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Monday, 16 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 16 May 2016

Officer hurt in clash with jawans
Scuffle follows soldier’s death during training in Arunachal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
An Army officer was injured by agitated jawans of his battalion following the death of their colleague in the sensitive north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh this morning.

 Admitting that a scuffle had taken place, the Army authorities here said it was not a “mutiny”.

The incident occurred in an area located in the far-eastern corner of the state close to McMohan Line, the de facto boundary between India and China.

“Six jawans of an infantry unit got agitated after one of their colleagues died during routine training. He had  complained of chest pain prior to a route march. He was examined by the unit’s medical officer and declared ‘fit’. However, the jawan collapsed during the march and was brought to a field ambulance, where he died,” the authorities said.

As the Adjutant approached the jawans to console them, a scuffle ensued and the officer was injured, though not seriously.

“The incident is being probed as is the practice in all cases of death during training,” the Army authorities added.
Sainiks from Kashmir have no place to live in
Arun Joshi
Sainik Colony, the yet-to-come-up enclave for ex-servicemen who are state subjects, is being seen as a challenge to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It has triggered rumours of facilitating non-local settlers, with the aim of outnumbering Kashmiri Muslims.
AN angry discourse in Kashmir over the proposed setting up of a "Sainik Colony", a residential enclave, for the  ex-servicemen   of Jammu and Kashmir who are permanent residents is singeing the atmosphere at the start of the summer season. Whatever way this issue may be looked at, the core question is being deflected: Whether the  state subject ex-servicemen have a right to own a house or piece of land in the place where they were born and brought up?

There is no law in the state constitution — Jammu and Kashmir has its own constitution — that bars any state subject from  having a house  or calling for a colony after retirement from the Army.  Separatists are playing an emotional card.

It is part of the separatists’ agenda to project Kashmir as a land of troubles, where normalcy would remain a chimera unless  the K-issue is resolved on their terms. The deemed mainstream is faithfully obliging them to seek relevance  by reading from their script against the non-locals,  who are nowhere on the horizon in this issue.

Kashmiris  get emotionally involved  with intensity when they  suspect that some wrong is being done to them even when it is not perceptible. And if the issue is taken  off  the radar, they feel that their narrative and protests have been able  to defeat the design  and claim  a victory  of sorts. Delhi, as always, is living in denial mode, overlooking the gravity of the situation. If 2010, when massive street protests and killings left Kashmir blood-soaked, is the reference year for peddlers of this “locals-versus-non-locals rhetoric”, then  difficult days are ahead. Kashmiri Muslims have a perennial sense of  victimhood — partly genuine and partly infused by the fear-instilling narrative of their leadership. Here is where the strategy of tapping  this emotive reservoir works .

The core idea is to take the populace further from the idea of India, which itself is fragmented the way it has been perceived in Kashmir  over the decades. The denial of justice in the absence of accountability and transparency for the wrongs committed in  the past have made them suspicious and contemptuous of each and every move. The proposed colony fits into this framework.

An emotionally surcharged atmosphere keeps the conflict rolling. That is what the vested interests are seeking to achieve by attempting to provoke the street protests  against the colony,  which the state government has said, will not get any land. The doubters have not heeded the assurances given by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that “no land will be given for the colony, though the state subject ex-servicemen had sought it.”

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah insists, “the colony is being set up  and it is  a ruse to settle non-locals.” He has accused the Chief Minister of telling lies. Mehbooba's  retort is: “The proposal was mooted in 2012 when Omar was the Chief Minister.” The verbal duel is  continuing.

This squabble is a delight for separatists who see “India conspiring against Kashmiri Muslims” in everything. There  was no need for  the mainstream to be apologetic, because the proposed colony is only for those holding  a Permanent Resident Certificate. The PRC or the state subject is a document given to those whose forefathers were born in the state and  automatically entitled to citizenship rights. That includes the right to buy immovable assets in this state.  This is hereditary. No outsider can become a state subject even if one has lived in the state for decades.  

The two “mainstream” parties — the PDP and the National Conference  fear that they would get washed away once the floodgates of the reservoirs of emotions are opened into streets of Kashmir. Omar has seen that in 2010, when he was the Chief Minister. More than 120 youth were killed and he has not been able to overcome the impact of that year. Mehbooba Mufti doesn't want a repeat.

A toxic narrative of India seeking to “change the demographic composition,” is a favourite with the separatists and some of their self-appointed cheerleaders. Generating hatred against India is in the core. The “mainstream”, out of sympathy with the issue or due to the compulsion of surviving against these odds, willingly surrenders its stated positions in an attempt to be seen as part of the excessively  Kashmir-centric and religious narrative.

The monster of unemployment has  driven  thousands of  Kashmiri youth to seek enrolment in the Army. Once that happens, they and their families become the targets of  militants. A number of ex-servicemen have been killed over the years.  Most of the ex-servicemen live in villages and don't have individual security for their homes. That is why they wanted to have a residential enclave that would offer them a sense of security.

Shockingly, the yet-to-come-up colony is seen as a  challenge to the special status of  Jammu and Kashmir. It has triggered rumours of non-local settlers outnumbering Kashmiri Muslims in their own land.  Examples of Israeli settlements in Gaza and West Bank of Palestinian territories are cited to reinforce the fear-mongering discourse. Since 1990, the term “non-local” has assumed a different definition. It is evident from the mounting opposition to return of Kashmiri Pandit migrants (original natives of the Valley) and settling them in proposed safe zones. The migrants are being told repeatedly, “You are welcome (to the Valley) only if you return to your neighbhourhood (from where they were uprooted in 1989-1990 when radicalism surged in Kashmir)”. It is a sugar-coated warning on the “welcome” signboard.

Muslims losing their majority is a time-tested theory which the separatists leadership applies, mostly at the onset of summer to  summon  youth to protest in streets — disrupting studies, destroying the income  of the daily earners, scaring away tourists  and injecting political instability. All these serve the vested interests and show the Indian nation in a poor light.

Right-wing demagogues from the cow belt, having no idea about the sensitivities  of Kashmir, jump in. They speak in the language  that gives Kashmir a reason to resist the flamboyant “Indian-ness”. Mehbooba and others are  also unhappy. She had recently made it clear that any challenge or perceived challenge to the special status of the state, results in difficulties and peace, that is more important than anything else, is threatened.

This kind of more-patriotic-than-thou utterances causes trepidation  in Kashmir.  Such rabble-rousers help the secessionists to gain credence. Conciliation, not confrontation, works in sensitive areas. Nowhere in the proposal is there a mention of non-state subject, but the opponents  point out that there also is no mention that the colony would be exclusively for the state subject ex-servicemen.

As of now, the proposed colony seems out of question. So, where do  the ex-servicemen go? Should they shift to places outside the Valley or the state? The agenda of weeding out the state subject ex-servicemen from Kashmir would then have been accomplished. This also serves to dampen the sprits of all those who stand or intend to stand in queues to be recruited in the Army.  Unemployment will rise and that is a recipe for more trouble and the idea of India is under threat of being consumed.
Indian Army denies reports of mutiny in Northeast Unit after jawan died
After a jawan of the Indian Army died, possibly of heart attack, the entire unit was asked to march 10 km from the base camp in North east. The situation got worst when 4-5 jawans in the area had scuffle with officers who were dealing with the situation. The army has confirmed that this scuffle has resulted in injuries
After a jawan of the Indian Army died, possibly of heart attack, the entire unit was asked to march 10 km from the base camp in North east. The situation got worst when 4-5 jawans in the area had scuffle with officers who were dealing with the situation. The army has confirmed that this scuffle has resulted in injuries.

 The Army was compelled to provide statement over issue after reports emerged on social media of a mutiny-like situation involving officers and jawans in the area. The 10-km march was a punishment drill which was ordered on the unit after a physical confrontation between a Captain and a jawan, according to some officials.

During the clash, a Captain and three officers were badly injured with the officer reportedly being in critical condition with skull injuries.

Army Headquarters in Delhi, while confirming the death of a jawan in the subsequent 10-km march, have denied that any other individual has been seriously injured. The Army has also denied that reinforcement units have moved into the area with the situation getting out of hand.
Denotification of J&K shooting range affects internal security: Defence Ministry
The ministry has said the non availability of a firing range has compelled the Army to move the troops and heavy equipment to ranges in states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
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The Ministry of Defence said the denotification of Tosa Maidan Firing range by the Jammu and Kashmir government and the lack of suitable ranges in the Valley has adversely affected the internal security in the state and also impacted the military response to ceasefire violations.

“As on date, a large number of restrictions have been imposed on the Indian Army with respect to availability of ranges in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Whereas our adversary on the western borders is not constrained with any such restrictions and has a number of ranges available to him,” the ministry said in response to a notice of National Green Tribunal (NGT), adding, “This is likely to have an adverse impact on the preparedness of our Armed Forces vis-a-vis our adversaries.”

The NGT in January this year had issued notices the J&K government and Defence Ministry, over the proposed decision of setting up an artillery firing range in the Bajhpathri meadow of Yousmarg in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. A petition filed by a Budgam resident and social activist, Raja Muzzafar Bhat, had asked the tribunal to direct the state government and defense ministry to not handover the meadow to Army for artillery practice as it would “damage the environment, forest and wildlife in the area.”

The ministry has said the non availability of a firing range has compelled the Army to move the troops and heavy equipment to ranges in states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. “All this is likely to cause an adverse impact on the security preparedness of our Armed Forces,” it said in the affidavit filed before the tribunal earlier this month.

J-K government had not renotified the lease agreement of Tosa Maidan firing range in 2014 owing to public pressure, forcing the Army to look for alternative firing ranges in the state. According to the Ministry of Defence, the State government had offered the Bajpathri area that falls in the meadows of Yousmarg tourist destination as an alternate firing range.

“The detailed study and reconnaissance was carried out by Army alongwith Air Force followed by Joint study with the various state government authorities to study the requirement of land, the environment impact and effect on tourism,” the ministry said, adding the final decision to notify was that of the government of J&K.

The proposal too had run into a rough weather and both separatist camp and civil society groups had opposed it. “Bajpathri is adjacent to famous tourist spot of Yousmarg and if firing and artillery practices are allowed in the area it will gravely impact the tourism activity and livelihood of the local population,” Bhat, who has petitioned against the proposal before the tribunal, told The Indian Express.

The ministry in its response has said the troop and equipment movement for training purposes to other states has also lowered the training standards and reduced the response to ceasefire violations. “It will also affect military response to a major military threat posed by our adversely due to the time required for return of equipment,” it said.
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Army Tribunal dismisses Lt Gen’s appeal, imposes cost
The AFT stated that this amount shall be deposited with the Registrar of the Tribunal within two months which shall be remitted to the Army Central Welfare Fund for the welfare of Army personnel.
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The Armed Forces Tribunal’s (AFT’s) Lucknow bench dismissed a petition by a Lt General of the Army Ordnance Corps, who had earlier been ordered to be reverted to the rank of Brigadier, and has imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on him and Rs 50 lakh on the Defence Secretary, Chief of Army Staff and Military Secretary.

The AFT stated that this amount shall be deposited with the Registrar of the Tribunal within two months which shall be remitted to the Army Central Welfare Fund for the welfare of Army personnel.

The AFT order, given by Justice DP Singh and Air Marshal Anil Chopra today, states, “The cost shall be recoverable after due enquiry from the salary/pension of the persons who are held accountable for entire episode keeping in view of the observations made in the body of the order. It is directed that a copy of the order be sent to the office of Prime Minister, Office of the Defence Minister and also to the Defence Secretary expeditiously, say, within three days for being placed before them for perusal and consequential action in terms of observation made in the body of the judgment, being sensitive question relating to Army”.
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Lt Gen NK Mehta, Commandant College of Material Management, Jabalpur, had earlier been ordered to be reverted to the rank of Brigadier after the AFT found that he could not have even been promoted to the rank of Major General. The General had then approached the Supreme Court which had stayed the implementation of the AFT order but asked the tribunal to dispose of his application challenging certain aspects related to his promotion.

Punching holes in the Army’s promotion procedures, the AFT bench said, “We are constrained to observe that selection and appointment to the higher post in pyramidal structure of the Army should not be made betting in race course against the tradition and advice of Army by ignoring relevant provisions or keeping silent to the malpractices in the matter of promotion and appointment to the higher post”.

The order goes on to say that it is such type of incidents and lack of probity in the system which paves way for sleeper cells of the foreign countries to be activated to enter and manage the defence purchases and derive benefits of kick-backs. “The Ordnance Corps requires officers of highest integrity interspersed with morality in life and firmness of decision padded out with the flavour of patriotism,” it says.

The bench noted that promotions are not only matter of higher perks and salary but it is a matter of craze amongst the youth to serve the nation with stars. It confers honour on the officers and gives a chance to work hard to achieve with their full might.

“It is relevant to bring on record that in Kargil War broadly, it were the officers who at the cost of their lives, saved the honour of the country when the whole nation was awe-struck and reeling under deep mental pain and agony. The officers, who are sacrificing their lives for the honour of the Nation, in case not given their due right with regard to their promotional avenues, it shall have a demoralising effect on them and the backbone of Indian Army shall lose its spine,” the bench said.

The order adds that the country is facing number of scams in defence procurement which deal purchase of items and with this view in mind, special care should be taken for selecting and appointing officers and staff in the Ordnance corps. The bench has suggested that all decisions taken by the selection board should be screened by a committee consisting of persons/experts in law with impeccable character.
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