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NSG to set up units in Ayodhya, Pathankot and Kerala

NSG hubs to be set up in Pathankot and Kerala due to Pathankot’s strategic border importance and Kerala’s emerging role as a fundamentalist and terrorist logistics hub…reports Asian Lite News

National Security Guards (NSG) will soon create its units in Ayodhya, Pathankot and Kerala.

Confirming the development, a senior officer said that the process was in the pipeline for some time. The unit in Ayodhya will get operational in the next couple of months and the other two by the end of this year.

“The units in Ayodhya, Pathankot and Kerala will be operational by this year. It will help local police and other CAPF units in capacity building and lessen the response time for NSG in case of any adverse situation,” the officer said.

Notably, Ram Temple in Ayodhya which was inaugurated in January this year is among sensitive installations in India and is said to be on the radar of various terror outfits.

He added that several rounds of meetings were conducted over the locations before finalising the decision. The units at these locations will be armed with specialized weapons and anti-drone measures.

The decision to set up NSG hubs in Pathankot and Kerala comes after keeping in view the strategic importance of the border district Pathankot and Kerala transforming into a haven for fundamentalist forces and logistics hub for pan-Islamic terrorist groups.

After the new three hubs get operational, there will be a total of eight NSG hubs across the country. At present, there are five regional hubs of NSG in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Gandhinagar.

“All the three locations were identified based on threat perception and their geographical proximity to nearby sensitive locations,” the officer added.

In January, the Ram Temple in Ayodhya was inaugurated. It is considered one of the sensitive zones and is always on the radar of various terror outfits. (ANI)

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Indian Navy gets fifth Missile-Cum-Ammunition Barge

These Barges are indigenously designed and built under relevant Naval Rules and Regulations of the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS)….reports Asian Lite News

The ‘Missile Cum Ammunition Barge, LSAM 13, Yard 81, the fifth Barge of the Missile Cum Ammunition Barge project, built by MSME Shipyard, SECON Engineering Projects Pvt Ltd (SEPPL), Visakhapatnam for Indian Navy, was undertaken on June 10.

According to an official statement from the Ministry of Defence, the launching ceremony was presided over by Commodore Manish Vig, General Manager (QA), ND(Mbi).

The contract for building Missile Cum Ammunition Barge was signed between MoD and M/s SECON Engineering Projects Pvt Ltd, Visakhapatnam on 19 February 2021.

The availability of these Barges would provide impetus to the operational commitments of IN by facilitating Transportation, Embarkation and Disembarkation of articles, and ammunition to IN Ships both alongside jetties and at outer harbours.

These Barges are indigenously designed and built under relevant Naval Rules and Regulations of the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS).

The model testing of the Barge during the design stage was undertaken at the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam.

These Barges are proud flag bearers of the Make in India initiative of the Government of India (GoI).

Earlier on Monday, the Indian Navy Ship (INS), deployed for maritime surveillance, swung into action and swiftly responded to the distress call by the fishing vessel INFAN DHAS, which requested assistance following engine failure.

“The ship’s technical team undertook defect rectification and swiftly operationalized the engine, enabling the vessel to continue with fishing operations,” said a spokesperson for the Indian Navy. (ANI)

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Japan-India maritime exercise ‘Jimex 24’ commences in Japan

In the exercise, the JMSDF will be represented by guided-missile destroyer JS Yugiri. Integral helicopters from both navies will also participate….reports Asian Lite News

Indian Navy’s indigenous stealth frigate INS Shivalik arrived at Japan’s Yokosuka to participate in the bilateral Japan–India Maritime Exercise 2024 (JIMEX 24), where both forces will showcase their war-fighting skills at sea, a Defence Ministry statement said on Tuesday.

The ship was accorded a warm welcome by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces’ (JMSDF) Yokosuka Commander, Vice Admiral Ito Hiroshi, and Indian Ambassador to Japan Sibi George.

In the exercise, the JMSDF will be represented by guided-missile destroyer JS Yugiri. Integral helicopters from both navies will also participate.

The Indian Navy said that the exercise includes both harbour and sea phases. The harbour phase will comprise professional, sports and social interactions, after which the two navies will jointly hone their war-fighting skills at sea and enhance their interoperability through complex multi-discipline operations in the surface, sub-surface and air domains.

Having grown in scope and complexity over the years, JIMEX 24 provides an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices and facilitates operational interactions between the Indian Navy and the JMSDF to foster mutual cooperation and reaffirm their shared commitment towards maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.

According to the Defence Ministry, it is the eighth edition of the exercise since its inception in 2012.

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Somalia to expel Ethiopian troops  

At least 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers are stationed in the Horn of Africa country…reports Asian Lite News

Somalia will expel thousands of Ethiopian troops stationed in the country to help with security by the end of the year unless Addis Ababa scraps a disputed port deal with the breakaway region of Somaliland, a senior Somali official said.

Security experts and foreign diplomats said the move risks further destabilizing Somalia as local forces would be unable to fill the security vacuum, which would likely be exploited by fighters from Al-Shabab — an affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

At least 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers are stationed in the Horn of Africa country as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission fighting Al-Shabab, which controls large portions of Somalia, while an estimated 5,000-7,000 are stationed in several regions under a bilateral agreement.

Relations between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa nosedived earlier this year after landlocked Ethiopia agreed to lease 20 km of coastline from Somaliland — a part of Somalia which claims independence and has had effective autonomy since 1991, but has failed to win international recognition.

Ethiopia offered Somaliland possible recognition in exchange for being allowed to set up a naval base and commercial port — a move Mogadishu has called illegal.

“If they do not repeal the (agreement) before the end of June, or when the new mandate of the mission is decided, all Ethiopian troops, ATMIS and bilateral, will have to go,” Somalia’s National Security Adviser Hussein Sheikh-Ali told Reuters by phone.

“Ethiopia cannot be an ally and at the same time an aggressor.”

Spokespeople for the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces did not respond to requests for comment.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, which is mandated by the UN Security Council, is due to fully withdraw and hand over security responsibilities to the Somali state by the end of 2024.

But the Somali government has requested several times for the withdrawal of troops to be slowed down, citing setbacks on the battlefield.

The troops come from Burundi, Djibouti, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

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First Minority Woman Brigadier in Pakistan Army

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) termed her “another living example of merit and national representation” in the Pakistan Army…reports Asian Lite News

A Christian woman officer in the Pakistan Army has been promoted to Brigadier, becoming the first woman from a minority community to reach the one-star general rank, reports said on Sunday.

Helen Mary Roberts, serving in the Army Medical Corps, was among the officers promoted as brigadiers and full colonels by the selection board, The News reported.

She has served as a pathologist in the Army Medical Corps for 26 years.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) termed her “another living example of merit and national representation” in the Pakistan Army.

Before Brigadier Roberts, Maj General Nigar Johar had broken gender barriers in June 2020 by becoming the country’s first female officer to be promoted to the rank of Lt General to become the first female Surgeon General of the Pakistan Army.

During a Christmas celebration at Christ Church in Rawalpindi last year, Army chief, General Asim Munir lauded the Christian community’s role in Pakistan’s development, citing its contributions in promoting quality education, healthcare and philanthropy, as well as national defence.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif extended his congratulations to Roberts on her promotion.

“Brigadier Roberts, a member of the Pakistani Christian community, has made history by becoming the first woman from a minority background to achieve this prestigious rank,” he said, praising Roberts for her hard work and dedication, and also proving Pakistani women could excel in any field.

“The entire nation is proud of Brigadier Roberts and the thousands of hardworking women like her from minority communities who are serving the country with distinction,” the PM said.

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India, France to begin talks on Rs 50,000 crore Rafale Marine deal

The Indian side would include members from the defence acquisition wing and the Indian Navy….reports Asian Lite News

In a significant development, contract negotiations between the governments of India and France in the over Rs 50,000 crore deal for 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets is scheduled to begin on May 30 with the arrival of a high-level French team here.

The French side would meet with Indian Defence Ministry counterparts to begin official negotiations in the fighter jet deal for the Indian Navy under which aircraft would be operated from both aircraft carriers operated by the force, defence industry officials said.

The French team will include officials from their defence ministry and industry including original equipment manufacturers Dassault Aviation and Thales, the officials said.

The Indian side would include members from the defence acquisition wing and the Indian Navy.

Sources in the government said that they would try to complete negotiations with France and sign the agreement by the end of this financial year.

France had submitted its response to India’s tender for buying 26 Rafale Marine jets for the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers – INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya in December itself.

The response to India’s Letter of Acceptance had been submitted by France in New Delhi.

The Indian side has carried out a detailed study of the French bid for the Indian deal including the commercial offer or price for the aircraft, along with other details of the contract, they said.

India will now go in for tough negotiations in the deal with French government officials, as it is a government-to-government contract. (ANI)

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S. Korea Stages Air Drills Near N. Korea

About 20 fighter jets, including F-35A stealth fighters, drilled near the inter-Korean border…reports Asian Lite news

South Korea’s military on Monday staged an air exercise near the border with North Korea in response to the latter’s planned launch of what it claims to be a military spy satellite.

Around 20 fighter jets, including F-35A stealth fighters, conducted the drills in a central region south of a no-fly-zone near the inter-Korean border, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, hours after North Korea notified Japan of its plan to launch a space rocket carrying a satellite between Monday and midnight of June 3, Yonhap news agency reported.

“This strike package exercise was conducted to demonstrate the resolve and capabilities to punish immediately, strongly, and until the end, if the enemy undertakes a provocation,” the JCS said.

North Korea’s notice came before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Chinese Premier Li Qiang, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a trilateral meeting in Seoul on Monday.

Yoon and Kishida have called on North Korea to cease its launch plan.

According to Kyodo News, North Korea designated three areas where debris will fall — two west of the Korean Peninsula and the other east of the Philippines’ island of Luzon.

Pyongyang has made public a plan to launch three more satellites this year following its first military reconnaissance satellite launch in November.

The launch plan comes despite international criticism that any launch using ballistic missile technology violates UN Security Council resolutions.

“North Korea’s purported military spy satellite launch is a provocative act that breaches the UN Security Council resolutions, and our military will implement measures that demonstrate our powerful capability and determination,” JCS spokesperson Col. Lee Sung-jun said in a press statement.

Last week, the South Korean military said it had detected apparent signs of Pyongyang preparing for a military spy satellite launch at a launch site on its west coast.

Observers said that North Korea appears intent on securing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets as it is far behind the allies in ISR capabilities despite its focus on developing an array of formidable weapons systems, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles and tactical nuclear arms.

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Security of border state must be kept above party politics

Democratic forces at home have to be encouraged to speak up against the subversive call of Khalistan and uphold the unity of India, writes D.C. Pathak

nation can still recall how Punjab was caught in the grip of terrorism in the latter 1980s that could be countered only through sustained use of armed police, socio-political efforts at restoring peace and the diplomatic initiatives taken for mobilising world opinion against the call of ‘Khalistan’.

The environment of hurt feelings amongst Sikhs created by Op Blue Star at the Golden Temple, the rise of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as the fulcrum of the ‘Khalistan movement’ in the state, and the full exploitation of the situation by Pakistan which pumped in arms, explosives and trained militants into Punjab had all combined at that time to push the level of terrorist violence all over the state to an unprecedented high with things coming to a pass where people in Chandigarh and Mohali stopped leaving their houses after sunset.

The comprehensive countermeasures of the state did succeed by the turn of the decade — the execution of Operation Black Thunder in 1988, which was based on two fundamental precepts that no policeman would enter the premises of the Golden Temple and no bullet would be fired from outside towards the Temple, played a major part in turning the things around for the eventual return of peace to Punjab.

What really marked the end of the chapter of terrorist violence in the border state was the restoration of Hindu-Sikh unity against the machinations of the external enemy to permanently damage their brotherly relations by instigating targeted killings on communal lines. This ground reality of peace rooted in Hindu-Sikh unity has held on for decades — it found validation in the political alliance between the BJP and Akali Dal in recent times. Punjab happily is once more acknowledged as the prime contributor to the nation’s defence as well as the country’s food economy. The border state however is again being targeted by forces inimical to India.

The situation in Punjab, with its strategic location, is becoming vulnerable in the face of the evil designs of the adversaries to revive the call of Khalistan outside India in the hope that this would produce an induction effect within the state.

The people of Punjab are averse to any disruptive ideas and remain united in faith — being totally devoted to the teachings of Guru Nanak and the recitation of ‘Shabad’ at Gurudwaras. There is complete socio-cultural harmony between Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab as also in the rest of the country. India’s enemies are therefore trying to operate externally to work out ways of injecting trouble in the state from outside.

The Khalistan movement is being revived in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK by enemy agents trying to work in the Sikh diaspora, particularly among the younger generations who had remained somewhat cut off from Punjab, the land of their origin, possibly losing some emotional attachment with India as well. They could fall for the separatist rhetoric more easily particularly when this was backed by the narrative of ‘majoritarianism’ and ‘anti-minorityism’ built against the regime by anti-India lobbies abroad often working with some of the civil society groups at home.

In Punjab, sporadic attempts to use Gurudwaras to revive the Amritdhari cult have come to notice. Isolated incidents of assault on a Granthi or desecration of Guru Granth Sahib have to be guarded against as they could prove to be the flag points for instigated trouble. It is also clearly evident that there is an organised attempt by the adversary to step up the induction of narcotics into Punjab from across the border to increase drug addiction among the youth there making them vulnerable to outside influence and the manoeuvring of enemy agents.

Slowly but steadily the Pak-supported Khalistan movement is raising its head in Sikh diaspora abroad, particularly since 2022. Vandalism against India’s diplomatic missions, defacing of temples and glorifying past incidents pertaining to Khalistan terror in India have been resorted to in a planned manner. These subversive activities abroad have been accompanied by some violent actions on Indian soil as well. There was infiltration of Khalistan elements in the farmer’s agitation of 2020 and on January 26, 2021, some Sikh protestors entered Red Fort and hoisted Nishan Sahib’s flag there.

Meanwhile, Amritpal Singh, a known Khalistan protagonist who had links with the US-based Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), along with thousands of supporters carrying a copy of Guru Granth Sahib and also some firearms, raided Ajnala Police Station near Amritsar on February 23, 2023, and forcibly secured the release of Loveprit Singh Toofan, an aid of Amritpal, arrested earlier in a case of violence.

Amritpal Singh, the leader of self-styled Waris Punjab De, is known to have been trained by Pak ISI and housed in Dubai which is an important hub of ISI. He visited Rode village in Moga district the birthplace of Sant Bhindranwale in an attempt to emulate the latter. He was finally arrested in April 2023 and shifted to Dibrugarh jail in Assam considering his potential for whipping up violence in Punjab.

Apart from spreading the Khalistan movement, Amritpal Singh was actively involved in smuggling drugs into Punjab and promoting addiction amongst the youth of Punjab. All of this proved Pak ISI’s hand behind the revival of Khalistan call in Punjab and the pumping of drugs into the state with the intention of raising a body of addicted youth who would do its bidding in subverting the border state through the separatist Khalistan movement.

The Sino-Pak axis remains hostile to India and has become much more active after the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian Parliament.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through the northern part of PoK and it was vehemently opposed by India. Operational collusion between China and Pakistan against India has lately been reflected in the use of Chinese drones by Pak ISI for dropping arms and narcotic consignments in Kashmir and Punjab.

There are reports of Pak-based Islamic militant outfits being used for building contacts with Sikh extremist elements in Punjab. Pak ISI is likely to repeat its modus operandi in Punjab and do a few things that had helped it in the 1980s to build terrorism in the state. Gurudwaras were used for indoctrinating and even sheltering militants, training in techniques of making IEDs was imparted — cycle bombs made by packing RDx into the cylinders of a cycle and fitting it with a timer became a trademark of terror at that time — and Hindu-Sikh enmity and distrust was whipped up by directing targeted killings of Hindus. Any beginnings of this kind of violence should be promptly noticed.

Pak ISI knows it is not easy to build the Khalistan movement at present but buoyed by the Sino-Pak axis, it is determined to press for it by first promoting the idea outside and using pro-Khalistan groups to inject the same into Punjab. Pak ISI is prompted to concentrate on Punjab in line with its old K2 plan as the Centre had successfully controlled the situation in Kashmir after abrogating Art 370 of the Constitution.

It would be prudent to set off coordinated measures in Punjab to mitigate any chances of the revival of the Khalistan idea in the state.

Punjab needs to be put in charge of a Governor with a national security background who had knowledge of how the terrorist problem in the state was handled in the past. An important function of the Head of the state would be to guide and educate the state government about the operational measures needed to be put in place, particularly in a border state and the socio-political environment that had to be created to mitigate the threat of separatism in the name of Khalistan.

Security of the border state has to be kept above party politics.

Since the adversary this time is using the pro-Khalistan elements abroad to inject violence in Punjab, intelligence coverage of Khalistan groups outside India already identified had to be stepped up further.

India has designated some leaders of Indian origin actively engaged in promoting the call of Khalistan in countries like the US and Canada and all efforts have to be made to get them extradited to India to face legal action.

India has launched a diplomatic effort to counter the anti-India activity abroad and called the ruling elites in the concerned countries to check the same.

Watch on social media used for the spread of Khalistan separatism and indoctrination of youth has to be intensified and effective action taken particularly against insiders colluding with such activity — under the new Penal codes passed by the Parliament in December last year.

Democratic forces at home have to be encouraged to speak up against the subversive call of Khalistan and uphold the unity of India. We have to be ahead of the troublemakers within the country or outside in countering any threats to national security, integrity and sovereignty.

(The writer is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Views are personal)

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US conducts subcritical nuclear test

The experiment was the first in the Nimble series…reports Asian Lite News

The United States conducted a subcritical nuclear test at Nevada earlier this week, according to a statement released by the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

The experiment, the third under the administration of President Joe Biden, was carried out on Tuesday to collect “essential data” regarding the country’s nuclear warheads, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The experiment was the first in the Nimble series, executed at the Principal Underground Laboratory for Subcritical Experimentation (PULSE) facility in partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The NNSA, an arm of the US Energy Department, said it relies on subcritical tests to support the safety and effectiveness of nuclear warheads, without the use of nuclear explosive testing.

The US government had announced a moratorium on tests involving nuclear explosions in 1992, however, successive administrations have continued subcritical tests.

The last subcritical test took place in September 2021.

“This experiment and all 33 previous US subcritical experiments were consistent with the zero-yield standard of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” the NNSA said in a statement.

Marvin Adams, Deputy Administrator for Defence Programs said in a statement, “We plan to increase the frequency of these subcritical experiments so we can continue to gather important data on nuclear weapons materials, with no technical need for a return to underground nuclear explosive testing.” (ANI)

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King hands military role to Prince William

The king’s decision to hand the role to William was seen as a blow to Harry when it was announced last year….reports Asian Lite News

King Charles officially handed over the role of colonel-in-chief of the Army Air Corps to Prince William during a visit to its Hampshire airfield.

Charles – who became the inaugural holder of the title 32 years ago – met with his eldest son in a rare joint official engagement at the Middle Wallop base on Monday afternoon to transfer the role.

The Army Air Corps is the duke of sussex’s old unit, in which he served as an Apache helicopter commander and co-pilot gunner during his second tour to Afghanistan in 2012.

The king’s decision to hand the role to William was seen as a blow to Harry when it was announced last year.

The king said it was a “great joy” to meet servicemen, their families and veterans at an earlier visit to the Army Flying Museum but added the handover was “tinged with great sadness.” He said: “I do hope you’ll go from strength to strength in the future with the prince of wales as your new Colonel-in-Chief. The great thing is he’s a very good pilot indeed – so that’s encouraging.”

He unveiled a plaque commemorating an Apache AH Mk.1 going on display, the first of its kind to be installed at a UK museum.

The aircraft was one of four involved in a rescue mission during the Battle of Jugroom Fort in 2007. The king said: “Let me just say what a great joy it is to be with you even briefly on this occasion but also it is tinged with great sadness after 32 years of knowing you all, admiring your many activities and achievements through the time that I’ve been lucky enough to be colonel-in-chief of the Army Air Corps.”

General Nick Barton, who took part in the rescue operation, said it was a “unique honour” to meet the king who served as an important “figurehead” for the soldiers. Charles spoke to one veteran who had recently undergone chemotherapy for testicular cancer, discussing losing the sense of taste as a result of the treatment.

William embarked on his first engagement with the Army Air Corps after the king left, receiving a briefing on its work and inspecting training and operational aircraft as well as talking to soldiers. He was presented with a gift on behalf of the corps – a tartan scarf for the prince, a wrap for his wife Kate and three wooden helicopter models for the couple’s children.

He will later leave the base in an Apache as part of a capability flight. Kensington Palace posted two images of the prince during his military service on X, showing a young William in 1998 and 2009 – standing next to a helicopter in one picture and smiling at the controls in another.

Monday’s visit comes just days after Harry travelled to the United Kingdom to mark 10 years of the Invictus Games, without meeting up with his father and brother. The king trained with the Royal Air Force (RAF) while in his second year at the University of Cambridge and was given his wings in August 1971.

William served in the army with the Blues and Royals and was an RAF search and rescue pilot for three years at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales.

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