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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 14 Jul 2015

KPS Gill doesn’t want militants freed or shifted
Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
Former Director General of Police KPS Gill, who is credited with Punjab’s victory over terrorism, has opposed any move to release ex-militants and their transfer to state jails on “humanitarian grounds”.

Blaming unemployment for the spread of terrorism, he blasted political leaders for “failing” to address the larger problem. In an exclusive interview to The Tribune, Gill expressed surprise at BJP leaders’ opposition to shift former militants.

“BJP leaders gave tacit support to the issue by attending Bhog of militants and meeting those who were on fast seeking their release,” he said. The ex-DGP, who was termed “super cop” for his role in combating terrorism during his seven-year tenure in the state, said he did not see any major game plan in the Akalis’ move of shifting ex-militants to the state jails and demand for their subsequent release on parole or otherwise.

“Anyone who kills others does not deserve to be treated on humane grounds. It is not inhuman to keep them in jails for life as they are life convicts. We should not forget that they have been arrested for killing innocent people. They should remain in jail. There should be no wrong notion of clemency in such matters,” he said, adding that militants’ transfer to state jails would not make much difference as people of Punjab never supported terrorism.  “I see it as a mistaken gesture on the part of Akalis. They are being wrongly told that Sikhs are upset with ex-militants languishing in jails and that hardliners will get support if militants are not released,” he said.

While the Akalis are being accused of following a “panthic agenda” by pushing for “humane treatment” to militants, Gill doesn’t read the issue in the same way. “There may be misplaced sympathies on the issue but the Akalis won’t support terrorism. They were the victims of terrorism,” he said. He said the government should take care of the youth who needed employment.
23 Russian soldiers killed as military barracks collapse
Moscow, July 13
Twenty-three Russian soldiers were crushed to death by rubble after their military barracks collapsed in Siberia, the Russian defence ministry said today.

All four floors collapsed in one section of the building in the Siberian city of Omsk last evening as 42 Russian paratroopers were resting.

“All 42 soldiers who were under the rubble have been found. Twenty-three of them are dead,” said defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the accident in Omsk, located about 2,200 kilometres east of Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman said.

In footage shown on Russian television, soldiers formed a human chain to pass bricks and other debris from one to another in order to clear the mountain of rubble. “Half of the heap has been cleared now,” acting commander of Russian paratroopers Nikolai Ignatov said in televised remarks.

Teams of rescue workers, search dogs, and a plane with medical equipment from Moscow have been dispatched to the scene, along with military prosecutors. Some of the injured victims have been airlifted for treatment in Moscow. According to a list published by Life News website, most of the victims were male and aged between 18 and 24. — AFP
Lt Gen MMS Rai to be next Army Vice-Chief
New Delhi, July 13
The Ministry of Defence has cleared three changes at the top in the Army. Lt Gen Man Mohan Singh Rai has been appointed as the next Vice-Chief of the Army. He will take over the charge on July 31 on the superannuation of Lt Gen Philip Campose.

Lt Gen Rai is presently the Eastern Army Commander based at Kolkatta. Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is from the 1st Horse (Skinners Horse) Regiment, will replace him.

General Bakshi is tipped to be the next Army Chief when Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag superannuates in 2017. If the government goes by the principle of seniority, Lt Gen Bakshi could very well become the first Chief from the Armoured Corps since General Shankar Roy Chowdhury (retd). The Ministry of Defence has also given nod to the appointment of Lt Gen PM Hariz as the new Commander of Army Training Command, Shimla. He will replace Lt Gen Sanjeev _Madhok.— TNS
No talks without Kashmir: Pak
Islamabad seeks more evidence on Mumbai attacks to expedite trial
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
Pakistan today made it clear that it has not jettisoned any of its position on any of the “outstanding issues”, including resolution of the Kashmir tangle. It sought additional information to expedite the Mumbai terror attack trial, besides flagging “hostile statements” made by Indian ministers in recent times.
Three days after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in Russia, Pakistan National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz today told the media in Islamabad that no dialogue would take place with India unless Kashmir issue was on the agenda. He said the joint statement issued at UFA clearly recognised that “India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues”. Aziz, who is also the Foreign Affairs Adviser to Sharif, further decoded: “And we all know what those outstanding issues are.

Of course, Kashmir tops the list, but there are also other important issues such as Siachen, Sir Creek, interference and water.”

He said, “The two sides have also agreed to revive Track II dialogue to explore ways of resolving issues that have been hanging fire for a long time and need to be resolved in order to give peace a chance. Modalities for this track will be worked out through diplomatic channels.”

On Mumbai attacks trial, he said Islamabad’s view, as underscored in the July 10 meeting, was that Pakistan needed more evidence and information to conclude the trial. He said Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had also sought information on the Samjhauta terror attack trial.

He said there was a frank discussion on each other’s concerns. Pakistan had been deeply concerned, not only about the hostile statements made by Indian ministers but also about “Indian interference in Pakistan, including continuing support to insurgency in Balochistan”.

Issues of bilateral trade also came up. All such issues would now be followed up through different channels, he added. Summing up the outcome of the meeting last week, which, he said, took place at India’s request, was that it served to reduce tension and create an environment for meaningful talks on all issues of importance to both countries.

“Our country and the region have several challenges, ranging from outstanding issues such as Kashmir, terrorism, poverty and low human development. Millions of people of South Asia are yearning for peace.”
Tender Axed, but India Still Needs New Rifle
NEW DELHI — The Indian Army continues its quest to procure new assault rifles after the Ministry of Defence canceled a 2011-launched global tender worth $1 billion because, an MoD source said, none of the competitors could meet the requirements.

The Army's need for advanced assault rifles to replace its unreliable Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles is urgent, an Indian Army official said.

"It is disappointing to know that after four years of the procurement process, a tender for buying assault rifles had to be canceled," the Army official said. "Surely something is wrong in the procurement process."

The companies involved in the final competition — Italy's Beretta, US company Colt, Israel Weapon Industries and the Czech Republic's Ceska — have been informed of the decision, the MoD source said.

No MoD official would say why the tender was canceled two years after the trials of the competing weapons had been completed. Neither would any official say how they now plan to procure the assault rifles the Army needs.

Defense analysts criticized the MoD's practice of cancelling tenders several years into the procurement process.

"Underlying the cancellation is weak procurement processes of the Indian Army, which has failed to develop a suitable matrix with specialized staff to evolve viable general staff qualitative requirements, evaluation through simulations before ground trials and realistically estimate cost of procurements," said analyst Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier.

While efforts for the procurement of assault rifles continue, the Indian Army official said the Multi-Caliber Individual Weapon System (MCIWS) being developed by the government's Defence Research and Development Organization is not the answer as it still must pass necessary tests. Some media outlets have reported MCIWS will be procured.

"It is not clear if the [MCIWS] has gone through full-scale, all-weather, all-terrain trials," Bhonsle said. "If the Army has given the go-ahead, it is hoped that this is after deliberate consideration and not due to extraneous pressures to support the current trend of Make in India."

The Indian Army proposes to buy 66,000 5.56mm assault rifles to replace the indigenous INSAS rifles, which has been a disappointment for the Army. The service has used the INSAS 5.56mm assault rifle since the 1990s despite complaints of technical faltering. One complaint by the Army was that the 5.56mm rounds were of inferior quality, causing the weapons to misfire.

With the MCIWS still to be cleared by the Army, the MoD could issue a fresh tender to domestic companies that in turn would team with overseas companies to produce the assault rifles, the MoD source said.

"The Army needs a rifle that can engage the enemy at ranges exceeding 300 meters in static combat and fires rapid bursts of four to five rounds in close-quarter battles," Bhonsle said. "This can be met by adopting the 5.56mm standard rifle with variable munitions and suitable change in employment tactics, rather than trying to go in for a technological solution of twin barrels, which is complex and untried."

Defense analyst Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general, said the MCIWS is unlikely to be ready for another five to six years, but the Army's pressing demand for the assault rifles will have to be met immediately.
Nigeria's president sacks all four defence chiefs
ABUJA: Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari sacked his army, navy, air force and defence chiefs on Monday, a widely anticipated move as the former general has made crushing Islamist militant group Boko Haram his top priority.

Replacements would be announced later on Monday, the presidency spokesman told Reuters.

Since his inauguration in May, Buhari has moved Nigeria's defence command centre to Maiduguri, the birthplace of the jihadi sect, and is setting up the headquarters for a multi-national joint taskforce in Chad's capital N'Djamena.

In June, Amnesty International accused Nigeria's military of systemic human rights abuses and the deaths of 8,000 prisoners and called for an investigation into many top military officials including the army and air force chiefs.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan was heavily criticised for his inability to deal with the six-year insurgency in the northeast of Africa's biggest oil producer which has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people.

Army morale hit an all time low under Jonathan and it was not until the start of 2015 that the militants were finally pushed out of most areas with the help of foreign mercenaries, troops from neighbouring countries and new equipment.

But Nigerians saw Jonathan's victories as too little to late.

The outgoing officials are: Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh; the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Kenneth Minimah; the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu, the spokesman said.
OROP: Ex-servicemen to boycott Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's visit to Mohali
A group of ex-servicemen on Monday announced that they will "boycott" Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's proposed visit in Mohali later this month and show him "black flags" in protest against the delay in implementation of "One Rank One Pension" by the Centre.

United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM) held a rally to show solidarity with the fellow ex-servicemen, who have also been holding relay hunger-strike in various cities.

At the end of the rally, the veterans unanimously resolved to boycott the Defence Minister's visit and show him black flags on July 25 when he is scheduled to inaugurate here the 'Mai Bhago Institute' for training of girls to join the Defence Services. They also sought issuance of notification for "One Rank One Pension" (OROP) and demanded time-boud implementation of their long-pending demand.

"We defeated Pakistan, captured 93,000 prisoners and created a separate country (Bangladesh) in 13 days flat, but the Narendra Modi Government could not issue notification for implementation of 'already approved' OROP scheme, despite being in power for over 14 months," said veteran Brigadier Harwant Singh (Retd).

It is was highlighted that the draft government letter for implantation of OROP was prepared in April 2014, but was still lying as a 'draft' only, he said.

The Defence Minister, BJP president (Amit Shah) and other party functionaries have just mouthed platitudes of implementing OROP "soon", but no one has given a firm date, he said adding we wonder when that "soon" would arrive.

Meanwhile, Brigadier (Retd) Singh also warned, "lack of response from the Government was testing the patience of the veterans and has led to incidents like the one at Bathinda on July 8, in which main highway was blocked by the veterans".

"The government is forcing the most loyal and disciplined community to resort to direct action which may lead to disastrous consequences, considering the fact that many veterans have their sons and other close relation serving in the fores," he said.

The veterant also asked whether the Government wanted military discipline to break down and staged a revolt in the defence forces, asked the veterans. Lack of the government's response, despite the protests being carried out for about month, makes it obvious that it has no intention of fulfilling promises, repeatedly made, by no less than the PM himself with respect to OROP, Lt Colonel (Retd) S S Sohi said.

The Indian Ex Servicemen League (IESL), All India Defence Brotherhood, Ex-Servicemen's Grievances Cell, State Ex- Servicemen Welfare Association (SEWA), Ex-Servicemen's Joint Action Front (Sanjha Morcha) and many other Ex-Servicemen's organizations took part in the rally.
Indian Army tests Nag anti-tank missile from helicopter
The Indian Army has test launched the domestically manufactured Nag anti-tank guided missile from a helicopter at the Chandhan firing range in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India.

During the three-round trial, the helicopter-launched Nag (HeliNa) missile was required to strike targets at varied distances of up to 7km.

Unnamed defence sources said: "Two of the trials were successful in hitting the target, while one reportedly missed the target.

"Though, the observations are yet to be studied and analysed but this test has brought us closure to the objective certainly."

The missile is claimed to have successfully completed previous trials conducted from the Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan, and Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, Odhisa.

In July 2013, seeker evaluation trials for third generation fire and forget missile was carried out in hot desert conditions at Pokhran.
Conducted against both moving and static targets for different ranges of 2.8km and 3.2km, the trials aimed to evaluate the performance of an improved version of the imaging infrared (IIR) seeker.

The IIR seeker proved to be accurate only up to 2.5km in extremely hot conditions during the previous trials, even though the missile has a maximum range of 4km.

Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, HELINA can target a tank 7km away, take the target image after travelling for 3km to 4km and destroy the tank.

After induction, the missile is scheduled to be integrated with the weaponised version of the Dhruv advanced light helicopter, and the light combat helicopter produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

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