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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 27 Apr 2016

India rakes up terror, Pak Kashmir
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 26
India and Pakistan Foreign Secretaries here today finally resumed talks, in what was the first interaction between the neighbours after the Pathankot terror attacks in the first week of January.

While India showed concern over terrorism as well as the Pathankot attacks, Pakistan harped on Kashmir.

Islamabad also took up the arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav who, Pakistan alleges, is a RAW agent, a charge denied by India. Sources said Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar even told his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry that no spy agency would put their agent in the field with their own passport and without a visa.

India also pressed for immediate consular access to Yadav. What raised many eyebrows was the fact that Pakistan released a statement on the talks even while the meeting was in progress.

In a meeting that lasted 90 minutes, Jaishankar told Chaudhry, “Terrorist groups based in Pakistan that are targeting India must not be allowed to operate with impunity.” He said Pakistan could not be in denial on the impact of terrorism on the bilateral relations.

India also rebutted all allegations of its involvement in Balochistan. India pointed out that Yadav was an abducted naval officer, thus dismissing allegations of his being a spy. India said it needed early and visible progress on both Pathankot and 26/11 attacks.

The Pakistan High Commission said that Chaudhry took up the issue of Yadav and expressed serious concern over RAW’s alleged involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi. He also conveyed concern over efforts by Indian authorities for the release of the prime suspects of the Samjhauta Express blasts.
HHRC seeks details of Army’s action
Deepender Deswal

Tribune News Service

Hisar, April 26
The Haryana Human Rights Commission (HHRC) has sought information from Deputy Commissioners (DC) about Army’s movement and action taken by troops to disperse the mob during the Jat agitation in February.

Violence did not stop in districts where the troops were deployed. The district authorities had issued warnings that the Army had been given shoot-at-sight orders to deal with agitators, but experts raised questions about the proper utilisation of troops. Army officials had denied firing on the mob.

Around 75 columns of troops were deployed in nine districts and they carried out flag marches carrying placards mentioning “Army” written in bold red letters.

The state government had called in Army after local police and administration failed to control arsonists. The troops were deployed in Rohtak, Hisar, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Bhiwani, Fatehabad, Jind, Panipat and Kaithal districts.

The HHRC has asked the Deputy Commissioners (DC) to submit reports about the Army’s movement in their respective districts from February 19 to 23. The commission has also asked whether or not troops used force or resorted to firing to disperse agitators.

Besides, the DCs have been asked the places where Army was dispatched and the name of the officer deployed as the District Magistrate for the purpose of directing the military authorities.

The letter sought details of instructions issued to the military for tackling the agitators.

The HHRC had issued notice to the DCs in March to submit the replies within two weeks. Some of them are yet to respond.

Director General of Police (DGP) KP Singh recently requested the commission to drop suo motu proceedings against the agitation, after which the HHRC rapped him and granted three more weeks (by May 17) to file the replies.
VDCs vital for militancy-hit J&K, no proposal to disband them
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, April 26
Carved in the mid-1990s to combat Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the village defence committees (VDCs) remain indispensable even after more than two decades of their inception.

Despite some stray incidents of VDC members using their official weapons to settle their personal scores in the recent past and subsequent demands by separatists to disband them, successive governments in the state didn’t deem it apt to agree to such demands.

“There is no such proposal under consideration of the present government to disband them. The VDCs still hold relevance as militancy has not died down. There are no talks by the present PDP-BJP dispensation since it took over the reins on April 4,” said a senior bureaucrat of Home Department who insisted anonymity.

It may be recalled here that in December last year, a VDC member, Mushtaq Ahmad, had barged into the house of a woman, Shamima Akhter, in Budhal village of Rajouri district and had shot her and her minor son dead with his official weapon. The woman had spurned his advances. Her husband worked in Saudi Arabia.

Members of the VDCs have been issued .303 guns by the J&K Police to combat militants. In December last year, National Conference worker Ishtiyaq Choudhary of Kalakote village in Rajouri district was shot dead by another VDC member.

The VDCs are present only in the Jammu region and are not raised in Kashmir. The VDCs were set up in the mid-1990s to deal with militancy in remote and hilly corners of the Jammu region where the presence of security forces was either nil or thin.

“The security forces are also witness to incidents of fratricide. So, should we disband the forces? We should read into the machinations of separatists and sympathisers of militancy, who despite their best efforts, have not been able to spread their tentacles across the Jammu region,” said a senior police officer.

“No doubt, terrorist-related violence has gone down across the Jammu region but the VDCs can’t be disbanded because people in remote villages must have some protection at their disposal. Selective killings and massacres of minority communities still remain fresh in the minds of all,” he said.

“They played a very crucial role in combating terrorists in remote and inaccessible areas where the security forces could not reach in time. Any move to disband them at this stage would definitely recoil,” he added.

A VDC in Kulali village near Hill Kaka in Poonch where Operation “Sarp Vinash” was carried out by the Army in 2003 played a significant role in combating terrorists. The security forces had killed over 60 terrorists in the operation.
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Indian Army's assault rifle induction remains troubled
The Indian Army's efforts to procure assault rifles, as replacements for the locally designed Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56x45 mm calibre model, continue nearly six years after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) first approved the requirement.

In 2010 the army had rejected the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-designed INSAS rifle on the grounds of it being 'operationally inadequate'.

The army's immediate requirement is for 220,000 assault rifles and successive army chiefs had declared that inducting this basic infantry weapon was a 'top priority'. However, senior officers concede that the army's general staff qualitative requirements (GSQR) for multi-calibre assault rifles are unrealistic.

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