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AFSPA: Tripura trashes controversial law after 18 years

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The controversial Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), which has been in effect in Tripura for the last 18 years to curb insurgency, has finally been removed by the north-eastern state.

According to Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who is also the Home Minister of the state, the landmark decision was taken during a meeting of the council of ministers during the day.

“We have reviewed the situation of the disturbed areas of the state after every six months and also discussed the issue with the state police and other security forces working in the state”, Sarkar said.

“They suggested that there is no requirement of the Act now as the insurgency problem has largely been contained. We would soon issue gazette notification in this regard,” Sarkar told reporters.

Highlighting the improved security apparatus in the state, Sarkar said, “When the Act was imposed there were only 42 police stations and two-third of the entire police station areas were under this act.

At present, there are 74 police stations, out of which 26 police stations were fully and 4 were partly under the Act till recently.

The  Act was imposed in the state on February 16, 1997 following spurt of violence by the ultras.

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Handwara Attack: The Tale of Bravery and Sacrifice

Remembering our heroes of Handwara Attack

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Indian glad

By Muskan Bhatnagar

How many of us remember the names of the army officers who lost their lives while serving the nation? How many of us remember the sacrifices made by our defense forces and their families to protect us? How many of us remember the horror tales of the terrorist attacks on national borders? Hardly a few of us. We tend to forget the sacrifices, the immense bravery, and the spirit of the officers who lay down their lives fighting for the country.

It’s not been long since we faced a terrorist attack. In the late hours of May 2, an Indian army colonel, a major, two soldiers, and a Jammu and Kashmir police sub-inspector carried out one of the deadliest operations in Handwara. A 12-hour long operation to avoid a hostage situation cost us the lives of the brave hearts of India. Two terrorists were also neutralized in the encounter as per a statement released by the Indian Army.

Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood, Jammu, and Kashmir police Sub-Inspector Sageer Ahmed Kazi, Lance NK Dinesh, and NK Rajesh lost their lives in a gunbattle with terrorists in North Kashmir. Just a few days have passed by and it seems like everyone has forgotten their sacrifice.

Why is it so, that we tend to normalize martyrdom of soldiers? It requires immense bravery and courage to serve the country without fearing death. Then why do we forget their sacrifice in a few seconds?
No, their job is not to die, but to fight for the nation and protect us. And when they lose their lives while protecting us, it is a great loss. The loss is as big as a celebrity death. When a legendary actor dies, the whole nation mourns. On the other hand, when a soldier is martyred, it is just a matter of a few minutes, and very quickly, we move on.

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Our Army deserves a lot more respect and appreciation than we give. Wikimedia Commons

Are real-life heroes not as important as reel life heroes? And if not, then why? The soldiers, standing on the borders, protecting us all including the reel life heroes are as important as any other celebrity. They are the pride of this nation. They undergo harsh living conditions and circumstances just to make sure that none of us suffers or dies. Like us, they too have families whom they have to leave back at home to protect us.

Many families lose their sons, fathers, and brothers. These families wait endlessly to meet their loved ones who serve the nation, they spend countless nights worrying, and then one sudden day they have to face their worst fear of losing that member of the family. Women are widowed, children and parents are devastated, but they all are proud. And so are we.

Terrorist attacks on the borders are not given any importance as compared to the terrorist attacks in cities. My question is why? Yes, in cities civilians are involved and a huge number of people die but the same happens when terrorist attacks take place on the borders of the nation. The soldiers are martyred. Then why do we overlook the news of terrorist attacks on the army?

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This shows how we have normalized martyrdom of soldiers in our lives. Their sacrifice is overlooked as we tend to think that it’s a part of their job, but it isn’t. They don’t stand on the borders to die. They stand there to fight till the end, to bravely face the enemy and to protect the nation and its citizens. It is their love and passion for the country and their bravery that makes them what they are. They deserve all the respect and appreciation, which we fail to deliver.

Appreciation is not something which our respected soldiers demand, it is something which they deserve.
The least we can do is to acknowledge their bravery, courage, and sacrifice, and pay homage to them and always remember the tale of their bravery.

My homage to the brave hearts and may God give strength to their families.

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Left Wing to be Blamed for Lack of Development in Tripura: CM Biplab Kumar Deb

Left's bad legacy hindering Tripura's growth: CM

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Biplab Deb
A photo of the Heritage Park in Agartala, Tripura. Wikimedia Commons

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Monday claimed that the previous Left Front government’s “terrible legacies of corruption, misgovernance and party domination” over 25 years were major hindrances for the BJP- led government’s developmental efforts.

Despite the erstwhile Left government’s “all-round non-performance”, Tripura under his government would become a model state in three years since the state had gained leading position on many counts in the last two years, the Chief Minister told IANS in an interview as his government completed two years on Monday.

“In just two years, we made Tripura corruption-free, removed middlemen’s role, initiated online systems in almost all public services to reach the doorsteps of people, reduce crime, boost growth and per-capita income,” he added.

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Biplab Kumar Deb, the CM of Tripura has pledged to make Tripura drugs-free. Wikimedia Commons

To further improve connectivity between land-locked Tripura and the rest of the world, ambitious projects of railways, roadways, waterways, and airways are under implementation, Deb added.

After completion of the ongoing such projects either by year-end or early next year, all northeastern states would benefit in terms of easier connectivity.

The 49-year-old Deb, the 11th Chief Minister of Tripura, claimed that during the Left regime ‘dal tantra’ (party-run system) dominated in all spheres, while ‘ganatantra’ (democracy) was non-existent.

“The BJP-led government had to cope with Rs 12,902-crore loan burden left by the previous Marxist government. We had to pay Rs 5.56 crore per day to repay the loan along with interest,” he added.

The BJP in alliance with tribal-based Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) had won the Assembly polls two years ago, breaking the 25-year uninterrupted rule of the Left Front led by Communist Party of India-Marxist.

Highlighting his government’s two-year performance, Deb said that in 2017-18, Tripura’s per capita income was Rs 1.05 lakh. “Because of BJP regime’s good governance, Tripura rose to 16th position from previous 21st position among 37 states and union territories in the country.”

According to Tripura Chief Minister, Sikkim topped among the northeastern states in per capita income with Rs 3.17 lakh while Tripura is now at the second position among the eight northeastern states with Rs 1.54 lakh.

Deb claimed that after the completion of the five-year term of the BJP-led government, Tripura’s per capita income would be Rs 2.26 lakh in 2022-23 and the GSDP Rs 95,46,333 crore. The state’s current GSDP is Rs 63,466 crore against Rs 44,161 crore in 2017-18, when the Left Front was in power, he said.

“The BJP government has taken several steps to boost the state’s economy by mobilising available resources. The total tax collection has increased from Rs 1,915 crore in 2017-18 fiscal to Rs 2,338 crore in the current fiscal (2019-20), a net increase of 21.82 per cent. National GST (Goods and Services Tax) collection is 3.7 per cent, but in Tripura this is over 10 per cent.”

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Biplab Deb said that the Tripura government had introduced 21 new schemes and taken many steps in two years to improve the quality of education. Wikimedia Commons

Deb, who pledged to make Tripura drugs-free, said that to save the young and future generations from the menace, his government after assuming office on March9, 2018 launched a war on drug trade, cultivation and smuggling.

“As Tripura has taken a lead among northeastern states in curbing drug menace, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has asked governments in the region to make northeast India a drugs-free are by 2022.”

Deb, who holds the Home portfolio, said that the conviction rate in Tripura has increased to 47 per cent from 29 per cent and organised crime against women reduced by 10 per cent in two years.

“Crime against women in Tripura is 15 per cent less than the national average. To empower the women, 10 per cent posts in police department have been reserved for the women.”

Deb said that the Tripura government had introduced 21 new schemes and taken many steps in two years to improve the quality of education, including introduction of NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) curriculum.

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The Chief Minister assured that his government would take steps to protect the jobs of 10,323 Tripura government teachers recruited during the previous government’s tenure but now facing termination due to High Court and Supreme Court verdicts.

Regarding the expansion of eight-member Tripura council of ministers, Deb said that it would be done in due course of time. (IANS)

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Protecting India From Cyber Attacks

Operation Cyber Freedom: Securing over a billion dreams from adversarial entities

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Cyber attacks point to the activation of bot farms consisting of millions of zombie devices that have been hacked. Pixabay

BY VINIT GOENKA

We are part of a thriving, young, and vibrant nation. We also belong to a civilization that is timeless in age backed by a culture that has gifted the world spiritual enlightenment, technological progress and unbound and selfless wisdom. At no point in time were we anything but givers to the global community as a whole. Today, as the winds of technology blow, Indian minds are not just powering this revolution but leading it as well.

A nation of our stature also attracts the attention of the wrong kind. In the last few years, we have seen reports of how actors backed by nation-states and non-state actors consistently attacking our critical and non-critical infrastructure for various reasons. These attacks are not limited to the defense sector alone. Healthcare, transport, IT, telecom have each been attacked in the recent past. Such attacks point to the activation of bot farms consisting of millions of zombie devices that have been hacked to serve as a source of processing capacity for launching cyberattacks on India.

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Some of the cyber attacks are being carried out with the discipline of a regular army. Pixabay

Some of these attacks are being carried out with the discipline of a regular army. It carries all the signatures thereof — including high levels of research and reconnaissance, multiple attacks to gain entry, precision targeting, disciplined and patient approach towards creating a beachhead, and, last but not least, persistent attempts to hack and acquire information. Such attacks need to be countered at various levels, and we need to evolve and deploy a cybersecurity doctrine that affords us protection and secures our infrastructure, minds, and resources.

The environment

There is a rapid deterioration of international stability across our immediate neighborhood, the Middle East, Eastern, and Central Europe alone with continuing geopolitical turmoil that is shaping foreign and domestic policy decisions around energy and defence. The challenge for all of us is the character of the competition being fueled by nefarious means is being conducted by authoritarian opponents who are part of nations that have not tasted democracy in its entirety ever. They also have armed forces who have been issued carte blanche by their political masters to indulge in international chicanery that ends at the doorsteps of democracies like ours and harms our growth aspirations.

Our adversaries are not just attacking the foundational pillars of our existence as a nation but also attacking our way of life and our freedoms in a manner that is quite difficult to defeat without undermining those very freedoms we seek to protect. Our adversaries are making a concerted attempt to undermine cohesion, erode economic, political, and social resilience, and challenge our strategic position in our part of the world. Such efforts have to be met with a level of resistance that doesn’t merely defeat these machinations but also serves to deter future attempts.

The increasing digitization of our growth is opening new ways to execute a type of “political warfare” that relies on the use and abuse of information, online espionage, state-backed cyberattacks, and intellectual property theft, among other things. The chain doesn’t stop here. It is often backed by the promotion of misinformation and fake news in cyberspace.

Our response

We need to address this challenge through a strategic response that integrates all levers of power and operations. We need to bring in a renewed coherence and consistency to our defence strategy for the next decade, which will be a critical one as we aim at becoming a $5 trillion economy. We need to be able to strike and protect a dimension that emerges from the integration of five domains that are space, cyber and information, air, maritime, and land. This integration will change the way we fight and the way we develop the capability to protect and defend.

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Cyber attacks need to be countered at various levels, and we need to evolve and deploy a cybersecurity doctrine. Pixabay

Our armed forces, in the future, will have to develop and deploy a strategy that gives them the ability to operate at a micro and nano levels with a small force while moving faster relying on a very high degree of mobility, electronic warfare and passive deception measures to maintain the information advantage we possess now. More and more automated, supervised, and autonomous platforms will be integrated in a manner to enable the faster introduction of new tech as also the ability to defend or strike hard as required while maintaining a deterrence posture that conveys strength and resilience. Disabling of adversarial infrastructure for the short or long term will be a part of this measure.

Such a high level of modernization will need us to embrace information-centric technologies and approaches. We also need to recognise the need for the application of a blend of technologies such as computing power, connectivity, machine learning, IoT and artificial intelligence [AI],

automation, autonomy, and quantum computing to attain the disruptive power we need.

The path ahead

We need to initiate work on multiple projects in parallel to support the goals I have outlined previously without losing focus. These projects should focus on areas where ethical technologies and a high level of automation can bring a plethora of advantages while we redefine data as a strategic and uncompromisable asset. The industry in India needs to back us on this front.

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We must embrace open, outwardly facing innovation across all segments and outsource to strategic partners. No one can do everything anymore, as this leads to erosion of core competencies and dilution of strengths. A high level of collaboration with the academic and entrepreneurial ecosystem is the need of the hour. We must utilise technology scouts to amplify our R&D capabilities and support universities, research centres, startups, and established companies looking to develop strategic alliances with the right partners. (IANS)