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Jharkhand coal mine death toll rises to 16, some still trapped | Reuters

BHUBANESWAR, India The death toll in a coal mine collapse in Jharkhand rose to 16 on Saturday and could rise further, officials said, as some people are still feared trapped at a coalfield run by state-owned Coal India Limited.The accident occurred on Thursday evening at the Lalmatia mine, one of the country’s largest, which is owned by Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL).”At night (on Friday), the rescue operation was slow due to fog,” R.R. Amitabh, a senior officer at ECL, told Reuters, adding that about 30 percent of the collapsed mine waste had been removed.Coal India has a poor safety record, with 135 accidents reported last year, killing 37 people and injuring 141, the company said in a report.

Operations at the mine in Godda district, about 280 km (175 miles) from the state capital, Ranchi, have since been stopped, Amitabh said.The state police spokesman R.K. Mullick said the number of people still trapped may be less than the nearly two dozen assumed earlier, based on the number of families who were searching for their kin.

The mine has an annual capacity of 17 million tonnes and accounts for about half of ECL’s coal production. Last month, ECL accounted for about 9 percent of Coal India’s total production of 50 million tonnes.

The federal coal ministry has ordered an investigation and announced some cash compensation to the families of miners who died in the accident. (Reporting by Jatindra Dash; Writing by Malini Menon; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 18:12 IST

Air Marshal C Hari Kumar to take charge of Western Air Command

Thu, 29 Dec 2016-03:00pm , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, who is the present Commander in Chief of Eastern Air Command, will be the next Commander in Chief of the Western Air Command.Air Marshal SB Deo will be the next Vice Chief of the Air Staff. He is presently the Commander in Chief of the Western Air Command. Deo will take over from Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, who is all set to be the new Indian Air Force (IAF) chief. He will hand over the charge of the Western Air Command to Hari Kumar. Deo was commissioned into the fighter stream in 1979.Prior to taking over as Air Officer Commanding in Chief of Western Air Command, Deo was the Director General Air Operations at Air Headquarters and Air Officer Commanding in Chief of Eastern Air Command.

Demonetization: Police seize Rs 46 lakh in valid currencies in Gujarat, detain five

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police have seized over Rs 46 lakh cash in valid currencies in two separate incidents in Morbi town and detained five personsOut of the seizure, Rs 29 lakh was in new Rs 2000 denomination and rest in Rs 100 and Rs 50 bills.In an operation conducted last night by the Special Operations Group (SOG) team, a man was held near Darbargadh area in Morbi carrying cash worth Rs 17 lakh in new currency notes, police said.”An SOG team on night patrolling found one Bhavik Lodariya (20) carrying a bag in a suspicious manner. When searched, they recovered from his possession 853 pieces in denomination of Rs 2000, worth Rs 17,06,000,” said Morbi SOG police sub inspector J V Dhola.Lodariya has been detained and investigation is on to trace the source of money and purpose for carrying it.In another incident, Morbi town Local Crime Branch (LCB) team recovered Rs 29 lakh from a suspiciously moving car on Sunday night, of which Rs 12 lakh was in Rs 2000 tender.”Four persons in the car, including driver, were detained from Morbi-Navlakhi road Sunday night after currency notes amounting to Rs 29 lakh was recovered from their possession,” said Morbi LCB in-charge police inspector Bharatsinh Parmar.He said of Rs 29 lakh, Rs 12 lakh was in the form of Rs 2000 denomination.They are identified as Rasik Patel, Manu Rabari, Wasim Fakir and Bhagvandar Dangar, he said, adding Income Tax department has been informed after the quarter failed to produce documents pertaining to money they were carrying.

Bombay High Court wants minors protected during Muharram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the state government whether it can implement the circular, issued in 2014, by Mumbai police, ensuring minors are prevented from taking part in Muharram procession and inflict injuries on themselves, across the state.The 2014, circular issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) had stated that the police will be taking all preventive measures to ensure that no follower of the Shia sect, inflict injuries on themselves. Meetings between organisers were held before the procession wherein senior members were appealed to ensure that injuries would not be inflicted. The police also kept first aid boxes and ambulances ready to meet with any unforeseen situation and video recorded the entire procession, which took place in South Mumbai.A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai while hearing a suo-moto public interest litigation asked the government whether it would extend the scope of the police circular to entire state and if not then provide reasons for not doing so, before the court by January 9.In 2014, the court while hearing the petition had said, “Our concern is only about injuries caused to children, we don’t want to interfere in religious rites, but at the same time we don’t want the children to be injured.” The petition had taken objection to the injuries inflicted on children during the Muharram procession. It had also sought a ban on the procession as children were being injured by sharp weapons.Further, the ‘matam’ it claimed was prohibited under the newly enacted legislation — Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifices and Other Inhuman Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act.

Arunachal Pradesh: 2 ULFA militants neutralised, 6 apprehended in Changlang district

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Assam Rifles neutralised two United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) militants and apprehended six others in Arunchal Pradesh in an operation held on Wednesday. In the operations launched by the troops of Assam Rifles in the dense forest of Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh around 1.30pm, two militants were gunned down. This apart, six other militants, including a woman, were apprehended by the security agencies. During the operations, one AK rifle and one pistol were recovered from the possession of the militants. Meanwhile, the operations were still on till the last reports came in. A day ago, a battalion of Assam Rifles had destroyed a camp of another militant outfit – National Socialist Council of Nagaland Khaplang (NSCN-K) in the same area. A huge cache of ammunition, radio sets with batteries, insurgent combat uniforms, belts and backpack were recovered.

Cyclone Vardah: Chennai limps back to normalcy; flights resume

Chennai: A day after Cyclone ‘Vardah’ ripped through Chennai, the city presented a scene of devastation with thousands of uprooted trees, broken billboards and snapped telephone and power cables besides low-lying areas reporting waterlogging. Flight operations resumed on Tuesday morning in the storm-hit city which was limping back to normalcy.

Cyclone Vardah hit Chennai really hard. PTICyclone Vardah hit Chennai really hard. PTI

Cyclone Vardah hit Chennai really hard. PTI

The storm, which was the most intense to have hit the Tamil Nadu capital in two decades and left four persons dead, snapped communication lines, flattened homes, and threw into disarry rail, road and air traffic as it crossed the coast here yesterday. However, with the rains having abated since morning, people came out on the streets and some of them queued up at roadside tea stalls. Office-goers were seen waiting at bus stops and railway stations with few services being operated.

Southern Railway said skeletal services resumed in the MMC, Sulurpettah/Arakkonam section while that on the busy Tambaram-Chengalpattu route were yet to be operated. Flight operations, which were suspended at the Chennai airport, have resumed. “Flight operations have resumed at Chennai airport today morning,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju tweeted. Operations at the airport were suspended yesterday due to gusty winds and rainfall. Many flights were either cancelled or diverted to other destinations.

In many areas power was yet to restored as uprooted trees had fallen on power lines in the wake of the squally winds that accompanied heavy rains in many parts of the city and surroundings.

Both official machinery and residents themselves were seen clearing fallen trees. Civic workers used hand-held battery-operated wood cutters to remove hundreds of uprooted trees lying on the roads. People made a beeline to shops and supermarkets to stock supplies including candles which were selling like hot cakes.

They were also seen stocking up adequate quantity of drinking water, available in containers as well as bottles. Water logging was reported in low-lying areas in three affected districts of Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur and Chennai and efforts were on to pump it out. Harried denizens said they had not experienced such a cyclonic storm even as they recalled last year’s deluge in these districts. Thousands of people were evacuated from low-lying areas as roaring wind clocking speed of 100 km an hour uprooted trees, tore off hoardings and toppled cars, on Monday.

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

Slain ISIS operative indoctrinated, recruited 5 Hyderabad men

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A key Islamic State (IS) planner from its External Operations division, known by his alias Abu Isa al Amriki, has been identified by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as one of the main handlers who indoctrinated and recruited five Hyderabad men who conspired to form an IS-inspired module.This is the first time the NIA has identified overseas handlers in its investigation establishing a link that the module in India was set up on the directives of IS based in Syria/Iraq.Amriki will be named in the charge sheet on the Hyderabad module to be filed this month, as one of the handlers from the IS directed to recruit from India, senior NIA officials told DNA. The NIA, in June, arrested five men – Ibrahim and Ilyas Yazdani, Habib Mohammad, Mohammad Irfan and Abdullah Bin Ahmad. They were carrying explosives and weapons for allegedly carrying out terror attacks in the name of IS.Amriki, believed to be an American citizen, was a Sudanese national and was also known as Abu Saad al Sudani. He was killed in an airstrike by US coalition forces on April 22 this year, along with his wife Umm Isa al Amriki, an Australian national. Pentagon has also confirmed Amriki’s role as a planner in the IS’ external operations division, headed by Abu Mohammad al-Adnani mastermind behind the deadly attacks in France, the US, Belgium and Turkey.”Forensic investigation on chat messages, emails, online communication and interrogation of the five suspects has revealed that they received instructions from IS operatives. Based on the IP addresses, the language in chat messages, conversations and accent, we have established that Amirki was one of the handlers. There is also a second handler based in Syria, who seems to be of Indian origin,” asenior NIA officer said.Amriki is booked as a conspirator in the New York New Year’s eve attack in 2015, wherein accused Emanuel L Lutchman, an American citizen from Rochester, New York, pleaded guilty of planning to carry out terrorist attack in the name of IS.The NIA officer said that the modus operandi followed by Amriki in recruiting Lutchman and the Hyderabad men online was strikingly similar. Amriki introduced himself as an IS member based in Syria and encouraged Ibrahim to travel to the Caliphate and join the IS.After the two failed attempts to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey, Ibrahim came into contact with a second handler – an Urdu speaking IS fighter, whose leads were given by Amriki – in November. The second handler convinced Ibrahim that there was no need to travel to Syria and he should stay in India and continue to do his work (jihad). This included recruiting more members, setting up a module, procuring explosives and carrying out terror attacks.The five suspects also issued a bayah (pledge of allegiance) in the name of IS leader Abu Bakar al Baghdadi, signed and sent through email to the second handler. NIA says he is still active online and he is operating and responding from IS-controlled areas, possibly Aleppo or Raqqa.

India inks Rs 5,000 crore deal with US for 145 M777 howitzers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Breaking the Bofors jinx, India and the US on Wednesday inked a nearly Rs 5,000 crore deal for 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers, which will be mostly deployed near the borders with China.This is the first deal for artillery guns since the Bofors scandal in 1980s. “India has today signed the Letter of Acceptance which formalises the contract between India and US for these guns,” sources said.The deal for 145 American ultra-light howitzers, costing about Rs 5,000 crore was recently cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The deal was inked as a two-day meeting of the 15th India-US Military Cooperation Group (MCG) began here.India-US MCG is a forum established to progress Defence Cooperation between HQ Integrated Defence Staff and US Pacific Command at the strategic and operational levels. The meeting commenced with the US Co-Chair Lt Gen David H Berger, Commander US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific calling on Lt Gen Satish Dua, CISC, HQ IDS. The MCG meeting is co-chaired by Air Marshal AS Bhonsle DCIDS (Operations), HQ IDS.A 260-member delegation from the US Defence Forces and several officers from the three Services HQ and HQ IDS representing the Indian side are attending the bilateral event.On the issue of M777, the sources said India had sent a Letter of Request to the US government showing interest in buying the guns which will be deployed in high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, bordering China. The US had responded with a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) and the Defence Ministry had in June looked into the terms and conditions and approved it.The offsets, under which BAE Systems, manufacturer of the gun, will invest about USD 200 million, will be pursued independently.While 25 guns will come to India in a fly-away condition, the rest will be assembled at the proposed Assembly Integration and Test facility for the weapon system in India in partnership with Mahindra. The first two howitzers will be delivered within six months of the contract being inked, while rest will be delivered at the rate of two per month. The howitzers that can be heli-lifted were first proposed to be bought from BAE about 10 years back.

Army foils two infiltration bids, pushes back terrorists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hours after Pakistani Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) called up his Indian counterpart, alert troops forced a group of Pakistan-backed to take a hasty retreat after they tried to sneak-in from two sectors of the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir.“Two infiltration attempts foiled in last 18 hours. Alert troops pushed back intruders in Gulmarg and Nowgam sectors after heavy exchange of fire”, tweeted Northern Command of the Indian army.The first infiltration bid was foiled in Gulmarg sector on Wednesday when alert troops deployed on the LoC noticed suspicious movement. Troops challenged the intruders, who opened heavy volume of fire. Indian army retaliated and the exchange of fire continued for few hours before the terrorists took a retreat back to Pakistan occupied Kashmir.Hours later in the morning, Indian troops noticed the suspicious movement in Nowgam sector of Kupwara district. “There was an attempted infiltration. This was intercepted. It was fired upon. Exchange of fire took place at both the places and they were forced to flee back”, said an army spokesman. The infiltration bids were foiled a day after Indian army launched a punitive fire assault on Pakistani posts in different sectors of Line of Control in a bid to avenge the killing of three soldiers in the Machhal sector on Tuesday.

Pak reaches out to UN over LoC tension with India, says act before ‘full-fledged crisis’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Alarmed by the escalation of tension with India along the LoC, Pakistan on Thursday asked the UN to act before the situation snowballs into a “full-fledged crisis”.Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi met the Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson and the Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary General Edmond Mulet during which she alleged that the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) posed a “grave threat to international peace and security”.Lodhi, according to a statement issued by the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN, in her meeting with UN officials alleged that escalating tensions on the LoC “was a deliberate attempt” by India to “divert the attention of the international community from the gross human right violations being committed” by it in Kashmir.Alleging that the attack on an ambulance trying to evacuate the injured was a particularly “abhorrent act” that was a breach of the most fundamental legal and humanitarian laws, Lodhi urged the UN to act before the escalating tensions snowball into a full-fledged crisis.The UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations was separately asked to mobilise United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to effectively monitor the LoC and the Working Boundary as a step to help deescalate tensions between India and Pakistan, a statement said.Pakistan Army yesterday said seven persons, including three of its soldiers, were killed in an exchange of fire with Indian troops on the LoC.The clash occurred a day after India warned of retribution after losing three soldiers in Pakistan firing and after Pakistan yesterday rejected as “false” and “baseless” the charges that the body of an Indian soldier was mutilated by Pakistani soldiers in a cross LoC-attack.

Pakistan reaching out to Indians against Modi’s ‘extremist policies’: Sartaj Aziz

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan has set up a high-level committee to formulate “a doable and sustainable” policy to highlight the Kashmir issue globally and is reaching out to Indians who are opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “extremist policies”, according to a media report today.The move was announced by Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in Senate on Tuesday, according to Dawn newspaper. The committee will consist of senior officials from the ministries of defence, interior and information, Military Operations Directorate, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB). Speaking about the status of the implementation of policy guidelines, Aziz said the committee was headed by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and could co-opt other members if required.Aziz said that another committee, chaired by the information secretary, had been formed to prepare fact sheets “to counter India’s propaganda campaign and design a media strategy to continuously highlight the Kashmiri freedom struggle”. This committee also includes representatives from the ministries of defence, foreign affairs and information technology, as well as members of the Military Operations Directorate, ISI and IB.Aziz said that the Ministry of Information Technology had been asked to prepare a comprehensive strategy to highlight the Kashmir issue via social media.He said that “steps were being taken to highlight Indian interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs, as well as its support for subversive activities and human rights violations in held Kashmir”, the report said.Aziz said that steps were already being taken to reach out to segments of the Indian public that were opposed to Modi’s extremist policies. “Our missions abroad, including in New Delhi, are making outreach efforts to emphasise the extremist Indian policies,” he remarked.Talking about measures to counter India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan in the region, Aziz said Pakistan was doing its utmost to engage the international community, including regional partners.He said Pakistan was supportive of all initiatives for peace and stability in the region, adding that this commitment to regional peace and stability was evident from the decision to participate in the Heart of Asia ministerial conference in Amritsar, despite the postponement of SAARC summit in Islamabad because of India.Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine, he said, was clearly spelt out and due restraint was being exercised. “Pakistan continues to exhibit maturity and statesmanship despite provocative statements by Indian leadership and the continued ceasefire violations across the LoC and working boundary having resulted in civilian casualties,” he said.He said there was a need for a positive response from India to move forward. He said that while Pakistan always conveyed a desire to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue, India had chosen to attach conditions to the talks.

Centre’s plan for a hot winter in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Equipped with the information that unprecedented terror turbulence can hit Jammu and Kashmir as the snow melts next year which may spiral the situation out of hand, the Centre has evolved a four-pronged action plan to restore normalcy.To be executed between winter months – from November to February – the execution of the action plan will be monitored directly by small team under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), highly placed sources said. There is a strong apprehension in the security establishment that lack of governance and absence of administration during long period of unrest has helped create situation that has potential to put the Kashmiri society on the path of Talibanisation. “Burning down of schools on a massive scale across the valley is one indication of what Pakistan supported terror groups are planning to do. This is an unprecedented development in Kashmir that has never happened before. In all over 120 government buildings have been burnt down or damaged of which at least 27 are school buildings,” added sources. According to the plan, the Army and the Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K Police aided by central armed police forces (CAPFs) have been tasked to neutralise or apprehend all the 300 odd terrorists and militants present in the valley. Sources said, these terrorists aided by the prevailing confusion during unrest managed to find safe havens across several pockets and have been instrumental in abating and aiding further unrest.The next step of the plan includes action on a massive scale against over ground activists of resistance group who have aided, instigated and participated in “subversive” activities like stone throwing, burning down government properties and aiding terrorists and militants to hide, sneak in and escape. An important part of the plan is reclaiming back the so called liberated areas, especially in South Kashmir, from the violent agitators that also have strong presence of militants and over ground activists. Sources said this may prove to be long haul exercise as they want minimum collateral damage during action. At the same time, along with the tough approach, the government plans to launch programmes on massive scale for winning hearts and minds of Kashmiris, aimed especially at those who want peace to return to help their children study and business progress.Those involved in the plan believe that the Centre’s action will not find much resistance in Kashmir as majority of Kashmiri are fed up with the spiral of violence and unrest and want to lead normal life.

Post Bhopal jailbreak, searches at Sabarmati jail where 75 SIMI activists are lodged

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of the jail break by eight SIMI activists in Bhopal, Gujarat Police has conducted a major search operation at Sabarmati Central jail in Ahmedabad to review its security measures which houses over 75 prisoners alleged to be SIMI and Indian Mujahideen activists.Various teams of Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) along with city crime branch and Special Operations Group (SOG), led by ATS Superintendent Himanshu Shukla, visited the Central prison late on Monday night to acquire first hand information of the overall security arrangements. As many as 78 prisoners, accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blast case and alleged to be associated with SIMI or Indian Mujahideen, are currently lodged in a special high security area of the jail.”Following the incident of jail break by SIMI activists in Bhopal, officials of ATS, crime branch and SOG have visited Sabarmati jail to supervise the overall security arrangements,” Assistant Commissioner of Police, city SOG, B C Solanki said.”We have made separate teams led by 18 police inspectors to search each and every barrack of the jail. We have also checked if various security systems, such as alarms and CCTV cameras are functional. Nothing suspicious has been found from any prisoner during the search,” he added.Sharing details of the enhanced security set up at the jail, senior jailor H M Shah told reporters that around 100 armed personnel from State Reserve Police (SRP) are doing round the clock patrolling in the jail.”Apart from our staff, around 100 SRP jawans were deployed here some time back to keep a close watch on each and every movement,” Shah said.In the 2008 terror attack, 21 serial blasts had rocked Ahmedabad on July 26 and claimed 56 lives while hundreds were severely injured. Gujarat police has so far charge-sheeted 100 people in the case, of which, 78 are behind bars in Sabarmati jail, while remaining are still absconding.Notably, security at Sabarmati jail has been a cause of concern for authorities after some of the accused attempted to escape from jail in February 2012 by digging a 218-feet long tunnel inside barrack no. 4. Following the jail-escape bid, all the blast accused were shifted to high-security barracks.

India slams UNSC for ‘unimplementable’ peacekeeping mandates

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has strongly criticised a “fragmented” UN Security Council for coming up with “unwieldy” and “unimplementable” peacekeeping mandates that put the credibility of the UN and safety and security of peacekeepers at grave risk.Speaking at a General Assembly debate on peacekeeping operations, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal said, “Peacekeeping, the signature activity of the UN, is under tremendous stress today.””The multiplicity of tasks and Christmas-tree mandates; a departure from well-established principles of impartiality; an avoidance of the primacy of politics; a focus on mere ”band aid” solutions through peacekeeping, and a near absolute lack of effective consultations amongst the Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs), Security Council and the Secretariat are all part of the existential and philosophical dilemma facing the peacekeeping today,” Lal said.He noted that Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous talked about building new coalitions of support to address collective security challenges in today”s multipolar world. “Perhaps this can and should start at home i.e. within the Security Council, which remains divided, even as it comes up with unwieldy and unimplementable mandates putting both the credibility of the UN and the safety and security of peacekeepers at grave risk,” Lal said yesterday.He said the manner in which peacekeeping mandates, are finalised clearly demonstrates that the problems have their origin at their source itself.Lal cited the example of the recently renewed and “so far unimplemented” mandate for the UN mission in South Sudan. He said even after three months of renewing the peacekeeping mandate in South Sudan, the situation on the ground including for the peacekeepers is no better. Lal strongly criticised the Security Council for not listening to the Troop Contributing Countries regarding the mandate but also failing to secure the consent of the host government for the revision of the mandate. “Further, seeing the way the mandate renewal resolution was adopted, it appears that there was no consensus even among the P-5,” he said, referring to the five permanent members of the Council. Lal said the United Nations Mission in South Sudan mandate came out of a “fragmented Security Council, with little or no groundwork of crucial political work especially with the host government, with little agreement within the UNSC itself, and with no effective consultations with the TCCs who, in the end, have to implement this mandate.””Is it any wonder why we are in the situation we are in,” Lal said. He said the primary purpose of peacekeeping operations is to prevent conflicts in conflict-prone areas and their relapse in areas emerging from long-drawn conflicts but despite member states having highlighted this repeatedly, many peacekeeping operations today are continuing to operate in a “vacuum of political negotiations”.

MEA avoids question on Jaishankar’s remark on surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> External Affairs Ministry on Thursday declined to comment on Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s remarks, purportedly made at a meeting of a Parliamentary panel, on cross-LoC surgical strike, saying its proceedings were confidential and sharing the details will amount to breach of parliamentary privileges.”Proceedings of the Parliamentary standing committee are confidential. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the issue. I will not comment on a matter which is confidential and must remain confidential,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He was replying to a barrage of questions on the issue during a weekly media briefing.According to a few members present at the meeting of Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs on Tuesday, Jaishankar said the army had carried out “target specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too but it was for the first time the government had gone public about it. The comments appeared to contradict Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s claim that it was for the first time a cross-LoC surgical strike was carried out by the army.Government sources later clarified that Jaishankar told the panel that whether cross-LoC surgical strikes were undertaken by the army in the past only the military will know as no “message” about such assaults were conveyed. “I am not going to answer any questions pertaining to the particular briefing because those briefings are supposed to be confidential in nature. I cannot breach parliamentary privileges,” said Swarup. Asked about MEA’s views on the surgical strike, he said they were the same as expressed in the statement of Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) on September 29.

Mumbai International Airport operations to be hit from Tuesday to November end

Mumbai: Passengers flying in and out of the nation’s financial capital should brace for long delays from Tuesday till the end of November as the only runway of the nation’s second busiest airport will be shut for five hours for repair work.

Last time the airport, operated by the GVK Group, was shut for similar repair work in November 2010. Months after the spanking new terminal-T2 over Rs 12,000-crore was opened in February. Operations will be partly hit between October 18 and 31 for four hours between 1200 hrs and 1600 hrs for seven days on alternate days, as the main runway (Runway No 09-27) will be closed for surface repair. But the secondary runway (14-32) will be open during these hours, a MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Ltd) official told PTI.

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. PTIChhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. PTI

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. PTI

But operations will be completely shut for five hours from 1200 hrs to 1700 hrs in the second phase beginning 31 October through 28 November as both the main and the secondary runways will be closed, the official said, adding this is needed as the repair work involves inter-section work.

In total between 31 October and 28 November, both the runways will be closed for five hours on Mondays and Thursdays, while in the first phase the main runway will be closed for four hours on seven days, the official said. In total, the impact will be for nine days in November in the second phase of closure.

Notably, the second busiest airport in the country, Mumbai International Airport has only one runway (as one-third of the airport land is occupied by slum squatters), yet it manages around 50 flights during peak hours, making it one of the most efficient airports in the world in terms of aircraft handling.

On an average, the city airport handles over 800 flights a day. Against this the Delhi airport, with three runways handles around 78 flights during peak hours. “The runways — 09-27 main and 14-32 — will remain closed between 1200 hrs and 1700 hrs on Mondays and Thursdays till 28 November, to conduct ‘preventive runway surface work’, a technology to fill in gaps on the runway,” MIAL had said in an earlier statement last month wherein it advised airlines to reschedule their operations.

Govt to brief parliamentary panel on surgical strikes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, briefed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence on surgical strikes, it is now the turn of another parliamentary panel dealing with external affairs, which had sought briefing from military and foreign office officials.Government is also believed to have conceded the demand by the panel chief Shahsi Tharoor. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs is scheduled to attend the meeting on Tuesday.The panel will be briefed on Indo-Pak relations with specific reference to recent surgical strikes. “Briefing by the foreign secretary, home secretary, defence secretary and Director General of Military Operations on the subject ‘Indo-Pak relations with specific reference to surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC)’,” a notice regarding the October 18 meeting issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat says. The meeting assumes significance as the government had earlier expressed reservation to send any military official to brief the Standing Committee on Defence. But later relented to send the Vice Chief of Army Staff.Since the committee under Tharoor has summoned the Foreign, Defence and Home secretaries, but also Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. General Ranbir Singh who had announced the success of the surgical strikes, the members will, therefore, get an opportunity to probe the DGMO on the operations. Tharoor has been careful not to go out of his committee’s brief to limit itself to discuss the matters concerning the foreign relations. His concern is that the cross-line of control surgical strikes have further spoiled the strained relations between the two neighbours with the nuclear weapons and hence the committee must study the implications.Last Friday, the Vice Chief of Army Staff made a short statement before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. But no questions were allowed. Conforming about the briefing, chairman of the panel, Maj Gen (retd) BC Khanduri said the army general had come to brief the Member of Parlaiments s, but no sensitive operational details were shared in the meeting. Khanduri said the agenda had included only a briefing and a question and answer session was not possible as details of the strike are top secret and cannot be revealed.The agenda for the committee’s briefing had originally been described as “Briefing by the representatives of the Ministry of Defence on surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC)”. Later, it was changed to the briefing by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Election Commission and Ministry of Defence on e-voting by defence personnel.The briefing by the Army officer came after complaints from the Congress that the agenda of the meeting was changed at the last moment and briefing on surgical strikes was cancelled. Sources said the issue was also raised at the beginning of the meeting by Congress members, but committee chairman Khanduri said that it might have been a ‘miscommunication’

Shashi Tharoor says DGMO’s statement on surgical strikes is ‘the truth’ for him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday affirmatively said that for him Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. General Ranbir Singh’s statement regarding the surgical strikes conducted across the LoC is the truth and, therefore, there is no point of arguing over the issue. Tharoor said that the army should be the judge and decide over the fact that what amount of information should be divulged.”I personally have never doubted the word of our military and to my mind when the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) says something for me, it is the truth. I don’t need to argue about that. But because Pakistan has conducted propaganda raising the questions whether the strikes at all happened, some have suggested that we should provide proof,” said Tharoor.Tharoor further suggested that the Indian Army could provide coordinates of the places which it struck as it will serve the purpose without putting national security at stake.”What I think we can do is provide the coordinates of the places or some of the places that we struck because obviously the Pakistani know where they were hit, so we are not providing information that they don’t have,” he said.”Whereas releasing videos could reveal things we don’t want to reveal to the enemy, including our modus operandi, equipment carried out by our soldiers as these things can make us compromise on our national security. So my view is let the army be the judge and decide how much we can reveal but let us not tell Pakistani’s more than they already know that where they were struck and how badly they were struck,” he added.Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir earlier today said the army has handed over video clips of the cross Line of Control (LoC) operation to the government as per the laid down procedure. Ahir said there is a process for putting such issues in perspective which was duly followed by the army as well as the government.”The laid down procedure has been followed. The DGMO briefed about the surgical strikes. It was not the Defence Minister nor the Prime Minister and not the Home Minister. It was the DGMO, who briefed the media,” he said”There was a time when written documents were submitted. Now, the times have changed. Now, the clips are given and the clips have been given,” he told the media.The Minister of State for Home?s statement came amidst the growing chorus for showing proof of the army’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PoK. A political slugfest over surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC broke out on Tuesday with Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam calling it “fake” and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asking the government to release the proof of the surgical strikes to counter the Pakistani propaganda against the operation.The ruling BJP at the Centre, however, lashed out at the opposition for demeaning the morale of the armed forces by demanding proof of the predawn September 29 surgical strikes.

Surgical strikes: Discussions on operations will be an insult to the Army, says Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: Hitting out at those “seeking proof” of the surgical strikes in PoK, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said further discussions on the operations will be an “insult” to the “commendable” task carried out by the Army.

“There is no need to respond to such irresponsible comments and demands. Fortunately, Congress has also realised its mistake and distanced itself from the comments of its leaders…AAP has also made it very clear,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

He said nobody has any doubt about the “credentials and commitment” of the Indian Army which has done a “commendable” job and further discussions on the operations will be an “insult” to the force.

Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

“I don’t think any Indian citizen has got any doubt. Nobody is doubting the credentials and commitment of the Indian Army. It did a commendable job…It would be an insult to the Army if we further discuss,” he said.

Naidu said the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) himself had given the statement about the operations in full details and also shared the information at an all-party meeting.

He wondered if giving further details will be in the interest of the nation.

Observing that entire country is happy about the surgical strikes, he said the world has also acknowledge the step taken by India.

“Only Pakistan is saying something because they have to say something. They are not in a position to conduct funera or last rites of their own citizens…This is their culture,” he said.

Earlier, addressing the event, the minister said India does not want war with anybody, but will give a befitting
reply if continuously provoked.

“…We never want a war with anybody. If somebody continuously provokes us, we will give them a befitting reply like our jawans gave the reply recently,” he said.

Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam had accused the BJP of indulging in politics over national interest and called the surgical strikes on terror camps as fake, the comments which were slammed by his own party.

Efforts on to secure release of Chandu Babulal Chauhan in Pakistan, says Manohar Parrikar

Efforts on to secure release of Chandu Babulal Chauhan in Pakistan, says Manohar Parrikar

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Pune: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said a well-established mechanism through the DGMO has been activated to bring back Army jawan Chandu Babulal Chauhan, who is in Pakistan’s custody after inadvertently crossing over.

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

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“He had crossed over which happens in border areas. There is a well established mechanism through DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) which has been activated,” he said.

On 30 September, Chauhan from 37 RR had inadvertently crossed over to the other side of the Line of Control following which Pakistan had been informed by the DGMO on the hotline.

“Such inadvertent crossing by Army and civilians are not unusual on either side. They are returned through existing mechanisms,” the army had said.

On Friday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called up the family of the solider and assured them that efforts are being made to secure his releae. Chauhan’s grandmother had passed away after hearing the news of his crossing over to Pakistan.

Parrikar also said that people should remain alert and report anything unsusal to the police.

Hamid Karzai hails India’s surgical strikes; says there is need for such military operations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hailing India’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in response to the terrorist attack at Uri sector as justified, former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai has said that Kabul has been a victim of terrorism and there is a need for such kinds of military operations in the country.Karzai conveyed this to India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Manpreet Vohra recently.Karzai reminded Vohra that Afghanistan too has been a victim of terrorism and fundamentalism and felt the need for such military operations more than anyone else.He added that Kabul has repeatedly asked the United States over the past 13 years to conduct cross-border attacks against the terrorist sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan, but with no success.Indian Army on Wednesday conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in response to the terrorist attack at Uri sector in Jammu and Kashmir in which 19 soldiers were killed.Two Pakistani soldiers and over 30 terrorists were reportedly killed in the attack.Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that the motive of the operation was to hit out at the terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into the Indian Territory.Lt General Singh informed that significant casualty was caused to terrorists during the operation.The DGMO said, it is a matter of serious concern that there have been many infiltration bids by terrorists at the LoC and it was reflected in the terror attacks in Poonch and Uri on 11th and 18th of this month.

PM Modi staged surgical strike ‘drama’ amid domestic pressure: Hafiz Saeed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hafiz Saeed, chief of to Jamaat-Ud-Dawah (JUD), an Islamic charity linked to outlawed militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) has said that New Delhi staged “surgical strike” drama following domestic pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to retaliate after 19 soldiers were killed in an attack on an army base in Uri sector in Jammu and Kashmir.”They (some people in India) started asking that ‘you had said that you would attack Pakistan, you would do a surgical strike’. Everyone who was in grip of this fever started asking Modi and the Indian government. For this Ajit Doval staged a drama. He made up a surgical strike drama while sitting indoors,” Saeed said.Saeed was of the opinion that no raid was actually carried out by the Indian troops.”The whole film was made in which this surgical drama was shown in which they said their 150 expert paratroopers, after crossing the control line and entering Pakistan, carried out a raid. Actually, no raid was carried out, neither in Bhimber nor in Lipa, Chamb and dudhnial,” he added.Indian Army on Wednesday said that it conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in response to the terrorist attack at Uri sector.Two Pakistani soldiers and over 30 terrorists were reportedly killed in the attack.Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that the motive of the operation was to hit out at the terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into the Indian Territory.Lt General Singh informed that significant casualty was caused to terrorists during the operation.The DGMO said, it is a matter of serious concern that there have been many infiltration bids by terrorists at the LoC and it was reflected in the terror attacks in Poonch and Uri on 11th and 18th of this month.Meanwhile, anti- India protests were held in Lahore, Multan, Karachi, and some cities of Balochistan in wake of rising tensions between the arch-rivals.

Surgical strikes against Pakistan along LoC are a breath of fresh air

On Thursday morning, the Indian Army announced that it had conducted several strikes on terrorist camps across the Line of Control. According to the statement by the Director General for Military Operations, Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh, operations took place in four sectors along the LoC — Bhimber, Hotspring, Kel and Lipa — at 12.30 am on 28 September and destroyed seven terrorist bases that were used to stage infiltrations into India. All facilities were between 500 and 3,000 metres from the LoC. Casualties are reported to include two Pakistani soldiers and 38 terrorists. Commandos were dropped at the LoC from where they crossed over into Pakistani-occupied Kashmir under the watchful eye of Indian drones. The action was undertaken after receiving “credible and specific information” about terrorists at the locations, planning attacks on major Indian cities.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Pakistan’s initial reaction has been to deny these strikes, citing “usual” Indian cross-border shelling instead as the cause of death of two of its soldiers. This buys its leadership time to decide on how to respond, especially in light of the US’ prompt statement expressing support for Indian counter-terrorism efforts. Though worded vaguely, its timing and general import leaves little doubt that Washington knew about and approved of India’s military actions Wednesday night.

The Indian strike is truly genius — while representing almost nothing tactically, it has truly set the cat among the pigeons diplomatically and strategically. At an empirical level, India’s action is a cross-border strike only by the grace of semantics — its Special Forces penetrated Pakistan-held territory only just beyond a good sniper’s range and killed 38 terrorists, a number that could probably be replaced in hours. Normally, a cross-border strike evokes memories of Neptune Spear, Ajax, Moked or Thunderbolt. Nonetheless, this is nothing to be scoffed at — I had written in a previous article that India cannot hope to dissuade Pakistan from terrorism with cross-border strikes and should instead target Pakistan and its terrorist allies.

Wednesday’s strike fits the mould perfectly.

The ingenuity of India’s move comes in its diplomatic package. First, it sought to persuade the US of the justness of its cause — Washington can be a moralising bully as much as India’s early prime ministers were. Second, it announced the strike publicly and reiterated that the operations were limited and had been halted — this dampened any escalatory opportunism by Pakistan. Furthermore, it was a booster shot for national morale, sagging after decades of receiving blows from across the border. Third, Delhi briefed the envoys of 22 nations, including the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, through its foreign secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday’s mission. This would consolidate international opinion behind Indian actions, especially since Pakistan has a glowing reputation for supporting terrorism.

The briefing was presumably to also reassure the global community that the military action was indeed limited, the conviction of which would lead to their diplomatic pressure on Islamabad to abjure from further provoking Delhi.

Strategically, India has called Pakistan’s bluff that it would respond with nuclear weapons if the former dared to conduct raids into the latter’s territory. Wednesday’s raid is so small and insignificant that a nuclear response would seem insane by any standards. As several analysts in favour of striking back at Pakistan, including myself, have argued earlier, India must utilise the conflict space below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold if it is to have any hope of curbing Pakistani shenanigans. This is exactly what Delhi has now done, challenging Islamabad to actually defend in public terrorists with nuclear weapons. And it seems, Islamabad has blinked.

The Indian strike is truly genius — while representing almost nothing tactically, it has truly set the cat among the pigeons diplomatically and strategically

There is no reason this bluff could not have been called earlier, but previous administrations imagined — and Pakistan allowed them to do so — that even the slightest response to the asymmetric war being waged from across the LoC would incur Pakistani nuclear retaliation. The Narendra Modi government has understood that the threshold had to be higher than that for it to have any meaning. Yet in all caution, Modi authorised only very shallow strikes at first — if Pakistan fails to live up to its rhetoric, future strikes may be even deeper and more significant as India improves its capability to conduct such strikes. Wednesday’s raid has disregarded Pakistan’s nuclear red lines and in all likelihood, pushed them back a bit.

Why did Modi not act earlier? Perhaps because he wanted to, on the world stage, give diplomacy a chance; perhaps the Indian military was not ready in the first two years of the Modi administration; or perhaps he wanted to dispel the stereotypes about him for domestic political reasons. This is all speculation and irrelevant to the national security debate. What matters is that the Indian government has finally acted boldly — and wisely — on the Pakistani-sponsored terrorism question and it is a much appreciated breath of fresh air.

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

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

What are surgical strikes? Targetted attacks with minimum collateral damage

The Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt General Ranbir Singh announced during a joint press briefing with the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday that the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads along the LoC and that significant causalities were caused.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

This comes in the aftermath of the Poonch and the Uri attacks on 11 and 18 September respectively. Evidently upset with the infiltration bids carried out by terrorists along the LoC, the DGMO said, “Despite persistent urges to Pakistan to not allow territory under its control to not be used for terrorist activities nothing was done.”

For the uninitiated, a surgical strike is a quick and specific attack that aims to neutralise the other side. Minimum collateral damage is also a requirement of a surgical strike, as ZeeNews points out.

It is a type of military attack that results in only damage to the intended legitimate military target.

Precision bombing is an example of a surgical strike carried out by aircraft. According to a Financial Express report, soldiers carry out surprise and and rapid bombings on targets with aircraft.

It helps in responding to the enemy in a time-bound manner and reduces the chances of a full-scale war with later negotiations.

NDTV quoted former Air Chief Fali Homi Major as saying that a surgical strike is “a calculated manoeuvre to ensure you deliver maximum damage which gives a big surprise to your adversary”.

Retired Lt General Shankar Prasad meanwhile told NDTV that the targets are movable and that a surgical strike means carrying out an attack and coming back without any damage to yourself, he said.

A report in The Indian Express points out that external intelligence is also vital to carrying out these attacks, which work closely with service intelligence departments, Intelligence Bureau and RAW.

The special operations are complex and need to be diligently planned and coordinated on various levels. Indian Army’s parachute regiments’ para-commandos are specifically trained for these strikes.

Earlier, the Indian Army had conducted calculated surgical strikes in Myanmar in June 2015, and the operation was finished within 40 minutes. It was a covert operation that left 38 Naga insurgents dead and seven injured.

With inputs from PTI

Here’s all you need to know about the surgical strikes conducted by Indian Army across LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Army on Wednesday night conducted surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC), confirmed Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO).The announcement of the sudden action by the army was made on Thursday by the DGMO, 11 days after the terror strike by Pakistan-based terror outfit JeM on an Indian army camp in Uri in Kashmir on September 18, 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the attackers would not go “unpunished” and that the sacrifice of 18 jawans would not be in vain.What DGMO said at joint press conference with MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup- India carried out ‘surgical strikes’ on terror launch pads across the Line of Control(LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday night, inflicting ‘significant casualties’ on terrorists.- We received very credible and specific information that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along the Line of Control with an aim to carry out infiltration and terrorist strikes in Jammu and Kashmir.- The strikes were carried out across the LoC.- The operations were basically focused on ensuring that the terrorists do not succeed in their design of infiltration and carrying out destruction and endangering the lives of citizens of our country.- Indian armed forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise.- Spoke to the Pakistani Director General of Military Operations and explained India’s concerns and also shared with him details of the operation.What we know of the surgical strikes conducted by the Army: Sources to ANI- Seven terror launch pads were destroyed by the Army across LoC, Indian Army Special Forces were para-dropped.- The surgical strikes were carried out between 12:30 am to 4:30 am.- The location was 500 metres to two kilometres across the LoC.- The surgical strikes were conducted on Pakistani terror camps belonging to multiple terror groups.- There were no Indian casualties.What Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif saidTwo Pakistan Army soldiers were killed and nine others were injured in the exchange of fire between the two forces.What ISPR said about the strikeThere has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross-border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon.The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects.This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is fabrication of truth. Pakistan has made it clear that if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, same will be strongly responded.Who knew about the strike?PM Modi informed President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Home Minister informed the Chief Ministers of Punjab, West Bengal, Odisha, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury and Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad.How the stock market reactedIn a sharp plunge, stock market benchmark Sensex tanked by 573 points following the announcement of the surgical strikes. The Sensex plunged 572.89 points, or 2.02%, to 27,719.92, with all sectoral indices led by realty, healthcare, power and metal slumping by up to 5.05%.On similar lines, the National Stock Exchange index Nifty dropped by 186.90 points, or 2.13%, to 8,558.25. (With agency inputs)

Kashmir attack: India ‘launches strikes against militants’

India’s army carries out “surgical strikes” against suspected militants along the de-facto border with Pakistan in Kashmir.

Surgical strikes conducted against terrorists at Pakistan launch pads at LoC: DGMO

In the wake of two ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in less than 24 hours, Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh said on Thursday that the Indian army conducted “surgical strikes on terror launch pads at the Line of Control.

“It has been a matter of serious concern that there has been continuous infiltration across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Singh, in a joint press conference with Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup in New Delhi.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“This (the continuous infiltration) is reflected in the terror attacks in Poonch and Uri. Almost 20 attacks have been foiled this year. During these terror and infiltration attacks, we have recovered items including GPS,” he further said.

Singh also said India had provided Pakistan with “fingerprints and DNA samples” after the terror attacks in Poonch and Uri on 11 and 18 September respectively.

“But there has been no let-up in infiltrations anfd terrorist actions. If the damage has been limited, it is due to the actions of Indian soldiers,” Singh said. “The Indian armed forces have been vigilant in the face of continuous attacks.”

He then said that the Indian Army had been conducting a fresh strike against terrorists at the LoC.

“Based on credibel information that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at the Line of Control, the Indian army conducted surgical strikes last night on terror launch pads across the LoC. The operations were focused to ensure that terrorists do not succeed in their plans for infiltration,” the DGMO said.

“During these counter-terror operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists,” he said. “The Indian armed forces are fully prepared for any contingency,” he added.

“I have spoken to Pakistan DGMO and shared details of the attacks with him,” he said. “It is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquility. But we cannot allow terroists to operate along the LoC,” he said.

“In line with Pakistan’s commitment made in 2004 to not allow terroists to operate on its soil, we expect the Pakistan army to cooperate with us,” Singh further said.

Amidst heightened tension with Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to review the situation along the LoC.

The meeting is understood to have discussed various options related to the Line of Control (LoC) in the wake of the Uri attack.

The meeting is also understood to have taken stock of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts.

Four terrorists had stormed an army camp in Uri on 18 September and killed 18 soldiers.

Pakistani troops have also twice violated the ceasefire along the LoC since Wednesday. Pakistani troops on Thursday violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Naugam sector of Kashmir by opening indiscriminate fire towards Indian Army posts.

Pakistani troops had on Wednesday targeted Indian positions with small firearms along the LoC in Poonch district.

On the same day, Pakistan’s defence minister had said India will “disintegrate” when Kashmir gains independence, in a sign of mounting tensions between the countries.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif had told AP that Pakistan will continue to extend moral support to the people of the disputed Himalayan region.

“When the freedom movement in Kashmir succeeds, it will be beginning of the end of India,” he had said. Asif had said the sacrifices of Kashmiri people will not be in vain and that “India will disintegrate and it will not remain united” when Kashmir gains independence.

With inputs from agencies

Uran alert: From Mumbai to Uri, India’s failure to learn from past is the only common thread

The first war covered live on television in India was the Kargil conflict of 1999. The daily military briefings by the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) was a much-viewed event. But they were military operations, which according to the then Army Chief General VP Malik, were fought with ‘what we have’. He was alluding to the critical shortages of weapons and ammunition and the unduly long process to modernise the armed forces. But, yet again the Indian forces pulled it off with ‘what they had’.

The government was quick to appoint a committee of experts headed by the doyen of matters national security, K Subrahmanyam. Restructuring of the armed forces, revitalising border security and other critical matters were comprehensively addressed. The then deputy prime minister, as the head of a group of ministers, reviewed all the recommendations including one on defence management submitted by a task force headed by Arun Singh and constituted an implementation mechanism which functioned rather efficiently. Then, the government changed and the remaining points for implementations were confined to the proverbial dust bin.

The Mumbai attack of 2008 forced the government to once again review the existing weaknesses and take appropriate measures. Predictably, over time, they too were buried to be redusted during the next episode.

Army personnel in Kashmir's Uri sector. Uran threat highlighted India's security problems. PTIArmy personnel in Kashmir's Uri sector. Uran threat highlighted India's security problems. PTI

Army personnel in Kashmir’s Uri sector. PTI

The point to note is that had the recommendations made post-Kargil been seriously and consistently addressed, perhaps the Mumbai attack may not have occurred. Extending the same logic, had we implemented many of the weaknesses rediscovered during the Mumbai attack along with the recommendations made by the group of interlocutors in 2011, we may not have had the situations in the Kashmir Valley, Pathankot or Uri, to worry about.

Much of our problems are linked to the improper functioning of Parliament and consequently poor formulation of effective legislations and laws to tackle the entire spectrum of economic, social and security related issues that confront us. In many ways, they are all interlinked.

While politicians bash each other up, at times physically as well, we the citizens fret and frown without ever acknowledging that we the people put them into Parliament in the first place; by casting our votes for the incompetent, ignoring elections or not participating in any process of cleaning up dirty politics. Electoral, police, judicial and administrative reforms are long overdue. Not much will change without these reforms.

Since the canvas of corrective measures is vast and long, let me focus on just one issue in this piece: Police reforms.

An ungainly and shameful sight on television is an inadequately equipped, physically unfit and apparently ill led police force in any part of the country. Just compare these pictures with not only the more advanced nations but also with our immediate neighbours. Without exception, the first line of defence or assistance to the citizen i.e. the policeman is the most unfortunate product of State politics. The very states who zealously protect their rights on law and order and object to any intervention by the Centre are guilty of politicising, under equipping, neglecting the welfare of the policemen and his family, and undermining the police leadership.

See the video clips of the Uran alert that occurred on 22 September. When the first reports of suspicious armed personnel in the sensitive location of Uran reached the police, cameras captured policemen with neither bulletproof jackets nor helmets, arriving in hoards with (mercifully) 7.62 mm caliber rifles and not the .303 caliber ones, on motorbikes and lining up on the streets.

You would never, on such occasions, see an officer of the force with them. Any uninitiated citizen would wonder what this ill-equipped band of rag-tag policemen would have done had they been attacked by well-trained AK-47 wielding terrorists. They would have been excellent cannon fodder, for, they neither had protection nor a clue on how to take offensive or defensive positions. After subjecting themselves to a photo opportunity, they climbed on their motorcycles and vanished. There were some who, due to their oversized bellies, could not even have dropped to the ground to take up a firing position.

Yes we have the police commandos, yes we have a quick reaction force, but who would authorise the low-end baton or stick-wielding policemen to counter a terrorist threat? Do we have well-trained adequately equipped rapid reaction capability to reach Uran at short notice? Perhaps not. Would it not have been the best option to seek the immediate assistance of the naval security force until the right-fighting element arrived on the scene?

This was only a random sighting reported by a shocked school girl and not a fire-fight with confirmed terrorists. What chance would these policemen have had to survive an attack? In the event, it might as well have been forest guards equipped with some firearms.

Even after repeated terrorist attacks, we are unable to provide the first sensible and rehearsed reaction as dictated by the threat. Is the police force equipped to tackle rampaging crowds on a short notice? Do they even have the basic attire and accessories for self-protection, counter-disturbances and law and order problems? If not, then why not?

Prakash Singh, who fought for police reforms 10 years ago and more importantly based on which the Supreme Court gave clear directions in 2006, have both witnessed the tenth anniversary go by with little or no action to modernise the force.

Let us at least address the reforms required to provide security at the citizens level at the first instance. The military would be happy to address their primary task – an external threat!

India army ‘kills militant’ in Kashmir

Indian troops have killed a militant in a gunfight in the far north of Indian-administered Kashmir, the army says.

Uri attack: Terrorists sneaked in by cutting fence, ‘insider help’ not ruled out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The four terrorists who stormed an army base in Uri sector on Sunday killing 18 soldiers belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and managed to sneak in by cutting the perimeter fencing of the highly-guarded army installation at two places, investigations have shown. In an indication that the terrorists were well-versed of the layout of the army base close to the Line of Control(LoC), the assailants locked the cooking room and store from outside to prevent the soldiers from leaving before setting them afire, sources privy to the probe said on Wednesday.The investigators are not ruling out “insider help” to the terrorists in view of the precise nature of the actions undertaken by the intruders once inside the army base, the sources said, adding the attackers first cut the perimeter fencing at two places.After locking the cooking room and store, two of the terrorists started moving towards the officers quarters within the base but they were gunned down before they could inflict any further damage, they said. The two Global Positioning System (GPS) sets recovered from the slain militants were damaged during the attack and have been handed over to the NIA, which is probing the case. The four intruders, who had crossed in from Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (Pok) a day earlier, were affiliated to LeT as the terrorist module bore striking resemblance to the group from the same Pakistan-based terror outfit eliminated in Poonch on September 11, the sources said.Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh had told reporters hours after the attack that as per initial reports the slain terrorists belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammad(JeM), also a Pakistan-based terror outfit.”All four killed were foreign terrorists and had carried with them items which had Pakistani markings. Initial reports indicate that the slain terrorists belong to Jaish-E-Mohammed tanzeem,” Lt Gen Singh had said.The terrorists both at Uri and Poonch were carrying small plastic bottles containing a concoction of petroleum jelly and gelatin which was used to set the soldiers’ tents on fire, the sources said.Various intelligence agencies probing the bloodiest attack on army in Kashmir in 27 years believe that the attack could be handiwork of LeT, which has been induging in shallow infiltration — a strategy to target the first available security installation by the infiltrators after crossing the LoC.The NIA on Tuesday registered a case to probe the terror attack at the Army installation in Uri. The NIA took over the investigation from the Jammu and Kashmir Police, which had registered a case on Sunday, and began probe by collecting evidence available with the Army formation at Uri.The NIA team led by Inspector General G P Singh has been camping in Uri since its arrival on Tuesday. The team will collect the DNA samples of the four unidentified terrorists and their pictures would be shown to militants lodged in various jails of the state as well as other parts of the country.The NIA team would prepare a dossier and may make a formal request to Pakistan once the identity of the four was ascertained. Army has also instituted an inquiry into the attack with preliminary investigation suggesting the terrorists had entered the area at least a day before mounting the brazen assault.The inquiry besides ascertaining lapses, if any, would also suggest measures to prevent such attacks in the future as Pakistani-based groups were indulging more in “shallow infiltration”, which means that terrorists strike the first available installation after crossing the Line of Control.

Uri terror attack: CCS meets to take of situation, scare details out

New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met on Wednesday in the wake of the Uri army camp terror attack that left 18 soldiers dead.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Home Minister Rajnath SIngh.

According to sources, the Uri attack was discussed in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

17 soldiers died in the Uri terror attack. PTI

17 soldiers died in the Uri terror attack. PTI

Asked whether the issue was discussed, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dodged the question and said: “What is discussed is what you have been informed.”

Jaitley was speaking at a briefing on the Cabinet decisions.

Asked again, the minister said: “Government reaction to Uri has been stated in last three days very elaborately. Armed forces have expressed their view, which is also the view of the government”.

Jaitley added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also already made his views clear.

Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh on Monday said India reserves the “right to respond to any act of the adversary at a time and place of own choosing”.

A multi-pronged strategy being adopted by the government includes building diplomatic pressure on and international isolation of Pakistan, as well as army action, though it has not been clarified in what form.

Modi and Parrikar have both said that those responsible for the attack will not be spared.

Meanwhile, the government also chose to stay mum on the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets, which is in its final stage.

Asked if the Rafale deal was discussed, Jaitley said it was not on the agenda for the Cabinet meeting.

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

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

Army kills 10 infiltrators on LoC, jawan martyred

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

Avenging Uri terror attack isn’t that simple for India: We need our very own Navy Seals

India is unlikely to resort to any military action, whether direct or indirect, against Pakistan to avenge the Uri terror attack in which 18 Indian soldiers were killed.

It seems that the military commanders have advised the Modi government against any “rash military action”. Their rationale, it is understood, is that Pakistan at the moment is fully prepared to negate any such actions. The military commanders seem to suggest therefore that it is better to wait for a more opportune time to strike at the terrorists (including their top leaders) and terrorist camps in Pakistani or Pakistan-controlled territories. The standard phrase thus is “at a time of our choosing” for conducting such strikes or raids in a “graded, sequenced and synchronized” way.

In other words, the “hybrid wars” that Pakistan has imposed on India, of late, will remain unchallenged for some more time. “Hybrid war”, a term popularised by the American strategic analyst Frank Hoffman, means multiple types of warfare being used simultaneously by the adversary. Here, it will engage in irregular warfare, often taking the help of the non-state actors in its territory, apart from preparing for the conventional war to serve its ends. And when one talks of the irregular war, it involves terrorist mercenaries, deadly criminals, drug-traffickers and insurgents etc. in the enemy country.

The idea here is to unleash indiscriminate violence (often communal), coercion and criminal disorder. At the strategic levels, hybrid wars ensure that there is a clear linkage between the regular and irregular (the so-called non-state actors); in fact, in many a case the distinction between them gets blurred. They are operationally integrated and tactically fused. In fact, under hybrid war, the warfare becomes quite unrestricted. Multiple means – military but more non-military – are used against the enemy. Hacking into websites, targeting financial institutions, terrorism, using the media, and conducting urban warfare are among the methods championed. There are no rules or norms of war; in fact nothing is forbidden.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

These elements of hybrid war perfectly match Pakistan’s policies towards India. No wonder Pakistan did not find any role of Hafiz Saeed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. It does not find anything wrong in Saeed’s relentless hate-speeches against India. Similarly this time too, it will not find any role of Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, in the Uri attack.

Why is it that India is not able to wage such hybrid wars against Pakistan? What is it that India is lagging behind Pakistan in “sub-conventional war” capability (also called strategic asymmetry)? These are the questions the Modi government should mull over.

One often comes across India developing ‘Special Forces’ for carrying out surgical strikes in the neighbouring region if its national interests so dictate. But then the fact remains that we have too many of such ‘Special Forces’. The first in the series came with the Special Frontier Force (SFF) or Establishment 22, a force raised post the 1962 Sino-Indian War with US help and manned by exiled Tibetans for “behind-enemy-lines activities” if the Chinese were to launch another invasion of India. Then, we had the “Meghdoot Force” raised in Army’s Western Command during the 1965 Indo-Pak War. The Army today has its “Para” (Special Forces). In course of time, the Navy and Air Force have built their respective special forces – Marine Commandos (MARCOS) of the Navy and Garud of the Air Force. Then, we have raised the National Security Guard (NSG).

However, the fact remains that despite having so many Special Forces, the only time they have been used outside the country (other than the United Nations operations) was in 1987 as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka, where all the then three Para (Commando) battalions in conjunction with MARCOS gave a good account of themselves. One is told that following 26/11 attacks on Mumbai in 2008, the then Air Force Chief Fali Homi Major had told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he was prepared to strike inside Pakistan; but he could not do so because the intelligence services could not provide adequate digital data on Lashkar camps. Then Army chief Deepak Kapoor also demurred, saying the Army was not prepared for a brief surgical war. Remarkably, the Army speaks the same language even now.

Be that as it may, India is perhaps the only country whose Special Forces have no centralised command structure. We have a variety of Special Forces under varied chains of command ranging from Services Headquarters for Military Special Forces, NSG under the Ministry of Home Affairs, SFF under the Cabinet Secretariat. In early 1990s, the then Chief of Naval Staff had put up a proposal to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for integrating the Special Forces of the Services; but in vein. Proposals to put the NSG, particularly its Special Action Group (SAG), under the command the Army have also remained on paper. As a result, the variety of Indian Special Forces have little synergy, thereby failing to optimize their potent combat capabilities. And this is all the more surprising, given the fact that one of the reasons India bought six C-130 Hercules transport aircraft was for special-forces operations.

There have been speculations that the Modi government is about to give the green signal for the setting up a Special Operations Command (SOC) to counter terrorism and conduct unconventional warfare and covert operations in the country and the neighbourhood. The MoD has apparently approved the SOC in principle and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by the Prime Minister, is likely to give the final approval. Headed by a Lieutenant-General, the proposed command will report to the National Security Advisor (NSA) and work closely with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) as the commandos may have to carry out strategic strikes outside Indian boundaries.

In fact, this proposal predates to the UPA government which had set up the 14-member Naresh Chandra Taskforce on National Security. The Taskforce in its recommendations submitted to the Prime Minister in 2012 had suggested setting up three commands, including Special Operations, Cyber and Aerospace, to keep abreast with the fast changing nature of war fighting. The Cyber command is supposed to be headed by a Vice Admiral and the Aerospace command will be managed by an Air Marshall. Once put in shape, the Special Operations Command will see the integration of the commandos of Special Forces of the Army, MARCOS of the Navy and Garud of IAF. They will deal with “out of area” contingencies.

While, personally, I am in favour of the creation of the SOC, it will be little unrealistic to expect that it will deliver results in near future. In my considered view, the SOC will have teething problems and it will take years for becoming effective. All said, if the US Navy Seals succeeded in conducting an Abottabad type operation that killed Osama bin Laden, it was because the CIA provided adequate intelligence inputs for the operation. In contrast, India’s intelligence capabilities are quite limited, the contrary claims of the Research Analysis wing (RAW) notwithstanding. Another thing we should be realistic about is that we simply do not have the technological assets that the US has for these operations. We have then huge political constraints in the sense that our political class is not reputed for taking hard decisions, particularly when it pertains to launching cross-border commando raids.

Here one would like to quote novelist Aravind Adiga, who is really apt in describing what our leaders say regarding New Delhi’s response to the next major terrorist strike: “The government will immediately threaten to attack Pakistan, then realise that it cannot do so without risking nuclear war, and finally beg the US to do something. Once it is clear that the government has failed on every front – military, tactical and diplomatic – against the terrorists, senior ministers will appear on television and promise that, next time, they will be prepared and teach Pakistan a lesson.”

This being the case, the only thing India can do effectively, and it seems to be doing so, is to isolate Pakistan internationally by launching a series of diplomatic offensives. The very fact that Russia has called off its joint military exercise with Pakistan is a victory for Indian diplomacy.

Uri mopping operation called off

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

#UriAttack: Pakistan says India has history of blaming it after terror strikes, rejects charges as ‘baseless’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan has rejected as ‘totally baseless and irresponsible’ allegations by India that it was behind the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri that killed 17 Indian soldiers, saying India has a “history of blaming Pakistan” immediately after a terror strike.Following the dawn strike, India had criticised Pakistan for the latest attack on the Indian Army. Home Minister Rajnath Singh directly blamed Pakistan saying it was a “terrorist state” and should be isolated.Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria in an interview to a TV channel said the Indian allegations against Pakistan are “totally baseless and irresponsible”.”Pakistan always sought concrete evidence from India to prove its accusations, but it failed to do so,” he said.He said “India has a history of blaming Pakistan immediately after a terror attack, which always proved wrong in investigations”.Zakaria said “India is using different tactics to divert the world attention from the situation in occupied Kashmir”.The Pakistan Army had earlier demanded “actionable intelligence” to support India’s accusation.Pakistan army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said that following the attack Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries discussed the situation along the Line of Control through hotline.”Refuting the unfounded and premature Indian allegation, Pakistani DGMO asked his counterpart to share any actionable intelligence,” Radio Pakistan reported citing an ISPR release.Pakistani DGMO rejected allegations of cross border infiltration and said that “watertight arrangements” were in place on both sides of the LoC and the Working Boundary. He also asked India to share evidence.Heavily-armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the Indian Army in North Kashmir’s Uri town in the wee hours, killing 17 jawans and injuring 19 other personnel in the attack in which all four terrorists were neutralised.

Uri terrorist attack: BJP promises ‘befitting reply’, Pakistan goes into denial mode

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the sacrifice of the soldiers, who lost their lives in the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri Sector will not go in vain, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday said that India will give a befitting reply to Pakistan and it will have to bear the brunt. Speaking to ANI, BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi condemned the Uri terror attack and said ‘Today’s incident of Uri is very unfortunate and painful. Now it is very clear from the observations of the military establishment that the terrorists were trained from Pakistan and they were heavily armed with well equipped planning.”As far as the reaction of our government is concerned, the Prime Minister has given a clear indication that these culprits will not be spared. And Home Minister, despite taking all the meetings and keeping an eye, has cancelled his entire visit of Russia and America,’ he added.The BJP leader further said that Indian Government, on the diplomatic level, has left the defensive policy and adopted an assertive policy on the issue of terrorism. ‘No country is standing with Pakistan. Even their trust ally US is snubbing them. UAE and Saudi Arabia is not with them and to a certain extent China is hobnobbing with them. We have raised the issue of Balochistan, so from their internal angle to the international angle, we have diplomatically, successfully cornered Pakistan,’ he said.Branding Pakistan as a ‘terrorist state’ and stating that it should be identified and isolated as such, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that there are definite and conclusive indications that the perpetrators of Uri attack were highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped. ‘I am deeply disappointed with Pakistan’s continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups,’ he said in a series of tweets.Meanwhile, condemning the terror attack as well, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the nation that those behind the ‘despicable’ attack will not go unpunished. ‘We salute all those martyred in Uri. Their service to the nation will always be remembered. My thoughts are with the bereaved families,’ the Prime Minister said in a series of tweets. Hinting at Jaish-e-Mohammad’s role behind the Uri attack, India’s Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh also asserted that the evil designs would get a befitting reply. ‘The killed terrorists were all foreign terrorists and as per the initial reports, they belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad. Along with the terrorists, we recovered four AK-47 rifles, four under barrel grenade launchers, a large number of grenades and other war-like stores,’ Lt. Gen. Singh said.Lt. Gen. Singh said the items recovered from the slain terrorists had Pakistani markings, adding he has conveyed India’s serious concerns about the same with Pakistan Director General of Military operation General Raheel Sharif.’I would also like to mention that the intelligence agencies and security forces are working in close synergy with each other and regular intelligent inputs are received from intelligence organisations and agencies and necessary action is being taken accordingly,’ he added.At least 17 soldiers lost their lives and 19 others injured post the terror strike on an army camp close to the headquarters of the 12th Brigade at Uri in Baramulla district.All four terrorists have been killed in what has emerged as worse than the attack on the Pathankot air base earlier in January this year, in which seven army men were killed. Pak rejects Indian allegations after Kashmir attackPakistan rejected as “totally baseless and irresponsible” allegations by India that it was behind the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri that killed 17 Indian soldiers, saying India has a “history of blaming Pakistan” immediately after a terror strike. Following the dawn strike, India had criticised Pakistan for the latest attack on the Indian Army. Home Minister Rajnath Singh directly blamed Pakistan saying it was a “terrorist state” and should be isolated.Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria in an interview to a TV channel said the Indian allegations against Pakistan are “totally baseless and irresponsible”. “Pakistan always sought concrete evidence from India to prove its accusations, but it failed to do so,” he said. He said “India has a history of blaming Pakistan immediately after a terror attack, which always proved wrong in investigations”. Zakaria said “India is using different tactics to divert the world attention from the situation in occupied Kashmir”. The Pakistan Army had earlier demanded “actionable intelligence” to support India’s accusation. Pakistan army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said that following the attack Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries discussed the situation along the Line of Control through hotline.”Refuting the unfounded and premature Indian allegation, Pakistani DGMO asked his counterpart to share any actionable intelligence,” Radio Pakistan reported citing an ISPR release.Pakistani DGMO rejected allegations of cross border infiltration and said that “watertight arrangements” were in place on both sides of the LoC and the Working Boundary. He also asked India to share evidence.Heavily-armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the Indian Army in North Kashmir’s Uri town in the wee hours, killing 17 jawans and injuring 19 other personnel in the attack in which all four terrorists were neutralised.

LIC Chairman SK Roy resigns prematurely, reason not yet known

New Delhi: State-run life insurance behemoth LIC Chairman SK Roy, appointed by previous UPA government, has resigned nearly two years ahead of completion of his five-year term.

Roy, who has been with LIC since 1981, took charge as chairman in June 2013. Reuters

Roy, who has been with LIC since 1981, took charge as chairman in June 2013. Reuters

Roy, who has been with LIC since 1981, took charge as chairman in June 2013.

According to sources, Roy has officially tendered his resignation and the finance ministry will send it to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet for acceptance. However, the exact reason for his sudden exit could not be ascertained immediately.

He had made similar request some months ago but the finance ministry asked him to reconsider that, sources said.

After the approval from ACC, the finance ministry would begin search for his replacement, sources added.

Roy joined Life Insurance Corporation of India in 1981. On 31 May, 2013, he assumed charge as Managing Director of LIC.

Prior to his elevation, he was head of the International Operations division.

Himachal Road Transport Corporation employees go on 48-hour strike

The Himachal Road and Transport Corporation (HRTC) went on a two-day strike starting Tuesday morning over several demands, including regularisation of contract staff and protection of pension benefits.Even as the Himachal Pradesh High Court called the strike as ‘illegal’ and directed the employees to refrain from participating in the demonstration, nearly 8,000 employees went on the strike that would keep over 2,800 HRTC buses off road.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 11 HRTC unions have formed a joint action committee, demanding roadways statues and many other demands.As per reports, transport employees have also threatened to stop the operations of chartered and other state roadways buses till Wednesday night.

Trial run of Delhi Metro’s new ‘driver-less’ train begins

The trial run of Delhi Metro’s swanky new ‘driver-less’ trains began on Tuesday, setting the ball rolling on what promises to be a technological feat in the country’s public transport system in little more than a year, when they will run on ‘unattended’ mode.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu flagged off one such train equipped to travel on ‘Unattended Train Operations’ mode at the Mukundpur depot of metro’s upcoming Majlis Park – Shiv Vihar corridor (Line 7).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In their speeches, Naidu and Kejriwal insisted that metro was one of the best answers to the city’s commutation and pollution woes. Kejriwal thanked the Centre and termed DMRC as a ‘unique example’ of cooperative federalism.Naidu said that odd-even was a temporary measure and “cannot be a permanent solution” and said new technology was set to increase metro’s frequency to 90 seconds.”As we kept on saying during odd-even, till the time we don’t improve our public transport system, one that which inspires car owners to move opt for public transport, pollution or congestion will not come down,” Kejriwal said.Trial run of trains, that were unveiled last month, will take place between the depot and Majlis Park station, one of the terminal stations of the upcoming Pink Line, for the next few days. Gradually the distance covered by them will be increased, a metro official said.The new trains will undergo rigorous trials to ensure that they are ready for smooth operations after the commissioning of the 58-km-long Mukundpur- Shiv Vihar and the 34-km-long Janakpuri (West)- Botanical Garden corridors , by the end of this year, although initially, train operators will run them.”Gradually, driver-less operations, on the Unattended Train Operation (UTO) mode, will be possible and later on, in stages, the new signalling technology Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) – will be implemented which will bring the time gap between to two trains to 90 seconds instead of the current average of two minutes,” an official said.

Three Maoists gunned down in an encounter in Andhra Pradesh

Three Maoists were gunned down in an encounter with police in Marripakala forests under Agency area of the district on Wednesday.The incident took place in on Wednesday evening when a team of Andhra Pradesh Special Police Force personnel was conducting a combing operation in the area under Koyyuru police station limits. At around 6:15 PM, the Maoists opened fire at the team and police retaliated, said Babujee Attada, Additional Superintendent of Police (Operations), Visakha Rural.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per preliminary information, three Maoists were gunned down by police whereas the other ultras managed to escape with injuries, Attada said, adding an assault rifle was recovered from the spot.Though the identity of the deceased is yet to be established, one of them is suspected to be a ‘commander’ of the Galikonda Area Committee of the outlawed CPI (Maoist), the ASP said.

Gulberg case: Accused who jumped parole nabbed in Rajasthan

A Special Operations Group team has nabbed an accused of the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre case, who has been on run after jumping parole last month, from Rajasthan while search is on to trace another accused, an officer said on Monday.”Jitendra Nath (46) was nabbed from Mohammadpura village in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan yesterday and brought to city today,” said police inspector of SOG (Crime Branch) B D Jadeja.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nath was supposed to report at Sabarmati Central Prison in Ahmedabad on April 8 as his extended parole was expiring on that date.”Nath is one of the accused in the Gulberg case. He was in jail ever since his arrest in 2009. He was recently released on parole. However, he disappeared and did not report back to the jail on April 8, which was the last day of his parole,” said Jadeja.The officer said the SOG team had specific inputs and accordingly kept watch in Nath’s native village.”Nath will be sent back to jail after completion of some formalities,” added Jadeja.Incidentally, Nath was not the only one on radar of police during the operation. The SOG was also in search of Kailash Dhobi, another accused in the Gulberg case, who too had jumped parole earlier this year. Dhobi was supposed to surrender before jail authorities here on January 29, as his plea for another extension was turned down by the High Court.”Dhobi and Nath were known to each other as they hailed from same village. Our main focus was to nab Dhobi, who is at large since long. However, we then come to know about Nath’s presence in that village and nabbed him. Our efforts are still on to nab Dhobi,” said Jadeja.The Gulberg Society case is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots which is being probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). As many as 69 persons, including ex-MP Ehsan Jafri, lost their lives in Gulberg Society in the city on February 28, 2002 during the Post-Godhra riots.The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati express was burnt near Godhra train station, where in 58 karsevaks were killed. The trial in the case lasted for around six years during which around 338 witnesses gave their testimonies. The trial court has completed the final hearing in the case in September last year but the verdict is yet to be pronounced.There are 66 accused named by the SIT in the case and seven of them, excluding Nath and Dhobi, are behind bars at present while others are out on bail.

No instances of incursions by Chinese troops into Indian territory: Manohar Parrikar

There have been no instances of incursions by Chinese troops into Indian territory. There is no commonly delineated the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. There are areas along the border, including areas in Ladakh, where India and China have differing perception of LAC. Due to both sides undertaking patrolling up to their perception of the LAC, transgressions do occur.The information was divulged by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Kumari Sushmita Dev and others in the Lok Sabha on Friday. He said the government regularly takes up any transgression along LAC with the Chinese side through established mechanisms, including Flag meetings, Border Personnel meetings, meetings of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs and diplomatic channels.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Regarding construction activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), he said: “The government has seen such reports and has conveyed its concerns to China about their activities and asked them to cease such activities.”He informed the House that issues relating to abetting infiltration along the India-Pakistan border are taken up with Pakistan military authorities at the appropriate level through the established mechanism of Flag Meetings and weekly talks between the Directorate Generals of Military Operations of both the countries.”The government is fully seized of the security needs of the country. Necessary steps, as required, are taken to ensure that the national security concerns are adequately addressed through capability and infrastructural development. This is a continuous process,” said Parrikar.As per assessment, details of infiltration by terrorists in J&K are: in 2015, terrorist made 118 attempts to infiltrate, of which they succeeded in 33 attempts; while in 2016 (up to March 31), terrorists made 24 infiltration bids, while succeeded in 18.

Why roping in Army instead of IDS for joint commands is bad move

Media is agog with news that following China having re-structured its military commands and with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s recent maiden visit to China – during which he also visited China’s newly integrated Western Command – there is a move to have Joint Service Commands in the Indian military.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Image courtesy ibnliveDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Image courtesy ibnlive

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Image courtesy ibnlive

According to media, the Army, being the largest service, has been asked to work out integration with the IAF and the Navy for having joint commands, and this is possibly being discussed at the ongoing Army Commanders Conference. If army indeed has been so tasked, it is ludicrous because working out joint commands is the task of HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), not any single service. Significantly, considerable work on the issue was done a decade back, which the bureaucracy may not have bought to the notice of the present government.

Lack of true operational jointness in the military has been the bane of India right from 1962 where the use of IAF could have had a different outcome. Even during the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka, the joint command established was highly ad hoc. Later, Gen VP Malik, former army chief went on record to say, “It  is  not  my case that service  chiefs do not cooperate in war. Were they not to do so, it would be churlish. But in war, cooperative synergies are simply not good enough.” His successor, General S Padmanabhan stated, “There is no escaping the military logic of   creating suitably constituted Integrated Theatre Commands and functional commands for the Armed Forces as a whole.” Much later, another army chief stated at a Unified Commanders Conference, “We have very good synergy within the three chiefs. We golf together once a month and follow it up with breakfast.” This perhaps was more of a joke but also at least half the truth.

Creation of the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) and the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) undoubtedly are significant milestones albeit the former has little teeth, forcing it to perpetually look over the shoulder. Hopefully, an integrated Aerospace Command, Cyber Command and Special Operations Command will see the light of the day. However, in terms of the overall jointmanship paradigm of our military true jointmanship exists mainly within HQ IDS. Jointmanship in balance military is at an extremely nascent stage. Even HQ IDS, instead of merging with MoD as intended, has emerged akin to any Service HQ. The Group of Ministers (GoM) post Kargil Conflict had recommended integration of Service HQ into MoD with progressive decentralization of decision making powers and delegation of financial powers, which has not happened. As in British India, the defence secretary, not defence minister, continues to be responsible for India’s defence, and similarly the Services HQ continue as “attached offices”.

Lack of strategic forethought in the politico-bureaucratic dispensation and the higher defence set up sans military participation in national level decision making has had direct bearing on military integration and jointness. In 2004, prime minister Manmohan Singh stated at Unified Commanders Conference, “Reforms within the armed forces also involve recognition of the fact that our navy, air force and army can no longer function in compartments with exclusive chains of command and single service operational plans.” Immediately thereafter, HQ IDS ordered five comprehensive studies for establishment of joint commands, which were presented and analysed at HQ IDS with all three services represented at Director General Military Operations and equivalent levels. All agreed this was the much needed reorganisation, also indicating which joint commands should be Bi-Service (army-air force) and which should be Tri-Service. Thereafter, the issue got lost amid politico-bureaucratic inertia. With basic work for joint commands already in place, HQ IDS simply needs to be directed to review these recommendations in conjunction with the services in one-two months, then make a presentation to the defence minister, followed by one to the CCS presided over by the Prime Minister. There was never a need to take inspiration from China.

Going by media, a permanent chairman COSC (PC COSC) is in the offing, that too without operational powers. No military can have adequate capacity building and synergy, if overseen by a ‘committee’. The Kargil Review Committee and the follow up GoM reports had strongly recommended appointing a CDS. Latter report categorically stated, “The functioning of COSC has, to date, revealed serious weaknesses in its ability to provide single point military advice to the government, and resolve substantive inter-Service doctrinal, planning, policy and operational issues adequately. This institution needs to be appropriately revamped to discharge its responsibilities efficiently and effectively, including the facilitation of “jointness” and synergy among the Defence Services.” The hitherto unheard of Permanent Chairman COSC (PC COSC) was recommended by the Naresh Chandra Committee after Naresh Chandra was reportedly briefed by then NSA to pointedly make such recommendation. Manoj Joshi, also member of the Naresh Chandra Committee, later disclosed that Ministry of Defence did not want CDS because they thought that the defence secretary and his IAS colleagues will be “somehow diminished”. Can there be a more idiotic reason like ‘loss of turf’ for not appointing a CDS?

While establishing HQ IDS, bureaucracy also put on paper, “As and when a CDS is appointed, he will have equal voting rights as Service Chiefs and in case of disagreement by two Service Chiefs, arbitration will be done by MoD”. So, how can the CDS ever be a ‘single point’ adviser to the political authority? Within the military, we never have dissent notes by army commanders and equivalents, respective chiefs being the single voice for his service, so why this provision in case of CDS? Obviously the intent was to facilitates the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the bureaucracy. Whether we continue with rotational Chairman COSC or have a two-year permanent incumbent, both are toothless creations. Despite COSC and HQ IDS in place for over a decade, neither voice or data networks nor  radio communications of the three services are interoperable to desired degree. Each service develops networks on its own and starts thinking of interoperability later. Common standards and protocols, and unifying secrecy algorithm have not been evolved. Finalising and adoption of standards and protocols, mutually compatible database structures, development / deployment of interfaces between systems using disparate platforms and commonality of hardware are challenges which need to be overcome. There is absence of knowledge management. Collaborative working needs to be looked at closely, not only across the military but also within each service.

The battlefield of tomorrow requires Effect Based Operations (EBOs). EBOs which can only succeed if all components of national power are brought to bear, in turn implying that military must have full spectrum joint operations capability and an integrated approach at all levels of conflict. Efficient defence management calls for enhanced jointmanship that can contribute to optimum utilisation of the meagre resources by addressing in built redundancies in the process of force organization, equipping and establishing its support system. For all his, CDS is essential, including to set in motion fast-paced revolution in military affairs under directions of the Prime Minister.

US members of the Indo-US Defence Planning Group that first met in New Delhi post 9/11 wondered how the military functions in India with MoD sans military officers. As to reducing military manpower, particularly of army, two issues are involved. First, army’s counter-insurgency commitment may go up with burgeoning unemployment, accelerating population, and long gestation period before adequate jobs are created. The second, little understood, is that digitisation of military, especially army requires initial surge of manpower till across the board adequate technical expertise is developed. Arbitrary cutting down of manpower, if ordered, will have adverse effect on operational capabilities. The Modi government would do well to dispassionately consider the above issues. Urgent administrative reforms need to be pushed through despite bureaucratic stonewalling, without which any structures below MoD including joint commands will never achieve their full potential.

(The author is former Lieutenant General of Indian Army.)

Pakistan warns India, says 26/11 case will be delayed further if India doesn’t send witnesses

Lahore: With the last three hearings in the the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case being adjourned, Pakistani officials have warned that the trial, going on for six years, could face further delay if India does not send 24 Indian witnesses to Pakistan to record their statements.

“The hearing of the case is adjourned without any proceedings during the last three consecutive weeks (hearings) 6, 13 and 20 April, because the Pakistani government is still awaiting its counterpart’s response about sending (Indian) witnesses to Pakistan for recording statements in the case,” a court official said today.

He said the case may further be delayed if India does not send witnesses to Pakistan.

Pakistan has asked India to send all the 24 Indian witnesses to depose before the anti-terrorism court holding the Mumbai attack trial.

Representational image. Image courtesy: Firstpost

Representational image. Image courtesy: Firstpost

According to the prosecution, the trial court had completed recording the statements of all Pakistani witnesses in the case which has been underway in the country for more than six years.

“Now the ball is in India’s court. The Indian government should send all Indian witnesses of the Mumbai case to Pakistan to record their statements so that the trial could further move ahead,” a prosecution lawyer had said.

On the other hand, the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad has not yet announced its verdict on the application of prosecution requesting to make amendment in the charges against the suspects, including LeT Operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, in abetment to murder of each individual in the carnage.

The court which is holding the trial of the seven suspects in the Mumbai attack case last month had reserved the verdict after the prosecution and defence lawyers completed their arguments on (prosecution) plea that amendment in the charges against all the seven suspects in abetment to murder of each individual in the Mumbai attack should be made.

The prosecution had sought the amendment to the changes “for further strengthening the case against the suspects”.

It had pleaded for including the postmortem reports of those killed in the attack.

The prosecution said India should be asked to send the postmortem reports of each victim of the Mumbai terror attack while the defence lawyers opposed it.

Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum are accused of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the Mumbai attacks.

Lakhvi, believed to be the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, is living in undisclosed location after he was released from jail on a bail a year ago. The other six suspects are in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.

6.6 magnitude earthquake shakes Afghanistan, termors felt in North India, Pakistan

A strong earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, today struck the Hindukush mountain region in Afghanistan, ripples of which were felt in Pakistan and several parts of north India, including the national
capital.

The quake at a depth of 210 kilometres (130 miles) occurred at 2:58 pm (1028 GMT), 282 km northeast of the capital Kabul.

According to J L Gautam, Operations Head of National Centre for Seismology, “The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale at a depth of 190 km hit Hindukush mountain region at 3:58 PM.”

There were no immediate reports of any casualty.

According to National Centre for Seismology, the epicentre of earthquake is in Hindukush mountain range. CNN IBN

According to National Centre for Seismology, the epicentre of earthquake is in Hindukush mountain range. CNN IBN

In north India, tremors were felt in Jammu and Kashmir,Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana, besides Delhi. Delhi Metro services were also halted for few minutes.

The quake was felt for a few seconds in Kabul and in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, where some residents evacuated apartment blocks after tremors shook ceiling fans and furniture.

“People are on the streets now and we don’t know whether to go back inside,” said an AFP reporter in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar.

Last October a 7.5-magnitude quake ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing almost 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.

With inputs from PTI 

Assam Rifles inducts first batch of 100 women personnel

Assam Rifles has inducted the first batch of 100 women personnel, who were recruited from rallies all over the country, into the force.Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju on Thursday took the salute from the women recruits at their passing out parade held at the Assam Rifles Training Centre and School at Shokhuvi in Nagaland’s Dimapur district.A total of 212 recruits were part of the parade, of whom 100 of them were women.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Women are no less than men as they are also progressively contributing in all fields leading to development of the country,” Rijiju said while also calling upon the womenfolk to continue playing their role more effectively to make the nation rich and prosperous.He said while nothing appears easy in the initial stage, the training that they have gone through would help them stand firm against all circumstances and expressed gratitude to the parents and guardians of the recruits for preparing them and encouraging them to contribute to the nation.Stating that North East is a “strategic” area and its security is of paramount importance, he said the Assam Rifles are playing a “stellar” role in this regard.He assured the personnel of the force that the government is “aware” of their problems and will take care of them.The new recruits will be posted in various battalions of the force for search, frisking and interrogation of women when required, disperse female mob/crowd control and tackle agitations involving women agitators, an Assam Rifles official said.They would be employed at Mobile Check Posts (MCP) and road opening operations apart from Cordon And Search Operation (CASO), Relief and Rescue Operations during communal and natural calamities and help in dealing with women over ground workers/protesters so as to avoid violation of human rights and project a clean image of the force.

Concerns mount for security forces after Maoists acquire advanced tech to trigger off IEDs

New Delhi: The Maoists have acquired a new level of advanced technology to set off Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which has left the security forces operating in the left-wing extremist areas worried. An alert sent by the Operations Directorate of the Border Security Force says that the Maoists have now got the know-how of using remote or combination of switches in IEDs that enables them to target security forces with utmost precision.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The BSF was alarmed by first such incident in January this year when an IED blast led to the death of its two personnel in Odisha’s Dandabari village, close to Chhattisgarh. About 20 BSF troops were returning on 10 motorcycles on the night of 7 January after tracking a group of Maoists when an IED set by Maoists blew up the first motorcycle carrying deputy commandant Sunil Behera and constable Sibasis Panda. After a thorough search of the site, the BSF troops found no wire on the either side of the road that is usually used by the Maoists to trigger off the IED from a safe distance.

After ten days, an operations party of the BSF conducted further searches in the area and recovered a black antenna unit normally used in two-wheeler’s anti-theft alarm system. The unit manufactured by a Coimbatore-based company, Roots Auto, was connected with two 6 volts battery on one side and with the IED on the other side. The recovery, says the alert, confirmed the use of remote along with combination of switches. The two switches are for “arming” and “firing”. In this case, the condition of the motorcycle suggested that the IED blasted when the motorcycle was exactly on top of the IED. The Maoists had switched the IED on by “arming” it with a remote just before the motorcycle arrived and the subsequent pressure led to the activation of “firing” switch, leading to the blast.

In another recovery, the BSF recovered a similar unit with number “128” on it, suggesting that many such switches had been assembled. The BSF alert has recommended that a special drive be conducted to train security forces about the new technology. It also says that while searching for IEDs, the troops should look out for antennas, especially those used in automobiles, toys and home appliances.

The achievement of new sophistication in IEDs acquires more significance in the wake of recent intelligence inputs that the Maoists have decided to target security forces through such blasts rather than using its cadre for guerrilla warfare. In the last three months in Bastar alone, the Maoists have carried out around three-dozen IED blasts. This change in the Maoist strategy has been attributed to increased security operations in left-wing extremist areas, leading to a significant reduction in the striking capability of the Maoists.

Kolkata flyover tragedy: Police makes four more arrests in connection with collapse

Kolkata Police arrested four more officials of the IVRCL, the Hyderabad-based construction company which was building the flyover that collapsed on Thursday.The police arrested Gopal Krishna Murti, Director Operations, SK Ratnam, Deputy General Manager Projects and engineers Shyamal Manna and Bidyut Manna.With this arrest, the total number of arrests in connection with the Vivekananda flyover collapse has reached eight.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The police had earlier arrested Tanmoy Sil of AGM Projects, IVRCL, from Burdwan when he was trying to flee and three other officials— Mallika Arjun, senior AGM, Pradip Kumar Saha, Manager Structural VRF and Debojyoti Majumdar, Assistant Manager Administration.While investigating the case, the police had come across several offices of IVRCL, which they later sealed. Three offices belonging to the construction company located at Kasba, Anandapur and Beadon Street were sealed. A guest house at Salt Lake registered under the name of the company was also sealed.A portion of a Vivekananda flyover near Ganesh Talkies in Girish Park collapsed on Thursday afternoon leaving as many as 26 dead and over 150 people injured.

26/11 Mumbai attacks: Petition filed to include postmortem reports

The prosecution in the Mumbai attacks case on Sunday filed a fresh petition in a Pakistani anti- terrorism court to amend charges against the seven accused of banned LeT by including the postmortem reports of the 166 victims of the 2008 terror attack. “The prosecution has filed an application in the Anti- Terrorism Court Islamabad with regard to amendment in the charges against the seven accused of banned LeT. Since the (seven) suspects are already facing abetment to murder, the inclusion of postmortem reports of 166 victims of the Mumbai attacks is necessary in the charges,” a court official said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The official said Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum are accused of abetment to murder, attempted murder, and planning and executing the terror attacks on India’s financial capital on November 26, 2008. The official said the court has issued a notice to the defence lawyers for arguments in the next hearing. The court office will fix the next date of hearing as coming Wednesday (March 23) is a public holiday in connection with Pakistan Day. The Mumbai case hearing is usually held every Wednesday.In the last hearing on March 16, the prosecution told the trial court that Pakistan was waiting for a reply from the Indian government about sending (Indian) witnesses to Pakistan for recording of their statements. The foreign ministry of Pakistan has written to the Indian government asking it to send all 24 Indian witnesses to Pakistan for recording statements in the trial court. Earlier, Prosecution Chief Chaudhry Azhar said that the trial court had already completed recording the statements of all (Pakistani) witnesses in the case which has been underway in the country for more than six years.”Now the ball is in India’s court. The Indian government should send all Indian witnesses of the Mumbai case to Pakistan to record their statements so that the trial could further move ahead,” he had said.Last month, the trial court had ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to present all 24 Indian witnesses (in the court) to record their statements. It had also ordered to bring the boat(s) used by Ajmal Kasab as it is a case property and should be duly examined. Lakhvi, the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, is living at a undisclosed location after getting released from jail on bail in April last year.The other six suspects are in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi.

JNU, DU students in touch with Kashmiri extremists, says senior Maharashtra police officer

In the midst of the raging JNU row, a senior police officer from Maharashtra on Tuesday claimed that the probe conducted so far into arrested DU professor G N Saibaba’s alleged Maoist links, has found that both DU and JNU have a large number of Left-wing radical students, who are in touch with Kashmiri extremists groups.Ravindra Kadam, Inspector General of Anti-Naxalite Operations, Nagpur range, said this while talking to a Marathi news channel in Gadchiroli on Tuesday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Based on the investigation we have carried out so far in connection with Saibaba’s Maoist links, we have come to know that both, Delhi University (DU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), have large number of students, who have been influenced by radical Left wing ideology, who talk about revolution through violence,” Kadam said.”We have so far found that those who help in anti-national activities or those who talk about dividing the country, especially some active members of Kashmiri extremist groups, have been in touch with these students from both the universities,” he added.The senior officer further claimed that Saibaba used to guide the members of students’ unions in DU and JNU, who are aligned with Maoist ideologies.”One such activist Hem Mishra, whom Saibaba had tutored, had tried to carry his coded messages saved in microchips to Gadchiroli, where he was caught…Mishra was a past JNU student and he used to work as radical/revolutionary cultural friends in the university (as a cover for his naxal related activities), where he had met Saibaba. Saibaba had created a number of such radical students. One of them was Rituparna Goswami from Guwahati in Assam. He has completed PhD from JNU and is currently active in underground Maoist activities with a new name ‘Navin’. He is called as a ‘professional revolutionary’. He works as a coordinator between the urban organisations and the underground naxal network,” Kadam further claimed.”He is very close to Maoist leader Ganapathy,” Kadam said.

GNLA militant killed in encounter in Meghalaya

A Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militant, wanted for kidnapping a block development officer last year, was on Saturday killed in an encounter with the security forces in Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district, police said. Acting on intelligence inputs, Swift Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) commandos of the state police raided a makeshift camp of GNLA. As the commandos approached the camp they were fired upon, police said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In retaliatory fire, one of the militants who was in the camp was shot dead and another got shot in his arms. The deceased has been identified as Kandem, known to be an expert in assembling IEDs, IG (Operations) G H P Raju said. A shot gun was recovered from the site of the encounter and an operation is on to find his aide, identified as Chondro, and sanitise the area, he said. Kandem is suspected to have engineered the IED attack at a busy market in Williamnagar last week, the officer said.He was also responsible for the kidnapping of Jude Rangku T Sangma, a BDO in South Garo Hills’ Chokpot last October and the most wanted armed cadre of the outfit, Raju said. The GNLA, formed in 2010, has been active in all five Garo Hills districts and named in various cases of kidnapping, extortion and killing of both civilians and security forces.

Encounter between Maoists and security personnel in Ghatsila

Acting on a tip off, security personnel comprised of East District district Armed police force and CRPF reached the spot when the encounter ensued early morning, said Superintendent of Police (Operations), Sunil Kumar Burnwal. An encounter has taken place between the security personnel and CPI(Maoists) at Dangra Pahar under Gorabandha police station limits in the Ghatsila sub-division in the wee hours today, the police said.Acting on a tip off, security personnel comprised of East District district Armed police force and CRPF reached the spot when the encounter ensued early morning, said Superintendent of Police (Operations), Sunil Kumar Burnwal. The police was informed about the presence of Maoist leader Kanu Munda, who was a Secretary of the Jharkhand-Bihar-Bengal Regional Committee and wanted in several Maoist-related incidents, Burnwal said adding the encounter took place near the native village of Munda.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jharkhand government has already announced a reward on the head of Munda. However, no causality was reported as the Maoists made a hasty retreat. A massive search operation has been launched following the encounter to apprehend the ultras, he added.

Pathankot attack: PM Narendra Modi to visit air base station today, security tightened

The meeting was attended by Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, National Security Advisor Naseer Khan Janjua, DG ISI, Foreign Secretary and DG Military Operations among others, reported Radio Pakistan.

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