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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

From Today's Papers - 28 Jan 2014

Army blames police for Pathribal operation
Ishfaq Tantry
Tribune News Service
 Srinagar, January 27
The Army in its report to the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) here has blamed the J&K police for the Pathribal operation. The Army’s version comes following CBI’s clean chit to the state police over the abduction and killing of five civilians.

The Army report submitted to the court by Lt General DS Hooda says the Pathribal operation was launched jointly on March 25, 2000 on “specific intelligence” provided by the “civil police” to the “local commander” a day before on March 24, 2000, thus putting the blame on the state police.

“Having dispassionately examined the evidence, it is clearly established that a joint operation was launched by the Army (7 Rashtriya Rifles) along with civil police on March 25, 2000 based on precise information given by the civil police (J&K Police) to the local Army Commander, on March 24, 2000”, Lt General DS Hooda has informed the CJM in his report vide no 2701/Pathribal/DV-1 dated January 20, 2014.

On January 23 last week, the Army had announced that it had closed the Pathribal case in which five Rashtriya Rifles officers were accused of killing five Kashmiri civilians in a “staged” encounter in March 2000 in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Under Rule 7 of the J&K Criminal Courts and Court Martial (Adjustments of Jurisdiction) Rules, 1983, the Commanding Officer of the accused Army personnel is required to inform the judicial magistrate concerned before whom the chargesheet is filed, about the proceedings of the court martial and its decision.

The CBI, which completed its investigation into the Pathribal “staged” encounter case in 2006, in its chargesheet before CJM, had accused five army officers of the “abduction” and “cold-blooded murder” of the five civilians. The probe agency had, however, exonerated the then police head of the area, Farooq Khan, who was then SSP Anantnag, of the complicity in the case. The CBI had arrived at the conclusion based on a letter written by an Army Major to the police wherein it (police) had been asked to file an FIR into the Pathribal encounter.

Lt General Hooda submitted to the CJM that “there is no evidence on record which in any way connects any of the five accused (army officials) with murder, wrongful confinement, abduction/causing disappearance, etc, of the five deceased persons”. He said 55 prosecution witnesses were examined during the hearing.
What Lt General Hooda said

    The operation was launched jointly on March 25, 2000 on “specific intelligence” provided by the “civil police” to the “local commander”
    There is no evidence on record which in anyway connects any of the five accused (Army officers) with murder, wrongful confinement, abduction/causing disappearance, etc, of the five deceased persons.
    Fifty-five prosecution witnesses were examined during the hearing

Fresh probe not ruled out

    A fresh probe into the Pathribal encounter case is not ruled out in view of the major controversy that has erupted after the Army gave a clean chit to its personnel in the infamous incident. The indications came on a day when Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh met Defence Minister A K Antony in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI
CRPF man killed, 15 injured in IED blasts by Maoists
 Ranchi, January 27
A CRPF man was killed and 15 others injured in serial blasts carried out by Maoists in Jharkhand's Giridih district today to foil search operations by security men to rescue four abducted officials.

The abducted men were later freed. "There was a fierce gun battle and under pressure from the security men, the Maoists fled leaving behind the four persons,” said Superintendent of Police Kranthi Kumar.

“One CRPF man (Badal Roy) died, while 11 CRPF personnel and four Jharkhand Jaguars were injured in the blasts,” a statement from the CRPF said. Sources said a CRPF sub-inspector lost his legs in the attacks.

Officials said the search teams witnessed 13 improvised explosive device (IED) blasts during the operation, involving 350 personnel of the joint forces launched to create pressure on the Maoists to release the abducted men.

The four were abducted on Saturday from Navkania village on the foothills of Parasnath after Maoist intercepted their car. The abducted persons were engaged in activities under social security pension and MG-NREGA, Giridih district officials said. Helicopters were used to evacuate the injured personnel. — PTI
DRDO to test missile defence system next month
Tribune News Service

 Chandigarh, January 27
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will conduct a test launch of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system next month. The system is being developed to intercept and destroy incoming hostile ballistic missiles.

Dr VG Sekaran, Director General Missiles and Strategic Systems, today said the major challenge in the BMD system was the reaction time, where speeds were very high and reaction period very short. Time frame in ballistic missile defence was a critical factor, he added.

He was delivering a talk on Aerospace Technologies and Applications at Panjab University.

The DRDO has been developing the BMD system for the past several years and has carried out several tests of the interceptors missiles. It is a two-tiered system consisting the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for high-altitude interception and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude interception.

Dr Sekeran said that DRDO is also actively engaged in research in hypersonic technology. He said it was a complex and expensive field that had thrown up a lot of challenges and problems and there was also a possibility of the country entering into a collaboration with a foreign agency for joint research.

A major focus area for the DRDO, he said, was unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), where the DRDO had been able to develop cutting-edge technologies. Work was now on to develop a twin-engine variant of the indigenous Rustom UAV, the single-engine version of which was already in service. The new UAV would have a much higher range and payload capacity.
 Pathribal outrage
The Army's attempt to save its own

It is strange that an Army court martial should find not even prima facie evidence to proceed against five of its officers when the CBI in 2006 had found reason to indict them for the killing of five civilians at Pathribal in Anantnag district in 2000. The official statement regarding the case given by an Army spokesperson does not say what specifically were the depositions made in the case by the various parties and what was lacking in them. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said a matter as serious as this cannot be closed or wished away - something people in Kashmir are now accusing the Army of.

There are certain facts that no one disputes: That those killed were indeed civilians and that they were killed by the Army in a joint operation with the police. The dispute thus can only be whether the officers involved were at fault or not. Either way, there was someone who did wrong - deliberate or inadvertent. When five innocent people are killed, there has to be an explanation. The Army statement has arbitrarily declared: "The evidence recorded could not establish a prime facie case against any of the accused persons". It does not even specify what are they not guilty of! Days after the shooting of 36 Sikhs in Chhattisinghpora in 2000, the Army had claimed killing five terrorists responsible for the massacre. But the bodies were subsequently identified as those of local civilians.

As if the court martial ruling was not arbitrary enough, the Army's caginess in explaining its conclusions makes its sincerity in ensuring justice even more suspicious. Under the best of circumstances, it is hard for an armed force operating amidst civil population to acquit itself with dignity. When sections among the population lack trust in the force, it is doubly important for it to seem fair. The Pathribal decision also weakens the Army's case for continuing with the AFSPA in Kashmir, which will now seem a ploy to seek protection for any wrong its men might commit. A chance to send out a positive message has been missed.
How India-Israel Defence Cooperation Flourished in 2013
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Defense relations between India and Israel are flourishing. 2013 saw a few minor setbacks, but overall the bilateral arms trade between New Delhi and Jerusalem will continue to be strong.

Defense relations between India and Israel have come a long way, against all odds. Israel has emerged as India’s second-largest arms supplier, behind only Russia, with bilateral arms trade over the last decade estimated at $10
billion. 2013 witnessed major developments in India-Israel defense cooperation, most of which involved enhancing arms trade and furthering joint projects. There were certain constraints as well, none of which curbed ties.

Security Developments in 2013

Israel has carved its niche in India by supplying some of the most sought-after weapons systems, with the exception of bigger platforms, such as aircraft. The January 2013 visit to Israel by India’s former air force commander, Air Marshal N. A. K. Browne, further bolstered ties. Military officials from both countries discussed upgrading cooperation, specifically in the area of drones. Browne also expressed India’s desire to acquire Israeli-made air-to-air missiles, along with other precision-guided munitions. India also pushed for additional joint missile projects, despite Israel’s delay in the development of its own joint medium-range surface-to-air missile project.

In mid-2013, India considered buying Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems. While at first Indian officials were hesitant to commit to Iron Dome, on the grounds that it would be ineffective for India’s
long borders and congested air space, it has since been believed that Israel’s willingness to share the sophisticated technology behind the system may alter India’s decision. If these deals go through, they will not only
benefit Israel, whose military industries and defense R&D largely depend upon arms sales, but will also enhance India’s air defense capabilities against her adversaries.

Constraints on the Defense Relationship

The US as a competitor in India-Israel arms trade surfaced in 2013. The US has long tried tapping into the Indian defense market, but its reservations over technology transfers remain a roadblock. However, efforts for such
agreements are underway. The latest example is the US proposal to forge a joint venture partnership with India for the development of next-generation Javelin anti-tank missiles. This deal almost caused India to reverse its
decision to purchase Israeli-made Spike anti-tank guided missiles. However, no major breakthrough has yet been reported, and the Spike was back on the Indian Army’s acquisition agenda in November 2013.

Another concern was the November 2013 interim nuclear deal between the US and Iran. With the thawing of US-Iran ties, certain doubts were raised about the impact of the deal on India-Israel defense cooperation, specifically
because of past defense cooperation between India and Iran. Israel watched these ties cautiously, concerned that India might transfer Israeli-based military technology or training to Iran. However, with an agreement for a
nuclear deal between India and the US in 2005, Israel’s worries over Indo-Iranian defense ties gradually dissipated.

The initiative would see India place its nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The US agreed, recognizing India’s non-proliferation record despite its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

With certain preconditions from the US, India scaled down its defense ties with Iran, which have since remained almost non-existent.

India’s increasing focus on Iran has brought the possibility of a resumption of military ties. In July 2013, the Iranian Ambassador to India expressed interest in enhancing defense ties with India, a sentiment that was
reciprocated by Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony. Discussions were held to initiate more bilateral defense exchanges between the two countries. In December, two Iranian warships and a submarine paid a “goodwill” visit to
Mumbai, and naval officials from both countries called for close naval cooperation. In addition, the need for a “framework for joint cooperation and security for vessels in India’s western waters to the Persian Gulf” was

If New Delhi and Tehran succeed in furthering their now-dormant defense ties, the latter would lure Indian defense planners with its military equipment such as ground surveillance radar systems, personnel carriers, drones, destroyers, submarines, and missile-launching frigates. Only time will tell how the military-security relations between India and Iran unfold.

India and Israel have had a few hiccups in their defense cooperation. India expressed its displeasure over Israel’s prolonged delay in delivering weapons systems, as well as a few unsettled cost issues. The disagreements were mainly over the joint venture between India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Israeli Aerospace Industry (IAI) for the development of long and medium-range surface-to-air missiles. In November 2013, DRDO officials blamed the lack of progress on an Israeli “lack of transparency and non-transfer of technology.” However, the Israeli media reported that the long-range missiles project for the Indian Navy is slated for completion by December 2015, while the medium-range missiles will be ready for the Indian Air Force in August 2016.

A Positive End to the Year

The November visit to India by Israeli Chief of the Ground Forces Command, Maj. Gen. Guy Zur, opened more prospects in defense cooperation. Discussions were held not only on joint military training and exchanges, R&D projects,
and arms deals, but also on the security situation in South Asia and the Middle East. Combating terrorism, a common problem of both countries, was discussed intensively.

The visit coincided with India’s decision to reconsider buying Spike missiles and transfer technology. Furthermore, India and Israel reportedly agreed to collaborate in the production of high-tech systems for Indian troops at an estimated cost of $3 billion. For this venture, Israel would team up with DRDO to produce systems related to command and control, battlefield management, sensors, and weapons. There is also an additional joint development program for an advanced mobile observation system designed for infantry soldiers.

Two major events invigorated India-Israel defense ties. The first was the closure of the seven-year-old Barak missile kickback case. The original deal for Barak-1 missiles, at the high cost of nearly $180 million, was inked
during the BJP-led NDA government in 2000. Due to this controversy, leftist parties demanded that the government refuse all deals with IAI, which was under investigation for alleged corruption. However, neither IAI nor Rafael
was blacklisted and have instead become two of the most important Israeli defense firms operating in India.

The Indian defense minister recently closed a deal for the procurement of 262 Barak-1 missiles, at an estimated cost of $143 million. This came as a great relief for the Indian Navy and its fast-depleting stock of anti-ballistic missiles for its frontline battleships. All that remains for the deal to go through is an approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

The second major event that helped boost Indo-Israeli ties was the CCS approval of the procurement of nearly 15 Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from Israel, which will likely enhance reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities of Indian armed forces along the borders of Pakistan and China. Currently, the Indian Air Force uses both Israeli-made Searcher II and Heron UAVs, with about 100 deployed along the borders.


It is evident that defense ties between India and Israel are robust, and the countries would not like to be undermined by a third party. However, they should be cognizant of the changing reality of the arms business, where
other potential vendors are queuing up to sell their products. Israel’s credibility as a reliable arms supplier with limited political implications should be preserved. The countries should seek utter transparency to allow the bilateral relationship to continue to flourish. India and Israel share national security challenges and are thus natural security partners. 2013 was an overall successful year in relations for the two nations, and the
future holds many more potential positive developments.
PLA officers celebrate Republic Day with Indian Army
Kolkata: Signalling rare bonhomie among the two armies, officers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) celebrated Republic Day with jawans of the Indian Army at the international border, officials said here on Monday.

At Nathu La pass in Sikkim, a special Border Personnel Meeting was organised with a delegation of seven officers led by a Brigadier equivalent officer of PLA yesterday.

The PLA delegation wished the troops of Indian Army on the occasion of Republic Day and the meeting was followed by a cultural programme from both sides, Army sources said.

The occasion was celebrated with enthusiasm and patriotism under Trishakti Corps and its Mountain Divisions.

At the Corps HQ in Sukna, all officers and jawans paid tribute to the martyrs at the war memorial.

GOC Trishakti Corps Lt Gen KJ Singh laid a wreath on behalf of all soldiers of the Corps.
Beni Prasad Verma suspects Mulayam Singh Yadav hand in Tatra truck deal
 Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma has virtually opened a can of worms for Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav just before the Lok Sabha election. He alleged here on Saturday that as defence minister, Mulayam played a crucial role in renewing the Tatra truck deal in which crores of rupees are alleged to have been given to top Indian Army officials and politicians.

Addressing reporters in Lucknow, he said the CBI, which was probing the scam, was also looking into Mulayam’s role in the deal. He also said the spat between Mulayam and Narendra Modi was a “fixed match”.

“Mulayam should not feel too happy about the CBI closing the investigations (into the DA case) against him. The CBI is probing his role in renewing the deal. The files related to the scam are locked in the CBI’s almirah, and Rahul ji will open it (as PM),” he asserted.

The CBI had started investigations into the Tatra scam after the previous Indian Army Chief General VK Singh had alleged that he had been offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore by a top Army officer for ordering a fresh batch of the allegedly “obsolete” trucks.

The first contract for the supply of these trucks from Tatra AS of the Czech Republic to India was signed in 1986. The contract was first renewed between 1996 and 1997 for 15 years when Mulayam was defence minister in the United Front government headed by HD Deve Gowda.
Shaurya Chakra for Lieutenant Colonel, posthumously
HANDIGARH: City-based army officer Lieutenant Colonel Bikramjit Singh, who was killed in the terrorist attack on the camp of 16 Light Cavalry in Samba near Jammu in September last year, was conferred with Shaurya Chakra (posthumously).

As per the citation released by the ministry of defence (MOD), Lt Col Bikramjit Singh was awarded "Shaurya Chakra (posthumous) for his speedy, tactically sound actions, courageous and bold leadership in the face of mortal danger and for acting swiftly without waiting for a weapon or protective gear, acting well beyond the call of duty, in the highest traditions of the Indian army in counter terrorist operations in Samba".

An MOD spokesperson said on September 26, 2013, around 7.1 am, Lt Col Bikramjit Singh, on hearing the sound of weapons near the Officers' Mess Complex of his unit in Samba, rushed to the site. He spotted a terrorist hiding in a nallah, firing and attempting to move towards the adjacent family accommodation. "Despite presence of armed terrorists, the officer moved from one position to another, shouting instructions and directing action. His prompt and fearless action dislodged the terrorist from an effective firing position, forcing the terrorist to seek cover in a room, leading to his eventual elimination," the spokesperson added. He said the officer prevented the terrorists from going towards Officers' Married Accommodation Complex.

Lt Col Bikramjit Singh, who joined the Armoured Corps after passing out from the Indian Military Academy in 1998, was survived by his wife and an eight-year-old daughter. He was the only son of Major Paramjeet Singh (retd) and Luvpreet Kaur, residents of Sector 18, Chandigarh.

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