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Saturday, 17 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 17 Aug 2013



After 14 yrs, Pak opens its guns in Kargil, Drass

Ajay Banerjee & Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS

New Delhi/ Jammu, August 16

For the first time since the 1999 Kargil War, Pakistani troops fired on Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Drass sector on Thursday night and four days ago in Drass and Kaksar areas of the Kargil sector in the Ladakh region. Indian troops gave a calibrated response, Army sources said. A high alert has been sounded along the 740-km LoC that divides India and Pakistan.


Pakistani troops fired with automatic weapons at Sando Post in Drass area on Thursday night, sources said. Indian troops retaliated immediately. “Yesterday (on Thursday), they (Pakistani troops) opened small arms fire in Drass sector along the Line of Control from 9 pm to 10 pm. There was no injury or casualty on the Indian side to our troops. They then switched over to automatic weapons. We gave them a calibrated response,” said a senior Army officer.


The officer said Pakistani troops had opened fire in the Army-demarcated Kaksar sector loacted between Drass and Kargil on August 12, prompting a similar response from the Indian Army.


The first fire from the Pakistani side was with small weapons and they later switched to automatic weapons. The Army’s 14 Corps is guarding the frontiers in Ladakh region. He, however, dubbed the firing incidents as a localised affair.


In the Kaksar sub-sector area, Pakistani posts dominate National Highway 1-D that connects Kashmir with Ladakh. The road provides key access to Ladakh and all supplies are routed to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China on this road.


Given the topography in Drass and Kaksar, the distance between Indian and Pakistani posts is more and 10 to 15 rounds of small arms and automatic weapons does not have an “impact”, said the officer, admitting that Pakistan had never violated the ceasefire on the LoC since it was enforced on November 25, 2003.


In the Kargil War, India lost 527 men while 1,363 were wounded. Over 500 Pakistani soldiers, including officers, were also killed in the conflict engineered by the then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf.


The Indian assessment is that the firing in the Drass-Kargil areas, which are under the Ladakh Division, could have deeper meaning, but in the immediate it indicates tensions are on the rise. In the long run, it could mean spreading of the cross-LoC tensions to the Ladakh area. Pakistan could start unprovoked firing in other areas of Ladakh such as Batalik, Turtok and Tayakshi, all located further east from Kargil and in one of most rugged parts of the Himalayas and Karakoram ranges.


The Drass-Kargil sector faces Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). There is presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan, which has been reported by Indian and US intelligence agencies. The area is Shia dominated unlike the Sunni dominated rest of Pakistan. On the Indian side, the Muslims are Shia by faith and have a greater affinity with Iranian spiritual head Ayatollah Khomeini.


Over the last few months, Indian agencies have informed the government of unrest in several areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. In June 2011, Indian Defence Ministry-backed think-tank, the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), published a paper saying China was preparing to take over Gilgit-Baltistan. A source said Pakistan could very well outsource this section of LoC to China. A direct road access is available to China from its Xinjiang province into Gilgit-Baltistan.


Meanwhile, in the past 48 hours, the Indian Army has strongly reacted to ceasefire violations by Pakistan in the Kashmir and Jammu divisions. The Army, which had been using small arms, has started using automatic weapons and 81 mm mortars. “This is in response to use of similar weapons by the Pakistan Army,” a source said, explaining that troops have responded with great intensity along Bimbher Gali, Mendhar, Nangi Tekri and Battal posts. 

 Army’s determined response

Aug 12: Pak troops open fire in Army-demarcated Kaksar sector that falls between Drass and Kargil; Indian Army returns fire

Aug 15: Pak troops open small arms fire and later switch to automatic weapons at Sando Post in Drass sector; Indian Army gives calibrated response

The Army, which had been using small arms, has started using automatic weapons and 81 mm mortars along the LoC

Khurshid rules out talk with Pakistan

Tribune News Service


Dehradun, August 16

Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today ruled out any diplomatic talks with Pakistan until the situation between the two countries normalises.


"The time is not right for talks. Let us solve the problem first. Our jawans were attacked on the border and five of them were martyred. There is no point in talking. There are certain ground rules for dialogue. If the rules break, the dialogue becomes difficult. When we resume the talks, the decision would be taken in the interest of the country," said Salman Khurshid while responding to a question on the offer made by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for talks.


On the issue of repeated violations by Pakistani and Chinese troops, Khurshid said there was no need to overly get concerned with the activities on the border. "We have faith in our armed forces, they take operational decisions while the government takes policy decisions. Besides, there is an institutionalised system of taking up the issue at the level of the Director General Military Operations (DGMOS) of the neighbouring countries. If the Army receives any reports of troop movement and the LOC violation, we lodge our protest and have ensured the matter ends in the interest of the country," he said.


Khurshid, who was in Dehradun to hold discussions on the rebuilding and rehabilitation exercise underway in the state, took a dig at Gujarat Chief Minister Narinder Modi and likened him to a frog that had just jumped out of a well and had paused to look here and there.

Bodies of five sailors found

Shiv Kumar/Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service


Mumbai/New Delhi, August 16

The bodies of the 18 sailors, including three officers, trapped inside INS Sindhurakshak, the submarine which sank at Mumbai's naval dockyard following multiple explosions on Wednesday, have been burnt beyond recognition.


In a statement released this afternoon, the Indian Navy said that three bodies were pulled out from the second compartment of the submarine which naval divers reached after 60 hours of effort.


"The bodies are severely disfigured and not identifiable due to severe burns. The bodies have been sent to INHS Asvini, the naval hospital, for possible DNA identification. This is likely to take some more time," the Indian Navy said.


Later in the afternoon, officials said the remains of two more sailors have been recovered from the sunken submarine.


According to the Navy, divers have been working in difficult conditions to enter INS Sindhurakshak.


"The boiling waters inside the submarine prevented any entry till noon of August 14. Access to the inner compartments of the submarine was made almost impossible due to jammed doors and hatches, distorted ladders, oily and muddy waters inside the submerged submarine. These resulted in total darkness and nil visibility within the submarine even with high power underwater lamps," the naval statement said.


Adding to the divers' misery were twisted metal and material dislodged inside the submarine following the blast. A naval spokesman added that the possibility of torpedoes and missiles going off during the search operations also posed a danger to the divers.


The Indian Navy went on to say that chances of finding survivors were remote as the extreme heat caused by the explosions that melted steel would have incinerated the crew inside as well.


The intensity of the explosions on the submarine was such that the Navy has lost hope of finding all the bodies. The worst-hit part is totally inaccessible.


The extensive damage around the control room area makes the chances of locating bodies in the forward part of the submarine very remote, said the Navy spokesperson.


Naval officials said the search inside the submarine would continue till all its four compartments were searched.


Rescue op


Bodies have been burnt beyond recognition


DNA test to determine identity of sailors


Chances of finding survivors remote: Navy


Search to continue till all four compartments are looked into

Amritsar navy man’s family in shock

Tribune News Service


Amritsar, August 16

Today is the birthday of Atul Sharma, an Indian Navy sailor who was on board INS Sindhurakshak on the ill-fated morning of August 14.


But shock has wiped away all signs of celebration. At Atul’s Batala Road residence here, family members —hoping for some good news — have been glued to the television ever since the news of the explosions on the submarine came in. Atul’s cousin Sandeep Kumar said the sailor’s younger brother has already rushed to Mumbai.


The family hails from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh. It was based in Amritsar as Atul’s father Hemraj Sharma was a teacher in Hindu Sabha School here. Sushma Sharma, Atul’s mother, said he always wanted to join the Navy and he was elated when he joined it in 2010.

A terrible tragedy

India loses lives and image


In its worst-ever peace-time incident, the Indian Navy has lost one of its frontline submarines involving on-board explosions that have resulted in the tragic death of 18 naval personnel comprising three officers and 15 sailors. INS Sindhurakshak, a Russian-made Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine which sank soon after the explosions while docked at the Mumbai naval base, had only four months ago returned from Russia where it underwent a major refit-cum-upgrade involving the integration of land-attack missiles and other advanced equipment at a cost of $156 million, which, incidentally, exceeded its original cost of an estimated $118 million.


The incident is indeed horrific as it is shocking. It is for the first time that the Navy has lost a submarine and that too in peace time while docked in home waters. The incident raises several questions relating to technical and human error and even sabotage. As of now there is considerable speculation on what went wrong and it would be premature to arrive at a conclusion. A specially constituted Board of Inquiry is expected to determine the causative factors. As of now it is widely believed that the explosions were triggered by either a buildup of hydrogen generated during recharging of the batteries or mishandling while arming the on-board weapon systems.


Incidentally, three years ago in February 2010, this very submarine was the scene of a smaller explosion that led to the death of one sailor and the wounding of two others while its batteries were being recharged at the Visakhapatnam naval base. Needless to say, the Indian Navy can ill afford such incidents and must identify the reasons that led to this terrible incident which has resulted in a tragic loss of lives, the loss of an expensive and potent weapon system, the further depletion of an already limited submarine fleet and a loss of image to a professional Navy. Furthermore, it certainly does not auger well for a country that projects itself as a major power in a very complicated region where some powerful adversaries are at play.

Pakistani troops violate ceasefire again, fire on Indian posts in Mendhar, Hamirpur

Pakistani troops fired on forward Indian posts along the Line of Control in Mendhar and Hamirpur areas of Poonch district late tonight in yet another instance of ceasefire violation, drawing retaliation from India.


There was no immediate report of casualties on Indian side.


Defence spokesman SN Acharya said the Pakistani troops targetted the Indian forward areas with small arms fire at around 9.45pm and Indian troops responded to it.

Jawaharlal Nehru permitted CIA spy planes to use Indian air base: Document

India allowed the US to use one of its air bases for refuelling the CIA's U-2 spy planes to target Chinese territories after its defeat in the 1962 war, a declassified official document said today.


The then Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru approved overflight by U-2 missions covering the border areas with China on November 11, 1962, the independent National Security Archive (NSA) said in a report based on the latest set of declassified documents it obtained from the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act.


The use of Charbatia, an abandoned World War - II base in Orissa, was agreed during a meeting between the then US President John F Kennedy and Indian President S Radhakrishnan on June 3, 1963, but Indian work to improve it took longer than expected, so the missions resumed from Thailand's Takhli, NSA said, based on the 400-page CIA report released by it.


According to the report, which details the spying programmes conducted with the planes from 1954 to 1974, the U-2 mission on 10 November 1963 was the longest yet flown by a U-2 at 11 hours 45 minutes, and the pilot was so exhausted that project managers limited future flights to 10 hours endurance.


In fact, the longest U-2 mission to date was the one flown from Takhli on 29 September 1963, it said.


NSA said that the first deployment to Charbatia in May 1964 ended because Pt Nehru died.


According to a newly declassified CIA history of the U-2 programme obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by National Security Archive, it was the secret flights made by these U-2s aircrafts by the CIA, which informed New Delhi about the nature of Chinese incursions inside Indian territory.


"Charbatia was still not in early 1964, so on 31 March 1964 Detachment G staged another mission from Takhli. The first mission out of Charbatia did not take place until 24 May 1964. Three days later Prime Minister Nehru died, and further operations were postponed," the report says.


"The pilots and aircraft left Charbatia but other remained in place to save staging costs. In December 1964, when Sino-Indian tensions increased along the border, Detachment G returned to Charbatia and conducted three highly successful missions, satisfying all of COMOR's requirements for the Sino-Indian border region," it said.


"By this time, however, Takhli had become the main base for Detachment G's Asian operations, and Charbatia served merely as a forward staging base. Charbatia was closed out in July 1967," the report said.


According to the CIA report, in October 1962, the People's Republic of China launched a series of massive surprise attacks against India's frontier forces in the western provinces of Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA).


"The Chinese overran all Indian fortifications north of the Brahmaputra Valley before halting their operations. The Indian Government appealed to the United States for military aid.


"In the negotiations that followed, it became apparent that Indian claims concerning the extent of the Chinese incursions could not be reliably evaluated," it said. "(The, then) US Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith, therefore, suggested to the Indian Government that US aerial reconnaissance of the disputed areas would provide both governments with a more accurate picture of the Communist Chinese incursions."


"On 11 November 1962, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru consented to the proposed operation and gave the United States permission to refuel the reconnaissance aircraft (U-2s) in Indian airspace," it said.


In late November, Detachment G deployed to Takhli, Thailand, to carry out the over flights of the Sino-Indian border area. Since the U-2s were not authorised to overfly Burma, they had to reach the target area via the Bay of Bengal and Eastern India and, therefore, required midair refuelling.


The United States had provided photographic coverage of the border area to India for two reasons, the report said.


"First of all, US policymakers wanted a clear picture of the area under dispute. In addition, the intelligence community wanted to establish a precedent for over flights from India, which could lead to obtaining a permanent staging base in India for electronic reconnaissance missions against the Soviet ABM site at Saryshagan and photographic missions against those portions of western China that were out of range of Detachment H," it said.


"ln April 1963, Ambassador Galbraith and the Chief of Station at New Delhi made the first official request to India for a base. The following month, President Kennedy agreed to DCI McCone's suggestion to raise the question of a U-2 base in India when he met with India's President Savepalli Radhakrishnan on 3 June. This meeting resulted in an Indian offer of an abandoned World War 11 base at Charbatia south of Calcutta," the report said.

INS Sindhurakshak: in twin explosions, a weapon was ejected

Bodies of four of the 18 sailors who were inside the INS Sindhurakshak when it exploded in a ball of flames on Wednesday after midnight have been found this morning by naval divers. (Read)


The INS Sindhurakshak, 16 years old and made in Russia, was fitted with torpedoes and Klub missiles, one of which was accidentally ejected during the twin explosions, a senior source in the Navy said.


So far, the Navy has ruled out sabotage and a recent recharging of the submarine's batteries as the cause for the explosion which took place in the front compartment, where weapons are stored.


Sources also told NDTV that signs suggest that the experienced crew was not negligent. "Every crew man on board had put in over 10 years and had the highest certifications possible," a senior official told NDTV.


India has 14 other submarine units, including the nuclear-powered submarine. New guidelines for safety procedures have been issued to their crews, based on this week's disaster, the worst for the Indian Navy in peace-time.


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