India: Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

INDIA Updated: Sep 22, 2019 10:28 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019.
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. (Photo: ANI)

Almost seven months after Indian Air Force jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist facility in Pakistan’s Balakot, the globally proscribed group has revived the complex, where it is training 40 jihadists to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India, in the garb of a new name to avoid international scrutiny, HT has learnt.

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Islamabad relaxed restrictions over terror groups targeting India after August 5, when the Indian government pushed through the moves on Kashmir, and on the eve of the “Leaders dialogue on strategic responses to terrorism and violent extremism” at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak at the conference, followed by Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella and others.

On February 27, IAF fighters flew deep into Pakistan to bomb the Markaz Syed Ahmad Shaheed facility at Balakot in Manshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in reprisal for a February 14 suicide car bombing in J&K’s Pulwama that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force in the deadliest single attack in 30 years of insurgency. Tensions between the subcontinental neighbours escalated as a result.

According to Indian counter-terror operatives, anti-India terror groups that have kept a low profile following Pulwama and its aftermath were reactivated after August 5 with JeM operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar meeting his handlers in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, the very next day in Rawalpindi to formulate a jihadist response to the Indian moves on Kashmir.

Intelligence inputs indicate that JeM may target not only Jammu and Kashmir but also Gujarat and Maharashtra under a new name to avoid international scrutiny. Pakistan-based terror groups have been asked to use Kashmiri- origin terrorists and,in this context, are also reviving dormant groups like the Al Umnar Mujahideen led by Mushtaq Zargar alias Latram.

Pakistan watchers say that the Jaish has started advanced “daura tarbiya” courses for 50 jihadists in Markaz Subhan Allah and Markaz Usman-o-Ali in Bahawalpur, with the Peshawar and Jamrud facilities also being activated for action in Kashmir. Daurya tarbiya is a religious programme designed to radicalise a recipient and a precursor to weapons and subversive training.

Refresher courses have been started by the terror group in its camps in Manshera, Gulpur and Kotli with the Balakot facility being reactivated for jihad training for the first time after the Indian air strike. The reactivation of the Balakot facility has been confirmed by the Indian national security establishment and the highest levels of government have been informed.

While Jaish has intensified its recruitment drive for Kashmir action in places like Charsada, Mardan and Swabi of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , the terror group, headed by the now terminally ill global terrorist Masood Azhar, has decided to divert its cadre from the Afghanistan front to J&K in a phased manner.

According to intelligence reports, around 100 Jaish cadre are waiting at launch pads across the Poonch and Rajouri sectors at Neelum/Leepa Valley with the focus of planned attacks on Jammu and not Srinagar. Inputs reveal that Mufti Asghar on August 11 itself had instructed his cadre in Sialkot to focus on the army cantonment in Jammu as well as security force convoys plying on the national highway.

“We have reports about Jaish fidayeen (suicide attackers) waiting for lifting of full telecom restrictions in the state to infiltrate and launch attacks,” said a national security official on condition of anonymity.

In Jaish’s Madina Madina fortnightly magazine, Talha Saif, on behalf of Masood Azhar, criticised the leaders of some Muslim countries for coming under the influence of the United States, and simultaneously urged Indian Muslims to rise against the Narendra Modi government.

Rawalpindi’s other terror arm, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) , has reactivated its terror camps post the revocation of Article 370, including aquatic facilities at Mangla in Mirpur and Head Maral in Sialkot while its leader Hafeez Saeed is in custody in Lahore.

According to available inputs, Lashkar has started a two-month-long refresher course at its Manshera camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while its second line leadership, led by Saeed’s son Talha, is advocating jihad in Kashmir through sermons and video messages.

The third group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has also been activated after its leaders met ISI handlers on August 26 and tasked with infiltrating its cadre across the Gurez sector.

First Published: Sep 22, 2019 04:45 I ST

India: As Lunar night falls, hope of contacting Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander fades

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

As Lunar night falls, hope of contacting Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander fades, say experts

Vikram is not designed to withstand temperatures of -180 degrees C and the electronics onboard will become unviable after the lunar night, equivalent to fourteen days on Earth. It will also run out of charge if the solar panels were not deployed after the ‘hard-landing’.

INDIA Updated: Sep 21, 2019 06:12 IST

Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Live telecast of soft landing of Vikram module of Chandrayaan 2 on lunar surface in Bengaluru.
Live telecast of soft landing of Vikram module of Chandrayaan 2 on lunar surface in Bengaluru.(PTI)

The beginning of lunar night between Friday and Saturday at the landing site of Vikram lander marked the end of Indian Space Research Organization’s (Isro’s) hope of re-establishing communication with it.

Vikram is not designed to withstand temperatures of -180 degrees C and the electronics on-board will become unviable after the lunar night, equivalent to fourteen days on Earth. It will also run out of charge if the solar panels were not deployed after the ‘hard-landing’.

The temperature is about 130 degrees C during the day.

Isro scientists have been trying to communicate with the lander since September 7, when the last phase of the 15-minute powered descent did not go as planned. Scientists lost communication with the lander when it was just 2.1 km above the lunar surface.

“We can now say that there is no hope of Isro communicating with the lander, the mission life of the lander-rover is over. The mission was designed to conduct experiments during the lunar day and does not have the kind of shielding that can keep the electronics warm and functioning,” said Nirupam Roy, assistant professor of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.

“And, it was unnecessary too. The fourteen days were sufficient for the lander-rover to conduct all the experiments and send back the data. The shielding would have just added weight and cost to the mission,” he added.

For the Vikram lander to be able to communicate, it should have enough power and the antenna should be properly oriented. There are two ways that the Vikram could communicate either with the Orbiter going around the moon or directly with the Earth.

“The Vikram lander communicates in two frequencies – the X band that is high bandwidth (better quality) but very focused, which could be picked by the orbiter when it is over the landing site. The other S-band, which has lower bandwidth, but is omni-directional can be used to communicate with the Earth, but even the antenna should be facing the Earth without anything in between. However, with the lunar night setting in, there is no possibility of communicating with the lander, even if it had survived the landing,” said Jatan Mehta, former science officer of TeamIndus, a Bangalore-based private company that aims to send a lander-rover to the moon.

First Published: Sep 20, 2019 23:50 IST

India: Schools shut in Mumbai after alert of extremely heavy rainfall today

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Schools shut in Mumbai after alert of extremely heavy rainfall today

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasted heavy rainfall and has issued a red rain alert for Mumbai and Raigad districts. This indicates a precipitation of more than 204 mm in 24 hours starting Thursday morning.

INDIA Updated: Sep 19, 2019 11:54 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A car stuck in Rain Water under Sanpada Subway during Heavy Rains in Navi Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.
A car stuck in Rain Water under Sanpada Subway during Heavy Rains in Navi Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. (Bachchan Kumar/ Hindustan Times)

Mumbai city and the adjoining areas are likely to witness “extremely heavy rainfall” on Thursday, said an IMD official.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasted heavy rainfall and has issued a red rain alert for Mumbai and Raigad districts. This indicates a precipitation of more than 204 mm in 24 hours starting Thursday morning.

However, Mumbai would receive heavy rainfall on Friday, but Raigad will continue to receive extremely heavy showers that day also, the official said.

Education minister Ashish Shelar has announced that all schools and junior colleges in Thane, Konkan and Mumbai region will remain shut as the weather department forecast a red alert in these regions. He also asked district collectors to keep an eye on the developments.

ashish shelar

@ShelarAshish

In view of heavy rainfall forecasts. As a precautionary measure, holiday is declared for all schools & junior colleges in Mumbai, Thane, Konkan region for today 19 Sep 2019. District collectors in other parts of Maharashtra to decide, based on local conditions.

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This monsoon continued to sweep away records after the city reported its wettest September ever on Wednesday, breaking a 65-year-old record. With another 12 days to go till the end of the month, Mumbai has received 984.3mm rain from September 1 to September 18.

First Published: Sep 19, 2019 07:06 IST

India: Fake Twitter handles of Indian army officers spawn as Pakistan ups propaganda

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Fake Twitter handles of Indian army officers spawn as Pakistan ups propaganda

“In the past 6 days at least 69 of my Indian soldiers have been killed in unprovoked fire by Pakistan Army,” a fake Twitter handle allegedly that of a serving colonel serving in Jammu and Kashmir said.

INDIA Updated: Sep 18, 2019 07:45 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The diplomatic war between India and Pakistan has spawned a spate of fake social media accounts of Indian army officers.
The diplomatic war between India and Pakistan has spawned a spate of fake social media accounts of Indian army officers.(ANI Photo)

The diplomatic war between India and Pakistan over New Delhi scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status has spilled over into the cyber world, spawning a spate of fake social media accounts of Indian army officers.

At least 50 Twitter accounts masquerading as personal handles of senior generals and commanders including Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh “highlighting alleged atrocities” in Kashmir were shut down at the request of the security agencies, said senior officials in the security apparatus who didn’t want to be named.

“In the past 6 days at least 69 of my Indian soldiers have been killed in unprovoked fire by Pakistan Army,” a fake Twitter handle allegedly that of a serving colonel serving in Jammu and Kashmir said.

Similarly, a fake Twitter account allegedly that of former Directorate General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia said, “according to my intelligence report there is more than 700 Kashmiri has been killed thousands of women were raped there is completely blackout, school colleges are closed. Shame on Us.”

Likewise, the Twitter handle of former Vice Chief of Army Staff Devraj Anbu said the removal of Article 370 was a big mistake.

Interestingly, a fake Twitter account allegedly of Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit who is an accused in the Malegaon blast case and is now out on bail also carries a tweet against the establishment.

Since August 5, there has been a sudden spike in the number of social media accounts, another senior official said. “These are part of the effort to shape the information environment,” he said.

On August 5, the Centre abrogated Article 370 that conferred special status to Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two union territories.

Intriguingly, some of the fake Twitter accounts were opened in months in advance but were dormant up till August 2019.

“An analysis shows a clear trend, some of these fake accounts posted normal humdrum stuff on and off. The credibility of the people behind the accounts ensured an organic growth in the number of followers. An account of serving colonel opened in July 2019 gathered over 1500 followers. After, August 5, these handles tried to saturate the environment with messages about atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir and Article 370,” a third senior official monitoring the cyber world said.

The assault in the cyber world has been so severe that New Delhi has tasked a team comprising security agencies and the military to monitor the cyber world for such messages and counter them. The messages from the fake accounts of well known individuals create doubt among the people at large, affect the morale of the nation and, at another level they affect the forces as well, said an officer associated with monitoring these messages.

“The removal of Article 370 has put the Pakistan Army in a spot which for the last 70 years has claimed to be the saviours of Kashmir. At another level, they have always used proxies whether in 1947, 1965 and 1999. The fake social media messaging is aimed at gaining moral ascendency over India by trying to create a fake narrative,” said Major General (Retd) Harsha Kakar.

First Published: Sep 18, 2019 05:29 IST

India: ‘We put fear of law into hearts of criminals’: UP DGP OP Singh

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

‘We put fear of law into hearts of criminals’: UP DGP OP Singh

UP Police took stock of the situation and decided to mount a very aggressive posture towards criminals and gangs.

LUCKNOW Updated: Sep 17, 2019 05:47 IST

Shishir Gupta
DGP Singh single-handedly commands the largest police force in the world.
DGP Singh single-handedly commands the largest police force in the world. (HT FILE)

For a state police chief, who was once blooded in the badlands of western UP, 59-year-old-O P Singh is totally opposed to medieval instant justice and is a stickler for discipline. As he single-handedly commands the largest police force in the world, DGP Singh spoke to Shishir Gupta in Lucknow on various aspects of policing. Excerpts:

How is the law and order situation right now in comparison to the past years ?

When I took over two years ago, I found that there was systematic destruction of police institutions in the past decade. Maintenance of law and order had gone haywire, criminal activities were on the rise. The people of the state were on tenterhooks with huge questions over women safety. The rate of cyber crime was up. We took stock of the situation and decided to mount a very aggressive posture towards criminals and gangs. We put the fear of law into the hearts of gangs and criminals in each district by not only raiding their houses but engaging them upfront. In the past two years, we have rounded up not less than 10,000 criminals and, using Section 14 (1) of the Gangster Act, we seized property worth Rs 197 crore of these mafia dons. This has never been done in the past. We neutralised no less than 96 gangsters who were carrying rewards on their heads. This gave a strong message to the public at large that UP Police meant business. In fact, thanks to the heat mounted by us, a number of criminals surrendered in court.

So do the numbers show that the crime in the heinous category has gone down?

Yes, yes. It is has certainly gone down. If you look at the statistics, you will see a decline of 25% in dacoity, in robbery there is a decline of 30% in the loot category, and in murders there is a decline of 12%. Secondly, we have been successful in conducting religious processions in peace — be it Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Dusshera and Muharram. Besides this, we conducted the Kumbh Mela very successfully as well as the 2019 General Elections.

Have you been able to control indiscipline and corruption in your force?

Transforming the behaviour of policemen is a big challenge, particularly when the force is three lakh strong. I am sorry to say incidents do happen that dent the image of the police, as in Siddharthnagar (where a man was thrashed by local police on September 13). I have made it very clear to my force that if the policemen are going to be rewarded for good work, their unprofessional conduct will also be punished.

Do you have any numbers to say that you have punished police officials for unprofessional conduct?

I have punished not less than 400 officers and men. They were dismissed from service after due process of law. This was also the case in Siddharthnagar.

So what happened in Siddharthnagar and what did you do about it?

In Siddharthnagar, the police got information that there was a minor scuffle between two persons of the same community. The police reached the spot and, according to the local thana, the chap who was caught was drunk. My sub-inspector and constable beat him mercilessly in front of almost 50-60 people, but the worst part is that the five-year-old daughter of the victim was also standing there. I feel this act was inhuman. When I saw the video being circulated on the social media, I ordered suspension of the errant personnel and registration of a case against them. The SHO of the area has also been suspended.

Under what provision of law have you booked the errant sub-inspector?

The two police personnel have been charged with attempt to murder. Nobody will be spared. Police are not above the law. Discipline must be maintained.

Why does UP police act like the imperial force of the past? Is it lack of training, discipline or failure of command and control?

You are partly right as there has been a lot of indiscipline in the past. In the past decade, the UP police have been known for very wrong reasons. But in the past two years, there has been a massive change through expert-led workshops and training programmes. In fact, a third party assessment-cum-audit found that there has been a 40% improvement in police behaviour in the past two years. I believe this assessment as the Siddharthnagar incident cannot tarnish the entire force.

How has been your action on crime against women?

We have taken very strong measures. First, we have created anti-romeo squads, which are still functioning very effectively. More than 37 lakh people have been given warnings by these anti-romeo squads. They intensively patrol all vulnerable routes. We are also going for safe city projects in future. Strength of UP 100 vehicles has been increased, their routes have been re-designated. The response time of UP 100 has been reduced from 23 to 11 minutes.

Are you using technology in this?

Yes and that too in a big way. UP 100 has been integrated with fire services, ambulances, 1090 (women safety) and railways. So if you are travelling in a railway compartment and feeling uncomfortable, you just have to tweet or call UP 100 for action to be taken.

After your action in Siddharthnagar, many of your peers will feel that this will lower the morale of forces. Will you continue to punish errant policemen?

Absolutely. As the police chief, I am responsible for security of 23 crore people in the state. Nobody, including the police, will be allowed to take the law into their hands. Inhuman acts on the part of policemen will be punished.

A crime which is localised to perhaps one square kilometres is now projected 1000 times all over the place. How do you handle this public outrage generated by social media?

In the past two years, we have been using the social media platforms in a big way. We can call ourselves pioneers in the country and have bagged five to six awards for this innovative work. Apart from the Karnataka police, we are the only police force licensed to use Twitter Sewa. Our social media platform is much more interactive and through this we have been able to control crime and redress grievances. We have busted fake news. We have a social media cell in all of our 75 districts. I myself monitor the social media platform at the headquarters with the help of a number of senior officers.

Fake news sometime leads to communal violence, arson and mayhem. Are you able to make these platforms accountable, considering majority of them have servers outside the country?

In some instances, we have taken action by registering a case as also informing the platforms on whose servers the fake news is being distributed. We have also arrested persons propagating fake news. We verify videos posted on social media through non-political digital volunteers, 250 of whom have access to each police station. We immediately repudiate fake news. We have also appointed coordinators in foreign countries too. For instance, we have a lady in the United Kingdom who has been acting as a coordinator for the NRI (Non-Resident Indian ) handle used to sort out problems faced by their kith and kin back home.

UP was notorious for communal riots. Have you been able to control it?

Absolutely. For the last two years, there has been not even a single case of communal riots. Whenever we have a problem of a communal nature, we immediately attend with minimum response time.

How have you been able to control terror and religious radicalisation in the state?

The state was affected by terror activities from 2005 to 2010 and maybe as late as 2016, when we killed a terrorist in an encounter. We have contained terror due to strong police emphasis on this aspect through actionable intelligence as well as the support of central agencies. In the past 18 months, we have had good catches too. Two persons were arrested recently from Deoband on the allegation of their links with the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed/ Indian Mujahideen terror group.

We also busted a case of terror funding. So far as radicalisation is concerned, we have been acting in a subtle manner. For example, we caught a youth from Rampur, who was about to leave for Jammu and Kashmir six months ago to participate in terror activities. I myself interrogated the radicalised youth.

What are your police modernisation plans?

We will have one forensic science lab in each of our 18 police ranges. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has already cleared the proposal for a forensic science and police university in Lucknow. So far as cyber crime is concerned, we have two police stations—Lucknow and Noida—dedicated to this new age crime and have requested the government for six such dedicated stations. We intend to have a cyber crime police station in all the eight zones. For the first time, we have appointed an IG exclusively looking after cyber crime with a state-of-the-art laboratory in Lucknow. Very soon, we will have a cyber hub in Noida through the PPP model on the lines of Karnataka.

First Published: Sep 17, 2019 03:52 IST

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

(This article is courtesy of India’s Hindustan Times)

 

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

INDIA Updated: Sep 14, 2019 14:20 I ST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.(AP)

With Pakistan getting no traction for its efforts to raise the Kashmir issue at least four times at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Islamabad is at its wit’s end about forcing an urgent debate or introducing a resolution at the session in Geneva.

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

Pakistan, as a coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued a joint statement that claimed all 58 members were supporting Islamabad and standing against New Delhi for revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. While OIC members haven’t castigated the coordinator for issuing a statement on their behalf or challenged the document, an influential section of the grouping has made it privately known to Indian counterparts that it has little to do with the statement.

WATCH | Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?

Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?
“Pakistan’s bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue again, this time at the UNHRC will come to a naught,” opines Hindustan Times’ Executive Editor Shishir Gupta in HT Conversations.
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To date, Pakistan has not named the 58 countries, apart from China and other Arab non-members, who are backing the statement on the changes in Kashmir and alleged human rights violations.

“The fact that Pakistan, despite raking up the issue four or five times in Geneva, has got no overt support in the UNHRC shows that the council has no appetite to discuss Kashmir,” said a top UN diplomat.

“I would say a debate over the issue without any outcome is possible as European nations are silent on the issue and feel there is no harm in debating Kashmir. However, the possibility of Pakistan forcing a resolution in Geneva is very unlikely,” the diplomat added.

Apart from Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua’s statements, Islamabad has made two “right of reply” interventions on the Kashmir issue since the council’s session began on September 9.

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support. It is understood Pakistan had got support on the Kashmir issue from a 22-member Arab group, though only a couple of them are members of the UNHRC.

Pakistan has so far not moved the UNHRC for an urgent debate and Indian diplomats are keeping their powder dry to scuttle any such move. Ajay Bisaria, who was till recent India’s envoy to Islamabad and was sent to Geneva to help counter Pakistan’s efforts, will stay on till the UNHRC session ends on September 27, people familiar with developments said.

“If the statements by Pakistan on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir have no support from UNHRC members, it will be very difficult for Pakistan to muster the numbers to force a debate, what to talk of a resolution in Geneva,” said a senior diplomat.

First Published: Sep 14, 2019 00:56 IST

Pakistan claims backing of 60 countries on its Jammu and Kashmir statement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pakistan claims backing of 60 countries on its Jammu and Kashmir statement

The text of the statement was posted on the website of the Foreign Office after it was delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, but Pakistan did not identify the nations purportedly supporting it.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2019 09:52 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents

Hindustan Times,
Security personnel and police at a barricade in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Friday, September 06, 2019.
Security personnel and police at a barricade in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Friday, September 06, 2019. (Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)

Pakistan has submitted to the UNHRC a “joint statement” on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir which it said was supported by some 60 countries that it didn’t publicly identify, triggering questions about the backing for the move.

The text of the statement was posted on the website of the Foreign Office after it was delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, but Pakistan did not identify the nations purportedly supporting it.

A member of the Pakistani delegation at the UNHRC in Geneva said a list of these countries would be handed over to the Indian delegation but people familiar with developments said this hadn’t happened.

The people cited above said the statement reportedly had the backing of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Pakistan’s all-weather ally China.

However, diplomats from several OIC member states, such as Indonesia, distanced themselves from the move during their interactions with their Indian counterparts, the people said.

“The fact that the list hasn’t been made public means there is something amiss. Pakistan could have sounded out the countries privately but these countries haven’t publicly spoken on the issue,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also watch | ‘False, concocted’: India’s stinging rebuttal to Pak at UN meet

‘False, concocted’: India’s stinging rebuttal to Pak at UN meet | J&K-Art 370
India delivered a stinging riposte to Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
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The Indian side is keeping a close eye on Pakistan’s efforts to present a resolution or push for an “urgent debate” on Kashmir at the UNHRC but the prevalent view in New Delhi is that Islamabad won’t be able to muster the numbers to take either of them forward, the people said.

“A simple majority of UNHRC members present and voting is required for a resolution or an urgent debate. Abstentions will reduce it further,” said a person who didn’t want to be named.

The UNHRC has 47 members from across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and Indian diplomats have mounted an extensive outreach programme in New Delhi and key capital to shore up support for the country’s position on the Kashmir issue.

The people said out of the UNHRC’s members, only China and Pakistan had mentioned the Kashmir issue in their national statements while others made no reference to it at all, reflecting greater understanding for India’s position.

Pakistan’s joint statement referred to the “worsening” rights and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated several of the demands raised by foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his speech at the UNHRC on Tuesday.

It said the world community should seek the protection of fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people, immediate ending of the communications shutdown and release of detained people, immediate halt to use of force, access for human rights groups and international media and setting up of a UN commission of inquiry to probe alleged rights violations.

It also sought the “peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UNSC resolutions”.

There was no response to the joint statement from Indian officials. However, the Indian delegation at the UNHRC said on Tuesday that Pakistan is using the Kashmir issue to support jehad and cross-border terrorism. It also said the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and reorganisation of the state were “entirely internal to India”.

Also read | ‘Created a lot of terror’: Lashkar terrorist who shot at Kashmiri toddler killed

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 00:00 IST

India: Jaish chief Masood Azhar secretly released from Pakistan jail: Intelligence report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Jaish chief Masood Azhar secretly released from Pakistan jail: Intelligence report

According to an intelligence input, Pakistan has released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks.There are also reports of a Pakistan plan to carry out a “big action” in Sialkot-Jammu and Rajasthan sectors in the coming days.

INDIA Updated: Sep 09, 2019 09:43 IST

Neeraj Chauhan
Neeraj Chauhan

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar(AFP file photo)

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has alerted the government about the deployment of additional Pakistani troopers along the border near Rajasthan and said Islamabad has released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks, according to two officials aware of the developments. HT has also accessed an input issued in this regard.

According to the input, Pakistan is planning “big action” in Sialkot-Jammu and Rajasthan sectors in the coming days in response to the government’s move to revoke Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir some autonomy and prevented non-residents from buying property and getting government jobs in the state. The input warned that Pakistan has started deploying additional troops near the Rajasthan border as part of the plan.

The input has been conveyed to the respective Border Security Force and army field formations in Jammu and Rajasthan sectors “to avoid any surprises” from the Pakistani army and the troops have been asked to remain alert, the officials cited above said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday threatened “fullest possible response” to India’s moves in Jammu and Kashmir. Khan added the global community would be responsible for any “catastrophic” aftermath as he continued his rhetoric amid rising tensions with New Delhi since the government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

The comments by Khan, who last week said there was a risk of India-Pakistan war, came on a day Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said they were prepared to “go till any extent”. Bajwa added they were ready to “give sacrifices for our Kashmiri brothers, fulfil our duty till the last bullet, last soldiers and last breath”.

Amid rising tensions between the two countries, the IB input said Pakistan has “secretly” released Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar to plan terrorist operations while other terror organisations were also working openly. There were uncorroborated reports after the February 14 car bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that Pakistani agencies had taken Azhar into protective custody.

Also watch: Navy chief reveals intel of Jaish-e-Mohammad training ‘underwater wing’

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JeM took responsibility for the attack in which 40 paramilitary troopers were killed and prompted India to carry airstrikes on the group’s camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26.

One of the officials cited above said Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had no inkling that the Indian government would revoke Article 370 on August 5. “It is being considered the ISI’s biggest intelligence failure in history and now they are under pressure to act,’’ the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official added while the Pakistani army will try to play mischief, militants like Azhar have been unleashed to carry out terror attacks in India. “Pakistan may try to use the current situation and the Indian government’s focus in Jammu and Kashmir to target somewhere else.”

Azhar, who is wanted in India for several attacks, including the 2016 Pathankot airbase attack, was among four people declared as individual terrorists on August 4 under a new anti-terror law passed in August.

In an interaction with journalists on Saturday, national security adviser Ajit Doval said Pakistan is trying to create trouble and some 230 terrorists have been spotted across the border.

There have been sporadic skirmishes along the India-Pakistan border since August 5. Army chief General Bipin Rawat told HT last week that Pakistan has reopened terror training camps and attempted to push infiltrators. He said that the Indian Army is ready for any eventuality.

Internal security expert Ajay Sahni said Pakistan sees the abrogation of Article 370 as a provocation and has to be seen doing something about it, saying: “Also, Pakistan is under tremendous pressure from the international community over terrorism, failing the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] yardsticks, the economic situation, and others, which are limiting its capacity to respond. It is difficult to predict how Pakistan will respond.” Sahni, however, cautioned against taking all the IB inputs at face value.

First Published: Sep 09, 2019 05:27 IST

India Just Found Its Lost Vikram Lander on the Moon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

India Just Found Its Lost Vikram Lander on the Moon, Still No Signal

The Indian Space Research Organisation's Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.
(Image: © India Space Research Organisation)

India’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter circling the moon has spotted the country’s lost Vikram lander on the lunar surface, but there is still no signal from the lander, according to Indian media reports.

K Sivan, chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said today (Sept. 8) that the Vikram lander was located by Chandrayaan-2 and efforts to restore contact the probe will continue for at least 14 days, according to a Times of India report.

“We have found the location of Lander Vikram on [the] lunar surface and Orbiter has clicked a thermal image of Lander,” Sivan told the ANI news service in an interview, adding that attempts to communicate with the lander are ongoing.

Video: The Moment India Lost Contact with the Vikram Moon Lander
Related: 
India’s Chandrayaan-2 Mission to the Moon in Photos

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Communications Lost With India’s Lunar Lander During Descent
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The Vikram lander went silent Friday (Sept. 6) while attempting a first-ever landing near the moon’s south pole. ISRO lost contact with Vikram when the lander was just 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) above the lunar surface, raising fears that it may have crashed on the moon. The Vikram lander is India’s first moon lander, and is carrying the country’s first lunar rover, called Pragyan.

ISRO officials have not yet released the Chandrayaan-2 image of Vikram on the lunar surface or described the potential condition of the lander. But they have said that despite the lander’s presumed failed moon landing, the craft has already demonstrated key technologies for future missions.

The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km (22 miles) to just below 2 km above the surface,” ISRO officials wrote in an update Saturday (Sept. 7). “All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander.”

Related: We Came Very Close:’ Indian PM Modi Lauds Chandrayaan-2 Team

As ISRO tries to regain contact with the Vikram moon lander, the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is doing well in lunar orbit, the space agency said. In fact, the orbiter could last well beyond its planned one-year mission.

“The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community,” ISRO officials said in the Sept. 7 statement. “The precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year.”

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.

(Image credit: India Space Research Organisation)

The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is equipped with eight different science instruments to study the moon from above. Those instruments include: a high resolution camera, a lunar terrain mapping camera; a solar X-ray monitor; an imaging infrared spectrometer; a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar for studying moon water ice and lunar mapping; a sensor to study the moon’s thin exosphere; and a dual frequency radio science experiment to study the moon’s ionosphere.

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon after the Chandrayaan-1 mission of 2008 and 2009. An instrument on that first mission discovered the spectral signature for water across wide swaths of the moon, with big concentrations at the lunar poles, where permanently shadowed craters allow water ice to stay frozen.

Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 Launch and Land on Moon in New Animation
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The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter aims to pick up where its predecessor left off.

“This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission,” ISRO officials said in the update. “The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments.”

Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

INDIA Updated: Sep 08, 2019 09:03 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, Singapore
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

With a crucial UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session beginning on Monday, New Delhi’s aim is to ensure that Pakistan does not secure any outcome on Kashmir. Pakistani foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi personally leads the charge against India in Geneva from September 9 to 12.

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

According to diplomats and security officials based here, Geneva and New Delhi, while foreign minister S Jaishankar has personally contacted or visited each and every member of the 47-member UNHRC, national security adviser Ajit Doval has managed the internal situation in Kashmir. The government will stress the fact that not a single life has been lost in Jammu and Kashmir at the hands of Indian security forces. The vital political aspect of Kashmir is being handled by home minister Amit Shah.

The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.

Also Watch | Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move

 

Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move
Hindustan Times’ executive editor Shishir Gupta explains how the trio of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Ajit Doval orchestrated the move to bring about this landmark decision on Kashmir of revoking the contentious Article 370.
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According to diplomats, Pakistan will first assess the situation before it either calls for an urgent debate or resolution at the UNHRC. If Pakistan moves for an urgent debate by writing a letter to the UNHRC president, then the matter will be put to a simple majority vote with absentees or abstentions not being counted. The other option for Pakistan is to move a resolution citing alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, but this will also be put to vote. However, the matter is tedious as China and the UK (in the first round) took Pakistan’s side on August 16 at the UNSC. The eventual result, though was a knockout totally in favour of India with the US, France and Russia against the outcome.

Since the August 5-6 resolutions and laws that scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Jaishankar has been on the move, travelling to China, Indonesia, the Maldives, Belgium, Poland, Russia and Hungary explaining the Indian position on Jammu and Kashmir. He has engaged Indian Ocean rim countries and others including South Africa, Fiji, Australia and the Philippines over the phone to defeat Pakistani designs. He is currently in Singapore working away the phones as he has been tasked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convince UNHRC members that Kashmir is an internal matter of India.

On Friday, speaking at the HT-MintAsia summit in Singapore, Jaishankar said most countries accepted that the Indian move to nullify Article 370 was an internal issue. “They think it’s an Indian issue. They are aware, in part from the reactions, that Pakistan is saying some pretty strong things about it. The general sentiment is that if there are issues at all, India and Pakistan should sit down and sort it out,” the minister said.

Doval bears the onerous task of handling the internal security situation in Kashmir and ensure that innocents are not used as cannon fodder by Rawalpindi general headquarters (GHQ) to project alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. Interacting with reporters in Delhi, Doval made it clear that more than 230 jihadists were waiting across the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate India and spread mayhem in the Valley at the behest of their Pakistani handlers.

Reeling out the figures, Doval, who handled the J&K internal security on the ground till August 15, said that contrary to some reports, medical services in the region haven’t been hit: at least 400,000 people have been treated, 35,000 admitted and 11,000 operated upon for a variety of ailments since August 5, he explained. He said all landline connectivity has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir with some amount of mobile connectivity in Jammu, Ladakh and two districts ( Kupwara and Handwara) in Kashmir. Internet kiosks have been opened in all 10 districts of Kashmir with a minimum five terminals apart from 12 counters with internet access also available at the tourist reception centre in Srinagar. There are eight internet terminals working at the media centre in Srinagar.

According to the NSA, restrictions on movement have been lifted from 92% of the state and are in place now in only 11 out of 199 police station areas in the region. More than 1.67 metric tons of apples have been transported and ~98 crores disbursed through ATMs in the state to date, he added, listing two other issues that have been highlighted — the status of the apple trade and the availability of cash. Schools too are open, he told reporters.

However, Doval added that Indian agencies have intercepted messages that point to efforts to disrupt the movement of the trucks carrying apples. This is the peak apple season and the trade in Kashmir is worth around Rs 15,000 crore a year.

First Published: Sep 08, 2019 05:38 IST