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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 23 Oct 2013

 Defuse border tension, Shinde to forces
Home Minister conducts aerial survey of LoC, blames Hafiz Saeed for spike in infiltration
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS

Samba, October 22
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today said Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed, against whom a red corner notice had been issued, could be training militants and visiting areas on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) to facilitate their intrusion into the Indian Territory.

The Home Minister, however, asked security forces to initiate all possible measures to prevent further escalation of tension on the border.

“The information we have suggests that Hafiz Saeed might have been visiting areas close to the LoC to facilitate infiltration,” said Shinde after addressing a Sainik Sammelan of the BSF. “Unless he is handed over to us, he remains a problem,” said the Home Minister.

On Kashmir, he said New Delhi’s stand had been clear since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru. “Kashmir is an integral part of India and would remain so. No third-party mediation is required. If anything has to be decided, it has to be decided bilaterally,” he said. At the Unified Headquarters meeting at the residence of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Shinde asked the Army and the BSF to prevent further escalation of tension on the 744-km LoC and 191.5-km International Border.

Regarding ceasefire violations, he said India would take up the matter at the DGMOs’ meet. “That’s why I am here. I conducted an aerial survey of the border and saw infiltration routes. Some infiltration has happened, but we are doing whatever is needed. Our jawans are more than prepared to face any challenge,” he said.

When reminded about Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s yesterday’s remarks that India couldn’t remain at the receiving end vis-à-vis truce violations, Shinde said, “Sometimes we have to compromise, but I agree with the CM that we cannot maintain that position all the time because when injustice is done, aggressive posture is needed. If they (Pakistan) take an uncompromising position, we will deal with them accordingly.”

“We can’t become tough only by talking tough. Actions are being taken whenever they break rules on the border and we have proved it,” he said.

On fresh migrations from forward villages, he said villagers were provided night shelter by the state government and the BSF whenever there was shelling by Pakistan.

When asked why there has been a sudden spurt in firing along the border, he said, “We don’t know at this stage, but we are finding out.”

When asked whether India should hold talks with Pakistan in the prevailing scenario, he said, “There should be cordial atmosphere to have talks. Let us see how we can do it.”


On terror face

Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed could be training militants and visiting areas on the other side of the LoC to facilitate their intrusion into India

On talks with Pak

There should be cordial atmosphere to have talks (with Pakistan). Let us see how we can do it.

On infiltration

Some infiltration has happened, but we are doing whatever is needed. Our men are more than prepared to face any challenge.
Pak pounds 8 posts along LoC in Poonch
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria /TNS

Jammu, October 22
Pakistani troops pounded at least eight Indian forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch sector today, at a time when Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was reviewing the security scenario with top officers in Samba and Jammu.

“Pakistani troops opened heavy fire in Balakote, Mankote and Mendhar sub-sectors today. Around 11.50 am, they fired mortars and RPGs on three posts in Mankote from their LP, Pir and New HMG posts. The exchange of fire continued till 2 pm,” said an Intelligence source.

The Mankote sub-sector is manned by 13 Rajputana Rifles. The source said around 11 am Pakistani troops opened heavy fire on five Indian posts, namely 490, MST, Kanga, 485 Alpha and 485, in the Mendhar and Balakote sub-sectors from their Kaman, Panjini Forward, Khori, Mochi Tekri, Goga and Cheel posts. The exchange of fire in these sub-sectors continued till 1.30 pm, he said.

The Mendhar sub-sector is being guarded by 5 Grenadiers while the Balakote sub-sector is manned by 15 Bihar Regiment. There were no casualties or injuries to Indian soldiers. However, the Jammu-based defence spokesperson Col RK Palta said Pakistani troops opened fire in the Hamirpur Battalion area of the Bhimber Gali sector from 10.35 am to 11.15 am today.

“In the unprovoked firing, they used small arms, automatics weapons and mortars. The Indian troops retaliated effectively using similar calibre weapons,” he said. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Rangers again targeted Indian forward positions in the RS Pura sector along the international border.

You enjoy firing at enemy, Shinde asks BSF men

“You enjoy firing bullets at the enemy?” This was the question put up by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to BSF men at the 86 Battalion headquarters on Tuesday. Mingling with the personnel, the Home Minister lauded them for their determination, dedication and service to the nation. “Do you feel reluctant to fire at the enemy”? Shinde asked the BSF men “No sir,” was a prompt and loud reply. Accompanied by BSF, DG, Subhash Joshi, the Home Minister stopped at almost every row asking names of the personnel and inquiring about their families.
 Russian troops ready for tank-firing competition
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, October 22
Russian troops are all ready for the forthcoming tank firing competition scheduled on Wednesday at the Mahajan Field Firing Range in neighbouring Rajasthan. The Russian troops carried out live firing practice from tanks and infantry combat vehicles in the ongoing joint military exercise, INDRA 2013.

Indian and Russian soldiers interacted and familiarised each other’s tank zeroing procedures. The Russian General Officer Commanding also interacted with the Indian officers and troops at the firing ranges. To feel relaxed, jawans of both the armies tried their hand at sports as well.

The Mechanised Infantry component of the Russian and Indian contingents participated in small arms firing competition in a newly constructed small arms firing range by HQ South Western Command. The competition involved firing of a mechanised infantry section of both the armies, fully controlled by their section commanders.

In the evening, a volleyball match was held to enhance the spirit of sports and camaraderie between the troops of both the nations. Indian brigade commander and his Russian counterpart gave away prizes to both the teams.

The exercise is aimed at improving bilateral defence cooperation between both the armies and enhancing their ability to operate as an integrated force within the framework of UN peace keeping operations.
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif says ready to go 'extra mile' with India
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed Tuesday to go the "extra mile" to make peace with India, saying the historic rivals can resolve all issues including Kashmir through dialogue.

Sharif, on a visit to Washington where he will see President Barack Obama on Wednesday, regretted that periodic incidents on the international border in Kashmir had set back peace attempts.

"I wish to assure this august audience that Pakistan desires to live in peace with its neighbour. We would not be found wanting in walking the extra mile," he said at the US Institute of Peace.

"If we sit down together, if we seriously address these issues, I don't think we will face any problem," he said.

"Kashmir, of course, is a very difficult issue and very difficult to resolve but I think, by sitting and talking, we will be able to find some way of resolving that, too," he said.

"Because that is a flashpoint not only in the region, but the whole world," he said of Kashmir.

Sharif, who swept back to power in May, noted that he was involved in a major peace initiative with India in 1999 when his then counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Pakistan.

The effort collapsed within months as Pakistan-backed forces infiltrated the Indian zone of Kashmir, which has been the source of two full-fledged wars between the nuclear powers.

Sharif blamed the 1999 Kargil conflict on army chief Pervez Musharraf, who later ousted him from power, and repeated his past criticism of the focus on military spending.

"Had our countries not wasted their precious resources in a never-ending arms race, we would not only have avoided the futile conflicts, but also emerged as stable and prosperous nations," he said.
‘Army has full operational independence’
 Army commanders have been given “full operational independence,” the Congress said on Monday even as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said if ceasefire violations on the Line of Control continued, India should give its neighbour a fitting response.

Stressing that India was firmly against any third party mediation on the Kashmir issue, a demand raised by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit recalled the terms of the 1972 Shimla Agreement that, he said, had underscored the fact that any issue between the two countries has to be resolved bilaterally. “No third individual, country or force can come in between, nor we will allow it to come,” he said.

Responding to the strong line taken by Mr. Abdullah, the Congress spokesperson said: “If the Chief Minister has some suggestions, it is better he gives them to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister. The Defence Minister had stated some time ago that full operational freedom has been given to local commanders [of the forces].”

Mr. Dikshit’s response came shortly after Mr. Abdullah said India could not be at the “receiving end” of unabated ceasefire violations and should “respond in kind” if they persisted. At the meeting between two Prime Ministers in New York last month, Mr. Abdullah recalled, Manmohan Singh was forthright in putting across India’s concerns.

Commenting on Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s plea for U.S. intervention in resolving the Kashmir dispute, he asked: “Are the repeated ceasefire violations taking place at the behest of Pakistani PM or are they taking place as he does not have control over the situation?”

Simultaneously, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said on Monday that Pakistan must realise that certain historical wrongs had been committed and one of them was its occupation of Indian territory. He recalled that a unanimous resolution of the Indian Parliament, adopted in 1994, said these territories must be returned to India, and that any attempt to go beyond the Shimla Agreement was not “an appropriate step in either substance or spirit.”

He also rejected the demand for U.S. intervention, saying, “There never will be a case for any third party mediation in J&K.”
Ceasefire breach goes beyond LoC

New Delhi, Oct. 19: The firing and shelling in Jammu last night indicates that the ceasefire violations this year have spread from the Line of Control (LoC) to a part of the International Boundary that Pakistan disputes despite Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif agreeing on September 30 in New York to restore peace.

Army sources said there was no directive from either the Prime Minister’s Office or the defence minister to hold a special dialogue of the Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan — an announcement made after the New York meeting.

Militarily, the positions seem to have hardened since the meeting. This is because of suspected Pakistani backing to alleged Taliban militias who intruded across the LoC in the Keran sector and held off an Indian Army brigade for two weeks.

Other sources indicated that the Indian military response to the breach of the LoC was inappropriate, pointing to a command failure in the army’s deployment.

Last night’s exchanges show that the ceasefire violations have spread south of the Pir Panjal range to areas that are not mountainous. The army normally expects violence to increase as the winter sets in. The winter sets in quicker in the Pir Panjal and north of it than in the south.

The targeting of citizens in R.S. Pora also reflects how people in the margins are often caught in the great rivalry over Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

There is an institutionalised weekly telephone hotline dialogue between the DGMOs of India and Pakistan. But after the Singh-Sharif meeting in New York, it was expected that there would be directives for a special dialogue to sustain peace along the border in Jammu and Kashmir that would go beyond the routine.
Indian army chief leaves meeting to brief minister on LoC
NEW DELHI: Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh was on Monday suddenly called by Defence Minister A.K. Antony to brief him about the ceasefire violations allegedly by Pakistan on the Line of Control in Kashmir, days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh voiced concern over the handling of Keran operations in the disputed territory.

Gen Singh, who was chairing a meeting attended by senior commanders, left the conference following a communication from Mr Antony’s office.

The unscheduled briefing by the army chief comes after Prime Minister Singh conveyed concern to the defence ministry over the handling of army operations in Keran area where the army claimed to have killed 12-13 members of a group of 30-40 suspected terrorists in an operation that lasted 15 days before it was called off on Oct 8 when not a single body was found.

The defence minister was briefed by the army chief on the situation on the LoC and frequent ceasefire violations allegedly by the Pakistan Army, defence ministry officials said.

Mr Antony will now hold a detailed review meeting with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and the three services chiefs next week where the Keran issue is expected to come up for discussion.

It is learnt that the prime minister expressed concern over the [Keran] incident as a lot of “exaggerated claims” were made by formations about their success there but the results did not match the claims.
 India Reviews Ceasefire Violations on Indo-Pak Border

The incidents of ceasefire violations on India and Pakistan border have been on the rise especially this year.

At least 136 incidents have been recorded in 2013 said a defence spokesperson according to Zee News.

The latest was on Monday night where Pakistani rangers resorted to heavy shelling at 16 posts of Border Security Force in Samba district in Jammu. Two Indians were injured in the firing.

Pakistani army has reportedly fired at least eight times in past 24 hours, using small arms, rockets and mortars.

The incidents are being taken seriously by the Government of India as the Chief of Army General Bikram Singh met Defence Minister A K Antony to brief on the incidents of ceasefire violation along the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) border.
The firings have drawn a strong response from Chief Minister of J&K Omar Abdullah who told the Indian armed forces to give a "befitting response" to these skirmishes.

Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif met in US last month and agreed that the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both the nations will hold talks to address the situation of ceasefire violations and arrive at maintaining peace on the Line of Control (LOC).

However, the reports of skirmishes have been on the rise.

Sharif had then appealed to US seeking an intervention to resolve the border issue between India and Pakistan, which was refused by both US and India saying that it was a bilateral issue.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde visited a few areas along the border on Tuesday to review the security situation in the wake of the ceasefire incidents.

Indian army had also launched an anti-infiltration operation in Keran along the Indo-Pak border last month to prevent militants from entering into the Indian Territory from Pakistan.

India and Pakistan inked a ceasefire agreement in November 2003 post Kargil Conflict.

The territorial issue of Jammu and Kashmir dates back to 1947 since independence. India and Pakistan have fought two wars in 1965 and 1971 over the two states. The skirmishes since 1984 led to a full scale Kargil Conflict in 1999.
Def Min officials convicted for graft
Two former Defence Ministry officials and a retired armyman were today convicted by a Delhi court for causing a loss of over Rs 7.3 crore to state exchequer by inducing payment for the material which were never supplied to the Ministry from 1994-97.

Special CBI judge J P S Malik held guilty Lt Col (Retd) P R S Rao, Deputy Director in office of Deputy Director General of Ordinance Services (Inventory and Budget Section), A K Sharma, the then Assistant Audit Officer in the office of Director General of Audit (Defence Services) and I B Uppal who retired from Indian Army in 1991.

The three convicts had caused a loss of Rs 7,31,95,480 to the government.

The trio were among 12 persons booked by CBI in 1998 for causing wrongful loss to the government by clearing bogus bills against which no consignment was ever demanded or received.

Barring the three convicts, the nine other accused were senior auditors, account officers and clerks in the office of Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) and they were discharged from the case in 2005 by the court.

The court noted that Uppal had retired from the Army in 1991 but did not surrender his identity card so that he could gain easy access to defence establishments.

He then raised bogus bills by posing as the proprietor of certain firms like M/s SriKrishna enterprises, Rishi Enterprises and the bills were forwarded by Rao to the concerned section of CDA for clearance, it noted.

Convict Sharma, who was the Assistant Audit Officer during 1994-95, came to know about the illegal activities of Rao, and accepted illegal gratification of over Rs 9 lakh from him for not disclosing about the cheating.

The court convicted Uppal for cheating, criminal conspiracy under the IPC and also under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Rao has also been convicted under similar offences.

Sharma has been convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
No information to be given on online RTI application: Army
Army has refused to provide responses on RTI applications received through recently introduced government website that enables citizens to file them online, saying it is a security threat.

"We will provide information on RTI application only after receiving signed copy of the application...We have taken up issue with the DoPT," Army Central Public Information Officer Col Prashant Saxena said.

Col. Saxena was replying to a query on an RTI application seeking details on controversial Technical Services Division through the recently introduced government portal

The RTI applicant had sought details from the Defence Ministry, which had transferred the application to the Army.

Col. Saxena refused to supply information till a signed copy is received along with personal ID of the applicant which negates the website's purpose of a hassle free processing of application, reducing paper work and increasing efficiency.

The government website allows citizens to file their RTI applications online. Since the payments are made by the applicant through Internet banking, credit card and debit card, it has a database of the person making a request. This also helps in checking the genuineness of the applicant and avoids impersonation.

The web site also allows RTI applicant to have password secured account where they can see replies and also get them on their email accounts so that no third person receives the information.

The Army, however, does not agree with this system saying it is a security issue as anyone can make an email-id and seek information. It wants applicant to attach a personal ID card as well as signed copy of the application.

Anyone can make an email id and seek information. We need a signed copy of the RTI application so that the identity can be established. It is a requirement under law, Col. Saxena said.

When asked how would Army confirm the genuineness of a person who signs an RTI application as anybody can purchase a postal order and send it, Col. Saxena had no answers.

The Army had recently denied information on killing of soldiers on LoC, a record which is already in public domain through statements made by Defence Ministry in Parliament.

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