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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 25 Dec 2013

India, Pak DGMOs agree on new peace mechanism along border
Tribune News Service

Attari (Amritsar), December 24
After a year of hostility along the border in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan today agreed to have in place new mechanisms to ensure peace and tranquility along the border.

A decision to this effect was taken at a three-hour meeting between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries on the Pakistan side of the Wagah-Attari border today.

The meeting, which was convened to draw up a “peace protocol” for the two armies, discussed ways to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure that the 2003 ceasefire in J&K was honoured.

The ceasefire along the 198-km section of the International Border and the 749-km Line of Control (LoC) in J&K has been breached several times over the years.

Indian Army’s DGMO Lt General Vinod Bhatia termed the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Maj General Amir Riaz as “cordial, constructive and fruitful”.

The two military officers discussed ceasefire violations. “We are looking forward to sustaining ceasefire and have decided to strengthen existing mechanisms for holding the ceasefire,” General Bhatia told mediapersons after the meeting.

Major General Riaz walked up to the zero line along with the Indian officer as courtesy. The two delegations also had lunch with menu picked from shared culinary history of the two nations.

On whether the matter of killing of five Indian soldiers was taken up during the meeting, Lt General Bhatia said: “We have discussed issues and we are moving forward.”

The new mechanisms include two additional flag meetings at the level of Brigadier of either side in operational areas along the LoC. The number of points for flag meetings will remain unchanged.

A joint statement issued later said: “A consensus was developed to make hotline contact between the two DGMOs more effective and result-oriented. It was also decided to inform each other if any innocent civilian inadvertently crosses the LoC in order to ensure his/her early return.”

The Indian side had taken along figures of the 195 ceasefire violations that had taken place during 2013. The aim was to substantiate the fact that there was an attempt by Pakistani troops to counter any upcoming event in India by resorting to cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir.

The dates showed increased activity ahead of major events, including political, sporting and cultural, in India.

Sources said the Pakistan DGMO reiterated his country’s old stand of allowing United Nations-appointed observers along the LoC to monitor peace. The Indian side turned down the request and the matter was not raised again.

The United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was set up in 1949 following the Karachi agreement and New Delhi believed it had become redundant following the 1972 Simla Agreement, which talked about “bilateral resolution of all pending issues”.

Today’s meeting was an outcome of talks between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif in New York in September at the height of tension triggered by the LoC flare-ups.

Fresh initiative

* The two sides decided to hold two additional flag meetings at Brigadier level in operational areas along the LoC

* Make hotline contact between the two DGMOs more ‘effective and result-oriented’

* Inform each other of inadvertent crossing of the LoC by any civilian to ensure his early return

"We are looking forward to sustaining ceasefire and have decided to strengthen existing mechanisms for holding ceasefire" - Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, dgmo, indian army
No let up in militancy in Assam’s Bodo heartland
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 24
It seems that militancy will never be wiped out of Assam’s most troubled spot, as the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District Council (BTC) areas comprising four districts even after repeated peace overtures initiated by the union government to bring all Bodo tribe militant groups to the political “mainstream”.

The tumultuous days of 1990s and early 2000s, when militancy was at its peak phase in Bodo heartland in Assam, culminated into Bodo Peace Accord signed in 2003 with Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) ultras and the government of India. The accord led to formation of the BTC under the amended Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is now being ruled by Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), a political party formed by the leaders and members of the now disbanded BLT.

However, the Peace Accord was not all encompassing as another formidable militant group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) still remained at large “fight” for a “sovereign Bodoland”. However, a split occurred in the NDFB after the outfit under the leadership of self-styled chairman Ranjan Daimary allegedly detonated the serial blasts in Assam on October 30, 2008, in which about 100 persons were killed and over 400 injured.

The NDFB which was preparing to hold talks with the Government of India then expelled the faction led by Daimary and renamed itself as NDFB (Progressive). The NDFB (P) started formal negotiation with the government of India in 2009 with Daimary and his followers still remaining at large. The cadres and leaders of the NDFB (P) led by Govinda Basumatary are now lodged in truce-time designated camps.
BSF chief arrives in Pak for talks
Tribune News Service

Attari, December 24
A high-level BSF team headed by Director General Subhash Joshi today crossed over to Pakistan for a bi-annual meeting with his Pakistani counterpart through the Attari-Wagah land route here.

The five-day meeting commenced at Lahore from today. The delegation includes DG special (western command), Chandigarh, Rajdeep Singh, besides IGs of four frontiers Punjab, Jammu, Rajasthan and Gujarat and an IG rank officer from the BSF headquarters at New Delhi. The delegation was welcomed by sector commander Satluj Rangers Pakistan at the zero-line.

The delegation would discuss various issues pertaining to border management, including drug trafficking, infiltration, smuggling of arms and counterfeit Indian currency, besides inadvertent border crossings and construction along the international border.

Joshi is scheduled to hold discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Major General Rizwan Akhtar, DG Pakistan rangers, Sindh. The delegation will return on December 28.
Fishing trawler sinks after collision with Navy warship

New Delhi, December 24
A fishing trawler sank after colliding with Navy's frontline frigate INS Talwar near Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra injuring four of the 27 persons on board the civilian vessel, Navy officials said today.

This is the fourth mishap involving a naval warship this year including INS Sindhurakshak accident where the vessel sank inside the Mumbai harbour after an explosion in its torpedo section.

INS Talwar collided with an unlit fishing trawler near Ratnagiri coast in Maharashtra around 2130 hours last night in which all the 27 occupants of the civilian vessel fell in the sea, the officials said here.

All the persons in the trawler were pulled out by INS Talwar and dropped on the shore after being provided required medical attention, they said. Four of the civilians, who are fishermen, suffered minor injuries in the mishap, sources said. The Navy has ordered a Board of Inquiry to ascertain the reasons behind the incident, sources said. — PTI|head
Pakistan, Indian Army Commanders Meet On Kashmir

ISLAMABAD — Leading army commanders from Pakistan and India met Tuesday for the first time in 14 years in a bid to reduce tensions in the disputed region of Kashmir after a year of intermittent clashes.

The directors general of military operations (DGMO) from both nuclear-armed neighbors held face-to-face talks at Wagah border post, near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

The past year has seen some of the worst violence in a decade along the Line of Control (LoC), the heavily militarized frontier dividing the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which both countries control in part but claim in full.

The two sides agreed to make contact between the two DGMOs on their special hotline "more effective and result-oriented", a joint statement released by the Pakistani military after the meeting said.

The release said the atmosphere of the talks was "cordial, positive and constructive.”

"It is the first (such) meeting between the senior army officials since Kargil," senior Indian defense ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said, referring to the brief war between the two nations in divided Kashmir in 1999.

The meeting comes less than a month after General Raheel Sharif took over as Pakistan's new army chief.

A deadly flare-up along the LoC in January brought a halt to peace talks that had only just resumed following a three-year hiatus sparked by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Fresh skirmishes erupted on the LoC after five Indian soldiers were killed in a raid in August.

Delhi blamed that ambush on the Pakistan army, but Islamabad denied the claims and has repeatedly called for restraint and dialogue.

The prime ministers of both countries pledged to ensure calm in Kashmir when they held talks in New York in September, the highest-level talks between the two sides for three years.
Government grounds Army parasailing plea
BHUBANESWAR: The state government has turned down the Army's request for parasailing and running practice on Rangeilunda airstrip in Ganjam district. It argued that parasailing would destroy the Phailin-battered runway.

The Army Air Defence College at Golabandha near Gopalpur had sought permission for the practice from the general administration (GA) department. "The runway of the airstrip has to be maintained for smooth landing of aircraft. It has developed potholes after the cyclone. Parasailing will further destroy it," said joint secretary (GA) P K Khuntia in a letter to the college.

He said Rs 1.72 crore would be spent on repairing the runway and the boundary wall, which collapsed in the cyclone. "A bitumen coat on the runway would cost around Rs 1.27 crore and another Rs 45 lakh would be spent on erecting the boundary wall," said a GA official.

A proposal has been sent to the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), seeking funds to take up the repair work. "We have submitted a tentative estimate to the SRC. The works department will be asked to begin the work once funds are sanctioned," the official added.

Earlier, a four-member team of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) visited Rangeilunda to carry out a feasibility study for developing it into a low-cost airport.
Four major acquisitions for the Navy and the Army approved
 The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) of the Ministry of Defence on Monday gave the go ahead for four major acquisitions worth nearly Rs. 16,000 crore for the Indian Navy and the Army.

The shopping list approved for the forces includes two deep sea rescue vessels, an indigenous anti-submarine craft programme, procurement of more Israeli Barak missiles and 41 advanced light helicopters.

In order to improve the country’s response to any disaster at sea, the DAC — headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony — approved the procurement of two deep-sea rescue vessels by the Indian Navy. The approval comes in the wake of the August 14 mishap involving INS Sindhurakshak submarine in which 18 personnel were killed.

The incident appears to have acted as a catalyst in providing a speedy approval to the Indian Navy to procure two Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles (DSRVs). A sum of Rs. 1,500 crore has been sanctioned for the project by the DAC.

Defence sources said the DSRVs would help improve the Navy’s response in time of any disaster. Capable of performing even in the deep seas, these vehicles would ensure that the force is able to respond effectively in a time of crisis. INS Sindhurakshak, incidentally, is still sitting on the sea bed off the coast of Mumbai ever since it sank following multiple explosions in August.
Anti-submarine warfare

The DAC has also approved of a Rs. 13,000 crore project that would enhance the anti-submarine warfare capability of the Indian Navy. The committee has approved indigenous development of 700 ton Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft that would take on submarines operating in coastal waters, within 200 nautical miles of the base port.

These vessels would watch over foreign submarines operating close to the Indian coastline and would also be capable of laying anti-ship and anti-submarine mines.

The crafts would be built by a public sector undertaking, the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), that would work in close coordination with the Navy on the design.
Barak comes out of deep freeze

After remaining in deep freeze for five years due to an ongoing probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Israeli Barak missiles have found favour with the Defence Ministry that cleared procurement proposals worth over Rs. 16,000 crore on Monday.

The proposal to procure 262 Barak I missiles for Rs. 880 crore was cleared by the DAC.

This has paved the way for the deployment of the 9 km range air defence missiles on India’s two aircraft carrier — the INS Virat, and the INS Vikramaditya — which at the moment is on its way to India from Russia. The Navy had been using these missiles but due to the suspension in the procurement process had been left with just 150.

Before arriving at the decision to give the go ahead for the advanced missile system, the Ministry of Defence had also weighed the opinion given by the Attorney General in the matter and that of the independent group it had constituted at the last DAC meet to take a final call on the deal.

Earlier, the procurement of the missiles had been put on hold after allegations of bribery in the deal had surfaced and the CBI had initiated a probe in 2006. With the case now in the final stages and the premier investigating agency due to file its closure report soon, the Ministry decided to go ahead with the deal.
Army to get 40 ALH, Navy one

The DAC has also given its nod to the Army to go ahead with the acquisition of 41 Dhruv advanced Light Helicopters. The choppers would be acquired at a total cost of Rs. 300 crore and one of them would serve the Navy.

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