Indians get more UK visas as European Union citizens exit over Brexit

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

 

Indians get more UK visas as European Union citizens exit over Brexit

Indians were granted the highest number of visitor visas during the year ending September 2018: up 41,224 (or 10%) to 4,68,923; Chinese and Indian nationals alone accounted for just under half (47%) of all visit visas granted.

WORLD Updated: Nov 29, 2018 22:07 IST

Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Indian,UK visa,European Union
New figures released on Thursday show a rise in the number of visas granted to Indian professionals, visitors, students and family members, but also reflect the Brexit reality of more EU citizens leaving the United Kingdom.(File Photo)

New figures released on Thursday show a rise in the number of visas granted to Indian professionals, visitors, students and family members, but also reflect the Brexit reality of more EU citizens leaving the United Kingdom.

Indians were granted the highest number of visitor visas during the year ending September 2018: up 41,224 (or 10%) to 4,68,923; Chinese and Indian nationals alone accounted for just under half (47%) of all visit visas granted.

The demand for Indian professionals continued during the year, with 55 per cent of all Tier 2 (skilled) visas granted to them, the figures released by the Office for National Statistics show.

The number of Indian students coming to study at UK universities also showed a 33 per cent rise, to 18,735. Chinese and Indian students accounted for almost half of all students visas granted during the year.

There was also an increase in the family-related visas for Indians (up 881 to 3,574). The number of EEA family permits given to Indians (members of families of EU citizens) was also up 4,245 to 8,360, official sources said.

Figures showing more EU citizens leaving than arriving in the UK prompted renewed concern over the impact of Brexit. The net migration from the EU to the UK slumped to a six-year low, while non-EU migration is the highest in more than a decade.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “EU migrants have been leaving in larger numbers since the referendum, and net inflows have greatly decreased”.

“The lower value of the pound is likely to have made the UK a less attractive place to live and work and economic conditions in several of the top countries of origin for EU migrants have improved”.

First Published: Nov 29, 2018 18:27 IST

Pakistan using hybrid warfare against India

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

 

Pakistan using hybrid warfare against India: Army chief General Bipin Rawat

Bipin Rawat said the whole world was aware that terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were being run by government agencies to cause disruptions in India and that all terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was state sponsored.

INDIA Updated: Nov 29, 2018 00:10 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Pakistan,Imran Khan,Bipin rawat
Bipin Rawat said each act of cowardice in Jammu and Kashmir would be responded to with vigour and no sacrifice made by soldiers would go in vain. (PTI)

On a day Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan made a pitch for peace with India, army chief General Bipin Rawat said that Pakistan has used “hybrid warfare” against India since Independence and continues to do so. He cited the use of irregulars by the Pakistani army in 1947-48, 1965 and, most recently, in the 1999 Kargil war.

Delivering the 9th YB Chavan Memorial Lecture at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses on Addressing the Challenges of Hybrid Conflict in the 21st Century, Rawat said each act of cowardice in Jammu and Kashmir would be responded to with vigour and no sacrifice made by soldiers would go in vain.

Rawat said the whole world was aware that terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were being run by government agencies to cause disruptions in India and that all terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was state sponsored.

He said hybrid warfare was well-sequenced and organised, and focused on support from local population and infrastructure. “War is waged without declaring it, fought with proxies in collusion.”

General Bipin Rawat said hybrid operations last for a long time and the prime intent is to maintain deniability and that was what India was witnessing in Kashmir.

“In the 21st century technological advancements have added greater asymmetry to hybrid warfare. Irregulars can surprise conventional forces with hi-tech gadgets and weapons such as rockets, surface-to-air missiles, sophisticated communication systems and near-instant reach back to their state sponsors,” he said.

He said small but tech-savvy teams with intimate local knowledge and support could cause big disruptions.

Underlining the risks of using hybrid warfare, he said instigators ran the risk of losing control of the choreographed plan and that states practicing this often fall victims to these same tactics.

Responding to a question on whether India should go in for an offensive hybrid war, General Bipin Rawat said, “The stone that is thrown up comes and falls on your head…What happens to those people (the non-state actors) after the end state has been achieved?” Rawat advocated a calibrated offensive and defensive hybrid warfare strategy.

Rawat said the Pakistani military enjoyed supremacy in the country’s internal affairs. “This means they can use all governmental agencies in coordination against us whenever they feel like. Therefore, this hybrid warfare is likely to endure just remaining below the conventional threshold.”

First Published: Nov 28, 2018 22:49 IST

Citing terror by Pakistan, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh declines invite to Kartarpur ceremony

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

 

Citing terror by Pakistan, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh declines invite to Kartarpur ceremony

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh cited terrorist attacks in his state and the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani armed forces.

INDIA Updated: Nov 25, 2018 23:34 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Kartarpur corridor,Amarinder Singh,Imran Khan
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh(AFP File Photo)

Punjab’s chief minister Amarinder Singh has declined an invitation by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend the laying of the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor on November 28, citing terrorist attacks in his state and the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani armed forces.

In a letter to the Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Amarinder welcomed it as a “historic occasion”, which he also described as a “cherished desire of Sikhs around the world”, but said he would not be present for the ceremony across the border.

“[Pakistan’s spy agencies] ISI has started its nefarious activities within Punjab and since my government was sworn in, in March 2017, the state neutralized 19 ISI armed and controlled modules, apprehended 81 terrorists and recovered 79 weapons, in addition to numerous grenades made in Pakistan’s ordnance factories,” said Amarinder, referring to last week’s grenade attack on a Nirankari religious gathering in Amritsar.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the attack that killed three people. Police suspect the role of a Khalistani group backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“I hope the Pakistan Prime Minister will understand that in these circumstances it will not be possible for me to be present in Pakistan, despite the fact that paying my respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been a cherished dream which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities are stopped,” added Amarinder, who received the invitation from Qureshi on the behalf of PM Imran Khan.

But a minister in his state cabinet, Navjot Singh Sidhu, accepted the invitation “with unalloyed joy”.

“As our nations take this first step, the Kartarpur Spirit can make pilgrims of us all, venturing out on a journey that breaks the barriers of history and opens the borders of hearts and the mind,” he wrote in his letter to Qureshi.

Sidhu, on his last visit to Pakistan on August 18 to attend Khan’s swearing in ceremony, sparked a controversy after he hugged Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched an attack and the Punjab CM expressed unhappiness over his gesture, Sidhu justified his visit to Pakistan saying he went there as a messenger of peace and hugged the Pakistani army chief in an emotional response to the information provided by him that the neighbour country was working on the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.

On Thursday, both India and Pakistan agreed to build corridor on their respective sides, to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019. Welcoming the move, Amarinder had said the move will facilitate pilgrims desirous of visiting Kartarpur gurudwara. But the next day the government lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Sikh pilgrims visiting gurudwaras in Pakistan.

Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu will lay foundation stone in Dera Baba Nanak on Indian side on November 26. Amarinder will attend the function, in which his political rival Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will also be a present.

Union minister of state Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the SAD will attend the ceremony on the Pakistan side along with Union urban development minister Hardeep Puri.

First Published: Nov 25, 2018 23:34 IST

Telangana assembly elections 2018: Sonia Gandhi vows to teach TRS a ‘fitting lesson’

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

 

Telangana assembly elections 2018: An emotional Sonia Gandhi vows to teach TRS a ‘fitting lesson’

Telangana assembly elections 2018: Sonia Gandhi said she had to undergo a lot of difficulties while taking a decision on granting statehood to Telangana. She reminded the people that the Congress had to pay a heavy price for its decision to grant Telangana state.

TELANGANA ELECTIONS Updated: Nov 24, 2018 09:12 IST

Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
sonia gandhi,sonia gandhi rally telangana,Telangana Election 2018
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi also sought to reach out to the people of Andhra Pradesh who were angry over bifurcation of the state.(HT Photo)

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who visited Telanagana for the first time on Friday, called upon the people of the county’s newest state to teach a fitting lesson to Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) for completely shattering their hopes and aspirations in the four-and-a- half years of its rule.

Addressing a rally at Medchal on the outskirts of Hyderabad, she said, “It is an emotional moment for me, as I feel like a mother who is meeting her children after several years,” amidst loud cheers from the public.

Gandhi said she had to undergo a lot of difficulties while taking a decision on granting statehood to Telangana. “It was no easy decision, as I had to keep in mind the sentiments and feelings of people from both Andhra and Telangana regions. But, having witnessed the agitations of the people of Telangana and understood their aspirations, I had decided to carve out Telangana state, thanks to the support extended by all my colleagues, including then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi,” she said.

She reminded the people that the Congress had to pay a heavy price for its decision to grant Telangana state. “Politically, it was a big loss for the party. Yet, we had taken the decision in the larger interests of the people of Telangana,” she said.

Read more: Vote share of parties in 2014 elections

The UPA chairperson also sought to reach out the people of Andhra who were angry over the bifurcation of the state. “While passing the bifurcation bill in Parliament, we had promised to take care of all the interests of Andhra Pradesh, including granting of special category status. We are still committed to this promise and once the Congress comes back to power at the Centre, we shall grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh,” she asserted.

Gandhi said she was very much pained to see the plight of the Telangana, even after four and a half years of the formation of new state. “Every mother wants her children to grow stronger and have a bright future. But I am able to see how you are still struggling with lack of development even after four years. The dreams you had when the Telangana state became a reality were totally shattered. The issues – water supply to parched lands, allocation of funds to every sector and filling up of jobs to eradicate unemployment – remained unfulfilled,” she alleged.

Read more: Win map of Telangana in 2014

Also alleging that farmers’ suicides were on the rise in the last four years, she also accused the TRS government of setting aside the central land acquisition act, 2013, brought in by then UPA government to forcibly acquired their lands. Meanwhile, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme was completely ignored, unemployed youth became desperate and self-help group women had become helpless, she added.

“When I used to visit other states in the past, I used to proudly mention about the welfare schemes being implemented in Andhra Pradesh. Now, there is no such opportunity. Every section – SC, ST and other backward classes are totally frustrated. While students and unemployed youth are agitating, only one family (of Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao) is happy,” she said.

Gandhi said the time had come for the people to show their anger at the TRS government. “This is the excellent opportunity for you to come out of all your troubles and lay the path for the progress of the state for a better future of the people. Understand the power of the vote and teach the TRS government a fitting lesson by voting for the Congress and its allies,” she said.

For full coverage, click here

In his brief address, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the time had come for the people to show their gratitude towards Sonia Gandhi who was responsible for achieving statehood to Telangana. “She is very much concerned about the new state and the welfare of the people of all sections. She stood with you and understood your struggle for a separate state,” he said.

He said the Congress had joined hands with other like-minded opposition parties to form an alliance to fulfill the dreams of all sections of people including farmers, students, youth and women. “We must end the dictatorship and single family rule in the state,” he asserted.

Leaders of parties in the Congress-led grand alliance – M Kodandaram of Telangana Jana Samithi, Telugu Desam Party’s Telangana president L Ramana, Communist Party of India state secretary Chada Venkat Reddy – as well as state Congress chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy, also addressed the rally.

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 20:25 IST

India says Pak denying access to Sikh pilgrims

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

 

India says Pak denying access to Sikh pilgrims

The fact that pro-Khalistani posters, banners and slogans were raised near the holy shrines – Gurdawara Nanakana Sahib and Gurdawara Sacha Sauda – only added to India’s anger.

INDIA Updated: Nov 24, 2018 00:01 IST

HT correspondent
HT correspondent
Hindustan Times
kartarpur corridor,nanaksahib gudwara,guru nanak
India on Friday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country to mark the start of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which falls next year.(PTI)

India on Friday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country to mark the start of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which falls next year.

The fact that pro-Khalistani posters, banners and slogans were raised near the holy shrines – Gurdawara Nanakana Sahib and Gurdawara Sacha Sauda – only added to India’s anger.

The efforts to “promote secessionist tendencies” to undermine India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is of “grave concern,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in New Delhi.

Refused access and prevented from entering the shrines, Indian diplomats returned to Islamabad without performing their diplomatic and consular duties vis-a-vis Indian pilgrims, the MEA said. This is the third time in a row that Indian diplomats in Pakistan have been harassed and not allowed to meet Sikh pilgrims citing security reasons, it said.

The spat came just a day after New Delhi and Pakistan decided to develop a corridor on their respective sides of the border to let Sikh pilgrims visit the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the banks of river Ravi in Pakistan. The incident is an indication of the fragile relationship between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

“It is not surprising that this happened. Pakistan is using Khalistan issue like before. Now, of course, with elements from Canada and the UK, Pakistan is trying to rekindle the issue. Pakistan provides support to these people in the gurdwaras, then prevents our diplomats from getting access to the gurdwaras and pilgrims,” said Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary.

Recently, in Amritsar – another holy site for the Sikh faith – grenades were launched at a religious congregation, killing three people and injuring several others.

Later, investigations by the Punjab police showed the grenades were Pakistani-made. The attack, Punjab police said, had been instigated by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and leftover pro-Khalistan elements sheltered by Pakistan.

Interestingly, among those who prevented Indian diplomats was the controversial figure Gopal Singh Chawla, who has earlier been seen with Hafiz Sayeed of the Jammat-Ud-Dawa who is wanted in India for several terror strikes, including the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror strikes in which 166 people were killed and over 300 were injured.

“India has today lodged a strong protest with the government of Pakistan that despite having been granted prior travel permission by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, the Consular officials of the High Commission of India in Islamabad were harassed and denied access on November 21 and 22 at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib and Gurudwara Sacha Sauda,” the MEA said in a statement.

New Delhi also said that “Pakistan has been called upon to take all measures to not allow its territory to be used for any hostile propaganda and support for secessionist tendencies against India in keeping with the commitments made under the Simla Agreement, 1972 and endorsed in the Lahore Declaration, 1999.”.

The Indian pilgrims are visiting Pakistan under a bilateral protocol.

“Pakistan has been reminded that such actions are not in consonance with the stated intentions of Pakistan to facilitate the visits of Indian Sikh pilgrims, especially as we commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji,” the MEA said.

The MEA called the denial of access an attempt to deflect attention from Pakistan’s violation of international legal instruments and conventions like the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Pakistan has been reminded that this is in contrast to the treatment meted out to their high commissioner and the consular officials in New Delhi who have been provided full access to meet the Pakistani pilgrims who are currently in India on a pilgrimage to Kalyar Sharif, the MEA said.

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 23:31 IST

No BJP role in Jammu-Kashmir assembly dissolution: Rajnath Singh

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

 

No BJP role in Jammu-Kashmir assembly dissolution: Rajnath Singh

Governor Malik dissolved the state assembly late on Wednesday night after claims for forming a new government were pressed both by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti and People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone.

INDIA Updated: Nov 23, 2018 07:05 IST

Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times
Jammu and Kashmir,Rajnath Singh,BJP
Home Minister Rajnath Singh(Waseem Andrabi/ HT File Photo)

Home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday distanced the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision to dissolve the state assembly, saying Malik acted after concluding that it wasn’t possible for a new state government to be formed in the current scenario.

“The governor of J&K took the decision after considering the political situation there; he reached to a conclusion that government formation was not possible in the state,” Singh said in an interview with Hindustan Times. “It was a decision taken by the governor. The BJP has no role. It is unfortunate that some section is trying to drag the BJP into this.”

Governor Malik dissolved the state assembly late on Wednesday night after claims for forming a new government were pressed both by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti and People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone. Mufti said she had the support of PDP’s arch rival National Conference (NC) and the Congress, claiming the backing of 56 MLAs. Lone said he had the support of the BJP’s 25 legislators and “more than 18” other members in the 87-seat assembly.

The home minister questioned Mufti’s claim of having secured the support of the Congress. “Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has made a statement that suggests his party had not supported PDP’s bid to form the government. Why did he make that statement if Mufti was right,” Singh asked.

Another senior government functionary claimed that the governor had been considering dissolution of the assembly for the “past three-four days” and there had been no pressure on him from the Centre or any leader to pre-empt Mufti’s bid to form government.

“The governor, it looks, felt there was not a situation where any party had the numbers to form the government,” Singh said. The state has been under governor’s rule since June.

The home minister rejected any notion that the BJP had been spooked by the fact that the PDP, the NC and the Congress had come together to stake a claim for forming a government in J&K. “Where does the question of BJP getting unnerved arise in this case?. It was a decision of the governor,” he said.

The home minister credited Malik for starting the political process in Kashmir.

Singh dismissed concerns that the dissolution of the assembly may lead to another round of uncertainty in Kashmir, and said fresh election will be the obvious next step after Wednesday’s decision.

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 07:04 IST

Amritsar grenade attack could be ‘terrorist act’, say Punjab police

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

 

Amritsar grenade attack could be ‘terrorist act’, say Punjab police

Three persons were killed and at least 10 injured in a grenade attack on a religious congregation on the city outskirts on Sunday, police said.

INDIA Updated: Nov 18, 2018 17:13 IST

Amritsar Bomb blast,bomb blast in Amritsar,blast in Amritsar
Police inspect the site of blast at the Nirankari Bhawan, where two men on a motorcycle threw a grenade during a religious congregation, in Adliwal village near Amritsar, Punjab, Sunday, Nov 18, 2018.(PTI)

Punjab police said Sunday the grenade attack on a religious congregation on the outskirts of Amritsar city appears to be a “terrorist act”.

“It (this incident) appears to have a terror angle. Because it is against a group (of people) and it is not against any individual. There is no reason to throw a hand grenade on a group of people, so we will take it as a terrorist act. Till proven otherwise, prima facie we will take it as that,” Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora told PTI.

To a question, the DGP said there was no specific input about any possible attack on Nirankari Bhavan.

“There was no issue with this group as such… There was no specific input on (Nirankari Bhavan),” he said.

Three persons were killed and at least 10 injured in a grenade attack on a religious congregation on the city outskirts on Sunday, police said.

The attack took place inside the Nirankari Bhavan at Adliwal village near Amritsar’s Rajasansi, close to the international airport, police said.

A religious congregation of the Nirankari sect was being conducted inside the Bhavan at the time of the incident.

“A grenade was lobbed and three people have died in the incident while 10 have been injured in the incident, two of them critically,” Inspector General of Police S S Parmar, who visited the incident spot, told reporters.

He said about 200 devotees were inside at the time of the attack. No CCTV camera was installed at the premises, preliminary investigations found, he said.

“We have launched relief and rescue operations,” he said.

After the attack, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the law and order situation and directed the Home Secretary, DGP (Law and Order) and DG Intelligence to rush to Rajasansi to supervise investigations.

First Published: Nov 18, 2018 17:00 IST

India: Army Soldier Murdered By Pakistan Sniper In Jammu-Kashmir

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

 

Army jawan killed in Pakistan sniper fire in Sunderbani sector of Jammu-Kashmir

An Army jawan was killed in sniper fire in yet another ceasefire violation by Pakistan along the Line of Control in Sunderbani sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

INDIA Updated: Nov 11, 2018 00:02 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jammu
Army jawan killed,Army jawan,Pakistan sniper fire
Rifleman Varun Kattal, a resident of Mawa-Rajpura area of Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir, was shot dead by a sniper from across the border in Sunderbani sector

An Army soldier was killed Saturday in sniper fire by Pakistani troops, while two BSF personnel were injured in cross-border firing along the Line of Control in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

Rifleman Varun Kattal (21), a resident of Mawa-Rajpura area of Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir, was shot dead by a sniper from across the border in Sunderbani sector, the officials said. This was the second sniper attack along the LoC in two days. An Army porter lost his life in a similar attack in Akhnoor sector on Friday.

“At about 0945 hours, unprovoked ceasefire violation was initiated by Pakistan in Sunderbani sector in which one soldier was shot by a sniper from across the border and later succumbed to injuries at 11.10am,” a defence spokesman said, adding his death will not go in vain. He said the Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively on Pakistan army posts.

Two BSF personnel manning a border outpost in Sunderbani sector were also injured in an exchange of fire with Pakistani troops this evening and were hospitalised, the officials said.

On October 21, three soldiers of J&K light infantry regiment and two heavily-armed infiltrators, believed to be members of the Border Action Team of the Pakistani army, and terrorists, were killed in Sunderbani sector.

On Nov 6, a soldier was injured when he was hit by a sniper from across the border in Noushera sector of Rajouri, while a BSF jawan was injured in a separate incident of firing by Pakistan in the Manjakote area of the Rajouri-Poonch sector Friday.

The number of ceasefire violations this year by Pakistan has been the highest in the past eight years. The first seven months saw 52 deaths and 232 people getting injured in 1,435 ceasefire violations in the state, according to an RTI reply by the home ministry.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Nov 10, 2018 14:19 IST

Four highly-trained snipers active in Kashmir

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

 

Four highly-trained snipers active in Kashmir, believe security agencies

Sniper attacks by Jaish-e-Mohammed militants have emerged as a new source of worry for security agencies in Kashmir with three personnel having been killed since mid-September, prompting agencies to re-calibrate their strategy to thwart such strikes, officials said.

INDIA Updated: Oct 28, 2018 23:51 IST

sniper,Kashmir,Jaish-e-Mohammed
Based on intelligence inputs, security agencies believe that at least two separate ‘buddy’ groups of the Jaish-e-Mohammed comprising two terrorists each have entered Kashmir Valley in early September.(AP/Picture for representation)

Sniper attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists has emerged as a new source of worry for security agencies in Kashmir Valley with three personnel having been killed since mid-September, prompting law enforcement agencies to re-calibrate their strategy to thwart such strikes by the Pakistan-based group, officials said.

The first such attack took place at Newa in Pulwama on September 18 when a CRPF personnel was injured. Security officials thought it to be a one-off strike till the recent spate of sniper attacks that claimed the lives of a Sashastra Seema Bal jawan and an Army personnel in Tral, and a CISF jawan in Nowgam.

Based on intelligence inputs, security agencies believe that at least two separate ‘buddy’ groups of the proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) comprising two terrorists each have entered Kashmir Valley in early September and have entrenched themselves in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district with the help of some overground supporters of the outfit.

These terrorists, according to officials, have been thoroughly trained by Pakistan’s external snooping agency ISI for carrying out sniper attacks in Kashmir Valley and have been armed with M-4 carbines, used by the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan.

There is a possibility that these weapons may be part of the arms and ammunition captured by the Taliban, with whom the JeM cadre were fighting the allied forces in Afghanistan, security officials in the state said. However, they said that the weapon was also being used by the special forces of Pakistan Army.

In all the instances of sniper attacks, the terrorists used a nearby hillock to carry out strikes on a security force campus when unsuspecting jawans were using their mobile phones to talk to their family or friends. “These attacks have been precise, even while targeting a personnel inside a sentry post as he uses his mobile phone. They pick up the light of the mobile phone to carry out the attack on jawans,” said one of the officials.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has reacted to the rising cases of sniper attacks. “We’ve dealt with snipers on the border/LoC regularly and have SOPs to deal with those but never in the hinterland. This will force a rethink of all manner of security and protection procedures.”

The M-4 carbine is mounted with a telescope and the terrorists are using night vision devices to locate their potential targets, the officials said. The weapon can fire at its target up to 500-600 metres with precision.

The security agencies, including army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police, have already issued fresh guidelines to their jawans and officers located in camps in the militancy-hit areas. Maintaining a silence over the change in tactics, the officials said that more combing operations would be carried out around the security camps.

They said that Jaish cadres were likely to carry out more such attacks in the future, but added that some modules had been identified and these cases were likely to be cracked soon.

The security agencies had been observing that while pushing the terrorists into Kashmir Valley from the Line of Control (LoC), ISI meticulously planned to send in Jaish-e-Mohammed cadre along.

Those terrorists were armed with the best possible arsenal including bullets with steel core – with the capability to pierce a static bullet proof bunker used during counter-terrorism operations, the officials said.

The first such incident was noticed on the New Year eve when JeM terrorists had carried out a suicide attack on a CRPF camp in Lethpora in South Kashmir. Five personnel of the para-military force were killed in the attack and one of them was hit by a bullet fatally despite using a static bullet-proof shield provided by the Army, officials said.

A thorough inquiry into the attack showed that the bullet fired by the terrorist from the assault AK rifle was of steel core with the capability of piercing through the static bunkers used by security personnel during encounters with terrorists.

Generally, the AK bullets used in the armoury have a lead core covered with mild steel which cannot penetrate a bullet proof shield but after the December 31, 2017 encounter and subsequent findings, the rules of the proxy-war changed, the officials said.

A detailed analysis of the previous suicide attacks was carried out during which ballistic analysis of the terror attack on district police lines of Pulwama in South Kashmir in last August showed that ‘steel core’ bullets had been used by the terrorists in that encounter with security personnel. Eight security personnel had lost their lives in the terror strike.

The ammunition, according to the officials, is being modified from across the border with the help of Chinese technology of encasing the bullet with hard steel core. At the United Nations, India has been seeking a ban the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group and designation of its chief Maulana Masood Azhar as global terrorist, but its efforts have been blocked by China four times so far.

First Published: Oct 28, 2018 18:26 IST

Asia Cup 2018: India beat Bangladesh in last ball thriller to clinch title

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Asia Cup 2018: India beat Bangladesh in last ball thriller to clinch title

India pulled off a thrilling last ball win over Bangladesh to clinch their seventh Asia Cup title in Dubai on Friday.

CRICKET Updated: Sep 29, 2018 09:41 

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Asia Cup 2018,India vs Bangladesh,Kedar Jadhav
India defeated Bangladesh to clinch the Asia Cup 2018 title in Dubai on Friday.(AFP)

India clinched the Asia Cup 2018 title by beating Bangladesh by three wickets in a last-ball thriller at the Dubai International Stadium in Dubai on Friday. With 6 runs needed from the last over, Kedar Jadhav (23 off 27 balls) and Kuldeep Yadav (5 off 5 balls) kept their cool to guide the Indian cricket team to their seventh Asia Cup trophy.

Chasing a target of 223, skipper Rohit Sharma (48 off 55 balls) provided India with a good start but a couple of quick wickets tilted the match in Bangladesh’s favour. Nazmul Islam took the wicket of in-form opener Shikhar Dhawan while Ambati Rayudu was caught behind off the bowling of Mashrafe Mortaza.

However, MS Dhoni (36 off 67 balls) and Dinesh Karthik (37 off 61 balls) steadied the innings and were able to bring India back into the game with a 54-run partnership for the fourth wicket. But with both batsmen losing their wickets in a span of five overs, the pressure was once again on India.

READ: Asia Cup Final: Pakistan superfan cheers for India in Dubai – Watch video

Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja continued to fight against a disciplined Bangladesh bowling attack and although Kedar was forced to leave the field due to a hamstring injury, he came back to finish the match for India. For Bangladesh, Rubel Hossain (2/26) and Mustafizur Rahman (2/38) were the top performers with the ball but they were unable to guide their team to their first-ever Asia Cup title triumph.

Earlier, Kuldeep Yadav and Kedar Jadhav were quite impressive with the ball as Bangladesh were bowled out for 222. Liton Das slammed his maiden ODI century but he was unable to guide his team to a big total as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were ultimately bundled out in 48.3 overs.

READ: MS Dhoni takes one-third of a second to send back centurion Liton Das

Liton and Mehidy Hasan handed Bangladesh a brilliant start with a 120-run partnership, but it went all downhill after Mehidy’s dismissal. Bangladesh lost four quick wickets but Liton kept fighting on the other end and the 23-year old was able to bring up his hundred in 87 balls. However, his innings came to an end for 121 as MS Dhoni completed a brilliant stumping off Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling in the 41st over.

Soumya Sarkar (33) did try to add some crucial runs in the death overs but he was run out after a terrible mix-up. For India, Kuldeep Yadav (3/45) and Kedar Jadhav (2/41) were the wreckers-in-chief while fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal ended up claiming one wicket each.

First Published: Sep 29, 2018 01:45 IST