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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

From Today's Papers - 29 Mar 2016

Pathankot attack: JIT given proof of ‘Pak hand’
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung & Mukesh Ranjan

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 28
India today shared with Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) the details establishing Pakistan nationals’ role in the Pathankot air base attack as the team met Indian investigators.

The JIT members, it is learnt, did not raise objections to the evidences of the involvement of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and other Pakistan nationals.

A day after their arrival, the JIT members reached the National Investigation Agency (NIA) headquarters, where they were briefed about the probe carried out so far.

After daylong deliberations with the team, NIA Director-General Sharad Kumar, while talking to The Tribune, said: “We are ready to share all information and evidences available with us as part of our investigation. Our probe is transparent and we have nothing to hide. But we need cooperation and reciprocity from Pakistan in the interest of the investigation to reach a conclusion.”

During the interaction, the Indian investigators gave a presentation to the visiting officials on the findings of the investigation so far.

India put forth evidences that allegedly linked JeM’s head Maulana Masood Azhar and the leadership to the attack, an NIA source said.

“We have evidences and intercepts of the conversations between the slain terrorists and their JeM bosses, including Azhar and his brother Rauf Asgar. We also have a video of Asgar declaring that he sent the terrorists,” said the source.

Right before the attack, Azhar was in contact with Asgar, the JeM’s commander, who was further in touch with their key planner and handler Kashif Jaan, explained the source. In most conversations, Kashif was talking to the terrorists from Bahawalpur in Pakistan. “He was dictating to them how the plan had to be executed. The JeM bosses, including Kashif, had escorted the terrorists to the point of infiltration into India,” said the source, adding India had sought voice samples of Azhar, Asgar and Kashif.

India also showed to the JIT photographs of the arms and ammunition — carried by the terrorists — allegedly bearing Pakistan marking, said the source. Clothes, medicines, shoes, food packets, thermal wear and even wire cutters were also allegedly brought from Pakistan.

One of the terrorists had spoken to his cousin and mother based in Pakistan before the attack, said the source. The NIA showed proof of this conversation to the JIT and demanded the DNA samples of the terrorist’s mother from Pakistan.

“We have shown them the evidences (in relation to the JeM and Pakistan’s link to the attack) and the JIT has not raised objections,” said an NIA officer. India had also sent Letter Rogatories (LRs) to Pakistan, seeking evidences in connection with the attack. India also asked the JIT to respond to the LRs, if they wanted to cooperate with the investigation.

While the NIA officer denied the Pakistan team making requests regarding the attack’s investigation, sources said the JIT demanded the call data records and the IMEI numbers of the mobile phones, belonging to Punjab Police Superintendent Salwinder Singh, his wife, gunman, the base commander of the Pathankot Air Force Station and others related to the case.

Singh with his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma and cook Madan Gopal were allegedly abducted on the night of December 31-January 1 by the terrorists, who had attacked the airbase on January 2. The JIT further demanded the sketch and the CCTV footage of the gun battle, a copy of an alert issued to the airbase, details of security measures taken by the base commander, said the source. It also wanted a report on the alleged border crossing and the BSF deployment along the International Border with Pakistan. The Pakistan team sought access to the Garud commandos, National Security Guards and any witnesses who have seen the terrorists. The team asked the Indian side to give the autopsy report, DNA samples and the details of itemsrecovered from the terrorists.
Defence procurement policy unveiled
Quepem (Goa), March 28
After a delay of over a year, the much-awaited new defence procurement policy was unveiled by the government today with an aim to ensure transparency, fast-track acquisitions and to lend a push to the “Make in India” initiative.

The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2016 announced by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, however, did not contain a key chapter on the proposed strategic partnership. Parrikar said it would take another 2-3 months to finalise the model.

To be applicable from April, the procurement policy lays the roadmap on how India, the world’s largest arms importer, will acquire defence equipment in future.

The announcement was made at the inaugural ceremony of the Defence Expo (Defexpo)-2016 at Quepem town, about 50 km from Panaji. The new DPP has included a new category to acquire weapons—IDDM (indigenously designed, developed and manufactured). The IDDM will be the first preferred category.

Parrikar said a review of the new DPP would be undertaken after six months. “I do not say the document is foolproof. Let us take a review after six months. Nothing is perfect, but we are taking it to perfection,” he said.

He said the DPP could push the agenda of “Make in India” and country’s target of achieving defence industry network. With the new DPP, it would be ensured that there was greater transparency and faster clearances, he said.

The DPP has been loaded online on the Defence Ministry’s website and will be made available in hard copy format after 15 days.

Parrikar said certain concerns of foreign companies would be addressed through this policy over 3-4 months. The new policy also allows the Defence Acquisition Council to take a “fast-track” route to acquire weapons, something which was limited to only the armed forces till now.

In a bid to cut down on the time taken for acquisition process, it mandates that all AONs (acceptance of necessity) of a particular platform will be valid for only six months as against the 12-month deadline now.

Also, no AON will be notified until it is accompanied by a finalised RFP (request for proposal or tender). This means the time taken for an RFP has been cut down drastically.

Parrikar said defence export clearances were to be granted online. He said the policy would also include “Start-up India” initiative.

Parrikar had earlier said the new blacklisting policy would also be issued separately next month and made it clear that there would be “no relaxation” for those already blacklisted. “Bribe givers” would be punished, he said.

However, the existing blacklisted firms would be allowed to appeal before a vigilance committee of the Defence Ministry for delisting under the new policy. — PTI
IAF pilots set record, fly 10,000 km in open cockpit
Kolkata, March 28
A team of 14 pilots of the Indian Air Force has created a new national record by completing a 10,000-km-long paramotor adventure expedition.

“It is a no mean feat considering that the pilots flew in an open cockpit remaining unprotected from the vagaries of weather and other elements while traversing through varying terrain ranging from mountains, coasts, forests and desert,” an Air Force spokesperson said.

The IAF expedition ‘Pradakshina’ had set out on a 10,000-km-long flight on February 1 from IAF’s Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal and came back to a rousing welcome this Saturday.

The feat by the ‘Skyriders’ team of 14 Air Warriors led by Wg Cdr MPS Solanki surpassed the existing national record of 9,132 km. The team undertook circumnavigation of India along the periphery. The team followed the eastern coast to Kanyakumari before turning northwards along the western coast till Gujarat. — PTI
Army ‘was sent to protect judicial officers at acting CJ’s instance’
Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The Army was sent to protect judicial officers at the instance of the Acting Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the Jat agitation. Information to this effect was furnished before a Division Bench during the hearing of petitions hovering around the lawlessness in the state during the agitation last month.

As the case came up for hearing, the Bench of Justice SS Saron and Justice Gurmit Ram was told by the amicus curiae, or the friend of the court, Anupam Gupta, that the state failed to protect judicial officers.

The assertion came just about a fortnight after a Rohtak Court recorded in its order the details of attack on the houses of judicial officers. In his order, Rohtak Sessions Judge Sushil K. Gupta asserted: “It appears the curfew was only on papers. There was a complete collapse of the law and order machinery.

“Even the gate lights, name plates and sign boards of the Sessions’ House were broken. All judicial officers were so afraid that on the evening of February 20, they had to run out of their houses to seek shelter at a safe place”. The observations were made during the hearing of a bail plea by Virender Kumar, an aide of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

During the course of hearing this afternoon, Gupta also referred to a letter by Bhiwani Chief Judicial Magistrate-cum-secretary of the District Legal Services Authority Swati Sehgal.

Addressed to Panchkula District and Sessions Judge-member secretary of the Haryana State Legal Services Authority, the letter said: “It has been told to me that from February 20 till February 29, the police guards deputed for the safety and protection of the court complex were disarmed. No intimation of the aforesaid action was given by the police department SP to the District Judge nor the guards deputed at the court complex bothered to inform the District Judge or any other judicial officer about the same.”

“As per the information, during the Jat agitation, the DC and all officers of the administration and their families were at the residence of the SP for their safety, where a special guard was deputed.

“Judicial officers posted in Bhiwani had several sleepless nights. Neither the police nor the administration, took the responsibility of safeguarding the families of judicial officers,” she added. The Bench took note of the communication before fixing April 4 as the next date of hearing.
Chinese military to end all paid public services in 3 yrs
Beijing, March 28
Chinese military has announced that it will halt all paid public services such as hospitals and hotels to people within three years as part of reform to weed out corruption in the 2.3-million-strong world’s largest army. The Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by Chinese President Xi Jinxing has called for an end to all paid services of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police Force, the PLA Daily reported.

As per the announcement the CMC, which is the supreme body of all the PLA forces planned to completely stop paid services within three years.

“Paid services can sometimes encourage corruption and the military should focus on national defence,” Gong Fangbin, a professor at the PLA’s National Defence University, told state-run Global Times. Paid public services refer to services provided by the military to the public, such as military-run hospitals, hotels or others that do not pose a security risk, Gong said, adding that such services may be managed by social organisations in the future. Services related to social security can be conducted within the military under the system of civil-military integration, official media here reported.

A large number of high-ranking Generals of the PLA have been either punished or being prosecuted in the massive corruption campaign launched by Xi in the last three years. — PTI

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