Thursday, April 27, 2017

After Desi Bofors, Jabalpur Set To Produce BrahMos Missiles

CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace, Dr. Sudhir Kumar

JABALPUR: After Desi Bofors (Dhanush 155 mm gun), Jabalpur is likely to get the manufacturing unit for producing BrahMos, the indigenous supersonic cruise missile which is one of the world's fastest conventional missile.

A team associated with the BrahMos project visited Jabalpur on April 25, and surveyed some areas for feasibility of the project. A total of around 70 to 100 hectares of land is required for the unit, sources said.

District collector Jabalpur, Mahesh Chandra Chaudhary confirmed about the visit of officials to survey land.

"A senior officer connected with the BrahMos project visited the city. They need 70 to 100 acre of land for setting up a BrahMos unit in Jabalpur. They also surveyed some land but the exact spot for the construction of the factory has not been finalized. The final word depends on the project team and whether they find the place suitable," Chaudhary told TOI.

Sources meanwhile told TOI that setting up of the missile production unit at Jabalpur is almost a certainty. Geographically Jabalpur is located at the center of the country and is also relatively safe from security point of view, added sources. Land for the project will also be finalized by next month, said sources.

What has tilted the BrahMos project in Jabalpur's favor is the presence of related units, like ordnance factory, central ordnance depot, gun carriage factory, vehicle factory, grey iron foundry, sources said.

The missile project if established in the district will generate around 10,000 direct and indirect employment, said sources.

BrahMos is considered to the fastest supersonic missile that can follow and hit its target with precision. It is a joint venture between India and Moscow and hence derives the name Brah (Brahamaputra and Mos- Moscow).

Senior leaders of the state are also taking a keen interest and are trying to get the missile production unit established in Jabalpur, said sources.

The long-range artillery gun 'Dhanush', was showcased for the first time at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi. It is manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) at a cost of about Rs 14.50 crore a piece.

TATA Motors Bags Contract To Supply 3,192 Safari Stormes To The Indian Army

The defense ministry floated an RFP for vehicles with three basic criteria – minimum payload capacity of 800 kgs; hard roofs and air conditioning.

TATA Motors has signed a contract for the supply of 3192 units of the TATA Safari Storme 4x4 to the Indian Armed Forces, under a new category of vehicles-GS800.

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD) had floated an RFP for vehicles with three basic criteria – minimum payload capacity of 800 kgs; hard roofs and air conditioning. Developed indigenously, the TATA Safari Storme 4x4 has completed a total trial duration of fifteen months in various terrains. 

TATA Motors’ foray into defense is progressing exactly as per the plan. First a replacement of Tatra by TATA High Mobility Vehicle 6x6 in the 10 Tonne class, and now a replacement of Maruti Gypsy by TATA Safari Storme in the 4x4 light vehicle category reiterates TATA Motors’ position as a leading supplier of defense mobility solutions to the Indian Armed Forces. 

Commenting on the recently bagged order, Vernon Noronha, Vice President, Defence & Government Business, TATA Motors said, “ TATA Motors has been a leading supplier of mobility solutions to the Indian Armed Forces and this order is a testimony to our partnership with the country’s security forces. This variant of the Storme has been modified from the one available for civilians with an upgraded drivetrain and significantly modified suspension.We will shortly commence delivery of these vehicles to the Army and Navy in a phased manner.”

Separatist Leader Asiya Andrabi Arrested In Kashmir

Asiya Andrabi is the founder and leader of Dukhtaran-e-Millat. Asiya Andrabi was married to Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, one of the founders of Hizbul Mujahideen in 1990

Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi, founder, and leader of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the Faith) was arrested on Wednesday night, news agency PTI has confirmed, citing sources. She has been arrested under the Public Safety Act. Andrabi has been seen as an Islamic extremist. She was earlier arrested in 2015 for hoisting the Pakistan national flag and singing the country’s national anthem on August 14, its independence day.

In October 2016, she was detained from the old city for provoking youths to indulge in violence. Locals said Andrabi was detained from Habba Kadal’s Kral Khud along with a few others.

She was married to Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, one of the founders of Hizbul Mujahideen, in 1990. Few captured militants have confessed that videos of her speeches are shown at terror training camps across the Line of Control. She is alleged to be the main separatist leader who incites women in the valley to pelt stones at security forces and disrupt normal life.

Post-Sukma Attack, Government Asks Security Forces To Target Naxal Leaders

There are about 200-250 leaders of different committees and area commanders of Naxalites in Bastar, sources said.

by Neeraj Chauhan

NEW DELHI: Following Monday's ghastly Maoist strike in Sukma that claimed the lives of 25 CRPF personnel, the government has asked the security forces to focus counter-offensive operations on "high value targets", including south Bastar divisional commander Raghu, head of Jagargunda area committee Papa Rao, and commander of the first battalion of People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) Hidma, who is said to be behind the latest attack.

According to government sources, the CRPF and other forces have been asked to demoralise the Naxalites by targeting their leaders, area commanders and influential members of the 'jan militia'. There are about 200-250 leaders of different committees and area commanders of Naxalites in Bastar who keep travelling to Jharkhand, Odisha and Maharashtra for coordination as well as to plan attacks on security forces, sources said.

There are an estimated 4,000 armed Naxalite cadres in the Bastar belt, aided by a 10,000-12000-strong 'jan militia'. "A large number of Naxalites have been arrested since last year, but senior leaders (of the insurgents) who plan ambushes on security forces have been eluding the forces for a long time.

There is a need to arrest or eliminate them," said a government official. "Home minister Rajnath Singh has already told the forces to go on an all-out offensive and break the Maoists' dominance in Bastar region, for which the government is ready to provide any number of extra companies (of security forces) and modern technology... It is important to pick these 250 leaders, and important members in the jan militia using robust intelligence," the official added.

The forces attributed Monday's attack to not just a lack of human intelligence as around 400 Maoists stationed themselves at the attack site in Burkapal village, but also to the presence of few "eyes in the air", or unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs). Sources said the CRPF and other forces have just two UAVs for the 10,470sqkm area of Bastar, considered the epicenter of Naxalite violence.

The two UAVs, operated from Bhilai under the direction of the National Technical Research Organisation, cannot be deployed for every troop movement, and operations are undertaken on the basis of human intelligence, which turns out to be wrong at times.

Both the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh government have informed the home ministry that they need a large number of UAVs to help gather "real time intelligence" about the movement of large contingents of Maoists inside the jungle, said sources. The home minister agreed, and has sought a detailed proposal.

In addition, there are also plans to procure foliage-penetrating (FOPEN) radar and more Dhruv helicopters to monitor the movement and activities of Naxalites inside thick forests. The issue of sprucing up intelligence in Naxalism-affected areas was also discussed on Wednesday at a meeting the home minister held with NSA Ajit Doval and IB chief Rajiv Jain.

No Credibility In Ex-Taliban Spokesperson’s Claims: India

The Pakistani military released a confessional video in which Ehsanullah Ehsaan claims that RAW and NDS helped the outfit to fight Islamabad

India on Wednesday dismissed the allegations made by former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsaan (pictured above left) that intelligence agencies in New Delhi and Afghanistan funded Taliban militants to wage war against Islamabad. India said there was no credibility to the claims, reported ANI.

Afghanistan, too, has refuted the allegations. A senior Afghan security official told Reuters that it was a “spin” by Islamabad. “Pakistan has always been pushing this narrative of being a victim of terrorism, while the fact is it sponsors and supports terrorist activities in Afghanistan and India,” the official said.

The reactions came after the Pakistan military released a “confessional” video of Ehsaan, whose real name is Liaquat Ali, in which he claimed that Indian intelligence body, the Research and Analysis Wing, provided funding and other assistance to the outfit. “The TTP leadership got their support, their funding and took money for every activity they did [from India]. They pushed TTP soldiers on the front lines to fight against the Pakistani Army and went into hiding themselves,” Ehsan said in the six-minute clip released by the Pakistani military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations.

The Taliban spokesperson further claimed that Afghanistan helps TTP members and other militants acquire Pakistani identity cards and that the country’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, helps them get in touch with New Delhi’s RAW. “These [militant] organizations have their committees in Afghanistan, through which they communicate with NDS and through it, RAW. NDS gives them documents to easily move around in Afghanistan,” he added, according to Dawn.

Ehsan, who had also served as the spokesperson for TTP’s faction group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, had surrendered to the Pakistani Army last week, according to ISPR Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor. He said he had left the militant group because, at some point, he realized that the “leadership was functioning to serve its own interest and agendas”.

The video comes at a time when relations between India and Pakistan are on a downward spiral. Bilateral ties were further worsened by the recent death sentence awarded to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage. Islamabad has denied New Delhi’s request for consular access to Jadhav 16 times so far.

It's Just A Trailer, Says Pakistani Hacker Group That Defaced 10 Indian Websites

The hacker group — Pakistan Haxor Crew — claimed the action was to avenge the defacement of the Pakistan Railways website by an Indian hacker and to show solidarity with Kashmiris

by Kim Arora & Mohammad Ibrar

NEW DELHI: Six more websites defaced by a Pakistani hacker group have come to light, bringing the total up to 10. These are in addition to the four TOI had earlier reported about on Tuesday.

These websites belonged to following institutions: University of Kota, IIT BHU, Army Institute of Management and Technology, Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Army Institute of Management, and the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences.

IDN INFO CORNER: ERNET DNS (domain name service) server for the IIT Delhi website was targeted because of which IIT Delhi’s website was showing those pro-Pakistan messages. The website was inaccessible from outside the campus for some time due to some problems in the domain name. Servers were pointing incorrectly to another site. The IIT website per se was not accessed. Most of the statements coming from the Pakistani hackers is just bluster, they will never be able to hack into any premium Indian website.
The four websites reported earlier were: National Aeronautics Ltd, AMU, IIT Delhi and Delhi University. The hacker group — Pakistan Haxor Crew — claimed the action was to avenge the defacement of the Pakistan Railways website by an Indian hacker and to show solidarity with Kashmiris.

The collective claims to be a bunch of teenagers that came together in 2011. TOI contacted the group asking how the reprisal against the Indian hacker and the Kashmir issue were related. They responded by calling the Indian hack "too much childish (sic)" and said that this slew of hacks on Indian websites was "payback" to Indian hackers "who keep defacing 3rd class Pakistani (sic) websites and put slang content about Pakistan and Kashmir on those sites." 

Speaking to TOI over Facebook chat, they said these hacks were just a "trailer" and claimed to be capable of more. "And I am telling you that it was just a trailer if they continue to hack Pakistani websites then they should know that we have almost every registry access and we can give them a much bigger attack," the group said. An internet registry coordinates and manages the allocation of IP addresses to websites.


Afghanistan: Around 100 Taliban, ISIS Militants Killed In Clashes

The fighting took place in the Darzab district of Jowzjan province.

As many as 100 Taliban and Pro-ISIS militants were killed in clashes in northern Afghanistan.

A total of 91 militants had been killed in clashes that erupted over the kidnapping of drug smugglers who were to pay Taliban as part of an opium deal, Anadolu Agency quoted a spokesman for the Afghan National Police Rahmatullah Turkistani as saying.

The fighting took place in the Darzab district of Jowzjan province. Jowzjan province, like many parts of northern Afghanistan, is not a traditional Taliban stronghold.

Earlier on April 13, US dropped a huge "Mother of All bombs" (MOAB) in a network of tunnels in Nangarhar province, killing at least 90 ISIS militants.

US military spokesman Capt Bill Salvin last month said that his country aimed to drive ISIS out of Afghanistan by the end of this year.

US believes that there are up to 1,000 ISIS militants in Nangarhar and Kunar province, Anadolu Agency quoted Salvin.

Government Plans To Get Foliage Penetration Radar To Fight Naxals

The move comes following the killing of 25 CRPF personnel in a dense forest in Sukma district in Chhattisgarh by Naxals on Monday

NEW DELHI: The Centre plans to procure advanced aerial surveillance equipment, including foliage penetration radar, to monitor the activities of Naxals who operate in thick forests in Chhattisgarh and other areas, in the wake of the killing of 25 CRPF men.

The foliage penetration radar is the need of the hour and the government was looking for its procurement as early as possible, a senior Home Ministry official said.

The move comes following the killing of 25 CRPF personnel in a dense forest in Sukma district in Chhattisgarh by Naxals on Monday.

Security forces often face difficulties in gathering intelligence through unmanned aerial vehicles which could not penetrate up to ground level in the forest area where the Maoists operate. 

However, a foliage penetration radar could get ground movements of the Naxals as the machine can click pictures even through densely forested areas.

Rheinmetall Graft Case: In A Major Blow To Cbi, Court Dismisses Case Against Arms Agent Abhishek Verma

Abhishek Verma was accused of receiving $530,000 to allegedly influence government officials and get Rheinmetall off the blacklist.

by Manu Pubby

NEW DELHI: In a major blow to the CBI, a special court discharged a case against arms agent Abhishek Verma who was accused of receiving payments from a defense firm to help get it off the government blacklist.

The investigative agency's poor track record with handling cases against arms agent continued with Special CBI Court judge Anju Bajaj Chandna dismissing the case on grounds of insufficient evidence. A related case filed by the Enforcement Directorate was also done away with.

Verma was accused of receiving $530,000 to allegedly influence government officials and get Rheinmetall off the blacklist.

Shortly after the court order, Verma sent out a message that he and his wife Anca had been discharged from the two cases. While there are several other cases pending against Verma, ranging from alleged violation of the Official Secrets Act to forgery allegations, dismissal of the bribery case against him is a setback for CBI. The agency has been trying to prove that Verma had an elaborate international network to fix defense deals in India.

The discharge has also taken Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) and its former senior executive Gerhard Hoy off the hook, though an older case against the company for allegedly bribing then Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chairman is still proceeding.

CBI now has limited options to proceed on the matter. It can either appeal the judgment or attempt to reinvestigate the case to bring fresh evidence. A decision on the way forward would be made by the CBI headquarters over the next few days, sources said.

In its now dismissed charge sheet, CBI had alleged that "Abhishek Verma, a private person, got in touch with the representatives of RAD (Rheinmetall) and assured them of help by influencing the public servants of Government of India to stall the process of aforesaid blacklisting of RAD".

As reported by ET, Rheinmetall has requested the defense ministry to take it off the blacklist, making a case for re-entering the Indian military market.

The German company has been in talks with several Indian private sector players for partnerships.

It has even firmed up areas of collaboration with a business group that is a new entrant into the defense sector.

"There is no material which can show that accused Abhishek Verma even discussed with the representatives of M/s Rheinmetall Air Defence about inducing any public servant for the purposes of preventing blacklisting of the company," the court judgment reads.

Kupwara Army Camp Attack: Three Soldiers Martyred, Two Terrorists Killed

Three army men killed in Fidayeen attack in Kupwara

by Hakeem Irfan Rashid

SRINAGAR: Three army men, including a captain and a JCO and two militants, were killed in a predawn Fidayeen attack on an army camp in Panzgam area near Line of Control in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.

The reports claim that five army men have suffered injuries and were shifted to Army's base hospital in Srinagar, however, there is no official confirmation on this yet. 

The militants in a Fidayeen style attacked Artillery headquarters of 155 Field Regiment in Panzgam, around 105kms from Srinagar, at around 4:30 am and hurled grenades and started indiscriminate firing to barge inside the camp. Kupwara is also one of the most trodden infiltration routes for the militants to cross the Line of Control.

While confirming the killing of two militants, Srinagar-based defense spokesperson Rajesh Kalia, further informed, "Three soldiers including an officer martyred and search operation is going on." The army suspects that more than two militants attacked the base and could be hiding in the camp.

The attack took place a day after the commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt Gen J S Sandhu while addressing army's 'Jashn-e-Baramullah' two-day youth festival claimed that there has been 'considerable decrease' in infiltration due to increased security on borders.

"Kashmir is passing through a bad phase and we have to come out of this situation so that peace and prosperity will return back to the state...we will also ensure that civilians are protected at encounter sites," Sandu told reporters.

Earlier this week, in a meeting in Delhi Home Minister Rajnath Singh, discussed security situation of the state with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. She also chaired Unified Headquarters meeting in Srinagar to deliberate on the same issues. 

The situation in Kashmir continues to remain tense with continued protests and killings and increase in militant activity is also a major concern for the government. 

The official figures of police claim that there are around 214 active militants in the state and most of them are locals, concentrated in south Kashmir. The foreigners, police say, are mostly based in the north and central Kashmir.

Agni-III Ballistic Missile Successfully Test-Fired From Balasore

Agni-III ballistic missile successfully test-fired from Balasore

Balasore: India today successfully test fired its Agni-III ballistic missile with a strike range of 3,000-5,000 km from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.

The indigenously developed surface-to-surface missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher at launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Abdul Kalam Island at 9.12 am, defense sources said.

The Agni-III missile is powered by a two-stage solid propellant engine. With a length of 17 meters, the missile’s diameter is 2 meters and weight is around 22,000 kilograms.

The sleek missile can travel at a speed of 3-4 miles (5-7 km) per second. It can carry a strategic nuclear warhead weighing 15 to 250 kt and 2,000 to 2500 kg of conventional, thermobaric weapons.

Official confirmation from defense sources is, however, still awaited.

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Fresh User Trial of Agni-III Likely On Thursday

BHUBANESWAR: In less than a week after successful test-firing of land attack variant of supersonic cruise missile BrahMos by Navy, the army is all set to carry out a fresh user trial of 3000-km range Agni-III missile from a defense test facility off Odisha coast on Thursday.

The Strategic Forces Command (SFC), a specially raised missile-handling unit of the Indian Army, is likely to carry out the test from Abdul Kalam Island with logistics support from DRDO.

While preparations for the crucial test have been completed, Defence sources said the test would be carried out in a favorable weather condition.

The missile to be used for the test has been picked up randomly from the assembly line after production. This test will reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user and its readiness to handle the weapon during a time of crisis.

"We have already carried out several tests of the missile, thus making it foolproof and a proven missile. This test is aimed at re-establishing the operational effectiveness of the weapon system,’’ said an official from New Delhi.

The Agni-III, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 1.5 tons, is 17 meters tall with a two-metre diameter and weighs about 48 tons. The missile was inducted into the armed forces in June 2011.

The missile is the mainstay of India’s nuclear deterrence program as it provides the country with strategic second-strike capability.Agni-III can be launched from various platforms giving the country intermediate range ballistic missile firepower and greatly extending its power projection in the region.

Aircraft Carrier Not Threat, But China's Expanding Naval Footprint In The Indian Ocean A Big Concern

The new Shandong aircraft carrier will be categorized as a Type 001A carrier, while its predecessor the Liaoning is termed a Type 001 carrier

by Rajat Pandit

NEW DELHI: The Indian defense establishment is not too disconcerted by the "launch" of China's first indigenous aircraft carrier in itself, holding that it will take Beijing at least five years to make the 50,000-tonne warship capable of being deployed as a potent offensive weapons platform on the high seas.


It will take Beijing at least five years to make the 50,000-tonne warship capable of being deployed

But China's rapid expansion in long-range naval deployments is alarming

China is also “strategically encircling” India by deepening links with Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar etc

But what continues to send alarm bells clanging here is the rapid expansion in long-range naval deployments by the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN), which ominously include regular forays by its nuclear and conventional submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) on the pretext of anti-piracy patrols since December 2013. 

Moreover, China continues to "strategically encircle" India by further deepening its maritime links with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Cambodia, among others, even though its primary aim is to secure its trade and energy sea routes.

"The launch of the half-finished carrier does not amount to much in real terms. But India can ill-afford to ignore China's continuing quest to go global in the maritime domain, which has been its major focus area since 2009. It already has Gwadar Port in Pakistan and the naval base in Djibouti," said a senior officer.

China eventually wants to have six aircraft carriers, with at least two of them being nuclear-powered for longer operational endurance. With the aim to deploy two carriers each in the Pacific and IOR, China fast-tracked its already extensive warship construction plans after inducting its first carrier, the 65,000-tonne Liaoning, in September 2012.

But India is slowly squandering its edge in this arena, having miserably floundered in executing its long-standing plan to have three aircraft carriers, with one each for the western and eastern seaboards and the third in reserve for maintenance refits.

India will have to soldier on with just the 44,570-tonne INS Vikramaditya for the next three to four years. The commissioning of the first indigenous aircraft carrier, the 40,000-tonne INS Vikrant, which was "launched" at the Cochin Shipyard in 2013 after being approved way back in 2003, has now been further delayed to 2020.

The second indigenous carrier, the 65,000-tonne INS Vishal, in turn, is just at the conceptual stage as of now. The defense ministry in May 2015 had sanctioned an initial Rs 30 crore as seed money for this project, but neither was the entire amount allocated nor has the detailed project report been approved till now. It will take well over 10 years for the carrier to be ready once the construction actually kicks off.

The Navy, for its part, wants INS Vishal to have nuclear propulsion as well as CATOBAR (catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery) configuration for launching fighters as well as heavier aircraft from its deck.

India Supports 'Expanded Role' of Russia In Global Affairs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

MOSCOW: Defense Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said India supports a greater role by Russia in global affairs as well as in "our shared neighborhood" in view of growing terrorism which "remains the primary concern for peaceful countries".

Jatiley also expressed concern over growing maritime territorial disputes and the tensions arising in the Korean peninsula while speaking on 'Global Security: Challenges of the 21st Century' at the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security.

On the sidelines of the conference, Jaitley also met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Brazilian Defense Minister Paul Belens Jungman Pinto.

"Russia has been a true and trusted friend of India, which is regarded so by the people of India, and there has been a much greater cooperation at the level of Defense," Jaitley said after meeting the Russian Defense Minister.

"We have future plans to set up manufacturing units in India and these are subjects of discussion which came up in my bilateral meeting with the Defense Minister and I am sure with the level of engagement we have, this relationship will continue to grow," he said.

Earlier speaking during the session, Jaitley said: "As a long-standing friend and strategic partner, India supports an expanded role by Russia in global affairs, especially in our shared neighborhood."

"The scourge of terrorism remains the primary security challenge for all peaceful countries," he said, recalling the bomb blast on a St. Petersburg Metro train on April 3 this year, and conveyed India's strong solidarity with Russia.

He pointed out the use of social media and technology for radicalization.

"Terrorism is being reinvented in newer and even more dangerous manifestations. The manipulation of young minds by fundamentalist groups using new technologies and social media has already caused long-term damage to our societies," Jaitley said, citing the "lone wolf attacks" in many countries as an example of this.

He said while elimination of terror breeding grounds in West Asia is being done, there is a threat of such elements returning to their home countries.

"We need to encourage closer information exchanges and intelligence cooperation to address this threat," he said.

"Distinctions are still sought to be made between good and bad terrorists, despite all the evidence and experience to the contrary. Terrorism will recoil on those who nurture it," the Indian Defense Minister said.

Jaitley welcomed Russia's efforts to hold consultations on Afghanistan, and said: "A policy of zero tolerance towards violence and terrorism and continued efforts to consolidate the capacity of the Afghan government to deal with violence as well as promote development are essential."

"We welcome recent efforts by Russia to hold consultations on Afghanistan, in which India had also actively participated," Jaitley said.

Calling territorial dispute in maritime domain another "serious challenge", Jaitley said: "India believes that the rights of freedom of navigation and over-flight as well as unimpeded commerce should be ensured. These are vital to India's own economic engagement with the Indo-Pacific region."

"The recent escalation of tensions in the Korean peninsula is a matter of concern," he added.

The Defence Minister, who is also the Finance Minister, said economic and diplomatic engagements with Eurasian region is a "top priority" for India.

Talking about the tri-service joint military exercise with Russia INDRA, set to take place later this year, Jaitley said: "This would be a historic occasion as it will be the first time that India and Russia are taking part in joint exercises in such a format with each other or with any other country."

Government To Buy Nearly 250 Bullet, Mine Protected Vehicles For Anti-Naxal Ops

The above increase is in spite of the fact that states now get a greater share (42 per cent) of the Center's tax resources. Earlier this used to be only 32 per cent.

NEW DELHI: The Center tonight said it was in the process of procuring nearly 250 bullet and mine protected vehicles for use by the security forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh.

It also said 45,000 central paramilitary personnel and 20,000 state policemen were deployed in Bastar region, which saw maximum Naxal violence in Chhattisgarh.

Reacting to media reports, the home ministry said in a statement that it is factually not correct to observe that lack of financial resources is a reason for casualty of valuable lives of police and CRPF personnel in the battle against Left-wing extremism.

The funds released for Security Related Expenditure Scheme have increased from Rs 575 crore in 2011-12, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 to Rs 675 crore in 2014-15, 2015-2016, 2016-2017.

The above increase is in spite of the fact that states now get a greater share (42 per cent) of the Center's tax resources. Earlier this used to be only 32 per cent.

The statement said it was incorrect to say that Chhattisgarh Police is in shambles. In addition to 45,000 central forces personnel, over 20,000 state police personnel are posted in Bastar region.

As many as 58 mine-protected vehicles are available in Chhattisgarh to the paramilitary forces and 30 are under process for procurement through the Ordnance Factories Board. 42 bullet-proof vehicles are also available and 210 bullet- protected vehicles are under process for procurement, it said.

Referring to the recruitment process of security personnel, the home ministry said it was an ongoing and a continuous one.

For a force of 70,000, about 3,000 policemen retire every year and there is always a pipeline of 6,000 people under recruitment, it said.

Chhattisgarh Police force is well equipped and a Bastar package for police was introduced in 2015. There is complete coordination between the Center and state forces. In fact 2016 has been the most successful year in anti-LWE operation, it said.

As compared to an average of 30 Naxals killed every year, 135 Maoists were neutralized in 2016 which is three times the number of police personnel killed.

Even this year, 32 Naxals have been killed so far which is more than the average annual killings of Naxals before 2015.

It is wrong to say that 72 CRPF personnel have sacrificed their lives in 2017. As a matter of fact 38 CRPF personnel have been killed in Chhattisgarh in 2017. These figures clearly indicate that anti-Naxal operations are achieving success, the statement said.

The central government's policy has been very helpful and has substantially brought down the violence figures in the state. There has been 7 per cent decline in overall violence incidents since 2013. The LWE cadres are in fact in retreat and resorting to desperate attacks.

A Bastaria Battalion has been sanctioned recently with a strength of around 750 to be recruited from the local tribals. Similarly 10 Special India Reserve Battalions (SIRB) and 56 India Reserve Battalions are being raised in the LWE areas.

On the development front various initiatives have been taken recently such as sanction of a 5,412 km road project at a cost of Rs 11,725 crore, inclusion of all 35 worst-affected LWE districts in the skill development program, providing Navodaya and Kendriya Vidyalayas, banks, ATMs and post offices in these districts.

On the health front, the statement said, the flagship NHRM program is followed up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on a constant basis and a super specialty hospital has been approved recently at Jagdalpur by way of upgrading of Jadgalpur Medical College. 

The next of kin of the soldiers killed currently get around Rs 84 lakhs as assistance.

There were no directions by the home ministry regarding not showing grieving widows on TV channels. It was a suggestion verbally made keeping in mind the sensitivities of the bereaved families and the fundamental decency of not intruding to the privacy of the grieving families, it said.