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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 18 Nov 2015

Colonel killed in Kupwara gunfight
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 17
A Colonel of the Army’s elite Para Commando unit was today killed and a policeman injured in a firefight with militants in north Kashmir’s frontier Kupwara district.

Colonel Santosh Mahadik, Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, belonged to 21 Para Regiment (Special Forces) and had been successfully leading his RR unit engaged in anti-militancy operations.

Sources said the officer was relentlessly pursuing a group of 3-5 militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba in the forest area of Manigah Haihama, Kupwara, nearly 120 km from here, for the past few days.

“Various anti-militancy operations are on in the dense forest area of Kupwara

over the past few days. An input was received today morning that the militants had come to Kashmiri Manigah hamlet, close to a forest area, for meals. Thereafter, Colonel Mahadik led the team of his unit and Special Operation Group (SOG) of police. As they were combing the forest area around 1pm, the hiding militants opened indiscriminate firing, critically wounding the Army officer and a policeman," a source privy to the operation said.

"The injured were shifted to an Army hospital where the

Colonel succumbed to injuries,” the source said, adding that the operation to track down the militants was on when last reports were received. “The Colonel was a true soldier. He had been awarded Sena Medal for exhibiting gallantry and leadership in counter-terrorist operations,” Srinagar-based defence spokesman Colonel NN Joshi said.

Colonel Mahadik hailed from Godlo in Satara district of Maharashtra. Born on January 15, 1977, he donned olive green in December 1998. He leaves behind wife, seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter. A police officer said Colonel Mahadik was keen on flushing out the hiding ultras. “Let us chase them,” he had reportedly told the police officer after the operation was launched.

The combing operation in the forest of Haihama has been on since Friday in which so far an Army officer has been killed and two soldiers and policeman have been injured. The operation was launched by the Army, SOG J&K Police and para commandos. The militants managed to flee at least twice after contact was established with them by security forces.

Colonel Mahadik is the second Commanding Officer of an RR Battalion to have been killed this year in the region. On January 27, Col Munindra Nath Rai, who was commanding 42 RR, was killed in an encounter at a village in Pulwama district.
Russians up strikes in French fury
Moscow confirms bomb downed its airliner in Oct, Paris calls for EU assistance
Paris/Moscow, November 17
France and Russia staged air strikes on Islamic State targets in northern Syria on Tuesday, punishing the group for attacks in Paris and against a Russian airliner that together killed 353 people.

Edit: G-20: From trade to terror

Islamic State had claimed responsibility for a coordinated onslaught in Paris on Friday and the downing of a Russian charter jet over Sinai on October 31, saying they were in retaliation for French and Russian air raids in Iraq and Syria.
Still reeling from the Paris carnage that killed 129, most of them young people, France formally requested European Union assistance in its fight against the militants and British PM David Cameron edged closer to extending military action against Islamic State in Syria. Police investigating the worst atrocity in France since World War-II discovered two safe houses in Paris where they believe the militants launched their assault. Underlining the widening scope of the probe, the police in Germany said they arrested five suspects, including two women.

In Moscow, the Kremlin acknowledged that a homemade bomb had destroyed a Russian airliner last month, killing 224 people. President Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt down those responsible and intensify air strikes against Islamists in Syria.

“Our air force's military work in Syria must not simply be continued,” he said. “It must be intensified in such a way that the criminals understand that retribution is inevitable.” Western officials said Russia launched a “significant number” of strikes hitting the Islamic State stronghold of Raqa. In a separate action, apparently not coordinated, French warplanes targeted Raqa for a second day. French President Francois Hollande has said he will see Putin and US President Barack Obama to convince them to join a grand coalition against Islamic State. — Reuters
5 Naga papers publish blank edit in protest
Kohima, November 17
Five newspapers in Nagaland were published with their editorial spaces blank to protest what they termed an effort by the Assam Rifles to suppress freedom of the media in the state. The Nagaland Press Association (NPA), a conglomerate of journalists and non-journalists, also extended support to the editors in their protest against the paramilitary force.

English dailies Morung Express, Eastern Mirror and Nagaland Page and vernacular papers Capi Daily (in Angami dialect) and Tir Yimyim (in Ao dialect) were published with their editorial spaces blank yesterday as a mark of protest. The Nagaland Post carried an editorial opposing the Assam Rifles' diktat.

They were protesting a letter purportedly sent by the Assam Rifles to the editors of all local dailies on October 24. The letter allegedly warned newspapers against carrying statements made by militant groups, specifically the NSCN (K), reminding them that the outfit had been declared an "unlawful association" by the Union Home Ministry.

"Any article which projects the demands of NSCN (K) and gives it publicity is a violation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1957, and should not be published by your newspaper," the letter had said. The NSCN (K) had abrogated the 14-year-old ceasefire with the Centre in April.

Nagaland Press Association president K Temjen Jamir today said, "The Assam Rifles is not here to govern, but only to perform their assigned duty. They are supposed to maintain peace and as mediapersons, we are also trying to promote peace. We must work together," he said. Apex students' body in the state, Naga Students' Federation, also condemned the "malicious effort" of the Assam Rifles. — PTI

Move comes after letter from Assam Rifles

The newspapers were protesting a letter purportedly sent by the Assam Rifles to the editors of all local dailies allegedly warning them against carrying statements made by militant groups, specifically the NSCN (K)

"The Assam Rifles is not here to govern, but only to perform their assigned duty. They are supposed to maintain peace and as mediapersons, we are also trying to promote peace. We must work together," -  K Temjen Jamir, Nagaland Press Association President
Pakistan violates truce pact in Samba sector, BSF retaliates
Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 17
In less than a month after a sector commander-level meeting between the border guarding forces of Pakistan and India, Pakistan violated ceasefire in the Samba sector last night. The BSF retaliated in equal measure.

“Four rounds of AK-47 assault rifle were fired from a jungle on the Pakistan’s side towards our side. There was no targeted firing and it could not be attributed to Pakistan Rangers. They could have been ultras because there are a number of them on their (Pakistan) side,” said RK Sharma, Inspector General of the BSF, Jammu Frontier.

We didn’t see any suspicious movement but following four rounds of fire from Pakistan’s side, we also retaliated in equal measure and also fired a para bomb to light up the area to ensure that no intrusion bid was made by subversive elements from across the border, added Sharma.

The IG said the BSF would shortly lodge a strong protest with the Rangers against the unwarranted firing from the Pakistan’s side.

Official sources said around 2.20 am on Monday night, four rounds of small arms were fired from across the border in the Chalyari area of Samba sector.

“Fire didn’t come from any of the Pakistani posts in the area. Consequently, we also fired three or four rounds and a para bomb,” they added. There were no reports of damage on the Indian side.

It may be stated here that following intense firing and shelling by Pakistan for three consecutive nights from October 23 to October 25 in the Samba and Hiranagar subsectors, the BSF and Rangers had a sector commander-level meeting on October 27 to de-escalate tension and restore sanity on the border.

From July 15 to October 25, at least 13 persons, including two BSF jawans and two BSF officers were killed and 53 others injured in rampant ceasefire violations by the Pakistan army and Pakistan Rangers on the LoC and the international border in the Jammu region. More than 2,000 border residents had also fled their homes to escape Pakistani shelling.

Eventually, sweets diplomacy was back on the international border on November 11 when the BSF and Pakistan Rangers exchanged sweets and pleasantries at seven border outposts on the Zero Line in seven subsectors along the border in the Jammu region to mark Diwali.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a recent letter to Asiya Andrabi, chief of Dukhtaran-e-Millat, avowed unwavering support of his country to separatists.

Meanwhile, the BSF and the Pakistan Rangers held a flag meeting at the local level in the Samba sector today.

“The meeting was held at the local level between the post commandants of BSF and Pakistan Rangers where the former lodged a strong protest against the unwarranted act from their side,” said an Intelligence official.
Obama puts disputed sea on agenda
Manila, November 17
US President Barack Obama put tensions over Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea squarely on the agenda ahead of an Asia-Pacific summit on Tuesday, pointedly visiting the main warship of close ally the Philippines shortly after he landed in Manila.

While Obama affirmed a commitment to the Philippines’ security and to freedom of navigation in regional waters, a senior official in Beijing said China was the real victim of the waterway dispute because other countries had illegally occupied islands there.

The verbal jousting could cast a shadow over the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit of about 20 heads of state and government, including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Manila has said it will not bring up the maritime dispute to avoid embarrassing Xi, but could not prevent others from doing so. Xi also arrived in Manila on Tuesday, but did not make any public comments.

Shortly after Air Force One touched down in Manila, Obama boarded the Gregorio del Pilar, a Philippines navy frigate that was a US Coast Guard cutter until 2011 but on Tuesday flew the flags of the two allies.

“We have a treaty obligation, an iron-clad commitment to the defence of our ally the Philippines,” he said, flanked by about two dozen US and Philippines uniformed navy personnel.

“My visit here underscored our shared commitment to the security of the waters of this region and to freedom of navigation.” He did not mention China but the symbolism of his visit was hard to miss: the ageing vessel is now a mainstay of the Philippine Navy, operating around the Spratly islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by both Manila and Beijing.

Obama also announced two more US ships would be transferred to the Philippines as part of a two-year $250 million package to enhance regional maritime security - a research vessel to help navigate territorial waters and a coast guard cutter for “long endurance patrols”. — Reuters

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