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Monday, 20 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 20 May 2013
Assam CM claims militancy down by 75% in state
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS

Guwahati, May 19
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today claimed that recent arrests of several senior Maoist functionaries in Assam have dealt a severe blow to the Maoists’ plan to gain a foothold and expand their base in the state.

On the completion of 12 years as Assam Chief Minister, Gogoi claimed around 75 per cent of militant activities had been neutralised in the state during his tenure that began in May 2001.

“Maoists have been trying to set up base in the state. We had alerted the Centre even before it could gather much information about it. We have been keeping a close watch on their activities and this strict vigil has served as an impediment for the Maoists”.

On the completion of two years in his third consecutive term as Chief Minister, Gogoi claimed his government had been able to check “at least 75 per cent” of militant activities in the past 12 years.
2 ISI agents, linkmen held

Darjeeling (WB), May 19
Two agents and two other linkmen of Pakistan spy agency ISI have been arrested at Kurseong in Darjeeling district. “Two ISI agents identified as Maghan Bahadur Singh, a resident of Chotta Adalpur, and Mesho Sauria, a resident of Panighatta Tea Estate, were arrested on charges of spying for the ISI this afternoon,” Superintendent of Police Kunal Agarwal said at Kurseong police station.

Two other ISI linkmen Gopal Khati of Naxalbari and Dhan Bahadur Pradhan of Panighatta Bazar were also arrested, he said.

Maghan (54) is an ex-armyman and was dismissed from service following his jail for killing a person. — PTI
India and Af-Pak
Time for tripartite mechanism

At a time when Islamabad has a change of guard with the Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League (N) recapturing power, an interesting proposal has been made by Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has conveyed to India and Pakistan through his Ambassador in New Delhi that the three countries should work out a tripartite mechanism, including a no-war pact, for peace and progress in the region. The idea is meaningful and deserves to be given a serious thought. The region is set to experience changes of various kinds in the coming few months. The US-led multinational forces are scheduled to be withdrawn from Afghanistan, where elections will also be held in 2014 for the formation of a new government. This means that something must be done now so that the Afghans do not get involved in destructive activities again. And whatever happens in Afghanistan is bound to affect the situation in Pakistan and elsewhere in the region.

Though there are indications that the new government in Pakistan will pursue a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of its neighbours, it is difficult to believe that Islamabad will quietly watch the unfolding developments in Afghanistan. Pro-Pakistan Taliban factions in Afghanistan may get clandestine support from Islamabad during the coming elections there. If these extremist elements succeed in becoming part of the government, the situation may get chaotic in Afghanistan again. It is, therefore, better that a kind of tripartite agreement is reached before it is too late so that Afghans are allowed to find their own answers to the problems they face.

The focus of the proposed tripartite pact must be economic growth with a view to ensuring that Afghans do not deviate from the path of development. India, which has been helping Afghanistan in the revival of economic activity in a big way, would be in a better position to play its positive role if Pakistan allows the use of its territory for the movement of Indian trucks loaded with goods needed in Afghanistan. Such an arrangement can be a part of the tripartite agreement in the larger interest of stability and progress in the region. Pakistan, too, will be a gainer.
PM raises border incursion with Chinese Premier
Says any such face-off will hit ties
Substantive talks today
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, May 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today raised with visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the recent incursion by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh and is understood to have cautioned that any such face-off between troops of the two countries along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in future could impact bilateral relationship.

The Chinese leader was told that the two countries ought to keep in mind each other’s sensitivities and concerns, pending a final settlement of the boundary dispute. The Indian PM also sought an early demarcation of the LAC.

In a statement on his arrival in India on his maiden overseas tour, the Chinese leader made some positive noises, expressing confidence that his visit would strengthen mutual trust, deepen cooperation, expand common interests and consolidate bilateral friendship to inject a new vigour to India-China strategic and cooperative partnership. It was in the fundamental interests of the two countries to co-exist peacefully, maintain friendly relations and work together to realise national rejuvenation, he said.

Sources said the issues of “priority interests” were raised upfront by the Indian PM during the restricted meeting held shortly after the Chinese Premier’s arrival. Importance of peace and tranquillity on border, concerns on water flows of trans-border rivers and the need to address the yawning trade deficit were also highlighted.

Manmohan Singh articulated India’s views in a constructive but firm manner. The talks were cordial and constructive, setting the stage for substantive discussions between the two leaders tomorrow, sources added.

It is understood that they discussed ways in which the two countries could prevent border flare-ups, particularly like the recent 20-day stand-off in the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) Sector. The Chinese side sought an early inking of the border defence cooperation agreement (BDCA).

However, India made it clear that it was still studying the draft of the accord proposed by Beijing. New Delhi suggested an early convening of the 16th round of talks between the Special Representatives of the two countries on the boundary issue.

The two leaders touched upon a range of bilateral issues as well as global developments. After the restricted meeting, the PM hosted a private dinner in honour of the visiting dignitary. Tomorrow, they will hold delegation-level talks, followed by the conclusion of nearly a dozen agreements between the two countries in different fields.

Li will also meet other Indian leaders tomorrow, including President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. A joint statement is also expected to be issued by the two sides.

The Chinese Premier will deliver a lecture on India-China ties on Tuesday before flying to Mumbai, primarily to address a business meeting being organised by apex chambers of commerce.

The burgeoning trade ties between the two countries also figured in the meeting. The Indian PM expressed concern over the yawning trade gap between the two countries and sought market access for Indian companies in the pharmaceuticals and IT sectors. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the bilateral trade target of $ 100-billion by 2015.

Another issue that reportedly figured during the talks between the two leaders was China building dams over the Brahmaputra River, affecting the flow of water to the Indian sides. India is understood to have reiterated that the two countries evolve a joint mechanism to monitor the flow of water.
Manmohan’s stand

    Manmohan Singh The two countries ought to keep in mind each other’s sensitivities and concerns, pending a final settlement of the boundary dispute
    There should be an early demarcation of the LAC

Li’s observations

    The visit would strengthen mutual trust, deepen cooperation, expand common interests
    It was in the interests of the two countries to co-exist peacefully and maintain friendly relations

Trade ties

    Trade ties between the two countries also figured in the meeting
    The Indian PM expressed concern over the yawning trade gap between the two countries
    He sought market access for Indian companies in the pharmaceuticals and IT sectors
    The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the bilateral trade target of $ 100-billion by 2015
Take gradual steps to boost India ties: Kayani tells Nawaz

Islamabad, May 19
In the backdrop of Nawaz Sharif's positive remarks on ties with India, powerful Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has suggested Pakistan's Prime Minister - designate to take gradual initiatives with utmost caution for improving relations with New Delhi, a media report said today.

Kayani made the suggestion when he called on PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, set to become Prime Minister for a record third term following his party's victory in the May 11 polls, at his brother Shahbaz Sharif's home in Lahore yesterday.

The News daily quoted its sources as saying that Kayani wanted the new government to take gradual initiatives with utmost caution to improve relations with India as this alone “may lead to lasting peace in the region”.

Kayani ensured that Sharif “knew the exact situation on the ground with regard to Pakistan-India ties in the backdrop of developments over the last decade” as Sharif did not have first-hand experience in view of his absence from power, the report said.

In Kayani's view, the relationship between Pakistan and India “demands a comprehensive strategy for addressing the geopolitical challenges which have cropped up over the years” since Sharif's last tenure as premier.

There was no official word from the PML-N or the army on the meeting.

Before the elections, Sharif had made some surprisingly positive statements on ties with India which many thought may not have gone down well with the Army, the News said.

The PML-N chief had said he is keen on resuming the India-Pakistan peace process that was interrupted in 1999 by then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf, who ousted Sharif's government in a military coup.

The report said Kayani called on Sharif to congratulate him on the PML-N's success in the general election and informally talked “about all national security issues”.

He informed Sharif that the new premier and his Cabinet would be given a briefing on all important internal and external national security challenges after their swearing-in.

The armed forces are “fully behind the democratic government and had worked hard for ensuring democracy”, Kayani was quoted as saying. — PTI
To secure sea trade routes, IAF to base Sukhois in TN
Ajay Banerjee/TNS
New Delhi, May 19
Faced with a twin challenge of maintaining adequate military precaution against “expeditionary aspirations” of the Chinese Navy and of securing the sea trade routes, India is ready to station its top-line fighter aircraft, the Sukhoi-30-MKI, in Tamil Nadu.

This is part of New Delhi’s move to dominate Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs) that pass through the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Billions of dollars worth of trade material, especially crude oil, passes through these waters. In 2011-12, India’s two-way trade was $791 billion, of which, 85% happened through the sea route.

The Sukhoi fleet would be stationed at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu on May 26 - making it the first Sukhoi-base south of Pune in Maharashtra. In the past couple of years, New Delhi has added teeth to its security architecture for securing the SLOCs. On May 15, the first of the Boeing P8-I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare planes arrived at Arrakonnam, some 100 km west of Chennai. Two more such planes would arrive this year. By 2015, the Navy would have eight such planes. The P8-I would augment the existing fleet of the Russian-origin surveillance plane, Tupelov 142-M.

The Boeing P8-I can fly non-stop over the Strait of Malacca - the busiest choke point in the Indian Ocean - and return in one go to cover a journey of around 3,000 km. It can stream a live picture of the sea and vessels traversing through the waters.

Some 300 km south of the Boeing-P8-I-base, the IAF will base its Sukhoi-30 MKI squadron. Already, a Jaguar squadron of the IAF, based in Gujarat, has been designated for a maritime role. “The Sukhoi-30-MKI will play a vital role in protecting the SLOCs”, said sources. The IAF has already demonstrated that the Sukhoi-30-MKI can fly for more than 2,500 km with mid-air refueling.

China’s forays into the Indian Ocean Region are well known, In March this year, the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) had informed the Defence Ministry of at least 22 ‘contacts’ with the Chinese attack submarines. These contacts — some of them more than 10,000 km away from the mainland China — were reported near Sri Lanka and Andaman Nicobar islands. The Navy's Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), okayed by the Defence Ministry in April this year, aims at ensuring a 24x7 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the IOR.

In July last year, the Navy had added an air station at Campbell Bay, the southern-most tip of the Andaman Nicobar islands, for its surveillance fleet. The IAF also has a base at Carnic. On the western coast at Goa, the Navy commissioned the first lot of MiG-29-K ship-deck based fighters on May 11. In April 2012, the Navy commissioned a full-fledged base on the Lakshwadeep islands - located west of Kerala. The same month the Coast Guard also opened at a station on the islands. The Coast Guard had in 2010 opened stations at Kavaratti and Minicoy, also part of the same island-chain.

Adding more punch

    The Sukhoi-30-MKI fleet would be stationed at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu on May 26, making it the first Sukhoi-base south of Pune
    This is part of New Delhi's move to dominate Sea Lanes of Communication SLOCs that pass through the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean
    Billions of dollars worth of trade material, especially crude oil, passes through these waters
    In the past couple of years, New Delhi has added teeth to its security architecture for securing the SLOCs
Terror to dominate Indo-US security dialogue today

New Delhi, May 19
Threats from terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Al-Qaida, illicit financing and trans-national crimes will top the agenda of the four-day India-US Homeland Security dialogue between Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and his American counterpart beginning in Washington tomorrow.

Shinde, who left early this morning for the US, will hold talks with US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on challenges such as cyber security, counterfeit currency, illicit financing and cooperation between the two nations to tackle the crimes at the plenary session of the dialogue.

The Home Minister is leading a delegation comprising over a dozen senior officials, including Home Secretary RK Singh and Home Secretary-designate Anil Goswami, official sources said. During the stay, Shinde will also visit Ground Zero in Boston where a bomb attack took place during a marathon recently killing three persons.

Both sides are expected to take stock of the existing mechanisms such as the Joint Working Group on Counter- terrorism and the Counter-terrorism Cooperation Initiative in advancing Indo-US cooperation.

Shinde and Napolitano will also discuss how to further strengthen agency-to-agency engagement, including in areas of intelligence exchange, information sharing, forensics and investigation, access and sharing of data relating to terrorism, security of infrastructure and transportation and trade.

The two leaders are expected to share ideas and experiences on the ongoing transformation of their countries' security-related organisational structures and systems as well as regulatory framework in a democratic and federal environment, sources said.

The Home Minister will also have meetings with FBI director Robert Mueller and US Attorney General Eric Holder. — PTI
Army division exhibits posters of bravehearts
ALLAHABAD: The oldest division of the Indian Army - Allahabad-based Red Eagle Division - has put up posters of brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in the defence of their motherland and earned highest gallantry awards along the Stanley Road between Teliyarganj and Nayapura localities.

The Allahabad-based division that holds the distinction of being the most decorated unit has put up attractive boards bearing rare photographs along with brief description of the brave hearts like their name, rank and the gallantry award won as well as the war they fought. These 10 boards not only remind people of the gallantry and supreme sacrifice of soldiers but also motivate people especially the youngsters and children to follow in their footsteps.

Earlier, in a bid to encourage youngsters to join the armed forces, the division had put old tanks on display at the entry point of New Cantt, Old Cantt and Saint Joseph College. The division has also put on display a fighter jet at the same college.

The division was formed in 1939 and was the first Indian formation to travel overseas during the Second World War. The posters put up along the Stanley Road include Company Quarter Master Hawaldar Abdul Hamid, the Paramveer Chakra (PVC) winner of 1965 Indo-Pak war, Subedar Joginder Singh, the PVC winner of 1962 Indo-China war, Rifleman Sherbahadur Thapa and Subedar Lal Bahadur Thapa, awarded the Victoria Cross in World War-II.

"Seeing the tank and fighter planes on roads and in playground do inspire youngsters to join the armed forces but coming face to face with the photographs of these brave heroes and reading the brief history along with their valiant act, which earned them the highest gallantry award, will bring them closer to their inspiration", said Shalini Dikshit, principal of KV New Cantt.

Such ideas inspire children from civilian background to join armed forces, she added.

Commenting on the issue, defence public relation officer (PRO) for Allahabad and Lucknow, Wing Commander B B Pande said that the aim of putting up these pictures and details of the brave hearts was to not just remind people of their bravery but also inspire them to serve the country with selfless dedication. He hoped that it would motivate youngsters to join the army and serve the nation.
Magistrate summons Air Force, Army chief for cheque bounce case, draws flak
New Delhi:A magistrate has drawn flak from a Delhi court for summoning the chiefs of Air Force and Army as defence witness in a cheque bounce case, saying it was done ”mechanically” and “without applying mind”.

District and Sessions Judge R K Gauba questioned the summoning of the chiefs of two services in a private cheque bounce case of an ex-IAF official when the witness to be called as defence evidence was an official or clerk.
“It may be mentioned here that even though in the corresponding proceedings, the witness whose presence was sought to be secured for defence evidence was described as an official from Army Headquarters, for reasons that cannot be
fathomed, the summons were issued for presence of Chief of the Air Staff.

“There has apparently been no approval taken from the trial magistrate for the Chief of Air Staff to be summoned, nor it was indicated as to what was the purpose of the said functionary to be called as a defence witness,” he said.

The court also said there is no reason why summon was issued for the Army Chief even though Army Headquarters did not have the remotest connection in the case filed by ex-IAF official Dilawar Singh.

“It is not explained as to why summons were got issued in the name of Chief of Army Staff (and this was repeated several times) even though Army Headquarters did not have the remotest connection either with the matter at hand or even with Dilawar, who had been an employee of Air Force,” it said.

The court was deciding a revision petition against the magistrate’s order in cheque bounce case initiated by Dilawar in 2003 against one Virpal Singh.
Virpal had moved a petition against the order of the magistrate refusing further opportunity to lead evidence in his defence as despite repeated summoning no witness had appeared.

A cost of Rs 20,000 was also imposed on Virpal for delaying the trial. ilawar had alleged a cheque of Rs 15.05 lakh issued to him by Virpal was dishonoured due to insufficient funds in his account. During trial, Virpal denied having issued any cheque.

In May 2008, Virpal had sought to lead evidence in his defence and summons were issued in the name of “Officials/ Clerk, Chief of Army Staff, Army Headquarters, Sena Bhawan.”

No witness, however, appeared pursuant to the summons. During the hearing on revision petition, Virpal said the ’record clerk, chief of the Air Staff, Air Head Quarters’ was expected to produce certain records regarding Dilawar’s
dismissal from service in IAF.

The judge, however, was not convinced with his contention and said the magistrate had not applied mind to the question of relevancy and that “in a case of this nature, the question of reasons why (Dilawar) Singh left the services of Air Force is wholly irrelevant…”

Observing that in a criminal trial an accused is entitled to lead evidence in his defence, the court said “evidence in defence does not mean any kind of evidence” and “it must be relevant and germane to the controversy under adjudication”.

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