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Monday, 27 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 27 May 2013





http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130527/main5.htm
Roads along border areas delayed by seven years
Antony tells BRO to take help from govt agencies, pvt sector
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, May 26
Roads needed by security forces along the frontier with China have been delayed by five to seven years forcing Defence Minister AK Antony to make a major shift. He has told the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to “look at other public sector companies and even private companies to expedite road construction”.

The BRO, a body under the Ministry of Defence, is tasked with laying down roads in the Himalayas, especially those needed for strategic purposes. Antony, at a review meeting of the BRO on May 20, not only asked the BRO to augment its own capacity, he specifically told officials to ‘harness the potential’ of other public sector organisations and private companies, sources told the Tribune. The National Highways Authority of India is one such body in the government domain.

The Defence Minister was said to be ‘angry’ at the long delays and asked how deadlines were being missed. Across the border, China continues to build rapidly.

Data of the BRO till March 31, 2013, shows that only 16 of the 73 roads along the Chinese frontier have been completed. The remaining have been delayed with deadlines getting extended. The problems include slow-pace of work, pending clearances from the environment ministry, adverse working conditions like snow-bound areas, non-availability of labour and lastly, in some areas dropping of material is possible only through helicopters.

Most of these roads have been okayed by the high-profile China Study Group with an eye to facilitate movements of troops and equipment. Sources said Antony made it clear to the BRO that he would seek allocation of more funds “provided they showed sufficient progress by October this year.”

The most glaring delay was the construction of the 255 km of road connecting Darbok-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie in northern Ladakh. The road was scheduled for completion in 2012, but is now slated for completion in 2016. The recent three-week long stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops south east of Daulat Beg Oldie had exposed how Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) struggled on terrain that has no road while their counterparts in China had metalled road just few kilometers short of the stand-off location.

In J&K, only three of the 12 allocated roads are complete, the rest has been delayed by several years with fresh completion dates being either 2016 or ‘beyond 2016’. These includes the roads that connect the advanced landing ground of Fukche and forward locations like Demchok, both in south-eastern Ladakh, along the LAC with China. Another one pending is across the 18,300-feet high Marsimk-la pass that will give Indian troops an easy access to a commanding view of a the LAC north of the disputed Pangong lake in Eastern Ladakh.

The worst hit is Arunachal Pradesh. Out of the 21 roads allocated to the BRO, only nine have been completed, three of which have a length of less than 20 km each.

Uttarakhand was allocated 14 roads but none has been completed. Here the BRO has explained that a ban on quarrying for stones in the upper reaches of the Ganges has affected the work. However, the shocker is the non-completion of mere 6.5-km road connection between Girthidobla and Sumna which was slated for completion in 2012.

Glaring delay

Data of the BRO till March 31, 2013, shows that only 16 of the 73 roads along the Chinese frontier have been completed

The construction of the 255 km of road connecting Darbok-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie in northern Ladakh was scheduled for completion in 2012, but is now slated for completion in 2016

In J&K, only three of the 12 allocated roads are complete, the rest has been delayed by several years with fresh completion dates being either 2016 or ‘beyond 2016’

The worst hit is Arunachal Pradesh. Out of the 21 roads allocated to the BRO, only nine have been completed, three of which have a length of less than 20 km each

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130527/edit.htm#2
War on terror
Implications of Obama’s move

US President Barack Obama has taken a policy decision which may have major implications so far as the threat to peace and progress from terrorists is concerned. He has declared that the time has come for the US-led “war on terror” to conclude. The US launched it after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York’s twin towers and the Pentagon building in Washington DC, leading to the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the killing of Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan’s Abottabad, near Islamabad. Iraq under Saddam Hussein also came to be viewed as being associated with Al-Qaida and experienced a regime change at a great cost in terms of human lives lost. Now Obama feels, “But this war, like all other wars, must end.”

The US President’s decision indicates that he wants his country to extricate itself from a situation which had made the US shift its focus from economic and other domestic issues to peace and security at the global level. Ensuring security on the US mainland cannot be expected to be a low priority area in the US scheme of things. But it can no longer afford to ignore America’s domestic problems. His latest announcement also appears to be aimed at changing the US image in Muslim-majority countries where it is treated by people as an enemy nation.

Interestingly, Obama’s plan for withdrawing the US from the controversial aspects of the fight against global terrorism has been unfolded at a time when the US-led multinational troops are set to pull out from Afghanistan. Pakistan also has a change of government with the Nawaz Sharif-led PML (N) replacing the PPP of Asif Zardari from the seat of power. Now drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas may almost come to an end for which the new government in Islamabad will get all the credit. No more targeted killings by US drones in both Pakistan and Afghanistan may, however, be interpreted by the Taliban as the victory of extremists over the US-led foreign forces. The extremists may now feel emboldened. Does this mean that they may continue to pursue their extremist agenda? If they do so, the world will be faced with a fresh challenge to security from the elements which were to be eliminated by the US-led war on terror as one of its objectives.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130527/edit.htm#6
China displays its war preparedness
The Chinese perspective of raising tensions in Ladakh is not shaped by any altruistic motives of improving its positions on the border or lay claims to new areas. It is a well-planned strategic response aimed at coercion to prevent India from improving its strategic posture in the region.
Brig Arun Sahgal (retd)

In 2009 the media was abuzz with revelations that China had replicated the whole of Aksai Chin and a large part of the disputed Indo-China border on a large-sized sand model equivalent to the size of six cricket fields, thousands of kilometres away in Huanyangton village near Yinchuan in the Ningxia Autonomous Region (Northern China). The fundamental question then and today remains the motivation for China to spend money and resources to replicate whole mountains, valleys and water bodies of the disputed area. This, in a sense, puts a question mark on China's peaceful intentions towards India. Satellite images show that China has replicated around 1,57,500 square kilometres on a map scale of 900x700 meters. This is about 500:1 ratio.

What is more intriguing is the attachment of a military unit and an artillery firing range in the proximity of the terrain model. Satellite images obtained from Google-Earth suggest this to be a major facility to train PLA troops for operations in high altitude areas of the Ladakh Sector. The large scale model appears to indicate that it is not only for operational planning but also to familiarise both combat arms and combat support arms like artillery, combat engineers and communication experts with the terrain conditions prevailing in the region. The associated firing range indicates facilities for live firing to train for target engagement with various weapons systems in these high altitude conditions.

The training is not at a platoon or company level but at the regiment (brigade) level. Today simulators and large sized electronic map boards are the preferred means for training, particularly in modern armies. What provoked China to replicate such a vast area remains unanswered. Probably China wants its troops to have a perception about the world's most tough terrain so that in case of a conflict situation with India, its troops can understand the terrain constraints and plan in realistic manner.


Number of military exercises in Tibet up

It needs to be noted that in recent times China has enhanced the number of military exercises in Tibet. Some of these exercises have been conducted at altitudes ranging from 4,500-5,000 meters. One such exercise conducted in 2011 included joint drills by the air and ground troops under information-based conditions in frigid high altitude areas. The troops involved included the air force, ground troops, mechanised units and a range of support entities.

Providing rare details while describing the exercise, the PLA daily stated, "At the very beginning….the new type of warplanes of the PLA Air Force conducted accurate strikes at the targets… Shortly after seizing the commanding point, the long-range guns launched full-scale shooting at the command post and the artillery position of the enemy. This was followed by the armoured vehicle group and infantry combat vehicles branching out into columns and launching a sudden and violent attack on the mountain passes occupied by the enemy. The special operations detachment outflanked the enemy and raided the enemy's command post". The report also stated that army aviation troops and anti-aircraft missiles provided cover to the attacking units.

Chinese moves in Ladakh, particularly in the Depsang--Dualat Beg Oldi sector, although now vacated, highlights China making preparations for a contingency based incursion into Indian territory as part of its "local wars under informationisation model".

The Chinese perspective of raising tensions in Ladakh is not shaped by any altruistic motives of improving its positions on the border or lay claims to new areas. It is a well-planned strategic response aimed at coercion to prevent India from improving its overall strategic posture in the region.

The Chinese are aware of the infrastructural developments being undertaken by India in Ladakh -- upgradation of airfields, development of communications and strengthening of defences, etc. These developments are backed by planned upgradation of Indian capabilities in terms of troops (mountain strike corps), deployment of missiles and enhancement of intelligence and surveillance capabilities.

The Chinese are conscious that were India to mount an audacious offensive in Aksai Chin it could roll down to the Tibetan Plateau and cut off the famous Western Highway, which is the main artery linking Tibet Autonomous Region with Xinjiang -- the route for induction of forces from Lanzhou Military Area Command. Such a scenario is depicted in an excellent fictional account in the book titled Assassins Mace written by Brigadier Bob Butalia (retd), wherein special forces backed by credible air power are depicted as cutting off the Western Highway.

Logic behind Chinese intrusion in Ladakh

The logic behind Chinese intransigence and intrusion in the Ladakh Sector are two fold. First, to get India to dismantle the infrastructure it has developed in south-eastern Ladakh, particularly in the Chumar area and to an extent in Daulat Beg Oldi Sector as well, Second, coerce India to sign a "Defence Cooperation Agreement", which among other things includes mutual pull back from the Line of Actual Control and the creation of demilitarised zones, dismantling the military infrastructure, prevent patrol clashes and sharing of patrolling programmes. Clearly, the above is not acceptable to India, particularly when even after 15 rounds of political negotiations India and china have not reached a stage to exchange maps of the western and central sectors. It appears that in the negotiations leading to the pull back by the Chinese, some assurances on both accounts have been provided.

Nonetheless what is important is that the Chinese military leadership is aware that the tipping point in border negotiations is not far with the Indian military's modernisation and the development of strategic infrastructure, particularly the Rohtang tunnel linking the plains of Punjab with Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, plans to keep the Srinagar-Leh highway open round the year and not to mention the rail link to the Kashmir valley. These developments, when operational, will provide India with enhanced strategic build up capability in Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh.

The Chinese are sanguine that they cannot indefinitely use the ruse of "allowing future generations to solve the dispute." Their President underscored this when he declared the need to resolve the boundary issue. This could sooner or later lead to exchange of maps of the western and the eastern sectors. Seen in this context, the intrusion could be an attempt to firm up their positions to ensure operational advantage in this critical sector.

China is playing a game of brinkmanship

China is playing a game of brinkmanship by reinforcing its claim lines and coercing Indian leadership to halt the build-up of defensive capabilities in Ladakh. India's enhancement of its operational profile in Ladakh carries with a price tag for China in terms of forcing it to upgrade its defensive posture in a region where its militarily not that well poised. According to China's recent White Paper on Defence, only four of its 18 combined corps are deployed in areas opposite India. In any offensive option China will need to redeploy large forces from the hinterland into the Tibet Autonomous Region, involving trans-regional mobilisation that will surely be picked up by India's enhanced space and aerial surveillance capabilities. It is in this context that the collusive support between Pakistan and China to keep the Indian armed forces engaged poses serious strategic concerns for India.

Lastly, it needs to be appreciated that this is not a localised incident. The Chinese troops would not have taken such a step without full-fledged assessment of the possible implications and a consensus at the level of its Central Military Commission. Surely the consequences of the Indian reaction would have been analysed and factored in. Intruding deep into Indian territory and effectively challenging India created the scenario of a stalemate. The fact that it has been forced to pull back, albeit by the fig leaf of a face saver should chastise the Chinese. A favorable perspective of the incident has been to put the boundary issue back in lime light if not centre stage. The recent visit of the Chinese premier provided a platform to engage constructively to move forward on the boundary issue. It was also an opportunity for both countries to provide a fillip to their bilateral relations.
 Pentagon’s view

Despite increased political and economic relations over the years between China and India, tensions remain along their shared 4,057 km border, most notably over Arunachal Pradesh (which China asserts is part of Tibet, and therefore of China), and over the Aksai Chin region at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau. Both countries in 2009 stepped up efforts to assert their claims. China tried to block a $2.9 billion loan to India from the Asian Development Bank, claiming part of the loan would have been used for water projects in Arunachal Pradesh. This represented the first time China sought to influence this dispute through a multilateral institution. The then-governor of Arunachal Pradesh announced that India would deploy more troops and fighter jets to the area. An Indian newspaper reported that the number of Chinese border violations had risen from 180 in 2011 to more than 400 by September 2012.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130527/main4.htm
China has built 5-km road crossing LAC

Leh, May 26
India and China may have announced an end to their 20-day stand-off in Ladakh sector, but the situation has not entirely settled down judging from a recent incident when the Chinese intercepted an Indian Army patrol and prevented it from going to Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The incident took place near Finger-VIII area, also known as Siri Jap, on May 17, two days before Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi after it was announced that the stand-off resulting from a 19-km-deep Chinese intrusion had ended. It was claimed that the intruding Chinese troops had gone back to their previous positions.

While the Udhampur-based Army spokesperson refused to comment on the incident, official sources said there was a brief stand-off at the Finger-VIII area after which the Army patrol returned without proceeding to the LAC.

The sources said after the incident all patrols were stopped by the Ladakh-based 14 corps, including the one proposed to be sent in Depsang plain, where the Chinese Army had pitched tents for nearly three weeks beginning from April 15.

China has managed to construct a road up to Finger-IV area which also falls under Siri Jap area and is 5-km deep into the LAC, the sources said.

Chinese claim in their maps that this area falls under its area where as Indian Army has been claiming it to be part of Ladakh and have often cited the 1962 war when armies of both the sides fought bitter battles in this area. Major Dhan Singh Thapa was awarded Param Vir Chakra for fighting the PLA in the area.

However, as the Indian side was trying to back its claim at the negotiating table, the Chinese Army constructed a metal-top road and claimed the area to be part of Aksai Chin area, the sources said, adding many a time, the Indian Army has used the same road to patrol the area and lay claim over it.

The Chinese intrusion in the remote Daulat Beg Oldi sector on April 15 appears to have been triggered by construction of an observation tower in Chumar division.

The Chinese side, according to the minutes of the flag meetings held as late as in the last week of March this year, had been objecting to the construction of the watch tower along the Line of Actual Control in Chumar division, 300 km from here.

After the announcement that the stand-off has been resolved, Indian security patrols in certain areas such as Rocky Knob have been curtailed, the sources said.

Chumar, a remote village on Ladakh-Himachal Pradesh border, has been an issue for Chinese which claim it to be its own territory and have been frequenting it with helicopter incursions almost every year. Last year, it dropped some of the soldiers of PLA in this region and dismantled the makeshift storage tents of the Army and ITBP.

This area is not accessible from the Chinese side whereas the Indian side has a road almost to the last point on which the Army can carry a load up to nine tonnes.

There appears to be some lack of coordination among various Indian defence forces. The Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has complained to the Union Home Ministry that they had been kept out of the May 5 flag meeting with the Chinese by the Army when the decision to withdraw forces on both sides was taken. — PTI

Face-offs continue

The incident took place near Finger-VIII area, also known as Siri Jap, on May 17, two days before Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi

After Chinese troops intercepted Indian Army patrol, all patrols were stopped by the Ladakh-based 14 corps, including the one proposed to be sent in Depsang plain

The Chinese intrusion in the remote Daulat Beg Oldi sector on April 15 appears to have been triggered by construction of an observation tower in Chumar division

Chumar, a remote village on Ladakh-Himachal Pradesh border, has been an issue for Chinese which claim it to be its own territory and have been frequenting it with helicopter incursions almost every year

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Army-chief-on-official-visit-to-France/articleshow/20276658.cms
Army chief on official visit to France
NEW DELHI: Army chief General Bikram Singh on Sunday proceeded to France on a four-day visit there to strengthen the defence ties between the two countries.

The visit by Gen Singh will add the necessary impetus to the existing defence relationship and broad-base it into a mutually beneficial partnership, an Army press release said here.

India shares good bilateral and strategic relations with France that are multifaceted and have been strengthened over the years with regular exchange of visits at political, diplomatic and military levels, it said.

During the period, Gen Singh will hold discussions with French defence minister Jean Yves Le Drian, chief of general staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud and his French counterpart Gen Bertrand Ract-Madoux on various defence-related issues.

The Indian Army chief will visit the Land Forces Command in Lille and the Military School at Draguignan also.

He will also lay wreath at Neuve Chapelle Memorial, dedicated to the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in France and Belgium from 1914-1918 in the First World War.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/indian-army-refuses-to-share-info-on-soldiers-mutilated-at-loc_850979.html
Indian Army refuses to share info on soldiers mutilated at LoC
New Delhi: Army has refused to make public under RTI information on soldiers whose bodies were mutilated in skirmishes with Pakistani Army or infiltrators along the Line of Control during the last five years even though such details have been given by Defence Minister in Rajya Sabha.

Three months after the application was filed, Army cited Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act to refuse the information without giving any reason for denial, which is mandatory whenever information is denied to an RTI applicant.

Section 8(1)(a) allows to withhold "information, disclosure of 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".

Ironically, the class of information, the disclosure of which is considered by Army to be detrimental to national interests and security, had been made public by Defence Minister AK Antony on February 27 in Rajya Sabha.

Giving complete details of an incident in which two Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated, Antony had said, "On January 8, 2013, a Pak Border Action Team (BAT) ambushed our patrol party in Krishna Ghati, Mendhar Sector in which Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and Lance Naik Hemraj were killed. Lance Naik Hemraj was found beheaded and both bodies were mutilated. In addition, their weapons were taken."

In the above statement, the minister had placed on record complete class of information including date of incident, names of soldiers, place of incident and nature of injury.

When asked whether class of information which has been placed on the floor of Parliament can be denied to an RTI applicant, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said "absolutely not."

He said once information has been placed before Parliament, it cannot be denied to an RTI applicant.


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