Tuesday, August 18, 2009

N-E security forces on swine flu alert

Shillong, Aug 18 (PTI) Be it malaria or HIV/AIDS, the syndromes of virus and parasites have kept haunting the security forces, particularly those serving in the remote and hostile terrains of the North East.

And now, the scare of swine flu has crept into the defence establishments as well after a CRPF jawan and an army soldier in Mizoram and a jawan in Assam tested positive.

Defence sources said all the security forces were put on alert to prevent its personnel from being affected by the H1N1 virus even as special monitoring were done for those personnel returning from holidays.

An orientation programme was organized for the IAF personnel and their families at the Eastern Air Command headquarters here.

Besides, the preliminary examination facilities and medicines have been put in place at the IAF Hospital at Jorhat in Assam, Defence spokesman Wing Commander Ranjeev Sahoo told PTI.

BSNL engineers on an indefinite strike

New Delhi: More than 10,000 BSNL engineers today went on an indefinite strike. Other employees of the state-run telecom provider would also cease

work alongwith the engineers for the next two days from midnight Tuesday, affecting its services across the country.

The All India Graduate Telecom Officers Association (AIGETOA) of engineers went on an indefinite strike demanding that officers on deputation from the department of telecom be absorbed into the company so that they become more accountable.

The United Forum of seven BSNL Unions of 1.5 lakh non-executive employees will begin their strike at 0000 hrs on August 19 over a demand for wage revision and implementation of a promotion policy.

The strike by the engineers would impact operations of the telecom firm as most of the striking engineers are head technical teams in different zonal offices. Customer services like collections and fault repairs would also be affected from tomorrow because of the participation of the non-technical staff, according to the unions.

The BSNL management was not available for comments on the impact of the strikes. However, to ensure that the strike does not disrupt operations, BSNL has set up a control room for managing the system during the strike.

Terror camps in Pak a threat to India: Antony

KOCHI: Defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday said dozens of terrorist camps are "functioning actively" in Pakistan along the Indo-Pakistan

border and India faced a threat to its security as long as these camps existed.

Asked about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assertions on Monday at the chief ministers' conference in Delhi that India had credible information that terrorists based in Pakistan are planning to carry out fresh attacks in India, Antony said "I have nothing to add to what the Prime Minister had said".

"What the Prime Minister had said was a fact because even today dozens of terrorist camps are functioning actively in Pakistan soil along the Indo-Pakistan border," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function at Amrita Hospital in Kochi.

"As long as the terrorist camps are functioning in the border areas in Pakistan soil, certainly there is a threat to India, and it is a fact," the defence minister said.

Despite India's continuous demand after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, no concrete steps have been taken to completely dismantle terrorist camps along the border, Antony said.

Trooper killed as grenade goes off accidentally

Lalgarh: A central paramilitary trooper died in an accidental grenade blast in this area of West Bengal's West Midnapore district Tuesday, police said.

"The jawan was cleaning the hand grenade when it went off," West Midnapore district magistrate Narayan Swarup Nigam told, adding the trooper died on the spot.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper was posted in one of the security forces' camps in the area, said state Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh.

Another CRPF trooper, Chalanta Kumar Roy, who suffered a bullet wound in the chest during an exchange of fire with the rebels Monday, has been shifted to a Kolkata hospital. "He is stable," said Nigam.

The West Bengal government has launched a massive joint operation of central paramilitary forces and state armed police in and around the Lalgarh area to flush out Maoist rebels, who had created a virtual "free zone" since last November by torching police camps and killing cadres of the state's ruling communist party besides driving out the civil administration.

Meanwhile, suspected Maoist rebels triggered a low-intensity landmine blast in a forest area of Kantapahari, a stronghold of the left wing extremists in the district.

"A low-intensity explosion took place. No one was injured," West Midnapore police superintendent M.K Verma told.

He said the police force had already rushed to the spot to see the situation there.

"We believe the explosion was triggered by suspected Maoists," Verma said.

China : Should We stare Back

Army acquires anti-aircraft missiles

The Indian Army will soon have sharper teeth to defend its troops and tanks from aerial threats. The defence acquisition council, headed by Defence Minister AK Antony and comprising the 3 service chiefs, agreed to a multi-billion dollar contract for Israeli anti-aircraft missiles.

The council cleared the Low-level Quick Reaction surface to air Missile for the army from Israeli Aircraft Industries and Rafael. This missile will help to protect India's tanks and armoured vehicles against enemy air attack.

The Spyder is a low-level quick-reaction surface-to-air missile system capable of engaging aircraft, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles, drones and precision-guided munitions. The Spyder system has 360 degree engagement capability and the missiles can be launched from full-readiness state in less than five seconds after a target is acquired.

The Spyder's kill range is from less than 1km to more than 35 km and at altitudes from a minimum of 20 metres to a maximum of 9 kilometres. The system is capable of firing at multiple targets and can be operated in all weather conditions

Indian might met with Chinese threats

BANGALORE - A series of steps taken by India in recent months to build up its defenses along its disputed frontier with China has prompted an angry response from the latter.

In June, General J J Singh, governor of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and former chief of army staff, announced that India would be deploying two army divisions of around 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers each along its boundary with China in Arunachal. A few days later, four Sukhoi Su-30MIK combat aircraft landed at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Tezpur. The IAF announced plans to increase this to a squadron strength of 18 aircraft.

The recent moves along the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control at Arunachal "have no aggressive intent" but are simply aimed at "putting in place credible active deterrence against a vastly better-armed giant neighbor", a Defense Ministry official told Asia Times.

Online. It was intended to meet "future security challenges" posed by China, Singh said.

Although relations between India and China have improved in recent years - China is now India’s largest trading partner - the dispute over their 4,057-kilometer-long boundary remains unresolved. In 1962, the two countries fought a short border war, which India lost.

In that war, China occupied 38,000 square kilometers of territory in Aksai Chin in the northeastern corner of Jammu and Kashmir. This territory remains under its control. Besides, Beijing is also holding 5,180 square kilometers of land in Kashmir ceded to it by Pakistan in 1963.

In the 1962 war, Chinese troops also advanced into territory in India’s northeast but retreated subsequently. Beijing continues to lay claim to around 90,000 square kilometers of territory here, roughly approximating Arunachal Pradesh or what it refers to as "Southern Tibet".

China has repeatedly indicated that the boundary along Arunachal is not a closed chapter and that Arunachal is disputed territory. Any Indian move to assert control over Arunachal has raised hackles in China. When India conferred statehood on Arunachal in 1986, for instance, a serious skirmish broke out at Sumdurong Chu.

The response from China to the recent augmentation of forces at Arunachal was swift. An editorial in Global Times, a tabloid of the People’s Daily group, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, said that India seemed to believe that China would "defer to it on territorial disputes". Dismissing this as "wishful thinking", it stressed that “China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India”.

The editorial went on to warn that India’s "dispatch of 60,000 troops" to its border with China would lead to "a rivalry between the two countries" and asked the Indian government to consider "whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China".

That threat was followed up with a reminder that India could not match China’s might. "China is seen in India as both a potential threat and a competitor to surpass. But India can’t actually compete with China in a number of areas, like international influence, overall national power and economic scale. India apparently has not yet realized this."

Indian military experts have argued that Arunachal’s importance to China lies in its geography. Control over Arunachal will enable the Chinese to militarily overrun the Brahmaputra Valley and the rest of northeastern India.

Others have claimed that China seeks control over Arunachal, and specifically Tawang, to consolidate its hold over Tibet. Tawang is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama and the monastery there is Tibetan Buddhism’s second largest after the Potola Palace in Lhasa. The Tawang Monastery is "a virtual treasure trove of Tibetan Buddhist religion and culture" and is seen by Tibetans as the repository of perhaps the last remnants of a Tibet submerged by Han Chinese culture.

Chinese scholars have argued that control over Tawang is essential for China "to win the hearts of the Tibetans".

China’s assertion of its claims over Arunachal has grown in recent years. Indian diplomats say that the Chinese are intransigent on Tawang. In November 2006, Beijing’s ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi told an Indian television station "the whole of the state of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory". A few months later, China refused to issue an Indian civil servant from Arunachal a visa on the grounds that he was from Chinese territory and hence didn't require a visa. Visits by Indian political leaders to Arunachal have ruffled feathers in Beijing.

Recently, China sought to block an Indian application for a US$2.9 billion loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which included funding for a $60 million water management project in Arunachal. China’s objection to the loan was that it was for projects in "disputed territory". When the ADB subsequently approved the loan to India, the Chinese foreign office expressed its "strong dissatisfaction to the move".

Indian officials say that there has been a four-fold increase in Chinese intrusions into Indian territory over the past year, most of them along the border in Arunachal.

A year ago, India acted to improve its defenses in the western sector of the Sino-Indian border. It reopened airfields in Daulat Beg Oldi and Fukche in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, a stone's throw from Aksai Chin. Phunchok Stobdan, senior fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, had described the reopening of the airfields near Aksai Chin as a response to the "dozens of provocations from China". India "is preparing for contingency", he told Asia Times Online.

The enhanced military deployment in the eastern sector is part of that preparation.

Besides the deployment of more troops and combat aircraft near at the border in Arunachal, India is developing the IAF base at Tezpur, which is just 150 kilometers from the border, into a major hub for Sukhoi aircraft. The IAF also proposes to station more Sukhois in the nearby Chabua air force base. And plans are afoot to upgrade infrastructure at five air force bases in the eastern part of the country including Tezpur, Chabua and Jorhat in Assam, Panagarh in West Bengal and Purnea in Bihar.

China’s plans to extend the Golmud-Lhasa rail up to Yatung, a trading center near Nathu La, a mountain pass that connects Tibet with Sikkim, and to Nyingchi, a trading town north of Arunachal at the tri-junction with Myanmar. Indian analysts warn that in a few years China will be able to deploy troops by the trainload right up to the Indian border at Sikkim and Arunachal - two Indian states into which Chinese intrusions are frequent.

India’s road and rail building activity in these areas has been sluggish.

Consider this. Sikkim has only one road linking its capital Gangtok to Nathu La and one landslide-prone road, just five meters wide, joining the state with the rest of India. Sikkim's road density is 28.45 kilometers per 100 square kilometers against the national average of 84 kilometers. Arunachal Pradesh is even worse off, with a road density of just 18.65 kilometers per 100 square kilometers. No trains run to the border-states of Sikkim, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. While Chinese military personnel can drive down to the Sino-Indian border and will be able to take trains too in a few years, Indian soldiers often trek 10-15kms to get there.

This paucity of roads in border areas is being addressed now. In 2006, the government gave the green signal for a host of road and other infrastructure projects in border areas. It recently announced an investment of US$3 billion in road construction in border areas.
According to reports, upgrading advance landing grounds and airfields and construction of border roads, which was hitherto undertaken solely by engineers attached to the IAF or the Border Roads Organization, a unit of the armed forces, is now being opened up to the private sector as well. The aim is to speed up implementation of various infrastructure projects along a sensitive border.

For decades, India, badly bruised from its defeat at the hands of China, opted to back down in the face of Chinese intimidation. That is now changing. It is this newly assertive Indian posture that is bothering China.

Indian analysts believe that neither of the two countries wants to go to war. But they are not ruling out the possibility of China carrying out a limited military operation in the eastern sector of Arunachal, one that will deal a short and stunning blow, depriving India of Tawang and leaving it with a bloody nose.

It is to be prepared now that India is building its military muscle in Arunachal.

China's war games unnerve neighbors

HONG KONG - War games launched last week by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have alarmed China's neighbors and raised further questions about Beijing's military intentions. The games, dubbed "Stride-2009", are scheduled to stretch over the next two months. They involve only 50,000 troops from China's 2.3 million-member standing army - the largest in the world - but the sophisticated nature of the far-flung deployments has captured the attention of military experts all over Asia and beyond.

For the first time, forces from the four major regional military commands - stationed in the cities of Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou - will all be engaged in live-fire drills at least 1,200 kilometers from their bases. Some soldiers will reportedly be involved in maneuvers as far as 1,600 kilometers from home. Previously, military exercises had only been conducted by troops under a single regional military command. This has led military analysts to speculate that one of the purposes of the war games is a test run for reforming the command system.

The official Xinhua News Agency described the exercises as a test of the PLA's "long-range force projection" that will involve high-speed civilian rail and air links in the rapid deployment of troops. This will be the army's "largest-ever tactical military exercise", the agency said.

What Xinhua failed to mention is how such elaborate, high-profile war games - on top of perennial double-digit increases in the military budget for most of the past two decades - are consistent with China's promise of a "peaceful rise". Certainly, China's regional neighbors seek constant reassurance on this pledge. And the United States, still by far the pre-eminent military power in the region, is also looking on with a wary eye.

The exercises, however, appear to be aimed more at bolstering the internal security of China, with its 9.6 million square kilometers in land and 1.3 billion people, than projecting military power abroad. Some analysts even see these games as a direct response to the recent riots in the western autonomous region of Xinjiang, which left nearly 200 people dead and more than 1,700 injured. But the war games were planned long before the ethnic clashes last month between Muslim Uyghurs and Han Chinese in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi.

That said, separatist movements in Xinjiang and neighboring Tibet have long worried China's military leaders, and things seem to be growing worse, not better, in these restive regions. The Urumqi riots were this year's embarrassment. In March of 2008, as China prepared to host the Beijing Summer Olympic Games, the government crackdown on violent protests in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas put a damper on Beijing's international coming-out party.

These internal trouble spots figure prominently in the rapid, long-distance deployments the PLA is now practicing. Disaster relief, however, is also important to military planners. Last year's magnitude eight earthquake in Sichuan province was a grave reminder of the devastating power of Mother Nature and of the folly of having no coherent national emergency plan in place. While the central government responded to the quake with unprecedented speed and openness - and PLA troops played a key role in the rescue effort - in the end the effort was hampered by lack of coordination and inefficiency.

The quake left more than 80,000 people dead and another 370,000 injured. A better plan, including a more rapid, coordinated response by the PLA, could have reduced the death and suffering.
The flawed rescue effort after Typhoon Morakot struck Taiwan on August 9 is another regional reminder of the perils of poor emergency planning. The island's president, Ma Ying-jeou, is now mired in criticism amid reports that more than 500 people may have died as rescue helicopters carrying relief supplies passed obliviously over villages buried in mudslides.

A US military C-130 transport aircraft has flown to Taiwan, the first American military deployment on the island since 1979, to aid in the relief effort, and two US military helicopters are also expected.
In southeastern China, Morakot forced the evacuation of 1 million residents of Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, underscoring improved disaster relief as an imperative for Beijing.

Although internal concerns may be the primary motivation for "Stride-2009", China's regional rivals are increasingly uncomfortable with the nation's growing military prowess. India's military, which fought a border war with China in 1962, is particularly alarmed.

It probably doesn't help that the war games focused on projecting PLA power over long distances began less than a week after China-India talks resumed in New Delhi over the long-standing border dispute. A day before the games began, India's most senior military commander, navy chief of staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta, admitted that his country was now completely overmatched by China's armed forces and issued a stark warning.
"In military terms, both conventionally and unconventionally, we can neither have the capability nor the intention to match China force-for-force," the Hindustan Times quoted the admiral as saying. He added, "China is likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighborhood."

But Mehta's comments pale in comparison to those made by former head of the Indian Air Force, Fali Homi Major, who before his retirement two months ago called China a greater threat to India than Pakistan.

The perceived China threat is one big reason India has chosen to cozy up to the US and thus been rewarded with a complex, painfully negotiated deal guaranteeing full civil nuclear cooperation between the two nations.

The Chinese goal of gaining access to ports and airfields in the South China Sea, across the Indian Ocean and into the Persian Gulf - Beijing's so-called "String of Pearls" strategy - has the potential to jeopardize both Indian and US interests.

Elsewhere in the region, Japan, America's staunchest ally, will continue to rely on US might to ward off any challenge from China. As will Taiwan, whose possible eventual reunification with the mainland makes its traditional reliance on American military support appear more ambiguous.

In other words, this is a Sino-US face-off - although, all the apprehension over China's military expansion notwithstanding, on paper it still appears to be more of a face-down. Despite Beijing's more assertive posture - which has included refusing US warships entry to Hong Kong for the Thanksgiving holiday in 2007 and in March blocking a US surveillance ship in the South China Sea - China's professed military spending of US$70 billion for 2009 is dwarfed by the Pentagon's $500 billion budget. Even if, as many Western analysts insist, the Chinese figure is a gross underestimate, the discrepancy remains huge and US military power in the region unchallenged.

Nevertheless, China's military spending is now roughly equal to that of Japan, Russia and Britain, and the outgoing commander of US forces in Asia has identified North Korea and China as the Pentagon's chief concerns in the region. North Korea is the biggest worry because of its nuclear ambitions, Admiral Timothy Keating told the Voice of America (VOA) last month, but uncertainty about China's military aims was second on his list.

"We'd like to understand better their intentions, their military intentions," said Keating, who will be succeeded after his retirement in October by Admiral Robert Willard, current commander of the American Pacific Fleet.

"I'm not so concerned about China challenging our pre-eminence," Keating told VOA. "We enjoy significant capability, so China's not going to challenge our pre-eminence any time soon. That's not the concern. It's the notion that, absent [of] dialogue, there's the potential for lack of communication leading to confusion, leading to a crisis."

The admiral was speaking after China and the US agreed to resume military consultations, which Beijing had cut off last October over former president George W Bush's decision to sell US$6.5 billion in arms to Taiwan.

The current US administration under President Barack Obama hopes to increase communication and cooperation with Beijing on all fronts, including regular talks between the top military brass in the two countries. And, like his predecessor, Obama will need Beijing's diplomatic help to rein in North Korea.

But the first Pentagon report of the Obama presidency, issued in March, echoed familiar complaints. "The limited transparency in China's military and security affairs poses risks to stability by creating uncertainty and increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation," the report stated.

The report also expressed concern over Beijing's plans to build multiple aircraft carriers by 2020, its development of weapons for use in space and its enhanced capabilities in electromagnetic and cyber warfare.

Answering complaints about its lack of transparency, the PLA has launched something of a charm offensive. Foreign reporters were recently invited for a rare tour of an infantry base near Beijing during which they witnessed a counter-terrorism drill, and on August 1, the 82nd anniversary of the foundation of the PLA, the Ministry of National Defense launched a multi-media, bilingual website in English and Chinese. The site, unlike its staid predecessor, aims to be informative and user-friendly.

A ministry spokesman said the site signals the PLA's new "openness" and is intended to "increase understanding between countries and raise trust between militaries".

These are worthy aims, but it will take more than a flashy new website and a public-relations tour of an infantry base to achieve them.

From Ms Daredevil to Mrs Vivacious

Major Ankita Srivastava, who retired last year after 14 years of service in the Indian Army, is jobless; she walked the ramp to cope with post-retirement depression

She gave the best years of her life to serve the country and treaded the path feared by even most men. At the end, Major Ankita Srivastava, who retired last year after 14 years of service in the Indian Army, is now fighting a new enemy depression.

Ankita is jobless and doesn't have money to even buy gifts for her children. "I was from the pioneering batch of women officers and for 14 years lived a soldier's life. But now I find myself nowhere. I am still unemployed with all my experience and status snatched away from me," she said.

Fighter: Ankita Srivastava
The courageous officer, who was second in the merit list when she joined Officer's Training Academy (OTA) in 1993, met many other challenges her way. Married to an Indian Air Force officer, her marriage was almost over after she could not cope with the post-retirement life and slipped into severe clinical depression.  "After retirement, my life took a turn for the worse. I had to visit psychologist to get treated for depression and marriage counselors to save my marriage," she said.

After her retirement in 2008, she got a letter from Minister of State for Defence M Pallam Raju assuring that all the retried women officers will be accommodated in National Cadet Corps (NCC) or in the civilian ranks of the MoD. Though, it remained only on paper. "It's been a year and no action has been taken as yet," she said.

At last, Ankita dared to make her own way. The same year she participated in Mrs Gladrags competition and bagged the crown of Mrs Vivacious. "For 14 years I was living a man's live, but I participated in the beauty pageant. Thanks to the Indian Army that I could gather fighting spirit and learnt to speak, walk and behave like a woman. However, I can't forget that the Army ruined my life," she said.

Bugged with government apathy, Ankita feels women are just a showpiece in the armed forces. "We are inducted into the Army only for the glamour factor. It takes the very best out of us only to leave us stranded when we lose the glamour and gain experience of military life," said the miffed retired officer.

In last one-and-a-half years she has met all the senior officers in Ministry of Defence (MoD) including Defence Minister and Minister of State for Defence only to get their lame assurance that "something will be done to re-employ them."

"Once I got a chance to speak to the personal secretary to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and he also agreed that the armed forces is wasting national potential by sidelining trained women officers," she said.

Like Ankita, crops of young women officers are feeling cheated by the "biased" decision of government, which has agreed to offer permanent commission to future women officer in selective branches.

A young women captain on condition of anonymity, said, "I am an engineer and after serving for two years I have realised that there is no career security in the Army. I joined forces for the pride of being in uniform, which is brutally snatched from us after 14 years. Women officers are not granted the ex-serviceman status and are not entitled to pension."

Some of the women officers who are scheduled to retire this month after completing their tenure have already filed a petition in the Delhi High Court for permanent commission and the next hearing is scheduled to take place on August 21. According to sources, the defence ministry is planning to offer monetary compensation to these officers instead of granting another six years' of job, which makes them eligible for pension. "Even a jawan becomes eligible for pension after 15 years of service. We are not fighting for monetary compensation but for the dignity of being in this uniform," said a serving officer, wishing  anonymity.

Brave heart
Major Ankita Srivastava, who is known  for her bravery, once saved life of a senior IAS officer from an armed mob at the cost of her life in Siliguri. "She fought back against the angry mob only with a small khukhri," said an officer.

She along with a group of five women officer from her and subsequent batches have filed a petition in Delhi High Court, demanding their job back including equal treatment with their male counterparts who undergo a series of mid-career courses to improve their qualification.

India to recruit 150,000 police: minister

NEW DELHI — India said Monday it would recruit 150,000 low-ranking police officers across the country by next March to boost a depleted and overstretched force.
"We need to recruit 150,000 in the states. There is no substitute for putting men and women on the road," said Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram.
He urged India's state governments to take responsibility for police recruitment and admitted that the central government did not "have the capacity to set up training schools" immediately.
The minister was speaking after a summit on internal security attended by state chief ministers.
Human rights groups have accused Indian police of using strong-arm tactics and violating the law to make up for a lack of proper training and outdated equipment.
A recent report by Human Rights Watched urged the government to undertake massive police reforms to improve public confidence in law enforcement authorities.
Chidambaram said police reforms "have not received the attention they deserve," and said part of the reason was lack of allocation of funds.
He added that a scheme aimed at modernizing the police force, which was due to end in 2010, would likely be extended for another five to 10 years.


HALDIA, 17 AUG: With the state government sounding a red alert following a warning from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about a possible sea-borne terrorist attack in the state’s riverine-port at Haldia, the Indian Coast Guard and the CISF officials launched a massive search operation both in the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) and the industrial belt today.
The alert came in the wake of several reports and Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram’s warning that terrorists based in Pakistan could carry out an attack similar to the ones witnessed in Mumbai from November 26 to 29 last year.
According to sources in the Haldia dock, the search operation started last night soon after the IB alert on the possible sea-borne attack at Haldia port by a militant group reached the district police from the state government. All the gates of the HDC, the administrative building of the port’s Jawahar Tower and the port’s operation building at Chiranjibpur were immediately sealed by the joint forces. Security personnel have been deployed at all jetties and berths including the three oil-jetties to keep vigil and the Coast Guard has stepped up patrolling along the coast off Haldia dock.
Mr Anil Madhukar, commandant of the Haldia Coast Guard who is personally overseeing the whole search operation, said: “Following the receipt of intelligence inputs that there was a possibility of attack through the sea route, we have taken all type of security measures inside and outside the port. The surveillance along the riverine route has also been stepped up in a view to intercept any suspicious fishing boats that could be used by terrorists.”
Mr Pallav Kanti Ghosh, superintendent of police, said: “There is no need to be panicked. Security measures have already been taken at all places in the port and its adjacent industrial areas.”
The deputy chairman of the Haldia Dock Complex Mr Rajiv Dube confirmed: “After receiving Intelligence inputs of a possible terror strike at Haldia port, the Coast Guard has already stepped up patrolling along the Haldia coast as well as intensifying the security arrangements at all important areas here.”


Security forces in India might soon be armed with chilli bombs to take on rioters and fight insurgents.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is testing hand grenades stuffed with bhut jolokia or ghost chillies, which were confirmed as the world's hottest by Guinness World Records in 2007.
One seed from the fiery three-inch pepper, found in north east India, can produce intense pain in the mouth for up to half an hour. The DRDO hopes to use these qualities to develop tear gas canisters and hand grenades.
RB Srivastava, chief of the Directorate of Life Sciences in DRDO, said: "The trials have been done for the hand grenades. It gives out such pungent smoke that makes one come out of one's hiding place."
The heat from the weapon chokes the respiratory tract and causes the eyes to water.
Mr Srivastava said: "The war scenario is changing. Low intensity conflict is the norm of the day. The paramilitary forces face the problem of forcing the terrorists out of the hideouts. We wanted to find a non-lethal way to tackle insurgents and the mob during riot control."
The Scoville scale, which measures the piquancy or hotness of a chilli, rated the Bhut Jolokia peppers in number of Scoville heat units (SHU).
Bell peppers measure zero SHUs, while jalapeno peppers were rated at 2,500-8,000 SHUs. The world's hottest chilli measured over a million SHUs. Bhut jolokia might also find its way into soldiers' rations to help keep them warm.
"We want to see the feasibility of the chillies in the diet for soldiers in high altitude areas," Mr Srivastava told Indian newspaper the Hindustan Times.
The hot pepper is being used to scare away elephants that wander into fields hoping for an easy meal.


The Defence Ministry is believed to have cleared the decks for the Navy to purchase diesel-powered submarines to replace its ageing fleet of Russian submarines. The purchase is reported to be worth over Rs 25,000 crore.
The proposed acquisition of submarines was discussed Monday during the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting—which clears the acquisitions by the armed forces—chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony. The meeting also discussed Army’s proposal to upgrade Air Defence equipment—guns and missiles systems.
Though the Indian Navy has already ordered six French Scorpene Hunter submarines, the first of which is expected to be inducted by 2012, at a cost of over Rs 18,000 crore, it is looking for a second line of modern submarines to replace the old Kilo and Foxtrot series submarines, which are currently the mainstay of its submarine fleet.


Pakistan on Monday assured India of its “fullest cooperation” in preventing fresh acts of terror following warnings from its neighbour that militants in Pakistan were plotting new strikes.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a summit on internal security of “credible information of ongoing plans of terrorist groups in Pakistan to carry out fresh attacks,” urging his security forces to stay on high alert.
In the wake of his remarks, India’s deputy high commissioner was called to Pakistan’s foreign ministry and told Singh’s remarks “warrant serious and prompt attention,” the ministry said in a statement.
The deputy high commissioner was informed that “the government of Pakistan would like to extend its fullest cooperation to pre-empt any act of terror.”
India has boosted its security to prevent assaults after November’s attacks in the country’s financial capital Mumbai, in which gunmen killed 166 people.
“In all sincerity, we would request India to share information that they have and for our part we stand ready to cooperate fully in pre-empting any act of terror,” the Pakistan statement said.
It said that terrorism could only be combated by serious, sustained and pragmatic cooperation.
“We wish to renew our offer of cooperation to India in this regard,” the statement added.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training cross-border militants in Muslim-majority Kashmir -- a charge Islamabad vehemently denies.
The two nuclear-armed countries have fought three wars since independence in 1947 and came dangerously close to a fourth following an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 by militants New Delhi said came from Pakistan.


New Delhi, Aug. 17: The great duel in the skies for an Indian Air Force order that could top $11 billion for 126 fighter aircraft began in Bangalore today, but the real action is being worked out in boardrooms of aviation majors.
At least one of the six competitors in the race, EADS, is saying upfront that it will gift-wrap its offer of the Eurofighter Typhoon for the IAF with a “political package”.
“All such deals have a technical dimension as well as a political dimension,” chief executive officer of EADS defence and security, Bernhard Gerwert, told The Telegraph recently. EADS had flown Indian journalists to the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford, the UK, and to the German assembly plant at Manching last month to demonstrate the capabilities of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
“What that package will be is still being worked out. But an association with EADS means that India is associating with the governments of four countries in Europe and that can go a long way,” said Gerwert. The governments and the air forces of the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain collaborate to make the Eurofighter Typhoon.
EADS is upping the ante in the race for the IAF order because of a perception that the US, with its clout and the growing proximity of Indian and US military forces, could swing the deal towards one of the two American competitors —- the F-16 IN Super Viper made by Lockheed Martin or the Boeing F/A-18 E/F Superhornet.
Lt General Klaus-Peter Stieglitz, the chief of staff of the Luftwaffe, the German air force, was also forthright: “The political package has to be negotiated; as we did with Austria and Switzerland. But it is still quite early.”
The Eurofighter is a precious customer in Austria and is vying for an order from Switzerland for which the flight trials are over. The clinching of the End-User Monitoring and Verification Agreement between America and India is being seen by the competitors of the US as the latest symbol of the political closeness between the two countries and their militaries.
What the “political package” can be is yet to be defined. But EADS, at least, and the French government — which recently hosted a contingent of the Indian armed forces and the Prime Minister on Bastille Day — are convinced that it has to be a substantial concession. This could be, for example, a re-alignment of the European position on Jammu and Kashmir, bringing it closer to India’s stand. But no one is talking about that yet.
In Bangalore today, the IAF’s principal director, Air Staff Requirements at the Air Headquarters, Air Commodore Rakesh Dhir, began supervising the flight tests on the F/A-18 Superhornet.
Boeing Integrated Defence Systems has flown two US aircraft to the south Indian city that is also home to Hindustan Aeronautics and the Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation. This is one of the seven schools of its kind in the world, to which the IAF seconds its test pilots.
Two test pilots, a group captain and a wing commander, will take turns flying the Superhornet and, later in September, the F-16 and the Russian MiG 35. Two other top guns will put the Eurofighter, the French Rafale and the Swedish JAS-39C Gripen to tests.
The flight evaluations are scheduled to be completed by April next year, after which the IAF evaluation team will fly to the home countries of the manufacturers, or any other designated site, to test weapon systems and armaments.
The flight evaluation tests begin after the technical paperwork of each of the six contestants is found to be in order by the defence ministry. A senior officer at Air Headquarters said the aircraft would be flown out of Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh for testing in normal, hot and cold weather conditions.
The performance of each of the aircraft will be quantified for take-offs, sustained turns and tight turns.
Sample missions will be assigned to the aircraft for ground strike, maritime strike, air-defence/air-superiority, acceleration and climb performance.
“We might assign, for example, an aircraft to accelerate from 0.8 mach to 1.42 mach within a specified time (seconds),” the officer said. One mach is the speed of sound.
The evaluation will also assess systems navigation, radar abilities, self-defence suits, electronic warfare systems and the ability of the aircraft to carry extra load (weapons, bombs).
One of the requirements to evaluate the “multi-role” ability of the aircraft is whether they are capable of carrying and dropping big 2000-pounder bombs at designated ground targets.
“The tests have to be tabulated and the results brought out statistically,” said the officer.
After this, the IAF will ask for the MTBF — mean time between failures — to arrive at the cost of operating each of the aircraft over the period they are to be in service, an estimated 40 years. This is the first time that the IAF has adopted “lifecycle costing” or “cost of ownership” to conclude the expenses to be incurred on each aircraft.
This is primarily because of the IAF’s experience with Russian equipment, so far the Indian military’s mainstay. The top brass and the defence establishment adopted the cost-of-ownership method because they concluded that Russian equipment were cheaper off the shelf but more expensive in service life because of shortages in spares and back-ups.
A major concern of the competitors has been how the IAF will attempt to fix the cost-of-ownership of twin-engine aircraft like the Superhornet, the Rafale, the MiG 35 and the Eurofighter with single-engine aircraft like the Super Viper and the Gripen.
The single-engine aircraft will clearly be much cheaper. But air headquarters sources say the costs will also be offset against performance because twin-engine aircraft will be more powerful and are expected to be more versatile, if heavier.


Our national leadership is constantly advocating 'out of the box solutions' to meet a rising tide of national crises. But it has persistently and
obdurately ignored the quotidian and necessary tasks of governance and of maintaining minimum strength and standards in the institutions already 'in the box'. In India today, basic capacities for governance, enterprise and social action have been allowed to decline to such an extent that the most rudimentary tasks of nation-building, indeed, even of administrative maintenance, cannot be executed with a modicum of efficiency.

Ironically, this has happened over decades of a public and media discourse about 'bloated government', 'massive police force', 'gigantic expenditure on the bureaucracy', the need to 'downsize government', and other politically correct slogans based on extraordinary ignorance of fact. A look at the most rudimentary statistics may help pull some heads out of the sand.

After numberless terrorist attacks and years of hammering away at every possible forum with the basic data, India's abysmal police-population ratio appears to have found marginal registration in segments of the leadership, at least at the Centre. The ratio, at 125/1,00,000 in end-2007 (it is expected to have risen significantly thereafter, though nowhere approaching what is necessary) stands against western ratios that range between 200 (Australia: 209) and over 500 (Italy: 556). Western police forces, moreover, have tremendous qualitative advantages in manpower, technology, infrastructure, financial resources and conditions of work, and are rarely required to deal with proxy wars and insurgency.

The police are not the only organisation in crisis. Every government institution in the country has been hollowed out by political incompetence and ignorance. A look at the 'bloated bureaucracy' is instructive. The embedded principle in American democracy is that 'the best government is the least government'. Consequently, the state focuses as exclusively as possible on 'core functions' and minimises engagement in welfare and activities that can be taken over by the private sector. The administrative philosophy in India is the exact opposite, with government's fingers planted firmly in every possible pie.

That is why the ratio of government employees to population in the two countries is the more astonishing: the US federal government has a ratio of 889 employees per 1,00,000; India's Union government has just 295. State and local government employees in the US account for another 6,314 per 100,000; in sharp contrast, Uttar Pradesh has 352; Bihar, 472; Orissa, 1,007; Chhattisgarh, 1,067; Maharashtra, 1,223; Punjab, 1,383; Gujarat, 1,694. Worse, in India, the overwhelming proportion of government employees is in the lower cadres, class III and IV, as against the 'thinking' element of the state in higher echelons. Even in the latter category, qualitative profiles, including modern and administrative skills, training and technological competence, are severely limited.

Then, look at the 'second largest army in the world'. At about 1.4 million, the current strength of the armed forces appears large in absolute terms but is utterly inadequate in terms of India's population, territory and strategic projections as an 'emerging global power'. India's ratio of active duty uniformed troops to population works out to about 1:866. China's ratio is 1:591; UK's 1:295; Pakistan's 1:279; the US's 1:187. Again, the Indian armed forces' technological and resource capabilities compare adversely to those of the modernised western powers, and the army is way overstretched in conventional defence and counter-insurgency deployments. It can only be hoped that the navy chief's dark assessment of capacities relative to China will ring a few alarm bells.

Given the magnitude of delays that mar the judicial process, it is not surprising to find this institution is probably the worst off in terms of human assets. India has about 1.2 judges per 1,00,000 population. The Law Commission, in its 120th report, recommended a much-augmented ratio of 5 judges per 1,00,000 - a more than fourfold increase. But even this projected ratio would compare adversely with most countries that could be categorised as reasonably administered. The US has nearly 11 judges per 1,00,000 population; Sweden: 13; China: 17; and, at the top of the scale, Belgium: 23; Germany: 25; and Slovenia: 39!

The obvious 'solution', theoretically, would be to initiate massive recruitment to fill up these deficits. Government revenues have grown tremendously over the past decades, so that seems feasible. But it is here that the system hits a wall. Forget lack of political will, corruption, bureaucratic delays, interminable selection processes or absence of training capacities. India has an abysmal 9 per cent higher education participation rate, lower than the average for Africa at 10 per cent. An overwhelming majority of 'graduates' come out of third-rate institutions and are in fact unemployable, lacking essential language and reasoning skills. For all our boasting about the 'youth bulge', India simply does not have the manpower profile to fuel a modern nation and it will take decades before suitable profiles can be generated to meet the demands of modern governance, commerce and society.

The writer is executive director, Institute for Conflict Management.


Karachi, August 17

Pakistan today said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks about terror groups planning fresh attacks on India from Pakistani soil were uncalled for as the two countries were progressing towards better relations. 
"I think (Singh's) statement was uncalled for and it would have been better if he had not made such a statement because Pakistan and India are moving towards better relations, especially after the meetings (between the Indian premier and President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani)," Minister of State for Information Sumsam Ali Bukhari said.
"As Pakistanis, we would not want any problems to occur anywhere. We are ourselves victims of terrorism," Bukhari told reporters in this southern port city in response to a question about Singh's remarks.Pakistan wants to work with the world in tackling terrorism and militancy, he said.
"Whether it is our neighbours or distant countries, we want peace in the whole world. Islam is a religion of peace and gives a message of peace," he added. Earlier in the day, Singh said terror groups in Pakistan wereplanning fresh attacks in India. 
Addressing a conference on internal security in New Delhi, Singh said, "there is credible information of ongoing plans of terrorist groups in Pakistan to carry out fresh attacks." — PTI


Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has said the current battle being waged by the army is against extremism and terrorism.
“It is not a fight based on religion, ethnicity, sub-nationalism or provincialism”, Kayani said while addressing the 2nd annual ‘Azadi Parade’ at Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.
The army chief said extremists and terrorists could not be allowed to impose “their narrow and distorted version of Islam through force”. “Let me emphasise that no extremist or terrorist can impose his distorted version of Islam through violent means. We, in Pakistan, are committed to defending our country against all external and internal threats,” he said.
Kayani said terrorists were those who had blinded themselves with self-righteousness and were not amenable to reason and logic.
“When this small minority resorts to coercion ... they turn into terrorists,” he said.


Ahmedabad, August 17
On a day when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke of terror groups in Pakistan plotting fresh attacks in India, the Border Security Force said it foiled an infiltration bid today by arresting nine Pakistani nationals who had alighted from a boat in the coastal Sir Creek area in Kutch district.
"We had information some people from across the border were trying to infiltrate into Indian territory. So we conducted a special operation and apprehended nine men," a BSF spokesperson told PTI. "All of them are middle-aged and arrived in a boat that has been seized," he added.
Last year the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, had hijacked an Indian fishing boat from near the marshy Sir Creek area, which is prone to crossborder intrusions, before reaching close to the city in that boat.
“The men who were apprehended today looked like fishermen but, following interrogation, it was found they were not fishermen”, the BSF spokesperson said. Arun Kumar Sinha, IG (Gujarat Frontier), said preliminary investigations showed six of the arrested men were engaged in fishing activities while three were not. — PTI


Aug. 17: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday pressed for a partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the state even as he cautioned the Centre against the withdrawal of the CRPF deployed on counter-insurgency operations in sensitive districts, stating that the move will leave a vacuum that could be exploited by insurgents.
Seeking an "immediate replacement" for paramilitary forces in the state, Mr Abdullah said, "The ministry of home affairs has ordered the withdrawal of five CRPF battalions from the state. Four IRP battalions from Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Uttarakhand, which were meant to replace the CRPF battalions, have not reported as yet except for one battalion."
The CRPF was withdrawn from J&K for anti-naxal operations in other parts of the country.
Mr Omar Abdullah appealed to the Centre and political parties to take a "pragmatic view" of lifting AFSPA from districts where terrorist activities are "minimal". He was speaking at the chief ministers’ meeting on internal security, The Centre had recently said it would re-work the act to remove draconian provisions.
"Now that there is a distinct change in the security environment in the state, there is a good case for reviewing the continuation of the AFSPA, particularly in those areas of the state which are at the moment not unduly affected by insurgent or terrorist activities," he said.


Aug. 17: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) of the ministry of defence met on Monday and is believed to have discussed several acquisitions for the armed forces such as the proposed acquisition of six more submarines for the Indian Navy as well as air defence missiles and guns for the Army. Air defence capabilities have become a priority now, with intelligence inputs in the past seven months suggesting that terrorists may try to stage a surprise aerial attack. Following this, civil aviation and Indian Air Force authorities had earlier formulated a joint strategy to ensure comprehensive air defence security besides beefing up security at airports and monitoring small unused airstrips across the country.
No details on the meeting were given by the MoD but sources said that acquisition of six (second-line) submarines that will be indigenously-produced was discussed at the DAC. India is already manufacturing six French Scorpene submarines at the Mazagaon docks. A request for proposal (RFP) could be issued soon for the six more submarines.


Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday said that Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar were posing serious threat to the State’s internal security as the Indian separatists had been using the neighbouring countries as sanctuary and place for hatching anti-India conspiracy.

He was especially perturbed by the growing influences of the fundamentalist and jehadi forces in Bangladesh, which had been working in tandem with ULFA, NDFB and other northeast militant groups holed up there.

“Bangladesh has emerged as a hub of fundamentalist elements facilitating cross-border terrorism,” Gogoi said at the conference of Chief Ministers on internal security held at New Delhi. He lamented that despite assurances, the Government of Bangladesh had not taken any visible action against the Indian terrorist groups as they could move freely in Bangladesh.

“The Government in Bangladesh has not taken action as per our expectation regarding both the extradition of wanted terrorists and destruction of camps on its soil,” he pointed out. “Assam continued to be not only the hunting grounds for fundamentalist elements from Bangladesh, but it also became veritable gateway for groups such as the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) to the rest of the country to carry out terror attacks.”

He claimed that there was an unholy nexus between ULFA, NDFB and these fundamentalist elements, mentored by a foreign Intelligence agency, which added a new dimension to the internal security scenario of the state. “These groups have reportedly developed operational understanding for launching bigger scale of violence in the state in the coming days,” the Chief Minister said.

Myanmar, too, is a cause for growing concern for the northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, as they share a long porous international boundary with the neighbouring Asian country. Almost all the major northeast militant groups use its soil as safe haven and cross-border terror activities, including smuggling of drugs and arms. In fact, he said there had been instances when arms consignments entered the region from Cox Bazar of Bangladesh through Mizoram-Myanmar and Manipur-Myanmar borders.

Gogoi suggested a slew of measures to curb trans-boundary terror activities and smuggling of arms and other contraband such as, fencing of international borders, adequate deployment of border force as well as diplomatic pressures.


NEW DELHI: Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Monday urged the Centre to increase the presence of Coast Guard and Navy along the Tamil Nadu coast to safeguard the eastern coastal sector.
He sought the creation of a common database on terrorism and other matters related to internal security at the Centre with facility for access by the States and deputation of police personnel for training in institutions abroad to fill the void in intelligence collection and sharing by exposing them to the best practices.
Mr. Stalin, participating in the Chief Ministers’ conference on internal security here, suggested strict immigration control measures such as photographing and finger printing of all foreigners on arrival and Web-based passport information system be made accessible to the State intelligence wings.
The entire cost of purchase of weaponry and equipment required for anti-terrorism and anti-sabotage operation might be met by the Centre, he said, adding that the process of funding mega city modernisation should be expedited by the Centre.
Mr. Stalin wanted the Centre to meet the manpower cost towards maintaining Quick Reaction Teams (QRT) in districts and cities for internal security management and provide funds for training such manpower.
Tamil Nadu was not in favour of creating a separate intelligence cadre due to problems of career mobility, sectional recruitment and cadre management.
The issue of attrition rate vis-À-vis gaining specialisation was being dealt within the proposal of restructuring of State intelligence by modifying the selection process and providing incentives to stay on.
On terrorist threats, he said the State was considering a proposal to involve the local bodies in access control and surveillance by enacting suitable rules and regulations.
Regarding coastal security, he said an agreed scale of manpower for manning boats and coastal police stations might be worked out by the Centre and the States with funds from the Centre. Advance budgetary provision might be made to meet the cost of fuel and hiring of boats, instead of reimbursement.
Similarly, repairing facilities of the Coast Guard and the Navy could be extended to the State police’s coastal security group.
Mr. Stalin called on AICC president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi here.


BANGALORE: Boeing's F-18 has come in ahead of Lockheed Martin's F-16 for the IAF's test trials in the city. The F-18's flights began at HAL
Airport on Monday, with both Indian and American pilots trying their hand.

IAF is conducting trials for 126 fighter aircraft it plans to buy next year. The F-18 has come with flight test engineers to coordinate with their Indian counterparts. Pilots from the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment have been trained to conduct flights.

The tests involve sorties for a particular duration and are undertaken twice __ in the morning and at noon. It will look at the behaviour of the aircraft in normal weather conditions of Bangalore, thrust, engine power and flexibility of manouvres.

The F-18 is the Super Hornet version, favourite of the US Navy. F/A-18E is a one-seater, while F/A-18F is a two-seater. Manufactured by Boeing IDS, the Super Hornets are designed to fly both air-to-air missions (combat) and air-to-ground (attack) missions.


Srinagar, Aug. 17: Top intelligence officials in Jammu and Kashmir today said a large number of militants were waiting to sneak in across the border even as warnings of a “disturbing” surge echoed far away from the troubled Valley.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told chief ministers at a meeting in the national capital that the levels of infiltration that had “come down very substantially” had seen a “surge this year”.
“The infiltrators are more battle-hardened, better equipped and in possession of sophisticated” communication systems, he said at the chief ministers’ conference on internal security in Delhi.
In Kashmir, top intelligence sources said hundreds of militants had gathered at 42 training camps across the Line of Control and were waiting to cross over.
“We fear escalation of violence during Ramazan, which is just days away,” said an official.
The United Jihad Council (UJC), an umbrella body of 13 militant outfits based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, has already ruled out a unilateral cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir during the Muslim holy month.
“If the Government of India takes a positive step in this direction, the UJC will sit and think over it,” UJC chairman and Hizb-ul Mujahideen supreme commander Syed Salahuddin told a local news agency on Saturday.
The infiltration alerts, from Delhi and Kashmir, have come at a time the LoC has seen a spurt in militant activity. Sources said there had been at least 13 infiltration bids in the Kashmir valley alone that left dozens of militants and several jawans dead.
The Border Security Force on Saturday foiled a major attempt when a group of militants tried to cross a river flowing close to the international border in Jammu’s Samba sector.
Defence spokesman Lt Colonel J.S. Brar said the security forces had strengthened the counter-infiltration mechanism on the LoC that had suffered damage during the winter because of snowfall.
“That is why most of the militants are being gunned down near the LoC and they do not succeed in crossing into the hinterland,” he said.
But sources said many militants had already entered the Valley.
“Around 195 militants have managed to infiltrate into the Valley in the past seven months against the 84 in the corresponding period last year. Some of them have been killed or arrested but most are active,” an official said.
He said 370 militants were active in Kashmir and that more than 40 per cent of them were foreigners. “This is in addition to 70 unlisted militants (unidentified but accounted for),” he added.
Although militant violence has come down substantially over the years, officials said a year of unrest that began with the Amarnath land row had helped the rebels, who were now back in a position to carry out attacks with ease.
“Our counter-insurgency grid has been disturbed as our focus has been to quell street protests. In the process, the militants have regrouped and consolidated their position,” an official said.

Midnapore, Aug. 17: The People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities today foxed security forces, defied prohibitory orders and held a rally 3km from a village where the cops had turned out in large numbers to foil its gathering.
While the police were busy dismantling the dais at Gohomidanga and bringing down microphones, about a thousand people led by Chhatradhar Mahato assembled at Mongladanga.
About 400 jawans drawn from central and state forces moved into Gohomidanga this morning and took control of an 8km stretch of the metalled road connecting the area with Lalgarh town by noon. The power supply to the dais built for the rally was snapped.
Aware that the police would try to prevent its much-publicised meeting, the Maoist-backed committee had thought up a fallback.
After the outfit cocked a snook at them, the police tried to crow over their success in foiling the meeting at Gohomidanga.
In Calcutta, inspector-general (law and order) Surajit Kar Purkayastha said: “They had wanted to hold a meeting in front of the police outpost at Gohomidanga. We prevented them from doing so. They only managed to hold an impromptu secret meeting some distance away.”
The “secret” meeting, however, took place in the presence of about 1,000 men and women carrying sticks, axes, bows and arrows and other traditional tribal weapons and an army of media personnel. The committee rigged up loudspeakers run on battery and Mahato and several others spoke at length.
While Mahato was addressing the meeting, another thousand committee supporters kept the police “engaged” by advancing on Gohomidanga.
The police chased them with batons for up to half a kilometre, burst tear-gas shells and fired twice in the air till they were satisfied that Gohomidanga was secured.
According to senior committee leaders, their strategy was to give the police the impression that they were bent on holding the rally at Gohomidanga.
This afternoon, when the police were waging a quixotic fight to foil the meeting, Mahato ensured that a few processions headed towards the planned site and wrongfooted the police.
“It was a replication of the Maoist strategy of dodging the police and carrying on with their activities even after the security forces had completed their area domination in Lalgarh,” a committee leader said.
Mahato, who is wanted by the police, said the administration would not be able to prevent the committee from holding public meetings despite clamping Section 144 across Lalgarh.
His suggestion was that the popular anger against the security forces camping in schools would work in the committee’s favour. “The forces are torturing the villagers, and innocent people are being arrested and beaten up. Classes have stopped in schools. So no one can forcibly stop our movement,” he said.
Although the IG claimed “success”, several senior officers conceded that the fact that Mahato held a televised public meeting with loudspeakers a few kilometres from an area of heavy police deployment highlighted yet again the forces’ abysmal intelligence network.
“Just as the police are not getting any intimation on Maoist movement in Lalgarh, they were completely in the dark about Mahato’s meeting,” an officer said.
Maoist leader Bikash tonight threatened “more extensive” attacks on the police and CPM leaders


PATNA: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday demanded that border roads be constructed along 726 km porus Bihar-Nepal


Speaking at the conference of chief ministers on internal security called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday, Nitish cautioned about the political turmoil and other recent activities in Nepal and the problems of illegal infiltration, smuggling of narcotics, fake currency, human trafficking, criminal and other related activities.

The CM underlined need for a security audit along the borders with Nepal. He said that on the line of Indo-Bangladesh and Indo-Pak borders, Indo-Nepal border should also be managed properly. "Since, it becomes an international issue, the Central government should address it seriously," he said.

"This border should also be properly fenced and an all-weather border road should also be constructed. Instead of Shashtra Seema Bal (SSB), it should be handed over to the BSF," Nitish said.

He further said that there is a strong case for increasing the number of border outposts, strengthening and fortifying them, integrated check posts at the border and for joint survey of the international boundary by teams from both countries.

The CM said that the ratio between police personnel and the state's population is quite below the national average. He said that the vacancies have to be filled, some important posts have to be created, number of police stations has to be increased and police personnel are to be trained and equipped with arms. He also sought financial support for this.

Nitish said that Bihar is in the process of recruiting 13,000 police personnel this year. According to him, the state has already recruited 7,500 ex-Army personnel to fight extremism, which had been appreciated by former defence minister Pranab Mukherjee who instructed other states to follow Bihar.

He also demanded setting up of a National Security Guard (NSG) unit at Patna. He said the Central government has initiated similar units in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, but has forgotten about a distant place like Patna where it will be difficult for NSG soldiers to reach in time.

With regards to Naxalite situation in Bihar, Nitish said that it is largely under control at the moment and the extremist elements are being dealt with on regular basis both by technical and human intelligence led operations. He also mentioned that a surrender and rehabilitation policy is in place in Bihar and the government has undertaken various operational strategies, including `Apki Sarkar, Apke Dwar', to tackle the menace of extremism. This innovative scheme is being implemented in 63 panchayats of seven extremist-affected districts, he added.