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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 03 Feb 2016

ISI mole in Mamoon cantt arrested
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 2
The Army nabbed a labourer, Irshad Ahmed, working inside the Mamoon cantonment on charges of spying for Pakistan. He was handed over to the Punjab Police. After interrogation by the police and intelligence agencies, a case under the Officials Secret Act was filed against him.

A top official said that for the past several days, agencies had been keeping a watch on his activities.They were alerted by intelligence sources in New Delhi last evening that he had been regularly making calls to Pakistan. RK Bakshi, Pathankot SSP, confirmed Ahmed's arrest.

Investigators are trying to ascertain if Ahmed had provided logistic help to the six terrorists who entered the Pathankot air base on January 2. An officer said Ahmed was an ISI agent who collected "sensitive information on Indian military bases for his handler Sajjad." Intelligence officials have recovered photos of military installations from Ahmed's cellphone. Sajjad, who was recently arrested in Jammu, will now be questioned on the basis of Ahmed's confessions.

The Pathankot Cantonment is one of the biggest and most sensitive military bases of the Indian Army. Likewise, the Air Force station located nearby, has sophisticated fighter planes, helicopters and high-end assets.
IAF to procure 8 aerostat radars
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Indian Air Force has drawn up plans to procure up to eight aerostat radar platforms to bolster low-level air and sea surveillance. The procurement process, which has been hanging fire for the past few years, comes in the backdrop of loopholes in land and maritime border management as have been revealed in terrorist strikes in Mumbai and Punjab.

An aerostat is an unpowered helium-filled balloon tethered at a certain height above the ground. It is equipped with surveillance and communication equipment. It can remain deployed for a number of days at a stretch, scan a wide swath of area and is particularly effective for detecting low-flying or surface objects, making it a cost effective alternative to aircraft in peace time.

A request for information issued by the Ministry of Defence a few days ago seeks a batch of four, six or eight aerostat systems, which can be deployed at an altitude of 15,000 feet and above, have network-centric compatibility so that they can be integrated into the IAF’s Air Command and Control System along with other assets and possess electronic warfare capabilities.

Procurement of Aerostats was part of a series of recommendations to streamline border management and enhance surveillance capabilities in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil conflict. However, little has been achieved in this direction.

The IAF procured two Aerostats from Israeli firm Rafael at a cost of Rs 338 crore and inducted them into service in 2007 and 2008. A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) revealed that one of the aerostats was damaged in 2009 as standard operating procedures were not followed while bringing it down, rendering it non-operational.
Salute to veteran soldier
He was a soldier to the hilt. That is how General Krishna Rao, the former Army Chief of India should be remembered.  The President, the Defence Minister and the Army Chief, besides other dignitaries, have condoled the passing away of the distinguished soldier.
General Krishna Rao has enriched the history of Indian Army in more than one way. Commissioned into the Army on August 9, 1942, he, as a young officer, took part in various military operations in Burma, North West Frontier and Baluchistan during the Second World War. When the partition of the country resulted in great turmoil and human tragedy, he rendered services in both of the Punjabs in 1947-48. His main task was to douse the flames of disturbance and save the lives of innocent people on both sides of the dividing line. He was in the thick of fighting in J&K during the tribal attack of 1947-48.  From 1949 to 1951, he served as founder-instructor of the National Defence Academy which was destined to become the Sandhurst of independent India.
General Rao was called to serve in J&K for the second time and commanded a brigade in the forward area of Ladakh during 1965-66, and an infantry division in Jammu Region during 1969-70.
During 1970-72, General Rao fought insurgency in Nagaland and Manipur as commander of a Mountain Division, which also participated in the 1971 India-Pakistan War in Eastern Theatre.  He was instrumental in the capture of Sylhet area and liberation of North-East Bangladesh. In recognition of his qualities as a commander inspiring his juniors engaged in operations, he was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal for displaying outstanding leadership, courage, determination and drive during that war. His meritorious services in upholding territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country brought him into limelight for a new role in the shape of an administrator and policy planner. During 1975-76, he was also the Chairman of the Expert Committee constituted by the Government on re-organization and modernization for future defence of the country. From Deputy Chief of Army Staff at Army Headquarters in 1978 he rose to be the 14th Chief of Army Staff on June 1, 1981 and served in that capacity till July 1983.
General Krishna Rao had long and memorable association with our State. Having accumulated good amount of experience of dealing with situations of insurgency in his capacity as the Governor of North Eastern States of Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura from June 1984 to July 1989, Rao was  appointed as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir during 1989-90. When a proxy war developed in Jammu and Kashmir and reached its peak, he was reappointed as Governor and served there from March 1993 to May 1998. These were the peak years of armed insurgency and proxy war in Kashmir. Of course, it was the testing period for the soldier-statesman to handle the critical situation in Kashmir militarily as well as politically,
During his second stint as Governor of J&K, which lasted five years from 1993 to 1998, the State was passing through big turmoil in which the neighbouring State of Pakistan had direct hand. It was a testing time for the diplomats and statesmen to show his metal of coping with externally sponsored armed insurgency. All praise goes to General Rao who maintained his calm and handled the situation with apt diplomacy and broad vision.  By the time, his five year tenure was coming to an end, there was marked change in the intensity of militancy in Kashmir. The insurgents and their mentors in both parts of Kashmir had begun to understand that they would never succeed in detaching J&K from the Indian Union.

General Krishna Rao has place among the most distinguished soldiers of Indian army as well as a highly distinguished and upright administrator and policy planner. He had established rapport with various shades of political leadership in J&K, and therefore, no wonder that he was held in great respect by one and all. Actually, it is General Krishna Rao who has laid the path of dealing with Kashmir insurgency militarily and, at the same time, maintaining administrative and operational control in the State.  With his vast experience in defence and security affairs of the State of India, and his intimate knowledge of the volatile situation in Kashmir, General Rao was a source of most reliable information on Kashmir. In that sense we have lost the privilege of seeking his advice whenever we are faced by a new situation in J&K.  We salute the versatile soldier and son of the soil and pray for peace to the departed soul.

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