Landed ACROSS

An Army Aviation Corps chopper was forced to land by Pakistan in Skardu on the other side of the LoC after it strayed to other side (Olding Sector of Skardu) owing to the bad weather conditions in Kargil.

The Cheetah was on its way to Bhimbhat from Leh and was carrying an engineering officer, one JCO and two pilots. All the four of its personnel were taken into custody, politely interrogated as the data (the government later denied that) loaded on their flying machine was washed away. The two government’s, however, discussed the issue quickly that led to the return take off of the chopper the same day after being refuelled.

Military pilots straying across LoC is nothing new for rival armies of India and Pakistan. The contiguity of the terrain and an un-marked LoC, unlike International Border, is a major factor. Possibility of straying increases in bad weather.

During the 2005 earthquake that flattened a vast belt on either side of the LoC, Pakistani choppers and relief aircrafts flew into J&K countless times. In November 2005, a US army Black Hawk was forced to land in Keran as it failed to locate the LoC. After preliminary investigations it was permitted to fly back. An UN chopper also strayed into J&K without prior intimation.  

Between August 2005 and July 2007, the IAF had recorded 73 incidents of violations of Indian airspace by Pakistani aircrafts. Briefing the Lok Sabha on the issue in December 2010, Defence Minister A K Antony said between 2007 and 2010, Indian airspace was violated 29 times by pilots of neighbouring countries that included 23 violations by PAF alone. It included two violations by US, three by China and one by Bangladesh.

Bulk of these violations was reported during the relief and rehabilitation efforts after the October 2005 earthquake. In certain belts, especially in the devastated Neelam Valley, the relief helicopters belonging to US, UN and Pakistan could not land at the destination without straying into the Indian territory for a minute or so.  

Prior to the earthquake, the then Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s helicopter once entered the Indian airspace in July. Though it was confirmed by his Information Minister Sheikh Rashid, Islamabad formally issued a denial. Once an Indian minister’s chopper strayed into Pakistan and returned only after being warned of being shot down.

This was probably the third time that an Indian pilot landed inside Pakistani territory and flew back safely. During 1965 war Air Marshal Sikand (then Sqn Ldr) and later during Kargil war Flt Lt K Nachiketa were shot down on the other side. They were taken PoWs and later returned. Nachiketa was taken as a prisoner by the Pakistan Army on May 27, 1999 following ejection from his MiG-27 aircraft after suffering engine flame-out and sent back to India on June 3, 1999.

Army is investigating how the Cheetah crossed over. Apart from the allegation that the Pakistanis “downloaded nicknames and code signs of all the helipads in the Nemu, Leh-based 14 Corps” that is responsible for defence of Kargil-Leh, Siachen Glacier and Line of Actual Control (LAC) with Tibet, the army was surprised to know that the airstrip (with number 90) where the chopper was forced to land existed in the Marol area on the other side.


SHRC Headless AGAIN


For the first time since its inception, as the SHRC – the ‘toothless tiger’, started biting, it is headless. Its chairperson Justice (retd) Syed Bashir-u-Din has completed his term on October 24 and demitted office the same day. He had taken over on the same day in 2008 for a three-year term. Interestingly, the government (read Law Ministry) had not given it a thought in anticipation to send a replacement immediately. Sources suggest that it will happen only after the durbar opens in Jammu early next month. The ministry is waiting for an appropriate time for holding a meeting to decide who will be the next boss at SHRC that operates in rented premises in Dalgate. Tragically, the law ministry has not done any exercise to have a panel ready.

Though the Commission is headless, its four members – Javed Kawos, Abdul Rashid Khan, Rafiq Fida and Amlok Singh – continue to hear cases. There is, however, nobody to assign cases to individual members and nobody is designated as ‘acting’ chairman.

At the fag end of Justice (retd) Din’s tenure, the Commission came into sharp focus with its interventions on the issue of unmarked graves and the mass rapes of Kunan. He is also heading a Commission of Inquiry with Justice (retd) Y P Nargotra as a member to probe the killing of 17 civilian killings in the beginning of 2010 unrest.

NHPC Earnings UP
India’s major hydropower utility, the NHPC has said its earnings have gone up after the J&K government withdrew the water cess it was charging. Company CMD ABL Srivastava the decision by the J&K government added Rs 453 crore to NHPC profit in the last six months. The announcement came amid claims by J&K government that it is expected to earn Rs 900 crores a year from various power producers in the state by charging water usage charges. It was not immediately known if the water cess and the water usage charges are the same or different. J&K is NHPCs major revenue generation that contributes nearly half of its generations. It sod 13372 million units of energy during last six months. Briefing about its operations in the state, the CMD said NHPC re-diverted the river at Nimoo Bazgo on October 21, managed the initial reservoir filling at Uri-II on August 18 and done successfully the mechanical spinning of Unit-1 of Chutak in Kargil.

Over to COURT
It has been a long wait for the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s announcement of a sitting judge actually investigating the custodial death of Haji Yousuf to get implemented. Though his political opposition was suspicious of the move from day one but the family perhaps was not. So they waited for all these weeks. Finally his son Talib Hussain has approached the court.

Fearing ‘hushing up’ Talib moved a petition in the court of Court of Special Judge Anti-Corruption in Srinagar seeking Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] probe into the death. Advocate Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, his counsel, said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, National Conference president and Union Minster Farooq Abdullah, Minster of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani, IG Crime Branch Raja Ajaz Ali, SSP Crime Branch Srinagar Abdul Gaffar Malik, former PSO to Chief Minister Shabir Ahmad, Deputy Superintendent of Police Nasir Khan and Assistant Sub Inspector SP Singh are respondents in the petition.

The petition has taken note of the point that no investigation was conducted into the death of the deceased so far. It also mentioned that no FIR was registered by the police despite a written application by the family. Apart from CBI investigation, the petition seeks immediate registration of the case by the police. The judge Mohammad Yousuf Akhoon heard the arguments for almost three hours and directed it will continue on Saturday as well.

Death of Haji Yousuf, a fixer who worked for NC for a long time, is a sensational case in the contemporary history of Kashmir. It paralyzed the state legislature and gave Omar a very bad press for at least three days. Though the government announced probe by a sitting judge, it was suspected from the very start that it may not take place given the difficult process involved in getting a sitting judge for such investigations.

New Recruitment POLICY
In a bid to discourage unemployed youth from seeking government jobs and also to reduce the burden on state coffers the government has decided to freeze almost all allowances for fresh recruits. They will get half their basic salary for a period of two years and by 25 per cent for next three years.

The new employment policy named Stipendiary Mode of Appointments would be applicable from November 1, 2011, for all the post advertised by Services Recruitment Board [SSB] or through any other recruitment agencies, other than the Public Services Commission [PSC].       

However, the fresh recruits would be treated as government employees but not in terms of salary and allowances, to which they would be entitled only after completing services satisfactorily for five years.

The new recruits would not be entitled to allowances like Dearness Allowances [DA], House Rent Allowances [HRA] and City Compensatory Allowance [CCA] till five years. However, they would get some new allowances, which would include work charges, conveyance allowances etc. Under the new policy the fresh recruits would also get the Grade Pay.

After satisfactory completion of five years in service, these Government employees will be completely regularized and would be entitled to full basic pay including DA, HRA, CCA and all other allowance presently enjoyed by serving employees.

According to sources, the new employment policy is formulated to reduce the burden of rising salary and pension bill, which had already surpassed Rs 13,000 crore a year as number of employees had crossed 4 lakh. The recent implementation of Sixth Pay Commission recommendation has also put a massive burden on the State exchequer.
After completing 5 years in Stipendiary mode, the fresh recruit shall be entitled to a prescribed pay band and all other allowances as applicable to already serving Government employees, subjected to good performance, conduct and the vigilance clearance.  

OBITUARY
J N Raina
(Nov 2, 1936 – Oct 23, 2011)

Journalist and former news editor of United News of India (UNI), J N Raina, passed away last week in Pune after a brief illness. He was 70. Raina retired as UNI news editor Mumbai. Post- retirement he was regularly contributing to newspapers, journals and websites. He is survived by his wife, Dulari Raina, three sons and daughters-in-laws and a grand children.

Raina was born in a remote village Sirnoo (Pulwama). After completing his masters in English (lit) and a course in journalism from Punjab University, he served as a reporter for UNI in Ahamdabad, Mumbai and in Srinagar where he was bureau chief for over two decades.   
 
Raina was known for his gentleness, simplicity and humility. He first joined as sub-editor in Kashmir Post in 1962. Later as sub-editor “Caravan” Delhi, Editor Voice of Kashmir and finally UNI in 1968 as sub-editor at Delhi.

Raina became Chief of Bureau in Kashmir in 1980’s before he went to Jammu. However, he was appointed as Chief of Bureau Mumbai in 1991 where he retired in 1996.

It was on September 8, 1982 Raina reported that Sheikh Abdullah passed away. The newsbreak created a situation that government denied it and asked him to withdraw the copy. The moment he asked his head office to withdraw the story he fainted in his chair. Then, Sheikh was on life support and was declared dead later that day.

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