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Chennai rains: How Twitter users are making a difference to those affected by the disaster

It’s December and Chennai is submerged with torrential rain that has broken all records and disrupted daily life. The downpour hasn’t abated in days and the death toll is nearing 200.  The Armed Forces have been deployed and even the Navy is on standby as water-logging is reaching dangerous levels. Additionally, the forecast only predicts more rain for this week. CM J Jayalalithaa has also said police, fire and rescue, national and state disaster forces and Coast Guard were on standby for need-based evacuation.

As the government and Army try to help the residents stay afloat, social media has also been flooded with relief efforts and updates on situation in Chennai as #Chennairains #Chennaifloods started trending in India. Be it shelter or other material through crowdsourcing and a dedicated Google spreadsheet, Twitter has been a crucial tool to reach out to the people affected by the disaster.

Here’s a sample:

Many influential personalities also joined in the plea for help

Even Chennai’s IPL team, the Chennai Super Kings has been active in trying to help out the city

Lastly, here’s a tweet that will  show that one can always make a difference, no matter how small

We are in the third world war right now: Capt Raghu Raman

“It is time to quit whining,” is Capt (Retd) Raman’s spontaneous reaction as he speaks of terrorism.

Face of terror changes, so invest in education than security: Capt. Raghu Raman

Capt. Raghu Raman, who served the Indian Army for 11 years from 1987 to 1998, now works with Reliance Industries as Group President, Risk, Security and New Ventures. In the years between these, he worked for the corporate sector for another 11 years before creating and heading the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India.Paris terror attacksCapt. Raman, who is slated to speak at the TedXGateway in Mumbai on December 5, stresses on the need for a doctrinal change in the way we look at terrorism and react to it. “Earlier, the format was to prevent enemy nation’s soldiers from entering the country. Now, these enemies are no more restricted by borders, they are everywhere – cities and civilian areas,” he says.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The terrorists, he adds, will always major advantages over us. “Firstly, they always attack untrained civilians who can’t fight back. The damage potential is thus multiplied. Two, there will always be an element of surprise. Our security forces will guard a certain spot based on past experience, but the attackers will target some place else. The third, most important, advantage for them is that they never have to plan for extrication of their troops. The State, on the other hand, will always have to plan for extrication, no matter how risky,” he explains. “We need to understand their work pattern”, he says, elaborating, “There is a classical warfare formula wherein the attacker to defender ratio is 1:3. But it is different with terrorists. When 10 terrorists attack, around 140-150 lives are lost. When four to five attack, the number of people killed is around 40-50. So the ratio is around 1:10.”Tackling terrorismWhen asked about how terrorism can be prevented, he says his opinion is radical but sticks to it nevertheless. “You don’t prevent anymore because you only end up losing money. We are simply following the Americans. More cameras, more scanners, more money spent. At the end of the day, no hotel or organisation can guarantee security because the ways of the attackers are very different from security measures,” he said.The investment for a bright future is at present going into security, the ex-fauji believes. “If a digitally-evolved and technically-advanced country like France couldn’t avoid it, then not much can be done to avoid attacks. That is why I stress on doctrinal change. It is bound to be a slow change, but it can be done. The motive to terrorise is achieved when we spend billions of hard-earned money on security. We should instead spend that money on educating the poor and laying the foundation for a better tomorrow,” Capt Raman said.“More people died after 9/11 in road accidents in the USA that year than the number of people killed in the attack itself. People were afraid of flying post the attack and took to road travel, leading to traffic congestion and road accidents,” he says.Talking about how change can be affected, he says, “When I talk about doctrinal changes, it means we change our leaders too. I am not talking about political parties. Change the age group of our leaders. Why are old people still telling us what to do? They are bound to have an older doctrine which does not apply today. We need younger leaders who will ultimately bring about the larger change.”Life in the Indian Army“We go from exchanging mugs to exchanging blood,” he begins speaking of life in the Army. Life in the forces is a different game altogether, he says, elaborating, “When I first joined the Indian Military Academy (IMA), we were all given a mug each. The same mug would be used for absolutely everything – from drinking water, tea and much more. This mug would eventually also get exchanged among cadets. And you can’t complain. That is how you learn. Tomorrow, you could be exchanging blood with these very people.”Asked about the communal tension in the country, Capt Raman says, “In the Indian Armed Forces, nobody has ever fought over religion. For us, a unit is one family, irrespective of religion and background of the officers. But when soldiers come home on leave, they see a different picture outside. That is where the challenge begins,” he says.The next generation needs to start questioning, he believes. Today, everyone thinks that the Islamic State (IS) is the gravest enemy. “No doubt, it is a big challenge but given a choice between being a Prisoner of War (PoW) in Pakistan and my throat being slashed by an IS terrorist, I would prefer the latter. It is just that we can see the IS activities on the internet and that is why we perceive it as a larger threat,” he explains.Siachen – the highest battlefieldCapt Raman terms his stint in Siachen as an amazing experience. “A soldier posted here has to fight on three fronts– enemy, weather and with the self. Officers as young as 22-year-olds are guarding the borders by themselves. If this is the case, then why do we have 80-year-olds taking the decisions in the government, affecting two billion people?”AFSPA and the way ahead“It is a difficult problem to resolve,” says Capt Raman. There are too many stakeholders involved, he informs. “We are heading towards a conflict economy. People funding the security will never want the conflict to end,” he says.“Every nation’s leader has called for a war against terrorism today. Are we still waiting for the third world war? I believe we are in the third world war right now. Only the format of war has changed,” he signs off.(Capt Raghu Raman will be speaking at the TEDxGateway, Mumbai, on December 5, 2015, at NCPA)
This article was first published on iamin.in. For more such hyperlocal stories, visit their website.

Allow women to join territorial army: PIL in Delhi High Court

The petition said that at present only gainfully employed men are recruited into the TA, the second line of defence after the regular Indian Army, and alleged that this amounts to “institutionalised discrimination”.

A PIL has been moved in the Delhi High Court seeking recruitment of gainfully employed women in the Territorial Army, an organisation of volunteers who receive military training in order to be mobilised for the country’s defence in case of an emergency.The petition said that at present only gainfully employed men are recruited into the TA, the second line of defence after the regular Indian Army, and alleged that this amounts to “institutionalised discrimination”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”At present, Territorial Army (TA) recruits only males (gainfully employed). Due to this institutionalised discrimination, women are being deprived of their right to serve in Territorial Army.”This discrimination on grounds of gender is violative of fundamental freedoms and human rights of the women,” the plea, filed by lawyer Kush Kalra, stated.Unlike the Indian Armed Forces, TA is not a profession, occupation or a source of employment and is meant for those who are already in mainstay civilian professions, the plea filed through advocate Jyotika Kalra said, adding gainful employment or self-employment in a civil profession is a pre-requisite for joining.The role of the TA, in which actor Mohanlal and cricketers Kapil Dev and M S Dhoni are honorary members holding senior ranks, is to “relieve the regular army from static duties and assist the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities….”It also helps in maintenance of essential services in situations where life of the community is affected or the security of the country is threatened, and also provides units for the regular army, the PIL states.The petitioner said that in August this year he saw a recruitment advertisement inviting gainfully employed men to join the TA and thereafter, he wrote to the TA that not recruiting women amounts to discrimination.In response, the TA said that as per the provisions of the Territorial Army Act, women are not eligible to join the organisation, the petition said.The petitioner claimed that the “state has a duty to ensure that there is no discrimination practiced by anyone in the country and non-recruitment of female candidates who are gainfully employed is against the spirit of the Constitution of India”.He has sought that the provisions of the Act which prohibit recruitment of women into the TA be either struck down or be interpreted in such a manner that both sexes can join the organisation.

I am no ‘badass’, says Canada’s Sikh Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan

Sajjan is a decorated military veteran who served three tours of duty for the Forces in Afghanistan, and one in Bosnia, and worked as a detective in the Vancouver Police Service.

Harjit Sajjan

Canada’s newly-appointed Sikh Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said he is not a “badass” and is quite a softie despite his military background.45-year-old Sajjan, who immigrated to Canada from India when he was a young boy, said the country must contribute to the defeat of the Islamic State but rejected the idea that Canadians should be afraid of the jihadist organisation.”ISIS is a threat, no doubt about that. Should we fear it? No. The Canadian population should have full confidence in all the security services to keep us safe,” he told CBC News.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sajjan is a decorated military veteran who served three tours of duty for the Forces in Afghanistan, and one in Bosnia, and worked as a detective in the Vancouver Police Service. Sajjan leapfrogged his former mentor, retired general Andrew Leslie, to get the nod as Defence Minister in Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet. And his appointment to the Cabinet went viral on social media with a picture from his days in Afghanistan tweeted with the line “Canada’s new minister of defence is ‘badass.'”Asked what he thinks of being dubbed as a “badass”, Sajjan said, “I actually chuckled. I was really shocked at the interest in me, because when I got the job I was like, ‘(This is) a big responsibility, I can’t mess this up.'”As Canada’s first Sikh in the role, he said “if my position here gives anybody hope of where you might be, and your potential, I’m happy that it does that.””But in terms of ‘badass?’ Uh, no. I have done a lot of interesting things in the Vancouver police and in the military, where I would say that I worked with some very professional soldiers, police officers. But my kids, my little daughter, can say something to me and almost put me to tears,” he said.Sajjan has also allegedly faced racist remarks by a soldier on social media, prompting the Canadian Armed Forces to launch a probe. The offensive post, which was written in French, was quickly removed.On the fight against ISIS, Sajjan said the government is in discussions over what role Canada will take in the fight against the terror group but that there was no date yet for withdrawing Canada’s fighter jets from the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq.Asked whether the Canadian flights might continue to the end of the current commitment in March 2016, Sajjan said Canada is in discussions with its allies. Sajjan said that in confronting ISIS, there is more that can be done.”We need to get better as an international coalition… better at looking at the threats early on, to making sure that we identify them early so they don’t balloon into these big threats,” he said.

No ‘martyr’ status to paramilitary personnel: govt tells HC

The response was sought after the government informed the court that it had no such scheme, as sought in the PIL.

The status of ‘martyr’ is not accorded to armed forces personnel who sacrifice their lives on the line of duty and hence cannot be given to the paramilitary forces, government has told the Delhi High Court, terming a plea on the matter as “misconceived”. “The prayer… to grant ‘martyr’ or ‘shaheed’ to Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) at par with army, navy and air force is misconceived as the very same status is not actually being granted to the personnel of Army, Navy and Air Force,” a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Deepa Sharma was informed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an affidavit, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and other ministries said the word ‘martyr’ was not used in the three services and “no such order/notification has been issued by the MoD to call martyr, (those) who are killed during duty. Similarly, no such notification has been issued by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for the CAPF and Assam Rifle (AR) personnel.” The government’s response came on a PIL by advocates Abhishek Choudhary and Harsh Ahuja to grant equal status to paramilitary and police forces like the armed forces in granting ‘martyr’ status to the deceased personnel.The response was sought after the government informed the court that it had no such scheme, as sought in the PIL. The government said that “in army/navy/air force, the nomenclature for the word ‘martyr’ is battle casuality and physical casuality. The word ‘martyr’ is not used in the three services.” “Therefore, the prayer of the petitioner that the status of ‘martyr’ or ‘shaheed’ be given to the deceased Paramilitary Armed Forces personnel at par with army, navy and air force is misconceived and unfounded. It is denied CAPF personnel are being deprived of the honour they deserve,” the MHA, MoD and Department of Personnel and Training and Ministry have said in the affidavit filed jointly by them.

Centre might eventually win the OROP battle, but here’s how the ex-servicemen can earn their keep

By Raghu Raman

The One Rank One Pension (OROP) has reached a stage with which most soldiers, bureaucrats and politicians are familiar. In military parlance this situation is called an impasse, where neither side seems to be making much headway, and now it’s a question of who has more stamina to last out the war of attrition. Despite posturing by veterans, eventually the state with its infinite capacity to linger endlessly is more likely to win. But leaving a demoralized armed forces in its wake, this will be a Pyrrhic victory indeed. It need not be.

The Indian Armed Forces have always more than earned their keep and here are some thoughts on how they can continue to do so if only stakeholders were willing to look at imaginative options instead of taking trite intractable positions.

The Indian Army is the world’s largest demographic experiment whose invaluable results can be monetised in countless ways. This 1.3 million strong standing force is mostly organised by regiments based on demographics. Gurkhas, Rajputs, Madras, Jat, Maratha and so on for over 32 Infantry Regiments, 62 Armoured regiments and several hundred battalions. In other words, we possess the data base of millions of soldiers with their annual medical records over several decades.

This includes their exact place of birth and nurturing. Add retired soldiers and this database multiples manifold. These millions of records are an incredible control group. Though the soldiers come from different districts and villages of India, their state of physical fitness, the calorific value of their diet and their physical exertions are exactly the same.

Ex-servicemen who are protesting for OROP. ReutersEx-servicemen who are protesting for OROP. Reuters

Ex-servicemen who are protesting for OROP. Reuters

In the hands of data scientists this is veritable gold. Analytics can yield genetic strengths and weaknesses of specific locations. Medicinal effects and side effects on different populace. Bone density, calcium, mineral, iodine deficiencies, water related problems and hundreds of other data points that can assist in medical and pharmacological research are just waiting to be tapped. The entire pharmaceutical industry will be an eager customer for these insights and that’s just one of the uses.

These insights can be used to steer health programs, create custom drugs for specific regions, and study the effects of pollution or contamination of food and water sources. The possibilities and potential are limited only by imagination. And for a government that advocates technology in every breath, technical imagination should not be a problem.

Or consider that one of the biggest challenges for the financial lending industry is credit rating accuracy. Companies go to elaborate lengths and costs to rate their potential borrowers as accurately as possible to ensure minimal default rate. Again the Indian Armed forces is a treasure trove of accurately mapped potential candidates for microfinance.

Which other profession diligently maintains records of its employees every single year, tracks their exact promotional growth, vets their addresses physically, records details of their next of kin and accurately maps their entire family? No other profession maintains a ‘record of service’ which objectively attests every soldier’s character and several other parameters. In addition, the former soldiers are trained, disciplined and have a peer network that can very easily vouch or even stand guarantors for each other.

Which brings out another opportunity that corporates could leverage. The need for security and safety is on the increase and large enterprises whose boundaries are expanding realise the gap between state provisioned security and its own requirements. Forward looking organisations have already been leveraging ex-servicemen in areas such as security, logistics, operations and maintenance, especially in remote and difficult to access areas.

Recent announcements by certain cab and ecommerce companies of their intention to leverage this latent talent is only the tip of the iceberg. Entire ecosystems of Medium and Small businesses (MSMEs) can be spawned using ex-servicemen as a foundation. Large corporates can simply agree to intake a certain percentage of their workforce from this ex-services pool to ease the burden on the exchequer and create win-win for all stakeholders.

The government’s intention to create hundreds of ‘smart cities’ and megacities is another opportunity where productive residual years of a retired soldier can be channelized. We often forget that even highly automated businesses like telecommunications and logistics require thousands of personnel to protect the towers, lay out the cables, refuel the generators, patrol the assets, drive the vehicles, man the warehouses, manage the inventory etc. All these are functions that servicemen have done for decades. They just need to be tweaked to civilian usage and there is a force multiplier waiting to be exploited.

All that stands between the ideation and implementation of these and several such opportunities is the intent followed by organisational & execution skills. The latter two are forte of Armed Forces. It’s in the intent where civil society and political establishment have to step up to the plate. Ironically — thinking afresh is not an option anymore. Even without the OROP, salaries and pensions are ballooning to an alarming proportion of the defense budget, leaving little for modernisation investments. Unless we start thinking innovatively we will constantly be robbing Peter to pay Paul and reinforcing the belief that not just generals – but bureaucrats and politicians also are guilty of fighting the last wars.

Raghu Raman is a defence, cyber and information security specialist. A former Army officer, he also led the Natgrid programme of the Government of India for five years. He’s currently President, Risk and New Ventures in Reliance Industries Ltd. The views are personal.

15 years on, Irom Sharmila still fasts, but repealing AFSPA remains a distant dream

by Gouri Chatterjee

The date: 27 October 2015; the place: the court of the chief judicial magistrate, Imphal West, Manipur. Reporters were milling around, evidently a VIP visit was on the cards. And it was. Irom Sharmila Chanu had been brought there by ambulance from the Security Ward of Imphal’s Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences where she is held under judicial custody, for yet another hearing of the case against her under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, ie attempt to suicide. The court simply fixed a date for the next hearing, 9 November 2015.

If you can’t instantly place who she is, fret not. You are not alone. It is a collective amnesia, the brain blocking out what makes us uncomfortable, what we cannot cope with. It is easier to press the delete button than to face up to the reality of Irom Sharmila, who has been on a continuous hunger-strike since 2 November 2000, precisely fifteen years ago to the day or for 5,475 days without a morsel going down her throat except the liquids force-fed her by doctors. The longest hunger-strike ever, anywhere in the world. Yet, her goal, the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), is still as distant as it was on that November day fifteen years ago when the senseless killing by the army of ten civilians waiting at a bus stop in Malom had stopped her from breaking the fast she had been observing that Thursday, as she did like a good Hindu every Thursday, in honour of the goddess Lakshmi.

Irom Sharmila in a file photo. AFPIrom Sharmila in a file photo. AFP

Irom Sharmila in a file photo. AFP

But the going is getting tougher and tougher. “When she started fasting, there were all kinds of rumours about Sharmila. Some said she was mad. Others said she came from a very poor family and was being paid to do this. Another rumour was that she had a boyfriend who died in the Malom massacre. People just could not understand why anyone would do something like this,” her brother had told journalists earlier. Yet, there was respect for her commitment, awe at her determination, and readiness to help. Today, as she told reporters outside the court room last month, her trial was at a crucial stage and she needs mass support now but even the people of Manipur had forsaken her. There were very few who were at her side these days. She was, reported Northeast Today, feeling very disheartened that not a single supporter was there in the court complex that day. People didn’t seem to care if the AFSPA, that gives the armed forces the licence to kill anybody on mere suspicion, was repealed or not. Given the people’s lack of interest towards her “democratic movement” she was, she said, feeling confused as to whether she was doing the right thing or not.

It will bring her no dishonour, no discredit if indeed she does surrender one of these days. Her indomitable spirit will still not be bowed, she will continue to remain a symbol of hope, of courage, of selfless devotion to a cause. But it is also true, nobody cares. In the fifteen years of her remarkable, peaceful protest, much has changed. When she began her fast, more than 2,000 women sat with her in relay hunger-strikes. Today, the interest is cursory at best. Last year, when she was released for a couple of days, she staged her protest on one of the busiest roads of Imphal. People passed by, a few stopped to greet her, a couple with a small son praised her courage and faith, posed for photographs with her — and left. Or so the Telegraph reported.

Meanwhile, the AFSPA has been withdrawn from parts of Imphal, thanks to a protest by another group of women but who were now at peace with the government, accepting, a few years back, even awards from the Centre. At the same time, the number of rebel organisations in Manipur has jumped to 42 in the last few years, strengthening the army’s demand for the continuance of the AFSPA in the rest of Manipur. Nor is there any political demand for its repeal either. Tripura has removed the offending Act from its books, Nagaland has at least made some such noises, but Manipur it seems prefers to live with it than without. Even though the army’s transgressions there under the protection of this Act are no secret; even a Supreme Court-appointed commission that investigated six random cases found all of them to be fake encounters.

Still, the biggest news coming out of that part of the world was a few months ago when India gleefully conducted the country’s first “hot pursuit”, chasing rebels into their hideouts in Burma, as it was gleefully announced by the junior external affairs minister. Even the new Naga peace pact which naturally affects Manipur has not been spelled out in detail. Little wonder that the prime minister, who had visited Manipur last November for the closing ceremony of Sangai festival, did not have time for or interest in Irom Sharmila languishing in her hospital ward.

Yet, unravelling the legal mesh that has her in its grip won’t be easy for Irom Sharmila. It is the law that has caused her to go on her heroic hunger-strike – she will happily eat again, she has said, once Manipur is free of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act but only then – and it is the law, section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, that is treating her as a criminal, forcing her to be fed through a Ryle’s tube, remanding her to a hospital, demanding her presence in court from time to time. If we want to honour Irom Sharmila, we should try to help her resolve this conundrum. As she told a Wall Street journalist last year, “Yes, of course I want other people to join my movement. I am a social being. I don’t like to live alone, isolated like in a jungle. But people just analyse what I am doing, they want me to stand on a pedestal without a voice, making a statue of me. But I am against it because I have bad sides and good sides. Why should they worship me after my passing away from this Earth, like a goddess or saint or nun? Instead, I want them to support me physically. I need their support.” Let the plea for help from the Iron Lady of Manipur not fall on deaf ears.

OROP: After military veterans, ex-paramilitary personnel protest at Jantar Mantar

After military veterans, retired paramilitary officials had decided to hold a ‘dharna’ in Delhi on Monday demanding One Rank One Pension (OROP) benefits and other privileges.

OROP protests

PTI
Ex-paramilitary personnel have begun a dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Monday, demanding One Rank One Pension (OROP) under the ex-servicemen category, said India Today. After military veterans, retired paramilitary officials had decided to hold a ‘dharna’ in Delhi on Monday demanding One Rank One Pension (OROP) benefits and other privileges under the ex-servicemen category. An association of former officials of forces like CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF and SSB had planned to hold the sit-in at Jantar Mantar for implementation of their demands which they say have been in the waiting for the last over a decade.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our major demands to the government are the granting of OROP to paramilitary veterans like military personnel, exemption of serving troops from contributory pension scheme and extending full benefits to these forces under the ex-servicemen category.”The ‘dharna’ and protest began at 10 am on Monday at Jantar Mantar. The association has already sent a memorandum to the government in this regard and failing to get any reply they have decided to begin the protest here. “The country cannot sleep peacefully even for a day without the paramilitary forces. There is no proper rehabilitation ensured for these forces.We need the support of the government and public in bettering the lives of these men and women who are on job 24×7 in hard working conditions,” national general secretary of the All India Central Paramilitary Forces and Ex-servicemen Welfare Association PS Nair said, adding the defence and paramilitary forces should be kept on equal footing while granting service benefits.The association claims to have support of a maximum number of state chapters in this regard and has met senior government leadership in this context earlier. The agitators have also demanded that benefits of health care and canteen facilities should be extended to the families of both the serving and retired personnel. “The agitation beginning tomorrow will be held for three-four days and if the government does not listen to us we will begin a large action from March next year,” Nair said.There are about nine lakh personnel serving in these forces working under the Union Home Ministry while there are an equal number of retired personnel and their families in the country.honouring them,” he said.(With PTI inputs)

Huge leap: Govt unlocks cockpits of IAF fighter jets for women pilots

New Delhi: Women members of the Indian Air Force today broke another grass ceiling with the government approving induction of female fighter pilots, the first time when women would be in combat role in the country’s armed forces.

Ready for women pilots. ReutersReady for women pilots. Reuters

Ready for women pilots. Reuters

The first women fighter pilots would be selected from the batch which is presently undergoing training at the Air Force Academy, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The news first came in with the Ministry of Defence spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeting out:

“This progressive step is in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and is in line with contemporary trends in armed forces of developed nations,” the ministry said.

It said that the performance of women, inducted into transport and helicopter streams of the IAF, has been “praiseworthy” and at par with their male colleagues.

“Inducting women into the fighter stream would provide them with an equal opportunity to prove their mettle in combat roles as well,” the ministry said.

As per the plan, the first women pilots would be selected from the batch which is presently undergoing flying training at Air Force Academy.

After successful completion of ab-initio training, they would be commissioned in the fighter stream in June 2016.

Thereafter, they would undergo advanced training for one year and would enter a fighter cockpit by June 2017.

Presently, the Indian Army is inducting women into the Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation (Air Traffic Control), Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps, Intelligence Corps, Army Education Corps and Judge Advocate Generals Branches/Cadres.

The Indian Navy is inducting women in the Judge Advocate Generals, Logistics, Observer, Air Traffic Controller, Naval Constructor and Education branches/cadres.

However, it has moved a proposal to induct women as pilots for its fleet of surveillance aircraft.

With this decision to open up induction of women in the fighter stream, women have become eligible for induction in all branches and streams of the IAF.

The IAF is presently inducting women in the Transport and Helicopter stream of the flying branch, Navigation, Aeronautical Engineering, Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Education and Meteorology branches.

The Ministry of Defence has also taken up a comprehensive review pertaining to induction of women in Armed Forces, both in short service commission and permanent commission, and once finalised, more branches would be opened up for induction of women to give them the space which they deserve in the Armed Forces of the country, the statement said.

The air force currently has about 1,500 women on its rolls of which 94 are pilots and 14 navigators.

The move is in sync with global trends and will help IAF overcome shortage of officers in the fighter aircraft stream.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had been batting for increased role of women in the armed forces but had said that it will take some time.

“It has to be done in a phase-wise manner. It won’t happen immediately,” Parrikar had said on 12 October, adding that the final notification on inducting women as fighter aircraft pilots would also take sometime.

He also cited that the United Arab Emirates Air Force has women fighter-plane pilots who had carried out strikes on ISIS targets.

PTI

Bihar Elections: Various party representatives meet CEC with demands and suggestions for fair polls

The major demands included deployment of Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMF) at booths, steps to maintain communal harmony during festive season, checks on announcements by central ministers that may work as inducement to voters, monitoring of paid news, strengthening of single window system in order to get easy and quick approval and permissions to hold rallies, use of helicopters etc.

Voters waiting for their turn to vote in Bihar during second phase of polling.
File Photo
PTI
Representatives of various political parties on Sunday met the Election Commission in Patna and demanded a slew of measures to ensure free, fair and peaceful polling in the remaining phases of the Bihar Assembly elections.The major demands included deployment of Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMF) at booths, steps to maintain communal harmony during festive season, checks on announcements by central ministers that may work as inducement to voters, monitoring of paid news, strengthening of single window system in order to get easy and quick approval and permissions to hold rallies, use of helicopters etc.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, Election Commissioners A K Joti and Om Prakash Rawat met the representatives of different political parties to get feedback and suggestions from them.A three-member full fledged Commission led by Zaidi is on a two-day visit to Bihar to take stock of preparedness for the fourth and fifth phases of Assembly elections.A BJP delegation, led by the party’s state president Mangal Pandey, demanded deployment of CPMF at booths and not outside as it happened in the earlier two phases of polling, appointment of special observers in Nalanda district, which is the CM’s home district, as the party apprehends irregularities.BJP also asked the Commission to keep a tab on officials denying permission for holding the Prime Minister’s rally at the behest of the state government, Pandey told reporters.A delegation of ruling JD(U), led by its MLC Ramvachan Rai, raised the issue of Dharmendra Pradhan’s announcement of giving LPG connections free of cost to poor women and termed it as “inducement” to voters.”The Commission should also keep a close watch on paid news besides keeping a tab on rumours, which may be spread during the festive season in order to vitiate the atmosphere,” Rai said, adding Dalit voters should be given adequate security as they were being intimidated. The RJD delegation, which was led by party national spokesman Manoj Jha, demanded steps be taken to ensure communal harmony. Jha also demanded that if any political party gives donation to any puja organiser, then the expenditure be included in the candidate’s account.Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesman Anil Kishore Jha said the single window system, which was introduced for the first time in the elections, was not working properly and should be strengthened so that approvals or permission for holding rallies, flying of helicopters, helipad for landing etc. be given within the specified time limit of 36 hours.The Commission also interacted with top government officials, including officers of home department, Chief Electoral Office, IG (CRPF) and senior police officers. They also held a meeting with the state chief electoral officer (CEO), police, excise and income tax officials to review election expenditure management.On Monday, the Commission would hold a meeting at Muzaffarpur to review the poll preparedness for the fourth and fifth phases of polling and would interact with CEO, state nodal officers, district election officers, commissioners, IGs, DIGs, SSPs etc.

It’s now paramilitary’s turn for OROP agitation

The All India Central Paramilitary Forces Ex-servicemen Welfare Association (AICPFEWA) has asked the Modi government either to implement OROP and give benefits at par with the Army as they are recognised as ‘Armed Forces’ under Article 246 of the Constitution or else they would start an agitation.

After Modi government managed to brazen out the first tide of ex-servicemen demanding One Rank One Pension (OROP), the second tide, of ex-paramilitary personnel, is steadily gathering mass to demand the same.The All India Central Paramilitary Forces Ex-servicemen Welfare Association (AICPFEWA) has asked the Modi government either to implement OROP and give benefits at par with the Army as they are recognised as ‘Armed Forces’ under Article 246 of the Constitution or else they would start an agitation.The association has sought appointments from the Prime Minister, Union home minister to parliamentary affairs minister to remind the government of an agitation from November 2 at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. So far, it has not received a reply from the government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To show their strength, the association plans to bring about 10,000 ex-paramilitary personnel for the sit-in. The association had sent a 10-point memorandum to Prime Minister Modi on September 26 and last week sought appointments with Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh besides Venkaiah Naidu.There are more than 50 such associations of former employees from BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, SSB and Assam Rifles that come under an umbrella of National Coordination Committee (NCC) of ex-paramilitary forces personnel welfare associations.Though the NCC is neither in favour nor has approved any dharna or strike by Ex-CPMFs personnel association at any place on OROP, the Kerala-based association wants to go ahead.However, in private, many serving paramilitary personnel, including senior officers, concede that they have been not been taken seriously by the government for not being vocal like the defence forces personnel.”There is no difference between the Army and paramilitary forces. Rather we bear more brunt throughout the year in counter-insurgency ops in J&K, Northeast and Naxal areas. There are hardly any peace postings for us like the Army. Why we should not be considered Armed forces,”said a senior BSF official.The para-military officials also claim that their name was changed from central paramilitary forces (CPMFs) to central armed police forces (CAPFs) under a well thought out design to show them inferior to the Army and they should be renamed as CPMFs.”We will resolve the issue peacefully. It is a just demand and possible for the government,” said association’s general secretary, P S Nair.The BJP government that has already agreed to OROP for three wings of defence forces maintains that the rationale of early retirement applicable for ex-servicemen is not correct for paramilitary personnel as till the rank of commandant they can retire at 57 years of age and from DIG onward, at 60 years.But the paramilitary forces personnel consider this argument bogus as according to Nair, “Over 35,000 paramilitary personnel have quit the forces between 2010 and June 2013 due to this discrimination. Unlike Army personnel, they only get minimum pension. The attrition rate is only expected to go up if such double standards prevail.”Besides OROP, the Association wants an “Ex-Servicemen status”, CSD Canteen facilities at par with the Defence personnel, a Paramilitary Welfare Board on lines of the Sainik Welfare Board and exemption from New Pension Scheme of 2004 which is contributory scheme. 10-point memorandum to PMTo show their strength, the association plans to bring about 10,000 ex-paramilitary personnel for the sit-in. The association had sent a 10-point memorandum to Prime Minister Modi on September 26 and last week sought appointments with Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh besides Venkaiah Naidu.There are more than 50 such associations of former employees from BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, SSB and Assam Rifles that come under an umbrella of National Coordination Committee (NCC) of ex-paramilitary forces personnel welfare associations.

14 encounters with naxalites after Bihar poll notification issued

Security forces have engaged in 14 encounters with Left Wing insurgent groups operating in areas near Bihar-Jharkhand border and apprehended 50 alleged Naxals since the 2015 assembly elections notification was released early this month.According to officials, following the election notification, Naxalite groups based in Southern Bihar and Jharkhand have called for a statewide boycott of the 2015 polls due in October.Gauging the developments in the past two weeks and based on inputs from intelligence agencies, central government has further decided to increase security in Southern districts Bihar in order to produce a conducive environment for elections to be held.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Among the districts which will see an increase in deployment of security forces are Jamui, Jahanabad, Aurangabad and Gaya. A senior official of the Central Reserve Police Force while confirming the development stated that orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs have laid emphasis that a repetition of violence that was witnessed during the 2010 Bihar elections must not allowed this time around.In 2010, 10 officers of the security forces were killed in three improvised explosive device (IED) blasts that rocked Gaya and Sheohar districts of Bihar during the state elections.While six officers were killed when a police vehicle carrying them was blasted by Maoists in Shayampur Baitha area of Sheohar district, four members of the bomb disposal squad were were killed in two separate incidents while trying to defuse IEDs planted in Banke Bazaar and Dumaria areas of Gaya district.Official sources told dna that security arrangements this election will be more elaborate than the one in 2010. “The number of security officers will be more as compared to the previous elections,” the source said. The increase of deployment of personnel will be seen in the CRPF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Border Security Forces.”Ever since the elections were announced our forces have engaged in 14 encounters with Left Wing extremists. During various area domination exercises we have been able to recover 60 IED’s ,55 ammunition and seven arms. 50 persons with Naxalite links have also been apprehend and the operation will mostly likely not end till the elections are conducted without Naxal group disrupting them,” said a senior security official posted in the area.The official added that the four districts that will see a heavy deployment of forces have seen some of the worst phases of both Maoist and Naxalite movement.”Among the districts which continue to show signs of Naxalism are Jamui and Jahanabad. But the threat extends to both Gaya and Aurangabad where we have witnessed violent incidents in the past,” added the official.Jamui, where elections will be held in the first phase is the constituency of Lok Janshakti Party’s Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan. He was elected as member of 16th Lok Sabha after the 2014 general election from Hajipur constituency, while his son Chirag Paswan won from Jamui constituency. Aurangabad, which shares its border with Gaya district, has a predominant population from the landlord community, has also witnessed noticeable rise of Naxal movement.”We have received inputs of a movement against elections gaining momentum in these districts and necessary measure will be taken to counter the same,” said the official.

OROP: 1965 war veterans to boycott Prez’s tea party, to intensify stir

New Delhi: The veterans of the 1965 India-Pakistan war have refused to attend a tea party organised by their supreme commander, the President of India, to felicitate them. They instead have charged the government with short-changing them on the One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue and questioned the silence of the President on it.

In a letter to the President Pranab Mukherjee, on behalf of ex-servicemen, especially those who were a part of the 1965 war, Wing Commander (retd) Vinod Nebb wrote: “I write to you as a proud Armed Forces Veteran, who contributed to this war like many others… Due to the circumstances and details outlined, I sadly decline your prestigious invitation. This invitation, the purpose and the occasion will not repeat itself in my life time and this makes it even harder for me to decline… With utmost respect Sir, I look towards you as our Supreme Commander and leader of the Armed Forces to ask, why are you silent? Why would you invite me to an event, which to us veterans is symbolic of our blood, sweat and dignity and play to the government ‘show’ of respect to us and our achievements?”

File image. PTIFile image. PTI

The agitation for OROP. File image. PTI

It’s not just Wg Cdr Nebb, all ex-servicemen who have been part of the protest demanding OROP for over 90 days at Jantar Mantar in the heart of Delhi, have said they will boycott the invitation from the President for the event scheduled on 22 September. Besides not accepting the OROP format announced by the government, they have also decided to boycott the golden jubilee celebration of the Indo-Pak war of 1965.

In a similar gesture, Grp Capt (retd) VK Gandhi has refused to be a part of the celebration and deposited his medals as a mark of protest.

The reason

The ex-servicemen find ‘’serious shortcomings” in the OROP scheme announced by the government on 5 September.

“Whatever the government announced is not the OROP. It’s only an enhancement of pension. It’s a repetition of what the previous UPA government did. There are seven serious shortcomings in the implementation of the OROP as announced by the defence minister. We’re not accepting it and we’ve decided to boycott not only the President’s tea invitation, but also the golden jubilee functions of the Indo-Pak war of 1965,” Col Anil Kaul (retd) told Firstpost.

Col Kirit Joshipura (retd), an 80-year-old veteran of the 1965 war said, “We’re not accepting any shortchanges this time. Over the decades, the defence personnel have already accepted many. It was the government’s Koshiyari Committee that clearly mentioned about the OROP, which the Parliament accepted, but now the government has been violating it.”

Seven Shortcomings

The United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM) has given in writing to the Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar the seven shortcomings in the OROP implementation that are unacceptable to them:

– Base year for OROP implementation agreed to as FY 2013-14, “changed to” calendar year 2013.

– Date of implementation agreed to 01 April, 2014, “pushed forward” to 01 July 2014.

– Instead of equalizing the pensions annually as per approved definition, “equalization has been announced “once in five years”.

– “Substitution” of a one-man judicial commission instead of the five-member as suggested.

– The exclusion of those who opt for Premature Release from benefits accruing from OROP.

– The fixing of pension to be done as a mean average of the pay band instead of the top level.

– The suggestion of handing over the working out of modalities to 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) have been objected to since once adopted by the Parliament, no CPC or any other commission has the authority to adjudicate.

“The last three points were never discussed at any level with the government representatives. Moreover, some ‘dumb bureaucrat’ or may be a cunning one introduced Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) in the OROP discussion to delay the implementation process,” Vadodara-based war veteran, Wg Cdr MMS Paintal, said.

Added Col Kaul, media advisor to UFESM, “If implemented in its present form, it will not only violate the definition of OROP but cause heavy financial hardship to all ranks.”

Next move

The ex-servicemen have decided to hold a bikers’ rally from all corners of the country, followed by a mega rally in mid-December. They will conduct marches in towns and use Raahagiri in Delhi to communicate their message. They are also planning to fan out to poll-bound states such as Bihar and approach voters with their issue.

Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh, chairman, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), has appealed to the ex-servicemen not to break under any pressure.

“Everyday three to four military personnel are martyred. Instead of showing respect and dignity to those who deserve it, the government is now trying to gag us. We’ll continue with our fight, even if it takes another five years,” he said.

India wasting too much time on Pakistan, says Subramanian Swamy

Let them do whatever they are doing and we should not put our attention on it, he added.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday said India is wasting too much time on Pakistan, even as the two Director Generals of the border troops began a meeting in Delhi.We are wasting too much of time on Pakistan. Two policemen meeting, how is that of any national importance. They (Pakistan) are screaming so that we reply and they can get a status of equality, Swamy told ANI.Let them do whatever they are doing and we should not put our attention on it, he added.The DG-level talks between India?s Border Security Forces (BSF) and Pakistan’s Rangers (PR) is scheduled to take place here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSF Director General D.K. Pathak will meet Pakistan Rangers chief Major General Umar Farooq Burki to discuss border related issues between the two forces.

Defense Minister Parrikar asks to wait for final OROP order for clarity over VRS issue

Mumbai: With confusion surrounding who among the retirees will get the benefits of One Rank, One Pension, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday asked all those concerned to wait for the final order, which will “explain it properly”.

“You have to wait for the final order (on OROP) which will come. Why is there so much excitement till then? The PM has made it amply clear that those who are being allowed to retire through proper procedure will not be (adversely) impacted. You need to wait for the exact wording,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an Engineers’ Conclave.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Image courtesy: ibnlive

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Image courtesy: ibnlive

He also clarified that the concept of ‘Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) does not exist in the Armed Forces.

“In the Armed Forces even if you apply, you may not get voluntary retirement, unlike (in) civilian (service), where you can get it. In the Armed Forces, you can be refused. There are many people who because of health reasons apply and the Armed Forces also want them to retire and, if that happens before the minimum service requirement, then they don’t get pension.

“We will explain this properly, no one should unnecessarily create confusion on it,” Parrikar said.

Parrikar said many things needed to be considered before Rs 8000 crore is sanctioned for implementing OROP.

“A lot of things have to be considered before sanctioning Rs 8,000 crore…it is not a matter of Rs 8. There were a lot of issues involved with it, why blame someone? It is very easy to say that give it (money), but when one has to give the money, it is not easy,” he said.

He was asked whether differences between bureaucracy and the political leadership had delayed the announcement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Sunday said those who had had to quit the defence forces prematurely would also be entitled to OROP benefits.

PTI

Now, paramilitary forces set their eyes on OROP

After doling out one rank one pension (OROP) to defence personnel, Modi government may have to brace up for a similar demand from Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).

After doling out one rank one pension (OROP) to defence personnel, Modi government may have to brace up for a similar demand from Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).Monitoring the OROP developments closely, several CAPF veterans felt that they are more worthy of the scheme than the defence personnel who bear the brunt only during the wartime unlike them who are in perpetual battle mode on the border and in counter-insurgency operations.Feeling anguished, former IG of Border Security Force, Srinivasan said, “The Army should have taken CAPFs along with them. Some of the ex-servicemen have done harm to the unity of forces by saying that army is better than the CAPFs.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Srinivasan also said that the first line of defence is always the BSF or ITBP on the border and is ahead of the army positions and fight on equal footing during war besides defending the borders 24X7, when the Army takes the role only during wartime.””Only one-third army belonging to infantry or armoured division goes to the border but the one rank one pension is applicable to all the wings of the Army. Why? What is wrong with us? Are not we equally important if not more? But we will not come out on the road and will choose recourse through courts,” he said.A serving DIG-level officer in Central Reserve Police Force said, “This is not equality. We bear most casualties overall, even during so-called peacetime we suffer and die in operations in Naxal-affected areas and in the northeast. If one can count the numbers, we have produced maximum martyrs. Unlike the army officers, there is no golf-playing club life for us. There is no doubt that the government should keep us at parity with defence forces personnel.”A young deputy commandant, who joined the ITBP in 2005, said that despite being equally battle worthy, the ITBP personnel serve in more hostile areas than army with fewer provisions and yet they were handed over New Pension Scheme in 2004.”How can you call it justice when we have to contribute for our pension from own pockets and the army gets OROP on a platter. Our veterans should also go on agitation mode,” he said.A few officers warned that the different treatment meted through OROP can have an adverse fall as there is a clear divide between Army and CAPFs.”On the field, this will have an adverse effect,” said an officer.

Ex-servicemen’s agitation enters 83rd day: All you need to know about OROP

After an 83-day-long agitation by armed forces veterans, the government, in an effort to clear up the logjam on One Rank One Pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen, has drafted a provisional document on the implementation of the scheme. However media reports have quoted several ex-servicemen terming it “unilateral”, and rejecting the draft.

The major sticking point remains the issue of equalisation. The government is firm on the revision every five years in view of the administrative difficulties of doing it annually, however, the veterans have rejected it. Talks are continuing to find common ground.

Last month, two of the protesting ex-servicemen stepped up their agitation on the demand for implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, by going on a fast till death, demanding the early implementation of the long-pending scheme.

“Col Pushpender Singh (Retd) and Haviladar Major Singh rpt Major Singh (Retd) have undertaken fast unto death from today,” Col Anil Kaul (Retd), media advisor to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen Movement, said as the agitation at Jantar Mantar entered its 64th day, last month.

The protesters have been on a relay hunger strike so far. Havildar Major had been on relay hunger strike since the agitation started.

To the disappointment of protesting ex-servicemen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not given a specific timeline for the implementation of ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) in his Independence Day address on 15 August.

“Every government has even given small promises but the issue has not been resolved. Even after I came, I have not been able to do it till now. Today, I am assuring my soldiers once again…in-principle OROP has been accepted by us but talks with stakeholders are on,” he had said in his Independence Day address. “A solution has to be found for an issue which has been lingering for 20-25 years. I expect good news seeing the way the talks are going on. And that is why I again promise that in-principle, this government has accepted OROP,” the PM had said.

General (Retd) VP Malik, the Indian Army chief during the Kargil war, had said on Friday that he had acted as mediator between ex-servicemen and the Modi government on the OROP issue but had given up “within 48 hours”, according to a Hindustan Times report.

The main dispute, according to the report, was the argument over which year’s scales should be taken as base for OROP. The government wants to take the 2011 rates while veterans want those of 2014.

The reason for the anger among the veterans is the long delay in the implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme.

The OROP scheme has been a long-standing demand of the over two million ex-servicemen of India. It seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

The scheme is estimated to cost around Rs 8,600 crore initially and subsequently several crore rupees annually.

Currently, all pre-2006 pensioners receive lesser pension than not only their counterparts but also their juniors.

Anger among military veterans over the delay in One Rank One Pension scheme is growing. Reuters

Anger among military veterans over the delay in One Rank One Pension scheme is growing. Reuters

The demand for the implementation of OROP had led to a massive protest on 8 February 2009, when more than 300 retired soldiers of varying ranks had marched to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi and had returned medals won in combat and for distinguished service as they sought equal pension for each rank.

The veterans were among the thousands who had gathered earlier in the day at the Jantar Mantar observatory in the heart of the capital for a protest that some said marked a black day for the Indian armed forces.

However, it still took five years for the government to recognise this demand made by the military veterans. In February 2014, the government accepted the long-standing demand of ex-servicemen for OROP and had allocated Rs 500 crore to the Defence Pension Account for the implementation of the scheme.

The scheme had also been announced in the Interim Budget in February 2014, but was yet to be implemented.

A few days after this development, Narendra Modi, who was then rallying for the Lok Sabha polls, had slammed the Congress for delay in implementation of OROP.

“The government, which is sitting in Delhi has always been playing a farce with the Armed Forces. Before this also, a number of times, the Finance Minister of Congress had made announcements about One Rank One Pension but never fulfilled it,” Modi had said.

“Even this time since I am repeatedly talking about it, they have announced it but this is a fraud with you. Had Congress party been honest, they had the chance to it in 10 budgets from 2004 to 2014. But they did not do it,” he had said.

Modi had also claimed that “only our government will be able to implement it.”

After coming to power, the Modi government also had a perspective on OROP different from past governments. Past governments contended that granting the full scheme was neither financially nor administratively possible because it could lead to similar demands from other government employees, according to Economic Times. But the Modi government argued that the service of other government employees could not be equated to that of the military because military officers retired at a much earlier age, generally between 34-35 years of age, and also underwent prolonged and stressful tenures.

In the July 2014 Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also announced an allocation of Rs 1000 crore for this scheme.

In December 2014, Parrikar had said that OROP will be implemented in the defence forces before the next Budget.

However, while presenting the Budget 2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not announce its implementation. “I have already, in the last budget, said that we are going to implement One Rank One Pension. This need not be stated on every occasion. We are completely committed to it,” Jaitley had told reporters when asked about the delay in launching the scheme.

Explaining the reasons behind the delay, Jaitley had said: “The methodology of calculating the One Rank, One Pension is an issue pending between the services and the defence ministry.”

On 17 February this year, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to implement its six-year-old verdict to follow OROP and had also reminded the BJP of its pre-poll promise made to the people, according to Hindustan Times. The apex court had given this order while hearing a contempt petition filed by Maj Gen (Retd) SPS Vains.

In 2009, the Supreme Court, in the case of Union of India & Maj Gen SPS Vains & Others, had ruled that “no defence personnel senior in rank could get a lower pension than his junior irrespective of the date of retirement, and that similarly placed officers of the same rank should be given the same pension irrespective of the date of retirement,” according to Scroll.

It was expected that PM Modi would make an announcement on OROP during his rally in Mathura to mark his government’s first anniversary. But to the disappointment of many ex-servicemen, he did not do so.

Miffed over the delay in the roll-out of the scheme for the armed forces, 1971 war veteran Wing Commander (Retd) Suresh Karnik and Wing Commander (Retd) KV Bopardikar on 28 May had boycotted a gallantry award function in Pune attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

At the function, Parrikar had said that his ministry had completed all formalities in respect of the one rank-one pension’ (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen and nobody should try to “politicise” the issue, according to PTI.

“My ministry has completed all formalities and OROP will be implemented,” he had said, adding that the executive process takes some time. “People still do not know financial implications of this. The Defence Ministry has completed its calculations and there was a unanimous agreement with the Armed Forces on the formula,” he had added.

Parrikar had also said that the figure of the One Rank One Pension scheme provision had touched about Rs 22,000 crore since he took over as Defence Minister.

The Defence Minister had also said that he is working hard on the scheme and the MoD will send its views to the Finance Minister by 17 February next year, according to IBNLive.

On the other hand, praising the veterans for boycotting the function, almost all veterans’ organisations in the country had decided to boycott government functions.

He had said the veterans plan to go on hunger strike if the government does not keep its promise.

Lt Gen B Pandit (retd), who spoke on behalf of the veterans, had said delay in the implementation of OROP was causing anxiety among the fraternity.

“It is the sacred responsibility of the state to create conditions to keep the morale of the Armed Forces high,” he had said.

(With agency inputs)

Pakistan terrorist caught alive: Security forces release picture

Sajjad, part of a five-member group of infiltrating terrorists, was nabbed after an operation which began on Wednesday night near the Line of Control (LoC).

Sajjad Ahmed

Photo Courtesy: ANI Twitter
In a major success, army on Thursday captured a Pakistani terrorist after killing his four associates in a two-day operation in Kashmir, about weeks after Naved from Pakistan was caught alive in Udhampur. The arrested terrorist, identified as 22-year-old Sajjad Ahmed from Muzaffargarh in south west Pakistan, was literally smoked out from a cave in the heights of Rafiabad area in Baramullah, about 100 kms from Srinagar.Sajjad, part of a five-member group of infiltrating terrorists, was nabbed after an operation which began on Wednesday night near the Line of Control (LoC). One terrorist was killed in the encounter on Wednesday while three were killed on Thursday. One soldier was also injured on Wednesday. Five AK rifles, two grenade launchers, a map, two GPS and broken smart phones were recovered from them, officials said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The security forces also released Sajjad’s picture on Thursday night. The first contact with militants was established in the wee hours of Wednesday when a team led by an Army Major killed one of the infiltrating terrorists, officials said.”In a slow and systematic operation owing to the difficult terrain and thick foliage, the forces re-established contact with the balance of the terrorists who had taken shelter inside a natural cave in the afternoon of August 26,” the Army said.The firing continued till late afternoon after which their was a complete blackout from the other side, they said. More troops were rushed to the spot and Special Forces were airdropped for searching the terrorists, the officials said. A team found a natural cave and on being checked, there was firing by terrorists hiding inside, the officials said. Troops retaliated strongly to the firing. Finally, they fired teargas shells and ‘chilly grenades’ into the cave to choke them and force them out. ‘Chilly grenade’ is a non-toxic weapon, officials said.After the silence of fire from inside, troops barged into the cave and saw three terrorists, belonging to Lashker-e-Taiba dead, while Sajjad was hiding and weeping, begging the forces not to kill him, the officials said. He was brought out and given food and immediate medical attention as his feet had swollen due to long trek from PoK to enter Kashmir, the officials said. He was later taken to Srinagar for questioning.

#SaluteSelfie: Social media’s novel way of paying tribute to Indian Army on Independence Day

As India’s 69th Independence Day draws closer, there is a novel way of paying tribute to the Armed Forces doing the rounds on social media – the #SaluteSelfie

MS DHoni's #SaluteSelfie Image Credit: Twitter @msdhoniMS DHoni's #SaluteSelfie Image Credit: Twitter @msdhoni

MS DHoni’s #SaluteSelfie Image Credit: Twitter @msdhoni

While hashtags have been used for contests and jokes, this is one that is actually aimed at a positive development — firstly, to thank our troops and secondly, to let them know that the country is thinking about them. With several ceasefire violations in the past month, as well as a few terrorist attacks near the border, this is an ideal time to let the soldiers know that they matter. The explainer video mentions that more than 10,000 selfies have reached our soldiers, even as more continue to pour in.

The #SaluteSelfie Twitter trend, promoted by the Reliance Group, has seen the participation of a number of  prominent celebrities from all fields, as well as numerous users from all over India. From MS Dhoni to Amitabh Bachchan, the #SaluteSelfie has brought together many celebrities in tribute.

Ayurvedic medicine not suitable as treatment for defence personnel: Manohar Parrikar

The government on Tuesday said Ayurveda treatment was not approved as a mode of treatment for defence services personnel and integration of entire complement of Indian systems of medicine with Armed Forces Medical Services was not feasible.

Manohar Parrikar

The government on Tuesday said Ayurveda treatment was not approved as a mode of treatment for defence services personnel and integration of entire complement of Indian systems of medicine with Armed Forces Medical Services was not feasible.In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said AFMS are responsible for providing preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative medical care to its clientele.”The system is based on allopathic system of medicine,” he said, while replying to a question about fresh steps being taken by the government to integrate Ayurvedic and Indian systems of medicine in armed forces.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Minister said combat medical and surgical requirement are the pivot on which structure of AFMS revolves. “There are specific requirements to handle the emergencies in modern medicare such as myocardial infraction, arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, intestinal obstruction, head injuries, polytrauma, renal failure etc which can best be taken care by allopathic physicians and surgeons,” he said.He said that integration of entire complement of Indian systems of medicine with Armed Forces Medical Services was not feasible considering the role of AFMS in combat settings.

Civilians to get access to military bases, submarines as part of Independence Day celebration

Diktat: PM expressed his wish that people across the nation should connect with the armed forces

A naval band performing at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi

The message came from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself who has understandably grown fascination for converting occasions into mega events.Accordingly, the ministry of defence (MoD) had been gearing up for nearly two months to execute this; a mega Independence Day celebration. In the run up to August 15, hence, the defence forces are trying to reach out to people across 150 locations in the country ranging from Delhi University colleges to the remote Walong in Arunachal Pradesh where the Indian Army bore severe brunt of the Chinese aggression in 1962 to Bhuj in Gujarat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Starting August 5, as part of ‘Know Your Forces’ initiative, the Army, Navy and the Air Force bands have begun performing at these places even as the wide ranging activities planned for celebrations include theme-based display of military assets and guided tours inside the military bases for civilians.While the air force would bring on its colorful Sarang helicopter display performance, the Navy would open the doors for otherwise strictly prohibited submarines and warships for civilians.The air force, said an official would allow civilians inside its bases at Chandigarh, Allahabad, Jodhpur, Hakimpet in Telangana, Tejpur in Assam and Ojhar in Nashik district. Navy would open up its bases at Mumbai, Vishakapatnam, Kochi, Porbander, Okha, Chennai and Karwar.The idea! “This is PM’s brain child. Almost two months back, he had expressed his wish for a grand celebration of the Independence Day that could help people across the length and breadth of India connect with the armed forces,” is how a senior MoD official put it requesting anonymity.An another senior officer, who has been part of the celebration planning said that such spread-out of events would also be occasions to motivate youth towards the armed forces that currently have a shortage of about 20 percent of its strength of officers.We are going to widely advertise it in newspapers and on FM radio channels, said the officer.In March earlier this year, Modi government organised a grand commemoration of 100 years of World War – I in which Indian soldiers fought for the British forces. The government has also asked the armed forces to organise a carnival from September 1 to September 23 to mark 50 years of the 1965 war with Pakistan.

Pakistan terrorist goes round in circles to mislead investigators

Investigators are describing Usman as a highly indoctrinated and psychologically hardened terrorist who knows the art of going round in circles to mislead the interrogators about the terror game.

BSF men pay tributes to their colleagues who were killed in the Udhampur attack, during the wreath laying ceremony in Jammu on Thursday

PTI
Mohammad Naveed alias Usman, a Pakistani terrorist caught alive after the Udhampur terror attack, has perplexed the investigators by his inconsistencies and confusing statements about the terror plot.Investigators are describing Usman as a highly indoctrinated and psychologically hardened terrorist who knows the art of going round in circles to mislead the interrogators about the terror game.Usman belongs to Lashkar-e-Taiba group and has undergone two training sessions in Pakistan where he was trained in handling arms and ammunitions besides being made mentally strong to withstand pressure.Usman, a resident of Faisalabad in Pakistan, was put to sustained interrogation throughout the night but he changed the statements at regular intervals.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier he had told the investigators that he had crossed into Jammu and Kashmir just 12 days ago from the Line of Control (LoC) somewhere in Poonch.Later he retracted his statement and said he crossed either from Tangdhar or Gulmarg sector during the holy month of Ramzan.”He told interrogators that after crossing over they reached Baba Reshi where a guide was waiting for them. Later the guide arranged their meeting with Lashkar-e-Taiba commander codenamed Hamza,” said a source. Later, they moved to Awantipora-Pulwama belt of south Kashmir and hid in a tunnel-type place on the hill side. Before launching the attack they stayed at Khudwani village in Kulgam district where from they boarded the truck and halted for a night at Tamatar More.On Wednesday, the truck dropped them at the place of the attack on the national highway. Militants first saw the army convoy plying. But they decided to attack the next convoy which was of the CRPF soldiers. Then they decided to fire on the next convoy which happened to be of the BSF, sources said.Usman has told the interrogators that he emptied two magazines and the other terrorist, Momin, kept firing and was later killed by BSF. He ran away taking two civilians hostage. But en route they overpowered him and handed him over to security forces.Sources said security forces are suspecting that Usman might have been part of a larger group that infiltrated into Kashmir. Forces are possibly looking out for some more militants who may still be on the loose. Sources said the agencies are also looking for their handlers and over ground workers who provided them shelter during all these days. A truck driver is also under the scanner of the forces. A team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also arrived in Jammu to crack the hard nut and get Usman talking about the plot. Usman has been shifted to another place where he would be jointly interrogated again. Interrogators would be flowing Usman to Srinagar for further questioning and possibly taken to LoC to reconstruct the details of his crossing across into Jammu and Kashmir. Investigators are also trying to take him to the places which he has mentioned during interrogation to put the dots together and unravel the mystery behind the plot.

Live updates: APJ Abdul Kalam’s laid to rest with full military honours in Rameswaram

Jul 30, 2015

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The body of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who died in Shillong last evening, was carried to New Delhi early this morning by a special aircraft from here, as senior leaders and a host of officials joined in paying tribute to the country’s ‘missile man’.

Last respects were paid to the late former President at the tarmac of the Lokapriya Gopinath Borodoloi International Airport after his body was brought to Guwahati from Shillong by an Air Force helicopter at around 6:15 am.

Meghalaya Governor V Shanmughanathan travelled alongside as the body was ferried to Guwahati and later paid floral tributes to the Bharat Ratna.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi led the state in paying respect to Kalam, calling Kalam’s death an “irreparable loss” to the nation.

APJ Abdul Kalam in a file photo.APJ Abdul Kalam in a file photo.

APJ Abdul Kalam in a file photo.

“It is an irreparable loss to the nation. He loved children, he loved the nation. I have met him many times. I took him to rural areas of Assam. He was a very simple and honest man. Along with India, entire state is mourning his death,” Gogoi said.

Kalam was one of the most popular faces of the country and he was “young in spirit till his last moment”, he said.

Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta also paid his respect to Kalam, the ‘people’s President’.

Host of senior Assam government officials, including Chief Secretary V K Pipersenia, DGP Khagen Sarma, Additional Chief Secretary MGVK Bhanu, Home Commissiner LS Changsan and Guwahati Police Commissioner Mukesh Agrawal too joined in paying rich tribute to the late former President.

Many senior officials from the Army and Air Force were present on the occasion and also paid their respect to the ‘missile man’ of the country.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee President Anjan Dutta and other senior party leaders were also present and paid their respects.

After keeping it for about an hour and fifteen minutes at Guwahati, the body of Kalam was then flown to the national capital in the special aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October died after suffering a massive cardiac arrest during a lecture at the IIM Shillong yesterday.

He was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany Hospital in a critical condition following the collapse at around 6.30 pm.

The body of the late former president was shifted from Bethania Hospital, where he breathed his last, to the Military Hospital in Shillong, Defence Public Relations Officer Amit Mahajan said.

The Union Cabinet is to hold a special meeting in New Delhi today to condole his death. The date, place and time of his funeral would also be decided today.

The government has announced a seven-day state mourning in honour of Kalam, who became affectionately known as the ‘people’s President.

PTI

Government orders blocking websites inciting religious intolerance

The order to block the online videos, dated June 29, was issued to all Internet service providers, who have now blocked most of such posts. However, a few of them are still accessible and the Internet service providers claim these can not be blocked totally as they have been posted through a ‘secure Internet protocol’.

In the wake of terror groups using Internet to incite religious intolerance, the government has ordered blocking of at least 40 webpages with inflammatory content relating to a minority community, including posts on social media and popular video-sharing platforms.”Government has issued order under Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 to block some…videos that could incite minority community,” an official source said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The order to block the online videos, dated June 29, was issued to all Internet service providers, who have now blocked most of such posts. However, a few of them are still accessible and the Internet service providers claim these can not be blocked totally as they have been posted through a ‘secure Internet protocol’.”We can not block all videos and websites because they are on https (secured) website. The DoT is well aware of the technical issues regarding this,” a top official at one of the Internet service providers said.The DoT issued another order on July 8, directing the ISPs to block the social media accounts and posts, as well as videos posted on popular video-sharing platforms, which were found to be containing content aimed at inciting a particular minority community in the neighbouring country Myanmar.In December also, the government had ordered blocking of 32 websites on national security concerns, as they were allegedly carrying anti-India material from terror groups such as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).The websites that faced the crackdown at that time included some popular video sharing platforms, while some of them have been allowed to function after removing the objectionable content.The websites were purportedly containing material about an alleged ISIS member, who was arrested by NIA, and three others suspected to be associated with other terror groups.Sources said the websites were being used to induce Indian youth to join ISIS and for spreading news about purported death of certain persons while fighting Allied Forces in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ex-servicemen protest in Mohali against delay in implementations of OROP

Sounds of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan…we are not beggars’ echoed in the air during the protest.

Ex-servicemen protest for One Rank One Pension at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Friday

PTI
Several ex-servicemen held a protest against the delay in implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme by Narendra Modi-led NDA government here on a day when Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is visiting the city.The ex-servicemen from Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula owing allegiance to different associations gathered at a Sikh shrine in Sohana carrying black flags, anti-government placards and raising slogans against the Modi government.The protesters were stopped by a heavy police force by barricading the road which led to the venue where Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is scheduled to inaugurate an institute. The demonstration is held at some 2 kms away from the venue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sounds of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan…we are not beggars’ echoed in the air during the protest.”We protest against the NDA’s failure to implement OROP and want to register our anger against the centre by showing black flags to the minister for his failure to implement the scheme,” said Brigadier (Retd) Harwant Singh, representative of the United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM).”The Defence Minister has often mouthed platitudes for soon implementing OROP but has not given a firm date when that ‘soon’ would arrive,” he said.Related read: Lack of clarity on one rank one pension confuses ex-servicemenParrikar is on a visit to Mohali for the inauguration of ‘Mai Bhago Armed Forces Preparatory Institute’, set up by Punjab government to impart specialised training exclusively to female aspirants across the state to join the Armed Forces in the country.”Our anger is not against any person but against the government’s policy of enormous delay in implementing OROP. We will remain peaceful and disciplined during the said demonstration,” he said.Meanwhile, elaborate security arrangements have been made for the Defence Minister’s visit.”We have taken all possible measures for the peaceful and smooth conduct of the function in which the Defence Minister is participating,” DIG R K Jaiswal said, adding, nobody will be allowed to create any obstruction during the visit.As many as 1,200 security personnel were deployed for the function here.The ex-servicemen made a vain attempt to cross the barricades so that they can march to the venue of the function.”We are law-abiding citizens and our protest will continue for our genuine demand,” Brig Kuldip Singh Kahlon (Retd) President of All India Defence Brotherhood said.Former-servicemen owning allegiance to All India ex-servicemen league were also among the protesters.No untoward incident is reported, police said, adding, that the union minister would be taken from a separate route to the venue.Related read: Good news expected soon on One Rank One Pension: Defence Minister Manohar ParrikarThe former-servicemen, however, dispersed from the protest venue after demonstrating for about two and half hours.The unique initiative of the Punjab government in the form of ‘Mai Bhago Armed Forces Preparatory Institute’ would act as a boon for the girls of the state, officials said.The institute has been constructed at a cost of Rs 12 crore in Sector-66 and is spread over 8.82 acres of land.Giving details, Deputy Commissioner Tejinder Pal Singh Sidhu said in the first phase, a total of 25 girls have been selected for training in the institute.The institute has been established on the pattern of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Preparatory Institute and facilities such as swimming pool, hockey ground, basketball court and open air theatre have been provided, he said.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar says LK Advani’s anxiety a cause for worry for everyone

LK Advani in an interview published in a leading English daily said, “Forces that can crush democracy are stronger…I don’t have the confidence it (Emergency) cannot happen again”.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar supported the concern of BJP patriarch L K Advani on Thursday that Emergency-like situation could emerge again and said that Bihar was “facing it on a daily basis”.”Advani is among the senior-most leaders of BJP and his concerns should be considered seriously. As far as Emergency- like situation is concerned, we are facing it here on a daily basis,” Kumar said.The Bihar Chief Minister was talking to media persons on the sidelines of an agriculture and food processing conclave in the state capital. Though he did not elaborate much on how the state was facing such a situation, he took the opportunity to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>LK Advani in an interview published in a leading English daily said, “Forces that can crush democracy are stronger…I don’t have the confidence it (Emergency) cannot happen again”.Nitish said, “Just see what kind of promises were made during the Lok Sabha polls and what has happened to them after they (BJP) came to power. They used to boast that they have completed one year and there have been no scams during the period, but see how many scams have started surfacing now.”Referring to the controversy involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who purportedly helped former IPL boss Lalit Modi, a fugitive in money laundering cases pursed by the Enforcement Directorate, procure travel documents, Nitish called it a case of “favouritism” instead of humanitarianism and targeted the Prime Minister over it.The Bihar Chief Minister used a Sanskrit adage ‘Maunam svikriti lakshanam’ (silence is acceptance) to claim that the Prime Minister accepted the Swaraj-Lalit Modi issue.”His (Narendra Modi’s) silence on the matter shows his approval and acceptance. It (Swaraj-Lalit Modi) is a clear cut case of favouritism, but the Centre is trying to wash its hands off the issue by saying it was done on humanitarian grounds. They used to boast so much about governance and now things are coming out,” Kumar said.

Modi government planning to tinker with definition of One Rank One Pension, allege ex-servicemen

An ex-servicemen’s organisation on Wednesday claimed the government is planning to tinker with the definition of ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP), and asserted they would vehemently oppose any such move.

Representational Image

An ex-servicemen’s organisation on Wednesday claimed the government is planning to tinker with the definition of ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP), and asserted they would vehemently oppose any such move.”Some unconfirmed reports suggest that there is a possibility of the government announcing the OROP implementation in the next couple of days,” a statement released by the United Front of Ex-Servicemen said.It claimed that this will have two “glaring anomalies” — implementation of OROP for Junior Commissioned Officers and those below the rank and “tinkering with the definition for everyone”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is a dangerous move to divide the rank structure of the Armed Forces with a mischievous intent to further demoralise them. It could have serious repercussions in the serving ranks also,” the statement said.While there is no objection to a proposal for deferred payments with priority to widows, other ranks, Non- Commissioned officers and Junior Commissioned Officers and finally officers, any dilution to the accepted definition for any rank is objectionable.The organisation “rejects any such unethical move unequivocally”. The ex-servicemen will continue their ongoing relay hunger strike and boycott all official functions, it said.”The message of non-fulfillment of promises would be carried to all-poll bound states,” it added. Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.At present, the pension for retired personnel is based on Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.

Mayanmar Ops lend voice to bring Special Forces under one command

The panel under the former Cabinet Secretary Chandra was setup by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 to review national security system first time after Kargil Review Committee (KRC) did so in 1999.
Amit Bandre
dna
Coinciding with the Army’s 21 Para (Special Forces)’s successful surgical strike against the insurgents inside Mayanmar, signalling a new security doctrine, strategic community in the country is now rooting for dusting out of the Naresh Chandra panel recommendations, to synergise application, better equipment and setting up a unified command and control structure. There are nearly a dozen Special Forces in India working under different ministries such as defence, home and cabinet secretariat.The panel under the former Cabinet Secretary Chandra was setup by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 to review national security system first time after Kargil Review Committee (KRC) did so in 1999. Though, many recommendations of the panel have found way, but many of them including those related to special forces seem to have been shelved by the Prime Ministers Office (PMO).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> According to Lieutenant General (retired) PC Katoch, India’s foremost commando, who led his crack team into Golden Temple in 1984, the India’s special forces may outnumber their counterparts in other countries like the United States, but has not even one-tenth of their capabilities. “Apprehension of loss of turf is a major impediment in bringing all the special forces under one umbrella. The Services are also faced with needless fear of loss of control if employment is centrally controlled,” he said. India is also only country whose Special Forces have no centralised command structure, which experts say, was one of factors responsible for the lackadaisical response to the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar in 1999 and the muddled response by the NSG during the 26/11 attack on Mumbai.The high-powered Naresh Chandra Committee report, which is still a highly-classified document lying at the PMO had asked for enhancing unconventional and special warfare capabilities to execute politico-military and connected operations to meet unconventional challenges. According to the report the full potential of the Special Forces is not being utilised, therefore the need for bringing them together and employing them for effective covert operations including counter-terror tasks. “The prime minister continues his silence and there is now view from the defence ministry either on the unified command of elite forces,” said a senior official in the security establishment.Since the Special Force operations worldwide have been also associated with the career and standing of political leadership, they have at times dithered to take decisions. The US President Jimmy Carter suffered loss of credibility and lost elections when his Operation Eagle Claw failed to rescue American hostages in Iran in April 1980. But decades later President Barack Obama reclaimed seat at White House when the Navy Seals smoked out Osama bin Laden from Pakistani garrison township of Abbottabad in May 2011. “Any fallout of the decision has to be borne solely by the political executive, thus deterring him from making such decision. There is need to have a sound policy of Special Force deployment abroad to enable the political executive to make a decision which flows out of such a document based on credible intelligence assessment,” says Amit Kumar, Research Assistant with the Military Affairs Centre at Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA). But he also reminds that a sketchy intelligence could prove disastrous for any Special Force operation, keeping in view the experience of Operation Pawan. The unsubstantiated information about the LTTE cadres in Jaffna had taken a heavy took on Indian troops. Lt General Katoch explains that the task of Special Forces is the proxy application of force at low and precisely calculated levels, to achieve some political effect, not a battlefield victory. “In India in sharp contrast, we have been simply looking at battlefield victory,” he adds. He also calls for establishing an Integrated Special Forces Command with both publicised overt capabilities to serve as deterrence and deniable covert capabilities to create the necessary deterrence against irregular/asymmetric and fourth generation warfare launched by adversaries.

The #56inchrocks debacle: Myanmar strike delivers unpleasant PR lesson for Modi govt

A day after the Minister of State Rajyavardhan Rathore’s over the top bluster made headlines after the Indian Army’s operation against militant camps in Myanmar, the government has been quickly forced into dialling down the rhetoric. The reason: instant backlash from not just Pakistan but also Myanmar.

Likely furious at the attempt to paint the operation as a symbol of Indian muscle, Myanmar government strongly denied reports that Indian army forces had crossed its border to carry out the operation.

AFP imageAFP image

AFP image

In a Facebook post Wednesday Zaw Htay, director of Myanmar’s presidential office, wrote, “According to the information sent by Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) battalions on the ground, we have learned that the military operation was performed on the Indian side at India-Myanmar border.”

“Myanmar will not accept any foreigner who attacks neighbouring countries in the back and creates problems by using our own territory,” he added, however.

Despite an agreement between the two nations, the response from Myanmar comes as no surprise given it doesn’t want to be seen as country that will compromise on its territorial integrity.

The response from Myanmar was also in keeping with the official statement of the Indian Army which merely stated that its forces had engaged with militants “along the Indo- Myanmar border at two locations along the Nagaland and Manipur borders”,  but did not mention having crossed it. It was Rathore who played up the fact that the operation had taken place in Myanmar territory.

“And it involved our Special Forces crossing the border and going deep into another country,” Rathore had told the Indian Express.  It was Rathore who led the PR effort to paint the operation as an expression of Indian machismo, employing hashtags on Twitter such as #ManipurRevenge and #56inchRocks. And he is the one who enhanced the significance of one strike, drawing Pakistan into the picture, declaring, “This is a message for all countries, including Pakistan, and groups harbouring terror intent towards India. A terrorist is a terrorist and has no other identity. We will strike when we want to.”

Worse, it now turns out that Rathore wasn’t just another motormouth in the Modi sarkar who made incautious statements without sanction. According to an Express article published today,

“When the government decided to field Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore Tuesday night to talk about the Indian Army’s strike on terrorist camps in Myanmar, it was because it felt he could send the message across louder and clearer than the Army could. Sources said a political intervention was felt necessary at the “highest level” and that’s how Rathore, a retired Army colonel, was chosen to give out details the Army couldn’t.”

Nothing that Rathore shared with the media was a coincidence. He was part of a deliberate PR effort on the part of the government to claim political credit for the military operation.

Unfortunately, the move backfired. The careful diplomatic groundwork laid by Indian officials with Myanmar to make the raid possible turned to naught in the chest-beating that followed afterwards. The Indian government is now in the postion of being publicly contradicted by its own ally — even as Indian officials have been instructed to convey their gratitude to Myanmar for its cooperation.

But it’s not just Myanmar that’s seething over our government’s rhetoric. Pakistan expectedly didn’t take too kindly to Rathore’s statements that barely concealed which nation India could target next.

Pakistani Interior Minister Nisar Khan said that it should be clear to India that “Pakistan is not a country like Myanmar”.

“Those having ill designs against Pakistan should listen carefully that our security forces are capable of matching response to any adventurism,” he said.

Pakistan would never accept India hegemony and that the “Indian leaders should stop day dreaming”, Khan said, adding that they would not be cowed down by threats.

The resultant diplomatic furore has led to further backpedalling with the Modi government telling its officials to tone it down.  According to the Times of India, “Sources said although the Modi government had responded to provocations from Pakistan by using disproportionate force, it does not want to create an impression that it is spoiling for a confrontation.”

The Indian Army’s no stranger to covert operations across borders and has in the past crossed the border in Myanmar to strike at Indian militant groups camped there. As this DNA report points out, in January 2006, the Indian Army attacked the same militant group in Myanmar after striking a deal for arms supply to the Myanmar Army. But none of these operations were ever tom-tommed in public by the government.

The Modi sarkar in hot pursuit of publicity may have complicated further such operations. According to the Telegraph, the Indian ambassador to Myanmar spent most of yesterday in a series of meetings with Myanmar officials: “By late evening, an official said, Mukhopadhyay had been told by the Myanmarese authorities they were unhappy with the ‘way the operation had been presented’.”

Simply decoded, it means that if the Indian Army wants to go into Myanmar the next time round, it may not get a warm welcome from the Myanmar Army.

The bottomline is that the government was tempted of portraying the Myanmar strike as a Osama-like helicopters carrying special forces deep into another nation’s territory to punish terrorists, without the full knowledge or cooperation of the local government and without a single military loss of life. The desire to paint a Modi-led India into a take-no-prisoners nation that acts unilaterally and without apology undermined what was, in essence, a sound military operation. As Firstpost‘s R Jagannathan pointed out, the operation is just the first in what is likely a long-term strategy which may well be hugely effective in combatting terrorism. But to turn one strike into a chest-thumping PR exercise is “unwarranted and counter-productive.”

with inputs from agencies

Myanmar denies Indian Army forces killed rebels inside its territory

Yangon: Myanmar on Wednesday maintained that Indian forces had carried out an attack on insurgents inside India and that it would not tolerate rebel groups using its soil to attack neighbours.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

In a Facebook post, Zaw Htay, director of Myanmar’s presidential office, said, “According to the information sent by Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) battalions on the ground, we have learned that the military operation was performed on the Indian side at India-Myanmar border.”

“Myanmar will not accept any foreigner who attacks neighbouring countries in the back and creates problems by using our own territory,” he added.

The official’s remarks came in the wake of statements by ministers in India that Special Forces of the army had carried out a surgical strike inside Myanmar to destroy two camps of insurgents hiding there.

AFP

Myanmar denies Indian Army soldiers killed rebels inside its territory

Yangon: Myanmar on Wednesday maintained that Indian forces had carried out an attack on insurgents inside India and that it would not tolerate rebel groups using its soil to attack neighbours.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

In a Facebook post, Zaw Htay, director of Myanmar’s presidential office, said, “According to the information sent by Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) battalions on the ground, we have learned that the military operation was performed on the Indian side at India-Myanmar border.”

“Myanmar will not accept any foreigner who attacks neighbouring countries in the back and creates problems by using our own territory,” he added.

The official’s remarks came in the wake of statements by ministers in India that Special Forces of the army had carried out a surgical strike inside Myanmar to destroy two camps of insurgents hiding there.

AFP

No question of women joining combat roles in defence forces, says Manohar Parrikar

Pune: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has ruled out recruiting women for combat operations in armed forces due to apprehensions about their safety but said they would be encouraged to join other operational areas with their inclusion being stepped up in phases.

“No. Think of what can happen if a woman is taken as a prisoner in combat operation,” he said, implying at possible atrocities they might suffer if held captive by enemy forces.

PTI imagePTI image

PTI image

He, however, said except for combat role women will be encouraged to join other operational areas of the forces.

“This inclusion will be increased in phases,” Parrikar said during a brief interaction with reporters on the sidelines of a passing out parade at the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla near here.

On shortage of officers in the forces, he said the deficit is being reduced and the gap currently stood at 7,000 as against 11,000 earlier.

Parrikar said the admission capacity of the Academy, the premier institute which trains future officers of the three wings of the Armed Forces, too will be enhanced from existing 1950 to 2400 in next two years.

On his arrival on the campus, Parrikar reviewed a smartly turned out parade of the passing out cadets on the sprawling premises and asked them to cultivate a “sound mind and sound body” to serve the country with an emphasis on moral and ethical values.

He awarded the President’s gold medal to cadet A K Sinha. The silver and bronze medals were bagged by cadets Nishant Philip and R S Bisht.

PTI

Veterans vs Modi govt: All you need to know about the One Rank One Pension scheme

After two war veterans on Thursday boycotted a function in Pune attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, almost all veterans’ organisations across India have now decided to boycott government functions. The reason for the anger among the veterans is the long delay in the implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme.

The One Rank One Pension scheme has been a long-standing demand of the over two million ex-servicemen of India. It seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

The scheme is estimated to cost around Rs 8,600 crore initially and subsequently several crore rupees annually.

Currently, all pre-2006 pensioners receive lesser pension than not only their counterparts but also their juniors.

Anger among military veterans over the delay in One Rank One Pension scheme is growing. Reuters

Anger among military veterans over the delay in One Rank One Pension scheme is growing. Reuters

The demand for the implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme had led to a massive protest on 8 February 2009, when more than 300 retired soldiers of varying ranks had marched to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi and had returned medals won in combat and for distinguished service as they sought equal pension for each rank.

The veterans were among the thousands who had gathered earlier in the day at the Jantar Mantar observatory in the heart of the capital for a protest that some said marked a black day for the Indian armed forces.

However, it still took five years for the government to recognise this demand made by the military veterans. In February 2014, the government accepted the long-standing demand of ex-servicemen for the One Rank One Pension scheme and had allocated Rs 500 crore to the Defence Pension Account for the implementation of the scheme.

The scheme had also been announced in the Interim Budget in February 2014, but was yet to be implemented.

A few days after this development, Narendra Modi, who was then rallying for the Lok Sabha polls, had slammed the Congress for delay in implementation of OROP scheme.

“The government, which is sitting in Delhi has always been playing a farce with the Armed Forces. Before this also, a number of times, the Finance Minister of Congress had made announcements about One Rank One Pension (OROP) but never fulfilled it,” Modi had said.

“Even this time since I am repeatedly talking about it, they have announced it but this is a fraud with you. Had Congress party been honest, they had the chance to it in 10 budgets from 2004 to 2014. But they did not do it,” he had said.

Modi had also claimed that “only our government will be able to implement it.”

After coming to power, the Modi government also had a perspective on the One Rank One Pension scheme different from past governments. Past governments contended that granting the full scheme was neither financially nor administratively possible because it could lead to similar demands from other government employees, according to Economic Times. But the Modi government argued that the service of other government employees could not be equated to that of the military because military officers retired at a much earlier age, generally between 34-35 years of age, and also underwent prolonged and stressful tenures.

In the July 2014 Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also announced an allocation of Rs 1000 crore for this scheme.

In December 2014, Parrikar had said that the OROP will be implemented in the defence forces before the next Budget.

However, while presenting the Budget 2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not announce its implementation. “I have already, in the last budget, said that we are going to implement One Rank One Pension. This need not be stated on every occasion. We are completely committed to it,” Jaitley had told reporters when asked about the delay in launching the scheme.

Explaining the reasons behind the delay, Jaitley had said: “The methodology of calculating the One Rank, One Pension is an issue pending between the services and the defence ministry.”

On 17 February this year, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to implement its six-year-old verdict to follow the One Rank One Pension scheme and had also reminded the BJP of its pre-poll promise made to the people, according to Hindustan Times. The apex court had given this order while hearing a contempt petition filed by Maj Gen (Retd) SPS Vains.

In 2009, the Supreme Court, in the case of Union of India & Maj Gen SPS Vains & Others, had ruled that “no defence personnel senior in rank could get a lower pension than his junior irrespective of the date of retirement, and that similarly placed officers of the same rank should be given the same pension irrespective of the date of retirement,” according to Scroll.

It was expected that PM Modi would make an announcement on the One Rank One Pension scheme during his rally in Mathura to mark his government’s first anniversary. But to the disappointment of many ex-servicemen, he did not do so.

Miffed over the delay in the roll-out of the scheme for the armed forces, 1971 war veteran Wing Commander (Retd) Suresh Karnik and Wing Commander (Retd) KV Bopardikar on Thursday had boycotted a gallantry award function in Pune attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

At the function, Parrikar had said that his ministry had completed all formalities in respect of the one rank-one pension’ (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen and nobody should try to “politicise” the issue, according to PTI.

“My ministry has completed all formalities and OROP will be implemented,” he had said, adding that the executive process takes some time. “People still do not know financial implications of this. The Defence Ministry has completed its calculations and there was a unanimous agreement with the Armed Forces on the formula,” he had added.

Parrikar had also said that the figure of the One Rank One Pension scheme provision had touched about Rs 22,000 crore since he took over as Defence Minister.

The Defence Minister also said that he is working hard on the scheme and the MoD will send its views to the Finance Minister by 17 February, according to IBNLive.

On the other hand, praising the veterans for boycotting the function, almost all veterans’ organisations in the country have now decided to boycott government functions.

“We are planning to hold a rally on June 14. It would not only be held in Delhi but also in various parts of the country,” Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), who had led a delegation of war veterans to meet Parrikar earlier this year, told PTI in Delhi.

He said the veterans plan to go on hunger strike if the government does not keep its promise.

Lt Gen B Pandit (retd), who spoke on behalf of the veterans, said delay in the implementation of One Rank One Pension scheme was causing anxiety among the fraternity.

“It is the sacred responsibility of the state to create conditions to keep the morale of the Armed Forces high,” he added.

(With agency inputs)

No reports of defence sector networks being attacked by cyber hackers: Government

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the government has taken a number of steps to protect confidential information pertaining to the defence sector from cyber attack.

Manohar Parrikar

The government on Friday said in Lok Sabha that there are no reports of defence sector networks being attacked by cyber hackers and foreign intelligence agencies.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the government has taken a number of steps to protect confidential information pertaining to the defence sector from cyber attack.”There are no reports of defence sector networks being attacked by cyber hackers and foreign intelligence agencies.”However, cyber attacks are faced by Internet connected personal computers and these relate to unauthorised data access, denial of service, compromise of logic credentials,” he said during Question Hour.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was replying to a query on whether reports of defence networks being continuously attacked by cyber hackers and foreign intelligence agencies have come to the notice of the government.”To protect important and confidential data from cyber attack, the operational networks of the Armed Forces are air gapped from Internet.”Further, Defence Services have established Cyber Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to prevent and react to cyber attacks,” Parrikar said.The Minister also said that safeguards have been instituted in the form of audits and physical checks.”Policies, guidelines and procedures are laid down and cyber security advisories are issued from time to time,” he noted.

Following Nepal earthquake, NCC to conduct mock drills in schools across India

New Delhi: In view of the disastrous earthquake which took place in Nepal and some other states of India on 25 April, the National Cadet Corps (NCC) has planned to organise mock drills in schools across the country to create awareness against the natural calamity and handle the crisis in an effective manner.

NCC will conduct mock drills in schools to prepare children at times of earthquakes. AFP

NCC will conduct mock drills in schools to prepare children at times of earthquakes. AFP

More than 3,700 people were killed in the Saturday earthquake, leaving behind a trail of incidences of death and mass destruction.

For thousands of school students in Delhi and the National Capital Territory (NCT), it was an uncanny experience on Saturday 25 April, when suddenly they experienced a trembling sensation all around. The school desks and chairs were shaking; ceiling fans started swaying sideways, and then, there was a warning from class teachers: “It’s an earthquake.”

Many children promptly got under their study desks, whereas many following their teachers’ advice, ran out of the classrooms towards the playground and open areas.

After a few moments, when the earth settled, children were back in their world of fantasy, weaving exaggerated stories of how their friends fell from the chairs and how they got inside the desks to protect themselves from the onslaught, unaware of the mass destruction that had already taken place in Nepal and elsewhere.

Considering that school children are vulnerable to such disasters, the NCC has decided to spread awareness about the after-care and handling of the situation, and to minimise damage in case of any such emergency.

“It’s a pan-India programme and the NCC will educate all its cadets across the country about the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ in case of an earthquake and plans to carry out mock drills in schools. It will also concentrate on first aid, evacuation and will teach students on how to help their fellow-mates and teachers out of the crisis,” an NCC Headquarters source told Firstpost.

The NCC has a 14 lakh-strong-cadet base across the country and education of all these cadets towards disaster management would go a long way in ensuring that minimum casualties occur in case of emergencies.

According to an official source, the mock drill would focus on emergency support framework related to the handling of the situation, when an earthquake takes place. The drill comprises communication (warning dissemination), evacuation, search and rescue, medical health, etc.

“The cadets will be apprised of the drill curriculum at group-levels and district-levels on various aspects to deal with the situation,” the official source said.

The NCC, with its headquarters at New Delhi, is open to school and college students on voluntary basis. It’s a tri-services organisation, comprising the Army, Navy and Air Force, engaged in grooming the youth of the country into disciplined and patriotic citizens. A voluntary organization, the NCC recruits its cadets from high schools, colleges and universities from all over India, and provides basic military training to them.

“Social service and community development is an integral part of NCC curriculum. Post-natural calamity, the NCC cadets have lent their services in reconstruction work, clearing of the debris, disposal of the dead and flood relief operation,” an official said.

Prior to this in February 2012, with the help of the Armed Forces, the first state-wide mega mock drill on earthquake preparedness was conducted in Delhi by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in association with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) simultaneously at around 400 locations. More than 15,000 officials, including 400 observers from the Armed Forces participated in the event.

The aim of the statewide mock drill was to assess strengths and weaknesses of the associated stakeholders such as Emergency Support Functionaries (ESFs) and Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) so that corrective measures could be undertaken for a better disaster response in future.

“The basic purpose of the mock drill was to generate awareness among residents of Delhi and to evaluate the level of preparedness and coordination among various ESFs set up across all districts of Delhi. During the mega mock drill exercise, various preparatory mock drills, orientation workshops, awareness programmes and extensive media campaigns were held for mass awareness generation,” a DDMA official said.

Series of attacks in Chhattisgarh puts other Naxal-hit states on high alert

Bhubaneswar/Berhampur: In the wake of a series of Naxal attacks on security forces in neighbouring Chhattisgarh, a high alert was on Tuesday sounded in Maoist-hit districts of Odisha, particularly in the southern region.

Police personnel have been put on alert in Maoist-affected districts, particularly in areas bordering Chhattisgarh, Director General of Police (DGP), Sanjeev Marik said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

While security forces have been alerted after the Chhattisgarh incidents, Superintendents of Police in Maoist-hit districts have been asked to keep a close watch on movements of suspicious persons, he said.

Police apprehend that the left-wing ultras might cross over to Odisha’s Maoist-hit areas following intensified search operation in the neighboring state after violence in last three days in Sukma, Dantewada and Kanker districts.

The SPs of all Naxal-hit districts are in a state of high alert in view of possibility of cross-border movement of Maoists from Chhattisgarh, Inspector General of Police (South West), Y K Jethwa said.

While the emphasis is on strict adherence to standard operating procedure (SOP), intelligence network has also been strengthened, he said

CPI (Maoist) cadre from Chhattisgarh were trying their best to strengthen the organisation in border areas of Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Boudh and Rayagada after the arrest of Sabyasachi Panda, founder leader of Odisha Maobadi Party (OMP) on 17 July, last year, police suspected.

“Combing operation has been intensified in Kandhamal district following the incidents in Chhattisgarh. We have also asked our personnel to maintain strict vigil on the movement of suspicious people in vulnerable areas,” said SP (Kandhamal) KV Singh.

“Search was conducted in the long-route vehicles passing through the district, while anti-Maoist operation intensified,” added SP (Gajapati) S.Nayak. He, however, ruled out engaging more forces in the anti-Maoist operation.

Besides police, Central Reserve Police Forces, District Volunteer Forces (DVF) and BSF were deployed in the operation.

There has been no major Maoist-related violence in these districts after the arrest of Sabyasachi Panda last year, but police unearthed a huge quantity of arms, ammunition and Maoist literature from Kandhamal and Ganjam districts during the course of search operations in past months.

While a 7-kg landmine was dug out from Gochhapada area last month, security forces recovered three arms dumps in Khadisaru jungle in Ganjam-Kandhmal districts border and seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition on January 25 this year.

PTI

Anti-Naxal operations: Forces in 10 states put on alert

The forces have also been asked not to deploy large contingents in the forests as during summers the jungles get de-foliated and hence they are visible from a long distance, inviting attacks.

Representative Image

Security forces operating in ten Naxal-affected states have been asked to maintain a high degree of “alert” in view of violent counter-offensive launched by the left wing extremists, which led to the killing of seven Chhattisgarh policemen on Saturday.Official sources said the Naxals had lauched their Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) in late March in these areas.The offensive has now been heralded with the first big attack on security forces as they killed seven STF policemen and injured about a dozen others in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Saturday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The TCOC is the about 3-4 months time period beginning March-April when armed Naxal cadres undertake special violent action against security forces and others to gain ground, re-group and strategise their plan of action before the onset of summer.”The forces were put on alert in March when the annual TCOC begins. But, with this major attack on forces in Chhattisgarh yesterday, the alert has been re-issued and reinforced to the forces,” sources in the security establishment said.CRPF Special Director General (Operations) K Durga Prasad on Sunday rushed to Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur to review security arrangements. They said under the new instructions, the Central Reserve Police Force, other paramilitary forces and state police units have been asked to deploy better and clever strategies to ensure that the Naxals are not able to spring any surprise.”It includes fortifying security forces’ camps, undertaking special intelligence-based operations and ensuring covert tactics while operations are undertaken in the ten Naxal affected states of the country,” they said.The forces have also been asked not to deploy large contingents in the forests as during summers the jungles get de-foliated and hence they are visible from a long distance, inviting attacks.Under the latest instructions, the CRPF and other state police forces have been asked to take the help of the newly operationalised Unmaned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) base from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh to conduct reconnaissance of target areas.On Saturday, seven policemen were killed and a dozen injured when Naxals ambushed them, triggering a gunbattle in the dense forests of Naxal hotbed of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh. The two-hour gunbattle took place in the worst-affected Pidmel-Polampalli area of the district when a squad of state police Special Task Force (STF) was out for operations.

Jammu & Kashmir government formation : Arun Jaitley hints at setting aside controversial issues

Amid talks with PDP over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said it was “very difficult” for political parties to give up their ideological position but hinted that controversial issues could be set aside.He underlined that a government in the sensitive state should be based on three issues — sovereignty, good governance for developmental activities and regional balance — and hoped that “parties involved” would put their “heads together” for the larger interest of the state. As the stalemate over government formation continued for the 13th day in a state where Assembly polls threw up a hung verdict, the Finance Minister said the task is a “much larger battle” between democratic parties and the Indian state versus separatists supported from across the border.He said the BJP-led government at the Centre would not be happy to impose Governor’s Rule in the state as “I think if there is one state which needs a popular government, it is Jammu and Kashmir.” Jaitley did not disclose details about the talks being held between BJP and PDP, saying he was not aware.Asked whether BJP would be able to give up its stand on Article 370 and revoking of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act as demanded by the PDP, he said, “It is very difficult for political parties to give up their ideological positions. Can I expect PDP or NC to give up there ideological positions? Similarly, if they ask BJP to give up its ideological position, the answer is no.”At the same time, he told a prominent news channel, “Once any government is formed keeping in mind these three aspects (sovereignty, good governance and regional balance), then we can work out what is to be said and what is not to be said without disowning the ideology”, an indication that the controversial issues could be put on the back burner. “I hope that the parties involved in the process will put their heads together and in the larger interest that Kashmir needs a government, we work in that direction,” he added.