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Saturday, 11 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 11 Oct 2014

Pak guns go silent, India to wait and watch
Tribune News Service

Ramgarh (Jammu)/ New Delhi/ Islamabad, Oct 10
After nine days of intense shelling Pakistani guns largely fell silent on the 198-km-long International Border for the first time since October 1 that provided a ‘breather’ to distraught villagers.

“However, Pakistan Rangers last night opened small arms fire on four BSF posts in Hiranagar sub-sector of Kathua around 8 pm,” said a source. BSF’s Jammu region IG, RK Sharma described it to be a minor incident.

“In Hiranagar, they fired four bursts of small arms fire and we responded in equal measure. Since then there has been no firing by Pakistan anywhere on the border”, he said, adding, “If they fire at us, we will fire at them.”

Indian security establishment said it was too early to judge that this was some kind of de-escalation by the neighbour. Today Delhi put the onus on Pakistan for the situation at the border, cautioning that an appropriate response would follow. At the South Block the option so far is to wait and watch. The Army and the BSF have been told to be on alert. “We will respond appropriately. It is for Pakistan to escalate/de-escalate and we will respond as appropriate”, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.

The Army is stationed along the 749-km-long LoC while the BSF is stationed along the 198-km-long international boundary.

A statement of Pakistan PMO website on the NSC meet said: “Any attempt to challenge Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty will be responded with full force.”

BSF notices Pak troops’ movement

BSF Director General DK Pathak on Friday said the movement of vehicles and Pakistani troops carrying equipment had been witnessed across the RS Pora sector of Jammu. The BSF suspects that Pakistan is probably reinforcing its border outposts, as its military infrastructure had been damaged by the Indian firing.
2nd Indo-SL Defence Dialogue held in Colombo

A delegation led by Indian Defence Secretary Shri RK Mathur held discussions with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and high-ranking Sri Lankan Defence Officials at the Ministry premises during the sidelines of the 2nd Annual Defence Dialogue held yesterday (9th October).

Indian Defence Secretary Mr. Mathur and the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Mr. Rajapaksa co-chaired the 2nd Defence Dialogue in the company of respective delegations, comprised of Defence Ministry Officials, External Affairs Ministry Officials and high-ranked Military Officials of both countries.

During the session an array of ongoing defence cooperation initiatives were taken up for review and new avenues were identified with a view of strengthening bilateral Defence ties between the two neighbouring nations. In addition, affairs concerning regional security and maritime security issues were also extensively discussed.

The inaugural Annual Defence Dialogue was held in New Delhi, India on 31st Jan 2012.

The Indian delegation was comprised of the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka His Excellency YK Sinha, Indian Joint Secretary (PIC) of Ministry of Defence (MoD) Mr. Shri Ram Suhag Singh, Joint Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Smt. Suchitra Durai, Deputy Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Mr. Arindam Bagchi, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (FCI) RAdm. RB Pandit, Addl. Director General (International Cooperation) Maj. Gen. Rustam Patnaik and Defence Advisor of Indian High commission accompanied the Indian Defence Secretary.

The local delegation was comprised of Additional Secretary of the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry Mr. S hettiarchchi, Chief of National Intelligence Maj Gen (retd) K Hendawitharana, Asst. Secretary Mrs. P Hewarathna, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Army Lt. Gen. Daya Ratnayake, Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera, Commander of the Air-Force Air Marshal Kolitha Gunathilaka, Director General of Sri Lanka Coastguard Rear Admiral Sirimewan Ranasinghe, DG South Asian Division of Ministry of External Affairs Mr. D Perera and Chiefs of Staff of respective Armed Forces.
Indian Army believes Pak chose to fire along International border to unsettle Hindus
As daylight fades over Gakhrial village, which is barely 500 metres from Pakistan at the International Border (IB), Gulshan Devi rushes to round things up so that she can leave. Like the 1,500 fellow-inhabitants, Devi leaves home every evening and returns in the morning these days.

The firing at the IB has surprised officials of both the army and the Border Security Force (BSF). As one senior BSF official said, “It is the Line of Control that is normally a live wire. The ceasefire is often flouted at the IB too but never to this extent. Villages and towns have not been targeted like this.”

In the eight days since the border shelling began, seven civilians have died and over 70 have been injured. As many as 20,000 civilians from 70 villages have been dislocated. The Pakistani logic for targeting the IB has foxed the army, the BSF and even chief minister Omar Abdullah.

Read | To minimise casualties, BSF asks locals to restrict movement

A senior army officer at the Udhampur-based Northern Command said that there have hardly been infiltration attempts at the IB in the last four years. “Two terror attacks have taken place along the IB in Hiranagar and Samba but in both cases, terrorists were members of suicide squads and were targeting forces, not civilians," the officer said.

The civilian population in Arnia — a town that lies a kilometre away from the IB — too is wondering why their homes and shops were pounded overnight.
A villager shows bullet marks on the wall of his house after a firing from Pakistan side in Kaku Da Kotha village at Arnia sector in Jammu. PTI Photo

Pawan Kumar, who has fled to a relief camp with his entire family, said: “We thought Pakistan would think twice before targeting us after Narendra Modi came to power”.

Is the Pakistani army — indoctrinated in large part on religious fundamentalism — testing what it perceives to be Modi’s machismo? Are Pakistani rangers establishing their supremacy over foreign and security-related issues after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s handshake with PM Modi at his swearing-in in Delhi where he agreed not to meet Hurriyat leaders?

Army and BSF officials do not tread political waters but believe firmly that Pakistan has chosen to set the IB and not the LoC on fire.

“Unsettling civilians along the IB is far more impactful from the Pakistani point of view because locals here comprise a Hindu population,” said an official.
Villagers sit near a blood stained spot after alleged mortar shell firing from the Pakistan side into a residential area at Masha da kothe village in Arnia Sector in Jammu. AP Photo/Channi Anand

“In heavy exchanges across the LoC, Pakistan’s civilian population gets affected because their villages lie closer to the LoC. They rarely target Muslim villagers on our side,” said another official.

If the Pakistani army is indeed working on a religious sum game while daring the Modi government, it has added a whole new layer to the conflict between the two neighbours.

Already, the tit-for-tat, mortar-for-mortar response has gone into a spiral that neither side is willing to break out of.
Jawan beaten by army officers, critical
A police complaint was lodged against four Army officers in the state capital on Thursday for allegedly beating up a jawan who refused to serve alcohol after the bar was closed. The incident took place late on October 5 evening during a social gathering at the 61 Cavalry unit.

According to the first information report filed by Lance Dafadar Vikram Singh’s wife, Nandu Kanwar, four Army officers –Major Danny Sweden, Major Arjun Patil, Major Deepankar Jain and Captain Apurva Gawade – beat up Singh when he refused to serve them more alcohol after the unit’s bar was closed. “It was late in the evening and the bar had closed. When my husband told the officers that he did not have any orders to reopen the bar, they hit him on the head with a pipe and kicked him so badly that his kidneys have been damaged,” Nandu Kanwar told the Indian Express.

“I received a phone call from my husband at 1.30 am on Sunday night asking me to come over to the army unit immediately. Leaving my young children alone at home, I walked 3 kms to reach the spot at that hour and found him in a pool of blood. When I insisted that he should be shifted to another hospital as the army hospital did not even have a medical assistant at that hour, the officers manhandled me,” Nandu added.
Singh was taken to the Marudhar Hospital that night and shifted to SMS Hospital later the next morning. “Going against medical advice, the Army officers forcibly shifted my husband back to the army hospital and have been threatened me with dire consequences if I reported the matter to the police or media,” Nandu alleged. “Such incidents are common in the mess where officers in an inebriated condition treat jawans poorly but no action is taken against them. In most cases, the incident is hushed up.”

Singh’s medical report at the Marudhar Hospital revealed ‘mild to moderate right perinephric hematoma.’ Hospital authorities said that the patient had arrived in a critical condition and the injury to his kidneys were serious.He is currently admitted to the intensive care unit of the army hospital and is in a serious condition.

The Army, however, denied that the officers were alone to be blamed and said that Singh was as much at fault and was himself in an inebriated condition. “The jawan was drunk while on duty and when the officers protested, he misbehaved with them. A scuffle broke out in which the jawan was injured. A court of inquiry has been ordered and action will be taken against whoever is found guilty,” said defence spokesperson Lt. Col. Manish Ojha.
Qureshi flays PM, defence minister for 'silence' over Indian aggression
MULTAN - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi harshly criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and Foreign Office for their perceived silence over the continued and unprovoked aggression by Indian Army at the Working Boundary in Sialkot and Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK).

Talking to journalists, Qureshi said that the prime minister, defence minister and Foreign Office are quiet over the Indian aggression at LoC, which is deplorable.

"I want to tell India that aggression is not good for the region's peace," Qureshi said. "Pakistan's defence minister is from Sialkot but he didn't utter a single word to condemn the unprovoked firing by Indian army that claimed many lives in Sialkot, his home constituency," he added.

"The federal government feels panic in using any word against the Indian forces brutality. Pakistan always wants talk with India to resolve outstanding issues for establishing lasting peace in the region," the PTI vice chairman said.
Target: Pak army stocks
Oct 9: Defence minister Arun Jaitley’s threat to impose costs on Pakistan for its “adventurism” in firing at Indians along the Line of Control and the International Boundary here has led to questions on what these costs might be.

Assessments by The Telegraph after talking to military and paramilitary sources along the border in Jammu point to Indian firing taking a toll on Pakistani “administrative bases” with a “collateral damage” on civilians across the Line of Control.

There are more civilians closer to the Line of Control on the Pakistani side just as there are more civilians closer to the International Boundary on the Indian side.

The Line of Control begins from a point called Sangam near Akhnoor in Jammu, south of which is the International Boundary (IB). This is a stretch of the IB that Pakistan still disputes by calling it a “working boundary”.

Indian and Pakistani troops are exchanging fire at a time the armies and civilians have been battered by the floods and heavy rain that lashed Jammu and Kashmir last month. Both sides saw defences washed away and weakened, Pakistan more so because the rivers drain into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

In the Jammu region, the Line of Control is in the area of responsibility of the army’s 16 Corps. Most ceasefire violations in recent days have taken place across a stretch of about 230km from Rajouri to Poonch, south of the Pir Panjal range. North of the Pir Panjal is the area of responsibility of the 15 Corps.

Across the IB, the Border Security Force faces the Pakistan Rangers.

The firing escalated from October 1 after a Mahar regiment soldier of the Indian Army was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while patrolling the Line of Control near Balnoi in Mendhar.

Brought up on the culture of “paltan ki izzat” (the prestige of the regiment), his comrades intensified firing on Pakistani targets. The use of an IED on the Line of Control also led the Indian Army to suspect that the Pakistan Army was in cahoots with militants.

In the last 24 hours, no ceasefire violation has been reported from the Line of Control south of the Pir Panjal. But firing with small arms and shelling with mortars has continued across the IB.

The initial Indian response was slow because sniping across the Line of Control is usually taken as routine. But on the nights of October 2 and 3 especially, then for five more nights, Indian troops of the 25th division under the 16 Corps launched selective “fire assaults”, which means concentrated firing on chosen targets from several positions.

Battalions under four brigades of the 25th division were involved in the fire assaults on the Pakistan Army 10 Corps’ “adam bases” — mule camps, ration stocks, water storage facilities — at a time it was in the middle of its Advance Winter Stocking (AWS).

Both sides carry out AWS for high-altitude areas. While the Indians begin AWS for Poonch and Rajouri in June, starting with areas where it is likely to snow first as the winter sets in, the Pakistanis were delayed this year, mainly for two reasons.

First, large elements of the Pakistan Army were deployed for an exercise called Zarb-e-Azb in their FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Agency) that was directed against Islamic militants. Second, the flash floods and rain last month.

On the Indian side, the floods and rain took a toll on long stretches of the AIOS (Anti Infiltration Obstacle System), as the fence along the Line of Control is technically called. At some places, 10 to 15 metres of the fence was washed away or caved in.

Indian Army sources suspect that Pakistani forces and militants sought to exploit these gaps and use one or more of the seven passes in the Pir Panjal to infiltrate into the Valley.

The sources assess that the infiltrators decided to make use of this period because in about a month, it would be near-impossible to go over the Pir Panjal. The attempt also was urgent because Assembly elections are due in the state and unless the Pakistanis infiltrated more militants and firepower into the Valley, the polls could not be disrupted.

While the “ceasefire violations” are in themselves not exceptional — the Indian Army had counted 165 till this time last year — the decision to not accept or make requests for flag meetings is newer.

Flag meetings, usually held between sector commanders after communication at the local level or through the directorate generals of military operations, now require a political nod.

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