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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 04 Nov 2014

Toll mounts to 61; Pak put on high alert
Bomb squad recovers IED in Wagah parking area
Security forces arrest 21 suspects

Lahore, November 3
An improvised explosive device (IED) was found from the parking area of the Wagah border on Monday, a day after 61 persons were killed in a bomb blast following the flag-lowering ceremony at the India-Pakistan land border crossing.

The bomb disposal squad was called to the site for inspection. The BDS launched search operations surrounding the Wagah border and arrested 21 suspects, including a suicide bomber.

Bomber’s vest recovered
Explosives and a suicide vest, stuffed with 8 kg of explosives and ball bearings, recovered from the Wagah border area
Suspected suicide bomber arrested from Multan district
Nationwide alert sounded in Pakistan

A Punjab Rangers official said explosives and a suicide vest, stuffed with 8 kg of explosives and ball bearings, were recovered from the Wagah border area. “The explosives have been defused by the bomb disposal squad. The suicide bomber used at least 15 to 20 kg of explosives in the blast,” said the official. A nationwide alert has been sounded in Pakistan. The security agencies also arrested a suspected suicide bomber from Multan district, some 350 km from Lahore. The Lahore police yesterday issued a sketch of 17-year-old Abdul Rehman, who had gone missing from a seminary in the old city of Lahore about a month ago.

Ten women, eight children and three security personnel were among the 61 persons killed in the attack that took place on Sunday when a suicide attacker detonated a powerful bomb at Wagah. More then 100 people were injured.

The blast took place when a large number of people were returning after attending the flag-lowering ceremony at the India-Pak land border crossing.

A young suicide bomber blew himself up near the main exit gate of Parade Avenue at 6.03 pm (local time), causing colossal devastation.

"The death toll of the devastating suicide attack at Wagah border has risen to 61. The condition of some injured is still critical,” Punjab Emergency Services Rescue spokesman Jam Sajjad said. Forty-three bodies have been handed over to the families while the remaining are yet to be recognised, Sajjad said.

“A joint investigation team of the police, rangers and intelligence agencies have started investigations. The army and rangers along with the police will provide security to Ashura processions in Lahore and they have been put on high alert,” Sajjad said.

Punjab Interior Minister Col Shujah Khanzada (retd) said the target of the suicide bomber was the venue of the flag-hoisting ceremony. "The suicide bomber wanted to reach the Parade Avenue to cause maximum devastation, but he blew himself up near the entrance of the main gate after failing to reach there," he said. — PTI
Rangers do a U-turn, hold Retreat ceremony at Wagah
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service
Attari, November 3
Within hours of requesting India to suspend the Retreat ceremony for three days, Pakistan on Monday held the flag-lowering ritual with pomp and show on its side of the border, leaving the BSF red-faced.

The ceremony took place on the Indian side too, but sans any crowd, as no visitors were allowed.

BSF officials said both sides had agreed on a request from Pakistan Rangers that the Retreat ceremony would not be held for three days. However, the Pakistani side disregarded its own request and allowed visitors on their side on Monday. Pak Rangers told the BSF officials at 4 pm today that they wish to hold the retreat ceremony, to which the BSF agreed.

Around 3,000 to 4,000 people were seen in the spectators' gallery on the Pakistan side to watch the ceremony. They cheered Pak Rangers and shouted pro-Pakistan slogans on loudspeaker. The gestures of Pak Rangers were more aggressive than the BSF jawans.

The spectators' gallery on the Indian side presented a picture of stark contrast with only four spectators with special invitees, mediapersons and BSF jawans occupying the chairs. A brief, truncated version of the ceremony was held on the Indian side.

When BSF officials led by Punjab Frontier IG Ashok Kumar reached the Attari border around 5 pm, they were surprised to hear loud cheering on the Pakistan side. Talking to the mediapersons, Ashok Kumar said: "They had requested us not to hold the ceremony for three days, but they changed their decision this evening. They did not clarify whether they will allow spectators. They must have changed their decision under some compulsion."

He said visitors on the Indian were asked to return. "We felt bad with the sequence of events today. The ceremony will be held in the normal way Tuesday onwards," he said. “Our side is completely secure. We are monitoring the situation closely," Ashok Kumar said. The BSF has increased vigil at the joint check post and also along the barbed wire fenced international border in Punjab, especially in the Amritsar sector, he said.

Thousands of tourists on the Indian side of the border returned disappointed as they were not allowed witness the ceremony. Raj Aloni, principal of a Mumbai-based school, said they were excited about the ceremony, but were disappointed when they came to know it has been cancelled. "We still came here, hoping that we may get an opportunity to at least see the border, but we were not allowed," she said.

Rajan Mishra from New Delhi also wished to experience the exuberance and revelry of the Retreat ceremony with his family. "We visited the Attari railway station as we had nowhere else to go," he said. A group of 78 Maharashtra residents led by Prakash Patole raised pro-India slogans before returning disappointed. Similarly, a group of 161 students from St Anthony Junior College, Agra, were disheartened to see the road to the border shut. Sanjana Aggarwal, a student, said they had been waiting for this day for the past last couple of months when their tour was planned.
BSF on look out for border bombers, tighten vigil
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 3
India has increased patrolling, added more night vision equipment and thermal imagers at the joint check post and also along the barbed-wire-fenced international border with Pakistan.

The BSF has been instructed to use guns at any suspicious movement along the fence. The BSF suspects that suicide bombers could enter the Indian territory through the fence, especially from the riverine segment as rivulets and two rivers crisscross the border. India and Pakistan share a 2,400 km border of which 553 km is in Punjab.

India's security establishment reports suggest a suicide bomber may try to target the Golden Temple, located just 35 km from the border. The other target was the Retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah joint check post. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC are being implemented in areas along the border.

Director General of BSF DK Pathak said: "Over the past few days, a combination of measures had been put in place in view of the specific input of a suicide bomber attack. The BSF will conduct a full-fledged Retreat ceremony from tomorrow," Pathak said.

The BSF officials say the Indian side is completely secure. The BSF is monitoring the situation closely.
More patrol teams, night-vision equipment
India has increased patrolling, added more night vision equipment and thermal imagers at the joint check post and also along the international border
The BSF suspects that suicide bombers could enter the Indian territory through the fence, especially from the riverine segment
Indian Army units near the border also put on high alert
 US offers help to Pak in probe

Islamabad, November 3
The US today offered to provide any assistance to Pakistan to track down the perpetrators behind the terrorist attack at Wagah Border. Condemning the suicide attack as a “senseless terrorist act”, Ambassador Richard Olson said it demonstrated terrorists’ blatant disregard for life.

“This act demonstrates terrorists’ blatant disregard for life. The US remains steadfast in its commitment to the people of Pakistan in their efforts to counter terrorism, uphold the rule of law, and build a peaceful future for themselves and their children,” Olson said in a statement.

“The US supports Pakistan’s efforts to bring all those involved in planning and executing this attack to justice and stand ready to provide any appropriate assistance to authorities investigating this tragic attack,” he said.

Offering condolences to the victims, he said: “On behalf of the American people, I extend my heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims as well as to the Government and people of Pakistan.” — PTI
 HC to review AFT’s position on injury sustained during leave
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The Punjab and Haryana will now adjudicate over the correctness and legality of the interpretation of law and court judgments by the Armed Forces Tribunal after a disabled soldier moved the High Court against the Tribunal’s order that denied benefits being sought by him.

In his petition, Sepoy Hawa Singh has claimed that he was injured while on leave but was denied disability benefits by the defence ministry even though the Supreme Court as well as different high courts have established that soldiers, who are on authorised leave, are to be notionally treated as on duty.

Taking up the petition, a division bench of the high court has issued notices to the Union of India and the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Raising several issues, the petition has questioned whether a tribunal can tacitly state that it would not observe the law laid down by a full bench and a division bench of the high court and also the latest decision of the Supreme Court by simply basing its decision on an old full bench order of the Delhi High Court despite the fact that earlier decisions of the tribunal on the same point have already been set aside by the Supreme Court as well as the high court.

It has also questioned whether a statutory tribunal can tacitly declare judgements of constitutional courts inapplicable on one particular issue when the same issue had been taken by the respondents in review before the apex court, which dismissed the review application on both facts and law.

Stating that judgements rendered by the Chandigarh bench of the tribunals have been consistently set aside by the high court on the point of grant of disability pension while an individual is on authorised leave, the petitioner has contended that the judgements rendered on the subject have been based on multifarious points and logic and not on the basis of a government notification that has been cited by the tribunal. Further, the said notification had to be read in conjugation with the relevant provisions of the Leave Rules and not in a stand-alone manner.
 Army jawan shoots self in Hyderabad
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, November 3
An Army jawan, who was being questioned by the Hyderabad police in connection with the death of an 11-year-old boy in a high security military area in the city, allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself today.

Lance Naik Appala Raju, who shot himself to death with his service rifle around 4 am, was one of the Army personnel being interrogated by the police in connection with the death of Syed Mustafa, who had died of burn injuries on October 9 after he was apparently set on fire in the cantonment area at Mehdipatnam in the city.

The incident had led to tension in the area with the civilians alleging that the Army personnel were involved in the death of the boy.

Following the death of the Army jawan, a Defence spokesperson said: “Appala Raju was immediately taken to a nearby hospital where he was declared brought dead. No suicide note was found.” Humayan Nagar police and Army officials are investigating the matter.

Mustafa’s death had triggered furore with the city police registering a case of murder against unknown Army personnel in connection with his death. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed to probe the death of the boy even as the Army denied the role of any of its personnel in the incident. The boy was found burnt after being doused with kerosene in the military area. Before dying, the boy had told a magistrate that some “military men” burnt him. The boy’s parents also alleged that some Army personnel were involved in the matter but the Army denied the allegations.
Joint Military Exercise ‘Mithra Shakthi’ Between Indian Army & Sri Lanka Army to Begin today At Uva-Kudaoya

Elevating existing relations to new heights and marking the start of a new era of neighbourly understanding and close cooperation between both organizations, a contingent of 42 Indian Army Special Force troops, is to launch the training ‘Exercise - Mithra Shakthi’ at Uva-Kudaoya Commando Regiment Training School (CRTS), beginning Monday (3), together with a corresponding Sri Lankan contingent of Special Forces and Commandos, along with Navy and Air Force personnel.

The ‘Exercise - Mithra Shakthi’, an initiative, designed largely by the Indian Army is the successful outcome of the ‘Annual Defence Dialogue’ (ADD) that was co-chaired in Colombo early October by both Mr R.K Mathur, Indian Defence Secretary and Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary to Ministry of Defence and Urban Development.

 The Exercise, meant purely to share knowledge and experience between Special Operation Forces of both Sri Lanka and Indian Armies through enhancement of interoperability, joint efforts and mutual exchange of Special Operation tactics, saw its implementation on the directions of the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake.

168 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Army Special Forces and Commando Regiment, accompanied by 16 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Navy and 16 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Air Force, together with all 42 Indian Army Special Force troops, will participate in the Exercise until 23 November 2014.

 The modalities for the three-week long Exercise have been closely coordinated through the Directorate of Army Training at the Army Headquarters in consultation with the corresponding authorities.

 The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect, was signed between Captain Prakash Gopalan, Defence Adviser, High Commission of India and Brigadier Jayantha Guneratne, Director Training, Sri Lanka Army on Thursday (30) at the Army Headquarters in the presence of Major General Sumedha Perera, Director General General Staff, representing the Commander of the Army.

 In the aftermath of the ADD held in January 2012, a Sri Lankan contingent of 48 service personnel took part in a similar Exercise in New Delhi, India at the invitation of the Indian Army. (SL ARMY)
Defence expert raises concern over fresh Chinese incursion
Chandigarh, Nov. 3 (ANI): Defence expert, Lieutenant General (retired) P.N. Hoon, on Monday expressed concern over fresh Chinese incursion in Ladakh.

According to reports, troopers of People's Liberation Army (PLA) entered into the Indian waters in Pangong lake and intruded five kilometers in the territorial land.

Lieutenant General (retired) Hoon pressed upon the need to carefully gauge the Chinese incursion.

"The troops are entering into the Indian territory. Initially they had said one-third will be India's but now they are saying they will capture the entire lake. If they capture the entire region then there is threat to Leh and all of Leh and Ladakh will be captured by them," he said.

However, Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) observed the movement and blocked the Chinese troops. Later on, they had to return and Indian armed forces did not allow them to move forward.

Condemning the incursion, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar termed it as unfortunate.

"Chinese are entering as they have entered towards Arunachal Pradesh. There has been war due to border dispute. India is speculating the matter but if this continues, there could be border clash, which will be unfortunate," said Nayar.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Indian side will retaliate to any incursion.

"If any attempt of incursion is made by the Chinese army on the borders, the Indo Tibetan Police Force and the armed forces will give them a befitting reply and will not allow them to come to Indian soil," said Patra.

The two countries have increased their military presence on each side of the border in recent years as their fast-growing economies permit more spending on defense of remote regions. They hold frequent meetings to diffuse tensions, but high-level talks to resolve the dispute have not produced results. (ANI)

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