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Monday, 1 July 2013

From Today's Papers - 01 Jul 2013
Two civilians killed during Army search operation in Kashmir
Azhar Qadri/TNS

Srinagar, June 30
Two persons, including a teenager, were killed when Army men allegedly opened fire during a search operation at Markundal village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district today. The Army said it would investigate the incident and act against the guilty, if any. The police has registered a case of murder against the Army personnel.

The victims have been identified as Irfan Ahmad Ganai (17) of Markundal village in Bandipora district and Tariq Ahmad of Kundbal village in Ganderbal district.

Residents alleged that Ganai was shot when he came out of his house to check on his cattle early in the morning.

“As Ganai came out of his house, a hail of shots was fired. He was killed on the spot,” claimed Mohammad Shaban, a local villager.

He claimed when villagers assembled at the scene thereafter, soldiers fired and injured at least four more civilians. Tariq Ahmad, in his early 20s, who was staying at his relative’s house at the village, later died of gunshot wounds.

The police imposed curfew in the village and its adjoining localities. The area remained tense as protests continued throughout the day.

A district official said soldiers from 13 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) shot Ganai during a search operation and a few hours later, another youth was shot and killed during protests in the village.

“An FIR has been registered against 13 RR and the police will now start its investigation.

The Army claims a search operation was on in the village when the soldiers observed some suspicious movement. They opened fire resulting in the killing of one person on the spot,” said Bandipora Deputy Commissioner MY Zargar.

A state police officer said a case under Section 302 (murder), Ranbir Penal Code, had been registered against the Army personnel at the Sumbal police station.

Major General RR Nimborkar, who commands the Victor Force of Rashtriya Rifles, said: “We are carrying out a detailed investigation. I assure you appropriate action will be taken if there is any wrongdoing.”

The General termed the killings as “sad and regrettable” and said the troops were carrying out a “joint cordon and search operation” with the state police when the two civilians were killed.

“It was a joint operation by the J-K Police and the Army based on a specific input about the presence of militants in the area. I want to clarify that it was not an ambush but a cordon and search operation,” the officer said.

An Army spokesperson in a statement this evening said when the cordon was established, a burst of gunfire was heard from a place “beyond the cordon area”.

“Hearing about a youth being injured in the fire, an ambulance with doctor and his team was brought in to attend to the injured. The effort was interrupted by a mob and had to be aborted. It was later learnt that the youth had died,” the statement said.

The second person was shot when a “mob tried to set the ambulance on fire”. “While disengaging, the troops fired in self-defence, resulting in injury to another youth who later died,” the statement said.

“Notwithstanding the circumstances, the incident is being investigated and wrongdoing, if any, will be dealt with severely. The Army mourns the loss of lives and conveys the condolences to the bereaved families,” it said.

We’ll probe: Army

* The Army says it will probe the incident and act against the guilty, if any
* The police registers a case against soldiers of 13 Rashtriya Rifles
* Curfew imposed in Bandipora’s Markundal village and its adjoining localities
Helicopter pilot laid to rest
Shiv Kumar/TNS

Mumbai, June 30
The mortal remains of Wing Commander Darryl Castelino, the helicopter pilot who died in a crash while rescuing the victims of the Uttarakhand disaster, was laid to rest after a Guard of Honour today.

The atmosphere at the St Anthony's Church at Vakola was sombre with a large number of people showing up to bid farewell to the martyr. Indian Air Force officers, colleagues and friends of the deceased were present as the coffin of Castelino was brought in for the funeral service.

Close relatives of Wing Commander Castelino eulogised the departed soul. "I will cherish every single moment of the last 10 years. Till we meet again Darryl," his wife Jyoti said in calm voice.

The coffin bearing the remains of Castelino was then taken to the cemetery at Kalina for funeral. On Saturday, the coffin bearing the remains of the deceased pilot was brought to Mumbai from Kolkata where he was based. After being kept overnight at the mortuary at the Nanavati Hospital, the body was brought to the pilot's residence at Diamond Park building in suburban Vakola.

Belonging to a family which originally hailed from Mangalore in Karnataka, Castelino, 38, was born and brought up in Mumbai. He was commanding the MI-17 helicopter that crashed on June 25. Castelino and his wife Jyoti had celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary only last month.
Superior Prahar to replace Prithvi: DRDO

New Delhi, June 30
Seeking to enhance its precision strike capabilities, India is planning to replace its 150 km-range Prithvi ballistic missiles with the newly developed quick reaction Prahar missiles.

"We are withdrawing the tactical 150 km-range Prithvi missiles and will replace them with the Prahar missiles, which are more capable and have more accuracy," DRDO chief Avinash Chander told PTI here. The tactical versions of the Prithvi missiles would be withdrawn from service and will be upgraded to be used for longer ranges, he said.

The DRDO chief said after the withdrawal of the tactical ballistic missiles from service, there would be a gap in strike capabilities in the range of 100 to 150 km-range.

"The Prahar missile would be used to fill up that gap," he said. The 150 km-range 'Prahar' is a single-stage missile and is fuelled by solid propellants. It was first test-fired by the DRDO in mid-2011 from its range in Odisha.

The uniqueness of the missile system is that it can be fired in the salvo mode also from one launcher vehicle in which four missiles can be fired in one go.

This short-range missile would be an 'excellent weapon' which would fill the gap between the 90 km-range of the Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers and guided missiles like 'Prithvi', which can strike at 250 km to 350 km range. The under-development Prahar missile would be offered to the Army for user trials very soon and after its acceptance, it is planned to be part of its Corps of Artillery.

The Prithvi missiles were developed by India under its Integrated Missile Development Programme in the 1980s. The ballistic missile was developed with multiple strike ranges from 150 km to 350 km. — PTI
Farewell party for top IAF officer causes a flutter

New Delhi, June 30
In an incident that has caused flutters in government circles, a top Air Force official who retired from service today attended a farewell party hosted in his honour in which a large number of arms vendors and officials dealing with procurements in the force were present.

The party organised on June 7 for the Air Marshal-rank officer has raised the hackles of the top brass in the Defence Ministry and security agencies because of the presence of arms dealers and service officials in a private function, sources said here.

Under rules governing the code of conduct of officials, "No Government servant shall, except with the previous sanction of the Government, receive any complimentary or valedictory address or accept any testimonial or attend any meeting or entertainment held in his honour; or in the honour of any other Government servant."

The IAF has no knowledge of any such private farewell party," an IAF spokesperson told PTI in response to
the query.

The Defence Ministry also keeps issuing advisories to its officials and the Services against officers hobnobbing with arms vendors in order to maintain transparency and probity in defence deals.

Major SS Pandey, an expert on military laws, said, "As per the code of conduct for military officers, any officer attending such parties or farewells has to seek permission from his superiors and also give proper reasons for doing so." — PTI
CRPF grounds mine-protected vehicles in fight against Reds
Will minimise casualties from IED blasts
70% deaths last year due to such blasts

New Delhi, June 30
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has stopped using mine-protected vehicles (MPVs) deployed for carrying troops to minimise casualties resulting from IED blasts in Maoist-affected areas.

This is the first time that the country's largest paramilitary force has issued a complete ban on the use of these four-wheel armoured vehicles.

Close to 50 such armoured vehicles in the Maoist hotbeds of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar have been rolled back inside CRPF camps. These MPVs will be used in rare instances only.

"I have issued orders to my formations in the Left Wing Extremism areas to shun the use of the MPVs for patrol and other movements. As a result of this decision, this is the first time that no casualties have been reported in IED blasts or from hidden landmines in the first six months this year,” CRPF chief Pranay Sahay said.

The CRPF Director-General said these vehicles will not be used anymore for jungle patrols and the commanders have been asked to send their patrols only on foot, as part of the standard operating procedures for these areas.

“What is the fun in using these vehicles if they are not helping my men? This year we have had no casualties from IED attacks. This is a satisfactory achievement," Sahay said.

Seventy per cent of CRPF casualties last year were those resulting from IED blasts. The IEDs are buried as deep as 20 ft inside the ground, making it difficult to trace them.

The force chief said the MPVs, henceforth, will only be used when the conditions for their use are operationally suitable and are absolutely necessary.

The force has provided one MPV each to per battalion deployed for counter-Maoist operations in the violence-affected states.

When blown off and toppled, jawans were killed inside the MPVs due to shock waves of the blast. At times, these vehicles were blown to smithereens as Maoists used explosives close to 80 kg.

The central paramilitary is in talks with defence research organisations to better the ergonomics of these troop carriers and also strengthen their defence to sustain blast from large volume of explosives. — PTI

jungle patrols only on foot

    When blown off and toppled, jawans were killed inside the armoured vehicles due to shock waves of the blast
    At times, these vehicles were blown to smithereens as Maoists used explosives close to 80 kg
    Close to 50 armoured vehicles in the Maoist hotbeds of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar have been rolled back inside CRPF camps
    Commanders have been asked to send their jungle patrols only on foot now
Maoists ‘gaining foothold’ in 53 Uttar Pradesh villages

Ballia (UP), June 30
Community policing and combative efforts had appeared effective in checking the Maoist menace in Uttar Pradesh, but a recent Ballia administration letter on apprehension of the Naxal movement taking root in 53 villages might force the state police to redraw its plans.

The state has three Naxal-infested districts — Sonebhadra, Chandauli and parts of Mirzapur — and it has been successfully managing to check the menace, but a letter by the Ballia Superintendent of Police in April has highlighted the threat that looms large over 53 villages of the district that share the border with Bihar on three sides.

According to the letter, all socio-economic factors said to give rise to Naxalism are present in Ballia and if remedial steps were not taken, it would take root there, posing a challenge to law and order and development.

These 53 villages include Nagwa, the native village of freedom fighter Mangal Pandey, Ojhwalia, the village of noted Hindi litterateur Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, and six villages under Dokati police station area of Jai Prakash Narain.

The letter requests the government to provide all facilities in these villages of Ballia which are being provided to the Maoist-infested areas of the state and give priority to development schemes. It also stresses on bringing the backward and poor people in the mainstream to check the youth from being misled.

According to police sources, Maoists have been active in the district in some form or the other since 2001 and there are inputs suggesting that a 'daman virodhi morcha' (anti- oppression front) had also been formed here.

Police sources said the Varanasi Inspector General of Police has also sent a letter to the police chiefs of Ballia, Mau and Azamgarh to remain vigilant with regard to the activities of 'Bharat ka Janvadi Morcha', CPI Maoists and Nari Mukti Morcha.

The letter also states that a two-day meeting of one of these outfits was organised at Nagri Pracharini Sabhagar on October, 2011. According to sources, additional force consisting of one ASP, one circle officer, 15 SIs and 150 constables have been provided and patrolling is being conducted in these 53 villages which share their borders with Bhojpur, Chappra, Buxar and Siwan.

A massive community policing system in the three Naxal- infested districts is already in place with camps being held regularly for bringing people into the mainstream and extending help in education, health, employment and computer training among others. — PTI

Top cop raises the alarm

    Uttar Pradesh has three Maoist-infested districts — Sonebhadra, Chandauli and parts of Mirzapur — but it has been successfully managing to check Red terror there
    A letter by the Ballia Superintendent of Police has highlighted the threat that looms large over 53 villages of the district that share the border with Bihar on three sides
    All socio-economic factors said to give rise to Naxalism are present in Ballia, warns the letter
    It requests the government to provide all facilities in these villages that are being provided to Maoist-infested areas of the state
Warm farewell to Lt Gen Chachra
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 30
Lieutenant General Sanjiv Chachra today relinquished the charge of General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, today to take up his new assignment as the Northern Command chief. He will take from Lt Gen TK Parnaik who retires after 42 years of service today.

Lt Gen Philip Campose, a mechanised infantry officer presently posted at Army Headquarters, is scheduled to take over the reins of the Western Command tomorrow.

Lt Gen Chachra was given a warm send-off by officers and troops at Chandimandir. Earlier, he paid floral tributes to martyrs at the Veer Smriti war memorial and inspected a guard of honour presented by a contingent from the Dogra Regiment.

A second generation Rajput Regiment officer who was commissioned in June 1974, he had taken over as the Western Army Commander in June 2012 and during a span of 13 months, was instrumental in giving an impetus to the operational preparedness of the Command.

Besides, his focus had been on issues of development of infrastructure, resolution of land issues with the civil administration, settlement and employment of ex-servicemen in government jobs, provision of a Senior Veterans Home in major towns and launching a youth outreach program to motivate the young students to join the armed forces.
Lt-Gen Bakhshi to take charge on Monday
LUCKNOW: Lieutenant General RajanBakhshi will take over as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Central Command on Monday. The Army commander on his arrival said that rescue and relief operations by Army in Uttarakhand would continue, and added that he would visit the flood-ravaged state to take stock of the situation.Commissioned into the 17 HORSE on December 21, 1975, Lieutenant General Bakhshi is an alumnus of Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and a graduate from Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. Bakhshi has had extensive operational experience in varied appointments in all kinds of terrain configurations.

He has served in all the Strike Corps' of the Indian Army. The GOC-in-C designate has commanded an Armoured Regiment and an Armoured Brigade as part of an elite Armoured Division on the western front. He went on to command an infantry division in the western theatre and a Corps in high altitude area which includes the highest battlefield in the world.

While on staff, the General Officer has had the experience of serving as a logistics staff officer of a mountain brigade deployed in high altitude area, Brigade Major of an armoured brigade and colonel general staff of an elite armoured division during Operation Parakaram.

He has also held senior staff appointments at the Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Army), besides serving on instructional assignments at the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, and the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.
Two youth killed in alleged army firing in Bandipora, locals protest
Two youth were killed allegedly in army firing in the wee hours today in Sumbal area of north Kashmir's Bandipora district, leading to protests by the local residents.

"Two youth have been killed in army firing this morning. It is a very unfortunate incident," Minister for Higher Education Mohammad Akbar Lone, who is also the local MLA, told PTI.

The deceased youth have been identified as Irfan Ahmad Ganaie and Irshad Ahmad Dar, both residents of Markundal village in Sumbal area, 25 kms from here.

Local residents staged a protest against the killings, which took place at around 3.30 AM, alleging that the army firing was unprovoked.

The Army said while it had no hand in the killing of one youth, the other died when troops opened fire in self-defence as a mob tried to set an army ambulance on fire.

"Based on intelligence inputs about movement of militants through the area, an ambush was laid. Firing of shots were heard outside the cordon area and later it was found that one youth has been killed," an army official said.

He said some time later when the army ambulance was carrying doctors and some other staff through the area, a mob attacked it and tried to set the vehicle on fire.

"The troops opened firing in self-defence, which resulted in the death of the second youth," the army official added.

Police officials, who are monitoring the situation, are tight-lipped about the incident.

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