Saturday, August 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

More powers for security forces
Centre preparing balanced Bill
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The Centre is understood to have embarked on an informal exercise to prepare a draft Bill seeking to provide special powers to the security forces engaged in counter-terrorist operations while making sure that human rights are not trampled upon.

Union Home Minister L.K. Advani has taken the initiative in this regard following an unseemly controversy over the speculated “blanket amnesty” for the security forces personnel facing charges of human rights violations.

Well-placed sources said the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Law Ministry and the Law Commission are working in tandem on this issue.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Law Ministry had detailed discussions on the issue. The Union Home Minister had a meeting with Law Minister Arun Jaitley, who later met the Law Commission Chairman on the subject.

It is understood that the need for such a draft Bill arose as another relevant Bill prepared by the Law Commission on the proposed anti-terrorist law had no provision which strikes a balance between preserving human rights and protecting the interests of the security forces.

Sources, however, asserted that the exercise was purely informal as of now and no official letter had so far been written by the ministry.

Nonetheless, the Atal Behari Vajpayee government is keen on the draft Bill and would like to place it in Parliament during the November-December winter session itself.

The Centre’s stand is that it do not want to dilute the importance of human rights and will not tolerate blatant violation of human rights by security personnel engaged in fighting Pakistan’s proxy war.

At the same time, the Centre wants to make sure that it arms the security forces with some kind of law which ensures that no witch-hunting is carried out against them in the name of human rights. 


Panel: reduce Army role in internal security
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence has expressed it concern over the increase in the retirement age of all ranks in the Armed Forces and impressed on the government to take steps to maintain forces’ youthful profile.

In a report on Manpower Planning and Management Policy in Defence, tabled in Parliament today the committee concern over aging profile of the forces said that recent increase of two years in the age profile of the forces personnel was going to affect fighting capabilities of forces.

The committee has recommended that the age of Armed Forces personnel, particularly in the Army, at the operational level should be lower. It urged upon the Ministry of Defence (MoD) an in-depth examination and of necessary steps for maintaining youthful profile of the Armed Forces.

The committee noted that as the existing age profile of the Armed Forces’ personnel was the higher side. Increase of two years in retiring age of all ranks was not called for. It was of the view that despite the induction of hi-tech weapons, it was the man behind the machine who still mattered in a war.

“The situation is grim, particularly in the Army where shortage is to the extent of about one-third of sanctioned strength of officers. This is really a matter of serious concern in view of the fact that most vacancies are in the rank of Major, Captain and below,” the committee said.

The committee also recommended urgent measures like gradual reduction of Army role in counter-insurgency, introduction of VRS for senior Armed Forces’ ranks, review of cadre structure, lateral induction of the officers in para-military forces, central police organisations and Defence related PSUs.

The committee also asked the government to review the step of giving command of a battalion to a full Colonel at the age of 42, when comparative age profile of battalion commanders in Pakistani and Chinese armies was 37 and 40 years respectively.

The committee said the restricted mobility due to continuance in service of 1,299 officers after the recent fifth pay commission recommendations would further lead to increase in ages of command at the cutting edge level of the battalion and brigade commanders.

Stating that Indian Army at present fourth largest in the world, had one of the best “teeth to tail” ratio (difference between fighting and auxiliary units), the committee expressed serious concern at the manning in Air Force.

“The most worrying thing about the Air Force manpower structure is the fact that for its size, it is weighted more on the side of the tail rather and teeth. Over-manning is major problem and the IAF should consider reforms to correct it,” it said.

The committee said IAF typical MiG-21 squadron was overstaffed by 20 when compared to similar squadrons in Russian and Czech air force. UNIBack


Madarsas push up land prices
Santosh Jha

Patna, August 24 
These are disturbing facts for the internal security of the nation. The talks are not only in the air but the Indian Military and Civil Intelligence agencies also admit it in their reports. The dubious role of the Pak Intelligence agency ISI and the fast spreading masjids and madarsas along the porous Indo-Nepal border stretch of around 500 kilometres are no rumours but a fact that the Indian Intelligence agencies are worried over. As Nepal and neighbouring Bihar top in the priority list of ISI and ISI backed troublemakers, land prices along the international border areas of Bihar have shot up and are costlier than the land of even Mumbai and Delhi. 

The current land prices in and around the Bihar’s border town of Raxaul, Jaynagar, Nirmali and Jogbani towns, are around Rs 50 lakh per ‘kathha’, that makes the Rs 3500-4000 per square feet of land. The prices are comparable to that at Marine Drive in Mumbai, Chaurangi in Kolkata and Cannaught Place in Delhi. The prices of land in the border towns and around are costliest that are situated right near the international borders or are in no man’s land. The reason for the high land prices is simple. The ISI agents and their troublemaker friends in the smuggling world vie to buy the lands as they provide easy and safe shelter ground for them. Whenever the state police search them they cross over to Nepal and when Nepal police wants them they move inside the state.

Underworld sources maintain that the land prices have shot up mainly because of the fast spreading network of masjids and madarsas that are opening there. The Military Intelligence (MI) has been worried over the growing presence of the two along the borders. In a letter to the state government in 1995, the MI had asked it to give details of the madarsas that are registered with it and those not registered.

The Civil Military Intelligence, comprising personnel of military, state border police, Customs and Intelligence Bureau (IB) that have their meeting every six months to monitor the ISI activities along the Indian borders, had agreed to the fact that madarsas are opening up along the Indo-Nepal border areas with great pace and a check and constant look on them was necessary. The IB in its report has mentioned the spread of masjids and madarsas with great concern. In its recent two and a half-page report, the IB says, quoting a report in the local newspaper published on April 17, 2001 that 83 new masjids and 61 new madarsas have opened along the border areas of Bihar’s Supaul, Jogbani and Jaynagar, all border towns. It further says that 18 new masjids and 45 new madarsas have opened in Sitamarhi district and 24 new masjids and 35 new madarsas opened in Balmikinagar area of East Champaran. Interestingly, the IB has reported a hike of 40 per cent in the Muslim population in the Supaul-Jogbani-Jaynagar areas and 24 per cent rise in the Muslim population in East Champaran areas.

There is a defined pattern to the rising land prices along the border areas in Bihar. Underworld sources maintain that the land prices were high in the areas before the “D-company” of international smuggler Dawood Ibrahim opted to make Nepal and Bihar’s border areas as its stronghold. The underworld sources however maintain that “D-Company’s assets are more in Nepal and therefore Dawood cannot be blamed for land price hike in Bihar border areas as he has not pumped in the type of money that would make the land bazaar bullish. However there is no denial to the fact that the rivalry between the “D-company and the “C-Company”, the conglomerate of the rival Chota Rajan gang, has made the assets along the border costlier. Both are said to be pumping in huge money to make the best advantage of underworld interest in the region.

The main reason for high land prices is the ISI money and the money allegedly sent by the ‘Saudi Arab financers’ who are allegedly financing the masjids and madarsas in the border areas. The money might be that of the ISI that is reportedly channeled through the Saudi Arab addresses to make it valid and look safe.Back

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