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    PATHANKOT AIRBASE ATTACK Three securitymen die in pre-dawn strike; five Jaish militants gunned down 15-HOUR OPERATION Infiltrators in army fatigues entered via Bamiyal area along India-Pakistan border HIGH-VALUE TARGET IAF aircraft had been shifted as pre

    PATHANKOT: Indian security forces killed five Pakistani terrorists who launched a pre-dawn attack on Saturday on a strategic air force base in Punjab’s Pathankot district, setting off a fierce 15-hour operation that also left three security personnel dead and about a dozen injured.

    AP PHOTOSoldiers on the rooftop of a building outside the air force base in Pathankot on Saturday.

    The attack on the airbase, which is home to a large fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-25 fighter planes, was seen as an attempt to undo recent progress in India’s relationship with Pakistan. It came barely a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unannounced visit to Lahore to meet with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in a sign of possible thawing of relations between the two countries.

    Two of the slain security personnel were from the Defence Security Corps, including Commonwealth championship gold medal-winning shooter Fateh Singh, besides an airman whose identity was not given.

    “Enemies of humanity who can’t see India progress, such elements attacked in Pathankot but our security forces did not let them succeed,” Prime Minister Modi said in Mysuru.

    Gunshots rocked the airbase around 3.30am on Saturday as a group of five men in army-style clothing — believed to be operatives of the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed — launched the daring operation less than 24 hours after an alert was sounded in the state over the abduction of Gurdaspur superintendent of police (SP) Salwinder Singh by suspected Pakistani terrorists.

    Elite National Security Guard (NSG) commandos, army personnel and a SWAT team of the Punjab Police were rushed to the area following the abduction and assault on Salwinder and the interception of mobile phone calls made by the terrorists to their Pakistan-based handlers.

    “From the moment the terrorists’ presence was confirmed on Friday, Punjab Police and central security agencies worked in tandem and rapidly mobilised all resources in real time. That’s what accounted for the success of the operation,” said Suresh Arora, Punjab director general of police (DGP).

    Sources said 168 NSG commandos led by Major General Dushyant Singh were flown in from Delhi on Friday night.

    Though the terrorists still managed to storm the base, they were unable to penetrate the area where the fighter aircraft, helicopters and other military equipment were kept, said IAF spokeswoman Rochelle D’Silva. The entire area turned into a virtual war zone as gunshots rang continuously while helicopter gunships provided air cover in an operation closely monitored by national security adviser Ajit Doval.

    Doval also attended a meeting later in the day with defence minister Manohar Parrikar who cut short his stay in Goa and returned to Delhi following the attack. The meeting was also attended by the three service chiefs.

    Although police initially said the gunbattle ended by 8am, shots and explosions could be heard from inside the base until noon. At least one helicopter could be seen firing at an area inside the facility.

    The bodies of four attackers were recovered from the scene while the body of a fifth was recovered in the evening outside the base, where security forces had launched a massive search operation.

    Though there were conflicting reports about the presence of a sixth gunman, home minister Rajnath Singh said five had been killed till search operations were called off for the day.

    A defence source said the terrorists were from JeM, a group blamed for the December 2001 attack on Parliament that killed 11 people, and had probably infiltrated about three days ago. Pathankot — located at the trijunction of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh — is on a highway that connects insurgency-hit J&K with the rest of the country.

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    AFT: Convene reassessment medical board for veteran

    HANDIGARH: The Chandigarh Bench of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ordered to conduct reassessment medical board of 1971 war veteran who got injured in Pakistan bombing in the war.

    Petitioner Bhag Singh, 72, resident of Mohali, joined the army in 1959 and participated in 1962 war, 1965 war and 1971 war. He was awarded nine medals during his service.

    In 1971 war, he suffered injury due to bombing by Pakistan on the Wagah border of Punjab, when bomb shells pierced into his left thigh. He was moved to military hospital, Amritsar, where surgical operation was performed and the petitioner was downgraded to the lower medical category. He was discharged from service on medical grounds and was granted disability pension for two years, from August 1, 1974, to May 15, 1976, for 20% disability.

    Bhag Singh was brought before the resurvey medical board in the year 1976, which declared the disability of the petitioner having improved to between 11 % to 14 %. As a result his disability element of pension was stopped.

    Later, he developed pain and swelling in his left thigh in the year 1981 and remained under medical treatment for about six years when he was referred to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, by Command Hospital, Chandimandir. The PGIMER authorities extracted number of embedded bomb shell pieces from his thigh during the surgical operations in 1987.

    Since then, he made a number of representations to the defence authorities for war injury pension, but in vain.

    Bhim Sen Sehgal, chairman of All Indian Ex-servicemen Welfare Association (AIEWA), who appeared on behalf of Bhag Singh, said Bhag Singh had been fighting for over 40 years and now the AFT had given a ray of hope by ordering director general, Armed Forces Medical Services, New Delhi, to convene a reassessment medical board.

    Sacked IAF official held for spying in Bathinda

    TNS & Agencies,New Delhi, December 29


    A dismissed Air Force official, who allegedly shared secret information with intelligence operatives suspected to be backed by Pakistan’s ISI after being “honeytrapped” into an espionage racket, has been arrested from Bhatinda in Punjab by the Delhi Police.The accused, Ranjith KK, was produced before the court and remanded in four-day police custody for interrogation. He could be taken to Jaisalmer and Gwalior for further interrogation. Ranjith was a leading aircraft man with the IAF at Bhatinda. He was dismissed recently and arrested after a combined operation by the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch, Military Intelligence and Air Force Liaisoning Unit (LU), Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav said.Ranjith, a native of Malappuram district in Kerala, had joined the Indian Air Force in 2010. He has been booked under provisions of the Official Secrets Act, said the police.”With his arrest, the police have come across a honeytrapping module, backed by intelligence agents from across the border, which creates fictitious accounts (cyber entities) in popular social networking sites, pretending to be women, befriend defence personnel and officials from security forces and allegedly lure them into espionage,” a senior police official said.Ranjith was deceived by a cyber entity by the name Damini McNaught, who posed as an executive of UK- based news magazine. She interviewed Ranjith and then assigned him the task of getting the information. She deceived him by saying that the information would  be published and he would get due monetary benefits for this, the Joint Commissioner said.

    Honey-trapping module busted

    • With the arrest of IAF official Ranjith KK, the police have come across a honey-trapping module, backed byintelligence agents from across the border
    • The module involves creation of fictitious accounts on social networking sites. Pretending to be women, agents befriend defence personnel and lure them into espionage
    • Ranjith was deceived by a cyber entity by the name Damini McNaught, with whom he shared Air Force-related information, in exchange for money

    Dismissed IAF man held in Bathinda for ISI spying

    NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s intelligence agencies are using fake social media accounts with female names to befriend, lure and sometimes blackmail India’s defence personnel into committing espionage, Delhi Police told a city court on Tuesday.

    The revelations came after the arrest of former leading aircraftsman KK Ranjith from Punjab’s Bathinda airforce base for allegedly sharing secret documents with Pakistani agencies.

    “In May 2012, the LAC came in contact with Pakistan intelligence officer Damini McNaught who cultivated the air force man by luring him to work as a defence analyst for a UK-based magazine,” cops told the court.

    They said the 24-year-old single man – who was arrested under the Official Secrets Act on Monday — also had another female handler named Alphonsine Davis. Cross-border spies fooled Ranjith by calling his mobile phone over the internet with the other party introducing herself – in a British accent – as McNaught and posing as an executive of a UK-based news magazine.

    “She even interviewed LAC Ranjith and assigned him the task of getting the information. She deceived him by saying the information will be published and he will get due monetary benefits for this,” said the team, led by ACP KPS Malhotra.

    During the brief hearing, cops said Ranjith passed “sensitive information related to the Air Force and other vital defence information through Facebook and email to Damini and Alphonsine”. For this, he got `30,000 in total in two separate payments of `25,000 and`5,000 made on October 13 and 14, they alleged.

    But he may not have been the only one to be trapped. “A few serving defence personnel are being pulled into the espionage network through these honey traps. Some fictitious Facebook accounts of women are being used for this,” joint commissioner of police (crime branch) Ravindra Yadav told IANS.

    The court granted four days’ police custody and said Ranjith would be produced before the court concerned on January 2.


    Government moves to double MPs’ salary to Rs 2.8 lakh a month

    The proposal, currently with the Finance Ministry, also suggests that basic pension should be raised from Rs 20,000 per month to Rs 35,000.


    The government has proposed increasing the monthly salary of an MP from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh, constituency allowance from Rs 45,000 to Rs 90,000 and secretarial assistance plus office allowance from Rs 45,000 to Rs 90,000.

    The central government seems set to double the salaries and allowances of Parliamentarians. If a proposal in this regard is approved by the Finance Ministry, every MP will get Rs 2.8 lakh per month. Their pension, too, will see a jump.

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    The government has proposed increasing the monthly salary of an MP from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh, constituency allowance from Rs 45,000 to Rs 90,000 and secretarial assistance plus office allowance from Rs 45,000 to Rs 90,000. The proposal, currently with the Finance Ministry, also suggests that basic pension should be raised from Rs 20,000 per month to Rs 35,000. Those who have served for more than five years would get an additional amount — the number of years multiplied by Rs 2,000. Currently, the additional amount is the number of years multiplied by Rs 1,500.

    If the Finance Ministry agrees to allocate the amount, Parliament will amend the Salary, Allowance and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill to incorporate the changes, sources said. “The ministry is expected to accept the proposals,” said a top government official.

    The Finance Minister had allocated Rs 295.25 crore for Lok Sabha MPs and Rs 121.96 crore for Rajya Sabha MPs — which includes expenses such as travel — in his last budget.

    Governor briefed on security along LoC, border

    Tribune News Servic,Jammu, December 22


    Governor NN Vohra today reviewed the security scenario on the Line of Control (LoC) and international border and discussed measures that could enhance transparency in the administrative set-up.In a meeting, General Officer Commanding of 16 Corps, Lt Gen RR Nimbhorkar briefed the Governor about the situation along the LoC and the emerging security environment during the current winter.The Governor discussed with Lt Gen Nimbhorkar several issues related to more effective surveillance of the international border and further strengthening of the counter-infiltration grid. The Governor also spoke about security concerns in the hinterland.In a separate meeting, Chief Information Commissioner GR Sufi apprised the Governor about the efforts being made by the Commission for enabling implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2009, in the state and enhance awareness among the masses regarding their right to seek relevant information from all public offices under the Act.The Governor discussed with Sufi the measures which could be taken to further enhance transparency in the functioning of the administrative apparatus in Jammu and Kashmir.The Governor also met Ranjeet Singh, national president of the Bahujan Kranti Party (BKP) (Marxvad-Ambedkarvad). BKP president Ranjeet Singh submitted a memorandum to the Governor regarding the BKP’s demands.The demands included bringing about constitutional and statutory provisions for improving the electoral process, particularly deleting the names of contesting candidates from ballot paper; election-related expenditure being met by the government instead of candidates and political parties; elections being contested on the basis of party ideology and not in the name of any individual; grant of right to political parties to recall elected candidates; terminating recognition of political parties which fail to fulfil 75 per cent of promises mentioned in their election manifestos; and doing away with MPLAD and constituency development funds.

    Army holds blood donation camp

    A blood donation camp was organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regimental Centre under the aegis of the Chinar Corps, on its Rangreth here on Monday.The camp was inaugurated by the Officiating Commandant, JAK LI Regimental Centre, Col AA Bapat.A defence spokesperson said the camp was organised with a view to augment the stock of blood at the civil hospital in Srinagar.“Nearly 50 Army personnel from the Regimental Centre donated blood. The blood units collected were provided to Lal Ded Hospital in Srinagar,” the spokesperson said.Senior officials of the Public Health Department present during the event mentioned that the blood will meet the urgent surgical requirement at the hospital.

    Pak bans 61 terror outfits, but JuD still ‘under observation’

    Tribune News Service/PTI,Jammu/ Islamabad, Dec 18

    The Pakistan government today named two terrorist organisations, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), working in Jammu and Kashmir, as banned outfits among 59 other organisations.However, Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawah is not among the list of 61 banned outfits but is “under observation”, the country’s Interior Ministry told Parliament today.State Minister for Interior Balighur Rehman presented a list of 61 banned militant, sectarian and extremist outfits in the country before the Senate, the Upper House. “Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) is not included in the list of banned groups as it is under observation,” he said.The list of banned organisations includes groups like the Islamic State, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Muhammed Pakistan and Sipah-e-Sahaba. It also includes Baloch separatist groups like Balochistan Republican Army and Lashkar Balochistan.The minister said the banned organisations are watched to prevent them from resurfacing under different names and the provinces have been asked not to allow banned outfits to come up. Both LeT and JeM are active in Jammu and Kashmir for past many years and despite facing ban for doing activities in Pakistan, these terrorist organisations are working in J&K. Both these organisations have been involved in terror activities in J&K and rest of India like 26/11 Mumbai attack, which was carried by LeT and they continue to get support from across the border. India has been continuously pushing for action against these banned groups who are using Pakistan’s territory to attack India. Many a times, India has given proof of camps being run by these organisations in PoK and are sending terrorists inside India, but no action has been taken so far.

    UN designated Saeed as terrorist in 2008

    • The UN declared JuD a terror organisation and also individually designated Hafiz Saeed (pic) as a terrorist in December 2008. The US has already put $10 million bounty on his head
    • Saeed, who orchestrated the November, 2008, Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed, roams around freely in Pakistan despite being a designated terrorist and has made many anti-India remarks and speeches


    Discipline paramount, no place for body art in army

    PATIALA: Sounds strange, but the presence of tattoos on their bodies prevents several potential Punjabi candidates from getting selected to the Indian Army every year.

    BHARAT BHUSHAN/HTColonel Vaneet Mehta training jawans recruited during the previous rally in Patiala on Thursday.

    Despite a specified policy on tattoos in place since 2012, the trend remains prevalent. Now, the Patiala office that caters to five districts has especially highlighted the rules on tattoos for nearly 30,000 candidates participating in the upcoming recruitment drive for the post of jawan.

    Director of the local office Colonel Vaneet Mehta said that the military life is all about discipline. “But as we have seen in recent years, several candidates are debarred from selection during the screening process due to objectionable tattoos on their bodies. We have, therefore, highlighted the rules in our publicity material for awareness of candidates participating in our upcoming recruitment drive, so that they are not disqualified just because of these mistakes,” he said. THE REGULATIONS As per the army’s regulations on the display of tattoos that were released in 2012, candidates appearing for selection to the post of jawan are allowed only limited and prescribed-size tattoos on inner parts of their forearms, i.e. from inside of the elbow to the wrist and on the reverse side of their palms. Permanent body tattoos on any other part of the body are not acceptable and candidates are debarred from selection during the screening process, state the rules mentioned in the publicity material. The Indian Army, recently, specified tattoo rules for commissioned officers as well.


    Colonel Mehta said that the presence of tattoos will be checked soon after the candidates get selected in the initial race. Following this, dope test and other physical tests will be conducted before the final medical test. The written test scheduled in January-end will lead to the final selection. NOT MANY SURVIVE INITIAL STAGES

    Even as the number of candidates registered for the upcoming drive has increased by 8,000 to 9,000, not more than 10% of the total registered candidates are able to reach the final stage. A senior army official said that as many as 70% candidates fail to clear the initial run, in which a candidate has to cover 1.6 km in 5.4 minutes. “Not more than 10% survive the recruitment process till the final stage,” he said. In 2013, the Patiala office recruited 1,172 jawans, which went down to 972 in 2014. The prevalent drug abuse in Punjab and availability of other lucrative career options had led to the decrease in the recruitment of Punjabi youth in the army, said another officer. “With more candidates this time, we hope to see an increase in the selections,” he said.

    Tributes paid to 1971 war heroes at Chandimandir

    Tribune News Service,Chandigarh, December 16

    Remembering the heroes: War widows pay tributes to martyrs at Veer Smriti War Memorial to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pak War in Chandimandir on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

    Commemorating the 44th anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pak War, tributes were paid to martyrs during a solemn ceremony organised at the Veer Smriti War Memorial at the Western Command headquarters in Chandimandir today.Wreaths were laid by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt Gen KJ Singh, former Army chief Gen VP Malik, several retired senior officers as well as war widows.A ceremonial guard reversed arms while buglers sounded the Last Post followed by the Rouse, as a mark of respect to the fallen soldiers. A large number of serving and retired officers and other ranks attended the ceremony.As part of the Vijay Diwas celebrations, a befitting tribute was also paid to Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal, who was decorated posthumously with Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award, for his actions on the western front during the war. Poona Horse, Kheterpal’s regiment, sent a ceremonial guard for the occasion and wreaths were laid at his statue installed near the entrance of Chandimandir. Several of his course mates and regimental officers, some of who became Lieutenant Generals, as well as officers and men from the regiment were present on the occasion.War widows and the kin of martyrs of the tricity were also felicitated by Anita Singh, regional president, Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA).The day is celebrated every year to commemorate the spectacular victory achieved by the Indian armed forces on both eastern as well as western fronts in 1971.It was on this day 44 years ago that over 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered before the Indian Army, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh.

    Self-defence course begins at Nagrota

    Tribune News Service,Jammu, December 16

    A week-long self-defence course was started at the Nagrota Military Station from today. The course received a huge response and was attended by wives of 40 officers, 170 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and other ranks and about 300 girls.Self-defence is being taught by Sujit Singh, an instructor of taekwondo. He is presently the secretary general of the Mumbai Taekwondo Association and has trained of many Bollywood celebrities in Mumbai.Sheela Nimbholkar, zonal president, AWWA, laid stress on the importance of self-defence training for women and girls. She motivated them to participate in the course and benefit from it.

    Army remembers 1971 war victory

    Tribune News Service,Srinagar, December 16

    The Chinar Corps celebrated the 44rd anniversary of the Indian victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak War in the true military traditionby remembering the heroes and soldiers killed during the war.A brief but solemn ceremony was organised in the Badami Bagh Cantonment, for the serving soldiersand ex-servicemen.“The event was attended by a large number of Army and civilian persons. Lt Gen Satish Dua, General Officer Commanding, Chinar Corps, paid homageto the martyrs by layinga wreath at the War Memorial in the Badami Bagh Cantonment,” said a defence spokesman.December 16 is celebrated as Vijay Diwas to commemorate the Indian Army’s victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.The war came to anend with the total capitulation of the Pakistaniarmy in erstwhile East Pakistan and led to the creation of Bangladesh.In this war, the Indian Army captured the maximum number of prisoners of war since the end of the Second World War.The Chinar Corps was responsible for the entire Jammu and Kashmir during the war and achieved many successes.Speaking on the occasion, the General Officer Commanding, Chinar Corps, recounted the sacrifices made by Army personnel and the tremendous achievements of the Chinar Corps during the conflict.“A victory of such a magnitude would not have been possible without the tremendous sacrifice by the soldiers,” said Lt Gen Dua.He reiterated the Army’s resolve to stand by the people in all efforts towards a better future.Similar functions were organised at different Army formations and units in the Kashmir valley, in which the spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood was overwhelming.