New Delhi, Dec 4: New Delhi has rejected a long-standing demand of the armed forces for higher Military Service Pay (MSP) for over 1.12 lakh military personnel including Junior Commissioned Officers of the Army, official sources said Tuesday.
They told PTI that the Army headquarters is “very anguished” over the decision by the Finance Ministry, and will seek its immediate review.
Around 1.12 lakh military personnel including 87,646 JCOs and 25,434 personnel of equivalent rank from the Navy and the Indian Air Force will be affected by the decision.
The demand was to increase the monthly MSP from Rs 5,500 to Rs 10,000 and the total annual financial outgo would have been Rs 610 crore if the government had accepted the demand, sources said.
The MSP for the military personnel was introduced recognising their unique service conditions and hardships.
“The proposal for higher MSP for JCOs and equivalent rank of the Navy and IAF has been rejected by the Finance Ministry,” said a source.
At present, the MSP has two categories — one for officers and another for JCOs and jawans.
The seventh Pay Commission had fixed Rs 5,200 as MSP per month for JCOs and jawans while putting it at Rs 15,500 for officers between Lieutenant-rank and Brigadier-rank.
The Army has been pressing for granting a higher MSP to the JCOs, arguing that they are gazetted officers (Group B) and play a very vital role in command and control structure of the force.
“Since JCOs are Group B gazetted officers and also have considerable length of service, it is incorrect to grant them MSP on par with the jawans. It is very unfair,” said a military officer who wished not to be named.
The Army had taken up the issue strongly with the Defence Minister and the three services as well as the Defence Ministry were on the same page on the issue, the sources said.
The MSP was first introduced by the 6th Pay Commission, accounting for compensation for intangible aspects of military service.
It accounts for a range of “hardships and disadvantages” which cannot be evaluated while assessing pay comparability.
The concept of MSP for armed forces personnel is widely prevalent in European countries.
The armed forces were pressing for a separate slab of MSP for JCOs and equivalent rank.
In November last year, the Army clarified JCOs are gazetted officers and cancelled a seven-year-old note describing them as “non-gazetted” officers.
The decision by the Army came amid growing resentment among a large section of its officers over the controversial issue of rank-parity between them and their civilian counterparts in the service headquarters.
Youngest pellet victim, Hiba likely to regain eyesight
Srinagar, Dec 14: Nineteen-month-old Hiba Nisar is likely to regain her eyesight after second surgery.
Twenty days after Hiba was hit by pellets in her right eye on November 25, she went through a second surgery at the SMHS Hospital here.
Hiba was operated upon for two and a half hours by a team of senior ophthalmologists at the hospital.
One of the senior doctors said, “We have successfully removed pellets from her right eye which gave us hope that her eyesight will regain very soon.”
Another ophthalmologist said Hiba had suffered haemorrhage in her eye.
“Now, her chance of recovery is very good,” he added.
“In a month or two, with medication and regular check-ups, she will be fine.”
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Nisar Ahmad, Hiba’s father, said, “She is feeling better since yesterday (Thursday) as the pellet was removed by the team of doctors.”
“Doctor has advised us to take good care of Hiba and prevent dust from entering her eye.”
“Since yesterday, Hiba is not able to open her right eye properly. Her eye is reddish and swollen which lingers for some time after surgery.”
After undergoing two surgeries, Hiba’s behaviour has changed, he said.
She has become very aggressive as she loses her temper on small things, said Nisar.
“We have to visit hospital again on Monday for her regular check-up,” added Nisar.
Hiba was hit by multiple pellets, when she was in her mother’s arms in her home at Batgund.
Father Nisar is a labourer, and packs apples in an orchard not owned by him.
The family has received Rs 1 lakh as the treatment expenses from the state government.
She is the youngest pellet victim in the current phase of the violence in Kashmir.
Since 2016, SMHS hospital has received at least 1750 pellet victims who were completely or partially blinded.
JK releases Rs 8 cr for Road Safety
Jammu, Dec 14: To arrest the trend of traffic accidents and ensure effective traffic management in the state, the State Government for the first time released Rs 8 crore under Road Safety Fund.
This information was given at a high-level meeting chaired by Principal Secretary Transport, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon.
The initiative is in tune with the directions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety which has called for establishment of non-lapsable Road Safety Fund in the States.
Threadbare discussion was held in the meeting regarding the effective utilization of fund for different activities and purchase of equipment for road safety measures.
The meeting decided to release Rs 2.5 crore for establishment of traffic and design wings in Transport Commissioner’s office at Srinagar and Jammu for effective planning of traffic management in Kashmir and Jammu regions.
For mobile checking of pollution standards of vehicles, Rs 1 crore has been earmarked for purchasing smoke meters/ gas analyzers, tyre depth gauges, route survey etc.
To create awareness regarding traffic rules, Rs one lakh has been released to each Regional Transport commissioners, Assistant Transport Commissioner for conducting activities and programmes regarding road safety in their respective areas.
For enforcing traffic discipline and checking violations on the roads, Rs 1 crore has been earmarked for fabrication of interceptor on a vehicle. The other accessories and equipment which would be part of the vehicle include roof light bar with siren, cordless mike, One KVA with light bar with siren, cord less Mike, Speed hunter -III plus-speed laser gun, breath alcohol analyzer and others.
Stressing on the digitization and promptness of law enforcement, Dr Samoon called for equipping traffic and MVD personnel with latest gadgets for checking violators. He called for including heavy duty torches/ warning lights, reflective jackets, breath analyzers, speed guns, Pollution checking mobile man, portable weigh bridges and other items.
He also directed for release of Rs 12.8 crore to IGP traffic for purchase of Hill recovery cranes for use at Zojila, Jawahar Tunnel, Banihal-Ramban, Ramban- Nashri, Nashri-Udhampur, Rajouri-Poonch, Mughal Road, Leh and other places.
For effective regulation, traffic management in Srinagar, Jammu cities Dr Samoon also directed for hiring sufficient number of towing cranes, e-challaning machines, interceptive vehicles fitted with modern gadgets.
He also reviewed the construction of RTO and Transport Commissioners office in Srinagar and called for speeding up the works.
During the meeting Dr Samoon called for enhancing the capacity building of transport department besides strict enforcement of traffic rules to minimize the road accident deaths.
Expressing concern over the deaths on the highways, DrSamoon called for survey of vulnerable spots on these roads and directed for measures to avoid accidents at these places.
Dr Samoon was also informed that 20 engineers have been trained on construction of roads keeping in view road safety.
It is pertinent to mention that Governor’s administration has recently notified the rules for operationalization of the Road Safety Fund to ensure effective implementation Jammu and Kashmir State Road Safety Council Act-2018.
Road Safety Fund has provision for allocation of expenditure for implementation of road safety related schemes, programmes, projects, purchase and installation of equipment and devises connected with road safety, conduct of studies, projects and research on matters relating to road safety, trauma-care programmes or activities, etc.
Modi invincible notion dispelled: Omar
New Delhi, Dec 13: The recent assembly poll results have demonstrated that the BJP is not invincible as there is “anger” among people over several of the Centre’s policies, including on agriculture, rising fuel prices and demonetisation, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said Thursday.
Abdullah said the results made it clear that there is anger and a feeling of alienation among the people and the Centre has been unwilling to accept this reality. He also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he should listen more and talk less.
“Modi ji talks a great deal, which is not wrong, but people who talk more, listen less.
“The prime minister does not listen as much as he should. Otherwise, the mass anger due to agrarian distress, demonetisation or rising fuel prices among others will not have led to humiliation for the BJP in the assembly polls,” Abdullah said at an event here.
The BJP lost the assembly elections in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
“The general notion that the PM is a powerful speaker and party president Amit Shah is a master strategist and both have a magic wand and will always lead the BJP to victory, has been dispelled by the poll results. We know now that (Congress chief) Rahul Gandhi can lead the Congress to victory,” he said.
“We now know that it is not impossible to beat the BJP. Everything they were known for, from Shah’s great management, money power and Modi’s capability to galvanise masses has come a cropper,” he said at a national conclave organised by ‘Lokmat’.
The National Conference leader said the political mood in the country had already changed and it will not be easy for the BJP to arrest it very soon and take it into its command.
“The winds of change have begun, the atmosphere has altered. And it is not in the BJP’s favour anymore,” he said.
Abdullah said Gandhi should get the credit for his party’s success as he is the man who faced the flak for the Congress’ poor performance in the past elections.
He said the regional parties will play a key role in the upcoming general election, highlighting the results of Telangana and Mizoram.
He said his party decided to support the rival PDP recently to “save the state” of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We are all worried about the situation in the state. We are also concerned that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under articles 370 and 35A needs to be defended in the Supreme Court. The next hearing is in January and we wanted an assurance from Government of India that it will be defended in a right manner, but haven’t got it so far,” he said.
Abdullah, however, lauded Modi for reaching out to Pakistan initially to normalise ties between the two countries.
“The prime minister made sincere efforts initially. He invited former (Pakistani) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony at a time when nobody would have imagined and then paid a surprise visit to Lahore, but Pakistan hasn’t acted on our concerns…The perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attack have not been brought to book and are roaming freely in Pakistan,” he said.
“Imran Khan has to walk the talk and dispel the apprehension here in our country that he has been installed by the Army and is Army’s man,” he said.
Abdullah said Pakistan would have to do something to win India’s confidence so that New Delhi can forget the past experiences and trust Islamabad again