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    PM’s visit: Capt to burn ‘chitta Ravana’ effigy

    Manav Mander

    Tribune News Service

    Ludhiana, October 15

    Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Capt Amarinder Singh today said he would burn an effigy of “chitta Ravana” in Ludhiana during the Prime Minister’s visit to the city on October 18.He was in the city to address a function to mark Valmiki Jayanti.“Chitta Ravana will be burnt at the same site where a clash took place on the eve of Dasehra. As soon as Modi will start speaking, the effigy will go up in flames,” said Amarinder.“I will burn the effigy. Let them try and stop me if they can,” Amarinder challenged the Akali government, asserting, “I want to show the Prime Minister the sorry state of affairs in Punjab.”“Let Modi also get a taste of how Punjab is burning under the Akali rule,” he said. He added that the Congress leaders and workers would burn the effigy in all 117 Assembly constituencies of the state.“The Congress will fight the drug menace in the state till it’s completely wiped out. It is not that the police do not want to work, but the reality is that the police are not allowed to work on this front,” said Captain.The Punjab Congress chief also came down heavily on the Badal government for the spurt in atrocities against Dalits across the state and demanded stern action against those involved in the recent killing of a Mansa youth and other incidents of violence against the community.He also visited the injured DCC president, Gurpreet Gogi, who is in hospital since the Dasehra eve clash between the Congress and Akali workers.

    Indian Army doesn’t speak but displays its valour: Modi Lauds soldiers’ humanitarian contribution

    Indian Army doesn’t speak but displays its valour: Modi
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses ex-servicemen in Bhopal on Friday. ANI

    Bhopal, October 14Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the Army will never “forgive” the country if it is found “sleeping” when it should be awake, in comments that come against the backdrop of the recent surgical strikes.

    He asserted that the Indian Army does not believe in speaking but in displaying its valour.

    “Our Army is happiest when we sleep in peace. They have no complaint. But they will never forgive us if we sleep when we should be awake. Unfortunately, we have been found sleeping when we should have been awake.

    “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. We have to keep alert always. It will be injustice to the army if we sleep away when we have to be awake,” he said without elaborating.

    Addressing ex-servicemen and their families at the inauguration of ‘Shaurya Smarak’ (memorial to valour) here, he devoted his speech hailing the role of armed forces and their spirit of sacrifice in adverse situation.

    “Our Army does not speak but displays its valour. When I would say this earlier, they (critics) would tear my hair out.

    “They would say Modi is sleeping and doing nothing. Like our Army which does not speak but displays its valour, our Defence Minister also does not speak … ,” he said, with a pause, as the audience broke into applause with some raising patriotic slogans.

    Modi said the ancestors in hundreds of years of India’s history never waged a war to capture a country. “But if it comes to fighting for values and ideals, India is never found wanting,” he said.

    Lauding the valour and humaneness of armed forces, he referred to their relief and rescue operations in Srinagar during the floods two years ago despite the violence they face from the stone-pelting mobs.

    “When massive floods hit Srinagar two years ago, the government found it difficult to deal with the situation and the country saw that our jawans were toiling to save people’s lives. — PTI

    House panel to examine e-vote for armed forces

    KV Prasad

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, October 11

    The growing demand for inclusion of alternative methods of voting other than proxy and postal ballots for defence personnel would be taken up for examination by a parliamentary panel this week even as there is little movement on such a facility for NRIs.The committee, headed by Garhwal MP Maj Gen (Retd) Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, is scheduled to hear evidence from the representatives of the Ministries of Defence, Law and Justice and Election Commission on the issue of e-postal ballots, a proposal mooted a couple of years ago for the benefit of NRIs.While evaluating the existing facility of postal ballots and proxy voting, the panel decided to examine the proposal for NRIs that among other things envisages reaching the ballot paper through electronic mail, of which a registered voter can take a printout only once and then submit it to Indian mission.The Election Commission had set up a committee, which submitted a report in October 2014 exploring the feasibility of alternative options for voting by overseas electors. Commenting that the existing system of postal ballots is both time consuming and cumbersome, the committee said a one-way electronic postal ballot with some safeguards like secrecy, privacy and accuracy of vote, protected by passwords, containing unique barcode/QR code with watermark and unique ID generated through customised random algorithm could be a way out. After prolonged discussion, armed forces personnel are now allowed to cast their votes either through postal ballots or a proxy following due process established by the poll panel.

    10 swiftest, most secret ops

    • 1942, Operation Anthropoid, Prague: Code name for the assassination attempt on Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich. It was planned by the British Special Operations Executive with the approval of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. Although only wounded in the attack, Heydrich died from his injuries in June 1942 and his death led to a wave of merciless reprisals by German troops.
    • 1972, Operation Wrath of God: After terrorist group Black September kidnapped and murdered 11 Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics in 1972, the Israeli intelligence Mossad sought revenge. Covert Israeli assassination units killed dozens of suspected conspirators across Europe. The operation spurred retaliations and criticism of Israel.
    • 1976, Israeli raid at Entebbe: Under cover of darkness, Israeli commandos launched Operation Thunderbolt, to rescue 100 Jewish passengers of an Air France jet that had been hijacked and flown to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. The mission was largely a success, with all seven hijackers and dozens of Ugandan soldiers killed.
    • 1980, Iranian hostage rescue: Iranian students took 53 Americans hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979. Early next year a plan, Operation Eagle Claw, ended in disaster in the desert as members of the US Army Rangers and the Delta Force antiterrorism team ran into sand storms and aborted the mission. In a subsequent fire during the evacuation, eight men died and the team left a Sea Stallion helicopter and a C-130 aircraft burning in the desert.
    • 1989, Arrest of Manuel Noriega: In the winter of 1989, US launched Operation Nifty Package to overthrow and capture the Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega. Three platoons of Navy SEALs tracked down and surrounded Noriega at the Apostolic Nuncio, a Roman Catholic facility in Panama City. After a bloody firefight and psychological pressure for several days, Noriega surrendered.
    • 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia: US Army Rangers and Delta Force teams launched an operation in October 1993 to capture Somali warloard Mohamed Farrah Aidid. But after two US Black Hawk helicopters were downed by rocket-propelled grenades, the mission quickly unraveled. US lost 18 soldiers and another 73 were wounded. The Somali managed to escape.
    • 2002, Moscow theatre hostage: In 2002, Chechan rebels took over the crowded Nord-Ost Theater in Moscow, taking 850 hostages. After two days, Russian Spetsnaz forces pumped an unknown chemical into the theater’s ventilation system and then stormed the complex. The raid left at least 170 dead, including 129 hostages and 39 terrorists.
    • 2003: Rescue of Jessica Lynch: Jessica Lynch, a US soldier was taken prisoner by Iraqi forces in March 2003, when her convoy was ambushed in Nassiriya. She was missing for nine days. On April 1, a team of US Special Forces launched a nighttime raid on the hospital where she was kept and rescued her.
    • 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said to the be among the key planners of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, was among three terrorism suspects arrested in a March 2003 CIA-led operation in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan.
    • 2011, Killing of Osama bin Laden: A heli-borne assault, Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out by a team of US Navy SEALs on the compound of terrorist kingpin Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. The mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001, was killed and the team gathered a large cache of documents and manuscripts.

    Pak army initiates ‘movement’ across the border

    Pak army initiates 'movement' across the border
    The movement of Pak army was witnessed from the Chakri border outpost in Gurdaspur district.

    Ravi Dhaliwal

    Tribune News Service

    Gurdaspur, October 6

    The BSF has recorded “unusual vehicular movement” of Pakistani army in Narowal and Shakargarh tehsils across the international border (IB) following which intelligence agencies are regularly updating security agencies about the latest developments. The movement is visible from almost BSF Border Outposts (BOP) in Punjab. In Gurdaspur, this movement was recorded by jawans through binoculars manning the towers at the Chakri BOP while in Pathankot officials were monitoring it at the Dinda (forward) BOP.

    (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)

    A BOP is an outpost maintained by the Border Security Force to watch over and safeguard its border.

    Shakargarh and Narowal are barely 10 km from the IB fencing located in Gurdaspur district.Senior BSF officers confirmed that vehicular movement was visible through surveillance equipment, including binoculars, available at the BOPs.However, no officer wanted to go on record fearing the repercussions of an executive order (EO) issued by the BSF Director General recently.The order warns all officers, barring the Punjab Frontier IG, from speaking to the media. “Disciplinary action will be initiated against officers who speak to the press,” reads the note.In fact, several similar orders have arrived at sector headquarters in the last few days making officers wary of going public, the EO being the latest one.Officers confirmed that a day after the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes in PoK, light movement of Pakistani army officials was witnessed.“However, with the passage of time the intensity of the build-up has gone from light to mild. Jawans are cleaning bunkers from inside and elephant grass surrounding these bunkers is also being removed. Probably, they must be doing a reconnaissance of the area. Patrolling by their jawans is also not being ruled out. It is also possible that they may be expecting infiltration from the Indian side. Nothing can be ruled out at this juncture and all possibilities are open,” said an officer not willing to be quoted because of the executive order.Sources said this type of activity was expected after the PoK strikes.The army is being regularly updated on the build-up by intelligence agencies.Dinda BOP shot into limelight when the NIA feared that the four JeM militants who were involved in the January 2 Pathankot Air Force station attack had entered Indian territory through this BOP.  Belongings and food packets of the terrorists were found buried in a pit near this place.BSF, which monitors the 553 km of border in Punjab, has been asked to step up its surveillance in this area.

    Control war hysteria, don’t spread panic, NGO tells Modi government

    Tribune news service

    Amritsar, October 2

    Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM), appreciating the Indian military action against terrorists in Pakistan, has urged the government to control war hysteria.Its members, in a meeting convened here today, stated that a border district like Amritsar always suffered the most during a war as its industry and agriculture incurred massive losses.The government’s precautionary evacuation from border villages of this district created panic among urban traders, businessmen and industrialists besides the public.It seems that the government had shown haste in ordering the evacuation drive in all border villages of Punjab whereas no such move had taken place in border states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. This evacuation move may adversely affect the business, trade and industries of Amritsar, the main border city of Punjab. Instead of raising the morale of public to face any untoward situation, the government machinery spread panic itself. When other border states were in a calm and steady state, Punjabis were made to feel as if they were in a war-like situation, members of the AVM said.AVM president Kulwant Singh Ankhi said many big business and industries like Partap Steel Mills, Shambu Nath Factory of Sulphuric Acid, Hind Thermometers along with textile units of Gate Hakiman, Puttalighar and Chheharta shut their operations leaving thousands of workers, technicians, engineers and ministerial staff jobless in the war years of 1965 and 1971.He recalled that in Partap Steel Mills, more than a thousand workers became unemployed when the factory was shifted to another city. The value of property also nosedived during that period.No evacuation was encouraged by the government in 1965 and 1971 war periods. But the brave residents of border villages helped Army personnel in many ways. The residents supplied food in bunkers, boosting morale of the soldiers. But why the government was asking border village residents to evacuate their homes in today’s time was not understandable, he said.


    Let us not lose sight of cost of escalation

    Pritam Singh
    Reducing India-Pak tensions is a historic necessity. Regions far from the borders can afford to play warmongering games, but the border regions would be devastated in both countries if war breaks out.

    Let us not lose sight of cost of escalation
    BUSSED OUT: Residents of Ranian village on the border in Amritsar district being shifted to safer places on Thursday. Vishal Kumar/Tribune

    There is a palpable danger of India-Pakistan conflict escalating after the Indian Army’s recent operation against ‘terror’ sites across the border. India and Pakistan have previously fought four wars and each of those wars has led to loss of lives and destruction of nature on both sides. These mutually destructive wars have also hindered the initiatives at reducing poverty and ill health in both the countries.A very basic lesson in economics teaches us that resources are always scarce and overuse of resources in one sphere is always at the cost of resources in another sphere. A development economist once did a global survey of solider-teacher ratio in different countries and found that countries with higher soldier-teacher ratio have lower human development than those with lower soldier- teacher ratio. A very simple conclusion is that societies which have more resources devoted to teaching than those devoted to  building armies are higher in human well-being index. The most impressive example is of Costa Rica, a Latin American country which decided in 1948 to have no army at all because it decided that it will never attack another country and believed that since none of its neighbours will feel threatened by it, it does not have any fear of being attacked by any of them. The country maintains only a police force for internal security measures. A calculation done a few years ago showed that although Costa Rica ranked 68th in the world in terms of per capita Gross Domestic Product, it ranked Number 1 in the “Happy Planet Index” and also Number 1 in the World Database of Happiness. In 1987, Costa Rican President Oscar Aria in an address to the US Congress outlined the remarkable vision of his country when he said:“I belong to a small country that was not afraid to abolish its army in order to increase its strength. In my homeland you will not find a single tank, a single artillery piece, a single warship or a single military helicopter…. Today we threaten no one, neither our own people nor our neighbours. Such threats are absent not because we lack tanks but because there are few of us who are hungry, illiterate or unemployed.” This bold vision was one reason that he was awarded, very deservingly, the Nobel Peace Prize that year. The peace dividend that Costa Rica earned also led to the country being selected for the headquarters for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and also the United Nations’ University of Peace. Not every country has the fortune, either because of its geo-political location or due to the quality of its leadership to take the path Costa Rica took, but every country has a choice between deescalating or escalating conflict with its neighbours. In the case of India-Pakistan relations, there have been ups and downs due mainly to the quality of political leadership in both countries. Undoubtedly, the Kashmir issue is the most intractable in the relations between the two countries. It is an internal conflict within India and any Pakistan interference is because the Indian political leadership has not shown the boldness of vision that is required to solve this issue. An external power can, if it wants to, intervene in an internal conflict of another country but it cannot create that conflict. Why is it that Pakistan cannot intervene in Haryana or Madhya Pradesh or any other Hindi-speaking state? The answer is that none of these states has any fundamental conflict with the Indian Union. Even in Punjab, there was some Pakistan interference only after there was internal disaffection in the state after the 1984 Operation Bluestar action at the Golden Temple. Similarly, India was able to intervene in 1971 in what was East Bengal then because that region had conflict with the Punjabi-Urdu dominated establishment in Pakistan. Or for that matter, India now intervenes in some form or another in Baluchistan because that region has a conflict with the central Pakistani state but India is unable to intervene in any way in Pakistani Punjab because that region has full identification with the central Pakistani state.India’s problem in Kashmir or Pakistan’s problem in Baluchistan is not unique. In fact, the major forms of armed conflict in today’s world are not between countries but within countries. There has not been a major war for quite some time between countries but the world is ravaged today by internal conflicts. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, Chechnya in Russia and the Uyghur Autonomous Region in China are the major known trouble spots of internal conflicts. The late Edward Said had once made a remarkable observation that the twentieth century was a century of the birth of nations. He referred both to the process of decolonisation that gave birth to many nation states such as India and Pakistan, but also to the struggles of smaller nationalities within large nation states to shape their own destinies. That process is continuing in the twenty-first century.Countries with developed democratic cultures and institutions have found democratic ways of dealing with internal nationality aspirations, such as Scotland in the UK and Quebec in Canada, but developing countries lacking such structures have become arenas of armed conflicts. A major study done by Prof Frances Stewart and her colleagues at Oxford has found that countries with poverty are more prone to violent conflicts, and the violent conflicts, in turn, further lead to more poverty by destroying infrastructure and through distorted resource allocation.In the long run, path to peace does lie in India resolving its internal conflict in Kashmir but waiting for that long run does not mean that steps cannot be taken in the interim to deescalate conflict. It is important to recognise that there are uneven regional implications of conflict. Regions far away from the borders can afford to play warmongering games because their stakes are next to nothing but the border regions would be devastated in both countries if tensions continue and war breaks out. The political and community leaders in the border regions, irrespective of their party affiliations, have a moral duty at this historical juncture to raise their voice against those who are itching for escalating conflict.The writer is a Professor of Economics at Oxford Brookes University, UK.

    World powers at work to defuse LoC tension

    World powers at work to defuse LoC tension
    US, Russia and China have urged India, Pakistan for restraint. AFP

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, October 2

    With major global powers like the US, Russia and China urging India and Pakistan to resolve disputes and reduce tensions, the chances of escalation to the latest war-type hysteria are receding.In India, the calculation is that barring the usual firing across the Line of Control (LoC), matters will not escalate. But the guard is up as Pakistan could try a new tactic to counter the Indian Army’s cross-LoC strike on terror camps on September 29.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)Though it may be too early to think of a dialogue, going by recent incidents, tensions have defused slowly. Almost a year after the Operation Parakaram (December 2001 to October 2002), Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had taken a call on opening a dialogue with Pakistan. The ceasefire along the LoC in November 2003 had been agreed upon. The composite dialogue had carried on ‘well’ for the next five years till the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. After the Mumbai attacks, it took several months for the first official engagement.As of now, Beijing has favoured direct bilateral talks between India and Pakistan to iron out the wrinkles. China holds an economic interest in both countries. It has a US $46 billion investment in the China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) that connects its Xinjiang province (north of Kashmir) with Gawadar port in the Arabian Sea. This is road, rail and petroleum pipeline connection. With India, China has bilateral annual trade of nearly US $80 billion with India being a major market for China’s exports.“As for the tension between Pakistan and India, recently Chinese side has been in communication with both sides through different channels,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing in Beijing last week.New Delhi and Beijing had conducted pre-planned counter-terrorism and security dialogue and it happened after the September 18 terror attack on an Indian military establishment at Uri in northern Kashmir.Air Vice Marshall Kapil Kak (retd), a former fighter pilot who fought two wars with Pakistan, says, “While being prepared in every way to respond potently to any reaction from Pakistan Army, we need to rework our arithmetic to initiate talks at the NSA level to begin with for restoration of a semblance of normality in bilateral relations.”Air Vice Marshal Kak, who has been a powerful voice among New Delhi’s think-tanks and track-II diplomacy circles,  cites the example of  Vajpayee and his initiative to argue: “Such an initiative would be a true indicator of India’s maturation as a great power in the making”.The US, on its part, has asked Pakistan to close all terrorist safe havens and target all militant groups, including those that target neighbouring countries. India made a pitch at the UN for isolating nations that nurture, peddle and export terror.  Russia has also supported the US and called upon both Pakistan and India to show restraint and resolve all the outstanding issues through peaceful means. 

    Father-son officer duo flies IAF helicopter together

    GUWAHATI: A father-son officer duo has achieved a rare feat in the Indian Air Force – flying a helicopter together.

    HT PHOTOAir Vice-Marshal Manvendra Singh (right) and his son Flight Lieutenant Siddharth Singh after the flight.

    Air Vice-Marshal Manavendra Singh and son Flight Lieutenant Siddharth Singh flew an Mi-17 V5 together during an air fest at the advanced landing ground near Meghalaya’s capital, Shillong, on Saturday.

    “This is possibly not the first time that a father-son duo has flown an IAF aircraft together, but such cases are rare,” defence spokesperson, Group Captain Amit Mahajan told HT from Shillong. Manavendra Singh, the senior officer in-charge of administration at the Upper Shillong-headquartered Eastern Air Command, has 6,700 hours of flying to his credit. Siddharth Singh was commissioned in 2011 in the helicopter stream.

    Ex-servicemen’s body seeks benefits for honorary officers

    Ex-servicemen’s body seeks benefits for honorary officers
    Shamsher Singh Bisht, president of the Personnel Below Officers Rank Purva Sainik Welfare Association, demands facilities in Dehradun on Friday. Tribune photo: Abhyudaya Kotnala

    Tribune News Service

    Dehradun, September 30

    Shamsher Singh Bisht, president of the Personnel Below Officers Rank Purva Sainik Welfare Association (PBOR), today said the Union Government should approve monetary and non-monetary benefits to retired honorary captains, and lieutenants like commissioned officers of Indian defence forces. The government should immediately draft a blueprint in this regard.Bisht, while addressing mediapersons here, said association members had submitted memorandums to state and Union governments, but to no avail. The President of India grants honorary commission to PBOR considering their 28 to 34 years of service. Honorary officers were not treated equally in hospitals and were deprived of other monetary and non-monetary perks. He demanded that honorary officers should be deployed in the Soldiers’ Welfare Board in the state. RD Shahi, UD Joshi, Ramesh Rawat and SS Bisht were present.