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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

From Today's Papers - 09 Jan 2013
Pak troops cross LoC, kill two jawans brutally
Tribune News Service

Jammu/New Delhi, January 8
In a “grave provocation by the Pakistan Army”, its troops on Tuesday morning sneaked 500 metre into Indian territory in Poonch district and ambushed an Army patrol, killing two soldiers, whose bodies were reportedly mutilated.

Sources said the Border Action Team (BAT) of the Pakistani Army crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in Krishna Ghati area and carried out the strikes.

Army sources said the intruding Pakistani troops opened heavy machine gun fire on a patrolling party near Chapti and Atma posts at the LoC around 9 am today.

The Pakistani troops took away with them the weapons of the two killed soldiers, identified as Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh of 13 Rajputana Rifles, said Army sources.

Sources said the bodies of Indian soldiers were badly mutilated. The Army, however, didn’t confirmed the reports.

The top-brass of the Army was briefed about the attack in the afternoon. General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GoC-in-C), Northern Command, Lt Gen KT Parnaik, was in the area throughout the day.

This was the 70th incident of firing across the LoC in the past 12 months. The Army termed the attack as a “significant escalation” to the continuing series of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts supported by the Pakistan Army.

“This is yet another grave provocation by the Pakistan Army which is being taken up sternly through official channels,” said Lt Col Rajesh Kalia, PRO (Defence), Headquarters Northern Command.

"A group of their regular soldiers crossed the Line of Control in the Mendhar Sector on January 8. Having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area, the Pakistani troops were moving towards our posts when an alert area domination patrol spotted and engaged the intruders,” he said.

“The firefight continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated towards their side of LoC,” said Kalia. In the past 48 hours, this is the second exchange of fire across the heavily militarised LoC. On January 6, Pakistan had resorted to “unprovoked heavy machine gun and mortar firing” on Indian posts in the Uri sector. The Indian Army had given a calibrated response which resulted in the death of a Pakistani soldier and injuries to another. Pakistan Army, however, had alleged that Indian troops allegedly crossed the LoC and “targeted” a border post. Indian Army had denied that there had been no cross-border movement by its troops. Some civilian houses were damaged due to Pakistani firing in Uri Sector.

In the last one month, the Pakistan Army had violated the ceasefire agreement nearly a dozen times. Most of these violations were in Rajouri, Uri and Keran Sector to assist infiltration attempts, said Army sources. .

The Director General Military Operations of both the countries are in touch over the incident.

Shelling on 8 Indian posts
Hours after a gruesome attack on an Army patrol, the Pakistan army targeted at least eight Indian posts in the Krishna Ghati sector on Tuesday evening. Pakistani troops opened fire on Kranti one, Kranti two, Nagli Takri, Ravi, Chapti, Atma, Chhajman and Ghorha posts at 6 pm. The shelling continued intermittently till 8.30 pm.

"The Government of India considers the incident as a provocative action (by Pakistan) and we condemn it. The government will take up the incident with Pakistan. We expect Islamabad to honour the ceasefire agreement strictly." —  Sitanshu Kar, MoD spokesman
Law Ministry to control AFT: High Court
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, January 8
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered that the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) be shifted from the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Law.

Taking stock of the legal position and earlier directions by the Supreme Court, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice AK Sikri and Justice RK Jain ruled: “Insofar as the Armed Forces Tribunal is concerned, there is hardly any issue that it be brought under the control of Department of Justice in the Ministry of Law and Justice. Mechanism for control over the Armed Forces Tribunal can be worked out by the Department of Justice. Accordingly, we issue a direction to this effect.”

Stating that the AFT Act does not specify as to which ministry should wield control over it, the Bench observed that tribunals in India have not achieved full independence. “The apex court has observed that unless a wholly independent agency of all such tribunals is set up, it is desirable that all such tribunals, as far as possible, be under a single nodal ministry, which will be in a position to oversee the working of these tribunals. For a number of reasons that ministry should appropriately be the Ministry of Law,” the Bench said.

The judgment, according to legal experts, would go a long way in establishing the independence of judicial functioning through separation of the Judiciary from the Executive. At present, the AFT functions under the MoD, which is a respondent in all cases filed before the tribunal.

A public interest litigation filed by Navdeep Singh, a local lawyer, had pointed out that the Supreme Court had already held that tribunals could not be made dependent on the sponsoring or parent ministries and to ensure their independence they could only be supervised by the Law Ministry.

The petition had contended that all orders by the AFT were to be passed against the MoD and the same ministry had been made the parent controlling ministry of the tribunal, wielding all pervasive control over the AFT, including appointments, funding, rule-making and infrastructure, thereby making it seem more of an extension of the state rather than an independent judicial body.

The petition also pointed out that non-appointment of judicial members after their retirement had resulted in absolute absence of judicial remedy to serving and retired personnel at some places. The Chandigarh Bench, having the largest jurisdiction of five states was also partially functional with only one judicial member appointed out of three.

The petition had sought provisioning of proper infrastructure, accommodation and courtesy to the institution of AFT and its members.

Big change

    Currently, the AFT functions under the MoD, which is a respondent in all cases filed before the tribunal.
    The judgment, according to legal experts, would go a long way in establishing the independence of judicial functioning through separation of the Judiciary from the Executive.
    A PIL filed by Navdeep Singh, a lawyer, had pointed out that the SC had already held that tribunals could not be made dependent on the sponsoring or parent ministries and to ensure their independence they could only be supervised by the Law Ministry
Ensure sanctity of LoC, India tells Pak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 8
India today denied that its troops had violated the Line of Control (LoC) in the Rampur sector on Sunday morning and asked Pakistan to ensure that the sanctity of the LoC was upheld at all times.

“We deny that Indian troops had crossed the LoC in the Rampur sector, or had violated the ceasefire,” MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.

His comments came a day after India's Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan was summoned by the country's Foreign Office to register its protest on what it alleged as an "unprovoked attack" on one of its border posts by Indian troops.

The Indian spokesman said the fact of the matter was that in the early hours of January 6, Pakistan troops in the sector commenced unprovoked firing on Indian troops. The roof of a civilian house in Churunda village was damaged in the Pak mortar fire. Indian troops undertook controlled retaliation in response.

He said India was strongly committed to the sanctity of the LoC, describing it as the most important Confidence Building Measure between the two countries. He said the Director Generals for Military Operations (DGsMO) of both sides have spoken to each other over Sunday's incident.

The Pakistani authorities must ensure that such incidents of unprovoked firing across the LoC did not recur, the spokesman added.
A grave indictment
Army must prevent its recurrence

A recently held Court of Inquiry (CoI) has blamed five officers among a total 56 Army men for a disgraceful officer-jawan clash that occurred in an artillery battalion in Nyoma, located about 20 km from the Line of Actual Control with Chinese-occupied Aksai Chin. The CoI has recommended disciplinary action against 16 personnel, including the five officers — the commanding officer, his second-in-command and three other officers. These 16 are likely to face a general court martial. In addition, the CoI has recommended administrative action against the other 40 for their role in the incident.

Considering that the CoI would have gone through a detailed process of examining witnesses and other evidence, this is a grave finding indeed keeping in view both the nature of the incident and the high numbers involved. The clash, which occurred in May 2012, reflects on the complete breakdown in command and control in the artillery unit which was undergoing firing practice in the days that the clash occurred. In the absence of an official statement detailing the incident, it is believed that first a major is believed to have severely beaten a jawan after he had allegedly misbehaved with the former’s wife. Thereafter the soldier was denied medical treatment which led to resentment among a large section of soldiers in the unit. Thereafter, the commanding officer was assaulted by the major and other officers after he had publicly admonished the major. This had further angered the soldiers who then beat up the officers leading to complete disarray in a unit located in a militarily sensitive part of the country.

To its credit, the Army has, in keeping with its high tradition, been swift in holding a court of inquiry and recommending action. Such action is necessary for any professional and apolitical Army. One hopes that the incident in Nyoma is an aberration and not symptomatic of the state of affairs in the Army which has been marked by disconcerting incidents of fratricides and suicides. The Army leadership must look within, do a lessons-learnt-exercise from this unfortunate incident and take appropriate action to prevent a recurrence.
'Grave provocation by Pak Army': Indian Army's statement
The Indian Army has issued a press release after two  soldiers were killed and another two injured by Pakistani army troops who crossed into Indian territory along the Line of Control.

Read full statement below:


In a significant escalation to the continuing series of Cease Fire Violations and infiltration attempts supported by Pak Army, a group of their regular soldiers intruded across the Line of Control in the Mendhar Sect on 08 Jan 2013. Pak army troops, having taken advantage of thick fog & mist in the forested area, were moving towards own posts when an alert area domination patrol spotted and engaged the intruders. The fire fight between Pak and own troops continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated back towards their side of Line of Control. Two soldiers Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh laid down their lives while fighting the Pak troops.

This is yet another grave provocation by Pak Army which is being taken up sternly through official channels.
Ailing Army

in New Delhi

Unattractive rewards, work-related psychological issues and operational difficulties make the Indian Army a not-so-attractive career option.
Is all well with the 1.3-million-strong Indian Army, the venerable institution entrusted with the task of guarding the country against external aggression and also internal insurgency and strife? And if all is well, then why is the Army short of 10,100 officers and 32,431 other soldiers, called Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR)? Why have more than 25,000 jawans gone on early retirement in the past three years? Why are over 100 officers and other men in uniform committing suicide every year?

This is the reality in the Indian Army, which stands at a crossroads today. And these figures are not fictitious; they have been provided by Defence Minister A.K. Antony in his various replies to Parliament since 2010.

It is some consolation that the shortage of officers has come down now. While in 2010 the Army was short of 12,510 officers, the shortage came down to 10,100 officers as of July this year. Giving the figure in Parliament on December 10, the Defence Minister explained that the raising of two new Army divisions in the eastern sector, 3 Corps and 4 Corps, by pulling together resources from existing holdings, had led to the shortage. He added that the divisions were necessary to strengthen India’s hold in the north-eastern sector and along the border with China. He assured Members of Parliament that recruitment would be accelerated to bridge the gap.

The shortage, both of officers and PBOR, has persisted since 1971, and the gap today is the result of this long period of neglect. The PBOR, it may be mentioned, form the bulk of the Army’s fighting force.

According to figures presented in Parliament by the Defence Ministry on November 30, 2009, the intake of officer recruits, both permanent commission and short service commission (SSC), has been going down over the years and seats are falling vacant. In the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where Army cadets go for training after their stint at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune, only 1,489 joined in 2006 as against the sanctioned strength of 1,633. In 2007, the figure went down to 1,351. In 2008, the sanctioned strength for the IMA was lowered to 1,540, but only 1,159 joined. In 2009, only 1,262 joined. At the Officer’s Training Academy, Chennai, where SSC officers are trained, against the authorised strength of 700 a year, only 575 joined in 2006, 497 in 2007, 407 in 2008 and 315 in 2009.

The Defence Minister detailed the following measures to improve intake:

• Making SSC attractive through measures such as grant of ex-servicemen status to all SSC officers who complete the terms of service, and provision of Canteen Stores Department (CSD) and medical facilities under the Employees Contributory Health Services (ECHS) scheme;

• Opening of professional training institutes under the Army Welfare Education Society to provide affordable professional education to the children of Army personnel;

• Image projection campaigns;

• Enhanced physical interaction with the target audience in which recruiting officers visit universities and colleges for motivational talks; and
• Setting up another training academy for officers.

But none of these measures have been implemented to date. A letter written by the vice-chairman of the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement, Major General (Retd) Satbir Singh, to the Defence Minister on August 7, 2012, to demand their implementation has remained unacknowledged and unanswered.

Maj. Gen Satbir Singh, who is a former Senior Fellow and security analyst at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), says the problem is systemic in nature. “Not enough recruitable young men are coming forward to join the Army because of the callous and indifferent treatment of the forces by politicians and the bureaucracy, and the availability of better prospects elsewhere,” he says. He said countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, West Germany, France, Yugoslavia and Pakistan pegged the salaries and pensions of armed forces personnel 15-20 per cent above that of their civilian counterparts, but in India this was not the case. “Not only is there no edge, but whatever is our due is denied to us. The rank pay denial is an example. Even in the Sixth Pay Commission recommendation, there have been anomalies in our salary structure vis-a-vis civilian salaries,” he says.

Also there is no mechanism to rehabilitate retiring personnel. Ninety per cent retire in the prime of their working life, when their family liabilities are at the peak—jawans retire at the age of 35-37, while 80 per cent of the officers retire at the age of 54-57 years. “When better options are available outside, such as an assured career until 60 years of age, why would anyone join the forces? It is unfortunate that for an overwhelming majority, joining the forces has become the last resort, just another job option, not a mission,” he says.

The shortage, when translated into logistics at the ground level, means serious compromises with the standard operating processes, at times with disastrous consequences. Frontline found that against the sanctioned 22-27 officers a unit, normally only 10-12 officers are available at a time and if one takes into account those on leave, or on temporary duty or attending courses, the effective strength comes down to four or five officers a unit (a unit normally has a manpower strength of 600-800).

“The right amount of supervision is next to impossible in this situation and the first casualty is the drill, an integral part of officers’ interaction with the men. This leads to a communication gap between officers and jawans, and all other problems such as stress, suicides, and fratricide follow,” said an officer requesting anonymity. The Defence Minister has asked the Defence Research and Development Organisation to conduct a study and submit a report on the problem of stress in the Army. The report is likely to be submitted in January.

Also, the government policy for recruitment, say experts, is to an extent responsible for the shortfall. The Army recruits men on the basis of a criterion called Recruitable Male Population (RMP), which is fixed at 10 per cent regionwise. But it so happens that in some regions—such as Gujarat and Maharashtra and the south Indian States—this slot does not get filled. The vacant slots are allotted to some other region, but since the process is ad hoc every year, some slots remain vacant, adding on to the vacancies. “What is required to be done is to change the formula and reset the percentage depending on regional specifics. The government should lower the quota for regions that have been defaulting for a long time,” says Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh.

The Army’s recruitment policy has been challenged in the Supreme Court through a public interest petition by one I.S. Yadav, a medical practitioner from Rewari in Haryana. Yadav, who filed his petition through Senior Advocate S. Balakrishnan, pleaded that the recruitment policy based on parameters such as caste, region, religion, and community, as reflected in regiments like Sikh, Maratha, Gorkha, Ahir, Jat, Rajput, and Naga is unconstitutional and should be done away with because it violates a citizen’s fundamental right. The petition has asked the court to give directions to the government to frame a national policy for recruitment in the Army that would ensure selection on the basis of merit. The court has asked the Solicitor General, Rohinton Nariman, to look into the case.

The Army, however, denies that its recruitment policy is unconstitutional. “Our recruitment is not based on caste or religion; it is based on the RMP formula, which has stood the test of time. It is totally devoid of biases,” says the Army’s public relations officer. Army veterans agree that it is not the policy that is responsible for the shortfall, which they say is as per soldiering requirements, but systemic deficiencies. “A career in the Army should be made to appear lucrative through an Act of Parliament; consistency in policy should be maintained and an assured career extended to SSC officers. Why can’t the intake be increased in the existing two academies, and why can’t new academies be opened?” Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh asks.

Many veterans, assembled at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on December 1 to demand redress of their grievances, told Frontline that instead of treating them with honour and dignity, the political and bureaucratic machinery was indifferent even towards their just demands and was more interested in breeding a culture of sycophancy so that the forces could be kept under its control.

According to many veterans, this breeds discontent at the senior level while inadequate compensation dissuades youngsters from joining the forces. What hurts the veterans most is that the government does not accord them the honour and dignity that is due to them. Is it too much to demand that the soldiers be taken care of after they sacrifice the prime of their lives for the country, they ask the Defence Minister.
Air defence and missile power on show at army college
Press Trust of India / Berhampur (Odisha) January 08, 2013, 13:25

India's air defence and missile power was demonstrated at Army Air Defence (AAD) College at Golabandha, about 30 km from here.

The exercise was held yesterday to show the might of AAD to visiting dignitaries and officers of Defence Services Staff College (CSSC), Wellington and Military Institute of Technology (MIT), Pune as part of their study tour. 

Commandant of Army AAD College Lt Gen Vijay Kumar Saxena took the visiting officers around the military station to show various state-of-the-art training facilities and infrastructure available in the college.
Altogether 330 student officers of these institutes, including 30 officers from friendly countries, witnessed the fire power demonstration.

Commandant of DSSC Lt Gen B V Nair along with chief instructors from Air Force and Navy also attended the demonstration which continued for about three hours.

Similar demonstrations would be conducted in second phase in the college premises on January 12, sources said today.

The Air Defence weapons firing demonstration is one of its kind conducted by Indian Army wherein Air Defence weapons ranging from medium and short range missile systems to guns, showcase their capabilities, they said, adding the area is assumed as the war zone when the missile firing is conducted.

Defence experts explained the characteristics and use of each weapon. The main objective of the demonstration was to appraise young officers about the characteristics and their use in the war field.  

Among others, OSA-AK weapon system on Pilot-less Target Aircraft (Lakshya), para barrels dropped from AN 32 aircraft from an altitude of 5000 meters and STRELA 10M and IGLA 1M shoulder fired missiles were fired on Air Target Imitators, the target system for the missiles.
Pakistan denies launching “unprovoked” attack on Indian army
Posted by admin on January 8th, 2013

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – The Pakistan army has denied that it launched an unprovoked attack that killed two Indian soldiers in Kashmir on Tuesday. The Indian army said the Pakistanis had violated the ceasefire along the heavily militarized Line of Control dividing the disputed territory of Kashmir. But a Pakistani army spokesman said in a text message “Pakistan military officials deny Indian allegation of unprovoked firing.” The allegation follows another disputed incident on Sunday, when Pakistan said Indian army troops attacked their base and killed a soldier. …

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