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Thursday, September 24, 2009






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Updated 6 hours ago

What incursions? Listen to your leaders, Chinese envoy tells media

NEW DELHI: Days after the Indian government asked the media to eschew "hype" over reported Chinese incursions, China's ambassador Zhang Yan Tuesday met Home Secretary G.K. Pillai here and tried to clarify the picture.

"Nothing is happening. You listen to your leaders," Zhang told reporters when asked about his nearly half-an-hour meeting with Pillai.

The Chinese ambassador's meeting came in the wake of repeated assertions by top Indian officials and the army chief that reported incursions have occurred due to differences in perception of the Line of Actual Control.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh downplayed the incursions amid reports about Beijng's unhappiness at the way Chinese border transgressions have been reported in the Indian media to conjure up a China threat.

Seeking to deflate hype over reported Chinese intrusions across the undemarcated border, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao Saturday stressed that there was "no significant increase" in incursions across all sections of the over 4,000 km border between the two countries.

"Contrary to the popular perception, the situation along the border has remained peaceful for decades," Rao said.

National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor also cautioned against the media hype and stressed that there was nothing alarming about the reported incursions.

Narayanan expressed concern, saying that if such reports continued, "someone somewhere might lose his cool and something might go wrong."

Underlining the developing nature of relationship between India and China, Rao, a former ambassador to China, said the leaderships of the two countries are in regular communication over important bilateral issues.

"We remain in constant touch over all mutual issues. The leadership-level understandings and communication remain open all the time," Rao said. 

Over 100 pilots have applied for VRS: IAF chief

GANDHINAGAR: Over 100 pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have applied for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said here on Wednesday.

"We have very steep pyramid structure (in the Air Force) where there are less avenues of promotions," Naik said in reply to a question on how many pilots of the Air Force have applied for VRS.

"When one does not get promotions after 24-25 years of service one wants to leave and try alternative avenues. Off hand I can tell that we have over 100 applications for VRS from pilots," Naik said.

"Since there is a slump in the market outside, there are less applications. Once the slump is over the applications might increase," he added.

Naik said that the Air Force have setup independent board of officers to assess the VRS application of the pilots.

"The committee scrutinises the applications on case-to-case basis and if the reasons for VRS are justified, which mostly are on compassionate ground for children and parents, the applications are approved," Naik said.

Naik was on a two-day visit to the South Western Air Command (SWAC) in Gandhinagar to review the Commands' operational, maintenance and administrative preparedness. 

IAF strength just one-third of China's: IAF chief

GANDHINAGAR: Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said on Wednesday that India's "aircraft strength is inadequate and is just one third of China's air force.'' He said it would take at least three years for the situation to change as the IAF was in the process to augment its inventory. 

Talking to the media at the South Western Air Command during his two-day visit to Gujarat, the IAF chief said: "IAF is known worldwide as a professional organisation for its capabilities. But India's aircraft strength is just one third of China's. Our present aircraft strength is inadequate -- it is not enough.'' 

"China is one of the many challenges, including terrorism, a low spectrum conflict that India is facing in the current geo-political situation. The country was seized of the problems and taking multi-pronged measures ranging from diplomatic to economic to face the challenges besides developing capabilities. We are playing it cool. This is also a part of the strategy,'' he said. 

On reports of incursions by Chinese troops, he said as far as IAF was concerned, there were no incursions anywhere. He also sought to allay fears by saying that adequate deployment has been made on the border. "The coordination between Indian armed forces and intelligence agencies is much better now than what it was a year ago,'' Naik said. 

The IAF chief said contracts have been signed between Russia and India for a fifth generation fighter and transport aircraft. "India proposes to buy at least 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMCA) like F-18, F-16, Raphael and C-150 Hercules. One Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) has already arrived while two are expected by next year. Besides, we intend to buy heavy transport aircraft (global inquiry floated) and medium lift helicopters,'' said Naik.

4 militants, 2 officers among 4 troopers dead

Bloody gunfights in B’pora, Rafiabad 
Mir Tariq / Showkat Nanda
Bandipora/Baramulla, Sep 23:  Two Army Majors and equal number of troopers and four militants were killed in two separate fierce encounters at Bandipora and Rafiabad in North Kashmir.
The Bandipora residents allege that the owner of the house where the gunfight took place has disappeared while his son was arrested by police.
A senior army official said 13 Rashtriya Rifles, 1 Para and 4 Para troopers on specific information laid siege around the house of one Muhammad Rehmatullah Mir (Rehat Mir) at Banyari, Hajin village of Bandipora on Monday afternoon. “The militants present inside were asked to surrender. But they turned down the offer and at around 4.25 pm opened fire on the troopers. The fire was returned, triggering an encounter. In the ensuing gunfight, which continued for 26 hours, two militant commanders, an army Major and a trooper were killed,” he said.
Police identified the slain militants as Abu Pasha and Abu Musa - District Commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba respectively. Both the militant commanders, according to police, were active in the area from past many years and one of them carried an award of Rs 11 lakhs on his head.
Major Suresh Suri and an NCO Khushal of 13 RR were also killed in the encounter. Two Majors Gautam Raj Reshi and Kamlesh Kumar, NCO Mahipal Singh and Sepoy Naveen were injured and have been hospitalised.
Source told Rising Kashmir that the militants took  Major and a trooper accompanying him as hostage when they tried to enter inside the house. “The militants killed them and later fired from automatic weapons towards the troopers, who had laid siege around the house.  In the ensuing gunfight, which lasted for 26 hours, two holed-up militants were killed and three troopers including two officers critically injured,” they said.
They said that the two-storied residential house and a cowshed were completely destroyed during the gunfight.
It is the first ever gunfight in Banyari village, which is located in the heart of famous Wular Lake and surrounded by more than 10 Army camps and  Naval camp.
Banyari, Hajin area was once the hub of Ikhwanis (pro-government gunmen).
 “It was first ever encounter in area in 20 years. We fail to understand how militants sneaked in the village, which is surrounded by Army and Navy camps,” said a villager.
He said army fired heavy shells towards the house, where from they were facing still resistance from the militants. “At least 50 houses in the village have developed cracks due to the shelling,” he said.
Army spokesman, Uma Maheshwar said two militants, a Major and a sepoy were killed in the Bandipora encounter.
House owner missing, son arrested
Locals said that the house owner Muhammad Rehmatullah Mir disappeared during the encounter while his son Showket Ahmed Mir was arrested by police.
“Our father has disappeared. He was with us before the eruption of encounter but now we don’t know his whereabouts as his cell is switched-off,” daughter of Mir told Rising Kashmir.
She said her brother Showket was picked up by police in front of the family members.
Locals fear that army may have picked up elderly Mir during the operation and demanded immediate and unconditional release of house owner and his son.
SP Bandipora Junaid Shiekh admitted that police have arrested Showket. “He has been picked up for investigation purpose. We don’t know anything about the house owner Rehamtullah Mir,” Junaid said.
4-day long encounter in Rafiabad
Police sources said 32 RR personnel launched a combing operation in the Compartment 41 and 44 of  Ladu Ladoora forest area in Rafiabad on Sunday (September 20) evening to flush out the militants hiding there. “During the operation, the militants hiding in the area fired from automatic weapons on the troopers. The fire was returned and the gunbattle continued for four days during which both uses used heavy weapons and grenades,” they said.
Sources said during the gunfight, army used highly trained para-troopers and MARCOS commandos to flush out the militants, who offered still resistance to them. The Marcos is the most highly trained among the soldiers of Indian defense forces. The commandos were air dropped with the help of helicopters.
“Two militants, an army officer and a trooper were killed in the fierce gunfight, which culminated on Wednesday,” they said.
The deceased troopers were identified as Junior Commissioned Officer Chandrasekhar of elite commando force MARCOS and Lance- Naik Faltankar Divakar Daduram of 32 RR.
The slain militants have not been identified but are believed be affiliated to Al-Badr outfit.
Commando Jidev, Lance Naik Bharat Singh and Rifleman Ram Sharma were injured in the gunfight and hospitalised.
“Two militants and two soldiers were killed in the 4-day long gunfight. The operation has been called off,” DIG North A.Q. Manhas told Rising Kashmir.
Police said one of the militants was killed on first day of the encounter near Qafir Naar, Ladu Rafiabad while other was killed on Wednesday near Vigi Top.
Army spokesman, Uma Maheshwar said two troopers including a Major and two militants were killed in the Raifabad encounter.