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Sunday, 17 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 17 Mar 2013
Govt employee held for attack on CRPF camp
Majid Jahangir
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 16
A 28-year-old government employee from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district has been arrested for allegedly helping the two foreign militants for carrying the recent Fidayeen (suicide) attack in Bemina which left five CRPF men dead.

Pradeep Singh, son of Bhupindar Singh of Chek Kanispora Baramulla, is the third persons to be arrested by the Special Operation Group of the J&K police during the investigations of the Bemina attack on Wednesday.

J&K police says names of a few more persons have surfaced during the questioning of the Pakistani militant Abu Talha, local guide Bashir Ahmed Mir, a surrendered militant and Pradeep Singh.

“Singh is posted as a Sanitary Inspector in the state health department in Tangmarg. He provided logistical support to the three foreign Fidayeen and hosted them for 24 hours at his work place,” said a police officer privy to the investigations.

“Singh was detained by police from Baramulla on Saturday. He was being questioned at the SOG headquarters in Srinagar.” Police sources said initial questioning of Singh has revealed that he helped the foreign militants in lieu of money.

Police sources said initial questioning of Singh has revealed that he helped the foreign militants in lieu of money. Singh hosted the three Fidayeen militants and Bashir Ahmed Mir at Tangmarg in Baramulla district from where militants travelled to the city to carry out Fidayeen attack after a gap of three years.

“Singh was close to Bashir Mir. They knew each other from quite some time. Singh had a shady past. In fact, he was also arrested in Jammu almost eight years ago in a fake currency case,” police sources said. “We are investigating whether Singh was privy to the militant plans of carrying Fidayeen attack or not, but it is sure that he knew that they were foreign militants,” he added. His family, however, said he was forced by militants to give them accommodation.

“He was forced by militants to provide them accommodation,” said Singh’s wife Harmeet Kour at Kanispora residence.
Ten years on, US officer's Iraq diary tells grim tale
New York: US Lieutenant Timothy McLaughlin's Iraq diary is not an introspective journal, but 10 years after the invasion its terse, staccato account of a young man's war holds a powerful charge.

The telegraphic style of the entries, jotted in a small notebook embossed with the Marine Corps seal, leaves the reader with a lot of work to do, and a new exhibition in New York shows it is all the more powerful for that.

The death toll among the Iraqi fighters who confront the 25-year-old junior officer's unit is high, but the diary does not linger on the details.

"My position is good to cut off back door exit. kill dismounts in grove (3-7?) then 1 swimming across canal/2 just about in canal," he writes.

In another encounter his tank engages a car: "Vehicle slowed down, swerved left off road + hit tree. Civilian shot 5 times in back + legs. continued progress to Afaq."

The 36 pages of the diary meticulously record all aspects of McLaughlin's daily grind in the same dry style: lists, instructions, schedules, battles, a song, accounts of around 70 deaths, his thoughts about Iraqis.

For the exhibition the pages have been blown up as wall panels accompanied by photographs and explanatory texts to better site the story in the history of the conflict. It takes visitors into the heart of the war.

Mclaughlin's Marines were among the first US troops in Firdos Square in Baghdad in 2003 and their unit's flag was the one hoisted onto a statue of Saddam Hussein before it was symbolically toppled.

"Swamped by mass of reporters - could not move/peace protester +how many children have you killed today+," the diary reads.

Images from the square were seen by millions of television viewers around the world, and formed part of the intense international debate about the rights and wrongs of the war and US policy.

Politics was not what interested Mclaughlin when he wrote the diary, but now, even if he is not comfortable with all that the account says about him as a younger man, he thinks his unvarnished account can serve a purpose.

"For most people in the military, they detach themselves from political decisions that are being made, so I didn't think about the political question at all, my country said go, my job is to go," he told AFP.

He talks of the nightmares he still suffers, and of the errors that still haunt him, errors that he says cost the lives of a fellow Marine and many Iraqi civilians.

Officially, he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. But he sees things differently.

"It's not a disorder, it's a natural reaction to combat experiences," he says. "If you were not affected by it, that might be a disorder.

"To send young 18- and 25-year-olds to go kill people at war, to expect them to come home with no consequences, that's not what is natural."

McLaughlin agreed to share his diary on the tenth anniversary of a war that America seems keen to forget, in the hope that the population as a whole might better understand what he and his comrades experienced.

"There is a disconnect in my country between people who serve and everybody else, who only see those experiences through movies or politicians on the news," he said.

McLaughlin wants American civilians to "think a little bit more critically about the decision to go to war and what it means for the people in Iraq or the people in Bosnia, or wherever."

"It affects the people who live there, and it affects the young people who are sent to fight to wars," he argues.

The idea for the exhibit came from American journalist Peter Maass, to whom McLaughlin showed his worn-out, forgotten notebook kept in the trunk of an old car, grains of sand still stuck between the pages.

Maass, who worked for the New York Times Magazine, had met McLaughlin in Iraq and followed his marine battalion until its entry into Baghdad. The third author of the exhibition is British photographer Gary Knight.
Himachal lad walks away with Sword of Honour this year
Twenty three-year-old Chander Mouli from Una in Himachal Pradesh turned out to be the golden boy in the passing out parade at the Officers Training Academy, Chennai on Saturday.

Mouli, a post-graduate in English literature walked away with the Sword of Honour presented by the Chief of Army Staff for his all- round performance during the 49-week training which concluded in Chennai on Friday. Mouli, son of Surendra Mohan, a businessman and Rozy Sharma, a high school teacher, beat 271 colleagues, including 57 lady cadets, though he did not have any military background before entering the precincts of the OTA.

Saturday’s passing out parade, which was reviewed by Army Chief General Bikram Singh, saw many families extending their relations with the Army through third and fourth generations.

With tears of joy in his eyes, Govardhan Singh Rathore, a former officer of the 10 Para Commandoes, was seen fixing the stars of a commissioned officer on the shoulders of Virendra Rathore, his grandson. Virendra will join 2 Sikh Regiment. His father CS Rathore, Govardhan Rathore’s second son, is a colonel with Regimental Veterinary Centre. “My father late Samat Singh was with the Kota Infantry which makes Virendra the fourth generation soldier from a single family,” said Govardhan.

Seventy four-year-old Govind Ram, a former colonel, had come to watch his grandson Karan graduating with honours. As Karan marched past the salute base in the Major Parameswaran Parade Square to the tunes of the immortal song Auld Lang Syne, his father Col Sanjay Shhikara and uncle Col Vijay Choudhury were seen pelting him with flowers. “The military tradition continues in our family,” said both the colonels.

Major Raj Kumar Yadav of Rajashthan Rifles had come for ‘pipping’ his brother Anoop. Raj Kumar’s wife Neelam Bhalla is a lieutenant in Army Ordnance while Anoop’s fiancĂ©e Aaina has already become a lieutenant. “Ours is a complete Army family,” said a beaming Raj Kumar.

What stood out in the golden jubilee year of the OTA was the marked change in the attitude of Indian youth. Gone are the days when young graduates preferred a degree in soft ware engineering and a job in one of the IT giants. The year 2012 saw many electronics and communication graduates preferring a job in the Army. Vishal, a data analyst with one of the IT giants, quit the company after four years of service and joined the OTA. “I loved the training and lifestyle. Monday I am leaving for Hyderabad where I’ll join the Artillery Brigade,” said Vishal. His is not an isolated case.

Alisha from Patiala, a graduate in electronics and communication engineering, had made it known during her school days itself that army is her preferred destination. Harish, her younger brother who also holds an engineering degree will join OTA in next academic year.

The only jarring note in this year’s passing out parade was the absence of the oath taking ceremony led by religious scholars. A Hindu pundit, a Muslim Moulavi and a Christian vicar used to administer the cadets verses from Gita, Quran and Bible during every passing out parades. Officers and faculties of the OTA expressed their ignorance when asked why the solemn ceremony was avoided. None could give a credible answer. Regulars as well as the cadets themselves missed the solemn ceremony which used to be a cementing factor in the army life.
Ex Indian Army Chief talks about Bangladesh's liberation war and Indo-Bangla ties
Kolkata, Mar 16 (ANI): India has played a very important role in the freedom struggle of Bangladesh against Pakistan. Following a nine-month war against Pakistan, the country formerly known as East Pakistan, gained independence in December 1971. In an exclusive interview to ANI, General Shankar Roychowdhury, who is the former Indian Army Chief, former parliamentarian and a defence expert talked about his experiences during the war in Bangladesh and the strengthening of Indo-Bangla bilateral relations. Roychowdhury said that the liberation war against Pakistan had started much before it was officially declared.
272 officers commissioned into Indian Army
Chennai, Mar 16 (PTI) A total of 272 men and women were today commissioned into the Indian Army as short service officers in a glittering ceremony at the Officers Training Academy (OTA) here.

Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh reviewed the ceremonial passing out parade, which marks the completion of their training at the academy.

The parade saw 215 officers, including 57 women officers, besides one from Lesotho (Africa) complete their training.

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