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Friday, 15 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 15 Aug 2014

Embattled Sharif reaffirms support to ‘Kashmir cause’
Storm at home as Imran, Qadri begin separate march to Islamabad
New Delhi/Islamabad, August 14
On Pakistan’s Independence Day, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raked up Kashmir, amid a rising storm back home: Thousands of protesters, spearheaded by two powerful leaders, began a march towards the Capital in an attempt to topple the government.

Addressing the Independence Day function, Sharif described Kashmir as a “main source of tension” in bilateral ties with India.

Sharif’s remarks came on a day when two anti-government groups, led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Canada-based cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, set off on a 370-km march from Lahore to Islamabad, demanding ouster of the Sharif government.

As the proposed rallies deepened fears of political instability, Islamabad has turned into a fortress with the Army guarding key installations.

In New Delhi, Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, too, harped on Kashmir, saying his country extends "full diplomatic and moral support" to "legitimate struggle" of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"I would like to reaffirm Pakistan's full diplomatic and moral support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their legitimate struggle which is enshrined in the UN Charter and universal declaration of human rights,” he said. The two countries were engaged in a war of words yesterday over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proxy war comment.

Ceasefire violations along the LoC by Pakistani troops are on the upswing in the past few weeks.

Earlier, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Khan initiated his 'Azadi March' from Zaman Park, Lahore, while Qadri launched his 'Inqelab March' (revolution march) from the Model Town area.

“Join this march not for me but for the sake of your children and if you want real independence in get freedom one has to fight. We will lay the foundation of new Pakistan after reaching Islamabad,” he said. — Agencies
Army Major awarded Ashok Chakra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
Major Mukund Vardarajan, who killed two terrorists in Kashmir before he was shot dead in April this year, has been awarded the Ashok Chakra, the nation's highest peace-time gallantry award.

Two Navy officers — Commander Manoranjan Kumar and Lt Commander Kapish Singh Muwal, who died saving the lives several of their colleagues on board the submarine INS Sindhuratna, have been awarded the Shaurya Chakra, the third highest gallantry award.

President Pranab Mukherjee also conferred Shaurya Chakras to 10 others, including nine from the Army and one from the Indian Air Force (IAF). Another 41 Army personnel have been awarded the Sena Medal for gallantry while a Navy officer has been awarded the Nao Sena Medal and two IAF pilots got the Vayu Sena Medal.

Major Mukund Varadarajan, who was from the Rajput Regiment and tasked with the Rashtriya Rifles deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, led a small team into a house where terrorist had been holed up during the general elections. During the gunfight, Major Mukund Varadarajan killed two terrorists. The Major, who was also injured in the gunfight, died on way to the hospital.

His ‘buddy’ during the close quarter fight Sepoy Vikram Singh has been posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra. He hailed from Rewari in Haryana.

The Navy officers have been awarded for saving the lives of 94 persons who were on board the INS Sindhuratna when it was 100 km off the Mumbai cost. The two ordered evacuation of 13 personnel to safer areas after smoke was noticed on the submarine. “Their exemplary effort to douse the flames in hazardous conditions was beyond the call of duty, which ensured the survival of 94 crew members and the safety of submarine,” their citation said.

In the IAF, Wing Commander Huvey Upadhyaya has been awarded the Shaurya Chakra for saving the lives of two Army aviation pilots from Siachen Glacier. The copter had crashed at an altitude of 17, 600 ft. The terrain of the crash site did not have the space to land a copter. Wing Commander Upadhaya hovered the helicopter over soft snow and evacuated the two injured Army pilots even as he was under constant threat of enemy observation.

The others to get the Shaurya Chakra include Major Abhishek Kumar of the Punjab Regiment, Major Manohar Singh Bhati, Parachute Regiment, Major Satnam Singh, Corps of Engineers, Major Vishal Singh Raghav, Rajputana Rifles, Subedar Prakash Chand, Kumaon Regiment (posthumous), Naik Ansaigra Basumatary, 5th Battalion the Assam Regiment, Lance Naik Bharat Kumar Chhetri, 3/1 Gorkha Rifles and Rifleman Prem Bahadur, 2/4 Battalion of the Gorkha Rifles.
Live border with Pak: Sweets and sounds of gunfire
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service
Jammu, August 14
For all the serious fireworks going on for some days at the Line of Control, here’s something to chew on: On Pakistan’s Independence Day, Indian Army officers exchanged sweets and pleasantries with their counterparts at Chakan-da-Bagh and Roshini points in Mendhar, Poonch district. Such bonhomie was absent last year.

At Chakan-da-Bagh, Pak Army Major Imran Khan greeted the Indian side led by Captain S Sambyal around 10.30am, said a senior Army officer. The small ceremony lasted about half an hour at Roshini post too.

But that’s only a part of the “live” border. Around 50km away --- as the crow flies in military parlance – Pakistani troops shelled Indian positions in Balakote sector on Thursday evening. This is in addition to yesterday’s foiled intrusion in the Mendhar sector. The Pakistan’s ceasefire violation figures mounted to 75 this year.

“Last night around 9pm, Pakistani troops carried out unprovoked firing on Indian posts. Our troops gave them an equal response. This evening from 5.30 pm to 6.10 pm they again opened fire and we again responded,” said Jammu-based Defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta. There were no casualties or injuries on our side, he said.

Only late last night Pak troops of 651 Mujahid Regiment opened small arms fire from their Topa Gagrian post on the Indian MS Tekri post in the Balakote sector. “The firing was intense for an hour, but it tapered off in another two hours,” said an intelligence source.

However, no such pleasantries were exchanged between the BSF and Pakistan Rangers at the international Border. There could be a reason: Except last night, Rangers had been firing and shelling BSF posts and forward villages in the Arnia area.

“We didn’t receive any sweets from Pak Rangers today. But most likely we are going to offer them sweets tomorrow on our Independence Day,” said a senior BSF officer.

Contrast it with the Line of Actual Control (LAC): The Army and the China’s PLA would exchange sweets at Chushul in eastern Ladakh tomorrow to mark India’s I-Day celebrations. “Army officers and their families from both sides will take part in a four-hour cultural programme at Chushul on Friday,” said an Army source.
CRPF men get 71 gallantry medals
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
The CRPF has been awarded 71 gallantry medals. The 71 gallantry medals, including a President’s Police Medal for gallantry and 70 Police Medals for gallantry, are the highest number of medals awarded to any police force in the country. The force is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee (75 years) this year.

The CRPF is involved in counter-insurgency operations in the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir. The bulk of the force is currently committed to tackling the Left wing extremist in the country, where more than 80,000 officers and men are deployed.

Fifty two out of the 71 gallantry medals have been awarded for extraordinary acts of valour in countering the Left Wing Extremism (LWE). Seventeen medals for gallantry have been conferred on the men fighting insurgency in the North-East with the elite 210 CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) unit bagging 15 of them for taking on the might of insurgents in the North-East.

The BSF has been awarded 59 medals, including gallantry medals. The BSF is deployed along the India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders. It is also involved in counter LWE operations.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has been awarded four Police Medals for gallantry. It has been awarded 31 other President’s Police Medals.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has been awarded 16 medals, including two President’s Police Medal for gallantry. The Sashastra Seema Bal has been awarded two President Police Medal for distinguished services and 12 Police Medal for meritorious services.

The NSG, India’s primary counter-terror group, has been awarded three Police Medals for meritorious service.
Army mulls tailor-made rations for regiments
NEW DELHI: A new system of ration allocation will kick in for troops of all the three services if the recommendations of the nutrition department at the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), Delhi, are approved by the ministry of defence.

For the first time, a method of allocating ration on the basis of regiment type is being mooted. So different regiments will have different ration entitlements.

The scientists at the DIPAS feel that physique of a Rajput soldier, for instance, is different from a Gorkha. And the diet varies due to these physical and genetic differences. So far, no country has considered this parameter to revise the ration slabs for the defence forces.

This shall be one of the factors for deciding the ration content and quota, besides the basic nutritional supply which is determined according to terrains, occupational environments like underwater (submarines) and training centres (NDA, IMA).

The revision of ration scales will be carried out in collaboration with experts from Quartermaster General's Branch and Director General of the Armed Forces Medical Services. The field trials will commence from December and will be conducted over three years.

The ration of the forces has been scientifically designed and approved by the ministry of defence since 1962. The need for revision was felt following the Comptroller and Auditor General's report tabled in the Parliament in 2010, which had brought out the dissatisfaction of Indian soldiers with the kind of ration supplied. One shocking reason cited was that soldiers under Northern Command posted in Jammu and Kashmir were being provided food that had an expiry date of two years back.
Veterans rue withdrawal of toll tax exemption to serving army personnel

The ex-servicemen organisations are up in arms against the withdrawal of toll exemption to serving personnel travelling in their private vehicles.

The latest circular issued by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) on June 17 has stated, “…it is now being clarified that the exemption under the Indian Toll (army and Air Force) Act, 1901, is available only to the persons who are ‘on duty’ and does not pertain to the retired personnel. No exemption is available on use of personal vehicles if it is not used for discharging any official purpose and duty, even if it accompanies the said official. The exemption is available only on production of pass as specified in the Indian Toll (Army and Air Force) Rules, 1942.”

Expressing surprise at the recent MoRTH’s circular, Major Navdeep Singh, advocate of Punjab and Haryana high court, said, “The latest circular by MoRTH is incorrect. The requirement of ‘on duty’ is only applicable to Territorial Army (TA) and National Cadet Corps (NCC) personnel vide Section 3 (b) of the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901 and not to regular army personnel vide Section 3 (a).” He added, “The toll exemption cannot be withdrawn for serving personnel until you repeal the Indian Tolls Act.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the provisions of toll exemption to ‘off duty’ and ‘on duty’ defence personnel and also the provisions of the Indian Tolls (Army and Air Force) Act, 1901, was challenged before the Punjab and Haryana high court by one Sanjeev Kumar in 2006. The petition was, however, dismissed by the high court which held that the Act provided for concessions to defence personnel and that there was no reason to interfere.

The decision of the high court was then challenged in the Supreme Court which upheld the decision. Major General Satbir Singh (retd), who heads Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, has written to cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari, who heads the MoRTH, to exempt the serving personnel from paying toll.

“We will also take up the matter. The toll exemption should be made for both serving and retired personnel,” said Lt Col SS Sohi (retd), president, Ex-servicemen Grievance Cell.

“It is sad. The toll exemption should continue. Sometimes defence personnel have to use their personal vehicles instead of official ones and it is not fair that they keep paying toll,” said Brigadier Harwant Singh (retd), president of All India Defence Brotherhood.
India, United States talk defence; agree to jointly develop arms
New Delhi: While the United States is understood to be pushing for strengthening of defence ties with India, including inking of crucial deals worth billions of dollars, the two countries also dec-ided on Friday to appo-int nodal officers to co-develop and co-produce defence hardware.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, voiced concern over the deteriorating situation in Iraq and also said in a meeting with visiting US defence secretary Chuck Hagel that he looked forward to his summit with President Barack Obama to discuss how India and the US could build a partnership for global peace and stability.

The two countries could work on co-develo-ping versions of the Javelin anti-tank guided missile through transfer of technology from the US to India but the defence hardware would be decided jointly by the two countries.

In a separate meeting on Friday, defence minister Arun Jaitley told the visiting US dignitary about India’s growing indigenous capabilities in defence and the move to raise the FDI cap in the defence sector to 49 per cent.

The US is keen to ink various deals with India, estimated to be worth more than Rs 20,000 crore, including the sale of Apache helicopters for the IAF and

Army and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and the M-777 ultra-light howitzers for the Indian Army.

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