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Saturday, 28 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 28 Dec 2013

 In 19 yrs, 59 Armymen punished for human rights violation in J&K
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 27
The Indian Army’s decision to court-martial six military personnel for carrying out a fake encounter at Machhil in Kashmir is one of the severe punishments handed out by the Army to erring personnel.

Since 1994, 59 Army men have been punished for violating human rights in Jammu and Kashmir and another 70 punishments have been handed out to Army men in the north-east.

The Army headquarters is clear that it needs to hand out punishment if any officer errs in delivering duty. This is needed for the force to be seen as even handed, lest demands for removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) get leverage.

The Pathribal fake encounter, carried out in 2000, is seen like a watershed. It was then that the Army found it had bad elements who were staging killings and claiming them to be encounters with “terrorists”.

The Supreme Court ruled that the CBI needed prior sanction under AFSPA to prosecute the Army personnel, the Army has opted to be transparent in its own internal probe. No sanction is needed if the Army does its own Court of Inquiry (CoI).

In the Machhil case, Army did not take cover under AFSPA to evade investigation and scrutiny that led to court martial of six, including a Colonel and two Majors.

Figures of human right probes indicate that there were 1,004 allegations of excesses against the Indian Army in J&K and 25 of these were found to be true since 1994. Nine cases are still under investigation. The numbers are disputed by the J&K-based organisations and there have been a few instances of the matters getting to head.

In 2012, two human rights NGOs - Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (IPDP) and the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK) in Srinagar - alleged 235 army personnel were involved in alleged involvement in human rights abuses in J&K.

The Army had then dismissed the report as a collation of unsubstantiated allegations and had added: “The culpability of the Army men listed has not been established in any of the cases. The NGOs have stated that they do not have conclusive evidence against any of the army personnel mentioned in their report.” Another 570 allegations are against the Army in the north east. A total of 29 have been found genuine.

The Prime Minister-appointed interlocutors on Kashmir — Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and MM Ansari — had submitted a report in October 2012. They called from ending bureaucratic stalemates in case of court martial. “A speedy and transparent court martial would be an immense confidence building measure,” the report had said.

Fake encounters

    It was after the Pathribal fake encounter in 2000 that the Army realised it had bad elements staging killings and claiming them to be encounters with "terrorists"
    In the Machhil case, Army did not take cover under AFSPA to evade investigation and scrutiny that led to court martial of six
    Figures indicate that there were 1,004 allegations of excesses against the Indian Army in J&K, 25 of which were found to be true
 JCO dismissed, Capt reprimanded for clash in Gurdaspur armoured unit
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
A General Court Martial (GCM) has dismissed a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) from service for allegedly assaulting a Captain during a clash between officer and troops in an armoured regiment based near Gurdaspur. The Captain has been awarded a “severe reprimand” in a separate trial. The court martial of another non-commissioned officer directly involved in the fracas is underway.

Sources said the GCM, presided by the commanding officer of a field artillery regiment, concluded at Tibri military station near Gurdaspur last week. The court’s verdict is subject to confirmation by the convening authority. JCO Sub S Raju had faced four charges under Section 40 of the Army Act for assaulting a superior officer, abetment and instigation. He was held guilty by the court of all four charges.

The incident had taken place in 45 Cavalry at Tibri on May 29, 2010. A jawan, Lance Dafadar MR Abhilash, was allegedly thrashed by Capt Aishwarya Saxena and another officer, Capt R Ganguly, and forcibly taken away from the unit premises in a car. The jawan had been faring poorly in morning PT, resulting in a spat between the two, which later blew up.

A Court of Inquiry, presided over by Brig AK Thakur, Commander of an artillery brigade, had blamed the regiment’s commanding officer for not taking effective steps to handle the situation and attempting to conceal the incident from higher authorities. He was awarded a severe displeasure after administrative action was initiated against him.
In addition, the regiment’s Risaldar Mmajor, the senior most JCO in the unit, was among several JCOs who faced administrative action, and was awarded a severe reprimand. At least four jawans of the unit were dismissed after being tried by a summary court martial for their alleged role in the incident.

The JCOs were blamed for failing to exercise due command and control over troops, who “behaved in an unruly and undisciplined manner”, resulting in the use of criminal force by them on two Captains and two Lieutenants. They were also blamed for misdemeanor and making incorrect statements before the CoI.
 National Police Academy to have first woman boss

New Delhi, December 27
National Police Academy, the Hyderabad-based alma mater for IPS officers in the country, could soon get a woman chief for the first time in its history.

Aruna Bahuguna, a 1979-batch IPS officer, is tipped to be appointed as the new director of the 65-year-old institution, also known as the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA), which is tasked with the training of police leaders.

Bahuguna (56), who belongs to the Andhra Pradesh cadre, is at present posted as the Special Director General in the country's largest paramilitary force, CRPF, at its headquarters in the national capital.

The orders for Bahuguna's appointment as the new director of the academy would be issued soon, sources said. The officer, who has served in various positions with Andhra Pradesh police, also holds the distinction of being the first woman SDG in CRPF. She is the second-in-command of the 3 lakh strong force, after the DG. The post of the NPA Director fell vacant after incumbent Subhas Goswami was last month appointed as the DG of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

Reputed police officers like Sankar Sen, Trinath Mishra and K Vijay Kumar have earlier headed the NPA. Once appointed, Bahuguna would be the 28th boss of the academy. The high-level board of the NPA comprises senior civil servants, police officers and eminent educationists as its members and is headed by the Union Home Secretary. — PTI
Landmark meeting: LoC peace agreed in rare Pak-India army tryst

Top military officials of the two nuclear armed neighbours agreed to defuse months-old tensions along the Line of Control by restoring the ceasefire, in a landmark meeting at the Wagah border on Tuesday.

Pakistan Army Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Aamer Riaz and his Indian counterpart Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia, who met for the first time in 14 years, decided to restore ceasefire by ‘re-energising existing mechanisms’.

The talks are part of the efforts from both the countries to defuse hostilities along the LoC. Lt Gen Bhatia who crossed over from the Attari border checkpost was received by Maj Gen Riaz.

In complete contrast to the recent flaring up of tensions, the DGMOs were seen smiling and shaking hands with each other before they began their crucial talks.

A joint statement issued after their discussions said the meeting was held in a ‘cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere’.

“Both DGsMO showed their commitment to maintain the sanctity and ceasefire on the LoC and agreed to re-energise the existing mechanisms,” the statement read.

The two sides also developed consensus to make hotline contact between the two DGsMO ‘more effective and result-oriented’.

It was also decided that both sides would inform each other if any innocent civilian inadvertently crossed the LoC, in order to ensure his/her early return.

“To carry forward the positive spirit of DGsMOs meeting, two flag meetings between Brigade Commanders will be held on the LoC in the near future to ensure maintenance of peace and tranquility along the LoC,” the statement said.

Tensions between the two neighbours had flared up in January and then in August this year when the two sides accused each other of violating ceasefire in the disputed region.

The ensuing clashes left a number of soldiers and civilians dead on both sides of the LoC.

Talks between the two DGsMOs took place as part of the agreement reached between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during their talks in New York on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly session in September.

A senior military official told The Express Tribune that it was a political decision to arrange the meeting of the DGsMOs.

“Both the civilian and the military leadership are on the same page as far as relations with India are concerned,” added the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

Although there are little chances of resumption of the stalled peace talks in the near future due to India’s preoccupation with the upcoming parliamentary elections, the United States is believed to have been pushing the two neighbours to remain engaged at a time when it is pulling out of Afghanistan.

Washington, which is thought to have encouraged the two sides to defuse LoC tensions, fears that any hostilities between the nuclear neighbors could undermine its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

A foreign office official hoped that the meeting would lead to resumption of composite dialogue, which India has so far refused to enter into due to what it claimed ‘slow progress’ to prosecute perpetrators of November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
India, US ink $1billion deal for six Super Hercules aircraft
NEW DELHI: The ongoing diplomatic kerfuffle over the Devyani Khobragade episode is no hurdle as far defence deals with the US are concerned. India and the US have inked another mega contract, the $1.01 billion one for six additional C-130J "Super Hercules" aircraft, while some others are being finalized.

Defence ministry sources said the "letter of offer and acceptance" for the six new four-engine C-130Js, which will be delivered within three years, was signed on Friday under the US government's "foreign military sales" (FMS) programme.

IAF already has six C-130Js tactical airlift aircraft, ordered for $962 million in 2007, which are based at the Hindon airbase on the outskirts of Delhi. The six new C-130Js, also configured for "special operations" as the first six, will be based at Panagarh in West Bengal.

Panagarh will also house the headquarters of the new mountain strike corps, christened XVII Corps with a total of over 80,000 soldiers, being raised by the Army in a project worth around Rs 90,000 crore. This new corps will plug operational gaps along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) as well as give "some serious ground offensive capabilities" against China for the first time.

The rugged C-130J, as also the bigger C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft acquired from the US, can even land at a small forward airbase on a semi-prepared runway. Crucial to counter China's massive build-up of border infrastructure, this capability was amply demonstrated when IAF landed a C-130J on the Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in eastern Ladakh, at an altitude of 16,614-feet just seven-km from the LAC, in August this year.

The US has already bagged deals close to $10 billion over the last decade in the lucrative Indian defence market. The other deals on the anvil are the ones for 22 Apache attack helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers, four P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers, together worth another $4 billion or so.

"The CNC (contract negotiation committee) for the Chinooks has completed its work, while the one for the Apaches is on the verge of finalization. The M-777 howitzers' contract was stuck on the offsets proposal but is now being sorted out," said a MoD source.

That's not all. The US is also in the contention for the over Rs 15,000 crore project to equip the 355 infantry battalions of the Indian Army with third-generation, shoulder-fired anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).

After the US initially created roadblocks in the transfer of technology (ToT) for its "Javelin" ATGMs, India had turned to the Israeli "Spike" ATGMs for the project, which will involve an initial import of the tank-killing missiles followed by ToT to defence PSU Bharat Dynamics for indigenous manufacture.

But the A K Antony-led Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) last month put on hold a decision on clearing the Israeli case after the US offered a joint project to manufacture the next-generation of ATGMs. "The MoD will consider both the American and Israeli projects now and choose the one which suits India better," said the source.
Eastern Army chief visits forward areas in Sikkim
KOLKATA: Less than a week prior to taking over as vice-chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Dalbir Singh, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, visited the forward areas in Sikkim on Thursday and interacted with officers and troops of the Trishakti Corps who are deployed along the Line of Actual Control. He was accompanied by Lt Gen K J Singh, commander, Trishakti Corps. After the visit, the Eastern Army commander commended the efforts of the officers and troops and said that they were in a state of operational readiness to meet any challenge.

"The Army Commander appreciated the efforts put in by all ranks of the Corps in maintaining constant vigil, peace and tranquility along the China-Indian Border. He expressed satisfaction at the high level of motivation and morale of the troops deployed in difficult and physically demanding conditions. He also complimented the Corps for the maintenance of operational readiness, training and administration of the troops. He expressed satisfaction at the efforts towards maintaining peace in accordance with the Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement that is progressing well in enhancing mutual trust and deepening of understanding between the two armies as per the recently concluded Border Defence and Cooperation Agreement," said Capt T K Singha, CPRO, ministry of defence, Kolkata.

Lt Gen Dalbir Singh also visited the Corps Battle School at Gnathang in East Sikkim and witnessed training facilities created to maintain operational preparedness.
Advanced medical care for defence personnel in forward areas
New Delhi: Government is setting up advanced medical facilities in forward areas including Siachen and in the Northeast, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services, Air Marshal DP Joshi, said on Friday.

"We will be having a CT-scan centre at the base camp at Siachen. There is a surgeon, physician and medical staff and other facilities there.”

"There is a concerted proposal that we are going more eastwards. Since we are manning places like Dimapur, we are setting up advanced medical centres, so as to whenever there are casualties, it could be treated immediately," Joshi said.

Addressing a press conference on the 250th anniversary of the Army Medical Corps, Joshi said it was not only Siachen, but the Defence Ministry was working on having advanced medical treatment facilities in forward areas in Northeast as well.

"Places like Johrat and Guwahati have excellent medical centres. We are also planning to add MRI centres at these places," Joshi said.

He said if serious cases are brought in, they would be treated quickly and if the patient requires shifting to other centres, it could be done easily because of its good air bases.

He noted that the number of HIV cases has seen a decline not only in the country but also in the armed forces.

"The graph of HIV cases in the army has declined. In last year, we have not even boarded out anybody or nobody has died of AIDS," Joshi said.

He said after the Uttarkhand tragedy, in which a MI-17 V5 helicopter crashed killing 20 personnel, it was difficult to identify the badly damaged bodies.

"We have decided to maintain a DNA bank. We have trained people in Calcutta and Hyderabad for this project. We will keep the blood samples of all the new recruits stored and dispose them only after 10 years of their recruitment," Joshi said.

Joshi added that the Army, which is involved in conducting medical check-ups of the pilgrims, has noticed a significant reduction of deaths in Amarnath this year.

"The defence forces also did a commendable job in the relief work of Uttarakhand and Philian cyclone," he said.

Joshi said that medical wing of the armed forces has been participating in UN peacekeeping programmes and have even undertaken training for defence personnel of other countries. At present medical aid is being provided to Syria, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Sudan and SAARC nations.

"A 25-bed hospital in Male (Maldives) has been made fully functional. A team of two medical officers was sent to Kyrgystan as a part of defence cooperation to provide training to medical and nursing staff to be deployed in UN peacekeeping operations," Joshi said.

He added that 200 beds in the Armed Forces hospital, Pune were being made available for civilains and that the Maharashtra government was ready to take responsibility of it.

"We are going to ask the Government of India that wherever we have our nine regional centres, there should be a percentage of beds available for civilians, but the cost modalities have to be worked out," Joshi said.

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