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Monday, 15 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 15 Sep 2014

 Army plays caregiver to baby girl
Approaches police to locate parents of the unclaimed 15-day-old
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, September 14
A 15-day-old baby girl has found a guardian in the Army, which today approached the police to find her parents. Recuperating at the neonatal intensive care unit of the 92 Base Hospital here since she was evacuated from the marooned GB Pant Children’s Hospital on September 8, the baby girl is being looked after by head nurse S Choudury and her team.

“Nearly 140 children, including newborn babies, were brought here after flash floods inundated GB Pant Hospital. She was one of them,” said Major AK Gupta, a paediatrician looking after the infant.

“The baby had symptoms of septic and hypothermia. We immediately started her treatment at the neonatal intensive care unit. She has stabilised since then and now her condition is improving,” he said.

“The baby was brought by her caretaker, who handed her over to us before leaving the Base Hospital in search of his family. Thereafter, he never returned,” he said. “Our staff had recorded the name of the caretaker who had brought this infant to us as Riaz Ahmed, a native of Tangmarg in Baramulla district,” he said.
 State ready to take over relief work from Army

New Delhi, September 14
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), at its meeting today, decided that the government in Jammu and Kashmir would carry out the relief and rehabilitation work for the flood-hit residents of the state.

The Tribune had first reported in its September 13 edition that the Army would hand over the relief and rehabilitation operations — providing food, water, medicines, clothing and rations — to the local administration.

The Army’s top functionaries were clear that their boys were trained only for specific purposes and could not handle distribution of material.

Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, who heads the NCMC, today reviewed the flood situation in J&K.

A government statement issued today evening said: “The NCMC noted that the state government machinery has geared up to take up the challenge of relief work.”

With the telecom services, power supply, road transport and aviation slowly getting back on track in the Valley, the NCMC has set targets to ramp up relief work as the winter will set in some four weeks from now. — TNS
 Kashmir deluge a story for generations to come

This is a story that Kashmiris, who survived death and destruction caused by floods, will record for their great grandchildren — of how they were abandoned by those whom they had elected, and rescued by those whom they were made to hate. Had the Army not responded to the call of duty, the Valley would not have been there to tell any story. Local volunteers also did unparalleled service in rescuing people. No one else was seen anywhere on the scene.

Over the last weekend, the events that followed were horrific. People are still marooned, waiting for evacuation while many others are in a distress situation without food and water, now for days together. The rescuers, mostly personnel of the Army, National Disaster Response Force and the Air Force and local volunteers, could not reach each and every person. At some places, Army personnel, NDRF men and IAF choppers were stoned, injuring the rescuers, but they kept up the rescue and relief work.

The armed forces against whom hatred was generated not only by separatists but also by mainstream parties rose to the occasion. Their own losses were huge, but they worked overtime to save Kashmir. Whatever is left of the Kashmir valley today is because of the valiant efforts of the armed forces and that of local volunteers.

It is baffling as to why the armed forces are being pelted with stones. It may be because of the hate campaign of the political elements and propaganda from across the border. People in distress do not come up with banners that they “don’t need Indian relief” and “stop the drama of choppers”.

Some anti-India forces are undoubtedly at work. There was a social media campaign by some elements sitting outside the Valley who accused the Army of placing conditions for rescuing people. They said the Army was demanding that once people were rescued, they should tell the media that “the Army rescued them”.

The Army personnel cannot speak Kashmiri and how could they tutor people who do not understand Hindi. Elderly women, who do not know even a word of Hindi or Urdu, were heard saying that the Army rescued them in chaste Kashmiri.

There is criticism that the Army preferred to rescue only migrant labourers, tourists and non-locals. This is a part of the hate campaign against the Army. As of now, hundreds of tourists and non-locals are stranded and more than 15,000 migrant labourers, tourists and others have climbed mountains to reach Ramsoo — 165 km north of Jammu — on foot. The fact is that wherever the Army could reach, braving the stone-throwing by miscreants, it brought out people from a near-death-like situation.

These hate campaigners were doing it deliberately despite knowing that the first rule of the disaster management is to shift out the non-local population to ease pressure of food and water on the local population. That reduces the number of the mouths demanding food and water, and the relief material can straightaway make way to the locals. They are doing their duty. They are doing their duty to save the distressed people, and what they are getting in return are stones. Nowhere in the world, people caught in a natural calamity throw stones at their rescuers.
 Rs 25,000 cr Navy tender only for pvt sector: Govt

New Delhi, September 14
Seeking to build capabilities of Indian private sector warship builders, the Defence Ministry has rejected the plea of a state-owned shipyard to participate in the Rs 25,000 crore project to construct four amphibious warfare vessels for the Indian Navy.

The Defence Ministry has decided that only private sector shipyards, including Pipavav, ABG and L and T, along with their foreign partners, would be allowed to take part in the Rs 25,000 crore project for building the four Landing Platform Docks, Navy sources said.

The Navy had issued tenders to these three private shipyards last year and decided to keep out Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), saying it was building the 40,000-tonne Indigenous Aircraft Carrier and it should focus on that major project only for the moment.

However, the CSL approached former Defence Minister AK Antony through the Ministry of Shipping and the deal was put on hold. — PTI
 Will India allow US to recover WW-II airmen’s remains in Arunachal?
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 14
India and the US, who are inching closer on the diplomatic front, will soon have to deal with something that had raised the hackles of China in the past. India is expected to decide if the US is to be allowed to resume search for recovering bodies of its Air Force crewmen, who went missing in Arunachal Pradesh during the World War-II (1939-1945).

The search was suspended in 2010 after China’s protest saying it was a way to legitimise India’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh. The search was first allowed on humanitarian grounds in the early 2008 - the heydays of the India-US relations in the backdrop of the landmark concessions given to India for the civil nuclear deal.

China claims almost the entire of the north-eastern Indian state as its own land and refers to it as “South Tibet”. A US-based group working for the families of the missing US soldiers have written to the US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel seeking his intervention in asking India to allow resumption of the search operations. Hagel was in India in first week of August when he rolled out an offer to have joint development of military equipment with New Delhi.

Gary Zaetz, founder and spokesperson of the Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action, said in an emailed communiqué: “Our letter (to Hagel) expressed major disappointment at the failure of the Government of India to satisfy commitments it had repeatedly made in public pronouncements to permit the Missing in Action (MIA) remains recovery operations in Arunachal Pradesh.” MIA is a term used by the US to describe its soldiers who are missing or presumed dead after the war.

Zaetz, whose uncle Lt Irwin is one the MIA, shared the correspondence his organisation had received from Major General W Montague Winfield, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence in the US. It said recoveries of the bodies of US soldiers might be carried out in Nagaland and Assam and added the Indian Government had ‘sensitivities’ about Arunachal. The US would continue a dialogue with India on the resumption of the search operations in Arunachal. The bodies of more than 400 US aircrew members — who died in crashes in Chahbua (Assam) and Kunming (China) during the WW-II — are strewn across the remotest parts of the Indian state.
India Today Editor in chief Aroon Purie on Defence ministry and armed forces

It breaks my heart to read stories about the Indian soldier being ill-equipped, negotiating the roughest conditions without proper boots or a water bottle. About scams and indecision hampering acquisitions desperately needed to modernise our armed forces. All this when we spend Rs.2.29 lakh crore on defence as per the 2014-15 Union Budget, or nearly 13 per cent of the government's total expenditure. This is three times our rural development spending. The inept UPA government presided over the 'lost decade' of Indian defence.

It was a time of peace that should have been used to take stock of existing capabilities, push for aggressive modernisation, and revisit the war doctrine. But while China went in the last five years from being the world's largest arms buyer to the fifth-largest exporter, India was pegged back by bureaucratic wrangles and what is now known in defence circles as the infamous 'Antony delay'.

Since A.K. Antony took over as defence minister in 2006, India, while it fields the fourth-largest Army in the world, also became its largest importer for three straight years. Between 2011 and 2013, India sourced arms worth Rs.83,500 crore. But most of this money went into buying limited numbers of costly equipment, such as C-17 aircraft from the US, which enhanced overall defence preparedness only marginally. However, what is most infuriating is the extraordinary delay in finalising orders, which have at times been cancelled after being stuck for a decade. Our tortuous bureaucratic procedures, which are there to presumably prevent corruption, ironically still lead to scams that delay acquisitions further.

The result is that several major suppliers are suspended and the painful process starts again. We may be the largest defence market in the world but international suppliers are not only fed up with us, our decision-making process has made us a laughing stock in their world. It is therefore no surprise that our pending military projects are today worth Rs.2 lakh crore, almost as much as this year's entire defence budget. Meanwhile, our armed forces continue to operate obsolete equipment, most of which are several decades old, like the Cheetah light helicopters, MiG-21 fighter jets, L-70 air defence guns, Pechora missiles and Sea King helicopters.

Add to this the abject failure of our defence public sector undertakings and our inability to produce credible weapon systems despite having 41 ordnance factories. The Ordnance Factory Board consumes Rs.1,200 crore per year but offers precious little in return. The light combat aircraft Tejas has been in the pipeline for 30 years, and only a limited number of Arjun tanks have entered service though the project began three decades ago. Our defence spending policy is skewed, with operational costs far exceeding capital expenditure. Paying salaries, maintaining infrastructure, and filling diesel tanks will take up nearly 60 per cent of our 2014-15 defence budget. Last year, Rs.7,800 crore kept for modernisation projects had to be transferred to meet rising fuel costs. Our cover story, written by Deputy Editor Sandeep Unnithan and Associate Editor Manu Pubby, breaks down the critical deficiencies in the armed forces, how they came to be, and why they are hard to fix. In another big story in the magazine, our Beijing correspondent Ananth Krishnan, the first India Today journalist posted in China, provides an across-the-border perspective of Modi ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit on September 17.

The new PMO has made a call for 'Make in India', allowing 49 per cent FDI in defence spending, encouraging private sector participation, and taking a positive view on exports. Though Narendra Modi has a clear defence vision, the long road ahead will require his close attention. He will need a full-time defence minister instead of a finance minister burdened with another critical portfolio. Our brave Indian soldier needs the right equipment and logistical support to do his job well. That's the least we can do. After all, he has put his life on the line for us. Spare a thought for him.
Chinese army stops water supply for Indians in Ladakh

Amid reports of incursions by China in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, its army has once again stopped Indians from using water supply and construction work at T-point in Demchok area, 300 km from  Leh.

Earlier, it has been reported that Chinese troops had been preventing the Indian Army from patrolling posts in the Ladakh region.

Official sources have now said that Chinese army and civilians from across the border came near T-point in 25 to 30 army trucks and threatened Indian labourers and contractors to stop a water supply project near a river. Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the Leh district administration is doing some construction work there and lifting drinking water from the river for the civilians while Chinese civilians also use this river for drinking purpose.

Sources said that since September 5, 2014, Chinese army is not allowing India to carry on this project and stopping "our labourers to construct the small water supply project".

"When Indian army came in defence of our civilians, Chinese army left the T-point area. But on Saturday, Chinese civilians and regular army soldiers reached the T-point in the trucks to threaten the labourers and contractors," they said.

Sources said that the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, local contractor and local civilians population stood with banners - "This is Indian area and please do not come to this side as we are working in our territory''.

The SDM told the Chinese nomads that this river was used by both countries for drinking water, but the Chinese did not allow Indian civil administration to carry on the construction work, they said.

 The matter has been sent to Army and the state government so that the ministry of external affairs can talk to the Chinese government. Otherwise construction work cannot be carried out after two weeks, with winters starting in the Demchok area.
Kashmir floods: Worried about Army's humanitarian effort, separatists incite anger
New Delhi: The separatists are fishing in troubled waters in Jammu & Kashmir. That times of humanitarian crises of this magnitude call for suspension of old animosities and a humane approach to the victims of the devastation around seem to have escaped them. Even as the state, central governments and the defence personnel work in tandem in relief and rescue operations in the flood ravaged state, they are busy fomenting trouble.
On Thursday, the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel were shocked when their helicopters and boats were pelted with stones as they were trying to rescue people in Srinagar, which has turned into a cesspool with stagnant water of swollen river Jhelum and Dal Lake.

A post from an army officer’s mother on the social networking site Facebook said, "My son, Sqn Ldr T (name withheld on request) presently rescuing people in Srinagar on a MI 17 chopper told me about a bizarre experience they had today. While helping to winch up two women in a locality in downtown Srinagar, one of the men who had gone down the rope to help the two women with their harness was attacked by a burly man. Abused and threatened with words that said, 'I will chop you into pieces if you lift any more people from here. Go away'."

In fact, two NDRF personnel were injured, one of them seriously, and had to be airlifted to Chandigarh for medical treatment. Following this hostility, the forces had to reshape strategy – NDRF now launches rescue missions in the night and the choppers avoid potential trouble spots.

Sources say while the common Kashmiris are genuinely agitated over the slow pace of relief and rescue and the near absence of the elected government, the separatists led by the 84-year Sayed Ali Shah Geelani are nervous over the extraordinary response to the humanitarian crisis from the security forces.

"Those pelting stones were trouble-makers who had come from outside as part of orchestrated plan of the elements (read pro-Pakistani) who we all know, want to throw stones and create a wedge between the Army and the distressed population,’’ said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on television.

The social media sites, which have become major source of communication between Kashmir and the outside world, are replete with posts warning people about rumours being spread against the role of "security forces". According to some posts, choppers are selectively rescuing people based on their religious and social status.

The separatists, sources said, were trying to stage anti-India protests to make most of the presence of a huge media contingent that has descended Kashmir for covering the calamity. On a couple of occasions one even saw agitated women being prompted to raise 'azadi' slogans in front of the TV cameras.

Sources from Srinagar said on the third day of the deluge Geelani, who enjoys support among a section of the Kashmiri youth, had mobilized Jamat-e-Islami cadres into helping people in areas where the army did not venture. "They made makeshift boats to rescue people and also arranged food for the people," a senior police officer said on FB post. While these volunteers could have won laurels from all for their efforts, they ended up raising suspicion over their real motive. They wanted to convey the message that the Army was not the only saviour in Kashmir.

Interestingly, separatist leader Yasin Malik was today rescued by Army personnel from his downtown Miasuma residence. It may be recalled that Malik had been involved in gunning down of Indian 10 Air Force personnel when he was an active militant.

Even as most of the separatist leaders are out of currency in the flood ravaged Kashmir, Geelani was seen spewing venom against the Indian Army on a Pakistani news channel. In a telephonic interview to its a popular current affairs show Geelani alleged that the Indian Army was "busy rescuing their own personnel, tourists and only a few Kashmiris, in that order".

Geelani said: "Indian Army and media are insulting Kashmiris by taunting them about being saved by those whom they pelted stones at once..." "Indian Army men were moving around in boats with TV crews only to stage an act of rescuing a few locals for the purpose of publicity and propaganda," he also said. The fact is that Army and NDRF men have rescued more than one lakh people so far and they are still at it. The ordinary Kashmiris are not complaining.

The Hurriyat leader made a fervent appeal to Pakistan to "take time off its internal strife and showcase the crisis facing Kashmir to the United Nations and the Islamic countries." He asked Pakistan to mobilize aid for Kashmir.

Also on the same show was Hafiz Sayeed, chief the internationally outlawed Jamat-ul-Dawah, making equally bizarre accusations against India on the floods, which have ravaged Pakistan too. Hafiz, who is wanted by India for masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, matched Geelani’s pitch, saying India was "controlling and manipulating water resources with the sole aim of triggering floods in Pakistan."

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