Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Congress soft on terror, Naxals get a free hand

Government has a concrete plan to deal with Naxals but keeps alternating between a soft approach and a tough one from time to time. After the killing of police officer Francis Induwar in Jharkhand, it appears the Government may finally enlist the help of the Indian Air Force and give it the right to return aerial fire in the event of an attack.

Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday had said, The IAF has every right to respond to the challenges."

The Centre's plan goes thus:

  • Helicopters like Chetak and MI17 will be used for supporting operations.
  • Unarmed Aerial Vehicles will be used for surveillance over Naxal areas.
  • Security forces will be positioned in sanitised zones for upto three years.
  • Incentive schemes will be introduced for security officers posted in Naxal-infested areas, including a 25 per cent hike in basic pay and higher insurance coverage.
  • Vacancies will be filled up by recruiting locals.
  • Officers will be allowed to retain their quarters in main cities or the capital, if posted in Naxal areas.

But politics may come in the way of the smooth implementation as several Naxal hit states are ruled by the Opposition parties. Even within the UPA the full tempo approach has not been fully accepted. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joined Rahul Gandhi in talking development rather than violent defence as a means to stamp out the reign of red terror.

A week ago, Rahul Gandhi, then AK Antony and now the Prime Minister have blamed lack of governance for Naxal activities. Once again, the Congress brings on itself the charge of being soft on terror.

Coastal security scheme comes under scanner

THOOHUKUDI: As the number of vessels intruding into Indian waters increases, people living in the coastal region are a worried lot and questions are being raised regarding the credibility of the much acclaimed Coastal Security Scheme (CSS).

The public contended that the scheme had failed as number of Lankan boats straying into Indian waters had increased and this time they had failed to check the intrusion of a Singapore vessel off the Koodangulam coast.

The CSS is said to be a three-fold security blanket scheme wherein the Indian coasts are guarded by the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Coastal Security Group. Now questions are being raised as to how the  three-tier security was breached in all these incidents.

In August 2009, the Indian Coast Guard apprehended three Sri Lankan fishing boats. In October, one fishing boat was detained and the total number of Sri Lankan fishermen who were arrested was 31. Early this month, the stranded Singapore vessel off Koodangulam was brought to the coast guard station at Thoothukudi.

However, in all these incidents the intrusion is said to have happened due to bad weather. Though the coast guard ships are equipped with radar and hi-tech GPS systems, these systems failed to track the stranded ship off Koodangulam for two days.

Now, the Tamil Nadu police and the Indian Coast Guard are blaming each other for the porous security. According to sources, the Indian Coast Guard has to take responsibility. 

26/11 lesson: Navy and Coast Guard scan city seafront for infiltrators

The Indian Navy will carry out aerial surveillance of the city’s coastal regions to prevent possible infiltration along the lines of the 26/11 terror attack, the Mumbai Police said.

The Coast Guard and the Navy have already launched a massive joint operation, patrolling the coast. It will continue on Tuesday.

“There is no specific terror threat but all precautions are being taken. We have approached the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Indian Air Force. The Navy and the Coast Guard are engaged in a big coastal policing exercise, and the Navy has also started aerial surveillance of coastal areas in the city with its choppers. We are also talking to the Indian Air Force requesting aerial surveillance,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Himanshu Roy.

“Since 90 per cent of the police force will be engaged in election duties, the city can become a soft target. We want to ensure that there is no infiltration from the sea as in the case of the 26/11 terror attack,” said Roy. 

DRDO develops new guns for armed forces

New Delhi: With the armed and state police forces looking to procure close-quarter combat guns in the post 26/11 security scenario, DRDO has come up with a 5.56 mm calibre Modern Sub-Machine Carbine (MSMC) and is expecting it to be inducted in the army soon.

Developed by DRDO's Pune-based Armaments Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), MSMC will be sent for final field trials to the army in December, DRDO officials said.
The previous three trials of the gun were carried out at Army's Infantry School in Mhow and have been quite successful in meeting their requirements, they said.

Carbine is a lightweight compact semi-automatic gun with a small barrel and fires rapidly and is suitable for close quarter combats. 

At present, the Indian Army Special Forces have Israeli-made Tavor and Uzi guns and the paramilitary forces use German-made MP-5 guns. 

Commenting on the main features of the gun, the officials
said the MSMC has the potential of being "weapon of choice" for the Special Forces and quick-reaction teams operating against terrorists in urban and semi-urban backdrop. 

The MSMC has ambidextrous features and soldiers would be able to fire it with one hand also, officials said.

Size of the gun can also be adjusted according to different situations in which the troops operate, they said.

MSMC is an off-shoot of the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) family of weapons, which was an attempt to produce small arms indigenously. Prior to developing the MSMC, DRDO was working on an INSAS Carbine but the programme was shelved after the army issued new requirements for the gun. 

Bihar police to get Army training to counter “Red Army”

Army will train police in Bihar to enable them successfully counter the Maoists, police officials said today.

Officials said the Bihar police required special training to suitably counter the “grown-up” Maoists.
“We are taking help from the Indian Army to make our police jawans get special outdoor training in counter insurgency and guerrilla warfare”, said a senior police official who did not want to be named.
He said the department was soon going to open Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare Schools at four places in Bihar.
“In these schools, the jawans will get training on the pattern of Grey Hounds of Hyderabad”, the official said.
In the current year, a total 24 policemen have been killed in Bihar in six naxal attacks reported till August while only three Maoists were killed in police encounter. The maoists also looted 28 police weapons.
As per an official report, 31 of Bihar’s total 38 districts are infested by Maoist activities. Of them, 19 figure in “A” category. 

Emarson plans to provide digital signage for Indian Army

New Delhi: Emarson IT Solutions, a digital signage provider is exploring opportunities of providing digital signage for the Indian Army. Prateek Jaswant, CEO and Co-founder of Emarson said, "This is a time where every industry is adapting new technologies, so should the Indian Army and I feel proud that we could service our army officials." 

Jaswant was speaking at an IT seminar called 'The Cutting Edge' organized by the Indian Army at Mamun, near Pathankot. The seminar which is taking place on 12th and 13th October will see the participation of a large number of senior officers from Corps of Signals as well as officers from all the arms and services. The seminar is aimed at providing a platform for deliberate and structured user-industry interaction to explore viable technologies for designing robust communications and IT solutions for the Indian Army.

During his session with the army officials Jaswant introduced them to digital signage and digital keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) switches technology. He explained them on how to choose, fix or maintain servers with KVM switches from a single station at any given time. Also, in regard to digital signage he explained that it is a dynamic media as opposed to static billboards and posters and how it has emerged as a powerful tool for instructing, informing and disseminating information to the masses. Apart from Emarson, other companies such as Barco, Ericsson, Softel Solutions, HCL Infosystems and Cisco also addressed various aspects in the IT segment.

FROM PAK WITH LOVE : India fuming at Pakistani Newspaper for leaking story on Army prostitutes

PAKISTAN—India is fuming because a Pakistani newspaper broke the news that the Indian military has finalized plans to deploy a unit of women sex providers in occupied Kashmir, where figures of suicides and mental problems among Indian soldiers deployed in a hostile territory have shot through the rooftop. This time, Pakistani diplomats in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi may receive an unusual Indian protest.  So far the Indians have been ISI-phobic, seeing the hands of Pakistan’s feared premier counterespionage service in everything that went wrong in India.  Now the diplomats will be receiving a letter of protest against an independent Pakistani newspaper.
For the first time in the 62-year tumultuous relationship between Pakistan and India, New Delhi wants to lodge a complaint with Islamabad against a Pakistani newspaper, The Daily Mail. 
On Sept. 8th, 2009, The Daily Mail ran a story filed by the paper’s New Delhi correspondent Christina Palmer, titled ‘Indian Army To Deploy Prostitutes As A Women Battalion In Held Kashmir’.
The PakNationalists, PakAlert, PKKH, PakistanFirst and dozens of other Pakistani and international online news portals, picked it up.
Ms. Palmer’s story was based on a statement issued by the Inspector General of Border Security Force Himmat Singh. The story basically said that the Indian military was concerned about the rising incidents of suicides among Indian soldiers deployed in Indian-occupied Kashmir, a territory where Kashmiris are fighting India for the right to determine whether they want to be independent or join Pakistan.
A high level Indian military delegation went to Moscow to study the Russian experience in dealing with such problems.  Like India, the former Soviet Union military was spread thin across a large territory, including distant and difficult regions.
Mr. Singh confirmed that a batch of 178 female soldiers was being sent to Northern Command where they would be deployed along with Indo-Pak border to check the border violations by women, working in the field.  Mr. Singh further stated that these women were not fully trained for operational military duties however in the next phase, after further training, they would be given the duties of operational Border security.  Mr. Singh refused to admit that these female soldiers were actually prostitutes and were being dispatched to the valley as undercover sex workers.  When contacted, Rohit Sharma, a senior defence analyst here in New Delhi, said that the move was a creative step by Indian army leadership as it would boost the medical and mental health of the soldiers. Some departments of the Indian government were permitted to contact licensed brothels in several Indian cities to explore the possibility of recruiting candidates.
But the Indian reaction to this story was unexpected.
According to an Indian newspaper, the Mid-Day, an official of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs retorted by saying what he or she thought is a hit below the belt for Pakistan: “We do not have a Talibanised society like Pakistan’s.  In India, women have very successful military careers.”
Never mind that Pakistan has a large women’s police force deployed in all the major cities of the country, in addition to active duty women officers in the Army and the Pakistan Air Force.
The Indian news portal confirmed that “India has decided to lodge an official complaint against the ‘wrongful news reports” and that “the order to lodge a complaint has come directly from the office of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.”
The Indian portal quoted an unnamed Indian diplomat as saying, “Such news can tarnish the image of our forces. So far, it was a conscious decision by the government not to deploy women troops on the border. But we want total success of this experiment and we need to tell the Pakistanis to behave.”
Several foreign reporters based in the Indian capital reported receiving calls from Indian government and intelligence officers asking where to find Christina Palmer.
Ms. Palmer, who will be appearing on Geo Network’s weekly show TSS with Ahmed Quraishi soon, is a foreign journalist who lives with her Indian husband. According to Indian laws, you have to be a Pakistani citizen legally residing in India or an Indian journalist to work as a correspondent for a Pakistani newspaper.  Non-Indian journalists cannot represent Pakistani media in India.  For this reason, Ms. Palmer writes under an assumed name. But to prove that she is real, Ms. Palmer is appearing through telephone from New Delhi on a Pakistani television talk show.
In her report, Ms. Palmer wrote on Oct. 6: “In a unique and unprecedented move, India’s Minister for Home Affairs Mr. P. Chidambaram has threatened the Islamabad-based Pakistani newspaper The Daily Mail over one of the investigative reports by the Daily regarding first female troops of Indian Army that have been deployed in the Held Kashmir. According to the reports appearing here in local Indian media as well as international media, the Home Affairs Minister has ordered his officials to lodge an official complaint with Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi to sort out The Daily Mail.” 

The paper’s Editor-in-Chief Makhdoom Babar defended his newspaper’s credibility in a special editorial: “Mr. Chidambaram’s action has shocked the entire global media community as it is the first move of its kind in which a top minister of a country has threatened an independent newspaper of another country of lodging a complaint against it and seeking strong action, there this move of India’s MHA has exposed the true face of so-called secular India and the belief of Indian leadership in freedom of press and freedom of expression. In the 62 years of the history of Pak-India relations, The Daily Mail is the first ever victim of this kind of aggression from the Indian government”.

Myanmar top leader meets Indian army chief in Nay Pyi Taw

YANGON, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Chairman of Myanmar State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Senior-General Than Shwe met with visiting Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor in Nay Pyi Taw Monday, the state-run Myanmar Radio and Television reported in the evening.
    Earlier on the day, another meeting between Kapoor and SPDC Vice-Chairman Vice Senior-General Maung Aye had also taken place.
    Maung Aye is also Myanmar Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services and Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
    The report did not disclose the details about their separate meetings.
    Kapoor, who is also chairman of the chiefs of staff committee of India, arrived at the new capital on Sunday on a three-day visit to Myanmar, aimed at boosting bilateral cooperation in the defense sector.
    Kapoor's visit came eight months after Indian Vice-President Shri M. Hamid Ansari visited Nay Pyi Taw in February this year at the invitation of Maung Aye.
    In April 2008, Maung Aye visited New Delhi, assuring Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh that Myanmar will never allow using its territory to any organization that harm neighboring countries, while acknowledging that India does not allow its territory to movement of organizations against Myanmar.
    During Maung Aye's visit, three documents between the two governments were signed, of which a memorandum of understanding on intelligence exchange is to combat transnational crime including terrorism. 

Biggest war drill with US begins

New Delhi, Oct. 12: The Indian and US armies today began their largest war games at Babina, near Jhansi in Madhya Pradesh, that are tailored to drills under peace enforcement missions under the UN charter.
Exercise Yudh Abhyas (war preparation) 09 will continue for more than two weeks till October 29.
The US has shipped 17 Strykers, its most modern fighting vehicles that lead in most ground operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to India for the war games. This is the largest deployment of the Strykers outside Iraq and Afghanistan.
A mechanised infantry battalion of the Indian Army and the second squadron of the 14th cavalry of 25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (about 325 soldiers) lined up and began preparing for the drills that will have a “semi-urban” setting, army sources said. The drill will focus on counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations.
Officers will work on mutually agreeable military co-ordination, rules of engagement and military decision-making processes.
The rules of engagement will cover “stability operations” (like the Nato’s International Security Assistance Force’s mission in Afghanistan) that will require soldiers to train in counter-mine and IED (improvised explosive devices) lessons.
Drills will also cover civil-military operations, road opening and convoy protection measures and community support and humanitarian initiatives.
Yudh Abhyas 09 that involves the Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the Indian Army’s mechanised infantry in a hostile setting shows that the level of co-ordination between the two militaries is being scaled up.
The war games also coincide with the latest edition of Cope India, an Indo-US air and special forces exercise that will be centred in Agra.