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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

From Today's Papers - 14 Oct 2015

China’s dam on Brahmaputra gets going
Beijing, October 13
China today operationalised its $1.5 billion Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra, which has raised concerns in India over the likelihood of disrupting water supplies. China said it would take into consideration India’s concerns and would remain in contact with New Delhi on this.

All six of the station’s units were incorporated into the power grid today, the China Gezhouba Group, a major hydropower contractor based in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province in central China, told state-run Xinhua news agency. — PTI
China reopens border with Nepal for supplies
Beijing, October 13
Amid mounting pressure on Nepal’s government over dwindling supplies of goods from India due to the ongoing violent agitation over the new Constitution, China today reopened its border with Nepal in Tibet which Chinese officials say will see “explosive growth” in trade.

The border was closed after the road along the route on both sides was damaged during the massive April 25 earthquake in Nepal which also partly affected border regions in Tibet. The border land port at Jilung, a county in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, reopened today, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The road leading to the port finally reopened after months of repair, allowing the port to operate once more, Sun Lijun, head of the port’s management committee in China said.

He said trade at the port wpild see “explosive growth” after a huge fall in border trade following the quake. Nepal has been Tibet’s largest trade partner since 2006.

The port, about 130 km away from Kathmandu, used to be the largest port linking the two regions, but it gradually lost its importance due to weak infrastructure.

Yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying told media that Beijing was expediting efforts to reopen the border.

Nepal faces dwindling supplies of essential commodities from India due to the violent agitation by Madhesis - Indian-origin inhabitants of the country’s southern plains - over the new Constitution.

Madhesis and Tharu ethnic groups are protesting for more representation in the Constitution. They see the model to split Nepal into seven federal provinces as flawed and discriminatory to their rights. More than 40 people have died in the violent agitation. — PTI

Madhesis withdraw protests partially

Kathmandu: Nepal’s agitating Madhesi groups on Tuesday said they would withdraw protests except the blockade on the Indian border, in view of “Dasehra” though there was some improvement in the supply of fuel from India.
Kargil deals: SC rejects two PILs for probe
R Sedhuraman

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 13
The Supreme Court today dismissed two PILs for a probe into the purchase of coffins, snow suits and ammunition during the 1999 Kargil conflict on the basis of the irregularities pointed out in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report.

A Bench headed by Justice TS Thakur dismissed the petitions by KG Dhananjay Chauhan and others, observing that nothing survived in the PILs as nothing was found amiss in the CBI probe and trial.

The Bench, which included Justice V Gopala Gowda, passed the order, accepting the Centre’s contention that there was no point in keeping the PILs pending. Appearing for the government, advocate R Balasubramanian said the court of metropolitan magistrate had discharged the only accused in the coffin scam case. The trial court said there was no evidence to proceed against Victor Baiza, the middleman, in the purchase of reusable aluminium coffins from a US company.

The CBI had further noted that there was no substance in the allegations of a scam in the purchase of snow suits for the soldiers. In fact, there was no such deal and no payment had been made for the purpose, the agency had found.

In another case pertaining to procurement of weapons from a South African company, Krasanopol Ammunition, the trial court had accepted the closure report filed by CBI for want of evidence, the apex court was told.
Fake Army man arrested
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, October 13
The Doon police arrested a person wearing Army uniform from Mahindra Ground in Garhi Cantt here today when candidates were appearing in the physical efficiency test during a Army recruitment rally there.

Personnel of the city police intelligence unit and the Army intelligence arrested the suspect.

According to information, the Army authorities called the officials of the Army intelligence and the Doon police after they noticed a man wearing Army uniform moving in a suspicious manner at the rally ground.

He posed as a Army man on security duty at the recruitment rally, which had started on October 8. Senior police and Army officials along with the force reached the rally ground and arrested him.

The arrested person has been identified as Vikas Singh Rawat, a resident of Marchamgrant, Doiwala. He disclosed during preliminary interrogation that he had told his family that he was undergoing Army training at Jaipur in Rajasthan. He had even taken his family members to the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre at Lansdowne to convince them that he has joined the Army. The security agencies found a train reservation ticket for Jaipur from his possession. He is a matriculate and has worked in a hotel in Haridwar.

SP (City) Ajay Singh confirmed to The Tribune that a person was arrested from the rally ground. A case had been registered against him. It is worth mentioning that two dreaded Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, who were planning to create disturbance during the passing-out parade at _the Indian Military Academy, were arrested in Dehradun in 2010.
Plane shot down by Russian-made missile
The July 2014 disaster killed 298 people on board
Netherlands, October13
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made Buk missile, the Dutch Safety Board concluded on Tuesday in its final report on the crash in July 2014 that killed all 298 people on board, most of them Dutch.

But the long-awaited findings of the board, which was not empowered to address questions of responsibility, did not point the finger at any group or party for launching the missile.

A bitter war was raging in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces when the aircraft was downed and, amid a huge international outcry, many Western experts and governments immediately blamed the rebels.

"A 9N314M warhead detonated outside the aeroplane to the left side of the cockpit. This fits the kind of warhead installed in the Buk surface-to-air missile system," said Safety Board head Tjibbe Joustra, presenting the report. Russia for its part disputes that a Buk may have been used.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov responded to the report by saying there had been "an obvious attempt to draw a biased conclusion, and carry out political orders", according to Russian news agencies.

The Safety Board report said simulations of the missile's trajectory showed it came from somewhere in an area covering some 320 km southeast of Grabovo, Ukraine -- an area mostly controlled by separatists.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte urged Russia to cooperate fully with a separate criminal investigation that the Netherlands is leading, with participation from Malaysia, Australia, Ukraine and Belgium. — Reuters
Pak ‘knew’ about Osama's presence
New Delhi, October 13
Pakistan's top civilian and military leadership knew about Osama bin Laden's presence in the country much before the US Navy SEALs killed him in a raid in 2011, the then defence minister of Pakistan has claimed.

The Pakistani establishment, the country's powerful army chief and the intelligence agency ISI were aware that Osama was living in Abbottabad, said Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, who was Pakistan's defence minister between 2008 and 2012.

Pakistan ex-President Asif Ali Zardari, then army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and joint chief of staff all knew that Osama was in Pakistan, Mukhtar told a news channel. His admissions are contrary to what Pakistan has been claiming so far that it was unaware of Osama's presence in the country until the US Navy SEALs killed him in May 2011. — PTI
For the First Time, India's Once-Secret Sub Will Join War Games with US, Japan
New Delhi:  It has been called a "hole in the water," a submarine so quiet that detecting it is often impossible for even the most advanced navies.

For years, the Russian designed 'Kilo' class submarine was the ace in the pack of the Indian Navy. It would stealthily monitor warships traversing the waters of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

And for years, the Indian Navy flatly refused to give foreign forces a chance to train against the 'Kilo' class, nine of which are in service. Doing so would have given them a chance to potentially detect and record the elusive sound profile of the submarine, data so precious that it is considered the equivalent of a gold-mine in Naval intelligence circles. Because knowing the sound that a 'Kilo' class makes while underwater, would give warships and foreign submarines the ability to instantly classify the sound. In other words, if there was a 'Kilo' class submarine out there, foreign navies could detect its presence.

Now, in a clear sign of the enormous trust that exists between the armed forces of India, the United States and Japan, the Navy will deploy a 'Kilo' class submarine in the ongoing Malabar series of exercises in the Bay of Bengal for the very first time.

The tactical significance of this is enormous. China, which poses a naval challenge for all three countries, presently operates 12 'Kilo' class submarines, 10 of which are advanced variants of the version the Indian Navy has had in service since 1987. Training with the Indian Navy will give the US and Japanese navies the opportunity to know exactly what they may be up against in the waters of the Pacific or the South China Sea.

NDTV has learned that as part of the exercises that commence today, the Indian submarine INS Sindhudhwaj will be tasked to intercept ships and submarines of a combined US-Japanese-Indian fleet operating within a designated zone. It's a war game that will test the skills of a young Indian Captain commanding a small submarine against the combined might of shore-based maritime surveillance aircraft, anti-submarine helicopters and the sonar systems of some of the world's most advanced warships.

All of these ships and aircraft will have clear orders - "there's an 'enemy' sub in these waters, get him before he gets us." For the captain of the sub, this will be an ultimate test. He will need to creep in to torpedo or missile range undetected before simulating an attack on an 'enemy' ship.

What the Indian commander does have on his side is deep knowledge of the conditions of the Bay of Bengal. The Sindhudhwaj, based in Visakhapatnam, regularly operates in these waters and her commanding officer would look to take advantage of the salinity, variable temperatures and current patterns of these waters which often make submarine detection extremely challenging.

He also has a superb Indian designed and manufactured sonar system at his disposal recently fitted on his upgraded submarine. In June this year, the crew of the Sindhudhwaj, using their USHUS sonar, had with great accuracy, locked on to signals from the emergency locator beacon of a Coast Guard Dornier that had crashed. Search aircraft and other ships had picked up sporadic pings but were unable to pinpoint the specific crash site in the Bay of Bengal.

But anti-submarine exercises are not all that have been planned. Warships of the three Navies will be firing their quick reaction close-in-weapon systems (guns) to try and destroy 'expendable aerial targets,' which simulate subsonic anti-ship missiles. They will also be firing their main guns against targets which are towed by other ships at sea.

The exercises also include damage control drills, mine disposal training, and air defence training against the Indian Navy's Hawk jet trainer aircraft. Significantly, Indian and US crews, who both operate the Boeing P-8 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, will be able to share notes on how to best use the platform.  

USS Theodore Roosevelt first saw action during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Also participating in these exercises is the 104,000-tonne US nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, effectively a floating airfield which embarks as many as 90 aircraft - fighters, helicopters, airborne early warning aircraft and transports. Accompanying the Roosevelt is the USS Fort Worth, among the newest ships in the US Navy meant specifically to defend island territories, the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy and a Los Angeles Class nuclear attack submarine. Japan, for its part, has brought in a very new warship, the guided missile destroyer Fuyuzuki which entered service in 2012.

The Fuzuyuki was designed to fight small ships, aircraft and submarines.
The exercises come at a time when the US is in the process of a strategic tilt to the Asia-Pacific region. Both Japan and the United States are opposed to Chinese naval expansionism in the Pacific and the South China seas where Beijing has been creating artificial islands with runways and ship facilities. India, for its part, is worried about the deployment of Chinese nuclear powered submarines in the waters of the Indian Ocean.

At the inaugural US-India-Japan trilateral ministerial dialogue in New York last month, all three sides "highlighted the growing convergence of their respective countries' interests in the Indo-Pacific region. They also underscored the importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes; freedom of navigation and overflight; and unimpeded lawful commerce, including in the South China Sea."

Whether these Malabar Exercises pave the way for a new naval alliance in the Asia-Pacific region is unclear but what is clear is that India, Japan and the United States are now engaged in the highest possible level of naval exercises, not just in terms of the complexity of the war games but also in terms of the willingness of all sides to expose sensitive naval technology to one another.

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