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Sunday, 5 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 05 Jul 2015

Another militant killed in Uri encounter
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, July 4
In the ongoing operation to flush out a group of heavily armed militants close to Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, another militant was shot dead by the Army today. The death toll in the encounter that began yesterday morning has increased to three, including a soldier.

An Army soldier of 8 Battalion Sikh Regiment, Harpreet Singh, resident of Abu Said Village in Ajnala, Amritsar, Punjab, was killed on Friday evening in the operation that is under progress in the Buniyar area of the Uri sector, nearly 80 km from Srinagar.

On Friday, the Army had claimed to have prevented a major attempt by a group of militants to infiltrate into Kashmir.

“As the combing operation in the vast rugged terrain was on, a contact with the hiding militants was again established around 11 am today. In the brief firefight, one more terrorist was eliminated, taking the total toll of terrorists to two,” an Army spokesman in Srinagar said.

He said three AK-47 and three rucksacks were also recovered from the site of the operation. “The operation is still in progress,” the spokesman said.

Sources said Army commandos were also involved in the combing operation and troops were ensuring that no militant managed to flee the cordon.

“The operation is going on the Line of Control and there are possibilities that a few militants might have been pushed back,” a defence source said.

The firefight started on Friday morning when an Army patrol intercepted an infiltrating group of four-five militants close to the Noori post in the Buniyar area of the Uri sector.
BJP makes veiled attack on PDP for endorsing Amnesty report on AFSPA
Dinesh Manhotra

Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 4
The BJP today strongly opposed the demand of its coalition partner PDP of revoking the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) at this point of time when, according to the party, terrorist groups are desperately trying to revive their activities.

The BJP’s strong reaction came after a day PDP’s chief spokesman Dr Mehboob Beg has hailed recommendation of the Amnesty International to remove AFSPA from J&K. Beg on Friday said the recommendation of the Amnesty International was vindication of the PDP’s stand on the “draconian” law.

In a veiled attack on the PDP chief spokesman for endorsing the Amnesty International report, state president of the BJP Jugal Kishore Sharma said the decision on AFSPA would be taken only by the Union Government in consultation with defence and security agencies.

“I think politicians should not indulge into the sensitive issues like security,” he argued.

Without mentioning the name of the PDP chief spokesman, Jugal Kishore Sharma said, “I do not feel that the situation has improved to such an extent that we can even think of initiating a debate on AFSPA. Terror incidents are going on unabated in the Kashmir valley, while Jammu witnessed twin terror attacks on March 20 and 21 this year.”

“One thing is clear that the present situation is not conducive to revoking AFSPA. The BJP would oppose any move of initiating debate against the Act,” he asserted and suggested political parties not to rake up the sensitive issue for political gains. “We should think above petty politics on such issues,” he said and argued that all stakeholders must be taken on the board before taking any decision on AFSPA.

When his attention was drawn towards the statement of PDP’s chief spokesman, the BJP president said, “Incidents of violence are going on in Kashmir. It does not look that the situation has improved and AFSPA be removed. Instead of initiating debate against the Act, there is a need for AFSPA to be made stronger in the state, especially after reports that some youth in the Valley have joined terror groups.”

“Within or outside the government, our stand is clear. We will oppose any move to revoke AFSPA,” he said.
Airbus, Mahindra join hands to make helicopters in India
New Delhi, July 3
European giant Airbus Helicopters has teamed up with diversified Mahindra Group to establish a joint venture for manufacturing helicopters in India for military requirements.

“We have an unparalleled track record of successful industrial collaborations with local partners across the world. We are convinced that with Mahindra, we will not only have a mutually rewarding association but one which will offer immense benefits to India,” said Guillaume Faury, president and CEO, Airbus Helicopters.

Both companies will finalise the formation of the joint venture, which will act as the prime contractor for India’s military helicopter tenders, including the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter, the Naval Utility Helicopter and the Naval Multi-role Helicopter procurement programmes.

The JV between Airbus and Mahindra aims to become the “first private Indian helicopter manufacturer under the ‘Make in India’ initiative,” the companies said today.

"The strengths of both the companies will ensure a strong partnership to present the best rotorcraft solutions for India's needs and strengthen indigenous industrial capabilities," it added.

The venture would create hundreds of high-tech jobs locally and lead to a flow of cutting-edge technologies to India, should it be selected in the governmental helicopter tenders.

SP Shukla, Mahindra’s Group president (Aerospace and Defence Sector) and chairman, Mahindra Defence Systems, said the joint venture would produce “India’s next generation helicopters that will not only answer our country’s defence needs but will also have the potential for exports in the future.”

The Airbus has around 12,000 helicopters operated by more than 3,000 customers in 152 countries. Separately, in a major boost to the indigenisation, the government has approved several projects to be handled by the private sector. Licences have been given to projects requiring investment of Rs 613 crore by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) licensing committee at its last meeting.

The proposals which were cleared include applications from major players like Pipavav, Tatas, Samtel Thales, Solar Industries, Titagarh Wagons, Premier Explosives etc. Many of these proposals were pending for the past several years, the DIPP said today.

The approved licences are for the manufacturing of various kinds of arms and ammunition used by helicopters, aircraft, radars, bullet-proof jackets, bullet-proof helmets, missiles, grenades, electronic warfare systems, night vision devices, guns and howitzers.

The DIPP said it has so far issued 73 industrial licences in the Defence sector in the past one year (since June 2014) against 50 licences granted from 2011 to May 2014.
Army's Donation to JK Just a Photo-op

NEW DELHI: It has now been confirmed that the much-publicised event where Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag had handed over a donation cheque (of amount equivalent to one day’s salary of all ranks) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Jammu and Kashmir flood relief was nothing more than a photo-op.

In reply to an RTI query, the PMO has confirmed that it has not received the donation till date. On the occasion of the 67th Army Day on January 15, Gen Singh had presented a cheque titled ‘one day’s pay of all ranks of Indian Army’ to PM Narendra Modi in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. “Donation is yet to be received in the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF),” B K Roy, Under Secretary and Central Public Information Officer, PMO, said in reply to a RTI query on June 24.

This revelation comes as a huge embarrassment to the Ministry of Defence(MoD), which was in the news recently for submitting a bill of `500 crore to the Union government for the national service it had rendered during last year’s J&K deluge. The Army had played a major role in the rescue-and-relief operations the devastating floods, the worst witnessed in the picturesque state in nearly half a century. In an operation that lasted for two weeks, the troops had rescued over two lakh stranded people.

It was first reported by Express on January 18 that many Army officers were upset with the ‘arbitrary’ decision taken by Army Chief to donate a day’s pay to contribute `100 crore to the PM’s relief fund to help the flood-hit in Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, annoyed with the decision taken without their consent, over 2,000 Army men, including officers wrote to the office of the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA), which handles the salaries of Army personnel, conveying their disapproval at the decision. Some of them went ahead, saying they will take legal action if any amount is deducted from their salary account.

Realising the discontent among the officers, the Army Headquarters (HQ) had no other option but to approach the Office of the CDA, which eventually advised them that it would require a consent letter from each soldier for deduction of their salary to avoid any legal action or further controversy. But nearly six months on, the Army has failed to meet its commitment to the PMNRF.

The Army HQ initiated the process of collecting the money nearly two months after the Army Day, on March 12. The letter issued by the Adjutant General branch titled ‘Voluntary Contribution of One Day’s salary by Indian Army personnel to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for floods in J&K’ was signed by an officer of the rank of Brigadier.

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