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Saturday, 12 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 12 Oct 2013
Jawan killed as Army foils another incursion bid in Keran sector
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 11
A jawan was killed as the Army foiled another infiltration bid in the Keran sector of Kupwara district on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.

The firing took place in the Kachal area days after the counter-infiltration operation in Shalabato Keran, 130 km from here, against a group of around 40 militants was called off after 15 days on October 8.

Spokesperson for Srinagar-based 15 Corps Naresh Vig said the soldier was killed while foiling an infiltration bid in the Kachal area, around 20 km from Shalabato.

“We foiled another infiltration bid last night and in the firefight, which began at 9.30 pm on Thursday, a soldier was injured who later succumbed to his injuries,” Vig said.

“The firing started when a group of militants was challenged by troops in the area,” he added. A search operation was launched in the area and it was believed that militants returned to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The slain solider was identified as Patil Mahadeven of 15 Rashtriya Rifles.
Pak violates LoC truce again
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 11
Pakistani troops opened heavy fire on forward Indian posts and two villages in three sub-sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) today, inviting strong retaliation from the Indian Army.

The fresh spell of firing comes days after a group of 30 to 40 terrorists helped by the Pakistan Army were thrown out from the Keran sector in Kashmir in a 15-day operation.

“Around 4 am today, Pakistani troops opened heavy fire in Mendhar, Balakote and Mankote sub-sectors. They used 82 mm mortars besides other weapons. A few mortars exploded in forward villages, damaging houses in Upper Gohlad village,” said an Intelligence source. Around 9 am, a mortar fired by the Pakistani troops exploded near F Company of 49 Rashtriya Rifles in Nabina Mohalla, causing injuries to three troopers, he added.

The Army has, however, denied that any Indian jawan suffered injuries in the process. “The firing that started around 4 am continued till 1 pm. Intermittent firing, however, remained on even thereafter,” the source said.

Mendhar, Balakote and Mankote sub-sectors are guarded by 5 Grenadiers, 15 Bihar Regiment and 13 Rajputana Rifles, respectively.
2 Army officers, jawan injured in scuffle
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
In another sign of changing social mores in the Indian Army, another officer-jawan fracas has been reported, this time from Meerut. Two officers and a jawan of the 10th Sikh Light Infantry (SLI) battalion have been injured in an incident that occurred last evening.

The incident has occurred just two months after the Army assured the Defence Ministry that 'corrective steps' had been taken following three similar incidents in the recent past.

In turn, the Defence Minister AK Antony informed the Parliament on August 8 this year: "Measures like better man management and adequate grievance redress mechanisms have been put in place to address the causative factors (of tensions between officers and jawans)".

Army officials here confirmed yesterday's incident saying a court of inquiry has been ordered. Sources said the incident occurred when a boxing match between two companies of the battalion ended in fracas. Tempers ran high when the decision of the referee - a person from the same regiment - was disputed by one of the boxers. A battalion has four companies and sporting events such as boxing, athletics, basketball and volleyball are conducted to keep the men fit.

The 10th Sikh Light Infantry is nowadays based in Delhi. It had been sent to Meerut for training and was located at place Debathua, some 15 kms from Meerut.

Sources said both the injured officers are Major. One of them is the Second-in-Command of the battalion. The commanding officer had reportedly left the boxing area when the incident occurred.

One version, corroborated by two sources, is that during the boxing match one of the boxers was losing and he wanted to forfeit the match which was not appreciated by the officer in charge of his company.

The incident has come about just two months after Antony, while replying to Parliamentarians, termed the previous cases as 'aberrations' and assured these "do not indicate declining discipline and leadership standards in the Army".

This year alone, punishment has been handed in three separate cases which occurred in the past couple of years.

In March this year, an Army Court of Inquiry recommended disciplinary action against 168 personnel, including four officers, 17 junior commissioned officers and 147 jawans, for the unprecedented clash that took place between officers and jawans in the 226 artillery regiment at Nyoma in south-eastern Ladakh in May 2012. Those facing action include the commanding officer of the unit.

Fourth incident this year

    The incident has occurred just two months after the Army assured the Defence Ministry that ‘corrective steps’ had been taken following three similar incidents in the recent past
    Antony, while replying to Parliamentarians, termed the previous cases as ‘aberrations’
    He had remarked that these “do not indicate declining discipline and leadership standards in the Army”
    This year alone, punishment has been handed in three separate cases which occurred in the past couple of years
Armed forces gear up for relief ops
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
Bracing for what will entail one of the biggest rescue and relief effort of the country, the three armed forces have prepared planes, warships, helicopters, small boats and doctors to tackle the impact of cyclone Phailin that is expected to hit the Orissa and Andhra coast tomorrow evening.

The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the Coast Guard have also joined in the operations as the cyclone is being dubbed “very severe”.

Defence Minister AK Antony has directed the three Services — Army, Air Force and the Navy — to be in complete readiness.

Two IAF IL-76s have been despatched to Bhubaneswar with NDRF teams and equipment. Other IAF assets are on standby at various bases, including Raipur, Nagpur, Barrackpore, Ranchi and Gwalior.

The IAF has committed two C-130-J Super Hercules aircraft and 18 helicopters. The Eastern Air Command has been tasked to coordinate the entire relief operation with a Task Force being positioned at Barrackpore, West Bengal.

Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command has kept multiple Indian Navy diving teams with inflatable rafts in standby mode at important locations. Besides, Navy has put Chetak and UH-3H helicopters on standby for launching rescue and relief operations.
Indian army's comments provocative: Gen Kayani
Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday criticised the Indian military leadership, saying their remarks about the Pakistani military and ISI's support to terrorism were "unfortunate, unfounded and provocative". Pakistan was concerned about "continued violations of the Line of
Control (LoC)", Kayani was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the military.

His remarks came against the backdrop of continuing tensions along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, including over an infiltration attempt in Keran sector by terrorists with the alleged backing of Pakistani troops.

Top Indian generals, including army chief Gen Bikram Singh, have accused the Pakistan Army of backing militants.

Singh said on October 8 that Indian forces had conducted a concerted search operation in Keran sector for 15 days after foiling a major infiltration attempt by terrorists backed by suspected Pakistan special forces.

"I am clear that no terror activity can take place along the LoC without Pakistan Army support," he said.

Reacting to these allegations, Kayani reiterated Pakistan's stance that incidents on the LoC should be investigated by the UN.

"Rather than hurling such baseless accusations, India would be well advised to respond positively to Pakistan's suggestion for holding joint or impartial investigation into the LoC incidents, preferably by the United Nations," he said.

The Pakistan Army, Kayani said, was exercising restraint but this "should in no way be used as a pretext for levelling such baseless allegations that vitiate prospects of regional peace".

Kayani said the army is "fully supportive of the peace process initiated by the government". He made the remarks while talking to a group of officers at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the statement said.

On October 8, Pakistan's foreign office had said a blame game is not the solution to any issue and insisted it too wants a ceasefire on the LoC. It said if the ceasefire is restored on the LoC, the leadership of both countries can work on other issues to bring peace.
Led by Raj Babbar, MPs abandon top-level defence briefing to 'catch flights'
NEW DELHI: The agenda was of utmost importance: "threat perception and preparedness of the forces including incursions on borders". The forum was among the highest in the land—the parliamentary standing committee on defence.

To brief the select members of Parliament at hand were the defence secretary, the director-general of military operations (DGMOs), several other senior officials from the Army, Navy and Air Force. It would have been the highest forum of democracy where the officials would be grilled, and held accountable.
The meeting was significant because of recent developments along the 778-km-long Line of Control (LoC). At Keran sector, the Army had just completed a three-week operation to evict about 40 militants, and at least 10, including four Army personnel, had been killed in Samba on September 26.

The meeting began 10 minutes past 3 pm on Wednesday. The defence secretary expressed his inability to give a copy of the presentations to the members present, because the information was highly classified. The Army was the first off the block, with senior officials briefing the MPs on recent flare-ups along the LoC.

The briefing significantly focused on the Army's assessment of threat perceptions along the border with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bangladesh etc. Later, the Army made a separate presentation about its operation to evict almost 30 terrorists from Keran sector. As the formal presentations wound up, MPs had several questions — ranging from suspected leadership failure to its links to attacks in Samba.

The MPs expressed their concern over the repeated breach of LoC, India's most militarised border. Senior officers of the Navy and the Air Force were awaiting their turn with classified presentations.

It was 4.30 pm.

And then, without any provocation, Raj Babbar, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on defence, announced that the meeting was being wound up because some members had to catch their flights.

Though it is still not clear what are the credentials that make this Congress MP from Firozabad chairman of one of the most powerful parliamentary bodies, as he dispersed the Wednesday meeting he looked determined.

According to those present at the meeting, his words conveyed his determination that someone not missing a flight was more important than the classified briefings on security preparedness. Even if embers of a bitterly fought operation in Keran sector was yet to be doused.

It maybe a different show on TV studios and in public, where politicians never lose a moment to beat their chests to announce concerns about national security. Behind the closed doors of the standing committee, there weren't any such concerns. Not one member of the standing committee protested against Babbar's decision.

Officials confirmed that the MPs would get their free business class flight tickets and per diem for attending the meeting. Even if meant that the Army briefing was yet to be completed, or Navy and Air Force couldn't make their presentations. Even if it meant that the LoC is now in the throes of infiltration and violence that has not been witnessed in recent memory.

For the record, no member of the standing committee seemed to have missed their flights on Wednesday. Or, did they all actually rush to the airport?
Indian Air Force ends Indian Oil Corp monopoly, launches bidding for aviation turbine fuel
NEW DELHI: High fuel costs continue to bite into the defence budget. After austerity measures in fuel use, the Indian Air Force has resorted to hard bargaining and launched competitive bidding for jet fuel, ending the monopoly of Indian Oil Corp.

Rising fuel cost has prompted Indian Air Force to do some hard bargaining with Indian Oil Corp and launch competitive bidding for jet fuel supply, ending the state-firm's dominance on supply of Rs 4,000 crore worth of fuel for aircraft and lubricants.
Two executives with state owned refineries said the Indian Air Force has floated a tender for aviation turbine fuel ( ATF) at some locations. They did not give more details because of the sensitivity of defence supplies. Industry sources said the Air Force has not invited bids from private refiners Reliance Industries and Essar for security reasons.
"Also, private refiners are based on the west coast and it will not be viable for them to cater to Indian Air Force that requires jet fuel at over 60 bases, some of which are also located at extreme locations. IOC has been the traditional supplier to Air Force but it may not be able to enjoy monopoly for long. BPCL and HPCL too will get level playing fields since Air Force intends to meet its entire jet fuel requirement through competitive bidding instead of nominating IOC as supplier like before," said an executive with one of the national refineries. He added that Indian Air Force also want to improve efficiency of jet fuel supplies besides reducing cost burden.

The fuel requirement of the Air Force is expected to rise further as it is considering adding more aircraft and helicopters in near future. During last fiscal, Indian defence forces spent over Rs 7,000 crore on petroleum products. Fuel accounted for Rs 1,661 crore for Indian Navy and Rs 1,250 crore for Indian Army.

ET had earlier reported that defence ministry has asked the armed forces to reduce fuel use by 20-40% as the sharp increase in prices has upset its budget calculations. IOC that has set up its storage facilities at majority of the Air Force base is revising jet fuel price every month since the beginning of the year.

In Delhi, it revised jet fuel price to Rs 75,000 with effect from September 1, up by 13% from January 1. Early this year, defense authorities for supplies decided to reduce jet fuel allocation by 20% of average consumption of commands.
Meerut clash fourth incident of indiscipline in army since 2010
The clash involving 10 Sikh Light Infantry unit in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut Thursday, in which two officers and a jawan were injured, is the fourth major instance of indiscipline in the Indian Army in the last three years.

- In August 2012, there was face-off between officers and men of the 16th Cavalry Regiment in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba after a soldier shot himself dead there. Defence Minister A.K. Antony later said that the incident of suicide led to the unrest.

- In May 2012, oOfficers and soldiers of the 226 Field Artillery Regiment, which was going through a month-long field training camp, came to blows at the firing rage in Mahi near Nyoma in Ladakh.

An army Court of Inquiry (CoI) had recommended disciplinary action against 168 personnel, including the unit's commanding officer.

- In April 2010, an altercation took place between an officer and a jawan of 45th Cavalry in Punjab's Gurdaspur.
Army officers, jawan injured in scuffle during boxing match
 Officers and jawans of 10 Sikh Light Infantry Regiment indulged in a clash following altercation during a boxing match in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday.

At least two senior officers and one jawan had to be taken to the Army hospital for treatment, prompting Army Chief General Bikram Singh to order a Court of Inquiry into the incident.

Informed sources said an inter-company boxing tournament of the regiment on Thursday evening took an ugly turn when an altercation over some issue between the two teams led to fisticuffs. As junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and jawans clashed, some officers tried to intervene. However, they were also bashed up.

The clash left the second-in-command of the unit, a Lieutenant Colonel-rank officer, another officer and a jawan injured. They were taken for treatment to the hospital, where the Lieutenant Colonel had to be admitted.

This was not the first time that the regiment has been involved in such an incident as on previous occasions too there have been brawls during boxing matches, they said.

The Army Chief has taken a serious view of the incident and asked a Brigadier-level officer to conduct a Court of Inquiry into the incident. Stating that the Army follows “zero tolerance” against such acts of indiscipline, Gen. Singh said he had given orders for expeditious probe into the incident. “I have given directions that the Court of Inquiry should complete its probe at the earliest and ensure that strict action is taken against the defaulting personnel,” Gen. Singh told a news agency.

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