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Amid War Hysteria Created By Media, 3 Chiefs of Indian Defence Forces Issue Official Statements

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India's Statement on Pakistan Air Strike Attempt

New Delhi-Amid war hysteria created by warmongers and several media houses using unconfirmed reports from unconfirmed sources and even playing fake video clips, the Indian defence forces have released official statements. Air Vice Marshal Ravi Kapoor of the Indian Air Force, Major General Surinder Mahal of the Indian Army and Rear Admiral D S Gujral of the Indian Navy today addressed media and gave their official statements over the current situation between India and Pakistan.

Himachal Watcher is publishing the official statements without any editing to minimize any chance of discrepancy or adulteration with opinions.

Following are the statements issued by Indian Air Force:

On 27 Feb 19 at around 1000 hrs IAF radars detected a large package of  PAF aircraft heading towards the Indian territory towards general area Jhangar. They breached the Indian airspace west of Rajauri in Sunderbani Area.

The ingressing aircraft was observed to be at various levels. IAF fighters including MiG-21 Bison, Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000 were tasked to intercept the PAF aircraft.

The PAF aircraft attempting to target military installations were intercepted by IAF fighter aircraft which thwarted their plans.  Although PAF bombs have fallen in Indian Army Formation compounds however they were unable to cause any damage to our Military Installations.

In the aerial combat that ensued one F-16 of PAF was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison. The F-16 crashed and fell across the LOC in POJ&K.

The IAF lost one MiG-21 in the aerial engagement and though the Pilot ejected safely his parachute drifted into POJ&K where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army.

There have been many factually incorrect statements that have been made by Pakistan.

  • a.         The First blatant disinformation was that two IAF aircraft were shot down by Pakistan and three pilots were downed. This figure was later revised downwards to two IAF aircraft and two Pilots. The fact, however, is that Indian Army units had reported sighting two parachutes falling in the POJ&K which were of two F-16 pilots shot down by the IAF MiG-21 Bison. Pakistan later in the evening changed its statement to say that one Indian pilot was in their custody. Therefore, it was only by late evening that Pakistan accepted the fact.
  • b.         Secondly, Pakistan claimed that they intentionally dropped weapons in open space where there was no human presence or military posts. The fact is that the PAF aircraft targeted military installations. However, they were intercepted by IAF fighter aircraft that thwarted their plans.  Although PAF bombs have fallen in Indian Army Formation compounds however they were unable to cause any significant damage to our Military Installations due to swift IAF response.
  • c.         Pakistan also stated that no F-16s were used in the operation and no Pakistani Plane was downed by Indian Air Force. There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission and Pakistan is trying to hide this fact. Also, parts of AMRAAM Air to Air Missile which is carried only on the F-16s in PAF were recovered East of Rajauri within the Indian territory. Therefore, the fact remains that one F-16 of PAF was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison aircraft.
  • d.         IAF has recently learnt that Pakistan has announced that Wg Cdr Abhinandan will be returned to India tomorrow. IAF looks forward to the return of Wg Cdr Abhinandan.


Statement issued by Indian Army

In response to the counter-terrorist strike by the Indian Air Force, Pakistan Army first resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violations in Sundarbani, Bhimbar Gali, Naushera and Krishna Ghati Sectors on 26 Feb 19 with effect from 5 ‘O’ Clock in the evening and again during the night. This was responded to by the Indian Army in a befitting and appropriate manner.

As my Air Force counterpart has elaborated, on 27 Feb 19, Pakistan Air Force attempted to target military establishments in J&K. Specifically, they targeted a Bde [Brigade] HQ, a Bn [Battalion] HQ, forward defences and a Lgs [Logistics] Installation. However, given the high level of preparedness along the Line of Control and the immediate and punitive response by own forces. The Pakistan Air Force’s designs were foiled.

We continue to maintain strict vigil along the Line of Control and the IB [International Border] Sector. Our Ground Based Air Defence Weapon Systems have been put on alert on all along the Line of Control and some parts of the IB. Mechanised Formations too have been placed on Standby. I wish to assure the nation that we are fully prepared and in a heightened state of readiness to respond to any provocation by Pakistan.

Despite the present turn of events, the Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the region and will continue to act against agencies who harbour inimical designs against India and citizens of our country.

Statements issued by Indian Navy

The Indian Navy is deployed in the high state of readiness and remains poised in all the three dimensions – on the surface, under-sea and in the air to deter, prevent and defeat any misadventure by Pakistan in the maritime domain. I can assure of a resolute, swift and strong response when needed. We stand as one with the Army and Air Force to ensure the safety and security of the nation and our citizens.

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Himachal Kisan Sabha Condemns Alleged Mowing Down of Protesting Farmers by Minister’s Son, Calls it “Ghastly” and “Inhuman”

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Himachak Kisan Sabha

Shimla-Himachal Kisan Sabha has condemned the incident where four farmers were allegedly run over by vehicles in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, terming it a “ghastly” and “inhuman” act. The Sabha paid tribute to the martyred farmers and demanded immediate arrest of Ashish Mishra – son of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra – and other accused and book them under Section 302 (murder).

The farmers have alleged that three SUVs that mowed down protesting farmers were part of the convoy of the Union Minister of State. The farmers alleged that Minister’s son was behind the wheel in one of these SUVs. Following this incident, violence broke out that killed four more persons. The Minister, however, denied the allegations. 

Kisan Sabha also demanded that an inquiry should be conducted into the incident by a Supreme Court Judge. The Sabha also demanded that the Union Minister of State should be suspended with immediate effect.

Sabha said that it’s extremely shameful that the Centre government is attempting to end farmers protest against three Farm Laws in a dictatorial way by means of violence.

“On September 25, 2021, Union Minister of State, Ajay Mishra, had threatened to end the farmers protest within two minutes in a public meeting, and now his son has been alleged of mowing down farmers,” said State President of Himachal Kisan Sabha, Dr Kuldeep Singh Tanwar.

“The execution of this ghastly act merely one day after the non-violence day clearly reflects that the current Centre Government has no belief in democracy. The government wants to suppress dissenting voices rising against it at any cost,” Tanwar added.

Dr Tanwar further added that protests would be staged against this “barbaric” act in Himachal Pradesh too. The sacrifice of martyred farmers won’t go in vain, and it would only strengthen the farmers’ protest, he added.  

Meanwhile, following this incident, Priyanka Gandhi, who was on her way to Lakhimpur to meet the affected families, was detained by police, while Akhilesh Yadav – former Chief Minister of UP and president of Samajwadi Party- was put under house arrest ahead of his scheduled visit.

 

 

 

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Covid-19 Needs a Regional Response, Say Physicians and Activists at SAPAN Meeting

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Poster

Peace activists under the SAPAN platform conducted an event on Sunday which included prominent physicians like Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, Dr Anup Subedee, Dr Vandana Prasad, and Dr Hamid Jafari of Pakistan (led the team that eradicated polio in India). Speakers included Salima Hashmi, Khushi Kabir, Kanak Dixit, Lalita Ramdas, besides journalists Beena Sarwar, Mandira Nayar and others. Activist Priyanka Singh conducted the event.

South Asian countries cannot go it alone, that’s irrational,’’ said Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, renowned public health activist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee from Bangladesh.

The hard lockdown in his country will lead to furthering the inequalities in society, he warned, emphasizing that it is irresponsible to impose lockdowns without providing food. “Poverty has increased. There are 25 million more poor without food.”

Dr Chowdhury was among the physicians and health right activists across countries who came together on Sunday 27 June at a webinar organised by the South Asia Peace Action Network (SAPAN) to emphasize that the coronavirus pandemic must be fought collectively.

The third in the series of SAPAN’s monthly public webinars themed ‘Imagine: Neighbours in Peace’, the meeting focused on health as an entry point to talk about South Asian regionalism and Healthcare for all. Three main aspects deliberated included:

  How the pandemic is affecting rural areas of South Asian countries, hurdles in treatment, and access — or lack thereof — to vaccinations.

  How COVID-19 has affected mental health, women and particularly women in rural areas of all the countries of the region

  How the challenges are similar in all countries of the region and require similar solutions.

The meeting took place at a time when South Asia is reeling from the devastating second wave of Covid-19, especially in India. With Delta plus virus mutation now detected in parts of the region, the possibility of another wave looms large.

Journalist Mandira Nayar in Delhi moderated the physicians’ panel with Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury in Dhaka; infectious diseases specialist Dr Anup Subedee in Kathmandu and public health activist Dr Vandana Prasad also in Delhi. Dr Hamid Jafari of Pakistan, who led the WHO team that eradicated polio in India, joined from his current posting in Jordan. 

Dr Chowdhury advocated challenging vaccine-producing countries and pushing South Asian governments to invest more in public health.

Participants also noted that the pandemic has particularly hit women hard.

“Domestic violence has increased,” noted Dr Prasad. Women often lack control over finances, are primary caregivers and shoulder the responsibility of caring for the ill. The pandemic has pushed women further into the margins, she said, adding that there is also a “gender dimension to the access of vaccines”.

She urged doctors to enter the peace activism domain, because the poor all over are at the brink of disaster.

Dr Prasad drew attention to the gendered nature of pandemic and frontline workers, as well as Dalits, indigenous people, other minorities. “Telemedicine is important, but we must not lose focus on need for ground-based public health to begin with”.

Frontline workers in India, the accredited social health activist (ASHA) workers often lack training, safety equipment and often doesn’t get her wages for months.

While highlighting that a public health system is meant to be a great equaliser, Dr Anup Subedee noted how the pandemic exposed systematic failures in many aspects of life in Nepal, referring not only to the grievous impact on non-Covid healthcare – like child immunization and maternity care – but also the painful ordeals of healthcare community itself. 

He shared how the healthcare community in Nepal has been compelled to deal with threats of violence, lack of access to personal protection equipment, prospects of income loss without any social security system support, and an unaddressed mental health crisis among healthcare workers. 

Doctors at the meeting endorsed the need for greater cooperation and collaboration across borders. Participants called on the governments to allow free flow of critical equipment and medical personnel across borders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had floated the idea of a SAARC medical visas for patients and for medical teams to assist during the pandemic – something that must be followed up.

The doctors also urged the international fraternity to push for a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, waiver so that the Covid-19 vaccine production can be ramped up. “It is the way forward for vaccines for all,’’ asserted Dr Prasad.

Activist Khushi Kabir in Dhaka introduced the event. She talked about connections, sharing her memory of how Dr Haroon Ahmed, one of the event’s speakers, was her physician when she was a child and he was starting work at a government clinic in Karachi. Dr Haroon was unable to join at the last moment due to ill health. 

Wishing him a speedy recovery, Khushi commented, “Each time we meet, there are more losses people who have been part of our journey”. As at the previous SAPAN meeting there was a commemoration of mentors and leaders whose vision SAPAN is taking forward, like Asma Jahangir and Dr Mubashir Hasan, and Nirmala Despande and others. 

There was also a moment of silence to express condolences and share the grief of the families and friends of those lost to Covid and other causes over the past month. “Since we were unable to memorialise everyone, the presentation could only be symbolic,” noted Khushi Kabir.

The In Memoriam slideshow includes journalist Ghazi Salahuddin’s three siblings taken by Covid in as many weeks, including Dr Aquila Islam, Pakistan’s first woman nuclear physicist. It also included the legendary runner Milkha Singh and his wife, volleyball champ Nirmal Saini who died within days of each other, and radiologist Chinna Dua, 56, wife of journalist Vinod Dua. She had endeared herself to music and poetry lovers across the region when she joined Tina Sani some years back at the Faiz Festival in Karachi – on Facebook at this link.

Ghazi Salahuddin has written about his family tragedy in a brave and heartbreaking oped for The News, Partings without goodbyes (20 June 2021), noting: “my struggle to cope with this terrible bereavement was eased a bit when I reminded myself that this pandemic has devastated so many families across the world…”

Several well known activists and experts also joined from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and elsewhere, including Hina Jillani, Urvashi Butalia, Jean Dreze, Kavita Srivastava, Shireen Huq, Kanak Mani Dixit and others.

The South Asia Peace Action Network (SAPAN) is primarily a coalition of individuals and organisations aiming to take forward a peace agenda for the region, building on the work done by mentors and leaders over the last few decades. 

SAPAN founder and curator Beena Sarwar shared the story of this network and her vision for an inter-generational, multi-sectoral, inter- and intra-regional coalition of individuals and organisations coming together in broad consensus for a one-point agenda.

Facebook live recording is online at this link

Source: SAPAN,  Beena Sarwar, Kanak Mani Dixit, Mandira Nayar, Rida Anwaar, Rehmat Merchant, Priyanka Singh and some other peace activists present in the virtual session

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Editors Guild of India Condemns FIR Against Journalists, Calls it Destructive of Freedom of Speech

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ghaziabad incident
Image Credit: The Cognate

Shimla-The Editors Guild of India on Thursday condemned the filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) by the Uttar Pradesh Police against The Wire and several other journalists for their tweets on an assault on an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad on June 5th.

“The Guild is deeply concerned by the UP Police’s track record of filing FIRs against journalists to deter them from reporting serious incidents without fear of reprisals”, it said.

It further added that it is the duty of the journalists to report on the basis of sources and in case facts become contested later on, to report the emerging versions and facets.

The guild called such actions by the police destructive of freedom of speech. It also claimed that the police has been discriminatory in targeting those media organizations and journalists when thousands had tweeted the video- that have been critical of the government and its policies.

“The Guild condemns this wanton misuse of laws to criminalize reporting and dissent to harass independent media and demands that the FIRs be withdrawn immediately,” it demanded.

Several media organizations and journalists had posted the video on their social media feeds. The UP police has filled FIR’s against The Wire, Twitter, journalist Mohammed Zubair, Rana Ayyub and Sana Naqvi and some Congress leaders under IPC Sections 153(provocation for rioting), 153A(promoting enmity between different groups), 295A(acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 505(mischief), 120B(criminal conspiracy) and 34(common intention) against them.

In the video that was posted by those charged, the man is seen alleging that he was beaten up by some people and was forced to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’.

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