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    Western Air Command Chief visits martyr’s house

    Our Correspondent,Ambala, January 7

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    Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command SB Deo consoles martyr’s father in Ambala on Thursday. Tribune photo

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    Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command SB Deo today visited the residence of Corporal Gursewak Singh, a Garud Commando of the Indian Air Force, who made the supreme sacrifice during the Pathankot terror attack.He expressed his condolences to the bereaved family. Air Commodore Tejinder Singh and other senior officers of the Ambala air base were also accompanying Deo.Deo met Sucha Singh, the martyr’s father and assured him all possible help. He said the Air Force was proud of Gursewak who showed extraordinary courage during the Pathankot terror attack.When asked that the Ambala air base was not safe as a large number of residential and commercial constructions have come up along its boundary, Deo said the matter would be taken up with the local administration and sarpanches of the villages concerned .Former union minister Kumari Selja also reached Garnala village today. She met the maryr’s father Sucha Singh, mother Amrik Kaur and wife Jaspreet Kaur. Some Mahila Congress activists accompanied Selja.Another Ambala commando hurt in terror attackAnother Garud Commando Shailabh Gaur (in pic) of Ambala Cantonment who was seriously injured in the Pathankot terror attack was admitted to the ICU at Army Hospital in Pathankot.  When Health Minister Anil Vij came to know about Shailabh, he went to his residence without informing Air the Force or the district administration. He met Shailabh’s mother Manjula and other family members at their residence at Dilipgarh village near Ambala Cantt on Thursday. He assured them of provide all help.  Anil Vij contacted the DC on his mobile phone and directed him to visit Shailabh’s residence at the earliest. Vij contacted CM Manohar Lal Khattar and briefed him about Shailabh, who is admitted to the Army Hospital at Pathankot. —OC


    MANOHAR PARRIKAR

    defence minister

    ARMY CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO PERFORM CIVIL DUTIES. ALSO, SINCE THERE WERE CIVILIANS IN THE BASE, WE NEEDED THE EXPERTISE OF NSG… I SEE SOME GAPS. BUT I DO NOT THINK THERE IS ANY COMPROMISE ON SECURITY… IT IS WORRYING HOW THE TERRORISTS GOT INSIDE THE BASE… THERE WERE BLIND SPOTS INSIDE… THE NIA HAS LEADS THAT SOME OF THE WEAPONS USED BY THE TERRORISTS WERE OF PAKISTANI-MAKE.

     

     

    A very visible remote control

    Policymakers must take the evolving trends in terror operations into account for charting an effective response, writes DAVID DEVADAS

    It is easy to get diverted by the chaotic mishandling of the Pathankot attacks. The finger-pointing to which that leads will get us nowhere. It is imperative to study the modus operandi of the attacks, and analyse the patterns of those behind the attackers. Recent trends in both Kashmir and the Jammu province, as also the terrorist attacks in Punjab over the past few months, indicate that the ISI’s handlers now directly coordinate such attacks over satellite or cell phones. The affiliation of the involved terrorists to one or other particular outfit is pretty much tangential.

    SAMEER SEHGAL/HTRecent trends in both Kashmir and the Jammu province, as also the terrorist outrages in Punjab over the past few months, indicate that the ISI’s handlers now directly coordinate such attacks over satellite or cell phonesIn fact, the terrorists gave the game away by using the cell phone of one of those whom they had abducted to call their handlers, giving updates and seeking directions. Until the Mumbai attacks of 2008, Pakistan’s obvious fingerprints had not been so clearly visible on any terrorist attacks ever since the Indian Army had been massed on the border following the attack on Parliament in December 2001. The few militant attacks that had taken place in Kashmir in the middle of the previous decade had been clearly on the back-foot. It seemed that the war had been won; these seemed to be like winding up skirmishes.

    The focus had shifted to negotiations over Kashmir and other issues between India and Pakistan, such as the Sir Creek and Siachen ones, in the period from 2004 and 2007. However, a new kind of terrorism has come up since then. The most common view appears to be that Mumbai was a one-off attack, and that Hafiz Saeed is primarily responsible — as if it were his personal agenda without the state backing. Again, over the past few days, there has been heated debate over the fact that Masood Azhar is behind the Pathankot attacks. Reams have been written about how he was released in exchange for the passengers of IC 814 at the turn of the millennium.

    This is to miss the wood for the trees.

    Only by taking a long view of contemporary history can we make sense of what is happening, and get an idea of what might lie ahead. Over the past three decades and more, Pakistan has aided and abetted militant activity in Punjab, Kashmir, and the Chenab basin. That reached a crescendo in the 1990s. Within the Kashmir Valley, militant activity peaked in 2001. It declined thereafter.

    If one takes a long view, Mumbai marked not only an unprecedented upping of the ante, it also marked a huge expansion of the range of targets — not only geographically but also in terms of the social and economic centres attacked. And, Mumbai brought to light a new pattern of operation: The direct hands-on coordination of the operation by ISI operatives sitting in Pakistan. Technology had led to a new leap, not just in communication but in command and control.

    This was not possible when Pakistan began to promote the Khalistan movement, to which India’s own internecine political games had given initial life. At that stage, the ISI trained and armed different Sikh groups in camps not far from its border with Afghanistan. Once they returned, the militants were more or less on their own. Operations were commanded and controlled locally. Hideouts, logistics and transportation had to be handled as best the fighters on the ground and their over-ground supporters could manage.

    Pakistan began to abet an insurgency in Kashmir with a very tentative programme in 1988. Feelers were sent through the JKLF, which had been established in Muzaffarabad. They had sent a messenger to the home of the late Maqbool Butt, one of the group’s founders. Butt had gone to Kashmir to survey the place and assess the possibility of an uprising in the Valley in 1976, but he had been caught. He was subsequently hanged in 1984 in Tihar Jail for a murder for which he had been convicted in 1968. Contacting Butt’s family through the Muzaffarabad JKLF activists was apparently the best hope the ISI had in 1987, when the message arrived.

    Butt’s brother and an intrepid neighbour, Abdul Ahad Waza went across to Pakistan in response. They returned to find and send potential militants across the Line of Control. Boys from a variety of Kashmiri groups were funded, trained and armed thereafter, but the ISI did not generally control specific operations. When they found the Kashmiris less effective than they had hoped, and the fighting in Afghanistan wound down in 1992, the ISI began to send Afghans, Pakistanis and a few from other countries too. Still, operations were left largely to those actually on the ground — although telephonic contact was often made.

    After General Musharraf took charge of the army, command and control increased dramatically. Particular high profile attacks were planned in detail. Among these were the attacks at the Srinagar cantonment’s main gate in December 1999 and at the Jammu and Kashmir assembly in October 2001. Plus, of course, the hijack of IC 814 from Kathmandu to Kandahar and the release of three vital prisoners was planned and coordinated closely.

    There are similarities between that hijack and the attacks in Mumbai and now in Pathankot. The men who were engaged in each of these operations were relatively young and callow. They were closely coordinated and directed. In the more recent cases, and when the cantonment, the assembly and Parliament were attacked, the men involved were willing to give up their lives; they were all planned as suicide missions.

    It is imperative that policymakers take these evolving trends, particularly in command and control, of operations into account. It is the unavoidable starting point for charting an effective response.


    Kargil War hero’s book narrates how Indian Army surpised the enemy and won

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    New Delhi: It was the speed and spontaneity with which the Indian Army launched its attacks that took the enemy by surprise, leading to their victory in the 1999 Kargil war, says Lieutenant General Mohinder Puri, who headed the 8 Mountain Division.

    Gripping accounts of valour and fortitude from the battle front of the war between India and Pakistan have been recollected in a new book penned by Puri.

    The book titled ‘Kargil: Turning the Tide’, which was launched in Delhi on Tuesday, is a first-hand narrative of the operations of 8 Mountain Division, which was tasked to evict the enemy from the Drass-Mushkoh Sector during ‘Operation Vijay’.

    “We surprised the enemy with the speed and ferocity of our movement. It was the speed with which we conducted the operations and took them totally by surprise, this was one of the reasons why we succeeded in evicting the enemy,” he said.

    Recounting on such incident, the then Major General Puri said how after several failed attempts to capture the pivotal Tololing peak, he had asked his men to attack again the next evening, but by the time he reached his headquarters, India had already conquered the strategic feature.

    The Tololing, a dominant position overlooking Srinagar- Leh Highway (NH-1D), was so strategic that after it was conquered it was only a matter of six days for Indian troops to notch up a string of successes by evicting well-entrenched intruders in four nearby outposts.

    He said, Colonel MB Ravindranath, Commanding Officer of the 2 Rajputana Rifles, radioed him, camping some 20-km away and said in a terse message, “Sir, I’m on Tololing top.”

    “After I was informed that we have not been able to capture Tololing, I just asked them to consolidate and in the evening I said, ‘have a go.’ By the time I reached the headquarters, I was told that we have captured Tololing. I spoke to Ravi and when I asked him what had happened he said he just saw a window of opportunity and there he launched the attack and captured the feature which was until then with the enemy,” Puri said.

    Puri’s Division was responsible for spearheading the Army’s offensive in the Kargil sector which restored the sanctity of the Line of Control by capturing Tololing, Tiger Hill and Point 4875.

    General (retd) VP Malik, who himself has authored a book titled “Kargil – From Surprise To Victory” in 2006 on the same subject inaugurated the event at Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi.

    “Lots of books have been written about the Kargil War and most of them are hearsay. There are only two authentic books I can mention, one is General Puri’s and I will take credit for the second one. While I have dealt with the war at a macro level, General Puri’s book talks about the several battles fought. After all, there is no war without these battles,” Malik said.

    A fast-paced read, the book captures the emotions and sentiments of a soldier, the apprehensions and fears of the leaders, and finally the joy and ecstasy of victory.

    “I have gone through the book and it is a good read. It brings out vividly the emotions of the soldiers before they went into the battle, during the battle and after the battle has ended,” he said.

    With stories about several close quarters, hand to hand battles fought in challenging and hostile environment of the perilous rugged high altitude terrain, inclement weather and an entrenched enemy, Puri’s work is a moving tale of fortitude, valour and exemplary junior leadership.

    “We had to put the division through an advanced state of acclimatisation so that they could get on to the fight without any problem,” Puri further said.

    The book covers a wide spectrum of the event- from attacks at platoon level to issues impinging on national security and thus is fit to serve as a document of immense relevance to military professionals.

    The war received a massive media coverage such that it came to be known as the first televised war of the country.

    According to the author, India suffered very high casualties in the successive battles that were fought during the war with 268 killed and over 818 soldiers wounded.

    “We suffered very heavy casualties but what was most commendable was that the ratio of the officer to man casualty was 1 officer to 12 men,” he said.

    Indian soldiers from the division, who had fought and laid their lives for the country, were honoured with a rich haul of gallantry awards that included 3 Param Vir Chakras, 8 Mahavir Chakras and 42 Vir Chakras.


    Guv, Lt Gen Hooda discuss security

    Tribune News Service,Jammu, December 29

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    Lt Gen DS Hooda, Northern Command chief, with Governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhawan in Jammu. A Tribune Photo

    Days after returning from his China visit, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda discussed the overall security situation in Jammu and Kashmir with Governor NN Vohra.General Hooda apprised the Governor of the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, security measures taken along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and winter strategy of anti-insurgency grid operating in the Kashmir valley.The Army Commander gave detailed briefing about the measures taken to counter transgressions by Chinese red army and understanding reached between both the countries to avoid conflict in future. He made a detailed briefing about the strategy to counter and neutralise the threat from local militants who are active in the Kashmir valley and pose a threat to peace.The Army has already created a three-tier security mechanism to counter infiltration from across the LoC and operations against militants operating in the hinterland.The Northern Army Commander led an eight-member delegation of the Army to China from December 14 on a six-day visit during which he met General Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of People’s Liberation Army (PLA), at the Chinese army headquarters in Beijing during which they discussed steps to maintain peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).It is pertinent to mention here that it was the first visit of any Northern Command chief to China which in recent years had adopted an aggressive posture on the LAC leading to several transgressions and stand-offs.


    India closing in on deal to build 6 nuclear reactors

    First breakthrough since US-India nuclear pact; reactor sites in Gujarat

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    New Delhi, December 24

    India expects to seal a contract with Westinghouse Electric Co LLC to build six nuclear reactors in the first half of next year, a senior government official said, in a sign its $150 billion dollar nuclear power programme is getting off the ground.

    The proposed power plant in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat will accelerate India’s plans to build roughly 60 reactors, which would make it the world’s second-biggest nuclear energy market after China.

    India wants to dramatically increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 megawatts (MW) by 2032, from 5,780 MW, as part of a broader push to move away from fossil fuels, cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the dangerous effects of climate change.

    The United States signed a pact with India in 2008, opening the way for nuclear commerce that had previously been stymied due to New Delhi’s nuclear weapons programme and shunning of the global Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

    But hopes that reactor makers would get billions of dollars of new business evaporated after India adopted a law in 2010 giving the state-run operator Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) the right to seek damages from suppliers in the event of an accident.

    Indian officials have been trying to assuage suppliers’ concerns, including by setting up an insurance pool with a liability cap of 15 billion Indian rupees ($226.16 million).

    A final hurdle – ratification of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) – is expected within weeks, the Indian government official said.

    The CSC requires signatories to shift liability to the operator and offers access to relief funds.

    In a statement, Westinghouse said it expected India would move towards a framework that satisfies the CSC and channels accident liability exclusively to the operator. The statement made no reference to ongoing negotiations.

    Shares of Westinghouse’s parent, Toshiba Corp, jumped as much as 3.3 per cent on Thursday after the news, before slipping back. A Toshiba spokesman declined to comment on the report, but noted that Westinghouse has been confident of winning orders from India.

    A deal with Westinghouse could also put pressure on General Electric Co, whose nuclear energy venture with Hitachi was offered a site six years ago to build reactors.

    GE has still not decided whether it would move ahead with the plan, the official said, adding that India was keen for a decision from the company soon.

    GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy said it had strong interest in India, and that the CSC would be “a sustainable solution to concerns about India’s existing domestic nuclear liability law”.

    India’s plans for ramping up nuclear capacity have in the past fallen far short of targets and industry officials say that the aim to lift the share of nuclear power to a quarter of its energy mix, from barely 3 per cent now, is very ambitious.

    No more technical hurdles

    Later this week, India is expected to offer Russia a site in its southern state of Andhra Pradesh to build six reactors, on top of the six it is already expected to build in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Indian and Russian officials have said.

    Separately, India expects Japan, which supplies components used in most reactors, to ratify an agreement sometime in the second quarter of 2016 to support its nuclear programme, another senior Indian government source said.

    “There are no more technical hurdles in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” the source said.

    French nuclear company Areva, which uses Japanese components, also has a deal to build six reactors in India, although restructuring within that company was likely to delay construction until 2017, the first official said.

    French utility EDF agreed earlier this year to buy a majority stake in Areva’s reactor business. Areva has been in price negotiations with NPCIL for several months now, officials at the Indian operator told Reuters in November.

    Areva did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Westinghouse deal

    Negotiators from Westinghouse and Indian operator NPCIL have held several rounds of talks on the nuclear plant in Mithi Virdi, the government official said.

    NPCIL declined to comment on the negotiations. Federal minister for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh told parliament this month that talks were going on with French and US firms to arrive at project proposals. He offered no details.

    But the government source said Westinghouse and NPCIL were negotiating all six reactors in one go, instead of an earlier plan to strike deals for two at a time.

    Construction of the roughly 1,100 MW reactors could begin later in 2016, the official, who is close to the negotiations, added.

    The idea was to allow the Americans and the French, India’s two close partners, to catch up with the Russians in its nuclear sector, the official said.

    “This is a train that is moving soon,” the official said. —Reuters


    29,000 register online for Army recruitment rally

    Tribune News Service,Patiala, December 21

    Over 29,000 aspirants from five districts – Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa and Fatehgarh Sahib – have registered online for the next recruitment rally of the Indian Army, which is scheduled early next year.Giving information in this regard, Col Vaneet Mehta, Director, Recruitment, said it was for the first time that no manual application were accepted by the Army.He said while they were expecting around 20,000 aspirants to register for the next recruitment rally, the online process had received an overwhelming response. He said the online registration would remain open till January 14.On the issue of rectifying any anomalies during the online registration, Mehta said the aspirant had been given an opportunity to approach the recruitment office of the Army and get these corrected.He said in order to save the time and make sure that adequate arrangements were made for applicants, it was decided to discontinue with open recruitment rallies and instead introduce online registration.He said there were many problems that they came across during open rallies since they were totally unaware of the number of candidates that may turn up for the rally.“Having a clear idea about the number of candidates certainly enables us to make proper arrangements,” he said. Mehta said this also allowed the Army to check the eligibility of aspirants and then shortlist them, which would save time.


    Govt okays purchase of Russian air defence missile systems worth Rs 40,000 cr

    Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia, Defence Ministry’s top acquisition council today cleared the purchase of an estimated Rs 40,000 crore Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems…

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    Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia, Defence Ministry’s top acquisition council today cleared the purchase of an estimated Rs 40,000 crore Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems, besides giving the go-ahead to other projects worth over Rs 25,000 crore.

    Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, has decided to buy 5 units of the S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems that are capable of destroying incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones within a range of up to 400 km.

    Defence Ministry sources said that the step has been taken to enhance the national air defence capacity.

    “The price discovery will happen hereafter,” a source said when asked how much would the system cost.

    Industry estimates have suggested that the missile system will cost about Rs 40,000 crore. India will be the second buyer of the missile system after China if the deal goes through.

    It is expected that the deal would be a government-to- government one and could see a forward movement during Modi’s visit to Russia next week.

    The S400 Triumf is designed to knock down flying targets including those equipped with stealth technologies, at a distance of about 400 kms.

    It is also capable of taking out ballistic missiles and hypersonic targets.

    Compared with its predecessor, the S-300, the new S-400 has a 2.5 times faster firing rate. This is the most modern, air defence system in the Russian arsenal.

    The DAC also gave the Acceptance of Necessity to Army’s proposal for the purchase of six regiments of the Pinaka rocket system under the ‘Make in India’ category for Rs 14,600 crore.

    Each regiment of the Pinaka comes with 18 launchers and every launcher has the capability of firing 12 rockets at the same time.

    Tata Power SED, Larsen & Toubro and state-run BEML will be providing the system.

    The DAC also directed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to continue with its process of making improved Pinaka system as it has proved to be a potent and proud indigenous product.

    Army’s demand for 571 light bullet-proof vehicles to be used in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations was also cleared at a cost of Rs 310 crore. The army currently uses Mahindra jeeps.

    The DAC also gave the go-ahead for the purchase of 120 trawls to be used on Russia-origin T-72 and T-90 tanks under “Buy Global” category for Rs 450 crore.

    DRDO has been tasked to field four sets of indigenous trawls by June 2017, the sources said.

    The DAC has also fine-tuned an already cleared proposal to built a five fleet support ships for Rs 9,000 crore. It was cleared in July last year. The DAC today nominated HSL shipyard to build the ships.

    The DAC also gave the go-ahead for digitisation of 24 Pechora Air Defence system for Rs 1,200 crore.

    The acquisition council also cleared a Rs 425-crore electronic warfare system, for the Indian Army to be deployed in the mountain region. This would be developed by the DRDO and produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

    The DAC, set up in 2001 as part of the post-Kargil reforms in defence sector, approves the long-term integrated perspective plan for the forces, accords acceptance of necessity (AON) to begin acquisition proposals, and has to grant its approval to all major deals through all their important phases.

    It also has the power to approve any deviations in an acquisition, and recommends all big purchases for approval of the Cabinet committee on security.


    Indian Railways to build world’s Highest Bridge

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    Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu’s ambitious plans for the Indian railways are known to all. The man wants to improve the state of Indian railways and modernize it with top-notch amenities. Just a few days back, we heard of designer ‘Make in India’ coaches and saw some amazing pics.

    Yesterday, we got the news that Railways Ministry is inviting suggestions and innovative ideas from the public to include them in its forthcoming budget. “We have sought suggestions and innovative ideas from public for the Rail Budget 2016-17, slated to be presented in the last week of February next year,” a senior Railway Ministry official told PTI.

    And today, Ministry of Railways revealed its plans of building the world’s Highest Rail Bridge over the Chenab River. This bridge would be built on a height of 359 metres, which will be 35 metres higher than Eiffel Tower in Paris.


    Tributes paid to martyrs on Vijay Divas

    Tribune Reporters

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    ADC Jitender Kumar honours war widows on the occasion of Vijay Divas in Kaithal on Wednesday. Tribune photo

    Jind, December 16

    The DC along with senior officers of the administration today paid tributes to martyrs on the eve of Vijay Divas at the Shaheed Smarak on Gohana road today.“We should motivate youngsters to join the forces to serve the nation and help the families of all martyrs” said DC Vinay Singh. SP Abhishek Jorwal and other senior officers were also present on the occasion.

    Kaithal

    It becomes the duty of every citizen and society as a whole to grant respect to the martyr’s who made the supreme sacrifice to safeguard the honour and dignity of our nation. To pay our homage to the martyrs and revive memories of their sacrifice we celebrate December 16 as Vijay Divas.This was stated by ADC Jitender Kumar during a function held here today. He called upon the youth to devote their energy to make the country strong. The ADC honoured 16 war widows, 2 parents of martyrs, there war disabled, three orphans of martyrs.Major Tilak Raj (retd), vice president, Zila Sainik Board, said that we had won many wars but our brave soldiers had to make sacrifices to save the honour of country.He said that ex-servicemen and their families could avail services of the board for re-employment after retirement and rehabilitation of family members.