Thursday, December 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

More troops, arms reach Jammu, Punjab border
Pak attack on LoC repulsed; 25 hurt in Pulwama blast
Tribune News Service & Agencies

Jammu, December 19
Additional troops from various parts of the country have started reaching Jammu and other places, including border villages in Punjab, to meet any challenge from Pakistan.

Official sources said besides troops, heavy weapons and material required to meet any threat from across the border and for launching massive operations within the state were being sent by scores of trains, some of them reaching Jammu and its adjoining stations since last evening.

Reports of Army troop build-up in the Western sector, including Amritsar villages, were also received. An Army Commander on the Punjab border said the troops’ morale, with the help of villagers, was high.

The sources said that apart from heavy military build-up, Pakistani troops had again resorted to heavy mortar shelling and heavy-calibre fire from across the Nowshera sector in Rajouri district today. Soon after mortar shells hit various spots in the Jhangar border area, the Indian troops retaliated effectively and destroyed more than six Pakistan bunkers.

According to sources, more than 20 civilian families have migrated to safer places in the Nowshera sector. They said since these families lived very close to the border, they shifted to safer areas. A senior police officer, posted in Rajouri, said that as such no border villages had been evacuated.

Pakistani troops also resorted to firing on the Indian border villages on this side of the International Border with small arms but there was no casualty or any damage.

Meanwhile, 25 persons, including seven security personnel, were wounded when militants exploded a bomb in the crowded bus stand in Pulwama today. Two civilians later succumbed to their injuries. The condition of seven, including two BSF jawans, is said to be critical.

JALANDHAR: A large number of troops belonging to 11 Corps of the Army stationed here are being reportedly moved to border areas.

Three divisions of the corps are stationed at Meerut, Amritsar and Ferozepore.

A large number of the troops have been moved somewhere in the Western Sector in view of the tension on the Indo-Pak border.

SRINAGAR: Eleven militants, including six activists of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit, were killed as security forces stepped up their anti-militant drive in the Kashmir valley since last night, a defence spokesman said today.

Six LeT militants, three of them identified as Pakistani nationals, were killed in two encounters at Utrasoo near Achabal in Anantnag district of south Kashmir and Bahrampora-Dangiwacha in Baramula district of north Kashmir, he said.

Abu Mureed Gaznavi, Mohammad Asif and Abu Habib were killed at Bahrampora-Dangiwacha, while the identity of the other three LeT militants killed at Utrasoo was being ascertained, he added.

Three suspected local militants were killed in a separate operation jointly carried out by Rashtriya Rifles and BSF at Shiva village in the Sopore area of Baramula district today, a BSF spokesman said.

He said the encounter broke out last night and continued till the wee hours today. Two AK rifles and some ammunition were seized from the slain ultras.

Security forces shot dead two more militants at Ajas-Bazipora during search operations in the wee hours today. A pistol and some ammunition were seized from them, he said.Back


Pak troop build-up on border: Army chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 19
Pakistan was maintaining a sizeable troop build-up along the border, the Chief of the Army Staff Gen S. Padmanabhan today said while assuring that India had taken “appropriate” steps to counter any threat to its security.

“There is build-up on the other side with Pakistan moving in troops. Certain forces which should have gone back have not gone back and there is some addition to that also,” General Padmanabhan said while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a seminar, organised jointly by the Indian Army and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The Army chief avoided a direct answer to the question on possible plans to strike terrorist hide-outs across the Line of Control in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the wake of the attack on Parliament on December 13 by saying that it would be a political decision. “ If I have to do it, I won’t tell you ... In any case, it is a political decision.”

About India moving in troops to its border in the light of the Pakistani actions, he said, “I have acted in a manner that was appropriate for me.”

General Padmanabhan said: “We have perfectly laid out procedures. We have a very clear idea of what we are doing and what we will do. There is no possibility of rapid changes (in our plans).”

“We are not a flappy Army. We are a confident Army. We know our strengths and objectives and we know what to do.”

General Padmanabhan said India was closely monitoring the situation across the border. “We watch every activity across the border and round off our knowledge base accordingly.”

Earlier in his address at the inauguration of the Defence-IT convention, the Army chief stressed on the need to overcome bureaucratic red tape in defence acquisitions.

In an apparent reference to the fledgling Defence Procurement Board, he said, “ Certain procedures have been put in place, but the implementation has slowed down. We are strangulating ourselves with bureaucratic red tape. My goal is to push through new procurement procedures in the next three to four months.

“Ours is a greedy Army. We need weapons and ammunitions. We cannot afford a logiam in the procurement process.”

He emphasised on the need for a synergy between the defence and private sectors to meet the future challenges. “The private sector can contribute more than simply as component manufacturers. They can build weapon platforms and we should give them full play.”

He said the logistics sector of the armed forces provided an immense scope for application of information technology. “My men get their pay slips once in three months. We should ensure that every jawan gets his monthly statement on time.”

Chairman of the CII, National Committee on Defence, Atul Kirloskar called for a complete overhaul of the defence production chain, including procurement “if fruits of liberalisation in defence production have to be realised”.

He suggested that the government come out with well-defined procedures for awarding licences for defence production. “The private sector can produce anything from information infrastructure to e-security, to production of tanks, vehicles and aircraft ... India could emerge as a strong exporter of credible command and control infrastructure.”

The Army chief inaugurated an exhibition where 22 IT companies are displaying their products and capabilities. The IT budget of the Indian Army is estimated to be around Rs 2000 crore for the next five years.Back

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