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Monday, 26 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 26 Aug 2013
Foreign Secy promises all help to war-torn Afghanistan
Ashok Tuteja/TNS
New Delhi, August 25
On a quiet visit to Afghanistan that concluded today, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh assured the Afghan leadership that no terrorist attack would have an impact on India’s determination to assist the embattled nation in its reconstruction and development efforts.

During her three-day visit, Sujatha held talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Vice Presidents Marshal Fahim and Karim Khalili, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasool and her counterpart Ershad Ahmadi.

Official sources said Sujatha was accompanied by officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, including Sanjiv Ranjan, Joint Secretary (Development Partnership Administration) and Rudrendra Tandon, Joint Secretary (Pakistan). She conducted a thorough review of India’s development programmes under way in Afghanistan with Ambassador Amar Sinha.

She also paid a special visit to the Consulate General of India in Jalalabad that was recently targeted by a suicide bomb attack which was successfully thwarted by Afghan security forces. Sources said Sujatha’s visit to Afghanistan was her solo trip abroad after assuming charge as the Foreign Secretary on August 1. She had recently accompanied National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon to Bhutan. During her meeting with President Karzai, Sujatha conveyed to him best wishes from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

She reiterated India's commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan, assuring Karzai of New Delhi’s determination to complete the construction of the Parliament building in Kabul and the Salma Dam in Herat.

The Afghan President told her India and Afghanistan had shared interests and faced common threats. Karzai also praised the Indian government's scholarships for Afghan students and assistance to the war-torn country in different areas.
MHA nod to standard operating procedures for security forces
Issues do’s and don’ts to be adopted by personnel to counter ambush, landmine blasts in Maoist-hit areas
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung/TNS

New Delhi, August 25
“Do not get careless and succumb to death. Your life is precious to the country and society,” and “always be alert and beware. Vigilance and confidentiality is the main base of security,” are some of the dos and don’ts to be adopted by security forces in landmine blasts and ambushes in Maoist-hit areas.

The do’s and don’ts are part of a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) approved standard operating procedures (SOP) for security forces. The MHA had entrusted the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) to prepare the SOP on issues related to landmine blasts and improvised explosive devices (IED) in Maoist-hit areas. In the wake of the Maoist problem, the SOP was created by an expert group consisting of the Central Reserve Police Force, National Security Guard, the Border Security Force and state police forces. The SOP was ready by April this year.

The SOP reads that the Maoists have been extensively using landmines and claymore mines against the security forces. In 2012, 80 security force personnel were killed and 175 others were injured in landmines and IED blasts in Maoist affected areas. In 2011, 121 security force personnel were killed and 270 others were injured in similar attacks.

“Unfortunately, most of the security force personnel have lost their lives as a result of overlooking basic safety measures. Everyone has to remember that ‘eternal vigil’ is the foundation for safety in areas hit by extremism. Any laxity on the part of the security forces will entail a heavy price by the way of lost lives, limbs, etc,” mentions the SOP.

On the precautions to be taken, it reads that security force personnel as far as possible should travel on foot on cross country or some distance away from beaten tracks. Avoid regular movements, such as routine patrolling and village visits, as the enemy can anticipate your movements and strike. It also says that patrolling and village visits should instead be done with an element of surprise, involving different timings, modes of transports and routes.

Rushing of forces to police stations and areas that are under attack by the Maoists, known as ‘fire brigade actions’ in military parlance, should be avoided. “Many security force personnel have lost their lives in landmine blasts while visiting scenes. So, never rush to a scene in extremist affected areas. If an offence does not require immediate response, it is desirable to delay the visit to the scene as much as possible, even days. If it appears like a trap by the extremists, locals may be used to shift the injured or the dead to nearby hospitals,” says the SOP.

According to the SOP, to impose accountability, the militants and sympathisers should be told that a landmine blast or an ambush in their area will entail strict action on them.

It further states that security forces should act only on hard intelligence and not conduct speculative operations. The Maoists may direct their sympathisers to give unimportant information to the security forces and after gaining their confidence lure them into a trap.

The SOP asserts that intelligence collection is of utmost importance. This entails “mapping the area”, meaning to identify the areas which have Maoist sympathisers, dangerous zones and areas where intelligence is available or not available.

“Maintaining good relations with the public by the security forces is a must to enlist cooperation of the public, which may then pass useful information. An officer who has public support will not only be able to save himself but will also be able to save the lives of other security force personnel through useful information,” says the SOP.
Victims of atrocities by BSF men get Rs 8 lakh
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS

Guwahati, August 25
On the recommendation of the NHRC, the Union Home Ministry has paid Rs 8 lakh as compensation to the four members of a family who suffered atrocities at the hands of some BSF personnel near the Amzadnagar border outpost in South Tripura.

The NHRC recommended relief after the police inquiry confirmed that three BSF constables were prima facie guilty of attempting to rape a girl, killing her father and injuring her two brothers. Out of Rs 8 lakh, Rs 5 lakh were paid to the next of kin of girl’s father, Rs 2 lakh to the girl and Rs 50,000 each to her two brothers.

On November 29, 2010, a constable of the BSF reportedly tried to drag a girl into the jungle with bad intentions. The girl raised the alarm. When her elder brother came to help her, the constable hit him with a stick on the head. The girl’s father, his younger son and some villagers also reached the spot. The constable called his colleagues for help. One of them fired from his service weapon, killing the girl’s father and injuring his younger son.
India turns down China offer of freezing assets along LAC
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, August 25
New Delhi has conveyed to Beijing that it will not be possible to ‘freeze’ the infrastructure construction and forces at existing levels along the LAC. China and India are presently working to have a new Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA).

Both sides have exchanged drafts of what they opine should form part of the new agreement. It is expected to be inked when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits China sometime in October this year. The last meeting on the matter was conducted on August 20 between Indian Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh and Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin.

The existing levels of roads, railways and airfields, all critical for military supplies or in case of an attack, are lopsided in favour of China, a top functionary told The Tribune. “There is no chance of agreeing to a freeze on the infrastructure at existing levels. It would be imprudent,” said the functionary.

The Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Ministry of Defence have advised against agreeing to a halt on construction of new roads, airports or railway lines along the 4,057-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC), the name of the de-facto boundary between the two countries.

India is worried with China’s rapid expansion in the past decade. As many as 27 airfields in Tibet and Xinjiang virtually form a ‘ring’. New Delhi is just woken up in the past few years to start building roads, to base frontline fighters, the Sukhoi-30MKI, in its north-eastern part and announced raising of specialised Mountain Strike Crops.

China has two dedicated India-specific Military Area Commands at Lanzhou and Chengdu. Both have been allocated two group armies, each comprising between 75,000 and 1 lakh troops with equipment like tanks, mobile missile launchers, artillery and helicopters.

The latest report of the US Department of Defence titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013” describes the military capability. It reads: “The Peoples Liberation Army is investing heavily in modernising its ground force, emphasising the ability to deploy campaign-level forces across long distances quickly. This modernisation is playing out with wide-scale restructuring of PLA ground forces that includes a more rapid, flexible special operations force equipped with advanced technology and improved army aviation units utilising ultra-low altitude mobility helicopters armed with precision-guided munitions.”

Sources said the upcoming BDCA would be a filtered version of two existing agreements on maintaining peace and tranquility signed in 1993 and 1996, respectively. Besides this, a 2005 protocol exists on how soldiers on either side of the LAC will behave on coming face-to-face with each other. “The BDCA will address the gaps in the existing agreements especially how the recent incidents have panned out when soldiers have been disregarding the laid down ground rules”, a source said.

Defence Minister AK Antony told the Lok Sabha on August 20: “Two rounds of negotiations have been held so far. The purpose of the proposed agreement is to formalise mechanisms and procedures to enhance mutual trust and confidence between the border troops”.

Antony, during a visit to Beijing July 4-7 this year, had discussed with his Chinese counterpart, Gen Chang Wanquan, for having a formal mechanism to improve security at the borders, pending the final settlement of the territorial dispute between the two countries. Both countries make overlapping claims on where the boundary lies in the Himalayas. The LAC is not demarcated and has been under dispute since the British, in 1846, first offered the Tibetans a joint boundary commission in Ladakh, only to be turned down.

Border Defence Cooperation Agreement

    Both India and China have exchanged drafts of what they opine should form part of the new agreement. It is expected to be inked when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits China sometime in October this year
    Sources said the upcoming BDCA would be a filtered version of two existing agreements on maintaining peace and tranquility signed in 1993 and 1996, respectively
    Besides this, a 2005 protocol exists on how soldiers on either side of the LAC will behave on coming face-to-face with each other
    Antony, during a visit to Beijing July 4-7 this year, had discussed with his Chinese counterpart, Gen Chang Wanquan, for having a formal mechanism to improve security at the borders
DRDO develops low-level radar for mountains
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, August 25
The country’s air defence capability is expected to get a fillip, especially in the mountainous regions with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developing a new light-weight, low-level radar (LLR).

The system has been designed to detect low flying aerial threats like aircraft, helicopters and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) against the background of intense mountain clutter. DRDO scientists have claimed that the radar has gone through extensive user trials and evaluation at electronic warfare ranges as well as in high altitude areas and the system has been recommended for induction in the services.

According to some earlier reports, there are large gaps in India’s air defence network, due to both, lack of adequate surveillance assets as well as the growing obsolescence of the existing radar network and associated anti-aircraft weapon systems. Even Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence has adversely commented on the nation’s air defence capability.

The LLR come in the wake of another portable, three-dimensional (3-D) low-level radar developed indigenously for deployment in diverse terrains like mountains, snow-bound high altitude areas, deserts, urban high rise buildings and the plains. Serial production of this radar for the IAF has already commenced. The 3-D radar which can also be used for detecting very small UAVs, air space surveillance in urban areas for VVIPs and large critical installations, uses active aperture technology and is stated to be the first of its kind in the world.

The LLR is a quadripod mounted fully outdoor shelter-less equipment, rugged enough to operate in harsh environment, extreme temperatures extremes and in strong windy conditions. It can be segmented into several parts for transportation by men, mules or helicopter, and can be assembled in about 10 minutes.

Miniaturisation and low power technologies have been used to a great extent and the radar also has an identify friend and foe system. Hostile targets that are identified by the operator can be designated to weapon sites located in the proximity.

Thereafter, target updates are sent continuously over line or radio and presented on a hand-held target data receiver at these locations. Shoulder fired missiles can be aimed at the intruding aircraft from these weapon sites.
2 killed in shelling by Indian Army: Pakistan
Pak major falls to death in ravine
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Islamabad, Aug 25: Pakistani authorities Sunday said that two women were killed and seven other persons were injured in "unprovoked" shelling by the Indian Army across the LoC.
A woman was killed and six other persons were injured seriously as a result of unprovoked Indian army shelling at Nakyal sector on Line of Control this morning, Radio Pakistan reported.
It reported that another woman was killed while a minor girl was injured at Datot area.
Deputy Commissioner Kotli Masoodur Rehman told the state-run radio channel that the Indian troops resorted to "unprovoked shelling" on the civilian population on LoC late last night.
He accused Indian troops of having directly targeted civilian populations for the first time since their alleged violations of the Line of Control.
Tensions at the LoC have increased in the last few weeks especially after the killing of five Indian soldiers on August 6.
Both sides blame each other for LoC violations and say their action was retaliatory in nature.
Meanwhile a Pakistani army major was killed when he
accidentally fell into a ravine while on patrol near the Line of Control in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Major Saddam Malik met with his tragic death near the LoC in the Neelam valley near Muzaffarabad last night, according to Pakistani military officials.
The major was patrolling inside Pakistani territory at the LoC when he fell into the ravine at about 11 PM.
Tensions have soared at the LoC over the past weeks with regular exchange of fire between the troops of both the countries.
Both claim that the ceasefire violations are being committed by the other.
The situation reached a boiling point on August 6 when five Indian soldiers were killed in their own territory at the LoC.
Since then, Pakistan Army has also lost four of its men including a captain.
Army rescues hundreds from flood affected areas in Hoshangabad
LUCKNOW: With the flood situation worsening in Hoshangabad area of Madhya Pradesh, the district magistrate of Hoshangabad requested for assistance from the Army.

Central Command immediately mobilized troops from Jabalpur and Bhopal and moved two columns to the flood affected areas.

Despite flooding of bridges, the Army columns displaying resolve and taking detours reached the affected area of Bambal approximately 20km southeast of Hoshangabad and immediately launched into the act of rescuing marooned villagers in about seven severely affected villages in the area.

With one column each deployed on either side of the river, the Army rescue columns launched boats with out board motors and working till late in the evening successfully rescued approximately 270 marooned villagers to safety.

The Army is pressing more resources into service and additional boats and helicopters are being moved in for the relief operations.

The Army operations under Commandant Grenadiers Regimental Centre were still in progress in the affected area when reports last came in.

Reports were also received of floods in Dewas district and the Army has moved a reconnaissance column from Mhow to Dewas.
Northern Army chief reviews Kashmir security situation
SRINAGAR: Chief of Northern Command Lt General Sanjiv Chachra on Sunday discussed security issues with Jammu & Kashmir governor NN Vohra and senior Army officers, especially the situation along line of control (LoC), which has witnessed a spurt in ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts.

"Lt Gen Chachra, general officer commanding in chief of Northern Command, today (Sunday) arrived on a two-day visit to take stock of security situation in the valley," defence spokesman Naresh Vig said in a statement.

He said the visit of the Army commander assumes importance in the backdrop of the increased number of incidents of infiltration attempts by militants from across the LoC and ongoing ceasefire violations.

The Army has in recent past foiled infiltration attempts at various places in Kupwara Sector, in which 18 militants have so far been killed in different operations, he said.

Lt Gen Chachra, accompanied by general officer commanding of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt Gen Gurmit Singh, visited Rashtriya Rifles sector headquarters in the hinterland, the spokesman said.

The Army commander was briefed by Lt Gen Singh on the prevailing security scenario in his area of responsibility.

He was also briefed on the successful completion of 55-day Shri Amarnathji Yatra.

Lt Gen Chachra complimented the high level of synergy between Army, CRPF and police which resulted in peaceful conduct of Yatra.

Later in the evening, the Army commander accompanied by Lt Gen Singh called on governor NN Vohra, the spokesman said. "They discussed issues related to operational and security environment in the valley and on LOC," he said.

Lt Gen Chachra is scheduled to visit the forward areas and review the security situation along the LoC, he added.
Army recruitment drive turns riotous
LUCKNOW: The army recruitment drive in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, turned riotous on Saturday when thousands of unsuccessful applicants went on a rampage during an army recruitment campaign. Pelting stones at buses and stopping trains on the last day of the 'Sena Bharti Mela' at the RPSF camp, several aspirants from Mau district were put through selection test but failed to make the cut. While a totalof 362 were selected, nearly 5000, local police said, were found ineligible. A few of these 5,000 failed candidates created a ruckus at the railway platforms, bus stations and streets of the city, on their way home, reports said.

Things turned ugly after the aspirants insisted on travelling in local transport-- auto-rickshaws and buses -- but failed to pay the requisite fare. When asked to pay up, some resorted to pelting stones at roadways buses, the police said. Local police also said they looted railway vendors and stopped several trains passing through Gorakhpur, including the Durg Express, Bagh Express and Varanasi-Gorakhpur Intercity trains on Cantt Railway station, even trying to board them.

Local sources also said the applicants stopped Shaheed Express at the Cantt railway station, delaying it by several hours. The train was able to move only after local policemen and RPF jawans intervened and controlled the mob. Following the racket, the railways said they are attempting to identify the miscreants through CCTV footage. They also said the guilty will be punished, once the identification is completed.

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