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Saturday, 6 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 06 Dec 2014

Black Friday: 4 terror attacks in Valley, 21 dead
Attack on Uri Army base leaves 11 security men, 6 ultras dead | 2 civilians die in Tral grenade attack | 2 ultras shot in Ahmadnagar
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Mohura (Uri), December 5
A few days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Kashmir visit on Monday, a group of Fidayeen militants struck an Army camp near the border town of Uri close to Line of Control killing eight soldiers, including a Lieutenant Colonel, and three J&K policemen. Six “fidayeen” (suicide), who are believed to have infiltrated recently, were also gunned down in a seven-hour firefight.

The day also witnessed two different violent incidents that also left two militants and two civilians dead.

The deadliest attack of this year in Kashmir was carried out by the militants on the artillery base of Rampur Brigade in Uri which houses Bofors guns which were used in the sector in early 1990s to counter the cross-border shelling in Mohura on the Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad highway, 100 km from Srinagar.

The area, which has largely remained peaceful since the eruption of militancy in the valley, was rattled with gunshots since the wee hours. The border town of Uri houses two Brigade headquarters of Army.

The attack took place at a time when the Assembly elections are under progress in Jammu and Kashmir. The Prime Minister is expected to be in Srinagar on Monday.

The attack, the second of its kind on an Army installation in Jammu and Kashmir in a fortnight, is likely to create more tension between the two estranged neighbours. The encounter took place close to country’s second oldest power project in Uri, Mohura power house.

Source said a group of six militants, who had infiltrated from the Uri sector taking advantage of the foggy weather, divided themselves into two groups. One group stormed the artillery camp and another entered the adjacent field regiment unit around 3 am, which works under the Baramulla-based 19 Infantry Division.

The sources said the militants entered the Army unit while crossing the neighbouring Beacon camp. After storming the camp, they took shelter in bunkers and engaged troops in a fierce gunfight that lasted for seven hours. In the initial gunfight four troopers were killed. The militants then entered the camp after cutting the fencing barbed wire, sources said.

The Army officials said they were ascertaining as to how the militants managed to enter the camp. The camp is housed on bank of the Jhelum on one side and is adjacent to the Srinagar- Muzzaffarabad road. The Army called its elite paratroops to neutralize the militants. The Fidayeen also attacked a police party led by Sub Divisional Police Officer, Uri, when he was on way to the encounter site.

An Army spokesman in Srinagar said that a group of heavily armed and well-equipped militants opened heavy fire with automatic weapons at an Army Camp in Mohura.

“Army troops from within the camp retaliated and engaged the terrorists in the gunfight. The troops from the neighbouring camps, who were already in a state of high alert, immediately mobilized their Quick Reaction Teams, rushing to the site and surrounding the area. In the ensuing fire fight, all six terrorists were eliminated,” the spokesman said.

“During the initial part of the operation, one terrorist opened fire on the vehicles of the QRT of the neighbouring unit rushing to the site in which one gypsy went off the road and overturned, leading to casualties among the security forces. The terrorist was soon eliminated by the troops of the QRT and his body recovered. During the operation, a barrack also caught fire, presumably because kerosene heater was toppled,” he said.

During the intense operations, Lt Col Sanklap Pandey of 24 Punjab and seven soldiers of the Army, one Assistant Sub Inspector and two constables of the J&K Police men were killed.

The spokesman said six AK rifles with 55 magazines, two shotguns, two night vision binoculars, four radio sets, 32 unused grenades, one medical kit and a large quantity of miscellaneous warlike stores were recovered from the dead terrorists.

“The Army is continuing the operation in the surrounding areas to find out any terrorists who may still be hiding or attempting to escape,” the spokesman said.

The day also witnessed two more violent incidents in Kashmir .

Two militants were killed on the outskirts of Srinagar at Ahmadnagar at around 3 pm in an encounter. “The militants tried to escape and were killed in an encounter,’’ Inspector General of Police, Kashmir range, Abdul Gani Mir said.

One of the militant has been identified as Qari Asrar. The sources said the two militants were planning to carry out a deadly attack in Srinagar ahead of PM’s visit.

In another violent incident in south Kashmir’s Tral area, two civilians were killed and 11 others were injured when suspected militants hurled a grenade this afternoon. The dead civilians have been identified as Ghulam Hassan Gojjar and Mohammad Shafi.

Sources said a road show was being organised by an independent candidate before the incident took place.
Defence, N-energy deals on anvil as Putin arrives next week

KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives here next week for the annual Summit, which will be the first since Prime Minister Narendra Modi government assumed power here, amid indications that a slew of agreements numbering over 15 are in the works covering range of sectors from defence, space, nuclear energy, business and economy.

The most significant aspect of the summit is the much-awaited vision document for the next decade to be unveiled by both Prime Minister Modi and President Putin that is expected to provide a roadmap to steer the decades-old multi-bilateral relation and impart new dynamics.

"President Putin’s visit is a landmark event and is expected to provide a fresh impetus to the existing excellent bilateral relations between our two countries. A dominant theme of this Summit will be the spelling out by the two leaders of a joint vision of our relationship for the next decade. It will provide a roadmap for enhancing the partnership between our two countries to qualitatively new levels. It will have a strong focus on redefining the economic partnership between our countries. Several documents are under preparation for signing at the Summit, in the fields of defence, nuclear energy, customs, banking and energy'', Joint Secretary (Eurasia) Ajay Bisaria said here.

President Putin's visit comes at a time when Russia facing sanctions imposed by the West, a move that is not endorsed by India. The December 11 Summit meeting will be the third time when Prime Minister Modi and President Putin will be interacting, the first being at the BRICS Summit in Brazil this summer and at the G-20 Summit in Australia last month.

Considering that India is keen on pushing the trade and investment agenda, both the Heads of Government are expected to have a meeting with top industry honchos from India and Russia who have business interests in each other's country.

The current level of bilateral trade stands at US $ 10 billion, achieved in 2013 with the balance in favour of Russia. India exports goods worth US 4 3 billion each year and imports US $7billon from Russia. Both sides are expected to discuss ways to increase this engagement considering the immense potential to make it grow.

Discussion are also underway to increase connectivity with Russia to increase trade with a North-South trans-corridor through Iran that will cut down the transit time by half to reach goods to and from Russian ports. In addition, the sources said, discussions are also being held in the backdrop of the possible Free Trade Agreement with Integrated European Economic Union that will come into being by January next year.

There is also an effort from India to make Mumbai as an international hub for diamonds since Russia is one of the world's biggest rough diamonds exporters and there India is known to be a market where value addition is done to these rough diamonds.

Official sources here said another area under discussion is energy both in the form of hydrocarbons and nuclear. Russia supplied nuclear reactor is working in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu known and now work for the stage three and four is in progress.

Describing the defence ties with Russia as robust, the sources maintained that Moscow continues to supply anywhere between 60 per cent to 70 per cent of military hardware and platforms. The relationships has moved beyond buyer-seller to co-develop the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, even though the Indian Air Force is not exactly happy with the amount of work the Russians have given to India on the prestigious project.
Why buy 'outdated and costly' Rafale, asks ex-Home Secy

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
Former Union Secretary RK Singh, who is now a BJP MP from Bihar, today questioned in Parliament the need to buy French fighter jets Rafale. He said the cost was prohibitive and the jet did not compare any way with the Russian Sukhoi-30-MKI. “Why are we going for it (Rafale),” he asked during Question Hour.

RK Singh, who was Home Secretary between June 30, 2011 and June 30, 2013, has also served two years as Secretary, Defence Production, before his tenure as Home Secretary.

“I notice that the aircraft which was bid for and the aircraft which was finally selected are of the 1980s technology -- a technology which is on its way out,” he said.

“The aircraft which is proposed to be procured -- Rafale -- does not compare in any way with Su-30. So why are you going for it? Also, the cost is prohibitive. The concept of life cycle costs has actually made the aircraft much more expensive than what it would have been if we had purchased it according to normal financial rules,” Singh said.

RK Singh questioned the design and development of fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) with Russia saying “My information is that this aircraft is already flying (in Russia). So what is the design and development about?”

Defence Manohar Parrikar said, “Once the complete negotiations are over, we will definitely take his concerns on Rafale into account. Rafale is not an old-generation aircraft. It is quite a new aircraft."

On the FGFA. Parrikar said that we are getting "very close" technology to what the Russians themselves are manufacturing.
Manufacturing defence
Pakistans military is deemed to be the most efficient and effective state-run institution in the countrys history, having technologies, strategists and foot soldiers which are globally comparable and competitive. The institution has always been instrumental in devising the countrys foreign policy and often been the reason for aid inflows from the West and Middle East.

In recent past, coalition support fund - the payment to military services rendered in the war against terror - has helped in export service proceeds; the money is still flowing in. Additionally, unconditional aid of $1 billion sent by Saudi Arabia is perceived to be a bonus for excellent work done by military officers deputed there. There is immense potential in providing military services to the GCC Muslim countries.

The official number of products of military exports is minuscule as most of the trade is classified and not visible in the official numbers. One can extrapolate it from errors and omission, which suggests that the amount is not that low. There are concentrated efforts by defence export promotion organization (DEPO), which is biannually organizing export promotion exhibition - IDEAS. Its eighth exhibition staged in Karachi from Dec 1-4 and had around hundred foreign participants from 47 countries took part in it.

Its hard to find the impact of these initiatives from official numbers but the promise surely exists as military technology can boost to other industries around. Defence sectors have traditionally helped develop SMEs in the US and Western Europe. Silicon Valley ecosystem partly owes itself to the giant defence contracts dished out in the early part of second half of twentieth century to small and medium-sized companies. Building their capabilities, these firms later ventured into electronics and computing, underpinning modern technology and hardware innovation.

To date, governments like the US and UK and Germany fiercely compete diplomatically for their defence sector firms, because of their impact on local high-end manufacturing. Boeing and Airbus signify aircraft competitors. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, US weapons giants, compete with European and Russian defence firms.

Neighbouring India is also focusing on more local manufacturing, as prioritized by their new premier. Historically, Pakistan remained amongst the top importers of military equipment, although its not visible from the countrys imports data (release by the central bank) for obvious reasons. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIRPI), India had the highest share in imports of global arm trade during 2008-12, surpassing China. Pakistan was third on the list after these two neighbouring giants.

Russia remained the main supplier to India (75% of its arms imports), being worlds second biggest exporter after USA. Ever since Modi took over, India is diversifying its imports from Russia to having increased focus on military trade and investment plans with the USA. To counter it, Russia has also been looking at other options in east as recently its Defence Minister visited Pakistan followed by Pakistans Finance Ministers tour to mother Russia.

But that does not undermine Pakistans relationship with its biggest military partner, the USA, as Chief of Army Staffs recent visit to the states was termed as a successful one. Plus, the EU is pressing hard on Pakistan to aggressively condemn Russias actions in Ukraine.

Nonetheless, the reshuffling is good in modern days of changing paradigm. In an expo seminar, Chairman Joint Chief of Army Staff spelled out the changing military philosophy from state-versus-state or army-versus-army thinking to focus on domestic peace and internal harmony in days of enemies within the state.

Earlier this year, federal government hinted to focus on military-related trade and investment ties with Bahrain and Nigeria. That could help in propping up defence-related industry.

In this regard, the IDEAS expo is a great initiative (except for holding it in the middle of Karachi) and it is hoped that participants would be able to sell products and services to a number of these countries. That could have a spillover to develop medium-sized energy and technology companies at home.

But future expos must also be organised in other parts of Pakistan, to allow foreign delegates to experience the overall potential of Pakistans defence industry. The way textile and other manufacturing-concerns seminars, conferences and expos are held up north, the next time the IDEAS could be organized near, for instance, Wah Cantonment, which is the heart of Pakistan defence industry.
Four terror attacks rock J&K: As it happened
Srinagar: Four terror attacks have been reported from Kashmir since early Friday. Here are the live updates from the Valley:

10:20 pm: Security has been heightened across Srinagar after the brazen attack by the militants. CRPF personnel have also been deployed at all entry and exit points across Srinagar.
9:35 pm: A red alert was sounded in the national capital on Friday over intelligence inputs of a possible terror strike which threw Delhi Police and other security agencies into a tizzy on a day when multiple attacks by militants in Jammu and Kashmir left several persons dead - PTI reported.

8:55 pm: Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag to visit Srinagar tomorrow, will pay tribute to jawans martyred in Uri.
8:10 pm: Army sources reportedly say terrorists who carried out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir today could be linked to Cham training camp in Pakistan.

7:50 pm: The latest reports say that another civilian who was injured in today's terror attack has succumbed to injuries. In the attack in Tral, where a grenade was hurled at a bus top, a civilian had earlier in the day lost his life.

7:00 pm: As the state is struck by the terror attacks, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti has made a bizarre statement blaming media for the attacks. Mufti, miffed by a question by a reporter, has said that the media's focus and reporting on the high voter turnout in the Jammu and Kashmir for the Assembly election is the reason for the attacks that took place in four places in the valley.

6:50 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the terror attacks in the state saying that such incidents are desperate attempts to derail the atmosphere of hope and goodwill as seen by increased voter turnout. "125 crore Indians bow to our brave Army men who sacrificed their lives. These men lived & died for the nation. We won't forget them(sic)," the PM wrote on his Twitter handle.
5:56 pm: Sources say that the terror attacks in the state were synchronised. Terrorists followed similar pattern of attack both in Uri and Srinagar's Soura.

5:40 pm: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has condoled the death of security personnel and civilians in attacks in the Valley. Omar wrote on micro-blogging website, Twitter, "My heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the four attacks today. I hope @HMOIndia (home minister) takes steps to plug the gaps in C I (counter-insurgency) grid (sic)."

5:12 pm: In the latest update, 11 security men, one civilian and six militants have been killed in the four terror attacks in Uri, Soura, Sophian and Tral.

5:10 pm: The PMO sources have informed that despite the terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir PM Modi's campaign plan remains unchaged for now.

5:05 pm: The security personnel have recovered 55 magazine, 32 grenades, 6 AK-47 assault rifles and 2 shotguns from the dead militants.

4: 42 pm: Rajnath, questions 'why is it that people who indulge in such activities hide in Pakistan' and says that the neighbouring country should speak to India if it is unable stop such attacks.

4: 42 pm: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has once again slams Pakistan for the four terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and says that it should try to stop these incidents.

4:20 pm: Reports say one of the seven persons injured in Pulwama grenade attack has succumbed to his injuries.

4:05 pm: TV reports say Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag has briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

3:55 pm: Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju says security forces are responding to attacks in J&K appropriately. “Definitely there are elements in the Valley to destabilise election process; attacks are unfortunate,” Rijiju said.

3:40 pm: Reports are coming in of a fourth attack in Jammu and Kashmir. A grenade was hurled at a bus stand in Tral area in Pulwama, south Kashmir. Seven civilians have been injured in this attack.

3:20 pm: High alert has been sounded across the Kashmir Valley in the wake of three terror strikes in a single day. The state holds third phase of elections on December 9.

3:15 pm: Reports say the militant gunned down in Soura was a top Lashkar-e-Toiba leader.

3:00 pm: IANS reports that of the 16 killed at Army camp in Uri, seven were soldiers, including a Lt Colonel and a junior commissioned officer; three were policemen; and rest six were terrorists. The attack took place at the Army's Field Ordnance Camp located at Mohra near the border town of Uri.

2:55 pm: The Army has confirmed that the operation at Uri camp is now over as all six terrorists have been gunned down.

Also Read: 16 die as militants attack Army camp in Kashmir

2:40 pm: In Soura, two militants are believed to be holed up inside a house. The guerrillas had attacked a police checkpost triggering a gunfight. The site of the gunbattle is about 10 km from city centre Lal Chowk. Police said the gunbattle is still on and the area has been cordoned off.

2:30 pm: A team of SPG has meanwhile taken over the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to address a rally on December 8.

2:25 pm: In Soura, a gunbattle is on between unspecified number of militants and security forces. The area has, meanwhile, been cordoned off.

2:20 pm: A third attack in less than 12 hours has been reported from Kashmir. Reports said militants hurled a grenade at the Shopian police station in south Kashmir. No one was injured in the attack and the police have launched a combing operation in the area.

2:05 pm: Reports say all six terrorists have been killed at the Army camp in Uri. However, official confirmation is awaited and the search operation is still on at Mohara.

1:50 pm: Another terror attack has been reported from Kashmir. As per reports, two militants opened fire in Soura area on the outskirts of Srinagar. One of the ultras was killed by Army men in the ensuing gunbattle, while the other has reportedly fled. Search operation is on.

1:25 pm: A siren has been sounded at the Army camp. Reports say the siren was aimed at alerting Army personnel present at the camp to remain on highest alert as three terrorists have yet to be neutralised. A search operation is on to find out the holed-up militants.

Initial story (updated till 1:20 pm):  At least seven Army personnel were killed when terrorists launched a massive pre-dawn attack on their camp near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.

PTI quoted sources as saying that apart from the seven Army men, three policemen who had rushed to the attack site have also lost their lives.

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) AG Mir said three of the six militants who attacked the camp have also been gunned down.

As per sources, the casualty figure could go up as the gunbattle continues between security forces and militants.

The entire area has, meanwhile, been cordoned off. Small grenade blasts could be seen on live television visuals.

News agency ANI had reported that six terrorists were involved in the attack that took place at a camp of 31 Field Regiment at Mohara in Uri sector of the state's Baramullah district.

Reports said the terrorists opened fire at the Army camp at around 3.10 am, in a bid to storm into the camp. They were then engaged by Army personnel leading to the gunfight.

Police officials said the militants had probably infiltrated into the Valley from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir recently. "It is being investigated," they said.

Reacting to the attack, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the Army has been intercepting terrorists and eliminating them. The minister added that three militants have been killed and the rest will be eliminated.

“My heart goes out to Army men who gave life in today's encounter... it is possibly an outcome of the overwhelming voting in J&K,” Jitendra Singh, MoS PMO, said.

J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the attack in Uri shows “the desperate levels militants will go to to disrupt peace and normalcy”.

Also Read: Militant attack on Army camp desperate attempt to disrupt peace, says Omar

The attack came just four days ahead of elections in Uri and six other constituencies of North Kashmir's Baramulla district on December 9.

Also on December 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a rally in Srinagar.

The state has witnessed a spurt in militant activity as well as infiltration bids in the wake of ongoing polls, especially with a record number of people turning out to vote in the first two phase of polls.

On December 2, Army foiled an infiltration bid in Handwara area of Kupwara district killing six militants while one Army personnel was also killed. The infiltration bid was foiled even as people in Kupwara district were voting to elect their representatives.

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