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Saturday, 8 June 2013

From Today's Papers - 08 Jun 2013
US drive against Iran
Implications of waivers for India

In its drive to force Iran to abandon its controversial nuclear energy programme, US President Barack Obama has imposed fresh sanctions on foreign financial entities that facilitate business transactions in the Iranian rial. India, China and seven other countries have been granted a six-month waiver as these nations have reduced their oil imports from Iran. Interestingly, the latest US sanctions have come a few days before the scheduled presidential elections in Iran when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be trying his luck for another tenure as President. His rigid policy on Iran’s nuclear ambitions has led to crippling sanctions by the US and the European Union, besides those imposed by the UN. As a result, the Iranian economy is passing through a very critical phase with a back-breaking price rise, an acute shortage of employment opportunities and many other difficulties being faced by people. That is why Ahmadinejad’s popularity rating has come down considerably. He is likely to become more unpopular with the latest US sanctions on Tehran.

If Ahmadinejad loses the coming battle of the ballot, his successor is unlikely to be as rigid as he has been on the nuclear issue. The new head of government in Tehran may try to satisfy the international community to prove that Iran’s nuclear programme has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. There is a large constituency of people in Iran who would prefer their country to leave the nuclear path if it strengthens the Iranian economy.

The US, too, cannot go beyond a limit in its attempt to punish countries doing business with Iran. The strategy of imposing sanctions may also hit the American economy. The six-month waiver granted to India, China and seven other economies on the Iranian nuclear programme-related sanctions should be seen against this backdrop. China has been included in the group of beneficiaries despite the fact that the reduction in its crude imports from Iran is marginal. Pakistan’s name does not figure in the list though it has entered into a deal with Iran for a gas pipeline project in which China, too, has evinced keen interest. The world will be waiting with curiosity for the next move of the US after the outcome of the coming presidential polls in Iran.
Pak pounds Indian posts in Poonch; soldier killed
Third firing incident since May 24
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria & Darshan Bharti/TNS

Jammu/Poonch, June 7
Pakistani troops opened heavy fire on Indian forward posts in Sabjian area of Mandi sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district on Friday afternoon, killing a Naib Subedar of 3 Garhwal Rifles.

The attack comes two days after Nawaz Sharif took over as Pakistan Prime Minister. He had only yesterday vowed to "progressively pursue" normalcy in ties with India while actively seeking solutions to outstanding issues, including Kashmir.

Though the Army did not describe the incident as a truce violation but cross-border firing, Pakistan used heavy fire such as PIKA ammunition, rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and under barrel grenade launchers (UBGLs). The Pakistani Army fired RPGs from two of its posts, G-Santoo and N-Santoor, on the Indian Khalsa I post.

Following the unprovoked and unwarranted firing, Indian troops retaliated and gave a calibrated response to the Pakistani firing. The situation along the LoC is tense and a high alert has been sounded.

Officiating Defence PRO SN Acharya said heavy firing began around 1pm and lasted for over two hours. “Around 1 pm heavy firing from across the LoC started suddenly on Khalsa forward post in Sabjian area of Mandi sector. Through thick forests in hilly terrain came the fire of PIKA ammunition, RPGs and UBGLs. Consequently, we also gave a calibrated response of LMG and MMG fire,” he said.

In the hostile fire, one of our soldiers, identified as Naib Subedar Bachan Singh of 3 Garhwal Rifles was hit by shrapnel and died, said Acharya. He was a native of Shibu Nagar of Kotdwara tehsil in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand.

“Because of thick forest and poor visibility in the area we can’t confirm the involvement of Pakistani troops in the firing. Militants are also known to use similar arms and ammunition to infiltrate into Indian territory,” Acharya said.

He said the situation along the LoC was tense and the entire stretch had been cordoned off. A high alert has been sounded and a combing operation is on in the forest area close to the borderline, he added. Vigil along the LoC has been increased as the ceasefire violations could be a diversionary tactic to push terrorists into the state from Pakistan occupied Kashmir, sources said. (With PTI inputs)

Heavy gunfire
1pm: Pakistani troops open heavy firing with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades on Indian posts along the LoC in Sabjian sub-sector of Poonch

Indian troops retaliate after the unprovoked firing; exchange of fire continues

Naib Subedar Bachan Singh of 3 Garhwal Rifles hit by shrapnel; martyred

3pm: The guns fall silent; entire area cordoned off; search operation launched
Army officer held for wife’s murder
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS

Guwahati, June 7
A Major of the Indian Army, now posted in Karbi Anglong hill district of Assam on deputation to the Assam Rifles, has been arrested and remanded in police custody for five days after he has been suspected to have murdered his wife whose body bearing injury marks was found abandoned at Khanapara at the outskirt of Guwahti city last week.

Major Gaurav Singh (35) had allegedly murdered his wife Priya Singh and threw her body into a gorge at Khanapara on the outskirts of the Assam capital. Though the body was recovered on May 30, it could be identified as that of Priya only three days later after city police had alerted all police stations in the State.

“Though he has yet to admit to have committed the crime, we have strong suspicion that it was the Major who had killed his wife. The duo, married for less than two years, is understood to have had a very strained relation and used to quarrel for the past several months. Priya is also said to have filed a case against her husband,” Guwahati City SSP Anand Prakash Tiwari said.

The police grew suspicious as the Major had been giving contradicting statements during interrogation regarding his movements in the past one week. His locations as per his mobile phone records have not matched with what he has told the police.

Major Gaurav Singh who was commissioned in 2006 to the 18 Bihar Regiment, hails from rural background in Balrampur district in Uttar Pradesh, while his wife Priya (30) was daughter of a retired Colonel who hails from Gonda district in Uttar Pradesh. Priya was an MBA.

Major Singh, during interrogation told the police that he and his wife travelled 275 km from Diphu to Guwahati on a two-wheeler and even drove up another 100 km to Shillong on May 29.
Lasers to help dispose of bombs soon
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, June 7
A laser beam may soon replace men clad in heavy, cumbersome bomb suits to dispose of unexploded ordnance or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a vehicle-mounted system that uses a high-energy laser to neutralise bombs.

Called the Laser Ordnance Disposal System (LORDS), it is designed for disposal of explosive devices such as bombs, rockets, artillery shells mines and IEDs from safe standoff distances by focusing laser energy on the munitions casing, thereby heating it until the explosive filler ignites and starts to burn. The combustion of explosive charge leads to low-level detonation or deflagration of the explosive device.

Developed by DRDO’s Delhi-based Laser Science and Technology Centre, LORDS is presently undergoing evaluation trials. During a demonstration at the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory range, near here, it neutralised an M-36 hand grenade from a distance of 150 metres in 15 seconds.

Scientists working on the project say LORDS is primarily meant to dispose of ordnance that is in an “armed, fuzed or active state” or which has failed to explode after being fired, where it can be extremely dangerous for humans to approach or handle it manually.

Depending upon the situation and place, the system can be used to neutralise the explosive device on the site or the explosive device can be lifted by a robot and transported to a safer place where LORDS does the rest of the work, a scientist says.

The entire system, including the power generator, is integrated on a jeep-type vehicle with the laser, range designator and a high-speed camera mounted on the roof. It can be operated from the driver’s cabin or remotely from a distance through a cable connected portable control panel.

The advantage of using laser to dispose munitions is its ability to be used continuously for long stretches of time, ultra precision, assured and fast disposal, safe stand-off range of up to 250 metres and reduced collateral damage. It also has a short preparation time of just five minutes. Some components of LORDS such as the camera and certain motors are imported.

how it works

    The Laser Ordnance Disposal System (LORDS) is designed to dispose of explosive devices such as bombs, rockets, artillery shells mines and IEDs from a safe distance
    Laser energy is focused on munitions casing, thereby heating it until the explosive filler ignites and starts to burn
    The combustion of explosive charge leads to low-level detonation or deflagration of the explosive device
    The system is integrated on a vehicle with the laser, range designator and a high-speed camera mounted on the roof
Border skirmishes: India claims soldier killed by Pakistan firing
SRINAGAR: Pakistani troops shot and killed an Indian army officer on Friday near the countries’ disputed border in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, Indian army officials alleged.

“A junior commanding officer was shot dead by the Pakistani troops near Poonch sector,” a senior army official claimed in New Delhi.

“Suddenly there was firing from the other side and our officer was killed,” the officer added, requesting anonymity.

The dead man, Bachan Singh, was posted in the Poonch region, 200 kilometres (120 miles) southwest of Indian Kashmir’s capital of Srinagar.

Another senior army officer, Rajesh Kalia, stationed in Indian Kashmir, said the latest attack has “not been declared as a ceasefire violation” as a probe is under way.

Tensions spiked between New Delhi and Islamabad in January and February as six soldiers were killed in exchanges along the de facto border in Kashmir.

Four of the soldiers killed were from Pakistan while two were from India. One of the Indians was beheaded, allegedly by Pakistanis.

Relations between the two countries have also been strained in recent months by both sides protesting the deaths of prisoners held by the other.

The murder of an Indian prisoner in a Pakistani jail was followed by the tit-for-tat killing of a Pakistani prisoner in an Indian jail last month.

Pakistan denies allegation

Pakistan military spokesperson categorically denied the allegation, saying that no Pakistani troops carried out any firing across the Line of Control, ISPR reported.
LoC ceasefire: Pakistan army denies violation, killing of Indian soldier
Islamabad: Hours after an Indian soldier was killed in a rocket attack across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistan Army today said its troops had not carried out any firing across the ceasefire line.

The “Pakistan military spokesperson has categorically denied the allegation of cross-LoC fire, saying that no Pakistani troops carried out any firing across the LoC on Indian positions”, the army said in a statement posted on Twitter.
State-run Radio Pakistan quoted a military spokesperson as denying the allegation of cross-LoC firing. A Junior Commissioned Officer of the Indian Army was killed in heavy firing with automatic weapons and rockets from the Pakistani side of the LoC in Poonch sector. This was the third ceasefire violation in a fortnight.

A rocket hit a post on the LoC and killed Naib Subedar Bachan Singh. Indian troops retaliated after the unprovoked firing. The incident came barely two days after Nawaz Sharif took over as Pakistan Prime Minister and vowed to “progressively pursue” normalcy in ties with India while actively seeking solutions to outstanding issues, including Kashmir.

On May 27, Pakistani troops had targeted Indian posts along the LoC in the Poonch sector with rockets. A brigadier and two soldiers were injured on May 24, when Pakistani troops fired at Indian positions along the LoC in Tutmari Gali sector.
Grim alert on soldier death

New Delhi, June 7: The army has warned of a grim situation on the Line of Control where it is anticipating a spurt in violence after a soldier was killed today in firing from the Pakistan side.

Subedar Bachan Singh was killed near the Lunawali post on the LoC after the Pakistan army fired grenades and bursts from a Pika machine gun through thick forest, defence sources said.

“There was controlled retaliation by us,” an army spokesperson said.

The violence on the LoC is in marked contrast to peace overtures by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who took office in Islamabad this week. The Indian army alleges the Pakistan army is opening fire to aid militants and help them infiltrate into the Valley.

The escalating violence on the LoC and the apprehension of insurgent strikes weakens the case for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) — that the army wants — and puts a spanner in Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s campaign to repeal the law.

There have been 33 ceasefire violations so far this year. Last year, the army counted 18 violations by Pakistan till June and 117 till December. This year it is easily much worse with the beheadings of two Indian soldiers in January marking the start of a tenuous period.

In the past week, the army also killed three militant leaders in separate incidents who were described as important functionaries of the Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammed. Four soldiers were also killed in what the army believes was a militant action to avenge the deaths of the leaders.

The army has assessed that over the next two months, violence could spiral along a frontage of 120 to 180 kilometres in four sectors north of the Pir Panjal mountain range. They said they had seen signs of militants concentrating in the Pakistani side opposite Macchhil, Keran, Tangdhar and Nowgam.

But the firing this afternoon was at a place south of the Pir Panjal. It was also uncharacteristic of the Pakistan army to open fire in mid-day — the exchange of fire continued for about two hours from 12.50pm — because militants usually attempt to infiltrate at night.

The violence is likely to increase north of the Pir Panjal because the snow on the mountain passes has begun to melt. The army suspects that militants backed by the Pakistan army may also target the Amarnath yatra, the annual pilgrimage that this years starts on June 29 and is expected to continue for 55 days.
Not enough written about our military engagements: N N Vohra
Lamenting that not enough has been written about India's military engagements in the past, J&K Governor N N Vohra Friday said the government too needs to open up about the nation's recent history. He also made a case for going public with the controversial Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 war.

The former defence secretary, who was recently given a second term as the Governor in Srinagar, said that at a time when India is facing huge challenges, there is a serious gap in capability of both bureaucrats and politicians to understand security issues.

"In our large country, as a people we are not adequately aware of what is national security. (Be it) our public servants in border states, in maritime states, in war and policy making departments in North and South Block, politicians who hold key portfolios in the areas of security. I confess we are not adequate for some of the challenges we face," Vohra said.

He was speaking after launching the autobiography of former governor of Manipur and Nagaland and noted counter insurgency expert Lt Gen VK 'Tubby' Nayar — From Fatigues to Civvies - Memoirs of a Paratrooper.

The autobiography traces the life of Lt Gen Nayar from an officer of the 2 Para to his participation in all major conflicts that India has faced, including the planning of Operation Meghdoot to occupy Siachen. It also contains his views on current events within the Army, the perceived civil-military rift and the perception about declining military standards.

Vohra said the government has been reluctant about releasing reports and publications on recent military affairs and at the same time, not enough has been written by experts like Lt Gen Nayar on issues concerning security. "Not enough has been written about our military engagements in the past. We have not written truly enough or boldly enough. Nor have we agitated enough for the kinds of military reforms that are necessary in the country."
Pak troops fire at Indian post on LoC day after Nawaz Sharif's peace call, kill jawan

An Indian Army soldier was killed on Friday afternoon after an Indian post came under heavy fire from Pakistani troops from across the border in Poonch sector of Line of Control (LoC), 260 km northwest of winter capital Jammu, army said.  

Army said that an Indian post, Khalsa 2, along the LoC in the Saujian sector came under fire from Pakistani troops through thick forest at about 1.35 p.m.

Army said Junior Commissioned Officer Lance Naik Bachan Singh of 40 RR, was hit by shrapnel and later succumbed to his injuries.

Army said that Indian troops, also, opened fire on Pakistani troops in retaliation. "There was calibrated retaliation from our side," an army official said. The firing lasted about an hour.

The area has been cordoned off and troops have been placed on high alert.

India and Pakistan had agreed to ceasefire along LoC in November 2003.

On May 24, a Brigadier was injured when an Indian post in the Nowgam sector of Kupwara district in Kashmir Valley came under fire from Pakistani troops.

Army says 31 ceasefire violations have taken place since January this year.

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