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Saturday, 21 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 21 Nov 2015

‘Kashmiri’ Qaida fighter killed in drone attack
Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 20
In a first-ever acknowledgment of Kashmiri militants in Al-Qaida, the global terror outfit’s branch in the Indian subcontinent has claimed that a resident of Anantnag district of the Valley was killed in a US drone strike this year in Pakistan’s troubled tribal belt.

In a video released this week, Al-Qaida in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed Mohammad Ashraf, alias Umar Kashmiri, died in January this year in the Lawara area of North Waziristan. AQIS described Ashraf as a resident of the “Islamabad area of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)”, referring to Anantnag district by its unofficial name.

AQIS said Ashraf alongside Qari Imran, who was the terror group in charge of Afghan affairs, was killed in a US drone attack on January 5.

In a three-minute video titled ‘Jihad Memories’, Ashraf is seen reciting militant poetry while sitting with a group of militants. In cut-away shorts, he is seen plucking mulberries, leading prayers and firing a rocket.

The video, produced by Al-Qaida’s official media arm As-Sahab, is exclusively dedicated to Ashraf’s recitation of the poem, which describes the life and choices made by a militant. Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri had announced the formation of its branch in the subcontinent — the region including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh — in September last year. AQIS is headed by Maulana Asim Umar, who had previously vowed to continue fighting in Kashmir.

Ashraf’s killing alongside Imran suggests that he was closely linked to the top echelons of the terror group. Ashraf, if confirmed to be a resident of Anantnag district, will be the first Kashmiri militant to die in the ranks of Al-Qaida.

Ashraf will be the second Kashmiri militant to die in fighting in Af-Pak. In 2007, Ajaz Ahmad Malla had died in a firefight with US troops in Afghanistan. The police are investigating the claim made by Al-Qaida and probing several names that have been reported missing in the past decade. “We do not have a confirmation right now. There are a couple of names that we have zeroed in on but there is nothing concrete so far,” Inspector General of Police for Kashmir zone SJM Gilani said.

One person with a same name as mentioned in Al-Qaida eulogy, who is being probed by the police, has been missing since 2001. “We cannot say anything with certainty till we find out,” Gilani said. The police are trying to confirm the identity of the slain militant by comparing his picture with those of shortlisted names.
Armed forces sought 400% hike in risk pay, but will get just 50%
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
From seeking a four-fold hike in risk-related allowances, the armed forces may have to settle for less than a fourth of their demand. The Seventh Pay Commission, which submitted its report to the Centre yesterday, has recommended only a marginal increase for these monthly allowances.

The Commission has also suggested major changes in the structure and applicability of allowances, doing away with rates based on the rank of an individual, and instead proposing just two slabs — one for officers and another for other ranks (OR).

Taking Siachen Glacier as the ceiling as the combination of risk and hardship in that area is the maximum that any government employee faces, the Commission has proposed the Siachen Allowance at Rs 31,500 for officers and Rs 21,000 for ORs. The present limit for this is Rs 21,000 and Rs 14,000, respectively.

The rates of Flying, Submarine, Marine Commando and Special Forces Allowance have been proposed at Rs 25,000 for officers and Rs 17,300 for ORs as compared to the highest of Rs 21,000 and Rs 12,600 at present. Officers and ORs authorised Highly Active Field Area Allowance (HAFA) and Counter Insurgency Operations in Field Allowance (CIOFA) can expect Rs 16,900 and Rs 9,700, respectively. The present ceiling for HAFA is Rs 12,600 and 8,730, respectively, and for CIOFA Rs 11,700 and Rs 8,100, respectively.

In their Joint Services Memorandum submitted to the Commission, the three defence Chiefs had sought that some of the allowances be raised by four times in view of the heightened imminence of risk and danger faced by military personnel.

A total of 51 existing allowances related to risk and hardship have been categorised into nine slabs based on the quantum of risk and hardship. Observing that the entire system of allowances was “quite haphazard” with rates fixed at random, while some allowances have lost significance, the Commission has evolved a matrix divided into nine cells, with low medium and high risk on one axis juxtaposed by low medium and high hardship on the other. The intersection of these axes determines the quantum of hardship and risk.

Panel nixes defence services’ demands

    Though grant of the much sought-after non-functional upgradation has been agreed to by the Seventh Pay Commission's chairman, one of the members has opposed it
    All Central departments except the armed forces have been granted NFU
    The move to get heads of all major training institutions, headed by Lieutenant General or equivalent, placed in the Apex Scale has resulted in the Commission suggesting that heads of only three tri-service institutions — National Defence College, Defence Services Staff College and NDA — be granted this scale
    The armed forces had sought several benefits, including re-fixation of pay grades and pay scales of officers from Major to Brigadier, re-fixation of initial pay of Lieutenant Colonel and Brigadier, relaxation on fixing pay of re-employed officers and a common pay scale for junior commissioned officers
    The commission has denied the same on the grounds that on examination of the issues no change is warranted
    Most proposals relating to increasing pensions in various categories have also been rejected
SC notice on Navy’s plea over permanent commission
R Sedhuraman

Legal Correspondent
New Delhi, November 20

The Supreme Court today issued notice on the Centre’s petition challenging the Delhi High Court judgment directing grant of permanent commission to all women officers in the Navy.

A Bench comprising Justices TS Thakur and V Gopala Gowda, however, restrained the Navy from releasing from service the women officers who had approached the HC, provided they had joined service prior to the permanent commission policy of September 26, 2008.

In its September 4, 2015 judgment, the HC had faulted the government’s decision to restrict permanent commission to women officers in three branches of the Navy — education, law and Naval construction — and to those joining service after the September 26, 2008 policy.

Seventeen Short Service Commissioned women officers, including Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja, Urmila Bhat and Commander Pritika B Sharma, had approached the HC, challenging the government’s decision to restrict permanent commission to new recruits in three branches. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh said the HC had presumed that there was gender discrimination in the Navy.

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