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Sunday, 11 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 11 Aug 2013
7 hrs, 7,000 rounds: Pak pounds Army posts in Poonch
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria & Darshan Bharti
Tribune News Service

Jammu/Poonch, August 10
Days after the killing of five Indian soldiers in a sneak attack, the Pakistan Army pounded several Indian forward posts in the Poonch sector along the Line of Control (LoC) for over seven hours with heavy firearms, including mortars, on the intervening night of August 9 and 10.

Indian troops retaliated full throttle and the exchange of fire ended today around 4.30 am. "Pakistani troops opened heavy fire on Indian forward posts in the Durga Battalion area of Poonch sector at 10.20 pm firing over 7,000 rounds of heavy ammunition and mortar shells," Jammu-based officiating Defence PRO SN Acharya told The Tribune. He termed it as the "biggest" truce violation by Pakistani troops.

They fired small arms, MMG, HMG and mortars at the Indian posts, prompting a calibrated response from the Indian Army, said Acharya. He, however, said there was no casualty or injury to the Indian soldiers. Sources said Pakistani soldiers targeted the Noorkote, Nakkarkote and Rakhan Wali posts from their Chirikote post on the other side of the de-facto border.

Acharya said Indian troops fired 4,595 rounds of medium machine guns (MMGs), INSAS rifles and KPWT machine guns besides 111 RPGs, 11 rockets and 18 mortar shells of 81 mm in retaliatory action. Acharya said the situation along the borderline was tense.

The heavy firing caused panic and disrupted Eid celebrations near the LoC in Poonch. Maqsood Ahmed of Digwar Terwan said last night's firing compelled them to stay indoors.
Intel warning: Lashkar group in Gujarat
Manas Dasgupta

Ahmedabad, August 10
Intelligence agencies have warned that a 13-member Lashkar-e-Toiba group might have entered Gujarat through the sea route from the Bulsar district of the state bordering Maharashtra and Daman and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

Security of Somnath and Dwarka temples has been stepped up. Both the temples are situated on the sea coast in Junagadh and Jamnagar districts respectively in the Saurashtra region.

Bulsar district superintendent of police Nipuna Torwane said fishermen and the people in the town have been told to report to the police immediately about any suspicious movement. She said the Intelligence Bureau suspected that 13 Pakistani terrorists had arrived through the sea route from Bulsar in the last couple of days.

The police do not rule out the possibility of the terror groups trying to disrupt the Independence Day celebrations. The police have sealed the state’s borders with Maharashtra as well as Daman and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Checking has also been intensified at Ahmedabad and other airports as well as all important railway stations, particularly Surat .

Gujarat has a coastline of over 1,600 km and most of it is considered vulnerable.
India sends NSA, Foreign Secretary to Bhutan to repair ties
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
Seeking to mend fences with Bhutan following the controversy over the withdrawal of oil and gas subsidy to the Himalayan nation, the government deputed a high-level delegation to visit Thimphu to discuss bilateral issues with the new leadership.

National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay yesterday and reassured him of New Delhi’s commitment to promote ties between the two nations.

Officials said New Delhi conveyed to Thimphu that India would provide all necessary assistance to Bhutan for its 11th Five-Year Plan and that the two countries should put behind them the controversy over the withdrawal of subsidies.

“We will do everything we can to support and provide assistance to Bhutan. We really look forward to working together and achieving positive outcomes,” Menon is learnt to have told the Bhutanese PM.

The withdrawal of subsidies, which were withdrawn on the eve of elections in Bhutan in July, had resulted in minor tension between the two nations. The speculation was that India had deliberately withdrawn subsidies in view of Bhutan’s friendly gestures towards China. However, New Delhi claimed that the subsidies were withdrawn due to some technical issues. The subsidies on both oil and gas have been restored on August 1.

Tobgay also accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit India as his first port of call after assuming office. He is expected to visit New Delhi next week. Menon and Sujatha Singh also called on Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to discuss bilateral relations.

Shortly after taking charge as Foreign Secretary on August 1, Sujatha Singh had stated that she would accord priority to India’s relations with its neighbours and that she would pay her first visit to Bhutan as the country’s top diplomat.
LoC attack: Another Bihar minister gives Pak clean chit

Jamui (bihar), August 10
After the controversy over a statement by Bihar minister Bhim Singh on the killing of five Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC), his colleague in the Nitish government has now given a clean chit to Pakistan over the issue.

"I don't believe that Pakistan is responsible for the incident (killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani army on the LoC in Poonch district) on Tuesday," Agriculture minister Narendra Singh today said, in remarks which come as a further embarrassment for the Nitish Kumar led JD(U) government.

"Pakistan is our younger brother and a neighbour," he commented when asked about the firing incident in which jawans of 21st Bihar Regiment were killed when they were patrolling along LoC on Tuesday last. Four of the five army men killed were from Bihar.

On Thursday, Rural Works and Panchayati Raj Minister Bhim Singh had said that policemen and soldiers are recruited to make sacrifices for the nation, for which he later apologised after his comments created a furore. — PTI
Nuclear reactor on INS Arihant goes critical; huge step forward for India's N-triad
Moving towards completing its nuclear triad, India on Friday night activated the atomic reactor on-board the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant paving way for its operational deployment by the Navy soon.

Top government sources told NDTV that all systems of the indigenously made nuclear reactor are "go" and the submarine will soon be launched to sea on the Eastern coast.

"We are gearing up for the sea trials of Arihant," the then Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V K Saraswat had told reporters in May.

Nuclear triad is the ability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from land, air and sea. After the nuclear reactor is activated, the agencies concerned can work towards readying the warship for operational deployments soon.

According to earlier reports, the DRDO has also readied a medium-range nuclear missile BO-5 for deployment on the Arihant and its last developmental trial was held on January 27 off the coast of Vishakhapatnam.

So far, the US, Russia, France, China, and the UK have the capability to launch a submarine-based ballistic missile.

Though this comes as good news for India's defence capabilities, there is some concern over the overall strength of India's submarine fleet. India has 14 conventional submarines that run on either battery or diesel and are aging and outdated. Each of them will have completed the standard life-span of 25 years by 2017.

The nuclear submarine will help India achieve the capability of going into high seas without the need to surface the vessel for long durations.

Conventional diesel-electric submarines have to come up on surface at regular intervals for charging the cells of the vessel.
On Army assurance, jawan’s family ends protest
Family members of the slain sepoy Vijay Kumar Ray, who were staging a dharna in their village in Patna district, upset at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar “giving them the cold-shoulder” and the “insensitive” statements of Bihar Ministers on the Poonch ambush, ended their protest on Saturday after Army officers assured them that their demands would be met.

“We spoke on the phone with the GOC [General Officer Commanding] Bihar and Jharkhand, and officers from the Danapur cantonment. We have placed our demands that the government should take care of the welfare of the family. Ray’s two children should receive the best education and his wife should be given a job government service,” Brijnandan, younger brother of the jawan, told The Hindu.

Ray’s two children and wife Pushpa Devi and the extended family went on a day’s fast on Friday demanding action against Pakistan.

“The government has not taken any action against Pakistan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is silent on the issue of giving a strict reply to Pakistan. To top it all, Ministers in Bihar are giving statements that terrorists are responsible for the incidents. They are making a mockery of the sufferings of the families,” said Brijnandan.
Martyr’s family fasts, seek army chief’s presence
PATNA: Shocked over the killing of sepoy Vijay Kumar Rai of the 21st battalion of Bihar Regiment by Pakistani army in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, the entire family members of the martyr on Friday sat on fast outside their house located at village AnantpurTekha under Bihta police station, about 30km from here. Those sitting on fast included Rai's wife PushpaDevi, two minor children Vivek and Neha, and brothers Rajkishore and Ajay.

Talking to TOI, Rajkishore said they decided to sit on fast to lodge their protest over no firm action being taken by the Indian Army to avenge the death of Rai. The fast would not end unless Chief of the Army Staff Gen Bikram Singh visited their house to assure that Rai's martyrdom would not go in vain, he said.

Rai's younger brother Ajay was more vocal and criticized the state government for being so callous towards the basic amenities required in the village. "There is no pucca road, no electricity, no healthcare centre/hospital or safe drinking water for villagers," he said.

JD (U) MP Ranjan Prasad Yadav visited Rai's house on Friday morning and tried to dissuade the bereaved family from sitting on fast. The agitated family reportedly snubbed him for playing caste politics on such a serious issue. Yadav left the village in a huff when he found the family unrelenting.

Meanwhile, giving vent to their feelings, the family members of Lance Naik Shambhu Saran Rai of Bhojpur demanded that Lt-Gen S K Singh, who belongs to Bhojpur, visit them so that the Indian Army could assure them of strong action against Pakistani army for killing the five innocent army jawans.
Army chief wanted to hit Pak hard, LoC battle rages

Army chief General Bikram Singh has reprimanded his top commanders in Jammu and Kashmir for not launching a massive retaliatory strike against the Pakistani army along the Line Of Control (LoC) after five Indian soldiers were killed in an audacious cross-border strike in Poonch sector on August 6.

General Singh visited the Nagrota-based Headquarters 16 Corps outside Jammu a day later and, according to top sources, asked senior commanders why local commanders along the volatile border did not order artillery and mortar fire on Pakistani posts.

The chief had instructed local commanders on the LoC to retaliate strongly, if provoked, after the January 8 cross-border raid in which Pakistani troops beheaded one Indian soldier and gunned down another 500 metres inside Indian territory in the Mendhar sector.

The border remained tense with Pakistani troops violating the ceasefire yet again early Saturday, firing more than 7,000 rounds of ammunition and mortar shells for almost seven hours at Indian posts in Poonch sector. In retaliation, Indian troops fired 4,595 rounds of ammunition, including mortar shells.

It was the 58th incident of ceasefire violation this year and came just a day after Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif said the neighbours should honour the 2003 ceasefire agreement and not allow the situation to escalate.

A senior army official said there was no ambiguity in the army chief's orders to mount a massive response in case of provocation by the Pakistani army by way of ceasefire violations.

"The first question the chief asked the J&K commanders was what stopped them from retaliating with artillery and mortar fire. His orders for offensive action were clear," he added.

"I expect all my commanders on the LoC to be aggressive and offensive in the face of provocation and fire," General Singh had said after the January attack.

A top government source agreed with the aggressive stance advocated by General Singh, saying India should be able to punish Pakistan or the so-called non-state actors at a threshold below full-scale war.

The use of artillery could escalate tensions along the border, but it is equally critical for the army to take decisive action to punish Pakistan, experts said.

Under pressure over the mishandling of the Poonch attack - defence minister AK Antony first blamed "persons dressed in Pakistani army uniform" and later retracted, saying the intruders were "specialist troops" - the government has finally been able to build political consensus to launch punitive strikes against Pakistan if such cross-border raids are repeated.
Anger brews against Army in cantonment area
The implementation of its plans by the Local Military Authority (LMA) in the cantonment over the last few months has not gone down well with the civil society living inside the cantonment area. The closure of roads like the Right Flank Road, the road connecting Koregaon Park and Ghorpadi has raised the resentment among people here.

The LMA recently took over the ground at Ghorpadi that children have been using for games. They also marked open plots as A-1 defence land (opposite Turf Club) and barred people from parking their vehicles. While the Ghorpadi road closure witnessed protests by residents, MP, the wall on Right Flank Road too was shifted after public complained of inconvenience.

An Army official said, "In case where the roads are cantonment roads, a resolution needs to be passed in the PCB. But when roads are military roads, the road is on A-1 defence land, no such resolution is required. In case of Right Flank road, it was the hospital that approached the LMA asking for closure."

According to Director General Defence Estates (DGDE) website, "Defence land situated within the notified cantonments is managed in accordance with provisions of Cantonments Act, 2006, the Cantonment Land Administration Rules (CLAR), 1925 and 1937, Cantonment Codes of 1899 and 1912."

A quick look at these guiding documents is self-explanatory. Rule 5 of CLA 1937 says, "Where roads, over which the public have a right of way, traverse a holding, such roads should be excluded from the holding even if they are military roads."

While road closures have affected commuters, the other unhappy lot is Holders of Occupancy Rights (HORs) of OGBs. The PCB website shows that there are 2,204 OGBs within its limits. Occupied since the British era, many require repairs.

"Permissions for repairs are not granted by the PCB. Frustrated by living in dilapidated conditions, if the residents do minor repairs, notices are issued to stop work. Major repairs are out of question. We have approached the DGDE asking them to make the procedure of granting permissions for repairs," said L R Bhojwani, vice-president of the Western Zone, AICBOA.

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