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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

From Today's Papers - 28 Jan 2015

ITBP officer does Haryana proud, gets Shaurya Chakra
New Delhi, January 27
ITBP Inspector Manjeet Singh, who led his commandos in repulsing an audacious terrorist attack on the Indian Consulate in Afghanistan's Herat province last year, has been decorated with the Shaurya Chakra this Republic Day in recognition of his meticulous leadership.

Singh, who joined the paramilitary force in 2000, hails from Haryana's Sonepat and was inducted for heading the ITBP unit at Herat in April 2013. The 36-year-old Indo-Tibetan Border Police officer has become the lone recipient of this military medal among all paramilitary forces this January 26. There have been very few instances of paramilitary soldiers accorded this honour.

Surprisingly, the information of Singh being awarded with the third highest peacetime gallantry medal was not communicated to the border guarding force on the eve of Republic Day as per set norms and official message in this regard reached the force headquarters only today.

Singh was the contingent commander of the ITBP team which, in the wee hours of May 23, 2014 at the Indian Consulate in Herat, came under heavy gunfire and rocket propelled grenade shell attacks from terrorists. The officer, his citation said, displayed great valour and meticulous planning "steadfastness, dedication to duty and rare quality of leadership in the face of imminent danger.” — PTI
R-Day bonhomie: Armies meet at LAC
Tribune News Service

Jammu, January 27
A ceremonial Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) _of Indian and Chinese delegations was held on Republic Day in the Chushul sector of eastern Ladakh.

The Indian delegation was led by Brigadier JKS Virk and the Chinese delegation was led by Senior Colonel Fanjun, said a Defence spokesperson.

The ceremonial meeting commenced with both delegations saluting the Tricolour. This was followed by the ceremonial address by both delegation leaders which consisted of greetings, best wishes and reflected the mutual desire for enhancing border defence cooperation, he said.

Then, a cultural programme showcasing the vibrant Indian culture and traditional grandeur was organised. Both the delegations interacted in a free, congenial and cordial environment.

The delegations parted amid a feeling of friendship and commitment towards enhancing the existing cordial relations and maintaining peace along the LAC, said the spokesperson.

Both sides also sought to build on the mutual feeling to uphold agreements and protocol signed between the governments of the two sides to maintain peace along the LAC, he added.
China refutes Obama’s remarks on S China Sea
Beijing, January 27
Refuting US President Barack Obama’s remarks on upholding freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, China today asserted that there has never been a problem of navigation in the area and relevant issue should be resolved through talks by parties directly concerned.

“We believe relevant issue should be resolved through dialogue and consultation by parties directly concerned,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here today.

She was replying to question over Obama’s remarks in New Delhi today that US welcomes a greater role for India in the Asia Pacific, where the freedom of navigation must be upheld and disputes must be resolved peacefully.

“At present situation in South China Sea is generally stable and there is consensus between China and ASEAN countries that is we will jointly safeguard peace and stability of South China Sea and the situation in freedom of navigation and over-flights have not seen any problems and there will be none in the future,” she said.

Earlier in New Delhi, Obama said freedom of navigation must be upheld in the Asia Pacific and welcomed a greater role for India in the region. — PTI

US Prez wants to ‘split India’s ties’ with China

Beijing: Cautioning India about US President Barack Obama’s strategy to “split” India’s relations with both China and Russia, China’s official media and experts today warned that New Delhi’s close ties with Washington may pose problems for Sino-India relations. “Obama’s strategy is quite clear. He wants to split the relations between China and India, as well as India and Russia, in an effort to fulfill his strategy of a ‘re-balance’ in Asia,” state-run Global Times said. PTI

Beijing’s reaction
"We believe relevant issue should be resolved through consultation by parties directly concerned. At present the situation in South China Sea is stable. The situation in freedom of navigation and over-flights have not seen any problems and there will be none in the future"  A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson
Indo-US N-deal to impact stability in South Asia: Pak
Islamabad, January 27
Peeved at the breakthrough in the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, Pakistan today said the move for "political and economic expediencies" would have a "detrimental" impact on deterrence stability in South Asia.

Hours after US President Barack Obama concluded his unprecedented second visit to India, Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz opposed India's bid for membership to the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

"The operationalisation of Indo-US nuclear deal for political and economic expediencies would have a detrimental impact on deterrence stability in South Asia. Pakistan reserves the right to safeguard its national security interests," he said.

During his three-day visit, Obama held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as both countries broke a seven-year logjam to operationalise a landmark civil nuclear deal, besides enhancing defence and trade ties.

Apart from clearing the obstacles for the implementation of the civil nuclear deal, President Obama reaffirmed the US' position that India is ready for NSG membership. — PTI
As nation honours Ashoka Chakra awardees, their widows show true grit
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
Two women, both widows — one from Bangalore and the other from Bulandshahr in western Uttar Pradesh — stood out at the Republic Day Parade yesterday.

Solemn, sombre and stoic but separated by education levels and economic backgrounds, both exhibited pride and grace as they received the Ashoka Chakra — the highest peace-time gallantry award — which their husbands had been awarded for gallantry in Jammu and Kashmir. Their lives shattered, the two women Indu Mukund Vardarajan and Parmeshwari Devi have almost an identical narrative of their lives and now have the same priority – the future of their children. In their own separate ways, they bank on a time-tested support system of close-knit Army regiments.

The two literally ‘soldier’ on, carrying the memories of their husbands — Major Mukund Vardarajan of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (on deputation from 22 Rajput Regiment)_and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh of 57 Rashtriya Rifles (on deputation from 13 Rajputana Rifles), respectively. “I don’t look at the phone anymore or wait for calls. You discover strength and determination that you never had,” says Indu on being asked how life has changed after the officer’s death on April 25 last year. “Priorities change. Your relations change. There is a gap that is not going to be filled any more. That is the truth,” says the brave woman, the daughter of a Kerala-based doctor.

She was married to the Major for four years and has a three-year-old daughter. “For now, I need her more than she needs me,” says Indu.

Major Varadarajan, along with his colleague Sepoy Vikram, had taken on terrorists up front. It was in the middle of electioneering for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The officer killed one terrorist, but was attacked by his accomplice. Although bleeding profusely, the officer crawled ahead, fired and killed the second terrorist.

“Being an Army wife, you don’t entertain such apprehensions (of adverse occurrences),” says Indu, who now teaches English at the Army Public School at Bangalore.
Her husband's unit rallied behind her. “It is easier to connect with Army wives rather than my best friend from college. They have really helped. Everybody reached out to me,” recollects Indu, who is yet to decide if she will join the Army or not.
For Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh's wife, life has changed in more ways than one. A housewife, Parmeshwari Devi, is ready to relocate closer to her husband's unit with the aim of educating here sons -- one aged eight and the other seven.
“Mere bete officer banege fauj mein (my sons will be officers in the Indian Army). They need education. We have no cantonment near Bulandshahr. The unit is very supportive like a family. I  will get every support there and will educate my kids,” she says. For the moment, she finds it hard to convince the two boys. “I tell them 'papa shaheed ho kaar duty karte hain Jammu Kashmir mein (your father is on duty after martyrdom)," she says.
The death has impacted her sons. “The younger one thinks his elder brother (who performed the last rites)  burnt their father and often fights with him,” she says with tears in her eyes.

Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh had left his home on August 11, after availing leave for his wife’s treatment. Less than two weeks later -- on August 24 --  he was leading a search operation in Kupwara.
Disregarding his personal safety,  Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh crawled and extricated his colleague. A terrorist threw grenades and opened heavy fire on him, but he inched closer to the terrorist and shot him dead.
Simultaneously, he was attacked by another terrorist, resulting in his rifle falling down. He was shot in the chest. Despite grievous injuries, he pounced on the terrorist, snatched his weapon and killed him in hand-to-hand combat.
Col among 4 killed in Pulwama encounter
Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 27
A recently decorated Colonel of the Indian Army, a policeman and two militants affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in an encounter at a village near Tral town in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district in the afternoon.
The gunfight broke out at Handoora village when security forces launched a counter-insurgency operation after receiving information about the presence of militants in the area, the sources said.

The militants, identified as Abid Khan and Sheeraz Ahmad Dar, were killed in the ensuing gunfight with the security forces, the sources said. “The two militants were hiding in the house (of Abid Khan) and they opened fire while trying to escape,” a police official said. Three security forces personnel, including an Army officer, were also injured in the gunfight. They were airlifted to Army’s 92 Base Hospital, the officials said. Colonel Munindra Nath Rai, Commanding Officer of 42 Rashtriya Rifles, and Head Constable Sanjeevan Singh of state police’s Special Operations Group, were critically wounded in the gunfight. Later, they succumbed to injuries, taking the total death toll to four.

Colonel Rai of 9 Gorkha Rifles, who was currently on deputation and leading the 42 Rashtriya Rifles battalion, had been awarded Yudh Seva Medal on this Republic Day, an army official said.

The other injured soldier of Rashtriya Rifles is being treated at Army’s 92 base hospital and is out of danger, the officials said. Two assault rifles and several grenades were recovered from the encounter site.

Khan was the son of a policeman and a resident of Handoora village where the gunfight took place. He had joined militancy nearly four years ago and was active in south Kashmir’s Awantipora-Pulwama belt. ar had joined the militant ranks last year. The Awantipora-Pulwama belt of south Kashmir has a significant presence of militants whose number has diminished across the region.

The security forces have conducted several successful counter-insurgency operations this month. Five militants were killed during a raid on a hideout in Shopian district.
Onus on govt, says BSF

Tribune News Service

Attari, January 27
The Director-General of the Border Security Force (BSF), DK Pathak, has put the onus of checking the drug menace in the state on the Punjab government, saying that synthetic drugs, not heroin, is the real problem.

Pathak was here at the conclusion of a three-day programme to mark the 66th Republic Day celebrations at the Attari-Wagah check post.

Talking to the media after the Retreat, he said: “As per a study conducted by the Community Medicine Department of Rajindra Medical College, Patiala, and Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, only 0.9 per cent of addiction was owing to heroin and the rest because of synthetic drugs produced in the country.”

He said the study was based on interviews of addicts in 10 government and private de-addiction centres at Patiala, Nawanshahr, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana, Kharar, Faridkot and Bathinda.

“Heroin, which is the only drug smuggled from across the border fence, accounts for only 0.9 per cent addiction,” he said.

Answering media queries, he said in the past two years, the BSF had made huge seizures of heroin because of stringent measures taken by the force. “The seizures, in fact, are much more than the collective seizures by other agencies,” he claimed.

On ceasefire violations, he said there had been 15 such instances in this month alone. The DG inaugurated a huge LED screen for tourists at the spectators’ gallery for a better view of the Retreat ceremony.

He also inaugurated battery-operated golf carts for senior citizens and the infirm for witnessing the Retreat.
In a Freak Accident, MiG-27 Fighter Jet Falls on Biker in Rajasthan
Barmer, Rajasthan:  A MiG-27 fighter jet crashed in Rajasthan's Barmer today and a part of it fell on a passing motorcycle, injuring the young man who was riding it.

26-year-old Loon Singh was on his way to a village to distribute invitations to his own wedding when the jet crashed a little after 3 pm. He miraculously suffered minor burns and a fractured hand, but his bike was completely burnt.

The Indian Air Force says the pilot ejected safely before the crash at a village four km from Barmer.

The MIG 27 was on a routine sortie from the Jodhpur air base to Uttarlai. The Air Force has ordered a court of inquiry into the incident.

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