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Friday, 15 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 15 Mar 2013

srinagar Fidayeen attack
Shinde: Pak numbers in slain terrorists’ diaries
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
Under attack from the Opposition over the killing of five CRPF personnel in a suicide attack in Srinagar’s Bemina area yesterday, the government today said in Parliament that the two terrorists involved in the strike were of foreign origin.

Avoiding direct references to Pakistan, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in a statement in both Houses that the diaries recovered from the slain terrorists bore suspected Pakistani numbers and the skin ointment found in their kit had an Urdu name and was manufactured at 35, Dockyard, a Karachi-based facility of GSK Pakistan Limited. When pressed for clarifications in the Rajya Sabha, Shinde said, “I only said the terrorists were of foreign origin and not Pakistanis.”

After the BJP moved notices for adjournment of question hour in both Houses, Shinde said the terrorists were “fidayeens” as was evident from their “shaven” bodies. He, however, said the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s claim to be behind the attack was still under authentication. Shinde said six other CRPF personnel were injured in the encounter, one of them critically. Four civilians who were playing cricket in the ground also suffered injuries in the incident.

“Two unidentified armed terrorists in civilian clothes, carrying ammunition and grenades in hidden bags, entered the playground and mingled with local youth. They took out their gear, lobbed grenades and opened indiscriminate fire on the CRPF men. Armed CRPF officers retaliated,” said Shinde. Fifty CRPF personnel of the 73rd battalion had assembled in Police Public School grounds before their deployment at various places.

The BJP, however, slammed the government for going soft on Pakistan-sponsored terror and failing to prevent strikes. In the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj questioned the hospitality Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid extended recently to the Pakistan PM at Ajmer Sharif. “You are treating them to lunch and four days later this attack happens. The head of Ajmer shrine did what you could not by boycotting the Pakistan PM for beheading our soldiers,” she said.

Shinde, however, insisted the UPA was “very vigilant and was keeping an eye on POK camps”.

Pak militant held in Srinagar
Majid Jahangir/TNS

Srinagar, March 14
The Jammu and Kashmir Police today arrested a suspected Pakistani militant from old Srinagar. Abu Talib alias Riyaz, a Pakistani national, who is believed to be a part of the module that carried out the fidayeen attack in Bemina yesterday.

Police sources said the militant was nabbed in the Chhattabal area around 6 pm. “He fired three pistol shots but was soon overpowered,” sources said. He is being interrogated.

Union Home Secretary RK Singh said there were intelligence inputs about four militants having sneaked into Srinagar. While two were killed in the fidayeen attack, the hunt is on to catch the others.

Pakistan House slams Afzal Guru’s hanging
Tribune News Service

Islamabad/New Delhi, March 14
In what is seen as a clear attempt by Islamabad to interfere in India’s internal matters, Pakistan Parliament today passed a resolution condemning the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzul Guru and demanding the return of his body to his family.

While there was no official reaction from New Delhi, Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar asserted that India acted according to its own judgment and laws in Guru’s case.

The resolution, moved in the National assembly by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who heads a special parliamentary panel on Kashmir condemning the hanging of Guru and expressed concern over the situation created in Jammu and Kashmir by the execution.

The House called for Guru's body to be handed over to his family. Guru was hanged and buried within Tihar Jail in Delhi in February. Pakistan-based terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed have vowed to take revenge for the hanging. The resolution also said the international community should not remain as silent spectators in efforts to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute.

It said steps should be taken to implement the UN Security Council's resolutions on the Kashmir issue. The resolution called for an end to alleged killings in Jammu and Kashmir and the removal of the Army from towns and cities of the Kashmir Valley.

Highly improper, says India

India has reacted sharply to the resolution passed by Pakistan Parliament saying it was “highly improper”. Foreign Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid tersely asked Islamabad not to dabble in internal matters of this country. “They should address matters of their own country. They should let us address the matters of our country,” he said.

Border talks with Bangladesh next week

New Delhi, March 14
A top-level delegation of Bangladeshi border guards will arrive here next week for five-day talks with the BSF on a host of issues related to crimes and illegal movement along the Indo-Bangla frontier.

A delegation of Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) led by their Director General Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed will have talks with the BSF team led by their chief Subhash Joshi and representatives of the Union Home Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs. The meeting will begin on March 19.

Both the forces will hold talks on a number of issues which are relevant for the security of the open Indo-Bangladesh border including cross-border movement of locals and criminals, smuggling of cattle and narcotics and issues related to Indian insurgents reportedly on the other side of the border.

As a symbolic gesture of enhancing confidence building measures (CBMs) between the two countries, both the forces will also play a friendly volleyball match in Delhi on March 16 which will be inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh.

The DG level talks between the two border guarding forces is a bi-annual affair with each country hosting its counterpart once at its national capital.

The BSF guards 4096 km of the Indo-Bangladesh border. — PTI

A rattle in the Valley
Attack a reminder, not return of terror

After a steady improvement in the security situation in Kashmir — a virtual lull by Valley standards — the suicide attack that killed five CRPF jawans has come as a rude reminder that terror works just when we begin to feel secure. It’s not gone till it’s gone, as they say. Initial suspicion is the two attackers had Pakistan connection. Given their apparent training and motivation level, that is very likely. That has to be kept in sight while determining how we look at the attack, coming as it does amidst the tension over the hanging of Afzal Guru.

Suicide attacks are difficult to prevent, and will in most cases end up doing some damage before these are neutralised. In this case too the killings happened in the first wave of firing. The only defence against such attempts is prevention. In Kashmir, that means not letting trained militants cross over from POK. As the snow melts, the vigil on the LoC has to be maintained as tight as it was at the peak of militancy. It is true the relative lack of militant activity in the past couple of years has led to the security forces letting their guard down a notch or two, especially in the civilian areas of the Valley, with weapon-carrying norms and security restrictions being altered to let people feel more at peace. The standard operating procedures of the forces may need a review in this context.

The attack should, however, not make us react in panic, and the response has to be measured. Terror succeeds not from killing people but by the ‘terror’ it creates among those witness to it. And in the times of the media, the entire country is witness. The visible security relaxations as well as political and confidence-building measures under way in Kashmir should not suffer a setback in kneejerk reaction. One attack does not warrant any immediate change in policy. It could well be a lucky strike for the terrorists. A thorough assessment of the security situation and the adversaries’ potential has to be made before any steps are taken. Meanwhile, the various political parties in the state — much exercised over the issue of return of Afzal Guru’s body — would do a service to the people if they do not contribute to inflamed passions.

Indian soldier's beheading: 'Attack carried out by Pakistan army's SSG group'

The attack on an Indian Army patrol in January, in which one soldier was beheaded, was carried out by Special Services Group of Pakistan Army, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Rajya Sabha today.

In a written reply to a question in the House, he also said that intelligence reports have indicated that Chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafiz Sayeed had visited the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir prior to the attack.

"On January 8, 2013 the Special Services Group of Pakistan Army executed an attack on an Indian Army patrol in which two Indian soldiers were killed. One soldier was beheaded in the attack," he said.

The Defence Minister further informed the House that inputs analysed by Military Intelligence indicate that,"terrorists affiliated to LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad were involved in the attack".

"Intelligence reports also indicate that Pakistani terrorists and Chief of LeT Hafiz Sayeed was reported to have visited the LoC areas prior to the attack," Antony said. In reply to a separate question whether government has announced to consider to award the two soldiers on Republic Day, who were killed in the incident, Antony said, "As on date, no citation/ recommendations pertaining to the specific incident have been received."

Each year gallantry awards are announced on the eve of Republic Day and Independence Day to recognise the acts performed by the individual beyond call of their duty, he said.

"As per existing procedure, a case for award is initiated by the Unit and forwarded to Service HQs duly recommended by the Commanders in chain for consideration by their Honours and Awards Committee. If the case if found fit, the same is forwarded to the Defence Ministry for further consideration by the government," he said.

In reply to a question on clashes along the international boundaries of the country, the Defence Minister said 188 such incidents have taken place along the LoC and International Border (IB) in last three years.

According to the figures provided by the Defence Ministry, 2012 saw maximum number of 93 such incidents. In 2011 and 2010, 51 and 44 such incidents took place respectively. 29 casualties were reported in these incidents, Antony said.

"All ceasefire violations with Pakistan are approximately retaliated through return of fire/protested through established mechanism of hotl ines, flag meetings and Director General of Military Operations Talks etc," he said.

Indian Army Major on UN mission injured in Sudan attack
New Delhi: A Major-rank officer of the Indian Army posted at United Nations Mission in South Sudan was injured when the vehicle patrol he was leading was fired upon by the rebel militia groups there.

The incident took place yesterday when a regular vehicle patrol of one officer, one Junior Commissioned Officer and 10 soldiers of INDBATT-II (Indian Battery-II) were moving from Gurmuk to Pibor in South Sudan, a spokesperson of Indian Army said here today.

"At around 1030 Hours (local time), the patrol was fired upon by personnel in combat dress, approximately 15 km short of Pibor. Major Amit of Indian Army who was leading the patrol received a gunshot wound on his back," he said.

The officer was evacuated by air to Juba and is presently admitted to Cambodian Level-II hospital there where he is in a stable state, the spokesperson said.

The area of Pibor County in South Sudan has witnessed fierce inter-tribal clashes in the recent past.

The region is currently active due to confrontation between SPLA (Army of South Sudan) and Rebel Militia Groups (RMG), he said.

INDBATT-II is deployed in the United Nations Mission since November 2012.

Ex-Indian Air Force Chief Charged in Bribery Case
NEW DELHI — India’s top investigative agency filed a criminal case on Wednesday against a former air force chief and 11 other people on charges of cheating and conspiracy in a $750 million helicopter deal marred by bribery.

The Central Bureau of Investigation filed the charges under India’s corruption prevention laws against Shashi Tyagi, three of his cousins and officials of four defense companies after an investigation revealed that huge bribes were paid to steer the contract to the Italian defense group Finmeccanica’s helicopter division, AgustaWestland.

The agency searched the homes and offices of Mr. Tyagi and his cousins, who it suspects were among those who received bribes to clinch the purchase of 12 helicopters two years ago.

India’s Defense Ministry received three of the helicopters in December but has placed the rest of the contract on hold.

Among the 12 people involved in the case is Satish Bagrodia, the brother of a former federal minister, Santosh Bagrodia, who belongs to India’s governing Congress party.

The C.B.I. said it filed the criminal charges based on evidence it had gathered from the men and from documents it obtained from Italy. The Defense Ministry indicated that alterations were made in the helicopter specifications to favor AgustaWestland.

The inquiry into the helicopter contract began last month after Italian authorities arrested Giuseppe Orsi, the chief executive of Finmeccanica, in Italy on charges that the company paid bribes in India. Mr. Orsi, who has been jailed, denies wrongdoing.

Italian authorities also placed the head of AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, under house arrest.

Mr. Tyagi has also denied any wrongdoing in the case and said decisions on the helicopter deal were made before he assumed the top job in the air force.

The agency said Finmeccanica paid a commission to three middlemen who channeled the illegal payments through Tunisia and Mauritius to two India-based companies as payments for an engineering contract. Those companies and two Indian men associated with them were among those named as accessories in the case.

India has become the world’s biggest arms and defense equipment buyer in recent years and is expected to spend $80 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its military.

Arms deals in India have often been mired in controversy, however, with allegations that companies have paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Indian officials.

In the 1980s, the government of -Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi government collapsed over charges that the Swedish gun manufacturer Bofors paid bribes to supply Howitzer field guns to the Indian army.

Following the Bofors scandal, India banned middlemen in all defense deals.

The developments in the Finmeccanica case come at a time when New Delhi and Rome are entangled in a diplomatic dispute after Italy’s refusal this week to return two Italian marines facing trial in India for the killing of two fishermen off the southwest Indian coast last year.

The case is also a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, which has been buffeted over the past year by a string of corruption scandals ahead of national elections scheduled in the first half of next year.

India should prepare cyber warfare army to counter hackers: Analyst
New Delhi, Mar 13 (ANI): In the wake of the Chinese hacking attack, which is also being termed as the biggest security breach in India, security analyst Captain (retired) Bharat Verma believes that if Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) websites and e-mails can be hacked so easily, then the total security architecture is under threat.

Verma also provided solutions when he said, "India has to prepare a cyber warfare army, which can instead go and hunt the enemy, before conventional warfare breaks out."

The other stolen files recovered so far belong to the governments of the United States, Russia, and South Korea.

The leak was detected in the first week of March as officials from India's technical intelligence wing, National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), working with private Indian cyber security experts cracked open a file called "army cyber policy".

The file had been attached to hacked email accounts of senior DRDO officials that quickly spread through the system in a matter of seconds.

As Indian security experts began to track its origin they discovered, for the first time, that all the sensitive files stolen from the infected systems were being uploaded on a server in the Guangdong province of China.

So far, Indian intelligence has never been able to pinpoint a hacking attack with such accuracy.

As they continued to trace the breach, they discovered thousands of top-secret CCS files, and other documents related to surface-to-air missile and radar programmes from DRDL, a DRDO laboratory based in Hyderabad, among many other establishments.

Even the e-tickets of the scientists who had travelled to Delhi in the last week of February were found on the server.

The intelligence officials also discovered documents of deals struck between DRDO and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, a defence PSU which manufactures strategic missiles and components. Some other recovered files were related to price negotiations with MBDA, a French missile manufacturing company.

The hacking by the Chinese is also believed to be officially sponsored. (ANI)

Indian Army refuses to give info about Kargil war victims
It has been over 13 years since the Kargil war took place but Indian Army is still not ready to share details of its officers who were tortured and killed by Pakistani Army.

The Indian Army refused to part away with the information to RTI activist SC Agrawal who had sought names and ranks of Indian soldiers who were allegedly killed after being tortured by Pakistani Army during the Kargil war in 1999.

But Indian Army refused to give any detail. “Information is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act 2005,” said Army's reply to Agrawal.

The said section exempts disclosure of any information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.

Agrawal, who was miffed with response, said he is “not able to understand how simply revealing names and ranks of other Indian soldiers who were killed after being tortured by Pakistani army like was done with Saurabh Kalia could affect sovereignty, integrity, security or strategy of India”.

“Rather the information I am seeking is of great public-interest as matter of similar ones like Saurabh Kalia tortured by Pakistani army should also have been dealt with in the same manner both at national and internationsl levels like has been done in case of Saurabh Kalia. I will pursue the case until they provide the information,” Agrawal told DNA.

He had also sought details regarding case of Indian Army's Captain Saurabh Kalia whose body was given back to India in a mutilated condition by Pakistan at the height of the Kargil War.

During the Kargil war, Captain Kalia and five other soldiers were caught by the Pakistan Army, which kept them in captivity. They were subjected to brutal torture as evident from their bodies. India had also raised the issue with Pakistan.

Prominent RTI Activist Shekhar Singh also voiced his surprise over Army's refusal.

“It is impossible to imagine that information about those tortured and killed would affect India's national security. Even if the Army is refusing to give the information, they are required by RTI Act and by judgements of high Court to give explanation behind doing so. Only stating exemption section is not enough,” Singh told DNA.

“There cannot be a blanket refusal. They can expunge parts of information which they think could be of problem,” he added.

Confronted with scams in defence deals, Antony asks armed forces to shed overdependence on foreign vendors for buying military hardware

The taint of corruption in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal has brought focus on the need to shed overdependence on foreign vendors for military hardware, but the status of indigenous defence programmes tells a story of cost overruns and delays.

Confronted with allegations of largescale corruption in defence deals, Defence Minister A.K. Antony has asked armed forces to change the mindset of rushing to foreign vendors for military equipment and hinted at indigenisation as a solution to check graft.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is making light combat helicopter, which took part in Indian Air Force's latest exercise 'Iron Fist' in Pokhran. The state-owned aeronautical company has spent about Rs.900 crore to develop the helicopter whose induction has already been delayed by four years.

Armed forces have severe shortage of light utility helicopters. But the effort to develop them at home will cost about Rs.400 crore and the project is already behind schedule by 30 months.

HAL is looking to supply Cheetal light helicopters meant for operations in high altitude areas. The 10 helicopters to be supplied to the air force will cost Rs.100 crore.

The development of intermediate jet trainers has hit a roadblock despite the programme costing Rs.600 crore. The jet trainers, needed badly by the IAF, have been under development for a decade. The IAF is hoping that the issues regarding the aircraft's design would be sorted out but its induction seems unlikely anytime soon.

The advanced light helicopter Mk-IV, a version which comes with guns, rockets and missiles, has been delayed by four years.

The R&D cost analysis of light combat aircraft Tejas shows that the project's cost is now Rs.13,000 crore with completion deadline of December, 2018. The project was started about 35 years ago with a budget of Rs.560 crore.

India, the biggest arms importer in the world, buys 70 per cent of its military equipment from foreign vendors. The lack of private defence industry and failure of public sector undertakings to deliver have contributed to the situation. Officials say it would take at least three decades for the indigenization to make any impact.

Blame game

The defence scientific establishment blames armed forces for preferring foreign military hardware and not supporting the local efforts. It was reflected in tussle between the army and DRDO over Arjun tanks. The army accepted the locally made tanks and ordered 124 (Mk-I) of them only after extensive comparative trials with Russian T-90s and removal of defects.

In the renewed effort to develop the domestic industry, emphasis is on private participation which has been nonexistent. But situation is gradually changing with big industrial houses like Tatas, Reliance, Mahindra and L&T making inroads in defence manufacturing. The IAF is looking to get its first aircraft from private sector as replacement for the existing fleet of 56 Avros. The `12000 crore project is aimed at encouraging private aircraft manufacturing.

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