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Friday, 27 December 2013

From Todya's Papers - 27 Dec 2013

Adjust with officers’ working wives, says Army Chief
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 26
In an acknowledgement of changed times, Army Chief General Bikram Singh has asked Formation Commanders to work out schedules of family-oriented programmes to suit career-oriented wives of officers. He has also asked Commanders to discourage the use of officers’ messes as “five-star hotels”.

The General, in his instructions issued this week, directed that spouses of all ranks should be groomed to fulfil their role in the organisation, but added a caveat: Formation Commanders should understand the compulsions of working wives and adjust programmes to suit their schedules.

More and more young Army officers have full-time working wives and many of them have high-pressure jobs such as MBAs, doctors and bankers. The career-women find it difficult to take time off to attend meetings and functions of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA).

The Army Chief’s wife heads AWWA, technically a non-governmental organisation. At the Army Commands, the Commander’s wife heads AWWA and the wife of the senior-most commander heads the local unit. In Army hierarchy, wives are an integral part and the wife of the senior-most officer at the base is considered senior-most.

It’s an unwritten code that wives must follow rank structure and compulsorily participate in social functions.

In the past few years, there have been complaints of newly-married or recently-married wives of junior officers threatening to upset norms. Some of them have even gone ahead to complain of having to maintain hierarchy and adhere to the whims of senior officers’ wives.

Part of the reason for the directive is also explained by complaints from a handful of officers that their wives were forced to be on duty as unofficial personal staff to the wife of an Army Chief.

The Chief has also directed against wives being asked to put up song and dance and cultural programmes in units and regiments.

General Bikram Singh has also asked Commanders to discourage the use of officers’ messes as “five-star hotels”.

They have been asked to do away with the practice of putting up ostentatious lighting and decoration during festivals or ceremonies involving families of soldiers.

Fresh directive

    Gen Bikram Singh asks Formation Commanders to work out schedules of family-oriented programmes to suit career-oriented wives of officers
    The career-oriented women find it difficult to take time off to attend meetings and functions of the Army Wives Welfare Association
    General Bikram Singh has also asked Commanders to discourage the use of officers’ messes as “five-star hotels”
 MoD considers buying Tatra trucks directly from maker

New Delhi, December 26
A final decision on a proposal to procure Tatra trucks directly from the original equipment manufacturer in Czech Republic is yet to be taken, Defence Ministry said today.

"The proposal in this regard is under consideration of the Defence Ministry and a final decision on this issue would be taken later," a Defence Ministry official said here.

The government is planning to procure the vehicles directly from the company manufacturing them instead of buying through agent firms. The validity of a pact between PSU BEML and UK-based Tatra Sipox was over on December 17 and the Defence Ministry is expected to order the trucks from the Tatra Truck Company of Czech Republic. — PTI
 Unsafe in South Sudan
Indian soldiers victim to tribal war

The recent battle between Indian peacekeepers and rebels in South Sudan has brought the conflict in the African nation into sharp focus. India lost two junior commissioned officers (JCOs) in South Sudan’s Jonglei province. They were stationed at the Akobo camp of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and were part of the Indian Army’s small (36 member) detachment which was attacked by the rebels who are loyal to former Vice-President Riek Machar. His dismissal sparked off a tribal war as members of his tribe, the Lou Nuer, rallied against President Salva Kiir, whose Dinka tribesmen dominate the government.

It is tragic that South Sudan, which became an independent nation in 2011, has to suffer violent conflict again. It has seen a 22-year civil war from 1983 to 2005, during which time 15 lakh lives were lost. Unfortunately, even after the peace deal that was signed then, violence has reared its ugly head time and again. The new nation, which has inherited a major share of Sudan’s oil wealth, remains dependent on Sudan for processing facilities. It had started attracting foreign companies, including India’s ONGC, but the latest eruption of violence has resulted in the evacuation of most foreign oilfield workers.

The UN Security Council move to double the number of peacekeepers to more than 14,000 is timely. Efforts by various nations to broker peace between the two warring leaders have not yielded results, as a result of which the conflict between the two tribes would escalate into a civil war. More and more mass graves are being discovered, and as tribesmen seek refuge at various UNMISS centres, the posts themselves need protection, lest they be overwhelmed, as was the case at the Akobo camp. India has a strong interest in maintaining peace. Our soldiers have paid the ultimate price protecting those who sought shelter there. We have a strong stake in South Sudan, and must do our utmost to help it towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.
Despite reservations, India mulls plan to send defence experts, army officers to Afghanistan
The Indian government is considering a proposal to dispatch experts and army officers to Kabul to train the Afghan National Army (ANA) in their home conditions ahead of the drawdown of US-led forces in 2014.

At present, the army provides training to ANA in India on counter-terrorism operations, military field craft, intelligence, counter-improvised explosive devices (IEDs), information technology, battle-field nursing assistance and English language.

“In view of the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014, we need to train the ANA on a priority basis. A proposal has been moved to send first batch of our experts and offices to Afghanistan to give training to ANA in their backyard and home conditions. Training in their locations and terrain would given them an edge as compared to training here in Indian conditions,”an officer told dna.

However, the defence ministry is apprehensive about the safety and security of its men there, keeping in view of the killing of three officers of the Army’s Education Corps in Kabul in February 2010. The officers had gone there to teach English to Afghan troops.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in his four day visit here last week assured New Delhi about the safety and security of Indian officers in the war-torn country.

Following Karzai’s assurance, the ministry of defence moved a proposal to send a batch of officers to Afghanistan comprising officers from various corps such as artillery, intelligence, signal, aviation and education corps. Sources in the ministry of defence claim that the proposal has to be cleared from the Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS) headed by the prime minister.

The Indian Army has already decided to double the number of Afghan National Army personnel who come here for training. According to the army, it is targeting to train about 1,100 Afghan troops by the end of 2014, as compared to 574 personnel trained last year.

Meanwhile, New Delhi has not taken any concrete decision on Karzai’s wish list for lethal weapons, which include battle tanks, field guns, mortars, military aircraft and trucks — needed for Afghan security forces. However, an agreement to send three Indian-made transport helicopters to Afghanistan has been made and the delivery will be made by early next year.

“We need to take a decision on supply of military hardware quickly. Once the US-led forces depart Afghanistan, other Asian countries would make their footprints in the strategically located country,” a military strategist said.
Indian soldiers to be court-martialled for staging encounters in Kashmir
SRINAGAR: India has decided to court-martial two Indian army officers along with four soldiers for staging an encounter in Indian-occupied Kashmir in which three labourers were killed, according to BBC Urdu.

Colonel Rajesh Kalia, the Defence spokesperson for Indian Army’s northern command said the concerned ‘encounter’ occurred three years ago, and the decision to take action against the soldiers came after investigations over the incident had been completed.

The incident happened in the last week of 2010 in a village called ‘Maazhil” in District Kupwara, Northern Kashmir. Local police had investigated the incident and filed cases against nine Indian soldiers plus two Kashmiris working for the Indian army.

The army conducted its own investigation though, headed by Brigadier Sanga.

Colonel Kalia said: “The people want rapid justice for the incident and our decision reflects their sentiments.’

When news of the sham encounter first broke in 2010, Kashmiris led large-scale protests against the killings for a long time. To quell the protests, Indian paramilitary troops and police fired at the protesters and shot dead over 120 civilians, injuring hundreds and arresting a large number of young boys as well.

A few months ago, the army conducted a two-week operation to hunt down suspected rebels in disputed Kashmir after a series of gunbattles in which at least eight alleged militants were killed.

Not the first fake encounter

BBC Urdu reported that in a separate incident in 2010, some time before the then US President Bill Clinton arrived in India for a visit, as many as 35 Sikh civilians were killed in an area in Northern Kashmir.

Subsequently, the Indian army claimed to have been in an ‘encounter’ in which they had killed the alleged terrorists from Pakistan who perpetrated the above incident. To quell the demonstrations, Indian paramilitary troops and police fired at the people, killing over 120 civilians, injuring hundreds and arresting thousands of young boys.

As official investigations disclosed later, though, the people killed by the Indian Army were innocent civilians, who were burned down alive inside their houses.
Tatra trucks expected to make a comeback into Indian armed forces
 NEW DELHI: Tatra trucks, over which there was a controversy, are likely to make a comeback into the Indian armed forces as the government is now planning to procure the vehicles directly from the company manufacturing them instead of buying through agent firms.

One of the agent companies selling the Tatra trucks to the Indian Army had come under cloud after former Army chief Gen V K Singh alleged that he was offered a Rs 14-crore bribe to clear a file related to the procurement of these vehicles, prompting the government to order a CBI probe into the issue.

The validity of a pact between Bangalore-based PSU BEML and UK-based Tatra Sipox got over on December 17. Now, the Defence Ministry is planning to procure the trucks from the original equipment manufacturer Tatra Truck Company in the Czech Republic, official sources told PTI here.

As per the plans, the trucks would be procured by BEML from the Czech manufacturer, they said.

The sources said India had also held parleys with the company to buy it out for meeting the requirements of its armed forces but the manufacturer refused to sell it.

Due to a hold on procurement of Tatra trucks from the UK-based company, the maintenance of the fleet of over 6,500 such trucks in India was getting adversely affected due to lack of spares and other parts.

After the allegation was made last year, the government had decided to put on hold the procurement of the trucks pending the CBI inquiry.
LoC firing, Chinese incursions kept defence ministry busy in 2013

New Delhi: Volatility on the LoC, frequent incursions by Chinese troops and sinking of submarine INS Sindhurakshak in Mumbai were among the major issues that kept the defence ministry busy in 2013. Induction of long-delayed aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya into the Navy, alleged sex scandals in the force, continuing brawls between jawans and officers in the Army and tussle between the IAF and the HAL over the trainer aircraft also made headlines.

The Herculean effort made by the Army and the IAF during the flood relief operations in Uttarakhand earned bouquets for the defence ministry along with the successful activation of the nuclear reactor on board the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant. Former Army Chief Gen VK Singh, who became the first four-star General to drag the government to the Supreme Court over his age issue, continued to make headlines with reports suggesting that he had used a snooping unit under him to destabilise the Jammu and Kashmir state government. He also created a controversy when he claimed that politicians in Jammu and Kashmir were paid for getting certain jobs done. The year began with the beheading of Indian troops in Poonch by Pakistan Army's border action team which crossed over and beheaded one soldier and mutilated the body of another. Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh retaliated strongly, saying India reserves the right to respond at the place and time of its choice to handle the matter.

The government also temporarily took a hard line on the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself, saying that with such incidents, "it cannot be business as usual with Pakistan". The strong stand taken by the Army and the government did not deter the Pakistani troops which continued ceasefire violations and in August ambushed five Indian soldiers in Samba who were allegedly sleeping inside a temporary shelter. The second incident also saw Defence Minister AK Antony committing a faux pas in Parliament while issuing clarification on the basis of ground reports prepared by the Army. The statement had to be changed later on and Pakistan Army troops along with terrorist groups were blamed for the incident. The ceasefire violations continued and the two sides agreed for a meeting between the Directors Generals of Military Operations around the year end. The Army also came under sharp criticism for its handling of the Keran counter terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir where the claims of the force in the operations allegedly did not match the actual achievements on ground. Prime Minister Singh also conveyed his displeasure over the issue to the defence ministry. On the front with China, Chinese troops continued their incursions into the Indian territory and the Army tried to play down the incidents of face-offs. The two countries saw their troops engaged in a month-long stand-off when the Chinese Army marched 19 km inside India in Daulat Beg Oldi sector and pitched their tents to stake claim over the region. The Chinese troops intruded into Indian territory frequently over the year. The incidents did not stop even after the two sides signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) in October during Prime Minister's Beijing visit in October.
Army asked to take Govt's nod before setting up new formation
The Defence Ministry has asked the Army to take Government's permission before setting up any new formation in the future against the backdrop of the controversy over secret snooping unit TSD set up during former Army Chief Gen V K Singh's tenure.

In reply to a communication sent by the Army in connection with the Technical Services Division, the Defence Ministry has told the Service to take its permission for setting up any new formation in future, sources said here.

The Army Headquarters denied having any knowledge about any such communication in this regard from the Defence Ministry.

The Army is understood to have sent a communication to the Defence Ministry in connection with its decision to disband the TSD, which was allegedly involved in operations to destabilise the Jammu and Kashmir government.

The TSD, a Military Intelligence unit, was set up by former army chief in May 2010.

Soon after Gen Bikram Singh took over as Army Chief in May last year, a Board of Officers was formed to look into the activities of the controversial unit.

The inquiry report on the secret unit had recommended a CBI probe into "unauthorised" covert operations being conducted by the unit, first reported by The Indian Express in September this year. The report was submitted to the government in March this year.
CBI to close ex-Army chief's bribery case
NEW DELHI: After months of deliberation, the CBI is set to close the General V K Singh bribery case as "no substantial evidence was found to prove the allegations that Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh had offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing a tranche of Tatra trucks". Sources said a closure report would be filed in court in January.

CBI had examined the CD provided by V K Singh, visitors' register of defence ministry and questioned several persons to ascertain the bribery charge but officials said "prosecutable evidence could not be found against Tejinder Singh".

When contacted, CBI director Ranjit Sinha refused to comment on closure but confirmed that the case would be "finalized within a few weeks".

CBI investigated the link between Vectra chief Ravi Rishi and Tejinder Singh to probe the allegation of bribery offer of Rs 14 crore made to the former Army chief to clear a tranche of 1,676 high mobility Tatra vehicles for the Indian Army.

CBI sources said it was proved that Tejinder Singh had met V K Singh but it did not prove the bribery offer. For example, CBI had established from the register entry that Tejinder Singh had met V K Singh at the latter's office on September 22, 2010.

V K Singh had provided a compact disc, which was examined by CFSL experts, but nothing substantial could be found in it, said sources.

CBI had registered a case on October 20 last year in the matter converting a six-month-long PE into an FIR.

During investigations, CBI had taken into account the record of discussion in which an Army chief records important decisions taken, details of meetings, discussions taken place or instructions issued during the day. It also recorded the statement of the receptionist at the office of V K Singh and statements of other Army officers before filing a regular case.

The agency had also questioned two businessmen in Delhi to establish the link between Tejinder Singh and Ravi Rishi.

Tejinder Singh had refuted the allegations and also slapped a defamation case against V K Singh. Tejinder Singh is prime accused in the case registered under section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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