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    Ex-servicemen to back Cong in polls

    Maj Gen Satbir Singh announces full support to Capt Amarinder Singh for Punjab Elections at Press meet in congress office at 24 Akbar road on 05 Jan2017.
    The IESM will support congress on All India  basis for election in all other Sates due for elections .
    Initially Capt Amarinder announced that IESM headed by Gen Satbir has decided to provide unconditional support for Pb elections along with Sanjha Morcha and IESL who are already supporting it.
    Seen in picture are CM of Himachal and Uttrakhand.
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    L TO RMAJ GEN SPS GREWAL,LT GEN TS SHERGILL Congress leaders , Virbhadra Singh, Capt Amarinder Singh and Harish Rawat with OROP leader Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd) in New Delhi on Thursday.

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    Officers, troops accord warm farewell to Army Chief

    Jammu, December 28

    Visiting Northern Command Headquarters at Udhampur and forward areas of White Knight Corps (16 Corps), Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh interacted with troops and addressed officers of the Northern Command during his farewell visit.He was accorded a warm farewell by officers and jawans during his visit to all locations. In his address, the Army Chief complimented the soldiers of the Northern Command for their professionalism, selfless commitment and dedication to the nation.He also appreciated their role during the recent unrest, ceasefire violations and in counter-terrorist operations. He exhorted the troops to continue to work with zeal and dedication to overcome numerous challenges.The Army Chief commended the synergy between all security agencies and civil administration in Jammu and Kashmir. — TNS

    Cut through the fog: Indian strategic communication must aim to overcome Pakistan’s state of delusion

    Pakistan’s citizenry are trapped in a delusional self-perception and view of India, which prevents them from making rational analyses of relations between the two countries. In meetings with the Pakistani elite, an Indian will just have to smile his way through because debating and arguing rationally isn’t something the other side likes to engage in.

    Munir Akram’s recent rant in Pakistani newspaper Dawn, against the treatment supposedly meted out to Pakistan foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz at the Heart of Asia Conference, is a case in point. When meeting people from Pakistan at neutral venues, a couple of things strike one immediately. First, Pakistan’s superiority complex vis-à-vis India remains undimmed despite the evidence of the last 70 years.

    The Pakistan army makes the public live in a make-believe world, forcing the belief that in 1971 it never lost the war and was only deceived by the Bangladeshis; on the western borders India was, apparently, squarely defeated. The army’s expertise in public information and propaganda is outstanding; the message to the public is that the proxy war in support of J&K separatists is succeeding.

    The slickly communicated message speaks of the alienation of the Kashmiri people, the huge problems of integration of different faiths and ethnicities all over India and that Pakistan’s stamina will see it through to eventual victory, meaning the integration of J&K into Pakistan.

    The coming of Prime Minister Narendra Modi rattled Pakistan as much as his stance of returning to the peace process. The invitation to the NDA inauguration on May 26, 2014, created a dilemma and the common belief persists that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was given a cold shoulder, despite the courage he displayed in travelling to New Delhi against all advice within Pakistan.

    Modi decided to break the impasse with Pakistan by sending then newly appointed foreign secretary S Jaishankar on a round robin of visits within South Asia, including Pakistan. The pace of things picked up with the Ufa talks in mid-2015 and continued through to the Heart of Asia Conference 2015, preceded by the NSA talks in Bangkok. The icing came with the visit of Modi to Lahore on Christmas 2015.

    The visit took the Pakistani establishment by complete surprise. Usually one to surprise India with varieties of initiatives, Pakistan could not absorb the Modi visit. When Pathankot occurred seven days later, many in Pakistan blamed Modi for hastening non-existent processes.

    Fast paced initiatives by the NDA government weren’t to the comfort level of Pakistan’s deep state. The ‘peace chain’ which Modi had initiated could have hijacked Pakistan’s entire strategy in which it had invested for years. Pathankot put a halt to the events which could spell peace. Modi’s olive branch found no takers and the deep state slunk back to its original strategy of bleeding India with a thousand cuts.

    The return was made even simpler once Sharif came under pressure following the Panama Papers leaks. An element of hesitation was yet evident when the Indian government permitted a Pakistan investigation team, with ISI officers included, to visit Pathankot. But Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8 was the final nail in the coffin. Thus subterfuge by the Pakistan army-led deep state, combined with the quirk of fate of Wani’s killing, put paid to sincere efforts.

    Pakistani citizens continue to believe that India has not accepted the creation of Pakistan and is working towards dismembering it. That belief is often reinforced by strong Indian statements during strategic debates on the viability of weakening Pakistan. It is unfortunate that Pakistanis hardly read or believe in the writings of some of their own columnists, who profess that Pakistan’s obsession with attempting to weaken India and playing strategic games is weakening its own edifice.

    Perhaps the Indian state has failed to effectively and convincingly communicate its true intent. That intent is to strengthen India internally and secure it externally using the twin strategy of promoting harmony and economic growth. India remains unwavering in ensuring the good of its people. The trust deficit doesn’t allow this message to carry across the borders to Pakistan.

    The coloured Pakistani thinking also arises from a strange belief that Pakistan is succeeding in its strategy of weakening India and wresting J&K away from it. Pakistan’s strategic community and even the public are aware of the great significance of Pakistan’s physical strategic space; as a confluence of many civilisations, interests and cross currents. This makes Pakistan extremely sure of its place in international strategic affairs.

    At the end of the day the blame perhaps lies in the inability of reasonable communication of intent. Political rhetoric and social media are just one side of this. The real measure of serious intent has to be judged from the strategic literature emanating from a nation.

    As in any functional democracy, there will always be different shades of opinion. However, governments shape this through cogent policies of strategic communication management. It is time we debated in India whether strategic communication emanating from the nation is in sync with our strategic aims and what we need to do to reduce Pakistan’s delusions.

    Syed Ata Hasnain

    Syed Ata Hasnain is a retired Lieutenant General in the Indian Army.

    All-weather connectivity with Ladakh must: Lt Gen Rawat

    All-weather connectivity with Ladakh must: Lt Gen Rawat
    Lt Gen Bipin Rawat

    New Delhi, December 19

    Army Chief-designate Lt Gen Bipin Rawat and Northern Command chief Lt Gen Devraj Anbu have underlined the need for a “special focus” to achieve all-weather connectivity to the strategic Ladakh region which borders China.The Ladakh region remains cut off from the rest of the country for almost six winter months. This happens due to intensive snowfall, avalanches and icing at passes viz Zojila on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh road and Rohtang, Baralacha, Lachung and Tanglang on the Manali-Sarchu-Upshi-Leh road.“It, therefore, needs a special focus and a network of tunnels to have an all-weather connectivity,” a statement by the Army quoted them as saying at a one-day workshop organised by the Ministry of Defence on tunnelling in the north and northeastern region on December 17 here.Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar highlighted that infrastructure development in the north and northeastern part of the country had always been a matter of challenge due to the adverse climatic conditions, fragile and young geology and remote location. — PTI

    Strategic significance

    • The Ladakh region, which has high strategic importance, remains cut off from the rest of the country for almost six winter months due to snowfall and avalanches
    • Army Chief-designate Lt Gen Bipin Rawat has underlined the need for a “special focus” to achieve all-weather connectivity to the strategic Ladakh region which borders China

    Real 1971 war hero Lt Gen Sagat Singh By Anupam Surollia

    Gen Sagat Singh, the hero of the 1971 war, was a military genius who never lost against any enemy, including the Chinese. His famous words: “I don’t know what fear is.” Here are memories of the man born in a Churu village of Rajasthan

    Real 1971 war hero Lt Gen Sagat Singh
    Lt Gen Sagat Singh stands right behind Gen Niazi (signing the Instrument of Surrender). Photo courtesy: Ministry of Defence

    In the life of our young Republic, the cold month of December brings each year — since 1971 — the warm memories of the war for the liberation of Bangladesh. The war that month that year was a principled victory on a foreign soil of which any nation can take genuine and enduring pride. In a larger sense, it was not India’s war — it was an unprecedented unjust human conflict thrust upon us. And, in a way, it was India’s war. It was our armed forces’ and our uniformed services’ war. Among the known men and women who brought us glory are the well-known heroes who were deservingly decorated with medals and commendations. There were able military personnel led by the three eminent service chiefs. All these, combined with the scintillating political leadership of Indira Gandhi, are rightly part of the folk lore of our national life. There is also one not-so-well-known hero of that war. His role became a major factor in the quick and decisive victory. Yet he was neither adequately decorated nor given his due. He was rather made to fade out in humiliation. I’m talking of Lieutenant General Sagat Singh, the then General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Tezpur-based 4 Corps.General Sagat was unknown to me until 1991 when I was fortunate to meet his son, Major (later Colonel) Ranvijay Singh in Baroda (now Vadodara). I was a deputy commissioner of police in Baroda when we (Baroda and Bombay police) had a fierce encounter with militants owing allegiance to the Khalistan Commando Force from January 24-26, 1991. To flush out the militants, who were sheltered in a three-storey house in the heart of the Baroda city, the help of the National Security Guard was requisitioned. During the NSG operation, one experienced commando lost an eye in a splinter injury. Maj Ranvijay came after a couple of days as a part of the case study. I took him around the encounter site and briefed him. Then, over lunch, he told me about his father, General Sagat Singh, the hero of the 1971 war and the military genius who never lost against any enemy, including the Chinese. He told me that when Dacca (now Dhaka) fell, the Indian Army found a dossier on his father prepared by the Pakistani Army which mentioned that Sagat Singh is the Indian general who should be feared most as he had never lost any battle against any enemy anywhere. What a tribute from an enemy! Then he narrated how his father, despite getting injured by the machine-gun fire, successfully conducted the very daring, hitherto unknown night-time heli-borne operations over the rivers and the treacherous terrain, which made the fall of Dacca possible so quickly and decisively, leading to the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani Army personnel. After the Instrument of Surrender was signed on December 16, 1971 — two days and 45 years ago — Indira Gandhi visited Dacca and profusely thanked General Sagat Singh, and saw to it that he stayed in Dacca — a la General Douglas MacArthur in the post-World War II Japan — to assist the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman government.Ranvijay continued as to how his father always led from the front and, no matter how difficult a mission was, carried the under-command with him, how even as a very senior commander, he exposed himself routinely to danger, how he narrowly escaped death many times at many places, how he went beyond the call of duty and achieved the “task plus” by capturing Dacca in a very unique way. Ranvijay also told me how his father differed in tactics and strategy with the higher command, and that how courageously he lived his life.The images linger on. So when towards the end of 1991, I happened to go to Jaipur, I called on the great man. General Sagat and his wife, Kamla Kumari, were very kind to receive us at ‘Meghna’, their appropriately named bungalow after the river in Bangladesh, and showered much warmth and extended great hospitality. Sagat, a strikingly handsome and supremely confident man, now in the autumn of life, at 6′ 3″ — towering over us all — was ramrod straight, and with no bitterness. Among many things that he told me, one thing distinctly stands out in my mind. He said: “Bhay kya hota hai, maine aaj tak nahi jana (I know not what fear is).” I have not known anyone — before or since — who can say it with such conviction.General Sagat Singh passed away in the year 2001. A large number of people in Jaipur attended his prayer meeting. One former Army officer told me that there he had heard many stories of bravery of General Sagat. This further evoked my interest in the life of this man. The Sagat-saga begins in the year 1919 in the sands of western Rajasthan where Sagat was born in a village called Kusumdesar in Churu district. After humble beginnings, he was recruited as a Naik (corporal) in the Bikaner Ganga Risala (Bikaner State Force) at a young age of 19. When the Second World War commenced, he got the commission as an officer and was sent to the Middle East, where he served with distinction. After Independence, he was absorbed into the Third Gorkha Rifles, where he had the honor of commanding two battalions. As a Brigadier, he commanded the prestigious 50 Para Brigade at Agra, successfully leading it to liberate Goa in the December of 1961. The year 1961 may well be termed as the beginning of the ‘Great Decade’ for him, culminating into the high-point of the Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. In between Goa and Bangladesh, came two other high-water marks: whipping the Chinese in Sikkim and successfully dealing with the Mizo insurgency.In 2013, Major General (retired) Randhir Sinh, who was ADC to General Sagat Singh, wrote a very readable and instructive biography, A Talent For War: The Military Biography of Lt Gen Sagat Singh. The soldier-scholar late Lieutenant General SK Sinha in his foreword has the following to say:“This biography … describes in detail how the most distinguished battlefield commander of the Indian Army conducted operations during the liberation of Goa, handled insurgency in Mizoram, broke the myth of ten feet tall Chinese soldiers by getting the better of them during a big skirmish in Sikkim and provided dynamic leadership to his Corps against all odds, leading his formation from the front in the Indo-Pak War of 1971. His outstanding leadership was a major factor contributing to the unprecedented victory of Indian Army in over a millennium.” After the war, when Gen Sagat was superseded and his junior, Lt Gen KK Singh, was made his boss, Gen Sinha said, “… I considered it very unfortunate that the higher-ups should treat a war hero who had done so much for the country in such an unfair and unjust manner.” On Sagat’s death, Lt Gen KK Singh pays him the ultimate tribute: “… a great General who had become a legend in his lifetime. India will not see the likes of Sagat Singh again.”It was a joy to hear that in March 2013, the Government of Bangladesh invited and honoured my friend Colonel (retired) Ranvijay Singh and Damyanti, his wife, to Dhaka to pay tribute to his father, General Sagat Singh, the liberator of Bangladesh. A thoughtful gesture from a grateful nation.Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw said: “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.” I might add: or a Sagat Singh.


    It’s official: Manpreet to take on Badal might in Bathinda

    Vijay Inder Singla likely to contest from Sangrur, Capt Amarinder says high command to decide on Manish Tewari; Surinder Singla reportedly offered Moga seat

    CHANDIGARH : The bastion of the ruling Badals will yet again see a clash within the Badal clan as the name of Manpreet Badal, the estranged nephew of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, has been cleared from Bathinda urban seat by the central election committee of the Congress headed by party president Sonia Gandhi.

    Though Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh was batting for another former state finance minister Surinder Singla, the party has decided to field Manpreet, a Jat Sikh face, against the Hindu candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal, incumbent MLA Sarup Chand Singla, and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

    The Congress strategy is not just high on symbolism, of pitching a Badal in the parliamentary constituency of CM’s daughterin-law and Union minister Harsimrat Badal to contain the ruling clan in Bathinda, but also to gain from the division of Hindu votes in the seat between the Akali Dal and the AAP. The fact that Manpreet had a lead of 30,000 votes from Bathinda urban when he lost to Harsimrat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls has not gone unnoticed in the calculations. To preempt rebel trouble, the party is learnt to offered Surinder Singla the Moga seat.

    While the Congress has decided to bet on a Sikh face here, at another Hindu-dominated seat of Sangrur, former MP Vijay Inder Singla has been found to be the strongest candidate in party surveys. Surinderpal Sibia, a Jat Sikh, was the party nominee in 2012 state polls. The other two contenders from the seat are Baldev Mann of the SAD (Longowal), which has now merged into Congress and former Amargarh candidate Surjit Dhiman. Singla, who is working as an “organisational man” in party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s media communication team, may have to get into poll gear to contest the assembly elections as the party tries to fulfil the criteria of Hindu, youth and winnability.

    But the name of another Hindu face, former Union minister Manish Tewari, has yet not been given a go ahead from Ludhiana east seat. Amarinder said on Sunday that the decision to field Tewari depends on the party high command.

    The screening committee headed by former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot will meet again this week to iron out differences on some other seats. According to sources, another meeting of the central election committee is likely later this week before the release of the list.

    List to be out next week: Capt

    NEW DELHI: Denying any differences with the Congress high command over the selection of candidates for the 2017 Punjab assembly elections, state Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Sunday said the list would be out next week.

    “No differences with the Congress high command on tickets. These are false reports. The list of candidates will be announced next week.”

    The former CM said since the Congress is a large party, it needs to go through systems and processes to ensure proper ticket allocation. He denied there was a delay in shortlisting of candidates. “Two meetings of the scrutiny committee and the central election committee of the party have been held and we have cleared a number of candidates,” Amarinder said.

    “Once the scrutiny committee sends the final names, it will be decided. We still have enough time. Our candidates will have at least 45 days to campaign,” he said. As for the opposition within the party over candidates, Amarinder said: “We’ll not sideline senior Congress leaders. We look for strong candidates who have come from other parties only in places where there is no Congress candidate. There are a few gaps as some leaders have left us.”

    Asked if cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu will join the Congress, Amarinder said: “I hope so. I have full confidence. I had a good meeting with him. It was very positive. Let him come from Mumbai. Let us wait for him to take the decision.”

    Asked about Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans’ decision to quit the Congress and join the BJP, the Punjab Congress chief said he might have taken this decision to earn recognition at the national level.

    AAP’s Punjab vice-chief, three others join Cong

    NEW DELHI : In a boost to the Congress ahead of assembly elections, four Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, including its state vice-president CM Lakhanpal, joined the party in Delhi on Sunday.

    Welcoming AAP founding member Lakhanpal and three other leaders — PK Sharma, Iqbal Pannu and Barpur Singh —into the Congress fold, Amarinder said the AAP’s graph was coming down in Punjab.

    He said the fight in the state polls is between the Congress and AAP, whose standing is on the decline. The AAP had to bring 50,000 people from other states for campaigning. “The SAD-BJP alliance is nowhere in reckoning in Punjab,” he claimed.

    Targeting AAP national convener, Amarinder said: “His claim that if the AAP comes to power in Punjab, a Dalit will be made the deputy chief minister is fraudulent. There is no Sikh or Dalit minister in his Delhi government.”

    “Kejriwal is trying to fool the people of Punjab through such misleading statements. The AAP had absolutely no standing in Punjab and had brought 50,000 people from other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for campaigning,” the Punjab Congress chief claimed.

    The newly inducted leaders expressed their unconditional support for Congress and alleged that AAP has “failed to meet people’s expectations in the state and is on decline”.

    30­lakh applicants for Amarinder’s 50­lakh mobile phone scheme

    captain-smart-connect-scheme-1 download (1)

    CHANDIGARH: The poll bonanza of Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh of 50 lakh smartphones with free data and calling for youth has not been able to get as many takers.

    The “Captain Smart Connect” scheme was launched on November 20 but saw just 20 lakh applicants till November 30. It was extended for 10 days to December 10. It had clocked 30 lakh registrations when it closed on Sunday.

    The scheme offered smartphones to youth between the age of 18 and 35 within the first 100 days of the formation of his government. Amarinder had also announced an allocation of Rs 4,000-5,000 crore over a five-year period from the state budget for the scheme.Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar, Bathinda reported the maximum number of registrations. Congress workers and volunteers had set up multiple desks in all 117 assembly seats to facilitate registrations and “Punjab Congress Express”, the party publicity vans, were also used as mobile registration desks.

    Buses for CM’s rally but not for us: Athletes

    AUTHORITIES’ INDIFFERENCE Athletes suffer due to mismanagement as they have not been provided transportation, some even have to pay from their own pockets for better accommodation


    From page 01 LUDHIANA : In the five-day 62nd Punjab State Inter-District Athletics Meet, that is being held at Guru Nanak Stadium, : around 5,000 athletes are participating, but the arrangements aren’t enough or even up to the mark to cater to the needs of the athletes.

    JS GREWAL/HTPlayers in action during the 62nd Punjab State Inter­District Athletics Meet at Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Sunday.

    Even on the second day of the meet on Sunday, the athletes walked down from their accommodated venues located at Jawahar Nagar, Sarabha Nagar, Gobind Nagar and Miller Ganj to the stadium, these venues are located at a distance of more than 2 km from the stadium. One of the athletes exhorted, “When school buses can go for chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s rally, why can’t the department provide transportation facility for us?”

    The athletes claimed, “Government demands medals from us but they are not ready to provide us with good facilities. Even the infrastructure here at the stadium is not perfect.”

    Officials from education department said that they get funds for transport facilities at national-level tournaments but not for state-level.


    Since the accommodation facilities were not proper, some athletes have shifted to city hotels bearing expenses from their own pocket.An athlete from Gurdaspur district mentioned that he got accommodation at Government Senior Secondary School, Gobind Nagar. Being was not satisfied with the facilities there, so he has now taken a room on rent in a hotel near Dukhniwaran Gurudwara.

    “For food I am getting ₹125 from the authorities, but for the rent of the room I will spend from my pocket,” he said. Some athletes even claimed that the participants residing in the SAI centres have proper beds and diet. “How can we compete when we are not able to take proper rest, we have to sleep on the mats laid on the ground despite this cold weather,” they rued.


    Some athletes from SAS Nagar (Mohali), expressed that they are getting food just two times in a day. When they were asked if they are getting the daily diet amount, the athletes were not even aware of it.As per the information from event convener Harjit Ram, every student is getting ₹125 per day for the diet and it is to be given by respective district in-charges.

    Athletes said two times meal is given by the teachers who have come along with them, but they are not spending the whole amount.

    “They give us ‘pranthas’ in the morning as well as in the evening, and total meal of the day costs ₹80 for one athlete. We do not get the meal during lunch time,” they said.


    On Sunday, department made it compulsory for the participants to wear the shoes provided to them while running after some athletes, who were running barefooted got injured on the first day of the meet on Saturday.

    Harjit Ram, who himself was a national-level athlete, said that it is risky for the athletes running barefooted on synthetic track.

    Therefore, we have given strict instructions that no one will participate barefoot. Deputy district education officer Nahar Singh said the department will recommend the coache s to make the athletes practice by wearing spike shoes from the zonal-level itself.

    Otherwise it will become difficult for them when they go ahead to participate in national-level tournaments.


    An athlete, Manju from Mohali, fainted while participating in 3,000 metre race.

    Manju said that she was afflicted with chicken pox last week and had not completely recovered yet.

    So she felt weak while participating in the event.

    Cong manifesto: Promise to destroy colonial vestiges

    Sarbjit Dhaliwal

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, December 11

    In its manifesto, the Congress will promise to enact a law that will destroy last vestiges of the colonial regime.“If voted to power, the party will either destroy all colonial vestiges that glorify the subjugation and imperialist policies or display these in a manner that act as a reminder to the injustice,” said Manpreet Singh Badal, who has authored the manifesto in consultation with senior leaders, including Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh.The Congress will promise to enact the “Punjab Law of Historical Memory” to condemn the British Raj as the “single most unfortunate, cruel and humiliating phase of Punjab’s history and that of India”.Manpreet said the party would promise to enact several legislations, but what could be shared now was the content of “Punjab Law of Historical Memory”.The law will be aimed at collective recognition of the region’s past and identifying specific periods of prosperity and decline. For instance, he said, “the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is to be celebrated as an era of greatness and strength. Special efforts will be placed on locating, preserving and displaying its relics. On the other hand, the British Raj is to be formally condemned”.Will it not be an attempt to distort history? “It should be understood as a conscious effort to give information about Punjab’s past. Moreover, it seeks to reignite the Punjabi sense of pride by collectively identifying our epochs of greatness and misfortune. Besides identifying reasons behind them, we must aspire for greatness while denouncing the misfortune,” he said.The former Finance Minister said a soft copy of the manifesto had been sent to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek his comments. “I discussed the manifesto with Manmohan Singh,” said Manpreet, who consulted the party leadership to include certain points in the manifesto.

    Will request Priyanka to campaign: Capt

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, December 11Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh today said party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi will certainly be campaigning for the Assembly elections in the state. “I will also request Priyanka Gandhi to campaign,” he told the media here.On the party’s list of noiminees, Amarinder said, “There’s no delay in shortlisting candidates. The Congress is a structured party and not a one-family party. We have to go through processes before declaring tickets. There is no undue delay and whatever delay there is will not impact campaigning.”To a query, he said, “Sonia Gandhi will take a call on Manish Tewari’s candidature and Navjot Singh Sidhu is yet to make an announcement (on joining the party). The Congress has left to him to take the decision.”

    Four AAP leaders join Congress

    Four AAP leaders join Congress
    Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh with AAP leaders (from right) Col CM Lakhanpal, PK Sharma, Col Iqbal Pannu and Barpur Singh at a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, December 11

    Ahead of the elections, four key functionaries of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in the state today joined the Congress here in the presence of Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh.CM Lakhanpal, PK Sharma, Iqbal Pannu and Barpur Singh, who held key organisational positions in AAP, have been responsible for building the party in the state.Welcoming them into the party fold, Amarinder said AAP’s graph in Punjab was declining every day. He also dismissed AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal’s charges of a nexus between the Congress and the Akalis.“Kejriwal had come to Punjab with some principles which attracted people. But people are now disillusioned. AAP has no standing in the state and has brought 50,000 people from UP and Bihar for campaigning,” Amarinder said.The Punjab Congress chief clarified that the new entrants had joined unconditionally and would be put up as candidates only where the Congress did not have winnable contestants.The new entrants also spoke of their unconditional support for the Punjab Congress and called Captain a people’s leader with a feel for the pulse of the state.Lakhanpal, who was the founder member and state vice-president of AAP Punjab, said AAP was once a principle-based party but had compromised on its ideals and started opening its doors to people with dubious backgrounds. He cited the example of the Bains brothers, saying it was no longer possible to continue with AAP given its current state. Ironically, Bains brothers, as part of Navjot Sidju led Awaz-e-Punjab, were also in talks with the Congress until they went for AAP.PK Sharma, grandson of Ramgopal Sharma, District Congress president, Sangrur, left Canada to join AAP during the Anna Hazare movement but soon got disillusioned with the party before deciding to join the Congress.AAP founder member Iqbal Pannu was senior vice-president of trade, transport, and industrial wing of AAP while Barpur Singh was the sector coordinator for AAP and leader of the Ramgarhia SC wing.


    AAP may field Shergill against Majithia

    Jupinderjit Singh

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, December 11

    Confrontation between the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia is set to intensify with AAP preparing to organise a massive rally in Majitha on December 14.Sources said Kejriwal would announce the party candidate against Majithia. In all likelihood, Himmat Singh Shergill, head of the legal cell of the party, will contest against Majithia.Shergill is at present party’s candidate from Mohali but his campaign has not picked up as desired. Shergill told The Tribune that he would abide by the party’s decision. “I will contest from anywhere and against anyone the party wants,” he said.The sources said top AAP leaders would take on main leaders of the Akali Dal. The party is also exploring options of pitching in co-state party incharge Jarnail Singh against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi.Though Kejriwal and other AAP leaders target Badal and PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh in their speeches, the party had most bitter feud with Majithia owing to the filing of defamation case by the minister against top AAP leaders. AAP national organisation head Durgesh Pathak has spent most of the last week in Majitha under the party’s “Majha fateh” move.

    On higher plane, but empty chairs ground Dy CM

    SAD leaders say the low turnout could be due to the onset of winter season or lack of interest among people

    Gurdeep Singh Mann

    Tribune News Service

    Virk Kalan (Bathinda), Dec 11Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal was visibly upset after noticing a large number of empty chairs at the inaugural function of the Bathinda airport today.The junior Badal seemed to be enquiring about the reason behind such poor presence of people.After he went up the stairs onto the stage, Sukhbir Badal spent a few minutes trying to adjust to the awkward scene as more than 25 per cent chairs were empty at the rear.“He was indeed upset and failed to notice the presence of Union Minister Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju for a few seconds. He stood up instantly when the Union Minister stopped on the stage and turned around in surprise towards Sukhbir, who was sitting at his arrival,” said a local leader standing near the stage.SAD leaders said it was not only the poor presence of people at the function which was disappointing but they were also concerned over the mild reaction towards the war-cries and slogans raised to eulogise the Badals during their speeches.“The low turnout could be due to the onset of the winter season or the anti-incumbency factor,” said another SAD leader, pleading anonymity.Though district president of the BJP, Mohit Gupta, and minister Vijay Sampla were present on the occasion, most of the senior local BJP leaders gave a miss to the programme.“We were informed about the function only on the WhatsApp and this could be behind the low turnout of our leaders,” said a BJP leader, pleading anonymity.

    CBI arrests ex-IAF Chief Tyagi, 2 others

    Syed Ali Ahmed

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, December 9

    The Central Bureau of Investigation today arrested former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi, alias Julie Tyagi, and lawyer Gautam Khetan on charges of irregularities in the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland. The three will be produced before a CBI court tomorrow.Tyagi, 71, is accused of influencing the Rs 3,600-crore deal in favour of UK-based helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF Chief from 2004 to 2007. Tyagi has repeatedly denied the allegations. A CBI statement said: “A case was registered on March 12, 2013 under sections 120B and 420 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 7, 8, 9, 12 & 13(2), 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against then Chief of Air Staff and 18 others.  It was alleged the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) entered into criminal conspiracy with other accused persons and in 2005, conceded to change IAF’s consistent stand that service ceiling of VVIP helicopters (6,000 metres) was an inescapable operational necessity and reduced the same to 4,500 metres. Such changes in operational requirements (ORs) made the private company based in UK eligible to participate in the request for proposal (RFP) for VVIP helicopters.”“It was revealed during investigation that such undue favours were allegedly shown to the UK-based private company by accepting illegal gratifications from the accused vendors through middlemen/relatives, including his cousin and an advocate, etc, who accepted the illegal gratification for exercising influence through illegal means, or using personal influence over the public servants concerned,” the statement said.Sources said based on the CBI complaint, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had booked the former Air Force chief and some members of his family. In July 2014, the ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Tyagi and 20 others. He was questioned repeatedly by the ED and for four days by the CBI this year.Sources say investigations have revealed that the Tyagis allegedly entered into a consultancy deal with middlemen in 2004, when Air Chief Marshal Tyagi’s cousins were certain he would be the next Air Force chief and in a position to influence the deal.The sources said Tyagi is accused of reducing the required flying ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m thereby helping AgustaWestland to qualify for deal. The CBI said payments were made through Tunisia-registered companies controlled by Switzerland-based intermediaries Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa and transferred to accounts in India and Mauritius.While investigating the case, the CBI had issued Letter Rogatory (judicial request) to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidence, the sources said. SP Tyagi was allegedly paid kickbacks by middlemen through cousins, Julie, Sandeep and Dosca Tyagi, the sources said.

    Rs 450-cr bribery case

    August, 1999: IAF proposes replacement of Mi-8s due to operational constraintsMarch, 2002: A global request for proposals issuedMarch, 2005: IAF changes key requirements in acquisition favouring AgustaWestland February, 2010: MoD concludes contract with AgustaWestland for 12 helicopters February, 2012: Amid reports of ‘unethical’ dealings, MoD seeks report from embassy in RomeMarch, 2013: CBI registers FIR against Tyagi, 18 othersJanuary, 2014: Government terminates pact with AgustaWestlandMay 2, 2016: CBI begins grilling TyagiDecember 9: SP Tyagi, cousinSanjeev Tyagi, alias Julie, and lawyer Gautam Khaitan held

    Rules bended

    • Former IAF Chief SP Tyagi is accused of reducing the required flying ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000m to 4,500m, thus helping AgustaWestland to compete for the Rs 3,600-crore deal
    • In return, around Rs 450 cr in kickback was paid through Tunisia-registered firms controlled by Swiss-based intermediaries Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa and transferred to accounts in India and Mauritius



    CBI arrests former air chief Tyagi in AgustaWestland helicopter case

    NEW DELHI: The CBI arrested on Friday former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi and two others allegedly for taking bribes ina `3,727-crore deal to buy AgustaWestland helicopters for government VIPs.

    This is the first time a retired service chief has been arrested in India’s military history. The arrests, including of Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev alias Julie and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, are the first in the case. Sources said all three were called for questioning on Friday, and later arrested after they “refused to cooperate” with investigators. They will be produced before a court on Saturday, and the CBI is expected to seek their remand for custodial interrogation.

    The arrests came nearly three years after India scrapped the contract for 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers following allegations of corruption. The deal was signed in 2010.

    Six companies – Italy based Finmeccanica, its UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland, Mohalibased IDS Infotech, Chandigarhbased Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius – also figured in the report. Investigations gathered pace after an Italian court of appeals pointed fingers at 71-yearold Tyagi in April 2016, observing that there were “unmistakable indications of corruption” by an Indian officer.

    In an FIR filed in March 2013, the CBI had named 13 people – including the former air force chief; his cousins Sanjeev alias Julie, Rajeev alias Docsa and Sandeep; three alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke; former Union minister Santosh Bagrodia’s brother Satish Bagrodia; IDS Infotech managing director Partap Aggarwal; Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi; former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi; former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini; and IDS Infotech legal advisor Gautam Khaitan – as the accused in the case. Defence minister Manohar Par rik ar had said in the LokSabha that some members of the UPA government were the real beneficiaries, while Tyagi only received “chillar” – or small change – from the scam.

    “It was revealed during an investigation that such undue favours were allegedly shown to the said UK-based private company (AgustaWestland) by accepting illegal gratification from the accused vendors through middlemen and relatives, including his (Tyagi’s) cousin and an advocate. They accepted the illegal gratification for exercising influence through illegal means, or using personal influence over the public servants concerned,” CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said.

    All the three had been questioned by investigators on a previous occasion.

    According to the CBI, Tyagi allowed the air force to reduce the service ceiling for choppers from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres – helping AgustaWestland enter the fray. The firm’s choppers are not capable of flying up to 6,000 metres.

    Besides this, the agency alleged that Haschke – through his Tunisia-based company Gordian Services Sarl – entered into several consultancy contracts with AgustaWestland from 200405 onwards. He also made consultancy contracts with Tyagi’s cousins on a back-to-back basis. The CBI managed to trace at least two remittances totalling 3.26 lakh euros from Hashcke to the trio.

    Investigators also reported other payments made by Haschke and Gerosa to the accused. The inflow of remittances to the Tyagi cousins’ accounts and the softening of air force’s stand on service ceiling matched closely in terms of time, the CBI alleged.

    According to the FIR, Haschke and Gerosa managed to send 5.6 million euros to India through Mohali-based IDS Infotech and Chandigarh-based Aeromatric Info Solutions, and kept the remaining sum of the 24.3 million euros received from AgustaWestland for themselves.

    The agency alleged that British middleman Christian Michel received 30 million of the 51 million-euro kickbacks paid by AgustaWestland. It is suspected that Michel channeled funds to India through a Singapore-based company.

    India had scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland on January 1, 2014.

    Ghani slams Pak on terror, tells it to end ‘undeclared war’

    Ghani slams Pak on terror, tells it to end 'undeclared war'
    In his address at the 6th annual conference of Heart of Asia, Ghani harshly criticised Islamabad. File photo

    Amritsar, December 4

    In a hard-hitting attack on Pakistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday accused it of launching an “undeclared war” on his country by covertly supporting several terror networks including the Taliban.In his address at the 6th annual conference of Heart of Asia, Ghani harshly criticised Islamabad and said an international mechanism must be put in place without “playing games” to find out who was benefiting from terrorism, extremism and other illicit activities.He said time has come for concrete action against terror infrastructure and those support it, and quoted a top Taliban commander saying unless terror sanctuaries were allowed in Pakistan, the outfit will not last even a month.He said despite Afghanistan’s bilateral and multilateral ties with Pakistan, the “undeclared war” that started in winter of 2014, has intensified after the recent Brussels conference on Afghanistan’s transition.Slamming Pakistan’s habit of denying cross border terror attacks, the Afghan President called for setting up of international mechanism to verify reality of such attacks which have increased in the last few months.He also sought setting up of a global fund to contain terrorism.”There should be an Asian or international regime, whatever is acceptable to Pakistan, should be put in place to verify frontier activities and terrorist operations.”We do not want blame game, we want verification,” he said, without mincing words.”We need to set up a fund to combat extremism,” Ghani said.Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz was among representatives of 30 countries who attended the conference inaugurated jointly by Ghani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”We thank Pakistan for their pledges of USD 500 million for reconstruction of Afghanistan. This fund Mr Aziz could very well be used to contain extremists because without peace any amount of assistance will not meet the needs of our people,” he said, adding that no amount of money could assist Afghanistan if there is support to terrorists by Pakistan. PTI

    Aziz not allowed to visit Golden Temple: Pak; India cites security concerns

    Aziz not allowed to visit Golden Temple: Pak; India cites security concerns
    Pakistan Prime Ministers Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. PTI

    Amritsar, December 4

    Pakistan today claimed that its Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was not allowed to visit the Golden Temple and speak to Pakistani mediapersons at the hotel where he was staying, even as India said it was done due to security considerations.Sources in the Pakistani High Commission said Aziz had planned to visit the Golden Temple but was not allowed citing security concerns.Aziz, who arrived here last evening, wanted to interact with Pakistani mediapersons who accompanied him at the Radisson Blue hotel, the venue of the Heart of Asia conference, but was not given permission by security personnel, the sources said.Indian government sources said the permission was not given considering his security.”Security was very tight. Permission was not given due to security reasons. Security of our guests is paramount. India ensured no untoward incident took place,” they said.There was a tiff between Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and security personnel at the hotel after they denied Pakistani journalists entry to the venue.After security personnel denied permission for Aziz’s interaction with the Pakistani media at the conference venue, the Pakistani High Commission planned the interaction at another hotel but that too was not allowed, the Pakistani High Commission sources said.Later, Basit spoke to the Pakistani media. Aziz left for Pakistan by a special aircraft around 8 PM.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had visited the Golden Temple yesterday, while Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited it today.Apparently, the parents of Hamid Ansari, who is at present lodged in a jail in Pakistan, were waiting for a meeting with Aziz at the Golden Temple.Mumbai-based Fauzia Ansari and her husband Nihal had come here, hoping to request Aziz to release their son from prison, who has already completed his jail term.Hamid, an IT engineer and MBA degree holder, had gone to Kabul on November 4, 2012 from where he reached Pakistan allegedly to meet a Pakistani girl he had been in touch with through e-mails. — PTI


    Army rebuts Mamata’s charges, says exercise done with police coordination

    Bengal CM warns Centre of legal action

    Exercise was conducted last year as well, GOC Bengal area (officiating) Maj Gen Sunil Yadav said. PTI file photo

    Kolkata, December 2The Indian Army on Friday refuted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that troops were deployed at toll plazas without the state government’s knowledge.”This is being done in coordination with local police authorities. The exercise was earlier planned for November 27 and 28. The dates were changed to November 30 to December 2 on a specific request by Kolkata Police due to Bharat Bandh called on November 28,” said GOC Bengal area (officiating) Maj Gen Sunil Yadav. “We deny all charges with all contempt.” Allegations of collection of money by Army personnel are also totally baseless.”

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    Maj Gen Yadav said the Indian Army’s Eastern Command had conducted a similar exercise in November 2015 and that two inspectors of the Kolkata Police had surveyed the toll plaza on November 27.Banerjee had called the army deployment “unprecedented and a very serious matter”.”The issues raised by the police were addressed and were telephonically informed to the police,” he said. “It is happening in nine states now across 80 locations… We have our specific targets for data collection. After doing the work for 36 hours our work was done and we had left the toll plaza near Nabanna. The exercise will continue as planned earlier and will end tonight.”(Read: Controversy over army deployment in Bengal echoes in Parliament)A defence spokesperson said on Thursday that the army usually conducted a biennial exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of an emergency.”There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out according to government orders”, Wing Commander SS Birdi had said.The exercise gave an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he had said. Banerjee, who left the secretariat on Friday evening after staying put for 36 hours in protest, threatened to explore “legal options” if the army was not withdrawn.

    We have never seen such arrogance (by Centre). If army is not withdrawn we will explore legal options,” she said.

    Banerjee said she had great respect for the army, but was “sad” at the manner in which they were being used for “political vendetta”. — Agencies