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Thursday, 1 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 01 Aug 2013
CRPF to train Chhattisgarh cops to fight Maoists
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, July 31
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has been assigned with the task of training the state police force in Chhattisgarh, the 10th largest state in India, with an area of 1,35,190 km and having a population of about 25.5 million.

The decision gains significance in view of recent spurt in Maoist activities that had led to killing of top state Congress leadership in an ambush by Maoists in the trouble-torn tribe area.

CRPF Inspector-General Sunil Kumar said during a visit to Suratgarh in neighbouring Sriganganagar district that 3,500 cops of the Chhattisgarh police have been listed for commando style training. Out of them, 700 cops will be trained at the 221 battalion of the CRPF at Suratgarh.

The decision to shift the battalion to Maharashtra has been deferred under instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs. It will now be stationed at Suratgarh. The new male recruits were to be trained initially at Ajmer but they were asked to report at Suratgarh, 70 km from Sriganganagar, as training of women cops was already going at Ajmer.
Change-of-heart in Pak?
Back-channel talks may be fruitful
by G. Parthasarathy

Overoptimistic assessments about a “change-of-heart” in the political elite in Islamabad and in Pakistan's de facto rulers, its khaki uniformed military, reinforced by self-serving “they-are-now-good-boys” certificates from the Americans and the British have often led to erroneous assessments by the Indian establishment of Pakistan's political imperatives and policies. The present narrative emerging from New Delhi's starry-eyed Wagah “candle-light brigade” is that with Nawaz Sharif, a Punjabi with a strong political base in the Army-dominated Punjab province, now Pakistan’s Prime Minister, we are assured of terrorism-free ties and blossoming bonhomie and friendship. It is true that Sharif is keen that nothing should come in the way of his efforts to set the Pakistani economy in order, or set right the power crisis in his country. Tensions with India will be an avoidable distraction for him and should, in his political perspective, presently be avoided.

A good beginning has been made to normalise ties with Pakistan after the recent elections there. The Prime Minister's special envoy Satinder Lambah, who is a hard-headed realist on relations with Pakistan, met Mr. Sharif in Lahore, even before Sharif assumed office. Nawabzada Shahryar Khan, a suave and sophisticated Pakistani diplomat was, in turn, sent to New Delhi. It has been agreed that that “back-channel” talks will be resumed between the designated special envoys. The back-channel talks, which earlier took place between Mr. Lambah and his then counterpart Tariq Aziz, did make substantial progress in devising a framework to deal with the Kashmir issue by arriving at common ground between General Musharraf's proposals for “self-governance” and Dr. Manmohan Singh's assertion in Amritsar that borders cannot be redrawn, but we can work towards making them “just lines on a map”.

The “back-channel” talks between 2005 and 2007 took place after General Musharraf assured Mr. Vajpayee in January 2004 that “territory under Pakistan’s control will not be used for terrorism against India”. This was preceded by an agreement for a ceasefire across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir — an agreement that has broadly been observed by both sides, with violations occasionally occurring, when Jihadis are sought to be infiltrated across the LoC. Moreover, General Musharraf did, for various reasons, rein in his Jihadi groups till his power progressively eroded in 2007. While he did keep his Corps Commanders informed about the back-channel talks, I was not surprised when two of his favourites, whom he made 4-Star Generals, subsequently insisted to me that they were unaware of what had transpired. The Pakistan army is quick to disown whatever it finds inconvenient. We should have no doubt that the Sharif government will not agree to start “back-channel” discussions where they concluded in 2007. We can, at best, expect some progress on Kashmir-related CBMs. Disowning past agreements is a trademark of Pakistani foreign policy. General Zia was determined to disown the Simla Agreement and Benazir junked the Ministerial Joint Commission set up by Zia.

Pakistan is going to be primarily focused on developments on its western borders across the Durand Line. While lip-service is paid to non-interference and respect for Afghanistan's sovereignty, Pakistan appears determined to ensure that even as the American withdrawal proceeds, the Taliban takes control progressively of parts of South-Eastern Afghanistan, while keeping the entire Pashtun belt under its pressure. In their desperation to cut their losses and exit from Afghanistan, the Americans appear quite reconciled to this happening. I was interested in taking note recently of sneering references by some Pakistani friends asking how India would ensure the safety of its nationals spread across Afghanistan, once the Americans left. More importantly, whether it is on issues of dealing with terrorist groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan, the Quetta and Peshawar Shura of Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, or the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the real driving force will remain the Pakistan army.

The constant refrain of Pakistani interlocutors now is that India “should forget the past,” and “put Mumbai behind” and move on with “business as usual”. In effect, the message is that we should forget any possibility of Pakistan bringing the perpetrators of 26/11 to book. We should never forget that apart from being the most trusted asset of the ISI in waging Jihad against India, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed has enjoyed the patronage of two generations of the Sharif family and even today receives funding from the Punjab Government headed by Shahbaz Sharif. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to meet Mr. Sharif in New York in September. It is imperative that he makes it clear to his counterpart that India will not "forgive or forget"" what transpired during the 26/11 attack and that terrorism cannot go hand in hand with dialogue and normalisation.

There is much that India and Pakistan can do to move the process of normalisation forward. The ministerial-level Joint Commission set up in 1983 can be revived and reinvigorated. There could be greater energy cooperation involving the supply of electrical power and finished petroleum products across the Punjab border. Group tourism and pilgrimage, easing of visa restrictions and more extensive contacts between academics, youth and wide cross-sections of civil society need to be promoted. While welcoming improved trade relations, overzealous sections of India’s business community should avoid giving the impression that the grant of obligatory MFN treatment to our exports is of vital importance to us.

The Pakistan military seems to have some “bright ideas” to scare the Western world and India by threats of using tactical nuclear weapons against India, if India retaliates following another 26/11 style terrorist attack. I responded to such threats recently telling Pakistani military officials that we were not impressed by such bluster, adding that while the Pak army was “adventurist,” its officers lived too comfortably to be “suicidal” ! The Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board, Shyam Saran, has addressed this quite bluntly, while explaining the tenets of India's nuclear doctrine. A wide-ranging defence dialogue with Pakistan, including more regular contacts between the armies, navies and air forces, will be useful. There appears little prospect of any movement on issues like the demarcation of the land boundary around Sir Creek and beyond, or on the the Siachen issue. One will have to live with the status quo on such issues, while ensuring the existing CBMs are respected.

It would be imprudent to rush into summit-level bilateral visits till there are clear indications that our concerns on terrorism are being irreversibly addressed. The Lahore Summit was followed by the Kargil conflict and the ill-planned Agra Summit by the attack on our Parliament.
Why the IPKF went to Sri Lanka
There were many reasons, including strategic and humanitarian, for an armed intervention in Sri Lanka in the form of the Indian Peace Keeping Force. The ill-informed criticism that the force received about its operations needs to be corrected
Lt Gen Depinder Singh (Retd)
On July 29, 1987, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was signed in Colombo. The euphoria this evoked was marred by a sailor from the Sri Lanka Armed Forces (SLAF) attempting to hit our then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, while he was inspecting a guard of honour. The agreement had three components — modalities of settling the ethnic conflict, guarantees by India in regard to implementing the Accord and an undertaking by the Sri Lanka Government in regard to India's security concerns. In consonance with Clause 2 of the accord, an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) announced its landing in Sri Lanka on July 30, 1987.
It is not my intention to repeat how the ethnic conflict developed as that aspect is well documented. My aim is to describe why the IPKF went to Sri Lanka and what it did there. It is my hope, further, that this narrative will correct most of the ill informed criticism of the IPKF operations.

Reasons for the intervention

There were many reasons for an armed intervention. I will concentrate on three — strategic, humanitarian and linguistic. Taking the first reason, i.e. strategic, not only is the Indian Ocean vital for India's lifelines but most of the wherewithal needed for its economic development is concentrated in these waters. Our industrial growth, economic development and even meaningful association with the rest of the world depend upon a secure Indian Ocean. For this a friendly and stable Sri Lanka is vital. Moving on to the second aspect i.e. humanitarian, the conflict in Sir Lanka saw many ups and downs. However, till around February 1987, one constant remained - the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) dominated the hinterland and the SLAF operated from the coastline where they could be supplied from the sea.

In February 1987, they moved inland, imposed an economic embargo and intensified indiscriminate air, artillery and naval bombardment, resulting in a massive exodus into India. Stories of the inhuman conditions they had faced spread like wild fire, leading to the third season for our intervention. Tamil Nadu, the state most affected, was ruled at the time by a remarkable man, M.G. Ramachandran. He was a staunch ally of the Congress, then in power in New Delhi. To illustrate the power he wielded, let us recall the incident where, from a sickbed in the US, he issued orders for his entire cabinet to resign. Everyone did. His repeated pleas to the centre finally tilted the scales.

I will add one more reason. The SLAF were fighting insurgency in the north and insurrection against the Janath? Vimukthi Peramu?a (JVP) in the south. Understandably, the officers and soldiers were tired. Add to this a high desertion rate and a reluctance to enroll and you have a very dangerous environment, with rumours of a coup being staged mounting by the day. In these circumstances was it any surprise that it was difficult to judge who between the SLAF and the LTTE was more grateful and relieved over the Indian presence.

What were the tasks given to the IPKF?

Separate the two warring groups — SLAF to withdraw to pre-February 1987 positions and Tamil militant groups to "surrender" their weapons within 72 hours. Impose a cease fire.

Formation of an interim administrative council IAC) to administer the northern and eastern provinces as a prelude to elections to an administrative council. Devolution of powers by Sri Lankan Government.

Referendum by the end 1988 to ascertain whether or not the eastern provinces would like to merge with the northern provinces.

A little later, when rioting started and I refused to intervene as the maintenance of law and order was not my job, another task, maintenance of law and order was added and a battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force was allotted to the IPKF.

The force structure of the IPKF kept fluctuating depending upon envisaged contingencies. Since the intervention was by invitation, the force level, keeping in mind the peace keeping nature of the operation, was about a division plus, with minimal air and naval components. A neutral posture was adopted. SLAF were provided all assistance in their re-grouping including security to ensure they were not engaged by the LTTE. Concurrently, a massive rehabilitation programme was started to get the towns and villages, completely devastated by the fighting, into habitable entities. Jaffna town was the model, brought back to its fractioning feet by the tireless efforts of Brigadier R.I.S. Kahlon (later to rise to the rank of Lieutenant General and, alas, no more).

This achievement needs to be studied in greater details so that those who run our cities and towns can learn valuable lessons. This and many other steps taken to win the minds and hearts of the local population proved effective and paid the IRKF dividends in the form of information regarding the LTTE, arms caches and so on.

Meanwhile, consultations on the formation of the IAC continued apace and after much "chopping and changing" an acceptable formula was knocked out and an agreement signed by the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE on September 28, 1997. Before the celebrations could commence, a message was received from the now deceased LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran in Jaffna, that the LTTE would not accept the agreement. What promoted the change of heart was a mystery as Prabhakaran had himself signed the agreement after all his objections to the original draft had been met. Was this another instance of LTTE obduracy?

The LTTE’s turnaround

A little earlier, whispers from the local population started coming in indicating LTTE directions to the locals to stop fraternising with the IPKF. When I confronted Prabhakaran with this respect, he denied it completely. He did, however, tell me that he heard reliable reports indicating that one of our intelligence agencies was instigating the other Tamil militant groups to stop handing over of weapons and when the LTTE was sufficiently weakened by handing over their weapons, they would be signaled to take revenge from the LTTE for all past massacres. This was, of course, news to me and all I could do was tell him that I would check with Army Headquarters. I did this and was informed the next day that there was no truth in the apprehension.

When I explained this to Prabhakaran, be smiled and said that he still stood by his allegation. The truth will have to be ascertained by someone else. As far as I was concerned; this was the event that created the rift between the LTTE and the IPKF.

On October 10, 1987, the LTTE turned against us and the fighting started. The writing had been on the wall and so reinforcements started pouring in. Overconfidence led the LTTE to initially fight set piece battles, but after Jaffna fell on October 20, 1987, LTTE cadres melted into the forests and fell back on tactics that had borne fruit earlier i.e. guerilla operations. For some days the messages we intercepted indicated desperation. Calls for medicine for causalities would be met by the reply, in code, "Give him cyanide." Calls for food would receive the reply that there was no food. Later, as succour arrived; the situation improved in LTTE ranks.

I returned from service on February 29, 1988 and thereafter from being in command I had to rely on media reports. These showed that despite the vicious fighting, the IPKF continued to display professionalism and gallantry while completing all tasks entrusted to it with admirable efficiency.

I will conclude with a few observations. Higher direction lacked focus and this was summed up admirably by Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in the foreward he wrote for my book, quoting the Bible, "For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle." To my mind there should have been no ambiguity. While the welfare of the Tamils in Sri Lanka was important, the national integrity of Sri Lanka was vital. National policy is formulated by the Centre, not by states in relation to neighbouring counties.

The evolving of the LTTE from a handful of school dropouts to the fearsome militant group that it eventually became deserves study. Except when Karuna broke away in the east, they maintained their cohesion and their motivation and discipline. In the process, to quote Dr Rajini Theranagama from his book, "The Broken Palmyra", the LTTE religion was hierarchal. Militants from other groups, whatever their contribution, were counted as criminals. Only LTTE members could make sacrifices, be counted as martyrs and become Gods. The power of such a religion to captivate men's minds, make them forget all norms of civilisation and morality and to hold them together as a hysterical and destructive force is enormous".
AFT stays top-level JAG Dept promotion
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, July 31
A day before the promotion was scheduled to come into effect, the Armed Forces Tribunal today directed that the proceedings of the selection board for promotion to the rank of Major General in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Department, the Army’s legal-cum-judicial branch, be held in abeyance till further orders.

While two Brigadiers from the JAG Department had alleged manipulation and violation of policy in the selection board proceedings to promote officers to the department’s apex position, the Central government’s representatives stated in court today that it was not only always practical to adhere to the stipulated policy in the overall interest of the force.

In their separate petitions, Brig Dinker Adeeb and Brig PK Sharma had averred that that a junior officer, Brig T Parshad, was hastily granted out of turn relief on the eve of the selection board’s meeting and then his name was considered with a changed, improved profile resulting in his empanelment for promotion to the rank of Major General and consequently superseding those senior to him.

The petitioners have alleged that the agenda and career profiles of officers are frozen five days prior to the selection board’s meeting and changes cannot be introduced just prior to the board’s meeting. However, in this case the records were edited and changed to include Brig Prashad’s improved profile just two days before the meeting.

They also pointed out that selection board was postponed from May 2012 to September 2012 and then again postponed to October 18, 2012. Then suddenly, Brig Parshad, who had filed a statutory complaint against his ACR profile, was granted relief on the eve of the board’s scheduled meeting and the board was again postponed by a day wherein his changed, improved profile was considered and he was promoted. They pointed out that as per policy, no out of turn relief can be granted on complaints.

Brig Prashad argued before the bench that the entire process of his complaint redressal and promotion was in accordance with norms and he was being targeted for no fault of his.

The Tribunal’s Chandigarh Bench, comprising Justice VK Ahuja and Lt Gen HS Panag, however, granted liberty to the defence ministry to hold a fresh selection board only if the respondent’s improved profile is not considered and the board goes by the old career profile.

The Bench also observed that policy letters issued by the Military Secretary’s Branch, responsible for management of the officer cadre, were ambiguous. The bench fixed August 12 s the next date of hearing.
Three convicted of attack on Lt Gen Brar
London, July 31
Three persons, including a woman, were today convicted of slashing the throat of Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar (retd), the hero of the 1984 Operation Bluestar, here last year.

Brar, 78, was attacked as he walked with his wife Meena, in Old Quebec Street, central London, on September 30, 2012.

Mandeep Singh Sandhu, 34, of Birmingham, Dilbag Singh, 37, and Harjit Kaur, 39, of London were convicted of wounding with intent at Southwark Crown Court.

Barjinder Singh Sangha, 33, of Wolverhampton, had admitted the charge. The jury of nine women and two men took just an hour to convict the trio.

Lt Gen Brar was involved in a Operation Bluestar against Sikh militants in Amritsar in June 1984.

The victim’s role in the Indian Army had “made him a target for Sikh extremist groups”, the jury heard.

Following the verdict, Mari Reid, of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “The group clearly targeted Lieutenant General Brar in revenge for his actions during his military career and today’s convictions are another reminder that the UK will not tolerate extremism of any kind.”

The couple was on their way from their hotel for a night in the West End when the attack happened. Kaur was described as being key to the ambush.

She boarded the same bus as the former soldier and his wife of 28 years in order to follow their movements and phone through reports to the alleged attackers who were waiting.

Sangha “drew a knife as the other men held the victim”, the jury heard.

Brar was left with a 12 inch cut running across his neck and jaw and another three inch cut to the jaw. The trio, along with Barjinder Singh Sangha, will be sentenced on September 19, BBC reported. — PTI
Four militants killed on Kashmir dividing line
Indian army has gunned down four militants on the line-of-control (LoC), in north Indian-controlled Kashmir, officials say.

The gun battle erupted in Machil sector of Kupwara district, around 165km northwest of Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir on Tuesday, while the militants were trying to cross the frontier line.

"Our troops deployed on the LoC in Machil sector of Kupwara foiled an attempt of infiltration by militants, resulting in elimination of four of them," Xinhua quoted an Indian army as saying.

No Indian troops have been killed or injured, officials said.

    According to the statement issued by the Indian army, the troopers “detected movement of five to six heavily armed militants and engaged them in gunfight immediately, based on information from intelligence agencies,” adding that "In the first attempt two militants were killed and later on two more taking their toll to four."

On July 29, Indian army shot dead a militant in Keran sector of frontier Kupwara district.

The line-of- control is a de facto frontier dividing Kashmir into Indian and Pakistani controlled parts.

Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 60 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both neighbors claim the region in full but have partial control over it.
Voice for disbanding Indian army-backed VDCs gets shriller
Srinagar, July 31 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the demands for disbanding Village Indian army-backed so-called Village Defence Committees (VDCs) are getting more support following the recent mass rape of a minor girl by the armed VDC members in Kishtwar district.

The All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in a statement issued in Srinagar said that the VDC members had unleashed a reign of terror in Kashmir. He said that the VDCs were terrorising the Muslim population, adding: “It is high time that the authorities should disband VDCs.”

The veteran Hurriyet leader, Syed Ali Gilani in his statement issued in Srinagar said that VDCs were formed only to crush Muslims of Jammu region. “They have been unleashing a reign of terror in Muslim belts of the region. They are actually working on the directions of RSS and Shiv Sena to crush freedom sentiment in Jammu region.”

He said that VDCs should immediately be disarmed and dissolved.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik in a statement in Srinagar said that the VDCs were another form of Ikhwanis. “They are the paid workers of the authorities in Jammu region like we had Ikhwanis in Kashmir..

Senior APHC leader, Shabbir Ahmed Shah in his statement in Srinagar said, VDC members are so powerful that they have raped a minor girl and are still roaming free. “This is shameful. We demand immediate dissolution of VDCs as there is no need of them,” he added.

Noted human rights lawyer and head of Coalition of Civil Society, Pervez Imroz in a statement said, the VDCs have been indulging in many social crimes but there is no record maintained. “The VDC members are involved in extortion, kidnapping, molestation and even rapes,” Imroz said.
Ceasefire violation: Pakistani soldier killed in cross-LoC firing by India

Indian firing killed one Pakistani soldier and wounded another on Saturday in the disputed Kashmir region, Pakistan’s military said, as the two archrivals traded blame for provoking the clash.

According to the Inter Services Public Relations, the incident took place at 10:30am and there was no evident reason for the firing. Asim Iqbal, the soldier who died due to the firing incident, was a resident of a village near Rawalpindi. Naik Muhammad Khan, the soldier who is critically injured, will undergo treatment.

While the Pakistani Army accused Indian troops of staging an “unprovoked” attack across the countries’ disputed border in Kashmir, the Indian army said it had fired in a “calibrated manner” in response to Pakistani firing.

“A soldier embraced martyrdom while another was seriously injured due to unprovoked firing by Indian troops in Rawala Kot area at the Line of Control (LoC),” the Pakistan Army said in a statement.

Border violation near Sialkot

The Pakistan Army also accused Indian forces of another border violation late Saturday. According to ISPR, the Indian Border Security Force resorted to unprovoked firing on the working boundary near Sialkot. No loss of life was reported though. The statement added Pakistani troops responded effectively to Indian firing.

India and Pakistan regularly accuse each other of violating a ceasefire along the LoC, which has largely held since 2003.

The Indian army said intermittent firing was continuing along the heavily militarised border late Saturday.

“Pakistani troops started firing unprovoked in the morning, firing rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machinegun fire and small arms,” Indian defence spokesman Colonel R K Palta told AFP.

“Our side retaliated in a calibrated manner and there were no casualties on our side.”

Palta added that he had no comment on Islamabad’s statement that Indian firing had caused Pakistani casualties.

Pakistan is expected to take the matter up with India at all military and civil forums as this is not the first incident of its nature.

The Foreign Office has called upon the Indian government to conduct a probe into the firing incident, adding that it comes at a time when efforts are being made to improve relations between the countries.

“The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has been conveyed the protest by Pakistan and the military authorities are also going to have a flag meeting in this regard. The Indian high commissioner may be given a demarche if the incident recurs,” a foreign office official, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune.

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