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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

From Today's Papers - 10 Apr 2013
Lt Col among 5 troopers killed in S Sudan
Rebels ambush UN peacekeeping team led by officer from Haryana
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
Five Indian Army soldiers, including a Lieutenant Colonel from Haryana, were killed in a gunfight with armed rebels in South Sudan, Africa, on Tuesday. Five others, including an officer, have been injured. The dead soldiers are from two Indian Army regiments deployed as a part of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). The incident took place around 8: 30 am Sudan time, official sources said.
New Delhi is coordinating with the UN to bring back the bodies of the deceased. The deceased have been identified as Lt Colonel Mahipal Singh, Havildar Hira Lal and Havildar Bharat Sasmal (all 9 Mechanized Infantry), Naik Subedar Shiv Kumar Pal and Sepoy Nand Kishore Joshi ( 6 Mahar Regiment). Joshi hails from Pithorgarh in Uttrakhand.

The deceased Lt Colonel was leading the troops with his second-in-command Captain Bhagirath Singh, who has also been injured in the incident. Four other jawans have been injured. Reports reaching the Ministry of Defence suggest that 7 civilians were also killed in the cross-fire. Sources said two officers and 30 other ranks were given a task to accompany a convoy of UN vehicles carrying material from Gumruk --- in the trouble-ridden Jonglei state --- to Borhe. The rebels attacked the convoy just 8 km outside Gumruk. The gun battle lasted an hour. It is yet to be ascertained which group of the rebels attacked the convoy. “We will wait for an assessment from the UN,” said a senior MoD functionary.

After South Sudan got independence in July 2011, it has witnessed ethnic strife with Pibor county, the main base of UN peacekeeping force. More than 150 persons were killed last month in Jonglei in a battle between South Sudan's Army and insurgents of David Yau Yau, a local rebel leader. Indian casualties were airlifted in 3 UN helicopters from Jonglei to Juba. The Indian Ambassador and the Chief Medical Officer of the Army Medical Corps were at the Juba airport. The first priority will be top treatment for the injured at the UN mission hospital in South Sudan, official sources said. Indian Ambassador will also be meeting Special Representative of the UNSG in South Sudan, Hilda Johnson.

India is a major contributor to UN peacekeeping forces around the world. Around 7,000 Indian troops are deployed in UN operations in Lebanon, Syria-Israel border and in Africa. Defence Minister AK Antony has mourned the death of soldiers. “Their final rites will be with full military honours”, said Antony.

The families of the soldiers will get a compensation of Rs 40 lakh from UN besides the regular compensation by the Indian Army.
Deadly gunfight

Lt Colonel Mahipal Singh’s team was given a task of accompanying a convoy of UN vehicles carrying material from Gumruk --- in the trouble-ridden Jonglei state --- to Borhe

The rebels attacked the convoy just 8 km outside Gumruk at 8: 30 am Sudan time. The encounter lasted over an hour

While five Indian troopers were killed, five others, were injured
Defence disability pension: Govt withdraws Jan 1996 cut-off date
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 9
The Centre today informed the Supreme Court that it had decided to pay the revised disability pension to all eligible personnel without going by the January 1, 1996 cut-off date announced earlier.

The government said its decision would have an additional financial implication of Rs 500-800 crore.

Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval provided this information to a Bench comprising Justices HL Dattu and JS Khehar which was hearing an appeal filed by the Centre challenging the August 17, 2006 judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the issue.

As a consequence of the latest decision, the government would withdraw all its cases pending in different courts, the ASG said.

At the last hearing, the Bench had taken the government to task for denying the revised disability pension to a number of personnel as they had been relieved from service prior to the January 1, 1996 cut-off date.

“You can’t distinguish personnel with disability on the basis of cut-off date. Either give it to all or refuse it to all. After introducing disability pension, you can’t deny it to some people,” the Bench had remarked.

In its verdict, the HC had rejected the Centre’s contention that the revised disability percentage was not applicable to Nb. Sub. Ravinder Kumar as he had retired on June 31, 1993, prior to the January 1996 cut-off date. The Centre had come to the SC, challenging this HC verdict and another in the case of Harbhajan Singh.
      Nepal-India army teams to scale Everest, clean route
KATHMANDU, April 9: In order to mark the diamond jubilee of the first ascent of the world´s tallest peak Mount Everest, a mountaineering expedition team comprising of 34 members from Nepal and Indian Army are on their way to scale the mountain. The team also aims to clean the routes and camp sites during their expedition.

Amidst a ceremony at the Army Headquarters in Kathmandu on Tuesday, the joint team was flagged off by Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Gaurav Shumsher Rana. CoAS Rana handed the flag to team leaders Major Sunil Singh Rathor of Nepal Army and Major Ranabir Singh Jamwal of Indian Army.

Sixty year ago Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary had reached the top of the Mt Everest. "Since then many expeditors from across the world have climbed to the peak, leaving tons of garbage along the way. We will try to bring back as much waste as we can," Major Rathor said.

In the seventy-day long expedition, 13 members of Nepal Army and 12 members of Indian Army will head for the peak and the rest would assist them, liaison officer Captain Nabin Kumar Khadka told Republica.

We expect to collect 9 to 10 tons of garbage that may include some dead bodies, Khadka said.

The team will head toward the base camp on Thursday and try to summit the peak by mid-May. This is a very unique expedition of Nepal and Indian Army as both the armies are jointly climbing the peak and cleaning the routes, team leader and Major Jamwal of Indian Army said. The weather might be the major challenge during the expedition, he said, adding, but we will jointly overcome any challenges.

CoAS Rana said that the joint expedition would not only strengthen the relation between the two armies but also test their endurance, while helping to clean the environment.

The team will participate in High Altitude Marathon (64km), according to Directorate of Public Relation of Nepal Army.
Five Indian peacekeepers killed in South Sudan ambush
NEW DELHI: Five Indian soldiers, including a Lt-Colonel, were killed and another five injured when the UN convoy they were escorting as part of their peace-keeping operations in strife-torn South Sudan came under heavy fire from armed rebels on Tuesday morning.

The deceased were identified as Lt-Col Mahipal Singh, Naik Subedar Shiv Kumar Pal, Havildars Hira Lal and Bharat Sasmal and sepoy Nand Kishore. Their next of kin will each get $70,000 as grant from the UN, apart from the "higher compensation amounts" paid by the Indian government for "battle casualties" .

Defence ministry officials said the Indian escort team of two officers and 35 other ranks — from the 6 Mahar Regiment and 9 Mechanized Infantry deployed as part of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) — were escorting five UN vehicles from Gumruk to Bor in the volatile state of Jonglei when the rebels ambushed the convoy at about 8.30am local time.

"The rebels opened indiscriminate fire with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Our soldiers retaliated to protect the convoy. The fierce gunfight continued for around an civilians were also killed in the incident, as per the reports we have got," said an official.

While the five injured Indian soldiers, including a Captain, were subsequently evacuated to the capital city of Juba in three UN helicopters for medical treatment, arrangements are being made to bring the bodies of the five killed back to India for" the final rites with full military honours" .

Though over 140 Indian soldiers have been killed in UN missions since India's first commitment to Korea began in 1950, this incident is one of the biggest in terms of lives lost.

Expressing his condolences at the "unfortunate loss of lives", defence minister A K Antony lauded "the bravery exhibited by the Indian soldiers in the highest traditions of the Indian Army and in contribution to the peace and security in the world".

Around 2,200 soldiers from India, which constantly figures in the top three troop contributors for UN missions around the globe, are currently deployed in South Sudan, with one battalion in Jonglei and another in Malakkal on the border with Sudan. UNMISS has been deployed in South Sudan, since the country became independent from Sudan in July 2011, to preserve peace and security amid widespread ethnic violence.

While India currently has 6,950 soldiers deployed in different UN missions, the contingents in war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan are the largest in terms of numbers. Indian soldiers have come under attack in D R Congo too, with at least five being killed and several others injured while undertaking peace-keeping duties there over the last three years.

India has deployed well over 100,000 Indian troops, military observers and police officers in UN missions over the last 55 years but it has not yet yielded much in terms of its efforts to seek a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, or even in its attempts to seek a greater role in world affairs.

But the large troop contribution does reinforce India's claim for a permanent seat when the UNSC is expanded as well as provides handsome monetary compensation and "international exposure" to its soldiers. It also accrues a lot of goodwill for India on the global stage, especially in places like the oil and mineral-rich Africa, where the new "great game" is now being played. China, incidentally, has deployed over 2,000 troops in UN peace-keeping operations, mostly in Africa, after earlier shedding its reservations for such endeavours.

Indian Army battalions covet UN assignments since its troops get UN allowances in dollars, with officers getting $2,200 and other ranks $1,100, which are over and above their Indian rupee salaries being safely deposited at home.

More importantly, it gives the battalions some much-needed respite from being deployed in debilitating counter-insurgency operations in Jammu & Kashmir and north-east as well as forward posts on the borders with China and Pakistan.
India's Army Chief reviews operational preparedness of eastern theatre

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Kolkata: Chief of the Army Staff General Bikram Singh who was briefed on the operational preparedness of the Eastern Command by Army Commander Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh on Saturday said it would be given due importance.

"The Army Chief reiterated that the eastern theatre would be given due importance and all issues highlighted by the Army Commander are in keeping with the thrust on development of infrastructures to support the troops deployed in difficult areas," a defence release said here.

Gen Singh spoke to officers, junior commissioned officers and other ranks at the Fort William and emphasised that the Army was an organisation like a family where every member must be proud to be part of it.

He also stressed on the status and importance of the JCO, which gave them more responsibility and therefore, made them more accountable.

The army chief stated that he was happy with the state of morale in the army and mentioned some of the welfare measures initiated especially for jawans.

Gen Singh, who is scheduled to meet nearly 12,000 ex-servicemen during a rally at Barrackpore tomorrow, said that ex-servicemen must be looked after.

"It is these servicemen who have been the bed rock of our Army and committed towards the security of our borders and nation building," he said.
India test fires submarine-launched version of BrahMos missile
 Visakhapatnam, March 20: 

India today successfully carried out the maiden test firing of the over 290 km-range submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal becoming the first country in the world to have this capability.

The submarine-launched version of BrahMos was successfully test-fired from an underwater pontoon near here, BrahMos CEO A. Sivathanu Pillai told PTI.

This is the first test firing of an underwater supersonic cruise missile anywhere in the world and the missile travelled its complete range of over 290 kms, he said.

He said the performance of the missile during the test launch was “perfect“.

Ship and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and the Navy.

The maiden test of the submarine-launched version of BrahMos comes over a week after the indigenously built long-range subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay failed to hit its target in its first test.

“BrahMos missile is fully ready for fitment in submarines in vertical launch configuration which will make the platform one of the most powerful weapon platforms in the world,” Pillai said.

Defence Minister A K Antony congratulated DRDO scientists and Russian specialists along with officers of the Indian Navy associated with the project for successful test launch of missile from an underwater platform.

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