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Monday, 7 December 2015

From Today's Papers - 07 Dec 2015

Army stops euthanasia of old animals
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 6

The practice of euthanising “old and worn out” Army animals, including horses and dogs, and sometimes sending them to serum institutes for testing vaccines on them has been stopped, after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued instructions that such animals will instead be rehabilitated by the Army.

The MoD recently issued instructions in this regard. “Immediate cessation of destruction of old and worn out Army animals of all categories (equines and canines),” reads the instructions.

The Ministry further ordered that the old and worn animals would be transported to the Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre & College, Meerut Cantt, where dogs are bred and trained and at the Remount Training School and Depot, Hempur, where horses are trained, for “further maintenance for one year”.

“After a year, the government will further add on to this policy. The Army will rehabilitate such animals for the rest of their lives,” said Army sources.
Only 19% roads along China border ready
Project several years behind

*Most strategic roads to be built in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, sources said, were several years behind schedule

*In 2006, the Cabinet Committee on Security had directed the Border Roads Organisation to complete a road network along the India-China frontier by 2012

*Procedural delays, environmental clearance and shortage of hi-tech equipment plagued the work on roads in critical areas. The deadline has now been revised to 2016

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 5

The Defence Ministry has informed Parliament that India is way behind schedule on building roads along the 3,488-km-long India-China frontier.

More than nine years since the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) was tasked with building 61 roads of 3,417 km, only 661-km stretch on 21 roads has been completed, just 19 per cent of the target. The organisation works under the Ministry of Defence and the roads are classified as India-China Border Roads (ICBR).

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Rajya Sabha about the ICBR projects in a written reply yesterday. The project has seen a minor improvement since Parrikar took over in November 2014, when only 590-km stretch on 17 roads was completed — which was 17 per cent of the target. In one year, some 71-km of road has been built. Most strategic roads to be built in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, sources said, were several years behind schedule, making a mockery of the 2012 deadline set by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

In 2006, the CCS, the topmost security-related decision-making body at the Centre headed by the Prime Minister, had directed the BRO to complete the task in six years — by 2012.

A more realistic deadline has now been set for 2016 and for some roads it is “beyond-2016”. The roads faced procedural delays, environmental clearance and shortage of hi-tech equipment to hasten the process of building roads in these critical areas.

In 2006, the CCS had approved the construction of a road network along the entire India-China frontier. It was a reversal of an unwritten code under which the Government of India had deliberately not built a road network in the Himalayas, fearing a repeat of the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. New Delhi feared the People’s Liberation Army of China, which is much bigger than the Indian Army, could use India’s own road network to rapidly advance down the Himalayas.
NSG training cops to handle terror attacks
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 6

Having suffered the Mumbai 26/11 terrorist attacks and in the wake of a similar one in Paris last month, India is enhancing its counter-terrorism strategy to ensure that the states and federal forces effectively work together and immediately contain such situations.

India’s premier counter-terrorism and anti-hijacking force, the National Security Guard (NSG), on November 16 began training 135 commandos of the counter-terrorism forces of nine states, including Chandigarh’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) which annihilated the Dinanagar terrorist attack in July this year.

The other state police forces were from Haryana, Rajasthan, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar and Rajasthan. The training called National Joint Counter Terrorism Exercise Agni Pariksha-II was conducted at Manesar, Haryana, and ended on November 30.
India, Pakistan back on talks table, NSAs meet in Bangkok
Meeting paves way for Sushma Swaraj’s Islamabad visit this week
KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
India and Pakistan today broke ice through a meeting of the National Security Advisers in Bangkok, a move aimed at improving the atmosphere ahead of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan this week.

Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met Lt General Naseer Khan Janjua (retd) in the Thai capital. The meeting was kept under wraps.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and three others were in the delegation that met the Pakistan team away from the media glare to take forward the brief meeting Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan had in Paris recently.

“Discussions were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere. They were guided by the vision of the two leaders for a peaceful, stable and prosperous South Asia. Discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues, including tranquility along the Line of Control. It was agreed to carry forward the constructive engagement,” a joint press release issued at the end of the meeting said.

By holding the talks at a neutral venue, both sides managed to keep it secret, away from the media glare and Pakistan could do without insisting on having a word with the Hurriyat, a move that became a spoiler on two earlier occasions.

In August 2014, India pulled out of the Foreign Secretary-level talks after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit met separatist leaders.

Sources here suggested the discussions went on for about four hours and all issues of concern, including India’s accent on the need to tackle terror by Pakistan, figured.

Besides Doval and Jaishankar, the delegation included former IB chief Asif Ibrahim, currently Modi’s special envoy on counter-terrorism, joint secretaries in PMO Javed Ashraf and Vinay Kwatra.

This is the first meeting between the NSAs of India and Pakistan since the scheduled talks during August were called off after acrimonious war of words over the agenda with Islamabad insisting on taking up Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi preferring to go by the Ufa statement focusing on terror.

In August, it could have been Sartaj Aziz, then holding twin charge as Foreign Affairs and National Security Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, during October Pakistan appointed Lt General Janjua as the NSA.

After the Ufa meeting in July, both Prime Ministers agreed the two NSAs will meet and discuss terror to be followed by one between the Directors General of Military Operations and Heads of Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers. Of this, only the last engagement went as scheduled.

That the NSA talks happened ahead of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan for the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan being hosted there on Wednesday should also open the door for a meeting with Aziz.

BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said the statement at Bangkok “clearly shows that it is continuum. Substantive issues of the spirit of Ufa statement are well reflected”, while former Union Minister Manish Tewari sought to know what changed between September and December for this meeting to take place.
Nuclear, defence deals likely during Japan PM’s India visit
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
As Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares for his mid-December India visit, the government is hopeful that ties between the two nations, which have got better of late, will get further boost.

The progress can be attributed to the China factor and its recent aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea, which has seen Japan and India move closer. Another reason could be the “personal chemistry” shared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Japanese counterpart.

While the dates for the visit are yet to be announced, sources said it could be December 11-12. On the second day of his visit, Abe is likely to travel to Modi’s constituency Varanasi and may also pay his respects at Sarnath. It has been learnt that Foreign Ministry officials have been working with other central agencies to take care of this visit.

Of late, India-Japan relations have grown in many dimensions. The civil nuclear co-operation agreement, currently under discussion, however, has seen a slow progress. The main reason is Japan’s domestic concerns where signing such a deal with India, which has yet to sign the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), is seen as a risk by many.

India, despite its clean track record in proliferation, is negotiating hard with Japan, the only country to have faced an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War-II and the Fukushima tragedy of 2011. Both the incidents have made the country extremely sensitive towards nuclear threats. While the signing of this deal would be the highlight of Abe’s visit, negotiations continue on both sides and are likely to go on till the last minute.

India and Japan are also likely to give a major boost to their defence co-operation and a number of agreements are likely to be signed during the visit. The most significant one would be the agreement to jointly produce the amphibious aircraft US-2.

During Modi’s visit to Tokyo last year, Japan had announced doubling of its private and public investments in India to the tune of USD 34 billion over the course of five years. Two months ago, India, Japan and the United States held the first ministerial trilateral in New York. The coming together of these three countries, who then called for freedom of navigation and promised co-operation in maritime security, set Chinese alarm bells ringing.
Armyman Arrested in Connection With Alleged ISI-Linked Espionage Case
New Delhi:  A serving army personnel was today arrested by Delhi Police from Siliguri in West Bengal in connection with the alleged ISI-linked espionage racket, taking to five the number of people taken into custody in the case.

The accused, identified as Farid Khan, is an army hawaldar who allegedly shared secret information with suspected intelligence operatives.

"He was arrested from Siliguri today by the eight-member Crime Branch team which was rushed there," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav said.

This is the fifth arrest in connection with the espionage racket allegedly headed by suspected ISI operative Kafaitullah Khan.

Kafaitullah Khan was the first person to be arrested from New Delhi on November 26, while he was heading to Bhopal to attend a religious congregation and allegedly recruit more spies, followed by the arrest of serving Border Security Force personnel Abdul Rasheed, former army hawaldar Munawwar Ahmad Mir and a government school teacher, Sabar, who was taken into custody yesterday from his rented accommodation at Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Farid used the code-name "Surgeon" and he came under the police scanner after they obtained a CD -- which recorded conversations -- from the possession of Khan. Farid, booked under provisions of the Official Secrets Act, was produced before a court and shall be brought to Delhi by tomorrow on a transit remand," said a Crime Branch official.

Farid had met Sabar during his posting in Rajouri and was later introduced other members of the alleged network, he said.

He had been detained by the army and later handed over to the Crime Branch team, following which he was arrested, he said.

Police have not found any document from Farid's possession but there is sufficient evidence, including disclosures, needed for his arrest, the official said.

Meanwhile, a 14-member team of the Crime Branch of police, which was rushed to Rajouri, has reached Delhi with Mir and Sabar, who are to be produced before a city court tomorrow.

The team is investigating if some other army personnel were also involved in the case, the official said.
Sabar was arrested yesterday amid high drama as he tried to dodge the police team which reached the village accompanied by police in Rajouri. Some people there tried to resist the police action.
Indian Army Buys More BMP-2s as Infantry Combat Vehicle Upgrades Delayed
NEW DELHI — Faced with the continued delay of efforts to select a domestic company to upgrade its BMP-2 infantry combat vehicle fleet, the Indian Army had no choice but to buy 149 of the same outdated Russian-designed ICVs from the Indian government-owned Ordnance Factory Board, an Army official said.

"As the Ministry of Defence has not been able to [finalize] the procurement process of upgrading the outdated BMP-2 ICVs, the Indian Army had no choice but to buy 149 BMP-2 ICVs to replenish the inventory of around 1,200 BMP-2 ICVs," said  the official, who like other Army sources quoted here asked not to be  named.

"Upgrading the BMP-2 ICVs in inventory will take time, and in the interim this order will replace the ones which have lived their life and are to be condemned beyond repair," a second  Army official said.

However,  the need to upgrade the Army's BMP-2 ICVs is urgent, the second official said, noting the demand  was raised a decade ago.

No MoD official would comment on the status of the BMP-2 upgrade. But an MoD source said the 149 additional  BMP-2s  purchased last month were to meet  "urgent requirements of the Indian Army."

"As per the current doctrine of the Indian Army, BMP-2 meets the requirement of the Army," the second Army official said. "However, as history has shown and recent conflicts around the world involving BMP-2 (the wars in Chechnya and Syria), BMP-2 as a weapon platform is extremely vulnerable to anti-tank weapons and even second-generation anti-tank guided missiles. In asymmetric warfare the BMP-2, without modern battlefield awareness sensors like laser warning systems, is a suicidal platform for the crew and Infantry stuck inside."

The BMP-2s ordered by the Army last month for US $140 million will be new vehicles but the same outdated model as the existing fleet.

After coming to power last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government chose against issuing a global tender to upgrade the Army's Russian-made BMP-2s and instead issued a request for information (RFI) to domestic companies. But the response has been poor, the MoD source said.

"To explore the private-sector route, the Indian Army released an open RFI for comprehensive upgrade [of its existing BMP-2s] in 2014 wherein major private-sector companies such as Tata Grop, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge, Punj Loyd, etc., responded," the ministry source said. "However, to date there hasn't been much progress in this case."

But no Indian company could upgrade the vehicles as specified without a foreign partner, and an executive of one domestic company offered the RFI said there has been "poor response from overseas companies as they await a formal request for proposal [RFP], which is now overdue after the RFI."

US company General Dynamics, Britain's BAE Systems, France's Thales and Russia's Rosoboronoexport have expressed interest in the project, but so far none have signed agreements to work with any domestic company on the BMP-2 upgrades, the executive added.

Under the proposed upgrade, the BMP-2's current power pack will be upgraded from 285 horsepower to 380. The upgrade also will provide better observation and surveillance, night-fighting capability, fire control system and  anti-tank guided missile system. The  vehicle will gain a capability of having two missiles loaded in ready-to-fire mode, allowing the  gunner to fire missiles of his choice.

The fire control system would have a ballistic control with sensors to monitor wind and temperature, and should have an advance accurate firing capability. A new turret is required to increase firepower  and to fire new types of ammunition, and there is a requirement for a comprehensive electro-optic fire control system.

The 149 BMP-2s ordered  last month also will be upgraded at a later stage, defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle said.

"The BMP- 2 ICVs on order are likely to be included in the BMP-2 upgraded block which has been floated to companies in India and abroad over a period and the tender is not finalized," he said.

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