Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Sunday, 22 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 22 Sep 2013
Defence Ministry, Army out of sync

Days after retired Army chief General V K Singh addressed an ex-servicemen rally in Haryana along with BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, the UPA government on Friday said it was examining a probe report on covert activities of a secret operations unit created by him.

There was a disconnect between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Army headquarters, which according to ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar had submitted the report, supposedly on the Technical Support Division (TSD) activities.

TSD was disbanded in March based on the same inquiry report recommendations. Army’s Director General Military Operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia had headed the Board of Officers that investigated the TSD.

The Army’s reason for not showing interest in further action on the TSD probe report against its officers and the former Army chief was because of the “secret and sensitive” nature of the unit’s operations, with enormous funds at its disposal for covert counter-intelligence operations, both inside Jammu and Kashmir and the North East, and across the borders.

The MoD admitted as such, when Kar said the government had received the Army report on “certain issues relating to one of its outfits” but the report “impinges on matters of national security and, as such, the government will take a decision and further action after a careful examination”. “The government has in place measures to prevent any such undesirable activities,” he said, clarifying that the MoD has not made any decision for a CBI inquiry into the issues raised in the Army’s report.

MoD sources said it was not even considering handing over the matter to the CBI due to the “explosive” nature of the report. “Why should we hand over every probe to CBI? We are competent to handle this matter,” sources said. “If any malfeasance is found against any serving or retired officer, appropriate action would be initiated,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said in a press conference.
Swedish firm bags defence deal

Swedish defence firm Saab on Friday announced it has won a `1,900-crore order from India to supply self-protection systems for Dhruv, its indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter.

The order, worth Swedish Krona 216 million (US $33 million), was placed by Indian Defence Public Sector Undertaking for aerospace systems, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the company said in a statement here.

“Saab has received two orders from HAL for serial production of an integrated electronic warfare self-protection system for installation on the Indian Army’s and Air force’s Advanced Light Helicopter,” Saab’s Micael Johansson, Senior Vice President and Head of Saab’s business area Electronic Defence Systems, said.

Saab’s Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) protects crew and aircraft and enhances the survivability in sophisticated, diverse and dense threat environments. The system provides a timely warning against different types of threats including radar, laser and missile approach warning, and automatically deploys appropriate countermeasures.

These orders follow initial serial production orders received in 2008 and further established Saab as a local partner to the Indian Industry and provider of high tech products and systems to the Indian armed forces, Saab’s Lars-Olof Lindgren, Head of Market Area Saab India, said.

Deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2014. Development and production of the IDAS system will take place at Saab in Centurion, South Africa (Saab Grintek Defence).

The system has been integrated on several airborne platforms such as the Saab-2000, Agusta-Westland A109, Super Lynx 300, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, Eurocopter Cougar, Puma and Super Puma.
Saab producing helicopter defense system for India
LINKOPING, Sweden, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Saab is serial producing integrated electronic warfare self-defense systems for use on Indian Army and Air Force helicopters.

The two orders, worth a total of about $33 million, were placed by Hindustan Aeronautic Limited, which will install the units on the advanced light helicopter.

"Saab has an unbeaten capability in the field of electronic warfare and self-protection," said Micael Johansson, senior vice president and head of Saab's Electronic Defense Systems business area. "The IDAS system is one of our flagship products sold to customers around the world."

Saab's Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) warns pilots of radar, laser and missile approach threats and automatically deploys the appropriate countermeasures.

The two orders received initial serial production orders received from India in 2008. Development and production of the IDAS system will take place at Saab in Centurion, South Africa, with deliveries scheduled to start next year.

"With these orders we continue to build on our very successful partnership with HAL," said Lars-Olof Lindgren, head of Market Area Saab India.
5-day exhibition of Red Eagles Division begins
ALLAHABAD: The Platinum Jubilee celebration of Red Eagles Division commenced with a five-day exhibition, narrating the historic saga of valor of its men, at the Allahabad Museum on Saturday. The exhibition is being organised in collaboration with Indian army.

Defence spokesman, Group Captain Basantkumar B Pande, said that Major General Surinder Singh, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Red Eagles Division was the chief guest during the inauguration of the exhibition. In his speech, Maj Gen Singh highlighted the history of Red Eagles Division and importance of discipline in nation-building. He exhorted youth to join the army.

Allahabad Museum director Rajesh Purohit highlighted the achievements and significance of Red Eagles Division.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Sukhwant Kaur, president, Army Wives Welfare Association, Red Eagles Division. The exhibition highlights the heroic achievements of Red Eagles Division from World War-II till date. Exhibition also gives detailed information on various arms and services of army under 'Know Your Army' campaign. This exhibition is open for local public till September 25.
Sharif gets army to back off on India peace bid
Unlike his predecessors, Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif seems to have got some leeway from the country’s powerful military establishment in pursuing peace with India. Islamabad’s relations with New Delhi fall under the ambit of the army leadership, which closely monitors any
dealings Pakistan’s diplomats or politicians make. “The ISI works out of the foreign office. India, China and the US are areas of special concern,” concedes a former Pakistan envoy to India.

Since his return to power in May, the Punjabi PM’s India strategy has been to focus on trade and people-to-people relations. Even here, the army has stepped in on many occasions, such as in the case of according India MFN (most favoured nation) status and easing visa restrictions. A former secretary of the commerce ministry recalls how he had to give two briefings after talks with Indian delegations, one to Sharif and the other to the ISI.

However, there is a change, albeit a small one. Sharif is now effectively curtailing the military’s role in civilian affairs. He has been consistent in his stance that the army stay away from political issues. Even on the thorny subject of talks with the Taliban, he publicly berated the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, for issuing a statement ahead of his policy announcement.

Power politics in Pakistan suggests a leader from the country’s largest province is the only person who can push back the army, which also gets the bulk of its officer and soldier strength from Punjab. “This is how it works in Pakistan. Only a Punjabi can push back a Punjabi,” says Ayaz Khan, a senior Lahore journalist.

Expectations from Sharif are high. Private discussions with Sartaj Aziz, his de-facto foreign minister, suggest the challenge is two-pronged: pursue confidence-building measures to win back India’s trust while checking the activities of militants and non-state actors, who get an active push from the intelligence agencies. “The more difficult challenge is to check people like (Lashkar chief) Hafiz Saeed who operate with impunity thanks to official patronage,” says defence analyst Aisha Siddiqa.

Political governments have traditionally been against adventures in Kashmir. But the army has consistently indulged in this, the recent incursions across the Line of Control being a case in point. Of late, non-state actors have been used but the army pulls the strings. And for Sharif to cut these strings, he needs to have more control of the army. He has been unable to do this so far and it isn’t expected to happen any time soon.

But all that comes later. The Sharif regime’s priority right now is to bring India back to the negotiation table by taking all the measures in its power. To that end, it has repatriated almost all Indian prisoners. There is also talk about increasing cross-border trade and giving Indian goods passage through Afghanistan, a move the ISI opposes tooth and nail.

Sharif is also keen on people-to-people contact. “There is nothing he’d like more than going to Delhi and playing a cricket friendly with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to illustrate goodwill and brotherly ties,” confesses an aide.

The premier has also hinted off the record to journalists that he’d like to drive to his ancestral village in Amritsar and be back in Lahore by evening. “No border control and better still, state-of-the-art infrastructure on both sides,” he said.

But till the larger issues — Kashmir among them — remain unaddressed, his advisors say he is aware this won’t happen.

For now, Sharif has pushed back the army leadership and made overtures to India, like his insistence on talks at a time when the Indian response remains cold. New Delhi is still mum on the proposed meeting between Singh and Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.

This has brought Sharif a lot of internal criticism, much of it from right-wing religious parties that have traditionally been close to the intelligence agencies.

An important factor in all this will be the change of guard in the army and ISI, both of which will get new chief within the year.
Anyone sullying army's fair name can't go scot-free: Congress
In the midst of the row over alleged misuse of a secret intelligence unit by former Army Chief Gen VK Singh, Congress today said anyone denigrating the fair name of the Indian Army "cannot go scot-free and will be punished".

"Silly explanations will not be satisfactory...It appears taht Singh is struggling hard to defend himself. We do not want to attack any person... It is something what has happened according to military inquiry......Guilty will be taken to task. They will be punished", party spokesman P C Chacko told reporters in reply to a volley of questions.

Hailing the Indian Army as the most partiotic in the world which has been "democratic" and has never interfered in political matters, Chacko said if anyone tried to "denigrate the name of the Army, they cannot go scot-free".

Asked whether Congress was ruling out a CBI inquiry into the matter, he said he was nobody to rule it out and it being a sensitive issue, needed to be handled with care.

"Can't say. I am nobody to rule it out. From the party side, we are not suggesting anything," he said when asked whether a CBI inquiry can happen but added "there are certain elements of confidentiality, which should be maintained." He made light of Gen Singh's demand for bringing out a white paper on the issue saying "if he has only coloured papers with himself, let him have some white paper." Chacko's remarks came close on the heels of Gen Singh dismissing the reports as "motivated" and terming as "most absurd" the allegations that he wanted to topple the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Reacting to reports that the Technical Support Division (TSD) was misused for unauthorised operations and indulged in financial wrongdoings, Singh claimed the Army and the Defence Ministry had found "nothing suspicious" against the unit in their probe and had sent it to the National Security Advisor (NSA) for closure.
Former army chief says allegations motivated
Former army chief Gen VK Singh, who is in the eye of a storm, on Saturday said the reports about his misuse of a secret intelligence unit are "motivated" and termed as "most absurd" the allegations that he wanted to topple the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Reacting to reports that the Technical Support Division (TSD) was misused for unauthorised operations and indulged in financial wrongdoings, he claimed that the Army and the defence ministry had found "nothing suspicious" against the unit in their probe and had sent it to the National Security Advisor (NSA) for closure.

"The reports on the whole issue are motivated and there are a number of reasons behind it including my sharing of dais with BJP leader Narendra Modi. There is a nexus between arms dealers," Gen Singh told PTI here.

The former army chief said after the government decided to close the issue by sending it to the NSA, "a joint secretary of the defence ministry, who has since moved out from there, has leaked this report against me".

Gen Singh said the TSD was set up by the Indian Army with full approval of defence minister AK Antony and the NSA.
Army spook unit carried out covert ops in Pakistan
The military intelligence unit set up by former army chief General VK Singh was involved in sensitive covert operations in Pakistan and was even on the trail of 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, officials associated with it have told HT.

“Our main task was to combat the rising trend of state-sponsored terrorism by the ISI and we had developed contacts across the Line of Control in a bid to infiltrate Hafiz Saeed’s inner circle,” an official who served with the controversial Technical Services Division (TSD) said.

Asked for an official response, an army spokesperson said, “The unit has been disbanded. Details of the unit, which was the subject matter of an inquiry, are only known to the Chief and a few senior officers. It is for the defence ministry now to initiate any further inquiries.”
The spook unit was set up after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks on a defence ministry directive asking for the creation of covert capability.

Army documents, perused by HT, reveal the senior-most officers signed off on the formation of this unit. File No A/106/TSD and 71018/ MI give details of approvals by the Director General Military Intelligence, vice-chief and chief of army staff.

The TSD — disbanded after allegations that it spied on defence ministry officials through off-the-air interceptors — was raised as a strategic force multiplier for preparing, planning and executing special operations “inside depth areas of countries of interest and countering enemy efforts within the country by effective covert means”.

But it then got caught in an internecine battle between army chiefs. The TSD – which reported directly to Gen VK Singh — used secret service funds to initiate a PIL against current chief General Bikram Singh. As reported by HT in October 2012, secret funds were paid to an NGO to file the PIL, in a bid to stall Bikram Singh’s appointment as chief.

However, covert ops were the unit’s essential mandate and deniability was built into it and it reads, “The proposed organization (TSD) will enable the military intelligence directorate to provide a quick response to any act of state-sponsored terrorism with a high degree of deniability.”

Its task was to carry out special missions and “cover any tracks leading to the organisation”.

Though covert operations were formally shut down by IK Gujral when he was PM in 1997, sources reveal the TSD carried out several such operations within and outside the country — such as Op Rehbar 1, 2 and 3 (in Kashmir), Op Seven Sisters (Northeast) and Op Deep Strike (Pakistan).

Controversy is dogging the unit once again after disclosures in The Indian Express that secret service funds were also used to destabilize the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP has raised questions over the timing of the disclosures. While the defence ministry has had the inquiry report since March, the revelations have come soon after Singh shared the stage with the saffron party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi last Sunday.

A look inside VK Singh’s super-secret TSD unit of Indian Army

New Delhi: A super-secret military intelligence wing, the Technical Support Division (TSD) became operational in the year 2010, during the tenure of General VK Singh as army chief.
The approval to the wing came during the tenure of General Deepak Kapoor.

After allegations of irregularities plagued the TSD, a probe was ordered led by Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, in September 2012.
In December 2012, all the TSD officials were transferred, as part of the investigation.
Bhatias submitted the final report to defence secretary SK Sharma, with original army documents, notings. Its recommended disbanding the TSD wing.
The report alleged that secret Military Intelligence (MI) funds were funneled to TSD. The unit spied on government functionaries.
The TSD records show funds marked for ‘Operation Kashmir’. But there is no details about the nature of these expenditures.
There are details of withdrawals of secret service funds from State Bank of India account. The funds transfer comply with the amount transferred to TDS.
There are serious allegations according to which bribe was paid to Jammu and Kashmir minister to enable the change of state government.
The wing procured illegal spy and off-air interception equipments. No records of the procurement are available. The equipments were purchased from a Singapore-based firm, in the year 2010. They were subsequently destroyed in 2012.
Senior Military Intelligence officers have testified that funds were indeed ‘siphoned’ to buy spying equipment for covet operations.
In the last 2 years, the TSD has spent close to Rs. 20 crore, out of which Rs. 8 crore are unaccounted for. The report has attached testimonial details of personnel working in the office of Army Intelligence.

A Kashmir-based NGO, YES Kashmir landed with substantial part of the above mentioned eight
crore rupees. The fund, the report alleges, were used to change the Army brass succession order.
A sum of Rs. 1.19 crore were transferred to Ghulam Hasan Mir, Jammu and Kashmir agricultural minister.
Another transaction points out that Rs. 2.38 crore were transferred to Hakikat Singh. He is said to have set up an NGO, called J&K Humanitarian Service Organisation (JKHSO). The NGO is linked to YES Kashmir.
A petition has been filed by the NGO against the present army chief General Bikram Singh. He was accused of being involved in an alleged fake encounter.
The TSD unit is also accused of conducting covet operations.
The report is also scrutinizing possible role of a major general in Military Intelligence.
After the findings of the Bhatia report, defence secretary Sharma asked MI to submit quarterly expenses statement to MoD.

It was decided to strictly monitor MI activities. It was decided that MI will engage only in counter-intelligence and anti-militancy operations on border. It was barred from conducting covet operations.
Strict instructions were passed that units like TSD will never be raised, without the permission of ministry of defence.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal