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    Delhi HC seeks Centre’s reply on plea for recruiting married women in Army’s JAG dept

    New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought reply of the Centre on a PIL seeking directions to the government to recruit married women law graduates in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) department of the Indian Army like similarly-placed men.

    A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath issued notice to Ministry of Defence and the Army’s Directorate General of Recruiting and sought their replies by 10 August, saying the issue “requires consideration”.

    The court directed the government to explain its stand with regard to issues raised in the petition which has contended that “at present, Judge Advocate General Department of Indian Army recruits males (married/unmarried) and females (only unmarried) for serving in the Indian Army.

    “Due to this institutionalised discrimination, married female candidates who are law graduates are being deprived of their right to serve in JAG department of Indian Army,” the petition, by Kush Kalra, has claimed.

    Representational image. Reuters

    The petitioner has also said in his plea that “this discrimination on grounds of gender is violative of fundamental right of equality before law, right not to be discriminated on the ground of sex, equality of opportunity in matters of public employment, fundamental right to practice any profession and occupation and human rights of the women.”

    The petition, filed through advocate Jyotika Kalra, has also sought that the eligibility conditions prohibiting the entry of married female candidates in the JAG department be declared unconstitutional.

    The petition also states that aggrieved by “discrimination against females”, the petitioner had written a letter on September 19, 2015, to the Army requesting it to recruit married female candidates in the JAG department.

    However, he had not received any reply the petition said.

    It has also alleged “uneven distribution/allocation of seats for women” in recruitment into JAG as vacancies advertised for men were 10 and only four for women.

    Army flags off cycling expeditions at Baramulla, Nagrota, Leh

    Srinagar, May 16

    As part of centenary celebrations of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, three cycling expeditions were simultaneously flagged off today from Baramulla, Leh and Nagrota.The Chinar leg of the cycling expedition was flagged off from the War Memorial at Baramulla by the General Officer Commanding, Dagger Division, Major General JS Nain, in the presence of large number of school students and prominent citizens of Baramulla, a defence spokesman said.While flagging off the cycle expedition by the Himalayan Brigade, the GOC highlighted the significance of the event and immense contributions of Chinar Corps in the development and security of the region and urged the youth to serve the nation to the best of their ability, said the defence official.All three teams will be flagged in on May 25 at the headquarters of Chinar corps in Badami Bagh Cantonment, Srinagar.The spokesman said the cycling expeditions would be traversing through a difficult terrain and cover the historical routes of Zojila, Mughal Road and the Uri-Kupwara axis where famous battles have been fought by the Army safeguarding J&K.“The cycling expeditions, along each route, shall cover a distance of 450 km traversing through the Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu regions of the state,” he said. — TNS

    Scuffle at Army Unit in Arunachal Following Jawan’s Death

    Scuffle at Army Unit in Arunachal Following Jawan's Death

    A scuffle happened between officers and jawans at an Army unit in Arunachal Pradesh following the death of a jawan during a training session.

    The jawan reportedly died of chest pain during a routine training activity, an officer said.

    “The jawan complained of chest pain prior to a route march and was checked by the unit medical officer who found him fit. He later collapsed during the march. He was rushed to the field ambulance where he died,” the officer said.

    The Army headquarter has ordered investigation into the incident.

    The Army is playing down the incident by saying it is not a case of any mutiny. A few jawans got emotional and agitated leading to minor scuffle. No one was injured seriously.

    He said that 4-5 jawans became emotional while being consoled by their adjutant, the Captain. They got agitated leading to a scuffle, he said, adding that no one was injured.

    US sails warship near Chinese-claimed reef in South China Sea

    US sails warship near Chinese-claimed reef in South China Sea
    An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Taiwanese military plane shows the view of Itu Aba, which the Taiwanese call Taiping, at the South China Sea, March 23, 2016. Reuters photo

    Washington, May 10

    A US navy warship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea on Tuesday, a US Department of Defense official said, days after China warned criticism of its claim would rebound like a coiled spring.

    The freedom of navigation operation by the USS William P Lawrence, travelling within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-occupied Fiery Cross Reef, was to “challenge excessive maritime claims of some claimants in the South China Sea”, Defence Department spokesman Bill Urban said.

    “These excessive maritime claims are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention in that they purport to restrict the navigation rights that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise,” Urban said in an emailed statement.

    “No claimants were notified prior to the transit, which is consistent with our normal process and international law.” Facilities on Fiery Cross Reef include a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) runway and Washington is concerned China will use it to press its extensive territorial claims at the expense of weaker rivals.

    The Pentagon last month called on China to reaffirm it has no plans to deploy military aircraft in the disputed Spratly Islands after Beijing used a military plane to evacuate sick workers from the Fiery Cross airstrip.

    The move comes ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama to Vietnam later this month.

    China has reacted with anger to previous US freedom of navigation operations, and says that there has never been a problem with freedom of navigation or overflight in the South China Sea.

    Criticism of China over the South China Sea will rebound like a coiled spring, a Chinese diplomat said on Friday, as a US warship visited Shanghai against a backdrop of rising tension in the region. — Reuters

    Fund crunch delays IAF’s purchase plan

    Fund crunch delays IAF’s purchase plan
    This fiscal, the IAF is facing a shortage of Rs 7,748 crore in its capital budget and of Rs 2,769 crore in revenue budget. file photo

    Vijay Mohan

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, May 9

    While contacts for two additional airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) and a replacement of the C-130 that crashed are expected to be signed this fiscal, some key IAF procurements such as fighter aircraft, aerial refullers, and helicopters, and upgrade projects are likely to roll over to the next year due to paucity of funds.Parliament’s Standing Committee of Defence, in its latest report, has listed out 10 contracts worth over Rs 6,728 crore that are unlikely to be signed this year. This includes procurement of 56 new aircraft to replace the ageing Avro transporter, 48 medium-lift helicopters, six mid-air refuelling tankers, 20 Hawk advance jet trainers and 38 Pilatus basic trainers.The Indian Air Force’s wait for the much-needed KA-226 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters, long-range surface-to-air missiles, engines for the Jaguar fighter, electronic warfare suite for the MiG 29 and avionics upgrade for IL-76/78 has also lengthened.For the Rafale fighter jets, the procurement of which has been hanging for about a decade, a separate proposal will be moved for additional funds in 2016-17 to procure the 36 aircraft after details regarding cost and delivery timelines are finalised, the committee observed.Among the eight contracts, valued at Rs 2,039 crore, that would hopefully be signed this year are AWACS, a C-130 special missions aircraft, 14 Akash anti-aircraft missile units, upgrade for medium helicopters, precision-guided munitions, recce pods for Su-30, armament suite for Dhruvs and radio sets.This fiscal, the IAF is facing a shortfall of Rs 7,748 crore in its capital budget and of Rs 2,769 crore in revenue budget. The shortfall in capital allocations will slow down modernisation, delay induction of important capabilities, erode IAF’s superiority and result in asymmetry in capability with respect to envisaged threat perception and flight safetyThe lower revenue allocation will impact procurement of spares and fuel, affect serviceability, and lead to shortfall in training, resulting in compromise of operational preparedness and expenditure for disaster relief operations.

    Rs 6,728-cr contracts won’t be signed this yr

    • In its latest report, Parliament’s Standing Committee of Defence has listed 10 contracts worth over Rs 6,728 crore that are unlikely to be signed this year
    • This includes procurement of 56 new aircraft to replace the ageing Avro transporter, 48 medium-lift helicopters, six mid-air refuelling tankers, 20 Hawk advance jet trainers and 38 Pilatus basic trainers
    • The wait for the KA-226 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters has also lengthened

    Army holds fest for students

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, May 8

    The Army held its ‘Chinar 9 Jawan Festival’ at Sanctorum Public School in Sangrama, Baramulla, on Saturday. The festival was attended by more than 2,300 students and locals from Baramulla district.An Army spokesman said the event was specifically planned for the students and the unemployed youth of Baramulla district.The event commenced with the finals of the inter-school debate competition, in which 12 students competed in two categories for the final prizes.Siaqa Mushtaq, a student of Sanctorum Public School, won the first position in Category-I while Tabish Nabi, a student of SRM Welkin, Sopore, was the runner-up in the competition. In Cateogory-II, Awzail ul Haq from SRM Welkin stood first.General Officer Commanding, Kilo Force, Maj Gen Jarken Gamlin addressed the gathering and complimented all for their participation and encouragement to the initiatives of the Army.“He promised the locals and the students of the Army’s continued and unstinted support in all matters related to the development of society and efforts to harbinger peace in the Valley,” an Army spokesman said.The event was attended by senior Army and police officers and officials from Baramulla.

    A first: CRPF to deploy women in Red zones

    A first: CRPF to deploy women in Red zones
    Combat-ready: The paramilitary force is set to deploy 560 women commandos for anti-Naxal operations in select states. afp file

    New Delhi, May 8

    Breaking yet another proverbial glass ceiling, country’s largest paramilitary force CRPF is set to deploy over 560 women commandos for undertaking anti-Naxal operations in select Left Wing Extremism-affected states.The ambitious plan to deploy such a large number of women personnel in most challenging combat theatres in the country’s internal security domain got moving with a batch of 567 women passing out from the force’s training centre in Rajasthan’s Ajmer last week.CRPF Director-General K Durga Prasad said the full batch will now be deployed in phases in LWE areas in the ‘company formation’ style, which means about 100 personnel at one time.“These women who passed out on May 6 from Ajmer have been trained keeping in mind the LWE tasks rendered by us. We thought to give them the toughest assignment in the initial years of their service itself. Initially these women personnel will be deployed in one company at a time and after some time their deployment and work utility will be scaled up,” Prasad said.The DG added the force has already created living infrastructure and barracks for these women at certain locations while more such facilities will be created in due course of time. The CRPF, officials said, has been working on the concept that if Maoists can have women in their ranks, why not the security forces.The CRPF had initiated a plan in this regard last year when two small teams of these women personnel were sent for familiarisation exercises and based in CRPF camps in the worst-affected Bastar region of Chhattisgarh and some sensitive LWE hit areas of Jharkhand. Officials said they can easily interact with the local women folk which will not only help gather good intelligence but also help bring the force closer to the locals. — PTI

    Trained in jungle warfare, unarmed combat

    • The latest batch of CRPF women personnel have been trained for 44 weeks in jungle warfare, unarmed combat, smart weapons firing and other drills after which they got commissioned in the 232nd battalion of the force
    • This is the fourth ‘mahila’ battalion of CRPF. A CRPF battalion has about 1,000 personnel
    • The women personnel, once deployed, will be operating from active CRPF bases and will carry arms and undertake patrols like their male counterparts
    • Recently, border-guarding force ITBP had declared that it will post its women personnel in full combat role in its units along the Sino-Indian border

    3 militants killed in Pulwama gunfight Around a dozen injured in clashes; internet, mobile, train services suspended

    3 militants killed in Pulwama gunfight
    The house razed during a gunfight between militants and security forces in Pulwama district on Saturday. Tribune Photo: Amin War

    Majid Jahangir

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, May 7

    Three militants were killed in a four-hour-long gunfight in Pulwama district this morning. The killings triggered protests at many places, leaving nearly a dozen persons injured.The protests prompted the authorities to suspend train services between Baramulla and Banihal and snap internet and mobile services in south Kashmir.The gunfight erupted at Panzgam in Awantipora around 2 am when a joint team of the police, Army and CRPF cordoned off three houses in the village, nearly 35 km from Srinagar, after receiving an input that militants were hiding in the area.“As a search of houses suspected of sheltering them started, the militants opened fire, triggering a gunfight. Three militants were killed in the gunfight,” said Shridhar Patil, Superintendent of Police, Awantipora.Three AK rifles were recovered from the encounter site. The slain militants were identified as Ishfaq Baba of Tahab, Ishfaq Dar of Dogripora and Haseeb Palla of Brao Badan.While Baba and Dar were associated with the Hizbul Mujahideen, Palla was a member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. The house where the militants were hiding was razed during the gunfight.The two Hizb men, both “category A” militants, had been active since 2014 and were involved in many incidents of violence. Patil said one Hizb militant was an accused in two cases of murder.They were close associates of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who had been spearheading the social media campaign of young militants. Palla had joined militancy last year.As news about the killing of militants spread, villagers thronged the encounter site. A 17-year-old boy was wounded after an unexploded grenade went off at the site. He was rushed to a hospital.Clashes broke out in Tahab as people came out on the streets, throwing stones at police and CRPF personnel. Youths threw stones at the CRPF camp and the clashes continued for almost three hours.The police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Nearly a dozen civilians and policemen were injured in the clashes. A shutdown was observed in the district.Before the encounter in Pulwama today, a total of 34 militants had been killed by security forces in various anti-militancy operations.

    Teen hurt in blast

    • As news about the killing of militants in Panzgam village of Pulwama spread, villagers thronged the encounter site. A 17-year-old boy was wounded after an unexploded grenade went off at the site. He was rushed to a hospital
    • Two of the slain militants belonged to the hizbul Mujahideen and the third to the Lashkar

    End trust deficit for better ties: Pak

    End trust deficit for better ties: Pak
    Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry

    Islamabad, May 7

    Pakistan today said the “trust deficit” needs to be removed for better relations with India even as it voiced support for any effort to restart the stalled bilateral dialogue between the two nations.On resumption of talks with India, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said Pakistan would support any effort to restart the dialogue process. Chaudhry said there was a “trust deficit” which needs to be removed for better ties between the two nations. “Whenever there will be talks between Pakistan and India, Kashmir will remain on top of the agenda,” he added. He also talked about the arrest of alleged Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav, and termed it as proof of “Indian involvement” in Pakistan’s internal affairs.India has acknowledged Yadav is a retired Indian Navy officer but denied the allegation that he was connected to the government. — PTI

    This Will Not Be Bofors, Parrikar Tells Rattled Cong On Agusta


    Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the Agusta scam could have been stopped in 2012

    “You cannot run the government by practising politics of vendetta”, said Cong MP Jairam Ramesh in the Rajya Sabha


    “What we could not do in Bofors, we may be able to do now,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday. India hopes that Parrikar keeps the promise as the nation has been suffering due to institutionalised corruption.

    He made a statement in Lok Sabha and explained why the government believes the Congress designed a corrupt deal to buy AgustaWestland helicopters, and then did not take any action.

    Parrikar’s Bofors reference was aimed at Sonia Gandhi and the decades-old corruption scandal that cast shadow on Rajiv Gandhi, though he was not convicted of any charges.

    A few weeks ago, a Milan court convicted Agusta officers for paying bribes in India. The judge referred to documents seized from middlemen and Agusta executives. In them, Congress leaders including party president Mrs Gandhi are referred to. The judge has said that though there is evidence that Indian politicians and bureaucrats were bought, it is up to India to uncover the guilty – a comment Parrikar referenced in his speech.

    The Defence Minister said the Agusta scam could have been stopped in 2012, when executives of the Anglo-Italian firm were arrested in Italy. Instead, he said, the Congress-led government waited a full two years – till 2014 – to cancel the contract for a dozen helicopters for the use of VVIPs.

    In protests, the Congress walked out of the Lok Sabha during a lengthy debate, demanding a Supreme Court-monitored investigation on the Agusta deal. Before that, the defense of the Congress was presented by Jyotiraditya Scindia, who said of Sonia Gandhi, “She is a sherni (lioness)…they are scared of her”.

    The rattled Congress exhibited its anger in Rajya Sabha too. Party leader Jairam Ramesh alleged that the “sole objective” of Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah was to “fix” Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the scam.

    Ramesh also claimed that the Prime Minister did have a “brushoff meeting” with his Italian counterpart in New York last year after which India “diluted” its position on the Italian Marines issue and invited AgustaWestland to participate in Make In India programme.

    “Subramanian Swamy represents the politics of blackmail, insinuation and inneundo whose Jagadguru is Modi,” he claimed.

    “The Narendra Modi-Amit Shah approach of governance is fake investigation ….They have no interest in bringing closure to any case,” he said making a strong pitch for a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into the chopper deal.

    He said that BSP, JD-U and Left parties along with Congress have demanded such a probe to ensure a “doctored” inquiry does not take place.

    Alleging that the Modi dispensation wanted a “doctored inquiry to tell the world that Congress leadership is the beneficiary”, he said “There is no doubt that the Prime Minister himself is masterminding the conspiracy to implicate the Congress leadership…”

    “You cannot run the government by practising politics of vendetta, revenge and intimidation…Governments do not function by looking backwards but forward,” Ramesh said.

    Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, he said “acche din” (good days) for him would come only when the Congress leadership has been “fixed”.

    Attacking Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the Congress leader said his reply in the Rajya Sabha to the debate on AgustaWestland issue yesterday was one of the “worst examples in parliamentary history” as instead of responding to issues raised by the opposition, he read out a “catalogue of accusations and charges”.

    Ramesh accused Parrikar of not maintaining the dignity expected of a Defence Minister by “resorting to a political speech”.

    “The cat is out by the manner in which the Prime Minister last night tweeted and hailed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s reply in Rajya Sabha on the issue. It shows not only his mindset but his strategy too,” Ramesh said.

    Ramesh wondered that if BJP is against AgustaWestland, then why was the company invited to participate in ‘Make in India’ initiative.

    On the issue of an alleged meeting between Prime Minister Modi and his Italian counterpart, he said while the External Affairs Ministry has denied that “there was any formal meeting, it has not refuted any brush off meeting, brush on meeting, informal meeting, tea meeting, coffee meeting.”

    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had last week said reports about a meeting between the two Prime Ministers was “false and untrue in entirety. No such meeting at all has been held.”

    Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday participated in a ‘March of Democracy’ at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, warning the Modi government of consequences of spreading “lies and falsehood”, in what appears to be a veiled reference to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam controversy.

    Addressing a Congress rally, Sonia Gandhi urged her party workers to take up the task of spreading the “truth” about Modi government to every corner of the country. “Modi government is trying to destroy the roots of democracy,” she accused.

    On his part Rahul Gandhi mocked the government’s agenda of bringing “acche din” for the country, questioning the state of an economy that is reeling under drought.

    “Today, we have come together to give a message that we will not let Modi government topple democracy. Congress will not buckle under any form of injustice and will take detractors head on. Life has taught me to struggle, we have faced a lot of challenges. They don’t know what we are made of” Sonia said.

    Rahul Gandhi said “Aaj hindustan mein sirf do logon ki baat chalti hai, Narendra Modi ji aur Mohan Bhagwat ji”.