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Saturday, 12 September 2015

From Today's Papers - 12 Sep 2015

India, Pak agree on warning shots
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
India and Pakistan today agreed to a new firing protocol, which will be implemented for both night and day. It will involve firing warning shots upon spotting suspicious movements at the International Border (IB). Any retaliation, including mortar shelling, will only take place after the newly established communication channels have been “exhausted”.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today met a delegation of Pakistan Rangers, led by its Director General Major General Umar Farooq Burki, which had called on him. The Pakistan Rangers are here for the Director General-level talks with the Border Security Force (BSF).

The Home Minister conveyed to the delegation that India would not fire the first bullet across the border. Stressing forces or civilians should not be targeted on either side, he said India wanted “cordial relations with Pakistan” as the government followed the policy of peace with its neighbours. Responding, Burki said Pakistan also wanted to have cordial relations with India and would follow the decisions taken in the meeting. He said there could have been some incidents at the border where firing took place due to misunderstanding or by mistake.

Discussions between the two forces continued on the second day today. A BSF officer, privy to the meeting today, explained about the firing protocol. He said if there’s firing from one side, the other side would immediately try to contact and find out the reason. If the side which opened fire is not able to respond within an hour, only then will there be retaliation. “The other aspect is that if all the levels of communication fail, only then will mortar firing be resorted to,” said the officer.

The new levels of communication have been established at the level of Commandant, Deputy Inspector General and Director General, in the form of mobile phones, email and fax.
Two Army men, 2 militants killed in Kupwara encounter
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, September 11
Two soldiers of Army’s elite counter-insurgency force and two unknown militants were killed in a fierce gunfight in north Kashmir’s frontier Kupwara district on Friday.

The encounter erupted at Rajwar forests in Handwara, nearly 95 km from here, when a joint search operation was launched by 21 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion and the Special Operation Group of the J&K Police after a tip-off about the presence of militants in the area late last evening. The Army’s Special Forces were also involved in the operation.

“The contact with militants was established in the forest at 11 pm and a fierce gun battle ensued which continued intermittently through the night resulting in elimination of two militants whose identity is being ascertained,” said Deputy Inspector General of Police, north Kashmir, Gareeb Das. “In the initial gunfight, two of our soldiers were injured who later succumbed to their injuries,” he added.

The slain soldiers have been identified as Jagdesh Prashad of Rajasthan and Chatin Shaikya of Assam.

Sources said a group of four militants was entrenched in the dense forests and two of them reportedly managed to give the security forces the slip. The two militants who were killed gave a tough fight to the security men.

During the operation, choppers were also pressed into service. The search operation is continuing in the area.

Defence spokesman Lt Col NN Joshi said arms, ammunition and other war-like stores were recovered from the encounter site.

“The recoveries included two AK-47 rifles, two pistols and one UBGL with eight grenades,” Joshi said.

Militants have been using the dense and vast Rajwar forests to hide and receive fresh groups that infiltrate into the Valley after crossing the Line of Control.

The DIG said the slain militants were active in the area for some time, and it was not a case of fresh infiltration.

Last week on September 3, four Pakistani militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and an elite para commando of the Army were killed in an encounter in the forests of Sochalwari in Handwara.

In the past three weeks, there has been a rise in the encounters between the security forces and militants in north Kashmir in which 14 militants and four soldiers have been killed.
Pak opens fire on forward posts in Poonch
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 11
Pakistan has apparently failed to walk its talk as its army again opened automatic weapons and heavy machine gun fire on Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Balakote sector of Poonch district today.

India and Pakistan are currently engaged in the Director General-level talks that began on Thursday in Delhi. Pakistan Rangers Director General Umar Farooq Burki has agreed on holding the fire to restore the ceasefire agreement of 2003.

“There has been no let-up in the ceasefire violations as the Pakistan army opened automatic and heavy machine gun fire on our posts in Poonch,” said defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta.

“There were unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Pakistan army along the LoC. Forward areas of the Balakote sector witnessed unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops from 4 am to 5 am today. Their forward posts fired automatics and heavy machine gun fire on our posts,” added Lt Colonel Mehta.

He said Indian troops guarding the borderline retaliated appropriately. “There were no reports of deaths or injuries on our side till the reports last poured in,” he said.

On Thursday, Pakistan agreed to end the ceasefire violations along the borders between the two nuke countries.

“This time around, the gun duel was confined to automatics and heavy machine gun. They (Pakistan) did not fire mortar shells,” said an intelligence official.

Pakistani troops have violated the ceasefire 11 times so far this month.
We are prepared to face any eventuality: IAF
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 11
Amid rampant ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control and international border in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Air Force (IAF) today said it was capable and fully geared up to meet any eventuality.

“We are capable and prepared,” Air Commodore Ashutosh Lal, Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Air Force Station Jammu, told mediapersons when asked about the spike in ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts along the fence in J&K.

“The armed forces are always alert and prepared to meet any situation. We gave a proof of it during the ‘Operation Megh Rahat’, when the state was hit by floods,” said the Air Commodore.

The officer, however, said there were no air space violations by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.

Since July 15, the Pakistan army and Rangers have been regularly firing and shelling Indian posts and forward villages along the LoC and international border.

At least 10 villagers have been killed and over 40 others injured in Pakistani shelling and firing along the fence since August 15.

Earlier, Air Commodore Lal briefed the media about a cycle expedition being organised by the Air Force Station, Jammu, from Jammu to Doda and back to commemorate the golden jubilee of the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The cyclists will cover nearly 600 km during the expedition scheduled to be held from September 14 to 22.

The event aims at team-building among air warriors and taking the Air Force to the masses. It also aims at spreading awareness among people about the role and mode of entry into the Indian Air Force, he said.

The team en route will visit schools to spread awareness and encourage young men and women to join the glorious service, the officer added.

Emphasising the significance of commemorating the 1965 war, the Air Commodore said the cycle expedition was a tribute to veterans and motivation for the current generation. The expedition will comprise around 25 cyclists, including four women officers.
Indian Army pushes ahead with Excalibur rifle programme
The Indian Army is fast-tracking the development and induction of the indigenously designed Excalibur 5.56 x 45 mm assault rifle as it looks to plug a major operational void.

Senior army officials told IHS Jane's that 200 prototype Excalibur rifles, fabricated at the Ordnance Factory Board's (OFB's) Rifle Factory Ishapur (RFI) in eastern India, would undergo user evaluation trials later in 2015.

Once approved, the army plans to induct over 600,000 Excalibur for around INR36 billion (USD541 million), or around INR60,000 each.

The army opted for the Excalibur after scrapping its 2011 tender for 66,000 multicalibre assault rifles in June, as none of the four foreign models tested met its qualitative requirements.

The Excalibur is a retrofitted version of the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) assault rifle, designed by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and rejected by the army in 2010 for being "operationally inadequate".

The gas-operated, fully automatic rifle has a foldable butt, Picatinny rail for sights, sensors, and bipods, and its polycarbonate magazine is superior to that of the INSAS rifle, which was known to frequently crack in extreme hot and cold climates.

The Excalibur's barrel is 4 mm shorter than that of the INSAS and its hand guard is smaller.

Indian Army Chief of Staff General Dalbir Singh is strongly backing Excalibur as it is a 'Make in India' programme and so fits in with the government's preference for locally manufactured equipment. He has posted infantry officers at RFI to conduct test firings and offer advice on design improvement, sources said.

On 1 September Gen Singh, accompanied by Lieutenant General Sanjay Kulkarni, Director General Infantry (DGI), visited the RFI and personally conducted the 'water' and 'mud' tests on the rifle, which it reportedly cleared. Both officers also proposed ergonomic alterations to the rifle to render it more user-friendly.

The OFB aims to begin series producing Excalibur on modified INSAS production lines at RFI in 2016 .

Meanwhile, the army has still to decide the outcome of the 2010 tender for 44,618 close quarter battle (CQB) carbines, trials for which concluded in 2013. These featured Beretta's ARX 160, IWI's Galil ACE carbine, and Colt's M4.

The Indian Army has been without a carbine since 2010 when it removed the licence-built Stirling 1A1 9 mm sub-machine gun from service.
700 NDA cadets fall sick due to food poisoning, inquiry ordered - See more at:
Close to 700 cadets of Khadakwasla-based National Defence Academy (NDA) were rushed to the local military hospital (MH) on Thursday evening after reportedly falling sick due to food poisoning.

Sources said cadets started vomiting soon after having lunch in the mess and were taken to MH Khadakwasla in ambulances, private vehicles and trucks. Till the filing of this report, 300- 400 cadets were still admitted in various hospitals on Friday.
Meanwhile, the defence ministry said only 200- 250 cadets were affected due to “indigestion”. The NDA has ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the matter and has decided to test samples of “rajma curry” and “egg curry” and other food items served for lunch on Thursday. While the laboratory to which samples will be sent has not been finalised, NDA spokesperson Commander Shibhu Devasia said the inquiry into the incident is on.
He clarified that of the 1,980 cadets who had lunch in the cadet’s mess on Thursday, only 250 reported “indigestion problem”.

The NDA’s cadet mess is managed by a staff of more than 100 with a catering officer planning the weekly menu, which is then cleared by senior officers. The catering officer also has the responsibility of food quality check.

Commander Devasia maintained that it was a case of indigestion and said the cadets are back with their training schedule.
According to sources, it started around 2.30 pm when, after consuming egg curry/rajma for lunch, the cadets had gathered for an afternoon drill, an activity before sports hours. “One by one, they started vomiting…and their numbers increased rapidly and by 5 pm, cadets were being rushed to the military hospital in Khadakwasla in ambulances and cars of divisional officers,” said one source.

According to some of the cadets who accompanied their friends in the hospital, close to 700 cadets were in MH Khadakwasla by about 6 pm Thursday. Some were also sent to Command Hospital and MH Kirkee. The NDA has about 2,400 cadets in six terms.

“Most cadets had froth coming out of their mouths but some vomited blood. The cadets, who were unaffected, held saline bottles and helped the 18-20 odd doctors on campus,” said an official.

Due to lack of infrastructure at the MH, many cadets were made to sleep on the floor of the hospital/ squadrons.

Officials said the attendance for the Friday morning classes was down to just about 50 per cent. The cadet mess was also temporarily closed. Internal communications accessed by this paper showed that the cross-country run scheduled on Sunday too has been

“As per confirmed reports received from the NDA, only 200 or so cadets were affected due to indigestion and all have been discharged and are pursuing normal duties,” a defence ministry official said.

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