• The current call rate for most of such connections was Rs 5 per minute, although some subsidised ones paid Re 1. "On the eve of Diwali, we are announcing that Armed forces and para-military forces stationed in remote areas and tough terrains on borders will be able to make satellite phone calls at the rate of Re 1 per minute, instead of Rs 5 applicable on it. This will enable them to talk their family for longer duration," Sinha said. The minister also announced that no rental will be charged from security forces from Thursday. "At present, Rs 500 monthly rent is charged for satellite phone connections from security forces. From tomorrow onwards, they will not need to pay any rental," Sinha said. The call charge was Re 1 in 2009-10 to begin with, to be revised every 5 years. "We have decided that charges will be Re 1 only per call and not increased to Rs 5," Sinha said. Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the cost will have an impact of Rs 3-4 crore per annum which will be borne by the government. At present there are 2,500 satellite phone connections operational in the country. "We have capacity of 5,000 connections. We are informing the defence and the home ministries that more connections can be given. The total capacity can be further increased, if required, in six months," Sinha said. The soldiers and officers are working day and night without bothering about difficult weather conditions and as they are posted away from their homes and headquarters, there is a constant requirement for them to speak to their family and also to their Headquarters. With this special Diwali Gift from Government of India, Defence personnel can now talk without worrying for more expenses to their home and their Headquarter. The Minister also wished the jawans and officers and their family members a very Happy Diwali.
  • Xi, the General Secretary of the CPC, also vowed make the People's Liberation Army a world class military during his over a three-and-a half hour speech at the once-in-a-five-year Congress which is set to confirm his second term and elect new leaders to work with him. The 64-year-old spoke mostly of rebuilding of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) keeping its socialist structure intact. The week-long meeting will also amend the party's Constitution. About the neighbours, Xi said China would "deepen relations its neighbours in accordance with the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendship and partnership". "We should commit to settling disputes through dialogue and resolving differences through discussion, coordinate responses to traditional and non-traditional threats and oppose terrorism in all its forms," Xi said. China and India had been engaged in a standoff recently in the Dokalam area in Sikkim. China was engaged in a number of maritime disputes with the neighbours in the South and East China seas. Xi spoke at length about his plans to make the 2.3 million strong PLA, the world’s largest military, into a world class force. The Chinese military, which underwent massive reform drive since Xi took over power in 2012, has over USD 141 billion annual budget next only to US military. "A military is built to fight. Our military must regard combat capability as the criterion to meet in all its work and focus on how to win when it is called on," he said, adding that all steps would be taken to ensure military preparedness to implement strategic doctrines. In his speech Xi also pledged to make a sweeping victory in its fight against corruption to escape the historical cycle of rise and fall. Calling corruption "the greatest threat" the Party faces, Xi said the situation in the fight against corruption remains "grave and complex." The CPC will prevent any interest groups from arising within the Party, Xi said. Founded in 1921, the CPC has about 89-million members with more than 4.5 million grassroots organisations. Over 2,200 delegates of the Communist Party of China are in Beijing to attend the 19th National Congress of the Party which started on October 18.
  • The deadliest of Tuesday's assaults was on a police compound in the city of Gardez in Paktia province where Taliban militants disguised as police detonated three explosive-packed vehicles -- including a truck and a Humvee -- that cleared the way for 11 gunmen to enter. At least 60 people, including Paktia police chief Toryalai Abdyani and civilians waiting to collect documents, were killed in the blasts and ensuing battle that lasted around five hours, Gardez deputy director of health Hedayatullah Hamidi said. Some 236 people were also wounded in the assault, he added. "The first checkpoint for the compound was blown up by a truck bomb. Two other vehicles then entered the compound -- one detonated near the second checkpoint and the other rammed into the police chief's office that killed the police chief and his bodyguards," said Paktia governor spokesman Abdullah Hasrat. The militants had been wearing police uniforms and carrying fake police identification, Hasrat said -- a common tactic used by insurgents to gain entry to government and security installations. Police spokesman Sardar Wali Tabasum said two members of the security forces had been arrested in connection with the attack, suggesting the assailants had insider help. "We think the Taliban took these vehicles (a Humvee and a police pickup truck) when Jani Khel district fell to them in August," Tabasum said. Jani Khel is about 50 kilometres east of Gardez. In the second attack in the neighbouring province of Ghazni, some 100 kilometres west of Gardez, the official death toll was lowered to 20, including 15 members of the security forces and five civilians, Ghazni governor spokesman Haref Noori said. The number of wounded stood at 46. That assault followed a similar pattern involving insurgents detonating an explosives-laden Humvee near a police headquarters then storming the building, Noori said. Six attackers were killed. An earlier toll had put the number of dead at 30 with 10 injured. It was the deadliest day in Afghanistan since May 31 when a truck packed with 1,500 kilogrammes of explosives detonated in the diplomatic quarter of the capital Kabul, killing around 150 and wounding hundreds more, mostly civilians. Kabul police foiled an even larger truck bomb on Saturday -- 2,700 kilogrammes of explosives stashed under boxes of tomatoes -- that would have caused carnage had it exploded. Less than two days later authorities seized a car driving towards Kabul that was carrying 300 kilogrammes of explosives.