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India orders four maritime spy planes from Boeing, bolsters navy

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Jul
27


NEW DELHI India signed a contract on Wednesday to buy four maritime spy planes from Boeing Co for about $1 billion, defence and industry sources said, aiming to bolster the navy as it tries to check China’s presence in the Indian Ocean.

India has already deployed eight of the long-range P-8I aircraft to track submarine movements in the Indian Ocean and on Wednesday exercised an option for four more, two defence ministry officials and an industry source told Reuters.

“It’s a follow-on order, it was signed today,” a defence ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to make announcements on procurements.

A second defence official confirmed the value of the contract at about $1 billion and said the aircraft were expected to enter service over the next three years.

Amrita Dhindsa, a spokeswoman for Boeing defence, space, and security in India, said she was not in a position to say anything on the contract and referred all questions to the defence ministry.

But she said the P81 was an aircraft used for not only for long-range patrol but was also equipped with Harpoon missiles for anti-submarine warfare.

India has been building up its naval surveillance capabilities since China’s navy expanded its reach and sent submarines, including a nuclear-powered boat that docked in Sri Lanka, across the Indian Ocean.

The deal, signed during a visit by the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Frank Kendall, marks a further tightening of India’s ties with the United States, which has emerged as a top arms supplier in recent years for India’s largely Soviet-equipped military.

A U.S. embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Boeing last year completed the delivery of the last of the aircraft under the previous order worth $2.1 billion, an industry source said.

The Indian navy has deployed some of its P8-I aircraft to the remote Andaman and Nicobar islands near the Malacca Straits and two other routes into the Indian Ocean for military and commercial shipping.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Jul
27

Rabada dominates CSA awards

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Jul
27


Kagiso Rabada took 6 for 16, including a hat-trick, on ODI debut © Getty Images

Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada became the first player to scoop six awards at CSA’s annual dinner, including the coveted South African cricketer of the year prize, surpassing AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, who had previously won five each. Not only is Rabada the only player to notch up that many awards, but he is also the youngest to win the main prize. The only major award Rabada did not win was the T20 cricketer of the year, which went to legspinner Imran Tahir.

In his first full international season, the 2015-16 summer, which was a largely underwhelming period for South Africa’s men’s team, Rabada racked up the second-best match figures by a South African in Test and ODI cricket. His 13 for 144 against England at Centurion in January has only been bettered by Makhaya Ntini, who took 13 for 132 in Port of Spain in 2005, while Rabada’s 6 for 16 on ODI debut against Bangladesh in July last year, a performance which also included a hat-trick, was only surpassed by Imran Tahir, who took 7 for 45 against West Indies in June 2015.

That Rabada managed all of this in a time when South Africa were also without two of their experienced seamers – Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander were both injured for large parts of the previous summer – only added to Rabada’s achievement. “With injuries to our main fast bowlers during this past year, he has had to step up and lead the attack. How brilliantly has he done that,” Haroon Lorgat, CSA CEO said.

Rabada’s performance also earned the players’ and fans choice awards. He shared speckles of the limelight with Tahir, whose 16 T20 wickets this year put him on top of the South African pile in the format, and batsman Stephen Cook. Despite only playing one international in the 2015-16 season, a Test against England, Cook won the international newcomer of the year award for his century on debut in the only Test South Africa won in the season.

“This may not have been the best year for the Proteas in a team sense but there have been some great individual performances, especially from newcomers to the side,” Lograt said. “Temba Bavuma and Stephen Cook, who are other award winners this evening plus Quinton de Kock have all recorded their maiden Test centuries.”

Bavuma won a sponsor award for his performance but de Kock went empty-handed, despite being the leading run-scorer in the domestic twenty-over competition. Albie Morkel, who led Titans to victory in that competition, was named T20 player of the year. Titans also had two other winners. Heino Kuhn, who became the sixth South African to score more than 1,000 runs in a first-class season, won the first-class award and outgoing coach Rob Walter, who will take over at Otago Volts, from September, was named coach of the year.

The only trophy Titans did not win last season was the one-day cup, which Lions claimed. The leading run-scorer in that campaign Alviro Petersen was awarded in that category.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

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Force-fed Indian activist Irom Sharmila to end 16-year hunger strike, run for office

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Jul
26


NEW DELHI Human rights activist Irom Sharmila will end a 16-year hunger strike undertaken to protest alleged army atrocities in northeast India in order to contest local elections.

Known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, Sharmila has spent most of the last 16 years under judicial custody in a hospital and has been force-fed through a tube inserted into her nose by authorities.

Sharmila, 44, began her hunger strike after 10 civilians were killed in her home state of Manipur in 2000 by soldiers who enjoy wide powers to search, enter property and shoot on sight under a colonial era law that is still in existence in parts of India.

“She will start eating on August 9 and change the entire strategy of her protest,” said Babloo Loitongbam, a close associate of Sharmila.

On Tuesday, Sharmila met reporters outside court premises, where she is required to report regularly and announced her plans to contest local elections from Imphal, Manipur’s capital city.

Her decision to end her protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) comes at a time when the federal government has asked its forces to exercise restraint in responding to protests in disputed Kashmir, where the army has shoot-to-kill powers to fight militants.

At least 46 people have been killed and more than 5,000 wounded, including security forces, since protests erupted after the killing of a commander of Kashmiri separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen on July 8 in Kashmir.

Despite calls from judicial authorities and human rights groups, the government has kept in force the anti-terror law in parts of northeast India and mainly-Muslim Kashmir to contain insurgencies.

Sharmila’s protest has won her worldwide recognition, with Amnesty International describing her as a prisoner of conscience.

“Sharmila will fight the battle to free the state from the clutches of the army on the streets of Manipur,” said Loitongbam.

(Reporting by Rupam Jain, Editing by Rafael Nam/Jeremy Gaunt)

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