Online news channel!

Tag: ajit doval

Anil Baijal is next Delhi L-G: Will Arvind Kejriwal now steer away from collision course?

Former Union home secretary Anil Baijal is all set become the new Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. He is yet another high-profile appointee from New Delhi-based think tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) to get a top government position.

Baijal’s appointment as next LG of Delhi marks the closure of a weeklong suspense on the successor of Najeeb Jung who made a surprise announcement of his resignation on 22 December. Sources said it took some time for the Modi government to accept Jung’s resignation and name his successor because President Pranab Mukherjee was on his customary southern sojourn to Hyderabad.

Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18

Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18

Another informed source told Firstpost that three things went in Baijal’s favour — first, he had been Union home secretary in the Vajpayee government, with LK Advani at the helm in home ministry; second, he had been 1969 batch IAS officer of AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) cadre who had served in Delhi and outside in various capacities; third, he has good equations with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Given the contours of the present ruling establishment, his proximity with Doval is considered to be a big positive that went in his favour and that made him a frontrunner to take up this constitutional post in Delhi.

The founder director of VIF Ajit Doval is NSA, Nripendra Misra as principal secretary to the Prime Minister is another top notch person from VIF in government, distinguished fellow A Surya Prakash is Prasar Bharati chairman, and former DRDO chief VK Saraswat, who served in VIF is a full-time member of the Niti Aayog. KG Suresh now DG of Indian Institute of Mass Communication had been editor of VIF. Baijal is the latest high-profile Modi government appointee who had been associated with VIF and Doval.

Taking into account his experience in the North Block, Baijal’s tenure as Union home secretary will come handy in carrying out his responsibilities as the new L-G. The L-G designate is well conversant with Delhi’s constitutional and administrative position, as also of political nuances. More so given the kind of conflict situations that arose almost on a daily basis between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Baijal’s predecessor Najeeb Jung, Baijal’s ability in maintaining the fine balance or managing potential conflict situations with incumbent AAP government will be closely watched.

Delhi has a unique position as a Union Territory or as a half state where most of the executive powers rest with the L-G and not with the elected government. In a judgment delivered in August this year, Delhi High Court settled the constitutionality of who is the boss in Delhi. The verdict had come as a body blow to the Kejriwal government. The high court ruled that Lieutenant Governor is the administrative head of Delhi. All decisions taken by elected government ministers must be communicated to him. Unlike governors in other states, the Lieutenant Governor in Delhi isn’t bound by the ministers’ advice. In the event of a dispute between the L-G and the Delhi chief minister, their decisions should be communicated to the Centre for a final call.

The Kejriwal government has yet not reacted to the appointment of Baijal as the L-G. It would perhaps wait for situations to unfold to make its first observation. Given the nature of strained relations between the Kejriwal government in Delhi and Modi government at the Centre, any restraint by AAP leaders from making sharp and quick reactions could be considered a healthy development, at least for now.

What had troubled AAP most during their two-year long business interaction with Jung as L-G was the latter’s abilities to read the fine prints on files. Like Jung, Baijal too is gentle, suave and articulate. The Aam Admi Party thus could take its time before making an assessment of the new L-G and make either kind of comments on him.

This writer had earlier noted that the manner in which Jung and Kejriwal parted ways would ever be heartening. Two men who had fought bitterly to protect their respective turf put on a rare display of civility buried the hatchet and walked away. Jung invited Kejriwal for breakfast, and the latter left his residence on a happy note. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also met the outgoing lieutenant governor and spoke of happy memories, with no trace of the bitterness that marked their last two years.

The way Jung chose to voluntarily quit the coveted L-G post has made him distinct from the rest of his peers, present and past occupying Raj Bhawans and Raj Niwas. Governors or lieutenant governors usually make headlines only when they are sacked by an incoming regime, or when they commit some outlandish act in contravention to the constitutional protocol. Appointment of a governor is big news only for those concerned, not the public at large. Jung, however, is a different case. His appointment, tenure, and departure would all be discussed for a long time to come, and even be cited as a case study by students of Indian politics.

Baijal has a task cut out for him. Each of his moves would be closely scrutinised by the people of Delhi, media and political parties. His actions would naturally be compared and contrasted with his predecessor, Jung.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 20:11 IST

Heart of Asia Summit: Amid Indo-Pak tension, Ajit Doval, Sartaj Aziz hold brief interaction

Amritsar: Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz and National Security Advisor Ajit
Doval had a brief interaction on Saturday night, amid intense strain in Indo-Pak ties in the wake of Nagrota terror strike and intensified cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Aziz and Doval had a short informal chat after foreign ministers of five countries called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night in a group. The call on by the foreign ministers preceded an official dinner attended by representatives of almost all countries participating in the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference.

Sartaj Aziz. File photo. AFP

Sartaj Aziz. File photo. AFP

While Indian sources said Aziz and Doval “had a stroll for about 100 feet” at the venue of the dinner ‘Sada Pind’, a heritage village, Pakistani officials maintained that they had a “meeting”. However, it is not known what transpired during their conversation.

When asked, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup only said, “There was no meeting”.

Aziz arrived here last night to attend HoA conference amid speculation on whether the two sides will have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the conclave to break the ice in ties.

During the dinner, Aziz exchanged pleasantries with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier, in a goodwill gesture, Aziz sent a bouquet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday, extending his “sincere good wishes for her full and speedy recovery” from illness.

Swaraj and Aziz had held a meeting during last year’s HoA meet in Islamabad during which both countries had agreed to start ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ that was to cover all outstanding issues.

The resumption of the dialogue could, however, not take place due to the Pathankot terror attack in January this year and subsequent terror strike involving Pakistan-based terrorists.

Earlier this week, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had said Pakistan was willing for unconditional resumption of dialogue if India was ready.

India had already made it clear that it will never accept continuing cross border terrorism as the ‘new normal’ in bilateral ties with Pakistan while asserting that talks cannot take place in an atmosphere of “continued terror”.

Tensions between the two countries escalated after the cross border terror attack on an army base in Nagrota in Jammu.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 16:56 IST

Baramulla attack confirms India’s prognosis: Pak won’t give up terrorism as state policy

The Indian security forces have launched a massive operation to unearth ‘sleeper cells’ that were activated in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the wake of India’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) on 29 September.

A ‘fidayeen’ (suicide) attack carried out by terrorists on a BSF and adjoining army camps in the Baramulla district of the Kashmir valley on Sunday night is seen as yet another attempt by Pakistan to provoke India through highly-trained and motivated soldiers in the garb of terrorists.

The manner in which the terrorists, after their attack was foiled by the Indian forces, spirited away in the dense forests and tough terrain near the Indo-Pak border is not reflective of a casual incursion by jihadis. The terrorists appeared to be highly trained in Guerrilla warfare, quite similar to the special forces.

Soldiers guard at the Army base camp during the militant attack in Baramulla district. PTI

Soldiers guard at the Army base camp during the militant attack in Baramulla district. PTI

It will be instructive to understand the tactics that the terrorists employed and the target they chose. Their target, apparently, was the army brigade headquarter that was located quite a distance away from the Indo-Pak border and was adequately protected by pickets of the border security force (BSF).

Top sources within the BSF say that alert BSF personnel challenged the terrorists at first glance and engaged them in a battle which in turn pre-empted and prevented a repeat of an Uri like attack.

The swift and fierce retaliation by the BSF jawans, combined with the quick reaction of the army forced the terrorists to take to their heels. Sources say that two terrorists were neutralised, through their bodies are yet to be recovered. “We are looking for them in the terrain which is not easy to access,” an official said.

Though the successful face-off with trained and motivated terrorists – that averted a repetition of an attack like Uri or Pathankot – may be a matter of relief, the Baramulla incident has confirmed India’s worst prognosis about Pakistan – that the country is not going to give up terrorism as an instrument of its state policy.

In such a context, Pakistan’s plea of its inability to check and control “non-state actors” is nothing more than a tactical tool. This is the precise reason that the Indian government seems determined to raise the threshold level of Pakistan and make it directly accountable to bear the cost of terrorism.

Following the Baramulla attack, in a meeting comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the chiefs of defence forces and central police organisation, there seemed to be a unanimity that it would be puerile to call Pakistan’s direct war as proxy-war.

Sunday’s attack on the Baramulla camp is clearly seen as an act of war which must not go unchallenged. And the government is in mood to rest on the laurels of its ‘surgical operation’ or the BSF’s valiant fight in repelling the attack on Baramulla.

But India’s military strategy would be just a beginning of an end. Sources in the home ministry say that it needs to be followed up by a massive operation to unearth the various sleeper cells scattered across Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

For instance, there is enough evidence to suggest that most of these highly trained terrorists are provided with arms, ammunition and logistical support by these ‘sleeper cells’, which get activated by the ISI.

A highly placed BSF official admits that it would be naïve to assume that these highly trained terrorists were pushed across the border without local support. “We are still not sure about the routes taken by the terrorists in the Pathankot attack,” he said.

Since the Pathankot attack, the BSF officials are closely working with intelligence agencies focussing on specific inputs about the probability of terrorists sneaking into India on valid passports and melting away in certain pockets of the country.

“We feel that there is a strong possibility that these terrorists are getting acquainted with the topography during their stay and that they are armed adequately by sleepers cells. Hence, they would choose their targets carefully,” pointed out a former BSF chief. “The probability of the existence of such sleeper cells in the border areas of Punjab is very high,” he pointed out.

In such a setting, the government is grappling with two critical tasks at hand. First, the attacks on Indian security establishments is seen by India as an act of war directly waged by Pakistan’s deep state (Army). And that within the Indian establishment, there is a total rejection of Pakistan’s plea of “non-state actors”.

Second, the government has directed the internal security apparatus to launch a massive operation to weed out ‘sleeper cells’ across the country to take this battle against terrorism towards a logical end.

Few would know that Baramulla was the turning point in the history of Jammu and Kashmir in the post-partition phase. On 25 October 1947, this district was invaded by Pakistani soldiers in the garb of Kabalis and indulged in mass killings, looting and rapes.

One of the best missionary education institutions in the Kashmir valley, St Joseph’s Convent, suffered the worst kind of savagery at the hands of Pakistani soldiers, as the convent nuns were killed and raped and the church was destroyed.

That proved to be the turning point for India, in not only reclaiming Baramulla from the marauders but also turning the world’s opinion against Pakistan.

Though the situation and context in Baramulla may be different this time around, yet, the attack on the defence establishment is sure to firm up India’s resolve to fight this battle more decisively than ever before.

Baramulla attack Live: Rajnath arrives in Leh, NSA briefs PM Modi about the assault

Oct 3, 2016

  • 12:14(IST)

  • 12:07(IST)

  • 11:57(IST)

  • 11:54(IST)

  • 11:53(IST)

  • 11:45(IST)

  • 11:36(IST)

  • 11:18(IST)

  • 11:10(IST)

  • 11:09(IST)

  • 11:08(IST)

  • 10:31(IST)

  • 10:30(IST)

  • 10:25(IST)

  • 10:18(IST)

  • 10:14(IST)

  • 10:13(IST)

  • 10:11(IST)

  • 10:10(IST)

  • 10:00(IST)

  • 09:53(IST)

At least two terrorists and a BSF personnel were killed while one BSF jawan was injured when militants attacked two adjoining camps of the Army and the paramilitary force at Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir.

The heavily-armed terrorists attacked the two camps belonging to Rashtriya Rifles and Border Security Force late Sunday night, leading to a fierce gun-battle with the security forces.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Following the firefight, two terrorists were killed by the forces while one BSF personnel, who was hit by bullets, succumbed to his injuries later, a Home Ministry spokesperson said in New Delhi.

The martyred jawan has been indentified as Constable Nitin while the injured personnel is Constable Pulwinder. Both belong to the 40th battalion of the BSF, officials said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval discussed the incident and necessary instructions have been given to the forces.

Singh also spoke to Director General of BSF KK Sharma and asked him to provide all possible treatment to the injured jawan.

Firing was also reported at a BSF post along the international border with Pakistan in Gurdaspur district of north Punjab early on Monday.

The Border Security Force troopers, according to sources, repulsed an intrusion bid by 8-10 people in the counter offensive at Chakri border out post (BoP).

The sources said that the firing started around 2 am after the alert troopers, using Hand Held Thermal Imagers (HHTI), noticed movement of 8-10 people near the international border.

The intruders, who had crossed the border but were behind the barbed wire fencing, were challenged.

“They fired at the BSF post. Our troopers immediately retaliated the firing. The intruders retreated back to Pakistan. A search operation has been launched in the area today (Monday) morning,” a BSF official said.

The Baramulla attack was the first major attack on security forces by terrorists after the Indian Army launched surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir last week.

The attack comes despite intelligence inputs about possible terrorist attacks on security installations in Jammu and Kashmir following the operations in PoK on 29 September.

The strike comes exactly a fortnight after terrorists struck at army brigade headquarters at Uri, 102 km from Srinagar, killing 19 soldiers.

Terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, had also attacked the frontier Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot town of Punjab on 2 January this year, leaving seven security personnel dead.

The Pathankot attack was preceded by a terror attack by Pakistani terrorists in Dinanagar town of Gurdaspur district on 27 July last year.

With inputs from Agencies

Baramulla attack Live: Rajnath reviews security situation as search operation continues

Oct 3, 2016

Highlights

  • 10:14(IST)

  • 10:13(IST)

  • 10:11(IST)

  • 10:10(IST)

  • 10:00(IST)

  • 09:53(IST)

At least two terrorists and a BSF personnel were killed while one BSF jawan was injured when militants attacked two adjoining camps of the Army and the paramilitary force at Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir.

The heavily-armed terrorists attacked the two camps belonging to Rashtriya Rifles and Border Security Force late Sunday night, leading to a fierce gun-battle with the security forces.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Following the firefight, two terrorists were killed by the forces while one BSF personnel, who was hit by bullets, succumbed to his injuries later, a Home Ministry spokesperson said in New Delhi.

The martyred jawan has been indentified as Constable Nitin while the injured personnel is Constable Pulwinder. Both belong to the 40th battalion of the BSF, officials said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval discussed the incident and necessary instructions have been given to the forces.

Singh also spoke to Director General of BSF KK Sharma and asked him to provide all possible treatment to the injured jawan.

Firing was also reported at a BSF post along the international border with Pakistan in Gurdaspur district of north Punjab early on Monday.

The Border Security Force troopers, according to sources, repulsed an intrusion bid by 8-10 people in the counter offensive at Chakri border out post (BoP).

The sources said that the firing started around 2 am after the alert troopers, using Hand Held Thermal Imagers (HHTI), noticed movement of 8-10 people near the international border.

The intruders, who had crossed the border but were behind the barbed wire fencing, were challenged.

“They fired at the BSF post. Our troopers immediately retaliated the firing. The intruders retreated back to Pakistan. A search operation has been launched in the area today (Monday) morning,” a BSF official said.

The Baramulla attack was the first major attack on security forces by terrorists after the Indian Army launched surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir last week.

The attack comes despite intelligence inputs about possible terrorist attacks on security installations in Jammu and Kashmir following the operations in PoK on 29 September.

The strike comes exactly a fortnight after terrorists struck at army brigade headquarters at Uri, 102 km from Srinagar, killing 19 soldiers.

Terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, had also attacked the frontier Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot town of Punjab on 2 January this year, leaving seven security personnel dead.

The Pathankot attack was preceded by a terror attack by Pakistani terrorists in Dinanagar town of Gurdaspur district on 27 July last year.

With inputs from Agencies

Uri terror attack: Pakistan’s Chief Justice accuses political parties of supporting terrorism

Pakistan’s Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali has blamed political and religious parties in Pakistan for having backed terrorists to further interests in a public meeting on Monday with the commencement of the new judicial year in the country, according to India Today.

“It is disappointing to see some political parties supporting terrorists for their own interest,” Jamali was quoted as saying in Hindustan Times.

Pakistan has always denied links to terrorist attacks in India, and did so again, with regard to the Uri attack.

India on Sunday said the terrorist attack in Uri has highlighted Pakistan’s desire to use “poison” instead of dialogue as it lodged a strong protest against Islamabad at the NAM summit in Margarita Island for its “mischievous” and “malignant” support to terror. India has blamed Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attack and called Pakistan a “terror” state that needs to be isolated. Pakistan, on the other hand, refuted the charges, which they touted as a knee-jerk reaction, not based on “facts.”

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The Uri attack, described as the deadliest attack on the Indian Army in the last 26 years, has invited censure for Pakistan from multiple countries. “We have noted relevant reports. We are shocked by this attack,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in reference to Uri attack and India’s charge that Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) is behind it. JeM has special significance as Beijing has put a technical hold over India’s efforts to bring about a UN ban on the outfit’s leader Masood Azhar for his involvement in Pathankot attack.

Two powerful American lawmakers have introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, saying it was time the US stopped paying the country for its “betrayal”. Germany, Russia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Algeria, France, Venezuela and UK too have slammed Pakistan for endorsing terrorism.

With potential global isolation seeming likely for Pakistan, CJ Jamali urged various institutions of governance in Pakistan to function properly so Pakistan can become stable and was quoted as saying: “The constitution allows all faiths to practice their religion without fear of being persecuted.”

Courts in Pakistan are being persecuted by terrorist groups, he added, to instill fear among lawyers and judges, because of the same internal backing, reported Zee News. He urged Pakistan’s security agencies to provide ‘foolproof security’ to the country’s judicial institutions to stop the spread of terror and said that judges were responsible for protecting democracies both from terrorism and from the means the state wants to use to fight terrorism, reports Pakistani daily, Daily Times.

Another Pakistani daily, Dawn, said in reference to Jamali’s comments, that it is not only a resolute affirmation of the truth but upholds what many even within Pakistan have been saying for a long time. The daily listed various examples of these liaisons as ‘open secrets’ such as the presence of the militant wing of Muttahida Quami Movement in Karachi, Pakistan People’s Party’s patronising of the Karachi underworld and PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah Khan’s interaction with banned sectarian groups. Religious parties like Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) have launched opprobrious campaigns against attempts by the state to regulate and register madrassas that have been aligned with hard-line outfits.

Meanwhile, the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag and top officials of the ministries of Home and Defence, paramilitary forces and chiefs of intelligence agencies met to review the situation in Kashmir. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti and Governor NN Vohra met to assess the ground situation in the state.

Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj will address Pakistan’s soft approach on terrorism, going beyond Uri, to list out a number of instances where Pakistan has treated terror groups softly. PM Modi held a cabinet meeting on Uri on Wednesday. Determined to use a strategic, tight and focused response to Uri, India is likely to take Pakistan’s case internationally, reports DNA.

With inputs from agencies

Uri attack: Rajnath Singh, NSA and foreign secretary review security situation in Kashmir

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of Sunday’s terror strike at an army camp in Uri that left 18 soldiers dead.

This is the third security review meeting Singh has chaired since the Uri attack and the situation in the border areas of Punjab and Gujarat was also discussed, officials said.

Besides National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other senior Home Ministry officials, the meeting was also attended by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI.

The presence of the Foreign Secretary was explained in the context of the move by India to launch a diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan at global fora, starting with the upcoming UN General Assembly.

A high-level meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had authorised the diplomatic offensive, backed by clear proof of Pakistan Army backing to the four terrorists who mounted the early morning attack on the Uri camp.

Rajnath Singh was briefed on Tuesday by Doval and others, including officials from the Defence Ministry, paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies, on the prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley as well as along the Line of Control (LoC).

The Home Minister suggested that all necessary steps be taken to check infiltration along the LoC and the border areas in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Gujarat.

Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Tuesday was in Srinagar to assess the ground situation and interact with civil and security officials in the state.

Mehrishi will also call on state Governor NN Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during his visit.

Eighteen soldiers were killed and 30 injured when four terrorists attacked the administrative base camp of an infantry battalion in the highly fortified Uri town of Baramulla district on Sunday.

India has blamed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack. The group, which has not claimed responsibility, was also accused of mounting the January attack on an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot that left seven soldiers dead.

Briefing reporters on Monday, Director General Military Operation (DGMO), Lt General Ranbir Singh, had said the Indian Army, reserves the right to respond to the terror strike “at a place and time of our choosing”, adding that “we have the desired capability to reply to such a blatant act of violence in a manner as deemed appropriate by us”.

Rajnath reviews security situation in Jammu and Kashmir after Pampore attack

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday reviewed the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which witnessed a deadly attack on a CRPF convoy that left eight personnel dead, and directed security forces to intensify vigil in the state.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

During the hour-long meeting, the Home Minister was briefed about the internal security situation in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in the rest of the country and the steps taken to ensure peace.

The meeting, attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, chiefs of intelligence agencies and other senior officials, analysed the inputs, including on infiltration from across the border, received from various agencies and steps taken on them, official sources said.

While voicing concern over the killing of the eight CRPF men by militants in Pulwama on Saturday, Singh directed the officials to strengthen the security arrangement and intensify vigil across Jammu and Kashmir, the sources said.

The Home Minister has already set up a three-member team which will look into lapses, if any, in the Pulwama incident so that corrective steps could be taken. The team would also look into the possible increase of cross border infiltration and practices being followed during the movement of paramilitary forces convoy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Eight CRPF personnel were killed and at least 25 others injured when two militants attacked a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district on Saturday.

AgustaWestland: Govt rebuffs Congress, says PM Modi ‘did not cut any deal’

Late Friday night, the Modi government issued a longish official statement, stating that it was proactively pursing the AgustaWestland bribery case to bring the wrongdoers to book. While doing so it has made a point by point rebuttal of arguments made by Congress including what the BJP government has done for the past two years, since the time it came to power.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. APPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

It went at length to state facts where some of them speak for themselves.

It also clarified on “misinformation” of AgustaWestland being allowed to participate in Make in India programme and strongly rebutted the Congress’ charge that AgustaWestland was allowed to bid in 2015 for 11 Naval utility helicopter. The statement also takes strong objections to the insinuations that disgraced former air chief SP Tyagi was close to NSA Ajit Doval and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Nripendra Mishra. The Vivekananda foundation has already issued a clarification to that effect.

Following is the full text of the government:

In the matter pertaining to acquisition of Agusta Westland helicopters, the undisputed central issue that stands out is corruption, especially bribery. Any other line of assumption, approach and effort, as is being attempted in some quarters, is misleading, tries to hide the wrong-doers and is driven by instincts of self preservation.

Ever since the new government was given the responsibility to serve the people, it has acted with speed, drive and purpose to empower the country’s masses. It continues to relentlessly pursue fearless and transparent governance. One of the core goals of our governance has been to unearth and uproot corruption, and punish the corrupt.

It is indeed tragic that a small section of the Indian polity has attempted, unsuccessfully, to divert and diffuse the public discourse on this matter. They question the speed of the government processes, especially the investigation. But, they do not ask how the corrupt influenced the process of acquisition in the first place and bled the nation. They donot admit corruption; they instead boldly proclaim, “catch us if you can”.

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.

The investigative agencies remain determined to bring to justice the key perpetrators of this misdeed, both inside and outside the country.

The government has acted proactively and with alacrity against Agusta Westland International and Finmeccanica. It is the present government which through its order dated 3 July 2014, put on hold all procurement/acquisition cases in the pipeline of six companies figuring in the FIR registered by the CBI, namely: M/S Agusta Westland International Ltd., UK, M/S Finmeccanica, Italy, and its group companies, including subsidiaries and affiliates, M/S IDS, Tunisia, M/S Infotech Design System (IDS), Mauritius, M/S IDS Infotech Ltd, Mohali and M/S Aeromatrix Info Solution Pvt Ltd, Chandigarh.

In doing so, we did not let the preparedness of our defence forces suffer. At the same time, we also ensured that no new capital procurement was made thereafter from these companies in the tenure of the present Government.

The factually misinformed have also made a mention regarding clearance of a joint venture involving Agusta Westland by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. This proposal was approved on 2nd September 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 S.p.A Italy due to reorganization within the group. On 7th February 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 licence has since expired.

In their drive to divert the public attention from their own corruption, some have said that the Modi government permitted Augusta Westland to bid for 100 Naval Utility Helicopters in April, 2015. The fact is that a techno-commercial Request for Proposal (RFP) for Naval Utility Helicopters was issued to eight vendors on 4 August 2012. In response to the RFP, M/S Eurocopters, France and M/S Agusta Westland S.p.A Italy submitted their techno-commercial proposals on 4 March 2013. RFP of the procurement case was retracted by the Government on 13 October 2014.

The Indian Navy has hosted on the website a Request for Information for more than 100 Naval Utility Helicopter in October 2014. No Request for Proposal has been issued, therefore the question of permitting Agusta Westland to bid for the Naval Utility Helicopter in April 2015 does not arise. The government is exploring whether their manufacturing can be pursued under “Make in India”.

On the core issue of corruption, the timeline of actions taken by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate clearly shows due rigour and diligence with which these agencies have pursued all aspects of their investigations, including the arrest and extradition of three foreign nationals namely Mr. Carlo Gerosa, Mr. Guido Haschke Ralph and Christian Michel James.

CBI has so far investigated over 100 witnesses. In September and November 2014, couple of accused have been arrested and their property attached. A criminal complaint was also filed. Letter of Requests were sent out by ED and CBI to Mauritius (July 2013), Tunisia and Italy (December 2013), British Virgin Islands, Singapore and U.K. (September 2014), UAE and Switzerland (December 2014). The agencies are continuing to pursue responses to the LRs from the countries concerned.

Further, an open ended non bailable arrest warrant was issued by CBI against Mr. Christian James Michel on 24 September 2015. Red Corner notices were issued in December 2015 and January 2016 through Interpol under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Prevention of Corruption Act on charges of conspiracy and abuse of official position in giving favours to M/s AWIL.

Extradition request has also been made for Christian Michel James. A request for provision arrest for the purpose of extradition was made to the U.K. authorities on 4 January 2016 by CBI. Enforcement Directorate, another autonomous agency to handle private money laundering and Foreign Exchange irregularities, has also separately sent a Red Corner seeking arrest and a request for his extradition from the U.K. on 29 February 2016.

By asking why did Prime Minister and BJP government not take any action on the alleged offer dated 08.11.2015 made by James Christian Michael to be questioned by CBI and ED including on Indian soil, some have even tried to side with a wanted criminal.

It is well known that any understanding/agreement with an accused outside the frame of law is a criminal act in itself. James Christian Michael is a criminal wanted by the Indian law enforcement agencies. We are pursuing all legal means to arrest him and have him extradited to India. Mr. Michel should submit himself to the Indian legal system rather than make elliptical references to offers that are suspect in intent and reality. We are determined that the law must take its course against Mr. Michel and his associates in this matter.

Those who cannot see Prime Minister succeed even hint at him cutting a deal. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Prime Minister Modi did not cut any deal of any sort. His only goal and priority is the development of comprehensive national power, and empowerment of our masses.

A few have even sought to link one of the accused with Shri Ajit Doval, present NSA, as also Shri Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. This is a totally baseless assertion, devoid of reason and logic, and indicative of malicious intent. In reality, there is no such connection.

Individuals in some quarters have even gone to the extent of ascribing intent to the technicalities of the CAG audit of the state governments of Rajasthan and Chattisgarh. They ask as to whey did Modi government not take any action against Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Dr. Raman Singh despite an indictment of Chhattisgarh government by CAG in purchase of Agusta Westland Helicopter, which led to loss to public exchequer (according to CAG) of Rs.65 lakh?

But, the government has been proactive in seeking response from the State governments also. As per the State Government of Chattisgarh, the Public Accounts Committe of the Chattisgarh Vidhan Sabha took cognizance of the CAG report regarding the acquisition that was done in 2007, and took the evidence of State Government officials. After analyzing the evidence of officials and the report of the State Government, the PAC closed the matter.

Similarly, as per the State Government of Rajasthan, the alleged loss to public exchequer according to CAG was not on account of any irregularity in the procurement process, but due to the expenditure incurred on account of lack of planning and basic infrastructure prior to procurement, such as pilot training and maintenance. In this case too, the acquisition was done in 2005.

The Government appeals to the countrymen to recognize the nature and depth of corruption in Agusta Westland case. The investigative agencies will stay their course in unveiling the corrupt and holding them accountable to our public.”

Payback for Masood Azhar: China left chafed as India issues visa to Uyghur ‘terrorist’

India has upped the ante with China by issuing visas to World Uyghur Congress leader Dolkun Isa and three others, and by allowing them to visit India for a conference in Dharamshala — home to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and the capital of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The Conference is slated for the end of the month.

Smarting under China’s refusal to sanction Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist, who New Delhi blames for the Pathankot terror strike, India has hit back. Though the plan to allow the conference to be held with the Chinese dissidents was taken months before China’s refusal in the UN, this could be Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s muscular foreign policy in action.

Although much has been made of the new aggressive foreign policy of the NDA government, the Prime Minister’s record in external relations so far has been good. He has shown no aggression, and has carried on the UPA policy, albeit with much more vigour and determination.

Is this about to change? Many of his supporters, as well as the larger Sangh parivar, will be delighted. They want India to act as a strong power, notwithstanding the fact that New Delhi lacks both China’s economic clout and its defense capabilities.

Many in the Indian establishment have welcomed the government’s move.

“China has for a long time got away scot-free – whether it is claiming Arunachal as its own, or the Masood Azhar case, where China twice bailed out Pakistan at the UN. If India continues to take all this then it creates the impression that China is strong, while we (India) swallow everything it throws at us,” said Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra.

“I fully support the government’s move. I am particularly happy that it has taken place just after the NSA border talks,” Chandra said.

He believes that India should not be seen as docile towards China.

“Also the situation in Asia at the moment is such that China cannot afford to be adventurist with India,” said Chandra, who was also India’s ambassador in Washington. He said that apart from being a political appointee, he did not always go by the rules of the IFS, and would often meet the Dalai Lama publicly during his visits to the US.

Chandra supports the government’s stand on Masood Azhar. The fact that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj raised the issue with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval also spoke of India’s unhappiness to his counterpart Yang Jiechi, substantiates the government’s stand on the issue.

NSA Ajit Doval with his Chinese counterpart Yang Diechi in Beijing on Wednesday. PTINSA Ajit Doval with his Chinese counterpart Yang Diechi in Beijing on Wednesday. PTI

NSA Ajit Doval with his Chinese counterpart Yang Diechi in Beijing. PTI

China has been battling Uyghur Islamic extremism in the Xinjiang province since the 1990s. Dolkun Isa is regarded as a terrorist by China, and there is an Interpol red-corner notice against him. He has been a German citizen since 2006, and has been in the forefront of the movement for democracy, often speaking out against the human rights abuse by Chinese authorities.

He is the chairman of the World Uyghur Congress. The Uyghurs are the largest Turkic ethnic group living in Xinjiang. Isa has denied the Chinese charges that declare him as a terrorist.

Whether Dolkun Isa eventually comes to India for the conference, or if he sends his colleauges instead is not the point. Beijing is angry with India’s move to grant them visas, thereby directly oppsoing the Chinese views.

China will see red. For one, the conference calls for restoration of democracy. And, it will be held in Dharamshala. To make things worse, the Dalai Lama, who China regards as enemy number one, will address the meeting.

“China will not take this lightly. More so because the Dalai Lama is involved and the conference is taking place in Dharamshala,” said Alka Acharya, director at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi.

“This will unnecessarily sour relations at a time when India and China need to build some momentum. Ties between India and China are progressing in fits and starts,” Acharya said.

President Pranab Mukherjee is slated to visit China at the end of May. Hopefully, by then the two sides will get over this latest blip. The initial euphoria of improved ties between the two Asian giants, following President Xi Jinping’s visit to India and Prime Minister Modi’s subsequent return trip to China, will fade quickly and the relations will continue to be lukewarm at best.

The brief border war between India and China – when the PLA troops rolled into Arunachal as an ill prepared Indian army beat a hasty retreat, left a psychological blow on India. Suspicion of China is pervasive in the Indian establishment.

China too regards India’s decision to host the Dalai Lama as a provocation. Beijing is also wary of India’s warming relations with the US, and the Washington’s efforts to draw New Delhi into a future defense architecture of the Asian Pacific region.

The good news is that despite the irritants, both countries are pragmatic enough to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand. As officials on both sides keep pointing out that the border between the two countries continues to be peaceful, not a shot has been fired here.

Maha Shivratri terror threat: States across India on high alert after IB input about ten LeT militants

Following intelligence inputs that suggested major cities in the country may be on the terrorists’ radar on the occasion of Maha Shivratri on Monday, Indian authorities have sprung into action, stepping up security around sensitive areas, crowded marketplaces and iconic landmarks. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had sent an alert saying 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba militants had entered the country through Gujarat and were planning a strike on the occasion of Maha Shivratri.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

On Monday morning, Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high level meeting with the chiefs of IB and RAW and also National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Following the meeting, massive security arrangements were underway at several key places in Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, etc. The National Security Guard (NSG) has sent a 120-member team to Gujarat, and has asked more teams to stay on standby at other locations.

According to a report in The Hindu, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Naseer Khan Janjua informed his Indian counterpart about the militants having sneaked past the border, following which Doval sent a note to the IB warning them of a possible attack, particularly at “some coastal pilgrimage centres in Saurashtra or Kutch”. “We have received four teams of NSGs. They have been deployed in Ahmedabad and Somnath temple. Along with the state police, NSG personnel are on standby mode,” said Gujarat DGP PC Thakur to the newspaper, adding that leave of all police officials and personnel have been cancelled.

The Somnath temple on the Saurashtra coast had turned into a fortress by Monday, with NSG commandos and state police officials deploying personnel there. Shivratri events, which were to be held at the temple, have also been cancelled following the intelligence inputs. “The NSG team has positioned itself at the temple. We have accepted the suggestion of the police and called off the cultural programmes that were to be held on Sunday and Monday. But the number of tourists has not been affected,” Pravin Laheri, secretary of the Shree Somnath Temple Trust, which manages the temple told the Indian Express.

In Porbandar, the deputy director of fisheries issued a circular asking personnel to keep a close watch on fishermen who had returned from Pakistani jails. IG (border wing) AK Jadeja told the paper that a core group of 22 agencies, including police, BSF and IB were working in coordination. “We are maintaining records of people who have come from Pakistan on long-term or short-term visas. The water wing of BSF has intensified patrolling. Police are watching the coastline and border villages like Lodrani, Lakhpat, Nirona etc,” Jadeja said.

Confirming the security arrangements in place, Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel said, “With the kind of arrangement made by the state government, and help offered by the Centre, I do not think any untoward incident will take place. I pray there will be no incident in the state or anywhere else in the country.”

Other states too have intensified security presence. Maharashtra declared an official alert. A top police official of the state police said all unit chiefs have been asked to ensure maximum protection of persons and offices. A terror alert was also issued in Uttar Pradesh and state capital Lucknow, according to Times Now. Heavy security was also at force at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. The police were also keeping a close eye on the ‘Kanwarias’ (devotees who walk barefoot carrying the holy Ganges water as an offering to the Shivlingas) as there was apprehension that they may be targeted by terrorists.

At the NSC Bose International Airport in Kolkata, security was tightened following an e-mail threat warning of a bomb blast in the next 24 hours. Airport officials told PTI that the e-mail came to the airport manager’s ID and appeared to originate from Germany.

In Punjab, Shivratri celebrations at the Jatpat Bani Shivala temple near Pathankot were muted following the security threat. The temple, surrounded by 35 acres of forest area, was teeming with security presence. The paper also mentioned that police forces at Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have all suggested that a group of terrorists may have reached the Jammu region a few days ago and might be hiding out at the Sidhra area.

The Coast Guard, too, has enhanced its surveillance of the Western coast of the country, specifically along the seas off Gujarat. “We have enhanced our air and sea surveillance following the security threat. Our surveillance is always 24/7, but since the input has come directly from the NSA, we are being extra cautious,” said a senior Coast Guard official, mentioning that they have not only pressed more ships into the sea for surveillance but also increased sorties made by their planes.

(With agency inputs)

Terror alert in Gujarat: NSG teams deployed, raids conducted in Kutch

Ahmedabad: Gujarat has been put on high alert following intelligence inputs that terrorists have sneaked
into the state, with raids being conducted at Kutch and other places, security beefed up at vital installations and sensitive areas and NSG teams on standby.

File image of BSF personnel. Reuters

File image of BSF personnel. Reuters

The leave of all police personnel, including officers, has been cancelled and the state government has increased security at all the main temples of the state for ‘Maha Shivaratri’ festival tomorrow.

A massive security operation has been launched and raids were conducted by a police team, led by South Kutch Superintendent of Police Makrand Chauhan, early this morning in Varnora village of Bhuj taluka in Kutch district bordering Pakistan, police sources said.

The Kutch police also raided Noorani Mahel hotel and Muslim Jamat Khana in Bhuj, they said.

“The state government received information from the central government yesterday that terrorists have entered Gujarat. We held a meeting where it was discussed that all measures will be taken to ensure no untoward incident takes place,” Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajni Patel said.

With ‘Maha Shivaratri’ festival tomorrow, the state government has also increased security at all the main temples. “Especially during Maha Shivratri, lakhs of pilgrims visit temples in Junagadh, Somnath and other temples. So we have issued high alert for security of these temples too,” Patel said.

Two National Security Guard (NSG) teams comprising nearly 200 personnel have been sent from Delhi to Gujarat to meet any eventuality, official sources said. Policemen were seen patrolling the highways since early morning. Security of all the Air Force and Army bases has also been ramped up.

“The Centre has offered all help and NSG task-force has arrived here which is currently being briefed about the various (vital and sensitive) locations,” he said.

“We have alerted coastal as well as border police near Kutch to take all necessary steps to beef-up security. In Kutch, we have asked the local police to remain in co-ordination with Border Security Force (BSF),” he said.

“Till now, we have not found any suspicious person. However, whatever information is received by us is serious and we are taking all necessary steps about it,” Patel said.

State Director General of Police P C Thakur, who issued orders late last night cancelling leave of all policemen, said they were prepared to deal with any situation.

“We are on high alert and prepared to deal with any situation. We have started combing operations across various locations. We have also sensitised places that see high rate of footfall,” Thakur said.

“We are taking all precautions. Security across coastal areas and other vital installations has been increased. If required, NSG team will be deployed as per their protocol,” he said. On reports claiming that Pakistan alerted Indian authorities about the possible infiltration of terrorists in Gujarat, state Director General of Police (IB & CID) Pramod Kumar said the state Intelligence Bureau received information from the Central IB.

“We don’t know anything about Pakistan’s role in providing this information. We received this information from Central IB. I don’t know anything more than that,” said Kumar.

Tight vigil is being kept at railway stations and airports.

A Pakistani fishing boat was seized on Friday by a BSF patrol party after its occupants fled upon seeing the border security personnel in the Koteshwar creek area off the Kutch coast along the Indo-Pakistan border.

BSF officials had said that nothing suspicious was found in the boat.