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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

From Today's Papers - 10 Oct 2012


UK Sikhs divided over attack on Lt Gen Brar

Shyam Bhatia in London


While the British Police continues their efforts to round up all those involved in the knifing of Lt Gen KS Brar, discussion in Southall is dominated by questions about the real motives of those behind the attack.


Also known as Little Punjab, Southall is close to London’s Heathrow airport and has seven gurdwaras serving the local Sikh population , including those who live in the adjoining areas of Hounslow and Greenford.


This is where supporters of Khalistan mix freely and easily with other Punjabi NRIs in the area, making this London suburb a unique listening point for views on the incident.


One surprisingly held view is that the Brar affair was a “false flag” operation, another way of suggesting that this was a put up job for political reasons. “The Congress is weak and they need something to galvanise the votes before the next election”, one unnamed Sikh told me at the popular Singh Sabha Gurdwara on Park Road, Southall. He and his family make a weekly pilgrimage to this gurdwara where they take langar every Sunday before settling down to listen to the day’s kirtan. “Otherwise how is it possible that four people failed to overcome and kill one old man? There is more to this than meets the eye.”


A similar kind of argument also resonates with supporters of the militant Dal Khalsa movement in the UK. “We are facing a mass anti-Sikh media campaign by Hindutva India,” says a statement published on behalf of Dal Khalsa. “This is being done to finish off our morale to speak out against human rights abuses, to create suspicion amongst each other to divide us and to instill fear within the community up and down the UK.”


But not all Sikhs share this perspective. Another elderly Sikh, a retired teacher, also visiting the Park Road gurdwara, told me: “There is another side to the community, the educated Sikhs, and they feel that this kind of action (stabbing Lt Gen Brar) gives a bad reputation to Sikhs abroad. We can convey our message through media platforms that the action of the Congress government in 1984 was not fair and it brought dishonour to the whole country.”


At the bigger, gold domed Singh Sabha Gurdwara on the Havelock Road, opinions are similarly mixed. But the same is not true in the smaller Miri Piri gurdwara in another part of Southall. The Pradhan here is a self-proclaimed Khalistan supporter, Jaswant Singh Thekedar. He wants the revival of the kingdom of Banda Singh Bahadur, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, who defeated the Mughals in Sirhind, abolished zamindari and created a sikh kingdom based in Lohgarh.


“I am a Khalistani, I want independence, the Khalistan movement is not dead, nor will it die”, says Thekedar. “We are not an underground movement, we are open. We are not afraid of anyone.” When queried if the attack on General Brar is linked to a revival of Khalistani sentiments, Thekedar replies: “It is nothing to do with Khalistan, it is purely a religious issue. Brar did wrong . ”


There are also Sikhs in the UK who strongly disagree with Thekedar but do not wish to be quoted. One of them, the former head of another Southall gurdwara, commented, “Remember what Guru Gobind Singh told Saif Khan: ‘I cannot attack an unarmed man.’ As far as Brar is concerned, the guy was on holiday with his wife. What happened to him is not right.”


Those community leaders willing to be quoted include Mahinder Singh Mandair, a businessman who lives in Birmingham, more than 100 miles from Southall. “Of course the Khalistanis will applaud what happened to Lt Gen Brar, but any decent human being will say its bad, it is wrong.. Whatever Brar did in 1984, he was only obeying instructions from his superiors. He was a General and he fulfilled his duty.”


Path in memory of Vaidya's assassins


Amritsar: The SGPC on Tuesday performed "bhog" of Akhand Path in memory of Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, assassins of former Army Chief Gen AS Vaidya, the architect of Operation Bluestar, at the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar. Jinda's brother Bhupinder Singh and Sukha's kin Surjit Kaur were presented "siropas" on the occasion.

India, Pak clash over Kashmir again at UN

Ashok Tuteja/TNS


New Delhi, October 9

India and Pakistan were engaged in a fresh round of clash over the Kashmir issue at the United Nations.


Pakistan chose to raise the Kashmir issue at the general debate of the special political and decolonisation committee, much to the surprise of the Indian delegation.


Participants at the meeting also did not appreciate the fact that Pakistan raised an issue which was completely irrelevant to the work of the committee. Pakistan’s Deputy Permanent Representative cited Security Council resolutions on Kashmir to justify his country’s position. In his right to reply, Prakash Gupta, First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, regretted that Pakistan raised the issue at the forum, asserting that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India.


“We reject in their entirety the untenable comments from the distinguished delegate of Pakistan, the references to J & K in them, being completely irrelevant to the work of the committee,” he said.


Gupta also underlined that the people of J&K have repeatedly expressed their free will and peacefully chosen their destiny in accordance with democratic practices and they continue to do so. This was the second time in the past fortnight that India and Pakistan clashed at the UN on Kashmir. It all started with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari raising the issue in his address to the UNGA, describing Kashmir as a symbol of the failure of the UN system. External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, in

his address last week, asserted that Kashmir was an integral part of India, which was questioned by a Pakistani delegate subsequently.


India is surprised why Pakistan has chosen to raise the pitch on Kashmir at a time when the dialogue process to resolve all outstanding issue is progressing satisfactorily. Officials here are quite apprehensive that Pakistan will use its membership of the UN Security Council for the next two years to keep highlighting the Kashmir issue at the world body.

Antony plays down tussle between Army, IAF over attack choppers

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, October 9

Defence Minister AK Antony today termed the turf-war between the Army and the Indian Air Force over the control of attack helicopters, a “family problem”. He said the government was is in the final stages of resolving the issue.


The Army has been demanding control over attack and medium-lift helicopters, saying they are mainly used for its operations and that is why they should be under it. The IAF has strongly opposed the demand and has cited the operational procedures of the other forces. A major stumbling block will be the resources. The Army will need an estimated Rs 58,000 crore to setup facilities to train manpower and spares for the maintenance.


“There is no tussle and there is no war. These are all family problems and we will find a solution. We are in the final stages of finding the solution amicably. Don't go beyond that,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the Territorial Army Day parade here today. He was asked if the Defence Ministry has rejected the Army's demand to have its own fleet of attack and medium-lift helicopters over which the two services are fighting over. Sources said, the Ministry of Defence has opted to raise the financial question and duplication of effort.


The IAF had recently rejected the Army's demand to have their own attack and medium-lift helicopters contending that the country can’t afford to have these “little air forces” growing up to do their “own thing”.


Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh said the Defence Ministry holds a very “sympathetic view” about the demand of the Army to have its own attack helicopters.


IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne had said “little air forces” cannot be allowed to grow up saying if the Coast Guard asks for submarines, will it be given the assets by the Navy.

Gorshkov delay: India may impose $115 mn penalty

NEW DELHI: A day ahead of the talks between the defence ministers of India and Russia, India on Tuesday indicated that it may impose a five percent penalty for the delay in handing over the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which is being refurbished at a cost of $2.3 billion. The penalty would work out to $115 million.


Defence Minister A. K. Antony will hold talks with his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov, Wednesday during which issues related to delay in handing over the Admiral Gorshkov, rechristened INS Vikramaditya by the Indian Navy, will top the discussions.


A defence ministry official said here Tuesday that India may "impose a penalty up to five percent of the contract ammount" if there are further delays in delivery of the 45,000-tonne carrier. A decision on imposing penalties will depend on the outcome of the discussions between the two defence ministers.


Reports in sections of the Russian media indicate that the handing over of INS Vikramaditya has been delayed till either mext July or the fall of 2013 following recent sea trials which revealed serious problems in the vessel's boilers. In this context, India will press Russia to expedite the fault-fixing and deliver the aircraft in the next six months at the most, a reliable source in the defence ministry said.


According to the reworked contract, the refurbished carrier was to have been delivered to India by December 4. However, due to a leeway clause of another 3-4 months, Russia can still meet its contractual obligation by delivering the carrier by March-April, 2013. If it fails to do so, India side may consider penalties.


The delay in Gorshkov's delivery is not the only instance of a default in timeline for delivery of key military weaponry. France was supposed to deliver the first of six Scorpene submarine in 2012, but now it is scheduled for induction in the Indian Navy only by December 2015.


India and Russia are also expected to discuss ongoing projects for 272 Sukhoi-30MKI fighters and 1,657 T-90 main battle tanks. Despite irritants like cost overruns and delays in the delivery of military hardware, Russia remains India's largest supplier of weapons, accounting for over 60 percent of India's imports.


The defence ministers' talks were earlier scheduled for Oct 4, but had to be postponed amid speculation that the Russian defence minister wanted to be in Moscow around the time Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was visiting the Russian capital. Moscow has denied such reports.


The Russian side is expected to brief India about the context of the revived military cooperation between Russia and Pakistan. For years, Moscow kept a distance from Islamabad in view of New Delhi's sensitivities, but the dynamics has changed since India started diversifying its imports of military hardware a few years ago.


With the competition hotting up, Russia is said to be exploring Pakistan as a market for Russian weaponry. Russia is also looking to intensify its diplomatic engagement with Pakistan largely due to its high strategic stakes in the stability of Afghanistan and its fears about the spillover of the Taliban terrorism into its periphery.


Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to travel to Pakistan early this month, but deferred his visit. Reliable sources said Putin's visit was cancelled due to Indian sensitivities and specially in view of his forthcoming visit to New Delhi towards the end of October or early November as it may give an impression of Moscow creating an equivalence between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Defence services remain a big attraction

DHARWAD: Defence services still attract a large number of youths, particularly those from rural areas of north Karnataka region.


Their immense belief in themselves in facing the rough weather on the national borders and hardships of a career in armed forces, coupled with the spirit of patriotism is what drives youngsters to the armed forces. And of course, the economic security that the career offers is another important factor that makes rural youths, who are in dire need to support the family, opt for defence services.


Rural youths who are physically robust and mentally fit are more attracted to the Army, CRPF and BSF than the Indian Air Force or the Indian Navy as they perceive that getting through the tests for Air Force and Navy is tough.


The week-long recruitment drive for the Indian Army that concluded on Tuesday in Dharwad attracted over 12,000 youths in the 17.5-21 age group. Following stringent, transparent and fair mode of selection (which included various tests for physical fitness and verification of testimonials) only 1,200 could make it for the final list. They will now be undergoing a written test and medical examination which will be the last hurdle in the process of selection.


According to official sources, among north Karnataka districts, Belgaum contributes the highest number of youths to the Armed forces followed by Bijapur and Dharwad. Gadag, Haveri, Koppal, Raichur, Gulbarga and Bidar lag behind as far as the number of youths joining the armed forces is concerned.


The recruitment for soldier general duty, soldier tradesmen, soldier technical, nursing assistants, clerks and store keepers went on for a week in Dharwad from October 3-9.


On less number of youths from Karnataka joining the Air Force and the Navy, Brigadier Somanath Jha said the process of selection and the level of difficulty of tests were the same for all the three wings of the defence service.


The recruitment process is transparent, fair and stringent, said Brig. Somanath Jha, dy director general (recruitment, Karnataka and Kerala). The candidate's performance alone will count for selection.


"No outside influence can help in any way. The candidates should not fall prey to some individuals who collect money promising to help them get selected. We are overwhelmed by the response from the youths in north Karnataka and appreciate their zeal to join the Armed Forces. Efforts should be made to create awareness about the selection process and the documents they are supposed to furnish," he added.


While the response to the recruitment drive for men at lower strata of the army is encouraging, the same is not the case with the recruitment for commissioned officer's positions. "We are trying to motivate the students studying in engineering and medical colleges about the opportunities in defence forces. We are delivering motivating lectures. The response for recruitment from Uttara Kannada was good while the youths from Dakshina Kannada, Chikamagalur, Hassan, Chitradurga were not much inclined to join the armed forces. Kodagu is another district that contributes large number of youths to the force," said Col. A S Ghumman, assistant director general (recruitment).

Neighbourhood Army changes for the better

 The Armed Force remains the only stable and cohesive institution in Nepal. It has made  welcome and constructive compromises to accommodate former foes into its fold


Give or take 10 persons, 1,450 former PLA Maoist combatants including 77 officers have joined the 1,00,000-strong erstwhile Royal Nepal Army, now shorn of all embellishments. This is the Army they fought bitterly to dismantle the feudal monarchy.


Given the ongoing power struggle in a constitutional void, the Nepalese Army remains the only stable and cohesive institution in the country. It has made constructive compromises in standards of integration to accommodate former foes into its fold. Besides the widening of roads in Kathmandu, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has claimed ‘integration of Armies’ as the biggest achievement of his term and the culmination of the peace process.


This is not true as several ingredients of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement have not been consummated, like Truth and Reconciliation Commission, accountability and return of property. Despite having ruled or participated in four of the five Governments, since 2008, the failures of the Maoists, including in drafting the Constitution, overshadow the success of integration. The current stalemate in Kathmandu can be broken either by President Ram Baran Yadav or India, but neither is willing to act.


Former PLA combatants are not sure about how the Nepalese Army will treat the erstwhile enemy. Equally, there is uncertainty about the separate directorate of the integrated force that was to be created for soft internal security missions. Neither side wants to rake up controversial issues, given that figures for integration have progressively dwindled from 32,350 to 19,602 to 6,500 to 1,450. With 3,400 weapons already deposited, they will most likely be scattered over the 100 units of the Nepalese Army marking the closure of cantonments and end of ‘one country, two armies’.


The question remains over the disposition of the 15,000 to 17,000 battle hardened non-de-indoctrinated PLA combatants who opted for voluntary retirement, many of who are being wooed by the MK Baidya (Kiran) faction which split from the mainstream Maoists led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. The Kiran faction believes in capturing power to settle the issues of national independence and sovereign autonomy against foreign interference through armed revolt. Its five- point plan of revolt which included targeting Indian assets and interests has backfired forcing its leaders to mellow on revolt.


Still, the firebrand military commander Netra Bikram Chand (Biplav) is known to be raising the People’s Voluntary Bureau, a new military structure with about 120 to 150 weapons in hand. The PBV is based on ex-PLA and Young Communist League and will comprise three divisions — eastern, central and western — led by former vice-divisional commanders of the disbanded PLA. This force will constitute a threat not only to Nepal but also to India which is concerned about potential linkages between the Kiran faction and Indian Maoists whose military objectives are identical: Capture of state power. While the police have neutralised 10 to 12 of the 16 armed Terai groups, the new Biplav force could be a concern for the Nepalese Army.


With an impeccable military record, the Sandhurst-trained General Gaurav SJB Rana, a direct descendent of former Prime Minister Chandra SJB Rana, this month took over as the new Chief of Army Staff. To those who have been calling for democratisation of the Nepalese Army and civilian supremacy, Gen Rana’s message to the Army through his Vision Statement on September 10 must have acted as ‘Tiger Balm’. He stressed the professional and apolitical character of the Army, bound by the interim Constitution of 2007 and the multi-party democratic system while maintaining its multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural identity in the form of inclusiveness.


This is vastly different from the pre-2006 Royal Nepal Army whose structure and historical loyalty to the King and the Palace was legendary. Strategic culture made state security synonymous with the security of the institution of monarchy which enshrined national unity. At the time, there was pathological dislike for the political class. The motto of the Army made the King’s safety, honour and welfare its primary task equated with the security of the nation. All that is history now.


Gen Rana’s Vision Statement contains six objectives. The first deals with re-structuring and modernisation. Here the emphasis is on integration of PLA combatants to “end the hangover of conflict”, raising specialised Intelligence Corps, strengthening military-civil relations (re-arranging the customary order of civil-military) and most importantly, adopting the regimental system followed in the Indian Army. He has sought only limited tools of modernisation but with a fixed percentage of the national budget for defence. The five other objectives deal with efficient administrative and logistics system; building a professional military force with a structured career profile bereft of corruption; continued engagement in UN Peace Keeping Operations, building a domestic defence industry and self reliance; and last but not the least, a sound welfare system.


Last month, Gen Rana invited Prime Minister Bhattarai and his Cabinet to the Army headquarters to apprise them of the challenges facing the National Army and how it would deal with them through redefined military means and structures maintaining the centrality of his Vision Statement. The Prime Minister acknowledged the constructive role of the Nepalese Army by “transforming themselves in the changed political context of Nepal”. This was a resounding acknowledgement of the makeover of the Nepalese Army which is still a work in progress.


Civil-military relations are in the post Katwal (the Army Chief who was dismissed by Prime Minister Prachanda and reinstated by President  Yadav) era with the Army firmly under civilian control. Gen Rana’s soldierly instincts and the country’s national interests are not likely to allow any deviations from his Vision Statement, which recognises the re-ordered priorities of the Nepalese Army in the light of lessons learnt during the civil war. It also recognises a Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.


Gen Rana is likely to make his first foreign visit to India in January 2013, just as the Indian Army Chief, General Bikram Singh, made Kathmandu his first port of call. The two Army Chiefs are traditionally honorary Generals in the other’s Army. The Nepalese Army has submitted to New Delhi a 40-page list of military equipment it wants. India is committed, according to a 1965 Agreement updated in 1990, to its modernisation. India has sought a formal letter before it removes the ban imposed after the royal coup in 2005. The military relations are deeply strategic.


Meanwhile, India continues to shy away from referring to the transition in Nepal as a ‘peace process’. Instead, India calls it the democratisation of Nepal and mainstreaming the Maoists. While only the Prachanda Maoists have been mainstreamed, the Nepalese Army is well on the way to total democratisation.

Vikramaditya on top of agenda

The annual Defence Minister-level meeting of the Indo-Russian intergovernmental commission on military-technical cooperation on Wednesday in New Delhi is taking place in an atmosphere of negative media coverage.


The meeting, which is to discuss the painful issue of further delays in the delivery of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, has itself been pushed back from October 4 to 10 as Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov unexpectedly deferred his trip to India.


While the Russian side explained the rescheduling by the need for Mr. Serdyukov to participate in some programmes of President Vladimir Putin, a section of the Indian media speculated that Mr. Serdyukov had stayed back to meet Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who arrived in Moscow on the day Mr. Serdyukov was to fly to New Delhi.


As it turned out, the postponement of Mr. Serdyukov’s trip to India had nothing to do with General Kayani, whom he had neither planned to meet nor did meet, and everything to do with Mr. Putin. The Kremlin asked Mr. Serdyukov to stay in Russia to finalise and sign the Defence Ministry’s largest ever contract for the purchase of the new heavy transport aircraft Il-476, which he had earlier objected to, and to accompany Mr. Putin to Tajikistan, where he sealed a crucial deal to extend by 30 years the lease of a major military base.


Making excuses for his late coming will be the easiest part of Mr. Serdyukov’s talks in New Delhi. He faces some tough questioning over the new delay in the delivery of the INS Vikramaditya, which is now likely to slip by as much as 10 months behind the December deadline specified in the current contract after the ship developed propulsion and some other problems during the recent sea trials.


Ahead of the talks officials in New Delhi warned that India could impose steep penalties if the delivery is delayed beyond the four-month grace period.


However, Russian officials insist that the Indian side shares the blame for the Vikramaditya problems. After all, it was at India’s demand that Russian shipbuilders did not use asbestos insulation to protect the ship’s boilers, which resulted in their overheating when operated at full power.


Indian sources here admit that it was not a wise decision to make the Russians modify their tried and trusted boiler technology. Even before the aircraft carrier returned from the sea trials at the end of September, Indian Navy officials signed a protocol agreeing to the use of asbestos.


Russians also point out that several other pieces of equipment that failed tests and need to be repaired were sourced from suppliers outside Russia that had been picked by the Indian side.


Both sides agreed though that overall the INS Vikramaditya had performed extremely well during the sea trials. Indian sources told The Hindu that their greatest concern was the new aircraft takeoff and landing systems installed on the carrier. They said the new ramp, arrestor wires and aircraft guidance systems performed flawlessly during flight tests.


The sources said the INS Vikramaditya would become “the jewel of the Indian Navy” when it gets inducted next year, but the aircraft carrier has become such a hot potato that they refused to be quoted even on this harmless compliment.

Defence Ministry considering Army proposal for attack choppers

Press Trust of India / New Delhi October 09, 2012, 18:15


Notwithstanding IAF's opposition, the Defence Ministry today said it has not rejected an Army proposal to have its own attack helicopter fleet over which the two Services are engaged in a tussle.


Defence Minister A K Antony sought to downplay the differences between the two services on the issue, saying it is a "family problem" and the government is in final stages of resolving it.


The Army has been demanding control over attack and medium-lift helicopters, saying they are mainly used for its operations and that is why they should be under it. The IAF has strongly opposed the demand.

"There is no tussle and there is no war. These are all family problems and we will find a solution. We are in the final stages of finding the solution amicably. Don't go beyond that. This has not been rejected," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Territorial Army Day parade here.


He was asked if the Defence Ministry has rejected the Army's demand to have its own fleet of attack and medium-lift helicopters over which the two services are engaged in a battle.


The IAF recently said it has rejected Army's demand to have their own attack and medium-lift helicopters contending that country can't afford to have these "little air forces" growing up to do their "own things".


Commenting on its proposal, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was present at the function, said the Defence Ministry holds a very "sympathetic view" about the demand raised by the Army for having its own attack helicopters.


It is still under the active consideration of the Ministry and it is not correct for anyone to say that the Ministry has shelved the Army's proposal in this regard, he said.


IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne has said "little air forces" cannot be allowed to grow up while asking if the Coast Guard asks for submarines, will it be given the assets by the Navy.

Honorary Lt Col Dhoni skips Territorial Army Day parade

New Delhi: Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is also an Honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army, today chose to give the organisation’s annual parade here a miss, sparking off a debate whether celebrities should be conferred such titles or not.


The incident comes in the backdrop of IAF’s unhappiness over both, Honorary Group Captain Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni, not availing its offer of flying in their premier Su-30MKI aircraft.


The IAF yesterday suggested it would not be able to fly the duo in any of their fighter jets in near future as the service was “very busy”.

Dhoni was conferred with the title of Honorary Lt Col last November while Tendulkar was inducted into the Air Force as an Honorary Group Captain in September 2010.


When Defence Minister AK Antony was asked about the commitment of celebrities such as Dhoni towards the volunteer Army, he said, “The fact is that most of them are devoting their time and energy for the Territorial Army battalions.”


“They are inspiration to the young people and that is why more and more people are joining. The latest of them is Sachin Pilot and just now I saw Kapil Dev… We are not inducting everybody. After careful scrutiny only, we are entering people,” Antony said.


Asked if the motive behind inducting people such as Tendulkar and Dhoni was getting killed due to their lack of commitment, the Defence Minister said, “I am saying that most of the people are active. Even today you saw Kapil Dev, he is here. Why are you people not seeing this? Maj Sunil Sawant, Brig KP Singhdeo and many others come to the TA. Don’t forget their names.”


Antony added that Malayalam cinestar Mohanlal was not just lending his name to the Territorial Army but “he is actively involved in the force attending all the training camps and all the parades.”


Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information Technology Sachin Pilot, who was recently commissioned as a regular officer in the volunteer Army, was present on the occasion in his full ceremonial attire.


Former Test cricketer and 1983 World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev, who was accorded the title of Honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army in 2008, though defended his counterparts saying if the two had time they would certainly make themselves available for such occasions.


“If they (Sachin and Dhoni) have the time they will definitely attend all the functions. They are currently serving the nation through cricket and I believe once they end their cricketing careers they will like to be a part of all the events. They have lot many things to do and it sometimes become difficult to find time,” Kapil, who was present on the occasion, told reporters.


The veteran cricketer, however, insisted that the presence of celebrities will motivate the younger generation to be a part of the unit.


“We should spend some time for all these activities as it motivates the new generation. But sometimes one doesn’t have the time, he has some prior commitments,” Kapil said.


Beijing Olympics gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra, who was also conferred the honorary rank of Lt Col along with Dhoni, also gave the occasion a miss.

Army, IAF chopper spat a family problem: Antony

New Delhi: The issue between the Army and the IAF for controlling attack helicopters was a “family problem” and the government was in the final stages of finding a solution for it, Defence Minister AK Antony said in New Delhi today.


The Army has been demanding the control over attack and medium-lift helicopters saying they are mainly used for its operations and that is why they should be under it. The IAF, which operates two squadrons of Russian-origin Mi-35/25 attack choppers, has been opposing the demand.

“There is no tussle and there is no war. These are all family problems and we will find a solution. We are in the final stages of finding the solution amicably. Don’t go beyond that,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Territorial Army Day parade.


The minister was asked if the defence ministry has rejected Army’s demand to have its own fleet of attack and medium-lift helicopters, over which the two services are engaged in a battle.


The IAF had recently said that it has rejected the Army’s demand to have their own attack and medium-lift helicopters contending that the country can’t afford to have these “little air forces” growing up to do their “own things”.


Commenting on its proposal, Army Chief General Bikram Singh said the defence ministry holds a very “sympathetic view” about the demand raised by the Army for having its own attack helicopters.


It is still under the active consideration of the ministry and it is not correct for anyone to say that the ministry has shelved the Army’s proposal in this regard, he said.


Recently, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne had said “little air forces” cannot be allowed to grow up asking if the Coast Guard asks for submarines, will it be given the assets by the Navy.


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