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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

From Today's Papers - 02 Jun 2015

BSF constable injured in Pak firing
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 1
A BSF border guard was injured seriously as Pakistan thrice violated truce on the border today. Pakistan fired rocket projectile grenades (RPGs) and automatic weapon fire on Indian posts and a BSF patrol on the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district and the international border in Kathua district.

A BSF guard, identified as constable AK Rabha of the Hiranagar battalion of the BSF, was hit twice on his legs when the Pakistan Rangers opened unprovoked fire on a BSF patrol in the Hiranagar sub-sector of Kathua district this morning.

Around 11.20 am, BSF constable AK Rabha, who was on duty on the international border, got injured due to a sudden and unprovoked burst of firing from the Pakistani side,” said a senior BSF officer. The constable sustained bullet injuries on both legs, he added.

We immediately responded and retaliated strongly to Pakistan’s firing. The gun duel lasted till 11.30 am. The fire has stopped now. The injured jawan has been evacuated to the Government Medical College in Jammu,” he said. The injured border guard was part of a BSF patrol. “A burst of four rounds was fired from across the border. This jawan was hit by two bullets. One pierced his thigh and the other hit him just below the knee,” he said.

In another incident, Pakistani troops twice violated the ceasefire agreement, firing RPGs and automatic weapons on Indian posts along the LoC in the KG sector of Poonch district today.

Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing from across the LoC. Pakistan has been intermittently firing small arms and RPG shells since midnight,” said Defence spokesperson, Lt Col Manish Mehta.

First the firing took place around midnight which continued for about 30 minutes. Around 6 am, Pakistani troops again resorted to unprovoked firing. Our troops exercised restraint and did not retaliate. The Army is maintaining a strict vigil,” he added. No casualty or damage was reported.
Centre may take Capt Kalia ‘torture’ to ICJ, if SC allows
R Sedhuraman

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 1
In a subtle shift in its stand, the government today said it was “open” to the plea to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking action against Pakistan for the inhuman torture of Kargil war hero Captain Saurabh Kalia for 22 days in 1999 before killing him in gross violation of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war.

Approaching the ICJ would, however, depend on the views of the Supreme Court, which was hearing a PIL by the Kargil war martyr’s father, NK Kalia, pleading for a directive to the government to take all such issues of torture to the ICJ, an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the decision was taken after a review of the government’s stand in the SC that “India and Pakistan cannot invoke the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ in relation to disputes concerning armed conflicts, hostilities etc. as they both are members of the Commonwealth.”

The government will be requesting the SC to pronounce on the legality of the stand, taking into account the exceptional circumstances. Subject to this, the government will be open to invoking the jurisdiction of the ICJ,” he said.

Congress spokesman Rajeev Gowda said the BJP’s “political opportunism” stood exposed as the party, particularly the PM, had earlier questioned the UPA government’s commitment to the cause of soldiers and the nation.

On December 14, 2012, the SC had issued notice to the Centre seeking its views on Dr Kalia’s plea.
36 Rafale not enough, IAF uneasy
Day after Parrikar said 126 jets ‘too many’, Air Force raises concern over depleting fleet
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s decision to buy only 36 Rafale fighter jets from France—instead of the initially proposed 126—has not found favour with the Indian Air Force, which feels the pared number would not be enough to meet its operational requirement.

The IAF brass has prepared a blueprint of its needs and plans to present it before the Defence Minister, who is expected to return to Delhi tomorrow.

Parrikar had, in an interview to a news agency yesterday, said buying 126 jets, as proposed by the previous UPA government, was “economically unviable”.

The IAF, said sources, would project its requirement before the minister and state that a “mere” 36 jets would not meet the shortfall occurring due to the phasing out of MiG-21 and MiG-27 jets by 2022.

The force had projected an immediate requirement of 126 Rafale-type medium multi-role combat aircraft, though it would need 400 jets over the next 10 years.

As of now, the IAF has 34 fighter jet squadrons (having 16-18 planes each) against its projected requirement of 42 squadrons to tackle any simultaneous war with China and Pakistan.

A mixed ancestry and level of technology marks the 640-odd fighter jet fleet, largely imported from Russia over the past 30 years. British and French companies have supplied about 150 planes.

The IAF is likely to raise two demands before Parrikar: Replacing the around 260 obsolete MiG-21s and MiG-27s (Soviet Union-era single-engine fighter jets) and adding 145-150 jets to have a fleet that is 42-squadron strong.

In October last year, IAF Chief Air Marshall Arup Raha had said, “We are left with quite a few with a majority of our fleet being in a phase-out mode. The drawdown has to be tackled by quick induction of medium multi-role and light combat aircraft.”

Speaking at the Aero-India Show in February, the Air Marshall had reiterated his demand saying: “We urgently need planes... may not necessarily be Rafales.”

Former IAF Vice-Chief Air Marshall (retd) PK Barbora said, “One of the options to meet the shortfall is through a tie-up with another country to produce next lot of light-combat aircraft, Tejas, and not wait for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or the Defence Research and Development Organisation to manufacture these.”
New IAF Vice-Chief does Punjab village proud
Vijay Mohan

and Akash Ghai

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
Residents of Gharuan village in SAS Nagar still remember the legacy of Capt Sant Singh who had fought in the World War-II against the Japanese, but many are unaware that his grandson, who once as a child scampered through the village streets decades ago, has made it to the top echelon of the Indian Air Force.

As Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa took over as Vice-Chief of Air Staff in New Delhi today, his relatives living in the village were delighted to receive the news. Gharuan is a village of about 10,000 inhabitants near Mohali in Punjab.

Under the current line of succession, Air Marshal Dhanoa, a fighter pilot of June 1978 seniority, is tipped to take over as the Chief of Air Staff when the incumbent, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, retires on completion of his term.

Air Marshal Dhanoa’s grandfather, Capt Sant Singh was a veteran of the British Indian Army. “We still recall that he used to tell us stories of what all he saw during his campaigns,” Air Marshal Dhanoa’s uncle Parminder Singh said. “One anecdote that we remember vividly is of him telling that that soon we would have radios that would also receive visuals, which bemused the villagers,” he added.

He had last visited the village in September 2014 to attend a bhog ceremony. “Though his family had a house and some land in the village, which they later sold off, Birender used to visit us during vacations,” Naseeb Kaur, his 91-year-old grand aunt, said. “He used to be docile and was different from other children as he studied away from the village. Even when he met him last year after many years, he was amiable and gracious,” she recalled.

Air Marshal Dhanoa is an alumnus of the Rashtriya Indian Military College and the National Defence Academy. He undertook several night-time strike missions while commanding a squadron during the 1999 Kargil conflict. He has also served as Chief Instructor (Air) at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, and Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Intelligence). Prior to moving as Vice-Chief, he was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Command.

His father, Sarayan Singh was the Chief Secretary to the Punjab Government during the 1980s and later served as advisor to the state governor, while his sister is residing in Chandigarh. Manjeet Singh, a localite, said though he knew about the Dhanoa family, he was unaware of its military heritage.

We are proud that members of a family from our village have achieved great heights. We would definitely like to spread awareness amongst the villages about them,” Gurdeep Rana, husband of the village sarpanch said. “It would be a motivating factor for the younger generation,” he added.
Army veterans vs Modi govt: All you need to know about One Rank One Pension scheme
After two war veterans on Thursday boycotted a function in Pune attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, almost all veterans' organisations across India have now decided to boycott government functions. The reason for the anger among the veterans is the long delay in the implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme.

The One Rank One Pension scheme 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.

Currently, all pre-2006 pensioners receive lesser pension than not only their counterparts but also their juniors.
The demand for the implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme had led to a massive protest on 8 February 2009, when more than 300 retired soldiers of varying ranks had marched to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi and had returned medals won in combat and for distinguished service as they sought equal pension for each rank.

The veterans were among the thousands who had gathered earlier in the day at the Jantar Mantar observatory in the heart of the capital for a protest that some said marked a black day for the Indian armed forces.

However, it still took five years for the government to recognise this demand made by the military veterans. In February 2014, the government accepted the long-standing demand of ex-servicemen for the One Rank One Pension scheme and had allocated Rs 500 crore to the Defence Pension Account for the implementation of the scheme.

The scheme had also been announced in the Interim Budget in February 2014, but was yet to be implemented.

A few days after this development, Narendra Modi, who was then rallying for the Lok Sabha polls, had slammed the Congress for delay in implementation of OROP scheme.

"The government, which is sitting in Delhi has always been playing a farce with the Armed Forces. Before this also, a number of times, the Finance Minister of Congress had made announcements about One Rank One Pension (OROP) but never fulfilled it," Modi had said.

"Even this time since I am repeatedly talking about it, they have announced it but this is a fraud with you. Had Congress party been honest, they had the chance to it in 10 budgets from 2004 to 2014. But they did not do it," he had said.

Modi had also claimed that "only our government will be able to implement it."

After coming to power, the Modi government also had a perspective on the One Rank One Pension scheme different from past governments. Past governments contended that granting the full scheme was neither financially nor administratively possible because it could lead to similar demands from other government employees, according to Economic Times. But the Modi government argued that the service of other government employees could not be equated to that of the military because military officers retired at a much earlier age, generally between 34-35 years of age, and also underwent prolonged and stressful tenures.

In the July 2014 Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also announced an allocation of Rs 1000 crore for this scheme.

In December 2014, Parrikar had said that the OROP will be implemented in the defence forces before the next Budget.

However, while presenting the Budget 2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not announce its implementation. “I have already, in the last budget, said that we are going to implement One Rank One Pension. This need not be stated on every occasion. We are completely committed to it,” Jaitley had told reporters when asked about the delay in launching the scheme.

Explaining the reasons behind the delay, Jaitley had said: “The methodology of calculating the One Rank, One Pension is an issue pending between the services and the defence ministry.”
On 17 February this year, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to implement its six-year-old verdict to follow the One Rank One Pension scheme and had also reminded the BJP of its pre-poll promise made to the people, according to Hindustan Times. The apex court had given this order while hearing a contempt petition filed by Maj Gen (Retd) SPS Vains.

In 2009, the Supreme Court, in the case of Union of India & Maj Gen SPS Vains & Others, had ruled that "no defence personnel senior in rank could get a lower pension than his junior irrespective of the date of retirement, and that similarly placed officers of the same rank should be given the same pension irrespective of the date of retirement," according to Scroll.

It was expected that PM Modi would make an announcement on the One Rank One Pension scheme during his rally in Mathura to mark his government's first anniversary. But to the disappointment of many ex-servicemen, he did not do so.

Miffed over the delay in the roll-out of the scheme for the armed forces, 1971 war veteran Wing Commander (Retd) Suresh Karnik and Wing Commander (Retd) KV Bopardikar on Thursday had boycotted a gallantry award function in Pune attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

At the function, Parrikar had said that 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, according to PTI.

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

Parrikar had also said that the figure of the One Rank One Pension scheme provision had touched about Rs 22,000 crore since he took over as Defence Minister.

The Defence Minister also said that he is working hard on the scheme and the MoD will send its views to the Finance Minister by 17 February, according to IBNLive.

On the other hand, praising the veterans for boycotting the function, almost all veterans' organisations in the country have now decided to boycott government functions.

"We are planning to hold a rally on June 14. It would not only be held in Delhi but also in various parts of the country," Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), who had led a delegation of war veterans to meet Parrikar earlier this year, told PTI in Delhi.

He said the veterans plan to go on hunger strike if the government does not keep its promise.

Lt Gen B Pandit (retd), who spoke on behalf of the veterans, said delay in the implementation of One Rank One Pension scheme 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.

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