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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Be humane while in charge of warships

KOCHI: As many as 135 officer cadets of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, from the 78th Integrated Cadet Course, have successfully completed the basic afloat training onboard the First Training Squadron.The cadets’ passing-out parade at the Naval Base here on Saturday, which included 16 assistant commandants from the Coast Guard, was reviewed by Southern Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding- in-Chief Vice Admiral K N Sushil.Addressing the cadets, the Admiral emphasised the importance of humane leadership in the running of a warship.“Do not to distance yourselves from the men you command,” he said. The First Training Squadron, commanded by Capt. G Prakash, comprised INS Tir, Shardul, Krishna and Tarangini, besides Coast Guard ship Varuna.During the 24-week ship-phase of the training, the cadets were exposed to the different facets of seafaring and life onboard a warship. They sailed to various ports of the country and to island territories.They also called on the ports of Colombo, Port Louis (Mauritius) and Victoria (Seychelles), interacting with their counterparts in those countries and visiting their training facilities.Cadet C Murali Krishnan was awarded the Chief of Naval Staff Trophy and ‘Binoculars’ for coming first in the overall order of merit. He was also adjudged the best all-rounder cadet. Cadet Rajesh Babu Pillai was awarded the Squadron Senior Officers’ Trophy for coming second, and J Immanuel Jaya Kumar with the FOC-in-C East Rolling Trophy for the most promising cadet, while Manu Mishra was got the FOC-in-C South Rolling Trophy for the best sportsman.Assistant Commandant Shyam Kishore got the trophy for topping the order of merit from the Coast Guard.The cadets will join ships of the Navy’s Western and Eastern fleets and the Coast Guard for the next stage of training.Their parents, who came from various parts of the country, also attended the parade.Honour for Malayali officerIt was a proud moment for Chandran and Rathi, parents of C Murali Krishnan, who was awarded the ‘Chief of Naval Staff Trophy’ at the passing out parade of cadets in Kochi on Saturday. Murali Krishnan, who completed the three-year course and passed out from the Goa Naval Academy, had won the President’s gold medal on completion of the course.“The Indian Navy offers great opportunities to us and ensures a good future for us. It will be a great career option in the coming days,” Murali Krishnan said. “It is of course a great moment for us to witness our son receiving such an award. He has always been hardworking and has been winning accolades right from his childhood,” said Rathi and K P Chandran of Sopanam, Nenmara, Palakkad.Chandran is working at Nenmara NSS College. Murali’s only sister Megha is a student. Immediately after the passing out parade, Vice Admiral K N Sushil congratulated Murali Krishnan. “It is only a foundation. You should continue to work hard,” he told Murali.

Force One, buildup fail to instil confidence


As the country’s commercial capital observes the first anniversary of 26/11 attacks on Thursday, a question that stares in the face of Mumbaikars is whether their city is better equipped or otherwise to either prevent or combat a mayhem of the kind witnessed last year, notwithstanding the efforts made by the State and the Central Governments to step up the security set-up in the metropolis.

In the run-up to the first anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, the Congress-led DF Government has been working overtime to create a “feel secure” atmosphere among the citizens by talking extensively about the various initiatives taken by it and the Centre, by way of training sections of its personnel in combat and intelligence gathering operations and providing sophisticated state-of-the-art weapons, security vehicles and other equipment to them.

On paper, the Mumbai Police personnel seem better prepared than they were one year ago to fight terrorists. For, their top brass has kept “in readiness” a 1,000-member Quick Reaction Team (QRT) to tackle any terror-combat situation; it has raised a 216-member commando group named ‘Force One’, it has set up bomb detection/disposal squads in all 13 zones of the city; it has purchased 39 combat vehicles for the 585 QRT officers and junior police personnel, more than a dozen bullet-proof vehicles, it has devices like GPS, installed 200-odd CCTVs on different roads of the city and it claims to have stepped up coastal security.

Besides, the Mumbai Police has trained its first batch of 45 intelligence officers, who have committed to dedicate their entire career for intelligence gathering and assessment.

“As far as weapons are concerned, we today have more than sufficient number of AK-47 rifles, Colt M4 flattop carbines, Smith and Wesson pistols, M82 sniper rifles and MB 5 sub-machine guns. Our preparedness has enhanced manifold,” says a senior police officer.

Incidentally, Mumbai is the only city in the country which has three commando wings of the security forces which are doing the same job. For instance, it has QRT personnel trained by experts from the Indian Army, National Security Guard (NSG) and foreign special forces’ specialists. Besides, it has also newly set-up ‘Force One’ and a hub of NSG.

As City Police Commissioner D Sivananandan himself put it at a recent “security and resilience” summit organised jointly by citizens groups Bombay First and London First, “We never imagined of a 26/11-kind of an attack. Our lack of imagination had exposed our lack of preparedness. It was a war, nothing less than a war…. But today our response systems have undergone a sea change during the period.”

However, people from various sections of the society, including the retired police officers, do not share Sivanandan’s optimism. Nor are they ready to buy the “feel secure” campaign being carried out by the State Government.

“(From the point of view of its security concerns), Mumbai is as vulnerable as it was last year. The State Government is talking about providing fool-proof security to the citizens, but it is nowhere near achieving its objectives. This kind of a campaign by the State Government will only improve the atmospheric. But tangible security will not follow from its efforts. More than the weapons and equipment to fight terror, what we need today is to improve human skills of the constables and junior level officers in the police force to react to situations of the kind we faced last year,” says Mahesh Vijapurkar, a consultant on governance and urban planning.

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner MN Singh is not as critical as Vijapuikar, but he hits the nail on the head when he says: “The intelligence gathering is one of the weak areas of the Mumbai police. Though there is some coordination now-a-days among the various intelligence agencies, the fact remains that the intelligence machinery of the city police does not have either wherewithal or talent to gather intelligence information about terror activities. It is somewhat good that the State Government is raising a team of dedicated intelligence. But, it will take a few more years before the trained officers develop their own network of informers.”

Singh says that there “is nothing new in the concept of QRT” which he adds “is good, but did not serve the purpose it was set up for after the terrorists’ attack on Indian Parliament in 2001”, when Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) terrorists attacked Mumbai between the night of November 26 and the morning of November 29, 2008, killing nearly 180 people, injuring over 300 others and virtually siege of south Mumbai for 60 hours.

“The QRT had virtually become a dormant force and was of no use when the ten Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai last year. No wonder that we had to wait for several hours for the NSG personnel to arrive and take over the combat operations. But, the fact remains that being trained commandoes, the QRT personnel should have gotten into the action first. But, being in disuse for a long time, the QRT personnel did not know how to go about the combat operation. Nor was there a higher officer to guide and motivate the QRT personnel,” says Singh.

Neema Kamdar, a housewife from Kandivli in north Mumbai, says: “The State Government has not taken any concrete steps to insulate the citizens in the city from any major terror act in future. Whatever the Government may say, I have a strong feeling that our police personnel are not trained to fight the international terrorists. I am not talking about the NSG personnel. As far as the Mumbai police personnel are concerned, I understand that they do not even have adequate number of sophisticated weapons like AK-47 to carry out any anti-terror operation like the one we saw in November last year.”

Another retired IPS officer YP Singh, who is now both practicing law and crusading on public issues, does not quite agree with the perception in certain quarters that the Mumbai police do not have adequate weapons, particularly the ones AK-47 rifles, and the pre-requisites for the personnel combating terror like bullet-proof jackets.

A comment coming from a well-known critic of the State Government like YP Singh, the State Government should feel relieved. Says he: “A false impression is sought to be created in certain quarters that the Mumbai police do not have adequate number of weapons or bullet proof jackets in their armoury. Let me make it clear that the Mumbai police have more than adequate number of AK-47 rifles and standard bullet proof jacket, unlike in the past when the officers like then ATS chief Hemant Karkare were forced to wear rejected and sub-standard bullet-proof vests. I saw over 100 combat police personnel wearing standard bullet-proof jacket when they participated in a rehearsal of the first 26/11 anniversary this morning.”

However, the words of comfort handed by YP Singh are limited to weapons and bullet-proof packets.

YP Singh agrees with MN Singh when he says: “The intelligence gathering is one area we have hardly done anything. Had we had our intelligence network in place, we would have arrested LeT terrorist David Coleman Headley ourselves as early in 2007 than waiting for information to know about him from the FBI. Intelligence is one area which has been totally ignored both the Mumbai police top brass and the State Government’.

Like MN Singh, YP Singh accepts that QRT is very essential for a city like Mumbai, but says: “It cannot deliver unless that it is trained and motivated on a continuous basis. More than weapons, what the QRT and commandoes need are proper guidance and motivation. The weapons are only for taking care of the 11th hour needs. What about the happenings during the remaining 10 hours?” YP Singh asks.

MN Singh is candid, when he says the Mumbai police is riven by factionalism. Alluding to criticism of certain officers in the Mumbai force by the widows of slain IPS officers Hemant Karkare and Ashok Kamate over the suspicious circumstances in which their husbands were ambushed on the night of November 26, 2008 and comments by the then city police commissioner’s allegation against four of the senior IPS officers, MN Singh said: “Unfortunately, there is a lot of groupism among the senior officers in the Mumbai police force. This kind of groupism is not good for the force. The State Government should take immediate steps to bring normality in relations among the senior officers in the force.”


  • Did Mumbai Police or Maharashtra Government at all receive specific intelligence inputs prior to the 26/11 attacks?
  • Is yes, why no action was taken on the basis of intelligence inputs?
  • Did the Mumbai Police use a Standard Operating Procedure in responding to the 26/11 attacks?
  • What was Quick Response Team (QRT) of the Mumbai Police doing at the time of attacks?
  • Why did it take so long for Maharashtra Government to requisition services of NSG?
  • What delayed NSG in arriving in Mumbai and starting its anti-terror operations?
  • Did Taj and Oberoi-Trident have proper security measures in place?
  • How did the LeT come to know about Chabad House?
  • Did Mumbai Police have proper weapons to deal with such a situation?
  • How did then Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor use his senior officers in combating the attacks?
  • Is there a truth in Gafoor’s allegation that four of his subordinate officers, Parambir Singh, KL Prasad, Deven Bharti and K Venkateshan, failed in discharging their duty during 26/11 attacks?
  • Who sent Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar to Rang Bhavan lane, where they were shot dead by Pak terrorists Mohammed Ajmal Kasab and Ismail Khan?
  • Why did senior police officer Rakesh Maria ask Kamte to head to Rang Bhavan lane when the fact remained that the latter had been asked by then Police Commissioner to come to Oberoi-Trident at that time?
  • Why no rescue teams were rushed to help wounded Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar?
  • Why reinforcements were not sent to Cama Hospital from front side?
  • Why did Maharashtra Government virtually bury Ram Pradhan Committee report?
  • Why does Gafoor’s allegation against four of his senior colleagues not figure in the Pradhan report?
  • Why did the Ram Pradhan committee not ask the four IPS officers against whom Gafoor has made allegations, to depose before it?
  • What does the Maharashtra Government have to say about allegations made by the widows of Hemant Karkare and Ashok Kamte?
  • Why are the police not making public the log records of the Mumbai Control Room on November 26/27,2008 night?
  • Are David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana linked to the 26/11 attacks?
  • Did Headley and Rana pass on the video footage of Taj and Oberoi to their LeT handlers behind the 26/11 attacks?
  • Did LeT terrorists get any local support during the 26/11 attacks?

Women and war

Would you agree that Pratibha Patil looked rather fetching in a G-suit? The picture of her waving from the cockpit of a Sukhoi, a radiant smile on her face, could transform the image of Indian women. Not surprisingly, journalists used the occasion to ask whether women should be inducted as fighter pilots. Her reply was equally winning — it’s a decision best left to experts and service commanders.

Now, why can’t politicians and some of our interfering commentators heed this excellent advice?

The debate over what role women should play in combat is neither new nor easy to resolve. It cropped up three years ago when the former Vice-Chief of the Army, Lt. Gen. Pattabhiraman, said: “Ideally, we would like to have gentlemen and not lady officers at the unit level. Feedback from lower formations suggests that comfort levels with lady officers are low.”

It returned to the front pages last week when the present Air Force Vice-Chief said women could only be accepted as fighter pilots after they agreed to conditions on having children and taking maternity leave.

Frankly, both officers are right and the screams of protest from the politically correct brigade missed the point. Men and women are, of course, equal but equality is not similarity. Women are not the same as men. For the defence services the difference is critical.

One of their key concerns is if captured women would be more liable for abuse and mistreatment than men. For this reason even the Israelis do not permit women in direct conflict roles. And it’s not sufficient to say let women decide for themselves if they want to take the risk. When it affects national security, the importance of the issue surpasses the right to individual choice.

But there are other good reasons too. First, women would be at a serious disadvantage in hand-to-hand combat with enemy male soldiers. If the defence of India depends on how our soldiers respond to a Chinese or Pakistani invader staring down the barrel of a gun, I have no hesitation in stating the preponderant majority would feel more confident with male soldiers. And that includes most women.

Second, the Indian Army is likely to remain a male-dominated force. Our jawans are traditional in their outlook and would feel uncomfortable, maybe even insecure, under women officers in combat. Clearly the fighting formations are not the place to teach them how to accept orders from women.

The Air Force has different but equally pressing concerns. It costs Rs 11.66 crore to train a fighter pilot and up to 14 years service to recover the investment. If a woman were to drop out after marriage, the service would have to forego the investment in her training. If she takes ten months maternity leave she would require expensive re-training on return. This is why the service insists on pre-conditions before women are inducted as fighter pilots.

Meanwhile, the argument ‘Is cost everything, social correctness nothing?’ is easy to answer. A poor country cannot afford to waste resources simply to satisfy political correctness.

Of course, none of this is to argue against women officers in the services. All three have them and they do a brilliant job. But if women don’t choose to be hangmen, Formula One drivers or sumo wrestlers, why is it incorrect to keep them out of combat roles?

The views expressed by the author are personal

from Pak : Indian Cold Start doctrine

Asif Haroon Raja
Strategic alliance with USA helps India in fulfilling its grandeur plans to become the regional and world power. In 1971, Soviet Union had helped India in achieving a false military victory and in truncating Pakistan. Indians now hope that America would help in fulfilling their dream of either reducing Pakistan into an Indian satellite or removing it from the face of world map. It is in this context that Indo-US-UK-Israeli-Afghan nexus has been formed in Kabul which is dedicated towards harming Pakistan. Both covert means and media campaign are complementing each other to achieve stated objectives. The Indo-western media has embarked upon a malicious campaign to besmirch the reputation of institutions of Pakistan and project it as a failing state. All sorts of fairytales are fabricated and pasted in leading newspapers and magazines controlled by the Jews. Deadlines are given and each time the given the given date expires uneventfully; a new deadline of collapse of Pakistan is given with a heavy heart but with renewed hopes.
Several scenarios are in circulation ranging from truncation to break up in small quasi states. Independent Balochistan and Pashtunistan figure high in their fanciful plans. Each of the self-perceived scenario is linked to Islamic threat in northwest of Pakistan. One of the principle objectives of India is to weaken ISI and cut its long-arm capability drastically so that it is neither in a position to harm India through covert means or to provide first line defence to Pakistan effectively against external subversive threats. Pakistan specific Indian consulates in Afghanistan and tens of RAW infested training, educational and cultural centres have nothing else to do except to devise different means to cause harm to Pakistan and destabilise it.

To give concrete shape to the chalked out plans, the said nexus unfolded a comprehensive subversive plan in January 2002 to systematically destabilize Pakistan. Fuel was constantly sprinkled in interior Balochistan, FATA and Swat to inflame these regions. Brahamdagh Bugti based in Kandahar and patronized by RAW-CIA-RAAM is coordinating sabotage and subversion in Balochistan. Southern Punjab and Karachi are planned to be inflamed in the final phase to spread anarchy throughout the country so as to pave way for disablement of our nuclear weapons and to clear the way for India to launch its military instrument. Washington’s continued insistence to make India a key player in Afghanistan and to induct its 150,000 troops is meant to enable Indo-Afghan forces to exploit yet another avenue from the northwest and catch Pakistan in a double pincer.

Indian Cold Start doctrine envisages formation of battle groups supported by dedicated artillery, combat air support and tactical nuclear weapons. It perceives launching 15-16 limited attacks along the entire length of eastern border and Line of Control (LoC) with battle groups of two mechanised regiments and an armour regiment or vice versa. Each battle group is mandated to capture an objective of tactical importance and to exploit success as far as possible but remaining well away from core areas so as to restrain Pakistan from using its nuclear response. Having dispersed the defender on a wide front in battle of frontiers, trying to defend every inch of the territory, subject to successes achieved, and deflection or commitment of our strategic reserves, it would then launch main and secondary efforts with its strike formations in two sectors. Indian military would achieve air superiority in main effort area for a specific period of break in and break out battle towards deeper objectives.

After Mumbai attacks, India continues to remain in an offensive mode and is in no mood to recommence stalled peace talks. Pakistan’s concerted efforts spread over one year to make India see reason have gone in vain. Flustered and frustrated by quick successes achieved by Pakistan Army against Indian funded and trained terrorists in Swat and in South Waziristan, Indian leaders have taken a new line that runaway militants after getting defeated have become a security hazard for India. Since last May, they are wailing like a frightened child in anticipation to a self-imagined terrorist attack emanating from Pakistan on the pattern of Mumbai-like carnage. When asked to provide intelligence so that the mishap could be thwarted they refuse to divulge the basis of their anxiety. Indian media has alleged that Dave Headly and Tahawar Hussain Rana suspected for terrorism in USA were linked with Mumbai attacks and that Dave was observed sniffing around Indian nuclear sites. Accordingly, Indian authorities have sounded a red alert in affected areas where their nuclear material is stored to avert a possible attack. To further up the ante, Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapoor has sounded a warning that a limited war under the nuclear overhang is still very much a reality, at least in Indian subcontinent. Our foreign office spokesman rightly remarked that it reaffirms Indian dangerous and offensive nuclear doctrine.

In the wake of Pakistan going nuclear in 1998 in response to Indian nuclear blackmail, which has made the option of all out war almost impossible, Indian military has been feverishly working on its Cold Start doctrine which was shaped in consultation with Israeli military. The three services of India have also been acquiring latest state-of-art weapon systems from all over the world and upgrading its nuclear arsenal as a consequence of which the conventional and nuclear balance has tilted heavily in favour of India. Simultaneous to the efforts by the military, RAW has been hectically engaged in weakening and destabilising Pakistan from within. Its focus has been towards enfeebling and discrediting Pakistan Army and ISI. Application of military instrument has been made conditional to success achieved through covert operations against these two pillars. India observed the pulse of Pakistan for ten months in 2002 after manufacturing a terrorist attack on Indian parliament in December 2001 and again after Mumbai carnage in November 2008 that was also cooked up. Both times, it found Pakistan Army well poised and resilient and had to beat a retreat.

India may be visualising that this time Pakistan Army has got deeply embroiled in several troubled spots and is not in a position to withdraw as was the case last time. It is hoping that Pashtun and Baloch militants would be fighting Pakistan Army in case of war with India. It is satisfied with its successful policy of encirclement and destabilisation of Pakistan resulting in enfeeblement of its economy. It considers overall geo-political environment favourable. It considers the time ripe for devising another drama to justify its troop build up. The purpose will be:
  1. Coerce the leadership to extract further concessions as it had extorted after military standoff in 2002-03.
  2. Relieve pressure on Tehrik-e-Taliban and make it recapture lost ground.
  3. Demolish Balochistan package which has the potential of defusing separatist movement sponsored by India.
  4. Rejuvenate demoralised RAW agents operating within Pakistan.
  5. Force Pakistan to liquidate Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad and to hand over alleged culprits of Mumbai carnage to India.
  6. Force Pakistan to fight terrorism as dictated by USA and India.
  7. Further weaken economy of Pakistan.
  8. Force Pakistan to accept pre-eminence of India in Afghanistan and in the region and to allow its trade with Afghanistan through Wagah.
  9. Solve Kashmir dispute by accepting LoC as permanent border.

In case Pakistan refuse to be cowed down, it might initiate Cold Start but it would be subject to full assurance by USA that it would prevent Pakistan Army from assembly and move of nukes to deployment areas.
War game codenamed Azm-e-Nau was conducted to tackle emerging Indian threat along eastern front revolving around Cold Start but did not take into account possible ingress from western border and expansion of limited war into full-fledged war. In 1971 in East Pakistan, India first weakened Pakistan Army contingent through civil war and psychological operations. Indian military then induced threat perception which forced us to take up an exaggerated forward posture all along 1400 miles border to prevent any piece of land falling into enemy hands. Dispersed in penny packets we were strong nowhere. Indian offensive launched on 21 November from multiple directions succeeded in making 23 lodgement areas across the border. In our bid to liquidate or contain the ingresses we committed everything we had in the battle of frontiers. After an operational pause and having fixed our forces in compartments, Indian forces under massive air cover launched main, secondary and auxiliary offensives from three different directions on 4 December and raced towards Dacca. Making a dispassionate comparison of East Pakistan offensive with Cold Start one finds certain similarities.

Pakistan has already suffered grievously because of its exaggerated policy of appeasement and cannot afford to cede more ground and that too at the cost of its sovereignty and dignity. We need to condition our forces and structure them organisationally to fight two front wars together with internal threat in the southwest and northwest. Blissfully, Pakistan Army is in its finest trim and is in position to meet any challenge resolutely. Having found out foolproof evidence of involvement of RAW in aiding and abetting terrorism in Pakistan, and the US and UK complicit in the evil game of destabilising, denuclearising and balkanising Pakistan, should we still be imprudently calling these so-called friends as our well-wishers and relying on them? I have no doubt in my mind that the US would not betray Israel or India but would certainly betray Pakistan and leave it in a lurch once again.

Same go for Afghanistan under US puppet Karzai who has provided Afghan soil to foreign agencies for launching covert operations against Pakistan. He doesn’t realise that India, whom he considers as a sincere and dear friend is gradually working towards reducing Afghanistan into its client state. If US Administration is negotiating with Afghan Taliban, we have every right to keep in touch with them particularly after their worthy role in hour of crisis. While US military opted to vacate border check posts, Afghan Taliban refused to come to the aid of fake Taliban in South Waziristan.

How long will we follow humiliating policy of appeasement which is ruining Pakistan? Isn’t it high time to sound the bugle and chase out Blackwater type non-actors from the soil of Pakistan before they swoop at our nukes and whisk them away? We need to guard our nukes with utmost vigilance and cut those hands that try to get near them. Operation Rah-e-Nijat which has proceeded excellently should clear South Waziristan of the presence of hardcore local and foreign terrorists speedily. After returning extra forces to peace locations, process of rehabilitation of people of South Waziristan to be put into full gear. These assets must be handled with utmost care and affection. They deserve an even better package then Balochistan since none among them raised the slogan of separation or sought materialistic gains.

Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst based at Rawalpindi and author of several books. Email:

Maoists kill close to camp

Midnapore, Nov. 28: Maoists have shot dead three persons in West Midnapore since last night, killing one of the victims close to a security camp to thumb their nose at the troops’ vigil in Lalgarh and its neighbourhood.

In Jhargram, the Maoists dragged Karuna Sindhu Mahato, the CPM pradhan of Salboni gram panchayat, from his home at Jitusole village and shot him dead.

“They had never targeted a pradhan before in this district. Earlier, they had killed the pradhan of Sonachura panchayat, Nishikanta Mandal, in Nandigram (East Midnapore),” a police officer said.

Manoj Verma, the West Midnapore superintendent of police, said: “Mahato’s bullet-riddled body was found today on a state highway connecting Jhargram to Mumbai Road.”

Another victim was timber merchant Bomkesh Giri. He was found on the metalled road in front of the Koima police camp late last night. “The Maoists shot him dead on the road, a few metres from the police camp and about 2km from Bhimpur High School where joint forces have been staying since June,” an officer said.

According to the police, 62-year-old Giri, his two managers and six labourers had gone to the Kalaimuri jungles to buy logs from the forest department.

“After loading the logs on his vehicle, Giri was returning to his godown in Lalgarh bazar. On the way, a group of Maoists intercepted them and beat up the managers and labourers. The attackers allowed them to go, but not Giri,” said a Lalgarh police officer.

The Maoists took Giri through a jungle path to the metalled road in front of the Koima camp. “It seems the decision to kill Giri near the camp was meant to prove their strength in Lalgarh,” the officer said.

This morning, the Maoists shot dead Brajokishore Mahato, member of the CPM’s Salboni branch committee. Mahato was abducted last night when he was returning home from a party meeting. 

Nuclear panic at Kaiga

Mangalore / Delhi: Residents of Karwar spent a sleepless Friday night after 40 maintenance personnel from the Kaiga nuclear plant were admitted to hospital with 'symptoms' of radioactive poisoning.

The 40 people, who were working at unit 1, were rushed to the Kaiga nuclear corporation hospital. The hospital authorities have denied the reports of radioactive poisoning and said all the 40 staff members were discharged immediately.

Senior members of the Delhi-based National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), who are monitoring the situation, said there was no reason to panic."We have spoken to our colleagues at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and there is no need to worry. Our nuclear reactors are very safe," said B Bhattacharjee, a nuclear scientist at NDMA.

Bhattacharjee said there was no leak at the nuclear plant. Sources said the employees working at unit 1 were found with high radiation levels in their body after they drank water from a water cooler in the operational area. It was later found that the water cooler was situated inside the plant on the operating island of KAPS-I. Tritium, also known as Hydrogen-3, is said to be the cause of the contamination, the sources said.

When the employees had to undergo a urine examination, which is manadatory for people working at the site, high tritium levels were detected. They were admitted to hospital and were treated.