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On his last day as Army Chief, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag pays tribute to martyrs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Dalbir Singh paid tribute at Amar Jawan Jyoti on his last day as Army Chief on Saturday. He will be replaced by Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as new army chief.General Singh inspected the guard of honour on his last day as Army Chief. “I salute our martyrs who made supreme sacrifices in upholding honour of the nation,” he said. He also thanked the Centre for granting One Rank One Pension to the armed forces.He also thanked PM Narendra Modi and the Centre “for their full support and giving free hand in conduct of operations”. Gen Dalbir Singh praised the Indian Army saying ,”Indian army delievered that in the last 2 and a half years. Indian Army is fully prepared and well trained to tackle any challenges be it external or internal. I strongly believe that actions must speak louder than words.” “In 2012, we had killed 67 terrorists, 65 in 2013 & killed 141 terrorists alone in J&K this year,” said General Dalbir Singh on his last day as the Army Chief. (With ANI/PTI inputs)Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment as the new Army Chief had created a controversy as it superseding seniors Lt Gen Bakshi and Southern Army commander Lt Gen PM Hariz. It had also sparked a fierce political row between a section of the Opposition and the government.

One civilian killed in cross-border firing at J&K’s Poonch sector

Jammu: One civilian was killed, as Pakistani Army indulged in heavy cross-border firing, targeting Indian positions and civilian areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch sector, prompting the Indian side to retaliate.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Pakistani troops targeted the Indian Army posts and civilian areas along the LoC in Poonch sector with small arms, automatic and mortars at 16:55 hours,” an army officer said. He said the army was retaliating strongly and effectively to the ceasefire violation.

One civilian has been killed in the ongoing firing, a senior police officer said.

On 16 December, Pakistan had violated ceasefire by targeting Indian positions along the LoC in Balakote sector of the same district. That had come after a lull of over three weeks, after the Indian troops had launched a counter-offensive on 23 November against the killing of three soldiers in the Machhil sector of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

In the cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists, three Indian soldiers were killed on 22 November, with body of one of them being mutilated. Following the incident, the Indian Army had vowed a heavy “retribution”.

The 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement has virtually become redundant with over 300 incidents of firing and shelling along the LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops.

Over 26 people, including 14 security personnel, have been killed in ceasefire violations since the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 19:32 IST

Kashmir security: Core group meets to chalk out strategy for winter

Srinagar: The core group on security in Kashmir on Tuesday reviewed the overall situation in the valley and chalked out security strategy for the winter months.

“The core group met on Tuesday at Badami Bagh Cantonment to review the overall situation and to draw the security strategy for the winters,” an army official said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said the meeting was co-chaired by Lt General J S Sandhu, GOC Chinar Corps, and Director General of Police K Rajender Kumar.

Top officials of all the constituents of the core group, including civil administration and security agencies, attended the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, Lt General Sandhu complimented the members and officials of the core group for the high-level of synergy among all the agencies in addressing the security concerns of Kashmir.

The DGP expressed similar sentiments and elaborated on the key security initiatives that have been put into place to manage the law and order situation in the valley.

“The members deliberated upon various issues to evolve a comprehensive strategy to respond to the various external and internal security challenges. Plans for maintaining a robust counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism grid were discussed,” the official said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 18:13 IST

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next army chief: Govt did what it thought right, it’s time to end row

Appointment of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff superseding Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi and Lieutenant General PM Hariz has got the self-appointed social media critics going ballistic on the internet. It has also given enough to feed the monstrous hunger that the media has for breaking news. Many writers have mentioned that there has been precedence of such supersession. Having known all the three officers closely, one is at a loss to explain one’s feelings. Lieutenant General Bakshi is an intellectual, straight shooter, dynamic and a thoroughly professional officer who is a dear friend and a course mate.

Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty ImagesLieutenant General Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

Lieutenant General Hariz is again a very competent officer and a junior in service but became the author’s boss due to residual service requirements. A mature and simple officer, he conducts himself with dignity. Lieutenant General Rawat, took over the command of the corps from this author. He is a humane, mature, professionally sound and a second generation officer. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet would have had a tough time picking one among them as the next COAS of the Indian Army. Since the supersession issue mainly pertains to these three officers, other officers considered are not mentioned here.

Be that as it may, the procedure followed is very simple and has been alluded to by some writers. A panel of all eligible army commanders and vice chief of army staff is sent to the defence ministry by the army headquarters. The defence minister makes his recommendations and sends it to the Appointments Committee of the cabinet. Previously, the appointments committee of the cabinet used to comprise of the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and the Finance Minister. Under this government, it has been simplified and reduced to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. A thorough 360-degree review of the individual is carried out for all promotions to and above the rank of Major General. Similarly, in this case too such a review would have been done. One is confident that all three would have been above board. After the panel is drawn and recommendations are made by the defence ministry it is purely the call of the appointments committee of the cabinet to make the selection of the next Chief of Army Staff. Needless to say that it is the prerogative of the government of the day to select the COAS of its choice.

A quick glance at the selection procedure of other democracies would be highly perceptive at this time. The organisational structure of many of the advanced countries is different from that of our country. The USA follows a theatre commands system whose commanders directly interact with the Secretary of the State for Defence and the President. In the USA, a Chief of Staff is considered to be the equivalent of the Chief of Army Staff in India. UK follows the system of a Chief of Defence Staff who has an advisory role and a Chief of General Staff who commands the army directly. Australia has a Chief of Defence Staff and a Chief of Army. Pakistan also follows a system of a Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and a Chief of Army. Sri Lanka follows a similar system to ours. One cannot compare China and other communist countries with India on this subject as “political correctness” plays a major role in such selections and the system is different.

In the USA, the selection of Chief of Staff (COS) is governed by the rule “10 US Code 3033 – Chief of Staff”. Unlike the COAS of the Indian Army, the Chief of Staff of the Army is an administrative position and does not have operational command authority over the army. The COS is recommended by the Secretary of the Army, nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In the UK, the equivalent of the COAS is the Chief of General Staff. The Ministry of Defence headed by the Secretary of State for Defence, recommends the names for Chief of General Staff and he is nominated by the Prime Minister. By the exercise of Royal Prerogative Powers, powers to appoint the senior leaders of the services is vested in the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence. The Queen, remains the ultimate authority. A similar system is followed in the Australian Army. In Germany, the Army Chief is designated as the Inspector of the Army (Generalinspekteur derNationaleVolkarmee). In peacetime, and in a state of tension, command of the Armed Forces is vested in the Federal Minister of Defence. It is only in a state of defence, which can be declared only with a two-third majority in the Bundestag (Lower House), that the power of command over the Armed Forces is passed to the Federal Chancellor.

While the systems may differ in various countries, the underlying principle in appointing the Chief of Army remains the same. That is, the political dispensation holds the privilege of choosing the person it likes to have as the Chief of its Army.

There has been disappointment and anger in some quarters about the supersession particularly those who are close friends of Lieutenant General Bakshi and Lieutenant General Hariz. This is but natural. Once the dust on this issue settles down and it dawns on people that the civilian government’s supremacy is to be respected, things will return to normal. Already, it has appeared in the media that things have reverted to normalcy and Lieutenant General Bakshi is back to his regular work schedule. Nothing less would have been expected from the true soldier that he is known to be. Similarly, Lieutenant General Hariz can also be expected to do the same. If these two generals who were directly affected have behaved in a manner befitting their stature and reputation, it behoves on all others to behave in a like manner. There are also rumours making the rounds that they will be accommodated as Permanent Chairman of Chief of Staff and Vice Chancellor, Indian National Defence University respectively. Again, it is required to keep in mind that it is the prerogative of the government to take a decision on these appointments. There is also a need to have confidence in the government that it will take the decisions in the best interests of the country.

This author has closely watched two of the COASs functioning and is convinced that every COAS works hard for the army. Therefore, we should hold the hands of Lieutenant General Rawat and support him in all his endeavours to take our famed army to higher glory.

The author is a retired lieutenant general of the Indian Army.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:20 IST

An inquisition for carrying Rs 5000: Why Modi govt is making it hard to support demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Some of the harsher critics of PM Modi and the BJP tend to claim that neither of them have ever read a book. It’s an elitist argument made either by eminent historians or disillusioned veterans who can’t get used to change of guards and appears untrue based on the events proceeding the November 8 announcement because someone out there seems to be a huge Kafka fan.The sheer number of rule changes since November 8 has left all of us feeling a little like the bank cashier Josef K, the protagonist of The Trial, who was unexpectedly arrested by unidentified agents for an unspecified crime and then underwent a trial without knowing his crime. Or maybe sitting somewhere in a dark corner, cashier Josef K’s real-life counterpart is just messing with the rest of us to right the wrongs he faced in a fictional world.So far, the sheer number of rule changes and announcements from the institutions involved in demonetization – the RBI, Finance Ministry and PMO – has made us wonder whether they really had a plan in place. The only reason, this hasn’t descended into complete chaos is the charisma of a Prime Minister who the people of this nation trust to do the right thing. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t become exasperating. The latest rule change in the great demonetization game (at the time of writing) came in the form of a cryptic circular from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on December 19 stated that we’d only be given one opportunity to deposit amounts greater than Rs 5000 before December 30. In the RBI’s own words: “The credit in such cases shall be afforded only after questioning tenderer, on record, in the presence of at least two officials of the bank, as to why this could not be deposited earlier and receiving a satisfactory explanation. The explanation should be kept on record to facilitate an audit trail at a later stage.” In a stroke of one press release, amount under scrutiny was brought down from a staggering Rs 2.5 lakh to a paltry Rs 5000. No matter which way you put it, this sounds a lot like having to explain to two faceless bank officials why one didn’t deposit money before December 30 even though we’d been clearly told we had all the time in the world to deposit our notes. The PM in his November 8 address had clearly stated: “Persons holding old notes of 500 or 1,000 rupees can deposit these notes in their bank or post office accounts from 10th November till close of banking hours on 30th December 2016 without any limit. Thus, you will have 50 days to deposit your notes and there is no need for panic.”In the same vein, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said on November 12: “Don’t rush to the banks right now, for exchanging or withdrawing old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes as there are massive crowds. Wait for a few days as the scheme is open till December 30.”That we must ‘explain’ our own money to faceless officials is quite worrisome and in some ways, is reminiscent of an era of licence raj when a morally ambiguous official’s arbitrary judgement could mean the difference between getting work done and going home empty-handed. And given the spate of adventurism of bank officials and babus, who’ve proven to be the weakest link in the demonetization drive, what’s to say a person can’t deposit their money or hide their ‘audit trail’ after giving a little under the table.As if that wasn’t enough confusion, Arun Jaitley’s press conference later that night showed that the FinMin and RBI have all the communication skills of a newly married couple as he said: “If they go and deposit with bank any amount of currency no questions are going to be asked to them and therefore the 5000 rupee limit does not apply to them if they go and deposit it once. “But if they are going to go everyday and deposit some currency, same person, that gives rise to suspicion that where is he acquiring this currency from. In that event a person may have something to worry about. Therefore everyone is advised whatever old currency you have please go and deposit it now,” he said. And since there is no scope now for earning any old currency because all exemptions have been waived, it makes sense to go deposit all the holding in one go, Jaitley said. “This is the objective of the order passed today.”Law and IT minister RS Prasad went on to cause further confusion when he said: “They (RBI) have issued something, the government will come with structured response on that.” And this wasn’t just talk as a colleague realised as she had to explain why she had Rs 6,000 to 10 different people. It really leaves you wondering what’s next. Show proof that one has sung the nation anthem with gusto at a movie theatre before depositing the money? Prove that one has shared at least five Facebook posts praising the Indian Army?Politics and policy implementation is about perception and even though the intentions behind demonetization are well-meaning, the implementation has left us all bewildered. In some ways, PM Modi’s November 8 speech now feels a lot like Neo’s address to the machines at the end of The Matrix where he tells them: “You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.” It seems even the institutions involved in demonetization only knew how it was going to begin, and have absolutely no clue how this is going to end.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment by Modi government creates unease: Here’s why

Soon after coming to power in 2014, the Narendra Modi government decided to honour the outgoing UPA government’s announcement on Lieutenant-General Dalbir Suhag’s elevation as India’s army chief. There was much speculation as his predecessor, General VK Singh who had done everything under his power to stop Suhag from getting the top job, was now not only in the BJP, but had been elected to Parliament.

Putting all speculation to rest, Modi decided to honour the well-established convention of the senior-most officer getting the top job and appointed Suhag. But, when it came to the navy, the Modi government overlooked the claims of the senior-most officer — Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha — and instead appointed the vice-chief and his junior, RK Dhowan as the Chief of Naval Staff.
But the navy is a smaller arm when compared to the over one million strong Indian Army. Naval supersession did not evoke much comment.

However, two years later the decision to appoint Lieutenant-General Bipin Rawat as the next army chief superceding two highly respected and competent officers, has come as a shock to many in the armed forces. Probably for the first time, two successive chiefs come from the same regiment — Gurkha Rifles.

Interestingly, Rawat’s appointment as army chief comes days after Pakistan appointed General Qamar Javed Bajwa as their new chief, both of them served in Congo as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force under General Bikram Singh, who later became India’s army chief.

File image of Lieutenant-General Bipin Rawat. Getty Images

File image of Lieutenant-General Bipin Rawat. Getty Images

Rawat’s appointment has bypassed two senior officers. Lieutenant-General Praveen Bakshi, commander-in-chief, Eastern Command — a highly respected officer, who was seen as a natural successor to Suhag. Across all ranks, the Indian Army looked forward to Bakshi’s appointment because of his exemplary credentials and the enormous respect he commands among both officers and men. The other officer superseded is commander-in-chief, Southern Command, Lieutenant-General PM Hariz, also held in high esteem.

Why did the government supersede two officers to appoint Rawat? The real reason will never be known and the explanation put forward by the government is far from convincing. The government explanation that Rawat has more experience in tackling counter-insurgency and of high altitude warfare sounds pretty facile. After all, no army chief leads formations to battle.

Bakshi, as C-in-C of the Eastern Command, is responsible for all counter-insurgency operations along the China border and in the North East region. He has served armoured brigades in Jammu and Kashmir and the western sector.

At a time when parochial interests dictate many decisions, the appointment of Rawat is bound to keep speculators busy for a long time.

There is media speculation that Bakshi might be in for a more coveted job, that of the CDS or Combined Defence Services Chief, a post which has been debated for several years but no political party has put its final stamp of approval. In a service where seniority was taken as a norm, the government announcement on Rawat is bound to stir regional and sectional interests a lot more. Senior officers are bound to use their regional and linguistic connections to play to the gallery and even lobby regional leaders.

The appointment of Rawat has already stirred a debate on the growing importance of officers from Uttarakhand in New Delhi. This tendency is not healthy for either the Indian Army or the nation to debate on.

Unlike Pakistan, in India, civilian control over the military has long been recognised and firmly established. Appointments and succession are decided by elected governments and accepted by the armed forces quietly. Even the supersession of Lieutenant-General SK Sinha by Indira Gandhi was quietly accepted, except by the general concerned who protested and resigned from the service.

Rawat’s elevation has become politically controversial

While the Opposition has every right to question the appointment the government is in no way expected to explain an executive prerogative. A privilege of the Executive, however, has to be handled with great care when dealing with sensitive appointments like that of the army chief. Historically, there has always been an undeclared war between infantry and armoured corps for supremacy.

In this battle, once again, the armoured corps represented by Bakshi was trounced by the infantry arm of the Indian Army.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 08:48 IST

Bipin Rawat became top contender for chief three months back

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

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as army chief: Strategic vision, not tactical achievements may have swung decision

Predictably, the government’s decision of appointing Lt General Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) by superseding the “senior-most eligible officers”, the Eastern Army Commander Lt General Praveen Bakshi, and Southern Army Commander Lt General PM Hariz, has now become a political issue, with the Opposition Congress, Janata Dal (U) and the two Communist parties (CPM and CPI) questioning the decision.

In fact, as I had written in this platform last week, it is this unfortunate politicisation of the military appointments that prevents the new and better norms from being encouraged for the much required military reforms in the country.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

The issue of seniority in top appointments always raises the question: Which should prevail – the quantum of experience or the quality of experience? And, if one goes by the examples of leading military powers of the world, there has been a systematic endeavour to go by the quality, not the quantum, of experience. It is in this context that it is interesting to know the Narendra Modi government’s explanation behind its choice of General Rawat as the next army chief.

Apparently, the government sources have told The Times of India, that “General Rawat is the candidate best suited to deal with emerging challenges, and that his operational experience and ‘general dynamism’ tipped the scales in his favour.” It is said that General Rawat has “more than 10 years of experience in counter-insurgency operations and on the Line of Control, besides serving on the China border. He has the requisite experience considering the current situation.”

Incidentally, it is not the first time in India that a senior-most officer has been denied the topmost position in his or her service, whether it is a civilian, judicial or a military job. Indira Gandhi was the prime minister when Justice AN Ray superseded three senior judges of the Supreme Court to become the Chief Justice in 1973. Again it was Indira Gandhi whose government in 1983 appointed General AS Vaidya as the Army Chief in 1983 superseding General SK Sinha.

In 2004, the Manmohan Singh government appointed Shyam Saran as the foreign secretary by superseding four senior officials in the Indian Foreign Service. But what it did in 2006 was even more eye-raising. It appointed Shivshankar Menon as foreign secretary, although 16 serving officers were senior to him; this was a decision that triggered a virtual rebellion in the Ministry of External Affairs, with many of the superseded diplomats deciding to quit the service. In 2014, the same Manmohan Singh government appointed Admiral Robin Kumar Dhowan as the Navy Chief, bypassing Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha, the flag officer commander-in-chief of the Western Naval Command and the senior most Naval officer at that time.

Of course, it is always debatable whether the above choices were based on the factor of merits or otherwise. But the point is that it is not a sacrosanct norm to go by the factor of seniority in the top-level military appointments. In neither the United Kingdom nor the United States, the countries that India will like to be compared with, the chiefs of the armed services are necessarily the senior-most officers; indeed in many a case their appointments have been least anticipated.

The appointment of Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach as the Head of the UK armed forces early this year was announced at a time when the military circles were expecting either Army General Sir Richard Barrons, or First Sea Lord Admiral George Zambellas for the coveted position. One remembers in this context the famous remark of the then Prime Minister David Cameron, “You do the fighting and I’ll do the talking.” Similarly, in the United States in 2011, President Barack Obama nominated a relatively junior General Martin Dempsey as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But neither in Britain nor in the US, had these appointments become a political issue.

In fact, there is now an emerging school of thought in the military sphere that while efforts must be made to identify “tactical commanders” at battalion and brigade level, for higher posts officers with “strategic leadership” potentials should be rewarded. Strategic leadership includes attributes of being a “combat genius” (fighting beyond the plan, innovating as one fights, staying well ahead of the enemy in imaginative application of combat power); “political genius” ( wielding and melding the elements of military power with allies and politicians, mastering civil-military discourse); “institutional genius” ( managing a very large institution and making it relevant to the needs of the nation); and “anticipatory genius” (having the ability to think in time and imagine conceptually where the nature and character of war is headed).

Here, the “experience” suggests that those officers who had shown great tactical skill did not equal great strategic skill. Tactically talented officers can do a great job in making the convoys run on time, but they may not anticipate a battlefield that has yet to appear. On the other hand, those gifted with strategic foresights have often been found wanting in tactical maneuvers; they have been better at conceptualising warfare rather than practicing it.

As retired US Major General Robert H Scales says, “Tactically talented officers can move hundreds. Strategically talented officers can maneuver hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Tactically talented officers know how to fight enemies they know. Strategically talented officers are prepared to fight enemies yet unforeseen. The tactically talented read the manuals and put existing doctrine into practice. Strategically talented officers continually question doctrine and eventually seek to change it. Tacticians see what is; strategists conjure what might be.”

Viewed thus, let us hope that General Rawat has been rewarded by the Modi government for his “strategic” leadership (or its assessment that the new chief will provide such a leadership) attributes, not necessarily for his “tactical” achievements in Kashmir, the China-borders and dealing with counterinsurgencies.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:59 IST

Lt General Bipin Rawat is new Chief of Army Staff: How does selection process work?

The government on Saturday chose Lt General Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS). He will succeed General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retires on 31 December. However, controversy broke out immediately as Rawat was not the senior-most officer in the Indian Army. Traditionally, the rule in the security forces is to nominate the senior-most officer as the new head. According to the established tradition, Eastern Command chief Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi was all set to be the next chief, on account of his seniority.

This is the second instance in Indian Army’s history that this principle of seniority has been overlooked. In 1983, the then senior-most officer Lt Gen SK Sinha was superseded by Arun Shridhar Vaidya, who was the army chief when Operation Bluestar was launched.

Here is all you need to know about the process of selecting a new army chief.

Who has the power to appoint the new army chief?

The government of India has the power to choose the army chief. The government chooses a successor based on the security situation as well as the requirements that arise from time to time, noted The Times of India. It is worth noting that seniority has generally been the guiding principle while choosing the head of the third-largest army in the world.

Who exactly is responsible in the government for appointing the army chief?

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) is responsible for taking the final decision on the appointment. The ACC comprises of the prime minister, minister of home affairs and the concerned ministry, in this case the defence ministry.

File picture of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Getty Images

File picture of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Getty Images

How does the selection process go about?

The process of selection commences four-to-five months in advance, with the ministry of defence seeking personal data and professional profile of all eligible lieutenant generals from among the vice chief of army ataff and general officers commanding in chief of the various Commands, the IANS reported.

The service headquarter, then forwards data of the eligible candidates, including their professional exposure, achievements and operational experience. These are processed by the ministry and forwarded through the defence minister for consideration and selection to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, the IANS quoted an unnamed defence ministry source as saying.

Generally, the government appoints the prospective COAS as the vice chief of staff to familiarise him with the working at the South Block, the report added.

When is the announcement generally made?

The announcement of the next army chief is made two or three months in advance.

What is the tenure of the army chief?

The chief of army staff has a three-year term. Alternatively, the chief of army staff is in office till he is 62, whichever is applicable at the earliest.

Why has the move to appoint Rawat been criticised?

In an article in The Citizen, ex-army officer Lt General Vijay Oberoi said that such a move may play a negative role in the long run. “Chances of selection based on political, sycophantic and non-professional reasons may become predominant in due course, with professional and character qualities being sacrificed on account of extraneous issues.”

What about Lt General Praveen Bakshi now?

Media reports suggest that the current Eastern Command chief might be the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a position first mooted after the Kargil War. The CDS will be the single point of contact for the defence minister as well as the prime minister.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 14:52 IST

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat ‘best suited’ to deal with emerging challenges: Defence Ministry sources

New Delhi: The Defence Ministry insisted on Sunday that Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, named the next Army Chief overlooking the generally followed seniority norm, was “best suited” for the job.

The appointment of Lt Gen Rawat has ignored the seniority of Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Southern Army Commander Lt Gen PM Hariz who have spent longer years in service.

Lt Gen Bakshi was not appointed the Vice-Chief when the post fell vacant in September and Lt Gen Rawat was brought in from the Southern Command.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Image courtesy: Twitter@adgpi

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Image courtesy: [email protected]

“He was found the best suited among the Lt Generals, to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North East,” a source in the ministry said.

On Friday, asked if the line of succession will be broken, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had cryptically remarked: “Line of succession is decided by the people.”

Lt Gen Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.

He has commanded an infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an infantry division in the Kashmir Valley.

He also has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter insurgency operations.

“Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades,” said the source who did not want to be named.

“He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC (Line of Control) with Pakistan, LAC with China and in the northeast,” the source said.

“He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society. His experience as GOC-in-C (general officer commanding-in-chief) Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services,” the source added.

Soon after the appointment was announced, the Congress questioned the government decision.

Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted: “Why has seniority not been respected in appointment of Army Chief? Why have Lt. Gen. Pravin Bakshi and Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ali Hariz been superseded, Mr PM (Narendra Modi)?”

The Defence Ministry on Saturday night announced the names of the next chiefs of Army and Indian Air Force, 13 days before General Dalbir Singh and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha are to retire.

Air Marshal BS Dhanoa will be the next chief of IAF.

Commissioned into the IAF’s fighter stream in June 1978, Dhanoa, who has flown various types of fighter aircraft and is a qualified Flying Instructor, commanded a fighter squadron during the Kargil Operations and flew numerous night strike missions in the mountainous terrain.

He has also held a number of important operational appointments including commanding a fighter base and leading the Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan.

He has also served as Chief Instructor (Air) at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Intelligence) and Senior Air Staff Officer (Chief of Staff) of two operational commands.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 13:56 IST

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment as next Army chief: Congress seeks explanation from Modi govt

New Delhi: The Congress has questioned Lt General Bipin Rawat’s appointment as the new Army Chief.

“Why has seniority not been respected in appointment of Army Chief? Why have Lt General Pravin Bakshi and Lt General Mohamed Ali Hariz been superseded, Mr PM (Narendra Modi)?” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari posted on his Twitter account on Saturday.

“Why has third senior most officer Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, with due respects to his professionalism, superseded other two in a hierarchical force?” he asked.

Tewari further corrected himself saying: “Correction, General Rawat is not third but fourth senior most. Even Lt General BS Negi Army commander Central Command is senior to him? Why Mr PM?”

“And I only hope and pray it is untrue that this supersession in the Army is not a precursor to suppressions in other institutions like SC?” Tewari asked.

Lt General Bipin Rawat would be the new Army Chief and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa the new chief of Indian Air Force, the Defence Ministry announced on Saturday.

Lt General Rawat and Air Marshal Dhanoa, presently the Vice Chiefs of their respective services, will take over on 31 December, when incumbents General Dalbir Singh and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha demit office on retirement from service.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 13:12 IST

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief: Govt has superseded two of the best senior officers

Many senior army officers will not only be surprised but also deeply dismayed at the government’s decision to supersede the Indian Army’s two most senior officers while appointing Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff. For, not only has seniority been given the go-by, the two officers who command almost unparalleled professional respect have been humiliated.

Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Command, was widely expected to take over as the next chief. Many in the Army looked forward to that eagerly. Not only was he the senior most, he is respected as an exceptional officer.

The officer next in line, Lt Gen PM Hariz, is equally respected as an outstanding professional of rare calibre. He has also been superseded.

army-chief

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat with be the next Chief of Army Staff. News18

General Bakshi had been the Chief of Staff of the Northern Command at Udhampur before he took over as Army Commander in the East. He has had hands-on experience of the current situations on the major fronts on which India faces threats from both Pakistan and China. He was perfectly trained, prepared and suited for the top job.

Some senior army officers have even compared generals Bakshi and Hariz — and Lt Gen BS Hooda, who retired at the end of last month as Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Command — with the exceptional General BC Joshi, who was chief in 1993-94. Some rate Joshi as the best Chief of Army Staff India has had since Field Marshal Manekshaw retired in January 1973.

“It is very rare to have three such extraordinary officers near the top of the pyramid at the same time,” another very senior officer had remarked earlier this year. Now, the country faces the prospect of losing all three officers. For, it is possible that Generals Bakshi and Hariz may resign rather than serve under their junior.

The worst part of this denouement is that it comes at a time when the country faces a huge security challenge from the Sino-Pak axis. It would be a grave error to think the challenge in Jammu and Kashmir is a thing of the past. Militant attacks keep occurring (three soldiers were killed in one of two attacks reported on Saturday). There has been a lot of infiltration over the past couple of years, and unrest in such disturbed districts as Pulwama continues.

To lose three extraordinarily fine top officers at such a juncture is a compromise on national security. More importantly, this could have an adverse effect on morale down the line — particularly in the higher echelons of a force that has been through a lot of hard knocks in the past few months. Both superseded officers are hero-worshipped by many senior officers.

The fact that Lt Gen Hariz is a Muslim is irrelevant in the Armed Forces, which are more inclusive than perhaps any other major national institution. However, given the doubts that hang over the current government’s commitment to the country’s secular ideal, both domestically and internationally, his supersession gives a negative signal.

The greater irony is that this move has come from a government run by a political formation that strongly criticised Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for years after she superseded Lt Gen SK Sinha in 1983. Until now, that was the only time in the life of the republic that the senior most officer in the army was superseded in the appointment of a new chief of army staff.

This sort of thing is far more common in Pakistan, where the army is much more political than the Indian Army has so far been. If supersessions become the accepted and expected norm, officers would tend to invest in relationships with political parties and build other sorts of political alignments in the course of their careers, hoping for rewards.

That would not be good for the army.

It would be even worse for the country.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 08:35 IST

Indian Army Major Anita Kumari commits suicide

Fri, 16 Dec 2016-11:30am , Jammu , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Army Major Anita Kumari allegedly committed suicide by shooting herself with her personal weapon.Prima facie she shot herself on the intervening night of December 14-15. The officer did not come to the unit and no one was aware about her whereabouts till her neighbours broke the door.Further details are awaited.

Have cleared names for the next Indian Army chief and IAF chief, says Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday that he will soon name the next Indian Army and Indian Air Force chiefs.

He was speaking after paying tributes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti in New Delhi on Vijay Diwas or Victory Day that is observed on 16 December to mark the military triumph over Pakistan in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The Defence Minister, however, did not give a timeline for naming the new chiefs. Asked whether the line of succession might be broken in the appointment of the next army chief, Parrikar said cryptically: “Line of succession is decided by the people.”

The Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhaag, and the Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, are both set to retire on 31 December.

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file with nominations for the new chiefs is with the Prime Minister’s Office, and a formal announcement is expected after parliament’s winter session concludes on Friday, sources said.

The sources also added that the Eastern Army Commander, Lt General Praveen Bakshi; the Southern Army Commander, Lt. General PM Hariz and the army vice chief, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat are in the fray to succeed General Singh .

Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil war veteran, and the IAF vice chief is in the fray for the top job.

Talking about the significance of 16 December, Parrikar said it was a day when India achieved a “decisive victory”.

“I don’t have to stress on the importance of this great day. This is the day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” he said.

On the next canisterisated test for Agni V missile, the minister said he would not like to comment much on it and said: “Testing goes on, I will not comment much. We have achieved 100 percent success in all the tests this year.”

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 11:27 IST

Will soon name next IA and IAF chiefs: Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday that he will soon name the next Indian Army and Indian Air Force chiefs.

He was speaking after paying tributes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti in New Delhi on Vijay Diwas or Victory Day that is observed on 16 December to mark the military triumph over Pakistan in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The Defence Minister, however, did not give a timeline for naming the new chiefs. Asked whether the line of succession might be broken in the appointment of the next army chief, Parrikar said cryptically: “Line of succession is decided by the people.”

The Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh, and the Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, are both set to retire on 31 December.

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file with nominations for the new chiefs is with the Prime Minister’s Office, and a formal announcement is expected after parliament’s winter session concludes on Friday, sources said.

The sources also added that the Eastern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi; the Southern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. P.M. Hariz and the army vice chief, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat are in the fray to succeed Gen. Dalbir Singh.

Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil war veteran, and the IAF vice chief is in the fray for the top job.

Talking about the significance of 16 December, Parrikar said it was a day when India achieved a “decisive victory”.

“I don’t have to stress on the importance of this great day. This is the day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” he said.

On the next canisterisated test for Agni V missile, the minister said he would not like to comment much on it and said: “Testing goes on, I will not comment much. We have achieved 100 percent success in all the tests this year.”

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 11:27 IST

Announcement of next army chief will be very soon, says Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the announcement of the next army chief would be very soon. Parrikar along with three service chiefs paid tributes to the bravehearts who laid down their lives during 1971 India-Pakistan war on the occasion of Vijay Diwas. “I don’t have to stress the importance of the day. It’s a day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” Parrikar said.On this day in 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops had surrendered unconditionally to the allied forces consisting of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka after their defeat in the war. The end of the war also resulted in subsequent secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh.Special programmes are also being organised at the headquarters of the Eastern Command at the Fort William in Kolkata to celebrate the day.Led by Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, a 72-member delegation of war veterans and Mukti Jodahas from the neighbouring country will take part in Vijay Diwas celebrations.

BJP worker lodges police complaint against Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A West Bengal BJP worker on Tuesday lodged a complaint against state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her statements against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Army.Police said that BJP worker Manav Sharma wanted to lodge the complaint at Jorasanko thana in central Kolkata but later emailed it to the city police commissioner following advice of police officials.His complaint said, “On December 1, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had attacked Indian Army in an unprecedented manner.She maligned the image of Indian Army, wilfully with nefarious political motives, through uncorroborated allegations and baseless insinuations. She alleged that Indian Army was ‘colluding and conspiring’ against her government. It is a serious attempt to misinform public.”Angered by the deployment of army personnel at toll plazas on National Highways in the state, Banerjee on December 1 had accused the Modi government of imposing an undeclared Emergency.The complaint further said, “On various occasions, Ms Banerjee denounced the post of Prime Minister of India with baseless insinuations and even threatened him with dire consequences. We therefore ask you to treat this complaint as FIR against her and take strictest legal actions.”

Rajnath Singh must forget his Pakistan obsession and let the Indian Army do its job

My heart sank as I read Home Minister Rajnath Singh‘s speech on Sunday at a Martyrs’ Day event in Kathua, South Jammu. My despair was caused not only by what he said but also by the very fact that he found it necessary to say it.

He said, among other things, that Pakistan is trying to divide India on religious lines and warned the neighbouring country that if it doesn’t stop supporting terrorism, it may get divided into “10 parts”.

Then a pearl of wisdom rolled from the esteemed tongue of Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, the world-renowned pacifist who is forever ready to place his own life on the altar of India’s unity. He said:

What Gandhi said was so wonderfully sagacious that it must have made the Pakistanis roll on their drawing room floors in sheer ecstasy. The joy of Pakistanis, in turn, would make India’s Left bauddhiks or intellectuals, whose superior wisdom stretches their mental horizons far beyond country boundaries and nationalism, grin with contentment.

Home minister Rajnath Singh must realise that talking too much about Pakistan can be seen as a pathological obsession. PTIHome minister Rajnath Singh must realise that talking too much about Pakistan can be seen as a pathological obsession. PTI

Home minister Rajnath Singh must realise that talking too much about Pakistan can be seen as a pathological obsession. PTI

It would seem that each time a BJP leader puts one foot in his mouth, Gandhi shoves both his feet in his mouth faster than you can imagine. But the picture of one foot-in-mouth isn’t any prettier than that of two.

That Pakistan is trying to divide India is a fact too well-known to be worthy of repetition, especially by a member of the government as highly placed as Singh.

We all know that the very purpose of Pakistan exporting terror to India – with the same ease as it exports cement, leather, almonds and such things to our country – is not to have some gory fun or to enjoy a real life snakes-and-ladders game, but to disrupt and divide India.

Singh didn’t say it, but we are aware that Pakistan’s ISI has been printing fake Indian currency with great efficiency; stuffing it into the pockets of jehadi thugs who then send it across the border.

Now about Pakistan getting divided into “10 parts”. Whether Pakistan gets truncated into two and a half parts or ten pieces or makes mincemeat of itself, it would seem that it’s none of our damned business. Let Pakistan worry about its problems, and we should worry about ours. And, we have many.

Apart from this, Singh also said:

– that despite repeated failures, India continued to seek peace with Pakistan;

– that even after the Kargil war, Atal Bihari Vajpayee offered friendship to Pakistan;

– that Prime Minister Narendra Modi went out of his way to keep Pakistan in good humour;

– that in return, Pakistan gave India Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Uri;

– that more Islamic sects existed in India than in Pakistan;

– that the jehadis didn’t get as much support in India as they had hoped, because Indian Muslims are loyal to India;

– and that Pakistan is our neighbour and, though one can change friends, one can’t change neighbours.

All these are facts with a ring of finality that brook no repetition. Think of a man running out on the street every morning, screaming that the sky is blue and that the sun rises in the east. He only runs the risk of being considered off his rocker.

Parrot-like repetitions can be somewhat pardonable if they come from lowly officials or party satraps. True statesmen know the worth of silence, aware that a stern look can often be more catastrophic than a shout.

Ask the Chinese. Rarely, if ever, senior Chinese leaders, leave alone President Xi Jinping or Premier Li Keqiang, shoot off with their mouths. They leave that job to spokesmen of their foreign ministry or editorial-writers of China Daily or an academic in a province like Guangdong.

Singh must realise that talking too much about Pakistan can be seen as a certain pathological obsession with that country; an obsession that we accuse Pakistan of having with India.

An obsession with Pakistan, which is one-fourth of India in area, one-sixth in population and which, as the world has certified it, is a rogue nation and a terror-factory means stooping to the depths of an abyss. India has better things to do.

And as for Pakistan’s adventures from across the border, the Indian Army knows what to do. Can we please let the army do its job?

Modi’s polite admonition in October to his party leaders against chest-thumping and speaking out of turn about the surgical strikes has not doused the enthusiasm of many in the BJP – be it Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar or Information & Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu – to talk, talk and talk.

Pardon me for not being able to resist the temptation of recalling a little dialogue between The Lady (Queen Elizabeth) and The Man (Shakespeare) in George Bernard Shaw’s comedy The Dark Lady of the Sonnets:

“The Lady: You talk too much, sir. Let me warn you: I’m more accustomed to be listened to than preached at.

The Man: The most are like that that do talk well. But though you spake with the tongues of angels, as indeed you do, yet know that I am the king of words –

The Lady: A king, ha!”

It seems that the BJP has too many ‘kings of words’, and the party can do without them.

Author tweets @sprasadindia

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 18:48 IST

Mamata Banerjee-Manohar Parrikar war of words over army deployment in Bengal intensifies

The political row over the recent army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again on Friday, with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dashing off a stinging letter to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the force, and Banerjee hitting back over his “wild assertion”.

In the two-page letter, Parrikar told her that he was “deeply pained” over the allegations regarding the deployment of army personnel and the same was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life. Parrikar said that while political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making “wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.

Mamata Banerjee. PTI file imageMamata Banerjee. PTI file image

Mamata Banerjee. PTI file image

“Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” he said.

Banerjee, who is a strident opponent of the Centre’s demonetisation move, had accused it of deploying the army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation, worse than Emergency”.

The Trinamool Congress stayed put in her office in Kolkata overnight on 1 December in protest against the deployment and had asked whether it was an “army coup”.

Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter dated 8 December, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years. He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.

“I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and state agencies, including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said.

Hitting back, Banerjee said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces. Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply.

The chief minister also maintained that the Ministry of Defence has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of army personnel in civilian areas. Parrikar said the army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the state agencies concerned including rescheduling of the data collection operations on their response.

TMC MP Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue. “Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 20:05 IST

Anantnag: Security forces kill two militants after 36-hour gun battle

Srinagar: Two militants have been killed by security forces in the 36-hour gun battle in Bijebhara area of Anantnag district of Kashmir which ended on Friday.

The bodies of the two militants were recovered from the debris of the house at Arwani in Bijbehara area on Friday morning after security forces blew up the building using explosives, a police official said.

He said one of the bodies was severely burnt.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

However, an army official said they were still sifting through the debris and a final statement on the incident will be issued once the operation was called off.

One army jawan was injured in the gunfight that began in the early hours on Thursday.

Security forces had cordoned off the area on Wednesday evening following information about presence of Lashkar-e-Toiba militants there.

A 24-year-old youth died allegedly after being wounded by a “stray bullet” near the site of encounter.

Arif Shah, a resident of Sangam area of Anantnag district, was hit when security forces were dealing with a group which was indulging in stone-pelting near the encounter site, the official said.

However, locals alleged that Shah was killed in security forces action against protesters.

The police official said the slain militants were both locals and identified them as Majid Mohiuddin Zargar of Qoimoh in neighbouring Kulgam district and Ruhul Amin Dar of Vessu in Anantnag district.

“The bodies have been handed over to their kin for last rites,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 16:52 IST

Delhi HC refuses to hear PIL challenging military service pay for jawans

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL challenging grant of lesser military service pay (MSP) to personnel below officer rank (PBOR), like jawans and alleged discrimination against them, saying the appropriate forum is the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“We are not inclined to entertain the PIL. Dismissed,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said while noting that “alternative remedy is available under the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT)”.

The order came after the Centre contended before the bench that the appropriate forum was the AFT.

The PIL, by an NGO, had alleged that there was a trend in the defence forces of “sidelining” the PBORs who, according to the petition, comprise 97 percent of the three armed forces.

The NGO Voice of Ex-Serviceman had claimed that all service-related benefits, including monetary, “are hijacked by the officer lobby”.

The petition had opposed the grant of MSP in Seventh Pay Commission to military nursing service (MNS) contending that they are non-combatants.

It had contended that MSP should be paid only to combatants and equally without considering the rank.

As per the petition, under the Seventh Pay Commission while PBORs will get an MSP of Rs 5,200, those in the nursing service and officers would get MSP of Rs 10,800 and Rs 15,500, respectively.

It had contended that despite the jawans facing more hardship, they are given the lowest MSP.

The NGO had also raised the grievance of the PBORs being compulsorily retired before attaining the age of 60 years in the name of keeping the force young.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 15:23 IST

Delhi HC seeks MoD’s reply on PIL on private sale of military apparel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing concern over private sale of army apparel and gear that have been used by terrorists to strike at military bases, the Delhi High Court today sought the Defence Ministry’s response on what it has done to address the issue. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath issued notice to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), saying that “we want to know your response” and listed the matter for hearing on February 3 next year.”Yes, we know it is a serious issue. Otherwise we would not take it up,” the court told the lawyer, appearing for the petitioner NGO, who said the private sale of military apparel and gear was a cause for concern. The Pathankot Air Force base was attacked in January this year by terrorists dressed in Indian Army fatigues, leading to the death of seven security personnel including a Lieutenant Colonel, and a civilian.Last month, terrorists dressed in police uniform had attacked the army’s XVI Corps headquarters at Nagrota in Jammu district, killing seven security personnel including two officers.Advocate K R Chitra, who filed the PIL by NGO Fight for Human Rights, said the court on July 20 this year had asked the ministry to treat the issue raised as a representation and to take a decision within three months. She said that subsequent to the July 20 order, she had again made a representation to the government. However, no response was received and therefore, she has now again moved the court. She contended that the government has not taken any action to stop private sale of military apparel and gear. Chitra has claimed that as per a January 8, 2016 notification issued by the Indian Army, civilians and private shopkeepers have been directed not to wear or sell military apparel and gear. The NGO has sought steps to curb private sale and manufacture of military apparel, like uniforms, shoes, badges and other gear used by the armed forces which were being made by private industries in Ludhiana and Amritsar in Punjab and sold all over the country.One place where such articles are sold is at the Railway Market at Pathankot, the NGO has claimed.The PIL has also sought that MoD be directed to handle with immediate effect the responsibility of manufacturing, stocking and sale of military apparel and gear used by the armed forces, saying private shops do not check to whom they sell such articles.

Not in national interest to drag army into controversy, says Venkaiah Naidu

Hyderabad: Taking exception to the Trinamool Congress’ “coup” allegation after the army’s presence at toll plazas in West Bengal, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said it is not in national interest to drag the armed force into controversies.

“What is coup ? And then, dragging the army into controversy; it is not in the national interest. It is totally condemnable who ever has done it. Not only Trinamool, unfortunately Congress and others also, without knowing the full truth, they try to make it a big issue and what happened at the end? It has boomeranged on them.

“So, let’s not drag Indian Army, which is the pride of our nation, into these controversies,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

venkaiah-naidu3 PTI 380

Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

The presence of the army in West Bengal to which the Trinamool has taken exception was a routine drill and there was nothing new in it, he said.

“It is a routine drill which is to happen every year. This year also it happened in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Assam. It happened in Bengal last year. It happened this year also. There is nothing new. There is nothing like deploying army, coup, nothing like that. They are doing a false campaign,” he said.

Presence of army personnel at toll plazas in West Bengal had kicked up a storm with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remaining at the State Secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an “army coup”.

A false campaign was on over different issues as well, including that there was shortage of salt, that gold would be seized and that emergency would be imposed with army being brought in, Naidu alleged.

“Do not indulge such false campaign about demonetisation also,” he said.

“What is TRP? You (Congress) people are doing it for TRP because you have become irrelevant. People have rejected your bandh call. They have rejected Akrosh rally. You are divided. You do not have arguments to put forth before the country. You are not allowing the House (to function),” he said.

He said the prime minister has taken a bold historic decision against the black money menace which is the need of the hour.

Naidu said the results of recent byelections and local polls have proved BJP’s popularity.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 16:22 IST

Samba terrorists could have crawled through a tunnel to infiltrate India: BSF

New Delhi: The three militants killed in Samba in Jammu might have crawled through an 80-metre-long tunnel under farm lands to cross the International Border (IB), the BSF chief said on Wednesday.

Addressing journalists on the eve of the Border Security Force’s 51st Raising Dayin Delhi, its chief KK Sharma said the paramilitary force had “strong inputs” about possible infiltration bids by terrorists from across the IB following the Indian Army’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads, and hence it was “in a position” to detect and neutralise the heavily-armed militants.

Security personnel after an encounter with millitants at Army camp in Nagrota. PTISecurity personnel after an encounter with millitants at Army camp in Nagrota. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“After the operation got over at the Chamliyal BoP (border outpost), we checked the fence and there was no breach. Then on Wednesday morning, we detected a small tunnel of the size of 2×2 metres… We had deployed ‘depth nakas’ across the fence and hence we could detect and neutralise the three militants. The tunnel was found in a field where farming is done and has soft soil.

“The tunnel is about 75-80 metres from the IB and about 35-40 metres from the fence,” he said.

The DG said the border guarding force would take up the matter with its counterparts — Pakistan Rangers, but added that due to increased hostilities, the other side is not “getting in touch” for quite sometime now.

BSF officials said there is “ample proof” and indication to say that the militants crawled through the tunnel to reach this side of the border. Sharma said the Nagrota attack that took place on Tuesday at an army camp was “separate” and it was part of the investigation to find out if it had any connection with the Samba terror bid.

He said that since the increase of hostilities between the two sides, especially post the surgical strikes conducted by the army across the Line of Control, BSF has killed 15 Pakistani Rangers and 10 militants while it lost five troops.

“For the last 15 days there has been no shelling along the IB. Post the surgical strikes we knew that infiltration attempts and attacks would increase along the IB which we exclusively guard and hence anticipating trouble we have been prepared against such attempts,” he said, adding it was pitch dark last night hence picking up movements along the IB was difficult through naked eye.

Sharma said BSF had “strong inputs that infiltration can be attempted from around the IB area and that is why we were in a position to effectively neutralise the three” on Tuesday.

The DG said the three terrorists were carrying huge arms and ammunition like three AK-47s, 20 full magazines, 517 bullets, an 8mm pistol, 20 grenades and a GPS set along with other items on them.

The BSF chief said there are inputs of a “grave threat” to security establishments and hence the forces have beefed up and reviewed camp and perimeter security.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 19:22 IST

Nagrota attack: Indian Army Chief visits site; similarities with Uri attack, say reports

To flush out any remaining militants, combing operations resumed at the army camp in Nagrota, where seven defence personnel were killed in a terror attack on Tuesday.

The army recovered a huge catchment of arms and ammunition from the site of the encounter, according to ANI.

The combing operations are yet to conclude and the intelligence agencies are yet to reconstruct the chain of events that led to the major security breach, however, media reports are citing evidence to suggest several similarities between the Nagrota attacks and Uri attacks, the worst in last 26 years on an Indian Army base.

Indian TV channels reported that various incriminating documents were also seized, along with huge cache of firearms, which prove Pakistan’s complicity in the attack . Times Now reported that some evidence recovered from the site points towards Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) links of the terrorists. JeM is the same organisation that has allegedly been responsible for a slew of untoward incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, including the 18 September Uri attacks, wherein 20 soldiers lost their lives.

Security personnel stand guard during the search operations following the militant attack on Nagrota Army camp, near Jammu. PTI

Security personnel stand guard during the search operations following the militant attack on Nagrota Army camp, near Jammu. PTI

CNN-News 18 states that one of the slain terrorists in the Nagrota attack was complicit in the Uri attacks as well. The TV channel, however, said the precise role that the terrorist played could not be ascertained.

The Economic Times reported another major security breach along the International Border, in the Samba (around 40 km away from Nagrota) attacks, which were staged around the same time as the attack in Nagrota.

The report quotes the Border Security Force (BSF) as saying that a cross-border tunnel along the International Border (IB) in Samba was found, which was probably used by the terrorists to infiltrate into India. The BSF, however, in a prompt response, cornered the three infiltrators and gunned them down after a brief gunbattle. The BSF director general stated, according to the report, that the tunnel was approximately 80 metres long, stating that there is no equipment to detect such tunnels.

Following the attacks, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag visited the Nagrota Corps headquarter on Wednesday to review the situation.

Jammu was rocked by two terror attacks on Tuesday in which seven army personnel, including two major-rank officers, were killed and eight other security men, including a BSF DIG, were injured, before six heavily-armed terrorists were eliminated in the separate fierce encounters.

In one incident, a group of heavily-armed terrorists in police uniform stormed an army unit in Nagrota, about three kms from the corps headquarters on the outskirts of Jammu city, triggering an intense gunbattle that lasted for hours.

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

In another incident, three terrorists were gunned down by BSF in Ramgarh area of Samba near the IB after an encounter that lasted several hours and was followed by intense cross-border firing by Pakistani troops. Four security personnel, including BSF DIG, were injured in this incident.

The two terror incidents in Jammu came on a day General Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as Chief of Pakistan Army from General Raheel Shareef.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 18:05 IST

High time for India to talk the ‘language of bullets’ with Pakistan: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday said Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price for the Nagrota army cantonment area attack.”No doubt seven of our jawans while fighting with terrorists, attained martyrdom, including two of our officers Major Akshay and Major Kunal, but it was an act of bravery from our jawans, they saved the families of the jawans who were kept hostage by the terrorists, including women and children,” said BJP leader Ravinder Raina.Raina said Pakistan’s conspiracy is to disturb the nation’s harmony and unity.Praising the Indian Army, he said, “Once again the brave jawans of the Indian Army thwarted the evil designs of Pakistan.”Raina said the Centre should act firmly.”This was a nefarious design of Pakistan; this was a game plan of Pakistan to attack the cantonment area of the Indian Army in Nagrota. It was a game plan like what happened in Uri and Pathankot, but the alert jawans of army gave a befitting reply to the terrorists and foiled their bigger game plan,” he added.He also said, “I think Pakistan won’t understand the language of diplomacy Pakistan only understands the language of bullets, and what the Government of India, what the army has given them; is a befitting reply in the border area. Our forces are all set; we will not forgive Pakistan, Pakistan has to pay heavily for the Nagrota terrorism.”Seven persons died in the attack, including Major Gosavi Kunal Mannadir from Pandharpur (Maharashtra), and Major Akshay Girish Kumar from Koramangala in Karnataka.Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh has briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the attack carried out by police uniformed and heavily armed terrorists on an army unit located three kilometers from the corps headquarters.Defence PRO Manish Mehta told ANI that combing operations have been called off and will be resumed at dawn on Wednesday.

Nagrota attack: Strike near 16 Corps HQ shows proxy war is only just starting

The proxy war attack close to the Indian Army’s 16 Corps headquarters in the Jammu region has several lessons for us. The most obvious of these is that a lot more violence lies ahead.

Just the other day, a top officer rued the fact that the Centre still does not seem to realise the seriousness of the challenge in Jammu and Kashmir. We are already in the middle of another proxy war. The ‘surgical strikes’ did absolutely nothing to halt Pakistan’s unfolding war plans. There have been major attacks in Baramulla, Srinagar and now at Samba (again) and Nagrota (where the Corps is headquartered). Like those other attacks, this one has gone on far longer than it would have in the very worst phase (1999 to 2001) of the earlier proxy war. Three army men had been killed at Nagrota in the first five hours of the attack on Tuesday.

Army personnel take position during the encounter after militants attacked an army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

Army personnel take position during the encounter after militants attacked an army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

Such attacks will not only continue, they will get much worse — probably next summer, when we can depend on one trigger or another to cause public demonstrations in tandem with the attacks. It is a multi-pronged war, with fronts at the Line of Control and at any point where militants decide to strike.

And these attackers typically have far more sophisticated military training than most of the militants who operated in Kashmir in the early and mid-1990s.

Another thing that has become clear over the past couple of years is that this proxy war is being engaged across the Kashmir and the Jammu regions, and neighbouring districts of Punjab such as Gurdaspur and Pathankot too.

For a while a couple of years ago, Pakistan had tried hard to stoke the fires of the Khalistan movement afresh. That did not catch, but this has not deflected Pakistan from its war effort in the north.

Indeed, a very senior member of the Jammu and Kashmir government expressed what is unfolding in dire terms. Pakistan wants to turn Kashmir into ‘another Afghanistan’, he said — referring to the violence and chaos that has become commonplace in various parts of that country over the past three decades.

In this context, those who crow over the ‘return of normalcy’ in Kashmir are shameless propagandists trying to conjure a fool’s paradise.

Taking a cruise or other vacation to celebrate ‘peace’ not only highlights how little has been learnt over the years about how things unfold in Kashmir, we are witnessing deep cynicism. For, those who allowed the situation to deteriorate when it could have been controlled in the second half of July ought to be working in overdrive now to sort things out at the ground level, when they have a (probably brief) window of opportunity.

One of the factors that those who claim peace have pointed out is the change in guard in the Pakistan Army. They say it is a positive sign, having seized on a remark of the new army chief, General Javed Ashraf Bajwa, that extremism is a more serious threat to Pakistan than any threat from India.

The fact is that he is only stating the obvious.

It does not mean he intends to suspend militant operations in Kashmir. A senior Indian Army officer pointed out that the apparently less aggressive mien of Pakistan’s new army chief did not mean that the basic anti-India institutional disposition of the Pakistan Army has changed.

Analysts will get nowhere unless they focus on the fact that we are already in the middle of a  proxy war. We have been for some time now. Indeed, things have been gradually unfolding towards the strategic challenge for the past eight years.

With apologies to propagandists of various hues, one must acknowledge the unfortunate fact that the near future seems very bleak.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 12:57 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: Live updates on terror attack in Nagrota in J-K; another window for black money holders; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Live | Jammu and Kashmir: Terror attack near army camp in Nagrota, two jawans injuredExchange of fire between Army and terrorists is on. Read more.2. Another window for black money holders as govt looks to tweak Income-Tax lawThis legislation has an income disclosure scheme, under which black money holders can deposit the banned high-value currency notes in their accounts and declare them to the government.. Read more.3. Pakistan had a ‘direct role’ in mutilation of jawan’s body in Machhil: Indian Army”Refer to Machhil operation of November 22, where body of one soldier was mutilated, search leads to recoveries that indicate Pakistan’s complicity,” an army officer at the Udhampur-based Northern Command said in a statement. Read more.4 .India v/s England: Now, spinners turn it with batEngland stare at defeat as Ashwin takes 3 to restrict tourists to 78/4, trail by 56 runs after Jadeja, Jayant score fifties. Read more.5. Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt discuss love, life, relationships, break-ups and more…In an exclusive interview with DNA, the ‘Dear Zindagi’ stars offer their takes on modern-day relationships. Read more.

Was shivering on 1st day in office as Defence Minister: Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a candid admission, Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said he was “shivering” on his first in office as Defence Minister though he tried to put up a brave face.”When I went to Delhi, I took experience of that city. I became Defence Minister with the blessings of you all. I was not knowing anything,” Parrikar said addressing a ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally at Sanvordem constituency.”Let me admit, I was shivering on the first day (of taking charge). I put up a brave face banking on my experience, but in reality I didn’t even had knowledge about the rank of military officers,” he said.Parrikar was Chief Minister of Goa before his induction into the Union Cabinet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”Goa’s brush with the military was during 1961 when Indian Army liberated the state from Portuguese rule. After that we saw 1965 and 1971 wars. During the Kargil war, I have given slogans but in reality I was unaware about what is war and what is the preparedness required for that,” he said.The minister said he realised that “armament stores are empty and government had tied hands of the soldiers. I did nothing much for last two years but told army that if anyone attacks, you are free to retaliate”.”You have noticed the impact of this liberty. Whenever there was attack on us, our brave soldiers have retaliated strongly. May be the surgical strike (in PoK)or firing at the line of border, Army has responded strongly, forcing the enemy to plead for peace. During last four days, there is no firing on the border.”

Was shivering on 1st day in office as Defence Minister, says candid Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>n a candid admission, Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said he was “shivering” on his first in office as Defence Minister though he tried to put up a brave face.”When I went to Delhi, I took experience of that city. I became Defence Minister with the blessings of you all. I was not knowing anything,” Parrikar said addressing a ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally at Sanvordem constituency today. “Let me admit, I was shivering on the first day (of taking charge). I put up a brave face banking on my experience, but in reality I didn’t even had knowledge about the rank of military officers,” he said. Parrikar was Chief Minister of Goa before his induction into the Union Cabinet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”Goa’s brush with the military was during 1961 when Indian Army liberated the state from Portuguese rule. After that we saw 1965 and 1971 wars. During the Kargil war, I have given slogans but in reality I was unaware about what is war and what is the preparedness required for that,” he said. The minister said he realised that “armament stores are empty and government had tied hands of the soldiers. I did nothing much for last two years but told army that if anyone attacks, you are free to retaliate”.”You have noticed the impact of this liberty. Whenever there was attack on us, our brave soldiers have retaliated strongly. May be the surgical strike (in PoK)or firing at the line of border, Army has responded strongly, forcing the enemy to plead for peace. During last four days, there is no firing on the border.”

Militants ambush army team in Manipur, five commandos wounded

Imphal: Five Special Forces personnel of the Indian Army were on Saturday injured in an ambush by militants in Chandel district of Manipur.

Army sources said an IED blast was triggered during a combing operation by the commandos. This was followed by
firing from light arms by the militants.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW), an umbrella grouping of the anti-talk factions of Assam’s United Liberation Front of Asom and the National Democratic Front of Boroland, the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang, the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation and Coordination Committee of several militant outfits of Manipur, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

They said that even though five of the team were injured, the commandos fought back and managed to rescue those injured.

The sources said the incident happened in Sajik Tampak in Chandel district, which is close to the Myanmar border.

Chandel has witnessed many deadly attacks on security forces in the recent past.

Eighteen soldiers were killed in the district on 5 June 2015 in an ambush.

On 23 May this year, six personnel of the Assam Rifles were killed in an ambush in Chandel.

The injured personnel were flown to the Army hospital at Leimakhong in Sadar Hills in a helicopter.

The condition of two of them was stated to be serious.

A statement issued by the ULFA’s anti-talk faction claimed responsibility. “A group of Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) attacked the 21 Para Regiment of Indian Army between Aisi and Khunmulen near Sajik Tampak in Chandel District on Saturday morning. Five or more Indian soldiers are seriously injured,” it said.

With input from PTI

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 22:38 IST

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

Deeply concerned about situation at Kashmir LoC: UN chief Ban Ki-moon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Deeply concerned over the “deterioration” in situation along the Line of Control in Kashmir, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for restoration of stability in the region, saying the world body supports “all efforts” to reach “durable” peace and security.”The secretary-general is deeply concerned about the deterioration of the situation along the Line of Control in Kashmir in recent days,” a United Nations statement attributed to his spokesman said.”He calls on all involved to prioritise the restoration of calm and stability in order to prevent any further escalation and loss of life,” the statement said, adding that Ban “trusts India and Pakistan can find common ground and work towards a sustainable peace.””The UN stands by the people of the region and supports all efforts to reach durable peace and security,” said the statement.Tension between India and Pakistan have increased after the attack on an Indian Army base in Uri on September 18 and the resultant “surgical strike” on terrorist launchpads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir by the army 10 days later. Since then, cross-border firings have increased killing soldiers and civilians on both sides. This week, 12 people, including three Pakistani soldiers, were killed in alleged Indian cross-border firings. The Indian response came after the Indian Army warned of “heavy retribution” following the killing of three of its soldiers, with the body of one of them mutilated in a cross-LoC attack.Pakistan has denied as “false” and “baseless” its troops were responsible for the mutilation and deaths of Indian soldiers.

Jammu and Kashmir: Army Jawan, two terrorists killed in encounter in Bandipora

Fri, 25 Nov 2016-10:00am , Bandipora (JK) , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two terrorists and an Army jawan have been killed on Friday in the ongoing encounter between terrorists and security forces in Bandipora, Jammu and Kashmir.The area has been cordoned off as a combing operation has been launched to neutralise any untoward elements still in the vicinity.This comes after two terrorists were killed in Bandipora on Tuesday in an encounter in Hajin village of Bandipora and another terrorist was killed by security forces in Kakapora area of Pulwama district on Saturday.Earlier, at least three Indian soldiers were killed in an encounter in the Machhal sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.The Northern Command of the Indian Army tweeted saying that the body of one soldier was mutilated.More details awaited.

LoC tension: Talks and terror can’t go together, MEA on bilateral with Pakistan

The Indian Army on Wednesday launched a counter-offensive against Pakistan along the LoC after three Indian soldiers were killed, with the body of one mutilated in a cross-LoC attack, even as Pakistani troops continued to shell Indian positions, injuring six jawans.

Brigadier General Staff (BGS) of Northern Command, Brig PS Gotra said the India Army launched a counter-offensive along the Line of Control in retaliation to Tuesday’s offensive in Machhil sector of Kashmir.

The Indian Army posts are responding strongly and giving a befitting reply, Defence PRO Manish Mehta said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Pakistan Army also fired at Indian posts along the LoC in Bhimber Gali, Krishna Ghati and Nowshera sectors.

Four jawans were injured in shelling by Pakistani troops along the LoC, an Army officer said, according to PTI. “Two BSF jawans suffered minor injuries in ceasefire violation by Pakistan troops along LoC in Bhimbher Gali area of Rajouri district at 0945 hours on Wednesday,” a senior BSF officer said. They are out of danger, he added.

In the cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists, three Indian soldiers were killed on Tuesday, with body of one of them being mutilated.

The ambush on the Army patrol took place in Machhil sector of Kashmir, following which the Indian Army vowed heavy “retribution”. This is the second such incident of mutilation of the body of an Indian soldier in the same sector since 28 October.

Pakistan said that nine civilians were killed and nine others were injured when Indian fire hit a bus in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, reported The Indian Express. Three Army personnel were also killed, added the report. Meanwhile, India said that Pakistan targeted civilian in Machhil, Keran and Gurez sectors.

Meanwhile, Indian Army’s Director General of Military Operations Lt General Ranbir Singh on Wednesday talked to his Pakistan counterpart, an official said. While India raised the issue of mutilation of an Indian soldier’s body, Pakistan talked of civilian deaths in the firing on the border.

“The Pakistan DGMO was exhorted to exercise strict control over their (Pakistan) troops to refrain from any nefarious activities. This would lead to return of normalcy along the Line of Control,” the official statement said, according to IANS.

Lt. General Singh told his Pakistan counterpart that if “any ceasefire violations were initiated by Pakistan troops or any infiltration attempts were made by terrorists from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or territory under the neighbouring country’s control, it would invite an appropriate response by the Indian Army”.

The Pakistan DGMO, meanwhile, informed the Indian side about the alleged civilian casualties on their side due to Indian firing along the Line of Control.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that Pakistan has shown utmost restraint in the face of Indian belligerence and will not tolerate India’s “deliberate targeting” of civilians and ambulances.

“We cannot tolerate deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, particularly children and women, the ambulances and the civilian transport,” Sharif said, Dawn reported.

Pakistan also summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh for the third consecutive day on Wednesday to condemn “unprovoked ceasefire violations” at the LoC and claimed Indian troops were “intentionally” targeting civilian areas.

According to The Economic Times, this escalation of tension along the border is “‘provocation tactic’ to trigger a reaction and political tailspin ahead of retirement of Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif on 29 November”. The report added that New Delhi wants a smooth transition and wants to avoid extension of Raheel’s term, which the Indian response at border was “befitting but “below the radar”.

Meanwhile, Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup on Thursday said that MEA has summoned the Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner, and stated that despite calls for restraint Pakistan, violated ceasefire 27 times from 12-21 November.

The MEA has also issued a demarche and Swarup stated that these acts are a clear violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

Swarup further said that the government protested the targeting of 18 villages along LoC between 16 and 21 November by the Pakistan Army and raised concerns over the continued attempts of infiltration.

Swarup did not rule out Sartaj Aziz but said, “Talks and terror can’t go together. Environment has to be terror free for talks to take place.”

The MEA also expects early repatriation and safe return of Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan, who inadvertently crossed LoC around seven weeks back.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 18:08 IST

Shiv Sena needles ally BJP over violence along LoC, says govt should ‘accept its failure’

Mumbai: Needling the Centre over Pakistan’s offensive on the border and the mutilation of an Indian Army soldier, the Shiv Sena said the Union government, which took credit for surgical strikes across Line of Control (LoC), should now admit its failure to bring an end to killings at the border.

Shiv Sena is part of the NDA government at the Centre. AFP file imageShiv Sena is part of the NDA government at the Centre. AFP file image

Shiv Sena is part of the NDA government at the Centre. AFP file image

“In the case of demonetisation, the government is coming out with new proof that would make people patriots. But it is not ready to talk on Pakistan’s activities at the border. When will the government show its patriotism by avenging the killings and beheadings of Indian soldiers?” an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana said, adding that deaths of soldiers have doubled after the surgical strikes were conducted.

Despite defence minister Manohar Parrikar‘s tough talk, three soldiers have been killed at the border, it said. “If the government took political mileage out of the surgical strike, it should now accept its failure as well,” Shiv Sena, which is an ally of the NDA government at the Centre, said.

“If the Prime Minister has made everyone come out on the streets with one decision (of demonetisation), he needs to take a similar decision one evening to crush Pakistan,” it said.

In a cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists on Tuesday, three Indian soldiers were killed, with one of them being mutilated as well, following which the Indian Army launched a massive counter assault along the LoC in north Kashmir.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 15:21 IST

Kashmir unrest may be down, but it’s far from over: We could see a reemergence in 2017

The recent provocation at the Line of Control (LoC), in which a soldier’s body was mutilated, was one more indication that the troubles in Kashmir are not over. There are other indications too, which together paint a sombre picture of what might happen next summer.

Many in positions of authority hope that things would settle down since school examinations have been held, markets are bustling, and traffic is back on the roads. But their expectations ought to be tempered with caution.

The respite is tenuous and it might turn out to be temporary.

A file picture of protesters pelting stones at police in Kashmir. PTI

The first thing that one needs to recognise about the 2016 unrest in Kashmir is that it was not a repeat of 2010. There is no doubt that the internal and external dimensions of the challenge faced in Kashmir have been more intricately linked this year.

So, the return of traffic and exams can’t take away the heavy shelling — including high-calibre artillery — which has killed many people near the LoC and forced even more to relocate.

Besides, militant attacks have taken place sporadically, and there is no doubt that there are plenty of foreign and local militants in the Valley.

Stone-pelting too is not a thing of the past. There have been recent instances of it, including a major one in the Pulwama area on Wednesday.

Another big spurt?

A large-scale unrest such as that witnessed over four months this year could well be repeated next summer. All it would take is a trigger like the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, which started the unrest on 8 July.

As more evidence continues to emerge, it is pushing analysts to the view that the unrest was planned for the period following Eid this summer. In fact, Lieutenant-General DS Hooda, the commander-in-chief of the Northern Command, is among the many who believe that this year’s eruption had been planned.

From the very next day after Burhan Wani was killed on 8 July, mobs across the Valley, showed a sort of uniformity in their tactics — as if they were following a pattern. The most significant of these tactics were mob attacks on police stations and paramilitary camps.

However, he says that if Burhan Wani had not been killed some other trigger would have been used. Further, those who had planned this year’s unrest are likely to look for an opportunity next summer too, adds Hooda, who is set to retire from the army at the end of this month.
Such a prognosis makes sense. And, the agents provocateurs who have taken control of coordinating the agitations in various parts of the Valley appear to be controlled from across the border.

Leading activists of several organisations including the Jamaat-e-Islami, have played key roles at the ground level. At times, they have benefited from a benevolent attitude from very high functionaries of the state.

In tandem, large numbers of foreign militants have infiltrated Kashmir in 2015 and 2016 —  a hundred during the first ten months of this year, according to Hooda.

A nuanced view

Unlike many of the military men who held control of state power during the 1990s, the erudite Hooda is keenly aware of the distinctions between different sorts of militants, and variations in the ideologies of those active on the ground.

He points out astutely that “the more (a) local is killed, (the more) you will have a reaction”. However, asked if this summer’s unrest might have been avoided if the widely popular Burhan had not been killed, Hooda replied: “We were not aware that Burhan specifically was there. But even if we had known, would we have done it differently?”

He alludes to the fact that the Indian Army cannot by itself make a distinction between one militant and another. He is, however, acutely aware of the need for political initiatives. “Everything cannot be fought kinetically,” he says.

Clearly, much needs to be done — on various levels, and through several channels. Such initiatives are very urgently required in light of the various prognoses that another summer of unrest is in the offing.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 12:21 IST

Indo-Pak DGMOs speak after Army retribution

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

Pakistan Army’s DGMO calls up Indian counterpart after heavy cross-border shelling

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Day after Indian soldier’s body mutilated, Pakistan PM Sharif terms India’s counter offensive as ‘naked aggression’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday termed as “naked aggression” the “unprovoked firing” by India across the LoC that resulted in the death of four civilians and three soldiers and said India has failed to comprehend the gravity of the situation.In a statement, Sharif “condemned the Indian firing across the Line of Control (LoC) which targeted a passenger bus and also paid tribute to the soldiers killed in a separate firing incident across the LoC as tension mounted between the two countries after heavy exchanges.””Despite our exercise of maximum restraint in the wake of continuing naked Indian aggression along LoC resulting in the death of innocent civilians including children and women, India has failed to comprehend the gravity of the situation, he said.Sharif “condemned in the strongest words the unprovoked firing by Indian security forces on a civil bus carrying innocent civilians along LoC near Neelum valley.” He said no responsible state can permit targeting innocent civilians in general and ambulances carrying the injured in particular.”In fact, India is trying to divert the attention of the international community from the grave human rights violations and atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces in Kashmir,” he said.He said that Pakistan will never abandon their Kashmiri brethren and will continue to support them in their just and legitimate freedom struggle for their right to self-determination in accordance with the UNSC Resolutions.The Indian Army on Wednesday launched a counter offensive against Pakistan along the LoC after three Indian soldiers were killed, with body of one of them mutilated in a cross-LoC attack, even as Pakistani troops continued to shell Indian positions, injuring two BSF jawans. The offensive came hours after the Indian Army vowed “heavy retribution” to the attack on its soldier.The 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement has virtually become redundant with a whopping nearly 300 incidents of firing and shelling along LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops that resulted in death of 26 people, including 14 security personnel, since the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in PoK.India and Pakistan entered into no-firing agreement along Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2003.A total of 26 people, including 14 security personnel and 12 civilians, have been killed and more than 83 suffered injuries in Pakistani shelling and firing along IB and LoC in Jammu after the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army on September 29 this year.

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.

Another Indian soldier’s body mutilated, Pakistan denies charges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Tuesday rejected as “false” and “baseless” the charges that the body of an Indian soldier, who was among the three killed by suspected Pakistani terrorists, was mutilated in a cross LoC-attack.Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Nafees Zakaria in a series of tweets said the reports about the mutilation were aimed at maligning Pakistan.”Pakistan strongly rejects the false & baseless Indian media reports regarding the alleged mutilation of an Indian solider on the LoC. These reports are a fabrication and a blatant attempt to malign Pakistan,” he said.Zakaria said as a professional force, Pakistan Army isn’t involved in any such “unethical & non-professional” activity. He said the Pakistan Army never supported any such action.However, he said, Pakistan is fully prepared and ready to respond to any misadventure across the LoC, Working Boundary or the International Border.Earlier today, the Indian Army said three soldiers were killed in an ambush on army patrol in Machhil sector of Kashmir. “Body of one soldier mutilated, retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act,” it said through a tweet. A Defence spokesman said heavy cross-Line of Control shelling was going on at four places in Machhil sector from 3.30 pm.”Around 1530 hour, heavy cross-LoC shelling has started from both sides at Dana Machhil, Ashni, Ringsar and Ringsar Payeen in Machhil sector of Kupwara district,” he said.This is the second such incident of mutilation of the body of an Indian soldier in the same sector since October 28. On that day, terrorists, aided by the cover fire by Pakistani Army, had crossed the Line of Control and killed an Indian army jawan and mutilated his body in the Macchil sector. One attacker was killed in that incident.

Another BSF soldier killed on LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan army killed another Border Security Force (BSF) peronnel and injured three others when they resorted to heavy firing and shelling in three sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch districts of the Pirpanjal valley in Jammu division on Sunday night.Fifteen soldiers have been killed by Pakistan army and Rangers on the LoC and International Border (IB) since Indian Army carried out 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 Pakistani firing and shelling on the civilian areas along the twin borders across the restive Jammu and Kashmir.Pakistan army resorted to heavy firing and shelling in Rajouri sector on Sunday night using high calibre weapons, including 120 mm mortars. One of the shell landed near the Forward Defence Location (FDL) of the BSF injuring four soldiers. Head Constable Rai Singh later succumbed to his wounds.“Last night in ceasefire violation from Pakistan in Rajouri area of LoC, four BSF men were injured in shelling. Head Ct Rai Singh attained martyrdom,” tweeted BSF. Indian Army responded quickly to silence the Pakistani guns which were using heavy calibre weapons to target the Indian forward posts. “Heavy Pakistani firing in the Rajöuri Sector. Four soldiers were injured. Being responded and will be responded to appropriately”, tweeted Northern Command headquarters. On Monday morning Pakistan army shifted the gears and opened another front in Krishna Ghati and Naushera sectors of the twin districts. “Pakistan army initiatied cease fire violation from 8.30 am today morning on Indian army posts along the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector. The Indian army posts responded strongly,” said Lieutenant Colonel Manish Mehta, Defence Spokesman at Jammu.

Jammu: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Rajouri with mortars and small arms fire

Jammu: Pakistani army targeted Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district on Saturday morning with mortars and small arms fire.

“Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation in the Nowshera sector from 1030 hours using 120 mm mortars and small arms fire. Our army is giving a befitting response to the Pakistani fire,” a defence spokesman said.

He said that there has been no loss of life, injury or damage to property reported so far even as the exchange of firing continued.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

On Thursday, Pakistani army had targeted Indian posts and civilian villages along LoC in the Pallanwala sector of the Jammu district.

Pakistani troops on Tuesday targeted Indian posts with heavy firing and shelling for four hours along the LoC in Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir, forcing Indian troops to retaliate.

The 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement has virtually become redundant with a whopping 286 incidents of firing and shelling along LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops that have resulted in death of 26 people, including 14 security personnel, since the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in PoK.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 14:07 IST

India-China joint military exercise ‘Hand-In-Hand 2016’ begins

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opening ceremony of the sixth India China Joint Training Exercise, Exercise Hand in Hand 2016 was held, on Wednesday, at the parade ground in Aundh Military Camp, in Pune.The joint exercise was held in the presence of Major General YK Joshi, ADGMO of Indian Army and Major General Wang Haijiang of the People’s Liberation Army and other senior Army officers of both the countries, said a defence release.The parade was commanded by Lt Col Li Guanghua, Commanding Officer of People’s Liberation Army.”Both the senior military officers of the Indian Army addressed the contingents before Major General Wang Haijiang of Chinese Army declared the Joint Exercise open. The aim of the joint exercise is to acquaint both the Armies with each other’s operating procedures in the backdrop of counter terrorism environment,” it added.”The opening ceremony was followed by both the contingents displaying their weapons which included assault rifles, grenade launchers and other sophisticated equipment.The ceremony concluded with an enthralling and mesmerising display of India martial arts of Kalyaripattu, Khukri dance and Malkhamb by soldiers of Indian Army and a massed martial arts display by the Chinese contingent. The exercise will terminate on November 27,” the statement said.Earlier on November 15, the Chinese contingent from the 13 Group Army, Chengdu Military Region comprising of one Infantry Company along with supporting staff landed at the Lohegaon airfield in two IL- 76 Aircrafts from China.The statement said the 13-day schedule is focused upon training on crossing of obstacles, special heliborne operations, firing of various weapons, handling & neutralisation of improvised explosive devices and conduct of cordon & search operations in insurgency and terrorism environment.

Kashmir: Pakistan says Indian troops killed seven soldiers in ceasefire violation

Kashmir: Pakistan says Indian troops killed seven soldiers in ceasefire violation

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Islamabad: The Pakistani military said on Monday that seven of its soldiers had been killed in firing by Indian troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Seven soldiers embraced ‘shahadat’ at the LoC in Bhimber sector in cross-fire LoC violation by Indian troops late last night,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations, the army’s media wing.

The LoC divides the Indian and Pakistan parts of Kashmir.

It said Pakistani troops responded to India’s “unprovoked firing” and “targeted Indian posts effectively”.

Pakistani authorities last week lodged protests with India and with the UN military observers over the targeting of civilian population by Indian troops.

Pakistan says the civilian death toll in Indian shelling has risen to at least 25 in the past few weeks.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 15:08 IST

Army steps in to build support structure for injured elephant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as Vets and forest department seem to be leaving no stone unturned in providing treatment for Sidda- the 35 year old bull elephant that has been immobile after fracturing its right forelimb for almost over two weeks, Indian Army has pitched in to help build a strong structure to support the pachyderm.According to Wildlife SOS veterinarians who have been working round the clock to provide treatment to the injured tusker with the guidance of the Karnataka Forest Department, just when the situation was looking bleak the Madras Engineer Group (MEG) are helping build an iron structure- a series of horizontal and vertical bars that will not only allow the volunteering team to lift Sidda but will also allow the tusker to stand up by leaning on the structure.“With the arrival of the Indian Army on the scene, a fresh wave of hope has gripped everyone. There have been situations where elephants with broken legs have recovered, so we are hopeful. Although the prognosis of the elephant is grave and we have lost valuable time, we have to do our best to help the elephant,” said Dr Arun A Sha, Veterinary Director of Wildlife SOS.According to the Vets treating the Elephant, the biggest worry is that since it has been in sleeping position for a long time now, its body has numerous sores and can’t even eat, hence it was extremely important to lift the elephant.Sidda fractured its right forelimb by falling in a ditch after being chased by people near Dodderi village in Bengaluru in September, it was seen in the Manchanabele reservoir. In mid October the sight of the massive elephant, injured and suffering from excruciating pain and his cries of anguish raised concerns amongst animals NGO’s and forest department that managed to get the elephant out of the water and initiate treatment.Support structure built by Indian army EngineersHowever, several animals activists as well as expert Vets claimed that Sidda should be put down to ease its pain otherwise its recovery is impossible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afspa extended in Assam and 20-km belt of Meghalaya by six months

New Delhi: The controversial Afspa has been extended by six months in entire Assam and the 20km-wide belt in Meghalaya bordering the state with the Centre declaring that the “disturbed area” status, which has been in force since 1990, will continue.

In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said the law and order situation in Assam has continued to be a matter of concern due to the violent incidents by underground outfits and during January-September 2016, different militant groups were involved in 66 incidents of violence in Assam which resulted in killing of 29 people.

“The militant outfits operating in the area continue to have been making constant efforts to regroup, re-strengthen and intensified their efforts for recruitment/infiltration of new cadres into the state and indulging in coercive extortion targeting businessmen, tea garden owners, contractors, commercial vehicles, timber smugglers, transporters and even government officials and politicians.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) has been formed in April, 2015, and two of its constituents viz ULFA(I) and NDFB(S) have been desperately making efforts to perpetrate demonstrative acts of violence and during the current year they have been responsible for 57 per cent of the incidents of violence and 84 per cent of the deaths in the state,” the notification, issued by Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry Satyendra Garg, said.

NDFB(S) militants shot dead 14 civilians and injured 19 others in a busy local market on the outskirts of Kokrajhar town on 5 August, 2016, while ULFA(I) cadres also shot dead two Hindi-speaking persons in Tinsukia district and orchestrated five and two IED explosions in Tinsukia and Charaideo districts, respectively, on 12 August, 2016.

“Now, therefore, the entire state of Assam and the 20 kms wide belt in the State of Meghalaya bordering Assam shall continue to be ‘disturbed area’ under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 up to six months beyond 3 November, 2016, unless withdrawn earlier,” it said.

The central government had first imposed the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act — Afspa — in Assam by declaring the entire state as “disturbed area” on 27 November, 1990 when insurgency led by ULFA was at its peak.

The then Prafulla Kumar Mahanta-led AGP government was subsequently dismissed by the Centre and the President’s rule was imposed.

The Home Ministry’s gazette notification said ULFA(I) is coordinating joint action with other underground outfits, including NSCN(K) and KYKL, along Arunachal Pradesh-Myanmar border and with GNLA and HNLC along Meghalaya-Bangladesh border also providing training to cadres of KPLT/UPLA in its camps in Myanmar.

The Karbi militant outfits viz. UPLA, UKPLA and various factions of KPLT have been actively involved in extortions and abductions for ransom in the hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao; and the hilly and densely forested border areas of Assam provide an apt location for camps/shelters/ hideouts to ULFA(I), NDFB(S), NSCN(IM), NSCN(K), GNLA KPLT and several Meitei underground outfits and cadres of these outfits take advantage of crossing over to neighbouring states in order to evade security forces actions, it said.

Will there be surgical strikes against China: Shiv Sena to Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shiv Sena asked the Centre if there will be a similar action against China, like the Indian Army’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads at the LoC in September. “The time has come to look at Chinese incursions (in Indian territory) seriously. Surgical strikes against China, similar to the ones carried out against Pakistan, will be the befitting answer,” the Sena said. “Will there be such an attack (against China),” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana asked.”When one speaks against Pakistan in public rallies, one gets claps as a response. There is a need to get out of this mindset of clapping and look at the Chinese incursions seriously,” the Sena said. “From Ladakh to Arunachal and Sikkim, the Chinese actions have been going on unabated since several years. The real question is who will stop China,” the editorial said.The Sena referred to reports that Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a stand-off since Wednesday in Ladakh’s Demchok area as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops entered an area near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and stopped the construction work on an irrigation canal under the MNREGA scheme. “Around 60 Chinese soldiers intrude in our territory and stop developmental work. What inference should one draw from this,” it said.”Our loudmouth Defence Minister should clarify what action did our soldiers take against these Chinese troops,” the editorial said. “Warning Pakistan is not enough. The Defence Minister’s job is also to protect the borders with China,” the Sena said.

OROP row: Basic pension of ex-servicemen increased 2.57 times, says President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The basic pension of ex-servicemen of the Indian Army has increased by 2.57 times as compared to pension of December 31, 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said here while addressing ex-servicemen of the Gurkha regiments in the Indian Army.Mukherjee, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces, lauded the valour and discipline of the Gurkha soldiers in guarding the borders of India.Mukherjee, who is on a three-day state visit to Nepal, visited the Pension Office for Gurkha ex-servicemen here in the last segment as large number of these soldiers live here after retirement.The scenic Pokhara Valley, nestled in the shadow of towering snowcapped peaks of Dhaulgiri, Machapuchare, and Annapurna is home to a large number of soldiers of the famed Gurkha regiments in the Indian Army.The President received a warm welcome here with people dressed in traditional clothes carrying flags of India and Nepal had lined up the roads from airport to hotel where he stayed briefly and then from hotel to pension office of the Gurkha regiments ex-servicemen.People stood there throughout the stay of the President who was in the city for nearly an hour playing drums, dancing and waving as his convoy passed through the streets of Pokhara city.”According to the seventh Pay Commission the basic pension has increased 2.57 times under the One Rank One Pension scheme as compared to basic pension on December 31, 2015,” Mukherjee said.He said being the supreme commander of the Indian defence forces, it was a matter of great satisfaction and pride that all the welfare schemes of ex-servicemen are being implemented in Nepal on time.The President said there are 32,000 Gurkha soldiers in Indian Army besides 1.26 lakh ex-servicemen from the community. Mukherjee said India will never hesitate to take all possible steps for the welfare of ex-servicemen.”Every year about Nepalese Rs (NPR) 3,100 crore of pensions is being distributed in Nepal. In the current financial year, the target is to distribute about NPR 4,000 crore of pension as per One Rank One Pension and Seventh Pay Commission,” he said.

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