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Thursday, 27 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 27 Sep 2012
India presses Pak for voice samples of 26/11 handlers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
India has again told Pakistan to speed up the 26/11 trial and hand over the voice samples of the accused. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde met his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik on the sidelines of the SAARC Home and Interior Ministers’ conference at Maldives today.

Apart from a discussion on the Mumbai attacks, both sides agreed that the newly-signed bilateral visa agreement (signed on September 8) would be operationalised from a mutually-agreed date, after the notification of the visa rules and regulations by the respective governments.

Malik reportedly requested Shinde to allow Judicial Commission of Pakistan to visit India again. Shinde assured his counterpart of an early response to this request.

Pakistan has been asked for speeding up the trial against Zarar Shah Lakhvi and six other Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attack.

At the last hearing on September 15, three officials of the Federal Investigation Agency came to Pakistan's Adiala Jail, where the trial is being conducted, but were unable to testify. The trial has been delayed due to a variety of technical reason also while the court's judge was changed five times.

A Pakistani commission had visited India following a bilateral agreement which said the commission would not quiz the magistrate, who recorded the confessional statement of arrested LeT terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the investigating officer of the case and two doctors, who conducted the post-mortem of the nine slain terrorists. However, after the Pakistani court dealing with the 26/11 case had said that evidence collected by the commission during its first visit to India in March had no "evidential value" to punish those involved in the Mumbai terror attack, Islamabad had asked New Delhi to allow its panel to visit Mumbai again.

Shinde raised the issue of illegal border crossings, including infiltration along the International Border and Line of Control and both of them agreed that designated authorities would address these concerns and review the matter from time to time. This was the first meeting between the two leaders following their telephone conversation on August 19 that was when Shinde had accused Pakistan-based elements of uploading morphed images and videos to fan communal violence in India. Shinde and Malik expressed their satisfaction on the resumed India-Pakistan Home Secretaries' dialogue.
MoD slams criticism of pension hike
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, September 26
A day after groups of ex-servicemen termed the government hike in pension for armed forces personnel as ‘misleading’, authorities in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) today retorted by saying this was the third hike in pension in the past four years.

A detailed chart of the financial benefits given to ex-servicemen since October 2008 is being calculated and will be released soon, said sources.

“Our aim is to cover the gap in pensions in a phased manner. This is the third increase in pension of ex-servicemen after the Sixth Central Pay Commission award was announced in October 2008,” authoritative sources said.

The recent hike will help retired personnel of the Indian Air Force, the Navy and the Army.

Moving towards ‘one-rank-one-pension’ formula is a continuing process. Despite the critical financial position of the country, the government has come out with a fresh package for ex-servicemen, sources in the Ministry of Defence said.

Giving out the financial gains made by ex-servicemen following the recent hike announced on September 24, sources said, “On implementation, jawans will be getting an increase ranging from 9.7 per cent to 13 per cent on the existing pension.”

Commissioned officers will be getting an increase in the range of 10 per cent to 28 per cent. The basic pension of a sepoy with 17 years of service will increase by about Rs 500 per month, that of a naik with 22 years of service by about Rs 550 per month and of a havaldar with 24 years of service by about Rs 800 per month. Dearness allowance (presently 65 per cent) will be also payable.
India looking to buy Mirage trainers from foreign air force
Shubhadeep Choudhury/TNS

Bangalore, September 26
French company Dassault’s decision to stop manufacturing Mirage 2000 has put the IAF in a fix with regard its requirement of replenishing its fleet of Mirage 2000 trainers. The IAF is now trying to acquire two Mirage 2000 trainer aircraft from a foreign air force.

Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said the IAF had a fleet of 51 Mirage 2000 but the number fell to 49 following the crash of two Mirage 2000 trainers earlier this year.

Before the crashes, the IAF had 10 trainer aircraft. Now down to eight, this number is considered inadequate for training pilots. But the question is whether any country would spare two trainer aircraft for India to buy.
Army continues flood relief i
Guwahati, Sept 26 (IBNS): The Gajraj Corps unit of the Indian Army is continuing with its flood relief operation to provide relief and aid to flood affected people of Assam.

Twenty-one specialized flood relief task force of Army with engineering equipment and rescue boats are carrying out flood relief operations in Sootia Sub Division of Sonitpur District.

Army helicopters have also been pressed into service and large numbers of sorties were carried out distributing 2.5 tons of food packets.

The Army has rescued more than 6,000 flood-affected people and evacuated them to relief camps established by the civil administration and NGOs.

Senior officers of the Army are personally supervising the relief efforts in conjunction with the civil administration.

Prior preparation and risk assessment of likely flood prone areas helped Army to reach affected areas at the earliest for carrying out flood relief operations.

Ministry of Defence PRO, Lt Col SS Phogat said that the additional specialized flood relief task force of Army equipped with mechanized boats, life jackets, medical aid and other relief material have been kept on high alert to be deployed immediately should situation further deteriorate.
Life-long pension for widows of ex-Indian Army servicemen
KATHMANDU: The Indian government has decided to provide life-long pensions to a legally married wife of Indian Army ex-servicemen after death of her husband.

The decision will help support many ex-Gurkha widows living in Nepal. As per the decision, only a woman who is on the army records as wife of a serviceman would be eligible for the benefit.

Similarly, if an ex-serviceman is legally married to more than one woman, the family pension is to be equally divided among them after their husband’s death, the Indian Embassy said in a statement today.

Widows of former servicemen will have to report personally to collect their pension. In case any of the widows, whose names are on the records, do not claim their share of the family pension or her whereabouts are not known to the surviving widow/widows, then, her share of the pension is not paid to the surviving widow, but protected for her, said the embassy.

“The government of India is committed to the welfare of Army ex-servicemen, their widows and next of kin,” mentioned the statement.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has accepted the recommendations of its Embassy in Kathmandu to grant protected share of pension of the missing widow to the surviving widow or widows who are drawing only a part of the pension.

“The full pension will be released to the widow pensioners in the cases where their co-widows have not claimed pension for more than seven years,” the embassy said.
Army division that fought WW-II celebrates 74th anniversary
ALLAHABAD: It will be a proud moment for the oldest division of Indian Army, the RAPID (Strike) Division, as it celebrates 74th anniversary of its raising and embraces Platinum glory. The division was raised on September 28, 1938 under Maj Gen Scarlett and is symbolised by the 'Red Eagle' which embodies power, precision and lethality. The Division enjoys the honour of having served under three field marshals in the pre-independence era, namely Auchingleck, Wavell and Montgomery. Being part of the Eighth Army of the legendary division, Gen Montgomery turned the tide in the World War-II when it was poised dangerously towards the axis powers. It was to the fighting spirit of the division that the 'Desert Fox' Gen Erwin Rommel lost his moment of victory.

After its raising, the division was deployed immediately in North Africa against the Axis forces as part of British Eighth Army. The Division first saw action in the battle of Sidi-Barrani, where it destroyed four Italian divisions and captured more than 20,000 prisoners of war. This was the first major defeat suffered by the Axis Powers after a string of victories. In the battle of Kerens, the division crushed the Italian forces forcing them to surrender. A unique artifact which consists of the plumes taken off a dead Italian soldier's helmet at Kerens and mounted on a rock taken from the same location is preserved and displayed in the 'Hall Of Fame' maintained by the Division. Subedar Richhpal Ram of 4/6 Rajputana Rifles earned the first Victoria Cross (Highest Gallantry award at the time) for the division, posthumously. Thereafter the division moved to Egypt for the El-Alamein campaign.

In the legendary battle of El-Alamein, the division was tasked to open a road through the Magmata Mountains as a supply line. The mountain road had been mined heavily. The division displayed its flair for mountain warfare with a quick capture and clearance of the road and capture of more than 460 prisoners of war. The division then advanced further leading to the crushing defeat of the Axis forces. The division then moved to Enfidaville and in the battle that ensued, the division captured the personal caravan used by General Von Armin, the Commander-In-Chief of all Axis forces in North Africa. This WW-II caravan is also a part of the Hall of Fame collection.

The division then moved to Italy and participated in the battle of Cassino and Gothic line. In the battle of Cassino the Division was instrumental in the capture of Monastery and Hangman hills. The division was subsequently deployed in Greece as a part of the peace keeping force. After this the division returned to India. A website devoted to the Red Eagle Division by British nationals, commemorating the valour of Indian soldiers of the division in WW-II is a testimony of its international fame. A WW-II memorial in the heart of the city of Tobruk in North Africa is dedicated to the 4th Indian Division, with names of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during the siege of Tobruk engraved on it. This memorial shall forever remain a testimony to the glory of the Division.

Returning to India after its amazing feats in the WWII, the division saw its first post-independence action in 1962, when it was deployed in the North-East against the Chinese. The division was located in erstwhile NEFA (North East Frontier Area), now Arunachal Pradesh, and was tasked to defend the sectors of Se-La, Tawang and Namka Chu. It was at Tawang that Subedar Joginder Singh made the supreme sacrifice and earned the first Param Vir Chakra for the division. He repulsed a wave of approximately 200 Chinese soldiers on his post single handedly before succumbing to injuries. An urn containing the soil taken from the location where Sub Joginder Singh laid down his life is kept in the esteemed 'Hall Of Fame' of the division. Subedar Joginder Singh stadium in Old Cantt Allahabad is named after this brave hero of 1962. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw who was at that time a Major General visited the forward areas and praised the efforts of the division. Though few in number and mostly unprepared, the division fought bravely against all odds. The division was visited by the then defence minister YB Chavan in the Op Area. When in the forward areas of Misamari in North East, the division was visited by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who was impressed by the actions of the division and boosted the morale of the troops. President Sarvappalli Radhakrishnan also visited the troops of the Red Eagle Division during the days of the Ops in North East.

During the Indo-Pak war in 1965, the division was deployed in the western sector to defend Asal Uttar and Khemkaran. The division at that time was an Infantry division and was pitted against the 1 Armoured Division of Pakistan equipped with latest Patton tanks from USA. The Armoured columns of the Pakistani Division made it a strong strike force but it was no match for the combat capabilities and valour of the battle- hardened Red Eagles. The division destroyed 97 Pakistani tanks and captured 32 serviceable ones. One of the heroes of the battle was Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid who destroyed 3 Pakistani Tanks with a Recoilless Gun mounted on his jeep.

The Main gate of the Division garrison in Allahabad is named after him. The Pak Division was crushed and forced to surrender. Major General Nasir Ahmed Khan, General-Officer-Commanding (1 Armoured Division, Pakistan Army) accepted defeat and surrendered to the Red Eagles. The flag of GOC 1 Armoured Division of Pak along with the star plate of Brigadier AR Shami, Commander Artillery of Pak Division is displayed in the prestigious 'Hall Of Fame' of the Red Eagle Division. The Division while in the Op Area was visited by Mrs Indira Gandhi and the then Defence Minister. Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri also visited the division to take stock of the exploits of the division in the prestigious battle.

The various equipment and mementos captured from the Pakistan Army during the war are displayed in the esteemed 'Hall Of Fame' of the division. The division previously being an Infantry Division was RAPID-ised recently by adding armoured elements which adds to its combat potential and lethality.

In the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the division was deployed in the eastern sector. The division was initially tasked to capture Dhaka and was later directed to capture a ferry on Madhumati river. One of the brigades of the division marched 27 km in one night to surprise the enemy defending the Madhumati area. The division advanced along regions of Darsana, Jibbnagar, and Kotchandpur against stiff resistance from the Pakistani forces. Equipment including machine guns, generators and Chaffee tanks were captured from the enemy. Some of these along with other items captured during the war are displayed in the 'Hall Of Fame' of the division in the garrison in Allahabad. The division liberated more than 4000 sq kms of Bangladeshi territory and affected the surrender of the 9th Infantry division of Pakistan Army. Maj Gen MA Ansari, GOC, 9 Inf Div (Pak) accepted defeat and unconditional surrender of the Pakistani formation. The captured boards and trophies of Pakistan Army captured during the 1971 operations adorn the walls of the Hall of Fame.
'An indisciplined armed force is extremely dangerous'
Lieutenant General B T Pandit (retd), who won the Vir Chakra for valour in the 1971 war, sits opposite a painting of the historic Battle of Basantar which won him the honour. The painting has a central place in the retired general's Pune home.

Speaking to's Archana Masih, the former adjutant general of the Indian Army dwells on the reasons behind the recent cases of indiscipline in the army; the permissive attitude towards indiscipline that persists through the nation and people's expectation of different behaviour from the armed forces.

Are the recent instances of indiscipline in the Indian Army aberrations or a serious matter?

We are somewhere in between an aberration and general theory. We can't play it down as an aberration. It is closer to aberration than general indiscipline. It can still be corrected.

There are strong powers given in the hands of the commander, those are more effective when the so-called satisfaction levels with the service conditions is high.

A recent incident happened in Kathua, near Pathankot, where a group of army men destroyed a railway police chowky. We don't know what the story is, it obviously is an act of indiscipline.

Men tend to be indisciplined if they lose faith in the system. And the system starts commanding officer upwards right up to the government.

They also see the atmosphere towards indiscipline is so permissive in the nation, then this self doubt arises that nothing happened to someone else, why should it happen to me? It permeates down.

There are reasons for the frustration of officers and jawans with the social environment. How much of this comes from comparisons with their civil counterparts who may be better of?

Society is getting materialistic. Families are becoming more demanding, rightly, because aspirations are rising.

In my forty years of service, not even once was I asked for a bribe. Now men and officers are subjected to giving bribes for getting their work done. How long will that chap tolerate it?

One day when he is in a position to take a bribe he will think that I have been paying bribes all my life, why should I not take it now?

We were in service when there was very little money. The tremendous intangibles in life were respect and status. You wore a uniform and no door was closed. Today, you are ignored.

Why does society expect different behaviour from the armed forces than it does from a bureaucrat, a policeman when they are not ready to treat them differently?

But compared to the bureaucrat, policeman, the paramilitary forces, the people respect the armed forces more than they respect the others.

That respect is being eroded.

How serious are the instances of indiscipline and what does it mean for the Indian Army?

The bedrock of the armed force is discipline. I'd rather have a relatively ill equipped armed force with better discipline than other way around.

An undisciplined armed force is not only undesirable, it is extremely dangerous because our forces are well trained, and well armed to achieve their objective.

They achieve the objective either by use of violence, or threat of violence or ability to impose violence.

If you put these together and take away the discipline, then God help us.

There is a very close relationship between crime and punishment. In society this seems to be finishing because if crime is caught, there is no punishment. But in the armed forces, crime and punishment are very closely interlinked.

At the same time discipline and welfare are the two sides of the leadership prerogative; it is like a father disciplining a child. Any commander is not only there to look after his men, he is also there to ensure discipline.

Like a parent, punishment is given as reformative, not punitive.

We have a system of summary punishment, where the commanding officer notices the crime, charge-sheets the person, gives him a chance to defend and himself decides on the punishment.

Once Bansi Lal, the then Raksha Mantri, asked me how can one person decide all when he could be a friend of the accused? So I asked him the same thing, 'Did you ever reprimand your son?' We are taught to maintain or create the same relationship in the armed forces.

In the armed forces, the overriding factor is to maintain good order and discipline. An undisciplined unit is a dangerous thing.

In a battalion size unit -- 1,000 odd men, 25 officers -- everyone knows that a crime has been committed, everyone knows who has committed the crime.

If that person is allowed to go scot-free, that is more detrimental on the discipline of the unit, than if I may say an innocent man being punished.

Discipline should not be compromised.

Do you feel it has been compromised?

I wouldn't say it has been compromised, I would say our threshold for tolerance is rising. It is happening in society too.

The threshold for tolerance is rising for various reasons, one of them is misplaced loyalty -- if I bring out the incident of theft in my unit, people will say this battalion is bad.

So in that misplaced loyalty, you push it under the carpet.

Second, the higher commanders are also watching, so if a number of cases of indiscipline takes place in a unit, it does reflect in the mind of the senior commander about the commanding officer.

The CO has only two years. On his performance resides his future, so he says, 'Let my two years pass, whatever happens let it happen after I go.'

It is only the armed forces who can try cases. Our court martial is a jury. Where a number of your colleagues are trying you and decide by a majority.

You say the threshold for tolerance increasing is one of the reasons. What are the other reasons for these instances of indiscipline in the army which happened in combat units in operational areas?

The types of indiscipline cases vary. Some are individual aberrations -- being drunk etc -- but an act of indiscipline which affects the moral ascendency of the commander, that is what is hurting us. If it affects the unit it is terrible.

Take the case of the Samba unit where the men revolted against the officers. In Nyoma, Leh and in Gurdaspur -- if taken in a serial, it is alarming, but I must tell you there must be thousands of army units and the officer-man relationship in the Indian Army is among the best in the world.

Our jawans are among the best in the world.

A good unit or bad unit is dependent on whether the officers are good or not. This is a command-oriented army and a lot depends on the commander on the spot.

Personal example has to be followed.

Earlier, it was easy to command respect. The commanders have to be sensitive to the changing attitudes of the jawans. Jawans are better educated, better informed, their access to information is more.

You have to attain moral ascendancy before you demand respect. People should not respect you because you have authority, but because of your ability and fairness.

And our men demand very little. You take one step towards them, they will take 49 towards you. They like you to be with them when things are difficult.

What should be done to arrest the incidents of indiscipline?

It is being done. The situation is not bad. We have to stem it first and roll it down. The only way it can be done is by setting a personal example.

The army is a way of life, but if you treat it as a profession, things change. Then you have no moral commitment, only a material connection with the job.

You served at a different time, now young men and women look up at the armed forces like just another profession, rather than a way of life.

Society being materialistic is something we cannot control. The present officers and men are very well off white money-wise. If you compare the black money available to other jobs, then there is no comparison.

Three things have to be taken care of: The child's education. Post service housing and a second career, especially for a soldier who retires at 35, 40.

How can you call him retired? It's like saying Tendulkar is retiring from cricket!

As of now things are still manageable, but there's no time to lose.

Do you think the officer of today has become a prisoner of his service record book?

Our generation thought about doing the present job. When I was a captain, I did not think of the next level. Today's generation thinks of what I should do to get there, that ambition also comes to play.

Ambition sometimes forces you take shortcuts.

In today's changing times do officers need sahayaks (orderlys) for their uniforms etc. Sometimes the misuse of sahayaks also adds to the jawan's frustration?

Why don't you ask the police officer who has three telephone operators?

The police officer doesn't need three operators either.

The need of the sahayak is there, but his duties have to spelt out. Up to 1962 there was a category called non combatants. They were cooks, sahayaks, dhobis etc.

After the 1962 debacle it was decided that everyone should be prepared to fight. I think we are going back to that system of having non combatants as sahayaks.

General V K Singh announced this before he retired. Sahayak is very much required, particularly in field areas. They should not be misused. There is no shortcut to personal example.

How do you compare the officers of today with earlier times?

The social background of officers is different. It is attracting people from the lower middle class. We must welcome it. Earlier, it was the upper middle class and above.

Our officers today are very good, especially at the unit level. The army job is field job. In the army a large hearted commander is better than a brainy commander.
Army’s dirty tricks department under scanner
The Indian Army has appointed Director General, Infantry, Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia to head a panel to review the functioning of the controversial Technical Support Division (TSD) before it is disbanded. According to army sources, the panel’s aim is to investigate the unit’s work and the money spent by its members.

The TSD, which was formed in 2010 by then army chief Gen VK Singh, courted controversies such as illegal phone tapping and misuse of funds. The TSD was a Military Intelligence unit but it never reported to the Director General of Military Intelligence. Instead, it used to take orders and report directly to Gen Singh. Interestingly, Col Hunny Bakshi, a confidant of Gen Singh, headed the TSD.

It is alleged that the TSD illegally tapped the phones of top defence ministry bureaucrats, who might have a bearing on the age row case involving Gen Singh. The TSD’s existence came out in the open when it was alleged that Defence Minister AK Antony’s office was bugged. However, no conclusive proof was found.

“Col Bakshi was serving at the Eastern Command along with Gen Singh. When the latter became the army chief, Gen Bakshi tagged along. As he was the chief’s blue-eyed boy, his influence was second to none. When many military functionaries raised objections to the TSD’s apparently illegal antics, they were shunted out,” says an army source on the condition of anonymity.

The issue of overspending came to light when the defence ministry discovered that the MI had spent Rs 57 crore in 2011-12, compared to just Rs 42 the previous year. It is alleged that the bulk of the spending (Rs 18 crore) was done by the TSD. Ministry officials believe that some of the money was not utilised for the purpose it was mandated.

The functioning of the TSD, especially Col Bakshi, came under the scanner as soon as Gen Bikram Singh took over as the army chief. Col Bakshi got himself admitted to the psychiatry ward of the Army Hospital, alleging mental trauma caused by the constant harassment of senior officers.

The panel will also probe the money spent by TSD officers on foreign trips, including destinations such as Dubai, and the real intent behind these trips. The TSD is already embroiled in another controversy in which Sivadasan, a unit staffer, was arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence for selling military secrets to the ISI.
For Army jawans, a marathon wait for sneakers
NEW DELHI: Leave alone the acquisition of submarines, fighters and howitzers, the Indian defence establishment ties itself in knots even on something as basic as PT shoes for jawans. Despite attempts to upgrade them to proper "sports shoes'' over the last several years, soldiers of the world's second-largest Army continue to be saddled with the thin brown canvas PT shoes.

The meandering case for the humble shoes is now likely to figure during the annual Army commanders' conference, to be chaired by General Bikram Singh from October 12 to 17, which will also dwell upon myriad operational and security issues ranging from the twin China-Pakistan threat to counter-insurgency operations in J&K and the north-east.

"The project for the acquisition of eight lakh superior quality PT shoes, which will cost around Rs 80 crore, will be raised during the interaction with defence ministry (MoD) officials during the conference. It has been delayed for almost a decade,'' said a source.

The vintage-pattern canvas PT shoes, incidentally, have performed service in the Army for over 50 years without any improvement in quality. "Jawans are issued one pair of such shoes every six months free of cost, as part of the 'life-cycle clothing' norms based on wear and tear of items,'' said an officer.

While not exactly demanding Reebok, Adidas or Nike shoes, the Army had initiated a fresh case with MoD for "better quality'' PT shoes in June 2010. While there was "in-principle approval'', the project got enmeshed in "price and specification'' issues despite some trials even being held for the large tender of eight lakh shoes.

MoD's finance wing stressed the Army adopt the specifications adopted by IAF for shoes made of "rexene and mesh''. "But there was no response from the vendors... it was referred back to MoD for consideration,'' said the source.

In between, some animal rights activists also jumped into the fray because one set of specifications laid down said cow leather could also be considered to make the shoes, apart from leather, canvas or cloth. This was after a feasibility study held the shoes made of cow leather would be a better fit for jawans since they would last longer.

Amid all this, the project for new PT footwear for jawans remains stuck. The Army also wants to introduce specially-designed combat boots for soldiers that would be more durable, flexible and light-weight than the existing heavy boots, but it also is yet to materialise.

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