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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

From Today's Papers - 07 May 2014

BSF constable shoots his boss at border post
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
A BSF constable allegedly shot dead an Assistant Commandant of the force last night at the Indo-Pak border outpost of Rattokey that falls in the Khemkaran sector.

The victim has been identified as Assistant Commandant Jagdish Chander Pandey, a resident of Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand. He was shot by constable Anil Kumar, a resident of Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, at around 10.30 pm yesterday. After the incident, the suspect fled from the spot, but was arrested this morning.

A case has been registered against him with the Khemkaran police.

A Staff Court of Inquiry has been marked by Inspector General, BSF, Ajay Kumar Tomar to ascertain the reason that forced the constable to take such an extreme step. The inquiry would be conducted by BSF Senior Commandant RK Sharma.

Preliminary reports indicated that the Assistant Commandant had lodged an adverse report against the constable for being indisciplined.

“Initially, it appears to be so. A complaint has been lodged with the police. The case will be investigated and handled by the BSF,” said DIG, BSF (Punjab Frontier), RPS Jaswal.

It has been learnt that last night, the accused -- after his duty hours -- returned to the company headquarters along with his colleagues.

Instead of going to his room, he walked to the official residence of the Assistant Commandant with his loaded service rifle and knocked on the door. When the Assistant Commandant came out, the constable fired at him indiscriminately.
 India-Lanka talks on N-deal resume
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 6
Pleased with India’s decision to abstain from voting against it at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in March, Sri Lanka has resumed negotiations with New Delhi on a comprehensive civil nuclear agreement between the two countries. Top officials of India and Sri Lanka today concluded intense two-day negotiations on nuclear cooperation in Colombo. The Indian delegation was led by Amandeep Singh Gill, Joint Secretary (Disarmament) in the External Affairs Ministry while the Lankan team was headed by Dhara Wijayatilake, Secretary in the Ministry of Technology and Research.

Official sources said the discussions were held in a warm, friendly and cordial atmosphere on the draft of a bilateral nuclear cooperation accord.

The two sides agreed to hold the next round of talks in India in the second half of the year after a new government assumes office in New Delhi.

This was the second round of talks on civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries. The first round was held in October 2012. Since then, India had been nudging Sri Lanka to hold further negotiations on the issue and had, in fact, also sent to Colombo the draft of the proposed pact.

India is understood to have offered a comprehensive pact to Lanka that would cover all aspects of civil nuclear cooperation.
 CBI records statements of Antony, Nair in Tatra case

New Delhi, May 6
The CBI has recorded statements of Defence Minister AK Antony and Prime Minister’s Adviser TKA Nair in a case in which former Army chief Gen VK Singh alleged that a retired senior Army official had offered him bribe to clear purchase of Tatra trucks from a PSU.

The CBI, which has been probing the case for around two years now, decided to record the statements of Antony and Nair so that a final decision on whether to close the case or file a chargesheet can be taken at the earliest.

“Yes, we recorded the statements of the Defence Minister and former Principal Secretary in the PMO as witnesses in the case,” CBI Director Ranjit Sinha today said.

The former Army Chief had alleged that Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) had offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore to clear an order of over 1,600 Tatra trucks to be supplied by public sector undertaking BEML.

The retired Lt Gen has denied VK Singh’s allegation.

The Defence Ministry ordered a CBI inquiry into the charges levelled by the former Army Chief after which a case was registered in October 2012.

The former Army Chief, who is now contesting the Lok Sabha election from Ghaziabad on the BJP ticket, had said in his complaint that he had informed the Defence Minister after the purported bribe offer was made by the retired Lt Gen on September 22, 2010.

Nair was questioned by the CBI as the former Army chief had alleged that he was opposed to scrapping the Tatra deal, the CBI said. — PTI
Sounding the retreat
 The rejection of the Naresh Chandra committee’s recommendations for reforming defence management displays a profound lack of political will

Almost two years after it was submitted, the central government-appointed Naresh Chandra committee’s report has finally been disposed off in a consummate display of status quoism. Addressing ways and means of revamping defence management, the report had been in limbo while procedural snarls were worked out and political and bureaucratic opinions canvassed. Now that the Cabinet Committee on Security has finally acted on it, the results are predictably disappointing. The 300-odd recommendations it has cleared are, for the most part, relatively low-hanging fruit; the major proposals to do with defence management have all been dropped. There will be no permanent head of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC), military personnel will not be posted to the ministry of defence and the procurement structure will not be revamped. The barrier between the civilian bureaucracy and the military leadership will, in short, remain firmly in place. For a country with a growing international footprint — and whose military capabilities and capacities must keep pace with that change in profile — this is bad news on every level.

As far back as 2001, the Group of Ministers constituted in the wake of the Kargil conflict had recommended the creation of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post. This is a logical and essential step. As matters stand, the Army, Navy, Air Force and integrated defence staff chiefs constitute the Chiefs of Staff Committee with the chairmanship rotating on the basis of seniority. Given that the committee has no real executive powers, this is a largely superficial arrangement. A CDS would rectify this, enabling both a holistic overview in decision-making and the coordination between the armed forces that is essential for modern military operations. As importantly, he would — as a member of Cabinet Committee on Security and the National Security Council — provide a single point of advice for the Prime Minister and ensure military input into civilian decision-making on strategic and administrative issues.

Bureaucratic opposition to having a CDS intrude on its turf combined with political paranoia — and, to be fair, reluctance on the part of the various Services — to scuttle the proposal, to the point that 14 years later, it is still being shopped around in a vain quest for political consensus. The CoSC chairman post, a compromise solution, has met an even more ignominious end even though the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs signed off on the idea last year. This comes at a time when such a position is needed more than ever. Then-Army chief General VK Singh’s leaked letter to the Prime Minister in 2012 showed just how dire the Army’s need for arms and armaments is. The Navy and the Air Force are likewise desperately in need of modernisation. A CoSC chairman would be able to offer the expert advice that is needed for long-term planning and prioritisation when it comes to defence procurement. And he would be essential for increasing the synergy between the various Services that is required for joint operations and flexible, unified battle groups as envisaged by the rumoured Cold Start doctrine.

Such major changes are never easy. They require political will of the kind that saw the US Congress push through the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986 to integrate the individual branches of the armed forces and revamp the Pentagon. It is past time the Indian political fraternity found that will.

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