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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

From Today's Papers - 04 Mar 2014

India in touch with neighbours to counter insurgent groups
Ashok Tuteja writes from Nay Pyi Taw

India is in touch with neighbouring countries to thwart any attempt by Indian insurgent groups operating from there to disrupt the Lok Sabha elections.

Official sources today said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will seek full security cooperation from Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal when he meets the leaders of these countries here on the margins of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Summit to be held tomorrow against the backdrop of the looming threat of violence by insurgent groups to sabotage the electoral exercise.

The Prime Minister arrived in Myanmar this afternoon to attend the summit on what seems to be his last overseas trip as the PM, reflecting the importance India attaches to relations with its neighbours.

He is scheduled to hold talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay and Myanmar President U Thein Sein. He will also meet Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi tomorrow evening just before flying back to New Delhi.

The seven-nation BIMSTEC was poised to play a more active role in regional integration and cooperation, the PM said in a statement. In the field of security, BIMSTEC has steadily put in place enabling instruments for regional approaches to international terrorism, transnational crimes, drug trafficking and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, he added.

Sources said India had been receiving “very good” cooperation from Myanmar in tackling the threat from Indian insurgent groups. “We have an ongoing cooperation with Myanmar… we will again raise our (security) concerns,” they added.

They noted that Bangladesh had extended full cooperation to India in the security field over the past few years. Successive governments in Nepal have assured New Delhi that the country’s territory would not be allowed to be misused for anti-India activities, sources pointed out. Pakistan’s ISI has been quite active in Nepal.

Asked about reports that there could be high-level of violence in proposed Telangana during the elections, sources said “we are doing whatever we can to ensure that it does not happen”.

On the PM’s upcoming meeting with the Sri Lankan leader, sources said India would like to see much more progress in terms of reconciliation on the ethnic issue in the island nation.
Govt puts Rolls Royce deals on hold
Company says will cooperate with regulatory authorities 
Defence projects hit
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
The Ministry of Defence has “put on hold” all contracts that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has entered into with British aircraft engine maker Rolls Royce.

If the ongoing CBI probe into a Rs 10,000-crore HAL-Rolls Royce deal for the supply of aircraft engines establishes wrongdoing, the global giant, which is the second largest aircraft engine maker in the world, may find itself blacklisted in India.
The ministry has also asked Britain for details on an ongoing probe against Rolls Royce in that country.

Bangalore-based HAL is a public sector company and is owned by the MoD. Rolls Royce is its major contractor for repair and overhaul of engines of IAF planes. It is also the supplier of engines for various planes in the IAF fleet.

Defence Minister AK Antony has already ordered a CBI inquiry into the allegations of payoffs by Rolls Royce to HAL’s Industrial Marine and Gas Turbine (IMGT) Division. This was for supply of engines and expertise used to power gas through pipelines in India.

In a disclosure to HAL in December last year, Rolls Royce admitted to have had “intermediaries” in deals with IMGT-HAL in India between 2007 and 2011. The contract works out to around Rs 5,000 crore.

“A certain percentage of the purchase order with HAL was paid to these intermediaries,” a senior MoD official said citing a letter from the British company to HAL. The HAL board of directors suggested a CBI probe that was okayed by Antony a few days ago.

A company spokesperson in an emailed communiqué said: “We will cooperate fully with the regulatory authorities and have repeatedly made it clear that we will not tolerate misconduct of any sort.”

The MoD has asked the CBI to probe not only the supply of gas turbine engines on the civilian side, but also all other deals of Roll Royce with the public sector company.

“Till the probe is on, all contracts have been put on hold,” sources said. The British firm has multi-million dollar contracts in repair and overhaul of engines for advanced jet trainer “Hawk”, fighter jet “Jaguar” etc.

The IAF has ordered 143 Hawks that are powered by Rolls Royce engines. Another 20 have been ordered for a new acrobatic team and 17 for Navy personnel’s flying training. So far, 71 aircraft have been delivered. The engines need repairs and have a schedule for overhauls. These planes are flown by trainee pilots before they graduate onto flying supersonic jets like Sukhoi-30MKI, MiG 29s or Mirage 2000, etc.

British-origin Jaguar, which has been in the IAF service since 1979, will also be hit by the order. The aircraft, licence produced at HAL, also has Rolls Royce engines. Around 115 such planes form the backbone of the deep penetration strike ability of the IAF. Hawker Sidley (HS) AVRO 748, a small transport plane which also used Roll Royce engines, is overhauled at Bangalore.
Three Majors court-martialled for fracas at Ladakh’s Nyoma
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Almost two years after a clash between Army officers and jawans in Ladakh shook the military establishment, three officers of the rank of Major have been convicted by a military court for assaulting a jawan. The assault on the jawan, who allegedly tried to sexually assault the wife of an officer, had triggered the clash that left several officers and jawans injured.
Major SK Sharma, Major Ankur Tiwari and Major Kapil Malik have been awarded five-year loss of seniority for the purpose of promotion, four-year loss of service for the purpose of pension and a severe reprimand by a summary general court martial that concluded in Jammu and Kashmir a few days ago. The verdict is subject to confirmation by the convening authority.

The officers, sources said, had pleaded guilty to the charge of assaulting a subordinate. Trails by court martial have also been conducted against a number of junior commissioned officers and other ranks involved in the clash.

In all, 168 personnel from the 226 Field Regiment, including the unit’s then commanding officer (CO) and four other officers were held blameworthy by a court of inquiry (COI) presided by Brig Ajay Talwar, Deputy General Officer Commanding 3 Infantry Division. Jawans and officers had clashed while the unit was on a field-firing exercise at Nyoma in eastern Ladakh in May 2012. The COI had reportedly pinpointed lapses in command and control and raised the issue of family members of officers being present on a field exercise. The role of some JCOs also came under scrutiny.
Bolster defence capabilities, say military veterans
BANGALORE: Military veterans, citizens and volunteers from Youth for Nation (YFN) on Sunday appealed to the Centre to take immediate action to bolster defence capabilities of the armed forces.

Speaking after a protest following the resignation of Admiral Joshi as chief of naval staff last week, retired officers blamed defence minister AK Antony for a decline in fighting potential of the armed forces and urged him to retire.

National general secretary of YFN Sunil Kumar said Admiral Joshi, like his predecessors, had apprised the defence minister, prime minister, parliamentary standing committee and the President of the precarious state of operational preparedness of the Navy because of depleted strength of a large number of warships and submarines.

"He had said that in the interest of national security, there was an urgent and inescapable need to boost the defence capability of the Navy by procuring new warships and submarines. But to no avail.

But the government was unmoved," Kumar said.

He added that following this apathy, one mishap followed another in quick succession in the Navy. "...And the mishap on INS Sindhuratna was the proverbial 'last straw' on the camel's back. Admiral Joshi felt 'enough is enough', and resigned," he said.

The protestors also said they wished the chiefs of the Army and the Air Force would display similar gumption in the interest of national security. Blaming the government for its failure to understand the needs of the armed forces, they stressed the need for paying immediate attention to the problem.

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