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Thursday, 13 August 2015

From Today's Papers - 13 Aug 2015

Blow to India as US, Russia oppose UNSC reform talks
United Nations, August 12
In a setback to India’s bid for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council, the US, along with Russia and China, has opposed negotiations to reform the powerful UN body, refusing to contribute to a text that will form the basis for the long-drawn reform process.

UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa achieved a breakthrough of sorts by circulating a text to UN members that will form the basis for the negotiations on the reform of the Security Council. Kutesa had appointed Jamaica’s Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray to chair on his behalf the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform.

Kutesa, in a letter on July 31 to all UN members, said he was also circulating letters containing the positions of groups and Member States that indicated they did not wish their proposals to be included in the body of the negotiating text. These countries include US, Russia and China. American Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said in her letter to Kutesa that the US is “open in principle” to a “modest” expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members but the condition that “any consideration of an expansion of permanent members must take into account the ability and willingness of countries to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the United Nations.”

Power added that “we believe that consideration of new permanent members must be country-specific in nature.” She also reiterated that the US remains opposed to “any alteration or expansion of the veto”. Sources said the US opposition to aspects of the reform process can be perceived as a “duplicity” since President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member. Russia said the “prerogatives of the current Permanent Members of the Security Council should remain intact”. — PTI
Pakistan High Commission’s website hacked
New Delhi, August 12
The official website of the Pakistan High Commission in India was non-functional on Wednesday after alleged hackers blackened its home page. It has now been restored.

“Yes, the website was hacked,” said Manzoor Memon, the minister (press minister) at the mission.  “A black screen appeared on the home page of the website with the name ‘Sh4dow X’ written at the bottom,” he said. “The website has been put down by some Indians,” he alleged. Asked if he had made a complaint to the police, Memon denied it.

The website “” is the official website on which the office of the Pakistan High Commission provides press releases and online forms for visa applications. “It was a user-friendly platform and provided people to people contact,” said Memon, adding the website will again be functional soon. — IANS
‘Legal’ structures demolished in Ambala Cantt, Vij orders probe
Manish Sirhindi

Tribune News Service

Ambala, August 12
The district civic authority that had been carrying out demolition drives in various markets of Ambala in compliance with the High Court directives yesterday demolished a few structures which were reportedly ‘legal’.

A few hours after the teams of the Ambala Municipal Corporation returned after removing 74 encroachments from the Idgah road, Health Minister Anil Vij reached the area without any security cover and interacted with people whose buildings were brought down by the civic authorities.

After listening to the issues raised by them, the minister called up Deputy Commissioner MS Brar and asked him to order an inquiry to look into the allegations levelled against the AMC authorities by the locals that some legal buildings were also brought down by the authorities.

He said the authorities should not be reckless in bringing down structures and ensure that only illegal buildings were razed. He said ample time should be given to the residents before taking action and no buildings should be razed without serving a prior notice to the occupants.

In compliance with the orders issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the district authorities have been undertaking massive anti-encroachments drives in various markets of Ambala Cantonment.

The HC had ordered removal of encroachments and illegal constructions on government land, roads and class ‘C’ land whether made by residents or by the municipal corporation in contravention to the zoning plan of the Ambala Cantonment civil area.
NIA chief grills Pak militant Naved
Amir Karim Tantray

Tribune News Service
Miran Sahib (Jammu), August 12

Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) Sharad Kumar today personally interrogated Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Muhammad Naved, alias Qasim, alias Usman, at the Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) here.

Kumar spent around one and a half hours in the JIC and thoroughly questioned the Pakistani militant. Without divulging the details about the interrogation, the DG NIA said: “We are trying to ascertain the facts.”

Kumar reached Jammu this morning and straightaway drove to the JIC at Miran Sahib to interrogate Naved. After the interrogation, the DG had to visit the attack site at Narsoo Nullah but could not go there due to the four-hour-long traffic jam in the afternoon on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. A landslide at Kherri, 3 km from Udhampur, had blocked the road.

Sources said the DG NIA visited the Sher-e-Kashmir Police Academy and held an informal meeting with officers and got feedback on the terror case. “Sharad Kumar met Udhampur Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal, took a tour of the BSF training centre where the bus which came under militant attack is parked, and talked to BSF officers,” a source said.

“After meeting a senior BSF officer, the DG visited the Northern Command Headquarters. He discussed with senior Army officers security matters,” the source added. Kumar headed back to Jammu in the evening.

Sources told The Tribune that the NIA was planning to take Naved to Delhi in a day or two and he would be made to take a polygraph test and few other tests. He has been changing his statements during the past few days.

On August 5 morning, two LeT militants Naved and Muhammad Noman ambushed a BSF convoy at Narsoo Nullah, 17 km from Udhampur town, killing two BSF men and injuring 11 others. While Noman was killed in retaliatory fire, Naved was captured alive by locals Vikramjeet and Rakesh Kumar, whose names have now been recommended for Shaurya Chakra by the J&K Government.

After Naved’s arrest, the J&K Police conducted the preliminary investigation. Besides booking him on the charges of murder and attempt to murder, Section 196 of the CrPC (waging war against the country) was imposed on him. The NIA, which has taken over the case, has got 14-day remand of Naved.

Naved, a resident of Faisalabad, Pakistan, had claimed that he along with three other militants had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) infiltrating into the Gulmarg area. Naved had spent more than 40 days in different parts of south Kashmir before launching an ambush attack at Narsu Nullah.

“Naved has told his interrogators that Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Sayeed’s son Talha Sayeed was his mentor in Pakistan and LeT commander in south Kashmir Abu Qasim was his handler in the Valley,” a source had said.
Rafale talks run into rough weather
New Delhi, August 12
The ongoing Indo-French negotiations for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets have run into rough weather over offset clause and tweaking of weaponry technology which is driving up the cost.

Defence sources said one of the main stumbling blocks was the offset clause that India was insisting on, something which the French says will drive up the cost of the aircraft.

The offset policy was first introduced as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), 2005, under which a foreign company has to invest back a portion of the deal into India.

Another issue is IAF seeking modifications in the jets so that a particular set of weapons can be integrated in the aircraft instead of the ones being offered by the French. This too will drive up the cost.

"The benchmark for the prices is already there since the deal with Egypt and Qatar has been struck. The price of the aircraft to India cannot be less than what the other two countries have bought it for," the sources said.

They add that no talks have been held between the two sides in the recent past, indicating a possible stalemate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had during his visit to France announced his decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets citing operational necessity of the IAF.

The announcement had come as a boost to the modernisation plan of the IAF as the original deal for 126 Rafale jets through a tendering process was stuck for years.

India has constituted a committee headed by Air Marshal SBP Sinha to hold negotiations with the French team. — PTI
Pak yet to take call on dates
Islamabad, August 12
Pakistan is still considering the dates proposed by India for the NSA-level talks between the two nations, an official of the Foreign Office said here today.

India has proposed August 23-24 for the meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz in New Delhi. An official of the Foreign Office (FO) said that Pakistan was still considering the dates for the talks.

"A decision will be taken soon after consultations," he said. Last week, Aziz had said that Pakistan is preparing the agenda for talks.

Another official said Pakistan was aware of India's agenda to highlight terrorism and planning is being done to counter it. — PTI
BSF, Rangers won’t exchange sweets this I-Day
New Delhi, August 12
No ceremonial exchange of sweets and gifts will take place between BSF and Pak Rangers during the Independence Day celebrations on both sides in the wake of recent ceasefire violations and cross-border terror bids from the Pakistan side.

The BSF headquarters here has communicated the decision to their formations in the western sector where its troops guard the International Border (IB) with Pakistan along Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir independently. “Neither sweets nor gifts will be offered or taken on August 14, Pakistan's Independence Day and on August 15. The decision has been communicated to field formations," a senior BSF officer said. — PTI
Laungewala Brigade observes golden jubilee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
To commemorate its 50th Raising Day, the Laungewala Brigade organised a motorcycle expedition to the site of the historic battle that was fought in the remote desert outpost during the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

The expedition covered 1,450 km, passing through Kishangarh, Ajmer, Beawar, Jodhpur, Pokhran, Jaisalmer and Laungewala. Comprising 13 riders, the team was led by Brigadier Charandeep Singh, Commander, Laungewala Brigade.

During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, the Brigade fought the Battle of Laungewala which proved to be one of the defining moments of the war. ‘A’ Company of 23 Punjab under Major (later Brigadier) Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri fought a decisive battle against heavy odds, holding on to their positions and repulsing multiple enemy attacks and inflicting heavy infantry and armour casualties. Simultaneously, 3 Rajputana Rifles captured Islamgarh and Bhai Khan Khu while 8 Dogra carried out successful raids in Jarewala Toba.
Meet the octogenarian voice of I-Day ceremony
NOIDA: He took up commentary while in service. And for the past three decades, he has been doing live commentaries on the Republic Day parade and Independence Day ceremony on TV and radio. Meet 81-year-old Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant (retd), a decorated ex-Army officer who lives in Noida Sector 29.

Born on June 2, 1934, in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, Sawant was always fascinated for a life in uniform. "Im a firm believer of 'Nation Above All'. I always liked camp life. So, joining the armed forces was the best option for me," says the octogenarian, who had retired from the Indian Army in 1990.

He graduated in English literature from Allahabad University in 1950, and did his MA in English. He worked as an assistant professor for two years before joining the armed forces in 1959.

"It was during my teaching in the college, I had applied for a job in the Indian Army and was selected after a five-day rigorous test," Sawant says. Subsequently, he graduated as a gentleman cadet from the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.

Sawant says that the Army has a disciplined life with lots of learning opportunities. He recalls that after the 1962 India-China War, he was sent to the US Army's Defence Language Institute in California to learn Chinese language so that he could decode messages of the Chinese Army.

Narrating his association with Akashvani and Doordarshan for live commentary of Republic Day parade and Independence Day celebrations, Sawant said that he was good in comparing in Hindi and English languages and always volunteered for the same in Army camps.

"It was in 1972 when Akashvani needed an anchor in a programme named 'Fauji Bhaiyon Ka Karyakram'. My senior forwarded my name to the Akashvani and I was selected. I also interviewed Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in 1973 for Akashwani," he recalls.

Later Doordarshan came into existence and he started doing running commentary on TV. Sawant continued at DD from 1982-1997.

"I feel energetic, enthusiastic doing live coverage of the Independence Day celebrations from the ramparts of the Red Fort," he says. This Independence Day, too, he will give live commentary of the event on a private TV channel.

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