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Saturday, 2 May 2015

From Today's Papers - 01 May 2015

Pakistani Flag Waved at Syed Ali Shah Geelani's Rally in Kashmir
Tral:  Pakistani flags were waved by supporters of Kashmiri separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani at a rally that he addressed today in Tral, south Kashmir, after Friday prayers.

About 15 to 20 Pakistani flags were spotted at the rally.

Mr Geelani, 85, is the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference. He returned recently to the valley after three months in Delhi.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah this evening hit out at the BJP, an ally of the ruling PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, for maintaining silence. "Imagine what @BJP4India would have said if as CM I'd been sitting in Bombay (Mumbai) surrounded by movie stars while Pak flags are waved in Kashmir," Mr Abdullah wrote on Twitter.

The former Chief Minister was referring to the waving of Pakistani flags in Tral and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed meeting Bollywood stars in Mumbai yesterday for promoting shooting of movies in the Valley.

Another separatist, Masarat Alam was arrested last month after his supporters waved Pakistani flags and raised pro-Pakistan slogans at a rally in capital Srinagar that he had organized to welcome back Mr Geelani, who is his ideological mentor.

Mr Geelani was put under house arrest at that time to prevent him from leading a march to Tral, which was tense after the death of a young man in Army firing.  

Amid nationwide outrage over Paksitani flags being waved at the Masarat Alam rally, the Centre had ordered the Jammu and Kashmir government, in which the ruling BJP partners the People's Democratic Party or PDP, to take "immediate and stringent" action.

After his arrest, union home minister Rajnath Singh had said, "I want to assure the people of this nation that those involved in treason will not be spared."

Masarat Alam has been booked under the Public Safety Act, which allows the state to keep him in jail for two years without trial.

He had been out of prison for about a month when he was arrested again. The 45-year-old, who spent five years in jail, is accused of organising stone-throwing protests in the Valley in 2010, during which more than 100 people died in police firing.

His release in February this year, days after the new government took oath in Kashmir, became a flashpoint in the alliance between the PDP and the BJP, which have struggled to bridge an ideological divide to govern Jammu and Kashmir together.
Tata Power, L&T to supply mobile artillery system to the Army; contract yet to get defence ministry approval

NEW DELHI: The army is set to get an artillery boost with a proposal being moved to raise six new regiments of the indigenous Pinaka Multi-Launcher Rocket System (MLRS), a formidable system designed to annihilate enemy targets with a blanket of precisely guided rockets.

Tata PowerBSE -1.94 % and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) will get a major share of the Rs 1,950-crore contract that is to be approved by the defence ministry as they are the primary manufacturers of the mobile artille ..

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India lags behind China in border infrastructure, panel says
NEW DELHI: India continues to lag far behind China in its plans to construct border military infrastructure for swifter mobility of troops and weapons, which Manohar Parrikar will realize during his first visit to the northeast as defence minister.

Accompanied by Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag and others, Parrikar on Saturday is also slated to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which much like eastern Ladakh continues to be a major flashpoint between India and China. Also on the cards is a visit to the Bum La pass located on the border.

Parrikar's experience there may be akin to what his predecessor AK Antony described as "an eye opener" in 2007. When Antony for the first time looked across the Nathu La border post in east Sikkim, the realisation finally hit home that China had constructed high-quality roads right till their military outposts along most stretches of the unresolved 4,057km line of actual control (LAC).

Indian troops, in turn, had to struggle through treacherous terrain on foot to reach their forward positions in many sectors, with no proper roads and lateral links as well as the complete lack of rail connectivity.

Eight years later, the story remains somewhat same. "In case of war, the (Indian) Army cannot reach Tawang area in a day. While our neighbouring country can reach the border within two or three hours, our Army takes more than a day to reach there. This is a matter of great concern with regard to our defence preparedness," the parliamentary standing committee on defence said this week, expressing great "dismay".

Leave along the stark asymmetry in military capabilities, India's much-touted plans to build the infrastructure all along the LAC continue to flounder. Only 19 of the 73 "strategic" all-weather roads (which add up to 3,812km) identified for construction along the LAC for better troop mobility almost a decade ago, for instance, have been fully completed till now.

This when all the 73 roads, with more east-west lateral links as well as better access routes to strategic peaks and valleys, were to be completed by 2012. The Border Roads Organization (BRO), which has completed only 19 roads (625km) of the 61 roads (3,410km) entrusted to it, continues to regularly miss deadlines.

With the BRO directly under the MoD now, instead of the being part of the road transport ministry earlier, the progress will be much faster now, contend officials. The government is also working to ensure faster land acquisition as well as environmental clearances, which have been among the main reasons for the long delays, they add.

Incidentally, noting the BRO faced "an acute shortage" of manpower, vehicles and requisite machinery, the parliamentary committee said, "In order to compete with our neighbouring countries, especially China, BRO must have the latest, state-of-the-art equipment."

The MoD, on its part, says 16 of the strategic India-China border roads will be completed this year, with another 13 by 2016, nine by 2017, two by 2018, and the rest thereafter. But only time will tell if these revised deadlines are met.
Indian armed forces play saviour across the world, put duty before self in rescuing thousands
New Delhi: They are trained to fight and defend our motherland against external threats. But over the years the three arms of our armed forces - Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force - have come to the rescue of not only the citizens of the country but also foreign nationals during times of natural calamities, international conflicts and civil wars in distant lands.

As l relief and rescue operations continue in Nepal, yet again the Indian armed forces have shown that they can be relied on in times of crisis. There is no denying that India has remained at the forefront in providing succour to one and all.

From Uttarakhand to Yemen, from Kashmir to Nepal, the IAF helicopter rotors have moved, Navy's ships have sailed and the Army personnel have walked and climbed till the last survivor has been picked, till the last food packet dropped and the last family brought to safety.
Over the years, India's defence forces have often been the first ones to be on standby in times of crisis and have been called on to help during earthquakes, floods, international conflicts, deadly fires and so on.

It's a call that all three arms have responded to with swiftness and urgency.

Just a few weeks ago, India's success in evacuating its citizens from Yemen didn't go unnoticed. A total of 23 countries requested India for help as the Navy deployed a range of military and civil assets.

On an earlier occasion in Kashmir the IAF and Army reached out when the Kashmir valley was drowned by excessive rain.

In Uttarakhand the IAF put into action all its resources, as choppers whizzed in the air. Tourists and locals, young and old were evacuated. It was ensured that all were brought to safety and were properly taken care off.

Now in Nepal, the Indian agencies are leading the effort once again, this time in foreign land. The Indian Army is playing a supporting role to the Nepalese forces in helping the thousands hit by the worst earthquake ever.

In all the cases India's response has been competent and convincing.
Chinese military guarded on LAC standoff ahead of Modi's visit
Beijing: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit here next month, the Chinese military on Thursday gave a guarded response in dispelling apprehensions of yet another military standoff at the LAC saying that it "strictly abides" by agreements to maintain peace and stability on the border.

"Chinese border troops have always strictly abided by the agreements reached by the two governments and are committed to peace and stability along the border area," defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at a media briefing here today.

He was replying to questions about apprehensions of standoffs at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during Modi's tour similar to the incidents which overshadowed the visits to India by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2013 and President Xi Jinping last September.

"To maintain peace and stability in the China-India border is a common interest of both the countries and it is also the common aspiration of the people of two countries," he said replying to a question from PTI.

"Through the meeting mechanisms of the border defence troops, the officers and soldiers on both sides of the borders have conducted coordination and consultation with each other and we are willing to work together with the Indian side to strengthen cooperation in various fields and push forward for new relations of the two countries," he said.

Modi is expected to arrive on his first visit to China from May 14-16.

A face-off at Depsang in Ladakh with Chinese troops pitching tents ahead of Li's trip cast a shadow on the visit.

Li undertook his first visit abroad to New Delhi after taking over office to send a strong signal about the importance his new government attached to India. The issue was resolved after tense negotiations before his arrival.

Xi's visit to India last year aimed at resetting ties after Modi's election, was overshadowed by presence of Chinese troops at Chumar in the Ladakh region which was resolved amicably days after his trip.

Chinese military earlier defended the moves saying that such incidents took place due to different perceptions over the along the over 4,000-km LAC.

The border issue and the progress made so far in the 18 rounds of Special Representatives' talks is expected to figure in Modi's talks with Xi during his visit.

On the boundary issue and demarcation of LAC advocated by Modi during his talks with Xi last year, Geng said that the dispute is a legacy left over from history and both the governments are holding talks to resolve it.

"Before the final settlement of the boundary issue, the important consensus reached by both sides is that we should join hands to maintain peace and stability along the China-India border. We hope the Indian side can meet China halfway," he said.

Referring to the fifth Strategic Defence Dialogue held between top officials of the two countries here on April 10, Geng said the the consensus that came out of the meeting was that such a dialogue mechanism was very important for mutual trust and cooperation of the two countries and two militaries.

"In principle both sides agreed that exchange and cooperation between the two navies and air forces will be strengthened," he said.

Currently, most of the exchanges including the annual military exchanges are confined to the two armies.

Officials said efforts are on by both sides to extend similar exchanges between the navies and air forces.

Geng said this year the two militaries will have lot of important exchanges and cooperation. Senior leaders of the two militaries will also exchange visits.

There will be meetings and dialogues between the two sides to ensure peace and tranquillity along the borders, he said.

Asked about the proposed visit of Indian Army's Northern Area Commander to China, to which Beijing had objected in the past saying that he represented troops in a disputed area in Kashmir, Geng said, "China has a consistent and clear stand on the issue of Kashmir. The specific visits of the border defence troops between the two sides are still in discussion".

China surprised India in 2010 by issuing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir even though it never publicly acknowledged it.

Beijing's attempts to issue such visas to the then Northern Area Commander prompted India to discontinue all military exchanges.

China later rolled back the move in 2011 by issuing regular visas to J&K residents which led India to resume defence ties.

India is reportedly keen that its Northern Army Commander visit China with a regular visa to ensure that there are no misunderstandings on the issue.
Army to get Akash air defence missile system on Monday
 Ending a long wait for a credible firepower to tackle enemy's fighters, helicopters and drones, the Indian Army on Monday is going to get the Akash missile system, a proven formidable shield against any possible aerial threats.

The Akash missile system will be "dedicated to Army" on May 5 in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a function held at iconic Manekshaw Centre here, an Army official said.

"Mr Parrikar will symbolically hand over the first surface-to-air Akash missile system that can be fired from mobile launchers with powerful multi-function radars to evaluate and track threats," the official said. Akash is basically an area specific missile defence system, which have an interception range of over 25 km in all weather conditions. The Army will be getting two Akash regiments during the course of next two years. The system of six firing batteries is to cost the Army about Rs 14,180 crore.It has already been inducted in the the IAF, which is in process of deploying six squadrons of missiles in the north-eastern region to counter the aerial threat emanating from China.

Both Air Force and the Army have appreciated the system, declining several offers from foreign vendors for providing similar missile cover, while DRDO and French company MBDA are to jointly develop such missile system for the Navy, under the project Maitry. The Akash is part the integrated guided missile development programme, which has proven its worth beyond doubts. Almost 100 per cent indigenous, the missile system is being produced by the government owned Bharat Electronics and Bharat Dynamics. UNI MK SB 1541
Masarat got 50 calls from Pak, Intel told Centre, Mufti govt
Ishfaq Tantry

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 30
Before the J&K Government cracked the whip and detained separatist Masarat Alam under the Public Safety Act last week, the central security agencies had reportedly told the Union Home Ministry that nearly 50 phone calls from Pakistan were made to the separatist leader after his release on March 7. The Intelligence inputs were later shared with the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government.

Though the central security agencies suspected that most of these calls were made by Lashkar-e-Toiba leaders, including Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, yet “no concrete proof” was shared with the state security agencies even as the J&K Government was under “tremendous pressure” from the Central Government to act against Masarat.

“The calls were made by militants also, but they (central security agencies) had no proof whether Hafiz Saeed had made a call to Masarat,” said a senior officer in J&K Police.

Saeed is India’s most wanted militant and is accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Though Saeed has been publicly distancing himself from Lashkar activities, the militant supported the recent strike call in Kashmir to protest the arrest of Masarat.

Sources revealed that the central Intelligence agencies had flagged the issue of “Masarat Alam getting calls from Pakistan” with the state government while pursuing his rearrest or detention.

It was also pointed out that immediately after his release, Masarat visited the graves of several militants killed during encounters with the government forces, the police officer said.

The situation became difficult for the J&K Government to handle, sources said, when slogans were raised at Geelani’s welcome rally in favour of the Lashkar and Hafiz Saeed. This became one of the grounds for the rearrest of Masarat under the PSA.

Masarat’s PSA case file, accessed by The Tribune, says the separatist is alleged to have raised slogans like “Hafiz Saeed ka kia paigam, Kashmir banayga Pakistan” (The message of Hafiz Saeed is that Kashmir will become part of Pakistan).

“Following such charges, the J-K Government decided to detain Masarat under the PSA and opposed his bail in the Pakistan flag hoisting case,” the police officer said.

However, a separatist leader said that “nothing much should be read in the calls” as Masarat “might have got congratulatory calls” from several “well-wishers” upon his release in March this year. He had been arrested during the 2010 summer unrest in the Valley.
Navy satisfied with N-sub trials
New Delhi, April 30

India on Thursday said it was “extremely satisfied” with the progress of the ongoing sea trials of indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant. Indian Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan said: “We are extremely satisfied. The project is progressing very well.” — TNS
Army's fleet of Arjun tanks face technical issues; major proportion of 124 tanks in service not operational

NEW DELHI: The Army is facing major technical issues with its 'indigenous' Arjun tanks, as a significant proportion of its fleet has become inoperable in recent months and are non-serviceable due to continued maintenance problems.

The Army, which reluctantly inducted 124 tanks from 2009, after the UPA government insisted that a token number have to be ordered to keep the tank development programme viable, has of late been h ..

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