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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

From Today's Papers - 05 Aug 2015

Govt keeps NSCN agreement under wraps
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
The Centre preferred to keep the details of the framework agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) under wraps amid questions about the exact nature of the accord that was announced here on Monday and whether it contains shades of what was hammered out three years ago.

Sources in the Government maintained that the matter would be placed before Parliament even as Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya said in Guwahati there will be no change in the territorial status of States in the North-east.

There has been concern in the neighbouring states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur for long since the NSCN (I-M) insisted on Greater Nagaland to include areas where Naga people inhabit, be taken as one unit.

On its part, the statement from Prime Minister’s Office after the agreement ceremony underscored that the Government of India recognised the unique history, culture and position of the Nagas and their sentiments and aspirations. “The NSCN understood and appreciated the Indian political system and governance”.

A senior Congress leader mentioned that in 2012 the Centre interlocutor RS Pandey along with former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes had hammered out a pact that among other things took into account how to keep the Naga culture in different states where Naga people were residing in contiguous areas and an option of creating a Greater Naga Council with adequate powers.

However, three Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur opposed the plan and it was put on the backburner.

Meanwhile, the government announced that besides speaking to the Governor of Nagaland, the PM spoke to Nagaland CM TR Zeliang, former PMs Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi among many other leaders.
Copter with IAS officer missing in Arunachal
Guwahati, August 4
A Pawan Hans helicopter with three persons, including an IAS officer, on board went untraced around 10.30am today. The helicopter was on its way from Khonsa, district headquarters of remote Tirap district of Arunachal, to the headquarters of adjacent Changlang district.

A PTI report said a “helicopter-like object” was later “sighted” in the dense jungles near Deomali area in Tirap, Chief Secretary Ramesh Negi said quoting army sources. He said security personnel were unable to reach it due to bad weather and tough terrain.

A government spokesman said Tirap Deputy Commissioner Kamlesh Joshi was on board the chopper. He said the chopper was scheduled to pick up all three DCs of Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts to facilitate their flight to Delhi from Dibrugarh. The DCs were summoned to New Delhi by the Union Home Ministry. — TNS & PTI
In a first, separatists quiet after militant’s death
Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 4
In a departure from past practice, the separatist leaders in Kashmir today abstained from issuing statements on the death of Lashkar-e-Islam deputy commander as an unprecedented cold war clouds the region’s separatist bloc.

None of the separatist groups issued statement commenting on the death of Tariq Mir, whose body was recovered on Monday morning from a stream near the Sumbal area of Bandipora district. Mir reportedly drowned while attempting to escape a cordon.

The police on Monday said Mir was trying to escape the site of Friday evening shooting at Mirgund in which three policemen were injured.

Mir_was a close associate of Kashmir’s most wanted militant and Lashkar-e-Islam commander Qayoom Najar.

The region’s separatists religiously issue statements to commemorate a militant’s death in which they “pay tributes” and offer condolence. However, in Mir’s case, the separatists maintained a silence which is rooted in the cold war that has engulfed the separatist camp after the emergence of Lashkar-e-Islam.

The outfit formed by Najar, Mir and several other militants in north Kashmir after rebelling from the Hizbul Mujahideen, has carried out a series of attacks in the recent months against the telecom sector.

The attacks were carried in defiance of the criticism from the separatist leaders, who in a rare display of protest against the rebel militant group had called for shutdowns after the group killed separatist activists and former militants, accusing them of working for security agencies.

The only statement on Mir’s death came from Sheikh Abdul Rashid, alias Engineer Rashid, who represents the Handwara constituency in state Legislative Assembly. Rashid, who today visited the slain militant’s home in the Mawar area of Handwara, said New Delhi should introspect its Kashmir policy and acknowledge the dispute of J&K.

“It needs to be analysed and introspected that while the Army, the police and other security organisations are celebrating the death of hardcore militant Tariq, common masses in general and people of the Mawar area in particular are mourning his death. Their faces were reflecting the love and faith for the slain militant,” the legislator said.

Hundreds of residents participated in Mir’s funeral, which was held at his native place on Monday evening.
NSA-level talks raise hope in Kashmir
Separatists expect constructive engagement
Ishfaq Tantry

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 4
The forthcoming talks between India and Pakistan at the National Security Adviser (NSA) level has raised hopes in Kashmir. Though separatists expect these talks to pave the way for structured and more constructive engagement between the two nations in the future on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, the mainstream parties sound cautiously optimistic given recent escalation of firing on the border.

With India proposing August 23 and 24 as the dates for the first NSA-level talks since Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister, the dialogue assume importance in the backdrop of the recent terror attack in Gurdaspur. As per the statement issued in Ufa on July 12 after Modi-Nawaz Sharif meeting, Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz was to visit New Delhi for a meeting with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.

“I believe that NSA-level talks can pave the way for more constructive engagement and structured talks between the two nations,” said moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. He added that it was good to see the two sides talking.

“But the key point is to see that all parties involved in the Kashmir dispute are involved in the dialogue process. We hope and expect that Atal Bihari Vajpayee initiative is revisited and a multi-lateral approach for resolving issues is adopted by the neighbours,” Mirwaiz said.

“What I want to say is that the roadmap is already there and only needs to be revisited,” he said.

Mirwaiz sounded hopeful about the outcome of the forthcoming engagement in New Delhi later this month.

Most separatists acknowledged that dialogue between the two neighbours was the only way forward. “This is a good beginning, but we hope that Kashmir comes up for discussion during this meeting,” said Shabir Shah, head of the J&K Democratic Freedom Party.

He warned that talks on any level between the two nations could not move forward without Kashmir.

Mainstream parties, while welcoming the forthcoming talks, sounded a note of caution as far as the outcome of engagements was concerned. “We are hopeful, but at the same time we are cautiously optimistic about NSA-level talks given the escalation of tension on the border and history of past engagements,” said NC spokesman Junaid Azam Matoo.

He said there should not be any “chest thumping” about the outcome of the forthcoming meeting and it was better that there was no pressure as far as the end result was concerned. “We should not expect too much from this meeting,” he said.

The Congress, while welcoming the NSA-level talks, hoped that the meeting would be result-oriented. “We welcome the talks and hope for an outcome as dialogue is the only way to move forward. But at the same time, we expect sincerity from the other side,” said Ghulam Nabi Monga, vice-president of the state Congress.

A leader of the hardline Hurriyat faction headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani said: “These talks are futile as there has never been an outcome of such talks.”
Two Soldiers Killed, One Injured in 'Friendly Fire' in Kashmir
Srinagar:  Two Army jawans were killed and another was injured today in an incident of 'friendly fire' in South Kashmir's Tral, sources told NDTV.

Sources said two groups of patrolling armymen had mistaken each other for militants and opened fire.

Both groups of soldiers belonged to 42 Rashtriya Rifles.

More details are awaited.
The Indian Armed Forces Takes a Laudable Step to Break Gender Stereotypes
Slowly but steadily, the Indian Armed Forces is getting around to taking concrete steps towards gender equality. Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar recently announced that till date 340 women officers have got permanent commission in the Indian Armed Forces. This is a marked contrast to the earlier practice of inducting women only on short service commission, with a maximum service period of 14 years. The only, exception being the medical corps!

The disadvantages faced by women till date on short service commission:
· Besides the drawback of early retirement, they are typically not skilled to be employed in any other civilian job.
· They are not entitled to benefits of pension, as it requires a minimum service period of 20 years.
· While male officers have to serve only five years before permanent commission, women officers have had to fight for getting a permanent place in the army. Is it really fair?

The Indian Army has for the longest time held on to the opinion that women are unsuited for permanent commission and combat roles.

Arguments in favour of and against permanent commission
The Delhi High Court in 2012 ruled in favour of a petition filed by several women officers and stated, "If male officers can be granted permanent commission, there is no reason why equally capable women officers can't."

Contesting this High Court ruling, which rooted for permanent commission for women, the Army filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying, "The interface between the leader and the led must be without any reserve or preconceived notions, especially in battle conditions where jawans repose full faith in decisions/orders of the leader who is their role model and are prepared to make the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty." Does it mean that because of gender, men would not follow a woman leader, who has proved her valour?

 The Army's affidavit also stated that barring women from combat roles will be a permanent policy. And their clich├ęd-outdated argument: women being bigger liabilities as prisoners of war versus male soldiers.
Case history of gender-bias
Lt Col Mitali Madhumita rescued several injured people and rushed them to safety when terrorists attacked the Indian Embassy at Kabul in 2010. Three army officers lost their lives in the attack. She became the first woman officer in the Indian Army to be awarded the Sena Medal for her bravery. Despite this, she had to fight for permanent commission in the army.

A welcome initiative, but a long road ahead
340 is just a small splash in the pond, when, in fact, the Indian Army employs over 60,000 women officers. But it is definitely a big boost to the morale of women, who have been fighting for their rightful place in the army.

But this move comes with the rider that permanent commission for women is still restricted to education, accounts, technical, administration, logistics and meteorology in the three forces.

Women are still fighting to be allowed in frontline-combat roles, a policy change that has already been adopted in many countries.

The way forward
History would have been different if the top brass of the Indian Defence services had been around when Lakshmi Bai Rani of Jhansi led her troops into a historic battle or when Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh fought against the British heroically.

To step into the 21st century confidently, Indian policy makers need to let go of archaic notions of chivalry that stop women from stepping into the frontline of the battlefield shoulder to shoulder with the men. Let courage and skills rule over gender stereotypes.

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