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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

From Today's Papers - 12 May 2015

Battle won: George Cross back with her
Dinesh Kanawar

Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, May 11
Her wrinkled face has years etched in her husband’s memory. Her house, as small as it could be in this part of Himachal, has only one thing to be proud of: soldiery. And when an offer of Rs 1 crore came to Brahmi Devi for her stolen George Cross — awarded to her husband posthumously in 1946 — the woman in her 80s remained unmoved. The return of the medallion today is nothing short of her husband’s homecoming.

“Since the age of 14 when the body of my husband was consigned to flames, I had lived with this medal as a token of his eternal remembrance, till it went missing in 2002,” said Brahmi on getting back the George Cross after waging a six-year legal battle fought in a London court. Speaking in the local “pahari” dialect, she said no amount of money could entice her to part with the medal which was the only remembrance of her husband.

Brigadier Brian McCall, Defence Adviser to the British High Commission, today handed over the George Cross to Brahmi at a function held in the Panchayat Bhawan of her native village Bhapral in Bilaspur district. Clad in a brown suit, the 83-year-old said she could now breathe her last in peace as her mission was accomplished.

Married at the age of 13, she lost her husband Naik Kirpa Ram of the 8th Battalion, 13th Frontier Force Rifles within a year during the World War-II in Burma. She had received the George Cross in 1946 in recognition of the valour shown by her husband in saving the lives of his unit members. “This is a proud moment for me to return the gallantry award to its legal heir. It’s a historical moment as the award is a symbol of great sacrifice made by Naik Kirpa Ram,” said Brigadier McCall. Hoping that Brahmi would now keep the medal safely, he said such initiatives would only strengthen the relations between India and the UK. British Deputy High Commissioner, Chandigarh, David Lelliott was also present.

Barrister Ian Mayes from London, who fought Brahmi’s case “pro bono” (without fee), said it was a unique case that he fought in London and ended in India. He said the case was also important because of the clear stand and honest approach of Kirpa Ram’s widow.

The George Cross, the highest British military honour for gallantry in peace time, was stolen from Brahmi’s house  in 2002 before it surfaced at an auction in England in December 2009. It was due to the relentless efforts of retired IAS officer Shakti Singh Chandel and the HP police that the medal was prevented from going under the hammer. However, to get back the medal from its owner Ashok Nath who wanted to auction it, the matter was fought in a London court. It was an out-of-court settlement arrived at between Nath and Brahmi’s lawyers that decks were cleared for its return to Brahmi.
Two CRPF men killed in J-K militant attack
Suhail A Shah

Anantnag, May 11
Two CRPF personnel, including an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) and a constable, were killed when militants opened fire on their patrol party in the Sangam area of Anantnag district on Monday afternoon.

They also snatched away the service rifle of the ASI and threw away the constable’s INSAS rifle in a nearby canal, which was later recovered by the police.

The slain men have been identified as ASI Omkar Nath Singh of the Ghazipur area in Uttar Pradesh and constable Tilak Raj of Himachal Pradesh.

Police reports said the slain CRPF men were part of a patrol party of CRPF’s 90 Battalion-G, which is headquartered at Anantnag. The shootout has been reported from Halmulla village of Sangam, along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, at about 3 pm on Monday.

“The men were patrolling the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway when militants opened fire on them,” said Ashish Jha, CRPF spokesperson. “There were 4-5 militants as per preliminary reports gathered from the spot,” he said.

He said the duo was killed on the spot while the militants managed to flee. “It remains unclear whether the militants used a vehicle or not. The CRPF men were wearing bullet proof vests, but were shot above their chests,” he said.

Muhammad Jabbar, SSP, Anantnag, said as of now, it remained unclear which of the militant group was behind the attack.

The police and security forces have cordoned off the area and launched an operation to track down the militants. This is the second militant attack in the militancy infested south Kashmir region within three days.

Earlier on Saturday, suspected militants hurled a hand grenade at a police party in Shopian town injuring more than 14 civilians.

Mufti, Azad condemn killings
Srinagar: Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today condemned the killing of two CRPF personnel near Halmulla, Sangam. In his condolence message, the CM conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families and prayed for peace to the departed souls.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “I share the sorrow and pain of those who have lost their loved ones. — TNS
Indian Army gets indigenous air defence system
New Delhi, May 05 (ANI): Indian Army inducted the 'Akash' missile system into its arsenal on Tuesday (May 05) to protect the country from possible aerial threats. It is a surface-to-air short range defence system that operates up to a maximum range of 25 kilometres and up to an altitude of 20 kilometres. The missile system can detect aerial threats from enemy's fighter planes, helicopters, drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. It can evaluate and track danger and is capable of launching missiles on the information obtained by the radar system. Developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation, the Akash missile system is also capable of engaging multiple threats simultaneously and can provide comprehensive short range missile cover to the vulnerable assets in the field. Suhag stressed that modernisation of the army is a key agenda in his mind, and air defence weapons system is one of the seven critical areas identified as part of modernisation. He said that it was a great moment for the country.
50% of Rafale deal value will be invested in India: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

NEW DELHI: Terrorists, irrespective of wherever they may be operating from, should be neutralised using all types of methods, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told ET in an exclusive interview. He elaborated that "neutralisation" doesn't necessarily mean killing terrorists but making them "ineffective."

Parrikar also criticised ex-BJP minister Arun Shourie, saying the latter "does not have the full brief on what is happening". Shourie had recently said the Narendra Modi government  ..

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Cooperation in Space, Defence With Russia Deepened: Mukherjee

NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said his "successful" state visit to Russia augmented India's strategic ties with the country, with the high-level bilateral talks stirring "forward" movement on defence, nuclear energy and space cooperation.

On his first official visit to Russia that began on May 7, Mukherjee, in a statement said: "I have just concluded a successful visit to Russia... this was a most memorable visit, which has helped deepen our strong and mutually beneficial relationship with Russia."

In Moscow, the president represented India in the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Victory Day (May 9) commemorating the Russian people's triumph in the the Great Patriotic War, as the Russians call the Second World War.

Describing India's contribution in the war as "significant", Mukherjee noted that while the occasion commemorated "the bravery and indomitable spirit of the Russian people", it also remembered "the sacrifices of Indian soldiers in the most defining struggle of the 20th Century".

"By joining the commemorative events related to the War and the terrible human suffering that it caused, India has reiterated its solemn commitment to peace and our resolve to avoid war and conflict. We also re-affirmed our abiding solidarity with Russia...," he added.

On the occasion, a 75-member contingent from the Indian Army's Grenadiers infantry regiment also took part in a military parade at Moscow's Red Square.

Mukherjee, who was accompanied by union minister Manoj Sinha as well as senior officials, held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on May 9 to review progress on bilateral issues as well as measures to "further enhance deepen our relations".

"My visit also reflects the importance that India places on its strategic partnership with Russia. President Putin reiterated his strong commitment to further enhance ties with India, which are marked by an exceptional level of mutual trust," he said, adding the two sides were "happy" with progress on implementing the measures agreed upon at the Annual Summit in New Delhi in December 2014.

"There is forward movement on defence, nuclear energy and space cooperation. We have made tangible progress in our economic and commercial cooperation in sectors ranging from hydrocarbons, fertilisers, diamonds and agricultural products," he said.

The two countries, Mukherjee said, were committed to operationalising the International North South Transport Corridor, to connect India with Russia through Iran and the Caspian Sea, while working to finalise the joint study group on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and the Eurasian Economic Union.

During his visit, Mukherjee also inaugurated the "Namaste Russia" cultural festival and was also conferred an honorary doctorate by the Russian Diplomatic Academy.

Seven institution-level memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in higher education were concluded while a Network of Indian and Russian Universities to institutionalise cooperation between universities and institutions of higher learning on the two sides was also established.

The president exhorted the Indian community in Russia, the "living link" between the two countries, to continue their efforts to strengthen and diversify the bilateral relations.

He said it was a "matter of satisfaction for me to pay my tribute at the statue of Rabindranath Tagore at the Friendship Park in Moscow" on the poet's birth anniversary, while another highlight was the opportunity to interact with Russia's leading Indologists, whose work "has benefited the understanding of India both in Russia and the wider world".

Mukherjee also interacted with other world leaders including from China, the Czech Republic, Vietnam, Mongolia, Palestine, Kazakhstan and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Mon, who were also present at the Victory Day celebrations.
If the army has to operate in Jammu & Kashmir, it needs AFSPA: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar opened up to ET on a range of issues — from modernisation of the armed forces to reforms and policy changes. In an interview with ET, Parrikar spoke on alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, changes in defence procurement, and PM Narendra Modi's detractors.

Do the forces have enough money to modernise? There have been voices of a fund crunch from the three armed forces and some concerns in terms of low spending o ..

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