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Sunday, 27 January 2013

From Today's Papers - 27 Jan 2013
Top general faces land grab slur: Northern Command chief got 12 acres after making false claims

A top army commander allegedly falsified his residential address to claim free land from the Rajasthan government.

Documents available with India Today show that Lt General Kaiwalya Trivikram Parnaik, who currently heads the Udhampur-based Northern Command, incorrectly indicated Rajasthan as his state of domicile to obtain 25 bighas of agricultural land (roughly 12 acres) in Mohangarh village, Jaisalmer.

He received the land for being awarded a Yudh Seva Medal (YSM) for commanding a brigade during Operation Parakram in 2002. In 2009, however, he furnished a false address in Jaipur to take possession of the land long after his family had moved out of the state.

Lt-Gen Parnaik told India Today that he had entered the wrong address "by mistake".

"It was a mistake and it stayed there. The pro forma of the application was such that I had to state that my family lived there; I could not say they used to live there," he said.

"This statement was not made to fool or defraud anyone," he added.

General Parnaik said he was a domicile of the state and that army records mentioned Chittorgarh as his residence. He shifted to House No 3/KHA/6 Jawahar Nagar, Jaipur, in 1984. He was a domicile of Rajasthan when he entered service in 1972 and when he received the YSM in 2003, he said.

Top army officials contacted by Mail Today said they were unable to comment on the case because they were not informed of the nature of the controversy.

The documents detailing the land grant were obtained from the state government under the RTI Act by a deceased soldier's family.

Subedar Major (retired) Rajendra Singh Shekhawat died after suffering a brain stroke in a military hospital in Delhi on July 2, 2012.

His family alleges that he was harassed after his retirement in March 31, 2012 for speaking out about the land allotment.

The soldier belonged to Lt-Gen Parnaik's Rajputana Rifles regiment.

The army denies the allegation and says the soldier was placed under an inquiry in the Delhi area for falsifying his service records.

The documents, obtained by Shekhawat's son Pushpendra Singh, show extensive correspondence between Lt-General Parnaik and the state government between 2006-10, when he applied for and finally got the plot.

General Parnaik mentioned his residential address as 3/KHA/6 (KHA as in the Hindi syllable 'kh') Jawahar Nagar. This was a single-storeyed house owned by his father since the late 1970s when the township, some 4km away from the city centre, was created by the state government.

There was only one catch. Lt-Gen Parnaik's father T.S. Parnaik had sold the house in December 2002 to a businessman, Rakesh Bhatia. Lt- Gen Parnaik's letter merely said he had resided in the house before he got the award in 2003. But later, evidently to hold on to the allotment, Parnaik insisted he and his family continued to live there.

On September 1, 2009, the Rajasthan colonisation department in Bikaner wrote to General Parnaik telling him to select a plot of agricultural land. The letter was addressed to him in 3/KHA/6 Jawahar Nagar.
Twist in the tale

On September 30, 2009, less than a month later, however, came a very subtle twist in the plot. Lt- Gen Parnaik submitted a sworn and signed affidavit to the state government where he insisted he and his family lived in 3/KA/6 (Hindi syllable 'ka') Jawahar Nagar. He mentioned this address three times in the one-page affidavit to claim ownership of this property and to say that he and his family members did not own any other property in the state.

The title deed of the land finally issued to Parnaik on March 2010 mentioning his address as 3/KA/6. House No 3/KA/6 is also located in the Jawahar Nagar area, about 200 mt away from 3/KHA/6 which Parnaik's father owned.

The two-storeyed house is, however, owned by Dharam Chand Gera, who runs a small transport company. Gera bought the plot from the government in 1974.

Gera was bemused when he saw the copy of the general's affidavit with his address on it. "I've never met or spoken with him," he said.

Rakesh Bhatia, 46, a small businessman, says he bought the single-storeyed house from T. S. Parnaik in 2002.

"The family moved to Pune and settled there. I've never met his son Lt General Parnaik; I only saw him on TV recently during the beheading controversy," he said.

A revenue department official said they went by the sworn affidavit provided by General Parnaik to grant him the land.
On Pakistan and India relations
Today, puzzled and perplexed people in Pakistan wonder why the cold war with India has suddenly turned hot as demonstrated by the continued violations across the Line of control (LoC). Is the Indian motive and reason more prompting today, than the one that was presented in 2008 in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attack? The Pakistan Army, in the decade following 9/11, was a strategic asset and an all important tool for the US to fight the US-led war on terror in this region. It was in the interest of the US that the Pakistani military leadership felt no worries to shift its focus of attention, as well as its military assets, from the eastern to the western front when the world led by the US, needed them most. For this purpose, peace and military calm prevailed on the LoC for a decade. With the US military drawdown from Afghanistan now only months away, the Pakistan Army today is fixated with the likely scenarios that may develop post-US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The army’s ‘nightmare scenario’ is to be pushed to fight a war on two fronts. Promoting and creating a hostile environment along the LoC at this stage seems only to convey a strong message to the Pakistani military that ‘India will not let Pakistan have its way in Afghanistan’.

India has accused the Pakistan military of beheading one of its soldiers and the world believes it. On the other hand, the Pakistan Army has been crying hoarse of Indian involvement in financing and supporting the militants harboured across the border in Afghanistan but the world is not ready to believe it. Whether it is support for the Baloch militants or Maulana Fazlullah’s crusaders that cross the western border at will, it is allegedly the Indian-led proxy that is killing Pakistani security personnels on the western front.

By escalating tensions across the LoC, there is much that India is likely to lose as well. It will lose the opportunity of promoting and strengthening the democratic process in Pakistan, which guarantees the prevention of hostilities and the potential for future military conflicts between the two countries. The current hostile attitude of India would also mean that again the Pakistan military will be forced to look upon the militants as the assets that they once were against Indian occupation in Kashmir. The Pakistan Army’s focus back on the LoC will also affect the intent, purpose and attention to hunt down the militants within the country. Hostile Indian actions will also badly hamper the all-important ongoing debate in Pakistan on the purposefulness of spending precious resources on the country’s defence budget. Courtesy hostile Indian actions across the LoC, these expenditures will now largely be seen by the civil society as necessary as well as justified. In short, Indian hostile actions on the LoC will only help the Pakistan Army to reimpose its control over civilian authorities that are seeking to limit its role in politics in this country.

India must realise that promoting and creating a hostile environment on the eastern borders will only favour growth of militancy in Pakistan. Poor relations with India have been a major factor in our country raising and fostering overambitious military rulers like General Ziaul Haq and General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. We have all seen the lengths that the Pakistan military, under military rulers, has gone to match Indian capabilities, at the cost of causing people to suffer at home. Easing tensions with India for the Pakistan Army, a force which is primarily structured to combat the Indian threat, means the removal of a major factor of its continued development and enlargement. A hostile India will mean that the army will continue to develop and enlarge at the cost of the welfare and well-being of the people of this country. Indian self-definition may draw meaning from Pakistan. But can’t it be a Pakistan at peace with itself and not a hostile and unacceptable one?
R-Day parade showcases emerging India
India’s military might and cultural vibrancy were on display at the Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath here on Saturday.

The Agni-5 inter-continental ballistic missile from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, which can hit targets deep inside China, was the showstopper for the ceremonial parade from Raisina Hills to Red Fort.

Two key military acquisitions, a model of the Russian-origin aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and the US-made strategic heavy-lift troop carrier C-17 Globemaster III, were showcased before the country for the first time. Both are expected to be pressed into service later this year. West Bengal featured prominently in the resplendent show.

While it was the first Republic Day parade for President Pranab Mukherjee, who has his roots in the eastern state, the parade was commanded by Lt Gen Subroto Mitra, General Officer, Commanding, Delhi area.

The West Bengal tableau, displaying the life and works of Swami Vivekananda, was the first to enter Rajpath.

The ceremony commenced at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying homage to martyrs. This year’s chief guest, Bhutan’s king Jigme Wangchuk, followed the show with rapt attention, along with Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Defence Minister A K Antony, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other dignitaries.

The Indian Army showcased the indigenous Arjun main battle tank, the Brahmos cruise missile and the Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher. A flypast of the Dhruv advanced lightweight helicopters by the Army Aviation Corps was an added attraction.

The Indian Air Force showcased its upcoming basic trainer aircraft, Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II and the new VIP helicopter, Augusta Westland AW-101, along with the indigenous airborne early warning and control system atop the Embraer 145 platform, which is under trial. The Navy’s tableau highlighted INS Chakra submarine, which Russia has leased out to India.

Tornados, the 135-member motorcycle display team from the Army Service Corps, was another attraction for the spectators, who cheered the daredevils during their performance. There were marching contingents from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB, CISF, RPF, Assam Rifles, Delhi Police, NCC and the NSS.  The cultural procession was marked by 19 tableaux—14 from states and five from various departments—which highlighted India’s ethnic splendour. Besides Bengal, four more eastern states—Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattishgarh—put on show their cultural heritage. The North-East was represented by Meghalaya and Tripura.

The Indian Railways’ double-decker train and “One hundred years of Indian cinema” were also displayed. A breathtaking flypast of the IAF troop carrier C-130J Super Hercules and Jaguar, MiG-29 and Su-30 MKI fighters marked the end of the hour-long extravaganza.
Army tells Govt to go slow on normalising Indo-Pak ties
 The Indian Army has cautioned the Government, asking it to wait till May-end before taking any steps towards normalising bilateral relations with Pakistan.

The Army is not sure of Pakistan’s intentions despite the fortnight-long calm on the  Line of Control (LoC) which came after the Pakistan Army entered Poonch sector and beheaded one Indian soldier and mutilated the body of another.

Following the countrywide outrage over Pakistan Army’s barbarity, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on January 15 that “it cannot be business as usual” with Pakistan. 

Significantly, Pakistan on Saturday cancelled the secretary-level water talks with India that were scheduled to be held from January 28 in Islamabad.

“Talks between the Water Secretaries of India and Pakistan, scheduled to be held in Islamabad during January 28-29 have been postponed. New dates for the talks are yet to be decided,” an official of Pakistan’s Foreign Office told the Press.

The official, who did not wish to be identified, did not specify reasons for the postponement of the parleys.

The two sides were scheduled to discuss the Tulbul navigation project-Wullar

Barrage issue during the talks.

Reports in sections of the Pakistani media cited sources as saying  that the cancellation of the talks was linked to the recent spurt in tensions between the two countries.

However, reports from New Delhi said the move was apparently linked to the retirement of Water Resources Secretary D V Singh, who is set to step down at the end of this month.

This is the second high-level bilateral interaction that has been  put off because of bad atmospherics between India and Pakistan. Earlier this month, Pakistan Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim called off a scheduled visit to India to attend a business meet in Agra.

In view of these developments the Indian Army wants the Government to tread carefully.

Making it clear to the political leadership that the  Pakistan Army should not be trusted to uphold the ceasefire, Army Chief General Bikram Singh has  advised Defence Minister AK Antony to wait for the snow to melt to gauge Paksitan’s  intention.

He pointed out that winter months do not usually see ceasefire violations as most of the ingress routes for infiltrators are blocked by snow.

In summer, the Pakistan Army provides covering fire to the infiltrators to enable them to sneak into Indian territory.

General Singh reportedly told Antony that India should wait for at least three more months and see how the Pakistan Army acts once the snow starts melting towards March-end or mid-April.

He told Antony that the Indian Government should wait and watch before moving ahead with the political process, sources said here on Saturday.

Elaborating upon the Pakistan Army’s game plan, sources said summer months see maximum infiltration bids and ceasefire violations as the Pakistan Army tries to to push in as many militants as possible till October-end or mid-November.

Once snow blocks the ingress routes, the militants try to enter through the less arduous Poonch sector which is south of the Pir Panjal ranges and the Indian security forces are able to counter this thrust.

Pakistan Director-General of Military Operations(DGMO) Major-General Aashfaq Nadeem assured his Indian counterpart Lieutenant-General Vinod Bhatia on January 10 that orders were given to commanders on the front to respect the LoC and ceasefire.

Pointing to the risk involved in taking Pakistan Army on its face value, officials said even as the sector commanders of the two armies held a flag meeting on January 14 to discuss the decapitation of Lance Naik Hemraj, four ceasefire violations took place in Poonch sector.

Moreover, eight ceasefire violations were observed from the day Hemraj and his team were ambushed by the Special Services Group(SSG) commandos of Pakistan Army, they said.

More than 118 ceasefire violations were recorded last year as compared to 80-odd such transgressions in 2011 indicating that Pakistan was determined to stoke violence in Jammu and Kashmir, they said.

In fact, last year saw Pakistan brazenly violating the ceasefire every third day and  Intelligence reports said more than 500 trained militants were waiting to infiltrate from across the LoC and the International border in Jammu region.

Based on the Army’s assessment, Antony recently said it was too early to speak about normalization of relations with Islamabad.  “Tension had reduced along the LoC after the two DGMOs talked but I cannot set a timeline for normalizing the atmosphere,” he said.

Antony added that “infiltration attempts were going on even in extreme winter.  If this is the case now, what will be the position in the summers?”

Antony also said Pakistan had given several assurances to India but it remained to be seen “how these assurances translate into action.”
Agni V gets Chinese media talking about Indian military strength
The display of India’s military strength, specially the intercontinental ballistic missile Agni-V, has been highlighted by Chinese official media in Beijing on Saturday.

The highlight of the 100-minute Republic Day parade was the display of nuclear-capable Agni-V, capable of striking targets some 6,000 km away, State-run Xinhua news agency said in its report.

Agni V’s test in April last year evoked interest in China as it, for the first time, brought in its range far off Chinese cities.

China too has its ICBMs that could reach nooks and corners of India.

The test put India in the elitist club of countries with intercontinental missiles which included the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China, the Xinhua report said.

It said that along with the missile, the domestically designed Arjun main battle tank, supersonic cruise missile Brahmos, Pinaka multi- barrel rocket launcher, a CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) warfare reconnaissance vehicle, a bridge-laying tank and a mobile integrated network terminal system were also paraded during the event.

The Dhruv advanced light helicopter of the Indian Army, the “eye in the sky” atop an Embraer 145 airborne early warning and control aircraft of the Indian Air Force were also shown besides Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter, the report said.

China-India bilateral ties, including the defence relations were on upswing in recent years.

While the Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie made a rare visit to India last year, the militaries of the two countries this year decided to resume military exercises.

For the first time two countries have decided to scale up their defence engagement to all the three forces-Army, Navy and Air Force.

No mujahideen, only soldiers in Kargil: Pak General

 In a candid admission that only regular troops of the Pakistan Army took part in the Kargil conflict with India in 1999 and not mujahideen fighters as claimed by Islamabad, a retired Pakistani Lieutenant General, who was then heading the analysis wing of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), has written that the intrusion was an "unsound military plan based on invalid assumptions" and there was a "cover-up" later by his then chief, General Pervez Musharraf.

In an article published in Pakistan's The Nation newspaper on January 6, Lt Gen Shahid Aziz, who retired in 2005 as commander of the IV Corps in Lahore, presents an account of the Kargil war that rejects many Pakistani claims about the conflict.

"There were no mujahideen, only taped wireless messages, which fooled no one. Our soldiers were made to occupy barren ridges, with hand held weapons and ammunition," Aziz said.

Criticising Musharraf in the article, Aziz makes the point that the entire battle was ill-planned and young soldiers were used as "war fodder" for the "misadventure".

"An unsound military plan based on invalid assumptions, launched with little preparations and in total disregard to the regional and international environment, was bound to fail. That may well have been the reason for its secrecy. It was a total disaster."

"Whatever little I know, took a while to emerge, since General Musharraf had put a tight lid on Kargil. Three years later, a study commenced by GHQ to identify issues of concern at the lowest levels of command, was forcefully stopped by him. 'What is your intent?' he asked."

The intrusion was clearly intended to dominate the supply line to Siachen and cut off the glacier for an invasion by Pakistani troops.

"It certainly wasn't a defensive manoeuvre. There were no indications of an Indian attack. We didn't pre-empt anything; nothing was on the cards. I was then heading the Analysis Wing of Inter Services Intelligence and it was my job to know," he wrote.

"To say that occupying empty spaces along the Line of Control was not a violation of any agreement and came under the purview of the local commander is astounding. This area was with the Indians as a result of Shimla Agreement, and there had been no major violation of the Line of Control since 1971."

Describing how Pakistan army soldiers died after they were isolated and came under the Indian counter attack, Aziz said assumptions were made by the military leadership that the Indian Army would not be able to dislodge the fighters from the heights.

"The boys were comforted by their commander's assessment that no serious response would come. But it did — wave after wave, supported by massive air bursting artillery and repeated air attacks. The enemy still couldn't manage to capture the peaks, and instead filled in the valleys. Cut off and forsaken, our posts started collapsing one after the other, though the General (Musharraf) publicly denied it," he said.

He criticised the manner in which Pakistani leaders thought that India would have a more subdued reaction to the invasion.

"The entire planning and execution was done in a cavalier manner, in total disregard of military convention. In justification, to say that our assessment was not wrong, but there was, "unreasonably escalated Indian response" is a sorry excuse for not being able to assess Indian reaction. Assumptions were made that they would not be able to dislodge us and the world would sit back idly."

"Kargil, like every other meaningless war that we have fought, brings home lessons we continue to refuse to learn. Instead, we proudly call it our history written in the blood of our children. Indeed, our children penning down our misdeeds with their blood! Medals for some, few songs, a cross road renamed, and of course annual remembrance day and a memorial for those who sacrificed their tomorrow for our today; thus preparing more war fodder for our continuing misadventures. Since nothing went wrong, so there is nothing to learn. We shall do it again," he wrote.

'Boys were told no serious response would come'

There were no mujahideen, only taped wireless messages... our soldiers were made to occupy barren ridges

Wasn't a defensive manoeuvre. There were no indications of an Indian attack. We didn't pre-empt anything

Boys comforted by assessment that no serious response would come. But it did — wave after wave

Astounding to say occupying empty spaces along Line of Control was not a violation of any agreement

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