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Friday, 17 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 17 Jul 2015

India warns Pak of ‘forceful’ response
Says committed to taking Ufa bonhomie forward, but won’t tolerate ceasefire violations
Tribune News Service

Amid heightened tension along the India-Pakistan border, New Delhi today warned Islamabad of “effective and forceful response” to unprovoked firing, infiltration and cross-border terrorism.

“We remain committed to taking steps contributing to maintain peace and tranquility on the border... however, unprovoked firing will find effective and forceful response... we will not let our guard down on infiltration or cross-border terrorism,” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told mediapersons here.
India’s unambiguous message was delivered to Pakistan after Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar held a meeting to review the situation on the border. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the Foreign Secretary were also present in the meeting.

The response comes in the backdrop of a blame game between India and Pakistan over the ceasefire violation at the Line of Control in Pargwal sector of Akhnoor near Jammu, which left one dead and seven people injured, and Islamabad’s claim of bringing down an alleged Indian spy drone.

The phone lines between India and Pakistan have been buzzing since Wednesday with Doval and Jaishankar holding conversations with Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan TCA Raghavan and Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to address the situation.

“The National Security Adviser spoke to the Pakistan envoy twice yesterday and once today.

I also spoke to Basit on the border situation," he said.

Firing from Pakistan, which began on Wednesday did not subside despite several rounds of talks at the higher level and continued a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir.

Besides its commitment to taking steps to maintain peace on the border, Jaishankar said New Delhi would like to take forward the joint statement arrived at Ufa, Russia, after both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Nawaz Sharif met on July 10.

“If on the other hand, there is unprovoked firing and there is infiltration and cross-border terrorism then, obviously, the situation is different... so that choice is not ours,” he said while rejecting Islamabad's charge that the firing started from the Indian side.

On Pakistan’s allegation of a spy drone, he said, it is not of Indian design or an unarmed aerial vehicle available in the inventory of Indian military. “It appears to be a Chinese design which is available off the shelf.”

On the other charge by Islamabad of a manoeuvre by an Indian helicopter close to the LoC on July 11 as “offensive and threatening posture” is not correct since the matter was taken up and settled through hotline message between local formation commanders at Teetwal on July 12-13. He said it was a counter-terror operation carried within the LoC in which three terrorists were neutralised. “That the Pakistani government four days later is raising a controversy on a settled issue speaks for itself,” he said.

Delhi trashes Islamabad’s charges

    In reply to Pak allegation of shooting down an ‘Indian drone’, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said it was not of Indian design and appeared to be Chinese
    On Indian helicopter’s alleged manoeuvre along the LoC on July 11, he said the matter was taken up and settled through hotline message at Teetwal on July 12-13

Modi to visit Jammu today

Tight security arrangements have been put in place for PM Narendra Modi's day-long visit to Jammu on Friday. Traffic restrictions have been imposed across the city and security has been stepped up to prevent infiltration bid.
4 civilians hurt in Pak shelling at RS Pura
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service
Raipur Sazda (Indo-Pak _border), July 16

A day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu, four villagers, including two migrant labourers from Bihar, were injured after Pakistan Rangers shelled five Indian posts and over 15 forward villagers during the intervening night of July 15 and 16 in the RS Pura sector.

Fresh shelling in the RS Pura sector has triggered panic among border residents at the peak of paddy cultivation. Fearing skirmishes to turn ugly tonight, villagers have decided to vacate forward villages on the Zero Line and move back to safer areas in RS Pura before dusk today.

Civilians injured in the Pak shelling have been identified as Balvinder Singh, 45, of Barsalpur, Roop Lal, 52, of Rangpur Maulana, Sandev Kumar, 20, of Achra Bhawanipur in Bihar and Varinder, 35, of Bhujang Mukhia of Bihar.

The two migrant labourers along with two others were sowing paddy this morning when two 81-mm mortar shells exploded near them.

Balvinder Singh lost both his hands in the explosion. Roop Lal was also grievously hurt. They were shifted to GMC Hospital in Jammu, while two Bihari labourers were treated at a health institution in RS Pura town.

“Pakistan opened unprovoked small arms’ fire at 1.15 am on July 16 on a post to push some infiltrators. We retaliated with equal calibre weapons and they (Rangers) gradually spread the fire to four other posts. The gun duel went on for some time,” said IG RK Sharma, Jammu Frontier, BSF.

Around 3.50 am they fired mortars shells at a few places in RS Pura and Tawi belt areas, including forward villages, inviting a strong retaliation from us, he added.

Since 5.30 am they kept firing small arms intermittently and at 7 am they fired five to six shells on some villages in which four civilians were injured, said Sharma. The IG, however, said post-Pargwal shelling yesterday, the BSF gave a strong response to the Rangers.

“There are reports in Pak media about four deaths and injuries to eight others in our retaliatory fire,” he said. To a query, he said, “Pakistan cannot be trusted and we reserve the right to retaliate if provoked.”

“The BSF has lodged a written protest with them. However, they are not picking up our calls on hotline,” said Sharma.

Besides five Indian posts, nearly 15 villages were affected by Pak firing and shelling.

Jammu Deputy Commissioner Simrandeep Singh said, “We have readied seven to eight government schools in RS Pura to provide shelter to the border people during Pak shelling.”

Meanwhile, in the Shahpur sector of Poonch district, troops of 441 Mujahid Regiment of the Pakistan army fired mortar shells on Indian posts along the LoC today.

“There was a ceasefire violation and an infiltration attempt in the Doda Battalion area that was foiled,” said a Defence spokesperson.
18 villages on Zero Line sans proper bunkers
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service
Abdulian, (Indo-Pak _border), July 16

Virtually at the mouth of Pakistani barrels, nearly 18 villages on the Zero Line in the RS Pura sector of Jammu district are without adequate and proper underground bunkers despite the fact that the then Union Secretary, Border Management, Sneh Lata Kumar, had assured the same to the villagers in August last year.

“We are caught between the devil and the deep sea. While the administration seems to be in deep slumber, Pak shelling in the dead of night forced us to take refuge in this dingy and congested bunker,” said Babu Ram, a septuagenarian.

“There are small children with us. Spending night in a bunker in hot and humid weather without electricity squeezed life out of us,” he added. “We move into this bunker cautiously ensuring there are no snakes in it. The existing bunkers are decrepit,” said Ram.

Devinder Kumar of Raipur Sazda said it would be good if India settled scores with Pakistan once and for all. “We are fed up of frequent firing and shelling by Pakistan and indifferent attitude of the government in the state and at the Centre. It would be an act of kindness on border people, if India settled its score with Pakistan,” he said with frustration writ large over his face.

Kumar added that the affected stretch of the RS Pura sector which had over 18 villages — Raipur Sazda, Bera, Bega, Choga, Gopur Basti, Shamka, Tonkanwali, Laiyan, Chandu Chak, Abdulian, Bidhipur Jattan, Korotana Khurd, Nai Basti, Avtal, Sheikhuchak, Suchetgarh, Gulabgarh Basti, Nikowal and Sai — lacked proper bunkers.

“These are the villages which are either on Zero Line or within firing range of Pakistan. Despite repeated requests, we have not been provided proper bunkers. We are simply not considered human beings. We are just a vote bank for politicians,” he added.
Four marines, gunman dead in shooting at US military centres
Chicago, July 16
Five people were killed on Thursday, including a suspected gunman who opened fire at two military-related facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in an attack local officials described as an act of domestic terrorism.

The other four killed were marines at a Naval Reserve Centre, a military official said in Washington, DC. The suspected shooter, who has not been identified, is believed to have lived in the area, the local police said.

“We are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism,” said Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, adding that no official determination of the nature of the crime had yet been made. Three others were wounded in the attacks that began at about 10:45 a.m. local time and ended about 30 minutes later.

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said at a joint news conference the gunman acted "brutally and brazenly." Witnesses and local media reports said the gunman, driving an open-top Ford Mustang, fired at two locations including a military recruiting center and a US Navy Reserve center about six miles (10 km) apart. Witnesses said they heard scores of shots. A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama had been told about the shooting.

"The President has been briefed by his national security staff on the Chattanooga shooting, and will continue to get updates as warranted," said spokesman Eric Schultz.

Lockdowns had been put in place at businesses, a college and other facilities near the shooting sites. — Reuters
Row over Drone: Attempt by Pak Army to scuttle talks with India, says defence expert Sinho
 Bhopal, July 16 (ANI): Defence expert Major General S. R. Sinho (Retired) on Thursday said the latest allegations by Pakistan of India using a spy drone along the LOC, is an attempt by the Pakistan Army to scuttle peace talks with New Delhi.

"The latest accusation that has been made by the Pakistan Army that an Indian drone had to be shot down by the Pakistani Ranger because it was thought to be a spy, to be very frank, has been denied. It is another way by which Pakistan Army wants to stop talking with the Indian Government and stop ceasefire violations by accusing India of this drone," Major General S. R. Sinho (Retired) told ANI here.

He also said that India will give a befitting reply if Pakistan continued to indulge in such activities along the border.

"According to information, the drone was fired by the Pakistan police and also by mistake it has been destroyed by the Pakistan Army. It has Chinese making. India doesn't have drones of Chinese making. So Pakistan must know that India will give a suitable reply if Pakistan continues to indulge in these sort of activities along the border," he added.

Pakistan earlier today summoned India's High Commissioner to Foreign Office in Islamabad and lodged a protest over air space violation by an alleged Indian "spy" drone near the Line of Control and "ceasefire violation".

According to the statement issued by the Foreign Office, High Commissioner T C A Raghavan was called by the Foreign Secretary, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry to lodge the protest over air space violation at Banchirian Sector near LoC yesterday.

The Indian Army as well as the Indian Air Force, however, denied that any of their drone has been shot down or crashed.

Days after the two Asian neighbours agreed to re-engage, fresh strains surfaced in the ties on Wednesday after the Pakistan Rangers violated the ceasefire twice by resorting to firing and mortar shelling in the Akhnoor sector. (ANI)
India, Myanmar decide to broadbase defence, security co-opn
Resolving to fight the scourge of terrorism and insurgent activities, India and Myanmar today decided to broadbase their defence and security cooperation to ensure peace along the 1,640-km-long border as New Delhi expressed strong commitment to modernise the Myanmarese Armed Forces.

Over a month after Indian Army carried out a counter- insurgency strike along the Indo-Myanmar border, the Joint Consultative Commission of the two countries delved extensively on having better coordination and cooperation between their security forces to deal with militant groups, particularly those from the northeast region.

Co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Myanmarese counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin, the JCC reviewed entire gamut of bilateral ties and also agreed to step up cooperation in border management and in sectors like petroleum, trade and commerce.

Both leaders reiterated that territories of either country would not be allowed to be used for activities inimical to the other. Myanmar, considered one of India's strategic neighbours, shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern states including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.

Pitching for closer cooperation in energy sector, the two leaders decided to encourage investment by Indian companies in Myanmar oil and gas sector, including in available blocks that are being offered for investment which have good prospects. They also agreed to encourage investment by Indian companies in the petroleum industry.

In the meeting, Swaraj reaffirmed that India's commitment to support the modernisation of Myanmar Armed Forces and conveyed that it would be "happy to share its experience in functioning in a democratic environment, in creating a national army, cooperation in the field of IT, in dealing with emerging security challenges, and military to military cooperation including in terms of training."

She also expressed India's commitment to cooperate with Myanmar in building a professional and capable Myanmar Navy to safeguard and ensure its maritime security.

"Both ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to fight the scourge of terrorism and insurgent activity in all its forms and manifestations. They emphasised the need for enhanced cooperation between security forces and border guarding agencies for securing peace, security and stability in the border areas which is crucial for overall development," a joint statement said.

In this context, the two leaders welcomed regular meetings of the bilateral Regional Border Committee which promotes such cooperation and understanding for better border management.

The joint statement said "India and Myanmar had entered a new phase in their bilateral relations where, as a result of Myanmar's political and economic reforms and the rising growth and rapid economic and technological transformation, they had achieved commendable progress in their efforts to further strengthen the friendly ties."

Referring to the ongoing discussions between the two sides on maritime security, the two ministers agreed that Maritime Security Cooperation in Bay of Bengal is vital for both countries.
Noting that a sound border management is an intrinsic part of maintaining border security, they agreed that negotiations should be conducted to enable early conclusion of an MoU on movement of people across the land border.

They reiterated their determination to resolve the issue of unsettled boundary pillars in all sectors. It was agreed that first meeting of the India-Myanmar Joint Boundary Working Group, with a mandate to address all outstanding boundary issues, would be held in New Delhi at the earliest.

The two ministers agreed that a joint visit at a senior official level would be arranged to the India-Myanmar border in Nagaland sector.

Swaraj and Lwin discussed possible opportunities for joint ventures in Myanmar in the power sector, particularly hydro-electric power.

The two sides agreed that there has been "untapped potential" for greater trade and decided to encourage investments by Indian companies in areas like ports, power, agro-industries, forest products, mining, construction industry, consumer goods, highways, oil and gas, plantation, manufacturing, hospitality and ICT in Myanmar.

"Both sides agreed that the ministries concerned would work towards expeditious signing of the MoU on capacity building between the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Myanmar," the statement said.

The Myanmar side took note of the proposal made by Indian side to consider granting licence to an Indian bank to open a branch in Myanmar.

The ministers directed authorities concerned to finalise the modalities of operation so that trade can take place through border haats immediately.

The two ministers emphasised the importance of enhancing connectivity and expressed satisfaction at the steady progress being made on the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project connecting Mizoram to Sittwe port in Myanmar.

They also reviewed the upgrading of the Kalewa-Yargi road section of the Trilateral Highway connecting Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand through Myanmar as well as construction of 69 bridges and approach roads on the Tamu-Kalewa section.

The ministers agreed to take steps to further enhance the existing air connectivity by encouraging regular commercial fights among India, Myanmar and the rest of South East Asia.
They also agreed that signing of the MOU to establish a direct Imphal-Mandalay bus service would be in mutual interest. Trial runs of the bus service from Imphal to Mandalay may take place in the coming months.

Identifying the need for special focus in bordering areas, the two ministers agreed to enhance cooperation to bring about overall socio-economic development undertaking infrastructure development and micro-economic projects, including upgrade of roads and construction of schools.

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