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Army chief’s appointment: Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi breaks silence, says won’t resign

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi finally broke silence on his resignation on Saturday. “I won’t resign. Extending all support to Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat,” Lt. Gen. Bakshi said, while addressing the officers of Eastern Command via teleconference.This statement by the Lt. Gen. Bakshi comes in the wake of rumours and speculations doing the rounds that he might resign after being superseded by Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat as the Army Chief.However, the Defence Ministry is yet to consider Lt. Gen. Bakshi’s name for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that could happen in the coming year.Lt. Gen. Bakshi is likely to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in January. Sources in the ministry say Lt. Gen. Bakshi could be offered an appointment outside of the military. Lt. Gen. Bakshi was to be leave till January 1. He joined office on Saturday at the Fort William, the army’s Eastern Command Headquarters.

Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi meets Manohar Parrikar, officials term it ‘courtesy call’

New Delhi: Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who was superseded along with another senior officer in selection of the new army chief, met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday, amid speculation that he may seek premature retirement or will be given a new role by the government.

Defence Ministry officials termed the meeting as a “courtesy call”.

They said the meeting was sought by Lt Gen Bakshi, contrary to initial claims by army sources that Parrikar had sought the meeting. Lt Gen Bakshi also met with Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag after meeting Parrikar.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Dalbir Singh is set to visit the Eastern Command in Kolkata shortly as part of his farewell tour. The army chief will hang his boots on 31 December.

A section of military experts feel that Lt Gen Bakshi may seek premature retirement. However, the process may take a month or two, sources said, adding that during this period he may go on leave.

Lt Gen Bakshi was initially the front runner for the post of the army chief. However, keeping aside the trend of seniority being the lone criteria, the government appointed Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, a batch junior to Lt Gen Bakshi, as the new chief.

Lt Gen Rawat, an infantry soldier, was found best suited among three officers to deal with challenges like cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and the situation with Pakistan, both areas which the government felt will be under focus for the next two-three years.

Another section of military experts claimed that Lt Bakshi may become the new Chief of Defence Staff, a post that has been hanging fire for the last many years.

While the creation of such a post is in “active consideration” of the government, it is unlikely that it will happen soon, they claimed.

The Centre had on 17 December appointed Lt Gen Rawat as the new army chief superseding his two senior officers — Lt Gen Bakshi and Southern Command Chief Lt Gen PM Hariz.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 20:11 IST

Lt General Bipin Rawat is new Chief of Army Staff: How does selection process work?

The government on Saturday chose Lt General Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS). He will succeed General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retires on 31 December. However, controversy broke out immediately as Rawat was not the senior-most officer in the Indian Army. Traditionally, the rule in the security forces is to nominate the senior-most officer as the new head. According to the established tradition, Eastern Command chief Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi was all set to be the next chief, on account of his seniority.

This is the second instance in Indian Army’s history that this principle of seniority has been overlooked. In 1983, the then senior-most officer Lt Gen SK Sinha was superseded by Arun Shridhar Vaidya, who was the army chief when Operation Bluestar was launched.

Here is all you need to know about the process of selecting a new army chief.

Who has the power to appoint the new army chief?

The government of India has the power to choose the army chief. The government chooses a successor based on the security situation as well as the requirements that arise from time to time, noted The Times of India. It is worth noting that seniority has generally been the guiding principle while choosing the head of the third-largest army in the world.

Who exactly is responsible in the government for appointing the army chief?

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) is responsible for taking the final decision on the appointment. The ACC comprises of the prime minister, minister of home affairs and the concerned ministry, in this case the defence ministry.

File picture of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Getty Images

File picture of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Getty Images

How does the selection process go about?

The process of selection commences four-to-five months in advance, with the ministry of defence seeking personal data and professional profile of all eligible lieutenant generals from among the vice chief of army ataff and general officers commanding in chief of the various Commands, the IANS reported.

The service headquarter, then forwards data of the eligible candidates, including their professional exposure, achievements and operational experience. These are processed by the ministry and forwarded through the defence minister for consideration and selection to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, the IANS quoted an unnamed defence ministry source as saying.

Generally, the government appoints the prospective COAS as the vice chief of staff to familiarise him with the working at the South Block, the report added.

When is the announcement generally made?

The announcement of the next army chief is made two or three months in advance.

What is the tenure of the army chief?

The chief of army staff has a three-year term. Alternatively, the chief of army staff is in office till he is 62, whichever is applicable at the earliest.

Why has the move to appoint Rawat been criticised?

In an article in The Citizen, ex-army officer Lt General Vijay Oberoi said that such a move may play a negative role in the long run. “Chances of selection based on political, sycophantic and non-professional reasons may become predominant in due course, with professional and character qualities being sacrificed on account of extraneous issues.”

What about Lt General Praveen Bakshi now?

Media reports suggest that the current Eastern Command chief might be the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a position first mooted after the Kargil War. The CDS will be the single point of contact for the defence minister as well as the prime minister.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 14:52 IST

Furore over army chief’s appointment: Cong demands answers, govt says permission of 10, Janpath not required

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Centre announcing the name of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Chief of the Army Staff superseding two seniors for the coveted post, the Congress on Sunday demanded an answer from the government over the decision, while asserting that the Army is a public institution and the nation deserves an answer.Lieutenant General Rawat, who took over as the Army vice-chief in September 2016, bypassed Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi (armoured corps) and Southern Army Command chief Lieutenant General PM Hariz (mechanised infantry).”With all due respect to General Rawat’s professionalism and brilliance as a soldier and no personal animosity to anybody, there is a legitimate question as to why has this supersession taken place. After all, Lt. Gen Praveen Bakshi who commands the Eastern Command, the Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen Mohammed Ali and the Central Army Commander are all senior to the gentleman who is being designated,” Tewari said.However, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi lambasted the Congress for demanding an explanation, saying the government followed standards norms and does not require the permission of 10, Janpath for the same.Taking the Congress to task for time and again questioning the government’s decision, Naqvi said the grand old party is till date not able to digest the fact that they have lost power.”I think till now the Congress is not able to understand that they have lost power at the Centre. The government is following standards norms over the appointment of Army Chief and does not require the permission of 10, Janpath (Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s official residence),” said Naqvi, adding the government won?t allow the Congress to dictate terms as it did during its tenure at the Centre.Earlier on Saturday, the government announced the name of Lieutenant General Rawat as the new Chief of Army Staff and Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa as the new Chief of Air Staff.Lieutenant General Rawat, who took over as the Army vice-chief in September 2016, bypassed Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi (armoured corps) and Southern Army Command chief Lieutenant General PM Hariz (mechanised infantry).Lieutenant General Rawat has remarkable experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the North-East.He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and his connect with the civil society.

DNA Morning Must Reads: New Army, Air Force chief; RBI officials held in currency fraud & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air ForceThe Centre on Saturday named Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Indian Army as the next Army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The decision could trigger a controversy as Rawat has superseded Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is heading the Eastern Command, and Lt Gen PM Hariz, heading the Southern Command. Read moreTwo more RBI officials held in currency exchange fraud, arrests a big blow to regulatorTwo more officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday for their alleged role in currency conversion fraud cases. Read moreThree soldiers killed in militant attack on Army convoy in J&KMilitants sent a chilling reminder to the Mehbooba Mufti-led government on Saturday when they attacked an Army convoy on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu National Highway at Kadlabal, Pampore, in south Kashmir, leaving at least three army men dead. Read moreCricket prodigy Pranav Dhanawade’s brush with lawFifteen-year-old Pranav Dhanawade from Kalyan, who took the cricket world by storm with his 1,000-run world record knock in a local game in Mumbai in January 2016, was on Saturday detained by the police after he allegedly got into a spat with them on being prevented from practising on a ground being used as a makeshift helipad for a Union minister’s visit to the city. Read moreNo New Year cheer for gay couples as restaurants, bars shut their doorsSame sex couples wanting to ring in the New Year with a bang are in for a rude shock. Not only are high-end bars and nightclubs turning them away, they are actively stating that they will only accept heterosexual couples. Read more

Announcement of next army chief will be very soon, says Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the announcement of the next army chief would be very soon. Parrikar along with three service chiefs paid tributes to the bravehearts who laid down their lives during 1971 India-Pakistan war on the occasion of Vijay Diwas. “I don’t have to stress the importance of the day. It’s a day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” Parrikar said.On this day in 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops had surrendered unconditionally to the allied forces consisting of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka after their defeat in the war. The end of the war also resulted in subsequent secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh.Special programmes are also being organised at the headquarters of the Eastern Command at the Fort William in Kolkata to celebrate the day.Led by Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, a 72-member delegation of war veterans and Mukti Jodahas from the neighbouring country will take part in Vijay Diwas celebrations.

Why denying armoured corps its importance would be an error in late announcement of new army chief

Whenever anyone criticises Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for either his intemperate remarks or his shabby sartorial inelegance and total lack of occasion there is invariably a group of people who rush to his rescue.

This is understandable because we are, as a nation, weaned on the equation that those who are ‘simple’ (read sloppy) or disheveled and scruffy are good people at heart. This is integral to our categorisation of the human race and any effort to be smart or display a level of is indicative of a certain corruption of values. Simplicity becomes a cloak for laziness, sloth, even casual indifference.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The same sort of casual indifference that marks the attitude towards the announcement of the next Chief of the Army Staff. General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who himself, was appointed after much stress, retires at the end of the month and that is scarcely more than two weeks to go.

In a brilliant assessment of the subject of four-star appointments by Prakash Nanda in Firstpost on the inordinate delay, he has traced the frequent rocks strewn in the path of the handing over in all three services. The fact that the successor is announced at least 10 weeks before the date of retirement has been conveniently ignored because, of course, the defence ministry is clearly not cognizant of this fact. The thing is when the announcement is made automatically there is a shuffling at the Army Commander level and the domino principle kicks in. Immediately, the senior ranks know who the next leaders of their armies and Corps are going to be. The deck so to speak is reshuffled.

It is customary in India to give the fourth star to the seniormost army commander. After all, if his Annual Confidential Reports are without any negatives Indian convention follows the British model and it cannot find fault with that aspirant. After all, there is no further gauge to measure his caliber. In the US the president can appoint and leapfrog several Generals to announce a successor.

To keep the obvious choice in suspense is to inject politics into the issue and needlessly bring about speculation that is detrimental to the morale of the force and fuels rumours. At present Lt General Praveen Bakshi, GOC-in-C Eastern Command is the frontrunner and the automatic choice. The indication that since he is an Armoured Corps officer (tanks and missile regiments) there is uncertainty over his being the chief a position held usually by an infantry officer.

This is such balderdash it is unbelievable. We have had Signals officers who were Army Commanders. The Armoured Corps is not only held in the highest esteem it is an elite arm of the Service and has a history of over 250 years with regiments like Deccan Horse, Scinde Horse, Poona Horse, Hodson’s Horse, the 3,7, 8 Cavalries and Central India Horse that can display medals of gallantry in battle way back to the early 18th century. The much-touted battle of Basantar, the biggest since Rommel, was an Armoured Corps affair and if he denied command over the Army on these grounds it will be a huge pity.

If Lt General Bakshi is denied his legitimate claim to the fourth star it will also be a bruising of the huge store held in the capabilities of our men in tanks.

The black berets are the best.

Honestly, this is so indicative of civilian ignorance of how the armed forces operate that they would play tiddlywinks with such a sensitive matter.

Even the infantry would be appalled if that was a reason applied to the Parrikar decision to bypass the Eastern Command chief while appointing the vice-chief.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 21:41 IST

Mamata vs Army: TMC MLAs stage dharna, Army to continue exercise till midnight

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trinamool Congress MLAs and other senior leaders of the party staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the Governor’s House and will stay there till the army withdraws its exercise of collecting data on load carriers operating in the state of West Bengal.The senior leaders, some of them ministers in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet are also a part of the sit-in. With black cloth tied around their mouth, the party leaders raised slogans against the army’s exercise. While Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi is likely to meet a Trinamool Congress delegation around 6 pm on Friday evening, MLAs allege that they are going to continue their protests till the exercise is withdrawn.Meanwhile, the army clarified its stand on the exercise and maintained that it will continue till midnight as scheduled. “The three-day routine exercise was scheduled from November 30 till December 2 and under no circumstances will it be withdrawn. Out of the total 19 places that have been identified, statistical data collection at two places is over. Data will be collected in the remaining 17 places till midnight today,” said Major General Sunil Yadav, officiating GOC – Bengal Area, while briefing media at the Army Eastern Command Headquarters on Friday.

‘Is this a coup?’, Mamata opposes Army presence, to stay overnight at secretariat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an unprecedented incident, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday that she would stay overnight at the state secretariat, Nabanna, till the Army withdraws its routine exercise of collecting data of load carriers operating in the state across all toll plazas. “Very unfortunate. Army stationed in front of Nabanna, the Bengal State Secretariat, in a high security zone, inspite of police objection. I am waiting here at the Secretariat and watching, to guard our democracy,” she announced at a media briefing held at 10 pm. “Is this a military coup? I gathered information whether such exercises were held in Maharashtra, Odisha and Kerala. I was told that no such exercises have taken place in their states,” added Banerjee. Presently, Army officials are stationed at the Vidyasagar Setu Toll Plaza, which is adjacent to the state secretariat, gathering data on load carriers. On the other hand, the Army Eastern Command Headquarters has issued a statement saying that it is not a deployment, but just a routine exercise. The statement also added that the administration, District Magistrate and the Police are informed during the exercise being performed. “The army conducts annual exercise throughout the county with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the Army in case of a contingency. For this purpose vehicles are spotted to get basic parameters like make load capacity. The vehicle is then marked so that the next checkpoint knows that the vehicle had already been checked for the parameters. There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders,” read the statement, adding, “This gives an estimate about the number of vehicles that are passing a certain area that could be tapped during operations.” Sources in the Army revealed that Thursday was the second day of the three-day long annual exercise. Some more figures of the load carriers will be noted across different toll plazas tomorrow. The CPRO, Defence, Kolkata, Wing Commander SS Birdi claimed that the exercise is undertaken after informing the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police. “This is not a deployment. This exercise is taking place under the laid down rules of the Central Government. The police and the administration are kept in the loop. There is nothing to get alarmed about,” said Birdi.

Man impersonates as Major General, held from Eastern Command HQ

In a serious breach of security, a man posing as a Major General of the Indian Army was found loitering and taking photographs inside Fort William, the Army’s eastern command headquarters, on Thursday. Confirming this, officials at the Army headquarters in Delhi said that the person was caught after he was seen moving around in Fort William premises wearing the uniform of a Major General. “He was taking photographs. He was suspected to be an impostor and when questioned by security, was found to be fake after which he was handed over to police for further questioning,” said an official. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources at the Eastern Command headquarters told dna that the impersonator had been visiting the heavily secured Fort William for the last two days. “He tricked the guards at the gate but the military police had doubts after the man was found to be too young to be of the rank of a senior officer -Major General. The military raised concern and when confronted on Thursday, he was found to be an impersonator and aged just 35 years,” said a source.Sources also added that he was found wearing an Army headquarter badge on his shoulders and would drive inside the headquarters premises in his personal car.Sources added that initial information on his questioning by the Kolkata police revealed that he may be a deranged person. His family who lives in Kolkata have been contacted too.Officials said it was too early to pin point if the man could lay his hands on any vital information but a thorough inquiry over his movements and meetings was on.

Kolkata: Impostor caught from Army’s Eastern Command headquarters

Army officials on Thursday caught an impostor who was seen loitering inside Fort William, headquarters of the Eastern Command, dressed as a Major General.Upon suspicion, the accused Promit Kumar Mitra was questioned by security and was found to be an impostor, officials said. He was caught moving around Fort William premises and taking photographs.Later on, he was handed over to the police, officials said.

Northern Command of Army joins twitter to interact with the masses

Jammu: In a bid to counter the use of social networking sites by militants, the Northern Command of the Army has joined the social media platform to interact with people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Twitter feed of Northern Command of Indian Army. Twitter/ @NorthernComd_IATwitter feed of Northern Command of Indian Army. Twitter/ @NorthernComd_IA

Twitter feed of Northern Command of Indian Army. Twitter/ @NorthernComd_IA

General Officer Commanding-in Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Northern Command, Lt Gen D S Hooda, in his first tweet wrote “presence of Norther Comd on Twitter is a step towards involving our citizens in activities of Indian Army in J&K”.

In his second tweet, Lt Gen Hooda wrote that he looks forward for a positive interaction through this forum.

Earlier, the Army in Jammu and Kashmir had used Twitter and Facebook to reach to the common masses to make them aware of the initiatives taken by it under Operation Sadbhavana but the new official Twitter account would enable the people interact with the senior most army officer in the state.

“The militants in Kashmir have been actively using social media to spread their message across and it was a high time for the Army to do the perception management by showing its presence on the social media and opening of the twitter handle on which the senior most officer in the state would respond is a step towards this direction”, an army officer said.

Apart from the Northern Command, the Eastern Command also has been granted permission to operate an official Twitter handle to interact with the netizens.

Kolkata: Speeding car kills Air Force drill instructor during Republic Day rehearsal

Air Force drill instructor, Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud was run over by a speeding vehicle during Republic Day preparations on Red Road on Wednesday morning. The driver has fled from the spot.Around 6.30 am, a drill was on, in the run-up to the Republic Day on 26 January, when a vehicle entered the area that had been cordoned off. When Gaud tried to stop the vehicle near the south gate of Fort William – the Eastern Command headquarters, it hit him. Gaud was taken to the Military hospital in Alipore, where he was declared dead.The driver of the vehicle – an Audi, tore off the temporary number plates and fled from the spot.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The car that hit Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha reached the spot to take stock of the situation. “We are examining the CCTV footage. It is very unprecedented how he parked his car and fled. We have begun an investigation into the case,” said Purkayastha.Meanwhile, the Air Force has filed an FIR with the Maidan Police Station and the Kolkata Police have begun a lookout for the accused driver.On the other hand, Kolkata Police has transferred the case to the homicide department of the Detective Department. Air Force officials will assist civil police in the investigation.However, sources in the Defence Ministry claim that there were serious lapses on the part of the Kolkata Police, who are responsible for cordoning off the Red Road during the parade rehearsal as civilians are barred from entering the road.

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