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Monday, 23 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 23 Dec 2013
Chinese troops set up camp in Chumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
Tension prevailed in the Chumar sector in Ladakh as around 20 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China last week entered the Indian territory near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and pitched their tents in Chepzi area in Ladakh.

A flag meeting was held between Brigadier-level officers at the designated meeting point at Spanggur Gap, 200 km north of Chumar, yesterday. At least 10 tents were pitched by the soldiers.

Army officials denied the incident saying it was a routine flag meeting and refused to confirm if tents had been removed.

Two weeks ago, five Indian shepherds were apprehended from the same sector on the charge of being present in the Chinese territory and allowed them to return only after a flag meeting between the two sides was held. This incident had occurred in the first week of December. It was reported that the horses belonging to the shepherds had strayed into the border and were detained by the Chinese. There is no demarcated alignment of the LAC on the ground.

India and China have 167-year-old boundary dispute. Both sides dispute the alignment of the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control, the name of the de facto border between the two countries. Though the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) was signed in October, Chumar is still tense.

An Indian assessment of tension in Chumar is that Beijing wants to prevent Indian troops from getting a clear eye-view at its highway named G-219.

China's civil and military logistics between restive Tibet and Xinjiang provinces moves on this road. In Chumar, Indian troops get a good sight of the road using the sensor-enabled Long-Range Reconnaissance and Observation System (LORROS)

Last week, Defence Minister AK Antony had said the BDCA was helping in sorting out irksome issues much faster. He said issues such as transgressions were now getting resolved immediately in the wake of the signing of the BDCA, inked when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Beijing.

Antony had said: “Our decision is to maintain peace and tranquility. Whenever any incident takes place... that possibility cannot be ruled out as the boundary is very long, both sides should come together and resolve it amicably.”

Chumar most active

Chumar has been one of the most active areas on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in terms of transgressions by the Chinese troops. Located 300 km from Leh, it has always been an area of discomfort for the Chinese troops as this is the only place along the Sino-Indian border where they do not have any direct access to the LAC.
Amritsar border turns into major drug-transit point
Aman Sood
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 22
The international drug ring busted jointly by the Batala and Delhi police has again highlighted how, despite stepped-up patrolling by the BSF and the Punjab Police, heroin estimated worth over Rs 375 crore has found its way into India through a porous border in Amritsar this year.

South India and Sri Lanka have received the bulk of narcotics, the police said.

A special Delhi Police team in a joint operation with Punjab cops had exposed a drug syndicate involved in trans-border smuggling of heroin from Pakistan through Punjab border into India, by arresting two alleged Afghanistan-migrated Sikhs on Saturday.

The accused arrested in Delhi were identified as Rajmeet Singh and Shurbir Singh from whom heroin weighing 9 kg worth Rs 30 crore in the international market was recovered. The accused are members of a large trans-national narcotics racket. Together, they have been instrumental in smuggling over 125 kg heroin into India since January this year when they started smuggling the contraband. The role of Afghan-Sikhs settled in Punjab and Delhi is under the scanner, said a police officer.

Sources said investigations have revealed how the heroin was brought through the Amritsar border. It was later transported through train and by road to the national capital, where it had many buyers. “This is a well knit nexus that stretches from Amritsar to south India”, he said.

Sources said the breakthrough came following the recent arrest of one Satinderjit Singh, alias Mintu, by Batala Police on December 16. Satinder is an accused in the murder of a Kanpur MLA almost a decade back. He was absconding in an attempt to murder case.

“Satinder was arrested with 4 kg heroin in Batala. His questioning revealed the name of Shurbir Singh — an Afghan Sikh based in Delhi’s Mahavir Nagar area. We formed teams that laid a trap in Delhi and once we interacted with our counterparts in Delhi’s special cell, they zeroed in on Rajmeet Singh. Both were then arrested”, said Batala SSP, SS Mand. “We will bring Shurbir Singh to identify the peddlers who received heroin on the border and supplied it to Satinder and Rajmeet”, he told The Tribune.

Sources said the state police were trying to verify the credentials of hundreds of Afghan Sikh families settled in various parts of Punjab. “A majority of the youth belonging to this community are not well educated and it would be worth a watch to see how they are managing such a lifestyle. Prima facie, it has come to the fore that Rajmeet and Shurbir had a lavish lifestyle,” a source said.

Speaking to TNS, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Sanjeev Kumar Yadav stated that high-quality Afghanistan-made heroin was pushed into Punjab through the Amritsar border from where couriers settled in nearby villages supplied it to conduits (Afghan Sikhs and other smugglers) who brought it to Delhi. “Several conduits from Andhra Pradesh were frequently visiting Delhi and meeting certain Sikh families, who had migrated from Afghanistan two decades ago. From there, it (heroin) went to southern India and then eventually to Sri Lanka”, he said.

Yadav said the kinpins —Ali, based in Kuwait and Samiullah, based in Afghanistan — were engaged in this trade which came to be known after the arrest of one Venugopal Reddy.

Meanwhile, Mand said the role of certain officials at the border and some other conduits is under the scanner for helping these smugglers. The nexus remained intact for the past almost 11 months.

A huge narcotics racket

    Heroin worth over Rs 375 crore smuggled to date. 2 Afghan-Sikhs accused arrested in Delhi on Saturday
    Accused are members of a large trans-national racket.
    Probe revealed that the heroin was brought through Amritsar border and then transported to the national capital, where it had many buyers
    It then found its way to southern India and then to Lanka

 No overpayment to hospitals under ECHS scheme
Defence dept misinterprets govt policies
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Instances of “overpayment” to private hospitals under the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) as brought out by the Defence Accounts Department (DAD) has turned out to be incorrect interpretation of polices by the department.

In October, DAD had claimed that a special audit drive undertaken by it to examine the bill processing procedures of the ECHS had revealed excess billing and irregularity of payments. Provisional figures compiled by DAD had calculated the excess payment around Rs 15 crore in the Western Command region.

“All observations raised by the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts, Western Command, were thoroughly analysed by Regional Centre, Chandigarh, and it was noticed that most of the observations were due to incorrect interpretation of the policies,” Defence Minister AK Antony stated in Parliament in reply to a question by MP Tufani Saroj on Thursday.

“Wherever observations of the Controller of Defence Accounts were conceded to, the overpayments have been duly deducted from the hospitals concerned and suitable warnings have been issued to them,” the reply added.

Consequent to its findings, DAD had mulled undertaking an audit of the functioning and financial transactions of the ECHS across the country in a bid to revamp policies where required, fine-tuning procedures and streamlining the system.

With an annual budget outlay of about Rs 1,500 crore, the ECHS has, in addition to its own 333 polyclinics, 693 civilian hospitals across the country that provide cashless treatment to its subscribers. The bills for the treatment and medicines are reimbursed to the hospitals by the Defence Ministry. Last year, nearly 9 lakh patients had been hospitalised under the ECHS. The scheme has a clientèle of nearly 44 lakh ex-servicemen and their dependants.

The rates laid by the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) for various medical procedures are the same for all categories of the ECHS beneficiaries and payments are made accordingly.

The functioning of the ECHS has come under scrutiny several times in the past and ex-servicemen have complained of procedural hassles and non-availability of certain medicines.
 Games integral part of officers’ duty, says HC
Border Security Force personnel injured during sports activities entitled to disability benefits
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Participating in evening sports activities with troops is bona fide government duty and any injuries sustained thereof is attributable to the service. Ruling this while allowing the petition of a Border Security Force (BSF) officer seeking disability pension, the Delhi High Court has held that an officer so affected is entitled disability benefits.

A division bench comprising Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Deepa Sharma has, in orders passed a few days ago, quashed the directions passed by the BSF authorities rejecting the claim for grant of disability pension submitted by Ramesh Fonia, who, as a company commander was posted to a border outpost and had suffered injuries while playing volleyball with his men at the post.

Directing that he be given disability pension along with arrears, the bench also imposed costs of Rs 20,000 on the respondents.

In August 2006, Fonia had injured his knee during the game. A medical board had subsequently assessed his disability to be 59 per cent and observed that he was completely and permanently incapacitated for further service of any kind in the BSF. In September 2009, he was retired from the service on grounds of physical unfitness. In his petition, he claimed that he was never given a copy of the medical board’s proceedings and hence haven’t had a chance to appeal against the board’s findings.

In reply to a query filed by him under the Right to Information Act, the BSF authorities stated that his injury was not attributable to the service as no one else, but the officer himself was responsible for the injury.

The Bench observed that according to the BSF service manual, games are an integral part of the daily routine to be followed by the BSF personnel at the border outpost. The bench further observed that under the guidelines prescribed by the government for persons subjected to the disciplinary code of the Central Armed Police Battalions, a person is considered as on duty during the period of participation in recreation, organised or permitted by the service authorities.

The case

A division bench quashed the orders passed by the BSF authorities rejecting the claim for grant of disability pension submitted by Ramesh Fonia, who, as a company commander was posted to a border outpost and had suffered injuries while playing volleyball with his men at the post in August 2006. Fonia had injured his knee. A medical board had subsequently assessed his disability to be 59 per cent and observed that he was completely and permanently incapacitated for further service of any kind in the BSF.
Recover of rental dues from Army will take time: Delhi tells Soz

SRINAGAR —  India’s defence ministry has said that it was difficult to fix a time-frame for recovering pending dues from armed forces who have occupied various private properties in Indian administered Kashmir.

The ministry has said the cases related to pending rentals of land and property owners will take some time as different agencies and procedural issues are involved.

There are 125 pending cases of rentals for settlement. The maximum cases relate to frontier district Kupwara (32) followed by Baramulla (28), Anantnag (17), Budgam (17), Pulwama (10) Bandipora (7), Ganderbal (7), Srinagar (4), Shopian (2) and one case of Kulgam.

In a statement issued to CNS news agency, Congress’s Kashmir President, Prof Saif-u-Din Soz said India’s defence minister AK Antony has assured him that all these cases will be settled in due course of time.

The ministry has reportedly assured Soz that the Army would settle all the remaining cases of rent as early as possible.

“The defence minister has said that whenever there is delay, it is due to procedural factors. Settlement of these 125 cases involves various agencies including the state government authorities. Continuous liaison is made with the State government authorities for expeditious settlement of these cases. As different agencies and procedural issues are involved, it is difficult to fix a definite time-frame in which the cases can be resolved,” the statement reads.

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