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    Policeman, 4 IS militants killed in Kashmir gunfight

    ENCOUNTER More than 20 civilians injured in clashes with the police

    SRINAGAR: Four militants suspected to be running a local module of the Islamic State (IS), a policeman and a civilian were killed in Nowshera village of Anantnag district on Friday in the first encounter between militants and security forces since Jammu and Kashmir came under Governor’s Rule two days ago.

    WASEEM ANDRABI/HTJammu and Kashmir DGP SP Vaid (R) carrying the coffin of policeman Habibullah who died on Friday. He was critically injured in a militant attack in the J&K capital last week. (Right) A police officer comforts the wife of the slain cop.

    More than 20 civilians were injured in clashes between the police and local residents that erupted in the neighbourhood. The local villagers were trying to break a police cordon to help the militants escape.

    All four militants, including the leader of the module Dawood Sofi, were locals who, the police said, were inspired by the ideology of the IS. It is the first time the local police have admitted that members of a militants’ module inspired by IS ideology had been killed in any operation.

    Jammu and Kashmir director general of police, SP Vaid, said that the militants used to post on a website of the IS information about any attack they carried out on J&K police or the Central Reserve Police Force in J&K.

    “The IS has no infrastructure in Kashmir. This group was headed by Dawood Sofi; earlier they were affiliated with Tahreek-ul-Mujahideen. In our records they were the only four (remaining IS-inspired) militants present in Kashmir,’’ he said, adding that a few of its members had died in an encounter in the past. “This group had carried out many attacks on the police and the CRPF.’’

    Governor NN Vohra took charge of the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday, a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) walked out from its alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party, forcing chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to resign.

    On Friday morning, after receiving credible information about the presence of the militants in Khiram area of Sirigufwara in Anantnag, a search was launched by a joint team of the army, CRPF and J&K police.

    As they advanced towards a house where the militants were suspected to be holed up, gunmen inside opened fire, hitting policeman Ashiq Hussain and a civilian, Mohammad Yousuf Rather, 53, and his wife. Hussain and Rather died of their injuries.

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    4 ‘IS’ men among 6 killed in Valley Cop, villager die too; militants ‘inspired by Islamic State ideology’

    4 ‘IS’ men among 6 killed in Valley

    Residents shift to safer places after an encounter at Srigufwara in Anantnag district on Friday. Photo: Amin War

    Suhail A Shah &

    Majid Jahangir

    Tribune News Service

    Anantnag/Srinagar, June 22

    Four radicalised militants, a policeman and a civilian were among six killed in an early morning encounter at Nowshehra village of Srigufwara in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Friday. The dead included 33-year-old Dawood Ahmed Sofi, “commander of the Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK)”.The J&K Police claim the four slain militants were “inspired by IS ideology” and had been active for the past few months. This is the first time that the police have admitted to “IS-inspired militants” operating in Kashmir.“All four were inspired by Islamic State ideology. The IS has no infrastructure or cadre here,” J&K Police chief Shesh Paul Vaid told The Tribune. However, IS-linked Amaq News Agency called the slain militants “soldiers of Islamic State”.Earlier this year, the Government of India had denied IS’ presence in Kashmir.The encounter broke out around 6 am when a cordon and search operation was launched after inputs about the presence of militants in Srigufwara. The gunfight continued till late afternoon.“As a joint patrol moved towards a suspected house, terrorists hiding inside opened fire, injuring a policeman and a civilian, both of whom succumbed to their injuries,” a police official said.The slain policeman has been identified as Ashiq Hussain, and the civilian, who owned the house, as Muhammad Yousuf Rather. Rather’s wife Rafeeqa Begum was also injured and admitted to a Srinagar hospital.Besides Dawood, a resident of Srinagar, the three slain militants were identified as Majid Manzoor Dar of Pulwama, Adil Rehman Bhat and Muhammad Ashraf Ittoo, both from Anantnag in south Kashmir.“Dawood was initially known to be affiliated with the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM) terror outfit. This terror gang was active on the social media and targeted policemen on duty. Their social media profiles and inputs indicate they were inspired by the IS ideology,” the police spokesman said.A police officer said the slain militants were planning strikes and to carry out recruitment in south Kashmir.Around 20 people were injured as clashes erupted between locals and security forces near the encounter site. Clashes were also reported in Srinagar.

    9 security men injured in Tral

    Militants attacked a security forces party in volatile Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district that left at least nine of them injured.The incident took place at about 3.20 pm.Police said militants fired upon the security forces when they were handling law and order in the area.“Terrorists lobbed a grenade, followed by firing on the security forces from a crowd when they were busy with law and order duties on Tral road resulting in injuries to the nine security personnel,” a police spokesman said.He said security forces exercised maximum restraint after being attacked to prevent any civilian casualties.Militant group Hizbul Mujahideen owned the responsibility for the attack.
    Cop succumbs to injuriesA J&K policeman who was injured in a militant attack in Srinagar last week succumbed to his injuries on Friday.Head Constable Habibullah, a resident of north Kashmir, was injured in a militant attack at Karan Nagar locality on June 15 that also left another cop and three civilians injured.Habibullah, the lone bread-earner of the family, is survived by three daughters, two sons besides wife and aged parents. His elder daughter’s marriage was scheduled next week.Meanwhile, civil and police officers led by Director General of Police SP Vaid laid floral wreaths on the mortal remains of the two cops who died on Friday.


    VVIP chopper scam: Italy refuses to extradite middleman Gerosa

    VVIP chopper scam: Italy refuses to extradite middleman Gerosa

    Gerosa was one of the three alleged middlemen wanted in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland choppers deal case. File photo

    New Delhi, June 22

    In a major setback to investigation agencies, Italy refused to extradite Carlo Gerosa, an alleged middleman in AgustaWestland bribery scandal, saying it did not have any mutual legal assistance treaty with India.

    After the recent development, the CBI approached the External Affairs Ministry, citing provisions under which he could be extradited to India even in the absence of legal assistance treaty between the two countries, sources said.

    Carlo Valentino Ferdinando Gerosa (71), an Italian and Swiss national, was believed to be a key player in the bribery scandal as the process of manipulating the specifications for VVIP helicopter deal allegedly started after a meeting between him and cousins of former IAF chief S P Tyagi, they said.

    Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice against Gerosa, they said.

    He was apprehended by authorities in Italy on the basis of the RCN in connection with its money-laundering probe in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case.

    Gerosa was one of the three alleged middlemen wanted in this case and his interrogation and statement was very important for both the ED and the CBI who were probing the case.

    On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore for securing the deal.

    It was alleged that the three middlemen, Gerosa, Guido Haschke and Christian Michel, “managed to” make inroads into the IAF in order to influence and subvert its stand regarding reducing the service ceiling of helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m in 2005 after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.

    The ED and the CBI had also issued Letters Rogatory to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidence in this case.

    Letters Rogatory are requests issued by courts on the request of an investigation agency when it wants information from another country. PTI


    Border forces against women in harsh areas

    Vijay Mohan

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, June 22

    While the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has advised the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to increase the percentage of women personnel in their rank and file, some of the border guarding forces have expressed reservations over deploying women in high-altitude posts and other hard areas.At present, women personnel form just a little above 2 per cent of the CAPFs strength. The MHA had earlier asked the CAPFs to increase the percentage of women to 5 per cent. Later, considering the increased demand for women personnel in tackling law and order situations, the MHA issued directions to reserve 33 per cent posts at the constable level in the Central Reserve Police Force and the Central Industrial Security Force and 14-15 per cent in border guarding forces like the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP), Border Security Force (BSF) and Shashtra Seema Bal (SSB).Pointing out that roughly 64 per cent of border outposts (BOPs) are still not connected by road, the ITBP has maintained that fixing a percentage for border guarding forces for recruitment of women in general duty (GD) cadre would pose a number of problems regarding their deployment, accommodation and other facilities in far-flung, cut-off, isolated border areas.“ITBP apprehends that even if provisions are made to recruit women, it may be very difficult for them to find willing women for the GD cadre and bring the percentage of women to five per cent,” a report tabled in April states. ITBP is responsible for guarding the mountainous border with China, where it has posts at altitude up to 21,000 feet.The BSF, which has 62 battalions deployed in extremely harsh areas, including the Line of Control and anti-Naxal operations, has stated that it is not desirable to induct women for these battalions, though services of women in 111 battalions deployed in normal areas can prove useful.Their strength

    • 25,799 is the total strength of women personnel in Central Armed Police Forces
    • 8,303 is the highest number of women personnel in CISF
    • 7,607 women personnel are in CRPF, followed by 5,138 in the BSF
    • 2,040 are in SSB and 1,956 in ITBP. Many of them are deployed in border guarding roles

    Military base jolt as Seychelles Prez arrives

    Military base jolt as Seychelles Prez arrives

    A boy walks past a hoarding featuring PM Narendra Modi and Seychelles President Danny Faure in Ahmedabad on Friday. PTI

    Smita Sharma

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, June 22

    Seychelles President Danny Faure arrived in Gujarat on Friday evening even as it became clear that the proposal for a joint military base in the remote coral Assumption Islands will not find its way into the archipelago nation’s parliament for ratification.On a six-day visit, Faure will be in Delhi on Monday when he will be accorded a ceremonial reception before holding official talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Earlier, President Faure was quoted by the local media as saying the Assumption Island issue will not be discussed with PM Modi. However, Indian sources suggest the matter is on the table for quiet discussions, though public pressure will not be mounted to allow Seychelles to sort out its own domestic politics.The agreement involves India investing $550m to build a military base to be shared by both countries for up to 30 years. Following public protests on grounds of sovereignty and environmental concerns, the deal was revised on January 27 to clarify issues such as prohibition of nuclear use on the island as well as not allowing India to use the base in war. Yet opposition persists, leaving the minority government with its hands tied.“The government will not present the agreement to the National Assembly (parliament) for approval because Opposition members (who are in majority) have already said they will not ratify it,” Seychelles Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Barry Faure told Reuters just ahead of Faure’s India visit.“Hence the question of whether the agreement has been cancelled or not does arise — we will simply not take it to the Assembly,” he added.New Delhi wants to ensure safety of its vessels in southern Indian Ocean and increase strategic presence in waters as China expands its maritime footprint with its new overseas military base in Djibouti.


    Army orders force restructuring

    Army orders force restructuring

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, June 22

    The Army has issued a formal order that looks to re-cast, right-size and restructure the officer cadre so as to make it ready for future battles. There are around 39,000 officers in the Army.A high-level committee headed by the Military Secretary—a Lieut General rank officer—has been tasked to study all aspects and submit a report by November-end. A “convening order” for cadre restructuring has been issued by Vice-Chief of the Army Lt Gen Devraj Anbu.The Tribune was the first to report in its edition dated June 13 that Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had okayed cadre restructuring. The “convening order” issued on June 18 lays down terms of reference for the committee.The recommendations of the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee (AVSC) will be kept in mind. The report submitted by former Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh was accepted in 2004.The committee will make projections for futuristic growth and consequent manpower requirements.“The cadre-review exercise should not be misconstrued as a process of up-gradation of posts, or increase in number of higher ranks or be driven by competitive pressure from other services,” says the order.Futuristic projections should form the basis for induction and reduction of officers. An existing study on rightsizing will be considered. The committee will also “examine and identify likely areas for reduction, with focus on the base (entry level)”, says the order.At present, upward cadre mobility of Colonel is slow. The committee has been asked to review existing Corps and even suggest a merger. The Army wants segregation of combat and administrative manpower needs. It is also looking to empower jawans and identify posts on which they can be promoted. The issue of officers who get overlooked at the level of Lieut Colonel (about 36-37 years of age), but continue in service till 54 years of age, will also be addressed.The committee will also suggest what should be the ratio of short-service commissioned officers, who will leave after serving for 10-14 years.The review comes amid rising wage bills. In the ongoing fiscal (ending March 31, 2019), the Army salary bill is budgeted at Rs 80,945 crore and the pension bill at Rs 95,949 crore. In contrast, the modernisation budget is Rs 26,688 crore.For futuristic growth

    • A committee has been tasked to study all aspects as regards restructuring the officer cadre and submit a report by November-end
    • The panel will also make projections for futuristic growth and consequent manpower requirements

    Army operations remain the same by Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd)

    Army operations remain the same

    The rules of engagement should consider political, legal and moral parameters.

    Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd)

    Former Northern Command chief

    SOON after the BJP pulled out of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and the state was put under Governor’s rule, reports started appearing in the media that the forces, including the Army, would now be given a free hand and that counter-terror operations would intensify.  The Director-General of Police, SP Vaid, remarked that under Governor’s rule it would be “much easier to work.”This talk of the Army now being given a free hand in Kashmir raises the troubling question of whether changes in the political dispensation at the level of the state impact on the manner in which the Army conducts its operations. The answer is an unequivocal “No”. While the overall strategy is obviously a joint politico-military exercise, this strategy is executed with complete freedom being given to local commanders. This has always been the case and politics does not intrude in this. The Army Chief was quick to point this out when he stated, “The imposing of Governor’s Rule will not affect our operations. Our operations will go on like they used to. We don’t face any political interference.” Are we likely to see a shift in military strategy in Kashmir? This is again unlikely. The Indian Army has decades of experience in dealing with internal conflicts and its doctrine reflects a deep understanding of how such conflicts play out. The Indian Army Doctrine for Sub Conventional Operations states, “Such a campaign demands that all military operations are people centric and conducted in a manner that generates a groundswell for peace and creates redundancy of the terrorists in the environment. Therefore, the rules of engagement have to be formulated imaginatively in the backdrop of political, legal and moral parameters. It must always be remembered that populace constitutes the centre of gravity of such operations and, therefore, winning of their hearts and minds is central to all our efforts during conflict management and resolution.”The Army’s operations in Jammu and Kashmir are aimed at creating a secure environment so that all functions of governance can be carried out without fear. This obviously means that terrorists operating within the state have to be hunted down and neutralised. This is more important today than ever before. With the political process suspended, the primary task of the security forces is to create such conditions that elections can be held peacefully as soon as practically feasible. Another important pillar of the Army’s strategy is the “winning of hearts and minds”. This term is often misunderstood. It does not mean appeasement or pandering to anti-nationals. The best explanation is perhaps given by David Kilcullen in Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency, in which he advises young officers, “Hearts means persuading people their best interests are served by your success. ‘Minds’ means convincing them that you can protect them, and that resisting you is pointless. Note that neither concept has to do with whether people like you.” The key is to build trust with the local population. They must see the Army as a force that provides them security and one that operates with impartiality and discipline. If there is lack of trust and faith, the population will align itself against the government. This is the principle on which the Army carries out its people-centric operations in Kashmir.The current spell of Governor’s rule provides an opportunity to stem the deterioration in the internal security situation, but no quick miracles should be expected. The Army’s strategy in Kashmir has proved successful, and on many occasions, brought the state to near normalcy. If any change in approach is required, it is in looking beyond the military sphere. 


    Fake videos on social media ‘wrongly’ project Army in Kashmir

    Fake videos on social media ‘wrongly’ project Army in Kashmir

    Some of these videos are not even shot in India, but are nowadays being passed-off as new ‘policy’ in Kashmir. The preferred mode of transmission is to send these videos through WhatsApp.

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, June 23

    It’s literally a ‘war’ on social media, and unwittingly Indians have been forwarding fake and morphed videos showing ‘strong action’ by the Army in Kashmir.Some of these videos are not even shot in India, but are nowadays being passed-off as new ‘policy’ in Kashmir. The preferred mode of transmission is to send these videos through WhatsApp.Indian security establishment sees such fake videos showing ‘strong action’ as propaganda from across Pakistan which is eyeing to use these videos to dis-credit the Indian Army. The United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC) is at present in its 38th session in Geneva.Many videos of the Army bringing down houses, mishandling people and dragging terrorists have emerged in the past one week. All of them are fake, top sources have said.These videos are a soft and oblique way to spread a false narrative of human rights violations like houses being pulled down, sources said.Nothing has changed for the Indian Army and its operations either during ceasefire declaration (May 17 to June 16) or after its withdrawal. Some of these videos are not even of India and are morphed or interpolated.Last week, a UN report on Kashmir was rejected by the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs terming it as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”.


    NOTE BY THE FIRST MD OF ECHS.* *MUST BE CIRCULATED WIDELY.*

     I was the first MD ECHS. Have read the recent exchange of correspondence and that the RM (I believe) had ordered a study by CDM. On the face of it, there’s no harm if work study experts can bring in positive change and iron out some kinks and aberrations that may have developed over the years. In any case a 10 year revaluation & re-assessment is mandatory. The pensioner ESM (including widows & family members) strength has grown from around 23 lakhs during my time to around 70 lakhs now.
        ECHS has intrinsically no structural flaws and is one of the best medical support systems in the world for pensioner ESM. I should know because I did a study of UKs HMO and of the US Veteran Health Care system – visited latters’ centers in California, and had meetings with their administrators. The idea was to compare ours with theirs, and whether we could come up with an inter-Defence Services/inter-Govt arrangement for reciprocal treatment of our pensioner ESM residing in USA. Did not fructify because of reservations of MoD.
        Anyhow, leaving that aside, let me address current concerns that ECHS may be cash strapped, or that MoD could curtail amount of treatment of an individual etc. If, what is stated in the Study paper for CDM is reflective of govt mindset, then MoD is heading down a slippery and dangerous path. There are many other issues I could comment on but, for want of time & space, will restrict my response.
        It is obvious that neither MoD nor the Central Org has studied the original CCS paper under which ECHS was raised, nor indeed comprehended the assurances of then-PM Vajpayee and RM/FM Jaswant Singh, who categorically stated, “This scheme is given to pensioner ESMs as the nations gratitude for their selfless service to the country. The scheme shall never be found wanting for money – my Govt is committed to providing whatever funds are needed now or in the future”, or words to that effect. Get them to dig up these papers. ECHS was sanctioned on 01 April 2003, after overcoming stiff resistance by babu lok of the MoD and MoF; we have to thank Mr Jaswant Singh for almost having to issue a diktat to the Fin Secy to issue the DGL on 01 April 2003! Just for information, ECHS was finalized after detailed study (1988 – 2003) of more than six different alternatives.
       We therefore, need to protect & nurture it, and prevent any manipulation of its charter/medical cover by the executive; Pensioner ESM must hold Govt accountable to its word. While RM may order any number of studies to streamline the working etc, she has NO authority to increase subscriptions, nor curtail “Demand on Accounts” to provide for ECHS services, without referring it to Cabinet and/or CCS. To my knowledge, there never was, nor is, any shortage of funds. ADG FP factors-in ECHS demands in his annual planning – so why is this rumour being spread. ECHS contributions go into the “Consolidated Fund of India”, and are not used to fund/run the scheme – latter is run on allocation of funds in the annual Defense Budget.
       As regards the contentious issue of new Cards, it appears there’s more than meets the eye. Existing cards of 16 & 32kb have NOT even utilized 10% of their capacity, so am surprised at this introduction of a 64 kb card – it too will probably land up with unutilised capacity. Question is, will we need to replace this with a 128 kb card a few years down the line? It is up to the MD ECHS to take stock of ESM concerns and do what is best for the overall community.
          I trust RM understands that, if provisions of the scheme are diluted in any manner, pensioner anger may blow over, because of ineptness of her DESW.
    Regards.

     


    How to make the defence ministry fighting fit

    The scholarly attributes and experience of Army personnel can add value to the defence sector

    The government’s announcement of lateral absorption of experts in ten government departments at the level of joint secretary shows that fresh talent, from a pool other than that of the IAS, is being given a chance at nation building. Its success depends on two factors. First, with how much zeal the bureaucrats will oppose the proposal and put a spanner in the works; second, whether qualified middle-aged professionals are willing to give up their well paying jobs that come with decision-making and financial powers that exceed what a joint secretary has. However, the ministry of defence has been left out from the list of ministries that require outside talent. Unless of course the IAS officers in MoD are experts in matters military. Could uniformed personnel, who are military experts in the real sense, be good lateral inductees into MoD at a decision-making level?

    VINAY SANTOSH KUMAR/HINDUSTAN TIMES■ Wouldn’t it be better to have a military man advising the defence secretary?

    After the China debacle in 1962, there was a virtual emergency in the recruitment in the officer cadre of the armed forces. Some of them left the Services early, entered the civil services through their regular entrance exams and rose to head ministries as secretaries in Delhi. This was the last that time there was a true systematic lateral absorption from the forces. Subsequently, to keep a younger age profile in the military, many committees recommended lateral moves into the civil services and central police forces. The ethos of discipline, diligence and military professionalism would enrich these entities no end, these committees felt. But, nothing like that has happened due to vested interests and petty politics, with the expertise going waste. To give an example, when the first test pilot on the LCA Tejas fighter programme left the project, since, for lateral absorption into the DRDO, he was given only the equivalent status of a Wing Commander and not one that recognised his unique expertise. But, we are willing to pay millions to foreigners as technical consultants. In 2011, two serving Air Vice Marshals, one looking after IAF helicopter operations and the other in charge of their technical maintenance, applied for lateral induction as CEO of Pawan Hans Helicopters. These two had spent the better part of 35 years each in IAF’s helicopter stream but were not even called for an interview.

    Wouldn’t it be better to have a military man advising the defence secretary? It is time that the scholarly attributes of uniformed personnel got their due — like Gen McMaster, a serving officer, who was America’s National Security Adviser. To quote Niti Aayog chairman Amitabh Kant, who rightly argues for a reverse lateral movement of civil servants into private sector saying “… cross mobility will provide the ultimate synergy;” a move of IAS officers to field formations and the headquarters of the armed forces will make them ideal candidates for a return to the MoD and form the spine of a permanent sub-cadre in this crucial ministry. Only then will one see the MoD and Service headquarters functioning as a well-oiled team. Lateral induction from the Services at the joint and additional secretary level to the MoD must be part of this laudable government move.