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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 12 Aug 2014

 Will talk to extremists if they shun arms, says Rajnath
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
Home Minister Rajnath Singh today reached out to the extremists in the country saying that the government is willing to hold talks with them, if they shun arms.

In his reply to the discussion on the working of the Home Ministry in the Rajya Sabha, the Home Minister reiterated the government stand against extremism in the country and said it was willing to hold talks with the insurgents in the North-East and the Maoists in other parts “only” if they were willing to give up arms.

Singh said not just insurgency in the North-East, but left wing extremism is also a big challenge. He said open violence by any group would not be allowed and if anyone was ready to hold talks, so was the government.

“But this would happen only after arms have been laid down...We are not ready to hold talks with anyone who is holding arms,” Rajnath said, while talking about the areas infested with left wing extremism.

While pointing out that insurgency in the north-eastern states was a “big worry”, the Home Minister said the government was willing to talk to them, but within the purview of the Constitution.

He said there was an urgent need to stop illegal immigration into the country from across the borders. He said as part of steps being taken by the Home Ministry, which is the in charge of internal security, an Indian National Citizen Card would be issued to every citizen of the country.

He said this process would take at least three to four years and stressed that the process of National Population Register (NPR), which is already underway, would continue.

Seeking the cooperation of the Opposition, Singh said his government was committed to not only communal harmony in the country, but to a united India. He said the main task of the Narendra Modi-led government was to ensure the security of the people so that they could live with dignity and without any fear from anyone.
Pak pounds 11 BSF posts, 4 hurt
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service
Jammu, August 11
Two BSF men and two civilians were injured as Pakistan Rangers overnight pounded at least 11 Indian posts and over a dozen forward villages with mortar and automatic weapons on the 20-km stretch along the 198-km international border in Arnia area of the RS Pura Sector in Jammu district.

Skirmishes between the BSF and the Rangers continued till 6.30 am today before guns fell silent on both the sides. The Indian post and the villages that bore the brunt of the Pakistan shelling were Nikowal, Bhudwar, Tent Guard, Pittal, Pindi Charkan, Kaku-de-Kothe, Chinaj, Jeora, Nawapind, Jogna Chak, Trewa, Chanana, Jabowal, Suhagpur and Pindi Kalan.

The injured BSF personnel — Head Constable Sunil Kumar and Constable Bishnu Nandan Yadav —— have been hospitalised at Government Medical College and Hospital. They belong to the 192 Battalion.

Injured civilians have been identified as Rishi Kumar and Rani Devi of Suhagpur Colony in Suhagpur Village of Arnia belt.

Around 3.30 pm today, the Rangers again fired three mortars that exploded near Trewa village.

Unprovoked shelling and heavy firing by Pakistan Rangers comes a day after Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif regretted “bad” ties with India and a day ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ladakh tomorrow. Modi is going to inaugurate
power projects and address troops in Leh.

On May 26, the day of Modi’s oath-taking ceremony, Pakistan troops were firing at the Indian positions on the LoC in Poonch when Nawaz Sharif was making a landing at New Delhi airport in the morning. Rangers had engaged BSF in a border firefight when Modi was taking oath in the evening.

“It all started yesterday around 4.15 pm when sniper shots were fired at our Nikowal and Bhudwar posts in Arnia. We immediately contacted Rangers but they denied their involvement,” revealed a senior BSF officer.

“Around 8.40 pm last evening, the Rangers opened fire with small arms on our posts. Initially, we exercised restraint but when they didn’t stop, we retaliated. The exchange of fire continued till 11.30 pm”, he added.

“Around 1 am, the Rangers started firing mortars and heavy machine gun fire on 11 of our posts on the 20 km-stretch along the border in Arnia area prompting us to give them a befitting response with similar calibre weapons”, the officer said.

“They fired all sorts of mortars from 81 mm to 51 mm. Being a battalion range weapon, mortars also fell in some villages and in the fields. In Suhagpur a mortar hit a banquet hall. Besides two BSF jawans, two civilians — a woman and a boy —— were injured in the Pakistan shelling”, he said. “Pakistan stopped firing and shelling around 6.30 am”, he added.

The officer informed that this morning BSF bomb disposal squads fanned out in different villages to detect and defuse or detonate unexploded shells.

Pakistan summons Indian deputy envoy

Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner here and lodged a protest over "unprovoked firing" by Indian troops. Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Baglay was summoned by the Pakistan Foreign Office and issued a demarche over firing across the Working Boundary in Sialkot sector on August 10-11, which resulted in one civilian casualty and injuries to three others. The FO said it was the 54th incident of truce violation by Indian troops since July this year. PTI
Rare Ladakh shrub to help soldiers combat radiation?
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Leh, August 11
A hardy mountain shrub found in the upper reaches of the Himalayas could well become the soldier’s weapon to combat the adverse effects of radiation in a nuclear contaminated battlefield.

Ongoing research by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has revealed that the plant, Rhodiola, has certain radioactive properties that can absorb radiation.

The Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) at Leh and the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Science at New Delhi (INMAS) are exploring the unique properties of the plant.

“Rhodiola is a wonder plant. It has immunomodulatory, adaptogenic and radio-protecting abilities due to presence of secondary metabolites and phytoactive compounds which are unique to this plant,” Dr RB Srivastava, Director, DIHAR, said. “While INMAS has revealed the radioprotective potential and immunomodulatory property of Rhodiola, DIHAR’s research has also discovered its potential for anti-ageing, tissue regeneration, hypoxic neuroprotection and cognitive improvement,” he added.

Scientists associated with the project said the extract from the plant could be used to make capsules or gels that could be eaten or applied to the body as a protective measure or antidote for radiation.

Rhodiola, which grows in cold climate, is also found in other parts of the world. Several countries, including the US and China, are engaged in researching its medicinal and nutritive properties. The plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to combat high-altitude sickness and stress as well as added to salads in some Central Asian countries.

The shrub is, however, said to be critically endangered and is difficult to propagate. “A field gene-bank and Rhodiola plantation of about two acres has been established at DIHAR and we are attempting invitro propagation of this plant to increase its population and create a sustainable resource for exploring its potential,” Dr OP Chaurasia, an ethnobotanist involved in DRDO’s decade-long research on Rhodiola said.

Rhodiola — The wonder plant

* Rhodiola is a mountain shrub found in the upper reaches of the Himalayas

* The Defence Institute of High Altitude Research at Leh and the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Science at New Delhi are exploring the unique radioprotective properties of the plant

* Scientists associated with the project said the extract from the plant could be used to make capsules or gels that could be eaten or applied to the body as a protective measure or antidote for radiation
Army chief takes stock of security situation in Leh

General Dalbir Singh, Chief of the Army Staff arrived at Leh on 10 August 2014 on a three days visit to Ladakh. This is his first visit to the region after taking over as Army Chief on 31 July 2014.

The Army Chief was accompanied by General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command and was received at the Leh Airport by General Officer Commanding Fire and Fury Corps.

The Army Chief had a detailed interaction with the Army Commander Northern Command and General Officer Commanding Fire and Fury Corps on the prevailing security environment, infrastructure development projects and various initiatives undertaken by the Army in Ladakh Region. He also reviewed the logistical infrastructure available to the soldiers.

On 10 August 2014, the Army Chief visited the Siachen Glacier. He paid tribute to the brave soldiers who had laid down their life in this sector by laying a floral wreath at the Siachen War Memorial. In his address to the troops at the Siachen Base Camp, the Army Chief applauded the efforts put in by the brave soldiers of the Siachen Brigade.

The Army Chief will also visit forward posts of Eastern Ladakh and will review the Army's defence preparedness in that sector. The Army Chief will also receive the Honourable Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi who is scheduled to visit the region on 12 August 2014.
Ceasefire violations by Pakistan increased, India needs offensive defence: PN Hoon
Former Indian army official, Lieutenant General (Retd.) PN Hoon on Saturday said that India needs to have an offensive defence as the number of ceasefire violations by Pakistan has increased.

"The number of ceasefire violations by Pakistan across international border and LOC has increased. We need to have an offensive defence now. This is a matter of great concern and we must retaliate but in a very secret and careful manner," said Hoon.

"A large number of people have infiltrated here who give all the information to Pakistan. This is the saturation point and we have to destroy them. We have open fire when they reach the border and not when they enter," he added.

On Friday, Pakistani troops reportedly violated the ceasefire in Poonch District of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Pakistani army carried out unprovoked firing using small arms and automatic weapons. Indian troops gave befitting reply using weapons of similar caliber.

There have been a series of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in the past two months.

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