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Government always has final say in Army Chief’s selection, says Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Satyvrat Chaturvedi appeared to go against his party’s line on Monday, when he said that the final decision in the selection of the army chief lies in the hands of the government of the day.”Seniority is an important consideration, but it is not the only consideration. Qualification is also an important factor. So, the government must have taken the decision considering all factors. I feel that the present man appointed is a general and he a past record. All these things must have been thought about,” Senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi told ANI.Chaturvedi insisted that politics and defence should be kept apart in the national interest.
ALSO READ Rawat appointment row: Never played politics with Army like BJP, won’t ever do it, says Congress”In terms of the appointment of the army chief, controversy cannot be welcomed. The decision of what is supreme for national interest is taken by the ruling government. Army and politics should be like two poles apart. I don’t find it right to play politics over national security, he said.”I am in favour of keeping this issue away from any controversy. I don’t want to comment on it,”he added.
ALSO READ Army chief appointment: Govt cites Rawat’s track record to blunt opposition’s attack The Centre has attracted criticism from the opposition parties for choosing Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the next army chief, for superseding two senior officers ? Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi, the senior most army commander, who heads the Eastern Command, and Lt. Gen. P.M. Hariz, the chief of the Southern Command.However, the government on Sunday clarified that the appointment of Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) is based purely on merit from a panel of officers in the rank of army commanders, irrespective of the corps to which the officer originally belonged.

Leopard trapped in wire fence at LoC rescued

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A six-year old leopard was trapped in a multi-layer razor wire fence on Line of Control (LoC), while trying to cross over. The Army sprung in to action and sent an SOS to the wild life authorities to save the animal in distress.The male leopard had injured his leg when it tried to cross the LoC fence in the Poonch sector a few days ago. The fence is an effective anti-infiltration obstacle system established by the Army to prevent the ingress of militants into Indian side from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). It was not immediately known whether the leopard was trying to infiltrate or exfilitrate into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir”We got a call from the Army that leopard has been trapped in the fence. We immediately rushed a rescue team to the area. They found leopard trapped in the fence. Its leg had got stuck in between the wires and the animal was trying hard to pull it out. In that process the animal suffered injuries,” Nain Chand Sharma, Wild Life Warden, Rajouri-Poonch range, told DNA.Wild life rescuers pulled out the animal from the fence in a meticulously planned operation. A veterinarian was immediately summoned who administered first aid to the animal before it was shifted to the Jammu zoo for specialised treatment.”Our veterinary doctor at zoo examined the animal and administered injection. After check up, he declared animal fit for releasing in the wild. We later took animal back and released it in its natural habitat near Mughal Road,” said Sharma.What added an interesting feature to the whole saga was that the concern shown by the Army troops who dutifully informed the wild life authorities to rescue the animal in distress.”They did not fire at the animal. Had they fired the animal would have died. In the morning troops when troops saw the animal trapped in the fence they immediately called us up,” said Sharma.Wildlife authorities said the population of leopards have increased manifold in the upper reaches of Poonch where the LoC is located. However the authorities have not been able to conduct any census since the area is highly sensitive.”It happens in this area quite often that wild animals like leopards try to cross the fence. It is not an untold story. It is a forested area. There is no fence at the zero line. At some places fence is half a kilometer ahead of the zero line in our area,” said Mohommad Harun Malik, deputy commissioner of Poonch.

Rawat appointment row: Never played politics with Army like BJP, won’t ever do it, says Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Party on Monday said they have fullest confidence in the Indian armed forces and maintained that it has never played politics with the institution and will never do so unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”Look, things are very simple; the Congress party knows what is to be done and what is not to be done. The Congress has full confidence in the Indian soldiers, the army and army brass. We never did any politics with the army and we will never do this,” Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya told ANI.”The Congress has the fullest confidence in our army; we know what is to be done and what is not to be done. I don’t want any advice from the BJP. Our love for the Indian Army is much more genuine than that of the BJP,” Bhattacharya added.
ALSO READ Army chief appointment: Govt cites Rawat’s track record to blunt opposition’s attack Bhattacharya’s reaction came after the BJP yesterday condemned the Congress Party for its criticism of the Centre over the appointment of new Army Chief Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat, saying there should be no politics on defence forces.The BJP said Lt. Gen. Rawat has been elevated to the top post considering the current security scenario.
ALSO READ Cong questions new army chief’s appointment, MoD sources say Rawat best suited to deal with terror threatsTerming Lt. Gen. Rawat’s appointment as ‘unprecedented’, Congress leader Manish Tewari said the party does not doubt the new army chief’s abilities, but seeks to know as to why senior people were superseded and the fourth in line has been named as the new army chief.The CPI too criticised Lt. Gen. Rawat’s appointment by superseding two officers. CPI national secretary D. Raja alleged that every appointment by the government has become controversial, be it in the judiciary, the CBI or the army.Describing the controversy as ‘unfortunate’, he said it is not in the interest of democracy and the country.

Army chief appointment: Govt cites Rawat’s track record to blunt opposition’s attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Facing attack from opposition parties, Government on Sunday justified the appointment of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as army chief superseding two commanders, insisting that his operational experience and “general dynamism” tipped the scales in the officer’s favour.The Defence Ministry sources also asserted that selection of Army chief is the sole prerogative of the government and it is based purely on merit, irrespective of the Corps to which the officer originally belonged. The “outstanding” track record of Lt Gen Rawat, an Infantry officer, as Commanding Officer of 19 Division in J&K and his familiarity with the functioning of the Army Headquarters and MoD were cited by the Ministry as the reasons for his selection for the top position. The Ministry sources said all officers in the panel of officers in the rank of army commanders are competent and the most suitable is selected”However, it must be emphasised that the prerogative of selecting the most eligible from the panel is that of the government,” sources said.The government of the day takes the final decision choosing the most suitable officer based on various aspects of the security situation in the country and the future scenario, they said, adding in the current environment, counter terrorism and counter insurgency are key issues.”Therefore the background and operational experience of the officers on the panel were considered in depth while selecting the next COAS. “Lt Gen Bipin Rawat fulfills this criteria by virtue of his operational assignments as Commanding Officer of 19 Division in J&K and his outstanding track record, his familiarity with the functioning of the Army HQ & MoD in his capacity as Vice Chief and his general dynamism has also played a role in tipping the scales in his favour,” the sources said.A political slugfest today broke out over the new army chief’s appointment with Congress and the Left asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spell out the “compelling reasons” for superseding the senior officers even as BJP hit back saying they should not politicise an issue related to defence forces. The Ministry maintained “that the selection is based purely on merit, irrespective of the Corps to which the officer originally belonged”.While Lt Gen Rawat is from the Infantry, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the senior most army commander who was superseded, is from the Armoured Corps.

Bipin Rawat as next Army Chief: Superseding three army commanders sets an ugly precedent

Superseding three active General Officer(s) Commanding-in-Chief of three ‘armies’ has never occurred since 1947, so let’s stop talking about precedents. That is complete nonsense. Why are we so nice about the mishandled manner in which the new army chief (Bipin Rawat) was announced with 14 days to go instead of the customary 90 days? The only one precedent was the clumsy bypassing of Lt Gen Mani Sinha in place of Lt Gen Vaidya and General Sinha did what Generals do — he put in his resignation. As a protest. Hardly a high-water mark in the annals of military history, the way he was set aside.

Which is exactly what Lt Gen PM Hariz, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Lt Gen BS Negi will do — either retire or simply put in their papers.

Bipin_Rawat_380_GettyBipin_Rawat_380_GettyConsequently, we will have three top commands in Southern, Eastern and Central armies without leadership around the same time since none of these officers will serve a junior at this high level.

In army lexicon they have been bypassed, period. They will go home. Has anybody figured out that between these three Generals — who have not been made chief — commanded 70 percent of the active forces in the Indian Army? If they were so average, why were they in charge?

Yes, the government has the right to do exactly what it wishes in the selection, even if others find fault with it. In the ranks of this government is a former chief who fought hard to stay in the job by making an issue of his age thereby setting the most shabby precedent in the Indian armed forces.

The fact that the new chief is in South Block and his three seniors are in active command indicates a definite flaw. The vice chief like the Vice President is a goodbye gift. No one knows what he does. The job is largely a sinecure. So how exactly did he stand out?

To supersede three Generals commanding your armies is either an act of arrogance or such incredible military insight that even the famous strategist Sun Tzu would have been impressed. How do you, and why do you bypass three Generals in active command of your armies?

Not only does this cause dismay, it jump-starts the domino principle with at least 50 potential three-star Generals and two-star aspirants reworking their career paths thanks to this announcement. We suddenly have three degrees of separation and several three-star officers looking at retirement will now look at the possible fourth star and realign their priorities.

You cannot really believe for a moment that between bureaucrats and politicians, they have a clue as to how effective or of what calibre these three sidelined officers are. You have to be naïve to think they know who suited them most or was of the highest calibre. To put it bluntly, as a fellow Gurkha officer incumbent General Suhag probably advocated his brother officer’s cause — the fact that General Rawat was in Delhi gave him access or at least presence in the capital while attending meetings in these troubled times also helped. He was relatively familiar.

Unlike his three seniors who are commanding active armies. Compare their career records — all first rate.

All this said, the government exercised a right. Will it change the dynamics of the Indian army? For sure. The government has found a trump card to keep its top echelons pliable, pliant and obedient and, oh yes, politically non-ambitious. Today, the fourth, tomorrow who knows? (Maybe the ninth).

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 20:31 IST

Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir: Militant killed in encounter with security forces

Srinagar: A militant was killed on Wednesday in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag district while another ultra was trapped in a cordon in Sopore area of north Kashmir, police said here.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Militants opened fire on a patrol party of army at Beewra in Srigufwara area of Anantnag district this morning, a police official said.

He said the army personnel retaliated, triggering a gunbattle.

One militant, identified as Basit Ahmad Dar, was killed in the encounter.

Dar had recently joined Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit.

In another counter-insurgency operation, a militant –believed to be a foreigner — was trapped in a house in Bomai area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, the official said.

He said further details of the incident were awaited.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 12:35 IST

Mamata politicising everything in wake of demonetization: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Saturday that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to politicise everything in the wake of demonetization after indulging in a war of words with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. BJP leader S Prakash snubbed Banerjee, saying that she is behaving like ruler of some union and not of a state of some democratic country. “She is seriously under the impression that she is heading a union of West Bengal, which is part and parcel of India and abides by its Constitution. The army serves every state impartially. She is just trying to politicise everything in the wake of demonetization,” Prakash told ANI.The political row over the recent army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again on Friday as Parrikar wrote a letter to Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the armed forces. Banerjee hit back over his “wild assertion”. She maintained that the Ministry of Defence had not taken prior permission of the state government for the large deployment of army personnel in civilian areas.On December 1, as part of exercises across Bengal and several northeast states, the army had deployed unarmed soldiers at check points and toll plazas to note the movement of vehicles which could be diverted in case of a major disaster, military operation or war.Seeing soldiers at a toll plaza just 500 metres away from her new secretariat in Kolkata, left Mamata infuriated and she refused to leave her office until the army moved its troops out. She left her office 30 hours later.The West Bengal government said the army was denied permission to hold the exercises. The army, however, produced correspondence with the state’s police and civil administration, and also asserted that the exercises are held annually.

Mamata vs Army: ‘Deeply hurt’ Parrikar writes to Bengal CM, Banerjee hits back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The political row over the recent Army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again today with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dashing off a stinging letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the force and the TMC chief hitting back over his “wild assertion”.In the two-page letter, Parrikar told her that he was “deeply pained” over the allegations regarding the deployment of the army personnel and that the same was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life. Parrikar said that while political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making “wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.”Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” the Minister said.Banerjee, who is a strident opponent of the Centre’s demonetization move, had accused it of deploying the army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”. The Trinamool Congress stayed put in her office in Kolkata overnight in protest against the deployment and had asked whether it was an “army coup”.Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter dated December 8, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years. He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.”I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the Army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said. Hitting back, Banerjee said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis Army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces.”Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply. The chief minister also maintained that the Ministry of Defence has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of Army personnel in civilian areas.Parrikar said the army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the state agencies concerned including rescheduling of the data collection operations on their response. TMC MP Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue. “Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”

Manohar Parrikar’s letter to Mamata rubbish: TMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to a letter written by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regarding the his expression of pain about painting the army in poor light recently, Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy urged the Centre not to politicise the issue.”We have all the respect for the Indian Army as they are safeguarding the territory and integrity of our country. It is better on the part of government not to politicise the army in political interest. “We have also submitted the details as to how, without the concurrence of the state government, the army was deployed on December 1. What the defence minister has stated is rubbish,” he said.Member of Parliament Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue.”Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”Promising a befitting reply from his party, O’ Brien said, “When the letter does reach Bengal, we will give him a befitting reply. Mamata Di will give a strong reply to the defence minister, because, we have a strong case.”Parrikar, in a letter written to Mamata Banerjee expressed his pain over dragging the army into politics and doubting its intentions.Parrikar said had Mamata enquired about it with the state agencies, she would have come to know about the communication that took place between the army and the concerned authorities regarding the exercise carried out by them. “I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the concerned agencies of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and the state agencies, including the joint inspection of the sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said.Hinting at the impact it would have on the morale of the armed forces, Parrikar said that such a thing was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life.He further said that political parties may take digs at each other, but one needs to be careful while referring to armed forces.On December 1, when the army was deployed at two toll plazas in West Bengal for carrying out a routine exercise, Mamata alleged that the deployment was made without any prior information to the state government.The army, however, in a series of letters, clarified that it was only a routine exercise and that it was in continuous communication with the Kolkata Police.

Manohar Parrikar writes to Mamata Banerjee, says her coup allegations ‘adversely impacting’ armed forces’ morale

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has written a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, expressing pain over dragging of the army into controversy. In his letter, Parrikar said political parties and the politicians may have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegation against each other but one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.”Your allegation, in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” he said.He further asserted that the army authorities were forces to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the concerned state agencies including rescheduling of the date collection, operation on their request.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s letter to CM Mamata Banerjee:”I have been deeply pained by her allegation as reported in the media, if only you had enquired with the concerned agencies of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” he added.He further said that such exercise is being carried out by all formation of the army throughout the country for many years as par the dates convenient to them in consultation with concerned agencies of the state governments. Banerjee had earlier demanded “withdrawal of the army” from the state, alleging it has been done by keeping her government “in the dark”.Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said, “Letter has not reached the CM and it’s already leaked to media. We will give a befitting reply when it comes.”On December 2, presence of army personnel at toll plazas in West Bengal triggered a row with Banerjee remaining at the state secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an “army coup”, drawing a stinging condemnation from the Centre which said the remark showed her “political frustration”.Accusing the central government of “deploying the army” along a highway toll plaza at the second Hooghly Bridge, about 500 metres from the secretariat ‘Nabanna’ in neighbouring Howrah district, Banerjee had said she would not leave the secretariat till the army was withdrawn from there. With inputs from ANI.

Manohar Parrikar says he is ‘not a coward’, but insists India is all for peace

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said India is all for peace, adding that peace can be ensured only by a strong country. He also said that he had never used the Army for political gains.

File image of Manohar Parrikar. PTIFile image of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Speaking at the ‘Agenda Aaj Tak 2016’ conclave, the minister said bilateral relations with China are improving, and that ceasefire violations along the border areas have come down.

“Peace is the best thing; war is not the preferred option. We are for peace,” Parrikar said, adding that India had never initiated a war in the past.

On China, he said, “Our relations with China are improving. Those who compromise due to fear of war are called cowards. I don’t intend to call myself a coward. Peace is established by a strong country. You should be able to decide when to use power,” he said. “In order to have peace, you will have to increase your power and show it sometimes.”

Commenting on the situation along the India-Pakistan border, Parrikar said, “There is peace right now. At this moment, cross-border firing is not that much.”

He said he had never tried to use the Indian Army for political benefits. “We are not politicising the army. West Bengal chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) did it. I felt it was wrong, so I spoke in Parliament,” Parrikar said. “Let the army do its work; they are not part of politics.”

Claiming that the concept of surgical strike had become a brand, Parrikar said the success of the September strikes had made others jealous. “I never used the army on a political platform. All I have said is that we took a decision. You can call it good or bad. Surgical strike took place, the status quo of not crossing the LoC (Line of Control) was rejected. Only the forces can cross the border, not political leadership. But this decision, whether good or bad, the marks should be given to political leadership,” Parrikar said.

“Had something gone wrong, I don’t think anyone would have said anything but that it was an ill-managed operation, political leadership was not prepared, there was a shortage of bulletproof helmets or jackets,” he said.

“There are many fathers of success and few of failure. There was success, so everyone was jealous that the government would get credit,” the minister said.

Parrikar said during the surgical strikes — across the LoC in September, and one earlier along the Myanmar border — he could not sleep all night. “I didn’t sleep the whole night when the eastern operation was underway. The pressure of decision-making was definitely on me,” he said.

The minister said the government “introduced unpredictability on the Kashmir border for the first time”.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 22:12 IST

Nagrota: Militants gained entry from forest behind Army camp

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The militants who attacked the Army camp at Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir, had entered the premises from the forest area in its rear, official sources said today.The sources claimed that the militants used the forest area located behind the Army camp to gain entry.The area has barbed wire and a small wall, they said.Two Indian Army officers and five jawans were killed in an eight-hour long gun battle at the military camp near the Army’s 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota on November 29. Three militants were also neutralised in the attack.The Army unit is located just three kms from the Corps Headquarters at Nagrota.A statement by the Army soon after the attack had said that the terrorists forced their way into the Officers Mess complex by throwing grenades and firing at the sentries.However, Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said here on the sidelines of an event that the incident was under investigation and a final report will clarify everything.

Not in national interest to drag Army into politics: BJP on Mamata Banerjee’s coup allegation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking exception to the Trinamool Congress’ “coup” allegation after the Army’s presence at toll plazas in West Bengal, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said it is not in national interest to drag the armed force into controversies.”What is coup? And then, dragging the Army into controversy; it is not in the national interest. It is totally condemnable who ever has done it. Not only Trinamool, unfortunately Congress and others also, without knowing the full truth, they try to make it a big issue and what happened at the end? It has boomeranged on them.”So, let’s not drag Indian Army, which is the pride of our nation, into these controversies,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event here. The presence of the Army in West Bengal to which the Trinamool has taken exception was a routine drill and there was nothing new in it, he said. “It is a routine drill which is to happen every year. This year also it happened in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Assam. It happened in Bengal last year. It happened this year also. There is nothing new. There is nothing like deploying Army, coup, nothing like that. They are doing a false campaign,” he said.Presence of army personnel at toll plazas in West Bengal had kicked up a storm with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remaining at the State Secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an “army coup”.A false campaign was on over different issues as well, including that there was shortage of salt, that gold would be seized and that emergency would be imposed with Army being brought in, Naidu alleged.”Do not indulge such false campaign…about demonetization also,” he said. Acknowledging that people faced inconvenience following demonetization, the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister said initial difficulties would be there when there is a transition. “In any transition, in every transformation, there will be some initial difficulties. That is why we said temporary pain for long-term gain. That is why the Prime Minister said, ‘give me 50 days’,” he said. The idea of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to transform the entire economic system and check problems like terrorism, hawala transactions and other such offences, he said.”He (Modi) wants to transform the entire economic, financial system in the country. He wants to weed out black money, he wants to tackle terrorists, separatists and also people who are funding, aiding terrorism and also takecare of the hawala operators and people who are hoarding money. That is the idea of the Prime Minister,” he said.The citizens are applauding the Prime Minister’s move despite the difficulties they faced as they have become aware of the government’s intentions, Naidu said.

Didi v/s Army: Mamata dubs Bengal governor ‘voice of Centre’ for criticism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi on Saturday virtually disapproved of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s remarks on the deployment of army at toll plazas, saying one should be careful while making allegations against a responsible organisation like the army.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dubbed Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi’s statement that one should be careful while making any allegation against the Army as ‘unfortunate’ and said he was speaking in the “voice of Central Government”. “The Governor is speaking in the voice of Central Government! He was not in the city for about 8 days,” she said in a statement. “Before making statements, all details should have been checked. It is very unfortunate”, she said.”Every person should be careful while making allegations against a responsible organisation like army,” Tripathi earlier told reporters. Trinamool Congress legislators and ministers had yesterday staged a protest outside the Raj Bhavan here, demanding immediate withdrawal of army from toll plazas but could not meet the Governor as he was away. TMC leaders are scheduled to meet Tripathi today. The presence of army personnel at toll plazas had triggered a row with Banerjee questioning if it was an “army coup”, drawing a stinging condemnation from the Centre which said the remark showed her “political frustration”.Banerjee had claimed that the army personnel were taking money from the vehicles which they are not supposed to do. The army had rebutted her allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police.

Army withdrawn from Bengal toll plazas as 72-hour exercise comes to end

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the 72-hour routine lead carrier information exercise of the army came to an end, it has withdrawn from the Palhit toll plaza and other areas.CPRO defence SS Birdi said, “As 72-hour exercise got over, we withdrew deployment from Palhit toll plaza and other areas yesterday night.”When the army deployed its team at two plazas in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the deployment was made without any prior information to state government. She also termed the day as ‘black day’, pointing out that such a deployment takes place only normally during disasters.The army, however, clarified on the issue by releasing a series of letter stating that it was very well in contact with the Kolkata Police and that it was nothing but a routine exercise which takes place every 3-4 years.”This is an exercise carried out for operational purposes, which will terminate to its logical and tonight. They are only collecting data of heavy vehicles, which is an annual exercise being carried out every year. Similar exercises are also being carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar from September 26 to October 1 this year,” said Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), (Headquarters), Bengal Area, Major General Sunil Yadav.Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress MLAs staged protest outside Raj Bhavan in Bengal, demanding withdrawal of the army deployed at toll plazas.BJP lashed out at Mamata Banerjee for dragging in the army into politics and sought an apology from her and her party. BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said, ?It?s very unfortunate, the kind of politics Mamata Banerjee has been doing after demonetization. BJP is of the opinion that the issue of army deployment in Bengal has been politicised.”

Didi vs Army: Mamata threatens legal action, BJP says TMC supremo ‘hallucinating’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Finally leaving the secretariat office after 36 hours, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came out guns blazing at the Centre as she threatened to take legal action against the Narendra Modi government if Army deployment is not removed from certain areas across the state. ‘If Government doesn’t withdraw army deployed in the state, we will fight legally,’ she said after emerging from the Secretariat. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief also branded the present regime as a ‘daku government’, further alleging that the Centre is looting the country. ‘Modi government has become ‘Daku government’, just want to say that Modi ji is looting people’s money,’ she added. Meanwhile, responding to Mamata’s ultimatum, Wing Commander S S Birdi of the Eastern Command CPRO said ‘the Army deployment (in West Bengal) won’t be called off as it is a routine exercise and will continue till midnight today.’Mamata has accused the central government of “deploying the army” along a highway toll plaza at the second Hooghly Bridge, about 500 metres from the secretariat ‘Nabanna’ in neighbouring Howrah district.Earlier today, TMC threw an open challenge to the Centre to come forth with the documents proving that the West Bengal Government gave the green signal for the deployment of Army troops in certain areas in the state.Speaking to ANI, TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien asserted that no such document existed, adding that he would hang his head in shame if the government could prove him otherwise.Nevertheless, the Parliament again witnessed ruckus today as the opposition continued to corner the Centre over the army’s deployment in West Bengal. The Army on its part strongly rebutted Banerjee’s allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police. The Army personnel, however, had left the toll plaza near the secretariat last night. TMC MLAs and ministers also staged a dharna outside Raj Bhavan in Kolkata. Banerjee left the state secretariat in the evening after she spent over 24 hours and fired a fresh salvo at the Modi government.Accusing the Modi government of making a “wrong and concocted” statement in Parliament regarding the deployment of Army, Banerjee said her voice could not be stifled by “hatching conspiracy and showing force”. Banerjee also said the state government will take legal recourse if there is no withdrawal of army personnel from all toll plazas in the state.Speaking to reporters late last night at ‘Nabanna’, the state secretariat in Kolkata, she said, “I will stay at the secretariat to guard our democracy”. “Is this a military coup’” she asked. She said that army personnel were there in different districts like Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North 24 Paragans, Burdwan, Howrah, Hooghly etc. “The army is deployed without informing the state government. This is unprecedented and a very serious matter.” The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament with main opposition Congress too seeking clarification on the army deployment at 19 toll plazas in West Bengal.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday launched a series of scathing attacks on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who objected to army’s presence in the state, saying her ‘unnerved mind has given way to hallucination, which certainly requires medical care.’ BJP says Mamata rattled by demonetization BJP leader Sidharth Nath Singh said that the Chief Minister’s mind has been rattled after the Centre demonetized Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes.While listing out the ‘chronology of Mamata’s rattled mind to hallucinating mind’ after the Chief Minister equated the mock drill by the army to a coup, Singh said.‘First calling it financial emergency and demanding complete roll back. Saying united opposition will march to the President, however few takers in the opposition ranks. Threatening of riots in the country and giving 72 hours deadline to the Prime Minister. Holding Dharnas in UP and Bihar, although poorly attended. Conspiracy of her being eliminated by not allowing aircraft to land on a low fusel. Recent, and the worst, creating panic that there is an attempt of army coup,’ Singh stated in an official press release.Singh further said it was unfortunate that the Indian army had to come up with a proof that they had informed the state administration much ahead of their routine drill.‘This is the lowest of the low for Mamata for which she must apologies to the Indian Army and her MPs to the nation for stalling the Parliament,’ Singh said .In Lok Sabha, Parrikar termed the deployment a “routine exercise not unique to West Bengal” and saying similar operations to collect information on heavy vehicle movement that can be used during national emergencies had last month being conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and JharkhandAlong with West Bengal, similar exercise was carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram, Parrikar said while responding to TMC and Congress MPs.He also stated that originally the exercise was planned for November 28-30 but was shifted to December 1 and 2 at the request of Kolkata Police as those dates were clashing with the protests against demonetisation.”It is shocking that a Chief Minister is saying this. The Army’s deployment was part of routine exercise which has been going on for several years, which has been going on for last 15-20 years. Even last year it was held on November 19 to 21.” “Concerned officials were informed in West Bengal. The original date was fixed for November 28 to 30 but due to Bharat Bandh the local police had advised the army to shift it to December 1 and 2,” he said. “Due to traffic congestion, the exercise is being done with the help of local police.” TMC leaders in both Houses alleged that neither the state government, nor local administration including police were taken into confidence on the exercise or their permission sought.Congress and BSP too wanted to know from the government how such an unprecedented move to carry out an army exercise without taking state government into confidence was done.”It was very unfortunate that army has been dragged into an unnecessary controversy,” Parrikar said. “It was political frustration rather than projection of correct situation.” The Army also released letters written to the West Bengal government on the exercise.”It is happening in nine states now across 80 locations,” GOC Bengal area (officiating) Maj Gen Sunil Yadav said.Reacting to Chief Minister’s allegations on collection of money, he said, “We deny all charges with all contempt.” “Allegations of collection of money by Army personnel are also totally baseless,” he added. Banerjee today said the Home Secretary has written to the Centre asking for the withdrawal of Army and even after that “they are not removed then the state will seek legal assistance”.”There must be constitutional earmark. The Home Secretary has written again (asking for the removal of the Army). But still if they are not removed and kept here forcefully we will seek legal assistance. Law will take its own course,” Banerjee said.”We will continue the people’s fight. Threatening them will not be able to stop them,” Banerjee said.With inputs from PTI and ANI

Mamata vs army: TMC MLAs protest outside Raj Bhavan; raise ‘Modi should go’ slogan

Kolkata: As Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stayed put overnight at the state secretariat over army’s presence at toll plazas in West Bengal, her TMC MLAs and ministers staged a dharna outside the Raj Bhavan protesting the “dictatorial tendencies” of the central government.

More than 150 MLAs and ministers marched to the Raj Bhavan from state assembly to submit to Governor K N Tripathi a memorandum against the “ill motives of the central government” and demanding immediate withdrawal of the army personnel.



They sat outside the Raj Bhavan with placards and posters criticising the Narendra Modi government besides raising slogans like ‘Modi haaye haaye’ and ‘Modi should go’.

The group could not, however, meet Governor K N Tripathi as he is in New Delhi.

Alleging that the Centre is trying to topple the state government as TMC has raised its voice against demonetisation, Bengal Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said, “Today we came here to protest against the dictatorial tendencies of the central government, which is trying to finish off the federal structure in the country. The state government in Bengal has been democratically-elected and that too with a huge mandate.

“The people of this country will give a befitting reply to the dictatorial tendencies. A conspiracy is being hatched to topple a democratically-elected government. People will give the reply whether they want an army coup or federally-elected government,” he said.

TMC, he said, would go to Raj Bhavan again on Saturday to meet the governor and lodge its complaints. “We contacted him (Tripathi) over telephone. He told us that he has read about the incident in newspapers. He has asked us to come tomorrow.”

After a high drama over “deployment of army” at certain toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government, Banerjee stayed put at the state secretariat overnight.

Army on its part strongly rebutted Banerjee’s allegations and said the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police.

Asked to comment on the army’s statement, Chatterjee quipped, “There is difference between informing and getting permission.”

Earlier in the day, Tripathi told PTI when contacted, “I have read about it newspapers. Army has already given a clarification. I have nothing more to say.”

Asked to comment on Banerjee’s allegation of “army coup”, Tripathi said, “It is the chief minister’s view. I have nothing more to say.”

Today was the first day of winter session of the state assembly and Chatterjee had wanted to raise and discuss the issue in the house. However, Speaker Biman Banerjee stopped him, saying that in order to raise and discuss an issue on the floor of the assembly it has to be first discussed in the Business Advisory committee of the house.

Reports from Jalpaiguri said TMC workers held day-long protest outside the army camp at Binnaguri too.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 18:50 IST

TMC dares Centre to show documents proving WB Govt gave permission for Army deployment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Friday threw an open challenge to the Centre to come forth with the documents proving that the West Bengal Government gave the green signal for the deployment of Army troops in certain areas in the state. Speaking to ANI here, TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien asserted that no such document existed, adding that he would hang his head in shame if the government could prove him otherwise.‘It’s on open challenge. Has the state government of West Bengal given permission to the government of India to deploy the Army’ There is no such letter of permission. In fact the MoS Defence has laid on the table of the Rajya Sabha that the Kolkata police refused to give permission. I challenge you to show me a document where the state government has given the permission,’ he said.He further thanked BSP Supremo Mayawati, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and other political leaders who supported the TMC’s stand in the House over the matter. O’Brien further clarified that the only letter received in response is the Additional Police Commissioner of Kolkata on Monday morning. ‘When Mamata Banerjee takes up something, she does because she believes in it. Show us a document where the state government has given permission and I will hang my head in shame,’ he added.Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lashed out at Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for dragging the Indian armed forces into politics‘It’s very unfortunate, the kind of politics Mamata Banerjee has been doing after demonetisation. BJP is of the opinion that the issue of army deployment in Bengal has been politicised. We can understand you want to be the cheerleader of the anti-demonetisation group, you’re welcome to do that. But, you drag the Indian Army to prove your point, shows the lowest of the low that Mamata Banerjee in politics can get to,’ he said.Earlier today, Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar said that Mamata’s allegation that the state’s rights are being impinged upon by the Centre, was a clear sign of her political frustration, and added that it is saddening to see her and other opposition parties questioning the credibility of the Indian Army while it was performing a routine annual military exercise.Addressing the lower house of the Parliament, Parrkiar asserted that the deployment of army is a routine exercise being carried out since many years.‘It is army’s routine exercise being carried out since many years. It also took place on 19th and 21st November last year too. Saddening that a routine exercise has been made a controversy now,’ he said.‘Concerned officials were intimated by Army this year too. Original dates were 28, 29 and 30December but were changed to 1st and 2nd December later,’ he added.However, to prove that it had not made any deployment without informing the West Bengal Police and the state government about the routine exercises it is taking at some toll plazas, including the one off the second Hooghly Bridge near state secretariat Nabanna in Howrah, the Army on Friday released a series of letters. The Army letters show that it was in communication with the West Bengal police on the annual exercise to “gather statistical data about load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.”Notwithstanding Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that army was deployed at two toll plazas on National Highway 2 in West Bengal without informing the state government “which is unprecedented and serious matter”, Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), (Headquarters), Bengal Area, Major General Sunil Yadav said army formations in the Eastern Command at local levels are carrying out routine annual data collection exercises on availability of load carriers at all major entry points in various states in coordination with local police authorities.Hysteria gripped West Bengal Thursday night after chief minister Mamata Banerjee decided not to go home and instead stayed put at the state secretariat Nabanna to protest against the ‘sudden deployment’ of the army in the area. Banerjee camped overnight at her office in the secretariat in Kolkata, objecting to the presence of Army jawans at toll booths, one just 500 metres from where she was.”Is this a military coup’” the Banerjee asked, alleging that the state government had been had not been informed about what the Army said was a routine exercise that it was conducting across eastern states.

Parliament adjourned till December 5 amid uproar over army deployment in West Bengal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both houses of Parliament were adjourned till Monday, as the opposition continued to create a ruckus over the army’s deployment in West Bengal. The opposition raised the slogan “Tana Shahi nahi chalegi” on the floor of the house.Trinamool Congress and other opposition members raised the issue of the state government not being informed about the army’s presence. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Supremo Mayawati had earlier in the day dubbed the military deployment in West Bengal as a deliberate move by the Centre to humiliate Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.Condemning the act, Mayawati said that the ruling dispensation is targeting the West Bengal chief minister as she had raised her voice against the recently launched demonetization drive. “It seems out of the way. Army doesn’t collect toll? There is no law and order issue in West Bengal for Army to be deployed? The centre must clarify it, in fact PM must clarify as to why state’s rights are being impinged on,” Azad saidAfter Opposition allegation, MoS Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre said that the information that this House has is “factually incorrect.” “Army was in Bengal for a routine exercise,” adding that the Opposition raised a ruckus. Meanwhile, to prove that it had not made any deployment without informing the West Bengal Police and the state government about the routine exercises it is taking at some toll plazas, including the one off the second Hooghly Bridge near state secretariat Nabanna in Howrah, the Army released a series of letters. The Army letters show that it was in communication with the West Bengal police on the annual exercise to “gather statistical data about load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.”

Mamata Banerjee links presence of soldiers in state with ‘coup’; army calls allegation ‘misleading’

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued to stay put at the state secretariat today protesting against army presence at toll plazas in several parts of the state and asked whether it was an “army coup”.

Army personnel, however, had left the toll plaza near the secretariat on Thursday night. Speaking to reporters late night on Thursday at ‘Nabanna’, the state secretariat, she said, “I will stay at the secretariat to guard our democracy”. “Is this a military coup,” she asked.

mamatabanerjee pti

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

She said that army personnel were there in different districts like Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North 24 Paragans, Burdwan, Howrah, Hooghly etc. “The army is deployed without informing the state government. This is unprecedented and a very serious matter”, she had said.

The TMC leadership has decided to raise the issue in both the houses of Parliament and also inform President Pranab Mukherjee about the incident.

“We are talking to all political parties. We are planning to raise the issue in Parliament today. Lets see,” TMC national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien told PTI. A senior TMC leader on condition of anonymity said, “We are planning to meet President Pranab Mukherjee and inform him about the incident.

The entire country should know, how BJP is engaged in vindictive politics,”. The senior TMC leader said they have spoken to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and discussed how to counter this issue jointly. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had called up Banerjee in the morning and inquired about the incident.

A defence spokesperson had said that the army conducts bi-annual exercise throughout the country with an aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.

“There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander S S Birdi had said. The Army had said they were conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal Police.

Derek O’Brien, however, said the army claim that the exercises were conducted in coordination with police was “incorrect”. “All respect for army, but must set record straight 1) Data is already available 2. Cannot do vehicle check, not authorized to do so.

Saying exercise by @easterncomd was coordinated with police is absolutely incorrect. Also, troops were moved into districts even after midnight. Bengal CM kept watch from Secretariat overnight. She is still there,” Brien said on twitter.

Major General Sunil Yadav, while briefing the media said that “The deployment was a routine exercise and is being carried out in nine other states as well, the operation will end tonight.” When asked if the army had informed the state officials about the exercise, he asserted that “It was communicated to the state police on phone that this exercise will be conducted.” Also he added that such an exercise was also conducted last year, from 19 to 21 November with a troop of the same size and strength. He categorically denied the allegations put by TMC.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 11:43 IST

Mamata vs army: CM stays at secretariat overnight, TMC to raise issue in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued to stay put at the state secretariat on Friday protesting against army presence at toll plazas in several parts of the state and asked whether it was an “army coup”. Army personnel, however, had left the toll plaza near the secretariat on Thursday night.Speaking to reporters late Thursday night at ‘Nabanna’, the state secretariat, she said, “I will stay at the secretariat to guard our democracy”. “Is this a military coup,” she asked.She said that army personnel were there in different districts like Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North 24 Paragans, Burdwan, Howrah, Hooghly etc. “The army is deployed without informing the state government. This is unprecedented and a very serious matter”, she had said.The TMC leadership has decided to raise the issue in both the houses of Parliament and also inform President Pranab Mukherjee about the incident. “We are talking to all political parties. We are planning to raise the issue in Parliament today. Lets see,” TMC national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien told PTI.A senior TMC leader on condition of anonymity said, “We are planning to meet President Pranab Mukherjee and inform him about the incident. The entire country should know, how BJP is engaged in vindictive politics,”.The senior TMC leader said they have spoken to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and discussed how to counter this issue jointly. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had called up Banerjee in the morning and inquired about the incident.BJP’s Siddharth Nath Singh responded to Mamata’s allegations saying, “Jo paisa unhone (WB CM) gavaaya hai, usse sadma unhe hua hai, uske baad wo apne maansik santulan mein nahin hain (She’s in mental distress about losing money). First WB CM had apprehensions about flight being low on fuel, then she related a regular army exercise to a coup.”A defence spokesperson had said that the army conducts bi-annual exercise throughout the country with an aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency. “There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander SS Birdi had said. The Army had said they were conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal Police.Derek O’Brien, however, said the army claim that the exercises were conducted in coordination with police was “incorrect”. “All respect for army, but must set record straight 1) Data is already available 2. Cannot do vehicle check, not authorized to do so. Saying exercise by @easterncomd was coordinated with police is absolutely incorrect. Also, troops were moved into districts even after midnight. Bengal CM kept watch from Secretariat overnight. She is still there,” Brien said on twitter.

‘This is a military coup’: Mamata protests army deployment in state

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a high drama over “deployment of army” at certain toll plazas in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee decided to stay put at the state secretariat ‘Nabanna’ on Thursday night, even after the force was removed from a toll plaza near it as per her demand. “I am the custodian of common people. So I can’t leave them insecured. I will stay put here for the whole night and observe the situation,” Banerjee told reporters at around 1.30 AM.About her demand that she would leave the office only when Armymen were removed from the second Hooghly bridge toll plaza near Nabanna, she said, “These people may have gone. But they are there in 18 other districts.” TMC will raise the issue in both the houses of the Parliament on Friday.BJP’s Siddharth Nath Singh responded to Mamata’s allegations saying, “Jo paisa unhone (WB CM) gavaaya hai, usse sadma unhe hua hai, uske baad wo apne maansik santulan mein nahin hain (She’s in mental distress about losing money). First WB CM had apprehensions about flight being low on fuel, then she related a regular army exercise to a coup.”Accusing the Centre of deploying the Army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government, Banerjee had refused to leave the office till the Armymen were withdrawn from the toll plaza at second Hooghly bridge. On Friday night, Mamata said, “This is a military coup. My officials checked with Odisha, Bihar, Kerala, Chattisgarh nowhere such a thing happened. This happened only in Bengal.”The army refuted allegations of conducting exercises without the permission, while the West Bengal police said, “In almost all areas of West Bengal army has been deployed without consent of the state government.” The Army said they were conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal police. “Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect,” the Eastern command said on Twitter. “Routine exercise in all NE states. In [email protected] places, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], Tripura & [email protected]″, it said.”The requisite data gathered and Army has been asked to withdraw from specific point, would be deployed elsewhere tomorrow,” Defence CPRO said.The Kolkata police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem. “Army exercise at toll plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said on Twitter. The drama unfolded on Thursday evening when Banerjee alleged that Army deployment was done in toll plazas without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”. She claimed that people got panicky due to deployment of Army at toll plazas.A Defence spokesperson said the Army conducts bi-annual exercise throughout the country with the aim to get statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency. “There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander SS Birdi said. The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.The Chief Minister, however, said “The Secretariat is a sensitive zone and toll plaza is a sensitive place. Why is the Army here? Whatever reason they are giving is not correct. They are lying. They are changing their reasons from time to time. The MHA has the complete data of the vehicles moving in different states.” Banerjee said she has checked with other states but nothing such has happened in Maharashtra, Kerala, Odisha and Chattisgarh. “Why is that happening here? I fear that they can shoot. Either I will live or die but I will speak for the common people,” Banerjee said. “I do not have any problem if the Centre behaves like the central government. But they are repeatedly doing mistakes and now they are doing a blunder. It is an attack on the federal structure. We want to know the details,” she said.

Pakistan’s new army chief promises to ease LoC tension

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday took over as Pakistan’s 16th Chief of Army Staff succeeding Gen Raheel Sharif. Soon after taking over, Gen Bajwa, an expert in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) affairs, promised to improve the tense situation on the Line of Control.Gen Raheel handed over the command of world’s sixth- largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. Some former army chiefs and senior military officials were present at the Change of Command ceremony too. Federal ministers, members of Parliament and foreign diplomats were also in attendance.After taking charge as the Chief of the Army Staff from Raheel, Bajwa spoke to reporters.“The situation at the LoC will improve soon,” he was quoted as saying by Geo News.Bajwa sought support from the media to play a role in the keeping the morale of troops high. He said he had a heavy responsibility on his shoulders.Bajwa took over the command of the army in garrison city of Rawalpindi, where outgoing military chief Raheel handed over the symbolic baton at an impressive ceremony.Gen Bajwa’s appointment coincides with the rising tensions and heavy exchange of fire at the LoC.Analysts believe Bajwa’s announcement that the LoC situation would improve might be a reconciliatory gesture towards India.Bajwa was eariler serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation and also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army’s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).As a major general, Bajwa led the Force Command Northern Areas. He also served in the 10 Corps as lieutenant colonel.He also served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander alongside former Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was also there as a division commander.The new army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and northern areas.

Nagrota terror attack: When the bravery of two Army wives thwarted terrorists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bravery of the wives of two army officers who were staying in the family quarters helped in averting a major hostage crisis during the encounter that took place in Nagrota area of Jammu today.Soon after the heavily armed terrorists disguised in police uniform entered an army unit located within three kms from the headquarters of the 16 Corps, they wanted to enter the family quarters where they could take the families of the soldiers and officers hostage.However, due to the bravery of these two women, who were staying in the family quarters along with their newborns, the plans of the terrorists could not materialise.”The wives of the two army officers, who were on night duty when the encounter broke out, displayed exemplary courage as they blocked the entry of their quarters with all the household items, making it difficult for the terrorists to break into the houses,” an army officer privy to the encounter told PTI.Had the women not shown this alertness, the terrorists would have been able to take them hostage and would have succeeded in causing huge damage to the army and the families, he said.”The terrorists entered two buildings which were occupied by officers, families and men. This led to a hostage-like situation. The situation was very quickly contained and thereafter, in a deliberate operation all were successfully rescued, which included 12 soldiers, two women and two babies,” Defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta said.The two babies rescued are 18 months and two months old, the officer said.However, in the rescue attempt one more officer and two jawans sacrificed their lives, the spokesman said.He said the bodies of three terrorists have been recovered and operations were in progress to sanitise the complete area.”The terrorists forced their entry into the Officers Mess complex by throwing grenades and firing at the sentries. In the initial counter action, one officer and three soldiers of the Army were martyred,” he said.The Army has not called off the operation but suspended it as they want to be fully sure that the area has been completely sanitised.”The operation is going on, we have suspended it for the night, but the area has been placed under tight cordon, the Army does not want to take any risk and we will resume the operations with the first light of the morning,” the spokesman said.

New Pak Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa considers extremism a ‘bigger threat to Pakistan’ than India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has extensive experience of handling affairs in PoK and the northern areas, was today appointed as Pakistan’s new army chief to succeed Gen Raheel Sharif. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of four-star general, officials said. Bajwa will take charge of the world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers in a formal handover on Tuesday, when General Raheel formally retires. Raheel in January had declared he would not seek extension. “I will retire on the due date,” he had said.There was speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead war on terror. The post of Army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan. Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Asif has confirmed that Bajwa was appointed as COAS and Zubair Hayat as Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC).”May God help us in these decisions and new appointments,” he said. Bajwa was serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation and has been elevated to position of four star general and appointed as Chief of Army Staff, the officials said. He has also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army`s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).As a major general, he led the Force Command Northern Areas. He also served in the 10 Corps as lieutenant colonel. Even though Bajwa has been extensively involved with Kashmir and other northern areas, he is said to consider extremism to a bigger threat to Pakistan than India, reported He has also served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander alongside former Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was also there as a division commander.Previously, he also remained the commandant of the Infantry School in Quetta. The new army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with PoK and northern areas, reports said here.His military colleagues say he is not attention-seeking and remains well-connected with his troops. The new army chief is from the infantry`s Baloch Regiment, which has given three officers to the post of army chief Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Ashfaq Perviaz Kayani. Sharif appointed Chief of General Staff Lt Gen ZubairHayat as CJCSC by elevating him to the position of four-star general. He is the senior most serving army officer. Hayat is from the artillery. As a three-star general, he was previously posted as director general of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) and corps commander Bahawalpur. The most obvious man dropped while making the two key appointments by Prime Minister Sharif is Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed who was serving Multan Corps Commander.Another officer left out is Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday. There were two other senior officers overlooked, including Heavy Industrial Complex Taxila Chairman Lt Gen Syed Wajid Hussain and Director General Joint Staff Lt Gen Najibullah Khan.Another Lt Gen Maqsood Ahmed serving as military adviser with the United Nations is already on an extension and WAS not eligible for promotion. It is the record fifth time Sharif appointed an army chief as Prime Minister. If his botched attempt to replace Gen Pervez Musharraf with Ziauddin Butt in 1999 is also counted, this will be the sixth time Sharif appointed head of army.His earlier picks were Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua (1991), Gen Waheed Kakar (1993), Gen Musharraf (1998) and Gen Raheel Sharif (2013). Of the seven army chiefs after Gen Zia, five were handpicked by Sharif.After Gen Musharraf, all four-star generals in the army Gen Tariq Majid, Gen Khalid Shamim Wynne, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Gen Rashad Mehmood and Gen Raheel Sharif were from the infantry.Gen Musharraf was the last four-star general from the artillery.

Pakistan PM Sharif names General Qamar Javed Bajwa as new army chief | Reuters

By Drazen Jorgic and Mehreen Zahra-Malik

ISLAMABAD Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday picked Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa to replace outgoing army chief Raheel Sharif, the popular military leader credited with improving security and driving back Islamist militant groups.The army chief is arguably the most influential person in Pakistan, with the military having ruled the country for about half of its 69-year history since independence from Britain and enjoying extensive powers even under civilian administrations. General Bajwa will likely take charge of the world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers in a formal handover on Tuesday, when General Sharif, who is no relation to Prime Minister Sharif, formally retires.The appointment of Bajwa is expected to help reset fraught relations between the military and the civilian government in a nuclear-armed nation of 190 million people.Lieutenant General Zubair Hayat has been appointed chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee.”On the advice of Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain has approved the promotion of Lieutenant General Zubair Mehmood Hayat and Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa,” the prime minister’s office said.As well as controlling security, the army operates a vast business empire in the country and often dictates key areas of Pakistan’s foreign policy, including relations with historic foe India and its war-torn western neighbour Afghanistan.General Sharif, 60, becomes the first army chief in more than 20 years to step down on time. Several previous military leaders had obtained extensions to their three-year terms. Though security across Pakistan has vastly improved under General Sharif, with number of reported “terrorist” attacks down, Bajwa will face vast challenges at home and abroad.Islamic State (IS) is trying to make inroads into the country and militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban continue to stage large-scale bomb and gun attacks.Since August, 184 people have been killed in three major attacks in the restive Baluchistan region alone.

There are fears that if violence in Baluchistan escalates it could disrupt work on the road, rail and energy projects central to the $54 billion China-funded economic corridor which aims to link Western China to the Arabian Sea at Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar in Baluchistan.Abroad, Pakistan’s relations with the United States, a long-time ally, as well as nuclear-armed rival India, have worsened over the past year.Both countries accuse Pakistan of harbouring Islamist militant groups, with Afghanistan incensed by the presence of Afghan Taliban leaders inside Pakistan. Islamabad denies all such charges.LOW-KEY STYLE
Little is publicly known about Bajwa, who has been heading the army’s Training and Evaluation Wing. It is also not clear how he would approach sensitive issues such as military-civilian relations or his ideological stance towards India.

The military, in a statement, only sent out a brief army history of Bajwa, who was commissioned in 1980 and was partly educated abroad, including staff college training in Canada and naval post-graduate studies in the United States.Bajwa had also served abroad, commanding the Pakistan Contingent in Congo, and had spent time commanding infantry divisions.One cabinet minister told Reuters that Prime Minister Sharif picked Bajwa because of his low-key style, and felt the incoming general would be more willing to cede control of key areas to the civilian government. “He is essentially a very low-profile person and after our last experience (with General Sharif) this is just a very important consideration; someone who doesn’t want the limelight at all,” said the minister, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.”FINEST MILITARY LEADER”

When Prime Minister Sharif chose his namesake as army chief in 2013, it was because the general was the most apolitical figure among the candidates, sources close to the premier said at the time.But once appointed, General Sharif maintained the army’s strong influence within Pakistani politics. Though he did not overtly meddle and rarely made public political statements, he was seen as a key player in behind-the-scene decision making.Analysts say the political tussle is likely to occur again with the new chief, saying that all military leaders have ended up challenging the prime minister’s authority in some way once they began to represent the interests of the army.General Sharif, who hails from a military family, built a huge following among ordinary Pakistanis who saw him as a protector against Islamists, corruption and foreign aggression.His popularity came on the back of the military operation Zarb-i-Azb, which drove back Pakistani Taliban militants from their tribal strongholds and improved security.An army-led crackdown in Karachi also drastically reduced crime in the country’s biggest city.But General Sharif’s popularity, enhanced by the army’s slick media unit, also unnerved members of the ruling PML-N party who were suspicious of efforts to glorify the army chief.After their final official dinner together on Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif praised the departing general.”He proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he is one of the finest military leaders of his generation,” the prime minister said. “Pakistan today is much safer and stronger than in 2013.” (Additional reporting by Asad Hashim; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Alexander Smith and Mike Collett-White)

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First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 20:16 IST

Army vows ‘retribution’ after three Indian soldiers killed, body of one mutilated on LoC

Tue, 22 Nov 2016-04:55pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three Indian soldiers were killed and body of one of them was mutilated by Pakistan troops on the Line of Control in Machhal sector of Kashmir, the army said on Tuesday.This is the second such incident of mutilation of the body of an Indian soldier on the LoC since October 29.”Three soldiers killed in action on LC (Line of Control) in Machhal. Body of one soldier mutilated,” the Army said.It said the “retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act”.

Army eager to teach lesson to enemy, waiting for permission: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army is eager to teach a lesson to our country’s enemy and it is just waiting for permission from the government, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday.”The morale of the Army has gone up. Army wants to teach lesson to our enemy. They are just waiting for permission from the government…We gave them permission two-three times,” Parrikar said during BJP’s campaign meeting in Vasco.Parrikar said, “We want to tell our enemy that if they stare at us, we can stare with bigger eyes.” The minister said the country’s borders are secured and no one could dare attack India.”We are completely committed towards the security of the country. It is not just about tightening the border but we have also given required armaments to the soldiers,” he said.Taking a dig at Congress, Parrikar claimed that after the Bofors scam, the Army did not get a new artillery gun in 30 years until the Narendra Modi government took up the initiative to manufacture “Dhanush” at HAL.”Tejas aircraft, whose design was on the drawing board for last 33 years, is going to become a reality now. The former governments were not interested as the aircraft was supposed to be built by the government and hence they wouldn’t get any commission out of it,” he alleged.Hailing demonetisation of high value currencies, Parrikar said the government has also given importance to “economic security” of the country.”The country by withdrawing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations has taken the challenge to fight against black money,” he added.

Kashmir conflict: New sturdier fence might be the answer to mounting infiltration problems

A fence of ‘an absolutely new design’ is being built along the Line of Control (LoC) at the edge of the Kashmir Valley. Fifty kilometres of this new fence has been built this year. The Army is confident that it will be more effective than the fences that have been built since 2003-04 according to Lt Gen DS Hooda, the Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Command. It has been redesigned to withstand the pressures of weather as well as the wiles of infiltrators and other enemy tactics.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

So far, the fence has been a white elephant with barbs. One, it collapses under the weight of tons of snow every year. Two, it costs the earth to build, rebuild and maintain. Three, it doesn’t seem to have made very much difference to stemming infiltration. Since it came down every winter and was rebuilt every summer, the construction of the fence has been something of a continuing process — a very costly one. That should have been predictable when the idea was conceived. For most parts of the LoC get up to ten metres (30 feet) of snow every winter — more than enough to push those fences into the ground. Since they could only be rebuilt when the snow melted after April, reconstruction generally continued until September every year.

Multi-layered fence

The current fences consist of barbed wire strands and coils. The strands are strung along high iron girders. A few of those strands are electrified. The coils are lower but far more forbidding, since there are barbs all over their bunched strands. At most places along the LoC, the fence is actually a series of two or three fences, placed some distance apart. The calculation is that invaders who get past one fence might get caught or held up at the next one. Even the first fence is well within the Indian side of the LoC. Construction and repair right at the LoC would be fraught with danger, since Pakistani bunkers and machans could open fire at any point. Work on the new fence has gone well this year in both Baramulla and Kupwara districts, despite the army’s preoccupation with external and internal strife. The army brass are confident that the entire length of about 300 kilometres would be covered over the next two summers.

The new fence has stronger supports and includes cement grouting to help hold firm. The engineering challenge is huge, in light of heavy snowfall every winter. The sheer weight of the snow brings down the wire strands and girders. To be sure, even the old fences do look forbidding. But it has become obvious over the past couple of years that their effectiveness is limited. Large numbers of militants are reported to have crossed over during the past couple of years. The army estimates that a hundred militants got through during the first ten months of this year, three times more than the entire year 2015.

First real test

This is the first time the fences have faced a real test since they were built — from 2003-04. The mobilization of troops right along the international borders in Punjab and Rajasthan, by India and then by Pakistan too, throughout 2002 had forced Pakistan to severely curtail infiltration. The two armies had been in eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation following the attack on Parliament House in December 2001. After the armies were pulled back, Prime Minister AB Vajpayee reached out to make peace with Pakistan in April 2003. Pakistan responded at the end of that year and a potentially historic breakthrough was agreed at Saarc’s Islamabad summit in January 2004. As peace talks made tremendous headway over the next couple of years, the militancy which had begun in 1988 petered out around 2006. Already, fighting in those last years had been limited largely to those who had already been in the field by the end of the 1990s; not much infiltration was attempted after the end of 2001.

Ineffective, and too late

When there was massive infiltration, throughout the 1990s, there was no fence. Thousands of Kashmiris crossed both ways in peak months such as April 1990. The proportion of Pakistani and other foreign militants expanded from December 1992 on, until it was more or less a proxy war during the decade from 1996 to 2006, with Kashmiri militants playing largely supportive roles. The current militancy began around 2009, when police atrocities, administrative unresponsiveness, religious radicalization, and a well-orchestrated `narrative’ caused a few Kashmiri boys of the generation born during the earlier round of militancy to go underground.

These generally ‘snatched’ a weapon from a police or paramilitary soldier, but did not cross the LoC for training. For example, the internet-based star, Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, never apparently crossed the LoC. Nor did he or his young Kashmiri comrades do much as militants, compared with those who have infiltrated from Pakistan to join them. Even three years ago, the army brass and New Delhi’s high profile ‘strategic thinkers’ were oblivious to new infiltration. They insisted there was none. Meanwhile, the ineffective fence kept coming down annually, and getting rebuilt; large amounts were happily spent. Now that infiltration has become far too obvious to miss, let’s hope the new design is effective — and thus worth the huge cost and effort.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 17:12 IST

Assam: Encounter between army & suspected ULFA militants, IED blast in Tinsukia; 3 jawans martyred

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three jawans were martyred and several others injured in an ongoing encounter between the army and suspected United Liberated Front of Asom (ULFA) militants in Tinsukia district of Assam on Saturday. The soldiers were killed while another was injured in an IED blast in Assam’s Digboi area, which took place as the soldiers were travelling in an Army vehicle. Another soldier was injured in the IED blast, a Defence spokesperson said. According to ANI, after the incident took place, the army launched a combing operation to nab the terrorists.In a deadly ambush by suspected ULFA militants on army convoy at around 5.30 am, Multan Singh of 15 Kumaon regiment, aged 43, attained martyrdom. The incident took place inside a reserve forest near Digboi in Tinsukia district. According to sources, the injured soldiers were airlifted and admitted to a hospital, where Singh succumbed to his injuries.Meanwhile, the Army has cordoned off the jungle in Tinsukia’s Pengri and the operation launched is still going on.Tinsukia’s Pengri and the operation launched is still going on.ULFA is a separatist outfit operating in Assam banned by the Government of India in 1990, citing it as a terrorist organisation. ULFA seeks to establish sovereign Assam with an armed struggle in the conflict. ULFA seeks to establish sovereign Assam with an armed struggle in the conflict. With inputs from PTI.

One soldier injured in ongoing gunfight against militants in Shopian, Kashmir

One soldier injured in ongoing gunfight against militants in Shopian, Kashmir


Srinagar: An army soldier was injured on Monday in an ongoing gunfight between the security forces and the militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

Police said a gunfight started after midnight between holed up militants and the security forces in Wangam village of Shopian district.

“An army soldier was injured in an encounter between the militants and troops of 62 Rashtriya Rifles and state police in Wangam village of Shopian district.

“The encounter is still on,” the police said in Srinagar on Monday.

Assam BJP point man proposes, Centre disposes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On a day when Himanta Biswa Sarma, Finance Minister of Assam and point person for the BJP-led North-Eastern Democratic Alliance (NEDA) was demanding rolling back of Army from North East in Goa, the Home Ministry in New Delhi on Saturday declared the entire state of Assam and surrounding 20km-wide belt in Meghalaya as a “Disturbed Area” for another six months.The notification issued under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958, provides the Army and security personnel legal immunity from their actions against the citizens.Sarma told DNA that a roadmap for the withdrawal of Army for North Eastern states should be rolled out and that the forces should be relieved from anti-insurgency duties and redeployed at borders.Speaking on the eve of India Idea conclave organised by the India Foundation, Himanta said that because of continuous presence of Army in the North East, it has got mired in many litigations which shouldn’t have been the case in the first place.”The idea is that in the next five years through NEDA, most of the small parties can be aligned with the national thought, so we would not require the Army,” said Himanto. He said that request has been made to increase inductions and modernise police forces so that the Army can be relieved of it internal security duty. He told DNA that time has come that this road map takes shape as soon as possible.Assam was the first state to have AFSPA in 1958 and it was again brought under the Act since November 1990 when the ULFA activities were at its peak. It is also been in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990 as also in other North Eastern states. Giving reasons for extending it to Assam and surrounding areas of Meghalaya, the notification said the law and orer in the state continues to be a matter of concern due to violence by the underground outfits. It said 66 incidents involving the outfits in the last nine months led to the deaths of 29 persons, including one security personnel. The underground outfits identified in the notification include United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) set up in April 2015, two of its constituents NDFB(S) and ULFA(I), Karbi militants UPLA, UKPLA and various factions of KPLT, as also NSCN(IM), NSCN(K), GNLA, KPLT and Meitei UG.

Imran Khan says mass protest no danger to Pakistan democracy | Reuters

By Kay Johnson and Drazen Jorgic

ISLAMABAD Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan on Sunday dismissed accusations his planned shutdown of the nation’s capital could lead to a military coup, saying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “can’t hide behind ‘democracy in danger'” to quash protests.Khan, a former national cricket hero, has vowed to bring a million people into Islamabad on Wednesday to paralyse the government and force Sharif either to resign or allow an inquiry into the “Panama Papers” revelations about his family’s offshore wealth.Sharif’s ruling PML-N party has accused Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of endangering democracy by attempting to draw Pakistan’s powerful military into a political dispute – a sensitive issue in a nation where the army has a history of staging coups.Reuters interviewed Khan at his plush home in the hills above Islamabad, where he says the police have him under virtual house arrest after the city banned public gatherings ahead of Wednesday’s planned protest and arrested scores of PTI workers.He dismissed claims he wants the army to topple Sharif, as it did when Sharif was in power in the 1990s, and said the protests aim to hold the prime minister to account for alleged corruption.”How can a democrat want the military to come in?,” Khan said. “He has to answer. He can’t hide behind ‘democracy in danger’.”Pakistan’s military has repeatedly refused to comment on Wednesday’s planned protests.Relations between the PML-N party and the military soured earlier this month after a newspaper report about a top-level national security meeting angered the army, prompting the removal of one of Sharif’s cabinet ministers blamed for the leak.The tense relations, as well as the rowing between Sharif and Khan, have stirred unease and prompted newspaper editorial warnings that a descent into street chaos could trigger military intervention.On Sunday, one of Sharif’s closest allies, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, wrote in the English-language The News newspaper that Khan was “willing to derail democracy for personal gains”.The attack adds to long-held suspicions by PML-N supporters that Khan is being used by the military in a power struggle with the civilian government, which has ceded control of key policy areas such as relations with India and Afghanistan to the military. “I don’t need the army,” Khan said. “I’m doing what the opposition is supposed to do. Expose corruption, expose breaking the laws of the land … It doesn’t mean I’m asking the army to come in.”

Khan said it is corruption, not protests, that threatens democracy.”When you have people coming to power and looting the country, they actually weaken the democratic system because people lose faith in democracy, and when the army comes in they welcome them with sweets.”Khan blamed Sharif for the latest tensions between the government and the military, saying Sharif’s allies leaked details of the security meeting to the Dawn newspaper.”They messed it up,” said Khan. “They have humiliated the army, they’ve exposed the army, they’ve ridiculed the army because of the (Dawn leak) – what have we got to do with it?”

The Oct. 6 Dawn article said top PML-N politicians confronted high-ranking military officials and called for the military not to interfere if civilian authorities tried to arrest members of anti-India militant groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba.On Friday, Khan’s supporters fought running battles with police in the city of Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad. Scores of PTI party workers have been arrested.Khan has accused the police of brutality, and urged his supporters to lay low until Wednesday to avoid arrest.FEARS OF INSTABILITY
Khan’s latest challenge to Sharif’s government is based on leaked documents from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm that appear to show the prime minister’s daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London.

Sharif’s family denies wrongdoing.Holding offshore companies is not illegal in Pakistan, but Khan insists the Sharif family money was gained by corruption. Khan, 64, said in May he used an offshore company himself to legally avoid paying British tax on a London property sale.The ruling party has said it would take part in an investigation, but has rejected the opposition’s formula focused on Sharif’s family rather than making it broad based. Sharif’s own name did not appear in the Panama Papers.In 2014, Khan led a months-long occupation that paralysed Islamabad’s government quarter after rejecting Sharif’s decisive election win a year earlier. The prospect of similar protests has hit the local stock market, stoking fears of political instability just as the sputtering economy was starting to rebound.Khan said that unless Sharif agreed to his demands over the Panama Papers investigation, there was little the government could do to make him call off Wednesday’s protests.However, he sought to downplay his party’s calls to “lock down” the city roads and paralyse the capital, something that prompted the authorities to ban all public gatherings.Khan said his previous rallying cries for supporters to stop the government functioning were not a direct threat, but rather a prediction.”When you see a million people in Islamabad, trust me, the city will shut down,” said Khan. (Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Kay Johnson and Ian Geoghegan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Jammu and Kashmir: Army foils infiltration bid in Poonch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army foiled an infiltration bid of heavily armed terrorists along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch sector of Jammu on Friday, a day after the BSF thwarted a similar such attempt via the International Border (IB) in Kathua district. “An infiltration bid was foiled by the alert and vigilant troops of Army in the densely forest area along LoC in the Poonch sector this morning”, a defence spokesman said.He said that on noticing some suspicious activity, the alert troops challenged a group of 2-3 infiltrators who were attempting to cross the LoC. “On being challenged, the group immediately opened fire (on the Army) which was responded in equal measure by the alert troops forcing the group to flee back”, the spokesman said. Yesterday, with Pakistani troops suspectedly providing cover fire, 4-6 heavily-armed militants tried to sneak into India through the International Border in Kathua district of Jammu but the attempt was foiled by alert BSF which claimed to have injured or killed at least one of them.

Surgical strikes reflect will of PM Modi, valour of forces: Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Surgical strikes reflect will of PM Modi, valour of forces: Shivraj Singh Chouhan


New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday said surgical strikes across the LoC reflect firm will power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and valour of armed forces.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTIShivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

“The surgical strikes were a result of firm will power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and valour of our forces,” the Chief Minister said in an interview to PTI.

On some political parties demanding proof of the Army’s action, Chouhan said defence and security issues should be above politics.

“Demanding a proof of it is not correct principally as well as practically. Such proofs are never given. Those who are demanding proof are not aware of the consequences of disclosing the details of this military operation,” he said.

Surgical strikes were carried out on seven terror launch pads across the LoC on the intervening night of 28 and 29 September, with the Army saying it had inflicted “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from PoK, days after Modi warned Uri attack would not go unpunished.

Foreign Secy contradicts Defence Minister on surgical strikes claim

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Tuesday is understood to have differed with the claims of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army’s special forces across the LoC on September 29 to demolish terror camps.Briefing the parliamentary panel on external affairs, the foreign secretary was quoted by MPs as saying that, “the army had carried out target specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations across the LoC in the past too but this is for the first time the government has gone public about it.”The comments assume significance as the defence minister last week rejected the Congress party’s claims that the surgical strikes were undertaken during their tenure too. Many former military officials had described the past actions as “covert operations,” but agreed with Parrikar that the surgical strikes were undertaken for the first time.Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of the Committee, attended the meet but did not ask questions.The Foreign Secretary also told the Committee that while India has been engaging with Pakistan post the September 29 surgical strikes, no “calendar” has so far been prepared regarding future engagement and its level with Islamabad, members said on condition of anonymity.Replying to a question, he said people-to-people contact would continue and there was no plan to stop it.During the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat also gave details of the strikes targeting terrorist launch pads across the LoC. They told the panel that the strikes have fulfilled the purpose as of now. When a Congress member wanted to know whether similar operations could be carried out in the future as well, the government representatives said the strikes have caused a nagging doubt in the Pakistani establishment whether India will carry out similar operations in the future.When asked about the casualty they could inflict on the terrorists, the officials said the Army had crossed the LoC to carry out strikes and not to collect evidence.Jaishankar sought to skirt the issue of UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan stating that it did not witness any action at LoC during the surgical strikes. He said since panel chairman Shashi Tharoor had been associated with the body, he would not like to say anything.During the meeting, there was a brief exchange of words between a BJP and a Left party member when the former raised the issue of security of MPs after the strikes. Some members said the topic of the meeting was national security and not individual security.Special Secretary of Internal Security M K Singhla, informed the panel about the types of security being extended to the VIPs.Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar and DG BSF K K Sharma were also present at the meeting besides the Foreign Secretary and the Vice Chief of Army Staff.

On surgical strikes parade, Manohar Parrikar invokes the virtues of RSS training

The Indian government should immediately shut down the National Defence Academy.

Henceforth, all our soldiers should be sent to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh shakhas for training.

If Defence Minister Manohar Prabhu Parrikar is to be believed, nothing prepares you better to dealing with India’s enemy than a few years at a neighbourhood shakha.

Forget the backbreaking drills and sophisticated training at Khadakwasla for our soldiers. India, if Parrikar is right, would be in safer hands with our soldiers trotting up to the nearest ground in their knee-length kachchas coffee brown trousers, a danda in hand, topi on head and a pot-bellied shakha babu as their instructor and preacher. Also, it would cost next to nothing.

File image of Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Parrikar has been delirious with joy since the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes along the LoC. Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his cabinet colleagues to avoid chest-thumping and politics on the sensitive issue, Parrikar has been rolling on the floor with joy and self-praise.

First, he boasted that like Hanuman, the army learnt about its capabilities to strike the enemy only under his command, as if he had personally imparted special combat and psychological training to our soldiers in his trademark chappals and loosely-hanging bush-shirts. Then he got himself felicitated at a function in Uttar Pradesh for the army’s achievement and boasted about his tedha (crooked) credentials as a warning to the enemy. On Monday, carrying on with his surgical tripe, he gave credit for the army offensive to his alma mater, the RSS.

Speaking at a “Know Your Army” event in Gujarat, Parrikar said, “I wonder that a prime minister from land of Mahatma Gandhi and a defence minister from Goa and surgical strikes… maybe the RSS teachings was there, but this was very different kind of a combination.”

For a moment, let’s accept Parrikar’s argument that this — two RSS men in the driving seat — is a different kind of “combination”, or something that, like Halley’s Comet that comes along once in several decades. So, what does Parrikar have to say about the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-LK Advani combo that was in power when a) terrorists struck at the Indian Parliament, b) massacred Indians at Kaluchak and c) hijacked an Indian plane to Kandahar?

Both Vajpayee and Advani were dyed-in-khaki Sanghis, the doyens of its first post-Independence generation leaders. By every conceivable parameter, they were more Sanghi than Parrikar. So, why did they respond differently to these crises? Did the so-called RSS training not force them to strike back, instead of not only preferring restraint but also sending the then foreign minister to escort terrorists released in exchange for the hijacked plane’s passengers?

Did the famed RSS blood did not boil then? Does Parrikar has a different variety of khaki blood singing in his veins? Were Advani-Vajpayee mudbloods compared to wizard Parrikar?

That brings us to RSS drills.

Presuming that he is fond of reading anything other than Amar Chitra Katha volumes on the Miracles of Bal Hanuman, Parrikar should find some time to peruse the Sangh’s history. Even a cursory reading would tell him its shakhas were modelled on Benito Mussolini’s philosophy of indoctrinating youth at an early age. Their structure, as AG Noorani pointed out in the Frontline, was similar to some Fascist organisations that recruited boys from the age of six, up to 18: The youths had to attend weekly meetings, where they practiced physical exercises, received paramilitary training and performed drills and parades.

If India’s defence minister believes indoctrinating youth and teaching them to wield lathis is adequate physical and mental training against rival armies, he needs to revisit the fate of the original proponents of this doomed philosophy.

Interestingly, as the Jeevan Lal Kapoor report on the murder of Mahatma Gandhi points out, soon after Independence there were rumours that the Sangh was raising a private army to lead a coup against the Congress government. Private armies, the Kapoor Commission was told, were assembled in Alwar, Gwalior and a few other princely states. Unfortunately for the RSS, all its rumoured training came to nothing and the Congress went on to rule India for several decades, destroying its dream of a rashtra ruled by Hindus.

It is quite likely that Parrikar is not aware of the history of “RSS training” and the fruit it bore in the past. Or, maybe he is under obligation to give credit to the organisation to which he owes his existence at the cost of the Indian Army. None of it, unfortunately, behoves a man in his position.

Several Indian governments have dealt with the Pakistan question in the past. Some, like Vajpayee’s, decided to exercise restraint in spite of grave provocation. Some, like Manmohan Singh‘s, practised a combination of restraint and covert strikes.

Parrikar has been different only because of his attempt to usurp the army’s credit for political gains.

If that is the result of RSS training, Parrikar may have made a valid point.

Narendra Modi praises Indian Army in Bhopal rally but keeps mum on surgical strikes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed ex-servicemen at the inauguration of the war memorial ‘shaurya samarak’ in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on Friday, opened with chants of “Shahido amar raho” and “Vande Mataram“.

He said that our soldiers can not be associated only with war because they are a symbol of humanity as well.

Before him, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan addressed the gathering.

Parrikar said that the inauguration of the memorial is happening at a time when soldiers displayed extraordinary courage and valor on 29 September. He was referring to the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army across the Line of Control.

Chouhan too lauded the soldiers saying that the ‘shaurya samarak’ is not just a Samarak. “It is a temple of their [soldiers] bravery,” he said. He also announced that that the parents of the martyrs from the state will be given Rs 5,000 every month. He referred to this pension as samman nidhi as a mark of respect for the sacrifices of the jawans.

Meanwhile, Modi went on to cite examples of incidents when the army had helped civilians irrespective of having faced hostile conditions by the same lot previously. “During the floods in Srinagar, the army extended its help for the rescue and relief operation. While extending help, my soldiers did not think twice if these people has pelted stones at them,” he said.

Therefore, we must associate our soldiers with humanity as well because it is the “call of humanity” that inspires our armed forces. Not only that, the fact that the Indian Army also saved some Pakistanis while rescuing Indians from Yemen is an evidence of their humanity, he added.

Modi also referred to the UN Peacekeeping Force and said that India is one of the biggest contributors to it. Around 1.5 lakh Indians lost their lives during the two world wars and the world should not forget this, he said.

“The army, BSF, CRPF, Coast Guard jawans all sacrifice their lives so that we can sleep peacefully. They don’t complain but our soldiers will not forgive us if we keep sleeping even when the time demands us to be vigilant. So, we should stay vigilant and awake,” advised Modi.

“The Army draws its strength from the support of the people. No technology or arms can beat the power of motivation,” he said.

Modi also compared Parrikar to the army, saying that the two don’t talk but just show valour.

shaurya smarak is a pilgrimage for us and the coming generations, Modi said.

Modi also talked about the disputed One Rank One Pension and accused previous governments of only making empty promises on OROP. But when we came to power, we fulfilled our promise and implemented it, he said. However, he added that since the economic burden is too huge to be implemented in one go, the scheme will be implemented in a phased manner.

He also said that the government has opened training institutes to promote skill development and employment for ex-servicemen for the first time.

Cyril Almeida case: Dawn reporter is a star product of Pakistan’s sociology of journalism

The Prime Minister of Pakistan is livid with Cyril Almeida even though Dawn’s star journalist has been more severe on the army in his writings than on the civilian government. Almeida has been put on the Exit Control List, an official measure that is similar to the suspension of one’s passport.

Almeida used to enjoy visiting his relatives in Goa and now he cannot leave Pakistan as long as he is on the exit watch. This measure was introduced by military dictator Zia-ul-Haq to tame his civilian rivals. Now it seems Nawaz Sharif — who happens to be Zia’s civilian protégé — has harnessed it to target a fall guy for his difficulties with the army. It is the government, not the army that has put Almeida in the dock as a potentially anti-national writer.

For South Asian journalists, this periodic confrontation with the system and suffering as a consequence is routine. Bangladesh was considered to be the most dangerous place for journalists followed by Sri Lanka. If we take the problems Nepal’s celebrated Himaal magazine is facing with its government, we’ll probably know that the problem is widespread. In Pakistan, journalists have disappeared. They have been killed. Newspapers and TV channels have been shut down for alleged indiscretions.

File image of Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida. Twitter @cyalm

File image of Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida. Twitter @cyalm

In India, on the other hand, journalists face the ire of local establishments at the state level. The Centre has a different way of handling them. Criticising the current chief minister of Tamil Nadu found the editors of The Hindu running for cover. The Shiv Sena has its own way of dealing with troublesome journalists. It is par for the course with other state governments, whether in Uttar Pradesh or West Bengal. Suppose, however, there was an Indian Almeida. Suppose he had written what he wrote against the army and the government in India. Is there an editor to stand behind an Indian Almeida? Perhaps, but there was a time when one could say with pride that yes, we had Frank Moraes, Chhalapati Rau, Khushwant Singh, Shyam Lal or even MJ Akbar before he did a Faustian bargain with politics. Today, such a claim would be a boastful exaggeration.

Almeida had reportedly said during one of his visits to Goa that he didn’t see a bright future for journalism in Pakistan. It’s true that there has been a decline since the days of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Ahmed Ali Khan and some other great editors. But the fact that Almeida is around proves him wrong. It is equally true that the current Dawn editor Zaffar Abbas has stood like a rock with his star journalist.

Journalistic integrity, however, is also a reflection of the pattern of ownership of the media, not just the professional merit of journalists. In India today, the better journalists in my view are writing mostly on alternate spaces created by the internet. There are of course, exceptions. But journalists writing on the internet are predominantly those that were sidelined in their respective newspapers or journals for their views, mostly. In the current phase of the India-Pakistan crisis, the alternative view against jingoism has come from net-based writers, not as much from the so-called mainstream channels or newspapers.

There is a basic difference between Pakistani and Indian journalists, however. Much has to do with caste. Is it not a fact that journalism in India depends on the integrity or its absence among the predominantly upper caste journalists? There is hardly a Dalit worth the name in the mainstream media. Praising and criticising the government or the army is the function of upper caste journalists. Upper caste journalists do all the explaining of a Dalit problem. Reporting a communal conflagration fairly or with bias is their preserve. There are social limits to how one can be fair and objective if there is a social hiatus in the object and the subject of reporting or analysing. That we are still able to get a certain degree of fairness in reporting in newspapers can be attributed to integrity. That doesn’t solve the problem though.

Almeida is a Roman Catholic journalist, sociologically speaking, in a Muslim milieu. Hamid Mir would be a better example of a journalist from the majority community taking on the majority-ruled system in Pakistan. Suspected gunmen linked with the military’s ire at Mir’s reporting shot him. He has survived without compromising his stance one bit. The sociology of a newsroom in Pakistan is different from the one in India. In a Karachi newsroom, for example, I have seen journalists close to the MQM working with colleagues close to the arch-rival Jamaat-e-Islami. The newsroom can have a journalist against the army, against Nawaz Sharif, against the PPP, against and for Baloch independence. A PPP journalist would be against the army, as would a Nawaz Sharif loyalist. Journalists loyal to the army would be keeping an eye on everyone, including the Jamaat these days.

Is there an editor to stand behind an Indian Almeida? Perhaps, but there was a time when one could say with pride that yes, we had Frank Moraes, Chhalapati Rau, Khushwant Singh, Shyam Lal or even MJ Akbar before he did a Faustian bargain with politics. Today, such a claim would be a boastful exaggeration

This varied sociology usually balances out any bias in the final reporting. There are of course, newspapers and channels purely run by the army and political groups. The viewers who know exactly where they are coming from can sort them out. In India, similarly entrenched conflict has given way to a seamless transition to the party in power. The paper that was supporting Manmohan Singh is supporting Narendra Modi and so on. Again, of course, there are exceptions.

How does the sociology of a newsroom affect the news? Do a caste-wise survey of the nationalist quotient in one’s opinion, and you would have the answer. No one wants to rub the army the wrong way, but Maywati’s emphasis on chest thumping would be different from the Akali’s or Shiv Sena’s. This is the reason perhaps that when the government of Pakistan was in denial of Ajmal Kasab‘s Pakistani origins after the Mumbai terror attacks, it was Dawn journalists who challenged the official version. In India, I imagine this would take mountains of courage. Journalists like Almeida and Mir are still debating what is good for Pakistan and what is not. Unlike the debate in Pakistan, a majority of TV channels in India seem to have arrived on a consensus on what is good for their country.

In India, more often than not, this is also determined by the pattern of ownership of the media. In India, if one man can directly or indirectly own 27 TV channels, as is widely claimed, would the channels be promoting varied approaches to nationalism? In Pakistan, no one owns that many channels. That’s another advantage they have in producing a stream of talent like the one Almeida represents.

The author is a Delhi-based journalist, who writes for the Pakistani daily Dawn

Post Uri, anger in the army’s ranks in Kashmir is a strategic challenge

It would be a great mistake to ignore anger in the ranks of the army posted in Kashmir while focusing on the mechanics of how — or even whether — strikes were carried out across the Line of Control on 29 September.

Indian Army in action. PTIIndian Army in action. PTI

Indian Army in action. PTI

The men and officers of the army must surely be livid in the wake of the terribly lethal attack on the army camp at Uri on 18 September. The hoo-ha over the who and how of that attack and the consequent ‘surgical strikes’ tends to ignore the fact that 19 soldiers were killed. A large number of them were charred. Six of those were
cookhouse workers — hired for their cooking skills more than their commando or sniping abilities.

One presumes that their deaths have scarred the psyche of their comrades-in-arms, the other soldiers, and officers in the field. There will be hell to pay if the restraint under which those soldiers and officers have operated in the Kashmir valley for the past three months were to snap.

The army is bound to come under increasing strain, given the surge in the infiltration of highly trained militants across the Line of Control over the past few months (to some extent, over the past couple of years). The level of the infiltrators’ training — similar to that of the 10 who attacked Mumbai in 2008 — became evident during an encounter on the outskirts of Srinagar since Monday. They held out for more than 24 hours until the army brought down the building in which they were.

To exercise restraint when one is being stoned and abused (as over the past three months) is one thing. But the effect of such encounters, and of the horrific deaths of one’s comrades, can charge up the nerves of men trained to fight and win.

To commit the army for policing over these months of great unrest has been a risky move. One gets the impression that the brass has not adequately factored in the strategic risk involved. In fact, over the past five weeks, Operation Calm Down stepped up the army’s involvement in civil pacification in south Kashmir – just a fortnight before the Uri attack dramatically highlighted other dimensions of the challenge the army faces in Kashmir.

Long-term mistake

The army’s institutional insistence on remaining deployed across the Valley after the militancy that began in 1988 ended about a decade ago has additionally complicated the challenge it is likely to face in the foreseeable future.

Based on the presumption that ‘the situation is under control’ in Kashmir, the army kept a very low profile through the second half of the previous decade, so that it would not be forced to draw back deployment to cantonments. After the uprising of 2010, that strategy switched. Recalibrating its high spend Operation Sadbhavana (goodwill), the army deliberately presented a friendly face to the people in the first half of this decade.

That strategy remains in place. Although it worked as long as the situation was actually under control — indeed, there was no militancy — it is coming unstuck now that the ‘situation’ has changed dramatically – and unexpectedly. The worst part is that, as in 1989, there was no intelligence information about that dramatic worsening, and so no strategy to cope with it.

If operations such as the one at Uri do raise the pitch of anger in the ranks, the ingenuity of the brass will be challenged. For, to allow army wrath to turn against the Kashmiri people at large could exacerbate the external challenge they face.

I have pointed out since 2010 that it is of vital importance for the survival of a robustly multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious India that the causes of youth anger in Kashmir be addressed. Not only was that important for its own sake, it was also strategically vital. For, angry Kashmiri youth could become a vital ally and resource for strategic planners of antagonistic powers such as Pakistan and China.

It is of course too late now (has been for more than a year) to wean over the mass of teenagers. But India’s strategic planners and hyper-nationalistic media hawks must recognize that adding to youth anger would not only be wrong for a host of ethical and legal reasons, it would also be costly on a purely strategic level.

Why has disability pension of defence personnel been halved: Congress hits out at Modi govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Taking the ongoing battle over the surgical strikes by the Army to another level, the Congress on Monday lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for using the sacrifices of the Indian soldiers for his political gains and garner votes in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh and Punjab polls. Addressing a press conference here, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala re-iterated that the UPA Government in its days had never politicised or beat the drum when they conducted surgical strikes, ‘because those who were supposed to get a strong response got the message and we were satisfied by that’, adding that ‘our brave Armed Forces were behind the victory and our government never tried to take credit for it.’ ‘Sacrifices made the army are being used to garner votes in U.P and Bihar. Our soldiers are being killed and the felicitation of our Defence Minister and posters lauding the Centre being put is a clear example of the government’s intentions,’ he said. Quoting former Army Chiefs, he further said that surgical strikes have been conducted throughout the years, but were never blown out of proportion or made a huge deal about, as they were covert operations with a certain purpose.Maintaining that the steps taken by the Prime Minister following the surgical strikes have been nothing but an insult to the Army, Surjewala called on the Centre to stop using the mission as a weapon for their political gain. Posing a question to the Prime Minister, the Congress leader asked that if he indeed was so concerned about the well being of army personnel, when why was his government so against the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.’Why are you against implementing OROP’ And why have you announced that the disability pensions of defence personnel have been halved since September 30th 2016′ Apologise to the nation and the army and fulfil your OROP promise,’ he said.Meanwhile, in the wake of the escalation of a war of words between the BJP and the Congress following a revelation that the Indian Army had conducted a surgical strike on Pakistani military outposts earlier in 2011, former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said his former cabinet colleague P. Chidambaram made this disclosure to put the record straight as the incumbent regime was trying to create an impression that the UPA did nothing in its tenure.’This has been said very categorically by former home minister P. Chidambaram and it’s also been validated and repeated by other people. This has been said only for this purpose that an impression was being created by the government of the day that we never did anything when we were in power, I think that was unfair,’ Khurshid told ANI.As per reports, the Indian Army had carried out surgical strikes across the LoC in 2011 in retaliation to a surprise attack on an army post in Gugaldhar ridge in Kupwara in July that year which led to the death of 13 soldiers and beheading of six of them. In revenge, the Indian Army planned Operation Ginger.

Should Indian Army take over running schools, training centres for an incompetent state govt?

Apart from fighting proxy wars and conducting surgical strikes, the Indian Army also runs schools, manages women empowerment centres and handles vocational training centres in Jammu and Kashmir. It runs about 46 schools, of which thirty are in Kashmir and eight each in Ladakh and Jammu regions. About 14,000 students are being educated at primary or higher secondary levels at these establishments. All such activities come within the scope of Operation Sadbhavana.

What was the need for Sadbhavana in the first place?

According to the the army’s Facebook page, “Operation Sadbhavana (Goodwill) was undertaken by the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir to address the aspirations of people affected by scourge of terrorism, sponsored and abetted by Pakistan. As part of a grand design, an insidious attempt was made by terrorist ‘tanzeems‘ to systematically undermine government officials, target property, public services and symbols of state authority in order to inflict hardship and alienate the local population from the national fabric.”

Simply put, it was part of India’s counter-terrorism strategy. Education coupled with empowerment of the less privileged women and youth was seen as a tool to reduce this alienation and improve social indices in the 1990s.

What is left unsaid is that the failure of successive state governments to create the required education and social infrastructure level forced the army to step in.

Let’s start with a brief report on Sadbhavana activities at eight locations.

Army Goodwill School (AGS), Karu

The school is about 50 kilometres from Leh and is in the midst of virtually nowhere. It was started in 2001 and is the biggest school in eastern ladakh. It has classes from nursery to VIII with 350 students. There are 22 teachers, who are all locals. They are paid a monthly honorarium.

The school has a science and computer laboratory and is affiliated to the Jammu and Kashmir Educational Board. Children are provided with transport and mid-day meals amongst other facilities. Fee for class VI to VIII is Rs 275 per month. Lower classes have a still lower fee. There is also a 50 percent waiver for girls.

Students of possibly the VIth or VIIIth class were asked which place received the highest rainfall in India. Silence!

Teachers outside AGS Karu. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Teachers outside AGS Karu. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Women Empowerment Centre (WEC), Leh

The centre has facilities for computer training, knitting, switching, making of sanitary napkins and carpets.

The most interesting bit is the facility to make low cost sanitary napkins. A recently started initiative, it produces about 25-30 napkins a day which are sold at a nominal rate to locals.

When they were asked how the output could be doubled, they said it will need an investment of about Rs 70,000 for an additional machine. Given how good the cause is, the Centre was asked if it had an 80G income-tax exemption certificate because that is a pre-requisite for most people who donate for noble causes. No, they did not!

WEC requires women to physically work in the Centre. This means homemakers, who could otherwise knit and sew at home, get excluded. This restricts the number of women who can benefit from such Centres.

making sanitary napkins at WEC, Leh. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

making sanitary napkins at WEC, Leh. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Army Goodwill School Harka Bahadur, Kargil

The school was started in 1995 and is named after Subedar Harka Bahadur Rana of 1/5 Gorkha Rifles, who saved Kargil for India in 1948.

It is a few kilometres away from the Kargil town, surrounded by hills and with a river flowing below. Very scenic, again in the midst of virtually nowhere.

The school has classes from nursery to Xth. 45 percent of its 444 students are girls. Fee for class 9 and 10 are Rs 250 a month, lower classes lower, with a 50% waiver for girls. The teachers are locals and paid an honorarium.

When one enters the school, there is a completely different feel to it. There were signboards for an indoor games room and auditorium cum motivation hall. The school promoted healthy competition amongst students by regularly declaring a ‘Best Class’ and grouping them into ‘Houses’. The games room had a table-tennis table, carom and chess boards.

The Commanding Officer’s wife is has B.Ed degree and took a keen interest in running the school.

This was also the first school in Ladakh where NCC was introduced. A video of a Kargil Vijay Diwas Cultural Program where children performed to Vande Mataram was also available for viewing.

For a school as good as this, it should be affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Board instead of the Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education. Besides having a better curriculum, a CBSE education will ensure that children going outside the state for further studies will not feel inferior to their counterparts. However, a CBSE affiliation requires fulfilment of conditions which will increase the cost of running the school. So, either the fee or government subsidy has to increase.

Indoor games room. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Indoor games room. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Vocational Training Centre (VTC), Drass

The VTC in village Bhimbhat is a short drive from the Kargil War Memorial. It has facilities for computer training, knitting and sewing.

It was a pleasure to see children walk in from the school and work on any of the seven computers. A local lady, who had undergone formal computer training, taught the students. With the government’s focus on Digital India, it is only a matter of time before broadband connectivity reaches this facility post. The world will only be a click way then.

Children in VTC Drass. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Children in VTC Drass. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Students Hostel, Chushul

Situated at a height of 14,450 feet, Chushul is a small village. It is about a three hour drive from Pangong lake.

The army runs a women empowerment centre with two knitting and sewing machines each and a computer training centre here. They have recently made a community hall as well.

The highlight of this place is a newly made students hostel. Since this government school attracts students from neighbouring villages as well, parents requested the army to make a hostel so that the children had a decent place to stay. The hostel has forty beds, equally divided between boys and girls and a fully equipped kitchen which would be managed by villagers. The hostel was yet to be inaugurated when it was visited by the author.

Newly built hostel building, Chushul. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Newly built hostel building, Chushul. Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Military Hospital, Kargil

The hospital was started in 2008. It has specialist doctors, a laboratory, x-ray facility, intensive care unit. It also offers physiotherapy and dental treatment. It has a bed strength of 44.

Although it mainly caters to the needs of the army, civilians often come in for medical consultation or dental treatment. These services are all provided for free. The dental treatment here is popular because the private one is expensive. According to a September 2015 PTI report, the hospital performed 105 major surgeries in the past one year that included a gallbladder surgery.

The hospital’s activities are restricted to its location. Organising mobile medical camps in remote locations or special camps for eye testing are outside its purview because such work is usually done by state governments or NGOs. Having said that, such camps would further help the army win the hearts and minds of local people.

Dental treatment facility . Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Dental treatment facility . Image courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Each unit of the army in Durbuk enroute to Pangong Lake, is allocated a fixed number of villages for Sadbhavana. The nature of service varies and depends on what the villagers need.

One of the units provide solar lamps and student coaching apart from sponsoring children’s education in Army Public Schools and cataract operations for the people. It also takes senior citizens for tours, say to Dharamshala and organises veterinary and dental camps.

Another unit organises tree plantation, ice hockey tournament, training classes for vehicle mechanics and drivers. It also sponsors ice hockey kits, archery and cricket sets amongst others.

Every establishment is doing something unique. It was observed that the best practices of a location were not formally shared with others.

The Indian Army has been doing some really good work through Sadbhavana. It has provided employment to locals, educated them and increased household income. More importantly, it has created an avenue whereby the sincere can use it as a stepping stone to progress.

Notwithstanding the above, a time has come to ask ourselves some questions.

1. In a volatile border state like Kashmir, should the Indian Army be so involved in Sadbhavana activities?

2. If it should not, then what type of organisation should undertake Sadbhavana whilst retaining the existing objectives and strategic control by the army?

3. Is it time for the army to involve an educational institution, say Vivekanand Kendra who run thirty six schools in the tribal districts of Arunachal Pradesh, in its schools so that the quality of education improves?

4. With the rising aspirations and awareness levels, should select schools be affiliated to the CBSE Board instead?

5. CBSE schools would mean a higher cost. Would it be appropriate for the defence budget to incur additional cost or should an alternative source of funding be found?

6. Since the army spends about Rs 60 crore per annum on Sadbhavana in Kashmir, can a tax effective mechanism be found so that India Inc funds this expense in whole or at least in part?

It can be argued that running schools and all is the responsibility of the state governments. The reality is that governance in most border hill states leaves a lot to desired, be it Kashmir or Arunachal Pradesh.

It is time the existing organisational and funding framework is reviewed so that the Indian Army single-mindedly focuses on its key objectives.

The author is an Independent Columnist and Management Consultant. He tweets with the handle @sanjeev1927

Our forces implement government policies, Pakistan follows army’s instructions: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed on Monday said there is a huge difference between the armed forces of India and Pakistan in that the former implements the government’s policies, while the latter follows their armed forces policies.”There is a big difference between the two. In India, the armed forces implement decisions taken by the government and they have freehand at the border, the Line of Control, etc, where they need it. But, the government plays the main role in framing policies, whereas in Pakistan, their army decides the policy and the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistan Prime Minister works on the instructions of their army,”Ahmed was responding to Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit’s statement that Islamabad does not want a meaningless dialogue with India on Kashmir and that he did not think India can have a Pakistan policy without consulting its armed forces.Basit told the Times of India in an interview, “When it comes to issues concerning India, Afghanistan and other issues which are security related… obviously our army or military has an important role to play. It has important inputs to give. So to expect that it will not have any role in Pakistan’s India policy or Afghanistan policy and other such issues is incorrect. Do you believe India can have a Pakistan policy without consulting its armed forces or US can have a Pakistan or Afghanistan policy without consulting Pentagon? One should not be reading too much into these things.”On ‘Operation Ginger’, Ahmed said, “Obviously there are all proofs of the operation. The date has been disclosed; the then Chief of the Army Staff also confirmed it publically in a television interview; Sharad Pawarji stated that there were four surgical strikes; and The Hindu, in which the report has been published, is a highly respected newspaper. The difference is, however, only that we did not try to cash in on the surgical strikes for political benefit like Modiji and his ministers because our army had done it on the instruction of the government and in the country’s interest. We did not publicise it to win plaudits.”As per a report, the Indian Army did carry out surgical strikes across the LoC in retaliation to a surprise attack on an army post on the Gugaldhar Ridge in Kupwara in July 2011, which led to the death of 13 soldiers and a beheading of six of them. In retaliation, the Indian Army planned ‘Operation Ginger.’Major General (retired) SK Chakravorty, who executed ‘Operation Ginger’, told ANI that the 2011 strike was a response to two cross-border surgical strikes by Pakistan.”They (Pakistan) first conducted an operation, but action was done from their side. To take revenge of that, this operation was conducted,” he said.Major General (retired) Chakravorty admitted that all details regarding the 2011 operation were true and said that even the then DGMO and the then Army Chief General V.K. Singh had information about it, but refused to go into detail about it.

NDTV drops Chidambaram’s interview on surgical strikes, says India’s security can’t be compromised

Even as the Centre and the Opposition are at loggerheads over the validity of 29 September surgical strikes by the Indian Army along the Line of Control (LoC), NDTV on Friday, decided not to air any views questioning the strikes and dropped an interview with former home minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on the issue, The News Minute reported.

“National security cannot be compromised by politics. The current political debate threatens to do this. NDTV will not air any remarks that risk security for political advantage,” NDTV had tweeted on 6 October.

On 3 October, the Congress had asked the government to put forth credible evidence of last week’s surgical strikes to expose Pakistan’s false propaganda.


The graphic by NDTV that played on the 9 pm. Courtesy: Twitter/@ndtv

Senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma had said Pakistan was misleading its people by claiming that no such attack had taken place.

In that backdrop, it would be necessary for the prime minister to “expose” Pakistan by putting forth credible evidence about the surgical strikes on the intervening night of 28 and 29 September, Sharma said.

“The government must expose Pakistan’s denial. It has all the tools and instruments to do so,” he had said.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal too had asked the prime minister to present evidence of the strike to give a befitting reply to Pakistan.

“Since the last two days, Pakistan is taking international journalists to the border and trying to show that surgical strikes never took place. Two days back, the United Nations gave a statement that there was no such activity on the border,” he had said.

“My blood boiled over these news reports (of the international media). Pakistan is indulging in smearing India’s image at the international level. I appeal to the Prime Minister that the way he and the Army taught Pakistan a lesson on ground, he should also unmask the propaganda by Pakistan at international level. The whole country is with you. I also appeal to the countrymen not to believe in the false campaign by Pakistan,” Kejriwal had said.

Cornering the Centre, former home minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday had also said that a major surgical strikes was carried out in 2013 but the then Congress government chose not to publicise it, reported India Today. However, Chidambaram did not ask for any evidence from the government.

Seven terror launch pads across the LoC were targeted by the Army on the night of 28 September in a nearly five-hour-long operation during which heli-borne and ground forces were deployed.

The announcement of the strikes came 11 days after the attack by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad on an Indian army camp in Uri in Kashmir, after which Modi had said the attackers will not go “unpunished” and that they will not be forgiven.

With inputs from PTI

Amit Shah says surgical strikes shouldn’t be politicised; hits out at Gandhi, Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting out at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, for raising questions over the surgical strikes, BJP President Amit Shah, on Friday, questioned them if they were doubting the intentions and actions of the Indian Army.Hailing the media’s role after the strikes while speaking to the press in New Delhi, Shah said, “Some unnecessary questions were raised by some parties on the strikes. But since the beginning, we have seen that the political colour is not given to it. I condemn such attempts by some parties. No party should politicise this issue,” the party president said.”First, questions were raised by Kejriwal, yesterday Rahul Gandhi crossed all limits by his ‘khoon ki dalali’ remarks, his words are (an) insult to the bravery of army,” Shah said.Shah further added that by raising questions, they (political parties) had insulted the Army. He said, “The press conference was conducted by the DGMO and not the defence minister. Yet questions were raised. Whom you are questioning. The Army which is protecting our country, who are fighting against terror?”Shah also said that when the whole country was in a mood to fight against terror, such statements would demoralise the jawans. “No one can insult jawans…the government is with the security forces and no one should play over the work security forces are doing.”Gandhi, on Thursday, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of indulging in political exploitation of the sacrifices of soldiers, while, on Friday, he said that he would support surgical strikes, but he was not for the use of the Army in political posters.Seven terror launch pads across the Line of Control were targeted by the Indian Army on the night of September 28, in a nearly five-hour-long operation during which heli-borne and ground forces were deployed.

Sharad Pawar slams those seeking proofs of surgical strikes by Army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>NCP Chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday supported the Narendra Modi government over surgical strikes by Army in PoK, saying it was necessary to teach a lesson to terrorists and those exporting terror and similar action were taken during the UPA regime but the then government did not boast about them. The former Defence Minister also slammed those seeking evidence of the Army action, saying they were “foolish and most irresponsible”.”The government and Indian Army’s decision (to carry out the cross-LoC surgical strikes) was absolutely right for teaching a lesson to the terrorists and those exporting terror,” Pawar said during a meet-the-press programme. He, however, said it would not be in the national interest to discuss about the Army operation.”No other government or country normally discusses such things on public platforms…No country is insane to talk publicly about the military operations,” he said.”It is foolish and most irresponsible on the part of those demanding evidence of surgical strikes by the Army…It will be unnecessarily discussing the operational details of Army in public domain,” the NCP chief said.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leaders P Chidambaram and Sanjay Nirupam have sought proof in support of the claim that the Indian Army had conducted the strikes across the LoC in PoK targeting seven terror launch pads.Earlier, while speaking at a party convention here, he said, “There were four surgical strikes (across the LoC) when we (UPA) were in power. However, we did not publicise it.” Congratulating the Modi government over the surgical strikes, Pawar objected to the Army operation being made public. “Some things should not be made public,” he said.”Our government carried out surgical strikes in Myanmar, but our operation was limited and we never tried to capitalise on it,” he said.About PM telling his cabinet colleagues not to create hysteria over the strikes, Pawar said the BJP leaders should avoid making statements (over the Army operation). “There is no need to make such statements,” Pawar said.

Four militants killed as Army foils three infiltrations bids

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four militants were killed while trying to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) as alert army troops foiled three bids by terrorists to enter into India in the wee hours on Thursday. The army, which has shored up its defences along the LoC, foiled three infiltration bids — two in Naugam sector and one in Rampur — of North Kashmir during the intervening night of October 5 and 6.In one of the encounters in the higher reaches of Naugam, 112 kms from Srinagar, the troops cornered a group of infiltrating militants and have killed four so far, a senior army official said. The official said a combing operation was continuing amid apprehension about presence of more terrorists in the area.Technical surveillance was being maintained, besides using illuminators to prevent the militants, who could be present, from escaping under the cover of darkness. The army repulsed two infiltration bids in Rampur and Naugam, raining bullets on the militants and forcing them to return to PoK. The militants, who had managed to cross the fence, had to beat a retreat after army patrols challenged and opened heavy fire on them.Army personnel display a huge cache of arms, ammunition and other items recovered from the three militants who were killed after they attacked on Army camp, in Handwara district.​ AFP Photo Pakistani army provided cover fire on both the occasions but the militants had to retreat, the official said. The infiltration bids come barely a day after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that Pakistani army has mobilised about 100 terrorists across the LoC to push them into India to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.At the meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was stated that the Pakistani army was planning attacks by terrorists on Indian defence personnel and security establishments besides select civilian targets in the wake of September 29 surgical strikes.According to the assessment given by Doval, nearly 100 terrorists were readying to infiltrate India from unconventional launch pads. Indian army had carried out surgical strikes on September 29, crossing over the LoC in Kupwara sector in the Kashmir Valley and Poonch in Jammu region and smashing launch pads meant for terrorists. It was believed that nearly a dozen terrorists were killed in Kel, Lipa and Bhimber Gali and given a quiet burial.Personnel from three divisions of the army were involved in the surgical strikes and, before the operation, the army teams ensured that they cut off the possibility of any reinforcements from Pakistani army, sources said.

AAP alleges Manohar Parrikar of demeaning armed forces, threatens to file police complain

New Delhi: The BJP-AAP war of words on cross-LOC surgical strikes on Thursday intensified as the Arvind Kejriwal-led party accused Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar of “demeaning” the armed forces and threatened to file a police complaint against him.

Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra called Parrikar “Shah Rangeela”, the Mughal Emperor who it is claimed indulged in merrymaking instead of paying attention to his empire, and said while a high alert has been issued across the country, the Defence Minister was busy “celebrating over the corpses of martyred soldiers”.

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIA file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

It also lashed out Parrikar for his remarks comparing the army to Hanuman.

On 1 October, at an event in Dehradun, Parrikar had made a reference to the Ramayana in which the monkey god crossed an ocean in a single stride after he was reminded about his extraordinary powers by Jamwant.

“Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes,” Parrikar had said.

Addressing a news conference, senior party leader Sanjay Singh said by giving such a statement, Parrikar was insulting the army which has time and again proved itself and did a remarkable job in 1948, 1965, 1971 and Kargil war with Pakistan.

The AAP said it will approach the police to file a compliant against Parrikar in the matter.

Its attack came on a day Parrikar questioned the “loyalty” of those who doubted the Army and sought proof of surgical strikes across the LoC.

BJP had earlier accused AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal of seeking proof in the garb of his statement congratulating the PM and army on the surgical strike.

AAP also alleged that BJP was doing politics over surgical strikes and claimed that such a military operation was not carried out for the first time as being “tom-tommed” by the saffron party.

“BJP’s GVL Narsimha Rao said that for the first time the army has been made aware of its capability. By saying this, we are demeaning the military and its sacrifice. Such statements are shameful and both Parrikar and Rao should apologise to the armed forces,” Sanjay Singh said, adding that in the last 15 years, surgical strikes were carried out nine times.

The AAP leader’s criticism came after posters congratulating the Prime Minister came up across Delhi and also in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

Mishra asked whether Parrikar has forgotten that army has been honoured with 21 Param Vir Chakra and 63 Ashok Chakra awards.

“You are not aware of army’s strength, which is why the BJP is kneeling before (PDP chief and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister) Mehbooba Mufti.

“Parrikar is not aware of army’s strength which is why you invited the ISI to investigate the Pathankot attack. Give army the free hand and then it will show the enemy its place,” Kapil Mishra said in his blog post.

On Tuesday, Mishra had publicly taken on Mehbooba at an event here asking her if she considered Burhwan Wani and Afzal Guru as terrorists or not, inviting protests from her entourage. Later he left the venue, saying he does not want to share the dais with her.

Taking a jibe at Prime Minister, Mishra said even Narendra Modi has not applauded the army. “They have made a 56 inch stage and the show is on.”

Politicising LoC strikes is disservice to our jawans, centre must declare Pak a ‘terror-state’: Bitta

Chandigarh: On Thursday All India Anti-Terrorist Front Chairman M S Bitta appealed to political parties not to “politicise” the Army’s cross-LoC strikes, while stating that the Centre must declare Pakistan a “terrorist state”.

“I am not going into what is being said by political leaders from various parties on the issue of surgical strikes. The thing is that this is the time when all of us should speak in one voice and back the government and our Army.

“Those doing politics over the issue are doing disservice to our jawans, who will get demoralised while Pakistan will stand to benefit from this,” he told PTI over phone.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Hailing the decisive action taken by the government and the Army, Bitta said, “For the first time after Indira Gandhi, I am seeing anyone take a firm decision and have such clarity in approach. Earlier, our jawans used to get killed, but we used to talk.

“The question is not of Narendra Modi, the question is of nation’s security. The government has taken a very clear stand and we must applaud them,” he said.

Bitta said those people who were speaking in different voices at this juncture were “insulting those martyrs who laid down their lives for the sake of our nation.”

“Those politicising the (LoC strike) issue are enemies of the country,” he said.

Bitta, who survived a terrorist attack in Delhi in 1993 when he was the chief of the Youth Congress, said India should now take steps to get Pakistan declared as a “terrorist state.”

“Our government should approach the United Nations in this regard. We should also take help of friendly countries to combat terror. India should take these countries along and seek their support to get Pakistan declared as a terrorist state,” he added.

19 soldiers were killed in a militant attack on an Army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on 18 September. The Army had launched surgical strikes targeting terror camps located across the LoC on 28 September night.

By asking for proofs, we are indirectly exposing our army’s strategy to Pak: Ujjwal Nikam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With a section of leaders demanding proof of the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army of Pakistani terror launch pads, noted public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam has asked don’ they understand that by asking for such proofs, they are indirectly exposing our army’s strategy to the enemy country and who will be going to be benefited by exposing such strategies, of course, Pakistan.”I feel very sorry that certain people in our country are still demanding the evidence about our surgical strike. Don’t they understand that by asking for such proofs, they are indirectly exposing our army’s strategy to the enemy country, and who will be going to be benefitted by exposing such strategies? Of course, the enemy country, Pakistan will be largely benefited,” Nikam told ANI.Suggesting such leaders to ‘let Pakistan deny, we don’t bother about it,’ Nikam, who was involved in prosecuting 1993 Bombay bombings case and the 2008 Mumbai attacks, said he was reminded of an incident that had occurred in the terror attacks of 26 November, 2008 in Mumbai.Recounting the incident, the special public prosecutor said, “In fact, the special judge had asked me to marshal the evidence as to how the National Security Guard (NSG) commandos have conquered and overpowered the terrorists. I urged before the court that we cannot lead such evidences, because it is not in the public interest. The court said if you are not leading the evidence, the court will examine its court witness; and the court accordingly issued summons to NSG guards.”Asserting that they challenged the special court’s order in the high court, Nikam said, “The high court ruled that such disclosures would vitally affect the public interest; national interest; and that would also involve the risk to NSG’s strategy, because certain strategies of the army and the NSG cannot be disclosed, otherwise the enemy country will be benefited. And therefore, the High Court said ‘no, the order of the special court erroneous and wrong’. And, it was set aside with certain modification.””That is why it is the most unfortunate thing that some people are demanding evidence of our surgical strikes against terrorists. I feel very sorry for them,” Nikam rued.A political slugfest over surgical strikes broke out Tuesday with Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam calling it ‘fake’ and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asking the government to release the proof of the surgical strikes to counter the Pakistani propaganda against the operation.”Every Indian wants #urgicalStrikesAgainstPak but not a fake one to extract just political benefit by #BJP. Politics over national interest,” tweeted Nirupam.”BJP make a mockery out of it by chest thumping and putting up posters in UP,Goa crediting PM Modi instead of the Army,” Nirupam said in another tweet.Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal tweeted: “BJP, I m convinced that strikes took place. But intl media publishing Pak propaganda that no strike took place. Lets expose Pak propaganda.”Meanwhile, leader of Opposition in the Gujarat assembly and senior Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela also asked the Centre ‘to provide proof of the Army’s action to clear the doubts arising in the mind of the people about the claims of the government’.

Army foils 3 Pakistan-aided infiltration bids along LoC in Jammu & Kashmir

Army foils 3 Pakistan-aided infiltration bids along LoC in Jammu & Kashmir

Updated: Oct 6, 2016 08:57 IST

#Army #India #Jammu and Kashmir #LoC #NewsTracker #Pakistan


Srinagar: On Thursday the Army foiled three infiltration bids assisted by Pakistani posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Three infiltration bids were foiled in two separate sectors on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on the intervening night of 5-6 October,” an army official said.

He said while two infiltration bids were foiled in Naugam sector, one such attempt was foiled in Rampur sector.

“The infiltration attempts were assisted by Pakistani posts,” the official added.

Army recording fake exercises as evidence for PoK surgical strikes: J&K MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid

Srinagar: Amid the growing clamour for making public the evidence of the recent surgical strikes by India on terror launch pads in PoK, controversial Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid on Wednesday said the Army was video graphing “fake exercises” in Leepa Valley near LoC to offer them as proof for the same.

The MLA from Langate in Kashmir’s Kupwara district claimed that since the last three days, the Army was making footage of fake strikes in Leepa Valley in his constituency in order to show them as proof of the surgical strikes.

Sheikh Abdul Rashid. AFPSheikh Abdul Rashid. AFP

Sheikh Abdul Rashid. AFP

“Fake targets are being made and I want to tell the whole world that if they show some proof, it is of Leepa and is fake and we can prove it,” he said. He alleged that there had been no firing at two of the five places where the Army claimed that it conducted the strikes.

“Two of the five places are in my area. I tried to know from the people and to the best of my knowledge, there has been no firing there for the past 20 days,” the legislator said.

Alleging that the surgical strikes were a “drama to divert the attention from Kashmir”, which has been reeling under violence for around three months, Rashid asked the Army to not fall into the hands of politicians .

“You (Army) claim to be a credible organisation. You should not enact drama for politicians, by virtue of which your credibility may get lost,” he said. The MLA said Pakistan took international media to the LoC to show them that no such strikes were carried out.

If India was truthful in its claims, they would have also done the same, he said. He also asked India and Pakistan not to make Kashmir a “battleground” for their vested interests.

Meanwhile, Union Minister Hansraj Ahir said on Wednesday that the Army has handed over to the government video clips of the cross-LoC surgical strikes as per laid down procedure.

Surgical strikes video: Govt, experts divided over release of evidence

New Delhi: A debate raged on Wednesday over whether the government should release evidence of the army’s surgical strikes across the LoC with BJP leader Subramanian Swamy favouring putting out an edited version of the video on the action while most experts spoke against it.

Rejecting the demand, the BJP attacked some Congress leaders and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal for raising questions over the strikes and accused them of giving a handle to Pakistan to advance its false propaganda.

The Congress, on its part, insisted that it never questioned the authenticity of the strikes but steered clear of the demand, including from within its own ranks, for the release of evidence, saying it would give appropriate advice in the best interest of national security if consulted by the government.

Representational image.

Representational image.

Swamy, a Rajya Sabha member, said anybody questioning the operation should prove prima facie evidence to support his allegation but added that a video should be released following a newspaper report today that gave details of the operation.

“I think they should edit the video of the logistics value of it and show the other part, showing explosions, the dead body… they have got in the video. So all these parts can be released,” he said.

He, however, added that the bluff of those questioning the army’s claim should be called by not responding to them.

A large number of countries, including Russia, have congratulated India on these strikes, he said.

Former army chief Gen VP Malik slammed those questioning the credibility of the strikes saying, “The video should not be released just because some stupid people have sought so.”

He told PTI it was “utter nonsense” that people are asking the army to prove the operation and wondered what is wrong with the political class.

“Only the army should take a call on whether to release the video or not and when,” he said.

Another former army chief Gen JJ Singh also joined Mall in criticising such voices and said when armed forces make a claim there should be no doubt.

“Very proud of our para commandos and the mission they have done. Anybody who thin they have to prove their worth let me tell them that they are living in a fool’s paradise. We should never believe what Pakistan media is trotting out,” he said.

Yet another former army chief Gen Shankar Roy Choudhary also spoke out against the release of the video saying the country’s secrets should not be put in the open.

He added that Pakistan was looking for an opportunity to gain from any such release.

Echoing his views, a former IG of BSF said the release of such video could hamper India’s future strategy.

BJP Spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said, “At a time when the whole world has stopped believing Pakistan we have the spectacle of Congress, Kejriwal and other parties questioning strike carried out by our armed forces and giving a handle to Pakistan to advance its false propaganda.”

Reacting to the newspaper report, he said the credibility of Indian armed forces is so high that the whole world has rallied behind India and supported surgical strikes. “We do not need to rely on any media report to justify the statement of the armed forces.”

Steering clear of the issue, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Let government consult all political parties and we would give appropriate advice in the best
interest of national security.”

Congress had on Tuesday disassociated itself from the controversial remarks of its leader Sanjay Nirupam, who had alluded that the Army’s assertion of a surgical strike could be fake.

Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Wednesday said footage of the strike has been submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office by the Army.

Asked if the government planned to share the video, he said: “No such decision has been taken yet, a call can only be taken by the Prime Minister.”

“A nation has its own policies and one needs to practise restraint. People like Sanjay Nirupam and Arvind Kejriwal listen to Pakistan. The DGMO did the briefing and everyone in India believes it,” the Minister said.

Surgical strikes: Modi govt must handle unpleasant questions with maturity, not rancour

So, what if Sanjay Nirupam, Arvind Kejriwal or any ‘aam aadmi‘ raises questions on the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army on 29 September?

Raising questions is the privilege a democracy offers to its citizens: The promise of free speech, not an anti-national activity, certainly (in this case) not disrespectful to our jawans who put their lives at risk at every moment of their lives, not just during surgical strikes. Every citizen of India has an absolute right to ask questions to the elected government, and guess what, even the unpleasant ones.

File image of Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

File image of Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

That’s what differentiates this country from a fake republic in our neighborhood where the government works by remote control.

Let’s get one thing clear. By making a big controversy out of such questions on an issue of national interest, we are making ourselves an object of ridicule and thus, belittling a brave act by our jawans. That is precisely what Union minister Uma Bharti did when she said in Pune that politicians who “doubt the army’s surgical strike should take Pakistani citizenship”.

“Those leaders who say that if Pakistan is demanding evidence about the surgical strike, they should be given the evidence; such people should take the citizenship of Pakistan,” Bharti told reporters in Pune.

Now, this isn’t the way to silence critics and questioners. The world is watching how the largest democracy in the world deals with criticism. We don’t want to send signal that we do so by awarding Pakistan citizenship to the questioners. There are two facts worth mentioning here that tells us why the Narendra Modi government needs to respond to questions on the surgical strikes.

First, that this wasn’t the first instance of across-the-LoC surgical attacks is something security experts have said on multiple platforms. Even during the time of the UPA government, there were cross-border raids. Former Congress minister P Chidambaram has gone on record as saying that the army had conducted major surgical strikes across the LoC in 2013.  It’s just that those operations were not announced to the world by the then government. The army was always vigilant and always did its job, whether or not its actions were publicised.

Second, no one can deny that for the Modi government, the recent surgical strike has been a major face-saver, after the Uri attack. Emotions were riding high and every Indian craved Pakistani blood — war or otherwise. Modi had good political reasons to walk the talk and show the world that the glory of his 56-inch chest isn’t a myth. If he failed to act, the inaction would have backfired badly.

If we don’t behave as a democracy in its true spirit, we are no different than them

War isn’t an option for either India or Pakistan; the government knew this well. The alternative, besides the diplomatic efforts, was to conduct an army strike in selective areas without escalating tensions beyond a point. This was particularly important ahead of the crucial state elections next year, and to justify his merit and present himself as the nation’s best political choice in the 2019 General Elections, which aren’t far.

Note that the announcement of the surgical strikes was done by the DGMO, not the defence minister. This was designed to give credibility to the entire exercise by letting the army say it in its own words. But that doesn’t mean the government isn’t answerable to the counter-questions on this subject. The simple reason is the obvious political gain for Modi and his government. This is evident from the way the BJP used this army operation to score a political point.

File image of P Chidambaram. PTI

File image of P Chidambaram. PTI

The jawan who risked his life in the darkness of 29 September doesn’t expect any congratulatory words or rewards. He does his duty silently and doesn’t need to explain this to anyone. The onus, obviously, lies with the elected government to answer the questions.

Nirupam and Kejriwal asked for proof of the action. Whether this question — doubting an army operation — is warranted or not is a matter of larger debate.

The question that should be asked is not whether the surgical attacks took place, but whether the attacks were over-hyped by the Modi government for political reasons. Whether or not this was the first-of-its-kind is a different issue. The narrative is what should be scrutinised. But the larger point here is how the government has dealt with the unpleasant questions.

In a multipolar political set up, political parties that are not in power are relevant only because they can question the ruling party’s actions on behalf of the people. The questions can be unpleasant and tough. If we start branding Kejriwal and Nirupam, or for that matter anyone, ‘anti-national’ for questioning the actual nature of surgical strikes, we are certainly not acting in the right spirit of democracy. The very idea that patriotism is a patented privilege only for those who toe the government line is flawed, if not alarming for a country that boasts the virtues of its democratic setup.

The Modi government should deal with such questions with maturity and a sense of responsibility (to the extent national security permits), instead of letting its ministers award Pakistani citizenship to questioners using the measure of patriotism. Creating an unnecessary controversy, we are making us and our army an object of ridicule. The Pakistani government and the anti-India elements (the real enemies of the State) they nurture, will be having a lot of fun watching the government suppressing questions with contempt, because that’s what they do in their country.

If we don’t behave as a democracy in its true spirit, we are no different than them.

J &K: 2 militants neutralised in attack on Rashtriya Rifles camp in Baramulla; 1 jawan martyred

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three days after the Indian Army’s surgical strike on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), militants launched a major attack on an Army camp at Baramulla town on late Sunday evening. Late night reports said two terrorists and a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan were killed. One jawan was wounded.The gunfight started at 10.30 pm when unknown militants attacked the 46 Rashtriya Rifles camp at Janbazpora area.Taking advantage of the darkness, militants first lobbed grenades and then opened heavy fire on the camp, sources said. The Army immediately retaliated on the militants. The exchange of heavy firing between the militants and the Army was on till reports came in.“Terrorists opened fire on the Army camp. The exchange of fire is still going on”, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar, told dna.Panic has gripped the area, which has been witnessing massive protests and stone-pelting for the last few months. The entire area has been rattled by gun roars as the locals apprehend another major standoff between the troops and the militants in the area.“Colleagues in Baramulla town are phoning with reports of massive gunfire in their vicinity. Prayers for all in the area”, tweeted Omar Abdullah, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister.It was not immediately known whether it was a fidayeen strike or a standalone militant attack on the Army camp. There was no confirmation of any casualty immediately.Locals said that the entire area has been sealed and heavy volume of gunfire has broken the eerie calm in the area. “We were retiring to bed when we heard the gunshots. We do not know what is happening in the vicinity. It seems heavy gunfight is on,” said a local of the old town.The attack has come four days after Indian Army launched surgical strikes on the terror launch pads on the other side of Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The attack comes 15 days after four Jaish-e-Mohammad fidayeens barged into the Army’s 12 brigade headquarters at Uri and unleashed mayhem, killing 19 soldiers and injuring 20 others.

Man from Pakistan occupied Kashmir arrested along LoC: Army

Mohd Rashid Khan, a resident of Haveli district in PoK, was apprehended in a joint operation by the Army and Police on Saturday. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security forces have arrested a 41-year-old man from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir, the Army said on Sunday.The official said Mohd Rashid Khan, a resident of Haveli district in PoK, was apprehended in a joint operation by the Army and Police in Saujian sector in the district on Saturday.He is being interrogated and further investigation is on.

Headed for a war? The long term implications of India’s attack on Pakistan

What is the long-term implication of India’s attack on Pakistan?

One of them might be that there is another war between us, which would make it officially the third war, if it is long, or the fifth, if it is short. We fought first in 1947-48 when Jinnah sent a tribal army of Pathans to conquer Kashmir and seized what we call today PoK and Pakistanis call Azad Kashmir. Then Ayub Khan was instigated by his foreign minister Bhutto to send intruders into Kashmir again in 1965. Shastri responded by sending tanks across the international border towards Lahore. That war ended with a peace brokered by the Soviet Union at Tashkent (today in Uzbekistan). It also ended partly because both countries ran out of air force spare parts. Fighter planes are high-performance machines which use very expensive parts which are used up quickly. For this reason, poor nations cannot afford to fight modern wars beyond 10 days. Today, India is much more powerful and richer than Pakistan and so this situation has changed. But then we both have weapons of mass destruction now which we did not in Shastri’s time.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Only six years after the Tashkent peace, we divided Pakistan in the 1971 war to create Bangladesh. In 1999, we cleared Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry jawans at Kargil. Though about 1,000 soldiers died, 500 on each side, the Kargil conflict is not classified as a war because neither nation officially declared war.

This time, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered retaliation, the conflict seems to be contained. India used very cautious language when announcing the surgical strike. We also assured Pakistan and the world we were not planning further action. However, since we have already fought them so many times there is always a possibility that we will go to war again.

The problem with war is that populations get bored of it soon. I do not mean they get tired of war, in the sense that their sons are dying or that the economy is bleeding. I mean they actually get bored.

The first world war was fought in trenches. Long and unmoving lines that began in Belgium (a wretched nation that wanted no part of the fighting but became a battlefield because it was located between the combatants) and ended at Switzerland. These long and unmoving lines remained for years. Between 1914 and 1918, the Germans were facing off against the French and British they hated who were in trenches 150 metres apart.

What was going on behind them? Nothing. People were going to pubs and restaurants in the evening, to work in offices and factories and fields in the morning, children were going to school and families were going off on their annual vacations. All this time, and for four years, a couple of kilometres from thousands of French and Belgian towns and cities and villages, millions of men were shooting and bombing one another.

How many people were killed? More than one and a half crore. What was the result of the war? That is difficult to say. The national borders remained more or less the same, all the economies were gutted. Some regimes changed. The Russian empire died and the Communists took power. The Austro-Hungarian empire ended and so did the German empire. But all of these were changed from within. No country benefited from the all of the killings.

I wonder if our conflict with Pakistan will be different. Will this surgical strike of ours put an end to Pakistani terror?

And if not, what will we do when the next terror strike happens? Will there be another surgical strike or will we have to do something bigger? How big does it have to be to get Pakistan to totally stop? We cut their country in half but they still have not learned the lesson we want to teach them. Will they learn it if we cut them in half again? That will need a lot of killing and dying however. I wonder if even we will get bored.

Will we continue with our lives when after a while, there is nothing ‘new’ in the news and the latest killings are just the same as the ones of yesterday and the day before? Will we be going about our business, coming back home to watch the TV channels discuss the latest development in the Indrani case?

I think so because that is the nature of the human being and that is the nature of war.

Army ready for any eventuality after surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid heightened tension with Pakistan, Army asked the forces to be “prepared for any eventuality” and maintain “very high level of alert” as its Chief Gen Dalbir Singh visited Jammu and Kashmir to assess the military preparedness.The situation on the Line of Control (LoC) and hinterland was discussed at a meeting held by Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda and attended by Srinagar-based Corps Commander Lt Gen Satish Dua, state Chief Secretary B R Sharma and DGP K Rajendra Kumar.During the meeting, “Lt Gen Hooda stressed upon the need for maintaining a very high level of alert and vigil and to remain prepared for any eventuality,” an army spokesman said.”The Chinar Corps Commander, Lt Gen Satish Dua reviewed the entire gamut of operational readiness with the Army Commander and briefed him on all security measures along the LoC as well as the hinterland,” the spokesman added.The review of security was undertaken against the backdrop of surgical strike carried out by the Indian army against terror camps across the LoC two days back.The army made an “earnest appeal to the people of Kashmir to ensure calm and peace in these sensitive times and strengthen the government and security agencies in meeting the challenges emanating from across the borders”.Earlier, Lt Gen Hooda briefed the Army Chief at Northern Command Headquarters at Udhampur about the overall security situation along the borders. The Army Chief then visited the Kashmir valley.Lt Gen Hooda and Lt Gen Dua also called on Governor N N Vohra and apprised him about the overall security situation in the state and preparedness of the army.Lt Gen Hooda assured the Governor of complete synergy amongst all the agencies towards facing any kind of security challenges.He also conveyed his compliments to 15 Corps for the high degree of professionalism shown by all ranks involved in the planning and execution of surgical strikes across the LoC.Meanwhile, a Raj Bhawan spokesman said the Governor congratulated the Northern Army Commander and all his officers and men concerned for their outstanding success in executing a crucial counter-terrorism operation across the Line of Control in the areas of responsibility of the 15 and 16 Corps.”The Governor particularly complimented Lt Gen Hooda for the brilliant efficiency with which he had planned and carried through this milestone initiative,” the spokesman added.

Surgical strikes: Army Chief Dalbir Singh compliments Northern Command for successful operation

New Delhi: Army Chief Dalbir Singh on Friday complimented all ranks of Udhampur-based Northern Command for successfully conducting the “surgical strike” on terrorist launchpads across the LoC in which “significant casualties” were inflicted on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from PoK.

File image of Army chief Dalbir Singh. PTI

File image of Army chief Dalbir Singh. PTI

Sources said the army was ready to deal with any possible attack from Pakistani side in response to the “clinical strike” carried out by para commandos of the army. The Additional Directorate General of Public Information (Army) in Ministry of Defence said the army chief complimented the Northern Command for successfully planning and implementing the strike, seen as a reprisal for the Uri attack.

The sources said the decision on the “surgical strike” was taken soon after the attack on the Uri army base on 18 September. They said India was ready with contingency plans considering the possibilities that Pakistan may retaliate in the wake of the surgical strike.

The Army also trashed reports in Pakistan about Indian casualties during the operation, saying one member of the special forces received minor injury while returning but it was not due to any enemy or terrorist action. It has been estimated that casualties was at least 40 on Pakistani side but there was no official confirmation.

The operation was “clinically” planned and the attack on each of the seven launch pads located in Leepa, Tattapani, Kel and Bhimbar were carried out simultaneously, sources said. The sources said it was a moonless night and total darkness helped the special forces bring the element of surprise with total effectiveness.

It has been estimated that casualties were at least 40 on Pakistani side but there was no official confirmation. Choppers also hovered over several sectors on the Indian side of the LoC to divert attention of the Pakistani security forces guarding various post.

There were unconfirmed reports that the operation has been videographed using drones. There have been satellite images of the operation, the sources said. Meanwhile, one more soldier, who was critically injured in the terror attack on Army’s Uri base 12 days ago, on Friday died of his wounds, taking the total number of army personnel killed in the strike to 19.

Naik Raj Kishor Singh was undergoing treatment at Army’s Research and Referral Hospital here. “Gen Dalbir Singh #COAS & all Rks #IndianArmy pay homage & salute the supreme sacrifice of braveheart Nk Raj Kishor Singh, #UriAttack,” the ADG PI (Army) tweeted.

All-party meet ends, oppn unanimously supports Indian Army’s action against Pakistan

New Delhi: Top leaders of political parties were on Thursday briefed by the government about the surgical strike carried out by the Army on terror launching pads across the LoC to foil plans of terrorists to target some Indian towns.

Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said after the hour-long meeting that all political parties unanimously supported the Army action, which was carried at 5-6 important places across LoC along Kupwara and Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir at an altitude of 6,000 feet and some of these terror launch pads were destroyed.

File photo of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTIFile photo of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

File photo of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

“The Home Minister explained the all-party meeting about the surgical strike which was carried out by the Army to foil attempts by terrorists to carry out attack not only in Jammu and Kashmir but some other important towns,” he told reporters.

The Army action came in the aftermath of terror attack in Uri on 18 September in which 18 soldiers were killed.

Naidu said the terrorists had carried out strike from these launching pads and they had plans to do the same in future too.

“Government and the Army had reports that the terrorists had plans to infiltrate again and create havoc in Jammu and Kashmir and some other places,” he said.

After the successful operation, the Army personnel had returned to their respective bases without suffering any casualty, he said adding further details would be available later.

The Minister said Representatives of Congress, NCP, CPM, BSP, Shiv Sena, LJSP AND TDP complimented the Indian Army action and assured the government of their support in any action in future.

Those who attended the meeting include Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Sitaram Yechury (CPM), Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) and Ram Vilas Paswan (LJSP).

BJP President Amit Shah, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar besides the Home Minister and Naidu attended the meeting.

Naidu said the surgical strike was carried out as Pakistan was not mending its ways and testing India’s patience. Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh briefed the all-party meeting.