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Thursday, 17 December 2015

From Today's Papers - 17 Dec 2015

War with Pak not sole option to deal with terror: Sushma
Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 16
Ruling out war as the only option available to deal with Pakistan-sponsored terror in India, the government today said it was hopeful of resolving all outstanding issues with the neighbouring country through dialogue.

Exuding hope of positive outcomes from the just resumed comprehensive bilateral dialogue with Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today told the Lok Sabha that talks were always resumed on the basis of renewed hope in its ability to deliver the desired results.

“War is not the only option when we (India and Pakistan) have started afresh and decided that we will resolve our issues through dialogue. We have made a new beginning, a new start and hope to eliminate the shadow of terrorism through dialogue,” Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha during the Question Hour when BJP member from Satna Ganesh Singh asked her pointedly if India would consider eliminating terrorists in Pakistan the way US eliminated Osama bin Laden sheltered in the neighbouring country.

The minister, however, reiterated India’s stated position on a dialogue with Pakistan saying talks and terror could not go together.

“We have said repeatedly that talks and terror cannot go together. The PM has best articulated this position by saying that the sound of talks will get drowned in the noise of bombs. Talks and terror cannot go together but then let us talk on terror. That is why the NSAs of the two countries met in Bangkok to discuss these issues. But one meeting is not enough. We have to continue to talk,” Swaraj said.
Responding to menace of radicalisation
The chiefs of police forces of the country are meeting in the Rann of Kutch on December 18 and 19 to consider issues of security. India needs a sound strategy against the menace of radicalisation. It is ardently hoped that they will be able to use their expertise to put forward a sound strategy against this challenge.
The meteoric rise of ISIS as a mean nihilistic terror machine — relying on meticulous planning, extreme violence and efficient execution, and use of technology and internet to cast its web across the globe by attracting youth from more than 85 countries to establish the Islamic caliphate — has brought “radicalisation” in sharp focus.

Western security experts, statesmen and mediapersons have repeatedly underlined the global concern about increasing radicalisation of citizens, particularly the youth, from almost every continent. The security discourse was hitherto confined to “terrorist” or “extremist” elements, or groups who challenged the establishment and did not eschew armed response to espouse their cause. However, the growth of ISIS has made the world sit up and ponder over the threat of radicalisation of minds of recruits by the ISIS, which has taken senseless violence to unprecedented levels. Strategies to “degrade and destroy” the ISIS are being devised particularly by the western countries as ISIS’ ire is primarily targeted against them.

The Indian figure pegged between 23 and 50 fighters may not be alarming but leaves no place for complacency and calls for formulating a comprehensive strategy to counter what American journalist David Ignatius defines as religious, psychological and technological faces of ISIS.

There are inputs that ISIS is trying to forge an alliance with terror outfits operating in India like the Indian Mujahedeen, JeM, LeT, HUJI, etc. Ansar ul Tawahid a breakaway group of the Indian Mujahedeen is already operating with ISIS. The large Indian diaspora in the Gulf are also a soft target for ISIS recruiters. Scores of ISIS sympathisers identified in India are targeting young technocrats and the youth with venomous propaganda and online brainwashing.

In November 2015, the intelligence agencies uncovered Ansar-ut Tawahid (AuT), a terrorist group with links with ISIS, using online propaganda in West Bengal and neighbouring Bangladesh to woo the rural youth. What surprised the intelligence agencies was that the terrorist outfit used Bengal as a medium to reach out to the target audience. ISIS translation of its propaganda material in mandarin for the Chinese audience is also well known. The net savvy approach of ISIS and use of social media does not undermine the importance of institutions like some madrasas in sowing poisonous seeds in impressionable minds, particularly in the rural and semi-urban India.

Extremist outfits, including ISIS, have followed the model of advancement in the field of education. If you cannot go to a school you have several courses offered online by the best in business. The schools of jihadi terror and radicalisation, often identified with madrasas, have started effective distance learning programmes in hardline Islamic teachings, reinforcing perceptions of alienation, discrimination and persecution, assembling of bombs and improvised devices and so on. ISIS has attracted well-educated technocrats to run its cyber operations and social media efforts. Most of the radicalisation today takes place in the cyber space. Proliferation of smart phones and greater penetration of the Internet even in the rural landscape has made jihadi literature easily available to inquisitive surfers and there are ISIS monitors ready to help online those interested in a wide array of subjects from religious teachings to making of bombs.

Some kind of romanticism is attached to jihadi activities. More and more use of audio and video bytes of militants in a Zorro-like mask and army fatigues with guns in hands on WhatsApp and other social media platforms entice the young to militancy. They appear to be the new apostles of faith imbued in Kamikaze spirit, ready to blow themselves up at the order of their commander in the service of their faith and to attain paradise populated with nubile beauties. Burhan Muzafar Wani, 21, son of a school principal and resident of Tral town in South Kashmir, is the face of Kashmir’s new generation of tech-savvy militants. His pictures are on almost every platform. He alone has been able to inspire around 50 new recruits in the terrorist ranks in Kashmir. Numerous social media accounts and sites are dedicated to recruitment and training. The reach of extremist schools is so vast that ordinary-looking citizens and youth earning bread for the family devote their spare time to spread the message of ISIS and also to actively carry out operations for the dreaded outfit.

Following the Paris carnage, the response to ISIS appears more retributive in nature. Use of force to crush the known ISIS hideouts and locations is very important. Equally important would be to cut off supplies of arms and ammunition and access to finances to choke its resources to acquire more weapons of mass destruction. Nearer home, the funding of the so called social organisations and some notorious madrasas may also be investigated to see that dirty money from suspected sources from abroad is not used to fan radicalisation through thousands of unrecognised madrasas, mainly on the international borders with our eastern neighbours.

Modernisation of madrasas should be given top priority not only by the government but also by the Muslim community. The country can ill afford to have a sizeable population which has not received mainstream education. Such ill educated and unskilled youth are prone to unemployment and more vulnerable to bigotry and indoctrination.

The western world will have to fight a cyber war with ISIS to limit radicalisation, recruitment and glorification of the exploits of ISIS. The Indian concern should be to deny unchecked reach to the social media sites that spread hatred and promote radicalisation. Secondly, some intelligence or security agency could be tasked for counter propaganda to wean gullible youth away from the message of hatred and violence. Muslim organisations and ulema may be encouraged to use social media to foster nationalism and preach true tenets of Islam, castigating senseless violence.

While serving in the Kashmir Valley, I often wondered at the lack of awareness campaigns about the Central government’s commitment to the development of J&K. No overt or covert efforts were made. No advertisements in the vernacular or national newspapers did anything to bridge the gap in the perception of the Kashmiri brethren. National media – both print and electronic – have a responsibility to strengthen the secular discourse by not succumbing to partisan political gains aimed by some unscrupulous individuals or parties.

The process of de-radicalisation will bear fruit in the long term. It provides no quick fixes. Alongside the softer options, the security agencies have to keep their powder dry. Capacity and capability building, training and equipping the security forces must go on unhindered by lack of will and resources.
Army probes disappearance of three Kupwara residents
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, December 16
The Army today said it had begun a probe into the disappearance of Kupwara’s missing persons and promised that if anyone was found guilty of anything wrong then it would not “play favourites”.

Three persons have gone missing from the frontier district of Kupwara district since November 17 and while police suspect that at least two among them have crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the families fear they might have been killed in a fake encounter.

“Whenever any such incident takes place which has been taken cognisance of by the police or the judiciary, the Army automatically institutes an investigation. So, our own investigation is also on,” General Officer Commanding, 15 Corps, Lt Gen Satish Dua told reporters on the sidelines of a function at Badami Bagh Cantonment. “If anyone actually is found guilty of something wrong, the Army will not play favourites. We are committed to zero tolerance for human rights violation.”

The two missing persons, Ghulam Jeelani Khatana, 46, and Mir Hussain, 50, both residents of Kralapora in Kupwara, were earlier working as guides to help militants cross the Line of Control. It is alleged that the duo might have been sent across for spying by the security agencies. The J&K Police have already arrested a local Territorial Army man, Manzoor Khwaja of 160 Battalion, for kidnapping the two civilians.

Besides the duo from Kralapora, Ali Mohammad Sheikh, a resident of the neigbouring Trehgam, is also missing and his whereabouts are not yet known.

On one of the longest anti-militancy operations in Manigah forest close to the LoC in Kupwara, which was called off from the residential areas last week, the Corps Commander said the search for militants was still on. A Commanding Officer of the elite Special Forces was killed and a Lt Colonel was wounded along with six security men during the monthlong operation.

“We lost an officer (in the operation). We got two militants. We did not get all of them. The terrain is such that beyond a certain point we don’t want inconvenience the locals and we have our own modus operandi of continuing the search for the very same militants,” Lt General Dua said.

On infiltration, Lt General Dua said there was still a possibility that militants might try to sneak in before snowfall fully closed the mountain passes along the LoC.

“The snow levels in some places are not so prohibitive that the militants may not make any more attempts. In fact there is a chance that before there is further snowfall they might make a few attempts. The Army is ready for all this,” he said.
Army helps Poonch teenager regain sight
DK Sudan

Poonch, December 16
Muhammad Arif (18), who hails from Gali Pindi village in Poonch district, had lost his eyesight 12 years ago when lightning struck his house. He has recovered his vision now. The Army unit deployed in the area has made it possible for him to get back his vision.

The news that Arif could get back his vision had brought joy to his family. However, doctors had declared that he could not get back his vision.

Arif said, “I remember that I was in Class III when I lost my eyesight. A bright spark of lightning struck my house and I lost eyesight. My parents visited almost all hospitals in the state to get my eyes treated. All doctors refused, saying my eyes could not be treated.”

“When my parents heard that the 12 Jat Regiment would organise a free eye camp at Sekloo village in Mandi tehsil last month, it again gave a ray hope to us,” Arif said.

“I do not know how, but they did it. I thank the Army for the valuable help. I try to recognise my family members and friends from their voices, which I have been hearing for the past 12 years. I am very happy now,” Arif said.

Arif’s sister Shamim Akhter said, “He was in Class III when he lost his eyesight. We used to help him do his daily activities as he was unable to do anything on his own.”

“The 12 Jat unit has extended a helping hand and helped us get back his vision. He does everything on his own now and is more enthusiastic to take admission in school as a regular student. We are thankful to the 12 Jat Regiment,” Shamim said.

Maj Arnav explained that they took Arif to the Army Hospital in Rajouri and consulted doctors there. He said they went in for eye surgery and succeeded in getting back his vision. Maj Arnav said, “We just did our job and are happy that the Army did it.”
Top Indian commander holds talks with PLA
On a key visit to China after his predecessor was denied visa, the head of the Indian Army’s Northern Command has held talks with top defence officials here, focusing on fighting terror and maintaining peace on the Ladakh border, where many PLA incursions have occurred.

Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, who is heading a six-member military delegation of top officials of his command, arrived here on December 14 on a six-day visit to interact with his counterparts and to visit some of the military command centres which look after the India-China border.

He held talks with General Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff, at the People’s Liberation Army Headquarters Tuesday during which the two sides stressed on the need to ensure peace and tranquillity along the border, an Indian embassy statement here said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Hooda is the first Northern area commander to visit China since Beijing denied regular visa to his predecessor Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal in 2010 on the grounds that his command area included the “disputed” Jammu and Kashmir, which sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries. During that time China also resorted to issuing “stapled visas” to residents of Jammu and Kashmir on the same grounds which drew strong protests from India. In retaliation, New Delhi also cancelled all military-to-military exchanges.

Indian officials argued that the bilateral military-to-military ties are not complete without the visit of the Northern Commander.

After hectic diplomatic parleys, China subsequently rolled back its decision to issue paper visas to Jammu and Kashmir residents and gradually increased its interactions with the Northern area command whose area of operations covers 646 km of the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control between both the two countries besides border with Pakistan.
Bangladeshi freedom fighters, Indian Army veterans celebrate Vijay Diwas
The Vijay Diwas celebrations at the Eastern Command assume special significance as Mukti Jodhas and Indian war veterans who fought shoulder to shoulder reunite every year to celebrate this momentous occasion in history, an official release said.

Apart from this, homage was also paid to the martyrs of 1971 war at Amar Jawan Jyoti, India Gate, New Delhi by Union Minister of Defence and all three wings of Indian defence forces.

The "Vijay Diwas" commemoration ceremony was organized by the Dakshina Kannada Ex-Servicemen's Association, Mangaluru under the aegis of Shastavu Sri Bhoothanatheshwara Temple Trust and Lions Clubs International, District 317 D.

Bangladeshi "Mukti Jodhas" (freedom fighters), Indian war veterans and serving officers of the Armed Forces today commemorated their victory over Pakistani forces during the 1971 Liberation War here. "It was on this in 1971, that a declaration of cease-fire was brought into force ending the Indo-Pak War and resulting in the birth of the sovereign country of Bangladesh", it said.

It was on this day, that the largest military surrender after World War II took place at Dhaka when the General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Arora accepted the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani troops from Lt Gen AAK Niazi of the Pakistan Army.

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