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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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