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Friday, 30 November 2012

From Today's Papers - 30 Nov 2012
Kargil Commander objects to Lt-Gen on AFT Bench
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
Former Commander of 121 (I) Brigade at Kargil, Brig Surinder Singh, today raised objection against Lt-Gen NS Brar being the administrative member on the Armed Forces Tribunal’s Bench hearing the case against the termination of his services in the aftermath of the 1999 border conflict with Pakistan.

Brig Surinder Singh claimed that Lt-Gen Brar is a friend and regimental associate of Brig Devinder Singh, another brigade Commander in an adjoining sector during the conflict.

Brig Devinder Singh was then the commander of 70 Infantry Brigade in Batalik, east of Kargil. He had also moved court alleging that some portions of the Kargil war records were fudged by senior Commanders as a consequence of which he was deprived of a wartime decoration and not promoted.

During arguments before the tribunal’s Chandigarh Bench today, Brig Surinder’s counsel said that there was a clash of interest between the cases of his client and that of Brig Devinder Singh over the scope of intrusions along the Line of Control in northern Jammu and Kashmir.

He contended that since the Bench’s administrative member was a friend of Brig Devinder Singh, he may not get justice. The Bench fixed December 10 as the next date of hearing to decide upon Brig Surinder Singh’s contentions.

Earlier, the court witnessed arguments over the production of certain documents, some of which are classified, sought by the petitioner from the Army in support of his contentions.

Brig Surinder Singh had been removed mid-conflict over allegations of mishandling classified information and later his services were terminated. He challenged the Army's actions in the Delhi High Court and the matter was subsequently transferred to the Tribunal.

Friendly fire

    Brig Surinder Singh claimed that the administrative member on the Armed Forces Tribunal's Bench, Lt-Gen NS Brar, is a friend and regimental associate of Brig Devinder Singh
    Brig Devinder Singh was a brigade Commander in an adjoining sector during the Kargil conflict
    He has also moved court alleging that war records were fudged by senior Commanders as a consequence of which he was deprived of a wartime decoration
12 years on, Kargil martyr’s father pins hopes on apex court
Our Correspondent

Palampur, November 29
Dr NK Kalia, late Capt Saurabh Kalia’s father, said here today that he had full faith in the judicial system. He was confident that he would get justice in the Supreme Court and the culprits would be punished.

Talking to mediapersons at his residence here this morning, Dr Kalia said he had moved from pillar to post in the last 12 years and had approached the Centre and several national and international organisations to pressurise Pakistan to identify, book and punish those who had tortured his son.

He said his son had been in captivity for three weeks and had been subjected to brutal torture. He said he was disappointed with the governments in the last 12 years as none initiated efforts to take up the issue with Pakistan.

He said he was left with no alternative but to approach the Supreme Court for justice. He said their wounds were yet to heal even though 12 years had passed. He said the Army and the nation had lost a dedicated and honest son.

In tears, he said the Pakistan army had rubbed cigarettes on prisoners’ bodies, pierced their ears with hot iron rods, removed their eyes before puncturing those, breaking their bones and teeth, chopped off their limbs and private organs.

He rued that General Qureshi of the Pakistan army was not willing to accept the truth while interacting with mediapersons of a television channel last night.

Dr Kalia said he was proud of his son, who underwent the worst possible ordeal for 22 days, but did not break down. He pointed out that the detailed post-mortem report had confirmed that injuries were inflicted ante-mortem (before death).

Dr Kalia said his son and his team had been captured alive, but India had not been intimated about their status as prisoners of war, which was in violation of the Geneva Convention, to which India and Pakistan were signatories.

Indian Army backs Capt Kalia’s family

Pune, November 29
Army Chief General Bikram Singh today said the Army fully supports the parents of Kargil hero Capt Saurabh Kalia in pursuing their son's case at the International Court of Justice at Hague. "He was our brave officer who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty in the best traditions of the Indian Army. We have written to Ministry of Defence (MoD) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conveying our concerns in the matter. We fully support his parents," Gen Singh said here. — PTI
Migration from B'desh
BSF to increase manpower at 32 border outposts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29
Thirty-two border outposts located along the Indo-Bangladesh border have been identified as the places from where heavy illegal migration from Bangladesh takes place. This was stated by Border Security Force (BSF) Director General UK Bansal this evening.

Speaking at the force's annual press conference, Bansal said trained manpower would be deployed in areas prone to security threats. The BSF had apprehended 1,602 Bangladeshi nationals at the border till October 31 this year, he said. Handheld thermal imagers, battlefield surveillance radars (BFSR) and night-vision devices would be used to increase surveillance in these areas.

"We have informed the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) about our sensitivities (along the border) and they have also shared theirs. We have arrived at an agreed list of places that are sensitive from my and the BGB's point of view. Together, we will concentrate on these areas with deployment of our resources. We have achieved greater certainty in preventing infiltration and restricting smuggling of drugs and fake Indian currency across the Indo-Bangladesh border," Bansal said.

Increased vigilance along the border was a result of the recent ethnic riots in Assam, said the DG. The riots were allegedly triggered due to a change in the demography in the lower districts of Assam, following excessive illegal migration from Bangladesh. The force would also acquire eight Mi-17 helicopters to be used in North-East, Indo-Tibet border and areas affected by left wing extremism.
CAG raps Defence Ministry, Army, DRDO
Says Army relinquished land to pvt parties; accuses DRDO of irregularities
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) today rapped the Ministry of Defence, the Army, the Indian Air Force and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for committing financial irregularities.

The CAG tabled two reports in Parliament today. It criticised the Army for letting a private builder usurp prime land in Mumbai by giving it “an irregular no-objection certificate”.

“Certain fraudulent activities regarding the piece of land had come to notice. However, the Central Ordnance Depot (COD), Mumbai, did not get the land demarcated in its favour from state authorities,” the CAG said. The 5,166-sq m piece of land usurped by a private builder in Kandivali, Mumbai, had been in the possession of the Army since 1942.

The Army headquarters instead of investigating and defending its case allowed the builder to go ahead with its development work. The CAG has suggested to the CBI, which is already probing the case, to find out as to how the NOC was issued when the COD had objected to the construction of any multi-story building in the vicinity.

The CAG has also picked holes in the Defence Ministry policy to promote military industry in the country by questioning waivers given to foreign defence firms for fulfilling their offset requirements. Under the “offsets policy”, foreign vendors bagging deals worth over Rs 300 crore have to invest at least 30 per cent worth of the deal back in Indian defence, homeland security or the civilian aerospace sectors.

The monitoring mechanism of the MoD was “ineffective as it was created without a clear definition of its objectives and role. It has remained only a paper exercise”, it said. In some cases, the Indian “offsets partners” were actually 100 per cent owned subsidiaries of the foreign vendor, it said.

The CAG said the Boeing proposal to set up a test facility at the DRDO was an investment in kind. “Even as it was not an eligible was accepted by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and approval in principle for setting up the facility has also been accorded by the CCS,” it said.

The DAC had maintained that investment in kind through non-equity route was not permissible for “offset”. The CAG report said a scrutiny of five offset contracts showed that equipment involving Rs 3,410 crore was being directly provided by the foreign vendor in kind without any value addition.

The CAG has also pulled up the DRDO. It committed “procedural irregularities” by taking up new projects and splitting sanctions for them to bring it within financial powers of the organisation head.

The CAG said the financial powers of the Director General, DRDO, and the Secretary, Defence Research and Development, were enhanced from Rs 25 crore to 50 crore and Rs 60 crore to 75 crore, respectively, and both these offices were held by one person only.

On the splitting of sanctions, it said, “Sanctions were spilt to bring them within the delegated financial powers of the DG, R and D, (DRDO chief) that is up to Rs 50 crore in consultation with the Integrated Financial Adviser.”

The CAG noted that in some cases, the cost of DRDO projects was brought down below Rs 50 crore by reducing the number of deliverables and curtailing its scope enabling the DG, DRDO, to issue sanction within his delegated powers.


    The Defence Ministry policy promoted military industry in the country by allowing waivers to foreign defence firms for fulfilling their offset requirements
    The Army let a private builder usurp prime land in Mumbai by giving it “an irregular no-objection certificate”
    The DRDO committed “procedural irregularities” by taking up new projects and splitting sanctions for them to bring it within financial powers of the organisation head
CAG criticises Army for relinquishing land to private builder
Press Trust of India / New Delhi November 29, 2012, 17:25

The CAG has criticised the Army for letting a private builder usurp its land at a prime location in Mumbai by giving it "an irregular No Objection Certificate" and compromising the defence security.

The government auditor pulled up the local defence authorities saying even after "certain fraudulent activities regarding the piece of land had come to their notice, Central Ordnance Depot Mumbai did not get the land demarcated in its favour from state authorities which facilitated the usurpation of the land from the Army."

The 5,166 sq metre piece of land usurped by the private builder for residential purposes is in Kandivali in Mumbai and was in possession of the Army since 1942, the report tabled today in Parliament said.
The report noted that the said piece of land was allotted to a private company in 2007 and when it started development work there, the COD objected to it and placed sentries there.

"As the COD obstructed the development work there, the company lodged a complaint with the Minister of State for Defence Production (Rao Inderjit Singh) whereby his Personal Secretary wrote to the then Army Chief's Secretariat for appropriate action," it said.

The file was then forwarded by the Army Chief to the Quarter Master General (QMG) (a Lt Gen-rank officer) who later informed the Minister's office that the "Local Military Authority had been instructed to remove all obstructions and to let the legal owner go ahead with planned development."

"The land which was in possession of the Army since decades and under active use for patrolling purposes and of the value of Rs 5.94 crore was relinquished without any serious effort or contest," the CAG report said.

"The Army headquarters instead of investigating and defending its case allowed the company to go ahead with its development work in the vicinity of military establishment thus compromising defence security," it said.

The CAG said the case has been transferred to the CBI for investigation which should try to find out as to "how the NOC was issued when the COD had already objected to construction of any multi-story building in the vicinity."
Indian Army backs Captain Saurabh Kalia's family
Pune: Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, on Thursday said that Captain Saurabh Kalia was a very brave officer and the Army had written to the Defence Ministry and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conveying its concern over the brutal treatment accorded to him after capture by the Pakistan Army.

"In Kargil war, he made the ultimate sacrifice in the best traditions of the armed forces in the line of duty. We have written our concerns regarding this case to the Ministry of Defence. We have also written to the National Human Rights Commission. We will fully support the parents of Captain Kalia," he told mediapersons on the sidelines of the 123rd passing-out parade of the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla in Pune.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid earlier today said Pakistan should take responsibility if somebody from its side is responsible for the untoward happening.

"This was treated as a very seriously bilateral matter and will be continued to be treated in the very same bilateral matter. The issue is not so much as to who may have done it, but certainty the issue is that someone from the Pakistani side is responsible; and if someone from the Pakistani side is responsible then Pakistan must take responsibility for it," Khurshid told mediapersons in New Delhi.

Dr NK Kalia, the father of Captain Kalia, has moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to Union Government to take up his son's case at the international judicial forum. Captain Kalia was captured and subjected to brutal torture by the Pakistan Army in 1999.

Dr NK Kalia, a retired scientist, has in his petition to the apex court contended that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) should ask International Court of Justice (ICJ) to expose the ''torture'' that resulted in the death of Captain Kalia and his fellow soldiers.

He has also asked the Indian Government to get Pakistan to apologise for the incident that went against all norms of the Geneva Convention related to incidents of war and capture of military personnel.

Dr NK Kalia, who has been shuttling from Ministry of Defence (MoD) to Army headquarters and the Ministry of External Affairs, and to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in the past 13 years, wants the Indian Government to exert pressure on Pakistan to identify and punish those Pakistani soldiers who indulged in the barbaric torture of his son Captain Kalia.

Dr Kalia has argued that the attitude of the Indian Government in not responding to various representations made by him for appropriate action against the Pakistan Government at the international forum, has forced him to approach the Supreme Court to bring justice to the Indian soldiers who were subject to war crimes by Pakistan.

Immediately after getting commissioned into the 4-Jat Regiment of the Indian Army, Captain Saurabh Kalia was posted in the Kargil area.

In May 1999, Captain Kalia had gone out for patrol duty in Kaksar area of Kargil along with five other soldiers - Sepoys Arjunram Baswana, Mula Ram Bidiasar, Naresh Singh Sinsinwar, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria and Bhika Ram Mudh. They were caught by the Pakistan Army, which kept them in captivity for over 22 days and subjected to brutal torture as evident from their bodies handed over by the Pakistan Army on June 09, 1999.

Parts of their body were burnt with cigarettes, eyes were gouged out before puncturing, teeth and bones were broken and various limbs and private organs of these soldiers were chopped off.

Civil-military relations in India

Stephen Cohen in his book, ‘The Indian Army’ states that “De Tocqueville and other theorists argued that democracy and a large standing army were incompatible, but India has managed both.” This act of ‘management’ has not been easy as the civil-military relations in India have been scarred by several strains and stresses. While the British colonists looked up to the Indian army as “an oasis in desert of chaos,” to the Congress guru Gandhi, it was merely a tool of colonial coercion and thus an object of “people’s hatred” as it had been “employed in indiscriminate firing” on the masses.

As to who would exercise real power in the state’s polity in colonial India, the army’s standing was laid bare by its Chief Field Marshal Philip Chetwode in 1932, when he elaborated, “An army can have no politics…. [It] is at the disposal of the government…” However, India’s first Premier Jawaharlal Nehru knew that it would not be easy to ride this ‘tiger’ as more than anyone, he well-understood the classical Maoist dictum that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

To ride this ‘tiger’, one can discern a three-pronged Nehruvian strategy with regard to the Indian army. The first was to keep its budget low in the name of economy; exhibit a gesture of peace towards the neighboring countries; and to maintain a military that was more compact and mobile rather than inflated in numbers. In December 1950, he went public by stating that he preferred a highly mechanised but small army and also decided to reduce its size for reasons of economy. Despite these pronouncements, when the first Indian Army Chief K M Carippa approached Nehru in 1951 for more defence outlay to strengthen the north-eastern frontier against China, he was nonchalantly told, “You mind only Kashmir and Pakistan” – a decision that Nehru was to regret after his defeat at the hands of the Chinese in the 1962 war.

The second aspect of his strategy was devised in consultation with his Home Minister Sardar Patel whereby as a counterpoise to the army, both planned to increase the strength of the paramilitary forces.

The third aspect of the civil-military relations that really irked the latter was postulated by Nehru through his confidante and Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon, who is on the record to have said, “It is wrong for the army to try to make policy, their business is to be concerned with military tactics…. The government is not going to say that it wants one company here and two companies there, but the government will certainly say, ‘We should attack Pakistan’ or ‘we should not attack Pakistan’.” Ironically, both of them did not adhere to this self-professed principle because Lt Gen S L Menezes (retd), who served the Indian army for over thirty-seven years, has revealed in his history of ‘The Indian Army’ that both Nehru and Menon constantly interfered in the army operations during the 1962 Sino-Indian war “before the operations as to the deployment even of companies and platoons.” With an unsparing stick to beat Menon, Menezes ruefully adds that conflict was the leitmotif of Menon’s life as he often threatened court-martial to even those officers who dared to ask genuine questions in the defence briefings.

No wonder, he was the most hated defence minister of India as two instances clearly indicate. One, some anonymous army officers wrote a letter to Nehru in 1961 alleging that “the Defence Minister… seems to wield some black magic… over the Prime Minister.” Two, the more outlandish step stated by W Hangen, the author of ‘After Nehru, who?’ in which he claimed that “Indian officers actually approached a Western attaché in New Delhi for help in arranging to have Menon assassinated.” The top brass also resented Menon’s interference in promotions so much so that the Army Chief General K S Thimayya resigned in protest in 1950 but retracted on Nehru’s request.

In spite of such a shabby treatment of the Khakis, the Indian army has played a key role in keeping the façade of the Indian democracy by aiding the civil power whenever called for help. If somehow India has avoided disintegration, civil war and communal strife, it has not been because of the sagacity of the civilian governments but because of its army. Facts speak for themselves. Over the decades, the army has ensured the survival of the political governments in three broad ways. First, it has bailed out the politicians by fighting large scale counter-insurgency operations such as against the communists in Telengana in 1949; against the separatist Sikhs under ‘Operation Blue Star’ and ‘Operation Woodrose’ in 1984; and to quell Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka in 1987 as the ‘Indian Peace-Keeping Force’ where it earned the sobriquet of ‘Indian Peace-Keeping Dogs.’

Second, the Indian army has been called out by the political governments to disarm the rebellious paramilitary forces such as the Bihar Police in 1947 and the UP Provincial Armed Constabulary in 1973. Third, to pacify major communal riots, the civilian governments have used the coercive power of the army on at least 475 occasions between1951-70 and 369 times between 1981and ’85. Moreover, the 1991-92 annual report of the Ministry of Defence admitted that the army was used to quell urban violence in over a dozen provinces of India. The above statistics are a poor reflection on the working of the Indian democracy; without the military crutches, it may not have survived these ‘storms.’

The next question that begs an answer is to what extent was the character of the independent Indian democratic state as envisioned by Nehru was to be any different from the oppressive colonial state? Not much really as is evident from a recorded conversation between the last Viceroy Mountbatten and Nehru in March 1947, on the eve of partition: ‘I asked Nehru if he agreed that the army was the final guarantor of law and order…. He agreed.” Even Gandhi’s desire of turning the coercive nature of army into a constructive force that “must plough the land, dig wells, clean latrines, and do every other constructive work” has remained an elusive dream. Whether the Indians accept or not, the fact is that the army remains the ultimate guardian of the Indian democracy.

The writer is an academic and journalist. He can be reached at

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