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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 07 May 2013
LAC tussle over, Khurshid to visit Beijing on May 9
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, May 6
Denying that a deal had been struck with China to end the tense border standoff, the government today announced that External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid would visit Beijing on May 9-10 to prepare the ground for Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s trip to New Delhi on May 20.

Government sources said around 50 Chinese soldiers had withdrawn from the Daulat Beg Oldie sector in Ladakh and pulled down their tents close to an Indian military airstrip in line with an agreement reached last evening between India and China. Today, the two sides simultaneously announced in New Delhi and Beijing an end to their 20-day tense stand-off, which threatened to seriously dent their improving relationship.

“The governments of India and China have agreed to restore status quo ante along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of the India-China boundary as it existed prior to April 15,” MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said in a brief statement here.

In Beijing, Chinese spokesperson Hua Chunying said the ‘standoff incident’ with India had been resolved through ‘fruitful consultations’ while expressing China’s readiness to join hands with New Delhi to seek a mutually acceptable and fair solution to the border issue at an early date.

Defence Minister AK Antony refused to say anything on the issue. Both the MEA and the Defence Ministry also would not spell out the details of the agreement reached with China to compel it to withdraw its troops. Officials were only willing to say that the channels of communication with Beijing were kept open all through the three weeks’ stalemate. Intense pressure was maintained on Beijing to see reason in India’s demand. However, no promises were made to China and no deal was struck.

Pressure worked

It is learnt that New Delhi’s threat to put on hold Khurshid’s visit, which would have obviously meant that the Chinese Premier would not be welcome in New Delhi, could have forced Beijing to reconsider its strategy on the border standoff
Lookout notice against IAF ex-chief, Antony tells House

New Delhi, May 6
The CBI has issued a lookout notice against a former IAF chief in connection with alleged irregularities in procurement of VVIP helicopters, Defence Minister AK Antony told the Lok Sabha today.

In a written reply to the House, he said, "The CBI has issued a lookout notice against a number of individuals in India, including a former chief of IAF in connection with the said case."

Though Antony did not name the IAF chief in his reply, former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi's role in the deal is being inquired by the CBI. Tyagi's bank account was recently frozen by the investigative agency and he was also questioned by them.

The Defence Minister also said that it has received an initial set of documents from Italy in connection with the deal.

"The government has received an initial set of documents from Italy pertaining to alleged irregularities in AgustaWestland deal which include copy of the search and seizure order issued by the judge of the preliminary investigation in Busto Arsizio, Italy," Antony said.

Copies of certain contracts entered by AgustaWestland with various entities in Tunisia and India have also been provided by the Italian government.

The minister was replying to a question whether the government has received the first set of documents from Italy regarding the alleged irregularities in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

In reply to a separate question on court martial of a Commanding Officer and other personnel of an artillery unit, he said, "Based on an Army CoI, disciplinary action has been initiated against four officers including the CO, 17 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and 147 Other Ranks."

He was asked whether the Army CoI has recommended Court Martial proceedings against 168 personnel, including the Commanding Officer of the artillery unit.— PTI

Tyagi in the dock

Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi's role in the deal is being inquired by the CBI

Tyagi's bank account was recently frozen by the investigative agency and he was also questioned by them

The Defence Minister said India has received an initial set of documents from Italy in connection with the deal
China-India problem at LAC far from over
Arun Joshi/TNS
Jammu, May 6
The Chinese troops finally moved back to their original position across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), blowing up the myth that they were sitting in their “own” territory, but given the geo-political situation in the region this problem can come haunting any time now onwards.

Simultaneously, another theory perpetuated by both India and China during earlier incursions in this sector as “difference of perception” about the dividing line between the two countries’ territorial control also stands exposed. Now, the Army has admitted that those were not transgressions or misperception about LAC, those, in fact were intrusions. But the Army had been admitting that they too used to cross the LAC at times because of the misperception about the LAC.

It is alleged that India had intruded into Chumar area where China in 2009 had intruded with choppers and showered pamphlets claiming that it was their territory. The Indian Army had also been claiming that they also used to commit the acts of “transgression” because of the varying perception about the LAC.

This time, however, China had much more dangerous plans than mere occupying a particular position inside the Indian territory. It was planning to move step by step to draw closer to the sub sector north (SSN) that overlooks Siachen glacier, the highest battle ground in the world.

For the time being, China’s claim might have thrashed its own claim that it was her territory where the tents were pitched and men were deployed 19 km deep inside the Indian territory in Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO).

When it pulled back, it was clear that “it was not an inadvertent entry owing to the commonly used phrase of the misperception about the existence of the LAC ,” a highly placed source in the Army told The Tribune .

“The fact of the matter is that Chinese troops used to intrude and then go back. This time they stayed put for 20 days and there was a real danger that they could have expended their land grab and posed a serious danger to Siachen glacier and lower Leh,” according to the source. They had intruded and set up their tents at DBO on April 15.

If the Chinese were to come up to Saser La, Indian control over the Siachen Glacier
would have been seriously compromised since Saser La overlooks that area.

Hectic diplomacy between Delhi-Beijing which are to host Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and Chinese premier Li Keqiang in the coming days, combined with the negotiations in the series of the flag meetings in Chishul sector in Ladakh, ended the three-week-long stand off.
Victory for diplomacy
India, China show pragmatism

Intensive diplomatic efforts have ultimately ended the standoff that came about between India and China on April 15 in the Daulat Beg Oldie sector in Ladakh. The problem began with Indian troops spotting about 40 men of the People’s Liberation Army of China intruding 19 km inside Indian territory across the Line of Actual Control and setting up tents in the area. India responded with men of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police pitching their tents 300 km away to prove that India would not take it lying down. This caused commotion on both sides with the armies of the two neighbours holding flag meetings to prevent the situation from taking a turn for the worse. The joint mechanism established for resolving disputes by India and China proved to be of considerable help in cooling down the tempers and finally getting the situation back to where it was before April 15.

While the two countries were intensely engaged at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the crisis, some strategic analysts found an opportunity to point out that the Chinese cared two hoots for India mainly because of a weak government at the Centre. Some analysts had started advising that India should accept the fait accompli as it had no guts to get the Chinese troops leave the area in the Daulet Beg Oldie sector that was ours. They wanted India to acquire more military muscle to deter China from creating such embarrassing situations for this country.

The standoff had also cast a shadow on External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s China visit on Thursday with a view to preparing the ground for the coming sojourn of Chinese Premier Li Kepiang to New Delhi. Now, happily, all this will happen as planned. Both countries have shown pragmatism. There is a lesson to be learnt from the successful handling of the crisis with diplomacy. Patience pays even when the nation’s honour is to be saved and diplomacy can do what the display of military might cannot. Even if India militarily is not as strong as China, the latter cannot afford to create a situation in the region that can affect its larger objective of becoming the future super power.
India to Spend $1.5 Billion to Upgrade Army Vehicles
NEW DELHI--India plans to spend an estimated 80 billion rupees ($1.5 billion) to upgrade its infantry combat vehicles with weapons such as antitank guided missiles and automatic grenade launchers, Defense Minister A. K. Antony said Monday.

The South Asian country has also begun the process to buy 100 howitzers for its army, the minister said in the lower house of Parliament.

India's army uses about 2,000 infantry combat vehicles made by the former Soviet Union. Upgrading these vehicles would help bridge a technological gap before the army adds more-advanced combat vehicles to replace the existing fleet.

A program to indigenously develop India's Abhay infantry combat vehicle with advanced technology and weaponry by the country's Defence Research and Development Organization has already faced several delays.

The army's drive to upgrade its equipment comes amidst an overall modernization drive of India's armed forces--including its air force and navy--as neighbors China and Pakistan also expand their military capabilities.

India is the world's biggest arms importer with an average annual defense budget of more than $30 billion. The country imports about 70% of its defense equipment, such as fighter jets, warships, helicopters, missiles and radars, from countries such as Russia, Israel, the U.S. and France.

On the plan to acquire howitzers, the minister said three Indian companies, including two private firms, have been selected for trials as part of the government's push to "give higher preference to indigenous capacity in the defense sector." Mr. Antony didn't name the companies.
Army to procure artillery howitzers, 3 Indian vendors selected
NEW DELHI: Army is planning to procure 100 self-propelled artillery howitzers and three Indian vendors, including two private companies, have been selected for trial of their equipment, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha today.

In a written reply to the House, he also said the recent amendment to Defence Procurement Procedure-2011 aims at giving higher preference to indigenous capacity in the defence sector.

"A case for procurement of 100 tracked guns of 155mm/52 Calibre (self-propelled) is in progress wherein three Indian vendors, including two private sector companies, have been selected for trials of their equipment," Antony said.

In reply to a question on procurement of bullet proof jackets for soldiers, Antony said no such jackets were procured during the last three years.

"The Request for Proposal (RFP) for procurement of 1,86,138 bullet proof jackets has been issued on December 7, 2012," he said.

Antony also told the House that the entire fleet of Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) is being modernised on basis of the operational requirement of the Army.

"In the ICV fleet, armament and firepower capability are being upgraded with the latest generation Fire Control System, Twin Missile Launchers and Commander's Thermal Imaging Panoramic sights. These ICVs will also be equipped with the latest generation Anti Tank Guided Missiles and Automatic Grenade Launchers," he said.

Antony said the estimated cost of upgrading the fleet has been estimated to Rs 8,000 crore.

On procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for IAF, he said the proposal is at commercial discussion stage with France-based Dassault Aviation.

"Given the complexity of the proposal, no definite time frame can be fixed at this stage," Antony said, adding that RFP stipulates delivery of 18 flyway aircraft within three or four years of signing of the contract.

Rest of the 108 aircraft will be license manufactured in India.

On a query over plans to set up radar stations along the island territory close to Lakshadweep, Antony said, "Ten radar stations in various islands, including six in Lakshadweep and Minicoy, are planned to be set up as part of the Static Sensor Project."

The total cost of the project, including setting up of radar stations at 10 island sites and 36 mainland sites is Rs 601.75 crore. The radar stations are likely to be operational by the end of 2013, he said.

The Defence Minister also told the House that an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) is proposed to be supplied to the Government of Mauritius in 2014.

On delay in Scorpene project to deliver submarines to the Indian Navy, he said the proposal for further extension of the delivery date is under examination.

"The project is delayed due to several reasons which include initial teething troubles, delay in augmentation of infrastructure, procurement of yard procured material and absorption of new process and procedures of completely new technology," Antony said.
On whether DRDO has developed an unmanned helicopter, the Defence Minister replied in negative. Antony also denied that Indian Coast Guard has entered into any deal to procure eight medium lift helicopters.

He also denied that the government proposes to purchase helicopter-borne early warning system to boost the defence aviation wing.

On checking the credentials of vendors registered with the ordnance factories, he said, "All ordnance factories have been directed to recheck credentials of vendors registered with the factories for weeding out fictitious firms."

Such check would include one time check of the owners of the firms, their address and other details and most importantly their manufacturing capacity by site visits and inspections.
After Chinese pullout, India to increase Army presence along LAC
NEW DELHI: After the pullout by Chinese troops from Daulat beg Oldi area of Ladakh, infrastructure development programme along the line of actual control is expected to be stepped up besides beefing up of the presence of Army there.

Frenquency of patrolling along the LAC is also expected to be enhanced as per the new measures being contemplated by the government, sources said here on Monday.

The government is also planning to give final clearance to a Rs 84,000 crore Army proposal for raising the Mountain Strike Corps along the northeastern borders which will include deployment of IAF assets as per Army's plans, they said.

The force has been working on capability development in the north and northeastern sector of the country in wake of the major modernisation of military infrastructure by China.

Meanwhile, sources said there is a possibility of India re-adjusting its deployment plans in the Chumar area of Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian troops are in an advantageous positions and can look deep into the Chinese territory.

China has been demanding in the flag meetings that India should dismantle its infrastructure built there including some key forward bunkers, where Indian Army had moved in recent times. However, it is not clear as to what extent India agreed to its demands.

The Indian positions in Chumar, sources said, give India the capability to keep an eye on China's all-important Western Highway.

The Chinese have been carrying out incursions and transgressions into the Chumar area considering its location and the Indian positions there, they said.
China ends Ladakh standoff, troops pull back
Deepened diplomatic engagement with China finally ended the 21-day border standoff in eastern Ladakh on Sunday, with both armies agreeing to simultaneously pull out of the site and go back to pre-April 15 positions.
“They began cleaning up on Sunday evening. By morning, everything will be back to normal,” a government source said.

Now that the border impasse has ended, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid will go ahead with his two-day visit to China beginning May 9, paving the way for the Chinese premier’s visit to India shortly after.
Indian soldiers were eyeball-to-eyeball with the Chinese in the Daulat Beg Oldie sector since April 15, after Chinese troops set up tents and took up positions 19 km into Indian territory.

Intensive diplomatic negotiations led by foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai over the weekend, with assistance from Indian ambassador in Beijing S Jaishankar, led to a fourth flag meeting on Saturday and a breakthrough on Sunday evening.

It is learnt that at Saturday’s brigadier-level meet in Spangur Gap near Chushul, Chinese troops called for a unilateral withdrawal by India from the faceoff site.
But the Indian side is understood to have told them a one-sided pullout was unacceptable, proposing simultaneous disengagement by both armies.

China had repeatedly asked the Indian Army to stop infrastructure build-up and construction of bunkers in the Fukche and Chumar regions of Ladakh, as a pre-condition for withdrawing its troops.

It is not clear what Chinese demands New Delhi may have conceded to in order to resolve the impasse.

“Quid pro quo is the name of the game,” sources said.
The Chinese contention was that some of the build-ups along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were in violation of protocols governing borders that have not been mutually delineated.

Three previous flag meetings to defuse the border tension had flopped with China objecting to increased military activity, aggressive patrolling by the Indian Army and ramping up of infrastructure on the Indian side of the LAC.

In the changed circumstances, the defence ministry is also likely to clear a significant military visit to China this week.

The ministry was earlier reconsidering a proposed visit by senior military officials and bureaucrats to China beginning May 11.
About 15 officers of the rank of brigadier from the National Defence College, India's premier school for grooming future leaders, are slated to visit China and Thailand.
India-China pullback: what happened behind the scenes
With the 20-day stand-off with China near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh finally over after intense negotiations via diplomatic channels, government sources today said that China was asked to be ready to face the consequences and no deal was struck with it.

Sources say India put intense pressure on China and said “we are willing to let the relationship (between the two countries) sink.” The trade between the two countries amounts to at least $90-100 billion a year.

The Chinese were told that New Delhi might cancel Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing beginning May 9. The visit of Chinese Premier Le Keqiang to New Delhi, slated for May 20, was also under threat, according to sources.

The stand-off began on April 15 when Chinese troops came 19 km inside what India claims to be its own territory and set up a make-shift base in Raki Nalla – 30 km south of Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) – an advanced landing ground help by India in North Ladakh. DBO overlooks the Karakoram Pass and the crucial Karakoram Highway that connects China and Pakistan. Soon after, India set up its own post just 500 metres away.

However, NDTV has learnt from sources that the stand-off was resolved partly due to the halting of construction of bunkers by Indian Army in the Chumar sector of southern Ladakh, which borders Himachal Pradesh.

The Indian Army was reportedly building seven bunkers in Chumar. The construction began in April; work on one bunker was completed and the process of digging earth for four others was on. The general area of Chumar is disputed and claimed by both sides. According to existing agreements, neither side is allowed to construct any permanent structure, more so if they are either offensive or defensive in nature.

The Indian Army was also aggressively patrolling the sector, which was opposed by the Chinese. It is understood that Indian Army patrols had cut off the access routes of the Chinese patrols in this sector and in process may have triggered the current crisis.

The assurance that has been reportedly given to China is that the constructions of the bunkers will be stopped for the time being.

However, a senior Ministry of Defence official told NDTV that the assurance of suspending, for the time being, construction in Chumar doesn’t qualify as a concession to China since both countries have agreed not to construct in the disputed areas. According to the 2005 Border Protocol Agreement between India and China, neither side is supposed to construct in contested areas.

Now, New Delhi is keen to renegotiate the 2005 Border Protocol Agreement so that it allows India some room develop its own infrastructure. And, although China had earlier indicated its willingness to renegotiate the agreement India had shown no urgency and had let the offer go by.
Border breach sets up Indian turf war
Army, home vie for ITBP
New Delhi, May 6: The Chinese army exploited “glaring deficiencies” in the pattern of deployment by Indian forces in eastern Ladakh to get inside Indian territory and set up a camp before dismantling it yesterday, according to a post-mortem in the defence establishment.

The turf war between the army — which wants control of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on the China frontier — and the home ministry is now set to escalate after the Raki Nala incident. The cabinet committee on security (CCS), headed by the Prime Minister, is to decide on the subject.

The deficiencies were in an area that was the primary responsibility of one of two ITBP battalions in sub-sector north (SSN), as the Daulat Beg Oldi region is known in military parlance. The ITBP post at Burstse or Bush Area was the closest to Raki Nala. The nearest army post was at Track Junction.

The defence ministry has written to the national security adviser and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the matter. Before the Chinese “incursion”, defence minister A.K. Antony too had written to the PMO in February asking for the two ITBP battalions to be placed under the army’s 14 Corps.

The subject has now been referred to a special policy group under the CCS. The matter had been pending with successive governments since a group of ministers formed after the Kargil war (1999) had recommended in 2001 that the army should be in charge of all unsettled borders.

A special defence and security committee headed by Naresh Chandra that submitted its recommendations last year too had proposed that the army be given charge of the entire frontier with China. The CCS is tentatively scheduled to decide on the matter by August/September.

The army has pointed out that apart from the ITBP, forces in eastern Ladakh comprise armoured, mechanised infantry and mountain infantry units — elements that will be the mainstay in a confrontational situation. All these units are under the army.

Besides, the main assets for surveillance — aerial platforms like pilot-less aircraft — too are with the military. The ITBP was neither equipped nor trained for the role, the defence ministry has argued.

PTI reported from Beijing today that China had tacitly admitted the withdrawal of its troops and said the “stand-off incident” with India had been resolved through “fruitful consultations”, keeping the larger interests of bilateral relations in mind.

A source in the Indian defence establishment said the national security adviser and the PMO had been told in several notes that although the ITBP, which is under the home ministry, is notionally in charge of the China frontier, in the Ladakh sector the army’s formations were ahead of the central paramilitary force.

The army has brigade headquarters in Chusul and Hanle, apart from the 102 Siachen Brigade in Ladakh. But the battalion headquarters of the ITBP’s two units are well behind in Leh. Besides, the ITBP was not conditioned for a “tripwire” — meaning a situation that could rapidly degenerate into an escalatory skirmish.

But the home ministry has staunchly opposed this and said the ITBP should remain in charge under the “one-border-one-force” principle. Also, it has argued, this is in tune with the international norm of having central police forces on the border. The Chinese border guard too, it has pointed out, is a police force.

The argument assumes that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China is an international boundary that is peaceful. As the Raki Nala incident has shown, that is not what the LAC is. The Chinese People’s Armed Police Force, that is, the People’s Liberation Army’s border guard, is under the command of the army.

Another source said that although the 1986 Sumdorong Chhu incident of Arunachal Pradesh was better known, in 2011 too the Chinese troops had set up a tented camp in eastern Ladakh in territory claimed by India. They withdrew after a month.

That incident is less known because the media did not find enough details and the matter was not raised by political parties.

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