VIF Fortnightly Digest: Defence, National Security & Terrorism (Vol 2 Issue II)

February 01 – 28, 2018


Western Naval Command Concludes Exercise Paschim Leher (XPL-18);
Successful Flight Test of ATGM NAG;
DAC Clears Procurement of Personal Weapons for Defence Forces;
Indo-US Delegation Meets on Defence Cooperation;
Work on Tamil Nadu Defence Quad Begins;
Causality Evacuation: Kurgiak Valley;
Navika Sagar Parikrama - Tarini rounds Cape Horn;
Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) pays Dividend to the Government of India;
International Terrorism: Iraq; Clearance Operation by ISF in Kirkuk;
Series of Terror Attacks in Afghanistan;
TTP Deputy Chief claimed Killed in US Drone Attack;
Pakistan-Suicide Attack in Kabal (Swat)-11 Killed;
Africa-Mass Abduction by Boko Haram in Dapchi;
Mogadishu Terror Strike;
Domestic Terrorism-Jammu and Kashmir-Situation not conducive to Revoke AFSPA;
Two J&K Policemen Killed by Militant while Escaping;
J&K Police Arrest 2 Kashmiri Youth granted Visas by Pakistan for Arms Training;
JeM Fedayeen Attack Sunjuwan Military Station, Jammu;
Major Fedayeen Attack foiled in Karan Nagar, Srinagar;
Pakistani infiltrating Terrorist Killed at LoC;
Man Gunned Down outside Air Force Base in Budgam;
Two Cops Killed in two separate Attacks in J&K;
Terrorist Hideout Busted in Kishtwar District of J&K;
Pakistan resorted to Heaviest Shelling in 15 years in Uri, J&K;
NIA to seek Interpol Red Corner Notice against Pakistan Diplomat;
Sohan Dhira Shot Dead in at Babawanggre;
LWE-Encounter in Jharkhand;
CPI-M Cadres Arrested in Chhattisgarh and Telangana

Defense Matters

Western Naval Command Concludes Exercise Paschim Leher (XPL-18)

The Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy concluded a large scale operational exercise in the Arabian Sea on February 28. The three week long exercise termed Exercise ‘Paschim Leher’ (XPL), tested the operational readiness of the Western Naval Command and the execution of its operational plans. Over 40 naval assets including the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, frontline ships of the Western Fleet and Eastern Fleet (including the newly inducted Kolkata class, submarines, potent missile vessels of the 22nd Killer Squadron, patrol vessels and craft of the Local Flotilla and Indian Coast Guard) participated in the exercise. In addition, the exercise also witnessed intense flying activity by the carrier borne MIG 29 Ks, P-8Is, IL-38SDs, Dorniers as well as remotely piloted aircraft. This exercise also saw enhanced participation by the aircraft of the Indian Air Force with coordinated flying missions with the Indian Navy air assets. Maritime role Jaguars, Su-30 MKIs, AWACS, and flight refuellers participated in large numbers from different airfields in Gujarat, Maharashtra and North India. An amphibious landing was also conducted, which included the participation of the 91 Infantry Brigade of the Indian Army.

XPL 2018 enabled testing and revalidation of operational plans and manoeuvres in a hostile maritime scenario on India's Western Seaboard. Defence of Indian offshore assets, such as oil rigs, escort operations of Indian merchant ships as well as coastal defence, were also rehearsed. The exercise will enable further refinement of the operational, logistics and administrative plans of the Western Naval Command. [Back to Contents ]

Successful Flight Test of ATGM NAG

Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) NAG were successfully flight-tested on February 28, in desert conditions against two tank targets at different ranges and timings. NAG ATGM has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the tests have once again proved its capability. With this, the developmental trials of the missile have been completed and it is now ready for induction. Currently the Army is in possession of a mix of Russian and French ATGMs. Army is also progressing the induction of ATGMs from Israel. [Back to Contents ]

DAC Clears Procurement of Personal Weapons for Defence Forces and Pollution Control Vessels for Coast Guard

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on February 20 accorded approval to the Capital Acquisition Proposals of the Services and Coast Guard valued at approximately Rs 9435 crore. In a major boost to the Make in India initiative the DAC accorded approval for procurement of 41000 Light Machine Guns and over 3.5 lakh Close Quarter Battle Carbines under Buy and Make (Indian) category. Out of total quantities envisaged, 75 percent will be through Indian Industry under Buy & Make (Indian) category and balance through the Ordnance Factory Board. The vintage of personal weapons, assault rifles, carbines and light machine guns being operated by the troops of the three Services, especially by soldiers positioned on the borders and in areas affected by militancy, has been a cause of concern for over a decade. The Government has been conscious of the requirement to modernise basic fighting weapons for the soldiers and has therefore accorded utmost priority to these cases. The DAC also accorded approval for procurement of essential quantity of High Capacity Radio Relay (HCRR) for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force under Buy (Indian) categorisation at an estimated cost of over Rs 1092 crore. These state-of-the-art, HCRRs would provide the Services with fail-safe and reliable communication along with increased bandwidth in the Tactical Battle Area.
To enhance the ability of the Indian Coast Guard to rapidly undertake pollution control measures off the East Coast and Island Territories, the DAC cleared the proposal for acquisition of two Pollution Control Vessels (PCV). These would be built by Indian shipyards under Buy (lndian-IDDM)' category at an approximate cost of Rs 673 crore. These ships in addition to carrying out pollution control would also be capable of undertaking patrolling, search and rescue and limited salvage and fire¬ fighting operations at sea. [Back to Contents ]

Indo-US Delegation Meets on Defence Cooperation

As part of lndo-US Bilateral Defence Cooperation, the 8th Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) Inter Agency Task Force Meeting was held on February 26. The DTTI was initiated as an idea by former US Secretary of Defence Dr Ashton Carter in 2012. The aim of DTTI is to bring sustained leadership focus to the bilateral defence trade relationship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defence equipment. A number of Joint Working Groups spanning varied projects have been established under DTTI on both sides, which have identified various projects for the Armed Forces. The Working Groups meet regularly to discuss and take forward the projects. The fact that the US has declared India as a major defence partner under the National Defence Authorisation Act in 2017 has given an impetus to the DTTI. India's Defence Industry was in a growing stage and looking to acquire niche technology in manufacturing Defence weapons and equipment. This will also give a boost to India's flagship 'Make in India' initiative. Both sides understand the importance of DTTI in this respect and it is a good forum for mutual cooperation to take ahead the defence ties between the two sides. [Back to Contents ]

Work on Tamil Nadu Defence Quad Begins

As per the guidance of Raksha Mantri, the work for preparing Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Tamil Nadu Defence Quad has been initiated by Department of Defence Production in the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The Department will engage a top consultancy firm to draw up the DPR for the Quad. The Finance Minister had, in the Budget 2018-19 announced setting up of two Defence Production Corridors. The Tamil Nadu corridor, which is organised as a quadrilateral will extend from Chennai, Hosur, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchirappalli. The Tamil Nadu Defence Quad will provide a major opportunity to the vibrant manufacturing sector in the State. Further, to ensure that the expectations of local industry, especially the MSMEs, are incorporated in the proposed development of the Quad to the extent appropriate, the MoD has initiated an exercise of industry interactions at all nodal points for the Quad. [Back to Contents ]

Causality Evacuation: Kurgiak Valley

On February 16, the ‘Siachen Pioneers’ based at Air Force Station Leh were tasked to undertake a challenging casualty evacuation of a three months pregnant 35 year old, suffering from dysphagia, from a remote village known as Kurgiak located in an inaccessible valley short of Shinkun La pass beyond Padam. The weather was overcast with all passes covered. The formation got airborne within 30 minutes. The weather enroute was marginal and the narrow and turbulent valley, devoid of any force landing fields, made the task even more challenging. However, the crew successfully negotiated the valley and reached Padam. After a quick turnaround servicing the formation got airborne again for Kurgiak which was another 50 km ahead of Padam. The weather inside the Kurgiak valley was deteriorating with cloud base lowering further. However, the crew located the village successfully. Due to high altitude and lack of oxygen coupled with extremely low temperatures, the lady was having difficulty in breathing. The flight back was even more challenging with the aircraft buffeting in turbulent winds and light fading further. The crew brought all their professionalism to the forefront to successfully negotiate the adverse weather and recovered back at Leh in time. [Back to Contents ]

Navika Sagar Parikrama - Tarini rounds Cape Horn

INSV Tarini has covered 17500 nautical miles from Goa, crossing the Equator on September 25, 2017, Cape Leeuwin on November 09, 2017, and Cape Horn on January 19, 2018, during its maiden voyage to circumnavigate the globe. She will enter Cape Town (South Africa) on March 02. This is the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew. The vessel is skippered by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, and the crew comprises Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal, P Swathi, and Lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta. Raksha Mantri had flagged-off INSV Tarini from Goa on 10 September 17. The vessel’s passage through the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans thus far has witnessed winds in excess of 60 knots and waves upto 7 meters high.

The indigenously-built INSV Tarini is a 56-foot sailing vessel, inducted in the Indian Navy earlier this year showcases the ‘Make in India’ initiative on the International forum. The expedition titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’, is in consonance with the national policy to empower women to attain their full potential. It also aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform and help in transforming societal attitudes and mind-set towards women in India by raising visibility of their participation in challenging environs. The vessel would return to Goa in April 2018, on completion of the voyage. The crew has also been collating and updating meteorological, ocean and wave data on a regular basis for accurate weather forecast by India Meteorological Department (IMD), as also monitoring marine pollution on the high seas. [Back to Contents ]

Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) pays Dividend to the Government of India

MDL, the country’s premier Defence Shipyard, has declared a dividend of Rs 165.41 crore at the rate of 66.43 percent on equity share capital for financial year 2016-17. The cheque for the amount was handed over to the Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on 28 February 2018 by the Chairman and Managing Director, Cmde (Retd) Rakesh Anand. The Company recorded a turnover of Rs 3523.67 crore with profit after tax of Rs 525.12 crore in FY 2016-17. [Back to Contents ]

International Terrorism

Iraq: Clearance operation by ISF in Kirkuk

With the US-led coalition forces in a supporting role, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continued security and clearance operations in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Since February 25, 2018, the US-led coalition forces have engaged with Daesh targets near Rutbah in Anabar Province. Simultaneously, on February 28, 2018, the ISF intensified air strikes against Islamic State locations north of Kirkuk city. These airstrikes are targeted on mountainous locations between Altun Kupri and al-Dibs towns of Northern Kirkuk, where, in the recent past, Daesh was noticed. Earlier, on February 19, 2018, Daesh militants ambushed a convoy and killed at least 27 Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces in Kirkuk Province. The ISF also claimed that Abu Abdul Rahman al-Tamimi al-Eteibi al-Jizraqi, who was the deputy to Daesh leader Baghdadi, was killed in these airstrikes without giving any further details. [Back to Contents ]


In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) regained control over Daesh occupied areas in Euphrates River Valley and further fortified their positions in Middle Euphrates River Valley. However, anti-Daesh operations of the SDF faced a major challenge when it lost the support of its major battleground partner, i.e. Kurdish fighters. These Kurdish fighters constitute the backbone of SDF and they have diverted further to defend Afrin, located in Northwest of Syria where the SDF is facing sharp attacks from Turkey. It may be recalled that the Kurdish forces had played a decisive role in the liberation of Raqqa. In such rapidly evolving development, it would be difficult to estimate the number of Kurds who have withdrawn from the SDF. [Back to Contents ]


Series of Terror Attacks in Afghanistan

23 people were killed and more than a dozen injured in a series of terror attacks in Afghanistan on February 24, 2018. In the first attack, Taliban militants stormed an army base in the western province of Farah, killing 18 soldiers. Taliban claimed the responsibility for the attack.
In the second attack on the same morning, a suicide bomber detonated explosive in the diplomatic area of Kabul in which three people were killed and five others injured. The incidence took place in close proximity of National Directorate of Security (NDS). Same day, on February 24, 2018, there were two more suicide car attacks in which two soldiers were killed and more than a dozen were injured. Kabul has witnessed a sharp rise in terror strikes, both by Taliban and Daesh. [Back to Contents ]

TTP Deputy Chief claimed Killed in US Drone Attack

The leader of the Mehsud faction of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Sajna is reported to have been killed in a US drone strike conducted in mountainous Barmal district of Paktia Province of Afghanistan. His nine associates were also killed during these airstrikes on February 07, 2018. Sajna is said to be the mastermind of Karachi Naval base attack of 2011 and the massive jailbreak in the city of Bannu of Northwest Pakistan in which Taliban claimed to have freed 400 prisoners. Pakita province is believed to be the hub of Haqqani network and TTP militants. [Back to Contents ]


Suicide Attack in Kabal (Swat)-11 Killed

The well-guarded Army camp at Kabal in Swat region of Northwest Pakistan was attacked by a suicide bomber on February 03, 2018. Eleven soldiers including an Army Captain were killed and 13 people were injured. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. In recent past, TTP has intensified attacks on Pakistani military bases. The present one though is considered to be the first major attack in Swat, which is a stronghold of Taliban and witnessed the emergence of TTP. The Swat is also the region of birth of TTP leader Maulana Fazlullah who fled to Afghanistan during the 2009 military operations. [Back to Contents ]


Mass Abduction by Boko Haram in Dapchi

The Dapchi town, located in Northeast Nigeria, was stormed by Boko Haram terrorists on February 21, 2018. They conducted large scale mass abduction of nearly 111 school girls. Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power by promising to end the insurgency during his campaign and got elected in 2015, dispatched his defence minister to the area and ordered the military and police to “mobilise immediately” to find the girls on a fact-finding trip today. This is considered to be the largest mass abduction by Boko Haram after their notorious attempt of Chibok Kidnaping in April 2014. Many Chibok girls have reportedly escaped; however, a recent video released by Boko Haram claimed that they still hold 100 girls in its custody. In recent past, the terror group has intensified the use of female fedayeen in terrorist attack in Northeast Africa. Some reports in recent past also suggest that many young girls affiliated with Boko Haram have conducted Fedayeen attacks and other forms of terror strikes. About 20,000 people in northern Nigeria have been killed and two million others displaced since Boko Haram launched an insurgency there in 2009. [Back to Contents ]

Mogadishu Terror Strike

The city of Mogadishu once again witnessed a terror strike in which al-Shabab militants conducted two car bomb attacks on February 23, 2018, killing 18 people and 48 people were injured. Al-Shabab has stepped up its attacks on Somalia’s capital in recent past which underscores the resilience of the terror group. The attack of February 23, 2018, was immediately claimed by al Shabab through its Shahada News Agency. Mogadishu, once considered as an Al-Shabab controlled territory, was liberated by the forces of African Union. Al-Shabab terror group is a Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of jihadist terrorists pledged to impose Sharia law in Somalia and frequently challenges the authority of the internationally recognised government based in Mogadishu. The group is also reportedly extorting huge amounts of money from impoverished communities in Somalia and recruiting armies of children. In January 2018, Human Rights Watch issued a report claiming Al-Shabab had ordered communities in Somalia’s Bay region to hand over their children for military training and Islamic education. [Back to Contents ]

Domestic Terrorism

Jammu and Kashmir

Situation in J & K not conducive to Revoke AFSPA

State Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, speaking in the Legislative Assembly, said that situation in the state was not congenial to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). “We too want that AFSPA ends and footprints of security forces and the police disappear. But in this situation when people from 4-5 villages gather to throw stones on security forces engaged in an encounter with militants, is it realistic to talk of ending AFSPA?’’ she asked. The CM also defended the Army’s move to file a counter-FIR in the case where armed forces are accused by the J & K Police of killing three civilians. [Back to Contents ]

Two J & K Policemen Killed by Militant while Escaping

Two J & K Police personnel were attacked by a Pakistani commander of Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), Naveed Jat alias Abu Hanzulla, while being escorted to the Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar for medical examination. Naveed snatched the guns and fired a few rounds of shots and managed to escape. “At least two or three militants were involved in the incident. We are maintaining a high alert and we will go after them till we neutralise them,” said SP Vaid DG, J & K Police. Naveed joined militancy in 2011 and had infiltrated into Kashmir in October 2012. He was responsible for carrying out a number of attacks on the security forces and killing a police officer and a CRPF personal in Pulwama District.

A total of 23 police officials were accompanying six prisoners including Naveed to the hospital when the incident took place. None of other five inmates were hurt in the proceedings. Meanwhile, a high-level inquiry was ordered into the incident. [Back to Contents ]

J & K Police Arrest 2 Kashmiri Youth granted Visas by Pakistan for Arms Training

Two Kashmiri youth were arrested for receiving arms training at a LeT camp in Pakistan and earlier crossing over the border on valid Pakistani visas. The duo had crossed through the Wagah border in Punjab. J & K DGP Vaid said that both were arrested in a joint operation of J & K police and the central forces. The two youths, identified as Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Abdul Majeed Bhat, belonged to Baramulla district in Kashmir province. [Back to Contents ]

JeM Fedayeen Attack Sunjuwan Military Station, Jammu

In the early hours of Feb 10 morning, four militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) barged into f the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry military station of 36 Brigade in Sunjuwan. They entered the rear side of the army camp where officers and family quarters are located. In the ensued encounter, five soldiers and one civilian were killed and 10 civilians, including six women and children, were injured in the attack. All the terrorists were flushed out in the operation which continued for two days. This attack is first of its kind in Jammu that comes at a time when JeM is increasing its footprints in a bid to revive/intensify militancy in the Kashmir valley. The attack comes on the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on February 9th and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front founder Maqbool Bhat on February 11th. [Back to Contents ]

Major Fedayeen Attack Foiled in Karan Nagar, Srinagar

Militants belonging to LeT terrorist outfit claimed an attack on the 23rd Battalion CRPF camp located near Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, Srinagar on February 6. According to Police, two militants tried to enter the CRPF camp in the early hours but fled after they were spotted by the guards on duty. Both the militants were neutralised in an encounter that lasted for 28 hours. In the process of shoot out, one CRPF personal succumbed to injuries. [Back to Contents ]

Pakistani infiltrating Terrorist Killed at LoC

Indian security forces gunned down a Pakistani intruder across the line of control (LoC) and foiled an infiltration bid. Pakistani troops had resorted to unprovoked firing to made infiltration attempt easy. During the heavy exchange of fire, the militant was killed. Four Indian security personnel were also injured in the course of the exchange. The list of items recovered from the slain intruder included three live Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG), four disposable rocket launchers, two IKOM radio sets, AK Magazine, four Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGL) grenades, seven hand grenades, mobile phone, three backpacks, and a medical satchel. [Back to Contents ]

Man Gunned Down outside Air Force Base in Budgam

A 55-year-old man was shot dead by the security forces outside the Air Force Station in District Budgam in Kashmir Valley. The deceased was identified as Syed Habibullah, resident of Acampora in Budgam. According to Police, the individual entered in the security zone of the Station around midnight. Despite warnings, he did not stop and was gunned down. [Back to Contents ]

Two Cops Killed in two separate Attacks in J & K

Two J & K police personnel were shot dead by militants in two separate attacks. One was killed near the Char-e-Shareef shrine and another outside the residence of a Hurriyat leader in Kashmir valley. The two were identified as Kultar Singh of J & K Armed Police 13th Battalion and Constable Farooq Ahmed. J & K DGP SP Vaid expressed pain at the “martyrdom” of the two policemen. “Be more careful boys, it’s the proxy war that we are fighting in J & K,” the state’s top police official tweeted. [Back to Contents ]

Terrorist Hideout Busted in Kishtwar District of J & K

In a joint operation launched by a Rashtriya Rifles Battalion and the local police in Kesna forest area, a terrorist hideout was smashed and large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives were seized from the site. The seizures included two AK 56 rifles, three 9 mm pistols, one country-made pistol, 15 magazines of AK 56 rifle, 98 rounds of Pika gun, two rounds of UBGL, one RPG, two binoculars, 12 detonators and two radio sets. It was an old hideout which was used by terrorists earlier during peak militancy in the area. [Back to Contents ]

Pakistan resorted to Heaviest Shelling in 15 years in Uri, J & K

Pakistani forces carried out the most intense cross-border shelling witnessed in 15 years in the Uri sector. Both sides, started evacuation around three border villages of Churanda, Silikote and Tilawari in Uri. Sources close to Indian army said that Pakistan has been attempting to enlarge the area of its ceasefire violations on the LoC. As per some media reports, more than 200 militants are waiting on the LoC to infiltrate into Kashmir Valley. Indian Army has also been targeting Pakistani launch pads and posts along the LoC used for pushing militants across the border. [Back to Contents ]

NIA to seek Interpol Red Corner Notice against Pakistan Diplomat

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has initiated the process of securing an Interpol Red Corner notice against Pakistani diplomat Amir Zubair Siddiqui in a 2014 terror case. Siddiqi was recently charge-sheeted by the NIA for allegedly conspiring to launch terror strikes on the US and Israeli consulates in southern India. The NIA has completed its procedures to for the issuance of Red Corner Notice against Siddiqui and will send it to Interpol Headquarters based in Lyon. Siddiqi allegedly conspired to carry out terror strikes in India during his tenure as a Visa counsellor at Pakistan High Commission in Colombo in 2013. [Back to Contents ]

Sohan Dhira Shot dead in at Babawanggre

The most wanted terrorist, Sohan D Shira who was a self-proclaimed Commander-in-Chief of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), was killed in a fierce encounter with Indian security forces on February 27, 2018. This intelligence-driven operation was conducted at Dobu A'chakpek by a joint team of the Garo Hills Police and Meghalaya's Special Force-10 commandos. Pakchara R. Champion, the then chief of GNLA, was arrested in Bangladesh in July 2012 and handed over to Meghalaya police. He is currently lodged in Shillong jail. In his absence, Sohan was the de facto chief of the outfit and had been involved in heinous crimes. Sohan D Shira was reported to have returned from Bangladesh in December 2017 in light of a crackdown by security forces of Bangladesh. [Back to Contents ]

Left Wing Extremism (LWE)

Encounter in Jharkhand

In an intelligence-driven operation, a cadre of the Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-M) was killed by the Security forces in Bhitar Pandra Village of Jharkhand on February 01, 2018. The CPI-M cadre was identified as Birbal Oraon. [Back to Contents ]

CPI-M Cadre Arrested in Chhattisgarh

In another intelligence-driven joint operation between District Reserve Guard Force, and CRPF Cobra Battalion, nine wanted CPI-Maoists cadres were arrested in Bheji area of Sukma district on February 28, 2018. These arrested Maoists were involved in the attack on a police team patrolling at Elarmadgu forest of Bhejji on February 18, 2018, in which two police personnel were killed and six were injured. [Back to Contents ]

CPI-M Cadre arrested in Telangana

Simultaneously to the arrest of CPI-M cadres at Chattisgarh, Telangana Police also arrested wanted five CPI-M cadres from Korakatpadu in Charla Mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district of Telangana on February 28, 2018. [Back to Contents ]