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July 29, 2014

Indian Army's Northern Command chief warns of 'spillover' from North Waziristan operation

[NDTV] - With reports of some terrorists having moved from North Waziristan after operations by Pakistan there, the Chief of the Northern Army Command Lieutenant General DS Hooda says that India needs to remain vigilant about infiltration and the possible fallout of the operations in North Waziristan.

"We are very closely looking at Pakistani operations which are carrying on in North Waziristan, and whether there is some spillover because there are reports of terrorists from those areas of having moved on from those areas and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is a neighboring area to that, so whether there is any manifestation of that, and of course the larger Afghan issue," Lieutenant General Hooda told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

Lieutenant General Hooda was speaking to NDTV on the eve of the 15th Kargil Diwas, an annual ceremony in remembrance of the Indian army soldiers who laid down their lives during the Kargil War with Pakistan in 1999.

The Northern Army Command, that Lieutenant General Hooda leads, is the country's most operationally active command as it looks after the land borders with China and Pakistan. It is also responsible for looking after the Siachen Glacier region, the world's highest battlefield.

In his response to a question on the army's summer strategy of counter-infiltration, Lieutenant General Hooda said that the army's key challenges would revolve around the ongoing Amarnath trip as well as the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, expected to be held in October.

"We had to do some re-deployments to make sure that the Amarnath Yatra is successful and similarly as the election comes closer, a little more domination of the areas in the hinterland," Lieutenant General Hooda added.

The Indian Army continues to battle repeated ceasefire violations on the Line of Control from time to time. Last week, the Defence Minister informed Parliament that Pakistan had violated the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir 19 times since the new BJP-led government came to power. 

Chinese army officers embarass Indian Army chief with questions on Arunachal and Tibet

by Pradip R. Sagar [dnaindia.com] - Army chief General Bikram Singh faced some embarrassing questions from officers of the People's Liberation Army during his recent visit to Beijing to deliver a guest lecture at China's prestigious National Defence University.

General Singh, who visited China from July2 to 5, was the first Indian army chief to address PLA's premier defence university.

Following General Singh's lecture to the cadets at the University, a woman Colonel from the audience asked him to explain the Indian Army's stand on Arunachal Pradesh. The next question was on Tibet and the activities of Tibetan refugees in India.

Though General Bikram Singh dodged both questions well enough, he was taken aback by the set of 'unexpected and embarrassing questions'. On Arunachal Pradesh, the army chief said that "Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India.' While on the activities of Tibetans living in India, he simply reiterated Indian government's stand that "India does not allow any foreign political activities from its soil".

The development has raised the hackles of the defence establishment which is seeing it as a deliberate attempt by China to discomfit the Indian army chief.

Visiting dignitaries do face tough questions on sensitive issues but most of them come from journalists in forums like press conferences and background briefings, and not serving government officials of a much junior rank.

"India and China have established diplomatic channels to tackle issues related to the boundary dispute. This was certainly not the forum for it," said an official who is privy to the developments in the matter.
General Singh, who was the first Indian Army chief to visit China in nine years, interacted with the PLA cadets discussing India-China relations and the ties between the two militaries.

According to officials, the army chief spoke on strategic military leadership challenges in the 21 st century, without making any direct reference to Sino-India ties. He later answered questions on the bilateral ties and relations between the two militaries.
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