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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

From Today's Papers - 05 Jan 2016

Final count: 5 dead, silence on ‘more’
NSG comes up with definitive figure of terrorists killed; combing operation continues in Pathankot
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 4
As operations to clear the Pathankot Air Force Station of terrorists continued for the third day, security forces came up with what could be construed as a definitive figure to end the confusion: the fifth terrorist had been killed today. They, however, chose to maintain silence on the possible presence of more terrorists inside, saying combing operations were underway.

Edit:unsatisfactory response
Earlier during the day, there were reports of six terrorists having been killed, with the last one blowing himself up, but the commanders on the ground did not officially mention any additional number  other than five.

“We have eliminated the fifth terrorist today and the combing and search operations are still continuing,” Maj Gen Dushyant Singh, Inspector General (Operations) of the National Security Guard (NSG), announced at the airbase this evening as an IAF C-130 Super Hercules special missions aircraft circled overhead and intermittent gunshots could be heard nearby.

Gunshots indicated the possible presence of more terrorists inside or a cautionary measure being undertaken by combat elements when faced with a doubtful situation.

The operations are being conducted by the NSG with support from the Army, which is contributing a “major combat element” along with medical and administrative support.

The IAF has also deployed its assets, including Mi-35 helicopter gunships, Mi-17 and Dhruv helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and its Garud special forces.

“Given the magnitude of the airbase, the search operations will continue till we can declare the station fully safe,” Maj Gen Dushyant Singh said, adding that all assets at the station, including personnel and families, were secure and safe. The air base is huge, spread over 75 acres with a residential area, a school and other amenities, besides technical facilities.

Senior officers said the Army was on a general alert since January 1 following inputs of a terror strike. The area around the air base remains cordoned off and access roads have been barricaded with armed Air Force guards along with the police manning the check-points.

Life beyond the vicinity of the air base appeared to continue as routine, with bustling markets and jostling traffic.

There have been no reports of any further casualties among NSG and armed forces personnel present at the airbase. Seven persons, including a Lieutenant Colonel have been killed in the operations, besides about 20 being injured.

Ravi Dhaliwal adds: The Army and Air Force were said to be under pressure from New Delhi to tear down the residential building where two terrorists had taken position after four co-attackers had been shot dead. The two, it is learnt, had entered the building last evening.

The Army, anticipating their move, had got the premises vacated. The building is adjacent to the Technical Area and has been partially damaged. It was during the blast that one of the ultras was killed while the remaining one managed to escape. A hunt is on to nab or kill him.

Experts also examined the drain from where the terrorists are believed to have entered the Air Force complex. The drain flows from outside the high-walled station, near the Akalgarh Gurdwara, to inside the base away from the Technical Area. That is the reason why the terrorists kept firing from the outskirts and failed to enter the space where high-tech air equipment, including a squadron of fighter planes and helicopters, has been parked.

Meanwhile, Punjab Police have formed a special team to trace the route taken by the terrorists to reach the outskirts of the air base. Some officers opine that the armed men trudged their way in from Paharipur village, near the border, in this district. However, another section says the terrorists might have come in from either Bamyal or from the border near Dinanagar. The police team is working in tandem with the BSF officials.
United Jehad Council claims responsibility
Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 4
United Jehad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of a dozen active and defunct militant organisations operating in Kashmir, has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Pathankot air base.

In a statement to the media, UJC spokesman Syed Sadaqat Hussain said the attack was carried out by militants linked to the “national highway squad”. The UJC is headquartered in Muzzafarabad, PoK, and was formed in 1990.

While suspense and confusion mounted as the Pathankot operation entered its third day on Monday, the security agencies were sure about the increasing footprint of Jaish-e-Mohammad’s involvement. At this time, the UJC’s claim has come as a surprise as it is considered more docile compared to radical groups Lashkar-e-Toiba and JeM.

The UJC also blamed New Delhi, the media and Indian armed forces for “suffering from a Pakistan phobia”.

The UJC is headed by Hizbul Mujahideen’s Syed Salahuddin and was initially a conglomerate of 13  groups operating in Kashmir. The prominent member organisations include Hizbul Mujahideen, Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen and Al Badr, while the rest have mostly become defunct.

In October 2003, reports had emerged that LeT and JeM, which had mostly Pakistan nationals, have been included in the conglomerate as observer members.
Rethink on FS talks, NSAs may engage
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
As the Pathankot operation entered its third day today, signs emerged of a rethink within the government on the foreign secretary-level talks scheduled for January 15 in Islamabad.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley indicated the change in the government thinking when asked if India would go ahead with the talks. “Let the operations get over; only then will the government take a view on such matters,” he told mediapersons after the National Security Council meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the Pathankot and Mazar-i-Sharif terror attacks, apart from the North-East earthquake.

On any connection between the Pathankot and Mazar-i-Sharif attacks, he said: “It is too early to comment.” Though a final decision on the postponement of the FS talks will be made only after the Pathankot operation ends, sources indicate the government is thinking if it should push for a dialogue between the National Security Advisers (NSA) before the FS talks.

The NSAs have been mandated by the two prime ministers to discuss terror while the mandate of the foreign secretaries is to decide the modalities for taking the comprehensive dialogue forward.
Four die in Siachen avalanche
Jawans of 3 Ladakh Scouts succumb despite being rescued
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 4
Four soldiers died after being hit by an avalanche in the Siachen Glacier in the remote Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, a defence official said today.

“Four jawans of 3 Ladakh Scouts were killed when their patrol party was hit by an avalanche yesterday morning. The victims were rescued but they died later,” defence spokesman SD Goswami said. Another official said the avalanche had hit the soldiers at the Siachen Glacier in Ladakh, a remote region comprising Leh and Kargil frontier districts that remain cut-off from rest of the state during winter.

The deceased have been identified as Havildar Dorjey Gason, Havildar Tsewang Norboo, Rifleman Jigmat Chosdup and Rifleman Mohmmad Yusuf. Goswami said the mortal remains of the soldiers would be handed over to their families after all medical formalities.

The Siachen Glacier is the world’s highest battlefield and has remained a site of regular skirmishes between the armies of India and Pakistan from 1984, when the Indian Army launched a pre-emptive military operation to secure its control, to 2003 when a ceasefire was announced along the Line of Control.

The remote areas of Ladakh region are prone to avalanches and avalanche-related casualties among soldiers guarding the Line of Control with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control with China are common during winter months.

Two soldiers and two Nepalese labourers working for the Army had died last year after avalanches hit two camps in Kargil district of remote Ladakh region.
25-hour siege of Indian Consulate in Afghanistan ends; 3 militants killed
Kabul/New Delhi, January 4
An intense 25-hour gun-battle between security forces and terrorists outside the Indian Consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif came to end tonight with the killing of all attackers who attempted to storm the mission building.

While three of the attackers were killed in the gunfight overnight, the remaining were neutralised by the night.

“Afghan officials have confirmed that the operation has ended,” said a Indian government source. “The clearance operation is over and all terrorists have all been killed,” said provincial police chief Sayed Kamal Sadat. Some reports said one of the attackers was captured alive but there was no confirmation about it.

A group of terrorists had attacked the Consulate at around 9.15 pm yesterday with an aim of storming the building but their plan was thwarted by the security forces. Earlier, official sources said special combat units of the Afghan National Police had recovered three bodies outside the Indian consulate.

Subsequently, some more terrorists were holed up in a five-storey building about 100 metres across the road from the Indian Consulate and security forces had launched a daunting onslaught to neutralise them.

“Our search operation is still going on inside the building," AFP quoted government spokesman Shir Jan Durrani as saying. According to him, one policeman was killed and 11 others injured in the encounter.

Officials said the Consulate came under attack at around 9.15 pm last night with at least two militants trying to "storm". ITBP guards deployed on the sentry post foiled their attempt by raining heavy fire on them.

They said at least seven Rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds were fired in the direction of the Consulate but all missed it.

Officials added that while there has been no damage to the five-storeyed and pink-coloured Consulate building A strong contingent of over four-dozen ITBP commandos has been securing this facility from 2008 apart from three other missions in the country and the main Embassy in the capital, Kabul.— PTI
NSG commando’s last rites in Kerala today
Shubhadeep Choudhury

Tribune News Service

Bengaluru, January 4
Karnataka CM Siddharamaiah today announced Rs30 lakh as compensation to the family of Lt Col Niranjan EK who died fighting terrorists at Pathankot.

Siddaramaiah said, “Karnataka had given Rs30 lakh as compensation to the family of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a martyr in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. We will give the same compensation to Niranjan’s family.”

Kumar’s body was brought to the HAL Airport at Bengaluru today and kept at the mortuary at Command Hospital. The body was brought to his residence around 7 am where family members burst into tears after they saw the mortal remains. Niranjan’s mother is no more. His family comprised his wife and a young child, father, elder brother, sister and stepmother and a stepbrother. His brother E Sharath is an IAF pilot. Union ministers Ananth Kumar and Sadananda Gowda, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, former Union minister Veerappa Moily paid tributes to the martyr.

The body was then flown by a Mi-17 helicopter to Niranjan’s native village Palakkad in Kerala where the cremation would take place tomorrow.
From Samba, he was only earning hand in his family
Vishal Jasrotia

Samba, January 4
Mool Raj, a Defence Security Corps (DSC) employee, was cremated with full military honours in Jakh village of Jammu & Kashmir’s Samba district.

His native village went into mourning soon after hearing the news of his death on Saturday. The village wore a sombre look as most shops remain closed.

The villagers paid homage to the martyr. Chander Prakash Ganga, state Minister for Industry and Commerce; Yashpal Singh, Brigadier, 92 Infantry Brigade, Joginder Singh, SSP, Samba; and officials of the district administration and the police were among those present at the funeral.

The sole earner in his family, Mool Raj is survived by his mother, wife Gayatri Devi, daughter Pooja (a student of BA-I) and son Ashish (in BA-II).

Mool Raj had received bullet injuries in his throat during the attack on January 2 and he later succumbed to his injuries in a military hospital.

Mool Raj had retired from the Dogra Regiment in 2002 and joined the DSC in 2004. He was now posted at the Pathankot Air Force station and had recently spent a vacation with his family.
ISI laying honeytraps on Facebook and Twitter to snare Indian defence personnel
According to security agencies, there is a dedicated team of ISI spies working to track vulnerable officers on social media.
Last year, in May, a top defence expert based in Delhi posted a picture of him posing in front of a military tank with an assault rifle in hand, on Facebook. Soon after he uploaded the image, the expert started receiving friend requests and chat invites from so many random admirers, especially women.

Taken aback by this sudden and unusual attention, the expert decided to share the matter with his associates in the defence forces. What he heard from them made his jaw drop. His female admirers were actually agents working for Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and were out to lure him into sharing sensitive and valuable details pertaining to defence operations.

According to Indian security agencies, ISI has been using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to honey trap unsuspecting Indian personnel by providing training to women on how to make explicit calls and chats, in a field traditionally dominated by men. The lure begins with friend requests.

Once the request is accepted, the chatting begins, eventually coaxing the personnel to share sensitive information. However if the officer is unwilling or sceptical, an offer of money ensues.

According to security agencies, there is a dedicated team of ISI spies working to track vulnerable officers on social media.
Deep reach

"The moment an officer discloses his online identity, he/she comes on the radar of spies who starts following him on the virtual world," says a senior officer investigating the ISI spy network on conditions of anonymity. "They (spies) also keep a track of their interest and hobbies to make a conversation and get friendly. Spies have created many a fake profile and identity on social media and use it according to their targets," says the officer.

The arrest of Indian Air Force airman Ranjith K K, last week, for allegedly passing sensitive information to his Facebook friend Damini McNaught is only the latest.

Ranjith, who joined IAF in 2010, had reportedly passed on classified information about IAF and its activities, including details of Operation Inderdhanush-a joint military exercise between India and the U.K. He also admitted to having passed on Air Force related information pertaining to movement of aircraft and deployment of various units in the IAF in exchange for monetary benefits, according to the police.

The airman allegedly had been in touch with the woman and had engaged in sex chats, for the last several months, before being finally arrested by the crime branch. The cops, however, are still not sure if her profile picture used to lure the personnel, created in 2012, is real or not. McNaught had portrayed herself as an executive of a Britain-based magazine to the arrested IAF man.

This is not the first time veteran army officers have fallen victim to honey trap on social networking sites. Ranjith is the sixth person to be arrested by Delhi police for being part of an espionage racket backed by the ISI. Five other people, including an ex-army officer and a serving BSF official have been booked last month.

In 2014, a Subedar attached to the Indian Army based in Hyderabad was trapped after investigations revealed that he compromised strategic information pertaining to movement of defence personnel, deployment, location of artillery centres, advanced weaponry, and army bases in exchange for monetary benefits to the tune of Rs 10 lakh from a woman named Anushka Aggarwal. Investigations also revealed that Aggarwal used to send her semi-nude pictures to her army client.

"Our investigation has revealed that ISI has set up a cyber wing equipped with modern technologies for massive online tracking. They are giving voice training to agents to appear more professional while dealing with defence personnel online," says a senior official with the central security agency. The woman who spoke to Ranjith, reportedly talked in a British accent to make the interaction more convincing and in line with her assumed identity as U.K.-based executive.

To counter espionage attacks, the defence forces already have a guideline in place that urges all its officials to be circumspect and not reveal their service identity while online or on any social networking sites. The security agencies are also keeping a tab on close to 2,000 retired and serving officers who are deemed as susceptible to influences and are likely to pass information for money or other favours.

The investigation has also revealed that the hackers, suspected to be from Pakistan or China, would 'make friends' with officer or with other members on his friend list to extract details of their location. Unfortunately, despite heightened vigilance, the lure of the devil seems to be too irresistible, at least for some.'
Reach of ISI spies in India is deep and entrenched

Indian security agencies may have recently arrested a number of people including senior defence personnel complicit in passing information to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), but the breakthrough is just a tip of the ISI's horrifying reach across the country.

Central security agencies suspect that the ISI has managed to plant spies across the country and the network is deep-rooted. They have also managed to establish links in government organisations, including defence establishments.

Security agencies claim that ISI is extracting information by deploying or grooming agents who do recee on behalf of their Pakistani masters and then pass on information. They are also strengthening their web attack by secretly attacking Indian network with deadly viruses that transfer confidential files back to them. The government, however, officially denies any successful high tech attacks that have led to the compromising of computer networks.

ISI is also expanding its technical intelligence on social media by tracking defence personnel and other government official by honey trapping them.

Though there is no clear estimate on the number of people spying for ISI or any other intelligence agencies in India, it is believed that the Pakistani spy agency already has information pertaining to all important buildings and establishments in India.

However, some cases are serious, where the ISI has asked for specific details of important places along with By Shashank Shekhar pictures and other logistics. A Pakistan national who was arrested by UP STF from Meerut in December last year allegedly sent recordings of the landing of Mirage 2000 on the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida.

The IB has found that many Indians, who travel to Pakistan legally, are being lured into becoming spies. Many Indians visit Pakistan in order to meet their relatives or for some other work. ISI agents are present at entry and exit routes in Pakistan and try to trap vulnerable Indians and use them to get information.

According to a highly placed source, the series of arrest made in Delhi, Kashmir, Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan came only after months of surveillance by the Intelligence Bureau (IB). They launched a major operation against collection of such information and zeroed in on suspected spies after intercepting calls and web communication.

The arrests were finally made after specific information was given to the state police.

But the biggest concern for intelligence agencies is to identify spies, who are spread across the country and but have gone underground.

"It is very difficult to identify spies. They can be tracked only with human or technical intelligence both of which are in acute shortage,"said a senior government officer.
I will send my grandson to join Indian Army: father of Pathankot martyr
The bodies of two Himachal Pradesh martyrs Rana, 50, and Jagdish Chand, 58, of village Basa Gola in Siyunta area of Chamba district were consigned to flames with full state honours today
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Holding back his tears, Havaldar Sanjeevan Rana’s father Rattan Singh, himself an ex-servicemen, said his son’s supreme sacrifice for the nation while fighting terrorists will not go to waste.

“Let Indian government muster the courage and give a befitting reply to the terrorists’ country (Pakistan). Jab tak Pakistan ko eent ka wajib pathar se nahin diya jayega, hamare jawan shaheed hote rahenge ( Till Pakistan is not given a befitting reply, Indian jawans will keep attaining martyrdom like this,” he said

Rana was cremated in his village Sehwan, near Shahpur in Kangra district.
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The bodies of two Himachal Pradesh martyrs Rana, 50, and Jagdish Chand, 58, of village Basa Gola in Siyunta area of Chamba district were consigned to flames with full state honours today after the Army and Airforce brought the bodies wrapped in tricolour to their native place. Both were retired army personnel and were serving as Defence Security Core at the Pathankot airforce base station. Jagdish Chand, who was transferred to Pathankot from Leh only few days ago, had killed one terrorist by snatching his weapon before other militants gunned him down.

Transport minister G S Bali and Col (Rtd) Dhani Ram Shandil were flown from Shimla in a government helicopter to attend the cremation of the Jawans. People numbering in hundreds bade a tearful adieu to the gallant jawans as Shubam, son of Sanjeevan Rana, performed the last rites. A pall of gloom descended on the area and slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki jai’ rent the air.

“I have also fought three wars against Pakistan. But my son has outdid me by making a supreme sacrifice. It’s a rare act of heroism and his sacrifice will be remembered. I also feel equally proud for other martyrs who gave their blood to Bharat Mata to protect its dignity and honour. I will send my grandson to the Indian army,” Rattan Singh said.

Equally gloomy scenes were witnessed at Basa Gola village where body of Jagdish Chand was consigned to flames with full state and military honour. Forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Deputy Commissioner Chamba M Sudha Devi and Local SP were among the hundreds who paid tribute to the martyr.

“We are a family of soldiers. Of four brothers, three are serving/and had served the Indian army. Our father was also ex-armymen. It’s a loss to the family but I think with his (Jagdish) sacrifice, nation has gained a pride. He (Jagdish) killed a terrorist before his martyrdom, is not a small thing,” says Budhi Singh, his brother and a retired armymen.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed grief over the death of two soldiers from Himachal Pradesh and announced a financial assistance of Rs 20 lakh to the families.

“Hav Sanjeevan Rana and Hav Jagdish Chand sacrificed their lives for maintaining the unity, integrity and security of the nation. Brave soldiers of Himachal Pradesh had always made supreme sacrifices for sake of the country,” the chief minister said.

State Governor Acharya Devvrat has also expressed grief over the tragedy. During Kargil war, Himachal Pradesh had lost 52 soldiers, 15 of them were from Kangra. Capt Vikram Batra and Sepoy Sanjay Kumar were conferred Paramvir Chakras for their bravery and valour during the war.
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