The killing of 20 hostages - Japanese, Italians, an American and a young Indian woman, aged 21, Tarashi Jain at a café in one of Dhaka’s hotspots has sent shock waves across Bangladesh, India, and the world beyond. Tarashi Jain’s distraught mother, Tulika, sobbing at her daughter’s cremation in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of Delhi, said: ‘Tell everyone the truth, the truth is that she was killed because she was an Indian.’ Islamic State, or ISIS, claimed responsibility for this and other murders of people belonging to the country’s minority Hindu, Christian and Buddhist communities, and also Muslim figures known for their liberal views.
In the present case, Bangladesh Army commandoes went into action, shooting dead six of the seven terrorists and arresting the solitary survivor. Thirteen captives were rescued. Bangladesh ministers, in denial over ISIS claims, insist that the jihadis were homegrown. Whatever be the truth, it remains a fact that few, if any, of the perpetrators of the previous random assassinations have been brought to justice by the authorities. Disturbingly, the Dhaka killers were young, well educated, of middle and upper class families. The stereotype of the bearded, semi-literate mullah doesn’t hold water any longer.
A few days after the Dhaka tragedy, another occurred in Kishoreganj town, some eighty miles north of the capital, Dhaka. A 250,000 sized Eid prayer meeting was attacked by seven gunmen. Two policemen died in the shootout.
A large candlelight vigil, attended by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and domestic and foreign dignitaries, were present together with a substantial public presence. Japanese companies have started withdrawing en masse from the country, which they say, is too unsafe for business.
Garment industry endangered
The Bangladeshi garment industry which covers around 80 per cent of the national economy as international retailers who source their good from the country also appear to be winding up their operations for safer locations in Cambodia and Sri Lanka (TV networks July 5)
India on alert
Events in Bangladesh have led to growing security concerns in India. Border patrols have intensified with the perception that Bangladesh could be used as a platform for jihadi terrorism in India. India’s smart set, long accustomed to peddling absurdities that the country’s cultural and religious pluralism, not to speak of its democracy, were a hedge against terrorism have suffered indecent exposure. The Times of India (July 3) devoted three pages to the coverage of the Dhaka horror story and its possible implications for India. Kolkata’s Telegraph newspaper (July 3) expended reams of print on its own coverage. There was no stinting of space.
Critical arrest in Kolkata
A suspected IS operative was arrested in Kolkata by the CID. A gun, ammunition and bombing making material was found on his person. His name is Masiuddin, the son of a well known Islamic cleric from the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Under interrogation, he claimed to have been living in Tamil Nadu for the past seven years and speaks multiple languages. Acting on a tip-off from central security agencies the local CID stated trailing the 25 year-old man and arrested him as he alighted from a train in Amodhpur in Birbhum (Times of India, Telegraph July 6)
India-Israel missile twice test-fired
A new generation Medium Range Surface-to-Air 70km missile has been test-fired twice in succession at the integrated test range off the Odisha coast in the Bay of Bengal. The missile was developed by India’s Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI). A Ministry of Defence statement from New Delhi said: ‘Many Indian industries like Bharat Electronics Ltd, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Dynamics Ltd and the Tata group of companies have contributed to a number of subsystems which have been put to use in this flight test.’
Dr G. Satheesh Reddy, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Programme Director of the Mission, who led the launch operation, congratulated the team, saying ‘it’s a quantum jump in air defence capability. The missile successfully intercepted a manoeuvring air-breathing target mimicking an attack combat aircraft. It was a perfect launch achieving all the mission parameters.’ (Hindu July 1)
Tejas joins IAF
The first two Tejas fighter aircraft have been inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF). These Light Combat fourth-generation warplanes were inducted into a squadeon named the Flying Daggers . Two more Tejas will shortly be part of the same 45 squadron. Tejas was designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and manufactured by the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Group Captain Madhav Rangachari, 40, is its first Commanding Officer. He said: ‘I am Mirage 2000 pilot and I can say with authority that the Tejas is a fourth-generation-plus fighter way ahead of even the Mirage. Each planes carries a weapons payload of four tonnes and has a maximum cruising speed of mach 1.6. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, ‘I laud HAL and ADA on the induction of Tejas fighter jet. This illustrates your skills and strengths to enhance indigenous defence manufacturing.’ (Telegraph, Hindu, Times of India July 2)
Bangalore air show
Tejas will participate in the Bangalore air show on 8 October. The more advanced Tejas 1A with appropriate electronic warfare system are due for induction sometime next year. (Hindu, Telegraph July 2)
Jet powered warship commissioned
INS Tarasa, a 48 metre long, 7.5 wide, Fast Attack Craft with a displacement of 315 tonnes, built at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata, was launched by Aruba Korde, wife of Vice Admiral Jayant Korde. The jet engine propelling the ship is an advanced technology allowing greater speed, manoeuvrability and can be used in a shallower draft than the earlier model based on propellers.(Times of India July 1)
BAE-Mahindra tie-up on howitzers
British aerospace major BAE Systems and Indian private company Mahindra ^ Mahindra have struck a deal to manufacture the formers iconic ultra-light Howitzer battlefield guns at Faridabad, some 300 kms from Delhi. ‘Earlier this year, we announced the down selection of Mahindra as our supplier for the Assembly integration & Test capability for the M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer, said Joe Seattle, Vice President, and General Manager (Weapons Systems) BAE Systems Inc (Business Line July 2)
India-Russia defence ties on track
India’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation, P.S. Raghavan issued a newsletter from Moscow on the current level of India-Russian engagement across a wide spectrum. The leaderships of both countries, he said, were in contact at the highest ministerial level on issues of mutual interest, from trade and industry to science, technology, space, security and defence. The Ambassador writes: ‘Defence cooperation is an important pillar of our bilateral relations. About 60 to 70 per cent of the equipment and systems of the Indian Armed Forces is of Soviet or Russian origin. They are constantly upgraded, newer generations introduced, higher-technology technology inducted, and new systems developed through joint research. With increasing focus on ‘Make in India,’ this cooperation will provide increasing opportunities to Indian industry to partner with Russian companies for manufacturing in India. In December 2015, an India-Russia venture agreement was signed to manufacture Russian Kamov helicopters in India - the first Make in India project in the defence sector.’ (June 21 online)
Good, monsoon drives car sales
The arrival of the monsoon, and the launches of new models have bumped up consumer sentiment and helped automobile firms maintain a positive momentum in June sales, according to monthly sales data released by automakers. They are hopeful that the Supreme Court will end its ban on diesel engine vehicles in Delhi. This, and the substantial hike in salaries of civil servants are expected to stimulate prospective buyers with deeper pockets to acquire cars and SUVs (Mint July 5)
India maintains lead in pharma exports
India has maintained its lead in pharmaceutical exports in 2015-16, ending with an impressive $12.54 billion compared with China’s $6.94 billion. India’s growth in the sector was 7.5 per cent to China’s 5.3 per cent. India’s export markets range from the US, Europe to Africa and South East Asia. Its exports to the US jumped 23.4 per cent, worth $4 billion. (Business Line July 6) Cabinet reshuffle Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
Cabinet reshuffle was the cynosure of all eyes. Smriti Irani’s transfer from the Ministry of Human Resource Development to the Textile Ministry was the main talking point. She made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Prakash Javadkar is her replacement. Jayant Sinha has been moved from the Finance Ministry to Civil Aviation, Manoj Sinha, an IIT-BHU graduate takes over the high profile Telecom Ministry, Journalist M.J Akbar becomes Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, Ravi Shankar Prasad shifted from Telecom to Law and Justice Minister. These were the more eye-catching changes, according to the media. Message: Low key performers rewarded; high profile ministers perceived to be slack and speaking out of turn demoted. Time to stand and deliver (Times of India, Hindu, Business Line July 6).