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Monday, 29 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 29 Feb 2016

3 suspects in Pak police custody
Lahore, February 28
An anti-terrorism court has remanded three suspects arrested in Pakistan in connection with the Pathankot terror attack in six-day police remand, days after an FIR was registered in the high-profile case.

The three accused — Khalid Mahmood, Irshadul Haque and Muhammad Shoaib — were presented before ATC-2 judge Bushra Zaman in Gujranwala, 70 km from here, in the Punjab province on Saturday.

The judge granted six-day “physical remand” of the suspects and handed them over to the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police, the Dawn reported.

They are said to be involved in the January 2 attack on the key Indian Air Force base in Pathankot.

The three were arrested by the CTD from a rented house near Chand Da Qila bypass over suspicion that they were facilitators of the attack. The three suspects denied the charges and were shifted to an undisclosed location for investigation.

The CTD earlier this month registered an FIR against the unknown attackers in Gujranwala. The FIR was lodged under Sections 302, 324 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code, and Sections 7 and 21-I of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

It is not known when the three were arrested but it is believed that that might have been arrested well before the registration of the FIR and probed which provided enough evidence to proceed against them in the court of law, officials said. Seven security personnel were killed when suspected terrorists of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) stormed the Pathankot airbase on January 2. — PTI
Modi’s Pak policy is a puzzle
“Mutually respectful relationship”?
THE January 2 Pathankot airbase terrorist attack overshadowed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Christmas day Lahore stopover. It has threatened Modi’s initiative which desired nothing less than the positive transformation of the India-Pakistan relationship. The government has till now handled the issue delicately in an attempt to preserve the essence of the Modi endeavour while trying to assuage the national outrage at the attack.

The government has refrained from directly or indirectly accusing Pakistani official agencies from any role in the Pathankot attack. In a departure from the past, it has engaged Pakistan through regular contacts between the National Security Adviser and the Foreign Secretary with their Pakistani counterparts to urge that action be taken against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) which carried it out. Information and leads, including telephone numbers called in Pakistan, have been given. Obviously, the government hopes that its current approach would elicit Pakistani cooperation. As the President said in his address to the joint sitting of Parliament on February 23 that India was committed to the creation of “an environment of cooperation in combating cross-border terrorism”. 

Pakistan registered an FIR against unknown persons for the attack last week. This enables it to formally begin investigations in accordance with the law. The FIR was confined to the information conveyed by the Indian NSA — and mentioned its source — even though it is obvious that in the six weeks since the attack,  the Pakistani authorities have carried out their own inquiries. Government sources have indicated satisfaction at the Pakistani step though the Raksha Mantri has said it is not enough. The question, however, is: why did Pakistan take six weeks to take this step? The FIR could have been registered in the immediate aftermath of the attack, especially as it merely recorded what India had conveyed. There is little reason to be happy at Pakistan finally doing what it should have immediately on being told of the attack. Bending backwards to seek the generals’ cooperation is not sound policy.

Post-FIR registration there are reports of raids and arrests being made in Pakistan’s Punjab province. In an interview on India-Pakistan relations on January 21, Pakistan foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz revealed to an Indian TV channel that JeM chief Masood Azhar had been in “protective custody” since mid-January. Pakistan will send an SIT to India. It is now trying to show that it is seriously investigating the attack. This is partly to prove that it is serious about terrorism, and wants the two foreign secretaries to work out the modalities of the India-Pakistan Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

The Pakistani court hearing the Mumbai trial recently insisted that Indian witnesses be produced before it. If this approach is adopted by the Pakistani judiciary then no successful prosecution can result in cross-border terrorism cases. Has this matter been addressed in the NSA discussions?

In his interview, Sartaj Aziz stressed the need for an India-Pakistan engagement to take SAARC forward, at a time of global turbulence. However, his basic approach to bilateral ties remained rooted in the sterile Pakistani concerns of the past. More worrying was his casual and dismissive attitude on India’s concerns on cross-border terrorism.

Aziz said India was obsessed with terrorism and that it was only one item of the bilateral dialogue agenda. He dismissed the Headley revelations about the nexus between Pakistani terrorist groups and the country’s intelligence agencies as valueless. Worse, he gave Hafiz Saeed a clean chit from the charge of fomenting terrorism against India. Instead, he praised the terrorist’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s “humanitarian” activities. This was nothing but a reiteration of old and standard Pakistani positions.

He reiterated Pakistan’s position on the need to resolve outstanding issues, including J&K. Thus Pakistan’s basic message is clear: unless India addresses its interests, terrorism would not be controlled. A linkage is always and especially established between terrorism and the resolution of the Kashmir issue. In 1998, after the Composite Dialogue Process began, I had said to a senior Pakistan public figure that now that the dialogue process was on, Pakistani terrorism should end. He replied: “If it stopped would India talk to Pakistan?”

The Pakistani approach on terror has remained consistent. It is an essential part of the country’s security doctrine, but it is also seen by some Pakistanis as a diplomatic lever. However, not only successive Indian governments, but the entire Indian political and security apparatus has sought to ignore it in the hope that better sense will prevail in Pakistan. Besides, these classes have essentially considered Pakistani terrorism against India as an issue of political management. A major terrorist attack causes national outrage and the only recourse that the government has is to postpone the dialogue process. As and when it considers that the public sentiment has abated, it seeks to resume the engagement till another attack again disrupts the process. It is because it has been relegated to only a political issue that all the resources of the state are not gathered to combat it. Initially, the Pakistani generals were concerned if Modi would depart from this cyclical approach, but now feel that he is no different from his predecessors. If anything, he is, after the Pathankot attack, displaying a greater desire to preserve the engagement than them. 

That Modi will allow a meeting of the foreign secretaries is certain. What is not, is its timing. The US is keen that India and Pakistan maintain the momentum of the engagement. Modi and Sharif will be in Washington in end-March to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit. Will Modi attempt to earn US goodwill by permitting the foreign secretaries meeting for which Pakistan is keen prior to his US visit? Or will he not wish to do so during the Parliament session? It is probable that the two prime ministers will meet if only for a few minutes. Modi may press for a face-to-face interaction of the NSAs before the foreign secretaries meet, but Pakistan is likely to resist that.

The President also said in his February 23 address that India was committed to the establishment of a “mutually respectful relationship” with Pakistan. Such a formulation has not been used in the past in the context of bilateral ties. Is it lifted from the first principle of Panchsheel which was enunciated by Nehru in the context of Sino-Indian ties — “mutual respect for each others territorial integrity and sovereignty”? Or is it meant to respond to Pakistani demands that it be treated with dignity and honour? What is the government really signalling? It needs to clarify.
Brain dead Army man’s liver gives woman new lease of life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
A brain dead Army man’s liver gave a new lease of life to a Patiala woman, who had a damaged liver due to autoimmune hepatitis, at the PGI here today.

“Continuing with the practice of organ sharing between various hospitals in the region, an organ donated by a brain dead patient at the Command Hospital in Chandimandir was transplanted to a patient at the PGI,” an official spokesperson said.

She disclosed that an Army man, aged 39, unfortunately suffered from intracranial haemorrhage and was admitted to the Command Hospital. He was declared brain dead by doctors there.

“The wife of the patient took a noble decision of donating the organs of her husband. As no recipient was available at the Command Hospital for liver with the same blood group, they decided to share the liver with the PGI, Chandigarh,” the spokesperson said.

She revealed that the liver was successfully harvested by a team of experts from the Command Hospital and the PGI and transported to the PGI around 10 am on Saturday. “This was successfully transplanted to a female patient from Patiala,” the PGI spokesperson said.
Amid F-16 row, Pak, US hold talks today
Islamabad, February 28
Pakistan and the US will tomorrow hold a ministerial-level strategic dialogue on key areas including economy, security and counterterrorism, amid strong opposition by India as well as US lawmakers on the proposed F-16 deal to Islamabad.

Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will lead the Pakistani delegation while Secretary of State John Kerry will lead the US side for the 6th round of the strategic dialogue to be held in Washington, Radio Pakistan reported today.

The six segments of the strategic dialogue include cooperation in economy and finance; energy; education, science and technology; law enforcement and counterterrorism; security, strategic stability and non-proliferation and defence.

It will be the third annual meeting since the present government has come to power. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the United States in October last year had given the necessary impetus to the dialogue mechanism, the report said.

The dialogue process began in 2010 but interrupted in 2011 when the US forces killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in a midnight raid. The process resumed in 2014 when Aziz and Kerry met in Washington in January.

The key meeting will take place soon after the US announced to sell eight F-16 fighter jets worth $700 million to Pakistan, despite objection from India and mounting opposition from influential American lawmakers. Kerry has argued that these fighter jets are a “critical” part of Pakistan’s fight against terrorists. — PTI
Indian Army grapples with arms, gear shortage
NEW DELHI: Long-winded procedures and bureaucratic bottlenecks continue to stymie the already long-delayed modernisation of the Army, which is grappling with shortages in several areas ranging from modern assault rifles, bullet-proof jackets and night-fighting capabilities to howitzers, missiles and helicopters.

The Navy and IAF, however, have done much better. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday told Lok Sabha that 162 arms contracts worth Rs 1.33 lakh crore with Indian and foreign manufacturers were signed from 2012-13 to 2014-15. In the ongoing fiscal, 44 such contracts worth Rs 39,955 crore have been inked so far.

But the "persisting operational hollowness" in the 1.18-million strong Army is the big worry. Over 140 modernisation projects, worth over Rs 2.30 lakh crore, are currently meandering their way through the labyrinth of South Block corridors. "The Army contracts inked this fiscal amount to just Rs 5,800 crore," said a source.
While a few of the 140 projects are new, most of them are years old. Induction of third-generation shoulder-fired ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles), for instance, has been hanging fire for over a decade now. Sources say acquisition of "Spike" ATGMs from Israel is among the 22 projects, together worth over Rs 22,000 crore, stuck in final commercial negotiations.

A stage ahead of these 22 projects are 10 contracts — worth around Rs 24,000 crore — awaiting financial approval and nod from the cabinet committee on security. These include the 4th regiment of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, two Pinaka rocket regiments and the medium-range surface-toair missile systems.
Top Comment
Time to strengthen.... with patriotic govt in place...A Nair

Taking note of the continuing delays, Parrikar at the defence acquisitions council meeting on Tuesday directed officials to ensure that 86 modernisation schemes for the three Services that are close to finalization — worth around Rs 1.5 lakh crore — should be wrapped up in the next four to five months.

Some delays also take place because of the Army's formulation of unrealistic technical parameters (general staff qualitative requirements) as well as corruption scandals. "This often leads to the scrapping of tenders or RFPs (request for proposal) despite years being spent on initial processing and trials," said the defence ministry source.
Punjab Police train with Indian Army in counter-terrorism ops 25-member Punjab Police team has undergone advanced training in ‘counter insurgency’ ...

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Jammu: A select team from the Punjab Police completed a joint training session with the Indian Army today. An Indian Army Spokesperson based out of...

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Senior officials from the Indian Army and Punjab Police witnessed the training sessions. “The initiative provided an opportunity for both the Indian A...

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Saturday, 27 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 27 Feb 2016

New Pak team for Pathankot attack probe
Islamabad: Pakistan has set up a five-member Joint Investigation Team to probe the terror attack on the Pathankot air base, a week after it lodged an FIR without naming JeM chief Masood Azhar, who India accuses of being the mastermind.

The team, formed by the Punjab Government, is expected to visit India “shortly” to gather evidence if given permission.

Earlier, a six-member Special Investigation Team was set up to probe the leads given by India. The SIT would become dysfunctional once the government transfers its powers to the JIT.

The FIR was lodged on the basis of information provided by NSA Ajit Doval that the attackers crossed into India and attacked the air base on January 2. — PTI
CRPF dispels militant threat to high-rises, residents worried
Samaan Lateef

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 26
Security forces have brushed aside the vulnerability of high-rise buildings for being used by militants to carry out attacks on security forces, saying the recent Pampore attack was a one-off thing and will not be a trendsetter. People who work or live close to these high-rises are worried about their safety.

The priority of militants is to attack a security picket and hide in a nearby built-up area to extend the gunfight, said top security officials. “The JKEDI attack is one of the attacks and does not necessarily mean that suicide attacks will increase in Kashmir,” said Nalin Prabath, IG (Operations), CRPF.

In the ongoing “asymmetric warfare” in Kashmir with several militant outfits present in the Valley, Prabath said security forces took suicide attacks very seriously. “Security forces and not buildings are the target of militants and not the buildings,” he said.

The IG said militants first attacked a security picket to get noticed and then hid in a nearby built-up area for stretching the time of the gunfight.

In the attack on the Srinagar outskirts, militants used a multi-storey building of the JKEDI to target security forces. The 48-hour-long assault that began on Saturday ended when security forces, backed by UAVs, fired mortars on the last attackers who had seized the building.

Three Army commandos — including two Captains, two CRPF men, three militants and a civilian were killed during the three-day standoff between militants and security forces.

Srinagar has seen a construction boom in recent years, but many buildings that have come up near security installations have created fear psychosis among people following the JKEDI attack.

“We have several buildings around the Civil Secretariat and Assembly, which can be easily used by anyone who wants to attack them,” said Showkat Ahmad, living in Shaheed Ganj locality near the Chief Minister’s office.

Srinagar has such buildings all over the city; some close to military installations. “These buildings have been built by ignoring norms. They pose a security threat,” said a private bank employee working at a multi-storey building in Lal Chowk.

A senior police official said the security of multi-storey buildings at strategic places in Srinagar would be reviewed for the safety of people.
350-km LoC in Kashmir valley has 40-50 infiltration routes
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 26
The nearly 350-km-long Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir has many “porous infiltration avenues” which are close to launch pads across the fence, claimed defence sources. 

There are of 40-50 routes where from militants find it easy to sneak into the Valley, sources said.

Even if the LoC is buried deep under snow the infiltration never seizes. The militants killed in the recent gunfights at Chowkibal in Kupwara district and Pampore in Pulwama district had “infiltrated recently”.

The Army, however, has maintained that infiltration from across the LoC into Kashmir was down to a “trickle” as compared to infiltration figures of earlier years.

Defence sources said that infiltration avenues are correlated with launching pads, general areas and the reception area.

“The group of trained militants is put at a launch pad in PoK where they are provided weapons. They along with a guide do probing actions for five to six days along the LoC before sneaking into the Valley,” said a Defence official. “And when Pakistani Army fires at our posts, the waiting militants get an opportunity to sneak in as our observation gets affected.”

The official said infiltration routes keep on changing from time to time and over the years some routes have become active while others have turned dormant.

Of late, major infiltration attempts are being made in the frontier Kupwara sector and it is turning out to be a key area for militants to sneak into the Valley.

The infiltration along the LoC in Baramulla and Bandipora districts has dipped even though militants have not stopped infiltrating through these sectors.

Sources said there were 16-17 launching pads across the LoC in the Kashmir region.

The LoC in Kashmir runs from lofty peaks of Gulmarg in Baramulla to Kupwara and Gurez in Bandipora district.

Along its long and arduous course the LoC also passes through several fresh water streams. It is fenced with barbed wire and sophisticated equipment like UAVs, high-power cameras, thermal imagers and long-range observation system to notice any movement.

Two divisions of Army —one based in Baramulla and another in Kupwara man the stretch. The easiest and shortest infiltration route to the Valley is through the Keran sector.

The sector, sources said, has three infiltration avenues. Though there is heavy presence of Army in the area to counter any infiltration attempts, militants often try to enter into Kashmir through this sector.

After Keran, the other favourite infiltration route in Kupwara is Machil. Almost all the infiltrators coming into the Valley through the Kupwara sector have to cross the vast Shamsabari forest range to reach the hinterland.

The Tangdhar sector in frontier Kupwara district had been laid inactive for a long time, but since last six years the route has got activated again.

The toughest infiltration route, however, is through the Gurez sector of Bandipora district.

Militants sneak through Kanzalwan and Nowshewra ridges before entering Bandipora. The Gurez sector is surrounded by 14,000-feet high mountain range.

In the Uri sector of Baramulla, traditional infiltration routes emanate from high mountain passes. The sector is dormant now unlike past when it was the favourite route for militants. Same is the case with Gulmarg, which has not seen much activity in the recent past.

“The routes can get active any time as launch pads are there to push militants,” said another Defence official.
Commander warns of calls from Pak agents
Pune: The Southern Command of the Indian Army has sounded an alert against Pakistani intelligence agents targeting its officers and jawans as well as civilians, including children of services personnel, for defence related information through dubious calls, claiming to be senior Indian Army officers or civilian authorities.

Southern Army Commander Lt Gen Bipin Rawat said here on Friday, "We are getting a lot of calls from Pakistani agents. They call up anybody to ask information. Earlier, such calls were restricted to the Indian Army officers but, of late, the scope is expanding to our jawans and anybody who can give defence related information.

"For instance, railway station masters in forward areas like Jaisalmer and Jodhpur in Rajasthan that witness troop movements, people associated with defence equipment procurement, food and essential supplies and even children of services personnel," he said.

Rawat, who took over as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief at the Headquarters, Southern Command, in January, was speaking informally to reporters at the National War Memorial. "We need to make people aware and guard against such calls. People should contact the nearest police or army unit in case of getting such a call so that the authorities can trace it," he added.

He said, "Our men get a lot of calls where, for instance, the caller claims to be a brigadier from the army headquarters or some senior army official. Sometimes our gullible jawan, who is under confusion that a brigadier is calling from the army headquarters and his officer is not available, finds himself vulnerable as the caller asks for information like who is the officer on the desk, who is the army commander, where is he or is he going anywhere for an exercise."

Rawat said, "Some of the railway station masters keep getting calls, wherein the caller claims to be a divisional railway manager or some senior railway authority and seeks information about the movement of troops. This has happened in forward areas like Jaisalmer and Jodhpur in Rajasthan."

He said, "Now, even students of Kendriya Vidyalayas and children of services officers and personnel are getting these calls seeking information about their father, whether he has gone on some army exercise etc."

On the terror threat to the Southern Command headquarters, as was evident from jailed Pakistani-American terror operative David Coleman Headley's recent deposition before a Mumbai court trying the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Rawat said, "We have to be wary about attempts by terror elements to disrupt economic growth and development in heavy capital investment places like Mumbai and Pune."

He said, "We have a neighbour who has decided to involve us in a proxy war and anywhere we are seeing development taking place, it is not to their liking and they would try to disrupt this development."

Myanmar opts out from 'Exercise Force 18'

The southeast Asian country of Myanmar, which is going through a transition phase from a military to a democratic regime, has withdrawn its participation from the multinational training event, 'Exercise Force 18', involving Asean and Plus countries.

Another Asean country, Cambodia, will be sending its observers for the largest ever multinational training exercise being hosted by the Indian Army in Pune from March 2 to 8.

"Myanmar has cited its own internal compulsions for dropping out from the exercise. Cambodia is yet to have an established structure of army that can participate in UN peacekeeping missions. Hence, it has decided to send observers," Southern Army Commander Lt Gen Bipin Rawat said.

The exercise will focus on UN peacekeeping and humanitarian mine removal activities. It will feature various demonstrations by the participating contingents.

Friday, 26 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 26 Feb 2016

Why this goof-up in Haryana?
The haste with which the Army was deployed in Haryana by airlifting troops to Rohtak is a serious matter. The Army is the last resort for quelling civilian riots, not the first one. What Haryana did is akin to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.
In the midst of military operation to quell the Jat protest in Haryana there was an innocuous media report suggesting that Army personnel had been put under the command of BS Sandhu, Additional DGP (Law and Order). The report also said that the state government has asked the Army to be called in eight districts. In this matter the "Chief Secretary had spoken to the Army Chief and the Chief Minister to the Defence Minister". The effort was to deploy the Army as soon as possible to control the situation. 

This report went viral on the veteran's email circuit with some senior officers, including former Generals, venting their spleen at the humiliation meted out to the Army by placing its men under the command of the police. Lt Gen (retd) SK Bahri shot off an angry letter to the Union Home Minister.  Lt Gen Shokin Chauhan, GOC, 1 Corps quickly intervened and clarified the position in an email: “The troops in Haryana are from 1 Corps, which I command and there is no question about they being under anyone's command other than mine… I visited them yesterday and today the Army Commander was with them. We have a commander in each district commanding his troops. The police assist us in identifying local people, tracks and disturbed areas.” This assuaged the veterans and the anger faded away. But the bitter fact is that there is a huge trust deficit between the government and the veterans, which is also has a ripple effect on serving soldiers. This is not in national interest.

The Haryana government seems to have goofed up the entire handling of the situation. The provision of the Army in aid of civil authority is governed by Section 130 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This legal clause states that decision to requisition "armed forces"  to disperse "violent assembly of people," which cannot otherwise be dispersed by the police or other forces available, should be taken by the “Executive Magistrate of the highest rank,” which is the District Magistrate, called the Deputy Commissioner in Haryana. Such Magistrate “may require any officer in command of any group of persons belonging to the armed forces to disperse the assembly with the help of the armed forces under his command, and to arrest and confine such persons forming part of it as the Magistrate may direct, or as it may be necessary to arrest and confine in order to disperse the assembly or to have them punished according to law." Law also says that “every such officer of the armed forces shall obey such requisition in such manner as he thinks fit, but in so doing he shall use as little force and do as little injury to person and property, as may be consistent with dispersing the assembly and arresting and detaining such persons.” Law and the standard operating procedure are clear. District Magistrates are the competent authority to requisition the Army as the local situation demands. After requisition, when the situation is handed over to the Army by a written order from the Magistrate, the Army is entirely in control with the officer-in-command in charge. Only that the Army is expected to bring the situation under control quickly and hand it back to the civil authorities and exit the scene.  The Army presence, at best, should be just about for a week.

Under no circumstance can the Army be placed under the command of the police. This is an essential part of fair civil administration because the Army is expected to be totally impartial and unprejudiced while dealing with an explosive law and order situation, which might have arisen because of excess committed by the police resulting in a head-on confrontation with the rioting public. Neither is there any provision for “bulk requisitioning” of the Army by the Chief Secretary or the Chief Minister directly dealing with the Army Chief or the Defence Minister.

These are serious distortions that have crept into basic governance over a period of time due to civil servants pandering to the whims of politicians.  The haste with which Army was deployed in Haryana by airlifting troops to Rohtak is another serious matter. Army is the last resort for quelling civilian riots, not the first one. What Haryana did is akin to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. What is strange is that Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who belongs to Haryana, appears to have taken personal interest in this “show of extreme force.” As the Eastern Army Commander, he had taken more than four days to move the Army when Kokrajhar and a few other districts of Assam were burning from communal violence and the death toll had crossed 100. District Magistrates there had requisitioned the force directly and the Army was already in deployment near district towns. Yet Suhag had cited procedures for the delay, which is contrary to the mandate of Section 130 CrPC. There is a lurking suspicion that he may have become an unwitting accomplice to a well-manipulated plan to silence democratic dissent sweeping all over the country.

This has happened despite the presence of nearly 50 companies, or around 5,000 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in the state, in addition to over 60,000 Haryana policemen, including Special Armed Police based in Madhuban near Karnal. In addition, there are several other paramilitary forces with huge strength whose services could have been requisitioned.

The Army Doctrine-2004 clearly defines its role in national security and maintenance of law and order. The primary role is to preserve national interests and safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unity of India against any external threats by deterrence or by waging war. The secondary role is to assist Government agencies to cope with "proxy war" and other internal threats and provide aid to civil authority when requisitioned for the purpose. Relegating the Army to its secondary role by constant troop deployment on internal security duties, dilutes the Army's authority, corrupts ranks and compromises efficiency through lack of training. Besides, over time soldiers of the Army are looked upon merely as riot controllers in olive green, losing the respect and mystique they traditionally enjoyed. This also lulls the bloated civil police and paramilitary forces that continue to grow, but remain incapable of maintaining law and order. Haryana's proud Jat community reducing themselves to seek charity from the government in the form of quota is bad enough. But resorting to such violence and rioting is a permanent blur on this martial community. There must very strong socio-economic compulsions for Jats to take to this inglorious path. Powers that be in Haryana must learn one lesson from this royal goof-up. That is, to properly diagnose the causes for this flare-up and take remedial steps before it is too late. Letting loose the Army's might is certainly not the answer.
Pak militant arrested in Baramulla
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 25
A Jaish-e-Mohammad militant from Pakistan has been arrested from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

He was a member of the group that had carried out an attack on an Army installation at Tangdhar in Kupwara in November last year.

The militant is part of the Afzal Guru squad, named after hanged Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Mohammad Sidiq, alias Shahid, a resident of Sialkot, was arrested on the outskirts of Baramulla during a joint operation by security forces.

The police said the 18-year-old militant seemed to have been inducted by Jaish founder Masood Azhar. The militant had entered Baramulla almost 15 days back and was planning to carry out an attack.

“Based on specific information, multiple operations were launched in and around Baramulla. After sustained operations, one terrorist, Mohammad Sidiq, was overpowered and apprehended near Kansipora in Baramulla,” said Gareeb Das, Deputy Inspector General of Police, north Kashmir.

During questioning, the militant admitted that he was a part of a squad that carried out the attack on an Army base at Tangdhar in Kupwara in November last year. On November 25 last year, the Army foiled a suicide attack and killed three Jaish militants who tried to storm an Army base in Tangdhar.

The arrested militant told interrogators that the four-member group had been launched from Athmuqam in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

He said they crossed the LoC late on November 24 and walked to the Army base. “He set afire the oil depot inside the Army camp at Tangdhar,” Das said.

The police said he fled through the forest area and shifted to Kupwara. He was in touch with handlers, who advised him to contact an overground worker in Kupwara. The militant reached Kupwara along with a rifle.

“We had a tip-off that four militants were involved in the November 25 attack in Tangdhar. Earlier this month, we busted a Jaish module in Handwara. From there, we came to know that the militant had shifted to Baramulla. After working on various leads, we busted the five-member network in Baramulla,” Das said.
Salahuddin’s son evacuated during Pampore gunfight
Ishfaq Tantry

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 25
During the 48-hour-long gunfight between three militants and government forces in Pampore which ended on Monday, security forces had evacuated the youngest son of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.

Syed Mueed Yousuf (29) was trapped along with over 100 civilians, including employees of the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), inside the building.

He is a manager, information technology, at the JKEDI. He was evacuated by security forces from the hostel building, adjacent to the main JKEDI building where the gunfight took place.

On Monday, when the gunfight ended, the United Jihad Council (UJC), headed by Salahuddin, hailed the attackers. The UJC said the attackers would be rewarded and threatened more attacks targeting government installations.

“Mueed was on the third floor of the JKEDI building along with other employees. They were first taken to the hostel building and later rescued. Mueed and other rescued civilians were taken away in a bullet-proof vehicle,” said a police officer.

Asked if security forces were aware of his presence in the JKEDI, the officer said, “Had he been harmed, security forces would have faced a lot of accusations.”

Salahuddin (70) has two other sons. Unlike their father, who had crossed the LoC soon after unsuccessfully contesting the 1987 Assembly elections, they had chosen a different path.

Mueed did a BTech course and got employed as manager, information technology. Salahuddin’s eldest son is a doctor and another is a medical assistant.

Mueed’s colleague, who was trapped inside the hostel building before they being evacuated, said, “He was afraid like everyone else and broke his hand while frantically running for cover as bullets flew from both sides.” He added that the attackers did not intend to take hostages.

It was during the evacuation that a JKEDI employee, gardener from a Pulwama village in south Kashmir, was killed after a bullet hit him in the abdomen.

Mueed could not be contacted as he had lost his mobile phone at the JKEDI, said sources. Many witnesses said the militants, while asking civilians to leave the JKEDI complex soon after attacking the CRPF convoy, had told them to leave behind their belongings, particularly mobile phones.

Kashmir’s top separatist leaders had been facing criticism that none of their immediate relatives had joined militancy while they “exhorted others” to join “armed struggle”.

Former RAW chief AS Dulat, in his recently released book “Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years”, had claimed that Salauddin intelligence bureau in Srinagar had received a call from Salahuddin, requesting help in getting one of his sons enrolled in a medical college. This accusation was later “strongly refuted” by Salahuddin.
JNU could install 'wall of fame for India's military heroes' in bid to shed anti-national tag

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Having suffered a major dent in its image following the sedition row, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) looks all set for an image makeover.

The JNU administration is considering a suggestion to have defence symbols and a wall of fame of India’s military heroes, particularly those who were ex-JNU-ites, inside the campus.

The plan was suggested by ex-servicemen, and means there might soon be symbols of army tanks and a memorial for jawans inside the campus.

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According to varsity officials, a group of ex-servicemen had visited the campus and suggested this idea. The development assumes great significance in wake of the ongoing debate over alleged antinational activities in JNU. Recently, the government has also directed all central universities to fly the National Tricolor as a symbol of nationalism.

“They gave us the idea of a wall of fame for army soldiers who died on battlefield. We liked the suggestion and might consider the idea of having it on campus. Not only a memorial for soldiers but also military symbols,” said Prof Bupinder Zutshi, registrar of the university.

Ex-servicemen have been vocal about the ‘anti-national’ tag on the university and some of them have even threatened to return their JNU degrees.

A letter was sent to the vice-chancellor of the university by defence veterans. The ex-servicemen of the 54th NDA course had written to the V-C, saying they “find it difficult” to be associated with an institution that has become a "hub of anti-national activities".

They had also organised a rally on Sunday, attended by students, teachers, professors and residents of Delhi, from Raj Ghat to Jantar Mantar. It saw marchers fervently waving the tricolour and raising slogans like 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' while some of them said nothing is above ‘nationalism’.

Major General (retd.) Dhruv C Katoch had on Saturday said the rally was organised by an apolitical group 'People for Nation'. More than 10,000 people participated in it.

In another development, the JNU administration has incorporated two more members from the teaching faculty to the enquiry committee on the sedition case.

“We wanted it to be broad-based as there were allegations that only science professors were in the committee. We are sending all the information to the ministry also,” Prof Zutshi added.

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Pune: Indian Army to train foreign military t
From Wednesday, the Indian Army has begun a week-long training of military trainers from ASEAN Plus countries in Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) and Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) in the backdrop of the upcoming multinational Field Training Exercise (FTX) to be held from March 2.

Exercise FORCE 18, the largest multinational FTX, is being conducted by the Indian Army from March 2-8 in Pune. With focus on HMA and PKO, this will be the maiden multinational exercise ever conducted by ground forces on Indian soil and will see the participation of 18

ASEAN Plus nations including China, USA, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
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“The essence of the exercise would be to learn and share the best practices with other armies of the world and display India’s commitment towards peace and stability in the region,” a press release by the Defence PRO said. Officials said that the training would be conducted at Aundh Military Station and College of Military Engineering.

Over 25 trainers from these countries, who arrived in Pune on Tuesday, would be trained by experts trainers in the Indian Army. The release further said, “The conversion of training material into native languages would be done. The trainers would thus form a dynamic role to cater to challenges of language barriers and formulate common operating procedures.”
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