stuck at different stages, include 1,580 towed guns, 814 mounted gun systems, 180 self-propelled wheeled guns and 100 tracked guns.

The foreign military sales (FMS) deal with the US for acquisition of 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers, worth around $647 million, however, is likely to materialize soon. The Army wants these guns because they can be deployed in forward and inaccessible areas by helicopters and aircraft swiftly.
Plea of former Army chief, four others rejected
A Delhi court has dismissed a petition filed by former Army Chief General V K Singh for summoning of a file from the Defence Ministry as evidence in a defamation case filed against him and four others by Lt Gen Tejinder Singh.

The court of Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja also dismissed another petition filed by the five officers to convert the matter into a warrant case from a summons case.

Tejinder Singh had accused Vice-Chief of Army Staff S K Singh, Lt Gen B S Thakur (DGMI), Major General S L Narshiman (Additional DG of Public Information), Lt Col Hitten Sawhney and Gen V K Singh of misusing their official positions to level false charges against him. He had approached the court alleging he was defamed by the Army through a press release issued on March 5, accusing him of offering a bribe of Rs 14 crore to V K Singh to clear a deal.

The five officers had filed an application demanding that the ministry file containing the press release and other documents be re-summoned by the court so that it can be examined by them and used as evidence. The court had earlier summoned the file and returned it without allowing them to make copies of the contents.

The five officers have filed applications for permanent exemption from personal appearance, which will be heard by the court on September 10 along with an application by Tejinder Singh to cancel the bail granted to them.

The court also asked the defence counsel to refrain from using “inconsiderate language” with regard to the complainant. The remark was made in response to a comment made by the defence during arguments on the last hearing, saying Tejinder was “pursuing a sinister anti-national agenda”.
Army personnel donate ration to camp inmates
GUWAHATI: Army personnel at 51 sub-area headquarters at Narangi Military Station here have contributed their one day's entitlement of ration for distribution as relief among the riot-affected people in the state.

Defence spokesman Lt Col SS Phogat said chief minister Tarun Gogoi, in presence of 51 sub-area GoC Major General G S Chima on Tuesday flagged off a medical team comprising eight medical officers and a large consignment of medicines sponsored by Max India Foundation, New Delhi, 151 Base Hospital, Basistha, and medical staff from the Territorial Army. He added units located at Narangi have also contributed a lot of relief material comprising tents, blankets, sleeping bags, mosquito nets and clothing for distribution among the needy.
Karunanidhi reacts strongly to Centre’s stance on training Sri Lankans
 Union Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju’s remarks that India would continue to train Sri Lankan defence personnel as it was a friendly nation evoked widespread criticism from political parties in Tamil Nadu.  Most vociferous was DMK president M. Karunanidhi, who had wondered whether India could consider Sri Lanka as a friendly country when it was working closely with China.

“The relationship between India and Sri Lanka could be called ‘one-sided’ and can never be described ‘mutual’,” said Mr. Karunanidhi in a strongly-worded statement here.

Mr. Karunanidhi, a constituent of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre, sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention in this matter and wanted Mr. Pallam Raju to reconsider his opinion.

He wanted the Prime Minister to ensure that the training given to the two Sri Lankan Army officials was stopped at once and they were sent back to their country.

Mr. Karunanidhi said Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces have set up bases in places such as Vavuniya, Killinochi, Mannar, Thallady, and Elephant Pass in the northern province with the assistance of the Chinese, and Chinese Defence Minister Liang Quanglie was visiting them to discuss the issue.

“Moreover, a 96-member delegation is visiting North-Eastern States on September 15. China has executed 14 schemes in Sri Lanka at a cost of Rs. 36,000 crore and constructed a school for the wards of the Sri Lankan Army personnel at a cost of Rs. nine crore. Sri Lanka has entered into an agreement with China for the purchase of MA-69 rifles,” Mr. Karunanidhi said.

He said when China had offered six-fold assistance when compared to what India had offered, what made India believe that Sri Lanka was a friendly nation.

PMK leader S. Ramadoss said Mr. Pallam Raju’s remarks had betrayed his ignorance of the geo-political situation since Sri Lanka had joined hands with China against India.

“His remarks go to show both he and the Indian government failed to respect the sentiments of the Tamils and leaders of Tamil Nadu,” he said.

Alleging the India had been following a “flawed foreign policy” towards Sri Lanka, he wanted the Centre to stop the training to the Army officials.
Defamation Case: Court Not to Change Course of Trial
A Delhi court today dismissed the plea of top army officers that the nature of trial in a defamation case, lodged against them by Lt Gen (Retd) Tejinder Singh, be changed for enabling them to re-examine witnesses to bring out the truth, which is barred under the procedure followed.

The army officers had sought that the course of the defamation matter, in which they were summoned after Tejinder Singh and others testified, be changed to a warrant case where CrPC provides the accused an opportunity to quiz the complainant and witnesses who have already recorded their testimonies.

"...In my view, no useful purpose is likely to be served by converting the present summons case into a warrants case and subjecting the complainant and his uninitiated (about Army's internal procedure) witnesses to a dual examination by the advocates for the accused," Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja said.

The court said the plea of Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh, Lt Gen B S Thakur (Director General of Military Intelligence), Major General S L Narshiman (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Col Hitten Sawhney was dismissed on merits as well as on the ground that they do not have any locus-standi to file it.

Earlier, the serving officers, in their plea, had said the conversion of the matter from summons to warrant case would help the court do justice as it was "not a normal defamation case" and, hence, needed "more elaboration".

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

Rejecting the plea, the court said that in fact, the accused Army officers are the "best persons" to depose as they know better the "methods and procedures" of the Army than the complainant and his witnesses.

"The application is dismissed on the ground of locus-standi as well as on merits. Before parting with this order, I find it necessary to observe, for the benefit of the parties in the present case, that if at all, any discourse regarding the undocumented methods/procedures of the functioning of the Indian Army is to take place, then the best persons to depose about the said methods/procedures of working of the Indian Army are the accused persons and their witnesses and not the complainant and his witnesses," it said.

The court, while dismissing their plea, relied on the judgments of the Supreme Court and said the applicants have no right to file such an application.

"Even if it is assumed that the applicants herein have a right to file the aforesaid application, I find that at this stage, there exists no material before this court to conclude that the trial in this case will involve a discourse upon intricate issues regarding policies, procedures and the functioning of the Indian Army...

"It is my considered view that any decision regarding the necessity of an elaborate trial (warrants trial) in the present case can only be taken when the accused disclosed their defence by cross examining the first witness i.E. The complainant during the summons trial," it said.

During the hearing today, Tejinder Singh's counsel Anil Agarwal moved an application seeking directions to restrain the former Army chief from leveling "unwanted and unnecessary and blatantly false and baseless allegations" against his client.

V K Singh had, in his reply filed earlier, said Tejinder Singh is pursuing a "sinister anti-national agenda to malign and demean" the Indian Army.

The court, however, disposed of Tejinder Singh's plea with an advice to Singh's counsel that he should use "considerate" language in future.

The court then posted for September 10 for hearing the arguments on the application filed by the four serving Army officials for grant of permanent exemption from personal appearance and also for arguments on Tejinder Singh's plea for cancellation of bail granted to the five accused on the ground that they might tamper with the evidence.

On Tejinder Singh's plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to him, V K Singh had said Tejinder was "maliciously" prosecuting top serving and retired Army officers.

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

All the accused had appeared before the court on July 20 in response to the summonses issued against them. All the five accused were granted bail by the court on July 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 a story in the media relating to purported tapping of some sensitive phones in the national capital.

The court had said it was "prima facie" satisfied that the March 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.
China Defence Minister to visit India, will discuss hand-in-hand' exercise, CBMs
NEW DELHI: India and China are expected to discuss revival of their 'hand-in-hand' exercise and more confidence building measures during the three-day visit of Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie starting September 2 in Mumbai.

During the first visit by a Chinese Defence Minister in last seven years, the two sides will discuss ways of strengthening their defence ties, Ministry officials said here.

The two sides will also discuss holding of the Exercise 'Hand-in-Hand' in China next year, they said.

Guanglie will hold discussions with Defence Minister A K Antony on the last day of his visit.

The bilateral exercises had started in 2007 but were put on hold after a series of hiccups in the defence ties between the two sides.

The first exercise was held in Kunming in 2007 in China whereas the second was held in India at Belgaum in 2008.

After the denial of visa to the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal by the Chinese in 2010, India froze all bilateral defence exchanges with Beijing.

Though the defence exchanges have started now, there are still some problems as China declined to issue visa to an IAF officer belonging to Arunachal Pradesh.

After the major military infrastructure upgrade by the Chinese side along its border with India, New Delhi has also started preparing its infrastructure there.

It has undertaken a strategic project to build more than 70 roads in border areas.

It has also raised two divisions of the Army there and proposals have also been forwarded for raising of an offensive mountain Corps in that region.

The IAF has also started upgrading its strength there by the deployment of Su-30MKI aircraft at its Tezpur and Chhabua air bases.

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