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Sunday, 16 August 2015

From Today's Papers - 16 Aug 2015

BSF celebrates I-Day, but no exchange of sweets with Pak
Attari (Punjab), August 15

The Border Security Force (BSF) on Saturday celebrated Independence Day here but there was no ceremonial exchange of sweets with the Pakistani Rangers.

BSF DIG Mohd MF Farooqi took part in an event organised on the occasion of 69th Independence Day at Attari where the Tricolour was hoisted.

Functions were held by the BSF at various border out posts along Punjab’s 553-km long International Border with Pakistan.

No exchange of sweets took place between the BSF and the Pakistani Rangers at the Attari-Wagah joint check post, a BSF officer said.

 BSF IG Anil Paliwal had announced earlier that the BSF will neither be offering nor accepting sweets from its counterpart this year.

His announcement came in the wake of two recent terror attacks in Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur, Punjab, and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir.

As per past practice, each year, the BSF has been accepting sweets from Pakistan on August 14, the neighbouring country's Independence Day and offering sweets to them on India's Independence Day on August 15.

Meanwhile, the Indian Customs officials accepted sweets from their Pakistani counterparts yesterday and offered them sweets today, a Customs official said on condition of anonymity. — PTI
Modi says committed to OROP; veterans seek specific time frame
New Delhi, August 15
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today did not commit a specific timeline for implementation of ‘one rank, one pension’ but stressed that talks were in the final stages, drawing sharp reactions from ex-servicemen who vowed to step up their protest.

Addressing the nation on the 69th Independence Day, Modi limited himself to giving assurance that the government has “in-principle” accepted the demand for OROP and it is working out the modalities.

Not far from Red Fort, where he addressed the nation, ex-servicemen sitting on 62nd day of relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, watched Modi’s speech keenly on a large LCD screen but switched it off the moment his brief OROP mention ended.

Terming the soldiers as a strength, treasure and energy of the country, Modi accepted that despite his coming to power, the solution for the long-delayed OROP issue has not been found yet.

Pointing out that many governments have come and gone for years and the OROP issue came before each one of them, Modi said the OROP has been “in-principle” accepted by his government but talk are still on with various stakeholders.

“Every government has given small promises but the issue has not been resolved. Even after I came, I have not been able to do it till now. Today, I am assuring my soldiers once again... in-principle OROP has been accepted by us but talks with stakeholders are on,” he said in his Independence Day address.

Modi said that the issue has reached the last stages and the aim is complete development of country and justice to all.

“A solution has to be found for an issue which has been lingering for 20-25 years. I expect good news seeing the way the talks are going on. And that is why I again promise that in-principle, this government has accepted OROP,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that talks are being held with the stakeholders to work out the nitty-gritty and modalities.

“We have to move forward by talking,” he said.

However, the protesting ex-servicemen reacted sharply and “rejected” Modi’s Independence Day speech.

“We are totally disappointed. We expected the Prime Minister to at least announce a time-frame or a date. But all we got was reiteration of in-principle approval of OROP which was done by the government when it came to power,” Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen movement said.

He said that the ex-servicemen have decided to intensify their stir from tomorrow in a peaceful manner.

“I am sorry, principle was accepted 17 months ago and he has also accepted it. I want to ask the Prime Minister, what is holding the implementation of OROP,” questioned Maj Gen Satbir.

The veterans want pensions benchmarked at the 2014 rates and reject the government offer of 2011 rates.

“I am ashamed of the Prime Minister. We want the OROP without any dilution. What talks, when and how long. Where is Gen VK Singh, where is Col Rathore? Why haven’t they resigned?” said Deepa Neb, daughter and wife of a retired defence personnel.

Another veteran, who identified himself as Col Thakral (retd), said, “We go to war just on the order of the Prime Minister. I am retired but if Modi as Prime Minister orders me to stand up and go to war, I will not hesitate. He knows I can be trusted but I am not sure about him now.”

Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired.

So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.

“Time and again, Modi has been saying Team India, actually Team India today has failed the real Team India. Are we not part of Team India?” a retired Brigadier asked.

Retired Wing Commander K.S. Parihar said, “If it was a matter of three to four years... it’s understood that it takes time. But does it take 43 years to work it out? The promises are hollow”.
Three killed, 22 injured in Pak firing
Tribune News Service

Jammu/Rajouri, August 15
Three civilians, including a sarpanch, were killed in heavy firing and mortar bomb shelling by Pakistani troops at several Indian posts and civilian areas on Saturday in multiple ceasefire violations along the LoC in four sectors of Poonch district.

Pakistan resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling in Balakot sector in Poonch district since 2 pm. Three persons, including Karamat Khan sarpanch of Basooni village, Abdul Rehman, a teacher; and Mohd Shieraz died in the shelling. Twenty-two persons were critically injured. Four injured were shifted to a Rajouri hospital where the teacher succumbed to his injuries. One injured was referred to Jammu.

The firing on Indian positions in the Jammu region on the country's Independence Day drew strong retaliation from Indian troops.

The offensive came even as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sent his greetings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, saying promoting friendly ties between the two neighbours was in mutual interest and ahead of the talks between their National Security Advisers (NSA) scheduled in New Delhi on August 23.

A large crowd, which had assembled at the spot also came under Pakistani fire and at least five civilians were injured, the officer said.

There have been 32 violations of the 2003 ceasefire accord in August till yesterday and this is the seventh consecutive day that Pakistani troops have shelled Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu region, an Army official said.

PRO, Defence, Lt Col Manish Mehta said, "Pakistani troops resorted to firing of 60 mm and 82 mm mortar shells on forward posts and civilian areas along LoC in Mandi, Hamirpur and Saujiyan sectors of Poonch from 1820 hours last evening to 0730 today".

While Pakistani troops resorted to mortar shelling of 60 mm mortars shells and firing from 1820 hours last evening to 2350 hours in Hamirpur sector, they also fired in Mand and Saujiyan sectors from midnight to 0300 hours and again from 0730 hours, he said.

There was also firing by Pakistani troops on Indian positions along the LoC in Balakote sector from 1130 hours and it is going on, a police officer said.

Lt Col Mehta said troops guarding the borderline retaliated, resulting in exchanges, which are going on.

On August 14, Pakistan troops had resorted to firing with automatic weapons and 82 mm mortar bombs on forward posts and civilian areas in Shahpur Kerni belt of Poonch district.

Pakistani troops had also fired on forward posts along the LoC in Balakote belt with automatic, small arms and mortar bombs on the intervening night of 13 and 14 August.

On August 13, Pakistani troops had resorted to firing by small arms and automatic weapons on forward posts along LoC in Bhimbher Gali (BG) sector of Poonch district, in which one jawan was injured.

There were four ceasefire violations in three sectors of Krishnagati, Bhimbhergali and Pallanwala in Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu districts on the intervening night of August 12-13.

Last month, there were 19 ceasefire violations in which four persons, including three jawans, were killed and 14 others injured.

Pakistan violated the ceasefire 192 times along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir till July 26, government had told Lok Sabha. — With PTI inputs
Soldier Beaten to Death for Trying to Stop Men From Harassing Girl in Meerut
Meerut:  An Army jawan was beaten to death in Meerut after he tried to rescue a girl from harassment.

Vedmitra Chaudhury, 35, a Lance Naik in 416 Engineering Brigade, had gone to get milk from a booth on Rohta Road in Hardevnagar on Thursday where he saw some men teasing the daughter of the shop owner.

The jawan came to the girl's rescue and even beat up one of the accused named Akash, police said.

Enraged, Akash reportedly called his friends, who arrived at the spot armed with sticks. They then allegedly assaulted the armyman, leaving him seriously injured.

The jawan, who was staying at Gopal Vihar with his wife and children, was admitted to an Army Hospital in the area, where he succumbed to his injuries last night, police said.

Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Chandra Dubey said, beside Akash, two others, Sanju and Ritesh, have been arrested and the search was on to arrest the other accused.

Talking about the incident, Sub-Area Colonel Rajiv Kumar said that Mr Chaudhury fulfilled the duty of an Indian citizen and protected a girl's honour. He will be remembered as a martyr.
Story First Published: August 15, 2015 21:26 IST
New Indo-China border meeting point at Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh sector
To celebrate India's 69th Independence day, the Indian Army also hosted the Chinese PLA at special border personnel meetings at Chushul and Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO).
The Indian Army on Saturday hosted a delegation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh on eve of country’s 69th Independence Day.

Earlier this month, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had hosted an Indian Army delegation on the occasion of PLA Day at DBO.

“In the Inaugural Border Personnel Meeting at DBO on the occasion of Indian Independence Day, a PLA delegation took part in the celebrations hosted by the Indian side,” a defense spokesperson said, adding that the Indian Army also hosted the Chinese PLA to a special Border Personnel Meeting at Chushul in Eastern Ladakh.

The spokesperson said that a new Personal Meeting Point was also operationalized at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh in line with the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement signed between the two countries in October 2013. “It would go a long way in ensuring peace and stability along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh,” he said. “This will be the Northern-most meeting point between armies of both countries on the Line of Actual Control near Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO).”

The spokesperson further said that addressing both delegations during the function, the Indian side “extolled the virtues of maintaining peace and stability on the Line of Actual Control.” The Chinese delegation was led by Senior Colonel Liu Geping.

“The celebration showcased the Indian culture and traditions wherein apart from traditional dances and songs, an old form of martial art called ‘Gatka’ was performed by the troops and the ‘Dare Devils’ of the Indian Army Signal Regiment performed acrobatics on their motorcycle,” he said, and added that a Volley ball match was also organised fielding mixed team of both Indian and Chinese troops.

The Chinese delegation participated in all the events with equal Zeal and enthusiasm, he said.
40 Army Officers in Cross Hairs for Submitting Fake Bills to Claim LTC

NEW DELHI:As the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probes the Leave Travel Concession (LTC) scam involving Members of Parliament, the Indian Army too has discovered a similar scam in which nearly 40 of its officers are being investigated for their suspected involvement.

The matter came to light when the Office of the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) discovered cases where several military officers allegedly claimed their LTC through forged documents. Subsequently, the Pune-based PCDA, which handles salaries and financial claims of Indian Army officers, sent a strongly worded note to the Army headquarters seeking necessary disciplinary action against those involved.

Official sources say during its analysis of submitted documents and bills, the defence accounts department had found prima facie irregularities in the LTC claims of over 40 officers with an intention to maximise personal benefit by scuttling norms in collusion with travel agents. In fact, in some cases, it is believed that air tickets were purchased at exorbitant rates though fares on that particular day was nowhere near those amounts. Defence accounts officials say it is suspected that some of these tickets may have been bought with cash by travel agents from Air India, after which they may have created forged e-tickets showing inflated fares.

This is a common modus operandi among travel agents. The Army headquarters is also probing whether these officers had actually travelled or merely procured forged tickets.

In response to a query from this paper, the Army headquarters has said an inquiry was being conducted into the matter by the Disciplinary and Vigilance (DV) Directorate of the Army.

“Cases are being dealt with as per existing provisions of the investigation irrespective of ranks of the officers concerned and the PCDA is being intimated about the outcome of the individual cases,” the Army replied.

Official sources said that on the basis of inquiry, the DV Directorate has instructed deduction of salary and fines in case of some officers so that the money could be recovered. “Not only that salary is deducted, in some cases, but also officers involved have been reprimanded for his/her behaviour,” an officer privy to the development said on the condition of anonymity.

Simultaneously, the defence accounts officials are also probing if an organised gang of travel agents is working in the military circles.

“Since we have come across about 40 officers in a random check of claims given between 2012-2014, we are now closely scrutinising each and every leave travel concession or temporary duty claim to detect if there is a bigger scam. Some cases might be recommended for further action by an investigating agency,” a senior officer said.

The officer also said that air tickets for LTC can only be purchased from registered travel agents.

But here, in certain cases, officers bought air tickets from other travel agents. On inquiry, some officers involved claimed that they did not do so ‘deliberately’ but due to ‘ignorance.’

A similar inquiry was conducted on 400 employees of Jabalpur-based Ordnance Factory Board who had travelled with their families to the North-East to avail of LTC in 2008. However, later, it was found that the e-tickets submitted for claims were fake in several cases, though defence accounts officials could not establish whether all the employees had actually travelled or not. In 2008, under a special order of the government to promote tourism in the North-East, even the lowest-ranked government employees and their families could fly to the North-East sector and claim air fare under LTC. The CBI also launched a probe into the OFB Jabalpur fraud.

In 2013, the CBI registered cases against six sitting and former Rajya Sabha members in connection with the LTC scam in which travel reimbursements were allegedly claimed by them using forged bills. The incident came to light after Air India’s vigilance department was alerted about the arrest of a man at Kolkata airport with 600 blank boarding passes of the airline.
PM Modi’s Independence Day speech: No announcement on OROP, ex-defence personnel threaten to step up agitation
‘We will target Bihar polls — go to constituencies and tell voters about BJP’s record of keeping promises,’ said Narendra Modi.
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After Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no formal announcement about the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme during his Independence Day speech at the Red Fort on Saturday, former defence personnel threatened to intensify the agitation for their longstanding demand.

During his speech, the Prime Minister reiterated his government’s stand, saying the demand for OROP has been accepted “in-principle.” He claimed that the modalities of implementation were being worked out with all stakeholders and he was hopeful of a positive outcome.

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