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Saturday, March 15, 2003

 
'AJT issue goes to Cabinet' AGENCIES [ SATURDAY, MARCH 15, 2003 05:01:09 AM ] Economic times 15 jan 03
BANGALORE: Defence minister George Fernandes on Friday hoped that India will soon acquire Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) since plans for this have been finalised and the matter is now coming before the Cabinet Committee on Security. Noting that the AJT issue was hanging in fire for the last 20 years, he told reporters here, “fortunately, today we are nearing the end of this exercise in the sense that our papers of the cabinet are finally ready.It’s presently with the finance ministry, and would now go to the CCS.” The defence minister also said “We hope that we will have AJTs very soon.” On the Sea Bird naval base project in Karwar, Mr Fernandes said he was personally supervising the project, work of which was on schedule.

Italian, Indian Partnerships To Build Maritime Aircraft
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, BANGALORE, India Defense News 7 Mar 03
Indian and Italian companies will jointly manufacture maritime reconnaissance aircraft (MRA) to meet the long-term requirement of India’s Navy and Coast Guard, industry officials from both countries said.
State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), Bangalore, and Alenia Aeronautica, Rome, are aiming to build about 30 to 40 MRAs in the next 20 years for approximately $30 million each, said Giorgio Zappa, chairman of Alenia Aeronautica. A special version of MRA also will be manufactured for export markets.
HAL Chairman Nalini Ranjan Mohanty confirmed the two companies will produce products for export as well.
The Indian Coast Guard already has selected the ATR-42 maritime patrol platform and has placed orders for two of the aircraft. Talks are under way for an additional seven of the ATR-42s, according to a senior HAL official.
See full story in the March 10, 2003, issue of Defense News.
India Invites Bidders for Army’s Multimission Helicopter Program
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense news 07 Mar 03
In its $500 million quest for a multifunctional light helicopter, the Indian Army in April will float a limited global tender, a service official said.
The Army’s budget includes $500 million to procure 50 helicopters during the next three years.
Companies invited to bid will include Eurocopter, Marignane, France; Bell Helicopter Textron, Fort Worth, Texas; and Rostov Helicopter Production Complex’s Rostvertol plant, Rostov-on-Don, Russia, a senior Army official said March 6.
Once the request for proposals is issued, he said, these companies will be asked to bring their helicopters — Eurocopter’s Fennec AS 550 C3 helicopter, Rostvertol’s Mi-35PN and the Bell 407 — to India for trials. The trials likely would be carried out in May in the Thar desert of northern India and in the mountains near the Kashmir Valley, the Army official said.
Lyubov Pronina in Moscow and Gail Kaufman in Washington contributed to this report. See full story in the March 17, 2003, issue of Defense News.
HAL To Help Indian Firms Find Foreign Defense Partners
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News 07 Mar 03
The clock is ticking for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) according to Chairman Nalini Ranjan Mohanty, who says there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all that he has set out for the company.
Mohanty, who retires in May 2004, faces the mammoth challenge of streamlining pending projects so that they are rolled out on schedule, and setting in motion half a dozen new projects this year.
To realize his goals, Mohanty has launched the company’s first outsourcing drive under which HAL will help private companies in India choose foreign partners to undertake high-tech projects, such as avionics integration, weapon system integration and other related efforts.
This will lay the foundation for a credible domestic aerospace industry base that could meet the majority of India’s military aerospace requirements in the next five to 10 years, Mohanty said Jan. 29.
See full story in the March 10, 2003, issue of Defense News.


posted by promila 5:08 AM


Thursday, March 13, 2003

 
Parliamentary committee asks for independent probe in MoD’s role

Press Trust of India Express India 13 mar 03
New Delhi, March 13: A major scam involving supply of defective sleeping bags to troops positioned at the world's highest battlefield Siachen has been brought to light by a parliamentary committee which has recommended that probe into the matter be entrusted to an independent agency.
Describing the role of the Ministry of Defence as "questionable" in the purchase of 8,588 sub-standard sleeping bags from a French firm at a cost of whopping 11.86 million French francs, the Parliamentary Public Accounts committee expressed its shock that even though the firm had gone bankrupt, the ministry went ahead to negotiate another deal with it.
"The questionable role of the Ministry of Defence particularly the officers responsible for execution of the contract be entrusted to an independent agency for thorough investigation," the PAC said in its 46th report tabled in both Houses of Parliament.
The committee said 8,588 sleeping bags were received from the French firm Monclear in six lots between September 1992 and June 1993 and were found to be sub-standard and could not be used by the troops at Siachen.
"The manner in which the contract was executed by the ministry gave an unmistakable impression that the intention was always to accommodate the foreign supplier under any circumstances regardless of the quality of the sleeping bags," the report said.
The committee said it was appalling that the ministry had sought to go ahead with the purchases even after the original Swiss supplier M/S Richner had lodged a statutory specific complaint of sleeping bags being sub standard and the French firm being bankrupt.
The PAC pulled up the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) for failure to carry out the mandatory inspection of supplies saying it was a sad commentary on the functioning of the organisation.
Declaring that the negligence in quality inspection in this case was a major failure of internal control, the PAC said the functioning of DGQA called for a thorough review and revamping to ensure that quality parameters are not compromised in future.
The PAC also rapped the State Bank of India for releasing payments to the French firm when its role was under scrutiny by the government and said the role of the major public sector bank should also be probed.
The PAC expressed its shock that Master General of ordinance did not take action against officials found responsible for lapses to its logical end.
"The committee is quite alarmed by the atmosphere of non-accountability which seems to be prevailing in the Ministry of Defence considering the magnitude of Defence purchases," the report said
MiG: Mother quest for answers takes wing



Satish Nandgaonkar Indian Express 10 Mar 03



Mumbai, March 9: A month after she hit the headlines, Kavita Gadgil, mother of fighter pilot Abhijit Gadgil who died in a MiG-21 crash, is set to launch her public campaign. The Indian Express first reported Gadgil’s plea on Martyr’s Day (January 30) calling for transparency in the inquiry of repeated MiG-21crashes. Fourteen months after she lost her 27-year-old newly-married son on the Rajasthan border, she launched the Abhijit Air Safety Foundation to raise questions about the airworthiness of MiG-21s. She received hundreds of phone calls, e-mails and letters of support. Gadgil has decided to embark on a tour by March-end to meet her supporters and collect their signatures. She plans to meet the President later and hand over a petition to him. ‘‘The President headed a high-powered committee probing MiG crashes when he served as Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister in 1997. I am certain he would understand my concerns,’’ she says. She would first go to Nagpur, Kolhapur, Sangli, Vidarbha, Bangalore and New Delhi. ‘‘I would speak publicly to make more people aware that India is needlessly losing valuable financial as well as trained human resource in MiG crashes during peacetime operations. My first task is to make the IAF admit there is a problem with the fighter jets.’’ As her campaign kicks off, many families who lost their near and dear ones have begun breaking their silence. Delhi-based Dharam Kaur, whose 24-year-old son Flying Officer Deepak Dahiya has been reported ‘‘missing’’ when his MiG-21 reportedly ‘‘crashed’’ in Assam in April 2002, says: ‘‘Is it possible that a fighter plane crashes and no remains of the plane or the pilots can be found?’’


CISF wants new name to suit its latest roles



Express News Service Indian Express 10 Mar 03



New Delhi, March 9: The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) now seeks to be renamed as the Central Security Force to suit its new high-profile role that goes beyond protecting industries. According to B.B. Mishra, Director General, CISF, the proposal for renaming the force is under consideration in the Ministry of Home Affairs. ‘‘We are not protecting just industries. Retaining this tag would harm our newly acquired image as a corporate security set-up,’’ Mishra said. The CISF, which nearly got disbanded two years ago, has now taken control of 45 airports and would be shortly getting involved in VVIPs’ security. Besides, it also plans to sell its services and expertise to private and corporate sectors. The group of ministers, that had earlier looked into the issue of reorganisation of the country’s security set-up, had also recommended a larger role for the CISF. With its guards protecting the British Council in New Delhi, the CISF already boasts a high-profile clientele. With its hands full, the CISF has decided not to take up highway protection, Mishra said.

Pak agents are ‘active’, so Army bans cellphones



Shishir Gupta



New Delhi, March 8: Sticken by a morbid fear of Pakistani intelligence penetrating the military establishment, the Army headquarters has said no to official mobile phones. It has also asked all Army personnel — this includes senior generals, their spouses and dependents — to register private cellphones with local headquarters. To top it, even the facility for civilian dialling to Army exchanges, called direct inward-dialling in forces’ parlance, stands indefinitely suspended since last month. The inward-dialling facility, restored after Operation Parakram last year, was again suspended for ‘‘security reasons.’’ The Navy and the Air Force, on their part, have been blocking the inward-dialling facility ever since the December 13, 2001, terrorist attack on Parliament. While Army headquarters refuses to spell out the ‘‘security reasons,’’ it is learnt that the military establishment took the step after some officers of the Western Army Command received unidentified ‘‘crank calls’’ on their mobile phones and official exchange numbers, the callers inquiring names of formation commanders. These calls were perceived to have been made by Pakistani intelligence who were apparently trying to study orbat (order of battle) changes post-Parakram. It is another matter that names of formation commanders figure as a matter of routine in local newspaper reports. Soon after these unidentified calls, the Chandimandir-based Western Army decided to withdraw the inward-dialling facility to its command exchanges. This had a cascading effect: the Central, Southern, Northern, Eastern and Training Commands and ultimately the Army headquarters in South Block all suspended the facility. But the matter didn’t end here. On February 28, Director General, Military Intelligence, Lt General O S Lochhab issued a general security directive to all military intelligence units with Army commands, asking Army officers to avoid using mobile phones. It is learnt that Lochhab, due for retirement this month and likely to be succeeded by Lt General Richard Khare, said that conversation on mobile phones were not secure as its ‘‘frequency interferes with several other frequencies.’’ The DGMI directed his intelligence units to ensure that mobile phones are not issued to any officer from government funds. This directive was based on a Finance Ministry circular which restricts expenditure on official mobile phones. Lochhab also made it clear that private mobile phones of Army officers would have to be registered with local headquarters. Even spouses and dependents with mobile phones would have to follow suit. The buzz is that Army intelligence wants to play Big Brother, even keep tabs on mobile phones of its officers, spouses and kids. And they have a ready justification: some Pakistani agents have been ‘‘very active’’ in the western theatre.





Nothing official about these secrets


Arrests under Official Secrets Act increase after Dec-13; evidence is bizarre—old maps, newspaper clippings


Ritu Sarin Indian Express 09 Mar 03




New Delhi, March 8: Even in the crushing rush at the Tis Hazari courts in New Delhi, the undertrials of Court No 38 stand out. There are listening posts from the Vigilance Department flitting around them and armed policemen elbow out anyone who tries for a snatch of conversation. All proceedings are held in-camera, conducted in whispers inside the magistrate’s chambers. As for the evidence, it is kept in intriguing files marked ‘Secret’, and even their counsels are disallowed copies. On any working day, there are two-to-five Official Secrets Act (OSA) cases listed in Court No 38. The same courtroom where Kashmiri journalist Iftikar Geelani was discharged last month after the intervention of Defence Minister George Fernandes. The minister was apparently so outraged at the flimsy evidence certified ‘Official Secrets’ by the Military Intelligence, that he said if need be, he’ll show up in court himself. Geelani got rid of the OSA after seven months in prison, but now, questions are being raised about other detenues who continue to wear the ignominious tag. At last count, 28 undertrials of Tihar Jail were facing OSA charges, besides a long list on bail, whose trials are progressing slowly in court. It is difficult to be judgemental about cases which the investigative agencies treat as sacrosanct but investigations show there may be several Geelanis worthy of discharge. An examination of stacks of OSA files show that since the ’80s, just one or two persons would be booked under the antiquated 1923 Act every year — and these included the celebrated espionage cases of Coomar Narain and the Larkin brothers. After the December-13 attack on Parliament, the agencies went on an overdrive. Seven OSA cases were booked in the ensuing year, including that against Geelani. After Geelani was discharged, two persons have challenged their detentions stating that the so-called ‘secrets’ they are alleged to have passed on to Pakistani agents were worthless compared to sensitive military data splashed by a news magazine. The Magistrate has ordered an inquiry and asked the Delhi Police to submit a report by March 24. So, who are these and other faceless OSA detenues? From the earlier prize catches from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat and top echelons of the Army, the current crop of accused come in the form of serving or retired assistants, technicians, sergeants and drivers. A majority of them are Muslims, some are Pakistanis. The Sunday Express spoke to many accused, including the duo who filed the recent complaint. Wasi Akhtar Zaidi, one of them, turns out to be a dismissed UP Roadways employee who served a stint in the UP intelligence. The ‘sensitive’ documents he was caught with are a hand-drawn map of the Meerut Cantonment and a restricted order signed by former Army Chief V N Sharma. Wasi alleges, ‘‘I was taken to the Red Fort. IB officials told me to draw the Meerut Cantonment map as they instructed and threatened me with electric shocks if I refused. That is how I drew it. The other document, I have never seen. Since I have worked for UP intelligence, I know very well how these papers are planted.’’ Mohammad Aslam, an autorickshaw driver, is attending court along with Wasi Akhtar (both were arrested in March 2002) and is described as a ‘‘petty smuggler’’ by the prosecution. THE MEERUT MYSTERY
Meerut must be India’s most sensitive spot. Over the last year or so, OSA watchers have noticed a strange phenomenon in the police files — in as many as six cases hand-drawn sketches of Army cantonments have been produced as evidence against the accused. And, almost identical sketches of the Meerut Cantonment have shown up in three cases and unit formations, again at Meerut, in a fourth. Some lawyers have copied out these sketches on scrutiny of the evidence. Says Iftekar Gilani, who was discharged after spending seven months in jail, ‘‘The sketches of cantonments are almost identical and drawn in the same handwriting. Isn’t this mysterious?’’
Aslam is in jail for passing on sketches of Delhi and Agra Cantonments, details of units located at Meerut and Roorkee and some amateur photographs of ‘vital installations’ like the Delhi Secretariat, the Okhla Barrage and Indian Oil Corporation. Says Aslam, ‘‘The sketches were made by IB officials in front of me. And what are these secrets when compared with what appears daily on the internet and in newspapers?’’ Even if counter-allegations of these men are dismissed as predictable, pages from the confidential dossiers maintained by the police, speak volumes about their usefulness for the Pakistanis. Wasi’s interrogation report, accessed by The Sunday Express (in OSA cases, not supplied to the defence) reveals he was approached by a Pakistani ‘agent’ when he visited the High Commission for a visa. As he showed the Pakistanis his identity card (forged, he later admitted) he was asked for a dossier on the activities of SIMI. Later, the Pakistanis demanded bio-data of RAW Chief Vikram Sood and IB chief K.P. Singh as well as Sood’s pictures. This portion of Wasi’s confessional makes an amusing reading, ‘‘In Amar Ujala I saw the picture of Selja Kant Mishra, IG of Meerut Zone, and got it photocopied and then developed to postcard size... I got Shaukat Mehmood the picture of Selja Kant Mishra and told him it was the photo of Vikram Sood, the RAW Chief...he (Shaukat) came back and informed that Hassan Akhtar was happy with my task of procuring pictures and encouraged me to work with devotion... he also gave me Rs 2,000.’’ Among the other ‘tasks’ accomplished by Wasi: Supply of hand-written reports on the activities of SIMI and the Babri Action Committee, and the visit of Benazir Bhutto to India. After his arrest he confessed, ‘‘I consulted Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagaran and on the basis of news articles, I prepared a report on their activities for handing over to Sultan Mehmood.’’ The usefulness of Mohammad Aslam is also catalogued in his confessional statement, maintained in secret police files. According to Aslam, he was approached by the Pakistanis at Attari after goods worth Rs 54,000 which he was carrying were confiscated. He was asked to pinpoint locations of battalions at Agra, Delhi, Rorkee and Hissar, obviously, not with very encouraging results. This is what he told his interrogators later, ‘‘When I called Pakistan, the Intelligence Officer became very angry on the phone and stated that all the information I furnished him in the last telephone (conversation) is totally vague and no money would be paid for such information...’’ Are these men invaluable Pakistani moles?



J-K’s first all-women police station turns tide, heads



Tariq Mir



Srinagar, March 7: The sight leaves onlookers gaping. For AK-47-toting women police personnel signalling male motorists to stop are new to J-K. Outside the first all-women police station at Nehru Park here, male police personnel and bystanders gather to watch women enforce law. On the ground floor of the police station, Inspector Naseem Akthar, who heads the 30-strong police station, has been besieged with complaints. ‘‘From March 1, women have been pouring in with their complaints,’’ says Akhtar. Md Sultan Langoo also sees hope in Inspector Akthar. His daughter has reportedly been abused by her in-laws: ‘‘I have been going from one police station to another. Now I am hopeful.” Outside, tempers flare as Shafiqa Bhat directs one motorist to stop. An angry woman steps out of her car fuming that Shafiqa was rude to her. A few feet away, two of her male colleagues claim they would have dealt appropriately with such a rude remark from a civilian. Undaunted, Shafiqa continues with her duty. Kashmir IG K. Rajendra hopes the all-women police station would end stereotypes about police.

Who needs law when there’s Pota?


Pamela Philipose Indian express 14 mar 03




Time, as the philosopher said, is the best interpreter of every doubtful law. Last March, the NDA government decided to make life safer for all of us by giving us the protection of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota). How has time interpreted this dodgy law, assiduously promoted as the Indian response to cross-border terrorism, projected as one with in-built safeguards, and steamrollered through by means of a joint session of Parliament? Its political sponsors swore that it would not be misused, that there were enough safeguards within it to prevent such misuse, that it is a kinder, gentler version of the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (Tada). The latter law was withdrawn in 1995 after it was widely perceived to be a blot on India’s democracy and its criminal justice system, having been the main instrument for putting 77,000 people in prison, with an abysmal conviction rate of around 2 per cent. Both Tada and Pota, we know, violate two cardinal principles in criminal law, that of certainty and of presumption of innocence unless proved guilty. There is, presently, no clear number of people who have been booked under Pota. During the course of the debate that saw its passing, the home minister had said that ‘‘over a hundred’’ have been arrested under the ordinance. Four months later, his ministry came up with the figure of 257. It is anybody’s guess what today’s figure is, but there are very good reasons to presume that it stands at several times the earlier figure, with at least two state governments, Gujarat and Jharkhand — both incidentally BJP-ruled — taking recourse to mass arrests under this law, much in the manner that Tada was deployed in the late eighties and nineties. In Gujarat, all 123 of those accused in the Godhra case are Pota detainees. As for the state of Jharkhand, media reports that teenagers and 80-year-olds now find themselves under its net here have forced the National Human Rights Commission to order an inquiry. A human rights team, which had toured several districts of the state between January 29 and February 3 this year, concluded that in Jharkhand ‘‘all the laws of the land are replaced by Pota’’. They had very good reasons to say this because they discovered that 654 persons in the state have had FIRs against them filed under this act, 202 have been arrested so far, and the total number of those named under Pota has touched 3,200. The last figure tells a story of widespread police intimidation in some of the most illiterate and impoverished pockets of India. The team noted that in cases which only merit sections of ordinary law — and we must please note here that there are many laws for the purpose ranging from the National Security Act of 1980 to various provisions of the Indian Penal Code — the police have deployed Pota. Their intention is simply to terrorise people. Ironical this, isn’t it, that a law meant to defeat terror ends up perpetuating terror? But need we be surprised? There are, after all, 77,000 reasons why we shouldn’t be, because — as in the Tada instance — under Pota, too, confessions extracted in the privacy of police chambers can be cited as admissible evidence. Much was made out of the ‘safeguard’ within Pota which specifies that such confessions have to be endorsed by a magistrate. In actual practice, as civil liberties activists have pointed out, few magistrates stick their necks out and intervene on behalf of the accused. In any case, magistrates cannot grant bail so the prisoner, who continues to remain in custody, would therefore have some very powerful reasons not to contradict the evidence cited by the police. There are two kinds of individuals who have come to adore Pota over the year since it became law because it suits their purposes so perfectly. The first, the men in khaki, who are in any case an absolute law unto themselves and now have an absolutist law for themselves. The other is the politician in power, who finds the bail provisions of Pota irresistible because it allows them to lock up their political opponents and forget about them for a year at least. Again there are provisions in Pota to ensure against such misuse, but ask Jayalalithaa if she cares. She has ensured that her bete noire, Vaiko of the MDMK, has been incarcerated since July for ‘‘the mere expression of sympathy for Tamils in Sri Lanka’’, as his writ petition so pitifully put it. Vaiko’s friends in the NDA, notably Law Minister Arun Jaitley, who initially attempted to defend him have subsequently learnt the value of the old adage that discretion is the better part of valour. Their lips have been sealed by the superglue of political compulsion and utter helplessness. At present, in fact, the promoters of Pota are no longer the enthusiastic horde, the avenging conquerors of the joint session of March 2002. They have reason to be severely embarrassed by the use of Pota in Uttar Pradesh, where a triumphant Mayawati has done a Jayalalithaa in the best traditions of sisterly politics by locking up under the act Raju Bhaiyya — former BJP state minister and shining symbol of Thakur pride — along with his father. Now bombarded by UP’s enraged Thakur supporters, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, who just 12 months ago could perceive no flaw in Pota, has conceded tamely in Parliament that ‘‘Pota is meant to deal with terrorists and not ordinary criminals. However, the Centre cannot intervene to check its misuse by state governments. Judicial intervention is the only remedy.’’ Yesterday, the government, in response to the general outcry, announced the constitution of a review committee. But whether such a body would be able to independently address misuse of Pota at the national level is doubtful. From what Advani stated in Parliament, it will function largely in an advisory capacity. Certainly, individual Pota detainees will not be able to make representations to this body. Pota, rather curiously, has a life span almost co-terminous with that of the NDA government. If the BJP does not come to occupy the treasury benches after the 2004 general election, we may yet see those who had argued so brilliantly and passionately for the validity of such an act doing the precise opposite. There is nothing like being outside the close circuit of power to make one realise the dangers of regarding civil liberties as expendable decorative devices in a democratic edifice rather than its very cornerstone.


Review committee to check misuse of POTA
By Our Special Correspondent The Hindu 14 Mar 03
NEW DELHI MARCH 13. Bowing to the pressure from political parties on the misuse of the anti-terrorist law, POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), the Centre today announced the setting up of a review committee to check misuse of its provisions.
The committee, headed by Arun Saharya, former Chief Justice of the Punjab High Court, will take a comprehensive view of the use of the legislation in various States and give its findings and suggestions for removing shortcomings in the implementation of POTA.
The announcement was made by the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, in a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha today. Other members of the committee would soon be named and its terms and conditions would be worked out separately. While looking at the shortcomings in POTA implementation, Mr. Advani said the review committee would lay special emphasis on ensuring that the provisions of POTA were invoked for combating terrorism and "are not used against ordinary criminals or those who are not terrorists or whose acts cannot be considered as terrorist acts.
"Members have raised from time to time an issue that the provisions of this law are invoked even against such persons and acts which do not fall into the ambit of this law. The Government has given careful consideration to their views and it has been decided that the matter is serious enough to warrant the invoking of the powers of the Central Government under Section 60 of Act which provides for the formation of one or more Review Committees,'' Mr. Advani told the Lok Sabha. The slapping of POTA against the MDMK leader, Vaiko, the TNLA leader, P. Nedumaran, the independent U.P. MLA, Raja Bhaiyya, and his father have made several political parties see red in the manner in which the law was invoked and demands have been made from time to time for dropping POTA provisions against them. Mr. Advani said that POTA was a special law to deal with terrorist acts.
''However, in order to ensure that these powers are not misused and the violation of human rights does not take place, specific safeguards have been built into the Act.'' Mr. Advani said that it became necessary to put in place such a special law last year due to increased instances of cross-border terrorism and the continued offensive agenda of the ISI aimed at destabilising India, and the post-September 11 developments

Mufti disbands SOG The Hindu 12 mar 03
Jammu March 11. The Jammu and Kashmir Government today disbanded the anti-militancy Special Operations Group, which faced allegations of human rights violations, and said action would be taken against those responsible for the violations.
``The group stands disbanded,'' the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said intervening during question hour in the Assembly and added he was fulfilling an election pledge to check the unbridled authority of the SOG. The force would be assimilated into the regular police force.
PTI

Army briefs PM on likely impact of Iraq war
By Neena Vyas The Hindu 10 Mar 03
NEW DELHI MARCH 9. The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, was today given a full briefing by the top military brass on the likely scenario in the event of an attack on Iraq by the United States and a full-scale war in the region.
The briefing took place ahead of tomorrow's all-party meeting called by Mr. Vajpayee, so that he will be fully prepared to answer all the questions and in a position to brief leaders.
For nearly two hours this evening, Mr. Vajpayee, the Deputy Prime Minister, L. K. Advani, and the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, were at the operations room in South Block, official sources confirmed here. With the help of maps and charts, a complete briefing was given to the Prime Minister on the possible scenario in the event of a war, including its impact on India and the steps that needed to be taken. He was also given a military perception on the possibility of such a war spreading in the region.
Officials were tight-lipped about the details of the briefing, which was described as "comprehensive."

Torpedo launched The Hindu 08 Mar 03
By Our Special Correspondent
HYDERABAD March 7. India today joined the exclusive club of eight nations by successfully launching an indigenously-built torpedo. The Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Limited produced the torpedo, developed by scientists of the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory at Visakhapatnam.
It's fight or flight for UK Hawk and Czech firmSWARAJ THAPA TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2003 05:33:33 AM ] Economic times 14 mar 03
NEW DELHI: Determined to scupper the pitch for British Aerospace, Czech AJT manufacturer Aero Vodochody has made a lucrative offer to India for jointly manufacturing and marketing its advanced jet trainer, the L159B, for the global market.The Czech move is the latest in the aggressive competition to secure the contract to sell around 65 trainer aircraft to India, expected to be over $1.5bn. The other players in the arena are British Aerospace, which manufactures the Hawk 100 advanced trainer and the Russian AJT, MiG AT.Aero Vodochody, which showcased the L159B recently at the Yelahanka air show in Bangalore, made the proposal recently to HAL and MoD officials. Speaking to ET over the phone this evening, Antonio Jakubse, CMD of Aero Vodochody said, “We have offered to work with HAL for the production of our AJT for Indian customers as well as other global markets”.The Czech offer has a two phased proposal wherein Aero Vodochody is willing to transfer the licence production of L159B for the IAF to HAL and work out an arrangement to market it to other countries. The second aspect is significant, as the British Aerospace deal is reported to be restricted to the Indian market alone.Mr Jakubse, however, also claims the L159B will be cheaper than the Hawk. “While we are not aware of the British Aerospace offer, I can say that our AJTs will cost least $300m less than the Hawk,” he said.Though there has not been any official response to the Czech offer here, the IAF has, in the past, reacted favourably when questioned about the L159B.In fact, doubts over the acquisition of the British Hawk 100 first came about last year when air chief marshal S Krishnaswamy, said the Czech alternative was worth a close look. Mr Krishnaswamy also affirmed that many IAF pilots had trained on earlier versions of the L series and were familiar with its systems.


posted by promila 10:06 PM


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