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    Parrikar to lay war memorial stone, Brig Behl says not informed

    Tribune News Service

    Dehradun, April 29

    Brig KG Behl (retd), patron of the Dehradun Ex-Services League, here today expressed surprise at the scheduled laying of the foundation stone of the Uttarakhand State War Memorial at Chir Bagh by the Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, tomorrow. The authorities had not intimated ex-servicemen associations on the issue, he said.“How it has been named Saurya Sthal instead of war memorial is not known. The design of the memorial has not been approved by any retired or serving defence official,” he said.Brig Behl added it was surprising that the ex-servicemen, who were involved in locating and designing the war memorial right from its inception, were purposely ignored.He said earlier the project was required to be taken up under the auspices of the Directorate of Sainik Kalyan Punarvas and Uttarakhand Sub-Area, but now it was being constructed under the Cantonment Board.He added that one acre had been allotted for the war memorial. The authorities should ensure that the war memorial should be appropriate and should function properly.

    Pak told to allow Indian team to hold Pathankot probe: VK Singh

    RECIPROCITY Minister says this was relayed at the ‘informal dialogue’ of foreign secretaries


    NEW DELHI: New Delhi has conveyed the need to allow an Indian probe team to visit Islamabad in connection with the Pathankot attack on the principle of reciprocity, minister of state for external affairs VK Singh told Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

    HT FILE/RAVI CHOUDHARYThe Centre said the talks between foreign secretary S Jaishankar (left) and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry were informal.He said this was relayed to Pakistani officials at the foreign secretaries’ talk on Tuesday, though it was not “an official dialogue”. Singh was responding to a question by Congress’ Anand Sharma on whether India will be allowed to interrogate Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in connection with the terror attack.

    “…so far as we are concerned, our high commissioner conveyed formally to Pakistan foreign ministry that the terms of reference for the visit are broadly agreed to with the proviso that they would be on the basis of reciprocity and agreed and followed in accordance with the extant legal provisions. This has been very clearly conveyed to the ministry of foreign affairs of Pakistan that, subsequently, what has come in newspapers, we are not concerned with,” Singh said. He added, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, has been “clearly told” that they have to look into NIA visiting Pakistan.

    “Now, he has to go back and take a formal view and convey it to us,” the minister said.

    Foreign secretaries of the two countries S Jaishankar and Chaudhry met on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference in New Delhi.

    The minister of state said when Pakistan sent its Joint Investigation Team, which included an ISI official, it was a sign of a “positive attitude”.

    The issue of an ISI member being present in the JIT was raised by Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Lok Sabha. Scindia asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to negotiate with the neighbour from a “position of strength”, instead of having an “emotional” response.

    Raising the issue before the start of the Question Hour, the Congress chief said the Pakistan media had insinuated that the India government had “staged a drama” to malign Pakistan and that the Indian side had not cooperated with the team.

    Responding to NCP member Majid Memon’s apprehension that Pakistan “may change” the evidence gathered here, and asked if India has a record of the information provided, Singh said: “Their JIT and our NIA had a dialogue at the professional level. Our method of enquiry and theirs is almost the same. They were given only the records we have.”

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    Dealings with Agusta on hold since July 2014: MoD

    Dealings with Agusta on hold since July 2014: MoD

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, April 28

    The Ministry of Defence today issued a statement saying all procurement from tainted Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland has been put on hold since July 2014 and that the contract to supply 12 VVIP helicopters was terminated in January 2014.In simple words, the MoD has indicated that the company is facing a ban.Arun Jaitley of the BJP was the Defence Minister in July 2014 and AK Antony of the Congress was the incumbent in January 2014.The MoD today said the “publicly available information on the procurement of AgustaWestland helicopters clearly shows that the core issue in the matter is corruption”.“The present government has taken effective action to bring out the truth and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrong-doers in the case. The time taken is largely because some of the key perpetrators of this misdeed are outside the country,” the statement said.The MoD said questions have been raised on certain trivial technicalities, which appear to be intended to distract attention from the core issue of corruption.The government, through its order dated July 3, 2014, put on hold all procurement/acquisition cases in the pipeline as regards six companies figuring in the FIR registered by the CBI. The said companies are AgustaWestland International Limited, UK; Finmeccanica, Italy, and its group companies, including subsidiaries and affiliates; IDS, Tunisia; Infotech Design System (IDS), Mauritius; IDS Infotech Limited, Mohali; and Aeromatrix Info Solution Private Limited, Chandigarh. No new capital procurement has been made thereafter from these companies.The MoD said a joint venture involving AgustaWestland was cleared by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. The proposal was approved on September 2, 2011, based on an application by Indian Rotorcraft Ltd, a joint venture of Tata Sons with AgustaWestland NV, Netherlands. This was later changed to AgustaWestland SpA, Italy, due to re-organisation within the group.On February 7, 2012, an industrial licence for the manufacture of helicopters was granted by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to Indian Rotorcraft Ltd. However, the validity of the licence has since expired.

    HHRC seeks details of Army’s action


    HHRC seeks details of Army’s action
    Troops carry out a flag march during the Jat agitation in Rohtak. File photo

    Deepender Deswal

    Tribune News Service

    Hisar, April 26

    The Haryana Human Rights Commission (HHRC) has sought information from Deputy Commissioners (DC) about Army’s movement and action taken by troops to disperse the mob during the Jat agitation in February.Violence did not stop in districts where the troops were deployed. The district authorities had issued warnings that the Army had been given shoot-at-sight orders to deal with agitators, but experts raised questions about the proper utilisation of troops. Army officials had denied firing on the mob.Around 75 columns of troops were deployed in nine districts and they carried out flag marches carrying placards mentioning “Army” written in bold red letters.The state government had called in Army after local police and administration failed to control arsonists. The troops were deployed in Rohtak, Hisar, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Bhiwani, Fatehabad, Jind, Panipat and Kaithal districts.The HHRC has asked the Deputy Commissioners (DC) to submit reports about the Army’s movement in their respective districts from February 19 to 23. The commission has also asked whether or not troops used force or resorted to firing to disperse agitators.Besides, the DCs have been asked the places where Army was dispatched and the name of the officer deployed as the District Magistrate for the purpose of directing the military authorities.The letter sought details of instructions issued to the military for tackling the agitators.The HHRC had issued notice to the DCs in March to submit the replies within two weeks. Some of them are yet to respond.Director General of Police (DGP) KP Singh recently requested the commission to drop suo motu proceedings against the agitation, after which the HHRC rapped him and granted three more weeks (by May 17) to file the replies.

    GPS location of

    • cops being tracked
    • Jhajjar: The cyber cell of the police is ascertaining the location of officials deployed in the district during the Jat agitation in February. Superintendent of Police (SP) Jashandeep Singh Randhava confirmed the development. “The GPS location of every police official deployed in the district during the stir is being tracked following directives of the higher authorities,” he said. A report would be sent to the higher authority and erring policemen would face action, the SP said. Sources said policemen, up to the inspector rank, were not in the district on February 19, 20 and 21 when the maximum damage was done. Unruly mob set ablaze several government offices, police stations, houses, business establishments and vehicles during the Jat stir. In all, 13 persons were killed in the district.

    Ex-serviceman demands justice in fraud case

    Tribune News Service

    Amritsar, April 22

    Col Surinder Singh Ghuman’s (retd) is a classic case of how travel agencies, in connivance with bank authorities, defraud vulnerable youths aspiring to go abroad in search of greener pastures.Ghuman’s elder sister’s fixed deposit details were fraudulently attached with documents of a youth seeking admission in an Australian university. The youth belonged to the Majitha township in Amritsar. The travel agency preparing his documents for his admission in the Australian university is also located here.In the documents, the youth posed as the grandson of Kudeep Kaur, said Ghuman. He currently resides in Mohali. Kuldeep is his elder sister. The fraud came to light when the bank authorities sought clarification from Ghuman. His elderly sister had never married and officials of the Oriental Bank of Commerce at Mohali knew about this.Alarmed at this, he immediately approached the bank authorities and sought action against the culprits. Perturbed over the “indifferent” attitude of the bank authorities, he made efforts and zeroed in on an aspiring student, Arshdeep Singh, and the travel agency involved in the alleged scam. He then approached the Amritsar rural police. The student belonged to Majitha, falling under the rural police. After a couple of months, the case has transferred to the city police because the travel agency, OECC, was in the Ranjit Avenue area. Finally following an inquiry conducted by the Economic Offence wing, the Civil Lines police registered a fraud case in this regard on December 12, 2015. The inquiry nominated two persons, including a loan officer of the bank at Jalandhar, identified as Lal Chand, and Kulwinder Singh, an employee of the travelling agency, was booked. The inquiry pointed out that Kulwinder connived with Lal Chand. They kept the student and the manager of the travel agency in dark before attaching documents of Kuldeep Kaur with the file of Arshdeep Singh.Assistant Commissioner of Police BK Singla, who is investigating the case, said the probe was under progress while the police had already registered a case in this regard.

    Talks with Pak not suspended: India

    New Delhi, April 22India today reiterated that the dialogue process with Pakistan had not been suspended, as was made out of the remarks by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, but did not indicate of any progress or possible timeline for a formal exchange.Responding to a question on the issue, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that after the Pathankot attack, investigation of the incident became the focus, but other aspects too were under discussion. “The dialogue process has not been suspended…rest is a matter of detail…dialogue has never been suspended”.Basit’s remarks on suspension of dialogue earlier led to speculation over the nature of engagement and whether New Delhi and Islamabad were speaking in different voices. The Pakistan Foreign Office said door for negotiations with India was still open. — TNS

    RIC SUMMIT Flip-flop on terror dangerous: India

    Sushma talks tough with China on the need to curb global menance

    Flip-flop on terror dangerous: India
    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Chinese and Russian counterparts Wang Yi (L) and Sergei Lavrov, respectively, at RIC Summit in Moscow on Monday. REUTERS

    Moscow, April 18

    Seeking strong global action against terror networks, India today warned the international community that if it continues to adopt “double standards” in dealing with the menace there will be “serious consequences”.In her address at the Foreign Ministers meeting of RIC (Russia-India-China), External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the grouping must lead the world in fighting terrorism.“India believes that the foremost challenge to international security continues to be posed by international terrorism. The RIC countries must lead the way in getting the international community together to counter terrorism through joint action, including at the UN,” Swaraj said.“We must not fail in this regard. If we continue to adopt double standards in dealing with terrorism it will have serious consequences not just for our own countries, but the international community as a whole,” she said.Her remarks come in the backdrop of China stopping UN sanctions committee from designating JeM chief Masood Azhar as terrorist, maintaining that the case “did not meet the requirements” of the Security Council.Talking about the UN Security Council reform, she said a greater urgency was required on the issue and sought support of Russia and China.“Let me also touch upon the issue of reform of UN Security Council, on which there has been some positive movement with a text being put for the first time on the table for inter-governmental negotiations. However, we need greater urgency on this issue. I seek the support of my Chinese and Russian colleagues for taking the IGN process forward,” she said.The External Affairs Minister said the slowdown of the global economy had created its own set of issues for economies of all three countries and they must join hands in spurring growth.“As three large, emerging economies, we share similar approaches and could benefit from coordinating our positions,” Swaraj said.On BRICS, Swaraj said it was an important framework to boost economic growth. “We look forward to active participation of all members in the meetings of BRICS during our presidency this year. We hope to have a successful BRICS Summit in Goa in October,” Swaraj said.“Let me end by re-emphasising the importance of RIC for consultations on regional and global issues of common concern. I look forward to our consultations today,” she said.Swaraj said RIC provided a good opportunity to three countries to exchange views on how to jointly contribute to international peace, security and development. — PTI 

    Azhar issue raised

    • New Delhi: Sushma Swaraj on Monday raised with China the issue of it blocking India’s move at the UN to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief and Pathankot terror attacks mastermind Masood Azhar designated as an international terrorist. Swaraj met her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the RIC Summit in Moscow. In Beijing, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also conveyed India’s reservations to the Chinese leaders over its stand on Azhar. “We expressed what happened in the UN is not in the right direction and they have to take a common line on terrorism,” he said. tns & agencies

    Jhajjar braveheart cremated at native village with state honours

    Dhankar announces `50 lakh, government job for Major Amit Deswal’s kin

    JHAJJAR: The body of Major Amit Deswal of the 21 Para, who died in an encounter with Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF) militants in Manipur’s Tamenglong on Wednesday, was cremated at his native village of Surehti in Jhajjar district on Friday with state honours and 21 gunshots.

    HT PHOTOHaryana agriculture minister OP Dhankar among the pallbearers during the cremation of Major Amit Deswal at Surehti village in Jhajjar district on Friday.Major Deswal, 31, was born on Army Day (January 15) and had followed in the footsteps of his father, Subedar Major Rishi Ram Deswal (retired), to join the Indian Army. He sustained six bullet injuries during combing operations, the postmortem report revealed. Due to dense forest area, the army faced a challenge in recovering his body, and later due to bad weather, the body had to kept in Assam on Thursday night.

    Major Deswal’s body reached Delhi on Friday morning where army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag paid tributes to him. Earlier on Thursday, Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh reached the army unit in Jorhat to pay tributes to the soldier. From Delhi, Major Deswal’s body was brought to his Sector 6 residence in Jhajjar where people paid their last respects to the braveheart. Major Deswal’s body was then taken to his native village, where he was cremated with full military honours.

    Thousands of people, including former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, newly-appointed director general of police KP Singh, state legislator from Jhajjar Geeta Bhukkal, Rohtak inspector general of police Sanjay Kumar and Jhajjar superintendent of police Jashandeep Singh, thronged the village to pay tributes to Major Deswal. From the army, Lt Colonel Taruvesh Bhanot, Lt Col Deewan Singh and Lt General Raj Kadiyan (retired) paid their last respects to Major Deswal.

    Haryana agriculture minister OP Dhankar attended the funeral on behalf of the state government. He presented a “pushpa chakra” to the martyr and announced `50 lakh besides a government job for his kin.

    “We are proud of soldiers like Major Amit Deswal, who, without caring for their own safety, protect citizens of this nation by standing alert on the borders,” said Dhankar.

    Major Deswal is survived by his wife Neeta and three-year-old son Arjun. Neeta was a teacher at Sehwag International School in Jhajjar and had recently quit her job. She, along with her son, had accompanied Major Deswal’s father to visit him in Manipur where he was posted for Operation Hifazat-2. Amit has two siblings: an elder sister and a younger brother. He had last visited his home on February 16 for one week for his younger brother Sumit Deswal’s wedding.

    Major Deswal was commissioned on June 10, 2006, in the regiment of artillery, from where his father retired in 2009. After several successful operations, he was selected for the special forces and later entered the elite unit of the army in 2011. He was given an important role in Manipur for Operation Hifazat-2 in January 2016. Major Deswal’s brother Sumit told HT that he had received a Commander Dagger during the Ghatak course. After Capt Pawan Kumar, who was killed in Pampore, Major Amit Deswal is the second army officer from the state born on Army Day and killed fighting militants in the past two months.