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8 Pakistani soldiers killed as Indian Army retaliates against LoC ceasefire violation in Jammu and Kashmir

NEW DELHI, Nov 13: At least eight Pakistan Army soldiers were killed in retaliatory firing on Friday by the Indian Army in response to ceasefire violations from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, news agency ANI reported.

“The list of Pakistan Army soldiers killed includes 2-3 Pakistan Army Special Service Group (SSG) commandoes,” Indian Army sources said.

“10-12 Pakistan Army soldiers injured in the Indian Army firing in which a large number of Pakistan Army bunkers, fuel dumps, and launch pads have also been destroyed,” quoting sources.

At least four security forces personnel, including a BSF sub-inspector, were killed on Friday in multiple ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along the LoC. Four civilians have also been killed in the multiple ceasefire violations reported from Gurez sector to Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

Many others have been injured. Indian Army sources said around 10 to 12 Pakistan Army soldiers have been injured in the Indian Army firing. A large number of Pakistan Army bunkers, fuel dumps and launch pads have been destroyed, Indian Army sources have claimed.

The escalation in tensions came only five days after three Indian troops and three terrorists were killed in an exchange along the LoC.

Indian Navy's fifth Scorpene class submarine 'Vagir' launched

MUMBAI, Nov 12: In yet another boost for the Indian Navy, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik launched the fifth scorpene class submarine 'Vagir' of Project 75 in Arabian sea waters at Mazagaon Dock through video conferencing on Thursday.

Vagir is part of the six Kalvari-class submarines designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS. They are being built as part of Indian Navy's Project-75.

In order to meet the requirements of the Indian Navy, the Defence public sector undertaking (PSU) Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDSL) was assigned the task to build six Scorpene-class submarines. INS Kalvari, the first of the six Scorpene-class submarines, was launched in 2015 and commissioned into service in late 2017.

After INS Kalvari launch, Khanderi, Karanj and Vela were launched.

Commenting on INS Vagir launch, Vice Admiral R B Pandit, Western Naval Command Chief, said that he expected the subamrine will be commissioned in a year's time.

“We have two Kalvari-class submarines already operational in Navy. We will be happy to receive the balance four in a very quick time,” Vice Admiral R B Pandit said.

The Scorpene class of submarines can undertake multifarious tasks typically undertaken by any modern submarine which include anti-surface as well as anti-submarine warfare.

Sixth Scorpene submarine 'Vagsheer' is in various stages of outfitting.

MDL has always been at the forefront of the nation's progressive indigenous warship building programme. Till date, it has built Leander and Godavari class frigates, Khukri class Corvettes, Missile Boats, Delhi and Kolkata class Destroyers, Shivalik class Stealth Frigates, the SSK submarines and it continues to contribute to the national security with its P-15B Visakhapatnam class Destroyers and the P-17A class Stealth Frigates.

China ready to talk on all flashpoints: Officials

NEW DELHI, Nov 10: There are signs of a forward movement in military talks between India and China, with the neighbour agreeing to discuss disengagement at all flashpoints in eastern Ladakh and not insisting on talking about only the southern bank of Pangong Tso where the Indian Army holds dominating heights, officials familiar with developments said on Monday.

The Indian side is considering a Chinese proposal for disengagement at all friction points, including some that the neighbour had been unwilling to discuss till now, and the next meeting of the military commanders is expected to be held by Friday, the officials said, asking not to be named.

The Chinese side shared the proposal at the eighth round of talks between senior commanders from the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Chushul on November 6, said one of the officials cited above. India has been demanding that the dialogue should focus on all flashpoints along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) and not be confined to a specific sector.

The next round of talks between corps commander-ranked officers from the two armies could take place as early as this week.

There was currently no proposal for a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, which forms the diplomatic leg of the ongoing discussions on disengagement and de-escalation, the official said.

“Joint secretary (East Asia) Naveen Srivastava of the external affairs ministry, who co-chairs the WMCC, has been part of the most recent meetings of the military commanders and there is no real need for separate meetings of the WMCC,” he said.

There is also a perception on the Indian side that the Chinese military is grappling with the difficulties of mobilising and deploying tens of thousands of troops along the LAC during the harsh winter – something that it hasn’t done in the past, a second official said.

In a joint statement issued after the November 6 talks, the two sides said they would ensure their frontline soldiers “exercise restraint and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation” along the LAC.

The statement also said both sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, take forward the November 6 discussions and push for the settlement of “other outstanding issues.”

Until now, China had been insisting that India withdraw its soldiers from strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso to reduce friction along the LAC, while the India side was firmly pushing for comprehensive disengagement at all flashpoints and restoration of status quo ante of early April during the military talks.

“With China agreeing to discuss all flashpoints, we hope future talks lead to some breakthrough. Earlier, they were only focussed on the southern bank of the lake,” said a third official.

The PLA’s aggressive forward deployments in the eastern Ladakh theatre have hindered the Indian Army’s patrolling patterns in Depsang, Finger Area on the northern bank of Pangong Tso, Gogra and Kongka La.

The scope of the military talks changed after the Indian Army occupied a series of key heights to prevent the PLA from grabbing chunks of Indian territory on the southern bank of Pangong Tso in a stealthy midnight move on August 29.

Former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd) said: “If the PLA is willing to discuss disengagement at all friction points, it is at least a sign of some moderation in their stand. However, keeping in view the positions that both sides have taken in the military and diplomatic level talks held so far, we should not expect any quick breakthroughs.”

The Indian Army now controls ridgeline positions on the lake’s southern bank that allow it to completely dominate the sector and keep an eye on Chinese military activity, with the positions scattered across Rezang La, Reqin pass, Gurung Hill and Magar heights.

The Indian Army has also taken control of key heights overlooking the PLA’s deployments on the Finger 4 ridgeline on the northern bank of Pangong Tso where rival soldiers are deployed barely a few hundred metres from each other.

Last week, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said India will not accept shifting of the LAC in eastern Ladakh even as he did not rule out the possibility of the situation escalating into a larger conflict in the sensitive theatre.

In September, defence minister Rajnath Singh told lawmakers in Parliament that no force in the world can stop the Indian Army from patrolling the country’s borders in the Ladakh sector, signalling a strong resolve to regain access to several areas that are now difficult to reach due to actions by the Chinese army along the LAC.

US supercarrier Nimitz to join Vikramaditya for QUAD Malabar exercise off Goa coast

NEW DELHI, Nov 7: Indian Navy’s flagship Vikramaditya and US supercarrier Nimitz along with two destroyers of the Australian and Japanese navies will conduct full-spectrum exercises off the coast of Goa as part of Malabar war games from November 17 to 20.

The two carrier groups, with MiG-29K fighters on board Vikramaditya and F-18 fighters on board Nimitz, will participate in war games, while the involvement of the two other countries, which are, like India and the US, members of the Quad grouping, will strengthen multi-operability in full domain exercises. It is also expected to help all four countries understand the ethos and level of training of each other’s navies, commanders and personnel.

The exercise will take place in quite a congested environment with at least 70 foreign warships patrolling the area between the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s warships are not in the vicinity but are not too far off either -- ostensibly conducting anti-pirate operations off the Gulf of Aden.

According to top naval commanders, the Indian Navy is fully deployed on both the eastern as well as the western seaboard and prepared for contingencies in case the situation takes a turn for the worse in East Ladakh region. Analysts say it is clear that the Quad members are committed to keep the sea lanes of communication open for navigation and are ready to meet the challenge brought upon by PLA Navy by imposing constraints in South China Sea.

With the Indian Navy expected to commission indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant along with its second nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, INS Arighat, by next year, India will be able to project power from Malacca Straits to Gulf of Aden and beyond, the analysts added.

Under navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh, the focus of the force has also been on rapidly developing military infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands so that India can project power well beyond the Malacca Straits. The navy is also keen on building a third aircraft carrier so that it turns into truly blue water navy.

While there is an intensive debate among national security planners over the viability of a third aircraft carrier in an age when so-called standoff weapons and long range ballistic missiles are the order of the day, the navy’s argument is that a rising power like India cannot be tethered to the shore-line. This argument makes sense, say analysts, as China’s influence in Africa, Middle-East and Persian Gulf under the Belt Road Initiative has grown with Beijing leveraging its debt-hold on these countries.

With China reaching the Indian Ocean through Pakistan and Myanmar, the navy wants Indian maritime and commercial interests to be protected by three aircraft carriers, one each of Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. The counter argument made by the national security planners is that India should simply turn some of its 1,062 island territories into permanent military bases to influence events in the region.

With the US, India, Australia and Japan communicating through deployed assets, liaison officers in each other’s naval commands, and Indian Ocean Monitoring Centres, the Quad, the analysts added, is definitely a force to reckon with in Indo-Pacific with situational awareness of both West Asia and Africa.

India, US, Japan And Australia Start Naval War Games In Bay Of Bengal

NEW DELHI, Nov 3: The US embassy in India today tweeted to announce the beginning of the four-nation naval war games "Malabar 2020" in the Bay of Bengal as its "commitment to stronger defence cooperation in the Indo Pacific".

India, the US, Japan and Australia began their largest joint naval exercises in over a decade today, seen as part of efforts to balance China's military and economic reach in the region.

The annual "Malabar" wargames that India holds with the US and Japan have been expanded to include Australia this year to cover all members of the Quad, an informal group of the four largest democracies in the Indo-Pacific.

China has accused the US, which has been leading the effort to forge a common front among its allies, of a "Cold War mentality" and ideological prejudice.

Five ships of the Indian Navy, including a submarine, were deployed in the exercise along with US Navy's John S McCain missile destroyer, Australia's Ballarat frigate and a Japanese destroyer, the Defence Ministry said.

There will be no contact between the military personnel of the four nations because of COVID-19 restrictions during the first phase of the drills running till November 6, it said.

Later this month, India and the US will deploy aircraft carriers in the drills, a military source said.

"The exercise will showcase the high-levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies, which is based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order," the Defence Ministry said in its statement.

The exercises come at a time when India is locked in a military stand-off along the Line of Actual Control with China.

Thousands of troops are in close proximity in the western Himalayas.

Australia's diplomatic relations with China also worsened this year after Canberra led calls for an international inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing imposed trade sanctions on Australian beef and barley.

Separately, Japan is embroiled in a dispute with China over ownership of islands in the East China Sea.

India in dialogue with China to end six month old military standoff: Rajnath Singh

NEW DELHI, Oct 28: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said India was in dialogue with China to end a six month old military standoff and commended the Indian army for standing firm against any possible attempts at intrusion by the Chinese forces in the mean time.

“The ongoing talks for peaceful resolution of crisis will continue," while “the troops are standing firm," Singh was quoted as telling senior commanders of the Indian army at their biannual commanders conference in New Delhi.

The brainstorming session comes as New Delhi is facing a major military challenge from China in the north and Pakistan in the west, making the oft warned spectre of a two front war, a real possibility. The four day conference which began on Monday is set to conclude on Thursday.

The reference was to tensions between India and China that have been high since May this year after New Delhi detected intrusions by Chinese soldiers at multiple locations in Ladakh. The two sides were involved in a violent clash in June in which 20 Indian troops and an unknown number of Chinese personnel were killed.

Many rounds of talks between the two countries at the military and diplomatic levels have not yet yielded any solution to the problem. At present, New Delhi was awaiting a response from China on a new set of dates proposed for the eighth round of military talks between the two countries, officials said.

In his remarks, the minister said that it was “our national responsibility to ensure availability of best weapons, equipment and clothing to our troops braving extreme weather and hostile forces to defend our territorial integrity."

The reference was to India sourcing high altitude winter clothing, tents and arms from countries like the US for the troops holding Indian positions at the heights of mountains in Ladakh. With the Chinese forces showing no signs of withdrawing from the positions they had taken along the Line of Actual Control border, India was clear that its troops would not vacate any vantage positions it had particularly around the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh.

Singh also commended the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for meeting connectivity targets in far flung areas “so that our citizens living in those locations are connected and facilitate faster development."

Referring to the situation along the border with Pakistan, Singh “complimented the Indian Army’s response to cross border terrorism and ceasefire violations," a statement from the Indian army said.

“I compliment the excellent synergy between the CAPF(Central Armed Police Force)/ Police forces and the Army in tackling the menace of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. It is due to the synergised operations in the Valley that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is moving to a stable and peaceful environment conducive for overall growth and development," he said.

 



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