Sunday, November 15, 2009

A chain of radars, AIS to block sea route for terrorists

Panaji: A chain of radars and Automatic Identification System (AIS) would be deployed along the coast by next year to block the sea route for terrorists, a top official said.

"To tighten the security and ensure that no attempts are made by terrorists to use the sea route, the Indian Coast Guard has been given responsibility along with Director General Light Houses for establishing a chain of radars and Automatic Identification System along the coast," Vice Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, Flag officer commanding in chief (western Naval command) told reporters here.

Talking to media on the sidelines of a function at Vasco this morning, he said the country has a long coastline and it is not possible for state governments, customs and immigration authorities to guard the coast.

Bhasin said the coast guard and marine police would expedite the pending orders for the ships in various shipyards. "By 2010, the defence forces would get large number of ships which were ordered four to five years ago," he said.

Talking about the high seas piracy, he said the threat is becoming very complicated. "If you remember few years ago, the only piracy was in the Malakha state. Now the threat has suddenly emerged in the gulf of Eden and in the vicinity of Somalia where large number of ships from different nations are operating," Bhasin said.

He said the Indian navy has been continuously on vigil in this stretch to ensure safety of the ships.

Navy launches patrol vessel

Panaji, Nov 14 (PTI) Navy today launched an off-shore patrol vessel (OPV) that will be used for ocean surveillance and surface warfare operations to prevent infiltration and transgression of maritime sovereignty.

The 105-metre-long vessel is built by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), a defence yard located in Goa.

"This Vessel will be deployed for monitoring sea lines of communication, protection of off-shore oil installations and other important national assets," a spokesman for the shipyard said.

Besides, the vessel can also be deployed for escorting high value ships and fleet support operations. Sporting a flight deck, the vessel supports embarkation and operation of an Advanced Light Helicopter.

"Launch of this vessel is a milestone in the quest of the Indian Navy to provide foolproof security to the nation and assumes significance in the aftermath of the terrorist strike in Mumbai," he added.

China-Pak ties no cause for concern: Raju

Jammu, November 13

Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju said today that international terrorism, infiltration and internal security were the biggest threats to the nation.

In an informal chat with mediapersons after inaugurating the Lauki bridge in Akhnoor tehsil, Raju downplayed the threat perception from China and its collaboration with Pakistan. “The collaboration between China and Pakistan is not alarming, as the Indian Army is equipped enough to face any eventuality,” he said. “Keeping in view the defence deals between China and Pakistan, India is also upgrading and modernising its security and defence setups,” he added.

“Pakistan and China collaborating in various fields, including security and defence, does not alarm us at all. We are building and upgrading our security and defence setups to deal with any situation,” the minister said.

Biggest threats before the country were internal security, international terrorism and infiltration, Raju said. When his attention was drawn towards reports that Taliban had been trying to infiltrate into this side, the MoS Defence said, “We are aware that our neighbour is aiding infiltration.”

On the question of ban on pre-paid cellphone connections in the state, the minister said the decision was taken after proper consideration. He said the militants active in the state were using pre-paid connections and the decision was taken to ban it as a preventive measure.Later the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) submitted a memorandum to the visiting minister and drew his attention towards discrimination meted out to the youth of the Jammu region in recruitment in the Army. The minister assured it to remove the discrimination.

Five infiltrators shot dead

Srinagar, November 14

At least five infiltrators were killed when the Army foiled an infiltration bid in the Uri sector of Baramulla district today. A defence spokesman said here that the alert troops foiled the infiltration bid ensuing a gunfight with the armed militants in the Kalapahar area of Uri this afternoon.

Five of the infiltrators were killed in the encounter that concluded later this evening. The gunfight was over while the search to flush out any hiding militants was going on, the spokesman said. Those killed were yet to be identified.

Jammu (PTI): The security forces busted two militant hideouts and seized a large cache of ammunition and explosives, including grenades, in Poonch and Ramban districts, the police said today.

While the Rashtriya Rifles and the Territorial Army jointly busted a hideout in the Tindura belt of Poonch district yesterday, another was found by the security forces today in a forest near Banihal in Ramban district, a police spokesman said.

The seizures from the hideout in Poonch district included 35 rounds belted PIKA ammunition, 13 rounds of loose PIKA ammunition, an AK magazine, 26 rounds of AK ammunition and three Chinese grenades.The seizures from the hideout in Ramban district yielded two AK magazines, 89 rounds, two under barrel grenade launchers (UBGLs), five detonators and eight gelatin rods, the spokesman said. 

Why only generals as Governor, asks Mann

Chandigarh, November 14

The Centre should discontinue its practice of naming only retired Army generals or retired police chiefs as Governor of Punjab, says Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar).

Since the present incumbent, Gen SF Rodriguez (retd), has completed his conventional five-year term in office, Mann wants that he should be immediately replaced and Punjab should be spared the agony of another Governor from the forces. He was talking to The Tribune here today.

He alleged that the Governor hardly visited Punjab. His visits to different parts of the state could be counted on fingertips, Mann said.

Besides enjoying Constitutional sanctity, the gubernatorial positions should go to eminent personalities with spotless credentials. Unfortunately, the developments during the past couple of years, including allegations and counter-allegations, have not only lowered the prestige of this top post in the state administration but have also left serious questions unanswered.

“Punjab has a long history of having retired Army chiefs or retired bureaucrats, including police officers, as its Governor. The experiment has been far from successful. No other state had so many Army generals as Governor than what Punjab had in the past 25 years.

“If a retired General is made the Governor and he fails to reach the venue of a sacred function like Republic Day Parade in time, there could not be a bigger disgrace to the nation than this. It was unfortunate that the then Chief Secretary, Ramesh Inder Singh, took control of the situation and unfurled the National Flag as scheduled to avoid any national embarrassment. In my opinion, the Governor should have been sacked on that day itself,” adds Mann.

Former MP and head of a state-level political party, Mann wants that the Prime Minister, who has been declaring at all public forums to fight and end corruption in the civil governance, should order an inquiry by the CBI into allegations made against the Punjab Governor by none other than the Congress, his own party.

He said Punjab should not be singled out so far as appointing Governors from the armed forces or civil services was concerned. Punjab had three Army generals -- General Malhotra, General Chhibber and General Jacob -- before General Rodriguez as Governor besides Surinder Nath, a retired police officer.

Mann says it will be in the interest of the state and the nation that all allegations made against a Constitutional head by the ruling party and others should be thoroughly probed in the interest of transparency and fair play in the civil administration.He hoped that an eminent statesman with flawless record would be made the next Governor of Punjab so that he or she can give the state administration a correct, democratic and progressive direction.

Armed Forces Tribunal to overcome HC limitations

Chandigarh, November 14

Provisions of the recently set up Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) have enabled it to overcome certain limitations imposed by the Constitution on the powers of high courts. This widens the ambit of judicial review by the AFT and its ability to grant relief to aggrieved military personnel.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Chandigarh Bench here today, AFT chairman Justice AK Mathur said the AFT would have the power to review trial evidence, something that the high courts cannot do under provisions of Article 226 of the Constitution.

Justice Mathur said more powers have been granted to the AFT vis-à-vis similar military tribunals that have been functioning in other countries for a long time. While many foreign military tribunals are primarily judicial bodies, the AFT here has original jurisdiction in regard to service matters as well as appellate jurisdiction over verdicts delivered by military courts.

The Chandigarh Bench, which would have jurisdiction over Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh, would begin functioning from its interim location at Chandigarh from November 16. About 3,500 cases pending before the high courts of these states would be transferred to this bench. It has already received about 30 such cases.

In his keynote address, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice TS Thakur, said earlier the courts were hesitant to interfere in military matters. The perception changed later following a SC ruling that on joining the services individuals do not cease to be citizens of the country and were fully entitled to seek justice. Any injustice done to them that was not redressed was a calamity in itself, he added. Judicial intervention by the courts was justified, leading to a spate of service cases.

Pointing out that establishing tribunals was a way to ensure speedy justice and cut down the mammoth pendency of cases at all levels, he said the criticism of setting up the AFT received from some quarters was ill-found.Justice Ghanshyam Prashad, the judicial member of the Chandigarh Bench, said despite constitutional provisions, it had taken the government 25 years to promulgate the AFT. Listing out the powers and functions of the AFT, he said the appeal to its orders lies only with the Supreme Court.

Tharoor rejects Fonseka’s claim

Thiruvananthapuram, November 14

India today dismissed former Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka’s claim that its troops were put on alert at the instance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa following fears of a coup. Strongly refuting Fonseka's claim, Minister of state for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said there was “no substance to the story.” “We should be a little wary of making too much of these kinds of speculations,” he told reporters here. “There is no substance to the story. The government has officially informed the public that the Indian Army has not been placed on alert.” — PTI