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Monday, 8 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 08 Sep 2014

ISIS makes inroads into India, Pak

Peshawar/ Dera Ismail Khan, September 7
Islamic State pamphlets and flags have appeared in parts of India and Pakistan, alongside signs that the ultra-radical group is inspiring militants even in the strongholds of the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

Islamist militants of various hues already hold sway across restive and impoverished areas of South Asia, but the Islamic State, with its rapid capture of territory, beheadings and mass executions, is starting to draw a measure of support among younger fighters in the region.

Signs of Islamic State’s influence are being seen in Kashmir, the region claimed by both India and Pakistan and the scene of a decades-long battle by militants against the Indian rule. Security officials in Kashmir under Indian control say they have been trying to find out the level of support for the Arab group after IS flags and banners appeared in the summer.

Intelligence and police sources in New Delhi and Kashmir said the flags were first seen on June 27 in a part of Srinagar, and then in July when India’s only Muslim-majority region was marking Eid ul-Fitr.

Some IS graffiti also appeared on walls of buildings in Srinagar. A police officer said youngsters carrying IS flags at anti-India rallies had been identified but no arrests had been made.

Another officer who questions people detained in protests against the Indian rule, many of them teenagers, said most were only focused on winning independence from India. They are influenced by Al-Qaida, Taliban, Islamic State.

In mid-July, an IS recruitment video surfaced online with subtitles in the Indian languages of Hindi, Tamil and Urdu in which a self-declared Canadian fighter, dressed in war fatigues and flanked by a gun and a black flag, urged Muslims to enlist in global jihad.

A top official at India’s Intelligence Bureau in New Delhi said: “The problem is we know so little about this network or who is acting on their behalf here. We know roughly where the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Indian Mujahideen support groups are, where they make contacts. But this is a different challenge.”

Rise in Pakistan

A splinter group of Pakistan’s Taliban insurgents, Jamat-ul Ahrar, has already declared its support for the well-funded and ruthless Islamic State fighters, who have captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in a drive to set up a self-declared caliphate.

“The Islamic State is an Islamic Jihadi organisation working for the implementation of the Islamic system and creation of the caliphate,” Jamat-ul Ahrar’s leader and a prominent Taliban figure, Ehsanullah Ehsan, told Reuters by telephone. “We respect them. If they ask us for help, we will look into it and decide.”

Arab League to back campaign against IS

CAIRO: Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo are set to issue a resolution on Sunday backing Iraqi and US efforts to confront Islamic State insurgents, diplomats said. Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said the rise of the group in Iraq challenged not merely the authority of the state but “its existence and the existence of other states”.

US air strikes target insurgents

BAGHDAD: US warplanes carried out four strikes on IS insurgents menacing Iraq's Haditha Dam on Sunday, witnesses and officials said, widening what President Barack Obama called a drive to curb and ultimately defeat their movement. The leader of a pro-Iraqi government paramilitary force said the air strikes wiped out an IS patrol trying to attack the dam
Al-Qaida’s terror links in India known for long
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

 New Delhi, September 7
Though terror group Al-Qaida’s latest video-tape threatening to attacks in India has led to hyperbolic debates on news channels, within the Indian security establishment it is known that Al-Qaida has been remotely controlling its Indian affiliates in terror.

On September 3, Al-Qaida chief Ayman-al- Zawahiri released a 55-minute video on the group’s websites which warned of attacks on India and named Pakistan-based firebrand cleric Maulana Asim Umar as its head. Since then the video tape has generated expected reactions, fear and shock in the backdrop of the US-led forces having started withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Claims in the new video apart, Indian agencies know how Osama Bin Laden and his creation Al-Qaida have acted against Indian interests. Laden’s confidante Illyas Kashmiri got David Coleman Headley to scout for targets in Mumbai and get their global positing system (GPS) coordinates. The same coordinates were used by the 10 gun-toting terrorists to launch simultaneous attacks at five places in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 – also referred to as the 26/11 attacks.

A total of 166 persons had died in the attacks. David Coleman Headley, alias Daoud Gilani, was a double agent of the US Drug Enforcing Administration (DEA). He has been sentenced to 35 years in prison by a US court.

Al-Qaida’s other point person for India is Hafiz Saaed, founder of the Jamaat-ul-Dawaa and Laskhar-e-Toiba based in Pakistan. The Al-Qaida-Illyas Kashmiri-Hafiz Saaed axis has existed for some time, confirmed officials in the know of things while adding that Kashmiri is now dead.

US special forces that killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011 at Abbottabad, Pakistan, found documents that linked him directly with Saeed and further how Osama bin-Laden’s organisation played a key role in planning the 2008 Mumbai attacks as LeT and Headley got the blame.

The US Department of Justice (USDOJ) which prosecuted Headley noted: “Headley had grown disenchanted with Lashkar (LeT). He shifted to Al-Qaida with the help of a friend named Abderrehman Syed, a former Army Major who had left Lashkar”.

Headley was in touch with Illyas Kashmiri before the Mumbai attacks, the USDOJ had noted. The Indian agencies have questioned Headley, said sources.

The third known man connecting Al-Qaida with India was Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jundal, the Indian Mujahideen fugitive deported to New Delhi from Saudi Arabia in May 2012. He had directed the Mumbai attackers over phone from the ‘control room’ in Karachi. He has revealed to investigators that the Mumbai attackers had undergone training in Al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan.

In the past, Al-Qaida or its affiliates have been posting threatening video tapes but it is for the first time, Zawahiri, who became chief after Laden’s death, has said this. In August last year Zawahiri issued specific guidelines that had endorsed the right of militants to fight Indian forces in Kashmir.

In November last year, Indian agencies were alerted to a new militant group calling itself ‘Ansaar-ut-Tawheed phi Bilaad Al-Hind’ or ‘The Supporters of Faith in the Land of India’. The leader of the group, who uses pseudonym Abdur Rehman al Hindi, announced the formation of this group on Al- Qaida-linked websites.
 Army veteran dies, wife donates body

New Delhi, September 7
The widow of an Indian Army officer has followed the unusual path and donated all organs and the body of her husband to a hospital at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.

Capt Rajeev Kumar, a veteran of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka, died on August 31 due to alleged post-operative complications. His wife, Niyati, took the tough decision and it was in line with the wishes of the deceased soldier. The family said he had a fall and was operated on August 30 and died the next day due to complications.

Niyati, over the phone from Bareilly, said: “He (Capt Kumar) had pledged to donate his organs just two months ago when my father-in-law, Devendra Swaroop, had died. I had not expected this to happen so soon”. The decision was in line with his wishes to donate all his organs at death for transplantation, the woman added.

Capt Kumar, 54, had served in the Army’s 10 Para Regiment and was among the first lot to be air-dropped at Jaffna, Northern Sri Lanka in 1987, under Operation Pawan.

His course-mate Lt Col Manoj Channan, who lives in Gurgaon, said: “It was brave of the family to have donated the body. He will be remembered for his qualities as a soldier. We were expecting him at the course-get-together on August 31”. — TNS
How Indian Army's initiative helps Ladakh's farmers
Two years ago, life "completely changed" for 38-year-old Palmo. The resident of Partapur, a remote village in Ladakh, located 11,000 feet above sea level and about 150km from the Siachin glacier base camp, used to barely eke out a living from her fields. She struggled to send her children to school. Now she earns about Rs2,000-Rs2,300 per day.

All thanks to the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), which has helped Palmo and nearly 20,000 small farmers such as herself in Leh, Kargil, Partapur and Turtuk in Ladakh adopt advanced farming techniques like trench cultivation and polycarbonate greenhouses to improve crop yield. As a result, these farmers can now continue farming during the six-month-long winters when temperatures dip to -30 degreee Celsius and the land is burried under knee-high pile of snow. DIHAR's techniques even allows these farmers to carry on poultry, making it possible to hatch eggs during the winter season.

Established in 1962, DIHAR was a brainchild of Jawaharlal Nehru. Its objective is to carry out research "on agro-animal activities in cold and high altitude region of Ladakh with a view to enhance the availability of fresh foods i.e. vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, eggs and medicinal and aromatic plants for our troops through local farmers". DIHAR conducts research to enhance productivity in vegetable cultivation, in processing and preservation of vegetables and perishable Food items, in the use of biodegradable waste for energy production; and conservation and upgradation of the local animal population.

"I started taking DIHAR's help a little more than a year and a half ago. Now, my life has completely changed," says Palmo. "Earlier I only grew potatoes and a couple of other vegetables. I now grow capsicum, tomatoes, cauliflowers, onions and other vegetables."

Palmo also sells the eggs and chicken from her poultry farm at the farmers' co-operative societies, which in turn have supply contracts with the Army. "As a result, my earnings have gone up from Rs 700 to Rs 2,300 per day. I also get subsidised animal feed from DIHAR."

Palmo's neighbour in the same village, 35-year-old Sonam Dorjee took DIHAR's assistance to cross-bred her cows with their superior cattle. " My cows are now more resilient to diseases and weather, and give 35-40 litres of milk daily," says Dorjee. "My income has doubled and I can afford to send my children to school. I am now looking for help to increase my livestock."

The programme has not just helped local farmers but has also proved to be a boon for troops posted at the frontier, especially at the Siachen glacier, the world's highest battleground. More than 50 per cent of the required fresh vegetable, fruit, milk, meat and poultry, running into thousands of tonnes, is procured from farmers in Ladakh. Earlier, the ration had to be airlifted from Chandigarh and dropped by helicopter at Siachen.

"We are doing our best to fulfill the food and energy needs of our troops in Ladakh. Last year, we entered the record books for growing 101 types of vegetables in Leh in a single season," says DIHAR director RB Srivastava. "Ever since local farmers have adopted DIHAR's technologies, the Army's vegetable supply in Ladakh has gone up from less than 10 varieties to at least 28 now."

Colonel SS Bisht of the Siachen Brigade says it is important for soldiers at the glacier to intake fresh food given the harsh conditions at the glacier. "So DIHAR is helping bring fresh food to soldiers, who earlier got only tinned food," says Colonel Bisht.

Trench cultivation: In trench cultivation, a small underground, three-foot deep greenhouse is covered with transparent UV stabilised white polythene sheets during the day to harvest maximum solar energy. At night, the trench is covered with another layer of black polythene to minimise heat loss. The average temperature in the trench is much higher than it is outside. It is a low-cost solution to greenhouse farming.

Polycarbonate greenhouse: These are over ground greenhouses formed using polycarbonate sheets — single, double or triple layered. Polycarbonate sheets are effective because they are successful in trapping heat even in extreme conditions and are durable. Inside the greenhouse, appropriate conditions for cultivation are maintained with tools such as moisture controller, temperature controller, etc.

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