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Friday, 20 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 20 Sep 2013
Sunken sub to be pulled out
Ministry of Defence to engage a global salvaging company
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
The Ministry of Defence is planning to hire a global professional salvaging company to extract the sunken Indian submarine INS Sindhurakshak.

The submarine had capsized following a blast and fire on board on August 14 while it was docked at the Mumbai naval dockyard. Since then, divers have been trying to locate bodies of the 18 Navy personnel who were in the submarine at that time. Nine bodies have been found and identified and the fears are that the remaining may have been burnt in the fire. The deceased have been declared “battle casualties”. This will enable their wives or parents to get full pension till they are alive.

Source said the armament on board the submarine, like Torpedoes, could pose no danger to nearby localities in Mumbai’s Colaba area. However, these would need to be handled with care. There is no chance of their detonating of their own, but these would have to be taken out along with the submarine. Salvaging operations work on the principle of “no cure, no pay’, meaning in case the salvaging company cannot take out the submarine as per desired specification, it will not be paid.

Despite this clause, the MoD is playing safe and is looking for one of the experienced salvagers. Seven companies have expressed interest in the work and their credentials are being verified.

The cost of salvaging could run into hundreds of crores, but the submarine has to be taken out for the Navy to complete its Board of Inquiry and also to vacate space at the harbour. The one-month deadline given to the Board of Inquiry has been extend, official sources said.
Pak training 50 terrorists in jungle near Poonch
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria & Darshan Bharti/TNS

Jammu/Poonch, September 19
Pakistan, it appears, has set up a specialised training camp for nearly 50 hardcore terrorists in a dense jungle at Kacharban in Pakistan-occupied- Kashmir (PoK).

The camp - situated in Bagh district, which is close to Saujiyan sub-sector in Poonch district - is heavily fortified and has been declared out of bounds for PoK civilians, including shepherds, who used to graze their livestock in the area, reveal Indian intelligence agencies.

Terrorists are being trained along Border Action Team (BAT) members in a walled compound which has been witnessing “hyperactivity” since August 18, said intelligence sources.

“Every morning at least two to three Pakistani Army officers enter the compound in a vehicle and then leave with nearly a dozen men in the same vehicle for an unknown destination in the vicinity of the jungle where they are trained in guerilla warfare for three to four hours,” they said.

"On weekends, senior officers from the Army and the ISI enter the compound, probably, to check progress. On these days, the security is beefed up further and curfew-like restrictions prevail in the area,” said sources.

The camp is a proof that the Pakistan Army and the ISI continue to run terror infrastructure in PoK, said sources.

The 'increased' activity in Kacharban camp and inputs from 'contacts' across the border suggest that Pakistan is planning something big. “There are two possibilities --- another BAT attack or a major infiltration bid to push as many terrorists as possible into the state,” said sources.

On August 6, a BAT team had killed five Indian soldiers in Chakan-da-Bagh area along the LoC.

In the ongoing skirmishes between the two armies since August, the barbed fence along the LoC has been damaged in areas such as Tarkundi in Balakote sub-sector, Chaprian in Saujiyan sub-sector and near Makki post in Gulpur sub-sector.

"Though the Army keeps repairing the damaged fence regularly but relentless fire has been hampering their work. These open stretches can be exploited by Pakistan," said sources.

Heavily fortified camp

    The walled compound in the middle of the forest in Kacharban, which is close to Poonch, has been witnessing ‘hyperactivity’ since August 18, say intelligence sources
    Every morning at least two to three Pakistani Army officers enter the compound in a vehicle and then leave with nearly a dozen men in the same vehicle for an unknown destination in the vicinity of the jungle where they are trained in guerilla warfare, they said
    The camp is heavily fortified and the area has been declared out of bounds for PoK civilians
Recast Security Council
It needs to become more relevant

The 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) comes at a time when the world is looking at the UN for answers to many complex issues. The relevance of the United Nations has been dependent on various factors, not the least being the way the superpowers cooperate with it. For a while it seemed that the world body has become somewhat ineffectual, but recent events, including the crisis in Syria, have again pitched it centre stage. There has been a growing voice for reforms at the premium world body. Among them, perhaps, the most important one is that of expansion of the UN Security Council, which India has long supported, along with Brazil, Germany and Japan. These nations have earned the right to be on the Security Council, and it is indeed important for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stress on UN reforms.

The Prime Minister is also likely to appeal to the international community to jointly combat the menace of terrorism, both in his interaction with world leaders as well as his forthcoming address to the UNGA. The world needs to put up a united effort to combat terrorist activities, and the UN can play a unique, proactive role in coordinating and effectively tackling terror. Nations that face terror need information that can help them thwart the designs of the perpetrators of such activities. More coordination is needed for curtailing the illicit arms trade and the illegal movement of funds. India has advocated a zero- tolerance approach on terror but it needs more push.

India has a powerful voice in the United Nations; the world listens when the Prime Minister speaks. This UNGA meeting with its 'Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage' focus is exactly what the developing countries need, and the Prime Minister will surely utilise the occasion to garner as much support for India as he can. It is time for the UN to undertake necessary reforms and adapt to a changing world. India must support the world body in this endeavour.
Sunset soldiering
by Raj Kadyan

What do soldiers do after retirement? This question often finds a simpering response, ‘Well, they have the canteen booze for company’. But anyone who has toured the hinterland would think otherwise. There are veterans who head village councils. Invariably one sees display boards like ‘Adarsh' or 'Nirmal’ village. Testimonials from the State administration line the walls of panchayat halls. But this is not their only contribution.

Honorary Captain Ramphal was a model soldier in many ways. With his 75-inch height and enviably athletic body he played practically every game. His straight spine and looking-into-the-eye disposition always made a commanding presence. Ten years into retirement in his village in Bhiwani district of Haryana, his zeal for social causes refuses to dim.

On June 16, 2013, Ramphal watched the TV news of the devastating human tragedy in Uttarakhand. His mind was made up quickly and he started collecting funds. With his high reputation for integrity, donors came forward willingly and cash flowed in. He, along with two other veterans — Havildar Dharamvir and Naik Satbir — bought rations and reached Dehradun in a hired truck.

The DM at Dehradun, Mr Purushottam, gave them a permit to move to Joshimath. They were still on the way when the DM called up to say that a portion the Joshimath road had been washed off and asked them to divert to Tehri. They did so, moving to Chamba by late evening. There the SDM of Tehri, one Mr Shrivastav, advised them to stay the night at Chamba as the road beyond was not fit for night travel. The SDM also advised them to contact the SDM of Dhanolti where rations were in more urgent demand.

The Dhanolti SDM, Mr Pandey, suggested they move to Tathod. There they met the bloc SDM, another Mr Pandey. Here they were provided with smaller Tata pick-up trucks and the Tehsildar with 10 helpers came to unload and transfer the rations. Ramphal's team worked overnight to put rations in smaller packets for distribution to the needy individuals.

By now there was a road blockade behind them but he had seen enough of these in his service and took the news in his stride. After the rations had been distributed, the SDM requested if some tents could be arranged by them. Ramphal’s team immediately rushed back to Dehradun and purchased 32 tents and 21 tarpaulins. These were dispatched without delay.

Ramphal’s village had been generous. After doing all this they still had Rs 1 lakh balance. This they donated to the Uttarakhand Chief Minister's fund before returning home.

Being from my regiment, we keep meeting. Ramphal narrated the experience like a military debrief, without colour or padding. I asked him what he learnt from the experience. He told me two things. First, people feel genuine grief on such sad occasions and are willing to donate liberally. They of course do not have the initiative and organisational skills; that gap was filled by Ramphal's team. Second, he was all praise for the right attitude and professionalism of the civil administration of Uttarakhand.

Finally, I asked him if he would do a repeat if an occasion arose. “I do not wish a repeat of such a tragedy Sahib,” he said without any hint of pomposity. But I could see the same old steely determination in those eyes that peered from beneath the now greying brows. A soldier is a soldier for life.

We have over two million veterans living around the country. They do not retire with degrees and diplomas. They carry home sincerity, skills and selflessness for serving society. It is a pity that this tremendous asset is not being harnessed.

Combat animals in the Russian Army
September 19, 2013 Dmitry Litovkin, specially for RIR
Modern technology can turn peaceful animals into fighting machines. With proper training, animals can cope with the sort of combat missions that no soldier is able to take on.

The Russian Ministry of Defence has decided to expand the practice of using animals to carry out combat missions.  Following a decree from Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, more than 400 recruits were sent this year to train in one of the most unusual specialisations in the Russian Armed Forces - as guard and mine-detection dog handlers. In addition to this, more than 300 four-legged soldiers already serve as guard dogs at military sites or are engaged in work linked to detection of explosives.
In Nikolo-Uryupino, not far from the Moscow ring road there is a secret, cross-species training centre, which trains specialist sapper dogs. Here unique technology is used to train these dogs, allowing them to be guided remotely: a video camera and communications device is attached to the dog, and the handler communicates with the dog via a radio-link. Usually however for a dog to understand its owner it not only needs to hear them but also see them.

Aside from this know-how special body armour has been developed at Nikolo-Uryupino for these dogs. Specialists claim that the specific ‘fit’ means that the movements of the four-legged soldier are not hindered and this allows the dog to carry out any type of work. It is proposed that this body armour would be used in counter-terrorist and other special operations.
Dogs however are not the only animals in service with the Russian Army. The Murmansk Institute of Maritime Biology set up a training centre to train seals and other creatures of the sea.

Today there are 15 ‘soldier seals’ in the Special Forces that come under the patronage of the Northern Fleet. They are few in number but this is enough in the long term for example to reliably guard strategic nuclear-submarines.

Gennady Matishov , an academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences says that the seals’ potential is useful in carrying out a range of missions both on land and underwater. This is however especially important when it comes to submarines, where human potential is restricted. For example, it is normal for a seal to dive to a depth of 100 metres, while for a human this is a serious test and is potentially life- threatening. Apart from that a seal is able to detect objects and take them off the bottom, bring tools down to a diver deep underwater and when necessary is even able to kill an enemy.

Just like ordinary soldiers, the seals are on seasonal combat duty close to the vessels. In contrast to humans however seals are not susceptible to the northern climate. Cold, snow and ice do not have any effect on their quality of service.
Vyacheslav Popov, the former Commander in Chief of the Northern Fleet spoke about special exercises that took place under his command:  Navy saboteurs were ordered to break into the nuclear submarine base undetected and mine the submarines. The navy soldiers though were not warned about what they would be up against. Minutes after the seals were released from their enclosures and set off into the gulf, all the saboteurs surfaced and made a dash for the shore. Even the courageous and trained soldiers from the elite special divisions in the Russian Navy were no match for the seals in their natural environment.

It has to be said that the Ministry of Defence prefers not to comment on programmes linked to training animals to carry out combat missions. Statistics concerning expenditure on these objectives are highly classified, and it is just not possible to gain access to either Nikolo-Uryupino or the Northern Fleet’s seal base.
Need to effectively manage the India-Nepal Border
The recent arrests of two high profile terrorists, Adul Karim Tunda and Mohammed Ahmed Sidibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal have brought the India-Nepal border into sharp focus. Differences of opinion, however, exist as to the exact location from where these two terrorists were arrested. While India maintains that Tunda was arrested at the Banbasa-Mahendernagar border point and Bhatkal in Raxual, some media reports indicate that Tunda was arrested from Kathmandu Airport and Bhatkal was picked up from a hideout in Pokhara during a joint operation with Nepalese law enforcement authorities. Whatever maybe the case, these arrests highlight the fact that terrorist and criminal groups are increasingly using Nepal as a base because the open border with India allows them to enter and exit India with ease.

The seeds for an ‘open’ border between India and Nepal can be found in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship which the two countries signed in 1950. Articles VI and VII of the treaty specify that citizens of both countries have equal rights in matters of residence, acquisition of property, employment and movement in each other’s territory, thus providing for an open border between the two countries. These provisions allowed the citizens of India and Nepal to cross their shared borders without passport and visa restrictions. In fact, the practice of keeping the borders with Nepal open was a British legacy. During the colonial times, the British required Gorkhas for the Indian army and the Nepalese market for their finished goods. These requirements necessitated unrestricted cross-border movement of both goods and people. After independence, India continued with the practice of an open border with Nepal. In addition, the rise of an assertive China and the absence of any physical barrier between India and Nepal compelled India to define the Himalayas lying north of Nepal as its northern barrier with China.

The open border between India and Nepal not only addressed mutual security considerations but also fostered close socio-economic relations between the two countries. The unrestricted flow of people over the years has resulted in the dissemination of ideas, culture, and settlements of people in each other’s territory thereby strengthening the bilateral social and cultural relations. The open border also has a favourable impact on two economies. Nepal is a landlocked country and its closest access to the sea is through India. As a result most of its imports pass through India. Keeping this in consideration, India has granted Nepal 15 transit and 22 trading points along the border. As for India, it is the biggest trading partner of Nepal. An open border has also allowed many Nepalese citizens to find employment in India and Indians to open business ventures in Nepal.

At the same, the open border has been misused by terrorists and criminals. During the eighties and nineties, the Sikh and Kashmiri militants used to infiltrate into India through Nepal as fences were erected along the India-Pakistan border to prevent infiltration. More recently, India has allowed former Kashmiri militants to return to Jammu and Kashmir via Nepal under the surrender and rehabilitation policy because of the difficulties involved in accessing the designated routes along the India-Pakistan border. However, apprehensions have been raised that trained militants might also slip through the border in the guise of surrendered militants. Further, suspected perpetrators of serial bomb blasts in India sneak out of the country through the open border and hide themselves in Nepal. In addition, many hard-core criminals pursued by Indian law enforcement agencies escape into Nepal through the open border, where they set up smuggling gangs and criminal syndicates to smuggle gold, drugs, fake Indian currency notes (FICN), women and children, arms, and explosives. For instance, the Indo-Nepal border has become a major conduit for smuggling FICN. In the last four years, FICN amounting to more than Rs. 8 lakhs was seized along the border. Likewise, human trafficking and smuggling of Ganja from Nepal and pharmaceutical preparations from India is also quite rampant. More recently, the Indo-Nepal border has also become a route for smuggling of gold from Tibet into India.

Numerous madrasas which have proliferated in the Terai region on both sides of the Indo-Nepal border during the past two decades has also become a source of major concern for the Indian security establishment as it is suspected that some of them might be providing shelter to fugitives and becoming a platform for recruiting cadres for terrorist organisations. The problem is further aggravated by intelligence inputs that Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has been using Nepalese territory to carry out anti-India activities since the 1990s. Wikileaks documents have revealed that the ISI has created a number of terrorist fronts in Nepal and has also pushed in men and explosives through the border to carry out terror attacks in India. While the entire border is open for crossing into India, the busy border crossings at Raxual and Sunauli are the preferred routes for smuggling as these places are well connected with good roads. Encroachments in the no-man’s land by removing or damaging border pillars have added another dimension to the problem. Security agencies believe that the buildings which have come up in the no man’s land could be used as a hideout as well as for storing arms and explosives.

The extent of misuse of the open border by terrorists and criminals has led to a clamour in some quarters to rethink the rationale for keeping the border with Nepal open. While it is true that the open border has facilitated terrorist and criminal activities that are adversely impacting national security, it is equally important to recognise that an open border has also helped India and Nepal to develop and deepen socio-cultural and economic relations. Transforming the border from an ‘open border’ to a ‘closed border’ would severely damage these ties with disastrous consequences for the citizens and economies of both countries. It would therefore be prudent to keep the border open but manage it more effectively by strengthening security through effective law enforcement, installing screening and detection devices at the check points, and enhancing intelligence networks.

Policymakers in India have taken note of the deteriorating security situation along the India-Nepal border and have undertaken a number of measures in response. For instance, the presence of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) along the Indo-Nepal border has been further augmented with the construction of five additional Border Out Posts (BOPs). The SSB has been granted the powers to search, arrest and seizure under the Criminal Procedure Code as well as powers to arrest under the Passport Act. In addition, 1,377 km. of strategic roads are also being built along the border to facilitate the easy movement of the border guarding personnel. The SSB is also installing surveillance cameras along the border. For addressing the twin objectives of security and trade facilitation, two integrated check posts with state of the art detection and screening devices as well as support facilities are being constructed at Raxual and Jogbani.

India has also been seeking Nepal’s cooperation in managing the border through several bilateral mechanisms. However, domestic political turmoil, lack of political will and resource crunch have so far prevented Nepal from effectively cooperating with India. This situation, however, appears to be gradually changing now. Following the arrests of the two terrorists, the Nepalese security agencies had conducted a study and identified 18 types of crimes that are widespread along the India-Nepal border including human, arms and drugs trafficking, unauthorised trade, smuggling of counterfeit currency, kidnapping, robbery, and extortion. They have also prepared and enforced a Cross-Border Crime Control Action Plan 2013 to curb trans-border crimes. But more needs to be done. India and Nepal have to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to improve the situation along their border by setting up joint task forces to investigate cross-border crimes, sharing real time intelligence, conducting coordinated or joint patrolling, re-installing missing border pillars and repairing the damaged ones and jointly developing infrastructure along the border.
Army for probe into actions of Gen V K Singh's intelligence unit
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New Delhi, Sep 19: The Army has requested the Defence Ministry to order a high-level probe into the functioning of a top secret intelligence unit set up by Gen V K Singh, suspecting it of carrying out "unauthorised operations" and financial wrongdoings.
The Army report about the Technical Support Division, which was accused of illegally tapping phones of senior Defence Ministry officials, has been submitted to the Defence Ministry recently and it has recommended a probe into the functioning of the unit, sources said here.
When contacted, Army Headquarters said the matter was closed on its part and it would not like to comment on it.
Sources said the Army does not want to carry out inquiry against the unit on its own as it does not want to be seen as taking action against its former chief.
The report was prepared by Director General Military Operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia as part of a Board of Officers (BOO) formed by Gen Bikram Singh to review the functioning of the top secret unit set up under his predecessor.
Reacting to the reports, Gen V K Singh said, "This is simple vendetta as some people are not comfortable with me sharing the dais with Narendra Modi to espouse the cause of ex-servicemen in the country."
He said if anyone has recommended a probe into the functioning of the unit, then that person is "talking through his hat" as its operations were meant to be secret. It is learnt that the report submitted by the Bhatia-led committee has stated that TSD was allegedly involved in "unauthorised operations" which may have taken place even across the border without the proper clearance from the higher-ups in the Government.
The operations carried out by the unit in Jammu and Kashmir have also been questioned by the Bhatia committee and it is learnt that the unit has been accused of using funds against top serving officers.
The unit has also been accused of being involved in financial wrongdoings to the tune of Rs 8 crore.
The funds for the unit had been stopped at the time when present CAG Shashikant Sharma as Defence Secretary had refused to provide finances to it due to lack of clarity on the way they were being spent by the formation.
At the time of reviewing the operations of the TSD, it is learnt that the Bhatia Committee was also looking into the alleged misuse of Military Intelligence funds to file court cases during Gen V K Singh's tenure against senior officers.
The TSD was formed during the tenure of Gen V K Singh and its existence came to light in March last year when it was alleged that the unit had tapped the phones of Defence Ministry officials at the height of the controversy over the then Army Chief's date of birth.
The process to disband the TSD was initiated recently after the new Army Chief took over and its officers and men have been posted out from there.
The TSD was reporting directly to the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh and it was alleged that the unit may have snooped into the conversations of people even outside the Defence Ministry using its off-the-air interceptor equipment.
Army conducts conference to boost morale of VDC members
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Jammu, Sep 19: The Army today organised a conference with members of Village Defence Committees (VDCs) in Reasi district to help address their problems and boost morale.
Uniform Force, a Division of Rashtriya Rifle's Battalion located at Sarh, organised the conference at Chakal Salta village in Reasi, Defence spokesman S N Acharya said.
More than 129 VDC members, six sarpanchs from the area were present on the occasion, he said.
"VDCs have played a pivotal role in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in fighting militancy hand-on-hand with the security forces," Acharya said, adding they had laid down their lives fighting militants to protect the land.
The VDCs are considered to be a vital security arm for safeguarding the people of remote and mountainous belts from militant attacks.
The VDC members were presented with sleeping bags and blankets as a small token of appreciation for their contribution and to motivate them for the future, he added.

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