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Author: Abhishek Bhalla

IAF sorties helped government fight cash crunch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to help the common man with the demonetization process, the government has been pressing the Indian Air Force (IAF) into action. From assisting in the functioning of currency printing presses 24×7 to airlifting cash, the IAF has already transported 610 tonnes of currency and will continue to do so over the next few days.”The Air Force has played an important role in lifting currency. We have done 35 sorties and transported 610 tonnes of cash till now, said Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday.”We have also helped in running one of the mints 24×7,” he added.The decision to rope in the IAF was taken about 10 days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization—making old Rs 500 and Rs. 1000 notes illegal and replacing them with new ones.It is unprecedented for IAF to transport cash which is usually done by train. Sources said since it was an “emergency-like situation” the IAF had been roped in to bring down delays in currency, reaching different centres across the country.The four currency printing centres are located in Nasik (Maharashtra), Devas (Madhya Pradesh), Mysore (Karnataka) and Salboni (West Bengal). Sources said the employees at the press have been working overtime to meet the cash demands in the country.From close by airfields in Mysore, Indore, Ozar and Kalaikunda, IAF planes are carrying out sorties almost daily to meet requirements.”The cash is transported by road to the airfields from where the Air Force transports it to different centre. This is saving time in transportation,” said a government official. The aircraft being used for transporting the currency are C 130, C17 and AN 32, sources said.Once the cash reaches the destination the local authorities take charge.Sources said initially there was a shortage in currency as the printing machines lacked the capacity to meet the increased demands. The government had announced printing of new Rs. 1000 notes but that has not begun yet.”While the Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 500 notes are being printed the void left due to non printing of Rs 1,000 note has created a crunch,” said a government official dealing with the subject.Officials privy to the details said out of a total currency requirement of 17.5 lakh crore, Rs 8 lakh crore is expected to be in 500 and Rs 7 lakh crore in 1,000 denominations. “10 per cent of this demand is being met per month,” the official added.The rest of the demand is to be met with other notes including Rs 2,000.

SP Tyagi is like family, but won’t have sympathy if he’s found guilty: IAF chief Arup Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Outgoing Air Force chief Arup Raha came out in support of former chief SP Tyagi, recently arrested in the Rs 3,600 AgustaWestland helicopter deal case being probed by the CBI, drawing a parallel with the Bofors case where charges of corruption could not be established.Calling Tyagi a member of the Air Force family, Raha said his sympathies were with the former chief. “If a member of your family goes through a rough patch, you will have sympathy for him. If he is found guilty, punish him,” Raha said on Wednesday while addressing a press conference. He is due to hang up his uniform on December 31.Raha appeared to downplay the allegations, saying nothing could be proved as in the Bofors case. “Corruption issues have come up from time to time. Despite investigation, not much was achieved,” he said.Tyagi, who has been granted bail, was recently arrested three years after CBI named him as an accused in the helicopter deal. The agency was not able to file a charge sheet but arrested him for custodial interrogation based on new facts.A Delhi court granted Tyagi bail despite CBI’s opposition. It is alleged that as Air Force chief Tyagi took kickbacks to change the specifications of the VVIP helicopters, swinging the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

Infantry combat vehicles to be fitted with sensors to detect nuclear, biological, chemical attacks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first, the infantry combat vehicles of the Indian army used for carrying troops into battle zones providing direct fire support will be fitted with automated sensors to detect a nuclear, biological or a chemical attack (NBC).The army plans to procure 1500 indigenously designed modern systems that can be installed on these vehicles. The decision has been taken in view of rising NBC warfare threats. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 1,265 crore.“It will be an automatic mechanism that can detect a threat and act accordingly, controlling air temperature, sealing the vehicle completely and shutting down the systems in the vehicle,” said an army officer.Currently, there is a manual system in case of a threat which is not very effective.Infantry fighting vehicles are armour installed and also allow personnel to fire from within making them distinct from armoured personnel carriers (APCs), which are transport vehicles armed only for self-defense and not specifically engineered to fight on their own.The decision to develop and design a system to combat such threats was taken by the Ministry of Defence on Friday as the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar gave the go ahead.Other than this, the DAC cleared the procurement of 55 low-level light weight radars at an estimated cost of Rs. 419 crore for the army and the Air Force that will give 3D images also to be designed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).The government also gave clearance to the IAF to purchase one more C17 heavy transport aircraft and also gave the nod to the Coast Guard’s proposal to acquire six multi-mission maritime aircraft for Rs 5,500 crore.Two “classified” proposals for the acquisition of arms and ammunition for the Special Forces and another related to the Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) is also understood to have been cleared.The aircraft likely to be shortlisted for the Coast Guard is the C295, which is already been negotiated as a replacement for the Avro transport fleet of the air force.

Superseded Gen Bakshi meets Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ministry of Defence on Wednesday described Lt General Praveen Bakshi’s meeting with defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday as a “courtesy call”, but sources in army headquarters claimed it was the minster who sought a meeting with the Eastern Army Commander. Following the seniority principle Bakshi should have been appointed army chief, but the government selected Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, currently the vice chief.It was not just Lt Gen Bakshi but Southern Army commander Lt Gen PM Hariz was also superseded.The contrary claims led to speculation about the fate of Lt Gen Bakshi. While there was talk of his offering in his resignation, there was also buzz about the possibility of the officer being accommodated.”A top rated army commander cannot be wasted like this,” said an army officer in South Block.Sources said one of the options was to appoint him as the Permanent Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee. Currently, the senior most among the service chiefs holds the post and there is no provision for a permanent chairman.There is also talk of Lt Gen Bakshi being sent as Ambassador. The proposed Chief of Defence Staff is also an option, but sources say there is little time for creating the position.Lt Gen Bakshi was Lt Gen Rawat’s immediate boss until recently in the Eastern Command. The decision has triggered a controversy among officers, fearing this could set a new trend of politicising the forces.Justifying the decision, the government came out with an explanation that Rawat was chosen over the other two, keeping in mind his experience in operations in Jammu and Kashmir. Analysing the volatile situation in Kashmir after a series of terror strikes, a candidate with sound knowledge of operations there was thought to be the right choice, sources said.Lt General Bakshi has commanded the 9 Corps in Yol, Himachal Pradesh, commanded an armoured brigade in the Western sector, a division in the deserts, and a corps in the plains sector of Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Bipin Rawat became top contender for chief three months back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff-designate, became the top contender for the post when he took over as the Vice Chief three months ago, government sources said. Chances of Lt General Praveen Bakshi, who is senior to Rawat, to helm the Indian Army, were substantially reduced once Rawat took charge as Vice Chief on August 31, 2016.Ironically, Rawat was working under Bakshi in the Eastern Command when he headed the Dimapur-based 3 Corps in the Eastern Sector sometime back.Rawat, played a significant role as the Corps Commander in an operation last year when the Indian Army crossed over to Myanmar targeting the militant group NSCN (K). The strike was planned soon after the army lost 18 men in an attack by the outfit.Rawat’s appointment has triggered a controversy as he has superseded the two officers. Other than Bakshi, Southern Army Commander PM Hariz was also overlooked for the top job. This was the first time since 1983 when an army chief superseded his seniors. In 2014, Admiral RK Dhowan superseded SK Sinha to become the navy chief.Sources said Rawat was chosen over the other two generals keeping in mind his experience in operations in Jammu and Kashmir. In view of the volatile situation in Kashmir after a series of terror strikes, a candidate with sound knowledge of operations there was thought to be the right choice, sources said.”The selection is purely based on merit, irrespective of the corps to which the officer belongs,” said a defence ministry official.Following the appointment of Rawat as the army chief, there is a buzz in the government circles that Bakshi would be suitabley accommodated. The government could appoint him as the Permanent Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee. Currently, the senior most among the service chiefs holds the post, and there is no provision for a permanent Chairman. However, officials said no decision has been taken yet.The proposed Chief of Defence Staff is also an option but sources say there is little time for creating the position.

Mamata flays Manohar Parrikar for ‘wild allegations’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The allegations made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee against the Indian Army “run the risk of impacting the morale of the force,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, in a letter to Banerjee on December 8, expressed his displeasure over the controversy triggered by her regarding the deployment of the Army near her office.”Political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other, but one needs to be extremely careful when referring to the Armed Forces,” Parrikar said in the letter.Parrikar said he did not expect this from a “person of her standing and experience.””As the Defence Minister, I thought it appropriate and necessary to bring to your notice the feeling of our armed forces and the people at large for your consideration.”Mamata Banerjee, who is not one to take things lying down, said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis the Army’s deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the Armed Forces.””Your general observations that political parties and politicians have the luxury of making unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply.The Chief Minister also said the defence ministry has not taken prior permission from the state government before deploying Army personnel in civilian areas.The letter was written in response to allegations made by Mamata on December 1 raising doubts about Army deployment at a toll plaza near the Chief Minister’s secretariat in Kolkata.The state government has also alleged that the Army was denied pernmission to carry out any exercise.

Tejas not suitable for Navy: Sunil Lanba

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas are not suited for the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Friday. This has prompted the Navy to identify an alternative aircraft, he said.”We have the MiG 29K, which operates from INS Vikramaditya, and will also operate from the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant. We were also hoping to operate Tejas from these two aircraft carriers, but unfortunately, the LCA is not able to meet their requirement,” he said.On November 8, the Ministry of Defence had given clearance to both the naval and air force version of the Tejas – the smallest and lightest multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft of its class. It is designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), respectively, for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.Though the Tejas has been inducted into the Air Force, officials say its full induction is likely to get delayed. “If you look around the world, there are not too many options and we need the carrier-capable version of this aircraft sooner than later. So, I am looking at the next 5-6 years,” he said.Lanba said the Navy is still encouraging the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop the naval LCA.

India gets set for unified cyber cell

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre plans to revive a plan to set up a common cyber command that will bring together the Army, Navy and Air Force to deal with cyber threats.Currently, each service has its own mechanism and coordination between them is a challenge.”The proposed command will work closely with civilian agencies. Securing communications and information from an external security point of view is needed,” said an official. Officials say the plan is part of a comprehensive policy to counter cyber espionage. According to government figures, defacing of websites and cyber security breaches have been on the rise for some time now.Many other countries already have a unified cyber command. The US cyber command cell, for instance, is headed by a four-star officer, who works in synchronisation with other security agencies. This became operational in 2010.In India, this is not the first time that the idea is being mooted. The blueprint for such a body had been there since 2010. On Friday, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said that the setting up of a tri-services cyber agency is in the pipeline and would be acted upon soon.To set up an umbrella cyber cell, changes have to be made in legislation, sources said. They feel that the National Cyber Security Policy, formulated in 2013, needs to be revised in view of the changing dynamics of cyber threats and warfare.While the Centre is keen on the cell, officials who have been part of cyber security initiatives are sceptical.”An overarching body has been in the pipeline for many years, but not much has happened. We can only hope that a unified cyber command sees the light of the day without further delay,” said a former army officer, who did not wish to be named.Several officials have undergone courses on cyber warfare, but there is no clarity whether they will be part of the proposed umbrella cell, he said.Experts say an umbrella body should also be able to carry out offensive operations and should not restrict itself to defensive operations like now. Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta, who spoke at the recent Asian Cyber Security Conference, had underlined the need for better cyber security in his speech.”With nearly 400 million internet users, India cannot remain oblivious to cyber threats. The country’s future progress and growth is linked with the expansion of digital networks, overcoming digital divides, and ensuring that robust cyber security policies are adopted right from the beginning,” he said.The government had also come up with a plan to set up a 24×7 internet monitoring system under the aegis of the Union home ministry, but there has been little progress.

Nagrota terrorists were in India for a week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Post the Nagrota attack in Jammu, where seven Army men were killed on Tuesday, an assessment carried out by intelligence agencies reveals alarming findings. Intelligence officials believe that the terrorists had not only been in Indian territory for over a week, but also had the support of freshly recruited local militants.Officials say that this was made clear by the perfectly fitting police uniforms worn by the terrorists. Also, the truck used by them and the reconnaissance mission carried out before the terror strike indicates that the three terrorists were not part of a fresh infiltration, according to a preliminary report by the Army.Intelligence sleuths are also probing if the weapons used by the terrorists were handed over to them by local aides. There has been a sharp increase in arms snatching during the local unrest in the Valley in the last four months following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. According to estimates, over 100 weapons have been snatched during the recent turmoil.Three terrorists were gunned down after the day-long encounter on Tuesday, in which sixteen hostages—including 12 soldiers, two women and two children were safely rescued—but seven army personnel, including two majors, lost their lives.”It appears that the terrorists have spent considerable time in Indian territory and were provided logistics and help by locals,” said an Army official.”They seemed to be well-prepared and had an idea of their target,” he added.With intelligence reports constantly indicating an increase in local recruitment following the unrest in J&K, local assistance to Pakistani terrorists has alarmed security forces. Sources said there was prior intelligence about a week back that Pakistan-based terrorists would target military establishments, especially in Jammu.According to a recent review by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the number of locals joining the outfits could go over 150 this year. “Last year, around 80 young men joined the terror ranks but we expect this to double by the end of the year,” said a top intelligence official.The three terrorists were carrying AK-47 rifles, four under barrel grenade launchers, Japanese-made Icom radio sets, 15-16 loaded magazines, and a huge cache of medicines with Pakistani markings.While the Army has gunned down over 140 terrorists this year, there has also been a sharp increase in casualties. There have been 67 Army casualties in J&K till date this year. Out of this, 24 Army men have died in the last two months after the Army launched surgical strikes destroying terror camps across the Line of Control. In 2015, there were just 33 army casualties in J&K.On September 18, Indian Army personnel were killed in Uri after which the surgical strikes were planned. Since then there has been frequent skirmishes in the border areas with heavy shelling and firing from both sides.Following a series of attacks on defence installations, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, N N Vohra, on Wednesday, asked all security forces, commanders, and the government to enhance surveillance and immediately review security operations in all important installations.After being briefed about the attacks by Pakistani terrorists at Ramgarh and Nagrota on Tuesday, the Governor spoke with the Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda, J&K DGP K Rajendra, GOC XVI Corps Lt Gen A K Sharma, GOC 26 Div Maj Gen S Sharma and IG BSF (Jammu Frontier) DK Upadhyaya.

Indo-Pak DGMOs speak after Army retribution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst tensions along the LoC, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan, in an unscheduled hotline interaction, spoke to each other on Wednesday.This conversation between Lt Gen Ranbir Singh and Major General Sahar Shamshad Mirza took place even as reports on Wednesday stated that the Indian Army had launched a massive retribution offensive to avenge the killing of three soldiers in the Machhal sector of Kupwara.Two BSF jawans were injured in cross-border action on Wednesday. Since September 29, when India launched “surgical strikes” inside Pakistani-controlled territory, the country has lost 18 jawans, 13 from the Army and five from the BSF, with many others injured.Sources said that Pakistan had asked for the DGMO talks, which came close after the Pakistan Foreign Office confirmed that Sartaj Aziz, who functions as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, will attend a regional conference in Amritsar early next month. This ignites the hope of easing of tensions.Pakistan DGMO who called his Indian counterpart on Wednesday morning informed him about the civilian casualities. He said a minibus was hit with small and big arms in the town of Lawat in Neelam Valley, killing nine passengers and injuring 11 others. The minibus was on its way to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).Lt Gen. Singh expressed grief at the civilian casualties, but emphatically stated that the retaliatory firing by Indian troops was carried out targeting locations from where Pakistan has initiated ceasefire violations on Indian posts. He also raised the issue of civilians and soldiers being killed on the Indian side, due to unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops.Earlier in the day, from Poonch to Rajouri and from Machil to Keran, the Indian Army has gone on an all-out offensive to target Pakistani posts on the other side of Line of Control across Jammu and Kashmir.”We are carrying out the fire assaults,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman, in Srinagar.Army sources said that massive damage was inflicted on Pakistani posts after the Indian fire assault. They added that the Army used light artillery to target Pakistani posts, decimating several of them on the LoC.On the other side, Pakistani media reports quoting Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) admitted that three Pakistani soldiers—Captain Taimoor Ali Khan, Havaldar Mushtaq Hussain and Lance Naik Ghulam Hussain—were killed.In retaliatory fire, two BSF soldiers were injured when Pakistani shells landed near their post on the LoC in the Keran sector of Kupwara district. Indian Army launched the fire assaults soon after it vowed to avenge the killing of three soldiers saying “retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act.”It was reported that the Border Action Team (BAT) of Pakistan had badly mutilated the body of one soldier and killed two others when they ambushed a counter infiltration patrol on the Line of Control (LoC) at the Machhal sector of Kupwara district on Tuesday. BAT is a mix of Pakistani Special Forces, which are used as the force multiplier by Pakistan army on the LoC.During the telephone conversation, the Indian DGMO also raised the issue of infiltration attempts by terrorists. He described the mutilation of the body one Indian soldier as “unethical”. Pakistan, however, rejected as “false and baseless” the reports regarding the alleged mutilation of the solider.”These reports are a fabrication and a blatant attempt to malign Pakistan,” said Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakariya.General Singh also asked his Pakistani counterpart to exercise strict control on his troops and to refrain from any nefarious activities. “This will lead to the return of normalcy along the LoC,” he said. He also stated that any case of ceasefire violations or infiltration attempts from Pakistan on Indian territory, would receive an appropriate response from the Indian Army.On the diplomatic front, Pakistan’s Director General (SAARC) Dr. Mohammad Faisal, summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh, on Wednesday morning, to protest against the firing.Later in the evening, India also summoned Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah, on Wednesday, to issue a demarche.

India needs review of nuclear policy, but Parrikar’s public comment was avoidable: Uday Bhaskar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made a public statement about India’s no first use (NFU) policy, the line between public and personal got blurred, says senior policy expert C Uday Bhaskar. According to him, the Defence Minister’s statement was extremely unusual, considering PM Modi was in Japan at that time inking a civil nuclear deal. Parrikar sparked a row on Thursday by questioning India’s ‘no first use’ nuclear policy. He said, “Why should I bind myself? I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly. This is my (personal) thinking,” Parrikar said replying to a question as he explained the need to be unpredictable in warfare strategy. Taking a dig at the media, Parrikar said they would publish that the nuclear policy has changed. “It has not changed in government. It is my concept. As an individual, I also get a feeling. I am not saying you have to use it first. Hoax can be called off,” he said, adding that prior to the surgical strike, Pakistan Defence Minister used to threaten India with the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons.DNA spoke to C Uday Bhaskar, director of Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi about the possible ramifications of Parrikar’s comments. When asked if India needs to review its nuclear policy, Bhaskar said, “India’s NFU policy that was adopted during NDA I led by PM Vajpayee in May 1998 is in need of review – particularly in the light of the fact that over the last 18 years, the contour of India’s WMD capability, including command and control, and the regional security situation has undergone a change. But this review ought to be done within the CCS (cabinet committee on security) with appropriate professional inputs from the military”.He was of the opinion that such a review shouldn’t be triggered by remarks at a public event – more so when PM Modi was in Japan securing a major nuclear agreement. While Parrikar and the Defence Ministry later clarified unequivocally that it was his personal view, yet the ex-Goa CM’s comments have created a flutter in India’s political circle. Most parties including main opposition Congress criticised Parrikar’s off the cuff remark, saying greater restrain should be shown by him and any change in India’s nuclear doctrine must be a well thought out one. Regarding any possible fallout of Parrikar’s statement, Bhaskar said, “The nuclear issue is something on which every citizen has a right to express a view. It’s destructive potential is apocalyptic. We in India surely do not want another Hiroshima – or for that matter another Fukushima. So to that extent Mr Parrikar, as he said at the event – was fully justified in articulating his personal views. My only observation is about the sensitivity of the issue – NUCLEAR ; the context – the PM is in Japan; and the fact that when the Indian Defence Minister makes a public statement on an issue like this – the line between the personal and the official gets blurred. It could have been avoided to my mind – and the fact that the MoD quickly issued a statement is case in point. This may have been to firewall the ramifications.” However, Uday Bhaskar doesn’t believe that Parrikar’s comment will mar India’s NSG chances. According to him, India’s bid is blocked by China and they are not linking India’s NFU to its objection apropos the Indian NSG membership application. However, India’s nuclear cooperation with other countries may take a hit as India’s nuclear restraint has been its USP. Any review and subsequent alteration may change that dynamic, according to strategy affairs expert Uday Bhaskar. Bhaskar also said, “The whole issue of introducing irrationality and unpredictability was elucidated in some detail by Henry Kissinger in the late 1950’s – when he was a young academic. Parrikar’s remarks will definitely catalyse interest in this formulation about how India should invoke unpredictability or opacity – but this must be done in an astute manner so that it meets the challenges of crisis-stability – which Rawalpindi wants to ‘threaten’.”With agency inputs

Govt formulates new blacklisting policy to speed up military modernisation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing hindrances in military modernisation the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has done away with blanket blacklisting of companies indulging in corrupt means, a practice adopted during the UPA rule that slowed the defence acquisition process.The clearance to the new policy, keeping in mind the need to speed up modernisation projects, coincided with the Manohar Parrikar-led Defence Acquisition Council’s (DAC) go-ahead to projects worth over Rs 82,000 crore for purchase of fighter aircraft, tanks, rockets and mini drones.The Defence Ministry cleared the new blacklisting policy on Monday keeping in mind the delays in procurement of key equipment. Sources said that the new policy will be project-specific and unscrupulous firms will be banned from dealing in the particular segment where they have indulged in any dishonest act and allowed to participate in other areas. If a firm is banned, it will be for a specific number of years.The new policy includes heavy penalties in terms of fines. The new policy is expected to be put up on the MoD website in the next few days. “It will be a product specific ban rather than blanket blacklisting. Also, there will be an option for heavy penalties besides those in contract and even individuals can be banned,” said a source in the MoD.The new policy would also make way for pending projects like the heavyweight torpedos for the six Scorpene submarines.Contrary to expectation, the DAC did not take a decision on the Navy’s proposal to purchase 12 US2I amphibious aircraft from Japan, though the issue came up for discussion. Sources said there could be progress on this issue during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Tokyo on November 11-12.The DAC also gave Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to Indian Air Force’s plan to purchase 83 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft at a cost of Rs 50,025 crore, Defence Ministry sources said. It also accorded AON for the purchase of 15 Light Combat Aircraft being manufactured by HAL for the Army and Air Force for a tentative cost of about Rs 2,911 crore. AoN was also given for the repeat order of 464 Russian origin T90 tanks which are being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board for Rs 13,448 crore, and for procurement of 598 mini UAVs at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore.

Guess who headed the Pak spy ring?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The reverberations of the Pakistani spy ring saga continue to impact New Delhi and Islamabad. What has baffled intelligence agencies in India is that the person in-charge of India-Pakistan trade relations has turned out to be a top Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer and chief of intelligence operations in India.This came to light after the interrogation of Mehmood Akhtar last week. Akhtar, an ISI officer and Pakistani High Commission staffer, was part of the spy ring.Intelligence officers said that the top ISI officer, Syed Furrukh Habib, was posted as Commercial Counsellor in the Pakistani High Commission. This is a big worry for India’s intelligence officials as it shows that Pakistan has even made trade as a means to gather intelligence.Intelligence agencies say that the other ISI officers in the spy ring are Khadim Huss­ain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal. They are all working in the Pakistani High Commission.New Delhi is now mounting pressure on Islamabad, demanding the immediate removal of these four ISI officers from the Pakistani High Commission. Top intelligence officers said that these officers were running an espionage network under the guise of doing other jobs.As per a diplomatic arrangement between two countries, only one intelligence sleuth can be posted in their respective missions.Akhtar had been caught along with Indian agents but could not be arrested as he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. He was declared persona non grata and was sent back to Pakistan. The Delhi Police had also arrested four Indians who were part of the spy network.Sources say that as a bait to extract information from Akhtar, he was told that he would neither be arrested nor anything would be disclosed to the Pakistan High Commission.”He was made to sit at ease, and he was promised that his confession would not be shared and his arrest will be kept secret. Upon this, he disclosed almost all the underhand dealings of the mission and their agents around,” said an intelligence official.Sources say that Pakistani officials were irked at Akhtar for spilling the beans and he was even roughed up when handed over to the Pakistani High Commission. In Pakistan, he has become a target for blowing the cover of other officials. Akhtar has told Pakistani newspapers that he had given the statement under duress.Indian officials counter his claims. They said that his interrogation was video-graphed when he spilled the beans. Officials also claim that Akhtar had named 16 other “staffers” who were in the espionage ring. Crime Branch teams are raiding various places in Rajasthan to apprehend locals who were providing confidential documents and information to Akhtar.Two teams of the Crime Branch are currently in Rajasthan along with the Indian nationals who have been arrested— Maulana Ramzan, Subhash Jangir and Shoaib—to seek details of the paramilitary personnel who might have leaked information, sources said. Two other persons have also been detained in Rajasthan and are currently being questioned, said the officer.Reacting to the Pakistani spy ring, senior BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said: “The reality is that the High Commission here has become an ISI den. It is breaking all rules and laws…Its work is no longer diplomatic. It has become a centre of smuggling information from here to there (Pakistan).”

India facing two ceasefire violations daily after surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani forces have been making desperate attempts to retaliate since the surgical strike carried out by the Indian Army last month, which destroyed terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC).The Forces have been kept busy over the last month, as on average, two ceasefire violations have taken place every day since the precision operation by the Indian Army. According to official figures, out of the 115 violations along the border this year, 60 have taken place after India’s offensive last month. The Indian Army hit back after 18 armymen were killed in a terror attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18.”There has not been a single day since the surgical strikes when Pakistani forces have not indulged in shelling and firing. We have hit back each time,” said an intelligence official.Sources say the situation will continue to remain volatile as Pakistani forces are now desperate to hit back across the LoC and International Border. (IB) “According to ground intelligence and chatter picked up from across the border, Pakistani forces are pumping in more fidayeens (suicide bombers) to strike at Indian forces,” said an intelligence official.Intelligence inputs also indicate that after India’s surgical strikes, the Pakistani Army has carried out “precautionary deployment” all along the LoC on their side to fill up the gaps, as they fear another round of strikes from Indian forces.”Soon after our raids, they have increased deployment in areas they consider vulnerable. Precautionary deployment is roughly 25 per cent of full mobilisation,” said an intelligence official.It’s not just in the IB, where security forces are facing a stiff challenge but also in the Kashmir Valley that has been in turmoil over the last three months since the killing of local Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by Indian forces.Taking advantage of the situation, Pakistani terror groups have intensified their efforts to recruit local Kashmiri youth into militancy. It is estimated that around 100 youth have gone missing in the last three months, raising fears of a massive local recruitment drive. According to a recent review by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the number of locals joining the outfits could go over 150 this year. “Last year, around 80 young men joined the terror ranks but we expect this to double by the end of the year,” said a top intelligence official.Sources also said that around 4,000 people, who were part of the stone- pelting mobs attacking security forces, have been arrested in the last three months. These were mostly from areas in south Kashmir that have the maximum number of local recruits.Figures released by the Army show that 129 terrorists have been killed this year till now. Contrast this to 2015, when the figure for the entire year was 97. Sources say that most of the kills this year have happened near the LoC as infiltrating terrorists were intercepted.Pak blames India for ceasefire violationsDr Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan’s Director-General (SA & SAARC), summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh on Friday and strongly condemned the “unprovoked ceasefire violations” on October 27 by Indian forces at the working boundary in Shakargarh sector and on the LoC in Nikial sector, resulting in the martyrdom of six civilians, including two women and injuries to 22 civilians, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Army snubs Thackeray: We don’t accept forced donations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Giving a thumbs down to Maharashtra politician Raj Thackeray’s diktat asking film producers employing Pakistani actors to pay Rs5 core to the army welfare fund, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made it clear that donations cannot be forced upon anyone.Parrikar’s remarks came after MNS chief Raj Thackeray allowed the release of Karan Johar’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. The film got a go-ahead after its producers accepted three conditions put forward by the MNS chief, which included the payment of Rs5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund.The Defence Minister said on Tuesday that all donations to the army were voluntary. “The concept is voluntary donation and not for catching the neck of someone. We don’t appreciate that,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the Naval Commanders Conference in the Capital.The Army has shown its displeasure for being dragged into a political row over the film featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. As a result, officers have not taken to the idea floated by Thackeray.”All contributions (to the welfare fund) are voluntary. Extortion is not allowed. We would want people to contribute on their own rather than under any coercion,” a senior army official said.Defence ministry sources also said even though the amount in the newly created Battle Casualty Fund is not very high but there has been a steady increase.”It started in June and the amount has been increasing each month,” said a senior defence ministry official.The Defence Minister said the concept behind the fund was to ensure that all those people who wanted to donate voluntarily for welfare of the family of martyrs could do so.”There will be a scheme managed by MoD with assistance from the Adjutant General Branch concerned. It is a voluntary donation and therefore we are not concerned with anyone demanding something to be donated to that,” he said.He added that the Ministry is formulating a scheme through which all the families of martyrs will be helped equally.Army sources said that they have a system in place to check all contributions and can even reject a contribution made under duress or by any person whom the force does not want to be associated with.

Howitzer guns to boost military firepower on China border

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ultra light Howitzer artillery guns used by US forces in Afghanistan will soon be used by the Indian Army to boost military capabilities to guard the China frontier. The first acquisition of artillery guns since Bofors 30 years back is expected to be a game-changer in securing India’s border in the tough mountainous terrains of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Army sources say a blueprint on deployment of the guns is being made and according to the plan most a high number will be used along the China border. The light weight guns can be transported by air unlike the Bofors that has to be carried to high altitude regions only by road.”There is an infrastructure void with little road connectivity along the China border making the transport of Bofors difficult. The Howitzer is a light gun that can be dismantled,” said an army source.Sources also add while they can be used to combat Pakistani forces as well but Chinese border is where the light guns can have a big impact. The gun has a range of 35- 40 kms. While the high mountainous regions along the western frontier has good roads the situation on the eastern border is different. “The Bofors gun can be transported by trucks to the Pakistan border. But that’s not the case with China border leaving critical gaps,” said a source.The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) led by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar cleared the acquisition of 145 guns that was stuck due to some technical issues. Sources say a nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is expected soon after which the acquisition process can begin. The cost of acquiring the 145 guns is more than Rs. 5,000 crore. The CCS clearance is mandatory for acquisitions over Rs. 1,000 crore.India had sent a Letter of Request to the US government showing interest in buying the guns and the US had responded with a Letter of Acceptance (LoA) and the Ministry of Defence had in June looked into the terms and conditions and approved it. While 25 guns will come t in a fly away condition, the rest will be assembled at the proposed Assembly Integration and Test facility for the weapon system in India in partnership with Mahindra.

Jammu & Kashmir: Eight-fold surge in terror infiltrations across LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s been a tough year for Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir, as they have been battling an eight-time jump in terrorist infiltrations. Apart from this shocking statistic, officials say that the rising number of cases of arson by raging mobs suggests a rise in local recruitment this year.According to officials, the good news is that ‘surgical strikes’ have brought cheer at a time when infiltration is at an all-time high with 87 cases reported this year, while the tally last year was 10.“Ceasefire violations have taken place in hundreds for the last five-six years… The only difference is that if they do it now, we give a befitting reply,” said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at an event in Ahmedabad on Monday. However, officials warn that the situation is only going to get worse from here with Pakistan-based terrorists planning retaliation. According to ground intelligence and intercepts, more men have been pumped in by terror groups to strike at Indian forces. This has kept the forces on its toes with the terrorists kills also doubling. Sources said with more infiltration, even the numbers of kills have increased. Last year, in the corresponding period, around 70 terrorists were gunned down, while the tally this year has reached 128. While the Army has killed 120 terrorists, the other operations were carried out by local police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).Clearly, the surgical strikes destroying terror launchpads have not deterred Pakistani-based terrorists from planning more strikes. “The infiltration attempts are still continuing,” said a government official.Sources said a number of infiltrations have occurred along the LoC and it seems the terrorists are going back to the old routes used for penetrating into Indian territory. In 2013 and 2014, there had been increased infiltration from new routes along the International Border (IB).The assessment of infiltrations increasing is based on ground intelligence from civilians, intercepts and evidence of fence-cutting in some areas.The recent trend of the increasing cases of arson has been a cause of worry for the forces. Around 100 arms were looted by raging mobs protesting against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen local commander Burhan Wani.Sources said this is also an indication that local terrorist recruitment is happening as arms are needed for them.Since Wani’s killing in July, mass protests triggered turmoil in the state with over 80 deaths and thousands wounded over the last three months. Army sources said that since then operations in South Kashmir have taken a hit.Intelligence inputs also indicate that after India’s surgical strikes, the Pakistani Army has carried out “precautionary deployment” all along the LoC, as they fear another round of strikes from Indian forces.“Soon after our raids, they have increased deployment in areas they consider vulnerable. Precautionary deployment is roughly 25 percent of a full mobilisation aimed to plug the gaps,” said an intelligence officer.Fears of local recruitment by Pakistan-based terror groups, has also alarmed security forces. It is estimated that around 100 youths have gone missing in the last three months.

Kabul dogs roped in to help secure BRICS summit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Part of ‘Mission Kabul’ these ferocious canines from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force’s (ITBP) K9 unit have been serving in Indian missions in conflict hit Afghanistan for a while now.Battling terror threats daily, these brave dogs have now been pressed into action to secure the BRICS summit being held in Goa from October 15-16.This is in the wake of intelligence inputs about a possible terror attack. As a result, the contingent comprising German shepherds, labradors and Belgian Melenois have been sent from Kabul to Goa to aid security forces.These dogs were deployed at the Indian Embassy in Kabul for over three years and have experienced all sorts of threats and situations. Calling them “battle scarred veterans” an ITBP official says they had a high success rate when used in anti-terror missions against the Taliban.Sources told DNA that the decision to deploy the dogs serving in Kabul was taken amid several intelligence inputs regarding terrorists using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to blow up the venue.”We got an SOS call to secure and sanitise the venues and hotels where delegates will be staying in the wake of the heightened security alert,” said an ITBP official.According to intelligence inputs, Pakistani-based terrorist groups could conduct terror strikes in Goa near the venue between October 12 and 14 with an aim to disrupt the Summit. The is especially important as meetings of important dignitaries from BRICS countries will begun from October 12.Sources also say that the terror attacks are being planned as retaliation to the “surgical strikes” by the Indian Army destroying terror launchpads across the Line of Control (LoC).”Since these dogs are experts at sniffing explosives and also detect suspicious movements it was decided to send them,” said an official.There have been several terror attacks on Indian missions in Afghanistan in the last few years including the Embassy in Kabul.ITBP’s dog squad have also been serving in Maoist hit states and play a pivotal role in securing high target installations like the Parliament.Dogs from the force are also part of the Special Protection Group (SPG) guarding the Prime Minister. These dogs have also thwarted several terror attacks in the country over the last year when they were part of several operations.Over the years, dog training modules have also been modified to keep pace with growing threat perceptions. Most of the dogs are not just used for sniffing but have also become experts at assault and reconnaissance missions.They go through a 24 week training programme before being pressed into action.

Are missing Kashmiri youths becoming jihadis?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An estimated 100 young men have gone missing from their homes in various parts of the Kashmir Valley over the last three months. According to a secret internal report by security agencies, following the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani in July this year, 80-100 youth are reportedly untraceable.Security agencies believe that these men may have been part of a mass recruitment drive by terrorist outfits. A review done by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) also indicated that the recruitment of local youth was likely to increase in the coming months.”We expect a big surge in local recruitment in the next few days. It’s difficult to give an accurate number as of now, but in the last three months, the numbers have gone up considerably,” a top security official told DNA.
ALSO READ Kashmir tense as Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani killedSources in the security establishment said with the local armed movement gathering momentum, security forces and particularly the Army have been asked to carry out area domination exercises in parts of the state considered especially prone to terrorist activity. Areas and neighbourhoods in south Kashmir have been identified as potential recruitment hubs which are now under watch.AT A GLANCEClashes between raging stone pelting protestors and security forces have killed more than 80 people and left thousands wounded in the Valley.Figures show just how alarming the situation in the Valley has become. Last year, security agencies estimated that 80 Kashmiri youth had joined the terror ranks.This year, till July, before Wani’s death, only 35 Kashmiri youth had been recruited.Post Wani’s death, agencies say the number of radicalised Kashmiri youth has risen to 90, out of the total number of 145 militants in the Valley.”Before Wani’s killing around 35 locals had taken up arms this year. We had expected the numbers to be low. But now everything has changed in the last three months and the number of militants are likely to go well over 100 this year,” said an official.
ALSO READ Latest video of new Hizbul Mujahideen commander emerges in KashmirOfficials privy to the situation say that it is no surprise then that Pakistan-based terror outfits are taking advantage of the situation and luring local men. Just like Wani who soon became the posterboy of indigenous militancy in the conflict hit state, another rung of young men are now being prepared to be showcased as local militants.The rise in local militants is alarming as it can help Pakistani-based terrorists to carry out attack on security forces with greater ease. “Not only do the local recruits gather support for an armed insurgency but also play a crucial role in assisting fidayeens who infiltrate from Pakistan to carry out terror strikes,” says a security official.
ALSO READ Who is Burhan Wani? All you need to know about the Hizbul Mujahideen poster boyIt’s not the first time that recent events have caused Kashmiri youth to pick up the gun. In 2013, the hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted for the Parliament attack of 2001, became a catalyst for local youth in the state to join terror groups.The Burhan Wani killing could well just be another catalyst for an even bigger indigenous militant movement against Indian security forces.

Baramulla attackers gave forces the slip; ‘GPS trackers, wire-cutters recovered, but not bodies’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite being under heavy fire for over two hours by the Army and BSF, Pakistani terrorists managed to give Indian forces the slip. The terrorists had attacked a security camp in Baramulla in northern Kashmir on Sunday night. There was no clarity on the number but sources estimated that there were around three to four militants involved in the attack.Sources told dna that there was intelligence on such attacks on security forces after the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) on September 29, killing around 40 terrorists. “Taking advantage of the darkness the terrorists fled,” said an official.Following the attack, in which one BSF jawan was killed, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar chaired a high-level meeting that was attended by Army Chief General Dalbir Singh, Air Force Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba. Sources said the subject of the terrorists’ escape was discussed, along with other aspects of concern, such as the possibilities of Pakistani terrorists using the sea route to carry out attacks in India.Officials say they had been prepared for an attack from the Pakistani side of the LoC. “It was not a surprise attack as there was information that terrorists are in Baramulla and looking for targets,” BSF Inspector General (Kashmir) Vikash Chandra told dna. “We could have detected them (terrorists) early. Yet timely retaliation from the BSF prevented them from entering the camp.”Informed sources then reconstructed the scenario for dna. Around 10:30 pm BSF constables Nitin Kumar and Varun guarding bunker no 11 – the first one in the camp just after the civilian area – suspected some movement in the area. When challenged, militants opened gunfire at the bunker.In the following gunfight between BSF and the militants, constable Parminder got hit in the ankle. The militants threw a grenade that entered bunker 11 where Kumar was firing from. As he came out of the bunker, another grenade by the militants landed close to him, hitting his groin area.Constable Varun then took the gun from Kumar and continued firing. Around this time, Army forces also joined in and the gunfight with the militants lasted around an hour and was restricted to the area of the bunker.While the militants were prevented from entering the camp, the 24-year-old Kumar succumbed to shrapnel injuries in hospital a few hours later.Sources say that the high intensity hit-and-run strike was not a fidayeen (suicide) attack as the terrorists escaped through the adjoining civilian area of the Army-BSF camp at Janbazpora when confronted with heavy firing.”Ideally, we should have killed them. But no bodies were recovered,” IG Chandra said. Preliminary observations conclude that the terrorists are likely to have escaped from the same route they came.The BSF has recovered GPS trackers, compass and wire-cutters used by the terrorists which point to their intention to enter the camp and inflict maximum casualties. The camp, along the banks of the Jhelum river, is shared jointly by the 46 Rashtriya Rifles and one company of the BSF for accommodation. Both the Army and BSF troops share responsibility of securing the camp and the troops’ bunkers.Post the LoC strike, the Centre had warned of a possible ‘suicide attack’ on Army establishments and had directed states bordering Pakistan to remain on high alert.

Pak-based militants carrying out attacks abroad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As part of its diplomatic offensive against Pakistan, New Delhi will name Pakistani-based terror operatives who have been striking alliances with international jihadi groups like Islamic State (IS) or Al-Qaida at international fora. Indian authorities explain that this will help harden world opinion against Pakistan for allowing terror groups to function freely from its soil.In this regard, New Delhi has sought the details from French authorities of Mohammed Usman, a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) trained Pakistani terrorist. Usman was arrested in Austria earlier this year and handed over to France for his role in the Paris bombings carried out last year in November which killed 130 people. The attack, carried out by IS and Usman, a Pakistani national, played a crucial role in the terror strike.”We have asked for details regarding the investigation done by the French authorities. A dossier is being prepared with details of all such Pakistanis who have forged links with global terror outfits,” a top government official told dna.Sources said that information from various sources including intelligence agencies of some other countries are being gathered to put together a dossier on Pakistanis with global terror links. Indian agencies are also making efforts to keep an eye on Pakistanis seeking asylum in western countries. Even Usman sought refuge in Austria soon after the Paris attack but was then arrested.Usman’s case has been raised by India at international counter-terror meets but a more detailed analysis on such terrorists will equip Indian agencies to expose their global threat and linkages.”The idea is to let the international community know that LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) or any Pakistani group is not just a threat to India but to the whole world,” the official added.Initially, it was suspected that Usman was also part of the 26/11 Mumbai attack. However, Indian agencies later ruled out the possibility of his direct involvement in any terror strike in India.After the Uri attack in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based terrorists that killed 18 Indian Army personnel, New Delhi has begun devising a strategy to isolate Pakistan diplomatically. The attack is suspected to have been carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammed. This was the second such attack this year by the group after striking at the Pathankot Air base on January 1 this year.Usman’s case is not the only one that will be cited by India at international platforms. Last year, a Pakistani was arrested in Italy for suspected links with IS. Earlier this year, three Pakistanis were arrested in Spain for promoting terrorism using social media.Officials tracking terror say with social media diminishing geographical boundaries, terror operatives are more likely to strike alliances with international groups. “IS has already ensured that several youth from different parts of the world come together for a common cause,” said a counter-terrorism official.Spreading terror abroadDecember 2015: Mohammed Usman, involved in the IS Paris attack, found to be an LeT trained Pakistani.May 2016: A Pakistani national, along with two Afghans, arrested in Italy for being part of a terror cell planning bombings in Rome and LondonMay 2016: Pakistani national Muhammad Baqas sentenced by court in Italy on terror charges, along with a Tunisian. The duo were arrested last year.July 2016: Three Pakistani nationals arrested in Spain for propagating terrorist activities through social media.

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