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Saturday, 1 December 2012

From Today's Papers - 01 Dec 2012
New Delhi, November 30
The CBI today filed a charge sheet against arms dealer Abhishek Verma, his Romanian wife Anca Maria Neacsu and a retired Wing Commander of the IAF, Koka Rao, for allegedly possessing secret defence related documents and supplying the same to foreign nationals.

The charge sheet filed in special CBI court is under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act 1923, and Sections 120-B and section 380 of the IPC. The CBI on August 28 registered a case against Verma and his Romanian wife, now lodged in jail, under the OSA on a complaint by the Defence Ministry.

The third person, the IAF officer, to be chargesheeted, was arrested by the CBI last night and was today remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Vidya Prakash. The CBI had sought Rao's custody for four days to question him on the conspiracy of the offence and to ascertain others' involvement in it.

Rao was arrested for allegedly leaking the confidential documents which were later provided to the CBI by Verma's estranged business associate C Edmond Allen. CMM Vidya Prakash slated December 11 for scrutiny of documents filed with it.
Battle after the war
Kalia family deserves closure with dignity

It seems a lonely battle being fought by the father of Capt Saurabh Kalia, who was among the first of the Indian troops to be taken prisoner by Pakistan forces in the Kargil War in 1999. Dr NK Kalia, a retired scientist who maintains a little memorial to his son in their family home in Palampur, wants the Government of India to file a suit in the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for violation of the Geneva Conventions in torturing Captain Kalia and other troops before killing them. The government apparently is unable to take up the issue at international fora because of issues related to India’s policy vis-a-vis Commonwealth nations, especially Pakistan. There are also matters of jurisdiction.

The national foreign policy is a matter that cannot be altered over individual cases, and it is hard to judge what exactly holds the government back from doing what the Kalia family wants. However, the fact remains that the family needs a sense of closure and justice, at least from its own government. The government thus has to be in communication with the family in a manner that it feels genuinely engaged. It has to come up with alternatives that may serve the purpose. The resources of a government are immense, which it must use to seek at least an international indictment of Pakistan. After all, it is not often that we have a case of war crimes with evidence, which the mutilated bodies of the soldiers were.

Pakistan will forever remain in denial. That is its best line of defence. It had even refused to accept the bodies of its troops in the Kargil War, something no self-respecting army would find easy to live down. Wars are an ugly affair under the best of circumstances — it cannot be anything but when people are being killed. But civilisation has taught man to conduct even this business with a sense of respect for humanity per se. That is what the Kalias are fighting for, and deserve to get.
India, China hold border talks ahead of NSA’s visit to Beijing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
Against the backdrop of the recent map row, India and China today resolved to maintain peace and tranquillity along their border pending the final settlement of the boundary issue. A two-day meeting of the working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs concluded here this evening.

The Indian delegation was led by Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia) and comprised representatives of the Ministries of External Affairs, Defence and Home Affairs as well as members of the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

The Chinese delegation was headed by Ambassador Wang Xiaodu, Special Representative, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and consisted of representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and National Defence of China. An official statement said the discussions took place in a cordial, constructive and cooperative atmosphere. The two delegations reviewed developments in the India-China border areas since the first meeting of the mechanism and acknowledged with satisfaction that peace and tranquillity continued to be maintained due to the efforts of both sides. The two delegations also exchanged ideas on additional measures for maintaining peace as well as further steps to build greater trust and confidence between the two sides.

The two delegations welcomed the recent liberalisation of border trade across Nathu La, which has led to a significant increase in the volume of trade. They continued their discussions on introducing additional routes for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. The meeting came days ahead of National Security Adviser Shiv Shanker Menon’s visit to Beijing to meet representatives of the Communist Party leadership of China.
Claim to top post divides BRO
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
There is a fresh trouble brewing up in the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). In the past one week, a kind of ‘mini mutiny’ has surfaced which could further slow down the lackadaisical pace of the working of the BRO. The agency is tasked with building strategic roads.

The BRO has a unique combination of officers-some are drawn from the Army while a section of officers are from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). The overall command is with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Minister of State for Defence handles it.

The officers, all engineers, from the MoRTH have shot off protest letters to Defence Minister AK Antony demanding that the appointment of the Director-General Border Roads (DGBR) made on November 14 be cancelled. The DGBR has always been a Lieutenant-General rank officer of the Army. The engineers from the MoRTH have been demanding that they be given a chance at the top post.

Today as Lt Gen AT Parnaik took over as the DGBR, the office of the Defence Minister was besieged with some 80-odd complaints, all on the same lines protesting against the appointment of an Army officer to the top post.

The protestors in the letters have said that on November 8, the Secretary Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) intimated that framing of recruitment rules was under consideration in consultation with the MoD and the UPSC.

Since the rules are being framed, the Military Secretary under the MoD should not have issued orders to appoint the DG, said the protest letters while adding that the restructuring of the BRO approved in 2006 has not been implemented.
India May Scrap US Military Deal in Favor of Israeli One
India’s army may opt to conduct a $1 billion military defense contract with Israel rather than the United States, showcasing the increasingly strong competition between the two countries in providing defensive solutions throughout the world.

According to an article in the India Times, the Indian Army initially planned to purchase American FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but may instead purchase Israeli ‘Spike’ ATGMs because of a US hesitance to provide “transfer of technology” license (ToT) to India which would enable the country to produce its own anti-tank weapons after the initial purchase.

“The Javelin imbroglio has once again rekindled long-held fears in the Indian defence establishment about the US not being a reliable long-term supplier of cutting-edge military technology. India also detests American conditions on “intrusive end-user inspections” of weapons sold to its armed forces,” the article said.

The defense contract includes the provision of 2,000 launchers and 24,000 missiles.

The report notes that Israel is India’s second largest defense provider after Russia and said this sale would constitute the third major missile program between India and Israel.  Deals between the two countries for military technology are worth approximately $1 billion a year.
CAG nails Army: Audit report exposes ordnance factory and land allotment scams causing Rs.1277 crore loss

Read more at:
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has unearthed irregularities and inefficiencies mainly in the Army's ordnance factories that have cost the national exchequer an estimated Rs.1,277 crore and led to huge gaps in the country's war preparedness.

Apart from this there was a huge loss due to diversion and misuse of prime cantonment land to private builders in cities such as Pune, Kandivili, Panchmarhi and Barrackpore. The CAG has also chastised the Indian Navy and the Air Force for inefficiencies and wastage in several of their projects.

While the armed forces have been pulled up for decision deficiencies resulting in losses, the defence ministry has not been spared either by the CAG "for gross mismanagement of land under its possession."

There is striking similarity with the Adarsh housing society scam in Kandivili where 5,166 sq metres belonging to the Central Ordnance Depot ,which was in possession of the army since 1942, was given to a private company for residential purposes on the basis of an irregular no-objection certificate issued by the Defence Estates Officer, Mumbai.

The CAG has pointed out that unauthorised construction and running of 36 hotels on old grant sites at Panchmarhi was not prevented by the Defence Estates Service.

Similar cases were reported from Barrackpore cantonment where two old grant sites were misused as restaurants and shops despite a shortage of land for military use.

Perhaps a more damaging revelation relates to tank ammunition. Even as the army has been complaining about the shortage of ammunition, the CAG has pointed out that more than 1,00,000 rounds of tank ammunition designed indigenously were declared unserviceable without proper verification.

The value of this wasted ammunition was pegged at Rs.408.06 crore. The wastage was detected by auditors in 2010 in the Southern Command which is headquartered in Pune.

The report noted that out of 3,50,000 rounds of ammunition worth Rs.1,400 crore produced by the Ordnance Factory Board, 1,34,608 rounds were unserviceable.

A major chunk of these - 1,02,014 rounds had not even completed a shelf life of 10 years.

This compelled the defence ministry to import 16,000 rounds of ammunition worth Rs.278.88 crore from Russia earlier this year.

In another instance pointed out by the CAG, the Defence Research and Development Organisation had developed a modular charge system for 105 mm and 130 mm artillery guns.

But by the time the project was completed, the army was not interested in the technology which led to wastage of `13.48 crore that had been spent in developing a modular charge system for field guns.

Poor soil investigationand bad engineering by the Military Engineering Service Engineers led to the construction of sub-standard bunkers meant for the storage of ammunition.

The bunkers were constructed for Rs.7.61 crore and have remained defective even after three years.

The ministry has admitted that some of the structures actually collapsed.

Radar Warning Receivers are used by combat aircraft to warn them that enemy radar has "illuminated" them. The CAG has pointed out a serious deficiency in an Air Force project where it failed to install radar warning receiver systems in most of its fighter aircraft fleet.

The IAF had sought to equip its entire fleet of combat jets with RWRs but the CAG has revealed that the project has come a cropper even after a spending Rs.521 crore.

The IAF ordered 336 RWR systems from Bharat Electronics Limited in 2005. A major chunk of these- 94 per cent- were supplied in 2007, well before the delivery deadline of 2010.

But the CAG noted that till April this year, only 73 out of these 336 systems had been installed. There is also a dispute between the defence ministry and the CAG over performance of these radars.

The IAF had claimed that these RWRs had not performed satisfactorily, but the defence ministry, in its reply, claimed it was a proven and totally reliable system with an exceeding 80 per cent.

The CAG report said it does not agree with the defence ministry's observation as the performance of 69 out of 73 RWRs integrated to date with IAF aircraft were not up to the mark.

The Navy and the Coast Guard have not been spared by the CAG either.

In one instance it has said that operations of Navy submarines were affected because of delays in commissioning of "a crucial system onboard." This led to a loss of Rs.167.64 crore.
Army has written to MoD, NHRC about Capt Kalia
Army Chief General Bikram Singh on Thursday said parents of Captain Sourabh Kalia, an infantry officer of the 4 Jat Regiment killed in the Kargil conflict, had the support of the Army, which Gen Singh said has written to the Ministry of Defence and the National Human Rights Commission about the matter.

Captain Kalia’s parents, who have been alleging that Pakistani forces brutally killed him after torture in contravention to the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war, have moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the government to take up the matter with the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

General Singh said, “The Indian Army supports parents of Captain Sourabh Kalia. He was a brave officer and made the ultimate sacrifice living up to the best tradition of duty in the Indian Armed Forces. We have shown our concern over the matter. We have written to the Ministry of Defence and the National Human Rights Commission. The Indian Army operates through the Government of India and we have given our recommendations to the MoD.”

The Army Chief was talking to reporters after reviewing the Passing out Parade of the 123rd course of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has been denying Kalia and his men were tortured.

The Army Chief, replying to queries on reported re-drawing of plans of a mountain strike force, and the ongoing military build-up along the China border said, “We are preparing our borders because that is our task and a Constitutional obligation (on us). The work is being done as it is an operational requirement and we are getting government support. The build-up is about capability building and not pointed at any particular nation.”

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