Indian Lieutenant colonel in soup for befriending ISI agent on Facebook

NEW DELHI: In yet another security breach in the military, an Army officer has been caught for establishing contact on social networking site Facebook with a Bangladeshi woman working for Pakistan’s ISI. The woman, in fact, had earlier “honey-trapped” another Indian officer in an ISI espionage operation in Bangladesh late last year.

The Army is conducting a court of inquiry (CoI) against the officer, a lieutenant colonel from the 82 Armoured Regiment deployed in a forward formation in Suratgarh district of Rajasthan, to ascertain whether he divulged or compromised classified operational information along the western front with Pakistan.

The Army strongly denied reports that the lieutenant colonel had also got entangled in a honey trap — basically an intelligence operation for first seducing and then blackmailing a person into divulging confidential information – or that two laptops with sensitive information had gone missing.

“The officer was just chatting online with the woman on the computer … there was no physical contact. No laptops have been lost. We are conducting a CoI into the incident,” a senior officer said.

Intelligence Bureau got wind of the matter as they were already tracking the Bangladeshi woman, identified as Sheeba, after she had honey trapped another Indian lieutenant colonel, this time a Para Regiment commando, who was undergoing a staff college course in the Bangladesh military academy in Dhaka last year.

“The Para officer was compromised in the ISI honey trap at Dhaka. But instead of giving away any information, he alerted Indian authorities and was promptly flown out of Bangladesh,” an official said.

Other military officers have also been caught in honey traps in recent years. The Navy, for instance, last year sacked Commodore Sukhjinder Singh after his sexually explicit pictures with a Russian woman had surfaced. Singh was posted in Moscow as part of the Indian negotiating team for the acquisition of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (now rechristened INS Vikramaditya), for which India finally agreed to pay $2.33 billion after protracted and bitter negotiations with Russia.

Several military officers are also in the dock for compromising classified information and data through the improper use of internet or social networking websites like Facebook, Orkut and Twitter despite strict guidelines against such conduct.

Five to six officers, for instance, are facing a naval board of inquiry (BoI) after Chinese hackers were recently detected to have broken into sensitive naval computers, in and around Eastern Navy Command HQs at Visakhapatnam, with the help of “worm-infected” pen-drives.

Another BoI in the Mumbai-based Western Navy Command has recommended stringent action, including dismissal from service, against at least two commanders for posting confidential information and data, including location of warships and their patrolling patterns, on Facebook.

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No breakthrough in Pakistan, India Siachen talks

ISLAMABAD – Staying glued to their respective positions, Pakistan and India have agreed to continue dialogue process for the resolution of Siachen and all other ‘outstanding’ issues and hold discussions at the relevant platforms.

The two-day secretary-level talks between the defence secretaries of both the countries saw progress on strategic cooperation for troops’ withdrawal from the world’s highest militarised region. The deliberations, to be followed by the issuance of a joint statement today (Tuesday), would be taken up at the foreign ministers meeting likely next month and the expected defence ministers-level discussions.

An eight-member Indian delegation led by the Indian Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma arrived in Islamabad on Sunday on a three-day visit to participate in the 13th round of secretary-level talks, according to defence ministry. Secretary Defence Nargis Sethi headed Pakistani side. Senior Indian defence ministry officials Shankar Aggarwal and Deepak Anurag are also part of the Indian delegation, according to sources.

“The preliminary discussions were held in a very pleasant and cordial atmosphere. Both sides explained their respective stances on Siachen issue-a joint statement after the concluding session will be issued in this regard,” a defence ministry statement said.

According to official sources, the joint statement would be a suggestive document urging both the sides; India and Pakistan, for the settlement of outstanding issues but it would not contain any recommendations. The document would not specify rest of the unresolved issues between India and Pakistan other than Siachen (Kashmir and Sir Creek)

Reportedly, the draft recommendations for the resolution of Siachen, Sir Creek and Kashmir issues would be prepared during the concluding session of Pak-India foreign ministers meeting in the coming July. During the Monday’s deliberations, Pakistani delegation is reported to have called for the resolution of Siachen dispute in the light of 1989 Pak-India agreement on Siachen and a follow up agreement signed three years later by both states, in 1992. The Indian side is said to have favoured further discussions on phase-wise troops withdrawal from Siachen and proportional troops pullout from the valley by both the countries-a reported policy that envisages early troops evacuation of base posts and eviction of forward posts at later stages.

“There is a realisation among both the sides that confrontation would lead to very negative implications that hinder economic and social development. Peace is the ultimate solution to bring prosperity in the region. Pakistan and India need to keep peace measures intact so as to eradicate misgivings and move on. Cooperation is the key to success,” Federal Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar told TheNation.

He said the joint statement on the two-day deliberations would be incorporated in the foreign ministers and defence ministers-level talks. To a query, the minister said, his meeting with the Indian Defence Minister AK Anthony was expected soon but the schedule and venue were not finalised as yet. “The foreign ministers meeting will be another step towards the settlement of contentious issues. The defence ministers meeting would follow it.”

Earlier, according to a press release, Indian delegation also called on the Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar. “Matters of bilateral interests were discussed in the meeting, the minister expressed that it was in the interest of both India and Pakistan to seek the amicable resolution of all the outstanding issues, including Siachen as it would tremendously contribute towards the peace and prosperity of South Asian region,” it said.

In a demonstration of flexibility in its otherwise toughened stance on Siachen issue, Pakistan’s military command had called for the resolution of Siachen issue through demilitarisation. The development followed Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s visit to Gayari in April after an avalanche had wiped out a Pakistan Army battalion there. General Kayani had urged for troops withdrawal by both the sides for ‘peaceful coexistence.

New Indian COAS: General Bikram Singh Assumes Charge as India’s 25th COAS

General Bikram Singh assumes charge as the Chief of Army Staff on May 31, 2012.  He becomes the 25th chief of the world’s second-largest army.

He was commissioned on March 31, 1972, into the Sikh Light Infantry (SIKHLI) Regiment. His colleagues remember him as a bright cadet at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), where he held the appointment of Battalion Cadet Adjutant (BCA).

The affable cadet, known as ‘Bikki’ to his friends, topped the Young Officer’s course at the Infantry School and was adjudged the ‘Best Young Officer.’ He was also awarded the prestigious ‘Commando Dagger’ for being the best commando along with ‘Best in Tactics’ trophy.

It was during his tenure as an instructor at the Commando Wing of the Infantry School that General Singh met the woman he would marry. Then a young Captain, he met, Surjeet Kaur – popularly known as ‘Bubbles’ in army circles – at a family wedding. “It indeed was love at first sight,” the General recalled.  “Within a week, things were arranged and we got engaged. However, I was not happy with the marriage being fixed after six months. So, I called her up from Belgaum and told her to be prepared for marriage within a month. Of course, this required convincing parents and family members on both sides.” Bubbles joined him at the Commando Wing of the Infantry School within the stated time-frame.

“During various demonstrations that used to be organised for the public, I ensured that Bubbles was present to see and appreciate our commando skills and techniques,” he shared.
“Bikki’s friends ensured that for nearly a month-and-half, I didn’t have to cook any meal after I joined him. Either we were invited to a friend’s house or they would send us meals at home,” says his wife.  They have two sons.

After the ‘Higher Command Course’, he served his first tenure in the Military Operations (MO) Directorate. The tenure, as a Director, coincided with the Kargil war and he was assigned to brief the media on the daily progress of the conflict. Later, he was also made responsible for writing the official version of the war history.

He went on to serve four more important tenures at Army HQ which included one additional tenure in the MO Directorate as the Deputy Director General, thereafter, two tenures in the Perspective Planning Directorate, initially as the Deputy Director General of Perspective Planning (Strategy) and later, as the head of the Army’s ‘Think Tank’ as the Additional Director General (the appointment now has since been upgraded to the post of Director General). He would later return to Army HQ as a Lieutenant General to serve as the Director General Staff Duties (DGSD) that facilitates the overall functioning of various branches of Army HQ, and serves as an interface with other government agencies besides looking at the Indian Army’s training teams abroad and UN peacekeeping operations.

In between the ‘Staff’ roles, Gen Bikram Singh went on to command several other operational field formations. These include command of a Rashtriya Rifles Sector in South Kashmir, an Infantry Division in J&K and the prestigious 15 Corps at Srinagar. His tenure later as the Army Commander of Eastern Command was also marked by significant improvements in both the conventional and sub-conventional war-fighting arenas.

As a Brigadier, he was selected to attend the US Army War College, Pennsylvania, where besides excelling in academics he also won the International Toastmaster’s award in public speaking.

His international forays with peace-keeping missions include two assignments with the United Nations in Central America (ONUCA and ONUSAL) and as the Deputy Force Commander and GOC of Eastern Division in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Colleagues remember him for being a ‘soldier’s soldier’ for spending time and working hard with his troops on the ground.

Gifted with a razor-sharp memory for details, General Singh is known to often surprise old friends – even those he has not met in decades – with references to their family members and memories of time spent together.

The army chief as a young boy studied at Punjab Public School, Nabha. An avid sportsman, cricket, athletics and hockey were his favourite games in school. Singing and painting were his other talents that also fetched him awards in school. “Classical songs and ghazals are my favourites,” he reveals.

As a young student, the chief had considered becoming a doctor. He was an exceptional student of Zoology and Biology. But the wars of 1962 and 1965 motivated him to join the NDA in 1968. When asked whether he ever regrets the choice made, Gen Bikram says, “If I were ever to be born again, I would only join the Indian army.

via NDTV

Pakistan, India To Hold Next Round Of Siachen Talks On June 11-12

Islamabad: The next round of India-Pakistan defence secretaries’ talks on Siachen will be held on June 11-12 in Islamabad.

The announcement about parleys on Siachen, which got back into limelight after the April avalanche in the Gayari sector, was made after Pakistan sought postponement of upcoming talks on Sir Creek which were to be held in New Delhi next week.

The dialogue on Sir Creek under the resumed peace process was earlier programmed for May 14-16.New dates, the Foreign Office said, would be decided through diplomatic channels.

Indian media claimed that the request for postponement of Sir Creek talks was linked to dialogue on Siachen. It is said that Pakistan first wanted to assess the progress on Siachen before getting back to the table on Sir Creek. But, the FO denies this inference.

Following the April avalanche, which trapped 139 troops and civilian workers in a military compound that is still buried under a mass of snow and boulders, there have renewed calls for demilitarisation of Siachen.

Army Chief Gen Kayani, during a recent visit to the region, accused New Delhi of stiffening its position on the 76-km-long Siachen Glacier a part of which was occupied by India in April 1984 through the Operation Meghdoot.

Both Indian and Pakistani sides acknowledge the futility of the conflict in what is now described as the world’s highest battlefield, but Indian army’s resistance is preventing its resolution.

At the last round of talks on the Sir Creek in 2011, Pakistan held that the 2007 joint survey of the 60 mile marshy strip shouldn’t be implied as an agreement on the dispute.

Pakistan lays claim to the entire creek in accordance with the Bombay Government Resolution of 1914. India, on the other hand, claims that the boundary lies mid-channel. Indian stance is based on the Thalweg Doctrine in International Law.

The two sides have to determine whether the boundary lies in the middle of Sir Creek as claimed by India, or on its east bank, as per Pakistani position.

Both sides had in 2007 exchanged maps of the strip of water in the Rann of Kutch marshlands marked with their respective positions during talks in Rawalpindi.

The two countries had on that occasion also discussed the delimitation of the maritime boundary in the Rann of Kutch on the basis of the joint survey.