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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

From Today's Papers - 12 Jun 2013
Mulling AFSPA withdrawal: Shinde
Tribune News Service

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar ShindeNew Delhi, June 11
Less than a week after he said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir had improved, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today said the government is considering the demand of various states, including J&K, for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Shinde was responding to queries on whether his endorsement of a "bettered situation in Kashmir" could result in a review of AFSPA. A final decision will be taken only after talking to all stakeholders, he said. When asked if an all-party meet could be the mode of consultation, Shinde said there was no need for it. "Only the states concerned would be consulted before taking a final call on repealing AFSPA".

The AFSPA grants special powers to the armed forces and is in force in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern states.

At the Chief Ministers conference on internal security on June 5, Shinde had said: "(The situation in) Jammu and Kashmir is particularly showing marked improvement since 2010. At the same conference Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had demanded a phased removal of AFSPA from his state and questioned why it was necessary to have such laws in his state when no such laws were enforced in Maoist-affected areas.

Demanding the removal of AFSPA, he had gone on to say, "We cannot wait for the last gun to fall silent before moving ahead positively on this important issue."

Separately, Shinde today rejected Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's demand for a White Paper on internal security and said the government was following a two-prong strategy of development and offensive action to tackle Naxalism.

"Mr Modi has been the Chief Minister for nine years. He has been attending it (the CM's conference on internal security) every year. What sort of White Paper do they want? I don't think any White Paper is required," said the Home Minister.



Only the states concerned would be consulted before taking a final call on repealing AFSPA.

On Red terror

We have got a two-prong action directive from the all-party meeting that we should go ahead with development work and at the same time act against Maoists. Both Centre and state security forces will work together (in tackling the menace).
Pak troops violate ceasefire twice
Open fire on Indian posts along LoC in Poonch
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 11
After killing a soldier in heavy firing on Indian forward posts in Mandi sector on June 7, Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire agreement again, opening small arms fire on Indian posts in Nangi Tekri area of Krishna Ghati (KG) sector along the LoC in Poonch district.

Last night, around 8.10 pm, Pakistani troops opened small arms fire in Nangi Tekri area of KG sector, said officiating Defence PRO, SN Acharya.

While he said the Indian Army didn't respond to the firing, an intelligence source said the Army had retaliated.

In the gun duel that lasted for 10 minutes, there were no casualties or injuries to the Indian troopers. The source said the firing from Pakistan targeted Kranti and Kirpan posts in Nangi Tekri area.

"This afternoon, they (Pakistani troops) again violated the truce deal around 1.10 pm in Nangi Tekri area, opening small arms fire. This time, the Army responded to the unprovoked and unwarranted firing by Pakistani troops, giving them a calibrated response," said the spokesperson. He said the firing involving the two sides lasted till 2.20 pm. On June 7, two days after Nawaz Sharif took oath of office on June 5, promising to pursue good relations with India, Pakistani troops had opened heavy fire in Mandi sector, killing Naib Subedar Bachan Singh of 3 Garhwal Rifles, a native of Shibu Nagar, tehsil Kotdwara, district Pouri Garhwal, in Uttarakhand.

On January 8, Pakistani troops, aided by LeT ultras, had brutally killed two Indian troopers - Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh - in Balnoi sector of Poonch district.

After killing the soldiers, they had mutilated their bodies and decapitated the head of Lance Naik Hemraj.

Meanwhile, Pakistan today alleged two IAF jets entered 7 km into its airspace over Punjab province. Pakistan media reports claimed the incident allegedly occurred around 10.40 am over Pakpattan area — a charge reportedly denied by the IAF.

The reports stated that following a scramble by two PAF jets, the two IAF jets exited Pakistan's airspace.

IAF spokesperson Squadron Leader Priya Joshi said, "The aircraft seem to have flown close to the border and it appears to be a technical violation. The same has been conveyed to Pakistan." The planes were on a routine training sortie, Joshi added.

2 IAF jets 'enter' Pak airspace

    Pakistan on Tuesday alleged two IAF jets entered 7 km into its airspace over Punjab province
    Pakistan media reports claimed the incident allegedly occurred around 10.40 am over Pakpattan area — a charge reportedly refuted by the IAF
Online data snooping by US worries India
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, June 11
India today expressed concern and surprise over reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was snooping into accounts and online data of Indians, violating the sovereignty of nations and privacy of individuals.

"If it is discovered that Indian laws relating to privacy of information of ordinary Indian citizens have been violated, we would find it unacceptable," MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters here.

His response came following revelations that the NSA has been spying on emails and social networking activity, and listening in on internet calls around the world since 2007. A former CIA agent revealed to the newspapers Washington Post and Guardian that the US agency had been using technology giants Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Skype and YouTube to spy on private information of users around the world. The programme, codenamed "PRISM", has been in operation since 2007. It is aimed at monitoring foreign communication that takes place on US servers. He noted that the two countries regularly conduct a cyber security dialogue at the level of their respective National Security Councils at which this issue would be taken up. "We intend to seek inputs and details during conversation between interlocutors on both sides,'' the spokesman added.

The CPM also took strong objection to the NSA mining internet and telephone data for intelligence purposes, violating the sovereignty of nations and privacy of individuals who use such internet services. "Not only should the Government of India protest against the intrusive intelligence gathering by the US with the help of companies such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Facebook, but it should also join hands with other countries to make these companies accountable to users,'' the party added.
Antony orders internal probe into Army housing scam
NEW DELHI: Defence minister A K Antony has ordered an internal inquiry into allegations of several misdeeds, and possible criminal conspiracy, in the way the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) has been selling houses to military families.

Sources said Antony has asked defence secretary R K Mathur for a detailed report into the allegations. The defence secretary is expected to ask Army headquarters for a report, based on which further decision would be taken.

The Army headquarters had last week told TOI that it was in possession of a performance audit of AWHO, while denying TOI report that Lt Gen J P Nehra was moved as the adjutant general recently because of the serious nature of allegations regarding AWHO's functioning. The Army had said in a formal statement to TOI, "A performance audit of AWHO has been done by a board of officers, which is a normal feature and being done for other departments in the Army also for evaluating and improving the performance of the organisation. Allegations that AWHO tied up with private builders to sell their houses and of financial wrongdoings in land purchase are incorrect."

However, complaints with Antony and several sources are contradicting Army's claims.

Sources said Antony is in possession of detailed complaints, and some regional media reports, pointing out serious lacunae in some AWHO projects. Allegations surrounding the Kochi project of AWHO are serious in nature, and include allegations of deliberate efforts to scuttle the AWHO's own project and possible conspiracy.

AWHO had bought a 4.25-acre plot on Silver Sand Island in 1987 near Kochi to build houses at affordable rates for its applicants in Kerala. However, even after 25 years the houses are still not ready. Meanwhile, AWHO got into a 'turn-key' project with a private builder and bought an apartment complex from it and sold it to military families. Sold at Rs 2,940 per square feet, the turn-key project is next to a railway track on a small plot and without much civic amenities.

Allegation abounds that AWHO quoted the cost of its own project on Silver Sand Island at a higher rate than the turn-key project, and thus tempted applicants to the private builder's complex. Strangely, its own project should be far cheaper because the land cost was negligible and the AWHO operates on no-profit no-loss basis.

Worse, the cost of both the AWHO projects in Kochi is more than the open market rate of several good apartment complexes in Kerala's commercial capital, according to complaints by serving and retired officers.

There are also hints of a possible conspiracy in Kochi, with the AWHO awarding the contract for constructing its Silver Sand Island project to the same builder whose building was earlier bought on a turn-key basis. It is alleged that the tender processing was flawed and there may be serious violation of norms, which led to the same builder bagging the contract.

Even as Antony seeks a report, sources are also talking about widespread irregularities in AWHO projects elsewhere in the country.
Indian Army launches Massive Operation In Norhren Kashmir
SRINAGAR: Army has put many areas in Uri sector in Baramulla district under cordon for the last three days after receiving information about infiltration attempts in the sector.

Reliable sources revealed to Kashmir Times, that Girage Gali and Moribeg areas of Bijhama near Line of Control were put under cordon since June 7 by 18 Dogra regiment of the army. There has been lot of incessant firing in this sector during the preceding night. Meanwhile, army launched a massive combing operation and cordoned off the Sanzipora forests of Mawer Handwara in North Kashmir's Kupwara district.
"During the operation some fire shots were also heard in the area and the search operation continued till last moment," reports said. A local news gathering agency Global News Service said that there are three to four militants hiding in the forest area who had recently infiltrated form across the border along with some other militants.

"But some of them escaped through Uri who were about seven to eight in number," the news agency has said while quoting its intelligence agency sources.
Indian Fighter Jets Enter Our Airspace: Pakistan
Jammu, June 11: Pakistan army once again opened heavy fire on some forward Indian posts along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector of this border district late last night, Army said.
"Pakistani troops fired on Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir using small fire arms," defence sources said.
They said that Pak forces targeted around four posts including Kranti, Kirpan, Chaja and Mann in KG Sector.
Pakistan troops again opened small arms firing on Indian posts in Nangi Tikri forward area along LoC in Krishna Gati sub-sector of Poonch today afternoon, officiating Defence PRO S N Acharya said.
Troops guarding the bor derline did not retaliate, Acharya said, adding there was no loss of life or injury to anyone in the firing.
On June 7, a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) was killed when Pakistani troops allegedly opened heavy fire with automatic weapons and rockets on Indian posts along the LoC in Poonch sector.
Pakistan today said it had scrambled warplanes after two Indian jets allegedly entered three nautical miles into the country's airspace over Punjab province.
Officials said the incident occurred over Pakpattan district, 200 km from Lahore, the capital of Punjab. They alleged the jets remained in Pakistani airspace for about two minutes.
"Two high-speed Indian aircraft violated Pakistani airspace by three nautical miles at about 1040 hours in Attari, Fazilka sector. The aircraft stayed inside Pakistani airspace for about two minutes," the Pakistan Air Force spokesperson said in a statement.
"Pakistan Air Force initiated prompt tactical actions and scrambled two fighter aircraft to challenge the intruders. Upon PAF actions, Indian aircraft exited the Pakistani airspace," the statement said.
In Delhi, an IAF official clarified that the fighter jets, on a routine flying training sortie, seem to have flown close to the border.Media reports regarding "Indian fighter planes entering Pakistani territory is clarified that IAF aircraft which were on a routine flying training sortie seem to have flown close to the border and it appears to be a technical violation, the same has also been conveyed to the Pakistani authorities," IAF spokesperson Sq Ldr Priya Joshi said.
An official from Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority in Lahore told PTI that the Indian jets violated Pakistani airspace over Head Sulemanki area of Pakpattan district.
 Pakistan has not yet officially registered a protest with India over the incident, said the official, who did not want to be named.
According to the Indo-Pak Agreement on Prevention of Airspace Violations, combat aircraft should not fly within 10-km of each other's airspace.
India, Mongolia engage in joint military exercises
In an effort to develop international cooperation and joint training for UN peacekeeping missions, the Indian Army is participating in a joint exercise with its Mongolian counterpart from June 10 to 24.

The Indian Army is represented by 28 personnel, who are participating in several joint counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations, in Mongolia.

Codenamed 'Nomadic Elephant -2013', the exercise will focus specially on the needs of peacekeeping missions under the UN flag and will help in increasing the coordination and understanding between troops of the two nations.

Defence cooperation and relations between India and Mongolia have seen a steady growth over the last decade with the first joint exercise in 2004. For the last few years, the joint drills are being held every year. In 2012, the joint training was held at Belgaum, in Karnataka.
Department of Telecom rejects defence demand on ‘efficient’ airwaves
KOLKATA: The Department of Telecom (DoT) has dismissed an armed forces demand for pan-India allocation of airwaves in the efficient 900-MHz band, since the spectrum is already allotted to state-run telecom operator MTNL and Railways. The Defence Ministry had sought a pan-India allocation of 2.4 units or MHz in the 900-MHz frequency band and another 1.2 units in Delhi for the Army's requirements.
The Defence Ministry was already given 15 MHz in the 700-800 band, 20 MHz in 2,300-2,400 band and 150 MHz in 1,700-2,000 band. However, since the 900-MHz band by definition is commercial frequency the world over, the Defence was asked to submit justification for its use.

In its response, DoT's Wireless Planning Cell (WPC) has pointed out that "pan-India allocation in the 900 MHz GSM band cannot be considered for the Army due to existing assignments to MTNL and Railways", in an internal note, a copy of which was reviewed by ET. It has also added that "GSM airwaves in the 900-MHz band have been earmarked for commercial telecom service providers".

In a separate note to Signal Officer-In Chief, Lt Gen S P Kochar, Telecom Secretary M Farooqui has claimed that "since the armed forces had not projected its requirement of the 900-MHz band in the past, airwaves in that efficient band have not been identified for the Defence band but for commercial telecom services".

The WPC, however, is exploring ways to release 1.2 units of 900 MHz spectrum for the Army's requirement in Delhi on a case-to-case basis, the note said. The latest Defence Ministry demand comes at a time when the telecom department plans to refarm or redistribute airwaves in the 900-MHz frequency band after permits of incumbent mobile carriers come up for renewal beginning 2014. The telcos have opposed this move and initiated legal action to thwart DoT from implementing the proposal.

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