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Author: Deevakar Anand

Indian Army surgical strike destroys 7 terror launch pads; govt reassures foreign envoys, Oppn over strikes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Army on Thursday crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and carried out surgical strikes on seven terrorist launch pads based in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), inflicting heavy casualties. India’s response comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned that terrorist attack on Uri Army base would not go unpunished.India has carried out such cross-border surgical strikes before – the last one being in Myanmar in June 2015 – to flush out insurgents. This latest strike was carried out by Army’s elite Special Forces (SF) in the wee hours of Thursday and came after Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists had killed 18 Indian soldiers in Uri on September 18. The strike led to a growing clamour within India for retaliation.In a media briefing in the Capital, Indian Army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said, “Based on specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along the Line of Control to carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists.”“I have been in touch with the Pakistan Army DGMO and have informed him of our actions. It is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquility in the region,” he added.Though Singh did not share more operation details, reliable Army sources, both at the headquarters in Delhi and in the Northern Command in Udhampur said that seven terrorist launch pads and camps were destroyed by the troops of 4 and 9 Para Special Forces, leading to around 40 militants being killed.Two Indian Army soldiers were also injured but have been brought back and are being treated at an army hospital.“The entire operation that went on from 12.30 am to 4:30am on Thursday was a combination of heliborne and ground forces and no Indian chopper crossed over the LoC even as paratroopers were air dropped at advanced pre-decided locations near the LoC,” sources said.Special Forces went up to 3kms inside PoK. Divided into three groups they carried out the attack in Lepa valley, Tatta Pani and Bimber areas, situated across the LoC in PoK, even as India fired heavy artillery guns to divert attention so SF troops could sneak in. Sources told dna that three service chiefs met defence minister Parrikar hours before the operation.The DGMO then monitored the operation from the war room at South Block, at tactical headquarters of Northern Command in Udhampur, where live UAV footage of the operation was being monitored.Govt reassures foreign envoys, Oppn over strikesHours after India struck terrorists’ launch pads across the Line of Control with Pakistan, senior members of the NDA government on Thursday reached out to domestic political parties as well as envoys of foreign states to convey its position and to assuage their fears of further escalation of tensions.Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. General Ranbir Singh briefed opposition leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, Sitaram Yechury (CPM), Sharad Yadav (JDU), Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP), Premchand Gupta (RJD), and Sharad Pawar (NCP), on the operation.Also present at the meeting were National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, BJP president Amit Shah, home minister Rajnath Singh, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, finance minister Arun Jaitley, and I&B minister Venkaiah Naidu,.Prime Minister Modi informed President Pranab Mukherjee, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, and his predecessor Manmohan Singh of the strikes. Mufti struck a note of caution as she voiced concern over the escalation along the border and warned that the confrontation could lead to a “disaster of epic proportions” for the state.Meanwhile, the External Affairs ministry extended its diplomatic efforts to reassure envoys of various nations in Delhi that the Indian Army’s operation, conducted in the dead of night, was only targeted at terror camps across the LoC and that India had no intent to wage war with Pakistan.

dna exclusive: The inside tale of Indian Army’s daring surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Army on Thursday crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and inflicted heavy casualties on terrorist launch pads based in Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK). A rare cross-border surgical strikes was carried out by the Indian Army’s elite Special Forces (SF), 11 days after Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) terrorists killed 18 Indian Army soldiers and amidst growing clamour within India for retaliation.Indian Army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh in a briefing said, “Based on specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along Line of Control to carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to preempt infiltration by terrorists.”“I have been in touch with Pakistan Army DGMO and have informed him of our actions. It is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region,” he said further.Though he did not share more operation details, reliable Army sources, both at the headquarters here and in Northern Command said that seven terrorist launch pads and camps were destroyed by the troops of 4 and 9 para special forces leading to 40 odd casualties on their side. Two Indian Army soldiers were also injured but safely brought back and are being treated at an army hospital.The entire operation went on from 12.30 AM to 4. 30 AM was a combination of heliborne and ground forces and no Indian chopper crossed over the LoC even as para troopers were air dropped at advanced pre decided locations near the LoC, sources said.Special Forces, divided into three groups went up to three kilometres inside PoK. They were divided in three groups and carried out the attack in Lepa valley, Tatta Pani and Bimber areas across LoC even as India fired heavy artillery guns to divert attention so that the SF troops could sneak in. Sources also told dna that while the three service chiefs met defence minister Manohar Parrikar hours before the operation. While the DGMO monitored the operation from the war room at South Block, at the tactical headquarters of Northern Command in Udhampur, live UAV footage of the operation was being monitored. Curiously, Muzaffarabad-based media- eportedly said that Pakistani Army, around midnight on Wednesday, minutes before the Indian Army assault, had issued an advisory to PoK residents through local media to stay inside. PoK-based media also reported that tourists are vacating the area and movement on road 50% less than on a routine day. They further claimed that besides Pakistani military installations, civilians also bore the brunt of artillery firing.

J&K: Two JeM terrorists belonging to PoK arrested in Uri

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security forces have arrested two PoK nationals who have been working for Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit and acting as guides for infiltrating groups along the line of control in Uri Sector.In a joint operation by Army and BSF, two PoK nationals were apprehended on Wednesday. During the investigation, the individuals have revealed their identities as Ahasan Kursheed and Faisal Hussain Awan and have been known to belong to Khaliana Kalan and Pottha Jahangir in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The duo was recruited two years ago by Jaish-e-Mohammed and were guiding terrorists to infiltrate across the line of control.The details provided by them are being examined and corroborated by concerned agencies.

India seals the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighters for Rs 58,000 crore from France

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s final. India and France on Friday signed the much-awaited Rafale fighter jet deal to buy 36 of them in fly-away condition at a cost of Rs58,000 crore. 15 percent of which will be paid in advance.The aircraft will be delivered to IAF within next 36 to 67 months.The deal for the twin-engine fighters signed in the presence of India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar and his visiting French counterpart here Jean Yves LeDrian has come about after 17 months of intense price negotiations and the final price was agreed at 4.2 billion euros lesser than the original price quoted by France (12 Billion).India also managed to get the aircraft customised with 14 Indian Air Force (IAF) specifications including Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile Meteor that Rafale jets will come fitted with. Besides, the weapons package also includes advanced precision guided air-to-ground long range weapons.As part of the offset obligations, France will invest a total of 50 per cent of the Rs58,000 crore. While 20 percent of it will go into local Rafale component production and the rest into the research for military aeronautics.The deal also entails advanced training of three IAF pilots, one engineer and six technicians by the French air force.In January, 2012 the Manmohan Singh government had decided to buy 18 such aircrafts in “fly-away” condition, and 108 were to be made operational by state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) through the transfer of technology clause.However, Prime Minister Modi, during his France visit lin April, 2015, announced buying 36 of them in fly-away condition by scrapping that tender and invoking “Critical Operational Necessity” of the IAF.Other bidders who lost to Rafale in 2012 were the American F/A-18 and F-16, Russian MiG 35, European Eurofighter and Swedish Saab Gripen.Rafales will provide a much needed succour to IAF whose squadron strength is at 34 currently as against the sanctioned strength of 42. IAF’s front line fighters, the Russian Sukhoi 30’s serviceability is around 55 percent only and vice chief BS Dhanoa in March last said IAF is not ready for a two-front war with China and Pakistan together.Customised aircraftIndia managed to get the aircraft customised with 14 Indian Air Force (IAF) specifications including Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile Meteor that Rafale jets will come fitted with. Besides, the weapons package also includes advanced precision guided air-to-ground long range weapons.As part of the offset obligations, France will invest a total of 50 per cent of the Rs58,000 crore. While 20 percent of it will go into local Rafale component production and the rest into the research for military aeronautics.

Uri mopping operation called off

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Monday, almost 36 hours after the Pakistan backed Jaish-e-Mohhammed terrorists attacked the Army brigade headquarters in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, killing 17 soldiers and injuring over 30, the Army called off its mopping operation. All the four terrorists involved in the ‘fidayeen’ attack were gunned down by the Army.Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh told that the Army operations have been called off after conducting a thorough search of the military complex at Uri and the are around it.Meanwhile, one more of Indian Army jawan succumbed to injuries at the Army Research and Referral hospital in Delhi where he was airlifted.He said the total recoveries from the slain terrorists, included, four AK 47 rifles, four Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGL), 39 UBGL grenades, five hand grenades, two radio sets, two GPSs, two map sheets, two matrix sheets, one mobile phone and a large number of food and medicine packets having Pakistani markings.”We have displayed considerable restraint while handling the terrorist situation both along the Line of Control and in hinterland,” said the DGMO. “We have the desired capability to respond to such blatant acts of aggression and violence as deemed appropriate by us,” he warned, adding: “We reserve the right to respond to any act of the adversary at a time and place of own choosing.”Pointing that the infiltration attempts by terrorists have shown a marked increase in comparison to the past three-four years, he said in 2016, there have been 17 infiltration bids foiled by the Indian Army along the Line of Control (LoC). Of a total of 110 terrorists eliminated in J&K, 31 have been killed while they were attempting to cross the LoC.”It actually indicates a desperate attempt from across the LoC to infiltrate more terrorists into Kashmir with a view to create disturbance and foment unrest in our area,” he said and added,”The last two infiltration attempts, on September 11, in Poonch and on September 18 at Uri have been successfully thwarted by the Indian Army by killing of four terrorists in each of the operations.”

Thirty years after Bofors scandal, India to make the gun’s ‘desi’ version

The government on Saturday cleared the way for the bulk production of Dhanush, the indigenous 155 mm artillery guns.The Indian Army will get these guns for the first time in close to a three decades after the Bofors scandal on 1987. According to a decision at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) – the apex decision making body of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on new procurements- chaired by defence minister Manohar Parrikar, 18 Dhanush guns have been approved to be manufactured by the Jabalpur based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dhanush, also popularly termed as the desi Bofors, is a towed howitzer with a strike range of 38-km and costs about Rs 14 crore a piece even as the army plans to acquire a total of 114 of them to help its much needed artillery firepower strength. Dhanush has been developed by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Kolkata following the Transfer of Technology (ToT) under the Bofors deal.A senior MoD official said that while three Dhanush howitzer will be available to army for trials by June end, three more will be delivered to it by September.The decision over Dhanush coincided with the DAC also showing its satisfaction at the ongoing procurement process of 145 Ultra Light howitzers M777 from the US through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. Manufacturer of the gun, BAE Systems has partnered with India’s Mahindra Defence Systems for the $694-million deal for the supply of 145 M777 howitzers to the Indian Army.These ultra light guns are needed by on mountain terrains for their easy mobility even as the army is in the process of raising a 90,000 –odd strong Mountain Strike Corps for along the India-China border in Eastern sector.

Man impersonates as Major General, held from Eastern Command HQ

In a serious breach of security, a man posing as a Major General of the Indian Army was found loitering and taking photographs inside Fort William, the Army’s eastern command headquarters, on Thursday. Confirming this, officials at the Army headquarters in Delhi said that the person was caught after he was seen moving around in Fort William premises wearing the uniform of a Major General. “He was taking photographs. He was suspected to be an impostor and when questioned by security, was found to be fake after which he was handed over to police for further questioning,” said an official. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources at the Eastern Command headquarters told dna that the impersonator had been visiting the heavily secured Fort William for the last two days. “He tricked the guards at the gate but the military police had doubts after the man was found to be too young to be of the rank of a senior officer -Major General. The military raised concern and when confronted on Thursday, he was found to be an impersonator and aged just 35 years,” said a source.Sources also added that he was found wearing an Army headquarter badge on his shoulders and would drive inside the headquarters premises in his personal car.Sources added that initial information on his questioning by the Kolkata police revealed that he may be a deranged person. His family who lives in Kolkata have been contacted too.Officials said it was too early to pin point if the man could lay his hands on any vital information but a thorough inquiry over his movements and meetings was on.

Private Indian defence firms knock at PMO’s doors for getting more business

Top Indian defence companies have expressed serious concerns over the slow rate of defence acquisition, taking the issue to the doorsteps of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). This, at a time when Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ and FDI relaxation up to 100 per cent are being seen as game-changers for manufacturing industry.According to sources, industry representatives, who recently met Principal Secretary to the PM Nripendra Misra and plan panel Niti Ayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant pointed that “long and inordinate delay in acquisition cycle is making them bleed financially”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Industry’s apprehensions have come even as the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) – the apex decision making body of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on new procurements — has accepted and cleared projects worth more than Rs 3 lakhs crores after the NDA government took over but, none of the projects have converted into contracts.The industry have asked for ‘milestone payments’, i.e, payments linked with stage-wise progress on projects as recommended by the former home secretary Dhirendra Singh-led expert committee on amendments in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).The meeting at PMO comes close on the heels of the industry taking their concerns to defence minister Manohar Parrikar . The meeting with Parrikar mainly concerned finalizing the ‘Strategic Partnership Model’ (SPM). Once in place, the SPM will open gates for domestic firms to enter into few critical manufacturing like submarines and aircraft on the lines of the Defence Public sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factories.Among other things, the industry pressed for transparency and clarity on minimum bulk orders so that they could plan their investments in setting up the assembly lines.

Infiltration bids in J&K this year reaches worrying high this year

Just when the infiltration attempts along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir had slowed down to a trickle in 2015, beginning 2016 until the start of June, the trend has turned upside down.There have been more than 50 attempts of infiltration from January 2016 to June 2016, which was was zero last year during the same period.According to the official year-end data released by the ministry of defence (MoD), till September 30 in 2014, only 92 infiltrations took place which was significantly low from 221 in 2014. About 60 terrorists have been killed so far this year as against only 37 last year. Army has lost 11 of its men so far and 28 of them got seriously injured.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the new trend has got the security establishment in Delhi worrying, reliable intelligence sources told dna that what is even more of concern to them is the increasing number of sleeper cells in the state that have been found active in executing the terrorist attacks in the state.The period just before winter onset is a desperate phase for infiltrators where apart from hardened terrorists, the new recruits have also to be brought to the handlers based on the Indian side before snowfall that mars their chances until March- April when it melts.An official said that the worrying trend this year also has to do with the summer arriving early and melting of snow.Jammu and Kashmir has more than 500 kilometres of LoC that separates it from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). POK is the launchpad from where the infiltrators try and sneak into India. Army sources say there are close to 10 active such launchpads across the border. Each launchpad serves as a hideout for about 30-40 infiltrators generally, the source said.

Catch ’em young! government school students on border tours

Fifty-six students from government schools — Kendriya Vidyalayas (Kvs) and Navodaya Vidyalaya Schools — last week — had a first-hand feel of the life of armed forces personnel deployed on forward areas along the international borders.Under ‘Seema Darshan’ (border visit), an initiative jointly coordinated by the army and the ministry of human resource development, 28 boys and as many girls from across the country were taken to Dharchula and Pithoragarh in Uttrakhand and Nathu La in Sikkim in two groups.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This comes at a time when the youth in the country are preferring other career options over the armed forces. In March this year defence minister Manohar Parrikar said in a written response to a question in Lok Sabha, “In army (excluding Army Medical Corps, Army Dental Corps and Military Nursing Service), as on July 1, 2015, against the authorised strength of 49,631 officers, held strength of officers is 40,525 with a shortage of 9,106 officers.”While the Navy, as on January 31, 2016, faced a shortage of 1,265 officers, the Indian Air Force as of November 1, 2015, didn’t have any shortage.The initiative, besides giving the students exposure, is also to catch them young and inspire them to join the armed forces, said an official.During their visit to the Army units in Uttarakhand, the students witnessed ‘Jungle Lane Shooting’ and ‘Rock Climbing’.The other group went to Nathu-La in Sikkim and had a first hand interaction with troops on the India- China border.In their three day trip to the north east, among other places, they visited Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. A similar tour was organised in January too.

Essar tapes: Politicians, bizmen express ‘shock’, issue denial

With the purported Essar tapes controversy taking the political and business world by storm, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group on Saturday said it was “shocked” at the news reports, according to which Ambani was one among many whose phone was tapped between 2001 and 2006.“We are shocked at news reports on the so called ‘Essar Tapes’ that refer to the completely illegal and criminal tapping of phones of some individuals in our group, allegedly done by vested interests more than 10-15 years ago, in the period prior to the reorganisation of the Reliance Group,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“We suspect that the purported conversations, as referred to in the media, must have been spliced, altered, doctored and manipulated to serve the heinous interests of those who engaged in the alleged illegal phone tapping operations,” said the statement adding that the company have at “all times fully complied with the laws of the land in all our business activities, and to suggest otherwise is criminally defamatory”.The company has also called for a thorough investigation into the allegations.The statement comes a day after Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries group too expressed “shock” and said the “conversations attributed to us are false and appear to have been doctored by someone who seeks to defame us”.Names of several people, whose phones were allegedly tapped during the five-year period by Essar, came up after a 29-page complaint was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office by a Delhi-based Supreme Court lawyer Suren Uppal. This, Uppal has alleged, led to several government and judicial decisions being compromised during the period 2001-06 as Essar had obtained a telecom licence under the name of M/s Hutchinson Essar.The names include top businessmen, bureaucrats, ministers and politicians, some of them being Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Anil Ambani’s wife Tina Ambani, power minister Piyush Goyal and BJP MP Kirit Somaya.Reacting to the development, Amar Singh said that on the night of June 15, he was at a party hosted in London where Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia was also present among others. “I asked Mr Ruia, whether my phone was being tapped by his company. Ruia responded that he did not know and would not do such an activity,” Singh said.But Singh also made an accusation that “as per my confidential sources, when this tapping issue was active, an industrialist had given instructions to kill me.” “I know his name, but I am waiting for more information/details post which I will brief media (sic),” he added.Essar, meanwhile, maintained that all the allegations leveled against it were false. A senior spokesperson of the company, when contacted by dna, forwarded an email of Basit Khan (former security chief of Essar) to Uppal. Khan, in the said mail, has rubbished Uppal’s claims.SS Khandwawala, head-security (intelligence & vigilance) at Essar, meanwhile, said, “Mr Uppal has concocted a completely false and baseless story involving us in order to make extortionist demands from us in the name of an ex-employee. When made to realise that we have absolutely no interest in acceding to such illegal demands, he is now looking to defame and pressurise us by using the media.”

Homegrown Trainer Aircraft takes maiden flight

The inaugural flight of India’s indigenous HTT 40, the Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) went on successfully at Bengaluru’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airport on Friday, marking a milestone.Come 2018 and the rookie pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) can look forward to training on them.Designed and developed by HAL, “the aircraft was flown by Group Capt C Subramaniam and Group Captain Venugopal for about 15 minutes around 09.15am in the clouded skies,” said an official.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In doing that, HTT 40 has come out of some thick cloud too. The IAF had been raising apprehensions over the HTT-40’s quality and made it amply known. It preferred the Swiss Pilatus PC-7 Mark II trainers over the indigenous development. But persistence from HAL and support from government resulted in the defence PSU investing more than Rs 300 crore to construct a platform for manufacturing HTT 40.IAF is looking to build up an inventory of 181 trainers even as 59 Pilatus PC-7 aircraft from Switzerland have already been inducted and 38 more of them are in the process of being procured. In total, 68 of HTT 40 aircraft are to be procured from HAL to replace the ageing fleet of basic trainer aircraft in the IAF fleet.Defence minister Manohar Parrikar who was present to witness the inaugural flight said that “the young team has taken a calculated risk and they have flown the aircraft within one year and kept their assurance.”The indigenous content on HTT-40 is close to 80%. Almost 50% of the components on HTT-40 are manufactured by private players of the Indian aerospace ecosystem.HAL CMD T. Suvarna Raju said, “The project will now go in full throttle as we aim to get the aircraft certified in 2018.”HAL completed the detailed design phase of HTT 40 in May 2015 and from there it has taken one year to fly the first prototype.Of the many firsts, the aircraft has a real time systems clash analyses system and complete glass cockpit.HTT-40’s role includes basic flying training, aerobatics, instrument flying, navigation, night flying and close aircraft defence formation in air. It will be used in the first stage training of rookie pilots even as the other HAL made indigenous aircraft trainer Kiran completed 50 years of its service in the IAF last year. HTT 40 has a provision for role expansion to include weapons for the trainer aircraft.

India plays down tailing of its naval ships by Chinese spy ship during Exercise Malabar

Indian security establishment and Navy have played down the incident of tailing of Indian warships by a Chinese spy ship during the ongoing India-US-Japan trilateral naval Exercise Malabar in West Pacific ocean on Wednesday.This even as Japan — in whose territorial water the incident happened — has raised objection at the diplomatic levels with China.A source here said that India’s position is “every country’s ships have the right to passage in international commons”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources further said that this was not an unusual incident considering the large movement of ships in the region.As defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, both military and civilian ships can be allowed an “innocent passage “through territorial waters — which is up to 12 Nautical Miles off the baseline — of a country as long as it doesn’t pose a threat.A Japanese P-3C patrol aircraft spotted the Dongdiao-class intelligence vessel sailing in territorial waters to the west of Kuchinoerabu Island at around 3:30 am (1830 GMT on Tuesday), Japanese deputy chief cabinet secretary Hiroshige Seko was quoted by PTI from Tokyo.This comes at a time when China has increasingly claimed to have territorial ownership in the South China Sea, whereas the other countries have accepted it as accepted as International waters.The 20th edition of Ex Malabar — is being conducted from June 14-17 in the Pacific Ocean with the harbour phase at Sasebo in Japan from June 10 -13 in which over 20 ships and 90 aircraft from India, Japan and the US are participating.The IN ships participating in the exercise are from the Eastern Fleet and include INS Sahyadri and INS Satpura, indigenously built guided missile stealth frigates, INS Shakti, a modern fleet tanker and support ship and INS Kirch, an indigenous guided missile corvette. The ships have embarked one Sea King 42B ASW helicopter and two Chetak utility helicopters.

IAF seeks ban on use of UAVs, air balloons near vital installations in J &K and Punjab

Alarmed by the security threat posed by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), the Indian Air Force (IAF) has sought a ban on them in the proximity of defence installations in Jammu and Kashmir (J &K) and Punjab.This, even as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in consultation with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), para military forces, the Navy and the Army, has been working on a countrywide policy for regulating the use of UAVs and UASs.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>IAF sources said a letter was shot to J&K and Punjab governments on June 2, underlining threats of terrorist attacks through the use of sub-conventional methods to target installations belonging to IAF, defence, para military forces and police.Such sub-conventional methods could be misuse of adventure sports facilities like para gliding, parasailing and air balloons.The IAF has also sought the civil administration’s help in respective areas to identify the private agencies that are involved in these adventure sports and declaration of the equipments they own.IAF chief Arup Raha in October publicly showed concern about the possibility of UAVs becoming tools at the hands of terrorists while speaking to reporters. Other security agencies too, have been seeking a high-priority focus on regulating their use.Since these devices fly at low levels, detecting them by radars become difficult.In January this year, IAF had to press its frontline fighter jet Sukhoi-30 to shoot down an “unidentified” balloon over Barmer in Rajasthan, close to the international border with Pakistan. It later turned out to be a helium filled and harmless balloon but sources in security establishment didn’t deny that such instances could be to test IAF’s response time on breaching of the Indian air space.In May last year, security agencies went into a tizzy after five remote controlled parachutes were spotted in the Mumbai airport airspace. Though they were later identified to have been mistakenly entered the area and ‘harmless’, it led to Mumbai police banning the use of drones and paragliders in the city.

Industry meets Parrikar over stuck-up provisions for private players to enter critical defence production

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar late on Saturday held a key meeting with Indian defence industry representatives to finalise the ‘Strategic Partnership Model’ (SPM). Once in place, the SPM will open gates for domestic firms to enter into few critical manufacturing like submarines and aircraft on the lines of the Defence Public sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factories.Sources said that Parrikar, confronted with industry apprehensions over delay in announcing the model and some of its recommended provisions assured the industry representatives of their view points being accommodated.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Among other things, the industry wants transparency and clarity on minimum bulk orders so that they could plan their investments in setting up the assembly lines even as a committee under VK Atre, former DRDO chief, had been appointed to suggest measures on implementing SPM.Based on feedback, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently made five sub-groups under industry representatives to make specific suggestions on SPM.A total of six segments have been identified by MoD for strategic partnership in which, instead of the earlier process of handing out the contract to the lowest bidder, private domestic industry will be allowed to participate. These are military aircraft, warships, submarines, armoured vehicles, complex weapons that rely on guidance system, Command and Control System and critical materials (special alloys and composites).A new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) was released by the MoD earlier this year and it came into effect from April 1. While this will allow a bulk of business contracts stuck in the lack of clarity, to be handed to manufacturers, a key component of Make In India, that on Strategic Partnerships which seeks to allow private home-grown industry to be part of critical manufacturing in defence , haven’t been finalised yet.Quite a few Indian industry have shown keenness in Strategic partnership. Notably, of the five companies, were identified last year for country’s first ‘Make in India’ Submarine project, Anil Ambani owned RelianceInfrastructure and Larsen & Toubro were there two besides the state owned manufacturers Cochin Shipyard Limited, Mazagon Dock Limited and Hindustan Shipyard Limited. The Rs 64,000-crore project called P-75 I is for next generation submarines to be built by domestic firms in collaboration with a foreign firm of their choice. However, in the lack of SPM, the contract process for the project has not moved ahead. While six of the total seven chapters of the DPP are out, chapter 6 that dealt with Strategic partnership remains to be fine tuned and released. The MoD has now said SPM will be a different document all together, separate from DPP.

First batch of IAF’s women pilots to be commissioned on June 18

Come June 18 and three women – Bhawana Kanth, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi – will script a new history.The trio who comprise the first-ever batch of women pilots undergoing training for fighter roles in the Indian Air force (IAF) will be passing out from the vital leg of training on June 18 at the Air Force Academy, Dundigal near Hyderabad. They would be completing a successful six-month training on Kiran Mk-II trainer aircraft before moving to their final leg of training on Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer at Bidar in Karnataka.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They have successfully completed the penultimate leg of fighter training, something which was not done by women in IAF before,” said a senior official.Defence minister Manohar Parrikar too has shown interest in attending the passing out parade at Hyderabad and is likely to be present there, said officials.The three had made it to the fighter training after being picked up by a 16-member board of officers last year post a strict assessment on their flying aptitude. This was preceded by a historic IAF decision to include women in fighter stream, first for the Indian defence forces. “Six women cadets were picked for training, of which Kanth, Singh and Chaturvedi could make it to this stage,” said an official.At Bidar, the three will be put to another one year of advanced training after which they could fly fighter planes, which they are expected to from June, 2017.While Kanth originally hails from Bihar, Singh comes from services background with her father and grandfather both having served in IAF. Chaturvedi belongs to Rewa in Madhya Pradesh.The IAF has about 90 women pilots and about 15 navigators on assigned to transport aircraftfleet currently.In past, while the IAF have shown reservations on inducting women in frontline combat roles for apprehensions of rape and torture on being held in enemy territory and have raised reservations on ‘limitations’ that may come due to marriage and conceiving of a child.In a giant leap forward, the government had on June 24 last year, approved induction of women in fighter pilot role in the IAF setting the tone for the Army and the Navy to follow suit in line with the armed forces of some of the developed countries.The Ministry of Defence has also taken up a comprehensive review pertaining to induction of women in Armed Forces, both in short service commission and permanent commission.

Army report says leaking mines caused Pulgaon fire

The Army has cited leaking TNT from the anti-tank mines as the major cause of the massive fire at the Central Ammunition Depot (CAD), Pulgaon on May 31 that killed 19, including two of its officers, sources said on Thursday. TNT is an explosive material used in mines.In a report submitted to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), it has also underlined that defective anti-tank mines were stored at the CAD shed-which was completely reduced to ashes in the incident – for nine years and were waiting to be attended by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), sources added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has taken cognisance of the report and is likely to order a larger probe, said sources.Army’s report highlights match with that of a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report last year, according to which 102,805 anti-tank mines were found to be defective across various ammunition depots in the country.Officials told dna that army wanted to destroy these defective anti-tank mines and awaiting an approval over it from MOD.The dead and injured personnel were the first group of men who responded to the fire. They died while containing the fire in the same shed where it began and had it not been for them, the fire would have spread in other sheds too, a source said.CAG’s performance report for the period of 2008-2013, had raised questions on some of even those ammunition products accepted by Quality Assurance as it did not find them up to mark. The auditing agency noted that there persistent quality problems in ammunition stored across the depots in the country.CAD is country’s largest ammunition depot spread over 7000 acres. It stores a variety of ammunition including that of AK-47s and Brahmos Missiles in total 299 storage sheds.

Modi in US: India-US firm up ties as ‘major defence partners’

India and the US on Tuesday finalised the text of an Information Exchange Annex (IEA) on the critical Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation even as the former is working on a 60,000-tonne to 65,000-tonne super aircraft carrier design. A joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama met in Washington heralded a major build up on the overall India-US defence ties.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recognising India as a ‘major defense partner’, the US has committed to “facilitate technology sharing” to a level “commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners”. This would entail India receiving a license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives, the statement said.India and the US have also finalised the text of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) after the two nations, in April, agreed in-principle to sign it to allow military logistic sharing between the two countries.The two sides will increase cooperation on co-production and co-development of technologies under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and welcomed the establishment of new DTTI working groups to include items covering Naval Systems, Air Systems, and other Weapons Systems. India and the US have also committed to deepen cooperation on cybersecurity and moving towards finalizing the Framework for the US-India Cyber Relationship in the near term. Cyber collaboration on critical infrastructure, cybercrime, and malicious cyber activity by state and non-state actors, capacity building, and cybersecurity research and development are on the cards.Notably, last month, USA had backed India’s claim to the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the 48-nation exclusive bloc that trades nuclear supplies among them.The US also helped India in getting a waiver from the NSG on the civil nuclear deal as India has neither signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), considered a basis for NSG membership. However, India recognises the NSG consensus.Currently, the Indian Navy is on an operational deployment in South China sea and is going to take part in the prestigious Malabar exercise alongside the US and Japan navies. India and the US last month held their first maritime security dialogue too in New Delhi. The dialogue concerned Asia-Pacific maritime challenges, naval cooperation, and multilateral engagement.

Mathura: Bleak future awaits children rescued from jawaharcamp

Even as the ongoing game of political upmanship over May 2 Mathura violence at the ‘Swadhin Bharat’cult’s illegal camp at Jawaharbagh continues, the fate of 300 odd children who lived there stare at uncertainty.167 men and 97 women have been so far put up at the Mathura district jail, filling it beyond its capacity. However, there is no official account of where the rest of the 3,000 odd occupants (including children) living on the 270 acre camp are, except 22 civilians who died during the stand off, along with two senior cops.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Officials would like one to believe that the rest have been sent in buses and trains to their native places in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.Nine children below the age of 10 were brought to the Rajkiya Bal Griha (Shishu) in Mathura, the district’s child protection home, on June 4, close to 48 hours after the violent clashes during the administration’s encroachment removal drive executing an Allahabad high court order. 20 others were put up in an another shelter home meant for those in 10-18 age groups. These are children and teenagers whose parents or guardians are either lodged in jail or not traceable.”I and my younger sister were first taken to the hospital, then to the jail where my parents are, then to a school where several people were lodged before finally being brought here,” a girl child (name withheld) told dna.She recalled how she came there a year ago along with parents from a village in Kanpur Dehat (Rural) district of Uttar Pradesh and the Jawaharbagh camp became their home since then. Another child, also a girl, said that her grandparents with whom she lived in the camp for two years were missing and she had no clue (not even a phone number) how to contact her parents in the Kanpur Dehat (rural) district of Uttar Pradesh.Sunita Sharma, chairman of the Child Welfare Committee at Mathura district told dna that she and her team were coordinating with the district administration officials to trace their parents and send them back home safely.Even if Sharma succeeds in doing that, what awaits these children back in village is a bleak future.”My father worked in a brick kiln as a laborer in village,”said a child who had not spoken to him for over a year.The children recounted a chilling account of the violent clashes that led to firing and cylinder explosions leading to a massive fire at the spot. “We woke up to the sound of the gunshots. When we ran out, we saw a JCB forklift razing the boundary wall behind our hut. Soon, there were explosions and fire all over,” said a child.

Cult leader behind Mathura violence confirmed dead

Ram Briksha Yadav, the leader of the Swadhin Bharat cult, was on Saturday officially announced to have been dead during the gun battle between sect’s members and police on Thursday, in which 24 people – including two police officers – lost their lives.Yadav, who had been “illegally” living inside the 270-acre camp at Mathura’s Jawaharbagh area, with 3,000-odd followers for close to two years, had been claiming to propagate Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s principles to establish an India free from its elected Prime Minister and President and RBI currency.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a memorandum to the President of India on December 31, 2014, he invoked the principles of French political analyst Montesquieu and Italian renaissance historian Machievelli, where he talked about “the prosperity and development of the nation” through “rule of law” and “positive jurisprudence”. “The idea of state and sovereignty cannot be separated, but after independence the same idea has been lost,” he wrote.But behind his cover of “welfare state”, that he mentions in the memorandum, Yadav, who was a follower of god man Jai Gurudev, was apparently pursuing an ambition of becoming a god man himself and establishing his own empire. Yadav wanted to be the heir of Jai Gurudev, who died a few years ago, but not before establishing a sprawling ashram off the Delhi-Agra highway. Yadav, however, lost it to a driver of Jai Gurudev, insiders say.Stung, he set out to fulfill his ambitions under the garb of Netaji’s principles and under the patronage of politicians, who have their own interest of reaping benefits through the god man’s large supporter base.At Jawaharbagh, in 2014, when he came marching from Madhya Pradesh with his followers, Yadav had got permission from the district administration for only two days. But he used his clout to extend the stay.”They ran a parallel administration inside the 270-acre land. They would forcibly stop non-members to venture near the land. They would threaten people living in adjoining localities to vacate their houses or follow the cult’s teachings,” lawyer Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, the petitioner who filed the PIL in Allahabad high court and got the orders to vacate the prime land said.Residents said that every Sunday the cult members would set up a market and sell articles like sugar and vegetables and pulses at cheaper price than the market rate. This is to entice them into following the group’s agenda.Officials claimed that members, once inside the camp, were held captive and were not allowed to venture out on their own will. Boundary walls around the camp were filled with slogans declaring only Azad Hind Bharat’s currency and not RBI’s were permissible within the country.Further details that emerged from police sources and corroborated by area residents were alarming. “We saw men crawling up the tree to fire at cops and swiftly crawling down to take target from another tree top. They looked trained in gureilla warfare,” said a government official living in Jawahar Bagh Colony, adjacent to the illegal camp.At dusk on Saturday, inside the Rajkiya Bal Griha (Shishu) in Mathura, the district’s child protection home, groups of children played merrily even as the warden tried to convince them it was time to go back to their rooms and pick up their books. Among them, nine had arrived a couple of hours ago and were still settling in. These were few of the 300-odd children who lived in city’s Jawaharbagh camp of ‘Swadhin Bharat’ cult and had separated from their guardians or parents following the violent clash Rest of the children, officials claimed were sent back to their hometowns along with their guardians.When dna managed to trace and speak with these children, exclusively, they were clueless about where their guardians were. Majority of them belonged to the economically backward districts of Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, supposedly a good catchment area for god men. “I don’t know about my grandparents with whom I lived in the camp of for the last one year,” said a girl child (name withheld). “I was sleeping late afternoon with my younger brother and woke up to the sound of bullets being fired,” said another giving an eyewitness account of the clash. She said her parents were taken away by the police. Another child, on being chatted up, told how they were trained in singing songs that eulogized Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose from whom, the group claimed to draw its inspiration of ‘vidhik satyagrah’ for a ‘swadhin Bharat’.

Mathura clashes: Head of Azad Bharat sect Ram Vriksha Yadav and son still missing

An uneasy calm prevailed at the Jawahar Bagh in Mathura on Saturday where the deadly clashes between followers of the Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaichark Kranti Satyagrahi and police took place on Friday. The smoke and fire at the site of the violence has yet not been doused completely, a horticulture department official told dna.On the ground in Mathura, messages slamming the RBI currency are a common scene on the district court road near Jawahar Bagh. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The message on the wall read, “Azad Hind Currency Rupya Bharat Main Chalegi, Bharatiya Reserve Bank Currency Rupya, Bharat Main Nahin Chalegi Ab.”(The RBI currency will not work anymore, Azad Hind Currency will be used in India)Image Courtesy: Deevakar AnandImage Courtesy: Deevakar AnandPolice had clashed with about 3,000 followers of obscure sect which had encroached on 260 acres government land. Twenty-four people, including an SP and SHO, were killed in the violence which took place when police went to evict the sect from the land.HEAD OF THE SECT AND SON MISSINGThere has been no clarity on the whereabouts of the head of the sect, Ram Vriksha Yadav and his son since the clashes broke out. While the police and district administration have been mum on this issue, locals claim that the duo have been killed in the clash on Friday and their bodies have been burnt.Meanwhile, politics over the death of cops continued on Saturday with the BJP demanding CBI inquiry into the clashes and Rs 1 crore as compensation for the families of the slain policemen, Mukul Dwivedi (SP) and Santosh Yadav (SO). Earlier in the day, BJP MP from Mathura, Hema Malini was stopped from entering the violence-hit Jawahar Bagh area citing security reasons and the ongoing combing operation. She addressed the supporters on Saturday and condoled the death of the policemen. “I am grieved at the loss of two diligent and arduous police officers,” the BJP MP said.She slammed the District Administration for lapses and said there would not have been so much loss if the situation was handled properly.

16 dead, 17 injured in Pulgaon ammunition depot fire

Sixteen people were killed and 17 injured in a fire at India’s largest military ammunition depot in Pulgaon, 115 km from Nagpur, on Tuesday.The fire, first detected at 1.10 am in one of the 10 ammunition sheds of the Central Ammunition Depot (CAD) of the Indian Army, was doused by 6.30 am. Ten fire engines were pressed into service.The deceased include a Lieutenant Colonel and Major, besides 13 personnel of the Defence Fire Services and two guards of the Defence Services Corps. Army sources said that approximately 130 tonnes of anti-tank mines were destroyed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained. The damage is being assessed. An inquiry has been ordered by the Army,” director general of military operations, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, told reporters in New Delhi.The condition of the injured is stable. Army medical teams were moved from Pune to provide specialist care. The injured were evacuated to a multi-speciality hospital at Wardha, 35 km from Pulgaon.dna found a few names of the deceased but decided to withhold them since the Army was still in the process of informing their next of kin at the time of going to press.”We have lost our brothers. There is sensitivity involved. We will release all names only after we have informed the families,” a senior official at Army headquarters told dna.Sources said that the dead and injured were from the first group of men who responded to the fire. They died while containing the fire in the same shed where it started. Had it not been for them, the fire would have spread to other sheds too, a source said.CAD is spread over 7,000 acres. It stores a variety of ammunition, including AK-47s and BrahMos missiles.Defence minister Manohar Parrikar and Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag visited Pulgaon to asses the situation.

Army goes on hot pursuit of insurgents on Indo-Myanmar border; sources say surgical strike planned at highest level

The Indian Army is on a hot pursuit of the Manipuri insurgents after the latter killed six Assam Rifles personnel, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO) by carrying out an ambush on May 22 near Hengshi village in Chandel district of Manipur.Reliable Army sources told dna that a surgical strike, planned and coordinated at the highest level, has been carried out, leading to killing of insurgents and destruction of insurgent camps along the porous Indo-Myanmar border.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The entire operation is yet not over and being monitored by the general officer commanding (GoC) of Dimapur-based 3 Corps.”Army has gone after the rebels heavily,” a senior official said.Army has been rattled by the latest deadly attack, similar to the one in June last year in which 18 soldiers of 6 Dogra Regiment were killed in an ambush. Days later, the Indian Army had, in a cross-border operation neutralised 20-25 insurgents.A senior official termed the ongoing retaliatory action by Army “a massive trace-and-hunt operation to avenge the killing” but stayed short of admitting if it was again a cross-border strike.Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, accompanied by Kolkata-based Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi visited the 29 Assam Rifles battalion and the insurgent attack site in South Manipur on May 25. Suhag was briefed “on the incident, including the combing operations in progress and the measures undertaken to neutralise the insurgent group involved in the attack”, by the Inspector General Assam Rifles (South) Major General VS Sreenivas and the commanding officer of the 29 battalion, the soldiers of which were killed on May 22 attack.Army said that the chief stressed “on the need to further carry out relentless operations against the insurgents active in the region”.Corcom, a group of six banned organisations – Kangleipak Communist Party, Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Progressive), Revolutionary People’s Front, United National Liberation Front and United Peoples Party of Kangleipak – has claimed responsibility for the latest ambush.

Narendra Modi eyes UP to spice up third year

‘Do saal bemisal. Abki baar Modi Sarkar’, may not strike a rhythmic tune but prominently marked the banners that dotted the last mile on way to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Vikash-Parv rally at Saharanpur in Western Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. Though the mega rally, attended by an estimated over one-lakh people, was to mark two years of Modi government, it had all the trademarks of an election campaign, with Uttar Pradesh assembly elections scheduled next year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The signs could be seen even 100 kilometres short of the rally ground at Meerut toll on Delhi-Saharanpur highway where buses after buses, filled with supporters and BJP flag atop, zoom passed without paying toll tax – a usual phenomenon with any party’s rally in India. BJP MLAs and MLA ticket aspirants from Western UP districts of Saharanpur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar flocked the venue with hundreds of supporters. In tune with the campaign mood, when the PM himself finally swooped down in his entourage of three Indian Air Force choppers, he stuck to his quintessential style, reminding of his rallies leading up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and subsequent state assembly elections. ‘Bharat Mata ki…’, Modi exhorted, and the crowd completed the slogan with a cheering ‘Jai’.The nearly 30-minute speech, which according to the party was originally meant to be an account of government’s work in two years, was rather full of political promises. “I warn the sugar mill owners across the country who have held up nearly Rs 8,000 crore of payment to farmers,” Modi said supposedly pandering to sugarcane farmers of Western UP. He, however, did not spell out how he intend to make his warning work even as the respective state governments are well within their rights to take appropriate action against erring mill owners.Listing his government’s achievement in two years, the PM said, “We have eased the compensation norms for farmers”. He pointed to the crop insurance scheme and giving up of LPG subsidy by “one crore” people. “We have given gas connections to three crore new people belonging to lower strata,” said Modi even as he talked about other schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Swach Bharat Abhiyan and financial inclusion of the marginalised through Jan Dhan Yojana.Announcing that his cabinet will soon take a decision on increasing the retirement age of government doctors – both Central and state government – to 65, Modi said, “This was required to help the current shortage of doctors in India”. He further said, “We have accelerated the road construction in India”. Taking a high moral ground on corruption, Modi said, “Before I came to power, corruption hogged media debates and normal discussions among common man. Have you ever heard of a single incident of corruption anywhere in my government?” he asked.Home minister Rajnath Singh, who too addressed the gathering, said that “Modi had raised India’s image internationally” and brought up Congress’ electoral debacles in recent Assam assembly elections. “Whenever BJP government has been in power in UP, law and order has been in control. Our 14-year-old exile shall end now,” he said referring to BJP’s last government in state until 2002.

Indian navy ships in South China Sea; China sees red

Much to the ire of China, four Indian Naval warships entered the disputed South China Sea on Saturday on an operational deployment for two and half months there and in the North West Pacific. During the period, they would also participate in the prestigious maritime exercise with the US and Japan navies, Malabar-2016.China claims to have territorial ownership in the South China Sea, but Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan dispute the claim. The area is accepted as International waters by several countries.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though movements of Indian ships through these waters have been challenged by Chinese Navy in the past, it has not flared up to a direct physical confrontation ever.Indigenously-built guided missile stealth frigates, Indian Navy ships Satpura and Sahyadri, commanded by Captain AN Pramod and Captain KS Rajkumar respectively, INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship, commanded by Captain Gagan Kaushal and INS Kirch an indigenous guided missile corvette commanded by Commander Sharad Sinsunwal are participating in this deployment.Even as China has reportedly expressed concern over this, the deployment also comes close on the heels of the US and India holding their first Maritime Security Dialogue on May 16 to discuss “Asia-Pacific maritime challenges, naval cooperation, and multilateral engagement”, according to the US embassy in New Delhi. US too has taken objections on what it has called China’s increasing ‘militarisation’ in the region.During this overseas deployment, the Indian ships will make port calls at Cam Rahn Bay (Vietnam), Subic Bay (Philippines), Sasebo (Japan), Busan (South Korea), Vladivostok (Russia) and Port Klang (Malaysia), Indian Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said. He said the visits to each port will last four days and are aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and enhancing inter-operability between the navies.Notably, Indian president Pranab Mukherjee will begin a four-day trip of China beginning May 24.

IAF chief flies LCA Tejas, reaffirms India’s first indigenous fighter’s capability

India’s first home grown fighter jet, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas found a fresh stamp on its capability and suitability for being inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday when the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha himself flew in it.Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Raha, accompanied by Group Captain M Rangachari took a 30-minute sortie over Bengaluru skies after taking off from the HAL airport. Besides maneuvers, twin-seater trainer aircraft, the IAF chief, who is an ace ace fighter pilot himself, carried out simulated air to air and air to ground attacks in the twin-seater trainer version of the aircraft.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also assessed the advanced modes of the radar.”It is my first sortie in Tejas, it is a good aircraft for induction into IAF operations”, Raha remarked.Even as HAL is likely to hand over the fourth Tejas aircraft to IAF by June end, with them, IAF said it “intends to form the first squadron of the LCA on July 1, 2016.”HAL, too, in a statement corroborated that “the series production of the Tejas aircraft has already commenced at HAL Bengaluru and the first squadron of the LCA is expected to be formed by July 2016.”HAL CMD T Suvarna Raju said, “It is a moral boosting gesture from the IAF Chief and reposes great confidence of our valuable customer in our abilities.”IAF has plans to acquire 120 Tejas aircraft and the production plan includes manufacturing of six aircraft this year and scale the production to eight and 16 in subsequent two years.Tejas is expected to replace the ageing MiG 21 and MiG 27 aircraft.The single-engine multi-role fighter recently took part in the Bahrain International Airshow and did successful precision bombing during the exercise. It, however, missed its target on firing the Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) at the mega IAF exercise ‘Iron Fist’ at Pokhran in Rajasthan on March 18.The sanctioned number of aircraft squadrons for IAF is 42 but currently only 34 of them are in place while 12 of them are to be phased out by 2020.

Mind your business, says India as Pakistan moves UN over geospatial bill

Pakistan’s attempt to drum up international support and garner UN intervention against India’s proposed legislation that penalises wrong depiction of India’s map, has met with strong resistance from India.Rejecting Pakistan’s contention “firmly”, ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill is an “entirely internal legislative matter” of India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“The government firmly rejects Pakistan’s repeated and increasing attempts to impose on the international community matters that India has always been open to address bilaterally with Pakistan,” Swarup said.Minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, too responded, stating that it’s the duty of the government to ensure that India’s map is depicted properly. “We don’t take cognisance to Pakistan’s objection to the draft bill. We will take suggestions and views of citizens, experts and various stakeholders before its finalisation,” he told PTI. The draft legislation forbids wrong depiction, dissemination, publication and acquisition of India’s geospatial information, whether inside India or outside, and penalising them with a fine ranging from Rs.10 lakh to Rs.100 crore and imprisonment of up to seven years.The action has been envisaged by the government against the backdrop of instances where certain social networking sites showed Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as part of Pakistan and China respectively.Pakistan’s objection to India’s legislation stems from the long-standing dispute on territorial claims in Kashmir between the two countries. Even though the Line of Control (LoC), which stretches to 740 kilometres, became the defacto border after Pakistan supported Qabayali invasion on J&K in 1948, India claims the whole of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), including Gillgit-Baltistan as part of its territory. Pakistan’s foreign office in Islamabad earlier said that through letters by its permanent representative in New York, it has shared concern to the United Nations secretary general and the president of the UN Security Council.It said that the official map of India has been depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India, which is factually incorrect and legally untenable and “in violation of UNSC resolutions”.

2008 Malegaon blasts: Court of Inquiry papers will prove my husband’s innocence, Col Purohit’s wife

Aparna Purohit, the wife of Indian Army Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who is lodged in Mumbai’s Taloja central jail facing trial for his role in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, has claimed that all the three Commanding Officers (COs), he worked under between 2005-08 has testified in his favour during the Court of Inquiry (CoI) proceedings.Speaking exclusively to dna, she said “Once the court goes through the entire CoI papers, it will prove that my husband was involved only up to the extent of gathering intelligence for the Army and his seniors were in constant loop. During the CoI, his superiors have admitted to this.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Friday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that filed a fresh charge sheet in the case in a Mumbai court while dropped charges against activist Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and five others accused in the case citing lack of evidence, it sought prosecution of Purohit and nine others. Purohit has been charged for criminal conspiracy and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Arms Act and the Explosive substance Act but absolved of any charge under the stricter anti-terror law, the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act or MCOCA.Pragya and Purohit have been called the face of saffron terror by the Congress.”CoI will prove key to his exoneration,” Aparna who recently got a copy of it after “approaching the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) and courts for more than five years” said.”But a large part of the inquiry details have been blackened citing Official Secrets Act. It is these portions that hold the key for us,” she said.Army has told the court that it will provide it a fresh set of the document without blackening sensitive portions in a sealed envelope as and when the court would need it.”We know which part is blackened. Once the court gets the entire CoI document, we will plead to the judge to read those parts. It will prove that whatever he did was to gather intelligence keeping the army seniors in the loop. He did not do this in his individual capacity, something that we have been maintaining all along,” she said.On April 22, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said that Purohit will be made available the documents he sought to prove his innocence in the blasts at the communally sensitive Maharashtra town that killed seven and injured 80 people.Purohit wrote to Parrikar on April 4, asking for his the documents to support his claims in court. In his letter, he claimed that “the meetings termed as conspiracy meetings were duly reported by me before, during and after their conduct.”In November 2008, Purohit, who formerly worked in military intelligence unit was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for his alleged role in the Malegaon blasts conspired purportedly by Hindu radicals in September the same year. Purohit allegedly came in contact with Upadhyay when posted at Deolali near Nashik in Maharashtra as a liaison unit officer.

Soldier’s death leads to scuffle between jawans and officers near China border

The death of a soldier during a routine training drill led to a clash between officers and jawans of a unit positioned near the India-China border in the North-East. An Indian Army officer suffered injuries in the scuffle, officials at Army headquarters here said.Denying some social media reports of it being a “mutiny- like” situation, the Army said in a statement: “A case of death of a jawan during routine training activity has taken place in an infantry unit in the North-East. It is not a case of any mutiny. The jawan complained of chest pain prior to the route march. He was checked by the unit MO (Medical Officer) and found fit. The jawan later collapsed during the march. He was brought to the field ambulance where he succumbed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A few jawans got emotional and on being consoled by the adjutant, got agitated and this led to a minor scuffle. No one was seriously injured. The incident is being investigated.”The Army also denied reports that the situation went out of control and reinforcement unit was called in.The 10-km march, according to unconfirmed reports, was a punishment drill, following a verbal spat between a jawan and an officer. The Army headquarters denied the report.In a similar incident, at the Nyoma sector of eastern Ladakh, in May 2012, jawans had attacked officers in an artillery unit during field firing following a confrontation. Though the Army played it down that time as a “minor scuffle,” inquiries later revealed major disciplinary lapses and failure of command and control.

Defying China, Pak, US supports India’s entry into NSG

The US have backed India’s claim to the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the 48-nation bloc that trade nuclear supplies among themselves.”I’d point you back to what the president said during his visit to India in 2015, where he reaffirmed that the US view was that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership,” US State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington on Thursday, while replying to a question on Pakistan and China joining hands to oppose India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US support came on Friday, amidst China’s claim that it had the support of several NSG members that didn’t want India to join the group.Pakistan and China are reportedly lobbying against India on this and Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on foreign affairs, recently said that China was helping Pakistan to block India’s bid for NSG.Notably, US State department’s remark also came a day after Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal told the US Congress that a substantial progress has been made on the US-India civil nuclear deal and also close on the heels of the two nations agreeing in-principle to sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in April that will allow military logistic sharing.The US also helped India in getting a waiver from the NSG on the civil nuclear deal as India has neither signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), considered a basis for NSG membership. India, though recognises the NSG consensus.Apart from India, other UN members that have not signed the NPT are Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan.The NSG membership will help India’s nuclear energy programme as it will allow it to tap the global market.UN Security Council permanent members UK, France and Russia too have extended support in the past to India’s NSG bid.

Defence PSUs on ‘outsourcing’ course to trim expenditure

Defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) in India are on a new course of outsourcing their non-critical workload in a bid to keep pace with the Make in India thrust, the buzzword for defence procurement under Modi government.Official documents at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), accessed and reviewed by dna suggest that all the nine DPSUs in India have drawn out an outsourcing policy and have been effecting substantial savings through it lately.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), whose current major production programmes include SU-30 MKI Aircraft, Hawk- Advanced Jet Trainers, LCA Tejas, Dhruv — ALH helicopters, among others has outsourced over 25 percent of its workload and as a result, saved close to Rs 1300 crore over the past three years , according to a paper prepared by the Department of Defence Production ( DDP) under MoD.Similarly, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), whose major R&D products include , to name a few, Akash Missile Systems, Surveillance radars, anti-submarine warfare systems and avionics saved Rs 134 crore by outsourcing its work to vendors.While Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) that makes products like Pontoon Bridge Systems, Aircraft towing tractor and others saved Rs 18 crore, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) which is going to take up production of Longe Range Surface to Air Missile and and Medium range Surface to Air Missile saved Rs 873 crore.Major shipbuilding DPSUs Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited together cut cost to the tune of close to Rs 1419 crores.Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited that specialises in metal alloys made similar savings of Rs 11.16 crore.

ED’s Agusta charge sheet mum on Modi govt claims

A slew of technical shortcomings with Agusta (AW-101) VVIP choppers are now popping up in official government statements, even as the Rs 3,726 crore deal is caught in controversy. It now unfolds that corruption via kickbacks were encouraged, so that, these major shortcomings – which have now become the basis of political furore between BJP and Congress inside and outside Parliament – will be overlooked.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questionably, though the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chargesheet filed in the case in November, 2014, gives a miss to some of the glaring technical lacunae in AW-101 choppers, which, according to latest revelations by government, were tried to be covered up by those involved in giving and taking the kickbacks. Notably, the ED registered the case under the prevention of money laundering Act (PMLA) on July 3, 2014, more than a month after the current Modi government came to power on May 26. However, it is further notable that ED premised its complaint on the basis of an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on March 12, 2013, when the Congress-led UPA was in power.On Friday, referring to facts that emerged from the field test of the AW-101 choppers, defence minister Manohar Parrikar pointed out in Lok Sabha that serious questions were raised about chopper’s capacity. The helicopters failed test at 5,400 feet in Srinagar and it was clearly flagged to be unsuitable for flying in Gulmarg and Pahalgam. In an elaborate statement, quoting from what he claimed were official files, Parrikar said of Agusta trials that, “effective pay load capacity at MSL in OGE configuration is nil above 30 degree centigrade…meaning that if the temperature is above 30 degree C then it would not be able to lift any load. With day time temperature usually above 10 degree in most of the plains of North India, pay load capacity in OGE configuration is limited to 300 kg, reducing with every degree rise in temperature above 10 degree. Effective pay load capacity at 3,500 feet, AMSL in OGE configuration is nil above minus five degree.” Parrikar also pointed to a “mysterious”fire at the ministry of defence (MoD) on June 3, 2014, that burnt Agusta files and said he will get CBI to investigate it. None of these find a mention in the chargesheet.Former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen are named in the case. According to Parrikar, Tyagi and others, who are accused of reducing flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft), which put AgustaWestland helicopters in the race for the deal, are small fries and it were the Congress-led government of that time that was involved in the larger game of Agusta corruption. If not for change in the ceiling, Agusta choppers couldn’t have qualified for even submission of bids.While the change in ceiling forms part of “facts and circumstances of the case leading to the filing of the (ED) case”, curiously, the CBI complaint that led ED to register a case, reads that the then PMO during UPA rule acted to reduce the ceiling on inputs/suggestions by the Indian Air Force (IAF) only. The facts of the case with the CBI and ED tends to tilt against Tyagi more rather than the government of the day. “It was during the tenure of ACM (retd) SP Tyagi as the chief of air staff and with his approval that air force conceded to reduce the service ceiling to 4,500 metres as mandatory or to which it (IAF) was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons,” the ED chargesheet reads.Sukhois too flew in with allegationsMulayam Singh Yadav, as defence minister in 1996 Deve Gowda-led United Front government, signed a $1.8 billion contract to buy up to 50 Russian Sukhoi Su-30 MK – currently India’s frontline fighter jets – even as the IAF was not very keen to get it. According to then reports, IAF then was doing well with the induction of Mirage-2000 and Mig-29 into its fold.On Sukhois, former IAF chief Surinder Kumar Mehra was famously quoted as saying, “It’s a very good machine, but we are not interested”.The chopper now used for VVIPsThe Russian Mi-17 V5s have replaced Mi-8s for VVIP travel in India. The former has been upgraded and specially configured for VVIPs.What the chargesheet doesn’t mention clearly, but Modi govt claimsThe AW (101) failed field trials in Srinagar, Pahalgam and GulmargThat field trials were conducted in UKThat a fire at the ministry of defence burnt sensitive Agusta filesThat it was UPA government and not former IAF chief SP Tyagi who designed Agusta corruptionThose facing the heatFormer IAF chief SP Tyagi Sanjeev aka Julie TyagiDocsa TyagiSandeep TyagiGautam Khaitan (associated with Aeromatrix) Praveen BakshiGiuseppe Orsi (former CEO, Italian defence major Finmeccanica)Bruno Spagnolini, CEO, AgustaWestland (Britain-based subsidiary of Finmeccanica)Guido Ralph Haschke (middleman)Carlo Gerosa (middleman)Christian Michel (middleman)Firms named: FinmeccanicaAgustaWestlandIDS Infotech Ltd (India)Aeromatrix Info Solutions Pvt Ltd (India)

After 57-years of service, no takers for the retiring INS Viraat

Fifty-seven years of distinguished service later, first as HMS Hermes in the Royal British Navy and then with the Indian Navy since 1987, the warhorse INS Viraat is staring at an undignified end of its life cycle.Now, already due for decommissioning, the aircraft carrier that has a glorious history, including participation in the Falklands war of 1982, has no takers. It faces similar fate as the 1971 war hero INS Vikrant which was reduced to a heap of scrap in 2014 after preserved as a museum in Mumbai from 1997 and 2012.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last year, in August, the Navy, which is keen to see Viraat converted into a tourist attraction like a museum, had shared its concern with the ministry of defence (MoD). MoD, in turn, wrote to nine maritime state governments — West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat — asking them if they would be interested in taking the custody of the decommissioned ship.Although some of them have shown interest, none has come up with a feasible model to maintain the decommissioned warship which involves huge costs, a senior MoD functionary told dna.Notably, the Andhra Pradesh government took over the submarine INS Kursura after its decommissioning in 2001 and converted it into a museum that is a major tourist attraction in Vishakapatnam.Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, in fact, wrote a letter to defence minister Manohar Parrikar last year showing interest in INS Viraat. However, after that, there has been no follow-up, said the MoD functionary. The functionary added that the defence secretary’s office will soon send fresh letters in this regard to the chief secretaries of the nine maritime states.Sources said that that the Navy is keen to preserve the rich legacy of Viraat but has little resources, both monetary and human, to dispense with for a ship not in use and would otherwise divert them to new and existing ships.INS Viraat, which is the only existing aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy besides INS Vikramaditya, has a strength of about 1,500 officers and sailors, including the aviation crew. It participated at the multi-nation International Fleet Review in February as its last operational deployment. Its full complement includes six Sea Harrier fighter jets, six Sea King anti-submarine warfare helicopters and four Chetak helicopters.Chetak and Sea King anti-submarine warfare helicopters.”Viraat has to go for the final dry docking at Cochin before decommissioning. We are looking to find takers for it before we let it retire,” said a senior naval officer.

Bofors mistake won’t be repeated: Manohar Parrikar

The government on Friday vowed to take the investigations into the Rs 3,726 crore AgustaWestland scam to a logical conclusion and not repeat the mistakes of Bofors case, where almost all the accused went scot-free.Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s name had cropped up in the Bofors gun deal, that blew into a major political scandal between Sweden and India during the 1980s and 1990s.Mounting a scathing attack on the Congress, for the second time in parliament this week, defence minister Manohar Parrikar produced reams of documents to show that Agusta choppers were not at all fit for flying VVIPs and that UPA was involved in articulating the corruption. He also promised to get CBI to investigate a “mysterious” fire at the ministry of defence (MoD) in June 2014, that burnt Agusta files.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Congress staged a walkout from the parliament, the minister reiterated his earlier contention that the requirements of the chopper were changed to accommodate AgustaWestland’s bid by the UPA. He said that the flying capacity of the choppers was brought down from what was mandated in the RFP (request for proposal ) 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres.Referring to facts that emerged from the field test of the AW-101 choppers, he pointed out that serious questions were raised about its capacity. The helicopters failed test at 5,400 feet in Srinagar. It was also flagged that it could not be used for flying in Gulmarg and Pahalgam.Parrikar referred to an “Äirport office-2” at the South block office of the ministry of defence (MoD) and said that sensitive Agusta files were lost in a “mysterious” fire on June 3, 2014 , a week after Modi government took over. “Only three files were saved in the fire as they were kept by an officer in his drawer”. He said he didn’t know the real cause of the fire but will ask CBI to investigate it.The minister said that people like former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi, accused of receiving kickbacks, are “small” and “we have to find the big names”. He said he can take names and also had the courage to do so, but wanted to go by parliament practices.A combative Parrikar, replying to a volley of questions by Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia on alleged inaction by the present Modi government, said the Congress was involved in corruption and took no proactive step when the scam came to limelight. He added that the termination of contract by the UPA government in 2014 was a forced action and not “proactive”.

Expedite Agusta money trail, MEA tells 8 Indian missions

To expedite tracking the money trail in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Thursday wrote to eight of its missions abroad to send reports about executions of letter rogatory (LR), sent by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Confirming that they had received a request from the CBI seeking to speed up the LRs, or in other words judicial requests, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said that the missions in Italy, Tunisia, Mauritius, Singapore, the British-Virgin Islands, the UK, the UAE and Switzerland have been asked to update on execution of LRs.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBI sources had earlier said that they won’t be able to further investigate the money trail and ascertain the links till they get a response from these countries. Swaroop said the MEA has once again written to these missions from where the execution reports are pending. “We have impressed upon them the need to expeditiously execute the LRs and to send their corresponding execution reports at the earliest,” he said.According to CBI sources, so far they have got a complete response from Italy and partial reply from the British Virgin Islands, the UK and Tunisia. It is yet to get a formal reply from the UAE, Singapore, Switzerland and Mauritius. It is also believed that on Wednesday, the former board member of Aeromatrix, Gautam Khaitan, has purportedly admitted to having received payments from middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschkhe in the VVIP chopper deal. He has allegedly admitted setting up IDS Tunisia, a subsidiary of IDS India, the firm which was one among the many through which the alleged bribe was routed by the middlemen from AgustaWestland to other countries, the sources said.Khaitan, an advocate and a former board member of Aeromatrix – which was allegedly used to route bribe amount, is named in the CBI FIR as one of the accused. The agency had registered a case against former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen. Tyagi was accused of reducing flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft), which put AgustaWestland helicopters in the race for the deal. If not for this, Agusta choppers are not qualified for even submission of bids.On Thursday, Khaitan was being further questioned by the CBI even as Tyagi, who too was summoned, was grilled.Meanwhile, Agusta continued to rock Parliament on Thursday too. Congress and opposition parties stepped up the heat on BJP government seeking authentication of documents by Subramaniam Swamy and demanding discussion on alleged GSPC-KG Basin scam.Raising the issue during zero hour, Congress member Anand Sharma sought to know how Swamy got access to sensitive and confidential files of CBI and ED in the matter.The House “must know how an honourable member or rather a less honourable member” was given access to sensitive and secret files, which he has refused to authenticate and place on the table of the House, Sharma asserted.Taking cognizance, deputy chairman PJ Kurien said if Swamy had not complied with his ruling to authenticate all the documents he was quoting from and place them on the table of the House, the rule will take its own course.“The ruling has to be complied with,” Kurien said.While Congress members protested, minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi stated that Swamy had authenticated and placed the documents on the table of the House.But this did not stop Congress as Pramod Tiwari claimed that a national TV channel was showing how government agencies were putting pressure through religious missions to get the Gandhi family implicated in Agusta scam.“Some traitors are taking money from other countries to create disorder here… and destablise the country,” alleged Tiwari.However, Kurien stopped him saying it was not a question of point of order and disallowed Tiwari.Separately, Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh, on the question that other defence deals during UPA regime are also under scanner, said that “if there are any deals on which there any question marks, by all means, have them investigated…I don’t think that we have anything to feel defensive about.”

VVIP chopper scam: There is proof of mala fide intent, says Parrikar on AgustaWestland deal

As defence minister Manohar Parrikar, on Wednesday, took on the Congress in the Parliament in a fierce debate on the AgustaWestland chopper deal controversy, he gave a startling information during his nearly 50-minute speech.He picked up a file and told the Rajya Sabha that it was “the only file” that was saved from being burnt in a fire at the ministry of defence (MoD) on June 3, 2014. Notably, it had just been a week of the Modi government taking over on May 26. This file, he said, “was saved” as it by chance happened to be with an Air Force official.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reading from the file, he said that the trials in India after three Agusta choppers were received proved to be a failure. “When three helicopters were being test-tried at 5,400 feet in Srinagar, the effective payload of this chopper was nil,” the minister said. He said that sorties could not be taken out in Gulmarg and Pehalgam either.Questioning the conduct of trials outside India, he said, “Conduct of trial in India is extremely critical because the climate, terrain and topography vary as compared to that of the US and the UK. This crucial aspect has been given a go-by.” Chopper’s field evaluation trials were conducted on representative choppers and not the actual contracted chopper in violation of the norms. (This was done during the UPA rule).”The country wants to know who instigated, supported and benefited from corruption. We can’t let this pass,” he said. Even as he claimed “there is proof of mala fide intent” in the Agusta deal, former defence minister and Congress leader AK Antony said, “Take strongest action against whoever took money. Prosecute us if you have evidence, but don’t threaten, blackmail us.”Parrikar said that the AgustaWestland inquiry in India will focus on the roles of persons named in the Italian court judgment.Giving out details of the deal, the minister said that the requirements of the chopper were changed to accommodate AgustaWestland’s bid and the benchmark for flying capacity of the choppers was brought down from what was mandated in the RFP (request for proposal) 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres.Parrikar said that the RFP was issued to AgustaWestland, Italy, and the response to RFP was received from AgustaWestland International Ltd, UK, which was not the entity to which RFP was issued. The bid should have been rejected immediately.Even as Parrikar took on the Congress, the opposition staged a walkout, accusing him of reading from a readied script even while skipping several questions raised by them during the debate.

VVIP chopper scam: Who is ‘DG Acq’ in Agusta broker’s note?

Agusta deal middleman Christian Michel’s handnotes, that are part of the 225-page Milan Court of Appeals order over corruption in the Rs3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal, lists out the beneficiaries of bribe in India.Michel’s note mentions the beneficiaries with the initials of their names and includes ‘DG Acq’ purportedly for DG Acquisition in the ministry of defence (MoD) along with others like ‘Dch’ that is being read as Deputy Chief, “DG Maintt”, arguably understood as DG Maintenance, ‘Bur’ for bureaucrats, ‘Pol’ for politicians, ‘AP’ which has been interpreted as Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to Sonia Gandhi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the time of inking of the Agusta deal in January 2010, the post of Director General (DG), Acquisition in the ministry was held by the current Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) SK Sharma. Even as he stayed on the position from April 2007 to September 2010, and later became defence secretary, in May 2013, when he was appointed CAG, questions were raised by then AAP member and senior supreme court lawyer Prashant Bhushan on his neutrality as an auditor since he had himself cleared defence projects as DG.DG, acquisition handles technical and compliance requirements of tender. During his term as DG acquisition, besides Agusta, $1.1 bn dollar deal for six C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft and a $2.2 billion dollar deal for eight P8i aircraft for the Navy were also signed. Michel’s note alleges that the 30 million euros, which formed the part of the kickback money, were divided between political leaders who were paid 15-16 million euros, air force officials, who got six million euros and the bureaucrats in the defence ministry who were given 8.4 million euros.Sharma had a close to 10 year stint in MoD in varying capacities starting from joint secretary Ex-Servicemen Welfare (ESW) in December 2003.Interestingly, three months after Sharma took over as the head of the auditing body, a CAG report tabled in Parliament in August, 2013 said that the MoD bent rules for the purchase of VVIP helicopters from the Italian firm.It also questioned the air headquarters for failing to prepare a proper estimates of the requirement. Pointing to procedural lapses, CAG questioned why the MoD deviated from the Defence Procurement Procedure and from the provisions of the deal tender issued in September 2006. It also pointed that it found no justification for increase in the original requirement of helicopters from 8 to 12.The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are probing the case in India in which former air force chief SP Tyagi and his relatives along with four other European nationals and firms have been booked for taking kickbacks worth Rs423 crore to award the deal.

VVIP chopper scam: Defence ministry rejects charges of going soft on Finmeccanica

The BJP and NDA government on Thursday continued its tirade against Congress in the Agusta chopper deal, including through non-party mediums.In its first official response to the latest controversy on the chopper controversy, the ministry of defence (MoD), on Thursday, said that “the present government has taken effective action to bring out the truth and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrong-doers in this case.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While underlining the facts, already in public domain, the MoD’s stance concurred with the BJP’s line of argument.The time taken is largely because some of the key perpetrators of this misdeed are outside the country, MoD said in a statement.”In certain quarters, questions have been raised on certain trivial technicalities, which appear to be intended to distract attention from the core issue of corruption,” it said even as BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday launched a sharp attack on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi over the VVIP chopper scam and asked her to name those who received the ‘kickbacks’.”All I want to ask her is that those who gave bribe are in jail in Italy, then where are those who received the kickbacks? Who were in power at that time? They are responsible and they should bring out the truth. It should be disclosed before the people of the country,” he said.Congress has alleged that while the UPA blacklisted the firm, Modi government removed it from the list. But dna’s review of documents, as reported on Wednesday, reveals that the UPA did put on hold all procurements from the firm, but never blacklisted it in the first place. In August 2014, the NDA government, however, through a modified policy allowed relaxation for the firm.Responding to Congress accusation regarding clearance of a joint venture involving Agusta Westland by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, the MoD said that “proposal was approved on September 2, 2011 based on an application by Indian Rotorcraft Ltd., a joint venture of Tata Sons with Agusta Westland NV, Netherlands. This was later changed to Agusta Westland SPA, Italy due to reorganisation within the group.”On February 7, 2012, an industrial licence for the manufacture of helicopters was granted by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to Indian Rotorcraft Ltd. However, the validity of the licence has since expired, it pointed out. CBI and Enforcement Directorate are vigorously pursuing all aspects of the investigation, including the arrests and/or extradition of three foreign nationals and accused in the scam, Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke Ralph and Christian Michel James, MoD said.Red Corner Notices were issued in December 2015 against them and in January 2016, through Interpol under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Prevention of Corruption Act, extradition request has also been made for James.

VVIP chopper scam: Neither Congress nor BJP blacklisted Finmeccanica

After fresh revelations in the VVIP chopper deal, even as the Congress has turned the tables on BJP, accusing it of removing Finmeccanica from the blacklist, turns out that the firm and its affiliates were never ‘blacklisted’ but procurement from them was only put on hold, official documents accessed and reviewed by dna show.Much political furore has been made out of who blacklisted Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries, one of which is AgustaWestland, and who waived the embargo,.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) under the nose of which the alleged corruption in the VVIP chopper deal occurred, did put on hold all procurements from the firm but never blacklisted it, the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government too went soft on it, documents reveal.On February 12,2013, the ministry of defence’s (MoD) under UPA handed over the case to the CBI after canceling the AgustaWestland deal on the ground that ‘integrity pact’ was violated. On February 10, 2014, the MoD began proceedings to blacklist the firm and its parent company Finmecanica and all contracts with them and affiliate companies were put on hold.Under NDA, while an MoD’s vigilance wing order dated July 3, 2014, more than a month after the Modi government took over in May, did reinforce putting on hold any acquisition cases “in the pipeline with Finmeccanica Group Of Companies” on August 28, through a modification order, it came out with new policies in dealing with the ‘same firms, this time going rather soft on them.The new modified policy said that “there is no reason not to proceed with the contracts” “where contracts are under execution when or other company under the umbrella of Finmeccanica Group of Companies” and also “where contract has already been executed, but spares, upgrades etc, are still required on a regular basis”.The same order. however, did say that Finmecannica and affiliates should be barred where tender process is yet to commence or where the tender process is on-going and no vendor has been picked up, or where the vendor (Finmecannica and affiliates) has been declared the lowest bidder.Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday told reporters here that the Congress must produce the blacklisting order. “Ask them what date the order was issued? Show me the copy of the order,” he said.Congress leader and defence minister during UPA government at the time of Agusta deal AK Antony said that “we started the blacklisting procedure for Finmecannica” even while he accused BJP of “unleashing a malicious propaganda” against his party. “It were us who canceled the deal. Why haven’t the Modi government completed the investigation which was instituted by us?”he asked.The fresh controversy began after an Italy court’s April 6 order described how the firm paid bribes to top Congress leaders and lobbied to bag the Rs3,600-crore deal. The court sentenced to jail Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and former CEO of AgustaWestland Bruno Spagnolini.1) Status of case in IndiaEven as the Italy court has pronounced judgments, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in India are still probing the case. The ED booked then Indian Air force Chief SP Tyagi and his relatives along with four other European Nationals and firms – Finmeccanica, AugustaWestland besides Chandigarh- based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, and two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia whose names figured in the CBI complaint. While Tyagi, his cousins and others are, according to the complaint involved in taking kickbacks worth Rs 423 crore to award the deal, ED has booked five properties in Delhi and nearby that belonged to him and his relatives.2) MEA response on middleman James Christian Michel’s allegation:In response to a question on allegations made by Mr. James Christian Michel on purported meeting between PM Modi and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy on the sidelines of UNGA in September 2015, the Official Spokesperson said:There was no meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Renzi of Italy as part of PM’s bilateral meetings at the UNGA in September 2015.In so far as Mr. James Christian Michel is concerned, various law enforcement authorities of India are proceeding against him in cases relating to the Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act.An open ended non bailable arrest warrant has been issued by the Special Judge of CBI against him on 24.9.2015. Upon a CBI request a Red Corner notice against him has been issued by the Interpol Headquarters on 25.11.2015. A request for provisional arrest for the purpose of extradition was made to the UK authorities on 4.1.2016 by the CBI. The Enforcement Directorate, another autonomous agency to handle private money laundering and foreign exchange irregularities, has also separately sent a Red Corner notice seeking arrest and a request for his extradition from the UK on 29.2.2016.?3) So far three BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi, Bhupendra Yadav and Anurag Thakur have given notices in parliament for debate over the issue. Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia and RSP leader NK Premachandran have given counter notices.

2 jawans die during army exercise in Thar desert

Two army soldiers died during the over-month long exercise ‘Shatrujeet’ that culminated here on Saturday. Army sources on the ground in the Thar desert, where the mega exercise of the 3 Strike Corps took place near the Pakistan borders, told dna that while one soldier died of a snake bite, another died after falling down from a vehicle that was being plied in the rough terrain to carry personnel and equipment.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior officer participating in the exercise, who didn’t wish to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press, said that the first jawan was bitten by a snake while sleeping at night. “Unfortunately, he himself didn’t realise initially that a snake had bitten him. Hours later, when he complained of complications, he was attended to by the on-ground army doctor, who found that he’d been bitten. He was immediately evacuated but couldn’t be saved,” the officer said.About 30,000 troops from the strike corps formations comprising units from armoured, infantry and artillery units participated in the exercise to validate its proactive war strategy of inflicting huge damage inside the enemy territory.A formal reaction from the army couldn’t be obtained till the time of going to the press.

India tests new lethal proactive war game on Western borders with Pak

From fundamentally “a non-aggressive and defensive policy” to former Army chief General Krishnaswamy Sunderji’s doctrine of “holding corps” designed to check a Pakistani advance to the latest war game of striking the enemy within its own territory , Indian Army has come a long way.For the past over a month, the Indian Army has been testing its new doctrine of launching a retaliatory strike, destroying enemy positions before international community could intercede, but taking precaution not to provoke a nuclear strike. Even as the “non-aggressive” as well as “holding corps” doctrines were in place, Pakistan’s adventurism in Kargil leading to a war, 2001 Parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attacks couldn’t be prevented.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Friday, an entire brigade went airborne in the heavy-lift aircraft C-17 Globemaster-III, C 130 J Hercules, IL 76 and Antonov 32 and some 3,000 soldiers were air- dropped deep inside the enemy’s territory with lethal weapons, albeit in simulated conditions. The giant aircraft breached the serene and seamless wilderness of the golden sand dunes in Thar deserts of Bikaner close to the International Border (IB) with Pakistan. In the past, the Indian Army has never tested offensive strategy of this scale to fight a war inside enemy territory — either in real or simulated conditions.The men and equipment tied with parachutes dropped from a slew of transport aircraft forming a trail stretching over a kilometre in the sky. As the troops captured their objective and linked up with the waiting mechanised forces, it made way for tanks to move in.Major General PC Thimmaya, involved deeply with the planning of this exercise, said it was somewhat closer to what the allied forced did against Germany in the World War II. “The integrated air-land battle exercise is executed with a high degree of synergy. Para dropping an entire brigade is not a regular military activity. It reaffirms the Indian Army’s strike capabilities with impunity,” he told dna.The over one-month-long mega exercise of the Indian Army’s Mathura-based Strike Corps 1, one of the three principal strike formations involved mobilisation and participation of 30,000 troops from the armoured, infantry, artillery and aviation units in close coordination with the Indian Air Force (IAF). The exercise concluded on Saturday.The exercise, code named ‘Shatrujeet’ validated the synergy between Army and Air Force in executing air-land battle. As the mighty T-90 and T-72 tanks belonging to the Blue land (codename for Indian territory) and Red Land (codename for the enemy territory) engaged in close combat, they got support from the IAF’s MiG 27s hovering over them. The Army also claimed that the exercise validated an effective response mechanism in case of a nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) warfare environment. Shatrujeet brings to the fore India’s pro active war strategy also known as the Cold Start doctrine adopted in the wake of Operation Parakram in 2001 post the Parliament attack.During Parakram, by the time Indian forces were mobilised over a period of a month, Pakistan got an opportunity to build its defence and also mobilise international community. “This exercise validates that we can mobilise our resources within days. I am extremely proud of what our men have achieved during the exercise,” said Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag who visited the exercise area.

INS Viraat is up for grabs, but so far no takers

57 years of distinguished service later, first as HMS Hermes in the Royal British Navy and with the Indian Navy since 1987, the warhorse INS Viraat is staring at an undignified end of its life cycle.Now, already due for decommissioning, the aircraft carrier with a glorious history, including participation in the Falkland war of 1982, has no takers. It faces similar fate as the 1971 war hero INS Vikrant, which was reduced to a heap of scrap in 2014, after preserved as a museum in Mumbai from 1997 and 2012.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last year, in August, the Navy, keen to see Viraat converted into a tourist attraction like a museum, had shared its concern with the ministry of defence (MoD). MoD, in turn, wrote to nine maritime state governments – West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat – asking them if they would be interested in taking the custody of the decommissioned ship.Although some of them showed interest, none came up with a feasible model to maintain the decommissioned warship, which involves huge costs, a senior MoD functionary told dna.Notably, the Andhra Pradesh government took over the submarine INS Kursura, after its decommissioning in 2001, and converted it to a museum. It’s now a major tourist attraction in Visakhapatnam.Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, in fact, wrote a letter to defence minister Manohar Parrikar last year showing its interest in Viraat. However, after that, Andhra government has not given any model to take the possession, said the functionary, adding that fresh letters in this regard will go out to the chief secretaries of the nine maritime states from the defence secretary’s office.Sources said that the Navy is keen to preserve the rich legacy of Viraat but has little resources, both monetary and human, to dispense with for a ship not in use, and would rather prefer to divert them to new and existing ships.INS Viraat, one of the two aircraft carriers with the Navy (the other being INS Vikramaditya), has a combined strength of about 1,500 officers and sailors, including the aviation crew. It participated in the multi-nation International Fleet Review in February as her last operational deployment. Her full complement includes six Sea Harrier fighter jets, six Sea King anti-submarine warfare helicopters and four Chetak helicopters.”Viraat has to go for the final dry docking at Cochin before decommissioning. We are looking to find takers for it before we let it retire,” said a senior Naval officer.Caption: Aerial shot of Viraat, with its full complement, sailing for International Fleet Review in February, 2015 (file pic)

From ‘deserter’ to ‘missing’ soldier; army reverses its own 15 year old order

It took 15 years for the Indian Army to reverse one of its own order – an order on which hinged the fate of Sangita Das, the wife of one of the force’s former sepoy Pradip Das.In May 2001, the soldier left his wife and a small daughter behind in rural Assam after spending his annual leave to report back to his unit, 5 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in Jammu and Kashmir. He, however, never reached there and his whereabouts remain unknown even today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A little over a year into marriage and with child to look after, 30-year-old Sangita’s plight and struggle began since then.Personnel from 5 RR initially visited her thrice to inquire into why the soldier didn’t report back. Later, Pradip was declared a ‘deserter’, thus, blocking all benefits that a soldier’s wife is entitled to in case of such an untoward incident.Born and raised in a remote village Rangmahal in Assam’s Kamrup district, Sangita had studied up to class eight only. Post the incident, coupled by her father’s demise later, she was forced to work as a house maid in Guwahati. She kept picking odd jobs, including working in a noodle making plant for a paltry sum of Rs 3000 a month but didn’t give in with the Army.With 5 RR declaring her husband a ‘deserter’, assistance came from nowhere until with the help of her relatives she approached the Armed Forces Tribunal’s (AFT) Guwahati Bench in 2004. Nine years of legal battle later, in 2013, the AFT ruled in her favour and it seemed her financial plight was over. That didn’t turn true as no benefits were passed to her despite the order .On December 9, if not for an Ex Seviceman Rally at Narangi town in Assam, the reprieve looked elusive. She raised her grievance at the rally. Following this, the Army’s veterans cell got orders from Major General AK Jha, the General Officer Commanding of 51, Sub Area. 5 RR was involved and 15 years later, it republished orders amending Pradip’s status from ‘Deserter’ to ‘Missing’.Finally, her Pension Payment Order was issued on Mar 21 this year. Sangita has now been given a job at the headquarters of 51 Sub Area at Narangi and her daughter admitted to Army Public School in the same cantonment. According to Lieutenant Colonel Suneet Newton, the defence Pro at Guwahati, Army is bearing all the expenditure of School fees, uniform and books for the child.

Bitter-sweet welcome for Manohar Parrikar in China

The Chinese media plays by its government’s rules. While the Chinese government rolled out the red carpet for India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar, a state-run newspaper sought to make things a little nasty by comparing India with a woman being courted by many suitors, particularly the US and Russia.The distasteful story in Global Times titled Indo-US strategic distrust stalls LSA signing, in effect, expressed China’s irritation and fear over India-US bonhomie. “The basic idea is that India would like to continue to be the most beautiful woman wooed by all men, notably the two strongest in the house, US and China,” says the piece. This sexist bilge betrays a superior military power’s nagging fear: What if it loses India to the US? Strongman Beijing, after all, is insecure. It’s trying desperately to keep India on his side, taking recourse to every possible tactic — welcoming at times, sarcastic on other occasions.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In order to maintain its stranglehold in South Asian matters, Beijing, in search of allies, is aggressively courting all countries in the region.Parrikar was given a ceremonial welcome before his ?meeting with his Chinese counterpart General Chang Wanquan at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) headquarters in Beijing on Monday. Apparently, Global Times’ view is in contrast with the Chinese foreign office’s reaction to the announcement of in-principle agreement on military logistic support between India and the US last week. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang then told reporters in Beijing. “We have noted relevant reports on US Defence Secretary Ash Carter’s visit to India”. Lu further said that “India is also an influential country in the world, and India has been upholding an independent diplomatic policy. India will make up its diplomatic policies based on its own interests.”But, this could be just another round of China blowing hot and cold with India.Reacting to the above report, a senior functionary in India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) pointed out that what appeared in the press is not the official position of the Chinese government. Parrikar is accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising the defence secretary, director general of military operations, western Naval commander, and air force vice chief.During his talks with the Chinese officials, Parrikar raised the issue of China blocking India’s bid in the United Nations to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as terrorist following the organisation’s role in the January attack on the Pathankot air base. India also sought Chinese help to unravel the conspiracy of ISIS which wants to spread its tentacles in the sub-continent and asked for details of the ‘chat conversation’ that an alleged Islamic State recruit from Maharashtra had with his handlers in Syria and Iraq.The NIA has sent Letters Rogatory to China requesting for the chat details of Areeb Majeed, arrested by the anti-terror agency in December 2014, with his handlers, official sources said today.Majeed allegedly used ‘WeChat’ messaging service to interact with his handlers and the server was located in China.Indian and Chinese officials, meanwhile, also discussed the border management dispute and the possibility of a new border personnel meeting point along the Line of Actual Control in order to ensure stability along a vast area of undemarcated border between the two countries.—(with inputs from PTI)

Iran refusal to freeze oil production levels saves India; IEA says more oil will be pumped in 2016 than what world needs

A global pact among the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and non-Opec countries producing crude oil to freeze oil production levels in order to counter falling prices ran into trouble due to Iran not willing to toe the line, reports from Doha said.More than 15 crude oil exporters met at the Qatar capital on Sunday to finalise the deal. Since mid-2014, oil prices have sharply plunged from $115 per barrel at its maximum to only $27 per barrel even as prices are hovering over $40 per barrel currently.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While this may be alarming for oil-producing countries, analysts say, India, for now, is saved from a sudden effect if crude oil prices were to go up following the freezing of production levels beyond a certain point.“Per se, India is one of the most vulnerable economies due to its dependence on imports. There could be a cascading effect if there is a long-term freeze on oil production,” said former ONGC chairman RS Sharma.He, however, said that “one also needs to appreciate the fact that the current low levels of oil prices are not sustainable and there is an unprecedented inventory build-up.”In any, case, India still has silver linings to look up to. “Iran dissents from the group on freezing. Countries like Iran and Iraq have the potential to raise production considerably,” Sharma said.As international prices of crude oil have fallen to an unprecedented low level, like in 2004 when it plunged to such levels, in 2014-15, the government earned a tax revenue of Rs78,000 crore from petroleum products alone .Notably, in May 2014, when the current government took over, international crude oil price was $108.05 per barrel. But subsequent lowering of international rates allowed a windfall to the government and Indian refineries and portions of which could be transferred to end users in the form of lower prices.The fall in prices has also ensured huge savings on imports and industries like auto, aviation and cosmetic have firmed up their accounts.Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA), in its monthly report, said on Thursday: “If there is to be a production freeze, rather than a cut, the impact on physical oil supplies will be limited.”“With Saudi Arabia and Russia already producing at or near record rates and very little upside seen apart from Iran, any deal struck will not materially impact the global supply-demand balance during the first half of 2016,” the IEA said.According to the body, there will be more oil production in the world in 2016 than what it consumes over a year.

India-US pact behind, Manohar Parrikar heads to China

Manohar Parrikar’s four-day visit to China starting April 17 will not just be the first by an Indian defence minister after 2013 when UPA minister AK Antony went there, but also comes close on the heels of India-US announcing an in-principle agreement on sharing military logistics.One of the gains for India on account of the new arrangement with the US can be that it will balance out the growing maritime assertiveness by China in the Indian Ocean.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Analysts point that they won’t be surprised if Parrikar’s visit leads to some definitive outcome due to India-US agreement. “Now that India and US have announced in-principle agreement on sharing military logistics, one may expect this to influence a definitive impact during Parrikar’s visit,” said Pravin Sawhney, editor of defence and security magazine, Force.US has been pestering India to join a joint maritime patrol along with its own and the navies of Japan and Australia in the Asia-Pacific region. India, however, has not approved the idea as yet. Notably, trade worth $ 5.3 trillion is carried out through the South China sea and the Indian Ocean.China asserts itself, especially in the South China sea.In Beijing, following the announcement of the new India-US engagement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang was quoted by PTI as telling reporters on Wednesday, “We have noted relevant reports on US defence secretary Ash Carter’s visit to India”. Lu further said that “India is also an influential country in the world, and India has been upholding independent diplomatic policy. India will make up its diplomatic policies based on its own interests.”Parrikar will be accompanied to Beijing by the defence secretary, director general of military operations, western Naval commander, and air force vice chief, and is likely to raise the issue of China blocking India’s bid in the United Nations to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as terrorist following the organisation’s role on the January attack on the Pathankot air base, said a senior functionary at the Indian ministry of defence (MoD).The functionary also pointed that “last year Chinese Central Military Commission (CMC) vice chairman General Fan Changlong came to India and the two sides’ representatives are holding dialogues continuously over the long-pending border dispute between the two countries”.

Finally, India and US reach in-principle agreement to share military logistics

Decks have been cleared for the Indo-US military Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), the first such arrangement India has with any country.The US has it with more than 60 countries, including NATO members.Signalling a crucial shift in its stand on defence ties with the US, and especially on the LSA that was first proposed by the latter at the sixth meeting of the India-US Defence Policy Group in June 2004, the agreement will entail sharing of military logistics by using each other’s Army, Air Force and Naval bases for supplies, repair and rest.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and US defence secretary Ashton Carter, in a joint statement here, said that an in-principle agreement has been worked out and a final draft is being made.They, however, emphasised that the logistic support from each other’s soil will happen during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and joint exercises.The agreement doesn’t mean that the US military can take positions from Indian soil. “We have agreed on the finer points. Let’s wait for the draft. It will take a few weeks,” Parrikar said. Carter, replying to a question, told reporters that “all issues on logistics agreement have been resolved.”India had asked for a modified LSA with the US and it will now be rechristened as the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).Though the two leaders did not spell out the details, sources at South Block said that both countries will have an option to opt out of the arrangement in case one goes to war with a country friendly to another.Defence analyst and fellow at the New-Delhi based strategic think-tank, Observer Research Foundation, Manoj Joshi, said that he had serious anxieties on whether India will have discretion in the above situation and also on what substantial gains it will have from the agreement.”What happens if the US want to use Indian soil for logistic support to strike Iran, which is a friendly nation to us? Or will US allow India to use its base in Oman to carry out strikes on Pakistan?” he said. “India, I hope, holds a long-term institutional assessment and is careful on provisions of the agreement that is going to be finalised,”Joshi pointed out.Editor of defence and security magazine, Force, Pravin Sawhney, too, said that “it is a challenge for any country to maintain a strategic autonomy even as it gets into such an agreement with a military power like the US.””LEMOA is a modified arrangement and India can asses logistic support on a case-to-case basis,” he said. India’s gains, in return, he said, can be the “new possibilities on what maximum technology transfer it can get under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI),” he said.India has been bargaining hard to get what is called a ‘pre-bid guarantee’ from the US government on transfer of technology (TOT), if any US firm is allowed to enter into manufacturing defence equipment under ‘Make in India’.Notably, US companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin have, of late, shared their pitch for making fighter jets.The US has been maintaining that cooperation under DTTI can grow if India signs what it calls three foundational agreements – LSA, and the other two being the Communication and Information Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).Both of them said that another gain for India could be that entering into such an agreement with the US will balance out the growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.Carter, when questioned if the US was ready to be seen as a reliable partner to India as Russia, said: “The United States respects India’s own independent strategic interests. We know that India works with other countries as well, but we very much appreciate the collaboration with the United States”.He also said that the two countries will soon have a commercial shipping-information exchange agreement.Bullet pointsDuring the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War, India granted overflight rights for Desert Shield missions through the Pacific. In January 1991, it also permitted US military aircraft to refuel in Bombay.In January 2006, the American Navy rescued Indian mariners, off the Horn of Africa, when their ship was hijacked by Somali piratesBoth navies are also conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden since 2008

US defence secretary Ashton Carter arrives on high-profile visit to India today

US defence secretary Ashton Carter and India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar are scheduled to make a joint statement at South Block in New Delhi on April 12, following the culmination of former’s three-day visit to India.A senior functionary at the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) told dna that “the two will have something substantial to announce and which is why the joint statement in front of the Indian media and the US journalists traveling with Carter”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Carter’s visit coinciding with India’s lookout for a technologically new set of fighter jetsCarter’s visit beginning April 10 coincides with India’s lookout for a technologically new set of fighter jets for its air force and two US companies, Boeing and Lockheed Martin pitching hard for it even as the government to government deal on the French Rafale jets is still stuck in negotiations. As dna, quoting sources reported earlier, the two US firms and the Swedish firm Saab have strongly presented their cases before the MoD which is looking beyond Rafale to cater to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) pressing requirement in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) category. Pressing because the current strength of fighter squadrons in IAF is 33, instead of the desired 42 and serviceability of India’s front line fighters, the Russian Sukhoi 30s is around 55 per cent only and the ageing MiG 21 and MiG 27 fleets need replacement in near future.Besides this, India told another functionary at South block, is bargaining hard to get what is called a ‘pre-bid guarantee’ from the US government on transfer of technology (TOT), if any US firm is allowed to enter into manufacturing fighters under ‘Make in India’.The US, on the other hand, is pressing for three ‘foundational agreements’ – Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) whereas India, so far has had its own doubts on them.”There have been critical engagements among officials and defence industry representatives of both countries the past week in the run up to Carter’s visit”, said the functionary quoted above even as he kept short of confirming if India had made up its mind, at least on LSA, where it has shown interest of concurring with the US, albeit with some changes.Carter departed from Washington on a two-week travel to Asia-Pacific region and then to the Middle East (West Asia in Indian context). His first stop will be Goa on Sunday where Parrikar will first show him around the famous Mangeshi temple. While he plans to visit a few churches too, on Monday, he will be hosted over lunch by Parrikar in the Admiral’s dining cabin on board the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier, the Russia made INS Vikramaditya off Karwar.Following this, both the leaders will go to US 7th fleet ship USS Blue Ridge, which is also off Goa. “Both the INS Vikramaditya and USS Blue Ridge meetings will be part of hardcore official engagements ,” said an MoD official.According to the US Department of Defence (DoD), Carter, on the eve of his India visit, told the Council on Foreign Relations at New York, he will meet prime minister Narendra Modi and Parrikar “to discuss a number of initiatives, including progress in aircraft carrier, jet fighter, and jet engine collaboration”.He further said “he will talk about “exciting new projects” as well. “There is so much potential with India, he said, that the United States is “seizing every opportunity we can.”.

US defence secretary arrives on high-profile visit to India today

US defence secretary Ashton Carter and India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar are scheduled to make a joint statement at South Block here on April 12, following the culmination of former’s three-day visit to India. A senior functionary at the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) told dna that “the two will have something substantial to announce and which is why the joint statement in front of the Indian media and the US journalists traveling with Carter”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Carter’s visit beginning April 10 coincides with India’s lookout for a technologically new set of fighter jets for its air force and two US companies , Boeing and Lockheed Martin pitching hard for it even as the government to government deal on the French Rafale jets is still stuck in negotiations. As dna, quoting sources reported earlier, the two US firms and the Swedish firm Saab have strongly presented their cases before the MoD which is looking beyond Rafale to cater to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) pressing requirement in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) category. Pressing because the current strength of fighter squadrons in IAF is 33, instead of the desired 42 and serviceability of India’s front line fighters, the Russian Sukhoi 30s is around 55 per cent only and the ageing MiG 21 and MiG 27 fleets need replacement in near future.Besides this, India told another functionary at South block, is bargaining hard to get what is called a ‘pre-bid guarantee’ from the US government on transfer of technology (TOT), if any US firm is allowed to enter into manufacturing fighters under ‘Make in India’. The US, on the other hand, is pressing for three ‘foundational agreements’ – Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) whereas India, so far has had its own doubts on them.“There have been critical engagements among officials and defence industry representatives of both countries the past week in the run up to Carter’s visit”, said the functionary quoted above even as he kept short of confirming if India had made up its mind, at least on LSA, where it has shown interest of concurring with the US, albeit with some changes.Carter departed from Washington on a two-week travel to Asia-Pacific region and then to the Middle East (West Asia in Indian context). His first stop will be Goa on Sunday where Parrikar will first show him around the famous Mangeshi temple. While he plans to visit a few churches too, on Monday, he will be hosted over lunch by Parrikar in the Admiral’s dining cabin on board the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier, the Russia made INS Vikramaditya off Karwar.Following this, both the leaders will go to US 7th fleet ship USS Blue Ridge, which is also off Goa. “Both the INS Vikramaditya and USS Blue Ridge meetings will be part of hardcore official engagements ,” said an MoD official.According to the US Department of Defence (DoD), Carter, on the eve of his India visit, told the Council on Foreign Relations at New York, he will meet prime minister Narendra Modi and Parrikar “to discuss a number of initiatives, including progress in aircraft carrier, jet fighter, and jet engine collaboration”.He further said “he will talk about “exciting new projects” as well. “There is so much potential with India, he said, that the United States is “seizing every opportunity we can.”.

Italy court sentences top AugustaWestland executives to jail

A Milan appeals court on Wednesday sentenced the Italian defence firm Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi to jail for four years and former CEO of Finmeccanica’s UK-based helicopter subsidiary AgustaWestland for corruption in a deal to sell 12 VVIP choppers to India in 2013.This, even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are still probing the case in India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ED has booked former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, SP Tyagi and his relatives along with four other European nationals and firms – Finmeccanica, AugustaWestland besides Chandigarh- based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, and two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia whose names figured in the CBI complaint. While Tyagi, his cousins and others are, according to the complaint involved in taking kickbacks worth Rs423 crore to award the deal, ED has booked five properties in Delhi and nearby that belonged to him and his relatives.Reacting to the sentencing of Italian executives, former air vice marshal Kapil Kak said, “There was incontrovertible evidence against the two. The law has caught up with them.” “Unfortunately, our agencies CBI and ED could never gather enough evidence despite their being too many of them as comes out if you see how the Italians have followed the case,” he added.Tyagi, who has been strongly rejecting the charge, couldn’t be reached for a fresh reaction despite repeated attempts.The contract for 12 AW-101 AugustaWestland choppers was signed in February, 2010.Subsequently, in 2011 and 2012, a total of three helicopters were delivered and about 30 percent of the money was paid before allegations surfaced in 2013 of Finmeccanica paying bribe to secure the contract. Following allegations of corruption, India junked the contract in January, 2014.The three choppers are still with India and remain unpacked even as officials in the Ministry of Defence here claimed that “the entire Rs 1,818 crore paid to the firm was recovered through bank guarantees”A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in Parliament in August, 2013 said that the MoD bent rules for the purchase of VVIP helicopters, worth Rs3,727 crore from the Italian firm.It also questioned the Air Head Quarters for failing to prepare a proper estimates of the requirement.Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries remain blacklisted in India post the corruption charge. This has resulted in obstructing a few other acquisitions for the Indian Armed Forces for the contracts involving Finmeccanica’s group companies. Meanwhile, the two executives will go for an appeal against the Milan court order.India junked contract in 2014The contract for 12 AW-101 AugustaWestland choppers was signed in February, 2010.Subsequently, in 2011 and 2012, a total of three helicopters were delivered and about 30 per cent of the money was paid before allegations surfaced in 2013 of Finmeccanica paying bribe to secure the contract. Following allegations of corruption, India junked the contract in January, 2014.The three choppers are still with India and remain unpacked even as officials in the Ministry of Defence here claimed that “the entire Rs 1,818 crore paid to the firm was recovered through bank guarantees”

Private domestic defence firms apprehensive as Strategic Partnership framework under new DPP yet to be formalised

The much awaited new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) was released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday, and with effect from April 1 this will allow a bulk of business contracts stuck in the lack of clarity, to be handed to manufacturers. However, a key component of the DPP, that on Strategic Partnerships which seeks to allow private home-grown industry to be part of six critical areas of manufacturing in defence, didn’t find a place in the new document.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the defence minister Manohar Parrikar tried to allay apprehensions over it and told reporters here at the ongoing Defence Expo that the chapter on Strategic Partnerships is being worked on and will take a few months to be out, the industry seemed concerned. Speaking at a Global Investors Summit at the Defence Expo, Anil Ambani whose Reliance Defence made a recent foray into the defence sector said that some vested interests were denying new players an opportunity on the grounds of lack of experience.”In the vocabulary of combat, sir, it is a landmine or booby-trap laid by vested interests to kill competition,” he went on to remark.Calling it a “classic chicken-and-egg situation, where nobody wins”, he said that despite a committed reformist mindset at the top, opportunities are being denied to new players.The six segments identified by MoD in which, instead of the earlier process of handing out the contract to the lowest bidder, private domestic industry will be allowed to participate are – military aircraft, warships, submarines, armoured vehicles, complex weapons that rely on guidance system, Command and Control System and critical materials (special alloys and composites).Five companies, including Anil Ambani owned RelianceInfrastructure, Larsen & Toubro and others being the state owned manufacturers Cochin Shipyard Limited, Mazagon Dock Limited, Hindustan Shipyard Limited were identified last year for country’s first ‘Make in India’ submarine project.Project called P-75 I is for next generation submarines costing Rs64,000-crore is to be built by domestic firms in collaboration with a foreign firm of their choice.However, in the lack of DPP chapter on Strategic Partner, the contract process for the project has not moved ahead. While six of the total seven chapters of the DPP are out, chapter 6 that deals with Strategic Partnership remains to be fine tuned and will take another one to two months, Parrikar said.

New Defence Procurement Procedure finalised; to allow fast track acquisition during peacetime too

The new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) was given a final approval on Monday by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Announcing this, Defence minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters here that the new draft will be available online on March 28. The decision was taken during a Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) — the highest decision making body on new procurement at MoD — meeting chaired by Parrikar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”While six of the total seven chapters have been finalised, chapter 6 that deals with Strategic partnership remains to be fine tuned and will take another one to two months,” Parrikar said. The new DPP will be tilted in favour of two categories of procurement – the Indigenously Designed and Development Manufacturing (IDDM) and Buy and Make in India, he said.The new DPP will also have provision for allowing the DAC to fast track the procedure by bypassing the Acceptance of Necessity (AON) process, in urgent cases like requirements if the Special Forces.A policy on blacklisting, however, has not been finalised yet and will be a separate document, Parrikar said. Acquisitions worth close to Rs 3.12 lakh crore has been approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) — the highest decision making body over the subject — since the Modi government took over in May, 2014. However, the acquisitions have not fructified – none of the projects have till date converted into contracts- due to a lack of clarity on various procurement issues.”We aim to create a good playing ground for indigenous manufacturing,” Parrikar said.

LCA Tejas Missed one of its target at IAF exercise; probe ordered

In notable miss for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, it missed its target on firing the Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) at the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) mega exercise ‘Iron Fist’ at Pokhran in Rajasthan on March 18.Even as the indigenised aircraft did make a kill with the short range air-to-air missile R-73, the IAF has ordered a probe into how the fighter jet which is in its advanced stage of induction missed target with the LGB, said a senior IAF functionary who did not wish to be named.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to IAF, a total of 500 rockets, 108 bombs and five surface-to-air missiles were fired at Iron Fist, of which LCA’s, as mentioned above, was a confirmed miss. Another shot by a Mirage 2000 fighter was aborted due to technical reasons.181 fighter aircraft, including the Sukhoi 30s, MiGs, Jaguar and Mirage from across the country flew Pokhran to demonstrate live firepower. The indigenously developed Tejas which is nearing Final Operational Clearance before going for production, is likely to be inducted in IAF later this year.The single-engine multi-role fighter LCA Tejas that recently took part in the Bahrain International Airshow did precision bombing during the exercise.IAF is looking to commission a new squadron of the home grown which is expected to replace the ageing MiG 21 and MiG 27 aircraft.The senior functionary, quoted above pointed that the ” it were training targets and not actual targets that were fired at during the exercise. In actual conditions, the target is much bigger “.”We have ordered a new system Maneuverable Expandable Aerial Target (MEAT). that will serve as larger targets. The file is with the Ministry of Defence,” he said.

All-women navy crew train to sail into the limelight

On February 23 — when President Pranab Mukherjee was telling a joint session of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha before the budget session that, in the future, the government will induct women in all the fighter streams of the armed forces — six women officers of the Indian Navy were already in the process of achieving a unique feat.For the first time, an all-women crew was manning the Navy vessel ‘Mhadei’ — a 56-feet sloop weighing 23 tonnes — from Visakhapatnam to her home port, Goa, after participating in the International Fleet Review (IFR), a multi-nation naval event held earlier in February.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>But even as they sailed from Vishakapatnam to Goa via the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, the journey was only a small, but critical, part of their training for a mammoth feat they aim to achieve in 2017 — becoming the first all-women Indian Navy crew to circumnavigate the globe.Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, a naval architect who will be the skipper of ‘Mhadei’, told dna that she was appointed to lead the team after the IFR and added that on the way from Vishakapatnam to Goa, “there were moments when sailors in other vessels, including those belonging to other countries, would wave at us and ask questions”. She said: “When we told them what we were up to, they would reflect some sense of awe and appreciate our efforts.”But didn’t the idea of an all-women crew bring about certain security concerns while sailing in international waters? “No,” said Joshi, adding, “we have been training hard, and now sailing all by ourselves doesn’t appear to be extraordinary to us.”In Goa, the women are undergoing a rigorous training regimen that covers both sailing and being anchored at a harbour. “From coping with long sailing hours to learning how to fix the vessel generator, we are gearing up for all situations,” Joshi said.The other officers who constitute the crew are Lieutenant P Swathi and Lieutenant Pratibha Jamwal, both air traffic control specialists, Lieutenant Vijaya Devi and Sub-Lieutenant Payal Gupta (education officers), and Lieutenant B Aishwarya, who is a naval architect expected to join the boat shortly, said one the navy’s public relations officers, Captain DK Sharma. The women have been training under Commander Dilip Donde, who was the first Indian to solo-circumnavigate the globe in 2009-10 on board the same boat.

Rs 36,944.48 crore worth defence contracts in six months, but Rafale nowhere in sight

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed 28 contracts with Indian and foreign vendors for capital procurement of defence equipment in the last six months. Of these, while 18 contracts were signed with Indian vendors, 10 were signed with foreign firms, such as from the US, Sweden, Russia and Israel.However, even as a total Rs 36,944.48 crore worth contracts were signed during the above mentioned period, “no contract has been signed during 2015-16 for procurement of advanced fighter planes,” defence minister Manohar Parrikar told Parliament on Tuesday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two months after India and France signed an “inter-governmental agreement” on the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) Rafale purchase during French president Francois Hollande’s visit to India in January, the contract looks elusive.As latest as March 9-10, officials from the Indo-France defence cooperation committee met here to discuss defence procurements and sharing of defence research and development technologies. According to a senior MoD official, Rafale purchase too came up in the discussion, but no headway could be made. India has been negotiating for a reduced price of nearly Rs 65,000 crore, whereas the French firm is quoting Rs 90,000 crore for the deal.India is to buy 36 Rafale planes in fly-away condition from France.Senior officials at MoD further said that hindrances also stay in the form of signing the liability clauses that could bring not just the aircraft manufacturing firm Dassault aviation but the French government too, under the fold of accountability. India’s law ministry too has raised objection to the weak liability clauses.As the uncertainty over Rafale continues, the Indian Air Forcce (IAF) vice chief air marshal BS Dhanoa on March 10 admitted that with the current strength of fighter jets — 33 squadrons as compared to the desired 42 — it was a concern for India. Our numbers are not adequate to execute an air campaign in a two front scenario, Dhanoa told reporters here. He also said that more MMRCA will be needed and other firms Lockheed Martin, Saab, and Boeing too have shared their proposals to the government and is being looked into by the IAF.Parrikar, meanwhile, on Tuesday told parliament that a proposal for Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for ramping up of production of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas from the present installed capacity of eight to sixteen aircraft per annum by the Bengaluru based HAL is being processed.An expenditure of Rs 1,259 crore has been proposed for this purpose with 50% funding by HAL, 25% by IAF and 25% by Indian Navy, with timeline of 36 months from the date of sanction, Parrikar said.IAF is looking to commission a new squadron of the home grown Tejas Light Combat Aircraft which is expected to replace the ageing MiG 21 and MiG 27 aircraft.

Defence Ministry mulls framing ‘clearer’ policy on army’s involvement in civil work

Controversy over army being engaged for building pontoon bridges over the Yamuna River bed here for a private event World Cultural Festival (WCF) refuses to die down.Amidst this, the ministry of defence (MoD), sources said, is considering to work on a new framework that could spell out when or when not to take the armed forces services in such situations.It was not immediately clear what exact purpose will the new formulation serve as the army rule book already lays down the situations in which it can be requisitioned and deployed in aid of civil authorities. These are for maintenance of law and order, of essential services, assistance during natural calamities and any other assistance to civil authorities.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, sources said that the defence secretary has been asked to look into framing of a new clearer” policy that could define the scope of Army deployment ranging from events as big as the WCF to cases when they are used to rescue children trapped in borewells.Questions are being raised after the Indian Army built pontoon bridges over the Yamuna for the Art of Living Foundation’s upcoming three day event starting March 11. Sources in the army maintain that it had raised reservations to directions from MoD to divert its resources for a private event but had to buckle under pressure from the political executive. According to organisers, about 3.5 million people are expected to attend the event even as president Pranab Mukherjee, who too was supposed to come for the valedictory function, pulled out citing ‘unavoidable circumstances’.Besides the issue of army’s involvement, the entire event has generated controversy for flouting environmental norms and on Wednesday the National Green Tribunal asked the organisers to fork out Rs5 crores as compensation for damage to the flood plain.Had reservation Questions are being raised after the Indian Army built pontoon bridges over the Yamuna for the Art of Living Foundation’s upcoming three day event starting March 11. Sources in the army maintain that it had raised reservations to directions from MoD to divert its resources for a private event but had to buckle under pressure from the political executive.

International Women’s Day: She held Tricolour aloft, leading Army contingent for war games

“It’s the same charm what draws the men, the love for the nation and honour and pride in donning the uniform,” says Lieutenant Colonel Sofia Qureshi on being asked what made her join the Army. The 35-year-old created history last week when she became the first woman officer to lead an Indian Army contingent at Force 18 – ASEAN Plus multinational field training exercise – in Pune.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The spectacle of Lt Col Sophia Qureshi marching with Tricolour, alongside other foreign militaries to the tune of ASEAN anthem, made for a forceful impression of how she represents those women who have stormed into male bastions like Army.”It was a wonderful experience, working with multinational armies, and an opportunity to learn their ways of military tactics,” she says.International assignments are not new to this officer from the Corps of Signals. She was part of the second batch of women officers who were part of the UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a military observer. “It was a great experience working with the multinational armies as a military observer, and it’s fulfilling when it deals with protection of women and children from violence,” she says of her distinct experience of working in the conflict zone.Commissioned through the Officers Training Academy in 1999, back home, the lady officer served across various postings in India, including in counter-insurgency areas in signal regiments.Qureshi represents a legacy of fine work women have been doing in the Army. She actively participated in Operation Parakram on Punjab borders during which she was awarded with General Officer Commanding in Chief commendation. She was also awarded with Signal officer in Chief commendation for provision of communication during flood relief operations in North East.Having been associated with the Center for United Nations Peacekeeping operation (CUNPK) in New Delhi since 2010, Qureshi is married within the army fraternity to Major Tajuddin Bagewadi from the mechanised Infantry and is the mother of an eight-year-old boy. She takes pride in telling that the army life has trained her well to balance duty and home. “Duty, however, comes first,” she admits.Qureshi had an early exposure to seeing the Indian army closely when her father worked in the Army as a religious teacher for a few years. She also drew inspiration from her great grandfather and a few relatives who had also served in the British army.

India rejects the idea of joint maritime patrol with US

India on Friday rejected US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris’s suggestion for a four-nation joint maritime patrolling in the Asia Pacific region.Harris, earlier this week, invited India for joint patrolling with the navies of Japan, Australia and the US during a visit here to attend an event organised by a strategic think-tank in collaboration with the ministry of external affairs.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I don’t have to respond to what the US Admiral has said. Our viewpoint will come to you if we at all consider any such thing from our side,” defence minister Manohar Parrikar said here. “If we take any decision, the Ministry of Defence will brief you very clearly,” he emphasised.Parrikar said that while India will like to have joint exercises with other countries, joint patrolling was not an option as yet.India has maintained the policy of not forming a group with countries having territorial dispute with China.And has rejected the idea of a joint patrolling in South China Sea in the past too.Trade worth $ 5.3 trillion is carried out through the South China sea and the Indian Ocean and Harris had said that “We all have a vested interest in ensuring our region remain secure, stable, and prosperous,”even as he echoed US ambassador to India Richard Verma’s views recent views on a grouping for maritime patrol.Notably, during Harris’s visit, India accorded no guard of honour to him.

Army reviewing its resources to cut non-operational flab

The government on Friday said it wanted the 1.18 million strong Army to shift to simulations and automation in non-combat role training and day to day operations to cut down on flab and bring cost effectiveness.Defence minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters here that the government has asked Army to do a review of its existing manpower and infrastructure and list out areas where the pruning can be done.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parrikar was replying to a question on the long term effects of having defence modernisation funds lesser than the defence pensions, as earmarked in the latest annual budget, announced on February 29.”Training not directly linked with combat roles like heavy vehicle driving, for example, can be done on simulators largely. Similarly, the role of mobile operators can be pruned by bringing automation,” he said.Ärmy confirmed that the review process is on and on many counts, the initiative has already been taken.”We have introduced simulations in firing practices where not just firing of the shots, but even the topography can be imitated. Besides, there are other areas like mechanical mine laying and making bridges where we have moved forward in bringing automation. We can look at other areas too where supplies – packaging and distribution can be automated,” said a senior official.The capital expenditure outlay for the Defence services in the latest budget has been put at Rs 78,586 crore as compared to the last year of Rs 86,894 crore. Towards pension funds, on the other hand, Rs 82,000 crore has been allocated but notably, that goes mainly for the beneficiaries of the One Rank One Pension scheme notified in the last fiscal year.

Rapes during Jat agitation? Police wait for victims to complain

It’s Thursday, three days have passed since a few women were reportedly raped during the Jat reservation stir blockade here on the National Highway (NH) 1.At dusk, at the popular Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba, located about 60 kilometres from New Delhi, things are back to usual business and close to a 100 visitors’ cars are parked outside, but for a conspicuous change in sight. A group of elderly men from the nearby Kurad and Hassanpur village sit huddled outside. Owner Amrik Singh says it is these men who fended off the mob and prevented damage to the restaurant in the wee hours of February 22, the same mob that reportedly raped women.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than a 100 people caught in the Jat reservation stir blockade took shelter inside the restaurant for two days and initial reports suggest, some of them included the victims of sexual violence.Following sustained pressures from the media, women organisations and cognisance by the Punjab and Haryana high court, on Friday, the Haryana government set up a committee of three women officers, two deputy superintendents of police and one of the deputy inspector general rank besides a helpline number–18001802057, for anyone with the rape complaint or leads into the incident. The police, initially, was totally ruling out the possibility of rape.A mob attacked a convoy of cars and other vehicles at this stretch of the NH-1 when they were cautiously moving towards Delhi from Panipat after taking refuge for two days at hotels, Gurudwaras, schools and colleges during the peak of the Jat stir.Even as 28 vehicles, including 21 private cars were set ablaze, the occupants ran helter skelter and took refuge at where ever they could, including at a few dhabas nearby. At the spot, are tattered women clothes.Both Singh and the owner of an adjoining dhaba, Jai Bhagwan stay short of admitting that the rapes occurred. They tell dna that though they saw men and women in distress, there was nothing that suggested rape.In the backyard of Bhagwan’s Dhaba, initial reports said four women took shelter during the violence behind a water tank. He, however, says that it were not just women but the male members of their families too who came to escape the violence.Both of them maintained the same versions as given to dna before a National Commission for Women (NCW) delegation that visited the spot.A delegation of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), the women wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) too visited Murthal on Thursday for fact finding. In a statement it says, “that once the police intervened in the situation they discouraged the victims of sexual assault and their families from lodging formal complaints. The police argued that there was no chance of identifying and intercepting the culprits in the current situation and lodging of complaints will only result in bringing further trauma and dishonour to their families.”AIDWA general secretary, Jagmati Sangwan tells dna that “All the circumstantial evidence suggest women were violated. Now, it’s a question of how safe and encouraged do the victims and their families feel that they would come out and report it”.

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