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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

From Today's Papers - 19 Feb 2013

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130219/main1.htm

Govt ready to discuss copter deal: PM

Tribune News Service

 

New Delhi, February 18

Having come under attack from the Opposition on allegations of kickback in the VVIP helicopter deal, the Manmohan Singh Government today gave ample indication that it is ready to discuss the issue suggesting that Parliament was the appropriate forum for it.

 

“Parliament is the appropriate forum to discuss all issues raised by the Opposition. We are ready for any discussion”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on the sidelines of a function here in response to questions on threat by the opposition to raise it in Parliament.

With the Budget session of Parliament scheduled to begin on Thursday, progress of the corruption case in Italy and allegations of some people in India having received Rs 360 crore to facilitate the deal for procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters is bound to cast a long shadow.

 

The BJP and the CPM have attacked the Government for the delay in launching a probe into the issue that first surfaced almost a year ago. While the BJP wanted the Government to keep the procurement on the hold, the CPM demanded cancellation of the Rs 3,500 crore contract .

 

However, sources in the ministry maintained there was neither an internal probe nor any delay but no response at all from authorities in Italy.

 

Aware that the allegations of kickback blew up in its face despite the Ministry having taken strong and deterrent action like cancellation of purchase and blacklisting of companies on receiving complaints of corruption in procurement, effort is to iterate the case when Parliament convenes.

 

“We have nothing to hide”, a senior minister said adding that the fact sheet has already been put in the public domain by the Ministry of Defence.

 

The Ministry had released the document a day after a court in Italy ordered the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, the then Chief Executive Officer of Finmecannia, the parent company of Agusta Westland, which manufactures helicopters.

 

As for the decision to launch a CBI probe and serving a show cause notice to Finmecannia to respond whether or not kickbacks were paid, sources in the Ministry said it was an administrative issue that does not require any permission from other than the Minister concerned.

 

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy launched a direct attack on the Defence Minister, saying “This is a monumental scam in which kickbacks of Rs 360 crore were paid. Antony is now giving several orders and statements and is struggling to keep his Mr Clean image. But the fact remains that he has been Defence Minister since October 24, 2006.”

 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130219/nation.htm#6

Soon, CRPF may procure UAVs for anti-Naxal operations

Vijay Mohan/TNS

 

Chandigarh, February 18

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) could soon be the second central armed police force to have an aerial wing. The force, heavily committed to an internal security role, is procuring unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to support its anti-naxal operations in the “red corridor” in central-eastern India.

 

“We have sent our requirements for UAVs to the Ministry of Home Affairs,” CRPF Director General Pranay Sahay told The Tribune during his visit here.

 

“We are looking at a number which is economically viable and reasonable to procure,” he said without giving out the exact figure the force was planning to buy.

 

The Border Security Force is the only other Central police organisation to have its own air wing that operates fix-wing aircraft as well as helicopters. Proposals have also been mooted for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police to have its own helicopter wing.

 

About 48 per cent of the 3 lakh-strong force is deployed to combat left-wing extremism, primarily in the Chhattisgarh-Jharkhand belt. “At present, we are dependent on the Indian Air Force and the National Technical Support Research Organisation (NTRO) for aerial surveillance in the naxal-hit areas,” Sahay said.

 

The CRPF’s experiments at using IAF and NTRO UAVs have been operationally encouraging though at times, it has had to face difficulty in getting these as and when required.

 

The CRPF has been successful in using UAVs to pick up ground conversation and movement of Maoist cadres in the forested terrain of Chhattisgarh. These inputs have often provided real-time intelligence during the conduct of operations.

 

The CRPF has also tried out a mini-UAV called Netra in the jungles to carry out reconnaissance of naxal hideouts and movements. It is a battery-powered device that has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. But given its small size and payload, it has limited utility and cannot carry out long-range and high-endurance tasks.

 

In addition, the CRPF is also procuring additional night-vision devices, surveillance equipment and advanced weaponry to boost its capability to combat left-wing extremism as well as to undertake counter-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir, where 33 per cent of its strength is deployed.

 

Adding aerial edge

 

* Requirements sent to Ministry of Home Affairs

* The BSF is the only other Central police organisation to have its own air wing

* A helicopter wing for ITBP also being considered 

 

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/vvip-chopper-scam-enough-evidence-against-former-air-chief-sp-tyagi-prosecution-sources-tell-ndtv-332525?pfrom=home-lateststories

VVIP chopper scam: Enough evidence against former air chief SP Tyagi, prosecution sources tell NDTV

The Italian prosecutors, who have created a stir by naming former Air Force chief SP Tyagi as a part of the bribery scandal in the Rs. 4,000-crore deal for 12 VVIP choppers, have for the first time spoken to NDTV about specific charges detailed in their report. Speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, sources have said SP Tyagi's defence that he wasn't in-charge when the scandal took place doesn't stand. "

 

"We cannot get into specifics but all I can tell you is that we have all the evidence to nail Shashi Tyagi,'' said the sources, adding, "This includes wire taps.''

 

The Italian inquiry into the sale of 12 AgustaWestland (AW) helicopters to New Delhi has forced the Indian government to sanction a CBI inquiry, and to warn that the deal is likely to be cancelled.

Italian prosecutors have said in their report that SP Tyagi, who headed the Indian Air Force from 2004-2007, ensured that the tender for the helicopters was tailored so carefully to match AW's abilities, that the American and Russian competitors were eliminated.  The retired Air Chief Marshal has denied the charges, which include being paid kickbacks via his cousins Julie, Rajiv and Dosca, who were allegedly given 100,000 euros or 70 lakhs in cash.

 

Speaking to NDTV, the prosecution sources in Italy also say that "for now, no other Indians apart from the Tyagis" have been implicated so far.  There is also so far "no evidence of any Indian politicians being involved," they said. However, they clarified that the probe was still on and more names could emerge. Sources also told NDTV that the prosecution was also seeing if any Italian politician was involved.

 

The prosecutors who wrote the report based on the interrogation of middlemen for AW and taped phone conversations - said that a controversial reference to "the family" by a middleman was to the Tyagis. At home, the main opposition party, the BJP, had asked if "the family" meant the Gandhis, who lead the ruling Congress.

 

The Italian inquiry exploded into a political scandal in Delhi with the arrest last week of the man who used to head AW's parent company, Finmeccanica. Prosecutors presented a detailed report of a preliminary inquiry, which outlines a web of middlemen and companies used to route nearly 350 crores as kickbacks to India.

 

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Punjab/Amritsar/Former-army-chief-says-a-strong-India-will-beget-respect/SP-Article1-1013131.aspx

Former army chief says a strong India will beget respect

A staunch believer in the adage, 'strength begets respect', former Indian Army chief and Arunachal Pradesh governor, Gen JJ Singh (retired) stressed on modernisation of the armed forces, building the required defence infrastructure along the country's borders and improving intelligence gathering.

 

Talking to the media on the sidelines of the annual convocation of the Khalsa College here on Sunday, Gen Singh said that no doubt the nation was capable enough of meeting any external threat perception but still efforts must continue to make the country stronger.

 

 

Modernisation of the armed forces must always be given a priority and the roads, airports and other infrastructure along the country's borders must be strengthened and the intelligence agencies must be further strengthened so that timely and correct information is always available, he added.

 

“We must always remain alert and never lower our guard. We must remember that a nation is respected because of its strength,” he added.

 

The northeast state governor, while advocating a strong military mechanism, at the same time felt that all outstanding issues with neighbouring nations, including China, could be resolved through peaceful means. Though war is not likely with China in near future, India must keep modernising and strengthening its defence mechanism as a formidable 'deterrent', he added.

 

He said Buddhism, the 'religion of peace' travelled from India to China and there existed ample opportunity that India and China resolve border issues peacefully, but India must stay prepared for any eventuality.

 

Replying to a query on the tensions along the borders with Pakistan and India, Gen Singh said, “Our patience should not be viewed as our weakness. India is no longer the country which you could just trespass into.”

 

He said the present century belongs to Asia and China and India must work together as most powerful nations of the continent. “We have shared history of peaceful co-existence despite border tensions in 1960s. There are ample opportunities that issues pending are resolved peacefully,” he added.

 

Convocation address

 

Earlier Gen Singh while addressing the 107th annual convocation of the historic Khalsa College stressed a great deal on education particularly on the need to improve the literacy rate among women. Countries and societies can only progress if they invest in the field of education, he opined.

 

“So, India wants to become a major world power, importance must be given to education,” he added.

 

He also expressed concern over rising trend of drug addiction in Punjab, especially in border areas and sought corrective measures from government and society itself through awareness regarding the menace.

 

On the occasion, the Gen Singh bestowed 450 degrees on students in presence of Punjab secretary, higher education, Chander Gaind; Khalsa College governing council (KCGC) president Satyajit Singh Majithia, vice-president  Charanjit Singh Chadha, honourary secretary Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina.

 

Giving a brief detail about Arunachal Pradesh, the Governor sought educational exchange programmes between the northeast state and Khalsa College and Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU).

Gen Singh was earlier welcomed by Majithia and other members of the KCGC and principal Daljit Singh on his arrival at the function. Gaind, who addressed students, also highlighted the programmes of Punjab government and how students must adopt professional approach in life. The former army chief was so overwhelmed on seeing the grandeur the college building that he announced that if he had the option to be born again, he would like to study at this prestigious institution.

 

Majithia in his welcome address said that the nation was proud of Gen Singh who was the first Sikh general of the Indian army and an inspiration for the youth. Daljit Singh read out the annual progress report of the college, highlighting achievements in academics, extra-curricular activities and sports. The outstanding students were given gold medals and merit certificates. KCA also honoured Chhina and Santokh Singh for their contributions to the KCGC and society at large.

 

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