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Friday, 4 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 04 Oct 2013
Militants hiding in huts near LoC
Ajay Banerjee & Majid Jahangir/TNS

New Delhi/Srinagar, Oct 3
The biggest counter-infiltration operation in recent times entered its 10th day on Thursday as a large number of militants remain holed up between the Line of Control and the fencing, also called the Anti-Insurgency Obstacle System, in Kupwara’s Keran sector.

The Army claimed the operation to flush out the infiltrators aided by Pakistani special troops was on as intermittent firing continued in the area.

Around 40 militants were spotted by troops of 3/3 Gorkha Rifles just short of the fencing after they had crossed over the LoC on September 24.

The militants are holed up in four dilapidated huts of a village vacated in 1971. The village is located between the fencing and the LoC north-west of Kupwara. The fencing is 1,200 metres inside the LoC.

India does not have habitation in the 10 km-deep buffer zone inside its territory and 268th Infantry Brigade headquartered at Pharkian Gali has been tasked with the operation.

The fact that the militants have sustained for 10 days at an altitude of around 10,000 feet indicates they are well-equipped and well-stocked with dry rations.

Sources said the militants were getting a continuous supply of rations from the PoK and were believed to be getting logistical support from there as well.

“It is possible that they are in touch with their base across the LoC and are getting supplies of dry rations and even charged batteries for their radio sets,” an Army source said in Delhi.

The Army has mulled two options to flush out the militants - one, to go for a frontal infantry assault; and second, to lie in wait and use small arms to attack the militants.

The first option has been ruled out as the line-of-sight visibility due to dense forest is less than 10 metres and a frontal assault will lead to avoidable casualties on the Army’s side, say sources.

The Army is using the second option by cordoning off the militants, who have been firing at sporadic intervals.

“The operation in the Keran sector is on. Intermittent firing is going on in the area,” said Naresh Vig, spokesperson for 15 Corps. There was no need to rush in additional troops as it might give militants fresh targets, the sources said.

Getting help from PoK?

The fact that the militants have sustained for 10 days at an altitude of around 10,000 feet indicates they are getting a continuous supply of rations and logistical support from the PoK, say Army sources. The militants are holed up in four dilapidated huts of a village located between the fencing and the LoC north-west of Kupwara

"It is possible that they are in touch with their base across the LoC and getting supplies of dry rations and even charged batteries for their radio sets. " — An Army source
Air Force plane, GoAir jet came dangerously close on Delhi runway
An inquiry has begun into how an Air Force Plane came dangerously close to a passenger jet at the Delhi airport on Wednesday.

The GoAir flight to Mumbai, which had 100 passengers, was forced to abort take-off seconds after its pilot saw the Air Force plane crossing the same runway.

Sources tell the Press Trust of India that aviation regulator DGCA is studying tapes from the Air Traffic Control to determine how the planes came so close to each other - they were just 1100 metres apart - on the runway.

The GoAir flight had got the go-ahead from the Air Traffic Controller to take off shortly after 2.30 pm.

But the Air Force plane had also been cleared to cross the same runway. The Air Traffic Controllers suddenly realised their error, and asked the Air Force plane to stop.

But the pilots allegedly did not hear that message. So the controllers then asked the GoAir pilot to stop. He applied the plane's emergency brakes.

The Air Force plane then crossed the runway.

The GoAir flight took off half an hour later for Mumbai.

What could have been a serious crisis took place minutes after President Pranab Mukherjee's plane took off from the same runway, which had been blocked for his aircraft's departure for Europe.

The Air Force plane's pilot thought the runway was still closed for commercial traffic and began moving across it.
LoC encounter enters 11th day; operation in final stages, says Army
With the encounter in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara region entering its 11th day today, Indian Army sources said the operation to check the infiltration by at least 30 terrorists from Pakistan is in its final stages now.

According to sources, sporadic firing is still on in Shala Batu village in Keran sector between more than 1300 Gurkha Rifles jawans and the terrorists, who have been restricted to an area of around one square km.

Army says at least a dozen remaining terrorists may have dug into abandoned houses and cave-like features in the area. There is strong possibility of the area being mined too, army sources said.

The Indian army says five of its soldiers have been injured and 12 intruders have been killed, though none of their bodies have been found. Army says the bodies may have been carried back across the Line of Control.

Though Pakistan army has denied any links with the incident, the Indian army said that Pakistan's Border Action Team might be involved.

The fighting began on September 24 when a group of at least 30 militants tried to cross over from Pakistan into India.

While the encounter was raging, Dr Manmohan Singh met Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif in New York for the first time since Mr Sharif was elected in May.

There have been over 120 ceasefire violations this year - highest in eight years - along the Line of Control, which, some say, has now turned into a Line of Conflict. The number of infiltration attempts from across the border has also doubled compared to last year.|head
India Pursues Indigenous ATGM Amid Javelin Talks
India has begun working on a homemade, man-portable anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), despite a US proposal to co-produce the Javelin ATGM.

Defence Ministry sources said the homemade project — a third generation Nag missile — is unlikely to derail the proposed Javelin deal, which is in only the preliminary stages of negotiation with the US. A scientist with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) claimed the Nag is lighter than the Javelin.

In what one US Embassy diplomat in India described as a groundbreaking initiative in India’s ties with Washington, US Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has proposed that India co-develop — rather than merely buy — the Javelin missile.

The Indian Army has a pressing demand for more than 20,000 third generation man-portable ATGMs, and all attempts to procure them from overseas over the past eight years has yielded no results.

Israel’s offer of its Spike ATGM was rejected in 2007 because it was the only vendor to respond to the tender. The US, meanwhile, refused to transfer technology after a proposal to buy the Javelin on a government-to-government basis. Indian MoD sources said that last year, the US refused to sell Javelin in adequate numbers to India due to “ international strategic and geopolitical considerations.”

The full details of Washington’s latest Javelin proposal have not been released, but MoD sources said the US wants to sell around 6,000 units within one year of the signing of the contract. In the future, the US would explore co-production of the Javelin and, at a later stage, work on the co-development of an ATGM tailor-made for India.

The US would also transfer Javelin technology, including the manufacture of the warhead, rocket motor, propellant, guidance and seeker, but no algorithms for guidance, which an Indian Army official said is the core to any guidance system.

A team from Raytheon and Lockheed Martin has briefed the Indian MoD on the possibilities to be explored in the Javelin project, Indian MoD sources said.

A Lockheed Martin executive said Javelin is better than any other man-portable ATGM because it is ejected non-explosively, which is useful to the Indian Army in higher terrain. The executive, however, declined to discuss details of Carter’s proposal.

DRDO, meanwhile, has begun work on the homemade Nag missile, which would weigh only 16 kilograms compared to Javelin’s 26 kilograms, the DRDO scientist claimed.

The man-portable version of the Nag missile is simpler than the vehicle-mounted version and, as such, could be developed in the next three years, the scientist said.

An Indian Army official said everyone, including DRDO, would be happy to get Javelin as nearly 25 years of work on the Nag ATGM has yet to result in a mature, third generation ATGM.

The Indian Army uses second generation, French-made Milan and Russian-made Konkurs ATGMs, which have a range of less than 2,000 meters.
Army funds never misused in Kashmir: VK Singh
CHENNAI: Former Army chief General VK Singh on Thursday said no Army funds have been misused in Jammu and Kashmir and they have been used to bring stability and harmony in the state.

Participating in a panel discussion on governance issues jointly organized by the Forum for Integrity in Governance and the Chennai chapter of the Anti-Corruption Movement at Loyola College, Singh said the funds were used for developmental and infrastructural purposes. He was reacting to the controversy over his recent statement that the Army had funded political leaders in Kashmir.

According to him, the Army as an institution remains absolutely apolitical and it works for the government with national interest in mind. "Army people also vote for parties. If someone says army is politicized, then I don't know what to say. As an institution, it's never politicized. Everything happening in the Army is for institutional integrity," he said.

Reacting to a question on the infiltration from Pakistan into the Keran sector of Kashmir, the former Army chief said, "I retired one and half years back. I don't know how prepared the Army is now. But I think whatever has happened is an intelligence failure. When we start tinkering with our intelligence, these kinds of things are bound to happen. I am sure the Army must be investigating."

Elaborating on the various issues India faced from the neighboring countries, Singh said there was trust deficit when it came to India's relations with Pakistan. China is vying with India to become a world power and border issues with that country remains unresolved.

"Our relations with even Nepal, a friendly country, are not so good. The same is case with Bhutan. Our policies are such it creates distrust in people of Bhutan," he said, and added that domestic politics spoiled the country's relations Bangladesh.

"Our relations with Sri Lanka are well known. We went to assist Tamils and landed up fighting them. We are not able to see the correct game plan."

"Myanmar forms important part of our look east policy. However, we have managed to spoil the relations," he added.

Speaking about the Left wing extremism in central India, he said this was because the government failed to look after the interest of indigenous people. "Other problems like separate homeland, if they are not addressed, have the potential to grow like the naxal movement," he warned.

Former chief election commission T S Krishnamoorthy, retired IAS officer M G Devasahayam and Justice (rtd) K Chandru were among the others who participated in the panel discussion.
Indian army hints at Pakistan army's role in massive LoC encounter
The Indian army today stopped short of accusing the Pakistani army of involvement in a massive infiltration attempt by at least 30 terrorists in Kashmir, but said that the encounter, now in its ninth day, suggests that the infiltrators had backing and training of "special troops."

"There were some special troops (involved in the infiltration bid), the training shows it. It is different from earlier attempts," said Lt-General Gurmeet Singh of the Army's 15 Corps. He said it would be "premature" for him to comment on specifics, but said, "This  is a BAT action cum infiltration," referring to the Border Action Team of the Pakistani army. The unit includes members of Pakistan's commando Special Services Group.
Lieutenant General Gurmeet Singh said five Indian soldiers have been injured in the encounter, none of them seriously.
The infiltration by the Pakistanis began on September 24, in the Keran sector about 100 km from Srinagar, five days before the Prime Minister and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in New York. The leaders agreed that their military commanders will work urgently to repair the ceasefire along the Line of Control, which has been violated gravely in recent months, creating tension for both countries.
Analysts say that the encounter proves that Mr Sharif, who was elected in May, will be unable to influence or check the powerful Pakistani army.
Though the Indian army claims 12 infiltrators have been killed, no bodies have been recovered so far. When asked for an explanation, Lieutenant General Gurmeet Singh said, "Retrieving bodies of dead terrorists is of no consequence to us."
The scale of the infiltration attempt, sources said, is clear from the fact that nearly 300 militants were gathered on the Pakistani side of the border, just miles from the Indian village of Shala Batu along the Line of Control. Army sources said that recently, a group of them tried to cross into India, but were trapped between a fence and the border.
Intelligence officials said that they were alerted to the presence of Pakistani militants by villagers from Shala Batu, who said that late in September, local girls were harassed by the foreigners, triggering angry protests.
Whole nation stands by army: Kayani
GAYARI - Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday said that those who sacrificed their lives for the motherland would not be forgotten.
He was speaking at a special ceremony organised by Pakistan Army at Gayari sector in Siachen to pay tributes to the martyrs of avalanche which struck a military base and buried 129 soldiers and 11 civilians under snow last year.
The ceremony was attended by the heirs of martyrs and officers and soldiers of Pakistan Army at the avalanche site in Siachen – the world’s highest battleground. General Kayani laid floral wreath on the monument of martyrs and offered fateha.
Paying tribute to the martyred soldiers and their heirs, he said that recovering the bodies of soldiers from the depth of mud and snow was a difficult task but the army has made it possible through the unprecedented efforts.
“Several experts had declared it impossible to retrieve bodies but we had the resolve to make possible the impossible, for which we transported heavy engineering machinery and carried out the massive digging work. Finally, we successfully retrieved most of those buried... We can’t ever forget those who laid down their lives defending the motherland,” the army chief said.
General Kayani said that some experts had earlier recommended Gayari to be declared as collective grave of the martyrs. He said that 133 bodies of the martyrs, out of 140 buried in an avalanche a year ago, have so far been recovered. He lauded the untiring efforts‚ dedication and devotion of the troops who succeeded in accomplishing this difficult task. The army chief said the entire nation stands by the armed forces of Pakistan in performing their sacred obligation of defence of the country.
Meanwhile, the military denied Indian accusations of Pakistani soldiers being involved in a reported clash on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC).
An Indian Army commander had alleged that Pakistani troops might be involved in an ongoing gunbattle near the disputed border.  The Pakistani Army rejected the allegation. “We totally deny this baseless allegation. This is a blatant lie. No such thing happened,” a spokesman for the Inter-Services Public Relations, said.
Senior Indian Army commander Gurmit Singh told reporters in Srinagar that the Indian soldiers had launched an action against militants on September 24 and which was still going on.
The Lieutenant General claimed some 30 to 40 heavily-armed fighters had crossed the LoC in the Keran sector and were holed up for the past nine days in thick forests in the area.
However, he denied reports in the Indian media that the ‘infiltrators’ had overtaken a ghost village along the border.
Foreign news agency AFP quoted Indian police sources as stating that the fighting was still taking place in Shala Bhatta, the abandoned village.
India and Pakistan often trade allegations of ceasefire violations from both sides of the disputed border. The most recent incident comes just days after the Prime Ministers of both countries agreed to soothe tensions.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New York on Sunday for the first time since Sharif swept to power in May promising an improvement in relations.
They agreed to task senior military officers to “find effective means to restore the ceasefire” in Kashmir, where regular clashes have taken place this year, resulting in casualties on both sides.
India powers its engine programme
"Bangalore: The central government has asked the Defence Research and Defence Organisation (DRDO) to revive its Kaveri engine programme, following the progress made by China in the development of its indigenous fighter aircraft engine programme.

Director general (aeronautics) of DRDO, K Tamilmani, on Tuesday said the Centre has asked the DRDO and Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), the laboratory involved in the design and development of the Kaveri engine, to submit a proposal of fund break-up in order recuperate the programme.

The Kaveri engine programme, which was originally conceived to power the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, has been in the developmental stage for the past two and half decades, and is dogged with several problems. As a result, the LCA is now powered by the American GE engines.

However, following the efforts undertaken by China to revive its Shenyang Liming WS-10 engine programme, and the success achieved by it, India too is keen to give a new lease of life to its engine programme, said Tamilmani.

CRPF evinces interest in UAV

Director general (aeronautics) of DRDO, K Tamilmani, said the Central Reserve Paramilitary Force (CRPF) has evinced interest in procuring the Nishant UAV. Nishant developed for the Indian Army has endurance of up to 4.5 hours and can be used in roles like battle field reconnaissance (day and night), surveillance, target tracking and localisation and correction of artillery fire. ""Production test pilots graduate

The valedictory function of the 14th production test pilot course was held at the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in Bangalore, recently. Air Marshal AP Garud, Senior Air Staff Officer Headquarters Training Command of Indian Air Force, presented the graduation certificates to the production test pilots. These officers earned this distinction after undergoing a grueling ten weeks of intensive training at the Air Force Test Pilots School. During the ceremony, the trophy for the best all round student was awarded to Commander Rajesh Vishnu.
Army, infiltrators exchange sporadic fire, no fresh casualty
Srinagar: Army personnel and a group of heavily armed terrorists backed by suspected Pakistan Army Special Forces troopers exchanged sporadic fire along the Line of Control in Keran sector of Jammu and Kashmir for the tenth day today but there was no fresh report any casualty.

Intermittent firing between the 30-40 infiltrators and the Army continued throughout the night as security forces maintained a tight vigil over the cordoned off area, defence sources said.

Five Indian soldiers have been injured in the gunbattle that started on September 24, while 10 to 12 terrorists were believed killed in the operation launched to foil the major infiltration bid.

Army had yesterday termed as "absurd" the reports about capture of some Indian posts by the infiltrators, saying the troops are in total control of the operation.

"We are in total control of the operation. The reports of our posts being captured by the infiltrators are absurd," General Officer Commanding of the Army?s 15 Corps Lt General Gurmit Singh had said.

Although Lt Gen Singh maintained it will be premature to say whether the Pakistan Army was involved in infiltration, he said there were definite indications that some special troops were part of it.

He said the analysis of this infiltration bid indicated the involvement of Border Action Team (BAT), a mixture of Pakistani regulars and militants.

In Islamabad, a Pakistan military spokesperson today dismissed as "baseless" that its Army troops were involved in infiltration attempts.

Army sources said here the infiltrators carried out the attempt at the time when Army's 20 Kumaon battalion was being replaced by the 3/3 Gorkha Rifles unit in the Keran sector.

The terrorists and their suspected Pakistan Army accomplices were holding on to their positions and are understood to have taken refuge in some abandoned old bunkers of the Army.

In the last major action by Pakistan Army BAT, an Indian Army patrol was attacked in the Poonch sector coinciding with the change of guard.
Indian soldiers greet PLA counterparts on India-China border
A special Border Personnel Meet (BPM) was held at the multipurpose complex on the Chinese side at Nathu La on Monday on the occasion of 64th National Day of Peoples Republic of China, a defence release said here today.

The Indian army delegation led by Brig Vikram Singh conveyed good wishes to Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) delegation and reaffirmed the country's commitment towards maintaining peace and tranquillity along the border.

The PLA delegation leader, Senior Colonel Zhang Ming Sheng (equivalent to Brig), highlighted the significance of the day for China and thanked the Indian army for the good wishes, the release said.

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