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Sunday, 24 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 24 Aug 2014

2 die as Pak shells 28 Jammu villages
Rangers target 22 posts along border 4 of family, BSF man injured 1,000 evacuated
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service
Jeora Farm/ Abdulian / Korotana Khurd, August 23
Two persons of a family, including a minor, were killed and four others injured as Pakistan Rangers shelled 22 forward posts and 28 villages along the International Border in the RS Pura sector of Jammu district on Friday night.

Heavy exchange of fire continued between the Rangers and the BSF continued till 7 am on Saturday. Over 1,000 people, mostly women and children, living in border hamlets have been evacuated to safe areas.

“The Rangers started unprovoked firing in the Arnia area around midnight. Later, they targeted a 20-km stretch in the RS Pura sector,” said BSF’s Jammu Frontier, IG, Rakesh Kumar.
“In Jeora Farm village, Akram Hussain (28) and his son Aslam (8) were killed while four other members, including two women and an infant, of their family were injured when a Pakistani shell exploded inside their house after tearing the roof,” said RS Pura SHO, Deepak Jasrotia.

This was the heaviest unprovoked, indiscriminate firing and shelling by the Rangers this year along the IB in Jammu frontier in violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement, said another official.

In Arnia, a BSF jawan, identified as Shrikrishan Kumar of Uttarakhand, sustained minor injuries at Pittal post, said BSF IG Sharma.

The officer said in retaliatory fire, two civilian casualties were reported in Sialkot. “They (Pakistani side) also suffered heavy damage to property, including some vehicles belonging to the Rangers,” he said.

Sharma cautioned Pakistan that the BSF would continue to retaliate strongly to every single provocation on the border.

“They don’t follow rules and we are paying them back in the same coin,” he said.

The IG visited forward villages in Arnia and RS Pura and promised every possible help to residents.

Over 1,000 villagers have been shifted to three makeshift camps — the ITI college in RS Pura town and two government schools in Rangpur Maulanian. More people were expected to be shifted to these camps.

Saudagar Mal, a resident of Abdulian village, said, “Pakistan has got vacated all its forward villages and tonight we anticipate another round of intense shelling.”
 Brigadier in dock over sodomy allegations
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
A Brigadier commanding a sensitive infantry brigade on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir is in the dock over allegations of sodomy. The Army has initiated action against him, it is learnt.

Sources said the Udhampur-based Headquarters Northern Command convened a court of inquiry (CoI) to investigate the allegations after several soldiers complained of misconduct by the Brigadier.

They added that Brigadier had been attached with headquarters of 25 Infantry Division at Rajouri for the conduct of the CoI. A Major General from Command Headquarters has been detailed as the CoI’s presiding officer with two other Brigadiers as members.

The CoI has already begun its proceedings. The Brigadier, who is said to be highly decorated, has reportedly proceeded on a long leave, sources added. He had taken over the command of his brigade in a volatile region that has witnessed cross-border skirmishes and firing in the recent past, a few months ago.

There have been several cases in the past where officers as well as JCOs have faced allegations of sodomy. Such incidents are viewed seriously by the Army. While disciplinary action was initiated against some of them, others had to put in their papers. The most infamous case was that of a Lieutenant General commanding a corps, who was sent home a few years ago after similar allegations were levelled against him.
As Modi plans US trip, defence on everyone’s mind
While big-ticket deals—such as the possible sale of Apache and Chinook helicopters—have been in the news, perhaps the most important discussions will focus on smaller cooperative projects that align with Modi’s vision for ‘defence indigenisation’.
Joshua T. White & Michael Krepon
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in September will be an occasion for glowing speeches about the future of Indo-US relations. Behind the public effusiveness, however, there will be a mutual sense of strategic reserve. New Delhi prizes its strategic autonomy and not doing Washington’s bidding. Washington now has a more realistic understanding of what kind of partnership it can expect, and that New Delhi will pursue its own interests, in its own way.

The Bush administration’s high hopes that the civil-nuclear deal would become a bilateral game-changer proved unrealistic. Soon after the deal, India’s nuclear liability legislation stymied US firms and New Delhi decided to purchase European instead of US fighter aircraft. This time around, ambitions will be tempered, but tangible gains on mutual interests, especially on defence cooperation, are within reach. The most important outcome would be a revision and extension of the 10-year ‘New Framework’ for the US-India defence relationship, which is up for renewal in 2015.

A forward-looking ‘New Framework’ agreement could, for example, outline clearer priorities to shape US-India military exercises and sales, reflect aspirations for information-sharing agreements, and pave the way for more substantive exchanges by both civilian and military leaders.

Washington expects new defence sales to be advanced during Modi’s visit. While big-ticket deals—such as the possible sale of Apache and Chinook helicopters—have been in the news, perhaps the most important discussions will focus on smaller cooperative projects that align with Modi’s vision for ‘defence indigenisation’. These talks take place under the rubric of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), inaugurated by Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in 2012.

The DTTI is an effort to systematically address barriers to expanded defence trade and technology transfer in both countries. For its part, the US government and industry have proposed dozens of innovative co-development projects, which reportedly include cooperation on subjects as diverse as surface-to-air missiles, magnetic catapults, and big data exploitation.

The most likely major DTTI deliverable for September is an agreement to co-develop the next generation of the Javelin anti-tank missile—a project that would involve significant technology transfer, and would meet stated Indian Army needs. Regardless of the specific deal, however, defence cooperation will remain disappointing without a flagship co-development project. The ball is now largely in India’s court for decision.

As important as Modi’s visit may be, the real work of deepening defence ties will require leadership and follow-up by India’s new Defence Minister. Observers in the United States will be on the lookout for three developments. The first is whether the Indian bureaucracy can begin to move long-languishing deals through the procurement pipeline. Washington would like to see what Indians have also been hoping for: a decisive Ministry of Defence that can take military procurement decisions and stick to them. US industry does not expect to win every deal, but is confident that its comparative advantages in technology and transparency will solidify its place as a key defence provider over the long term.

Second, while the Modi government’s decision to raise the baseline foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in defence to 49 per cent was welcomed in the US, it is probably insufficient to drive significant foreign investment. The most pressing obstacle to high technology transfer is arguably no longer US government approvals, which on account of DTTI are more readily forthcoming, but creating compelling incentives for US industry to engage in real partnerships with Indian firms. That means raising the FDI cap to at least 51 per cent, and dealing with India’s onerous offset requirements.

Third, and perhaps most important, Washington is ready to engage in more substantive dialogue over regional security. US-India talks on Afghanistan and East Asia have already deepened dramatically over the past two years, largely without public notice. But still there is more to discuss, especially in the light of the risks of the US and NATO drawdown in Afghanistan, the heightened nuclear competition between India and Pakistan, and China’s increasingly aggressive manoeuvring with respect to maritime disputes in East Asia.

Modi’s visit to Washington can lend impetus to another new beginning in US-India relations. The last new beginning produced a historic civil-nuclear deal, followed by mutual let-down. Modi and Obama will not produce anything as dramatic as a civil-nuclear deal. Nor do they have to. The test of improved bilateral relations will now be to sustain and grow defence cooperation, to create favourable long-term incentives for the respective private sectors to partner together, and to have meaningful consultations on regional security.
Both Pakistan and India overplayed their hand
While Pakistan made a huge miscalculation on meeting the Hurriyat, reviving concerns about its sincerity, there is a perception that India too has overreached in cancelling the talks.
Raj Chengappa
It may be a perverse view of India’s decision to call off foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan, but Nawaz Sharif should be feeling a trifle relieved. For if the talks were held as scheduled, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh would have been in Islamabad tomorrow and with the Pakistan capital remaining shut down because of Opposition protests, she would have faced great difficulty in reaching the venue. Instead of such embarrassment, Sharif can now conveniently blame India for walking away.

The big regret though is that a great opportunity has been missed to build good relations between the two countries. For there was promise in the air when Narendra Modi invited Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in Delhi in May and the Pakistan Prime Minister gracefully accepted it. When they met, the two leaders agreed that the foreign secretaries should be in touch to see how best to resume the formal dialogue process that had been stalled since January 2013.

When the Indian Foreign Secretary phoned her counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry last month to follow up, he invited her to visit Islamabad and August 25 was fixed as the date. The main agenda was to talk about talks — whether a composite dialogue of the past that included several major subjects or a whole new architecture. All was good till then.
By the second week of August though there were clear signs that the talks had begun heading downhill. Former Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri had decided to lay siege to Islamabad till Sharif stepped down, forcing the Prime Minister to march to a different drummer: the Pakistan Army.

When Sharif came to power in May last year with a landslide win, he had talked of restoring civilian supremacy over the army. He got over the first hurdle of replacing General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani with an army chief of his choice — Raheel Sharif. But differences soon cropped up on several issues. Nawaz Sharif pushed hard for his bĂȘte noir and former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s prosecution, obstinately turning down pleas to allow him to go abroad. Also while Sharif was keen on having a dialogue with the Pakistan Taliban and other militant elements, the Army pushed for military action against them, finally succeeded in doing so. Meanwhile, there were allegations that the Pakistan Army had lent tacit support to Khan and Qadri in a bid to weaken Sharif’s democratic standing.

By mid-August it was apparent that far from asserting his supremacy over the army, Sharif was on the back-foot in his relations with them. The balance had shifted and it was clear that a weakened Pakistan Prime Minister would now have to share power with the army especially when it came to dealing with India. Sharif had already roundly been criticised by his opponents for not meeting with Hurriyat Conference leaders when he came for Modi’s inaugural ceremony.

Sharif began to play hardball. He upped the ante on Kashmir and pulled back on making any forward movement on bilateral trade. The Pakistan Army stepped up its firing on the LoC and International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani diplomats began adopting maximalist positions on Kashmir and other outstanding issues in their informal interactions, raising concern among Indian circles. The final straw was when Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit sent out invitations to Hurriyat leaders to meet him in New Delhi prior to the talks.

For the Modi government, this was a red rag. Particularly after the Congress began criticising the High Commissioner and taunting the Prime Minister about the absence of a “muscular approach” that he had advocated when on the stump. Pakistan claim of it being routine for the High Commissioner to meet the Hurriyat was only partially true. While Pakistan leaders and foreign secretaries have earlier met the Hurriyat on their visits to India, there was no recent precedent of the Pakistan High Commissioner having met Kashmir separatists prior to either an Indian foreign secretary’s visit to Islamabad or even that of the External Affairs Minister. Realising the futility of having talks and that he was in danger of losing political capital, Modi had the talks called off.

In retrospect, Sharif has made a huge miscalculation by his actions. Instead of banishing the ghosts of Kargil he has revived concerns about his sincerity and ability to deliver. While the Modi government may have set tough terms for a future dialogue, there is a perception that India too has overreached. Instead of making the Hurriyat invitation the main cause, the Modi government should have cited a range of other concerns, including firing on the border and the internal security situation in Pakistan for calling off the talks.

Focusing on the Hurriyat has again given the separatists and the Kashmir issue prominence, inviting international concern. This may limit the Modi government’s options in future. There is no doubt a need to engage with Pakistan. But the best course now is to wait for the political situation in Pakistan to settle down before both countries make any fresh moves to do so.
Army rushes more troops as Pakistan intensifies cross-border shelling in Jammu & Kashmir
NEW DELHI/JAMMU: ​The Indian Army has rushed more troops towards the line of control and the international border as Pakistani troops have intensified cross-border shelling in Jammu & Kashmir, Times Now reported. The report also said senior generals are also visiting the area to oversee the redeployment of troops in affected areas.

Earlier on Saturday, defence minister Arun Jaitley said ceasefire violations by Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir across the international border (IB) and the line of control (LoC) have increased in recent months.

He also said Indian forces are responding effectively to protect the country's interests. According to Times Now, there have been over 20 ceasefire violations in the past two weeks.

Talking to reporters in Visakhapatnam at the commissioning function of antisubmarine warfare corvette INS Kamorta into the Navy, Jaitley said, "This is a fact that of late, these ceasefire violations by Pakistan have increased. But let everybody be assured that both our Army and BSF, who are respectively guarding the line of control and the international border, are fully vigilant."
"They effectively respond to each violation and I have full faith and the country must have full faith that they are effectively protecting both our territory and national interest," he added.

His comments come on a day when Pakistani troops indulged in heavy "unprovoked" shelling and firing on 22 border outposts and 13 villages, killing two civilians and injuring six others including a Border Security force jawan along the international border in Jammu sector.

Ceasefire violation by Pakistan kills 2 civilians

The BSF said Pakistan Rangers opened a heavy round of fire in the early hours of Saturday morning and targeted at least 22 Border Security Forces posts in Arnia and RS Pura sector in Jammu district.

"Pakistan Rangers resorted to heavy mortar shelling and firing of automatic weaponry on at least 22 border outposts (BoPs) and also civilian areas along IB in Arnia and Ranbir Singh Pura sub-sectors of Jammu district from 12.30am (0030hrs) hours today (Saturday). Initially, the BSF observed restrain but later heavy firing prompted retaliation using similar calibre of arsenal and exchange of fire lasted till 7am (0700hrs)," a BSF official said.

"The fire from heavy to medium machine gun and mortar shelling injured six people including one BSF constable while a father and his minor son died when a mortar shell exploded on the roof of their hutment in Jora farm locality near the India-Pakistan Border, the BSF official added.

The deceased have been identified namely as Akram Hussain, s/o Shah Din and his minor son Aslam, while three other family members namely Kari Bibi mother of Akram, Bibi, w/o Akarm and son Yunus, 3, were injured when a Pakistani shell exploded inside their house at Jora farm, official sources said adding, "One BSF constable namely Shri Krishan, s/o Hem Singh of Uttrakhand presently posted with 192 BSF bn also sustained bullet injuries."

The injured were rushed to Government Medical College & Hospital (GMC&H) Jammu where they are being treated.
This was the heaviest unprovoked and indiscriminate firing and shelling by Pakistan Rangers this year along the IB in Jammu frontier in violation of the ceasefire agreement November 2003. Prior to this, Pakistan also violated the ceasefire on August 17/18 in Arnia Subsector and RS Pura Sector along the IB in Jammu targeting at least 20 Indian posts by heavy firing using small arms, automatics and mortars in which a civilian got injured while two houses damaged and two cattle were killed and six injured in Trewa village of Arnia.

Heavy Pakistan firing at forward posts and civilian areas along International Border has triggered panic among the people living there and Saturday's shelling left people adversely affected in forward villages of Sia, Jora farm, Treva, Nikowal, Abdullian, Korotana, Korotana Khurd, Vidhipur and Vidhipur Jattan.

When contacted, divisional commissioner, Jammu, Shant Manu said, "People from three/four villages numbering thousands have been shifted to safer places while many of the youth and males preferred to live at their respective places."
He said they (people) have been evacuated by the district administration in view of their safety and were housed in safe shelters and government buildings identified by the district administration to protect civilians from Pakistani firing as a part of the contingency plan.

He also added that the administration and police official were camping in RS Pura and have made arrangements for accommodating the border villagers.

Fear of cross-border tunnel near LoC?

The Indian Army found a secret tunnel dug about 50 metres in the forward area of Chakla along Munawar Tawi in Pallanwalla sector of Jammu district after land caved in during the recent heavy rain in the area.

Sources said the tunnel was found some 50 metres inside the Indian side cutting across the border from Pakistan and it was detected during routine patrolling. Sources, however, added that the Army has cordoned off the area and even has not allowed senior police officials there.
However, Army authorities denied reports about the tunnel saying that no such tunnel was detected. "It was an ordinary ditch along (Bundh) the embankment, which had been washed away due to recent flash floods," they added.

Meanwhile, sources said, "This seems to be the new strategy adopted by Pakistan for facilitating the infiltration of militants because of alert troops along the LoC and IB successfully thwarting infiltration bids by intruders."

This is not the first instance that such a secret tunnel was exposed in the forward areas of Jammu region. A couple of years back, a tunnel dug about 500 metres inside the Indian territory from Pakistan was detected in Chichwal of Hiranagar sector.

On May 4, this year, the Border Security Force (BSF) authorities handed over a protest note to Pakistan Rangers over the tunnel issue which was detected in Samba District, near the International Border (IB), which is the latest alignment point of the 400-metre-long cross-border tunnel which was found in July 2012.

Past tunnels

A caved-in portion of a 3X3 tunnel in Chillyari border belt in Samba District was found 23 metres away, inside Indian territory, from pillar number 170 on "Zero Line" at the international border when BSF took up clearing of the thick and tall bushes along the Zero-line.

This was believed to be the latest alignment point of the 400-metre-long cross-border tunnel which was found along the International Border in 2012.

Pertinent to mention here is the fact that a joint team of Geological Survey of India and BSF, during excavation, had unearthed total length of about 540 metres of tunnel, dug into the Indian side, cutting across Pakistan from the Zero Line on August 8, 2012.

This secret tunnel hit the media limelight after a local farmer detected it on the evening of July 27, 2012, while working in his field at Chichwal when he saw the land sunk at three straight points due to monsoon rains.
Before this, the Army had also detected a secret tunnel in August 4, 2009, when heavy rain led to caving in of this tunnel along the LoC in Pallanwala sector of Akhnoor.

This tunnel in J&K was believed to aid the infiltration of militants and the transport of ammunition from across the border and was intersecting the vicinity of Pakistan's Mango Post and the PP2 Post on the Indian side. The existence of the tunnel was discovered when interrogating a Lashkar terrorist captured from Kupwara.

If recalled, the commander of 16 Corps, Lieutenant General KH Singh had recently stated that about 150 to 200 militants were planning to infiltrate into the Indian territory from the LoC.
Amid ceasefire violations, army shows its heart, hands over Pakistani national
Kamanpost, Uri: Hours after the Pakistani troops fired at the Indian posts along the International Border in Jammu, killing two civilians and injuring more than six people including a BSF jawan on Saturday morning, the Indian Army's 12 Brigade, based in the border town of Uri, handed over a Pakistani national, who had accidentally slipped inside the Indian territory on 20 August.

Mangta Gujjar, 75, a resident of Chapper village on the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir said he was cutting wood in the forests near the LoC, when he accidentally crossed over to the Indian side.
"I was cutting wood and suddenly had breathing problems when accidentally I slipped to the Indian side," Gujjar told Firstpost, inside an army facility center near Kaman Bridge, were he was later handed over to Pakistani troops deployed near the Kaman post.

The Indian Army posted along the LoC in Uri apprehended Mangta Gujjar, but provided him immediate medical care after realizing his deteriorating health. He was kept for three days in supervision of doctors, as he complained of breathing problems.

"The Indian Army took very good care of me. They gave me gifts and I am going back with good memories," Gujjar, who spoke in Pahari language, a common dialect for the people living across the LoC in Uri said.

As the Indian soldiers took Gujjar towards the Kaman bridge, which divides the Kashmir into two parts, he said in hushed voice he wished peace would prevail along the border between India and Pakistan.

An army officer who spoke to Firstpost said they had intercepted Gujjar near the LoC on 20 August early in the morning and provided him medical relief as he faced breathing problems.

However, nearly 90 miles west of Kaman bridge Pakistani soldiers killed two civilians in an "unprovoked" firing on Saturday morning, when they fired at multiple Indian posts throughout the intervening night of 22 August.

For the last five days firing at the LoC and International Border in Jammu has been going on unabated leading to the migration of thousand of civilians living along the International Border and LOC in Jammu.

The number of ceasefire violations, analysts say, have dramatically increased since the Narendra Modi government took the decision of cancelling the foreign secretary level talks following a meeting between Kashmiri separatists and Pakistani High Commissioner, Abdul Basit, in New Delhi.

On Saturday thousands of residents of RS Pura sector and adjoining areas, who had been camping inside the bunkers of BSF due to heavy shelling, started migrating to plains for the safety, the distract administration said.

In last twelve days, officials said, fourteen incidents of ceasefire violations have taken place in different places on the International border and LoC.

From January to July this year Indian officials have accused the Pakistani Army of violating ceasefire more than 54 times.

And From 26 May to 22 July, since the Modi government came into power 19 ceasefire violations have taken place along the International border and LoC, official sources said.

In the month of August alone officials say Pakistani Army has violated the ceasefire over 16 times.

This has led the district administration of Jammu to evacuate more than 3,000 people living in border hamlets to safe areas under a contingency plan. The evacuation happened after the latest ceasefire violation by Pakistan soon after midnight targeting the entire border belt of Arnia and RS Pura as well as Hamirpur sub-sector in Poonch.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said Indian security forces are responding effectively to protect the country's interests.

"This is a fact that of late, these ceasefire violations by Pakistan have increased. But let everybody be assured that both our Army and BSF, who are respectively guarding the LoC and the International Border, are fully vigilant.

"They effectively respond to each violation and I have full faith and the country must have full faith that they are effectively protecting both our territory and national interest," Jaitley told reporters in Vishakhapatnam.

The minister was replying to queries about repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC and the International Border on the sidelines of a function to commission the ant-submarine warfare corvette INS Kamorta into the navy.

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