Sanjha Morcha

Antony seeks JPC on Rafale, counters Sitharaman

Antony seeks JPC on Rafale, counters Sitharaman

Former Defence Minister AK Anthony (right) and Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala address a press conference at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18

Former Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday reiterated the Congress demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe in the Rafale jet deal and accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of leveling false allegations on him in the matter.

Antony said the BJP Government had jeopardised national security by being unable to procure the Rafale aircraft in time despite citing emergency purchase for the April 10, 2015 direct deal with the French Government.

He also said Sitharaman had tarnished the reputation of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited nationally and internationally by saying it did not have the ability to manufacture 108 Rafale jets in India.

On Sitharaman’s previous charge that Antony had delayed the procurement of the jets despite the deal being ready in UPA times, the former Defence Minister said the accusation was “unfair”.

“The Finance Ministry at the time had objections to the life cycle cost approach concept, which was new and I told them to take the matter to the Cabinet Committee on Security. A senior BJP member also wrote to me at the time and I as minister acted with responsibility by referring the issue to the CCS,” Antony said at a press conference today.

He accused Nirmala Sitharaman of suppression of facts and said BJP’s claim that 36 jets negotiated with the French government in 2015 were cheaper was false.

“If the deal was indeed cheaper why did the BJP Government not negotiate for all 126 aircraft and why only 36?” asked Antony.

He then said the Modi Government had claimed emergency purchased as the reason behind scrapping the UPA time deal and negotiating a new deal.

“The first aircraft will be delivered by September 2019 and the 36 jets by September 2020. All the 126 aircraft are not arriving before 2030. So where is the urgency clause now?” Antony asked.

He also accused the Government of undermining the prestige of HAL by saying it cannot make the aircraft in India.

“If there is any firm that can make the aircraft it is HAL,” Antony said.

Asked by The Tribune whether the Congress planned to move the Central Vigilance Commission against the Rafle deal, Antony said the first demand of the party was the JPC.

The Congress added that at an appropriate time it will also petition the CVC and CAG to fulfill their “constitutional obligation of looking into the Rafale deal on their own”.

 


Encounter between security forces and militants on Jammu-Srinagar highway

Encounter between security forces and militants on Jammu-Srinagar highway

Gunshots were heard in th area. File photo

Amir Tantray

Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 12

There was an encounter between security forces and militants in Jajhar Kotli area in Jammu district on the Jammu-Srinagar highway on Wednesday.unshots were heard in th area.

The Jammu SSP said militants were intercepted and they fired on the security forces


Why Modi govt & Army picked this general to protect borders with China & Pakistan

Lt. Gen. Joshi was not only a hero in the 1999 Kargil war but is also a veteran when it comes to dealing with China.

New Delhi: Soldier-diplomat Lt Gen. Yogesh Kumar Joshi assumed charge of a crucial Army corps covering borders with both China and Pakistan over the weekend – a selection that indicates the importance the Modi government attaches to the sensitive region less than a year before general elections.

All choices for corps commanders are carefully studied before the appointments are made.

Yet, in choosing Joshi to command the 14 Corps, Army Headquarters and the government have selected an officer of outstanding merit who was not only a hero in the 1999 Kargil war but who also went on to deal with China in subsequent tenures, and is an expert on India’s eastern neighbour.

The 14 Corps, also known as the ‘Fire and Fury Corps’ was raised as a consequence of the Kargil War.


Also read: One year after Doklam, China intrudes again — in Ladakh


The frontage of Joshi’s Corps, headquartered in Leh, extends from the Drass-Mashkoh-Tiger Hill area where he fought in 1999 as a Lt. Colonel, through Kargil in the west, passing through Batalik and Turtok – all along the Line of Control in western Ladakh.

It includes the 78-km-long Siachen Glacier before turning south and east into the eastern Karakorams, covering Daulat Beg Oldi, the Chushul Valley including the Pangong Tso lake, the Spanggur Gap right up to Demchok and the Tso Moriri Lake near the border with Himachal Pradesh in the south of eastern Ladakh.

An expert on China

The uniqueness that Joshi brings to his office is not only his knowledge of the Chinese language. He also commanded a brigade and a division in the area.

Just before taking over as the General Officer Commanding the ‘Fire and Fury’ Corps, Joshi was Director General, Infantry, at Army Headquarters.

Joshi was Defence Attache to China (2005-2008) and negotiated the technicalities of the first India-China joint exercise “Hand-in-Hand” in Kunming in 2007. In Kunming that year he told this correspondent at the inauguration: “This is a beginning, let us see where this (India-China joint exercises) goes.”

He handled two sensitive positions on the China desk at the Directorate-General of Military Operations subsequently, cutting through patrolling disputes in Chumar and Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldi in Eastern Ladakh, and then giving inputs to resolve last year’s 72-day Doklam stand-off.

“Be assured that General Joshi is being specially appointed keeping the complexities of China-Pak relations in Ladakh and his experience and success with both of them,” a source in the defence ministry told ThePrint.


Also read: China builds defences in PoK territory India claims, carries out joint patrols with Pakistan


One of these complexities is a recent joint patrol by Chinese and Pakistani armies in the vicinity of the Khunjerab Pass; the other is that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that overrides Indian interests passing through territories claimed by New Delhi, is now getting into an intensive phase with more Chinese deployments in territories under Pakistani control.

There are also vulnerabilities that get exploited from time to time, a recent one in June-July was at Demchok where suspected PLA soldiers intruded as graziers.

Next Army chief?

“Outstanding soldier, military leader. Did extremely well as CO (commanding officer) 13 JAK Rif during Kargil. Had a great career thereafter…heartfelt congratulations and best wishes,” General V.P. Malik (retired), who was the Army chief during the Kargil operations, tweeted on learning of Joshi’s appointment.

At one point during the war, Joshi, commanding his unit, the 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (13 JAK Rif), took over a gun emplacement from a nervous young soldier and began firing himself. In the Bollywood movie LOC Kargil that was subsequently made, his character, essayed by Sanjay Dutt, was known as “Jo”.

Joshi could be in the reckoning as the Army chief after General Bipin Rawat’s scheduled tenure ends in December 2019. But, as Rawat’s appointment has shown, the Centre does not go by seniority or by mere convention in choosing service heads. The Modi government executes its political prerogative to make senior appointments.


Navy needs minesweeper ships urgently, left with only two: Official

Navy needs minesweeper ships urgently, left with only two: Official

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock

Kolkata, September 30

The Indian Navy currently has only two minesweeper ships at its disposal to safeguard sea lanes and ports spread across thousands of kilometres of coastlines in the eastern and western seaboards, a top Navy officer has said.

The Navy requires 12 minesweeper ships, but at present has only two, Rear Admiral Rajaram Swaminathan, Assistant Chief of Material, Indian Navy, said.

“The Navy needs these ships urgently,” Swaminathan said.

Minesweepers are small naval warships that detect and destroy underwater mines and are considered vital for keeping the critical sea lanes safe for movement of essential cargo, including crude oil.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of a fuel barge for the Navy on Friday, he said that Defence PSU Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) is in the process of collaborating with a foreign firm for manufacturing minesweepers.

The government has been looking for a foreign collaborator for its over Rs 32,000 crore project, entrusted to GSL, for procuring 12 minesweeper ships.

The basic function of these ships would be to locate, classify, sweep and neutralise all types of ground moored and drift mines.

A parliamentary standing committee on defence last year had slammed the government for delay in procurement of the minesweepers and asked it to make efforts to fill the gap in the Navy’s capability.

There are at least 12 major ports and several other minor or intermediate ports in the eastern and western seaboards. PTI


Major reshuffle at army and air force top brass, new appointments at key commands

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NEW DELHI: A major reshuffle with fresh appointments among the top brass of the army and air force have taken place, including at two key commands that are tasked with guarding India’s frontier with China.

Sources said that orders on the new appointment of the new Eastern Army Commander based in Kolkata and the Eastern Air Force Commander based in Shillong have been issued. These are the two commands that are responsible for defensive and offensive operations along the China frontier.  ..

Read more at:
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No more ‘His Excellency’

 

Chandigarh: Following the President’s directions to discontinue the use of colonial-era honorifics such as “His Excellency” for addressing dignitaries, the Punjab Governor and the Chief Minister have decided to ensure compliance. As per a fresh set of instructions, the Governor would henceforth be addressed as “Honourable Governor”, while the Chief Minister would be referred to as “Punjab Chief Minister”. Cabinet ministers would simply be addressed as the minister of their respective department. Some Congress leaders are wondering whether the practice of calling Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh “Maharaja Sahib” would continue or not.

Equating doctor with God

Muktsar: A board placed outside the Government Veterinary Polyclinic at Badal village reads: “Our doctor is just like God. If someone in this hospital asks you to buy medicine from a particular chemist, he is doing it for commission.” The hospital seems keen to stick to the Hippocratic oath, but only time will tell to what extent it will succeed.

Artiste takes political turn

Gurdaspur: Film artistes usually test the political waters during the Assembly and parliamentary elections. However, Arjun Partap Singh (25), an alumnus of Lawrence School, Sanawar, took the plunge in the zila parishad polls and was elected unopposed from Cheema. Arjun, son of Congress MLA Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa, worked as an assistant director to Prabhu Deva in ‘Singh is Bliing’. He is set to make his acting debut in ‘Band of Maharajas.’ Now, he is in the reckoning for the post of chairman of the Gurdaspur zila parishad. Arjun, who has completed a degree in business administration from a UK-based university, says if he is appointed to the top post, he will leave Bollywood and instead turn to Pollywood so that he can devote more time to his constituency.

Akali MLA ‘guides’ you to his house

Patiala: Sanaur MLA Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra, who has been allotted a government bungalow in the heart of the city, still feels the need to guide his supporters to his residence. The SAD leader has put up flex boards with his photos on electricity and telephone poles. Harinderpal is the son of Akali MP Prem Singh Chandumajra. “The opposition MLA apparently wants to make his presence felt in the neighbourhood,” a resident said.

FM turns up on time, public doesn’t 

Bathinda: Ministers and other politicians usually arrive late for rallies or other functions. However, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal is an exception. Recently, during campaigning for the zila parishad and block samiti elections, he reached Kotli village in Mansa district on the dot at 9 am for a public meeting. In contrast, people took their own sweet time to turn up. When they arrived an hour or two later, they were surprised to see the minister already there. They were overheard saying: “Mantri time da bada pakka hai, hor tan ghanta ghanta late aunde ne (the minister is very punctual, unlike others).”

No EVMs, voters struggle with paper ballot

Jalandhar: Having got used to polling through EVMs, voters seem to be finding it hard to use the traditional paper ballot. As many as 5 per cent of the votes for the zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections in the district were found invalid by the counting staff. In some booths, the number of invalid votes was even higher than those polled by candidates or NOTA (none of the above).


Brig MS Dullat involved in a serious money laundering case worth ₹371 crore .

CBI files case against bank officials for fraud

The CBI has found Brig MS Dullat involved in a serious money laundering case worth ₹371 crore . He was summoned in the court on 6 Sept, He did not inform DSOI about this. The governing body of DSOI must terminate his membership as per bye rules of DSOI. He is defecto VC of DSOI. It’s shameful to have such dubious characters as members of elite Army clubs.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against three then Assistant Managers of the Indian Overseas Bank and others, including a retired Brigadier, for allegedly causing a loss of Rs. 321 crore to the exchequer.

According to the CBI, Brigadier M.S. Dullat (retired), Dinesh Kumar, the then proprietor of Vision Procon, Amanpreet Singh Sodhi of Heights International, Aman and Gaurav Kirpal of Sai Bhakti Impex Pvt. Ltd and Hong Kong-based Colour Wave (HK) Ltd. have been made accused, apart from unknown public servants.

“The accused, in connivance with the branch officials, siphoned off bank funds under the garb of Letters of Comfort in favour of the Hong Kong-based company purportedly issued by officials of the Indian Overseas Bank, Chandigarh, to the Punjab National Bank, Dubai, and the Bank of Baroda, Bahamas,” said CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur.

 


Army chief questions officers’ need to challenge AFSPA cases in Supreme Court: The Tribune

At a meeting with colonels in New Delhi on Saturday, Bipin Rawat reportedly said he disagrees with the petitioners’ decision to move court.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat has questioned the need of serving officers in the armed forces to move the Supreme Court on matters related to insurgency-affected areas, unidentified officials told The Tribune. At a meeting with officers of the colonel rank in New Delhi on Saturday, Rawat expressed his disagreement over the court cases, the newspaper reported on Monday.

For the first time, more than 700 Army officers and soldiers approachedthe Supreme Court last month challenging the criminal cases filed against defence personnel in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, is in force. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on September 4 one of the pleas, which involves 356 petitioners from the Army.

“The Army was fighting these cases, now if these guys [the petitioners in court] lose the case, what will happen?” Rawat reportedly asked the officers.

AFSPA gives the military sweeping powers to search and arrest and even open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”. The law gives them a degree of immunity from prosecution. The petitioners have argued that they are being prosecuted for performing their duties in disturbed areas and such cases lower the morale of military and paramilitary forces.

Rawat also said moral turpitude would not go unpunished in the force, and irrespective of rank, one would get exemplary punishment such as jail and dismissal. He asked officers not to compare themselves with civilian officers as the armed forces were different, unique and an elite service, The Tribune reported.

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Army opens fire after Pak chopper violates Indian airspace in J&K’s Poonch

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the Indian airspace along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir but turned back after it was “engaged by air sentries”, the Army said.

The chopper, which came 700 meters into the Indian air space, belonged to Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, sources in the Indian Army said.

Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Col Devender Anand said the helicopter violated the airspace around 12:10 pm. “Air sentries at forward location had engaged it with small arms,” he said.

He said it was most likely a civilian chopper and was flying very high.

Officials said a white-colour helicopter crossed into the Indian airspace in Gulpur sector and hovered over there for sometime before turning back.

Three forward posts fired small arms after noticing the airspace violation, the sources said. PTI

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War heroes’ memorial battles fund crunch Work halted on gallery depicting Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Battle of Saragarhi

War heroes’ memorial battles fund crunch

Officials inspect incomplete fourth gallery at the war memorial. Photo: Vishal Kumar

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23

A fund crunch has hit work on galleries at the Punjab State War Heroes’ Memorial-cum-Museum.There are nine galleries in the museum and right now, tourists have access to only six. After skipping numerous deadlines, the work on the most sought after portion- the eighth gallery dedicated to 1999 Kargil War and fourth gallery depicting World War I, the Battle of Saragarhi and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre – is still nowhere near completion.

The showcasing of how the “Tiger Hill” with its razor sharp peak was captured and incomplete mannequins of Capt Manoj Kumar Pandey and Capt Vikram Batra, who used a one liner “Yeh Dil Mange More” speak volumes about the apathy of the government.Moreover, there is no indication whether the ninth gallery would be constructed or not? Christened as “Out of area operations, proxy war and motivation”, the ninth gallery was planned to motivate youngsters to join the Indian Armed Forces. It was to spell out details of joining conditions, pay, perks, privileges etc.

The memorial was inaugurated in 2016 by the SAD-BJP regime at a cost of around Rs 143 crore.

However, with the change of guard in the state, the work has come to a standstill. It has been learnt that Capt Amarinder Singh-led state government had lately sanctioned Rs 8 crore, but it is way short of Rs 26 crore, which is required to complete pending work.

Col (retd) HP Singh, Project Director, told that the reason for delay was lack of funds. Apart from this, the idea of fixing steel plates with names of martyrs and missing soldiers etched on them could not materialise for want of funds.

It was proposed to have the names of 4,000 martyred soldiers belonging to Punjab, along with the names of 54 missing Punjabi soldiers since first Indo-Pak war (1947-48). The sample plate is lying in one corner of the gallery.

“Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had himself got approved the design of special plates. We have been corresponding with the Finance Department, but have received no reply. We were lucky that former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal spared a corpus of Rs10 crore. We have fixed this amount and it helps us to run the administrative affairs and for maintenance,” said Col HP Singh (retd).

The Tourist Department has made some efforts to market the project. It charges Rs100 per head whereas 50 per cent discount is offered to school children and defence personnel.

“We collect between Rs5-6 lakh per month through tickets. The collection can be more, if the department or local administration markets the project properly,” he said.

Sorry state of affairs

  • Incomplete mannequins of Capt Manoj Kumar Pandey and Capt Vikram Batra, speak volumes about the apathy of the government
  • There is no indication whether the ninth gallery planned to motivate youth to join Armed Forces would be constructed