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    Indian prisoner in Pak shifted to another cell after attacks

    Indian prisoner in Pak shifted to another cell after attacks
    Hamid Nehal Ansari. Photo courtesy: Hamid Nehal Ansari Facebook page

    Peshawar, September 10

    A 31-year-old Indian prisoner, sentenced by a military court here for possessing a fake Pakistani identity card, has been shifted to a separate cell after he was attacked thrice by fellow inmates.Hamid Nehal Ansari, a Mumbai resident arrested in 2012 for illegally entering Pakistan from Afghanistan reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online, was shifted last month by prison authorities after receiving direction from Peshawar High Court to adopt security measures for protecting him.A division bench comprising Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Qalandar Ali Khan on August 4 had directed Prison Superintendent Masoodur Rehman to hold a meeting with human rights activist Rakhshanda Naz and find a solution for safety and security of Ansari, The Nation reported.Ansari was attacked and injured three times over the last couple of months and shifted to the hospital for treatment, the counsel added.He said even the head warden would subject him to brutality and slap him on a daily basis without any reason.Anwar said that Ansari lodged a complaint about this with the superintendent.Superintendent of the prison Masoodur Rehman confirmed the incidents but insisted they’re of minor nature and that such incidents did happen in prisons.Rehman also told the bench that Ansari, who was serving three years jail term, had been kept in the death cell.Ansari had gone missing after he was taken into custody by intelligence agencies and local police in Kohat in 2012 and finally in reply to a habeas corpus petition filed by his mother, Fauzia Ansari, the high court was informed on January 13 that he was in custody of the Pakistan Army and was being tried by a military court.He was convicted by the military court for possessing a fake Pakistani identity card and sentenced to three years imprisonment. — PTI

    Pak House deplores Parrikar’s ‘hell’ remarks

    Lahore, September 2

    Lawmakers in Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly have condemned Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s recent statement that “going to Pakistan is like going to hell” and asked the government to summon the Indian ambassador to record a strong protest over it.Speaking on the point of order in the Assembly, treasury member Ramesh Singh Arora said Parrikar’s statement was “regrettable”.“India has not only committed atrocities against Kashmiris for demanding their right to franchise but is also accusing Islamabad of fomenting violence in Kashmir,” he said, adding, “The propaganda against Pakistan must be checked.Arora and other members of the Assembly demanded that the Foreign Office summon the Indian ambassador to record a strong protest against Parrikar’s statement.A number of other members both from treasury and opposition also criticised India for the violence in Kashmir and supported the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination during the yesterday’s session.Parliamentary secretary Rana Arshad told the House that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had formed a committee of parliamentarians to raise the Kashmir issue at international forums.Earlier, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee Committee members had also condemned Parrikar’s statement and demanded that he should apologise for hurting the sentiments of Pakistanis. — PTIMembers mulls inviting Arundhati RoyPakistan’s Punjab Assembly member Sheikh Allauddin has suggested to invite novelist and human rights activist Arundhati Roy to brief the lawmakers on violence in the Kashmir Valley.Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar appreciated the suggestion and drew attention of the House towards its legal and diplomatic aspects.“The Foreign Office may be approached in this respect and the next step should be taken in the light of its advice on invitation to Roy to visit Pakistan especially the Punjab Assembly,” Sarwar said

    Month on, Western Command under ad hoc arrangement

    Vijay Mohan

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, September 2

    The operationally crucial Western Command continues to function under an ad hoc arrangement over a month after the last General Officer Commanding-in-Chief retired, a situation described in some quarters as unprecedented and intriguing.Lt Gen Ashok Ambre, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Yol-based 9 Corps was today named the new officiating Western Army Commander after Lt Gen JS Cheema, GOC 11 Corps, Jalandhar, who was appointed as the officiating Commander when Lt Gen KJ Singh retired on August 31, moved to Army Headquarters as the Director General (Infantry).Lt Gen BS Sahrawat, a December 1980-batch officer from the Kumaon Regiment who was earlier serving as Director General (Land, Works and Environment) at Army Headquarters, took over as the GOC 11 Corps today.Lt Gen Ambre is the senior most of the three corps commander in the Western Command. Army sources said the orders for the appointment of a regular Army Commander are expected to be issued soon.Two Lieutenant Generals — DR Soni, an Armoured Corps Officer who commanded Bathinda-based 10 Corps and Surinder Singh, a Mechanised Infantry (Guards) Officer who commanded 33 Corps in Silliguri — are slated to be elevated as Army Commanders. Lt Gen Soni, the senior of the two, is tipped for taking over as the GOC-in-C, Army Training Command at Shimla, a post which fell vacant on September 1.Lt Gen Surinder is tipped for heading the Western Command at Chandimandir. Pending their new appointments, both officers are at present attached to different formations after having completed their tenures as Corps Commanders. Lt Gen Soni had relinquished charge as Corps Commander in June end, while Lt Gen Surinder Singh moved out from Silliguri last week.

    New officiating incharge

    • Lt Gen Ashok Ambre, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Yol-based 9 Corps was on Friday named the newofficiating Western Army Commander
    • Lt Gen JS Cheema, GOC 11 Corps, Jalandhar, appointed as the officiating Commander after Lt Gen KJ Singh retired, moves to Army Headquarters as Director General (Infantry)

    No pellet alternative entirely harmless


    Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (retd)

    In the context of Kashmir, the gun is not the cause of the problem. Therefore, it cannot also be the solution. To that extent, the debate and focus on pellet guns becomes secondary.

    No pellet alternative entirely harmless
    Security personnel confronting stone-throwing protesters in Kashmir. File photo

    The Kashmir Valley has been simmering for over seven weeks. Related debates have of late centred around the use of pellet guns. Their use in J&K was started after 2010, when to control the stone throwing crowds the security forces used conventional weapons and rubber bullets, resulting in over 100 fatalities. It was hoped that the non-lethal pellet guns would minimise the damage.Cartridges are loaded with lead pellets, which are dispersed when fired. They don’t follow a definite path. They are, in military terms, area weapons. Pellets penetrate the skin’s soft tissues. Eye being a delicate structure is particularly vulnerable. There is no merit in allegations that the security forces deliberately targeted the faces. Apart from the uncontrolled path of the pellets, not everyone in the crowd that is throwing stones is standing upright; some may be bending or crouching.  Search is reportedly on for non-lethal alternatives to pellets. An assortment of related technology is available. The crowd control devices span from microwave energy blasters and blinding laser beams to chemical agents and deafening sonic blasters. Today, with greater presence of the media, even the lawful application of force can be misrepresented or misunderstood. This puts extra cautionary restraint on the security forces in using their weapons.Some of the current developments in this field need mention:Invisible pain ray: It is akin to an open-air microwave oven, sending out a focused beam of electromagnetic radiation to the target. The nearly 130 degrees F temperature it generates causes burning sensation, forcing those in its path to flee. However, the device produces second and third-degree burns and its 2-metre diameter beam covers the entire human body surface and may be life threatening.Laser blinding dazzler: This is a huge laser. It temporarily blinds or dazzles the target, causing disorientation. The risk of permanent blindness yet requires further experimentation to gain a full understanding of its safety, effectiveness, and limitations.TaserX12: It fires a Taser projectile round from a 12-bore gun. It delivers the same neuro-muscular incapacitation bio-effect (simply put, an electric shock) up to 100 feet. Semi-automatic fire is part of its future development, which will permit reload of up to five rounds in less than two seconds. Another project of Taser aims at “blanketing a large area with electrified darts, and a wireless Taser projectile with a 100-metre range, helpful in picking off ringleaders in unruly crowds”. However, Amnesty International has flagged that 351 Taser-related deaths occurred in the US between June 2001 and August 2008.Then, there are calmative agents, implying “chemical or biological agents with sedative, sleep-inducing or similar psychoactive effects” for controlling a riot or calming a noncompliant offender. The most well-known and widely used riot-control agent is teargas. Further development and use of non-lethal calmative techniques is considered achievable.Research is continuing in developing “screaming microwaves that pierce the skull”. These cause a shockwave inside the skull that can be detected by the ears. The audio effect is loud enough to cause discomfort or even incapacitation. It may also cause a little brain damage from the high-intensity shockwave created by the microwave pulse.Ear-splitting siren: This is generally used to drive away protesters. While it is not deadly, it can cause permanent hearing damage. In this line, an Israeli-developed shock wave cannon, being commonly used by farmers to scare away crop destroying birds, is likely to be marketed in its military and security versions.In sum, it needs to be remembered that no gun, non-lethal or less-lethal, can ever be fully harmless. A gun essentially is a weapon and violence is inherent in its use. If it has to achieve deterrence or coercion in controlling a mob, pain or discomfort has to be inflicted. Security forces may use low-lethality weapons relatively more often.Besides, all these weapons are designed for controlling an unarmed crowd. A mob that is involved in pelting stones and in attacking security personnel with petrol bombs, and even firearms, creates a different situation.In the context of the Valley, the gun is not the cause of the problem. Therefore, it cannot also be the solution. To that extent, the debate and focus on pellet guns becomes secondary. At best it conveys a sincere desire to avoid civilian casualties. The focus should be on creating conditions where such situations do not arise.The problem is complex; a mix of political, religious, economic, social and psychological factors is involved. There is a sense of alienation that needs to be addressed. Burhan Wani’s killing is not the main cause of the present unrest. It only provided a spark for explosion of the simmering anger. If not the July 8 killing of Wani, some other pretext would have caused it.Then, there is Pakistan’s continuing interference in J&K. Mehbooba Mufti, after her meeting with the Prime Minister on August 27, minced no words in accusing Pakistan. India is not new to separatist problems. We have encountered these in the North-East. Nagaland was the first to seek independence in the 1950s. Mizoram followed a decade later. The problem in Mizoram was fully resolved in the 1980s. The Naga problem is well on its way to resolution. In any case, breaking away from India is no longer their demand. If the problem in J&K is still lingering, it is because of Pakistan’s active involvement. Their support is not limited to moral, diplomatic and political levels, as Nawaz Sharif claimed some days back. It extends way beyond — to providing weapons, explosives, money, training and, of course, sending in jehadis. Seeing strident Pak pronouncements, no let-up is likely in the near future. The only way to deter Pakistan is to convince them that they would have to pay a price. This could be in political, diplomatic, economic or even military terms. The writer is a former Deputy Chief of Army Staff.

    Parrikar, US Defence Secretary Carter to meet at Pentagon on Monday

    Parrikar, US Defence Secretary Carter  to meet at Pentagon on Monday
    The US has designated India as a major defence partner. ANI

    Washington, August 27

    Defence Secretary Ashton Carter would host his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar at the Pentagon on Monday, weeks after India was designated as a major defence partner by the US.The Pentagon on Friay said Carter would host an enhanced honour cordon to welcome Parrikar to the US Defence Department headquarters. Following the arrival ceremony there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.After the ceremony there will be a bilateral meeting, followed by a joint press conference at the Pentagon, a statement said.

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    “This will be Carter’s sixth meeting with Parrikar, and comes just weeks after India was designated a major defence partner of the United States during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June visit to Washington,” the Pentagon said.Carter had met Parrikar during a visit to India in April.The India-US Defence partnership has been the most ambitious one over the past several years, a senior State Department official told a group of South Asian reporters on Friday.“During the Prime Minister’s last visit we were able to announce that the logistic agreements have been finalised, so we look forward to being able to sign that in the near future whether or not if that is going to be part of minister’s visit or not,” the official said.“We are certainly welcoming and hopeful for continuing to move forward on that and continuing to move forward on the fact that we have designated India as a major defence partner and continue to progress in that direction,” the official added. PTI

    Peace at stake Mehbooba Mufti must not lose her cool

    Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti delivered some home truths about the prevailing volatile situation in Kashmir at a joint press conference with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Srinagar on Thursday. Candidly, she said the boys engaged in stone-throwing protests were not on a toffee-or-milk-buying spree. They had attacked Army camps with stones and petrol bombs, and that had consequences. The children and adolescents of impressionable age, already angry with the system, are being instigated by calls for jihad and martyrdom from loudspeakers at mosques. The overwhelming presence of security forces fuels their rage.  The instigators use the young as shields during attacks on Army camps. The larger reprehensible objective is to showcase Kashmir as a dispute for the resolution of which young Kashmiris are laying down their lives. It also helps them draw international attention. Anyone showing them the mirror is, therefore, viewed as an enemy.The most contentious was Mehbooba Mufti’s remark that only 5 per cent troublemakers had held as hostage the remaining 95 per cent Kashmiris who also wanted a solution but through a peaceful process. She should have known that the press conference being held in a high-voltage situation wouldn’t be a smooth affair. Her agenda of peaceful and political solution, she should have anticipated, would be an anathema to those engaged in a violent hate campaign ever since the PDP entered into an alliance with the BJP to form a government in March last year. Her outburst diverted the attention from Rajnath Singh’s positive announcements of withdrawal of pellet guns and a dialogue offer to all to the Chief Minister’s temperament trouble. Understandably, during a crisis a leader is under pressure. But she should not have allowed this to disturb her calm, especially when a delicate peace process was at stake. Had she followed her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s footsteps, she would have drawn the comparison between 2010 and 2016 with a cool head and disarming words. Mehbooba Mufti herself is an unrelenting advocate of dialogue and a political solution to the Kashmir crisis. Her angry utterances drowned the import of the larger message.














    Panel on OROP not hearing individuals: Ex-serviceman to HC

    New Delhi, August 24

    The Delhi High Court was on Wednesday told that the one-member judicial commission, set up to deal with grievances of ex-servicemen on One Rank One Pension (OROP), was not hearing issues raised by an individual but dealing only with contentions raised by organisations.The Centre refuted the claims before a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar saying the commission was hearing the grievances raised before it not only by organisations but by individuals also.The bench was hearing a plea seeking directions to Ministry of Defence and the commission, headed by Justice L Narasimha Reddy (retd), “to give an effective public hearing to those affected or aggrieved by implementation of OROP”.When the matter came up for hearing, petitioner S P Singh told the bench he had approached the commission with his grievances but was not heard and told that the panel was only hearing the contentions of organisations.The petitioner also claimed that armed forces officers were sitting with the panel despite the fact that it was a one-member judicial commission.The Central government’s standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia refuted the claims of the petitioner saying the commission was also hearing the grievances of individuals and the officers were present to assist the panel.He also said the petitioner was heard by the panel.The bench then asked the petitioner to file an affidavit stating that he was not given an opportunity by the commission to put forth his grievances and posted the matter for further hearing on September 28.The Centre had earlier told the court it has extended by six months the term of the one-member panel on OROP.The petitioner, who is an ex-serviceman, has said that as per a Ministry letter dated April 13, “Defence Forces pensioners/family pensioners, Defence Pensioners’ Associations can submit their suggestions/views on the revised pension as notified, to the MoD, through post or by email within 15 days i.e. by April 29, 2016”.The petitioner had contended that this information was not published in the newspapers and, therefore, people were not informed about it. He had said that the time given to forward the representations was “very short”.The Centre had told the court that date for forwarding suggestions and representations was later extended to May 15. — PTI

    Co-production of F-16s to figure during US Air Force Secy’s India visit

    Co-production of F-16s to figure during US Air Force Secy’s India visit
    A US Air Force F16 prepares to take off at Yelahanka Airforce Station in Bangalore on February 18, 2015. — AFP file photo

    New York, August 18

    India and the US will discuss co-producing military aircraft, including the F-16s, during US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James’ upcoming visit to New Delhi later this month that would look at ways to deepen bilateral partnerships and take it to the “next level”.

    Indo-US cooperation in defence technology and trade initiatives will be the focus of her visit to India which is part of her maiden visit to four Asian countries that would also take her to Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

    She will also discuss the situation in the South China Sea besides the growing threat of terrorism.

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    During her visit to India, she will meet Chief of Air Staff Marshal Arup Raha and Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar and will also discuss with her Indian counterparts proposals to co-produce aircraft in India in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign.

    “We will be looking to see how can we deepen our partnerships and how can we take it to the next level,” James said in response to a question at a press briefing here yesterday on what her focus will be during her visit to India.

    She said she will discuss defence technology and follow up on the trade initiatives, which were launched during US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to India in April.

    James replied in the affirmative when asked if she will follow up on American defence major Lockheed Martin’s proposals to assemble F-16s in India as well as on discussions to collaborate in bolstering India’s fighter jets and the jet engine technology working group.

    “I will be following up on all of those topics, discussing these counterpart to counterpart on a bilateral basis. I will be seeking the views of my counterparts, what their opinion is on the various proposals on the table and what more needs to happen to advance the ball on some of these proposals.

    “I am also aware of the Prime Minister’s push for Make in India and the importance of creating new jobs in that sector.

    One of the proposals would be to co-produce certain aircraft in India and that might be one example of something that will be useful from a military standpoint but also might play into the Make in India campaign,” she said.

    The 57-year-old James, who is only the second woman to hold the post, said she would also follow up on the initiatives launched during Carter’s visit and the possible outcomes of it from the Air Force perspective.

    She, however, noted that while some proposals will move forward, others may not if they are not the right fit.

    Describing the Indian Air Force as a “very effective fighting unit”, she said it has been a participant over the years in “red-flag” exercise series, where the US gets together with coalition partners to train and inter-operate and “test ourselves in a high-end and very challenging difficult environment”.

    James added that she also looks forward to congratulating India on the “magnificent execution” of the operation undertaken to evacuate Indian citizens from South Sudan. — PT

    Cyclist crushed to death under doc’s car

    Tribune News Service

    Panchkula, August 13

    A 45-year-old man was crushed to death by a Honda City car being driven by a Command Hospital doctor near Bella Vista at Sectors 1/2/5/6 roundabout this morning. The victim, Ajay Gupta, was the son of the Director of Ashiana Public School, Sector 46, Chandigarh.The police said Dr Sunil, who had bought the car a few days ago, pressed the accelerator in a hurry instead of brakes. He was not found at the spot after the incident, but was arrested later.A case under Sections 279 (rash driving) and 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 5 police station. “We have now arrested Dr Sunil of the Command Hospital and a case has been registered against him,” said SHO Lalit Kumar.According to the police, the incident occurred at 7:45 am when the victim Ajay Gupta, who used to go cycling for several kilometers daily, was today heading towards Red Bishop hotel from near Sector 6 chowk, when Dr Sunil’s car hit him from the rear, dragging him for some distance before hitting a road berm. The car was coming from Sikhsa Sadan to the Bella Vista hotel chowk. Following this, passersby informed the police and he was shifted to the Civil Hospital in Sector 6, where he was declared brought dead.His mother Lalita Prakash rushed to the hospital after hearing the news while his father Lalit Prakash Gupta, who had gone to Delhi at 10 this morning, returned at 4 pm to the city. The police, after conducting the post-mortem examination, handed over the body to the family of the victim.A relative of Ajay said his family was about to hand over him the reins of the school. The victim runs an event management business in Delhi but his father wanted him to settle down in Chandigarh. His relatives said the victim was looking forward to his son’s birthday which falls on September 30, before the tragedy struck him.Had come to meet familyAjay’s mother Lalita Prakash is the director and founder of Ashiana Public School, Sector 46, Chandigarh. His parents reside in Sector 9, Chandigarh. His elder brother, Uday Gupta, lives in the US. Ajay was living with his wife and an 11-month-old son in Delhi. He had come to meet his family in Chandigarh a few days ago.