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Florence Nightingales of the army sing discrimination

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two officers in the Military Nursing Services (MNS), the only all women corps of the army, have challenged discriminatory practices by the army in the Supreme Court (SC) and have sought restoration of their status, dignity and service conditions as officers of the Regular Army.In their petition, MNS officers Lieutenant Colonel Uma Kaushik and Captain Harpreet Kaur sought parity with officers in the army on various grounds. In their prayer, the officers have listed at least 13 grounds where discriminatory practices were observed. They include orders where nurses of senior ranks would not be saluted by junior ranked officers. Hence, though a MNS officer may be a Major General in uniform, a jawan will not salute her.The petitioners are of the opinion that the core consideration of the case stems from the prejudice they face, based on an obsolete and backward notion that nurses are inferior to other professionals. In their petition, they said they believe the heart of the matter is that doctors and male officers find it unpalatable that they are required to treat nursing officers in accordance with their status and rank.This petition is similar to a 2015 writ petition filed by Major General (Retd) Usha Sikdar on behalf of Military Nursing Service Corps Association in which a notice was issued to the army. It is interesting to note that since hearing in December, 4, 2015, the matter has not come up again in the top court.Known as the Florence Nightingales of the Indian Army, MNS officers have been seeking redressal for over a decade now. The petitioners believe that discriminatory practices were introduced after a 2003 SC judgement in Jasbir Kaur’s case, where an unfortunate one line observation made by the Bench stated, “That the Indian Military Nursing Service is a separate class, sui generis even though an auxiliary force of the Indian Military, is an undeniable fact.”Over the years, the nurses allege that they were discriminated against on at least 13 grounds that included discontinuation of arms training, change in uniform, stripping of stars and flags from vehicles and verbal instructions to stop saluting MNS officers among others.According to the petition, the Army, vide letter no. B/42706/MNS/AG/CW-1 09.02.2004, changed the olive green shirt and pants (like other officers in the Army) worn by the officers in the MNS to safari style beige colour uniform. This, the officers allege, was discriminatory and a grave gender injustice.IN 2005, the Chief of the Army Staff (CoAS) disallowed the display of star plates and flying of flags by officers in the MNS of the rank of Brigadier and Major general on their official vehicles. In 2008, the CoAS wrote to the Cabinet Secretary against granting the same pay band and grade pay to officers in the MNS as for the other service officers as recommended by the 6th Central Pay Commission.After 2004, MNS officers have been denied membership and access to exclusive army clubs and institutes and accommodation has been segregated. The 6th Pay Commission recommended parity in time-scale promotions, a notification that has not yet been implemented.In their petition, the two officers further allege that there has been an attempt to take away their commissioned rank. In her blog titled Fall of Nightingales – the tale of a losing battle, Maj Gen Sikdar wrote that a 10-member committee, headed by then army director-general of discipline, ceremonial and welfare, Lt Gen MG Girish recommended that MNS ranks be changed to Sister, Senior Sister, Matron, Deputy Principal Matron, Deputy Nursing Superintendent and Nursing Superintendent from Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lt Colonel, Brigadier and Major General, respectively. However, medical officers got to retain their ranks, Sikdar noted.

J-K govt aid for Burhan’s kin will generate more sympathisers in Valley: Defence expert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising the Mehbooba Mufti government for announcing an ex-gratia payment to Burhan Wani’s brother Khalid Wani, in the next of kin killed in militancy-related incidents in the Valley, defence expert Colonel Sunil Deshpande has said the government’s decision would only encourage terrorists to generate more sympathisers and give boost to terrorism in the valley.”Khalid Wani, the brother of Burhan Wani, was killed in action and he was a supporter of terrorists. It was proved that he was working for the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and the civilian authorities announced the list of the supporters who were working for terrorists, and he was ranked ninth on the list. It is incorrect on the part of the government to give money to Khalid Wani,” said Deshpande.Deshpande further said, “Khalid Wani was not an innocent person. He was a known sympathiser and, after his death, a payment of Rs. 4 lakhs is absolutely incorrect on the part of Mufti government. This money is given to those who are killed in action. This will help terrorists to create more sympathisers in the valley and it will give a boost to terrorist activity in the valley.”The government yesterday cleared ex-gratia payments to the next of kin of 17 persons, including Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s brother, killed in militancy-related incidents in the valley.The government has given one week’s time for filing of any objection before formal orders are issued.According to a notification issued on Monday by the deputy commissioner of Pulwama, ex-gratia relief under rules were cleared by the district-level screening-cum-consultative committee (DLSCC) in favour of next of kin of those persons who died in militancy-related incidents.As per report, the ex-gratia relief entitles a victim’s family to a payment of Rs. four lakh or employment for a member of the family.Burhan had left home at the age of 15 in October 2010 to join the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen, while his brother Khalid lived in Tral in Pulwama with his family.Twenty five-year-old Khalid was pursuing a Masters in political science from IGNOU, reportedly told his mother on the afternoon of April 13, 2015 that he was going for a picnic. However, his body was found in the nearby jungle hours later.

Three Army officers killed in copter crash in West Bengal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three Army officers were killed and a junior commissioned officer was critically injured on Wednesday when a Cheetah helicopter crashed at Sukna Military Camp in West Bengal.Lt Colonel Rajneesh Kumar, Major Sanjeev Lathar and Major Arvind Bazala died by the time they reached hospital, and the condition of a jawan was critical.Army officials said the five-seater chopper crashed around 11.45 am when it was returning to the camp’s helipad at Sukna, near Silgirui, from a routine mission. The Army’s 33 Corps is based at Sukna and all aircraft of the Army are run by Army Aviation Corps.While three officers died on the spot, a JCO was evacuated and admitted to a hospital in a critical condition. “The copter was on a routine mission. It crashed as it was trying to land, a spokeswoman of the Army’s Eastern Command said.

Nagrota attack: A look at pervious attacks on military units shows lack of security measures

It was a dark day for India on Tuesday when a group of heavily-armed terrorists in police uniform stormed an army unit in Nagrota, about three kilometres from the 16 Corps headquarters on the outskirts of Jammu city on Tuesday morning, triggering an intense gunbattle that lasted for several hours.

Seven army personnel, including two officers, were killed in the attack before three terrorists were eliminated in an armed face-off which also involved a hostage-like situation with 12 soldiers, two women and as many children being held captive. All were later rescued, army spokesman said.

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at the Army camp in Nagrota in Jammu. PTI

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at the Army camp in Nagrota in Jammu. PTI

The attack has not only raised doubts about whether the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian army against terror launch pads across the Line of Control were actually effective or not but has also raised several questions about the security at military camps and units.

According to The Indian Express, intelligence services had been monitoring a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) cell in Kashmir which had been plotting an attack on the 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota for at least two weeks. Despite intelligence services warning of such an attack, the fact that attackers were still successful in infiltrating through the route to Nagrota says a lot about the security there.

Another report in The Times of India said that defence sources informed the newspaper that “very little follow-up action” had been taken after the recommendations of the tri-Service committee, led by former Army chief Lt Gen (retd) Philip Campose and constituted after the Pathankot terror attack. “Since the report was submitted to defence minister Manohar Parrikar in mid-May, few concrete steps have been taken. There were some general discussions with the three Service headquarters, which in turn have carried out some security audits of their bases,” the report quoted a source as saying.

Even if we ignore the major terror attacks on military installations which have taken place outside Jammu and Kashmir in India (like the Pathankot attack), and instead focus only on the attacks in Jammu and Kashmir (where tension has increased at the borders due to the deteriorating ties with Pakistan), the frequency of attacks on the army since 2015 points out how the security for our security personnel seems to have been ignored.

Here are the major attacks on military and paramilitary installations and units which took place in Jammu and Kashmir since 2015:

Attack on army installation in Samba (March 2015): Two terrorists opened fire at the camp of the 81 Armoured Regiment of the Army on the Jammu-Pathankot National Highway in Samba near Jammu. The two terrorists were killed but two security personnel and a civilian were also injured.

Attack on brigade headquarters in Kupwara (May 2015): Three terrorists were killed after they attacked the brigade headquarters of the army in Tanghdar sector of Kupwara near the Line of Control.

Terrorists kill army colonel in Kupwara (November 2015): A Colonel of the Army’s elite Para Commando force was killed and a policeman injured by militants during an operation near the LoC in Kupwara. The Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles Colonel Santosh, who was leading a search party, was critically injured when militants hiding in a dense forest area of Haji Naka opened fire.

Assault on army camp in Kupwara (November 2015): Three terrorists and a civilian were killed after the terrorists infiltrated a camp of Gorkha Rifles in Tanghdar. Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) had claimed responsiblity for the attack.

Attack on CRPF convoy in Anantnag (December 2015): Six CRPF jawans were injured when terrorist opened fired on their convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

Pampore terror attack (June 2016): Eight CRPF personnel were killed and 21 others critically wounded when terrorists rained bullets on a bus carrying them at Pampore, near Srinagar, in what was a fidayeen attack carried out by LeT.

Attack on army convoy near Khawaja Bagh in Baramulla (August 2016): Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists attacked an army convoy on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway near Khawaja Bagh in Baramulla, killing eight people and injuring 22 others.

Assault on BSF camp in Kupwara (August 2016): An attack by terrorists on a BSF camp in Kupwara left three BSF personnel injured.

Uri attack (September 2016): In a terrible attack on the Army in many years, heavily armed militants suspected to be from Pakistan-based JeM stormed an army base in Uri in Kashmir killing 17 jawans. Located barely a few kilometres from the LoC and some 70 km from Srinagar, the base was subjected to the brazen attack by four terrorists at around 5.30 am, causing heavy casualties in the Dogra regiment which lost 17 of its men.

Attack on army, BSF camps in Baramulla (October 2016): Two terrorists and a soldier were killed and another soldier was injured after terrorists attacked army and BSF camps in Baramulla four days after India conducted the surgical strikes.

Attack on army camp in Handwara (October 2016): Terrorists attemped to storm a Rashtriya Rifles camp in the Langate area of Handwara. No security personnel were killed and all the three terrorists were killed.

With inputs from agnecies

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 13:50 IST

DNA Exclusive: Pakistan army’s 26/11 link revealed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight years on, DNA finds the current location of Sadaat Ullah, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Pakistan army, identified as Col R Saadat Ullah in the 26/11 charge sheet, about whom little was known till now.He currently resides at “188, Street 3, Sector C in Askari-X”, a housing community for retired Pakistan army personnel in southeast Lahore, and runs a thriving firm called Dexter Tools Co that deals in power tools and accessories. He has also initiated a “social empowerment programme” that seeks donations for maintenance of a mosque, free primary education for the poor and skill development for the youth in his native district Narowal, in Pakistan’s Punjab province.Little was known about Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Sadaat Ullah, identified as Col R Saadat Ullah in the 26/11 charge sheet and wanted for his role in the terror attack. Until now – eight years after terrorists struck India’s financial capital.Accessing fresh information, DNA has now unmasked this shadowy figure, alleged to be the direct link that nails the Pakistan army’s role in the terror siege.A faceless name in the charge sheet, “Col R Saadat Ullah” was a Pakistan army officer who worked with the Special Communications Organisation (SCO) that provides telecom services in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. It operates under the IT ministry and is maintained by the Pakistan army, according to the Mumbai Police Crime Branch.He is alleged to have helped the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists set up an account with a New Jersey-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider, Callphonex. This was later used by LeT handlers in Pakistan to communicate with the 10 gunmen during the 26/11 attack.Investigators had found that the e-mail id [email protected] had been used while communicating with Callphonex to set up the account. This e-mail id was accessed from at least 10 IP addresses, whose locations were found to be in Lahore, Chicago, Kuwait, Moscow, Rawalpindi and Gulberg in Pakistan.The Rawalpindi IP address was registered under one Khurram Shehzad and one ‘Colonel R Saadat Ullah’ from the SCO. The registration details were listed in the charge sheet as “Col. R.Saadat Ullah, Address: SCO, Qasim Road, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, e-mail ID: [email protected]”. Little else was known about the Pakistan army officer.In June 2009, special judge ML Tahaliyani had, however, issued a non-bailable warrant against him and 21 other wanted accused.“The name of Colonel Sadaat Ullah was revealed not only by David Headley, but also from certain documentary evidence that was marshalled in the 26/11 trial. Certainly, this new information about his photograph and his current location can be sent to the Interpol by the Government of India, so that that the Government of India can seek his extradition to face trial in the 26/11 case,” Ujjwal Nikam, Special Public Prosecutor for the 26/11 case, told DNA.The antecedentsAccording to information accessed by DNA, Sadaat Ullah’s intermediate education was from the Islamia Degree College in Norowal in 1974, after which he entered the Pakistan Military Academy and completed his Bachelor’s in Humanities in 1981. While serving in the Pakistan army between June 1986 and October 2006, he was posted as an IT expert in various cities in the country, and received the Tamgha-e-Basalat (medal of good conduct), a non-operational award from the Pakistan president, and the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (medal of excellence). He also received commendation certificates from the chief of army staff.Prior to being posted at the SCO, he was deputy director (Operations and Intelligence) in the Anti Narcotics Force. He also served as director, and later deputy secretary, in the Pakistan government’s Establishment Division.Between November 2006 and September 2008, Sadaat Ullah worked as project manager (IT) in the SCO, and was then promoted to deputy director (IT). Monitoring all IT-related projects initiated by SCO, he served in the post till April 2009. It was during this stint that the Mumbai attack took place. Five months after the attack, he was promoted as director (IT) in SCO, where he served till October 2009.In January 2010, he and some other partners set up a company called Alisha Tools in Lahore, an import and export concern dealing in accessories and spare parts of power and hand tools from China. Later in January 2013, Sadaat Ullah set up his own power tools company, Dexter Tools, on the bustling Brandreth Road commercial area in Lahore.Besides floating his own company, in July 2013, he also launched a non-profit organisation under the banner, Afzal Community Empowerment Movement, that seeks donations or zakat for the ostensible purpose of community upliftment in the underdeveloped Narowal area near the Indian border. Among the projects undertaken by the organisation are construction and maintenance of a mosque on a plot of land at Budha Dhola village in Narowal that was gifted to Sadaat Ullah by his mother Fahmeeda Begum. Donations were also sought for developing a skill school.Saadat Ullah did not respond to phone calls from DNA and a questionnaire mailed to him. When DNA contacted Dexter Tools in Lahore, an employee who identified himself as Aadil said Sadaat Ullah would not be available to speak.TOTAL RECALLOn November 26, 2008, 10 members of the LeT carried out a series of 12 coordinated attacks in Mumbai and bombing that lasted four days across Mumbai.There was also an explosion at Mazagaon, in Mumbai’s port area, and in a taxi at Vile Parle.In all, around 164 people were killed and 308 people were wounded. One terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, was caught and later hanged.

Lt Gen Amarjeet Singh Bedi takes over as GOC, Gajraj Corps in Tezpur

Guwahati: Lt Gen Amarjeet Singh Bedi on Friday took over as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Gajraj Corps located in Tezpur.

Bedi replaced Lt Gen Devraj Anbu who has proceeded to take over as GOC-in-C Northern Command, an official release
said in Guwahati.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Lt Gen Bedi has been commissioned into Garhwal Rifle Regiment on 13 June 1981 and has a distinguished military
career, in which he has executed important Command, Staff and Instructor appointments.

He has the credentials of having commanded the oldest Infantry Brigade of the Indian Army – The Formidable Fifth in Arunachal Pradesh and Trishul Division in Leh.

His staff appointments include Colonel General Staff (China) Headquarters Army Training Command and Major General
General staff at Headquarters Eastern Command, the release said.

Prior to taking over the Command of the Gajraj Corps he has served as General Officer Commanding Bengal Area.

Lt Gen Bedi has also done various courses to include the prestigious Defence Service Staff College course at
Wellington, Senior Command Course at Army War College, Higher Command Course from NDU, Beijing, and NDC Course at National Defence College.

He has been decorated with Vishist Seva Medal in 2012 and Yudh Seva Medal in 2015 for his distinguished and gallant service, the release said.

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 17:35 IST

Jammu and Kashmir: 3 soldiers killed, India warns Pakistan of heavy retribution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shock, anger and outrage gripped the security and political establishment after the suspected Border Action Team (BAT) of Pakistan badly mutilated the body of an Indian Army soldier and killed two others when they ambushed counter-infiltration patrol on the Line of Control (LoC) at Machhal sector of Kupwara district on Tuesday.Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia told DNA that three soldiers were killed in the action on the LoC in Machhal. “Body of one of the soldiers has been mutilated,” he said. “Retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act,” tweeted Northern Command of Indian Army.It is for the second time in less than a month that the body of an Indian soldier has been badly mutilated on the LoC in the Machhal sector. On October 28, militants badly mutilated the body of Rifleman Mandeep Singh of Sikh regiment. One militant was killed then while another fled back to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).The toll of jawans killed by Pakistan forces on the LoC and International Border (IB)—since the surgical strikes on the terror launch pads in POK on September 29—now stands at 18. Twelve civilians lost their lives and more than 50 others were injured in Pakistani firing and shelling during this period.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was briefed by Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Bipin Rawat on the killings of soldiers – identified as Gunner Manoj Kumar of Uttar Pradesh, Riffleman Prabhu Singh of Rajasthan and Riffleman Shashank K Singh of Uttar Pradesh. All belong to 57 Rashtriya Riffles.Army has vowed to avenge the killings by Pakistani BAT, which is a mix of special forces and jihadis and are used as force-multipliers by Pakistan army.The incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon when the Indian Army’s counter infiltration team was on a routine patrol between the fence and the LoC near Kumkari area. “The attackers who were hiding in the area first ambushed the patrol killing three soldiers. Later they badly mutilated the body of one of the soldiers before fleeing back to POK,” said an officer.Condemning the killings, Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh demanded that Pakistan should be declared a terrorist state. “Pakistan is a doing the acts which are the trademark of terrorists. They should be declared as terrorist state. Post surgical strikes, Pakistan is facing isolation and they are desperate,” said Singh.The BAT, on January 8, 2013, had breached the LoC in Mendhar sector and beheaded Lance Naik Hemraj and badly mutilated the body of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh of 13 Rajputana Rifles. Head of Lance Naik Hemraj is still missing and the Army sources say Pakistani soldiers had taken it along after committing the heinous crime.Official figures reveal that Pakistan has carried out 367 violations along the LoC and International Border till November this year. Last year, around 405 incidents of cross-border firing have taken place along the Indo-Pak border in J&K that claimed 26 lives including 16 civilians, six Army men and four BSF men.

Upbeat BJP confident of weathering demonetization storm

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP government seems confident that it would be able to brazen out the opposition attack on demonetization in the parliament and emerge victorious in the final analysis as the “popular sentiment”of people is with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Tipped by the top leadership to behave well and not pick up a fight, the treasury benches weathered the storm of a vociferous opposition pretty well on the first day of the Winter Session in upper house.Still confused how the demonetization gamble would play out in the public, the opposition parties calibrated their stand carefully as all the 13 notices by members demanding discussion under rule 267 did not question demonetization in principle but referred to problems arising out because its hasty implementation or social and economic fall out due to demonetization.Beginning the debate, Anand Sharma attacked PM Modi over selective leak on demonetization of 500 and 1000 rupee notes to ‘friends of BJP.’His charges found an echo among other Opposition parties.As the debate was in progress, BSP chief Mayawati demanded the presence of the Prime Minister in the House to hear out the Opposition parties and address their concerns.Supporting her, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said since Lok Sabha has adjourned for the day, Modi should hear out at least the major parties.Aware that the debate was being watched intently by the public, the treasury benches, especially cabinet minister Venkaiah Naidu, made it a point to heap praises on PM Modi by quoting his speeches and eulogizing him as a great leader who has raised India’s stature in the world.Condemning the scathing attack on PM Modi by Congress member who claimed that Modi will be remembered as the fourth one to demonetize currency after Colonel Qaddafi, Hitler and Mussolini, Naidu said, the more you say against PM Modi, the more you will be exposed among people who are fully with the Maha Yagna that is being performed by the PM.Hailing the decision, Power Minister Piysuh Goyal claimed that honest people in the country have been honoured for the first time, while the corrupt will face action and losses.”No honest tax-payer will lose a single rupee. The loss will be of those who have amassed wealth through corruption and black money and the public should also support the government in the move,” he said.

Pak shelling kills another soldier on LoC, toll reaches 14

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan army killed another army soldier on Friday night when they resorted to heavy firing and shelling on the Indian forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir’s Keran sector.Now the toll of Indian soldiers killed by Pakistan army and rangers on the LoC and International Border (IB) has climbed to 14 since Indian army carried out the surgical strikes on the terror launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on September 29.Around 12 civilians have also been killed and more than 50 others injured in Pakistan firing and shelling on the civilian areas along the twin borders across the restive Jammu and Kashmir since September 29 surgical strikes.The latest provocation occurred on Friday night when Pakistan army resorted to heavy firing and shelling and one of the soldiers sustained splinter wounds after a shell exploded near his post. He was rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. “Pakistan violated ceasefire in Keran sector last night. A soldier, who had sustained injuries, later succumbed,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman, Srinagar.Awami Ithaad Party (AIP) Chairman Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, who represents Langate constituency of the border district of Kupwara in the Legislative Assembly, lambasted the government for ignoring people living in Keran and adjoining areas along the LoC in north Kashmir. “The least the government could have done was to provide concrete bunkers to the people and shifted the families well in time,” said RasheedFigures reveal, since surgical strikes, Pakistan has carried out more than 110 ceasefire violations. Indian troops have foiled 61 Pakistan abetted infiltration bids both across LoC and IB since September 29. Around 405 incidents of cross border firing have taken place along the Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 killing 16 civilians. Out of these, 253 took place along the International Border and 152 along the Line of Control.

Spy ring: SP Rajya Sabha member’s PA arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi Police on Saturday arrested Farhat Khan, the personal assistant of Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Rajya Sabha MP Munawwar Saleem. Khan, who belongs to Kairana in western UP, is the fourth person to be arrested as the Delhi Police busted a spy ring on Wednesday.The spy ring was being run by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Mehmood Akhtar, who worked in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.Akhtar could not be arrested as he enjoyed diplomatic immunity but was asked to leave the country. Khan’s involvement in the spy ring came to light during the interrogation of Akhtar. Delhi Police officers say that Khan was paid well for handing over sensitive documents to Akhtar.”The amount changed according to the kind of documents he provided. He said he would get anything from Rs 10,000 to a lakh for some documents,” said a senior police officer.Khan is said to have been associated with many political leaders since 1996. He has been working with various MPs over the last 20 years. He was also the personal assistant to another SP MP, Munawwar Hasan, in 2008.Munawwar Saleem said he was shocked to know about his personal assistant’s involvement in the espionage case. “This person was working with me for the last one year. Full police verification was done before I took him in. I am at a loss for words… And as this issue is under investigation, it would not be appropriate to say anything more,” said Saleem.Akhtar also stated in the video that he had met Khan in Delhi near the Mandi House Metro station and ever since the two had kept in touch. He has also named other officials in the Pakistan High Commission, which include Syed Farrukh Habib, Counsellor (Trade); Khadim Hussain, First Secretary (Visa); and, Muddasir Iqbal Cheema, First Secretary (Press). The police are yet to verify these claims.Akhtar also told the police that Syed Farrukh is a colonel rank officer and he worked on his directions. After Akhtar’s confessions, the Crime Branch office in Pancharipuri, the Capital’s diplomatic area, has now become a fortress with heavy deployment of security forces, as the alleged spies working for the ISI are being grilled there. Around 20 commandos from the CRPF are guarding the office as well.The Delhi Police caught Akhtar on October 26 while receiving secret documents outside the Delhi Zoo from two Indian nationals, Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, who were residents of Nagaur, Rajasthan. The duo were held along with Akhtar. Another accused in the espionage case, Shoaib Hasan, has also been arrested.

Slain Colonel Mahadik’s buddies ensure sweet Diwali for unit jawans

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Classmates of an Army officer from Maharashtra, who laid down his life battling militants near the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district last year, have sent 400 packets of sweets to soldiers in his unit.Col Santosh Mahadik, the Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, was critically injured during the operation in the Haji Naka forest area of Kupwara near the LoC in Kashmir in November and succumbed to his injuries at a hospital later. “The mithai boxes, weighing just over 300 kg, landed at Srinagar airport and are being sent to the 41 Rashtriya Rifles, for distribution among the soldiers the martyr once commanded,” a classmate of Mahadik, involved in this initiative, said. Col Mahadik was a student of Sainik School, Satara. “This Diwali, we thought of his comrades in arms, who suffer harsh climes and the enemy from across the border, as well as some within. We thought this would be a nice gesture for soldiers, who spend Diwali away from their families,” he said.An officer from the elite 21 Para-Special Forces unit, Col Mahadik was awarded a Sena Medal for gallantry during Operation Rhino in the North-East in 2003. Mahadik’s wife Swati last month joined the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai as part of the SSCW (Non-tech) course for 11 months’ training before she joins the Army as a lieutenant. An ace football goalkeeper, a skilled horse-rider and a passionate boxer, Mahadik was an all-rounder, his friends recall.Despite the inhospitable terrain that made the Kupwara operation immensely challenging, the colonel particularly chose to lead his battalion.

Top Pak Army officer handpicked Mehmood Akhtar for India spy mission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehmood Akhtar, a Havildar in the Pakistani Army, was handpicked for the espionage mission by a top army officer who was once in the race to be the Pakistan Army Chief. Intelligence officials told DNA that Akhtar was part of the 40 Baloch Regiment after joining the Pakistan Army in 1997 before being sent to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on deputation on the recommendation of a Lieutenant-General, who also happened to be the Colonel Commandant of the regiment.Sources said Akhtar was deputed to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi in January 2014 after undergoing a three-month special training in espionage.Soon after recommending him for the ‘special assignment’, the Lieutenant-General retired six months later. This officer was in the race to be Pakistan Army chief but lost out narrowly, as he retired months before then chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s scheduled retirement in 2013.”Mehmood Akhtar was just a Havildar, one of the lowest ranks in the army but he had the backing of the Pakistan Baloch Regiment Colonel Commandant,” said an intelligence official.Akhtar was not alone. A senior who he reported to was also sent for the assignment along with him on the recommendation of the same officer, sources said. The Delhi Police also confirmed that Akhtar got his deputation to ISI in January 2013.”His interrogation disclosed that he was posted in Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi, for about two-and-a-half years and was working in the visa section,” said Joint Commissioner (Crime Branch) Ravinder Yadav.”He also disclosed that he is on deputation to ISI since January 2013 and is a serving Havildar of the 40 Baloch Regiment of Pakistan Army,” he added. Akhtar’s name was disclosed while officials were tracking other spies. “He was on special assignment and came under the crosshairs of intelligence sleuths recently, though other local spies were under the scanner since January,” sources said.

Manohar Parrikar to look into status downgrade vis-a-vis civilian counterparts

New Delhi: After crying foul over OROP and disability pension, officers in the armed forces are upset over a defence ministry circular which purportedly downgrades their status vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, prompting Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to say he would personnaly look into it and resolve the issue.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The order has brought an army Major General (rear admiral in the navy and vice-marshal in the air force) on par with a principal director at the Armed Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service. A Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore would be equal in status to a director, and a Colonel/Captain/Group Captain equivalent to a joint director in the civil service.

The circular issued by the defence ministry, dated 18 October, on rank equivalence between defence officers and
armed forces headquarters (AFHQ) civil service officers brings the rank of armed forces officers a notch down compared to their earlier status, officers said.

As per the new circular, a civilian principal director, who was earlier equivalent to a Brigadier, would now have the status of a two star general, a director rank officer to a Brigadier and a joint director to a Colonel, a development which has not gone down well with the armed forces. A Major General earlier had the rank of a joint secretary.

The circular says that the equations are to be followed at service HQs, and “has the approval of the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri” (defence minister).

Parrikar, when asked to comment on the development, said some people were trying to “misguide” as the issue related to only functional responsibility (of armed forces) and not status vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts.

“These are functional responsibilities. They (military officers) will be on the same platform as was done earlier. I will check up myself,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference in New Delhi.

“First of all, these are only for functional responsibilities…this is not status….there are some people
who are trying to misguide,” he said.

The minister said he will take a look at all previous orders to see if there was any discrepancy.

Parrikar said he and the government were sensitive to the issues related to the armed forces.

“I can assure you that I am very sensitive to such issues. The moment they are brought out, I act on them. The
only difficulty is when it becomes public discussion, I cannot be party to discussion. I will resolve the issue,” he said.

Army foils infiltration bid by militants in Kupwara, Kashmir

Army foils infiltration bid by militants in Kupwara, Kashmir


The Indian Army on Wednesday foiled an infiltration bid by militants from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Tangdhar sector of Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir.

“An infiltration bid was foiled by Army in Tangdhar sector,” an Army official said. Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia told IANS that the incident took place at Tangdhar sector.

“A group of heavily armed terrorists was challenged by the troops, forcing them to withdraw back into Pakistan,” the officer said.

He said a search operation had been launched to ensure that no terrorist managed to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir.

With inputs from IANS and PTI

Terrorists mouse-trapped in J&K; second attack on EDI in nine months

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A group of heavily armed fidayeens cruised through Jhelum in a boat on Monday, before occupying the seven-storey Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) hostel building to use it as concrete bunker and engage the security forces in a fierce gun battle.An army soldier was injured in the gunfight, which had been continuing since morning. The fidayeens entrenched themselves at vantage points, and used furniture and other goods to block the staircases and corridors.This is the second time in nine months that fidayeens have been holed up in the EDI complex. On February 22, a 48-hour gun battle between militants and the Indian army had ended after three foreign ultras were neutralised in the EDI building. Three elite para-commandos including two captains, two CRPF men and an EDI gardener, were killed and 13 personnel were injured in the three-day operation.Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar, told dna, “The operation is still on. An army soldier has been injured. His condition is stable.”Sources said the group of two to three fidayeens crossed the Jhelum in a boat and barged into the EDI complex from the rear side. Situated on a plateau along the banks of Jhelum, the EDI complex comprises the main office building and hostel. The seven-storey hostel complex is being used as a makeshift office for EDI since February, when the main building suffered extensive damage in a fidayeen strike.Militants tried to set the hostel building on fire to confuse the security forces. When the smoke started billowing out, fire tenders were immediately rushed to the spot. The lurking militants, however, opened fire that blew their cover. “Militants entered the building at 6am and tried to set it on fire,” EDI director Mohammad Ismail Parrey told dna.”We are using the first three floors as a makeshift office. Other floors still serve as hostel. Only a cook and a waiter were present at the time of the attack, who escaped unhurt,” Parrey said.Security forces cordoned off the building from all sides while militants kept firing intermittently. The security personnel fired rockets, grenades and used IEDs to neutralise the militants.”Para commandos of the Special Forces have been called in to eliminate the fidayeens. The personnel are working slowly deliberately in a bid to exhaust the fidayeens and prevent any troop fatality,” said an officer.Security forces have been on maximum alert since the army carried out surgical strikes in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Sources suspect fidayeens holed up in the EDI complex might have been planning to enter Srinagar but could not do so due to heightened security on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.”Every day, it’s either militants snatching guns or militants staging attacks. How can the Centre be so blasé about where J&K is headed? All the EDI ever did was train young Kashmiri boys and girls to stand on their own feet and not seek government jobs. Militants don’t like that!” tweeted former chief minister Omar Abdullah.Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said attacking schools and EDI was a thought-out strategy to deprive Kashmiri youth of opportunities for education and work.

Army repulses Uri type fidayeen attack, kills three Pakistani attackers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sepoy Ajoy Sarkar did not wait even for a second to retaliate when he saw a suspicious movement outside the perimeter fencing of 30 Rashtriya Riffles (RR) at Langate in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.Posted in one of three bunkers guarding the facility, Sarkar and his five men were one of the first groups of soldiers who took on the three fidayeens when they appeared near the camp from one of the sides in the wee hours of Thursday.Sarkar and his colleagues immediately alerted the officers and within seconds Quick Reaction Teams (QRT) got activated and killed three fidyeens before they could attempt to barge into the camp.”We were six men in our bunker. I saw three militants and we opened fire. We informed our officers and they immediately rushed in. QRT also came and we opened fire,” said Sarkar.Sarkar and his colleagues have become heroes of the Indian Army for repulsing Uri type fidayeen attack when troops killed three militants who were trying to storm the 30 RR camp in early Thursday morning.The subtext of the attack was that Pakistan stood exposed again after army recovered made-in-Pakistan medicines and food items besides huge cache of arms, three GPS sets, four wireless sets, maps, matrix sheets and cutters et al from the three slain militants.”At around five in the morning our sentries spotted three terrorists close to our perimeter fencing. On being challenged three terrorists opened indiscriminate fire on our sentry post and also on our lodging shelters where jawans were resting. Our sentries who were on high alert carried out a retaliatory fire,” said Colonel Rajiv Saharan, Commanding officer 30 RR.Colonel Saharan noted that the QRT was activated and they localised the area where terrorists were spotted. “They carried out sanitization during which Pakistani terrorists were eliminated”, he said. The identity of the militants could not be established.The army officer said militants were carrying huge quantity of arms, ammunition and other war like stores. “It includes three AK 47 riffles, two UBGL. Launchers, large quantity of small arms ammunition and grenades. Besides GPS for navigation, radio sets for communications, maps, matrix sheets and other food items,” he said.Col Saharan said the medicines recovered from terrorists have Pakistani markings. “This ascertains that all of them were Pakistanis. The maps and matrix sheets are being analysed,” he said.The fidayeen attack was foiled at a time when alert troops thwarted three back-to-back infiltration bids along the Line of Control leaving four militants dead in north Kashmir.Three infiltration bids were foiled when troops guarding the LoC saw suspicious movement in Naugam and Rampur sectors. Immediately operation was launched in both the sectors Four militants were later killed in Naugam sector where two back to back infiltration bids were thwarted early this morning.”Four militants were killed in Naugam sector. Search operation is still on. Three ultras were killed in Langate,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia defence spokesman at Srinagar said.

Uri op: 3 Pakistan intruders held at LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three Pakistan intruders were arrested at two different places on the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border even as the anti infiltration operation in Uri entered its fourth day. However, the operation at Naugam sector was declared over on Friday.Elsewhere, tension gripped Kashmir after a youth was killed in fresh firing on protestors in Nadihal area of Baramulla district after Friday namaz.Two intruders were arrested in Uri when they crossed into the Indian side on Thursday night. The Indian Army took them into custody for sustained interrogation. Sources said Army is not taking any chances and trying to find out whether they had any militant links or not.Sources said the duo told interrogators that they were chased by irate villagers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after they molested a girl. Sources said to escape the wrath of the villagers, they were running without knowing they had strayed into Indian territory. Army personnel took them in custody and interrogated them.”We have news that two people have been arrested, not by us but the Army. They are being interrogated,”said an officer.Border Security Force arrested another intruder when he was caught in a barbed wire fence in Pargwal sector of the International Border (IB) in Akhnoor area of Jammu division on Friday morning.Interrogators said the intruder claimed that he was a ghost-buster and commands a huge following across the IB in Pakistan. However, interrogators will continue to question to intruder.Even as the three intruders are being questioned by security forces, the anti infiltration operation in Uri entered its fourth day. The operations launched in Naugam sector along the LoC where Havildar Madan Lal died a few days ago, have been wound up.”The Naugam operation is over and Uri is still on”, said colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Border Security Force opened fire on the LoC when they noticed suspicious movement in Keran sector on Friday. Troops have launched a search and combing operation in the area.”We must take inspiration from supreme sacrifices and exemplary courage of our brave soldiers who have upheld the sovereignty and integrity of the country,” said Kavinder Gupta, J&K assembly speaker.Since September 20, four infiltration bids have been foiled in Uri and Naugam sectors. A soldier already lost his life while foiling an infiltration bid in Naugam sector.Official figures reveal around 17 infiltration bids have been foiled by the Army along the LoC this year. Of the 110 terrorists killed in Jammu and Kashmir, 31 have been slain while they were trying to infiltrate into the Indian side from across LoC.Meanwhile, tension has gripped north Kashmir again after 22-year-old Waseem Ahmad Lone was allegedly killed by security forces in Nadihal Rafiabad of Baramulla district.”Tall claims of restrain by forces is nothing but a bid to fool people. The innocent killing testifies that their lust for blood has not been suppressed yet,”said Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

J&K: Army continue to engage in gunbattle with militants along LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian army is still in a gunbattle in along LoC with militants to foil infiltration bid. The encounter has been going on for 20 hours.The two counter-infiltration operations along the Line of Control in Kashmir on Wednesday entered the second day, the Army said here. “The operations along the LoC in Uri and Naugam sectors continue,” an Army spokesman said. One soldier was killed yesterday as Army foiled two infiltration bids in Uri and Naugam sectors of KashmirThe army had killed at least 10 infiltrators on Tuesday when they foiled two major infiltration bids on the LoC in Uri and Naugam sectors of North Kashmir, even as the Pakistani army violated the ceasefire by indiscriminately firing on the Indian posts in Uri sector. The infiltration bid was foiled just hours after Pakistan violated ceasefire and fired at the Indian posts using small and automatic weapons for around 20 minutes.”Ten to 12 militants terrorists attempted to infiltrate in Uri sector. They were intercepted and the infiltration bid was foiled and operations are on,” Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar told dna.Later in the evening, the troops noticed suspicious movement of militants along the LoC in Naugam sector. Army immediately swung into action and launched the operation. Militants opened fire on the troops in which one soldier was killed. “Infiltration bid has been foiled in Naugam sector. One soldier has been martyred. Operations are continuing,” said Col Kalia.

Uri attack carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad militants, confirms Indian Army

Hours after Sunday’s deadly attack on one of its base in north Kashmir’s Uri town — that left 18 soldiers dead — the Army said four militants who carried out of the attack belonged to the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfit based in Pakistan.

“All four killed were foreign terrorists and had carried with them items which had Pakistani markings. Initial reports indicate that the slain terrorists belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad tanzeem (outfit),” Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh said in South Block in New Delhi after the attacks.

Investigators probing the Uri suicide attacks are working overtime to identify the four fedayeen who stormed into 12 Infantry Brigade in Uri, and all the initial indications are leading towards Jaish outfit. The NIA, which overtook the investigation of the Uri attack from Army, is looking into the case from different angles, which also include studying the previous successful infiltration attempts made by the outfit and the attacks carried out by the group along the LoC.

Soldiers stand outside the army base in Uri. PTISoldiers stand outside the army base in Uri. PTI

Soldiers stand outside the army base in Uri. PTI

A majority of the attacks carried out by Jaish in recent years have been suicide attacks, in fact, the outfit introduced the concept of the suicide bombing in Kashmir insurgency when it carried out its first suicide attack in April 2000. An 18-year-old Srinagar boy detonated a car-bomb outside the Army’s 15 Corps headquarters in Srinagar. It was also for the first time that a militant laced with explosives blew himself up in the conflict-ridden state.

What is alarming for the security agencies is the increasing number of attacks carried out by the group in recent years, particularly along the LoC. The majority of these attacks have taken place along the LoC and all of them were suicide attacks. The outfit has fast replaced Lashkar-e-Taiba in launching suicide missions on military and other security formations in the state.

“The life of a Jaish militant once he leaves Pakistan to carry out attack is very short, most of them have been killed along the LoC. In recent years all the attack carried out by the group almost mirror each other. They attack the first Army installation they encounter after crossing the LoC,” an intelligence officer told Firstpost.

So when Baramulla police early this year in February arrested Mohammad Sadiq, a member of the outfit, alive from Kanispora area, everyone was shocked. On 25 November, Jaish militants attacked a Gorkha Rifles Camp along Kalsuri Ridge in Tangdhar area near the LoC in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, leaving a military contractor dead before three attackers were gunned down. What rattled the forces was the recovery of bags inscribed with Afzal Guru Squad from the three slain militants. All the four militants infiltrated through Tangdar area and struck the camp but Sadiq managed to flee from the spot. He was one among the four tasked to carry out suicide attacks in Kashmir.

Earlier Colonel Santosh Mahadik, the Commanding officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, was killed during an encounter in Haji Naka forest area of Kupwara. The outfit took the responsibility of the attack saying three militants, who attacked the camp in Tangdhar, were its members.

Jaish was founded by Maulana Masood Azhar, a fiery orator, in January 2000 after his release in Taliban-governed Kandahar, Afghanistan, from Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail in exchange for passengers of hijacked IC-814 Indian Airlines plane. Azhar was arrested in Srinagar in 1994 on terrorism charges.

“Revenge has begun and it will reach where you cannot even imagine,” Azhar said in January 2014 in a rally organized by the outfit in Muzaffarabad in PoK.

Since then, the signature of Jaish-e-Mohammad was found in attacks on army bases at Mohra and Tangdhar in north Kashmir, at Kathua and Samba in Jammu region, and at Pathankot airbase in Punjab. The comeback was lethal.

The outfit was once considered to be the most infiltrated group by Kashmir police, which led to its decline in valley and by mid 2013 it was on the verge of extinction when two of its last three surviving commanders were killed in that year, leaving the outfit with a total cadre capacity of eight militants in Kashmir, the lowest since it was formed 13 years ago, according to the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Earlier it was considered the deadliest group only second to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). But after the killing of Gazi Baba, a top brass of the outfit and the mastermind of the Parliament attack, the outfit was never able to regroup in Kashmir. Jaish has been accused for the 13 December, 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament in New Delhi. The outfit was banned by the Indian government under provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) on 25 October, 2001.

However in recent years it has carried out a sustained trail of attacks on Army installations along the LoC, one in which Colonel Mahadik was killed.

Army on Tuesday dealt a major blow to militants who tried to sneak into Uri region in Kashmir, killing ten militants. It is not clear who carried out the infiltration but don’t be surprised if the fingers are pointed at Jaish as it fast replaces Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Kashmir again.

Army kills 10 infiltrators on LoC, jawan martyred

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian army killed at least 10 infiltrators on Tuesday when they foiled two major infiltration bids on the LoC in Uri and Naugam sectors of North Kashmir, even as the Pakistani army violated the ceasefire by indiscriminately firing on the Indian posts in Uri sector. An army soldier was also killed in the gunfight with infiltrators in Naugam sector.Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command Headquarters, said Indian troops intercepted a group of terrorists near the LoC and foiled an infiltration bid in the Uri sector. “Another infiltration bid was foiled in Naugam sector. Operations are in progress,” he said.The infiltration bid was foiled just hours after Pakistan violated ceasefire and fired at the Indian posts using small and automatic weapons for around 20 minutes.”Ten to 12 militants terrorists attempted to infiltrate in Uri sector. They were intercepted and the infiltration bid was foiled and operations are on,” Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar told dna.Later in the evening, the troops noticed suspicious movement of militants along the LoC in Naugam sector. Army immediately swung into action and launched the operation. Militants opened fire on the troops in which one soldier was killed. “Infiltration bid has been foiled in Naugam sector. One soldier has been martyred. Operations are continuing,” said Col Kalia.

Three Maha bravehearts among 18 soldiers martyred in Uri

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three bravehearts of Maharashtra are among the 18 soldiers who laid down their lives while fighting gallantly against the highly motivated and heavily armed Jaish-e-Mohammad fidayeens in the 12 infantry brigade headquarters at Uri on Sunday.Sepoy TS Somnath of Khadangali village in district Nashik, Sepoy Uike Janrao, of Nandgaon village in district Amravati and Lance Naik G Shankar of village Jashi, district Satara, all from the 6 Bihar regiment, made supreme sacrifices while defending their motherland.Of the 18 martyrs two belonged to 10 Dogra and hailed from the Jammu division of the state while 16 others belonged to 6 Bihar unit which was to replace 10 Dogra unit that was moving out from Valley to another posting in Pathankot.”Eighteen bravehearts of Indian Army were martyred during a terrorist initiated incident at Uri. Large number of casualties occurred due to the fire that engulfed the tent age/ temporary accommodation. Lieutenant General DS Hooda, army commander and all ranks of Northern Command expresses deep condolences to the families of the martyrs,” said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command.Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti paid homage to the martyrs at the 15 corps headquarters at Badami Bagh cantonment here on Monday.Mehbooba laid wreaths on the coffins of the soldiers and later visited the 92 Base Hospital of the Army to enquire about the welfare of the soldiers injured in the deadly attack.It is for the fourth time that soldiers of Maharashtra died in the line of duty in Kashmir since October last year.On May 22 Naik Gawade Pandurang Mahadev of Maharashtra made the country proud by fighting gallantly against the highly motivated Pakistani militants before laying down his life for the motherland in the border district of Kupwara in North Kashmir.Naik Gawade was the third soldier from Maharashtra who died fighting militants in Kashmir since November last. On November 17, 2015 Colonel Santosh Mahadik, a highly decorated para-commando of Satara Maharashtra, who was commanding officer of the 41 RR, died fighting militants at Manigah forest area of Kupwara.Naik Shinde Shankar Chandrabhan of Bayale Village in Nashik district of Maharashtra was killed while fighting highly trained militants in Zoonreshi village of Chowkibal on February 13.

Singh vs Singh: Have our armed forces forgotten how to be officers and gentlemen?

The current murky reports of the incumbent chief of the Indian Army, General Dalbir Singh making allegations in court against his former chief and now minister VK Singh are tacky at best but must also be placed in perspective.

General Dalbir Singh did not choose this fight. He is only responding to a court case placed by retired Lt Gen Ravi Dastane who believes he was robbed of his fourth star and has sought legal address. The Chief of Army Staff has to respond or be seen in contempt of court.

General Dalbir Singh and Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh. Image courtesy PIBGeneral Dalbir Singh and Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh. Image courtesy PIB

General Dalbir Singh and Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh. Image courtesy PIB

Lt Gen Dastane believes that the then Chief Gen Bikram Singh blew away the cloud hovering over General Dalbir’s command reports and handed him the baton which should have gone to Lt Gen Dastane.

What justice Lt Gen Dastane expects to receive is difficult to perceive since it is the government that can take recommendations and then decide who should be chief. And it is all water under the bridge.

Generals traditionally fade away. Nowadays they go to court.

When you join the forces you get no guarantees of promotion after achieving your years of service rank. Then it is open house. And you do your best and you take your chances. Many a career has been shot down by a senior officer because of personal and professional reasons.

The armed forces have a major flaw in that the annual confidential reports have to be adverse for the officer being reported upon to see them. Otherwise they are totally confidential and the best way to destroy a career is to give the officer below you an average to high average report at about 6.5 which successfully destroys any chances of his promotion to general rank.

He cannot complain but he doesn’t get the next rung. And all too often he does not know why.

Brigadiers do not become Major Generals, two star officers with great career records are left behind and, most certainly, three star officers cannot all become chiefs.

Live with it. Thousands have. They are sidetracked, blocked, bypassed, overlooked and in service terms ‘don’t make it.’

The other way of doing someone in is to transfer an officer to a non operational command. Make him a sub area commander or send him as GOC of an Area or simply dispatch him to the NCC. Party over and he cannot complain.

That nepotism, regimental loyalty, personal dislike or regional affection can all play a role. That is human nature. So can ground reality. When Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw was given a six month extension in June 1972 the ripple effect hit several careers and shuffled the pack of contenders for the fourth star.

The death of an incumbent has the same effect.

But no one went to court. Being in uniform you took your lumps, saluted, packed your bags and went home.

There was a grace and dignity in that conduct. And a tradition that yours was not to question why, but simply to do and die.

Out there would be thousands of officers at various levels who truly believe they were done down, done out, done the dirty. Reading this a retired General or Admiral or Air Marshal would nod wisely but with sadness and remember that the forces never washed their linen in public.

And this retired officer would look at these men squabbling in this undignified fashion and four star incumbents hiring lawyers and former chiefs being accused of skulduggery and pension taking Corps commanders filing cases like cry babies and he would say, this is not the armed forces I joined.

Put the linen back in the closet.

Be officers and gentlemen.

You got three stars Lt Gen Dastane and you flew your flag.. That’s one in ten thousand. Be grateful you weren’t left behind as a time scale Colonel because your brigade commander gave you a 6.5.

Army promotes Quran recital competition

Army has embarked on an unexplored journey by promoting Qirat (Quran recital) competition in north Kashmir.A Qirat Competition was organised by Territorial Army Camp, Hamre at Government Higher Secondary School Goshbug on Thursday.”The competition commenced with a warm welcome extended to a huge crowd of more than 800 people by the Army’s Religious Teacher Subedar Tahir Hafiz. It was followed by Tilawat-e-Quran after which the Qirat competition commenced,” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Twenty students participated in the competition and impressed one and all with their knowledge, zeal and articulation. “They were further encouraged by the presence and guidance of renowned Qarees including Mufti Abdul Rehman and Maulvi Noor-Ud-Din”, he saidBrigadier SH Naqvi, Commander Haiderbeig Camp complimented the children for their exceptional participation and conveyed Ramadan greetings on behalf of the Army to the entire gathering. Laer prizes were also distributed to the participants.The prize distribution was followed by the evening Namaz and the Iftaar. “All the participants and the locals were very happy that such a huge event was happening in their area. Many young boys and girls would get inspiration to become better in Qirat,” said Ghulam Ahmad Bhat a local resident.

Parrikar joins soldiers on International Yoga Day, meets martyr’s family

Kanpur: On the second International Yoga Day, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar joined soldiers in
performing yoga in the Cantonment area here and later met the bereaved family of Lt Colonel Pankaj Singh, who was killed in Arunachal Pradesh recently.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The minister reached Kanpur airport by a special plane this morning and spent around 20 minutes with the army officers, soldiers and their families while participating in a yoga programme at Garrison Ground.

Despite yoga being an “indigenous practice”, the defence minister said most people in the country were unaware of its importance.

The minister also noted the potential of yoga as an employment generator besides a practice to keep people

“Today, the world looks at India as people everywhere want to adopt yoga as a part of their lifestyle. Yoga helps
us keep healthy. It also has employment generation potential,” said the defence minister.

He later visited the ancestral house of Lt Colonel Pankaj Singh in Vimannagar in Chakeri area of the city and paid tributes to him. Singh was killed in action in Arunachal Pradesh on 13 June.

Parrikar consoled his family members and assured them of all possible help from the defence ministry. He also offered Singh’s wife, assistance in seeking a job if she so desired.

Asked the border dispute with China, Parrikar said Indo-China “frontier” was “stable” and there have been no
incidents of encroachment since last year.

The minister, however, chose not to answer queries about GST.


Jammu and Kashmir: Soldier, militant killed in a 24-hour gunfight on LoC

For the last 24 hours, Indian Army is battling a group of heavily-armed infiltrators on the Line of Control (LoC) that has so far left one soldier and one militant dead besides injuring four troopers in Machil sector of North Kashmir.The gunfight started on the wee hours of Tuesday when troops deployed on the Line of Control noticed suspicious movement at Katwara forest area near Jet Gali in Machil sector.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Troops immediately took positions and challenged the ultras who, in turn, opened heavy fire causing injuries to two soldiers initially. Troops later engaged the ultras and in the ensued gunfight three more soldiers were injured.One of the soldiers later succumbed to his injuries.The slain has been identified as signalman Ajay Singh of Dhiger village in Jhunjunu district of Rajasthan. The 24 year old soldier was serving the army for the last six years. He is survived by his wife Meena.”We have killed one militant so far. One weapon and some war like stories were recovered from his possession”, said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Indian army troops have rushed in reinforcements and sealed all entry and exit points to prevent the militants from escaping from the area.”Operation is still on in the area. The number of militants will only be known after the operation is over. Since morning there is no gun fight”, said Colonel Joshi.The fresh infiltration bid came on the day when Indian army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag arrived here to review the overall security in Kashmir. Later General Singh met J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who stressed for maintaining greater vigil along the borders to prevent infiltration.Mehbooba called for minimising the visibility of the troops from the civilian areas and tourist places in the state. “The troops should ensure that no civilian is harmed and there is minimum damage to civilian properties during encounters with the militants. While the Army is competent enough to deal with the situation along the borders, for internal security, police and paramilitary forces should shoulder the greater responsibilities,” she said.

2008 Malegaon blast case: Sadhvi Pragya’s bail plea to be heard today

A Mumbai court will hear the bail plea of 2008 Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on Monday.Pragya’s lawyer Prashant Maggu filed the bail plea on May 30 after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) decided to drop her name from the list of accused in its chargesheet. On May 13, the NIA decided not to name Pragya in its chargesheet in connection with the case. The agency also dropped charges against her under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NIA in its chargesheet recommended discharging four accused – Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Shyam Sahu, Shiv Narayan Kalsangra and Praveen Takkalki – saying there was no evidence to prosecute them.
ALSO READ Malegaon blast: NIA gives Sadhvi Pragya clean chit; charges against Col Purohit stayThe Malegaon 2008 blast case was a first case in which Hindu extremists, including Lt. Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, were chargesheeted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2009. The September 2008 blast in the Muslim-majority Malegaon town killed six people and injured 101 others. The NIA took over the case in 2011.

Three Indian girls scale Everest; two others found dead

There was both ecstasy and agony for India from Mount Everest. While history was scripted when three Class XII girl students from Ladakh scaled the Mount Everest last week, a 58-year-old Indian mountaineer, who went missing nearly a week ago, was found dead on Friday.Attempts were also being made to locate another Indian climber whose body was reportedly lying above 8,000 metres on the world’s highest mountain.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stanzlin Laskit, Tashi Laskit and Tsering Angmo, all 18 years old, were part of the first-ever all girls expedition of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) that scaled the highest peak of the world.”Hundred cadets were selected in trials held pan-India. These cadets then underwent a special mountain course at HMI, Darjeeling,” said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command.”Fifteen cadets were selected for the next phase based on their performance. In August 2015, the team set off on the second pre-Everest expedition to Mount Trishul (23,360 ft), and selected 10 girl cadets for the Everest Expedition,” said Colonel Goswami.Later, the cadets underwent a month-long intensive winter training at the world’s highest battlefield in Siachen Glacier, at the Indian Army’s Siachen Battle School, before setting course for Nepal.The team was divided into two and the first attempted to scale the Everest on May 21, 2016, and succeeded. The second team scaled the Everest the next day.Major General SS Jakhar, additional director general of NCC, said that by their outstanding achievement, these girls “will be suitably felicitated and rewarded on their return.”Meanwhile, according to Wangchu Sherpa, managing director at Trekking Camp Nepal, a team of six Sherpas retrieved the body of Paresh Chandra Nath above Camp IV. His body is being brought to Camp II, Sherpa said.However, they could not move ahead from the higher camp to locate another missing climber, Goutam Ghosh, whose body was reportedly lying on the high mountain. Five people have died so far during this Himalayan climbing season, which saw about 400 mountaineers summit the world’s highest peak, officials have said.A Dutch and an Australian woman died of altitude sickness last Friday and Saturday, respectively. A Nepali guide died on Thursday after he slipped and fell 2,000 metres. Another Indian climber had died a few days ago.More than three dozen other climbers have developed frostbite or become sick near the summit in the past few days. Nearly 40 climbers, including an Indian woman, have developed frostbite during this Himalayan climbing season. Last year, devastating earthquake caused the climbing season to be cancelled and climbing attempts were largely abandoned in 2014 after an avalanche above the base camp killed 16 Sherpa guides.At least 19 climbers were killed in the avalanche triggered by the earthquake.—With Agencies

Army’s fresh offensive leaves two militants dead

Stepping up their offensive, the army on Thursday foiled a major infiltration bid and killed two militants on the Line of Control (LoC) in Naugam sector of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.Army sources said troops guarding the LoC intercepted a group of militants at wee hours near Toot Mari Gali in the Naugam sector. When challenged, they opened fire on the troops ensuing in a fierce gunfight between the two sides.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have killed two militants so far. The operation in the area is continuing,” Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar, told dna.Army has rushed in reinforcements and sealed all exit points to block all possible routes for militants to escape. “The contact (gunfight) is still on with the militants. We can only confirm the number of militants when the firing stops and bodies are retrieved,” said a senior army officer.The infiltration bid was foiled at a time when the army has put in place a multi-tier anti-infiltration grid to thwart militants’ plan to sneak into the valley after the snow melts on the mountain passes along the LoC.Official figures reveal, there were 24 infiltration attempts from across the Line of Control from January 1 to March 31 this year of which 18 were successful. In 2015, around 118 infiltration bids were made of which 33 weresuccessful.”Army is doing an excellent job at the borders by stopping infiltration (from across the line of control),” said Mehbooba Mufti, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister.Sources said around 17 groups of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants are waiting on the other side of line of control and international border to be pushed into this side of Jammu and Kashmir.Of them, 11 groups of militants are waiting across the Line of Control opposite Pir Panjal range comprising Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu division. Four groups are waiting across the LoC opposite Kupwara sectors. Two groups are waiting on the IB in Jammu division.

Massive forest fire engulfs 10 kilometer area near Vaishno Devi shrine

Massive fire has engulfed the dense pine forests near the revered Shri Mata Vaishno Devi (SMVD) shrine in Katra town of Reasi district in the Jammu division.Spread over 10 kilometres, fire started from Banganga ridge on the Trikuta hills and spread quickly to other areas prompting the authorities to shut the helipad for sometime as a precautionary measure to avoid any mishap.SMVD shrine board authorities later requisitioned the Indian Air Force for help to douse the flames. Indian Air Force has pressed two choppers into service which are fetching water from the Salal dam in Reasi to sprinkle on the affected areas in a bid to douse the flames.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Fire fighting operations were conducted by the two Mi-17V5 helicopters of the 153 Helicopter Units, Udhampur. Till 2.30 pm the helicopters conducted five sorties using Bambi Bucket. Over 18,000 litres of water was dispensed (to douse the flames)”, Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command, told dna.Police said the yatra however, remained unaffected and pilgrims had dharshan at the holy cave shrine without any hassles as the fire was controlled to a large extent.”It was a natural fire which broke out yesterday in the 10 kilometer area. Yatra, Yatries and chopper services remained unaffected. Fire has been controlled at the areas near the public places. Smoke is billowing from few places on the upper ridges. IAF choppers are sprinkling water to control the fire,” Sujit Kumar, senior superintendent of police, Reasi, told dna.Experts said the reasons for the fire could be either man made or natural given the prevailing heat wave in the area.”When pine needles fall from the trees it creates a carpet like layer on the ground. A small spark by a cigarette bit can cause massive fires. Another reason could be that in the scorching heat, the stones start rolling down which sometimes create sparks. This too ignites the forest fire,” said Mohinder Singh, deputy director of Forest Protection Force (FPF).Located at the altitude of 5,200 feet in the Tirukta hills, the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in Indian sub continent. The pilgrims have to trek around 12 kilometres from the base camp to the Holy cave.Millions of devotees visit the shrine every year to perform puja at the sanctum sanctorum. Official data reveal 77.76 pilgrims visited the shrine in 2014 against 78.03 lakh in 2014. Around 93.24 lakh pilgrims visited the shrine in 2013.”We have controlled the fire to a large extent. There has been no damage to the life or property. The chopper operations at the helipad has also resumed,” said Jagdish Singh, sub divisional magistrate at SMVD.

Handwara molestation case: I was abused, coerced in police custody, says school girl

The Handwara schoolgirl, who was released from police custody on May 10, on Monday alleged that she was abused, threatened and coerced by cops during her 27 days in custody.The 16-year-old girl was taken into protective custody on April 12, the day she alleged she was molested by asoldier in a public washroom. This sparked violence in the township and five people were killed in the resultant police firing.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Monday, she said that her subsequent statement to a chief judicial magistrate, giving a clean chit to the trooper, was made under duress.
ALSO READ Handwara molestation: Focus shifts on two youth named by girl in her statement“Since the washrooms of my school were locked on April 12, I went to a public washroom. A soldier came and grabbed my hand. I somehow managed to free myselfand stormed out. There were two to three boys outside. One of them asked me what happened. I cried and told him I want to go home. He consoled me and said I will accompany you,” she told reporters.The video, in which she gave a clean chit to the Army, was shot by SP Jeelani on his mobile phone, she said. She also rubbished police claim that she was taken into protective custody after she sought protection.
ALSO READ Handwara molestation: Jammu & Kashmir police arrest one of the accused Hilal Ahmed BandeyThe police and the Army refuted her allegations. “No, there was nothing of that sort (abuse and coercion in custody). I do not know under whose pressure she has given the press conference… she has already deposed before the court”, Uttam Chand, deputy inspector general of police, north Kashmir, told dna.Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman, said the case is sub-judice and hence the Army would not comment.

Court will take a view on 2008 Malegaon blast case: Arun Jaitley

Rubbishing the opposition’s assertion that the Centre is interfering with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said the manner in which the credibility of some of these investigating agencies have declined was a record. “The manner in which the investigating agencies were used, the manner in which credibility of some of the investigating agencies declined, I think was a record. And, therefore, these are matters ultimately which the court will have to take a view. Ultimately this will all go before the court. And, if anything is wrong or improper, I am sure the court will take an appropriate view,” Jaitley said in a press conference.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In each of the cases I referred to, each case without a single exception, the court didn’t even frame the charge. They (UPA) discharged the accused even without a trial and that discharge took place not under NDA but even when the UPA was in power, “he added.Citing that he wrote a letter as an opposition to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh listing the number of cases with detail of how the chargesheet has been fabricated by the UPA government, he said, got one line reply that these matters are ‘sub-judice'”These are legal matters, which are based on quality of evidence. When during the UPA, some of these chargesheet used to be filed by the investigating agencies, you can go back to my Facebook and see the letter I wrote as an opposition to then Dr Manmohan Singh listing the number of cases with detail of each case illustrating how the chargesheet has been fabricated by the UPA. I got one line reply back that these matters are sub-judice,” Jaitley said.The Congress had yesterday accused the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of interfering in the 2008 Malegaon blast case to give “clean chits” to accused people with RSS-BJP background, and sought to drag National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s name into the row.The opposition party urged the Supreme Court to take into its custody the chargesheet, official files, notings and other relevant documents in the case to ensure justice.The NIA now contends that prime accused in the Malegaon blasts were framed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) which planted evidence against him.The NIA last week gave a clean chit to accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and five others by stating lack of evidence to justify their prosecution in the case.NIA said out that witnesses against accused had retracted their statements.The Malegaon 2008 blast case was a first case in which Hindu extremists, including Lt. Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur were chargesheeted in 2009 by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad.The NIA took over the case in 2011. (ANI)Ends APNNNNani

Malegaon blasts: Sadhvi Pragya escapes the law, Hemant Karkare’s image takes hit

Remember Hemant Karkare, the police officer who died on the streets of Mumbai battling terrorists?

No, Ajmal Kasab and his gang did not kill Karkare on 27 November 2008. He died a thousand painful deaths on Friday the 13th when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a chargesheet in the Malegaon blasts that shreds Karkare’s reputation and questions his integrity.

In 2009, India decorated Karkare, the then chief of Mumbai ATS, with the Ashok Chakra for laying down his life for the country. Now, he is has been thrown into the ugly chakra of terrorism politics.

In 2006, when residents of Malegaon were observing Shab-e-Baraat, two powerful blasts ripped through the Maharashtra town, killing 37 persons and injuring hundreds. Most of them were Muslims.

From 2007 to 2008 similar attacks took place on the Samjhauta Express (February 2007), Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid (May 2007), the Ajmer Dargah (October 2007) and once again in Malegaon (September 2008).

The case was cracked open by Karkare while probing the second blasts in Malegaon. Piecing together some disjointed leads, Karkare tracked down the owner of the motorcycle used in the blasts. It belonged to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

Karkare’s investigations led the police to a Hindutva plot, an alleged plan to respond to a bomb with a bomb. Soon, Thakur and Lt Colonel SK Purohit, a serving army officer, were identified as the main suspects, arrested and chargesheeted. A 4500-page chargesheet by the ATS gave details of the plot and identified Abhinav Bharat Sangh, a Hindutva outfit, as perpetrators of these attacks.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

On Friday, the National Investigations Agency, which probed the blasts afresh gave a clean chit to Pragya Singh Thakur. And sullied Karkare’s image for ever.

According to the The Indian Express, the new chargesheet says the investigation conducted by Karkare was flawed, that the evidence produced against Colonel Prasad Purohit, another key accused, had been fabricated, and statements of witnesses were taken under duress.

During the original probe, the ATS had found explosives at Purohit’s residence in Deolali. NIA officials now claim the incriminating evidence was planted at Purohit’s home by the ATS.

Investigations in India rarely lead us to the truth. Ishrat Jahan’s encounter, Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj’s murders are two telling examples of how different agencies discover their own brands of contrasting truths and facts in high-profile cases. So, nobody can say with any conviction if Karkare’s ATS was the hero of the Malegaon probe or the villain, as being made out now.

By some sheer coincidence, since the change of government at the Centre, probe in all the blasts believed to have been  plotted by Hindutva outfits have turned on their head. In many cases, like the Ajmer Dargah probe, witnesses have suddenly turned hostile. In others, like the one in Malegaon, fingers are now being pointed at the original investigators.

The stakes have always been high. In 2014, Swami Aseemanand, the main accused in the Samjhauta blast case, told  a news magazine in  a detailed interview that the attacks were planned and discussed at an RSS conclave. “

Aseemanand told me (the interviewer) about a meeting that allegedly took place, in July 2005. After an RSS conclave in Surat, senior Sangh leaders including Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar, who is now on the organisation’s powerful seven-member national executive council, travelled to a temple in the Dangs, Gujarat, where Aseemanand was living—a two-hour drive. In a tent pitched by a river several kilometres away from the temple, Bhagwat and Kumar met with Aseemanand and his accomplice Sunil Joshi. Joshi informed Bhagwat of a plan to bomb several Muslim targets around India. According to Aseemanand, both RSS leaders approved, and Bhagwat told him, “You can work on this with Sunil. We will not be involved, but if you are doing this, you can consider us to be with you,” the Magazine wrote.

Aseemanand later denied the interview but the magazine stood by the story and also submitted audio recordings of the interaction as evidence.

In 2015, Rohini Salian, who was a special prosecutor in the Malegaon case, had alleged that she was under pressure from the NIA against the accused. She had later filed an affidavit naming the NIA officer who had approached her. Salian was later denotified from the panel of lawyers.

Amidst the politicking and bickering, Sadhvi Pragya seems to have escaped the law. And Karkare’s image has become the casualty.

Think about this: If the ATS under him really planted evidence to frame innocent karyakartas of Abhinav Bharat Sangh, did he deserve the Ashok Chakra?

And, if he didn’t, if his findings were correct, did we really deserve a martyr like Karkare?

Army officer arrested for looting gold

Police in north-eastern Mizoram state arrest an Indian army officer for looting smuggled gold.

Samjhauta blast case: Supreme Court refuses Col Purohit’s plea, askes him to approach High Court

Refusing to entertain the plea of Malegaon blast accused Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, who had challenged the framing of charges against him in the trial court, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the former to approach the High Court.NIA chief Sharad Kumar had last week said that Lieutenant Colonel Purohit was not involved in the Samjhauta express blast, adding that no evidence was found against him. Lieutenant Colonel Purohit, who is one of the main accused in the Samjhauta and Malegaon blasts cases, is presently in jail for over seven years. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He had written to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on April 4 requesting restoration of his honour. In his letter, he claimed that he was falsely implicated and has been behind the bars for more than seven years now.
ALSO READ Enquiry paper validate some claims of Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Purohit: ReportThe case pertains to a criminal conspiracy, which resulted in bomb blasts in the Samjhauta Express train near Panipat in Haryana on February 18, 2007. The blast and the consequent fire in the train resulted in the loss of 68 lives and injuries to 12 train passengers, including women and children.

My client was never accused in Samjhauta blast case: Lt Col Purohit’s lawyer

Speaking to ANI, Colonel Purohit’s lawyer Neela Gokhale said that her client was never accused in the Samjhauta blast case. She added that whatever he was doing was for his work as an intelligence officer and he was communicating with his superior officers. She said: “Purohit was never an accused in Samjhauta blast case. Many officials have deposed before Court of Inquiry that whatever Purohit was doing because he was an intelligence officer. He (Lt Colonel Purohit) was an intelligence officer & he had kept on communicating to his superiors.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cong demands removal of NIA Director General Amid controversy over the alleged dilution of ‘Hindu’ terror cases filed under the UPA regime, Congress demanded removal of the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA). The party also demanded that all the cases being handled by the NIA be placed before the Supreme Court to ensure that there was “no pressure” on the probe agency. “Since the Narendra Modi government came to power, we have seen witnesses turn hostile. Be it in the Samjhauta Express, Ajmer or Malegaon blasts,” Party spokesman Ajoy Kumar told reporters.He said every nation hopes that their investigative agency is honest and has integrity. “But, we are seeing how shamelessly the Modi government is undermining the NIA and using it for partisan politics”. Accusing the BJP of undermining national security, he claimed it was using the NIA to serve its petty political interests.Alleging that pressure is being put on NIA to safeguard the RSS, he said the Modi government, in an “almost Goebellian way”, is trying to tell people that Colonel Shrikant Purohit has got a clean chit in Samjhauta Express blast.” “Why is the NIA giving him a clean chit on this?” he asked.Noting that Col Purohit is accused in the Malegaon bomb blast, he said it is “worrying” that in these cases the judicial process is being delayed.”This shows how the Modi government was trying to divert all the discussion on this investigation?” Stressing that in the Samjhauta Express blast case, there were four others accused along with Aseemanand, he claimed that Aseemanand had “confessed” that he got “endorsement” from senior RSS leaders.”He had mentioned Indresh Kumar. Indreshji is a senior RSS member and questioned by the CBI”.He said in Ajmer blast case, three witnesses have turned hostile. “One Ranbir Singh is former BJP minister. Why is pressure being put on witnesses?No proof against Lt Col Prasad Purohit in Samjhauta case says NIA Earlier, the NIA said there was no proof against Lt Col Prasad Purohit in the Samjhauta blast case but investigation against him is underway in connection with the Malegaon blast case. “There is no proof against him in Samjhauta blast case. He was never an accused. I wonder why his name is being linked to Samjhauta blast case,” NIA Director General Sharad Kumar told PTI. He said Purohit has been chargesheeted by ATS Mumbai in Malegaon blasts in 2008 and NIA was carrying out further investigations in the matter.The NIA has filed charge sheet against eight people in connection with Samjhauta blast case which includes Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Asimanand, Late Sunil Joshi alias Sunilji, Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange (both absconding), Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, Amit and Rajender Choudhary. The case pertains to the criminal conspiracy which resulted in bomb blasts in the Attari Express (Samjhauta) train near Panipat, Haryana on February 18, 2007.This blast and the consequent fire in the train coaches resulted in the loss of 68 lives and injuries to 12 train passengers including women and children travelling in the train.With agency inputs

Alleging dilution of ‘Hindu terror’ cases, Congress demands removal of NIA chief

Amid controversy over the alleged dilution of ‘Hindu’ terror cases filed under the UPA regime, Congress on Friday demanded removal of the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA).The party also demanded that all the cases being handled by the NIA be placed before the Supreme Court to ensure that there was “no pressure” on the probe agency. “Since the Narendra Modi government came to power, we have seen witnesses turn hostile. Be it in the Samjhauta Express, Ajmer or Malegaon blasts,” Party spokesman Ajoy Kumar told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said every nation hopes that their investigative agency is honest and has integrity. “But, we are seeing how shamelessly the Modi government is undermining the NIA and using it for partisan politics”.Accusing the BJP of undermining national security, he claimed it was using the NIA to serve its petty political interests. Alleging that pressure is being put on NIA to safeguard the RSS, he said the Modi government, in an “almost Goebellian way”, is trying to tell people that Colonel Shrikant Purohit has got a clean chit in Samjhauta Express blast.” “Why is the NIA giving him a clean chit on this?” he asked.Noting that Col Purohit is accused in the Malegaon bomb blast, he said it is “worrying” that in these cases the judicial process is being delayed. “This shows how the Modi government was trying to divert all the discussion on this investigation?” Stressing that in the Samjhauta Express blast case, there were four others accused along with Aseemanand, he claimed that Aseemanand had “confessed” that he got “endorsement” from senior RSS leaders.”He had mentioned Indresh Kumar. Indreshji is a senior RSS member and questioned by the CBI”.He said in Ajmer blast case, three witnesses have turned hostile. “One Ranbir Singh is former BJP minister. Why is pressure being put on witnesses?”

Samjhauta Express blast case: No evidence found against Lt Col Purohit, says NIA chief

NIA DG Sharad Kumar has said that no evidence has been found against Lt Colonel Purohit. “He’s not involved in case,” said Kumar. The NIA chief further added, “No change has been made in the chargesheet in the Samjhauta express blast case, the inquiry is going on smoothly.” Lt Col Prasad Purohit, one of the main accused in the Samjhauta and Malegaon blasts cases, has written to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar requesting restoration of his honour.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his letter dated April 4, 2016, he claims he has been falsely implicated in the case and has been behind the bars for more than seven years now. “I have been robbed of honour, dignity and rank and punished for serving the nation,” he said. Purohit claimed he had infiltrated groups like SIMI and Naxals as a military intelligence operative and added that he had shared every detail of his operation with his seniors. AT A GLANCEMalegaon blast caseA blast took place at Malegaon town in Maharashtra on September 29, 2008, in which six persons died and 100 were injured. Twelve persons, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Purohit, were arrested for the blast​This is not the first time that Purohit has written to Parrikar. In November 2015, he had written to him requesting copies of the Court of Inquiry against him by the army. He finally has got copies of the CoI after court intervention.The National Investigation Agency in the year 2015 had opposed the bail application of Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegoan blast case.AT A GLANCESamjhauta blasts caseTwo bomb blasts occurred in the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express train near Panipat on February 18, 2007 in which 68 persons were killed and 12 others were injured. Swami Aseemanand and Lt Col Purohit were among the key accused in the case.​The agency said in its reply, filed on Wednesday, that it had sufficient evidence to prove Purohit’s involvement in the blasts conspiracy and to justify invocation of stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against him.Purohit, pleading innocence, has also said in his bail plea that he is behind the bars without trial for the last seven years. Following a Supreme Court order, a special court was constituted to hear the case exclusively.

Video of girl snowballs into major controversy in Kashmir

A major controversy has erupted over the video of a girl released by the army in their defence to prove that the molestation charges were intended to malign the soldiers on duty in the Handwara township.This comes on the day when the authorities suspended the mobile internet services amidst the curfew in the parts of the Kashmir valley.”It (release of video) tantamounts to defaming the girl. We do not know who the girl is. It can be cooked up story. If she had to make a statement the army would have brought her before the magistrate concerned or in Srinagar not necessary in Kupwara. They (army) cannot do it (release the video) even if her face is blurred,” said Zaffar Ahmad Qureshi, senior advocate at Jammu and Kashmir high court.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Violent protests had rocked Handwara township on Tuesday after locals alleged that a girl was molested by the army trooper when she entered into a public washroom. Four people have so far died in the security forces firing on the protestors.Indian army on Wednesday released a video in which a school girl is seen apparently giving a clean chit to the soldiers in the molestation case and blaming an unidentified boy for inciting people at Handwara town on Tuesday.”It (video) does not hold any water before the court of law. Only the statement made before the magistrate has evidential value,” said Qureshi.Main opposition National Conference too questioned the authenticity of the video saying it was not feasible (for army) to make it public. “It was not feasible to release the video. If any video is there, it should have gone to the judicial magistrate heading the enquiry not to be made public. Again we do not know whether she is the same girl”, said Junaid Azim Mattu, National Conference spokesman.Indian Army defended the release of video saying it was done after authentication. “Video has been released after verification. It has been verified and released that is all I can say,” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Even as political parties spar over the video, authorities suspended the mobile internet in parts of Kashmir in a bid to avoid the rumor mongering on the social media.This is despite the fact strict curfew was imposed in parts of Kupwara district to avoid any law and order breakdown. Curfew like restrictions continued for the second day in the area falling under the jurisdiction of six police stations in Srinagar.Jammu and Kashmir police have issued an appeal urging people to help in normalising the situation.”General public is requested to please refrain from indulging in lawlessness, remain calm and help the administration in maintaining peace and order,” a police spokesman said.

Army rebuts molestation charge with girl’s video as firing death toll reaches 4

The army on Wednesday released a video in which a schoolgirl is seen apparently giving a clean chit to the soldiers in the alleged molestation case and blaming an unidentified boy for inciting people at Handwara town on Tuesday.The video was released on the day the death toll in the firing by army personnel on protestors climbed to four. An elderly woman, who was injured in the firing on Tuesday, succumbed to her injuries. A youth was killed when a tear smoke shell hit him at Dragmulla village of Kupwara district on Wednesday. Police said 110 cops and two CRPF jawans were also injured in different stone-pelting incidents in north Kashmir and old Srinagar city.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Violent protests had rocked Handwara township after local residents alleged that a girl was molested by the army trooper when she entered into a public washroom in the township. Two people had died when security forces fired at the mob which ransacked the bunker of 21 Rashtriya Riffles on Tuesday.On Wednesday Indian army released a 1.14-minute video of the girl with her face blurred claiming that it was clinching evidence to prove that there was no molestation bid and that an attempt was made to malign the troops.In the video, the girl donning white school uniform and wearing hijab said an unidentified boy appeared near the washroom and slapped her before inciting other people who had assembled at the spot.”I handed over the bag to my friend and entered the bathroom. When I came out and received the bag from my friend, a boy suddenly appeared and slapped me. He said, ‘Have all Kashmiris died?’ I screamed why he is saying so. A large number of people assembled at the spot. He (the boy) asked me to come with him to the police station. There was a police uncle nearby and I told him that I will go to police station only with him,” said the girl in chaste Kashmiri.The girl noted that the boy did not hand over bag to her and instead hurled invectives and abuses at her. “I did not see anyone (from forces). Hilal Bayia was also present there. He too slapped me. He asked me what I was doing there. I told him that you visit our home and know the atmosphere. I also exclaimed, are you saying the same thing’ (what the boy was saying),” she said.The girl averred that it seemed it was pre-planned because they were not listening to me. “The boy accompanied and thrashed me en route. He was not even handing over the bag to me. But then Shafi uncle asked him to leave and got the bag back. This boy was provoking the other people,” she said.Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar, told dna that the video proves that the whole act was an attempt to malign the army.”The video was recorded by the local media yesterday. We were waiting for authentication. It was released by us only after it was authenticated. The whole action had a malifide intent to malign the army. Investigation will cover all aspects,” he said.Video evidence notwithstanding, heads have started rolling in the Handwara firing case. District magistrate Kupwara suspended assistant sub inspector of J&K Police for negligence of duties. “Disciplinary action would be taken against erring officials under law,” the district magistrate said in the order.This followed the meeting of district administration with the civil society of Kupwara to defuse tension. “A magisterial enquiry would be completed in one month’s time. I will write to the army authorities for removal of the bunker situated in the Main Chowk Handwara within one month,” the district magistrate said.The government has also agreed to provide ex-gratia for the next of kin of all deceased persons. “A lenient view will be taken in general FIR as nobody has been nominated in general FIR,” the order said.The agreement comes despite the strict curfew imposed in the Kupwara district. Curfew-like restrictions was imposed in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of six police stations of Srinagar city.Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti met defence minister Manohar Parrikar and called for a time-bound inquiry into the incident so that those responsible for the deaths are handed exemplary punishment. “This will act as a deterrent against such incidents in future,” she said.Separatists have extended the hartal call by another day and asked people to stage protest demonstration on Friday.

PM Modi salutes martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday paid tribute to the martyrs who lost their lives in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and said that their sacrifice and courage can never be forgotten.”Saluting all the martyrs who lost their lives in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Their sacrifice & courage can never be forgotten,” the Prime Minister tweeted.The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 when a crowd of nonviolent protesters, along with Baishakhi pilgrims, who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar in Punjab, were fired upon by troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer.Some historians consider the episode a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, Britain’s oldest Sikh diaspora organisation, The Indian Workers Association (IWA) has reportedly asked UK Prime Minister David Cameron to repeat in the House of Commons, his description of the massacre as a “deeply shameful act in British history”, which he made during his visit to Amritsar in February, 2013.Cameron during his visit, had written in the visitors’ book saying “This was a deeply shameful act in British history, one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as ‘monstrous’. We must never forget what happened here and we must ensure that the UK stands up for the right of peaceful protests”.

West Bengal elections 2016: Actors, players, retired soldier prepare themselves for polls tomorrow

As the six-phase Assembly poll begins in West Bengal on Monday, political greenhorns from various fields, including from cinemas, cricket, football, investment banking enter into fray.LIVE England vs West Indies final T20, ICC World T20The candidates’ list of various parties includes film stars, soccer and cricket players, a retired army colonel, and a former investment banker.Retired Colonel Diptanshu Chaudhary, who had fought in the Kargil War, is now seeking votes on a BJP ticket from the coal belt of Asansol south constituency to fight against the “misrule” of the ruling Trinamool Congress.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During his campaigns he seeks to invoke a spirit of nationalism by proudly recalling the war tales of Kargil. His rival is TMC’s sitting MLA Tapas Banerjee. Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, is banking on former investment banker Mahua Moitra, who left her lucrative job as vice-president of JP Morgan in London to join politics, and is contesting Karimpur seat in Nadia district.Having made the transition from a corporate boardroom to the election war-room of a political party, she is trying hard this time to shed the tag of a political greenhorn.The list of candidates of all political parties show there are at least three soccer stars who are in the fray. Football icon Bhaichung Bhutia is no stranger to politics. He had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on a TMC ticket.This time the former Indian football captain is ready for another battle in Siliguri where he will be taking on veteran Marxist leader Ashok Bhattacharya, also the mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation. Fresh in the world of politics are two soccer stars Syed Rahim Nabi and Dipendu Biswas, both of them representing Trinamool Congress.Biswas, who had played both for Mohun Bagan and East Bengal football clubs, has now been fielded from south Basirhat seat against sitting BJP MLA Shamik Bhattacharya.Indian midfielder Nabi, who has been the skipper of Indian Super League side Mumbai City Football Club, will be trying his luck from Pandua seat. Late cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya’s daughter Vaishali Dalmiya has also entered politics as a Trinamool Congress candidate from Bally in Howrah district.Former Team India skipper Sourav Ganguly is expected to be the star campaigner for her. Film stars in the fray on Trinamool ticket include actor Soham Chakraborty from Barjora seat in Bankura and sitting MLA and actress Deboshree Roy from Raidighi.Singer Indranil Sen is trying his luck from Chandernagore while Soumitra Ray, singer of popular Bengali band ‘Bhoomi’ is luring voters from Chanchal seat.In North Howrah constituency, near Kolkata, the fight will be between actress-turned-politician Rupa Ganguly (BJP) and cricketer-turned-politician Laxmi Ratan Shukla (Trinamool Congress ).From BJP actress Locket Chatterjee will contest from Mayureswar, actors Joy Banerjee from Suri and Suman Banerjee from English Bazar in Malda. Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, who was once arrested for circulating emails mocking Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has also thrown his hat in the ring as an Independent.

Pakistan media accuses India of being ‘reluctant to cooperate’ as JIT arrives in Pathankot

As the Pakistan Joint Investigation Team (JIT) arrived in Pathankot on Tuesday to probe the terror attack, which took place in January resulting in the death of seven military personnel, the Pakistani media said that India was reluctant to cooperate with Pakistan on the probe.

According to this report by Pakistani news channel Dunya News, Indian authorities showed “signs of reluctance” when the JIT asked them for information and evidence.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The report said that Indian authorities did not provide the JIT with any evidence when it asked for the recordings of the telephone calls of SP Salwinder Singh, his wife and other related persons and the IME numbers and copies of the three FIRs that had been filed after the attack.

“Sketches of the attackers, footage of the closed-circuit television, duty registers of the Border Security Force (BSF), details of the bank accounts, service records, post-mortem report of the driver who died in the car accident at the time of the incident and the FIR of that car’s snatching have not been given to the Pakistani investigation team,” said another report in Pakistani newspaper Daily Times.

The report further said that post-mortem and DNA reports of the terrorists involved and phone records and information about the commander of Pathankot airbase had not been given to the JIT.

The Dunya News report further claimed that the stances of the Indian government and BSF regarding the terror attack were contradicting each other.

Moreover, the report said that while Indian authorities had said that terrorists had entered the Pathankot airbase after climbing ten-feet walls, no ropes were found as evidence.

These claims by the Pakistani media come just a day after it was found that Pakistan’s electronic media regulatory body (PEMRA) on Sunday had released a statement for the Pakistani media, asking them to be “professional” and “responsible” when reporting on the Lahore attacks, unlike the Indian media.

“Pakistan needs to follow the example of professional handling of Brussels attacks by international media rather than following the footsteps of Indian media that is driven by crass commercialisation,” the statement had said.

JIT did not contradict NIA evidence

In fact, the Pakistani media’s claim that India was not cooperating with Pakistan also comes at a time when the JIT and Indian authorities agreed on a very crucial aspect of the probe.

Indian investigators on Monday had said that the visiting JIT officials did not “contradict” any of the evidence submitted by the NIA, according to IANS.

This evidence also “proves” India’s claims that the Pathankot attack on 2 January was planned in Pakistan and had a link to the Jaish-e-Mohammed and its chief Masood Azhar, the investigators had said.

“The fact that they did not contradict or made any adverse comment or observation is a positive sign,” the authorities had said.

Protests against the JIT visiting Pathankot

It is not just the Pakistani media though, which has had a sceptical perspective towards this probe. Opposition parties like AAP and Congress have accused the Modi government of “surrendering” to Pakistan.

“We are saying that Pathankot terror attack was Pakistan-sponsored. If it was Pakistan-sponsored attack, how can ISI probe against itself?” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said on Monday.

“By allowing an official Pakistani team to visit and investigate, BJP government has, for the first time, distinguished and, therefore, recognised that the Pakistani establishment does not have any role in perpetuating terror in India, more so in the context of Pathankot terror attack,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said.

Congress workers on Tuesday were even protesting with black flags outside the Pathankot airbase, shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai“.

Limited access to the JIT

These protests against the JIT took place despite Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar saying on Monday that the defence ministry had “not permitted” the visiting team into the Indian Air Force base and that the crime scene, handed over to the NIA, had been isolated.

The IAF base will be visually barricaded by NIA to prevent any view of critical areas.

The NIA team will, however, show some of the areas to the JIT where the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists engaged in an 80-hour-long gun battle with security personnel.

The five-member Pakistani JIT is headed by Chief of Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Muhammad Tahir Rai and comprises Lahore’s Deputy Director General, Intelligence Bureau, Mohammad Azim Arshad, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Lieutenant-Colonel Tanvir Ahmed, Military Intelligence official Lieutenant-Colonel Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD Investigating Officer, Shahid Tanveer.

(With agency inputs)

Pathankot probe: Pakistan JIT didn’t contradict NIA evidence, say Indian officials

New Delhi: Amid criticism of the government for allowing a Pakistani investigation team to probe the Pathankot attack, Indian investigators on Monday said the visiting officials did not “contradict” any of the evidence submitted by the NIA.

There was a detailed presentation by the National Investigation Agency to the visiting team on the evidence on Monday afternoon.

A file image of security forces on guard near the Pathankot airbase. AFPA file image of security forces on guard near the Pathankot airbase. AFP

A file image of security forces on guard near the Pathankot airbase. AFP

These evidences “prove” India’s claims that the Pathankot attack on 2 January was planned in Pakistan and had a link to the Jaish-e-Mohammed and its chief Masood Azhar, they said.

“The fact that they did not contradict or made any adverse comment or observation is a positive sign,” the sources said.

The visiting team, which arrived in India on Sunday to conduct its own probe into the Pathankot attack, will be taken to the town in Punjab on Tuesday.

ISI official Lieutenant Colonel Tanvir Ahmed and military intelligence officer Lieutenant Colonel Irfan Mirza are part of the team, the sources said.

The team will fly on Tuesday morning to Pathankot in a special BSF plane that will land away from the Pathankot airbase, official sources said.

India has said six terrorists from Pakistan-based JeM attacked the base on 2 January. All the terrorists were killed in the gun battle.

The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party on Monday flayed the government and questioned how an ISI officer was allowed to visit India and permitted inside the airbase.

The government says the visiting probe team will be given only limited access.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the shootout site has no contact with the airbase and has a separate entry also.


Missing soldier’s body recovered from under snow in Ladakh

A day after a massive avalanche hit the army patrol; the rescuers recovered the body of a missing solider from under the huge mounds of snow in the Turtuk Sector in Ladakh region on Saturday.Rifleman Sunil Rai along with Lance Havildar Bhawan Tamang were buried under huge mounds of snow when an avalanche swept away army patrol on March 25. Lance Havildar Bhawan Tamang who was retrieved immediately succumbed to his injuries in the hospital on Friday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mortal remains of Rifleman Sunil Raj were recovered by rescue teams from deep under the snow on Saturday morning.”The mortal remains of the soldiers are being evacuated from the area of the avalanche. Later a wreath laying ceremony will be conducted to honour the martyrs. Thereafter, they will be transported by air to their native places where they will be accorded funerals with full military honours,” said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command.Hailing from Lopshu village in Darjeeling tehsil of West Bengal, Lance Havildar Bhawan Tamang is survived by his wife, a six-year-old daughter and his parents.Rifleman Sunil Rai of Lower Sontook Lungbhung Algarah village of Darjeeling, West Bengal, is survived by his parents and two younger brothers.General Officer Commanding in Chief (GoC-in-C) Northern Command Lieutenant General DS Hooda expressed his deep condolences to the families of the martyrs. “The Indian Army fraternity stands shoulder to shoulder with the bereaved families in their hour of grief,” he said.This is second time in a week when an avalanche has hit the Indian Army troopers in the cold desert of Ladakh. On March 17 an avalanche hit the army post situated at the altitude of 17,500 feet in the Kargil sector. Two soldiers, who were on surveillance duty, were swept away by the avalanche. One of the soldiers was immediately rescued while the body of another was retrieved from under the snow three days later.

PLA troops’ presence across LoC sparks security fears

China has pressed India’s raw nerve once again after People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops were spotted stationed at the forward posts on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).The development comes five days after Chinese made fresh incursion, entering six kilometres deep into Indian territory near Pangong Lake in Leh district. However, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) immediately swung into action and forced foreign troops to retreat.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What has created an alarm in the security establishment now is the presence of PLA troops at the forward posts on the side of Nowgam sector in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, and intercepts of communication suggesting the PLA was there to help Pakistani army build infrastructure along the LoC.Also, there are credible reports that PLA would be drilling tunnels in the Leepa Valley in PoK to build an all-weather road that will serve as an alternate road link to Karakoram highway.PLA officials’ presence is also seen as part of Beijing’s 46 billion dollar China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC), under which Gwadar port in Balochistan will be linked to Chinese Xinjiang province through Karakoram highway.Indian Army, however, officially denied any such movement of Chinese troops on the other side of LoC. “There are no such inputs (about Chinese army presence on the LoC in PoK),” Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar, told dna.This is not the first time that Chinese troops or engineers have been spotted in PoK. In 2011 Pakistan stationed Chinese troops on the LoC in PoK, sending alarm bells ringing among the Indian army guarding the porous border line which is often used by Pakistani army to push militants into Kashmir. Indian troops had spotted Chinese troops in the Neelam valley of the northern Kashmir.China is involved in construction and up-gradation of numerous roads, bridges and hydro power projects. The Chinese links with Pakistan through PoK lend credence to the Sino-Islamabad nexus.In 2012 Indian Army spotted Chinese engineers, technical staff and other people in civvies on the other side of LoC in PoK amid reports that Pakistan was allowing China to use some of its occupied areas for military purposes. The issue had then rocked the state Assembly after reports suggested that the PoK had “leased out” land to China for military purposes besides allowing them to keep watch on India.The PLA troops were also spotted in 2015 opposite Tangdhar sector of Kupwara district. Government-owned China Gezhouba Group Company Ltd has been building a Jhelum-Neelum 970 MW hydel power project in PoK.Pakistan is also raising a special division to protect the CPEC and Chinese engineers working on the project. However, reports said PLA camouflaging under a local name will establish a security wing in the PoK to hoodwink India. More than 30,000 men are expected to be deployed for security of vital installations in PoK.

Three Indian students killed in horrific road accident in UAE

Three Indian students in the UAE were killed on the spot in a horrific car accident in Sharjah, police said.The incident took place on Al Dhaid-Al Madam Road in Sharjah in the wee hours on Saturday. Ashmi Ashraf, 20, Muhammad Shifam, 20 and Mohammad Shounoub, 21 were returning to Dubai after a short holiday at a friend’s house when they met with the accident. All the three students were from Kerala, Gulf News reported.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The driver of the youths’ car is said to have tried to take a U-turn from an unauthorised area on the road, when another speeding car crashed into their vehicle. The three students were killed on the spot. The driver of the other vehicle, a 25-year-old Yemeni, sustained minor injuries.Colonel Haran Mubark Al Jazai, acting police director of Eastern Region, said the vehicle carrying the students caused the accident. He said the student’s vehicle entered the road from a prohibited area and collided with another vehicle which was travelling on its path.Ashraf from Kozhikode and Shifam from Kannur were studying at Middlesex University in Dubai. Their friend Shounoub was also from Kozhikode, the report said. The Kerala Muslim Cultural Community is making efforts to get the bodies released for repatriation to Kerala, it said.”Middlesex University Dubai students and staff mourn the loss of our students Ashmid Ashraf, Muhammad Shifam and their friend Mohammad Shounoub in a tragic accident. Our deepest sympathies and condolences to their families,” the university said in a statement.

3 Indian students killed in UAE road accident

Three Indian students were killed on Saturday when the car they were travelling in collided with another vehicle in the UAE’s Sharjah city.The incident took place on Al Dhaid-Al Madam Road in Sharjah in the wee hours today. Ashmid Ashraf, Muhammad Shifam and Mohammad Shounoub were returning to Dubai after a short holiday when they met with the accident. All the three students were from Kerala, Gulf News reported.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three students were killed on the spot. The driver of the other vehicle in the accident was injured and admitted to a nearby hospital. Colonel Haran Mubark Al Jazai, acting police director of Eastern Region, said the vehicle carrying the students caused the accident. He said the student’s vehicle entered the road from a prohibited area and collided with another vehicle which was travelling on its path.Ashraf from Kozhikode and Shifam from Kannur were studying at Middlesex University in Dubai. Shounoub was also from Kozhikode, the report said. The Kerala Muslim Cultural Community is making efforts to get the bodies released for repatriation to Kerala, it said. “Middlesex University Dubai students and staff mourn the loss of our students Ashmid Ashraf, Muhammad Shifam and their friend Mohammad Shounoub in a tragic accident. Our deepest sympathies and condolences to their families,” the university said in a statement.

In the militancy plagued valley, joining Indian Army is a new craze

For those who raise alarm over the radicalisation of youth and home grown militancy, this should come as a good news. Shunning taboos, hundreds of Kashmiri youth thronged the army recruitment rallies to become the proud soldiers in order to serve the country.Such was the enthusiasm that more than 2,300 Kashmiri youth applied for less than 50 posts in different branches of the Indian Army. Over 1,500 candidates turned up for the 30 vacancies of soldiers at Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) Regimental Centre in the first phase of recruitment rally for Shopian and Srinagar districts.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the second phase of recruitment to fill two vacancies of tradesmen, over 700 candidates appeared in the rally from almost all districts of Jammu and Kashmir with maximum representation from Baramulla, Bandipora and Anantnag districts.”The army offers a lifetime opportunity of adventure, education, progression besides dignity and self-esteem to a soldier, as also to his family. The overwhelming response to the rally is but a reaffirmation of the Kashmiri youth’s growing aspirations to embrace the noble profession of soldering for the nation,” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Given the huge craving among the youth to join the forces, Indian Army has planned several recruitment rallies across Jammu and Kashmir in coming months.”Army is sensitive to the growing desire of Kashmiri youth and has started conducting recruitment in a phased manner. The rallies for recruitment into all categories of the army will be held in Sunjuwan in Jammu, Bandipora in Kashmir and Drass in Ladakh in the coming months,” said Colonel Joshi.The huge response to army recruitment rallies comes in the backdrop of the reports of rising radicalisation of youth and home grown militancy in the valley. Figures reveal that over 60 local and highly educated youth joined the militancy in the last year alone sparking fears about the new breed of radicalised ultras overtaking the foreign counterparts in the valley.In contrast, 242 young soldiers of the state passed out from JAKLI centre on Saturday after grueling training of eleven months. What was icing on the cake was the huge rush of people thronging the JAKLI centre on Saturday to watch the parade by the young soldiers.Over 3,000 spectators including proud parents and relatives of the soldiers, veterans and other guests watched the parade of the young recruits turned soldiers.Lieutenant General Satish Dua, General officer Commanding (GOC), in his address praised their contribution in encouraging more youth from J&K to come forward to join security forces. “He even highlighted the vital role played by their parents in motivating their children and wards to join this noble profession,” said Colonel Joshi.

‘Issac Newton’ among three ultras killed in south Kashmir

His name was Issac …Issac ‘Newton’ and he was a militant.A 20-year-old militant named after the scientific genius Issac Newton was among the three ultras of Hizbul Mujhadeen gunned down by the security forces in an overnight encounter at Dadsara of Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.Another slain ultra has been identified as Ashiq Ahmad Bhat alias Ubaieda, a wanted militant by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Udhampur terror attack case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Issac Ahmad Parry alias Issac Newton, considered to be the brightest student in Tral area, was aiming to become a doctor before he joined militancy last year. A brilliant student who secured 98 per cent in Matriculation and 87 per cent in Class XII disappeared in March last year and joined Hizbul led by 21-year-old most-wanted commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani in Tral area.”He secured ninth position in matriculation examination. Later in class XII he again made Tral proud by securing 87 per cent marks. He was preparing for the common entrance test to qualify for MBBS. But one day he left home for coaching and never returned home. Later we came to know that he has joined the militant group led by Burhan”, said a close relative of Issac.The two others militants slain have been identified as Asif Ahmad Mir alias Chotu and Ashiq Hussain Bhat alias Ubaieda. Ubaieda was named in the charge sheet by the NIA in the Udhampur terror attack case. He along with Fayaz Ahmed Ashwar alias Setha has been on the run in the Udhampur terror attack case of August 5 2015.The encounter started on Wednesday evening when security forces received specific tip off about the presence of high value target in the Mir Mohollah of Dadsara village in Tral. Security forces immediately cordoned off the area and started the search operation. Police said when the forces were closing in on the suspected house, they came under a heavy fire from the militants hiding inside.”In the encounter, three terrorists were killed. Three AK riffles were also recovered from their possession. Search and sanitization operation is continuing in the area”, said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Thousands of the people participated in the funeral procession of the three slain militant in the area. Shouting pro `azadi’ slogans people marched through the villages and buried the three slain militants in the local graveyard. Last evening security forces had to lob smoke shells to disperse a mob which was trying to march to the encounter site.Meanwhile, Indian army foiled a major infiltration bid when they killed a militant who was trying to sneak in from Keran sector of the Line of Control in Kupwara district. “Two soldiers suffered injuries and have been evacuated to hospital. Their condition is stable,” said an army spokesman.

Meanwhile at JNU: ABVP organises #IndPak match screening on campus, hold ‘nationalism’ lecture

To counter their opponents who held a series on ‘demilitarisation of nationalism’ lectures, members of ABVP held a lecture on ‘nationalism straight from the battlefield’ and also screened the India Pakistan match being played in Bangladesh.Joint secretary of JNUSU Saurabh Kumar was quoted saying by HT: “Students in campus wanted to see the match so we thought of doing this. We will put up a screen, use projectors. In this way many students can see the match together. There is huge space outside the hostel where at least 250-300 students can accommodate. India-Pakistan matches are always interesting,” said Kumar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to the incidence, JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid said: “Everyone is free to hold any event in the campus. In the past also such screenings have happened and students are free to decide for themselves.” While the Left-backed group had former Navy Chief Admiral (retd) Lakshminarayan Ramdas and Retired colonel Lakshmeswar Mishra to deliver lectures on ‘demilitarisation of nationalism’, members of the student wing of BJP organised a parallel series.Addressing the gathering on the topic “Nationalism: Straight from battlefield” Brigadier (retd) Sharma said, “Pakistan knows that it can’t defeat us on battlefield, therefore they are waging a proxy war and trying to benefit from our internal weaknesses to disturb our internal security. “We are moving forward in every areas, cyber, warship, economy, etc and that is what keeps our neighbour unhappy, more so because we became independent at the same time. And that’s why we need to remain alert,” he said as he played a video showing the high peaks and battlefields of Siachen and the difficulties the soldiers face there while guarding the border.Lieutenant General (retd) Malik talked about the two mistakes India had committed according to him.”The first was to recognize Tibet as the part of China”.Tibet was historically our neighbour and China was nowhere far from us but that mistake drew China closer and posed it as our great neighbouring enemy. Another mistake was going to UNO on Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.The parallel events took place on JNU campus which is caught in a row over an event against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were alleged to be raised.While the organisation of the programme was objected by ABVP, three students including the union president Kanhaiya Kumar are in custody in a sedition case over the event.”The incident and the subsequent defence of the event citing ‘free speech’ by some ‘intellectuals’ was painful and the words by the ex-servicemen have provided us immense courage to continue our fight against the ‘anti-national’ elements,” said Saurabh Kumar Sharma, Joint Secretary JNUSU and lone ABVP member in the union.ABVP had also arranged for a live telecast of India Pakistan match at Mahi-Mandvi hostel in the university and titled the event as “JNU for nationalism”. Students’ groups organise 2 functions on Azad’s death anniversaryOn the occasion of Chandrashekhar Azad’s 85th death anniversary, student bodies SFI and ABVP organised different programmes at the Government College campus here.The two groups raised slogans but there was no report of any untoward incident. The leftist student body SFI and right-winged ABVP has clashed with each other at the college previously. Keeping this in view, police force was posted at the institution. Principal R P Hooda paid tribute at both the programmes and told the students that arranging two separate ceremonies is an insult to the freedom fighter.

Jammu and Kashmir: Two special forces officers among six killed as siege continues

It is turning out to be one of the fiercest encounters in Jammu and Kashmir in the recent past. Twenty-seven hours on and six casualties including three from the elite Special Forces, security forces are battling a group of highly motivated militants holed up in a multi-storey building of J&K Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) at Sempora-Pampore in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. One of the holed-up militants has also been killed in the gun battle so far.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian army lost three soldiers, including two captains of the elite Para (Special Forces) when they came under heavy gunfire from the militants while they were busy in room interventions (securing the rooms) inside the EDI building.Captain Pawan Kumar of 10 Para was killed when he led a daredevil mission to storm the building on Saturday night. Lance Naik Om Prakash too died in the line of duty during the operation.Para (Special Forces) when they came under heavy gunfire from the militants while they were busy in room interventions (securing the rooms) inside the EDI building. Captain Pawan Kumar of 10 Para was killed when he led a daredevil mission to storm the building on Saturday night. Lance Naik Om Prakash too died in the line of duty during the operation.Captain Tushar Mahajan of 9 Para died on Sunday afternoon when he was busy in clearing the building from militants. He suffered grievous injuries and was shifted to hospital where he attained martyrdom.Tushar Mahajan of 9 Para died on Sunday afternoon when he was busy in clearing the building from militants. He suffered grievous injuries and was shifted to hospital where he attained martyrdom.”Regret to inform that that another army personnel succumbed to his injuries. Twenty-six-year-old son of soil Capt Tushar hailed from Udhampur (Jammu),” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Capt Tushar hailed from Udhampur (Jammu),” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.The encounter started on late Saturday afternoon when militants first attacked a CRPF convoy, killing two soldiers and injuring 13 others, before taking shelter in the EDI building. More than 80 trainees and employees were rescued by the security forces. A gardener of EDI too was killed when people were being evacuated on Saturday.CRPF convoy, killing two soldiers and injuring 13 others, before taking shelter in the EDI building. More than 80 trainees and employees were rescued by the security forces. A gardener of EDI too was killed when people were being evacuated on Saturday.Security forces later cordoned off the main building of the EDI complex to engage the militants. On Saturday night, Special Forces tried to storm the building to flush out militants but they came under a barrage of firing from inside that led to a fatal casualty of Captain Pawan of 10 Para unit. Heavy firing continued through the night between the militants who had taken vintage positions on the upper floor of the building to target the forces.EDI complex to engage the militants. On Saturday night, Special Forces tried to storm the building to flush out militants but they came under a barrage of firing from inside that led to a fatal casualty of Captain Pawan of 10 Para unit. Heavy firing continued through the night between the militants who had taken vintage positions on the upper floor of the building to target the forces.Despite the firing, Special Forces commandos continued their room intervention during the day to secure floors and corner militants in a localised area.”All floors have been secured barring the place where the militants are hiding. They have been localised in one part of the top floor,” Nalin Prabhat, Inspector General (IG) of CRPF, told dna.Nalin Prabhat, Inspector General (IG) of CRPF, told dna.A high drama unfolded in the afternoon when huge smoke started billowing from the top floor of the building after it caught fire. IG CRPF said the fire was ignited by militants to disorient the security forces engaged in the operation. “Militants lit the fire to disorient the security forces. However, the fire got extinguished on its own,” said Nalin.IG CRPF said the fire was ignited by militants to disorient the security forces engaged in the operation.”Militants lit the fire to disorient the security forces. However, the fire got extinguished on its own,” said Nalin.Indian army used Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) fitted with cameras to locate the positions of the militants. Several UAVs were seen flying atop the building to help the ground troops to pinpoint the militants’ positions.UAVs) fitted with cameras to locate the positions of the militants. Several UAVs were seen flying atop the building to help the ground troops to pinpoint the militants’ positions.What came as a good news for the security forces was the elimination of one of the militants after intense gun fight during the last 27 hours. “One militant has been killed so far. We are suspecting that three to four militants were holed up. We have killed one of them so far. Search operation is on in the building,” said Bhavesh Chaudhary, officiating CRPF spokesman in Kashmir.Bhavesh Chaudhary, officiating CRPF spokesman in Kashmir.Sources said the militants holed up in the building are highly trained and carrying a lot of ammunition to engage the security forces for a longer period. “They seem to have taken shelter after proper planning. They are carrying lot of arms and ammunition given the amount of firing. It is very difficult to sustain in this bone chilling cold and without food. They might have something with them to sustain,” said an officer having experience in anti-militant operations in the valley.

Proud of son’s sacrifice: Father of Captain Pawan Kumar killed in Pampore

Last month Captain Pawan Kumar turned 23 little realizing that it could be his last birthday. An intrepid commando, Captain Pawan embarked on a daredevil mission to storm the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneur Development Institute (JKEDI) building to nut-out the highly motivated holed-up militants in the din of night at Sempora-Pampore in south Kashmir.Living to his motto, Captain Pawan of 10 Para (Special Forces) fought a close quarter battle with the highly entrenched militants before receiving the volley of bullets. He was shifted to the hospital where he attained martyrdom.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“Captain Pawan Kumar of 10 Para attained martyrdom while leading his men from the front in a tricky deliberate operation against terrorists hiding in a government building,” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.
ALSO READ A Jat and a JNU degree holder, this 23-year-old soldier gave up his life in the Pampore encounterBorn on January 15, 1993 in Jind Haryana, Captain Pawan was the only child of his parents who graduated from National Defense Academy in 2013.Having just three years of service, he was a very brave intrepid officer who had maturity beyond his years. Just before this operation, he participated in two successful anti militancy operation in which three ultras were killed. He received some injuries last month but after three days he resumed his duties and refused to go on sick leave. “I had one child. I gave him to the army… to the nation. No father can be prouder,” said Sri Rajbir Singh, father of martyr Captain Pawan.Like Captain Pawan, Lance Naik Om Prakash took on the militants head on before laying down his life in the line of duty. A highly decorated soldier, the 32-year-old Lance Naik Om Prakash hailed from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh and was serving in the army for the last 13 years.“The martyr was awarded the Asadharan Suraksha Seva Praman Patra by the Prime Minister of India on August 15 2013,” said Colonel Joshi.Captain Tushar Mahajan of 9 Para died on Sunday afternoon when he was busy in clearing the building from militants. A brave commando hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, he suffered grievous injuries and was shifted to hospital where he attained martyrdom. “Regret to inform that that another army personnel succumbed to his injuries. Twenty-six-year-old Capt Tushar hailed from Udhmpur (Jammu),” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar. The officer was leading from the front when he came under heavy fire from the highly entrenched militants inside the EDI building.

In a daredevil mission, army choppers airlift nine martyrs from Siachen glacier

Battling inclement weather, Indian Army undertook a daredevil mission on Saturday when they airlifted mortal remains of nine martyrs from the world’s highest battlefield of Siachen to the base camp for their onward journey to Leh or Khardungla.Hostile weather conditions had been hampering the evacuation of bodies of nine soldiers from the Saichen glacier for the last 10 days. Tragedy had struck the glacier on February 3 when 10 soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO), were swept away by a massive avalanche that buried their Sonam post at the altitude of 19,600 feet.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Exploiting a very narrow window of fair weather, army aviation helicopters, in a daring act, succeeded in moving mortal remains of nine brave-hearts,” tweeted additional directorate general of public information (ADGPI), Indian Army.Mortal remains of all the nine soldiers were moved from the northern glacier to airstrip close to base camp before being airlifted to the base camp. “Weather continuing to be extremely adverse. All options being considered to move them further to Leh or Khardungla if weather opens up,” added ADGPI-Indian Army.Of the 10 slain soldiers, four hailed from Tamil Nadu, three from Karnataka and one each from Maharashtra, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. The slain have been identified as Subedar Nagesha TT, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, Sepoy Mahesha PN, all hailing from Karnataka.Four martyrs from Tamil Nadu have been identified Havildar Elumalai M, Lance Havildar S Kumar, Sepoy Ganesan G and Sepoy Rama Moorthy N. Three other martyrs include Lance Naik Sudheesh of Kerala, Sepoy Mustaq Ahmed of Andhra Pradesh and Sepoy nursing assistant Suryawanshi SV of Maharashtra.”An FIR has been lodged. Postmortem of the bodies will be held. Army helicopters did a wonderful job by bringing the mortal remains despite inclement weather,” said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command headquarters.Officers who have commanded the bravehearts in different hostile zones across Jammu and Kashmir, have paid tributes to them. Leading the tribe are the.”After completion of the stint on the line of control the unit was deployed for counter terrorist operations in depth area. Here was the first time Elumalai (Havildar Elumalai M of Madras regiment) saw action and he performed with aplomb and played a major role in elimination of two terrorists. During Operation Parakaram, he was at the forefront again and was part of the mine laying and mine recovery parties. He was also the lead in the unit training cell which produced many instructors,” said a former commanding officer of Havildar Elumalai M.

David Headley deposition: LeT aborted plan to target Siddhivinayak Temple ahead of 26/11 Mumbai attacks

Terror outfits LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen are given “financial” and “military” support by the ISI, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley said on Tuesday as he made fresh revelations including about an aborted plan to target Indian defence scientists and famous Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai.Deposing before a court in Mumbai for the second day via video-link from the US, he said he was working for Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI besides LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) and that he knew about ISI official Brigadier Riyaz being the handler of LeT’s top commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who was the mastermind of the November 26,2008 attacks in Mumbai.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I was also working for ISI and had met many people from the Pakistan Army,” he told the Special Judge G A Sanap during his deposition which will resume on Wednesday.He named three officials of the Pakistan army and ISI — Colonel Shah, Lt Colonel Hamza and Major Samir Ali – besides retired army officer Abdul Rehman Pasha who was closely working with LeT and Al-Qaeda. Headley said his assessment was that ISI and LeT were coordinating with each other.”ISI provides financial, military and moral support to terror outfits Jaish-e-Mohammed, LeT and Hizbul Mujaideen,” he said, even though he claimed that his opinion was formed on the basis of hearsay.Headley, who had visited Mumbai seven times to scout for targets, revealed that plans to target Mumbai had started over a year before November 26, 2008 and that LeT initially wanted to attack a conference of Indian defence scientists at Taj Mahal Hotel for which even a dummy of the hotel was prepared.But the plan to target scientists was dropped because of logistical reasons, like difficulty in smuggling in weapons and personal and lack of details about the schedule of the meet, he said. He said he had also conducted a recce of the famous Siddhivinayak Temple and Naval air station. He said the LeT group as a whole is responsible for the terror attacks in India and it can be speculated that all orders come from Lakhvi since he is its “top commander”.Headley, who had told the court on Monday that he was a “true follower” of LeT, today said ISI official Brigadier Riyaz was the handler of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. When shown a photograph of Lakhvi, the LeT operative identified him. The LeT operative said he had been asked by Pakistan’s ISI to recruit Indian armymen to spy for them.Giving details about plans to target India’s commercial capital, Headley said, “In November-December 2007, the LeT held a meeting in Muzaffarabad (in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) which was attended by (LeT operatives) Sajid Mir and Abu Kahfa. In this meeting, it was decided that terror attacks would be conducted in Mumbai. The task of conducting recce of Taj Hotel in Mumbai was assigned to me.”He said LeT operatives Sajid Mir and Abu Kahfa had “some information that there was going to be a meeting of Indian defence scientists at the conference hall in Taj Hotel. They wanted to plan an attack at that time. They also made a mock (dummy) of the Taj Hotel.”The “plan to attack the conference hall in Taj was cancelled due to logistical reasons, like it was not possible to get weapons and personnel to the hall,” he said, adding another reason for dropping of the plan was that he could not get details about the schedule of the conference.About plan to target Siddivinayak Temple, Headley said, “Sajid Mir (Headley’s handler in LeT) specifically asked me to make video” of it. Prior to November 2007, he said, the targets in Mumbai had not been decided.Continuing to spill the beans, he said that, “I met Abdul Rehman Pasha (retired Army officer) in Pakistan in early 2003 at a mosque in Lahore. When I first met Pasha he was with LeT. At that time he had no relation with Al-Qaeda, but may be after two years, he left LeT to join Al-Qaeda.””I met Major Iqbal of ISI in Lahore in early 2006. He asked me to gather military intelligence from India and also try to recruit someone from the Indian military to spy. I told Major Iqbal that I would do as he asked,” Headley said.”Samir Ali also wanted me to do some intelligence work in India. I was in contact with Samir Ali over phone,” he said.On his links with militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s founder Masood Azhar, he said, “I know Maulana Masood Azhar as I saw him once in October 2003. He is the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed. In October 2003, there was a gathering of LeT and he was a guest speaker there.”

David Headley’s testimony confirms close nexus between ISI & LeT: Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam

Pakistan’s spy agency ISI provides financial, moral as well as military support to terror outfits like the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen, said David Coleman Headley while revealing more information in the Mumbai court with regard to the 26/11 terror attacks.Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who took the examination of the Pakistani-American terrorist, said, “David Headley has given certain sensitive revelations. Firstly, he disclosed his close association with the ISI and said that he was working for them also. He said that he knew Brigadier Riaz, Colonel Shah. He also said that he knew Lieutenant Colonel Hamza and Major Samar Ali,” Nikam added. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nikam further said Headley in his testimony confirmed that the ISI and LeT have a close nexus with each other. “I did ask him on what grounds he was saying that. He said the ISI provides financial, moral as well as military support to the LeT,” he said.The public prosecutor said that Headley, in his examination through video conferencing from an undisclosed location in the United States, said that during his continuous visit to Mumbai, he surveyed various places like the CST Railway Station as well as the Naval airbase, police headquarter building, Hotel Taj, Hotel Oberoi and Siddhivinayak Temple. “Clearing my query as to why did he video graph the second floor of Hotel Taj, he said that LeT wanted to attack on the particular day when the Indian Scientist Conference was going to be held,” Nikam said. He however, said that they were not successful in implementing their plan as they could not get the weapons in time. Continuing his deposition for the second consecutive day, Headley said that he was asked by the ISI to recruit Indian army men to spy for them. Headley said that he also advised the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack, Hafiz Saeed, and Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi to ‘legally challenge’ the US ban on Lashkar. Headley testified for over five hours yesterday and described the role of ISI officers in collaborating with the Lashkar for the terror attack, which left 166 people dead in Mumbai.In his first deposition yesterday, Headley said that Pakistani terrorists attempted to attack Mumbai twice before the 26/11 strike but failed both times. Describing himself as a ?true follower? of the LeT, he also admitted that he joined the ranks of LeT after getting ?influenced and motivated? by the speeches of Hafiz Saeed.

Cutting through blocks of ice, Indian army retrieves one of the bodies of 10 Siachen martyrs

Braving snow blizzards and extreme freezing temperatures, Indian Army rescuers finally achieved first major success when they were able to retrieve one of the 10 bodies buried under huge blocks of snow and ice on the world’s highest battlefield of Siachen.”After intense and exhausting search operations, which has entered its sixth day, rescue parties have hit the camp site and recovered the mortal remains of one martyr,” said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command headquarters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tragedy had befallen the Indian Army on Wednesday when 10 Indian Army soldiers including a junior commissioned officer (JCO) of Madras regiment were swept away by a massive avalanche that buried their post at the altitude of 19,600 feet on the Siachen glacier.Of the 10 slain soldiers, four hailed from Tamil Nadu, three from Karnataka and one each from Maharashtra, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.Indian Army has established a new camp at the location to coordinate the rescue efforts in the sensitive area. “Rescue teams are cutting through 30-feet of ice at multiple locations where our soldiers could be buried. Probable locations are identified by using specialised equipment which was inducted along with the rescue teams,” said Colonel Goswami.Reports from the ground indicate the efforts are hampered by the frequent snow blizzards, extreme freezing temperatures and low visibility apart from the effects of rarefied atmosphere in such high altitude.”The teams are working round the clock and observing all precautions since the unstable ice and snow in the region could trigger fresh avalanches. Rescue efforts will continue till all our soldiers are found,” he said.Indian Army said blocks of snow and ice had fallen on the post burying it very deep into the glaciated area. Heavy snow cutters and major equipment have been pressed into service to clear and cut the ice blocks. The glaciated area presents temperatures ranging from a minimum of minus 42 degrees in the night to maximum of minus 25 degrees during the day.Situated at the eastern tip of Ladakh, Siachen literally means the Land of Wild Roses. Famous as the highest battlefield in the world, Indian Army is holding posts at unimaginable heights across the largest non-polar glacier in the world. Indian Army has lost hundreds of soldiers to weather vagaries, including avalanches and frost bites, in the last 30 years.Pakistani army suffered humiliating defeat in 1987 when Indian Army led by Honorary Captain Bana Singh captured their “Quaid” post located at 21,153 feet which was later named “Bana” post.However, for the last 12 years, the 150 kilometer Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in Siachen, is witnessing calm following the border cease-fire in 2003. Before that the AGPL was a regular battlefield with both armies exchanging artillery and small arms fire to pin each other down.

10 soldiers missing after avalanche hits Siachen glacier

Tragedy struck world’s highest battlefield of Saichen on Wednesday when around 10 Indian army soldiers were swept away by a massive avalanche that hit their post at an altitude of 19,600 feet.All the 10 soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO), are missing since the avalanche hit the northern Siachen glacier in the early hours of Wednesday.According to colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesperson at Northern Command in Udhampur, specialised teams from Army and Air Force have been pressed into service to locate the missing soldiers. “The rescue operations are being closely monitored from Leh and Udhampur,” he added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is the second big tragedy at the glacier in the last one month. Four soldiers belonging to 3-Ladakh Scouts unit were killed when a massive avalanche hit their patrolling party at the glacier on January 4. Another massive avalanche had left an army captain dead on November 13, 2015, even as 15 soldiers were safely rescued.Situated at the eastern tip of Ladakh, Siachen literally means the ‘land of wild roses’. Famed as the highest battle field in the world, Indian Army is holding posts at unimaginable heights across the largest non-polar glacier in the world. India has lost hundreds of its soldiers to weather vagaries, including avalanches and frost bites in the last 30 years.Pakistani army suffered humiliating defeat in 1987 when Indian army led by honorary captain Bana Singh captured their ‘Quaid’ post, located at 21,153 feet. The post was later named ‘Bana’ post.However, for the last 12 years, the 150-kilometre actual ground position line (AGPL) in Siachen is witnessing calm following the border cease-fire in 2003. Before that the AGPL was a regular battlefield with both armies exchanging artillery and small arms fire to pin each other down.

Massive rescue ops on to save 10 Indian soldiers buried in Siachen avalanche

Ten soldiers, including an officer, went missing on Wednesday after an avalanche hit them in Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region.

“Ten soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO), are missing after an avalanche hit their patrol at 19,000 feet above the sea level in southern side of the Siachen Glacier early Wednesday,” Colonel S.D. Goswami, spokesman of army’s Udhampur headquartered northern command, told IANS here.

Army spokesperson NN Joshi said several personnel from the Madras Regiment were buried on the northern side of the glacier, reports The Hindustan Times.

“A massive rescue operation has been started by the army and the Air Force to trace the missing personnel who are feared buried under the avalanche,” Goswami said.

Siachin Glacier is the world’s highest battlefield which the brave hearts of the Indian Army guard despite extremely hostile climate.

The winter temperatures often drops to minus 50 degrees Celsius in the region.

The Indian Express reports that one junior commissioned officer (JCO) and nine jawans of the Army’s 19 Madras battalion have been trapped since early Wednesday morning. The post is at 19,600 feet on the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) — the border with Pakistan at Siachen glacier — in the vicinity of Bana post.

With IANS inputs

Troops missing after Kashmir avalanche

Ten Indian soldiers are missing after an avalanche struck the Siachen glacier in Indian-administered Kashmir.

When UFOs go pop: Here’s why IAF’s shooting down of balloon in Barmer was justified

New Delhi: Sightings of UFOs (unidentified flying objects) are always a thrill in sci-fi comics and films, but in real life — especially when a country is under terror threat and has recently faced terror attacks, it can make people extremely nervous, even in broad daylight.

Two back-to-back sightings of unidentified balloons within 10 days at two places – one in Mumbai and the other at Barmer in Rajasthan have raised serious security concerns.

The latest first: On Republic Day, the IAF radar tracked an unidentified balloon-shaped object at Barmer. Considering the high alert issued for the particular day, a Sukhoi-30 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) shot it down. Investigations have revealed that it was a US-made shiny helium-filled balloon with ‘Happy Birthday’ written on it. It had come in from Pakistan. The previous incident occurred in Mumbai on 14 January, when two blue balloons were spotted hovering over Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport’s runway. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) denied ownership of the balloons, as it never uses blue-coloured weather balloons.

In May last year, five unidentified objects were spotted flying over Mumbai airport, causing panic among security agencies. Later, those ‘UFOs’ were found to be helium balloons — part of promotional merchandise to mark a cricket tournament organised by a Surat-based diamond trading firm. Arrests were made and the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) fired off a letter to the Mumbai International Airport Private Limited to pursue a criminal case against the organisers.

The helium-filled balloon shot down by an IAF Sukhoi-30 jet over Barmer on Republic Day. IBNLive

The helium-filled balloon shot down by an IAF Sukhoi-30 jet over Barmer on Republic Day. IBNLive

These incidents raise questions on the existing law in the domain of civil aviation to check the flying of such unidentified balloons or objects with unidentified owners and the efficacy of the law. Former director-general, DGCA, Kanu Gohain told Firstpost, “Without the authorisation of the DGCA and local civil authorities, no object — whether a balloon, model airplane or drone — is allowed to move in the air space. If it happens, NOTAM (unclassified notices to airmen) is issued to all against potential hazards along a flight route or a location, and action is taken in the form of arrest and prosecution. If one wants to fly a balloon or something, permission is a must, which mentions area, height, longitude, latitude etc within which the movement of the object will take place. Besides airports and adjoining areas, this rule is applicable even for public places like playgrounds etc.”

But Gohain added, “The IMD, however, is allowed to use white and pink-coloured standard weather balloons to check weather conditions.”

The IMD uses hydrogen balloons that reach altitudes of around 30 to 35 kilometres above sea-level and are tracked by GPS. They are used to check weather conditions in the city, and the balloons disintegrate after some time. These balloons carry various instruments along with a GPS tracker, that help record various weather parameters.

What do the aviation rules say?

As per Indian Aviation rules, flying instruments like balloons, hot air balloons, para-gliders, drones, sky lanterns, model airplanes etc are not allowed in the approach path of an airport’s runway, which is approximately about 15.5 degrees on each side of the centre of runway and up to an altitude of around 2,700 feet.

As per the general operating rules of the Article 12 (Rules of the air) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation:
(2.1) An unmanned free balloon shall not be operated without appropriate authorisation from the state from which the launch is made.
(2.2) An unmanned free balloon, other than a light balloon used exclusively for meteorological purposes and operated in the manner prescribed by the appropriate authority, shall not be operated across the territory of another state without appropriate authorisation from the other state concerned.
(2.3) The authorisation referred to in (2.2) shall be obtained prior to the launching of the balloon if there is reasonable expectation, when planning the operation, that the balloon may drift into airspace over the territory of another state. Such authorisation may be obtained for a series of balloon flights or for a particular type of recurring flight, eg atmospheric research balloon flights.
(2.4) An unmanned free balloon shall be operated in accordance with conditions specified by the state of registry and the state(s) expected to be over-flown.
(2.5) An unmanned free balloon shall not be operated in such a manner that impact of the balloon, or any part thereof, including its payload, with the surface of the earth, creates a hazard to persons or property not associated with the operation.
(2.6) A heavy unmanned free balloon shall not be operated over the high seas without prior co-ordination with the appropriate ATS authority. A heavy or medium unmanned free balloon shall not be released in a manner that will cause it to fly lower than 300 m (1,000 ft) over the congested areas of cities, towns or settlements or an open-air assembly of persons not associated with the operation.

However, considering the increase in terror threats and recent attacks, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has kept the rule of allowing balloons, flying objects etc in the vicinity of the airport and adjoining areas under suspension.

“Earlier, as per the rules, unmanned balloons, micro-flights, model airplanes etc were allowed after due permission from DGCA and local authorities. But, considering high security threats at present, the MHA has kept the rule in abeyance. Now, it is not allowed to fly any such objects. India was on high alert (real threat) during Republic Day celebrations. The action taken by the IAF at Barmer is thoroughly justified,” a senior official in the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on condition of anonymity.

Following a threat of an Islamic State attack, high alerts were issued especially due to the presence of French President Francois Hollande, who was the chief guest at the military parade in Delhi on the Republic Day. According to investigators in the Barmer episode, the US made balloons that reportedly came from Pakistan, “could have been an attempt to gauge India’s response time”.

In context of the IAF’s action at Barmer, security analyst Colonel Jaibans Singh said, “The country has in place a well coordinated plan for the security of air space. Transgressions are spotted by radars immediately and the standard operating procedures to deal with them is activated. Such plans are frequently rehearsed and contingency-planning is a part of the standard operating procedures. When seen in this context, the response of the IAF was timely and in accordance with their standard operating procedures. As for the criticality, it can be said that any air space violation needs to be taken seriously since it does pose a threat unless investigations and actions prove otherwise.”

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