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India finds second secret tunnel built by Pakistan to push terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, January 13:

Indian security forces on Wednesday discovered another tunnel built by Pakistani security officials to push terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir, people familiar with the matter said.

This is the second tunnel found by Indian security forces since November last.

The Border Security Force (BSF) has told the national security establishment that the underground tunnel, like the last one found in November, was a professionally-engineered effort to infiltrate terrorists trained in terror camps commissioned by the Pakistan army.

The entry to the tunnel was spotted about 300 feet from the zero line, about 65 feet from the fence on the Indian side, a senior BSF officer said. The three-feet-wide tunnel appears to have been constructed at a depth of 25 to 30 feet.

But this time, the BSF did not stumble upon the tunnel. “Given the sophistication of the last tunnel that had been found, we had figured that the Pakistan army had started building cross-border tunnels to create a new infiltration route. So, we constituted special teams to look for them,” the Hindustan Times quoted the BSF officer as saying.

Counter-terror officials in New Delhi said the tunnel also explained instances of ceasefire violations by Pakistani Rangers in this region.

It has been an old tactic of Pakistani security forces to open fire at border guards on the Indian side to distract them. Usually, it was to help terrorists to infiltrate into India. “Now, it is also being used to draw the attention of security forces from spots where they are building tunnels,” a counter-terror official said.

And there has been a sharp increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces all along the border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2020.

According to statistics compiled by the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police, there were 930 instances of ceasefire violations in 2020—a 54% increase over the 605 instances the previous year. There was also a 22% increase in recruitment of terrorists by Pakistan’s deep state.

“But the security forces were on their toes,” a top J&K police officer said. Only 52 of the 174 terrorists recruited in 2020 are still active. “Nearly 50 of them were arrested or surrendered. Another 76 were killed in security operations,” the officer said.

A national security planner in Delhi said the Pakistan army’s approach to infiltrate terrorists via tunnels reflected how desperately they wanted to keep Kashmir on the boil. “The general understanding earlier was that the Pakistani side would largely pause infiltration attempts during the winter. The tunnels indicate that General (Qamar Ahmad) Bajwa does not want the terror tap to be turned off…. That he does not want a dip in terrorist attacks in Kashmir,” he said.

He added that the desperation to keep the Kashmir Valley in the news could also be linked to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s troubles from the opposition that has united to target him and even the army. This would explain why PM Khan and Gen Bajwa have been trying to focus on Kashmir back home.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of opposition parties formed in September to mobilise nationwide protests against Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government is already gaining public support.

“If the economic situation is not properly controlled, Pakistan will face political instability with growing risks of government collapse,” an internal assessment by the United Nations’ department of safety and security said.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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