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Saturday, 2 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 02 Mar 2013

Pak releases 11 Indian prisoners
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 1
Pakistan sent 11 Indian prisoners back home today. The prisoners including seven fishermen and four civilians came back home through the the Attari-Wagah border here today.

The civilians are Nasir Hussain and Om Parkash both residents of Jammu; Ashok Kumar of Dhariwal in Gurdaspur and Lakhu Ram of Rajasthan. They were accused of having crossed over the border illegally and were released from Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore.

The fishermen released from Karachi Jail include Mannu Khema, Shivdas, Govind, Maan Singh Bhagwan, Rathore, Bharat Dhiru and Kala. They had inadvertently entered into Pakistan’s water territory.

While Nasir Hussain and Om Parkash were sentenced to four years in jail, Ashok Kumar served 16 years jail term. Lakhu Ram was sentenced for five-year jail term for crossing the border illegally.

A number of Indian prisoners were languishing in Pakistan jails for years even after completing their jail terms. They were waiting for their return to the country. They urged the governments of both countries to release the prisoners who have completed their jail terms as soon as possible. “Release of the prisoners at the earliest will help strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries,” said Ashok Kumar.

SC dismisses PIL for SIT probe in helicopter scam
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 1
The Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL seeking an independent probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP helicopter deal with Italian firm Finmeccanica. The Bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said the petitioner advocate Manohar Lal Sharma had approached the wrong forum.

The petitioner said despite being a private individual he had obtained a few documents from Italy related to the scam, but the government had expressed its inability to gather any evidence. This showed that the government was not serious about bringing the bribe takers to book.

The CBI, which was investigating the scam, was yet to register an FIR in the case, he pleaded. This shows that the government was trying to cover-up the scam, he alleged. “As long as people like you are there that is not possible,” the Bench said. 

Pinaka rockets successfully test-fired

Balasore (Odisha), March 1
Indigenously developed ‘Pinaka’ rockets were successfully test-fired, on the second consecutive day today, from a multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) by an armament establishment from a base in Odisha.

“Three rounds of Pinaka rockets were successfully tested today from the base at Chandipur, about 15 km from here, while three rounds had been fired yesterday,” defence sources said.

On January 30 and 31, this year, seven rounds of ‘Pinaka’ rockets were tested from the same base. ‘Pinaka’, which has undergone several tough tests since 1995, has already been inducted into the armed forces.

The trial was conducted by personnel from Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune unit at Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) firing point-2 at Chandipur, the sources said.

‘Pinaka’ is an area weapon system with a range of 40 km. The quick reaction time and high rate of fire of the system gives an edge to the Army during a low-intensity conflict situation, he said. — PTI 

VVIP chopper scam: CBI to question former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi next week, sources tell NDTV
The CBI has also named Indian companies IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, both based in Chandigarh, which were allegedly used along with their directors and senior executives to route bribes to India along with other firms in the UK, Mauritius and Tunisia. Gautam Khaitan, who retired as Director of Aeromatrix in October, and Praveen Bakshi, who was with IDS Infotech and moved to Aeromatrix as the CEO, will also be investigated by the CBI.

CBI officials travelled to Italy last week and returned with documents that could serve as crucial evidence. The government has threatened to cancel the contract; in a letter, AW has said the deal must not be cancelled at this stage, when the investigation has just begun.

No legal assistance for Col Ajay Chowdhry: Army
GUWAHATI: Stung by the arrest of one of its officers in a drug trafficking case in Manipur, the army has decided not to involve itself or give any kind of legal assistance to Colonel Ajay Chowdhry, who was allegedly caught carrying illegal drugs meant to be smuggled out to Myanmar.

"Col Chowdhry has already hired an advocate. The army will not involve itself in the case. If he is let out on bail, he will not be posted anywhere outside Manipur, but may be attached to a unit in Manipur. There will be no action taken against him till he is proved guilty," a source said.

"The case is a crucial one under the jurisdiction of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act so the army headquarters has decided to wait for the civil court's verdict," the source said.

The incident has not only served a deadly blow to the army, which has always been criticized in Manipur for several issues relating to human rights violations, but has also shaken the defence ministry. Col Chowdhry, by virtue of being the defence spokesman, was working under the defence ministry.

"The case is being handled by the defence ministry and has not been sent to army headquarters yet. The incident has brought a bad name to the army," the source said.

According to the source, the defence ministry will put all such deputations of army officers in the defence ministry, mostly spokesmen, under constant surveillance from now onwards. "The defence spokesmen have always been given a free hand to function at their places of postings, but this is likely to be put on leash now," the source said.

Defence gets modest 5% hike in budget
With modest jump of over 5%, the India will spend Rs2.03,672 crores on defence in the next financial year as compare to previous year's outlay of Rs1,93,407 crore. It constitutes 1.79 per cent of the country's GDP.

The increase in defence spending this year is much smaller than the 17.6% raise the armed forces received in last year’s budget—one of the highest in recent years.

Of the total defence outlay for 2013-14,Rs.86,741 crore will be in the category of capital expenditure(modernisation purpose). Of the Rs86,741 crore Indian Air Force has been allocated the largest share, followed by Army and Navy respectively for acquiring new weapons.

IAF is expected to sign its one of the biggest deal for 126 medium multi role combat aircraft(MMRCA), 22 Apache attack choppers for the army and 16 multi role helicopters for navy..

Though the defence ministry had sought Rs253,345.91 crore, but the allocated budget for 2013-14 has increase of over 14% of the Revised Estimates of Rs1,78,504 crore of 2012-13.

Reacting to budget, defence minister AK Antony said "Taking into account the difficult economic situation both at home and abroad, the finance minister...has been fair to the Defence Sector also by increasing the budget"

Governor inaugurates Army mela at Dhemaji
ITANAGAR, Mar 1: State Governor Gen (Retd) J J Singh has inaugurated a two-day Army exposition, ‘Know Your Army Mela’, at Dhemaji in Assam yesterday.
The event showcased the might, grandeur, and welfare schemes of the Indian Army. Lt Gen Arun Kumar Sahni, GOC 4 Corps and a number of high ranking govt and military officials also attended the inaugural function.
Speaking on the occasion, the Governor said that Army melas have always projected a positive image of Army and helped in bringing people nearer to the organization. It showcases the role and capacities of Indian Army. Such expositions have always inspired many in joining the force.
It has also helped in moulding and changing the opinions of the communities, which had reservation in sending their children and youth to the force, he said and expressed hope that the two-day event will go a long way in encouraging the youth of NE region in joining the Indian Army.
The former Army chief emphatically said that along with employment and good incentives, the Army provides ample opportunities for one to excel in life and most importantly, to contribute towards defending one’s motherland.
Besides advising the officers of Army units to take up more Sadbhavana projects in the region especially in the remote areas, he suggested for conducting medical camps and social services involving local people and school children which according to him will not only help in social development of the area concerned but also instill a sense of attachment among the denizens towards the Army.
The Governor commended the goodwill gesture and camaraderie demonstrated by Army authorities. He added that presentation of modified scooters to former comrades and financial assistances to Veer Naris reflects the true spirit of Indian Army.
As a mark of respect and recognition for their sacrifices, specially made scooters were presented to the disabled soldiers and monetary assistance extended to the ‘Veer Naris’. A free medical camp was also organized for the benefit of retired soldiers and general public.
The other highlights of the exposition were the awareness stalls set up by various agencies of the Army providing information on recruitment procedure, various education and welfare schemes.
A large number of spectators enjoyed the daredevil acts of Army paratroopers followed by para motor display by the Army Adventure Cell. The spectators were left awestruck by spectacular motorcycle stunts by the Army men, splendid display of skills by trained Army dogs, weapons display, Military Band display and cultural shows by the Army.

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