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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 16 Sep 2014

On eve of Xi visit, tense stand-off in Ladakh yet again
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 15
Just two days before Chinese President Xi Jingping starts his three-day visit to India from September 17, troops of either country are locked in a tense stand-off at Chumar in South Eastern Ladakh.

A similar stand-off had occurred in April-May 2013 at Depsang in Northern Ladakh, some 650 km north of the present spot. Incidentally, it was called 10 days before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was to begin his maiden visit to India in May 2013.

Notably, the current stand-off is not along the disputed and undemarcated 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, but is at the junction of the settled and agreed upon International Boundary and the LAC at Chumar in Jammu and Kashmir.

Some 100-odd troops of the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are facing the Chinese virtually eyeball-to-eyeball. India objected to China sending earth movers to build a road in an area along the LAC that is disputed between the two countries. The road will damage Indian interests in the South Eastern Ladakh.

A flag meeting was conducted today at the designated meeting point at ‘Sppangur-Gap’, in the Chusul area of eastern Ladakh. Brigadier-level officers were locked in discussions which have remained inconclusive so far.

At the meeting, the Indian side cited how the 2005 protocol was being violated by the Chinese. Since the LAC is not demarcated, there is a difference in perception of its location on the ground. Patrolling is carried out in these areas but troops do not hold ground.

Indian troops followed the 2005 protocol. “As per the protocol, soldiers on either side have to show a banner to the other side asking to withdraw,” said sources.

Showing of banner is a standard operating procedure and is called the ‘banner drill.’ It is done when troops of the two sides come face-to-face due to differences on the alignment of the LAC or any other reason.

Talks inconclusive

* A flag meeting was conducted on Monday in Chusul area of Eastern Ladakh

*n Brigadier-level officers were involved in discussions which remained inconclusive

* At the meeting, India cited how the 2005 protocol was being violated by the Chinese

* Around 100 troops of the Indian Army and the ITBP are facing the Chinese eyeball-to-eyeball at Chumar in South Eastern Ladakh
 Western Command observes 67th Raising Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The Army’s Western Command observed its 67th Raising Day at the Chandimandir military station today. To mark the occasion, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt Gen KJ Singh, laid a wreath at the Veer Smriti War Memorial. A large number of officers attended the ceremony. A ceremonial Guard reversed arms while buglers sounded the Last Post as a mark of respect to martyrs.

As part of the Raising Day commemorations, a new initiative has been launched to re-skill the retiring junior commissioned officers and other ranks to acquire expertise which will help them in getting a second career in the corporate world. The one-month course aims at empowering them with English-speaking abilities, handling IT and mobile communication devices that are Internet enabled, soft skill training and visits to various factories and installations. The first course commenced with a strength of 30 personnel who are on the verge of retirement.

The Command was raised in 1947 as the Delhi and East Punjab Command with headquarters at Delhi. It was re-designated as Western Command in January 1948. The genesis of Western Command was forged on the anvil of one of the most tragic trans-border migration of human population. In 1954, the headquarters of the Command moved to Shimla. After the Indo-Pak conflict of 1971, Northern Command, with its headquarters at Udhampur, was carved out of Western Command to assume operational responsibility of Jammu and Kashmir. Later, the Western Command headquarters moved to its present location at Chandimandir in 1985.

With “Ever Westwards” being its calling card, the Western Command was instrumental in blunting the Pakistani aggression in 1947, 1965 and 1971 and subsequently carrying the battle into enemy territory. Its formations and units have participated and distinguished themselves winning a large number of gallantry awards, including 11 Param Vir Chakra.

The Command has time and again provided succour to the civilian population during natural calamities.
 India slams Pak for backing Saeed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 15
India today reacted sharply to a statement by Pakistan that there was no case against Hafiz Saeed, with New Delhi describing him as the “evil mastermind” behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks and Islamabad should bring the Jamat-ul-Dawa chief to book for the crime.

Earlier, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said Hafiz Saeed is a Pakistani national so he is free to roam around. “So what is the problem...he is a free citizen so there is no issue as far as Pakistan is concerned. Courts have already exonerated him. There is no case pending against him.”

Later, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: “Our views on Saeed are clear. To us, he is the evil mastermind of the Mumbai attacks and one of the accused in an Indian court for the killings on streets of Mumbai. We have repeatedly asked Pakistan that he should be apprehended and taken through normal judicial process.”
 Boundary row likely to be discussed during Xi’s visit

New Delhi, September 15
In a departure from custom, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will receive Chinese President Xi Jinping not in Delhi, but in Ahmedabad, where the dignitary will arrive to commence the September 17-19 bilateral visit to India.

Modi will welcome Xi, accompanied by a high-level delegation, including two senior members of Polit Bureau and the Chinese Commerce Minister, in an Ahmedabad hotel.

Modi has attached special importance to the visit can be gauged from the fact that he has issued a statement stating that he is looking forward to welcome President Xi as the visit will strengthen Sino-Indian ties. The two leaders will witness signing of agreements in the state.

It is expected that the visit will address the "interests and concerns" of the two countries and that "all substantive" issues having bearing on the ties, including the boundary dispute, will be discussed.

"As regards to issues on the table, sure there are unresolved issues, including the boundary question.... Yes, it will be discussed," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

On being asked about the expectations from the high-profile visit, he said, "The key expectation is that we address issues of interests and concerns to each other. The path towards solution is based on the beginning of addressing those issues."

Asked whether Kashmir, Tibet and stapled visa will figure in the talks, the spokesperson said the two countries know the "sensitivities" of each other and it was the intention of both the countries to try and work out issues accordingly.

On issuance of staple visa to people of Arunachal by China, he said India's stand has been that no differentiation should be made to people from any part of India.

Apart from big announcements in the economic sector, including big Chinese investments in railways networks, industrial parks and smart city projects, Xi and Modi are expected to discuss cooperation in the nuclear energy, trade deficit and visa regime.

The PM will host a private dinner for President Xi on the Sabarmati riverfront after which the Chinese leader will depart for Delhi, the spokesperson said.
Jammu and Kashmir floods: Yasin Malik allegedly derails Indian Army's rescue operation, asks boat patrol to disembark patients
In the midst of a natural calamity of a humongous proportion that has affected lakhs of people in Jammu and Kashmir, separatist leaders in the valley are apparently creating physical hurdles in the ongoing relief and rescue efforts carried out in the state.

On September 13, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front ( JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, allegedly led a gang of unscrupulous elements and tried to derail the rescue and relief process launched by the Indian Army, under Operation Megh Rahat, in aid of the flood hit regions of Kashmir.

According to sources from the army's Northern Command, Malik and his supporters allegedlly forced ailing lady patients to get off an Army relief boat despite strong criticism by women in the area. Malik is said to have told the army patrol to leave the patients and withdraw.

In spite of unprovoked stone pelting resorted to by a gang of hoodlums, the army choose to follow the dictum of patience and did not open fire on the gangsters, preferring to disengage and relocate to a nearby area till the crowd dispersed.

When the army patrol boat returned, the JKLF chief appeared from within a mob and told the boat patrol to disembark the patients and leave. He claimed the Kashmiris do not want the army rescue efforts to continue. Women in the boat and in the vicinity protested loudly even as Mir, an aide of Yasin Malik, shouted at the ladies in Kashmiri and forced them to be silent.

In a second instance of perfidy, Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has appealed to Pakistan (Pakistan army) to come to the aid of the Kashmiri people. The fact, however, remains that his wishes are aimed at creating problems for the forces involved in the relief and rescue operations.

The Indian Armed Forces and state and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has earned appreciation internationally for carrying out with its humanitarian tasks. This in spite of reports of personal losses suffered by the Army.
Armed forces deserve salutes not stones in Kashmir: BJP
Expressing disappointment over incidents of stone pelting on armed forces in Kashmir Valley, on Monday BJP said those men from Army, IAF and security agencies, who are tirelessly working to rescue flood victims, deserve to be felicitated instead of being attacked with stones.

“We condemn the repeated incidents of stone pelting on the men of Indian army and other forces, who have come to the post floods rescue of the people in Kashmir in particular,” BJP state spokesperson Balbir Ram Rattan told reporters.
He said it is “unfortunate and disappointing” that some anti-social elements at the behest of separatists are attacking these armed forces men, who have come as “messiah” in the hour of grief and sorrow.

The army and security personnel have been working round-the-clock during the last few days to reach out to the people who are stranded across the flood-hit Valley, he said.

“A force which discharges multiple duties without caring for its own safety should never be insulted by throwing stones, rather it should be applauded and saluted,” Rattan said and expressed hope that anti-social elements will also join hands with defence forces in rescue operations.

The BJP leader also appreciated prompt action taken by the Narendra Modi Government in providing relief and rescue and said PMO is keeping a vigil on the flood-hit state.

“Whatever is being done by the Union Government is its commitment to stand by the people of the state, who perhaps have lost hopes from the state’s NC-Congress coalition government,” he added.
Will the Armed Force Ever Get Their Dues?

After the Uttarakhand flood last year and the massive crisis in J&K this year, as a result of one of the worst floods that the state is witnessing in several decades, the thing that has been vindicated is the sheer dependence of the nation on the Armed Forces and Central Police Forces like BSF or NDRF. Be it in Uttarakhand or in J&K now, it has been the Armed Forces of India led by the Indian Army and Indian Air Force and assisted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) along with BSF which have been doing the most commendable job of rescuing the hapless people of J&K, left in the lurch in difficult times by their own state administrations and political leaders. Armed Forces : The Only Resort of the Nation In the hindsight one is forced to conclude that there is no point trying to rake up the debate as to whether this is what the Armed Forces are supposed to do, even though such acts of rescue are supposed to be of the state administrations and not of the Army. But fact remains that in a country where state level administrations and State level police forces in most cases are completely defunct and collapse in the face of challenging situations, the Armed Forces as well as the Central Police Forces ( of which NDRF is part of ) are the last resorts of the nation. Probably nowhere else in the world rescue operations are done with rescuers (Indian Armyand BSF soldiers in this case) having assault rifles slung in their shoulder even while rescuing people because they never know from which angle and from which side the next fidayen attack would be launched on them even when they are there to merely help the Kashmiris. Probably nowhere else in the world rescuers are greeted with stone pelting as well by certain vested interests even when the Armed Forces have been doing the most impossible job of rescuing, and often airlifting people marooned in distant and unreachable villages cut off by flood water. And yet, the Armed Forces continue to do their job with much elan and composure. It has become a norm than an exception n India now that Army would always be called as the first resort and not as the last resort. The situation is such in India and such is the ineptitude of India's civil administrations that even when a kid falls in a borewell in some distant village, even for that rescue act the Army is called. But Do the Armed Forces Get their Dues? Therefore, be it war like scenario or guarding hostile borders or natural disasters, time and again it is the Armed Forces which have come to the rescue of the nation when others have failed and given up. And yet when it comes to giving the due honor or the timely promotion or equipping the Armed Forces with the right kind of equipment and weapon systems, is it done? When it comes to giving the Armed Forces their due share of say in matters related to policy affairs in defence and internal security matters, does anyone pay heed to them? When it comes to increasing the budget of the defence forces, is it ever a done without a frown and without caustic comments that defence expenditures are unnecessary? The reality of the utter disregard, disdain and insecurity that the civilian bureaucracy has for the Armed Forces is nothing new and needs no specific elaboration. Civilian control of Armed Forces in India has been reduced to civilian mismanagement of Armed Forces. The Lack of Resources that Armed Forces Suffer From.... For decades now the Indian Armed Forces have been grappling with severe shortages of critical equipment which has almost crippled the ability of the Armed Forces to defend the nation in times of external aggression or a war like scenario. The level of ammunition reserve of the Army is just of a shocking 20 days and there is severe shortage of practice ammunition. For decades now, the Army is in dire need of new generation of artilleries, air defence, machine guns, helicopters and even a new standard issue rifle. All thanks to the inability of the civilian bureaucracy and polity to take firm decisions and stand by them. They cave in the moment any company who fails to get a contract spreads some rumor about unfair dealings and such hearsays and gossips become good enough to cancel entire tenders, national security be damned. Severe Shortage of Aircrafts in Air Force... The same is the case with Indian Air Force which desperately needs new generation of combat aircrafts, transport aircrafts as well as helicopters. In each of the cases, the inability of Indian political governments coupled with sheer ineptitude and risk averse tendency of the Civilian bureaucracy to push through critical deals in the interest of national security, have put the Armed Forces in a tight spot. With increasing military modernization of neighboring Pakistan and Chinese Armed Forces, the laid back attitude of civilian bureaucracy and their indifference towards Armed Forces is costing the Armed Forces much. Assured Promotions for Bureaucracy- Stagnation for Army The issue does not end here only. The Armed Forces face severe stagnation in terms of promotional avenues. Most Army Officers retire at the level of Lt Colonel because of the stiff pyramidal structure that still exists in the Indian Army. Only few Army officer reach the level of Brigadier and above whereas most IAS officers are assured of time bound promotions to the level of Additional Secretary and even more. In many cases IAS officers simply become Managing Directors of PSUs irrespective of whether they have expertise in that particular industry or not. Assured Promotion for IPS Officers- Stagnation for Central Police Officers The same is the case with Central Police Officers. One would rarely find an IPS officer who has not risen to the rank of an Additional Director General of Police or a Director General of Police. In all the Central and State Police Forces, most of the top positions have high level of reservation for the IPS officers. A commissioned Central Police Forces like BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB or CISF who joins at the rank of Assistant Commandant, is the one who leads his men from the front in combat situations and in borders. Yet one would rarely see them get promoted beyond the level of DIG in the Central Police Forces even when they do all that hard work. From DIG and above, IPS have their preeminence even when they have seldom been into grassroots level leading of the Central Police Forces Such is the level of stagnation and disgruntlement among the commissioned officers of Central Police Forces that often they have filed cases in courts to have them recognized as an organized cadre and give the same promotional avenues like IPS officers. [Read...] The situation of the jawans of Central Police Forces jawans is even worse. It takes 18 to 20 years for a Constable to get promoted to the level of a mere Head Constable .Worse, some bureaucrat thought it was a great idea to abolish the intermediary ranks of Lance Naik (one stripe) and Corporal (two stripes on shoulder). Thus the Constables languish in the rank of a Constable for almost 20 years and equated at par with a newly joined constable at the same rank. Both the top level IPS and IAS policy makers fail to realise the improtance of more promotional avenues for the constabulary to increase their motivation level. High level of stagnation and little peacetime posting leads to large number of Central Police personnel quitting jobs or resorting to suicide or fratricide. [Read...] Once Emergency Situation Gets Over...No One Remembers the Armed Forces.. One can be rest assured that once the floods are over, everyone would forget about the Armed Forces and Central Police Forces once again. Both the Army and the Central Police Forces would again be object of allegations of human rights violations and their plea for higher allocation of funds or better equipment would fall to deaf ears. While the Bureaucrats and the IPS officers would continue with their assured promotions and would continue to be missing in action during tough times such as floods or utterly fail in situations like 26/11, it would be hapless Jawans of Army and the Central Police Forces who would continue to slog tirelessly for their love of nation and honor of discipline without any reward in return except for more brickbats.. It is time that this culture is changed.
Jammu and Kashmir floods: Indian Army orders relocation of bunkers
Jammu: The Indian Army on Monday ordered the relocation of its ammunition dumps, bunkers and border outposts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu region due to extensive damage caused by floods.
Over 10 km of border fencing has been washed away by the floods along the LoC, which has resulted in serious damage to army posts and bunkers in the region, a defence spokesperson told IANS here.

"Immediate relocation of ammunition dumps to safer places has been ordered. It has also been ordered that bunkers and outposts along the LoC, those have been damaged due to floods especially in Rajouri, Poonch and Jammu districts be relocated to safer areas," the spokesperson said.

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