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Friday, 29 May 2015

From Today's Papers - 29 May 2015

AFSPA mandatory for J&K: Parrikar
New Delhi/Jammu, May 28
A day after the Tripura Government decided to lift the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state after 18 years, the Centre today made it clear that there would be "no Army deployment without AFSPA" in Jammu and Kashmir.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, in an interview to PTI a few days back, said the Act "is mandatory for the Army to operate in Jammu and Kashmir". Parrikar, while speaking at a function in Pune today, said: "We have given clear directions on protecting human rights and minimising collateral damage."

"But if an attempt is made to shoot at our soldiers, we will try to kill the attacker without losing our men," he said apparently referring to the situation in J-K.

The Defence Minister said if a state did not need the Army, the law and order situation should be handled by the police. "If you don't need the Army, the police should handle the law and order situation. My jawans will not get killed, they will kill," the minister asserted.

Parrikar also said in the past five-six months, the "situation in the Northern Command" was improving and action was being taken on the basis of Army intelligence.

Parrikar, earlier replying to a question about his ministry's stand on J-K Government's demand to scrap the controversial law in the state, said: "Mine is not the ministry to decide about it (AFSPA). It is very simple that if the Act exists in that particular area, the Army can operate in that area. If it is not there, the Army can't operate there."

Parrikar's remarks on J&K assume significance following his recent visit to that state where he interacted with the Army top brass as well as the political leadership. During his meeting with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and others from the ruling PDP, an alliance partner of the BJP, there were demands for revoking the draconian law.

The Army continues to be against any move to dilute the AFSPA in J-K. The Army feels if AFSPA, which it terms as an "enabling Act," is partially withdrawn or diluted, there are chances that radicalisation and even violence would increase. The Army deployed in counter-insurgency operations in J-K has described AFSPA an indispensable tool to combat Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. "There is a spurt in militancy again and March 20-21 terror attacks in Kathua and Samba are still fresh in the minds of the people. Where is the peace? If Army has to combat terrorism then the Act has to stay," said a senior officer of a counter-insurgency force.
Stopped for challan, Lt Col punches policeman, held
The officer is posted on deputation with the NSG
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
The UT police today arrested a serving Lieutenant Colonel, posted on deputation with the elite National Security Guard (NSG), for assaulting a head constable in full public view at the airport light point this afternoon. The head constable had stopped the officer’s vehicle for not using the High Security Registration Plate (HSRP) on his Chevrolet Cruze car when he was slapped and punched in the face.

The police arrested Lt Col Vikramjit Singh Pandher (47) in a case under Sections 332, 353 and 186 (assault to deter a public servant from performing duty, voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant and obstructing a public servant in the discharge of public functions) of the IPC. He will be produced in court tomorrow.

A case has been registered at the Sector 31 police station.

The incident occurred in the afternoon when Head Constable Narvir Singh stopped the officer’s Chevrolet Cruze car (CH01 AD 9849) as it was not having the HSRP. Heated arguments ensued between the officer and the head constable as the officer refused to part with his documents for issuance of a challan and the head constable kept asking him for the same. In a fit of rage, the officer then tore off the challan book belonging to the head constable, grabbed his collar and slapped him on the face. He then punched him in the eye, face and chest.

After a huge crowd gathered and high drama prevailed, Narvir’s colleague called senior police officers following which a PCR vehicle and the ASP (South)  reached the spot to take stock of the situation.

The accused was then arrested. Lt Col Vikramjit Singh Pandher is posted in the NSG campus, Manesar. He was on the way to a court in Chandigarh for some official work when the incident occurred.
Army examines Hizb’s hi-tech communication gadget
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 28
The communication device recovered by the police from north Kashmir’s Sopore town last week was being used by the Hizbul Mujahideen to increase the efficiency of its local communication network.

Sources said the “repeater” device that was installed on a mobile tower in the Badambagh locality of Sopore town was used to boost the signal for the wireless communication of the militant group, which of late has been largely avoiding communicating through mobile phones.

The J&K Police on Friday had claimed to have recovered communication equipment installed by militants on a mobile tower in the Badambagh locality of Sopore town.

The device, which is being analysed by the Army engineers, had triggered a series of violent attacks against telecom offices in the area.

Many private mobile companies have temporarily suspended their operations in north Kashmir.

The device, similar to a radio set, was modified by militants to work as a signal booster for a two-way communication by of the group without getting intercepted, the sources said.

“Militants were using the battery back-up of the mobile tower for uninterrupted working of the communication device. They had wired the device to the power back-up of the mobile tower which led to the exposure,” said a police officer in Srinagar.

“Unlike other militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed which mostly rely on Voice Over Internet Protocol for communication, the Hizbul Mujahideen has been using wireless communication to avoid detection,” the officer said.

“The device is being analysed by the Army engineers,” he added.

After the communication device went missing, sources said, militants on May 1 raided the franchise office of three private mobile operators and threatened the staff and asked them to return it. A series of attacks followed in north Kashmir that has so far left two dead and three others injured.

A police officer in north Kashmir claimed: “Militants are now targeting the mobile tower owners, suspecting that they handed over the communication devise to the police.”

An unknown militant group Lashkar-e-Islam had issued warning to mobile companies to shut down their operations.

The United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of nearly a dozen militant outfits, however, had accused security agencies of carrying the attacks. Kashmir separatists have also condemned the attacks. The police have detained many suspects for questioning.

“We have identified the gunmen involved in recent attacks in and around Sopore,” said the police officer.

“ We have even arrested a person who had lobbed a grenade towards the mobile tower,” he said.
Ministry’s rider on firing ranges comes in way of re-notification
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 28
A rider by the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests of having a 10-km safety zone around field firing ranges has become a roadblock for re-notification of 10 ranges in the state.

“The Environment Ministry’s rider has added to our woes. It is a major roadblock for us in J&K, especially in Kashmir where constructions have come up rapidly. The PDP-BJP government also appears reluctant to re-notify these 10 ranges,” said a defence source.

“Land has become scarce due to rapid constructions in the past few years in Kashmir. Houses have come up close to the ranges. How can we have 10-km safety zone around them (ranges)?” the source said.

The issue, which had been flagged by Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda before Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar during his visit on May 22 and 23, has become a major cause of concern for the Army, sources said.

As the firing ranges have not been re-notified since October last year, the Army has been sending its troops to firing ranges in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan since January to perfect artillery fire.

This arrangement of sending troops with their cannons and ammunition to Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan has affected the Army on the Line of Control and hinterland to some extent.

“Though we have sufficient reserves but we are sending soldiers after pulling them out of counter-insurgency operations and the LoC,” said the source.

“The field firing ranges have come down from 140 in 2009 to 66 across the country because we faced similar problems in other states but J&K is altogether different for obvious reasons and the issue must be resolved rapidly,” the source said.

The ranges which have not been re-notified are at Mahe, Tartar and Kulum in Leh, Khurbathang in Kargil, Tosha Maidan in Budgam, Chorkhud in Poonch, Kalith in Akhnoor, Rajouri, Jhallas in Poonch and Garhi in Nowshera.
IAF war veteran snubs Parrikar, skips function
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 28
A decorated Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot skipped a felicitation function in Pune today to protest the delay by the Centre in implementing "one rank, one pension" (OROP) scheme for the armed forces.

Wing Commander Suresh Damodar Karnik (retd) was one among several war heroes who were to be honoured at the function, also attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The event was hosted by a welfare body, Shiv Shahir Babasaheb Purandare.

Among his feats, the IAF veteran had bombed the Chittagong airbase in East Pakistan during the 1971 war, thus stopping the advancing enemy. He has also been awarded the Vir Chakra.

In his letter turning down the invitation, Karnik wrote, "When this invite came, the first though that came to me was I should attend the function as the Defence Minister will be there. But then it prevailed upon me that we are being ill-treated. Despite repeated assurances, the OROP still remains a dream for us."

OROP has been a long-standing demand of the over two million ex-servicemen of India. It seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

The scheme is estimated to cost around Rs 8,600 crore initially and subsequently several crore rupees annually.
Formalities Over, One Rank-One Pension Will be Implemented: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said his ministry had completed all formalities in respect of the one rank-one pension (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen and nobody should try to "politicise" the issue.

"My ministry has completed all formalities and OROP will be implemented," he said, adding that the executive process takes some time.

Speaking at a function in Pune to felicitate city-based war veterans, Mr Parrikar said this issue should not be "politicised".

"People still do not know financial implications of this. The Defence Ministry has completed its calculations and there was a unanimous agreement with the Armed Forces on the formula," he said.

After he took over as Defence Minister the figure of scheme provision had touched about Rs. 22,000 crore, he said.

"The government is committed to taking care of your families. I am also working out a mechanism by which proper compensation can be given in case of battle casualties along with education to the children of the martyrs," the minister added.

Lt Gen B Pandit (retd), who spoke on behalf of the veterans, said delay in the implementation of OROP was causing anxiety among the fraternity.

"It is the sacred responsibility of the state to create conditions to keep the morale of the Armed Forces high," he added.

One of the gallantry award winners and 1971 war veteran Wing Commander Suresh Karnik told PTI that he was boycotting the function in protest against delay in implementation of OROP and "lip service" offered by the government to the cause of ex-servicemen.
Indian Army forced to train J&K soldiers in other states

NEW DELHI: Thousands of men in fatigues can be seen swarming into the Jammu Tawi railway station these days. These soldiers are not there to counter any fresh terrorist threats or challenges of infiltration up north, but to board special trains bound for Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan where they will get to practise firing.

With the Mufti Mohammad Sayeedheaded Jammu & Kashmir government dragging its feet on renotifying the lease of firing ranges, the Indian Army is forced to send the ..

Read more at:
Bury the Bofors ghost
The gun’s prowess was proved beyond doubt during the Kargil conflict 15 years ago. But for many years, no government dared enter into a defence deal for fear or scandal. The inventories of armed forces are full of obsolete weaponry

President Pranab Mukherjee is absolutely right in saying that no Indian court has proved any of the allegations made with regard to the 1986 deal for the FH 77 guns signed with the erstwhile Swedish firm AB Bofors. While referring to media reports of the alleged pay-offs in the gun deal, he cautioned against the expression “media trial,” used by interviewer from Swedish newspaper “Dagens Nyheter” that, along with the Swedish Radio, had then broken the story. Perhaps, conscious of serving from the highest office in the country, he refrained from accusing political parties that actually fed the media, only to recycle news reports to bolster their case in Parliament against the Rajiv Gandhi Government. Twenty-nine years after it rocked the nation, the expression “media trial” is being aired in a seeming fit of amnesia, to revive the issue.

Who gains? Mukherjee is to begin shortly a state visit to Sweden, a friendly nation with whom ties were damaged by the controversy. Rajiv and then Swedish premier Olaf Palme were friends. That factor was used to whittle down the price. It was India’s biggest deal till date. India had purchased the best available gun at the best price (Rs 1,687 crore for 400 pieces). Rajiv government’s cardinal mistake lay in not acknowledging possible wrongdoing and ordering a probe. Instead, it wrongly viewed it in that Cold War era as a move to “destabilise India”. Rajiv paid for this and subsequent mistakes after his own finance minister V P Singh joined the critics, eventually to become the prime minister.  

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is not the first BJP leader to cautiously ‘certify’ the gun as ‘good.’ One of his predecessors and party seniors, Jaswant Singh, himself a retired artillery officer, as member of a parliamentary committee, had operated the gun and praised it. Some other lawmakers ‘felt’ the gun, as if purchasing kitchen utensils, and refrained from ‘certifying’ it. Late Devi Lal, who became deputy PM under V P Singh, had told his Haryana electorate that the gun “fired on the reverse”, killing Indian soldiers. The gun’s prowess was proved beyond doubt during the Kargil conflict 15 years ago. But for many years, no government dared enter into a defence deal for fear or scandal. The inventories of armed forces are full of obsolete weaponry.

Prominent defence journal ‘India Strategic’ writes: “Many Army Chiefs in the preceding years had announced that the jinx post-Bofors was over and the process for the renewal of the artillery inventory was just about to begin. But each time, their words proved hollow. Because of the strongly expressed allegations in the 1980s, and hounding of officers instrumental in the deal, neither the political masters nor the bureaucracy ever found courage to initiate even periodic replacement of outdated or old guns.” Mukherjee has spoken when the present government has decided to use the designs supplied in 1986 as part of the technology transfer to develop the gun’s Indian version called ‘Dhanush.’ Can lessons be learnt, at least by hindsight?
Parrikar: Army not only for sacrifice; deployment in disturbed areas not possible without AFSPA
Stressing that the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will not be abrogated, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said that army deployment in disturbed areas will not be possible without the law.

Speaking in Pune on Thursday, Parrikar said the army will not be there if AFSPA is repealed, sending a strong message to political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, that have been demanding its cancellation.

“Do you want army only for sacrifice. The army will not be there if the AFSPA is revoked,” Parrikar said during the program to felicitate war veterans.

The defence minister said, “without the AFSPA, army deployment is not possible. If anyone doesn’t need army, then we have no problem even if you repeal the AFSPA. But then if there is an internal trouble, these people wanting AFSPA to be revoked should ask police to maintain the law and order situation.”   

Underlining the importance of human rights protection, the defence minister said, efforts should be made to ensure that there are no human rights violations. The minister was referring to accusations about the misuse of AFSPA through human rights violations.

The 1958 controversial Act grants special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in disturbed areas including Jammu and Kashmir and Assam. Many political parties including PDA, Hurriyat Conference have advocated the revocation of AFSPA alleging that defence forces have misused the power.

On the issue of One Rank One Pension (OROP), Parrikar said his ministry is working on the issue and soon the retired military personels will get OROP. “First time in 15 years that defence ministry and Armed Forces have worked out a formula. I assure everyone that OROP will be given soon.”

The minister criticised those protesting against the delay in the implemenation of OROP saying there are few who are trying to draw political mileage over the issue.

Unhappy over the delay in the implementation of OROP, wing commander (retd) Suresh Karnik, a 1971 war veteran, declined to be felicitated by the defence minister.

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