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Friday, 1 November 2013

From Today's Papers - 01 Nov 2013

Khurshid to take up truce violations with Pak
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, October 31
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will raise with Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz the continuing ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along the LoC when the two meet here on the margins of the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Ministers’ Conference to be held at Gurgaon in the second week of November.

MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin today confirmed that Islamabad has requested for a meeting between Aziz and Khurshid on the sidelines of the event being hosted by India on November 11-12. “’We intend to have that meeting based on that request.”

The meeting between the two leaders assumes significance against the backdrop of the escalation in tension between the two countries in the wake of ceasefire violations as well as increased attempts at infiltration from across the border. There have been over 300 ceasefire violations already since the beginning of the year. Only yesterday, Defence Minister AK Antony had expressed serious concern over a marked rise in infiltration across with the "tacit" backing of the Pakistani Army.

Even PM Manmohan Singh recently stated that he was "disappointed" with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif for his failure to check ceasefire violation. The MEA spokesman also made it clear the precondition for a forward movement in the relationship with Pakistan was an improvement in the situation on the LoC as was agreed upon between the two Prime Ministers when they met in New York last month.

Sharif against tit-for-tat policy

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said Pakistan and India will have to revisit the tit-for-tat policy that periodically obstruct peace process. The Pakistani premier said his government is keen to resolve all outstanding issues with India through dialogue but the resolution to the Kashmir issue is possible only when all the three stakeholders — Pakistan, India, and Kashmiris — are on board.Nawaz Sharif stated this while speaking to the media as well as during his talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London. — TNS
Indira was wrongly advised on Bluestar: KPS Gill
Blames PMO, but takes no names in his biography Gives clean chit to Army
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, October 31
More than 29 years after the controversial Operation Bluestar in June of 1984, Punjab’s former Director General of Police Kanwar Pal Singh Gill has claimed that then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would not have allowed the operation, but was wrongly advised to do so as it was presented as the only option by her advisors.

The operation - much criticised and scrutinised over nearly three decades -- was to storm the Amritsar’s Golden Temple with tanks of the Indian Army to flush out Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his band of armed supporters.

The official biography of the supercop titled ‘KPS Gill The Paramount Cop’ released here tonight, also the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi, talks candidly of the role played by the 1957-batch Assam cadre IPS officer in tackling militancy in Punjab. Authored by Rahul Chandan, the 244-page book presents Gill’s opinion of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narsimha Rao and has passing references to VP Singh and Chandrashekhar, all Prime Ministers during the dark days of militancy in Punjab.

On Operation Bluestar, the author quotes Gill as having said: “(It) was conducted in a hasty manner and without thinking what impact it would have on the hearts and minds of Sikhs.” The book says Gill told his fellow officers: “Don’t understand how Mrs Gandhi can order such an operation.”

In what could be seen as a sort of clean-chit to Indira’s decision to order the operation, Gill is quoted as having said: “As far as Operation Bluestar is concerned, I know as being a witness to the secular credentials of Mrs Gandhi, she would have never have let that happen had she been advised properly. Advisors of Mrs Gandhi were not guiding her properly and the problem at hand they told her was a mountain whereas it was only a small hill.”

Gill, who was posted as IG BSF at Jammu in January 1984 and later posted as IG Punjab Armed Police in September that year, says Operation Bluestar can never be justified and blames the Prime Minister’s Office for it, but stops short of naming anyone in the Indira-led PMO. “The Army, however, is not to blame for this botched-up operation; it was acting on the specific direction of the PMO and had been given little time to prepare.”

The book says Operation Bluestar and the November 1984 Sikh massacres were the two most significant happenings for the cause of ‘Khalistan’ inflicted upon the nation by its own government. These two events in combination, gave a new lease of life to a movement, which could have easily been contained in 1984 itself, it says.

Giving reasons for militancy in Punjab, the book says: “One of the factors of militancy in Punjab was the high-level of complicity of New Delhi. Eager to consolidate its political hold over the state, the ruling party at the Centre (Congress) was prepared to ignore political violence.”

Gill goes on to speak about Rajiv Gandhi and the conduct of Operation Black Thunder in 1988: “(Rajiv) He had a very good grasp of what was happening and how it should be tackled. He was personally very honest... If any of his decisions didn’t go well, the fault lay with people who surrounded him.”

The supercop also narrates how PV Narimsha Rao (1991-1996) gave him a “free hand” and how Punjab Chief Minister late Beant Singh was keen to tackle militancy.

The book also reveals the genesis of Gill’s friendship with internal security ex-minister late Rajesh Pilot. Both were together in Shillong when Gill was a young IPS officer and Pilot was serving the Air Force as a fighter pilot. Pilot died in a road accident in 2000 and Gill retired from the IPS in 1995.
 Major marries Canadian national, may face dismissal

New Delhi, October 31
Marriage with a Canadian national has landed an Army Major in trouble and he faces the prospect of dismissal.

The Army has initiated an inquiry against the officer after it came to light that he had married the Indian-origin Canadian national without getting clearance from the Service. The Major, who was till recently posted with the elite National Security Guards, is facing the inquiry for marrying the Indian-origin woman in 2010, a year after she was granted permanent Canadian citizenship, sources told PTI here.

The officer allegedly did not furnish information about the status of his wife's permanent citizenship to the authorities, they said. The sources said he was allegedly in touch with the woman for quite some time before marrying her and knew about her citizenship status.

The citizenship of the officer's wife was revealed after he applied for leave to go abroad to meet her, they said. After the matter came to light, the officer was repatriated from NSG to his parent unit, which is deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.

The officer has admitted to the lapses on his part and is understood to have pleaded that he may be allowed to quit the Service through voluntary retirement, sources said. If the officer is indicted by the inquiry, he may even be terminated from Service, they said.

"Under the Army Act, officers have to seek permission from the Service before contacting foreign nationals even if he subsequently wants to marry that person, otherwise they are liable to face action," military law expert Col Rajiv Manglik said here. — PTI
Infiltration charge: Indian defence minister ups the ante

Amid rising tensions between the two nuclear armed neighbours, Indian Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday raised Indian rhetoric against Pakistan by accusing Pakistan army of tacitly supporting infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC).

“We are watching these new developments. Instead of preventing infiltration or trying to minimise infiltration, attempts are increasing. That means, these are going on with the support of elements across the border. I am sure nothing has happened without the support, knowledge and tacit support of Pakistan Army. It is a matter of concern for us,” said Antony.

The defence minister, who was addressing a press conference after news reports suggested that the planned meeting of both Director General Military Operations (DGMOs) has been put on the backburner, inquired how relations between the two countries could improve when Pakistan was destabilizing India through covert action.

“Both sides of the border are completely guarded by armed forces. So how can terrorists try to infiltrate into India without the support or knowledge of the armed forces of Pakistan,” he added.

In an attempt to lessen tensions, Indian and Pakistani prime ministers had agreed in their meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month that the DGMOs of both militaries would meet to resolve issues and end ceasefire violations along the LoC.

In a clear measure of distrust, despite a decision taken at the summit level between both premiers the DGMO meeting has not been held so far.

However, in a sign the communications between the two sides had not completely broken down, the DGMOs spoke to each other on the hot line yesterday (Tuesday) as per established routine practice.
Pakistan violates LoC ceasefire
Jammu: The Pakistani Army resorted to unprovoked firing on Indian Army positions in the Akhnoor sector of the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday evening, a defence spokesman said.
"Pakistan troops fired at our posts in Gigreal and Hamirpur areas using small arms and automatics. Our troops responded with similar calibre weapons. The firing started at 8.30 p.m. and was continuing till last reports came in (at 9.30 p.m.). There has been no casualty or damage on our side so far," the spokesman said.

On Tuesday, officers of India's paramilitary Border Security Force the Pakistan Rangers held a detailed flag meeting at an octroi post in the Suchetgarh sector of R.S. Pura on the international border in Samba district.

The two sides agreed to respect the ceasefire on the international border and hold flag meetings to defuse tensions.
Increasing ceasefire violations matter of concern: A K Antony
 NEW DELHI: Defence Minister A K Antony today voiced concern over increasing ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts from across the border and said they cannot take place without the "tacit support" of the Pakistan Army.

"We are watching all these new developments. Instead of preventing infiltration or trying to minimise the infiltration attempts, still there attempts are going on increasing. That means, these are going on with the support of elements across the border. But I am sure nothing has happened without the support and knowledge and tacit support of Pakistan Army. It is a matter of concern to us," he said addressing a press conference.
 The Defence Minister wondered how such attempts can take place without the support or knowledge of the armed forces of Pakistan when the international border is guarded on one side by Indian Army and BSF and Pakistan Army and Rangers on the other.

"Both sides of borders are completely guarded by armed forces. So how can the terrorists try to infiltrate in Indian border without the support or knowledge of armed forces of Pakistan.

"How can terrorists embolden to increase the attempts to infiltrate with the tacit support and sometimes open support of the Pakistani Armed forces," he asked.

"That is a question that is worrying us," he said.

Antony said India has been saying that it is sincere in improving relations with Pakistan, but questioned how this can happen when infiltration is taking place.
Sikorsky Says It Will Bid for Military-Helicopter Orders In India
Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies, expects to bid for between $14 billion and $15 billion in military-helicopter contracts in India over the next 10 to 15 years, executives said.
The production facility Sikorsky operates with India's Tata Group in southern India to make cabins for a civilian-transportation helicopter could easily be retooled to also produce military helicopters such as the Black Hawk, Sikorsky executives told The Wall Street Journal.

"As far as defense is concerned, (India) is a huge market and we are here to address the market," A.J.S. Walia, who heads Sikorsky's operations in India and South Asia, said in an interview. "The fact that we are already established here as a local company with the Tatas as a partner should speak for itself that we have very serious intention of being a serious player in the aviation requirements of this country."
Sikorsky and its rivals, including Boeing Co. BA +0.63% , Eurocopter and Bell Helicopter, are all competing to sell military hardware in India as they look for new sources of demand to help offset declining orders in countries in the West which are slashing their defense budgets.

India is already the world's largest military-equipment importer with an average annual military budget of more than $30 billion. Military consultancy IHS Jane's expects India to become the world's fourth-largest defense spender by 2020, behind the U.S., China and Russia. It predicts India's military spending will reach $65.4 billion that year.

Sikorsky and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd., a Tata Group company, have two factories on the outskirts of the southern city of Hyderabad. The plants manufacture the parts and the cabins of the S-92 helicopters used for civilian transportation. The Hyderabad facility—which is the sole production line for the S-92 cabin globally—can make up to four cabins per month.

The Indian-made cabins are exported to the U.S. where the complete helicopter is assembled and then delivered to customers world-wide.

In recent years, India has placed billions of dollars of orders with U.S. companies as relations between the two democracies have improved and India has tried to diversify its reliance on longtime military-equipment supplier Russia.

Mr. Walia, a retired vice marshal of the Indian Air Force, said the Hyderabad facility could be used to produce cabins for its H-92 military helicopter which is similar to the S-92. He said Sikorsky is also eager to offer the Black Hawk and other helicopters to the Indian armed forces.

"We are waiting for the demand for Black Hawk," Mr. Walia said. "If the Black Hawk is the best fit, then we will offer that machine," and make it in India if that is required by Indian regulations, he said.

He said Sikorsky would participate in an upcoming tender of India's state-owned helicopter operator Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd. to buy 22 helicopters which will be used for transportation for offshore oil and gas exploration and for commercial transport.

Sikorsky is already participating in an Indian Navy tender for 16 helicopters. It has offered its S-70B Sea Hawk helicopter, a naval version of the Black Hawk. It is competing with the NH90 helicopter produced by Europe's NH Industries, which is jointly owned by Eurocopter and AgustaWestland.

Mr. Walia said the company has sold six transportation helicopters in India, including one to the state government of Maharashtra, over the past few years but the rupee's decline against the dollar has hurt demand as it increased the cost of imported helicopters.
Defense chief stresses border security with India

Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar's Defense Services Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing has stressed the need for stability and security on the border with India, state media reported Thursday.

Meeting with visiting Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh in Nay Pyi Taw, Min Aung Hlaing also said peace and stability plays a crucial role in achieving success of Myanmar's reform.

"Thanks to decade-long amity and mutual trust between the two countries, border regions enjoy more peace and stability than any other regions," he said.
General Singh reaffirmed cooperation with Myanmar in border region stability and development, disaster risk management and other emergency matters and healthcare in the region.

On Wednesday, General Singh also called on Myanmar President U Thein Sein and the pair discussed bilateral friendship forged through successive governments, implementation of the agreements signed during the latest visits of Myanmar president and Indian prime minister to each other's country and India's assistance to Myanmar's human resources development.

Singh arrived Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday on a two-day visit following that to the country by Indian Defense Minister AK Antony in January this year.

N-capable Agni I trial next week

India is preparing to conduct a fresh user trial of surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni-I from a defence base off the Odisha coast. The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army will carry out the test next week.

Agni-I is the first missile in the country’s most ambitious Agni series. The nuke-capable missile can destroy targets nearly 700 km away.

Sources at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur said preparation for the test had already begun at Wheeler Island launching complex off the Dhamra coast. Missile equipment, motor and all accessories have arrived and work is on to integrate the weapon.

“There were considerable improvements in its re-entry technology and manoeuvrability since Agni’s first trial. This test will reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user (Army). If weather favours, the test will be conducted on November 7,” a defence scientist, associated with the programme, said.

As the missile has already been inducted in the Indian Army, the test will be conducted by the SFC with logistic support from the DRDO.

This will be limited stock production (LSP) test of Agni-I, which will be randomly selected from a bunch of missiles in the production lot.

The Agni-I is an antiquated short-range, surface-based ballistic missile in the series. Compared to its longer-range cousins, its height is just 15 metres and it is powered by both solid and liquid propellants, which imparts it a speed of 2.5 km per second.

This missile was first test-fired on January 25, 2002 and since then several trials have been conducted.             

It is designed to bridge the gap between indigenously built short-range Prithvi, already deployed in the Army, and medium-range Agni-II, that has a range of more than 2,000 km, sources said.

 Agni-I can be blasted off from both road and rail mobile launchers.

The missile weighs around 12 tonnes and can carry both conventional and nuclear payload of about 1,000 kg. Weighing less, but having the same thrust, the missile has added acceleration, sources added.

 Earlier this year, India had successfully conducted the second developmental trial of 5,000-km range Agni-V missile. Plans are also afoot to test fire 4,000-km range Agni-IV missile in the coming months.

 The DRDO had launched the Agni project in 1983 as part of the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and the first test flight of the Agni series was conducted on May 22, 1989 when the 2,000-km range Agni-II was used for the test.

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