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Monday, 30 June 2014

From Today's Papers - 30 Jun 2014

 Lankan Navy arrests 17 TN fishermen

Rameswaram, June 29
The Sri Lankan Navy today arrested 17 fishermen and seized three boats when they were fishing near Katchatheevu, the police said. The fishermen were taken to Talaimannar from Katchativu.

Fisheries Department officials said though the island nation had released the fishermen arrested earlier, their boats were yet to be released.

The Naval personnel had on June 24 arrested 11 fishermen of Pudukottai district. They were later freed.

The series of arrests of fishermen had led Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, seeking immediate release of the fishermen. Jayalalithaa had also renewed her plea for nullifying the "unconstitutional" Indo-Sri Lankan Agreements of 1974 and 1976 and demanded that steps be taken to restore the traditional rights of Indian fishermen. — PTI
Incursion bids by PLA troops in Ladakh

Leh/New Delhi, June 29
Chinese troops are learnt to have made several attempts to enter Indian waters at Pangong Lake, nestled in the higher reaches of Ladakh, with the latest incident reported on Friday.

Reports reaching government agencies in Delhi said the Army had a face-off in the lake with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on June 27 when they tried to enter the Indian waters.

Udhampur-based Northern Command Army spokesperson Colonel S Goswami, however, declined to comment on the latest incursion attempts. Sources say Chinese troops were intercepted at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the lake and sent back after a face-off drill. — PTI
ISIS militants’ extremism threatens world peace
Shyam Bhatia

 New Delhi, June 29
Some 1,000 four-wheel drives made up the heart of the makeshift armoured corps that militants from ISIS (the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria) used to smash their way across the Syrian border before capturing Iraq’s northern capital of Mosul. Who funded the purchase of these four-wheel drives (more than $100 million worth of hardware) is still anybody’s guess – Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the most likely candidates – but this strategic investment has unleashed a chain of events that could change the map of West Asia forever.

ISIS commanders managed to capture Mosul without firing a shot before raiding the premises of the major government bank and helping themselves to the equivalent of $400 million and gold bullion lying in the vaults. This will allow them to repay their backers with interest and still have leftover to fund the next phase of their campaign to create a new state incorporating Syria, Iraq and probably Lebanon.

This new state, if it ever comes into being, will be a monster that tolerates only Sunni Islam, even more extreme than the Wahabi variety practised in Saudi Arabia, while treating with contempt all other religions, including Shia Muslims, not to mention Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and others. The sheer intolerance of orthodox ISIS leaders operating in Syria and Iraq has been evident for weeks. They are responsible for gruesome crucifixions and beheadings, including the beheading of a Catholic priest in Syria that has been confirmed by the Vatican.

The Human Rights Watch has warned that ISIS could face charges of committing crimes against humanity. It has managed to pinpoint areas in Iraq where ISIS has dug trenches to bury the bodies of its victims. Details are now also starting to emerge about just who makes up the ranks of ISIS. A few are indeed ex-members of Saddam Hussain’s Ba’ath Party, but most are a mixture of the Iraqi Al-Qaida and US-supported members of the Syrian opposition. They are the ones who made up the mini army that crossed into Iraq from Syria, driving at break neck speed in their newly purchased four-wheel drives.

Their mysterious leader, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, is described as a former Iraqi army officer of the 3rd or 4th rank who spent some years at a US detention facility in Iraq, Camp Bucca where he was subjected to extremely harsh treatment, including water logging, that the US army and CIA have developed at their interrogation centres all over the world.

Portrayed by US counter-terrorism officials as “ruthless, ambitious and opportunistic”, he is also described as “the unquestioned leader of ISIS”, who “relies on a set of trusted lieutenants, but he has empowered local commanders to make decisions and seems to have employed a somewhat decentralised command structure.”

Many are veterans of the Iraqi Al-Qaida movement, others belonged to the Syrian Islamic opposition, the Al Nusra Front, that at one time enjoyed US military and financial support. Some are former members of Saddam Hussain’s Al Ba’ath Party. Baghdadi is also a master of propaganda and almost certain to have approved the inhuman video that is currently circulating on satellite telephones. It shows a blindfolded man dressed in white and kneeling on the ground somewhere along the Iraq/Syria border. A masked man dressed in black grabs him from behind. A few seconds later while slitting the victim’s throat he holds up the severed head, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great).

Such punishments, similar to the ones meted out by the Taliban, will become routine if ISIS succeeds in carving out their new mini-state in Syria and Iraq. This alone is a sufficient reason to block their attempts at nation building.

But there is another reason why world leaders need to do their best to build a global coalition against Abu Bakr and his close associates. Their commitment to the cause of Sunni Islam means they have a fanatical hatred of everything associated with Shia Muslims who make up the majority of populations in Iran, Iraq and some smaller Gulf states like Bahrein.

New extremist group emerges

    ISIS militants’ aim is to create a new state incorporating Syria, Iraq and probably Lebanon that tolerates only Sunni Islam and treat with contempt all other religions
    Their commitment to the cause of Sunni Islam means they have a fanatical hatred of everything associated with Shia Muslims who make up the majority of populations in Iran, Iraq and Gulf states
    Concerned by reports of killings, the Human Rights Watch pinpointed areas in Iraq where ISIS has dug trenches to bury the bodies
DRDO develops armoured vehicles for troops
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service
 Chandigarh, June 29
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a set of mini-armoured vehicles to protect troops from small arms fire and bomb blasts during anti-terrorist operations. These vehicles, which include a tracked version, a four-wheeler and a three-wheeler version, are designed for use in confined spaces, built-up areas, narrow streets and even corridors inside buildings.

The need for compact and highly manoeuvrable armoured shields that could provide adequate protection to 2-3 man teams was projected following the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Thereafter, the DRDO had taken up the project with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

During the 26/11 operations in 2008, terrorists had engaged in prolonged gun battles with the security forces in buildings and built-up areas in Mumbai. Concerns have been expressed in the past over inadequate personal protection for troops deployed on such missions. The vehicles developed by the DRDO are basically mobile cabins made out of toughened materials with bullet proof windows for visibility that weigh about three tonnes each and can carry three fully equipped combatants. While providing all round protection from bullets and hand grenade blasts, these also have firing ports for retaliatory fire.

They are electrically powered and are stated to have a low-turning radius and can manoeuvre around within a limited space and can be used in areas or terrain where normal vehicles would find the going difficult. However, given their weight, their employability would remain restricted to ground floors in buildings.

The DRDO claims that the tracked version of the vehicle has also undergone a successful grenade trial at the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, Chandigarh.
India's Rafale Fighter Jet Deal in Final Lap, Awaits Government's Nod
The Indian Air Force or IAF may lose its traditional conventional edge against Pakistan if the contract to buy 126 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft or MMRCA is not clinched immediately, senior IAF officials told Defence Minister Arun Jaitley at an extensive briefing recently. (Defence Minister Briefed on Indian Air Force's Operational Preparedness)

French aerospace major Dassault Aviation had won the contract to supply the fighter jets to the IAF in 2012.

The Air Force, which ideally requires 44 squadrons but can manage with 39, currently only has 32 squadrons; 12 of them of the near-obsolete MiG-21s.

Mr Jaitley had only one query: what is the cost of the contract?

The IAF's answer -- Rs. 100,000 crore spread over 10 years -- immediately evoked a positive reaction from Mr Jaitley, sources in the Ministry of Defence told NDTV. (Dassault Hopes to Sign Rafale India Deal This Year)

The enthused IAF brass now says that if the government gives the final clearance, the massive, and in many ways the first-of-its-kind contract, may be clinched in the next six months.

Three sub-sets of the complicated deal have been completed, say sources. The committees that were in charge of Offsets, Maintenance, Transfer of Technology have concluded their work; it took them over two years to prepare documents running into thousands of pages. These include details of work share between Dassault and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd or HAL, liabilities and costs to maintain and run the 126 jets. (A big step in India's Rafale jet deal with France)

Over 41 articles in the defence procurement procedure or DPP have been taken on board while arriving at the final documentation. HAL has been designated the lead domestic production agency. 18 of the 126 jets will be produced in France and the remaining 108 will be manufactured at the production unit in India. (Depleted fighter fleet is worrisome, says Air Chief)

But the committee responsible for costs and contract is yet to finalise its report. Once the deal officially receives clearance, this part of the contract may be ready for signing in less than two months, say sources. (France sees first Rafale jet deliveries to India by 2016)

Meanwhile, many of Rafale's competitors are lobbying hard against the contract and running down the fighter aircraft over various counts, including 'prohibitive' costs.

But the IAF top brass is clear that the process to buy the MMRCA is irreversible, notwithstanding a view that the IAF must induct the HAL-made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas instead of buying the expensive Rafale.

IAF officials point out that the Tejas is yet to receive final operational clearance despite the home-grown fighter aircraft being in the making for over 30 years. As per revised timelines, the first full Tejas squadron in the Initial Operational Clearance configuration will be in place only by 2016-2017.

"We have been hand-holding the LCA for a long time and will continue to support it. But it is not a replacement for a medium, multirole fighter aircraft. Its reach is barely 200 km while we need an aircraft with a reach of at least 1000-km if we have to pose any challenge in the Tibet Autonomous Region, where India expects a major threat to its air combat power in case of a conflict with China," said a top IAF officer.

Meanwhile, the Rafale deal is likely to be on top of the agenda during French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius's two-day visit to India, which starts today.

The question now is whether prime minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Arun Jaitley will also treat the deal as a matter of top priority.
Indian Army chief to visit China from Wednesday
BEIJING: Army chief General Bikram Singh will be in China on a rare visit on Wednesday during which he will hold talks with top brass of the Chinese military, foreign ministry officials besides addressing the Chinese military academy.

General Singh will be the second Army chief to visit China from July 2-5. His visit is taking place after a nine year gap. Former Army chief Gen NC Vij had visited China in 2005.

General Singh, also chair of the committee of chiefs of staff of the Indian armed forces, will hold talks with General Fan Changlong, the vice-chairman of China's Military Commission, officials said today.

The commission which is the highest military body in China is headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

General Fan oversees the operations of army, navy and the air force.

General Singh's talks are expected to be focused on firming up ties between the two militaries at the level of headquarters, command levels as well as at the ground level along the disputed boundary.
His visit comes amid recurring incursions by Chinese troops along the 4,000 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) to assert China's claim in the areas.

To deal with tensions arising out of the incursions by both sides, India and China signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) last year.

His visit is aimed at implementing a number of steps incorporated in BDCA on the ground, officials said.

Singh will also meet top officials of Chinese foreign ministry and address PLA Academy, a rare honour for an Indian General.

His talks with Chinese officials would cover bilateral ties, regional security and other issues of common concern, spokesman of the Chinese defence ministry Yang Yujun told Chinese media during a briefing here.

As 2014 is the Year of Friendly Exchanges between China and India, the two defence ministries and armed forces will hold a series of exchange activities, Yang said.
When Army Headquarters Recommended Cancelling 1972 Republic Day Parade
The Army headquarters had recommended that the Republic Day parade in 1972 be cancelled but the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted the pageant to happen to celebrate Indian Army's stupendous victory in the 1971 War against Pakistan.

This and several other anecdotes find mention in a new book "Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw: The Man and His Times" on the charismatic military leader, fondly called Sam, written by his long-serving aide Brigadier (Retd) Behram Panthaki and his wife Zenobia.

After the victory in the 1971 war, the country was euphoric.

"The Indian Army had vindicated itself and the demons of the 1962 Chinese debacle had been exorcised. With units still in forward location, Army headquarters recommended that the Republic Day parade be cancelled, but the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted the pageant. There was a victory to celebrate there were tributes to pay," the book says.

The Amar Jawan Jyoti was erected at short notice by the CPWD under the canopy of India Gate.

"On January 26, 1972, before the commencement of the parade, Gandhi drove down Rajpath in an open jeep, followed by the three service chiefs, to pay homage to the fallen. A
scaled-down version of the parade followed. Contingents marched down Rajpath in battle fatigues rather than ceremonial uniforms," the Panthakis write.

The authors also say that Ms Gandhi was seriously considering appointing Manekshaw Chief of Defence Staff on Republic Day in 1972 but the move was opposed by Congress politicians led by Defence Minister Jagjivam Ram and by Air Chief Marshall PC Lal.

"The proposal was dropped and still eludes the services today, 42 years later," they say.

The book, published by Niyogi, is an anecdotal account of Manekshaw who changed the map of the subcontinent. Replete with photographs, citations,notes and personal correspondence,
it highlights his character, sense of humour, moral and professional courage, honesty, humility and respect for men in uniform.

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