Friday, November 27, 2009



The Government of India is proposing to provide legal assistance to senior citizens, the dependent family members of para military forces and the persons affected by terrorism in the country.


Lt Gen Roy is going as ADG Military Operations in the Army Headquarters.

Maj Gen N C Marwaha is joining on Thursday as GoC 15th Corps Srinagar.

Maj Gen Sumer Singh to join as GoC 16th Corps

26/11 Anniversary:Only 17 MPs turn up for blood donation camp

On a day when the nation did whatever little it could to pay tributes to the victims of Mumbai terror attacks, Lok Sabha Secretariat’s special blood donation drive, organised to mark the day, remained a bit of a nonstarter, with the “young MPs”, who were expected to participate, abstaining almost entirely. Many of them, however, found time to participate in elections to House committees; some were out in view of the Bakr-Id.At the end of the camp, held at Parliament Annexe between 10 am and 4 pm today, only 17 MPs had turned up to donate blood as against the combined strength of 780 MPs in both Houses.

Leaving aside the older MPs and those with ailments, who can’t donate blood due to medical reasons, camp organisers would have been naturally expecting the younger, healthier lot among the MPs, to turn up, and make the special drive a super success.

The expectations were also rooted in the fact that the number of young MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha shot up drastically, touching 15 per cent as against 6.3 per cent in the 14th Lok Sabha. But the organisers - the Red Cross - had no such luck today though they were gracious enough to term the camp a success and say that 47 donors came.

Of these 47, only 17 were MPs, the rest were staff and officers of the secretariat. The blood of only 10 MPs could be accepted as they fulfilled the medical requirements for the blood donation.

Among the younger MPs who donated blood today were Sandeep Dikshit and Ninong Ering of the Congress. Other MPs whose blood samples were collected included Mahabal Mishra, Vinay Pandey, Balram Naik, Devji Patel, Dr Vivekenanda, Nathuji Thakore Anantha Venkatraman and Kaushlendra Kumar (of the JDU).

Tejas's trainer version makes successful maiden flight

he maiden flight of the two-seater trainer version of the indigenous light combat aircraft 'Tejas' Thursday was successful, officials said.
The flight took off at 1 p.m. from the airport of Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd at Bangalore.

'It is a two-seater version of the LCA and can be used as trainer. The successful maiden flight covered an altitude of 9 km and a speed of 0.85 Mach,' said a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official.

The prototype was flown by Group Captain Ritu Raj Tyagi of the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC). Air Commodore Rohit Varma, project director (Flight Test), was in the rear seat.

'Extensive preparatory work that has gone in resulted in the first flight profile being executed with clock work precision. All the objectives set out for the flight were achieved and all the systems on board the new prototype performed well throughout the sortie,' said the official.

With the entire fleet of the Indian Air Force's basic HPT-32 trainer aircraft grounded following successive engine failures, the maiden flight of LCA's trainer version will give fillip to the search for a replacement of the aircraft.

'The trainer, when fully developed, will have the full operational capability from the rear cockpit as well. As Tejas trainer has a lot of commonality with Tejas Naval version, even Tejas Navy programme would see accelerated progress as a result of the successful first flight,' the official added.

The first eight Tejas aircraft are to be delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy between 2010 and 2012 and will be fitted with the IN20 engines from the US-based General Electric. 

Coastal security failed: Has it been fixed?

Bangalore: A year ago, 10 terrorists took advantage of our lax coastal security and entered the city. A year later not much has changed on the coastal front.Though steps were taken in the past one year to protect the shores, the coastal authorities still have a long way to go to ensure a completely secure coastline.

In fact, the loopholes were cited almost 16 years ago when the RDX used in the serial bomb blasts in 1993 came through the sea route. Lack of coordination has been a big problem. While the navy was in-charge of security in the high seas, the coast guard looked after the mid-sea area -- five nautical miles off the coast -- and the local police manned the shore. All the three agencies functioned independently.

The coastal police, which became functional after the 26/11 attack, got special speedboats equipped with the latest technology and weapons only two months ago. The bulletproof speedboats were bought at Rs5 crore to patrol the 124-km Mumbai coastline. But experts feel at least 50 such boats are needed. Recently, the coastal police got eight sea legs - amphibious speedboats.

Also, the coastal police don't have chowkies along the coast. The central government gave a directive for setting up six police chowkies four years ago but the police have got only three plots till now and construction is yet to begin.

Given the vulnerability of the sea borders - the Arabian Sea on the west, the Indian Ocean on the south and the Bay of Bengal in the east - multiple security agencies, including the Mumbai police, have been acquiring or deploying additional boats to keep tabs on activities in the sea.

Earlier this month, Admiral Nirmal Verma conducted a detailed review of the Western Naval Command in Mumbai to check its operational preparedness.

The Indian Navy has drawn up major plans to acquire five midget submarines - weighing around 150 tonnes - for its Marine Commandos (Marcos). It will help in underwater surveillance missions and covert operations in the high seas. Marcos played an instrumental role in eliminating the terrorists during the three-day siege last year.

"The coast guard have a bigger role after the terror attack," defence minister AK Antony recently said. "Work is under way to put in place a chain of 46 coastal radars spanning nine coastal stations." For strategic reasons, the current emphasis is on strengthening the security on the western coast. The Maharashtra government plans to spend Rs6.30 billion on modernising its force; this will mean an upgraded anti-terrorism squad, improved and better weapons, and state-of-the-art control rooms.

Gov must expedite the process to have air enclave in Gujarat

AHMEDABAD: The key to success in the modern day warfare-full-scale, limited, conventional or unconventional- lies in one's capability to collect intelligence and use it before his enemies get the better of him. In the past two decades, there have been many instances where India has failed on this count and had to pay heavy price for the intelligence lapses, the most recent one being the 26/11.

Subsequently, the Central government decided to set up a coastal command under the Indian Navy to plug the loopholes in maritime intelligence.

However, there is much to be desired on this front, particularly as the Indian Navy's plan to have an air enclave in Porbandar is yet to see the light of the day. Had the Indian Navy's air enclave been operationalized, it would have improved surveillance and reconnaissance in the region considering India's most potent danger lies in the west along Gujarat's land and maritime borders.

The Indian Navy to a large extent has enhanced surveillance in the southern peninsula by commissioning its first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) squadron at Kochi in 2006. It plans to operate UAVs from the Naval Air Station at Uchipuli in Tamil Nadu too. However, what one fails to understand is what it is that is holding it to place UAVs at Porbander when the infrastructure is ready in the form of Indian Coast Guard's air enclave at Porbandar. The Coast Guard has fixed wing aircraft and helicopters at the air enclave, which can be very well be used by the Indian Navy's UAVs.

The UAV is very much part of the operations of a wing of the Indian Armed Forces in Gujarat. This could be the one reason why the Central government is taking time in deciding to allow the Indian Navy to set up a base of UAV at Porbandar, sources said.

When contacted, the Indian Navy officials said the plan to have an air enclave in Porbandar is very much on. It requires lot of work in terms of planning and logistics to set up an infrastructure at a place like Porbandar which has limited resources. They said by another couple of months, the Indian Navy's air enclave in Porbandar should be ready.

The Navy operates Searcher MK II and Heron UAVs imported from Israel. The Searcher Mark II can remain airborne for 16 hours and has a maximum range of 150 km and operates up to an altitude of 18,500 feet. The Heron has a range of 1,000 km and operates at an altitude of 30,000 ft.

Deployment of unmanned combat aerial vehicle in Gujarat should be a natural progression to the plan. It will not only help in surveillance but fire on identified targets and could be very useful in Gujarat with a large tract of uninhabited land and coastline which are vulnerable. 

One Year On, Nothing Has Changed

Nothing has changed. For better or worse, a year after the 11/26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the city remains unchanged. Ask most Mumbaikers today and it's hard for them to recall the true horror of 11/26.
[Prashant Agrawal]
Prashant Agrawal
As the attacks started, cell phones rang with improbable text messages that Nigerian drug dealers were having a gunfight. Soon, news channels reported that Mumbai was under attack by several armed terrorists. Their number and location were unknown, but they were roaming through South Mumbai. Cell phones stopped working as networks became jammed. No one dared venture out. A city of 20 million stood eerily quiet. As the night wore on, the picture became clearer, 10 or so terrorists had landed near Colaba attacking a women's hospital, Mumbai's largest train station, a Jewish center, a café frequented by tourists and locals, and most famously, the Taj and Oberoi hotels.
On the morning of 11/27, the world woke up to an unfolding terrorist siege at the landmark hotels. Mumbaikers started to venture out as authorities assured the populace that all the terrorists were either dead or holed up in the Taj and Oberoi. Nevertheless, text messages circulated rumors that another dozen terrorists were hiding out across the city ready to launch a second strike. A nervous city went back to work – all the while watching the hostage situation. When the siege ended, the city breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Even as the government proclaimed that the attacks were orchestrated by Pakistan, public anger was directed inwards against the perceived ineptness of the local government response. Citizens groups marched demanding better security. Special anger was vented at the state of Maharashtra's Home Minister who famously remarked "these type of incidents happen in big cities." Mumbaikers were outraged at the callous remarks. The government promised change: to increase security, to provide more capable ministers and to apprehend the alleged Pakistani masterminds of the attack.
Under intense international pressure, Pakistan arrested the head and five other leaders of the LeT, the group suspected of the attack. The Chief Minister and Home Minister were sacked. In the global euphoria of Barack Obama's victory, change seemed to be on the way in Mumbai and India as well.
If the next terrorist attack happens and Pakistanis are seen to be behind it, will the anger turn outwards?
A year later, nothing has changed. The city hums to the same rhythm it did a year ago. Leopold Café, where the attacks began, continues to be a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Victorious Terminus is still among the busiest train stations in the world. Cama Hospital continues to nurse the children and women of Mumbai. The Chabad have sent two Rabbis to continue serving Mumbai's Jewish communities.
The focal points of the attack, the Taj and Oberoi are up and running. Sitting in the cafes and restaurants of the hotel, life seems to have return to normal. Young couples enjoy dinner, tourists plan outings and businessmen conduct meetings. Still, the hotels remain one place where one is reminded of 11/26.
Security around the hotel is noticeably tighter. Machine gun wielding police guard the hotels behind sandbag barriers and to enter one needs to pass through metal detectors and a frisking. Yet, any frequent visitor to the hotel will often see the policemen sitting bored behind the barriers with their guns resting a few feet from their hands. As rent-a-cop security guards frisk you, it seems rude not to joke with security guards about finding something today. Security seems more about going through the motions than actually preventing any further attacks.
The same could be said about apprehending the terrorists. The Indian government went through the motions of being firm, but in the end, nothing. The sacked Chief Minister now has a plum federal cabinet post and the sacked Home Minister who seemed nonchalant about the attacks is back like a bad Wes Craven movie; he has been recently reappointed.
No one realizes it more than those of us who live in Mumbai, but the city remains vulnerable to terrorist attacks. It's not that Mumbai isn't safe. It's actually among the safest cities in the world. Women can walk freely late at night, burglary rates and murder rates are low for a major world city. In a city where every footpath has a name attached to it, anonymity is hard to achieve. Mumbai's police effectively cover the city making sleeper terrorist cells difficult to establish.
However, Mumbai is a difficult city to guard against externalities. She has a long coastline with hundreds of hips, ferries, yachts, and dinghies constantly traversing the Mumbai harbor. More than a million people travel by train daily. In the last year, the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai has issued at least three warnings of a heightened risk of a terrorist attack in Mumbai. The head of the Indian Army has warned that more Mumbai type attacks are likely. A new federal Home Minister, P Chidambaram, is bringing a dynamism to his post not seen for a while, but the question still seems not if, but when will the next strikes occur.
Mumbaikers know they remain vulnerable, know those of the same group that launched the attack roam freely in Pakistan and know the system in India hasn't changed much. At the same time, Mumbaikers see the destruction happening in Pakistan. If the next terrorist attack happens and Pakistanis are seen to be behind it, will the anger turn outwards? Frustration runs high. Indians don't expect the Pakistani government to do anything about their people, but their own government does nothing as well. A sense of frustrated, angry resignation reigns today. Is it the next attack that will galvanize action and the hoped for change? Certainly 11/26 was no 9/11. Maybe the next attack will be India's 9/11 after all.
—Prashant Agrawal is the CEO of based in Mumbai

Can calling someone 'Mahar' not punishmenable: HC

NAGPUR: Can calling someone `Mahar' attract punishment? No, said the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday. In a ruling that is sure to be debated, Justice SS Shinde said, "mere utterance of any word on the caste is not sufficient and something more is necessary to attract the provisions of Section 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 (Removal of Untouchability Act)". The court observed that though the applicants had uttered the word `Mahar', this utterance by itself would not attract provisions of the said Act. Mohit Khajanchi was counsel for the petitioners Dr Narendra Patil and Dr Asmita Tadaskar.

Prakash Bansod, president of Bharatiya Dalit Panther, was apparently disappointed with the verdict. He said using word `Mahar' was abusive and users should be punished as it is always intended to show the other person in a poor light. "Since ages the name Mahar was given to the human beings hailing from lowest strata of the society who used to do works like cleaning and washing. The constitution has made provision to save them from embarrassment from upper caste people. In modern times, the word is more or less used as an abuse with an intention to malign someone," he said adding that these were his personal views.

President of Jan Manch Ashok Lanjewar, however, hailed the verdict stating that just using `Mahar' did not amount to offence. "Just like Brahmins, Teli and Kalar, Mahar is a caste. What's wrong if someone is called by caste name? There is a Mahar Regiment in the Indian Army renowned for its valour and sacrifices. Only if the word was uttered with abusive language should it attract punishment," he said.

Khajanchi said that the petitioners, an Armori (Gadchiroli)-based couple, were serving as livestock development officers at village Inzewari hospital. On October 11, 2005, one Devidas Barsagade accompanied by three others forcibly entered the hospital, manhandled the staff and ransacked the premises. They used abusive language and doled out threats.

Dr Tadaskar then lodged a complaint at Armori police station against Barsagade and accomplices. Even a case was registered against the trio at Judicial Magistrate First Class court. However, to counter that, the accused lodged a complaint against doctor couple under Sections 5 and 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and Section 506 read with Section 34 of IPC on October 17, 2006. Subsequently, the police filed a chargesheet which was challenged by the couple before Nagpur bench with a prayer to quash the complaint.

Khajanchi contended that the FIR did not mention the caste of Barsagade as well as of that couple and therefore crime itself could not have been registered under the said Act. He cited a 1980 HC judgment in the case of Laxman Shant versus state of Maharashtra that held that "mere abuses in its very nature, may insult or may attempt to insult the person, but unless the said insult or attempt to insult is someway or other connected with the preaching or practice or untouchability, it cannot be said that accused had committed an offence under clause (d) of sub-section (1) of section 7 of the Act".

The same verdict also observed that "it was necessary to read those words used in the context and the background and one cannot take those words out of context and say that they deal with Mahar caste, and therefore they are on the ground of "untouchability".

The applicants also cited a verdict of the Supreme Court in MA Kuttappan versus EK Nayanar case reported in 2004 which observed that, "to attract provisions of Section 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, the words uttered should encourage audience to practice untouchability".

The judge observed that the alleged offence had taken place inside the house and not in public view. Moreover, there was an inordinate delay in filing the police report. He then disposed of the case citing that old HC and SC verdicts further strengthened the case of applicants. 

Professional approach to tackle terrorism stressed by experts

India needs a professional approach to counter terrorism which is one of the most serious problems plaguing the country today, said S B Mishra, former Chief Secretary of the Orissa government.

“The terror attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai on November 26 last year caught the entire country off guard. We need a professional approach to combat terrorism which is one of the four major problems in India along with insurgency, economic disparities between the rich and poor and the rapid erosion of moral values”, Mishra said.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on Terrorism, organized here by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to pay tributes to the martyrs who lost their lives during the terror attack on Taj Hotel in Mumbai on November 26 last year.

Speaking on the occasion, S D Mahanti, former major general of the Indian Army said, “Today, the entire nation is reminiscent of the terror attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai on November 26 last year. It is very easy to blame the police and the paramilitary forces in cases of terror attack but the citizens got to have a certain level of awareness and alertness.” S K Tamotia, former chairman of CII-Orissa and Aditya Dash, chairman of the Bhubaneswar chapter of CII-Young Indians also spoke on the occasion

Glimpses of gallantry in the time of festival fever

LUCKNOW: Adjacent to the main cultural pandal at the Lucknow Mahotsava, one heavily crowded stall instantly arrests one's attention. The unusually high footfall indicates something very interesting is happening there. Wading through the anxious onlookers as one finally gets closer, one is accorded a warm welcome by the radiant men in olive from the Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre (GRRC).

So, what are they doing at a festival meant to showcase culture of Avadh and art from various parts of the country? Pat come the reply from team leader Naik Subedar SK Pradhan: "We are here to convey that we will always stand by them."

And the message is driven home with the display of several types of weapons used by jawans in the real combat situations. Each of these weapons fills one's soul with confidence. Take the example of a simple multi-grenade launcher (MGL). This machine weighs 6.5 kg and is used to blow up the enemy bunkers. The mechanism is that of a revolver and like a revolver, it also launches six grenades in one go. Hawaldar Binod Tawang, who was briefing visitors, said, "it allows us clear the field for the heavy armoury that follows. A single jawan carries it on his shoulders during a combat situation."

The 20 mm automatic multi-grenade launcher is the big brother of the MGL. Weighing about 16.5 kilos, this machine carries 14 grenades at a time. In one go, it may allow clearing a field range of 200-1,800 metres. It requires a unit of two men to carry the automatic MGL. Interestingly the earlier version of the same weighed about 30 kilos. Rifleman Nar Bahadur Singh who used the machine in real-life combat situation in Srinagar said, "the wonder-machine becomes a part of the life of the soldier who carries it."

Asked if he was to use some other weapon instead of this he said, "I am not sure of the circumstances and the orders, but nothing else can give the confidence this one gives me."

The 84 mm rocket launcher also drew the attention of any visitor who entered the stall. This one can blow up anything with 500 metres of its range when stationary. The capability reduced to a radius of 400 metres when mobile. This one is mainly used to blow up tanks. A unit comprising two soldiers is needed to use the weapon as the entire apparatus weighs 16.1 kilos.

Interestingly, what's probably drawing some youngsters to the stall is an opportunity to see what actors use on screen to beat the enemies. Says teenaged Ritesh Mishra, "I feel very good to see Sunny Deol killing enemy soldiers in `Border'.. Now I'm seeing this. I will always cherish this opportunity throughout my life."

Ex-army officer Col AK Saxena feels that the such an initiative may also help the Indian Army which is short of strength. "Children must get an idea as to what happens in a real-life war situation... all these tales and exposure will sow seeds of desire to join the army at least in some minds," he says.

Two militants killed in Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu, Nov 26 (IANS) At least two terrorists were killed Thursday in a gun battle with security forces in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.
Doda Senior Superintendent of Police Prabhat Singh told IANS by phone that security forces raided a hideout of the militants in jungles near Doda, about 180 km from here.

‘After a gun battle, a joint team of the Rashtriya Rifles and police killed two militants. Both the militants belonged to the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen,’ Singh said.

The two militants have been identified as Mohammad Rafi and Qasim Din.

‘They were involved in cases of extortion and rape,’ Singh said.

Gallantry awards for Army's lifeline

BANGALORE: The Pioneer Corps, known as the lifeline of the Indian Army, has completed 250 years in the service of the nation. To commemorate the occasion, a Special Day Cover was released by Lt General S S Kumar, quartermaster general and colonel commandant of the Pioneer Corps, here on Thursday.

Addressing the troops, the colonel commandant said the present security scenario demands high vigilance and called upon them to be alert.

A biennial conference of senior officers, wreath-laying ceremony, band display, barakhana for the troops were held as part of the 250th anniversary. The QMG also presented the best pioneer unit rolling trophy for 2008-2009 to 1807 Pioneer Unit.

A two-minute silence was observed to pay homage to those who died during the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. 

Gallantry awards for Army's lifeline

BANGALORE: The Pioneer Corps, known as the lifeline of the Indian Army, has completed 250 years in the service of the nation. To commemorate the occasion, a Special Day Cover was released by Lt General S S Kumar, quartermaster general and colonel commandant of the Pioneer Corps, here on Thursday.

Addressing the troops, the colonel commandant said the present security scenario demands high vigilance and called upon them to be alert.

A biennial conference of senior officers, wreath-laying ceremony, band display, barakhana for the troops were held as part of the 250th anniversary. The QMG also presented the best pioneer unit rolling trophy for 2008-2009 to 1807 Pioneer Unit.

A two-minute silence was observed to pay homage to those who died during the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.