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Lt Gen Rawat takes over as Army chief, Air Marshal Dhanoa takes charge as IAF chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt Gen Bipin Rawat on Saturday took over as the 27th chief of the 1.3 million strong Indian Army succeeding Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retired after 42 years of service.Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa also took charge as the 25th Air Force Chief replacing Anup Raha.Gen Rawat superseded two senior most Lt Generals, Praveen Bakshi and P M Hariz.Lt Gen Bakshi, who heads the Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command, announced “full support” to the new chief and told theatre officers through video conferencing he will continue to lead with “full professional sincerity as hither-to-fore”.”I convey my best wishes and full support of Eastern Command to Gen Bipin Rawat on having taken over as the Chief of Army Staff,” he said.Earlier, there was speculation that Lt Gen Bakshi may resign or take premature retirement. He had also met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar recently.He requested that speculation and trolling in media and social media should stop and everyone should focus on contributing their best to the betterment of the army and the nation.The Eastern Commander called the new Army chief to congratulate him on taking over the reins of the army.Speculation is rife that Lt Gen Bakshi may be given the new post of Chief of Defence Staff pertaining which Parrikar will meet Prime Minster Narendra Modi next month.Sources, however, have indicated that no such development will take place.Gen Suhag, who superannuated today, said army is prepared to meet any challenge as he thanked the government for “providing a free hand” and implementing the One Rank One Pension scheme.He said that infiltration bids had increased during the year and the number of terrorists killed was nearly double the previous year.The General said the army focused on operational preparedness during his tenure.Suhag said that when he had taken over he had asserted the response of the army to any action against our interest would be immediate, adequate and intense. “Indian Army has done that in the last two-and-a-half years,” he said.Later at noon, he handed over the charge to Rawat, who was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from IMA, Dehradun. He was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’ at the academy.Earlier in the day, Gen Suhag and Air Chief Marshal Raha paid tributes at Amar Jawan Jyoti and inspected the guard of honour.The new IAF chief, Air Marshal Dhanoa, had developed the country’s aerial targeting philosophy against potential adversaries and transformed the concept of air operations of the air force into contemporary war fighting practices.He has mainly flown Kiran and MiG-21 aircraft though he has the experience of flying the entire spectrum of fighter aircraft from Jaguar to state-of-the-art MiG-29 and Su-30 MKI.The Air Marshal has many feathers in his hat. As the commanding officer of a frontline ground attack fighter squadron, he led the IAF punch during the “Limited War” against Pakistan to drive the enemy out of their “dug in” defences in the icy heights of Kargil region.During the conflict, under his leadership and supervision, the squadron devised unique and innovative methods of bombing at night at altitudes never before attempted in the history of air warfare, the IAF said.Prior to the attack, the squadron had been adjudged as the best fighter squadron of western Air Command for its high degree of professionalism and peace-time training. After the conflict, it emerged as the most decorated IAF unit of Kargil War.He also holds the highest flying instructional category in the IAF and was handpicked to establish the “IAF Training Team” abroad.Gen Rawat has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations.He commanded an infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector, a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the Eastern theatre and the Southern Command.He has tenanted instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy and at Army War College, Mhow.Gen Rawat has held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary’s Branch at Army HQ.He has also been Major General General Staff (MGGS) at HQ Eastern Command.The General commanded a Multinational Brigade in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). While serving with the United Nations, he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.An alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, he has been awarded various medals of high honour for gallantry and distinguished service in a span of over 38 years in uniform.He also attended the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.Academically inclined, Rawat has authored numerous articles on national security and leadership, which have been published in various journals and publications.He was awarded M.Phil in Defence Studies from Madras University. He has a Diploma in Management and another Diploma in Computer Studies.Gen Rawat has also completed his research on military media strategic studies and was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut in 2011.

Centre shelves plan to set up world biggest solar power project in Leh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Centre has dropped the plan to set up the world’s biggest solar power project in Leh owing to the huge transmission system cost.Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) had planned to set up 5,000 Mega Watt (MW) solar power project in Leh and 2,500 MW project in Kargil in 2013.The Leh administration had also identified the land for the project. But owing to the huge costs on the transmission system, the government decided to drop the project as of now.”The land too was identified where this project was to be established. But the transmission cost of the project was huge. So MNRE decided to drop it as of now,” T Gyalson, assistant director planning, Leh, told DNA.The solar power project was to be set up in the Leh district which is at the altitude of 11,562 feet and known as roof of the world. The project required at least 20,000 acre of the land in the cold desert. “We had identified the land at Chang Tha side for the project. But it did not take off because of the huge transmission cost”, said Gyalson.The ambitious project was supposed to not only meet the local energy demand but to make the restive Jammu and Kashmir a power surplus state.”India has 5,000 megawatt hydro power projects. It would have been the first solar power project with 5,000 megawatt capacity. It would have been world’s biggest in harnessing solar power,” said an officer.Cold desert of Ladakh has a huge potential in tapping the solar energy. Vast patches of barren land surrounded by gigantic mountains makes Leh a suitable place for setting up the solar power projects.However, the cold desert was left out from the scheme of things till 2013. It was after the experts realised the potential of Ladakh that the planners put their heads together and decided to harness the solar energy potential in a bid to make Jammu and Kashmir a power surplus state.”The evacuation for the transmission line is a big problem for executing the mega project. It is a very costly exercise. Therefore as of now, this project will not take off. However, we are working on smaller projects. There is a proposal for setting up small solar power plants. We are in the process of identifying the land for smaller projects,” said an official of MNRE.

AIR plans special Punjabi service for Pakistan Punjab

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hoping to bring Pakistani Punjabis closer, reach out to the wider Punjabi diaspora and also counter neighbour Pakistan’s radio penetration in its territory, India is planning a special radio service in Punjabi.The cleverly named Des Punjab, or country Punjab, which sends out the message of cultural oneness, will be implemented by India’s national broadcaster All India Radio (AIR), a senior official told DNA.At present, a 20 KW FM transmitter installed in the Punjab border district of Fazilka carries AIR’s Urdu service for listeners in the region. Although it covers a radius of 80 km, has a penetration of up to 68 km inside Pakistan and caters to nearly 36 lakh Pakistani listeners, it misses its target as most of the audience speaks Punjabi.”So, instead of carrying on with the Urdu service, AIR has plans to revitalise its existing internal Punjabi language channel from Jalandhar and broadcast it from Fazilka. The idea is to bring the once undivided Punjab closer and make it a medium for the Punjabi diaspora across the world while countering the popularity of Pakistan’s radio channels in India’s border areas, broadcast from Okara and Lahore,” an official explained.The same Punjabi service can also be broadcast from the Amritsar tower once it is commissioned.A 20 KW FM transmitter installed at Amritsar can reach Lahore, about 30 km away, as well as Pakistan’s Gujranwala and Sialkot areas, where people are predominantly Punjabi speaking.The current Urdu service includes programmes highlighting India’s point of view on Kashmir, countering claims on India made by Pakistan media, discussions on “India’s secular values” as well as entertainment programmes on music, art and heritage. The Punjabi service bulletins will have similar content, sources said.Similar initiatives will be taken in other regions bordering Pakistan. A total of 88 transmitters will be installed across the borders. Some work on this is already underway with other FM transmitters in the process of being installed in Himbotingla in Ladakh region, Naushera in Poonch district, Patnitok in Udhampur as well as in Uri, Kargil, Amritsar, the Chautan hill in Rajasthan border and the Gujarat-Bhuj border.Many of these border areas are already covered by medium wave and short wave transmitters. This includes Kargil which offers a much longer range than FM transmitters. However, the transmission through medium wave transmitters is not clear; they are getting old and worn out and there is severe shortage of spare parts.”While FM transmitters would cater to smaller distance as compared to the existing medium wave and short wave transmitters, they would be more effective with clearer transmission. It will also ensure better reach with most people accessing FM radio on their mobile phones,” an official said.

Will soon name next IA and IAF chiefs: Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday that he will soon name the next Indian Army and Indian Air Force chiefs.

He was speaking after paying tributes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti in New Delhi on Vijay Diwas or Victory Day that is observed on 16 December to mark the military triumph over Pakistan in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The Defence Minister, however, did not give a timeline for naming the new chiefs. Asked whether the line of succession might be broken in the appointment of the next army chief, Parrikar said cryptically: “Line of succession is decided by the people.”

The Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh, and the Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, are both set to retire on 31 December.

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file with nominations for the new chiefs is with the Prime Minister’s Office, and a formal announcement is expected after parliament’s winter session concludes on Friday, sources said.

The sources also added that the Eastern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi; the Southern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. P.M. Hariz and the army vice chief, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat are in the fray to succeed Gen. Dalbir Singh.

Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil war veteran, and the IAF vice chief is in the fray for the top job.

Talking about the significance of 16 December, Parrikar said it was a day when India achieved a “decisive victory”.

“I don’t have to stress on the importance of this great day. This is the day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” he said.

On the next canisterisated test for Agni V missile, the minister said he would not like to comment much on it and said: “Testing goes on, I will not comment much. We have achieved 100 percent success in all the tests this year.”

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 11:27 IST

Shy another day: India’s 1st woman commando-trainer’s job pushes her into a male-dominated space

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Picture this: You’re walking down the beach with your partner. Some rowdies pass a lewd comment. You turn to your partner for support. He refuses. A terrible start to a story, right? Not for Dr Seema Rao, India’s first and only woman commando-trainer. Seema specialises in Close Quarter Battle training (CQB)—the art of commando warfare.You could say she was been born into a legacy of warrior-hood. Seema’s father, Professor Ramakant Sinari, fought against the Portuguese regime in Goa as an underground rebel. Inspired by her father’s stories, her personal hazards extended much beyond frequent fracturing of bones or one injury-induced temporary amnesia. Her husband, Major Deepak Rao, then shared his knowledge of the martial arts and they progressed as a team.As a government-approved training resource for the Indian forces, Seema is locked in constant combat with social conventions, gender tropes, and sometimes, even herself. “I gave up motherhood as I could not afford to take a break from the physical rigors of my training career,” says the 47-year-old, before listing the incredible roles which she did adopt instead.Library of armsCBQ is the most immediate amongst Seema’s vast repertoire of combat skills. It involves unarmed combat, armed combat, reflex shooting, team-on-team tactics and CQB simulation commando exercises. “With the Kargil war, where soldiers came in close proximity with their enemies, and incidents of urban terror, CQB assumed importance, and I became, in essence, a commando trainer,” she says.Then, there’s martial arts. Seema is trained in military and Mixed Martial Arts and Israeli Krav maga, besides being the world’s senior-most woman instructor in Bruce Lee’s art of Jeet Kune Do. “In martial arts, I learned to relish the adrenaline of getting hit if you don’t hit first!” she confesses.Seema, who “loves discothequing with friends and watching movies in between assignments (when she serves as a guest trainer for the Indian Army),” admits to being a crack shot. She can shoot an apple off a person’s head at 75 yards. Skilled with a knife, in small team tactics and in the art of team fire (where an entire team shoots together without collateral damage), Seema has, along with her husband, trained 15,000 elite force soldiers for the past 20 years without monetary compensation.Live the exampleBacktrack the years of sweat and rigour, and you have a young couple from Mumbai moving to the quainter landscape of Pune. There, they gave a demonstration at the Army School of Physical Training. Following that, they completed a stint for the National Security Guard. Soon they approached the then-Chief of Army staff General Roy Shankar Chaudhary, who, impressed with the pair’s dedication, planned a six-week Army cadre at the Parachute Regiment Training Center, Bangalore.Now there was no looking back. “In my courses, I would shoot five rounds into the bulls eye of a small target held atop my husband’s head at 75 yards. This got so popular that commando units all over started inviting us to train their personnel. Some days, I would duck a live bullet fired from a 9mm pistol aimed at my head and shoot five targets within 2 seconds,” recalls Seema, highlighting the importance of being a woman in a “man’s job” winning male respect. For a woman civilian claiming to have knowledge unknown to male army personnel, the feat was doubly difficult.“In our society, there’s an initial underestimation of what women can do, but when a woman achieves her goal, men learn to respect her,” she says. “I won the men over by leading by example.” All of her 5 feet 7 inches frame and “60 kgs of raw muscle” focused on her game, Seema would first demonstrate shooting, combat art and physical prowess to earn her place as a trainer. “Physical injuries were unavoidable, but at the end of the training, commandos would shake hands, salute me and bid goodbye with teary eyes,” she says.Seema’s journey sounds almost too incredible to be real. Yet the most incredible of her achievements is one without a medal of honour: To make room for the different realities she enjoys – build an army, build a partnership and carry a decent melody (because who doesn’t like singing?).

401 cadets pass out of Indian Military Academy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A total of 401 gentleman passed out of Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun in a colourful Passing Out Parade, as rose petals were showered from a chopper, carpeting the institutes’s tarmac drill square. Addressing the gentlemen cadets after reviewing a colourful Passing Out Parade performed by them, Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Narinder Pal Singh Hira said they were privileged to have trained at the IMA considered the best in the field and asked them to make optimum use of the skills learnt here in serving the country.Reminding them that the IMA alumni had served the country in various wars including the 1971 conflict with Pakistan and the Kargil war, he asked the gentlemen cadets to draw inspiration from them and be ready to sacrifice everything for the country. “You walk into the footsteps of officers who served the country with great courage in 1962 war and the subsequent wars fought in 1965, 1971 and the Kargil war.You should draw inspiration from them. IMA instills the best qualities in its cadets and you should try to make optimum use of them in serving your country,” he said.Noting that infiltration bids from across the country’s western borders continue, he said India has always given a “befitting reply to such attempts and will continue to do so.” He said some countries may be better than India in terms of military equipment but no army in the world can match the Indian troops in bravery, discipline and military skills. “The Indian troops enjoy a qualitative edge over their counterparts anywhere in the world because of their capabilities,” he said.The Sword of Honour went to Academy Under Officer Pratyush Mohanty and the Gold medal to Academy Cadet Adjutant Malla Rajagopal Naidu. Out of the 401 gentlemen cadets the maximum 77 are from Uttar Pradesh, 46 from Haryana, 29 from Uttarakhand, 28 from Bihar and 26 from Rajasthan.

In Ladakh, protecting wildlife in the name of God

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No trip to the mountains of Ladakh can be complete without a glimpse of its colourful prayer flags and Buddhist monasteries. The religious fabric of Ladakh, however, is not monochromatic. Almost half of the population practises Islam, and is mostly located in Kargil, while Buddhist communities are located largely in Leh.The, the two districts have a lot in common landscape-wise. Both are strongholds of large and threatened wildlife such as the snow leopard and the wolf. Jammu and Kashmir has the largest share of potential snow leopard habitat in the country, most of which is within Ladakh. In our 15-month study, we found that mercy/compassion was common to both faiths though roles and responsibilities of each faith with respect to wildlife were interpreted differently.In a nutshell, Mahayana Buddhism postulates the theory of dependent origination in which sentient beings (including humans) can function only in relation to others around them and therefore, do not have an independent existence. Empathy, compassion and non-violence toward all sentient beings are morals important to attract good karma.Islam (as practised in Ladakh) propagates the idea of an all-powerful creator (Allah) who has made human beings trustees of the earth. Humans are called upon to have mercy on non-humans, and use His creations responsibly. Such overlaps and differences can be used to design conservation and awareness programmes that can highlight the importance of compassion, non-violence and empathy for sentient beings.Our interviews with local communities in both Leh and Kargil districts revealed that individuals generally exhibited less negative attitudes toward snow leopards than wolves. Dislike for wolves is a universal pattern, which has been attributed to the wolf depredation on livestock, cultural biases, for example negative framing of wolves in folk stories; wolf behaviour – they howl, move in packs, all of which is perceived to be unpleasant. Overall, attitudes were not influenced by whether one was a self-identified Buddhist or Muslim. They were influenced instead by the gender, level of education and the extent of awareness of wildlife laws. One pattern stood out in the Buddhist villages where there was significant correlation between religiosity (i.e. the level of religious activity) and attitudes toward snow leopards and wolves. This means that Buddhist individuals who claimed to be ‘more religious’ had more positive attitudes toward the two carnivores. No such pattern was observed in the Muslim sample.This is the first study that has attempted to examine religiosity along with religion in the context of carnivore management. And while the scale needs refinement, future research could further this line of thought, and find means to improve upon the measurement indices of our study.For more, visit: http://ncf-india.org/publications/895Saloni Bhatia works with Nature Conservation Foundation. The 15-month study—funded by Whitley Fund for Nature-Fondation Segré Partnership Fund—was undertaken by Bhatia, Dr. Stephen Redpath, Dr. Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi and Dr. Charudutt Mishra

Was shivering on 1st day in office as Defence Minister: Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a candid admission, Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said he was “shivering” on his first in office as Defence Minister though he tried to put up a brave face.”When I went to Delhi, I took experience of that city. I became Defence Minister with the blessings of you all. I was not knowing anything,” Parrikar said addressing a ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally at Sanvordem constituency.”Let me admit, I was shivering on the first day (of taking charge). I put up a brave face banking on my experience, but in reality I didn’t even had knowledge about the rank of military officers,” he said.Parrikar was Chief Minister of Goa before his induction into the Union Cabinet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”Goa’s brush with the military was during 1961 when Indian Army liberated the state from Portuguese rule. After that we saw 1965 and 1971 wars. During the Kargil war, I have given slogans but in reality I was unaware about what is war and what is the preparedness required for that,” he said.The minister said he realised that “armament stores are empty and government had tied hands of the soldiers. I did nothing much for last two years but told army that if anyone attacks, you are free to retaliate”.”You have noticed the impact of this liberty. Whenever there was attack on us, our brave soldiers have retaliated strongly. May be the surgical strike (in PoK)or firing at the line of border, Army has responded strongly, forcing the enemy to plead for peace. During last four days, there is no firing on the border.”

Kashmir: Three Indian soldiers killed in Machhal, one jawan mutilated along LoC

Three Indian soldiers were killed “in action” along the Line of Control (LoC) in Machhal, Jammu and Kashmir, while the body of one soldier was mutilated, the Indian Army said on Tuesday.

The Northern Command also vowed “heavy retribution for the cowardly act”.

“Three soldiers killed in action on LC in Machhal. Body of one soldier mutilated, retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act,” the Northern Command said.

This is the second such incident of mutilation of an Indian soldier by Pakistan in a month’s time.

The last time the body of an Indian soldier mutilated was in October, when terrorists aided by the cover fire by Pakistani Army, crossed the Line of Control and killed an Indian Army jawan and mutilated his body in Macchal sector of Kupwara district of Kashmir on 28 October.

One attacker was killed in the incident.

A day after the Indian soldier’s body was mutilated by terrorists, who escaped back into Pakistani side under covering fire from Pakistani troops, the Indian army hit back, destroying four Pakistani posts and inflicting “heavy casualties”.

The posts were destroyed in a massive fire assault in Keran sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara, said the army’s Northern Command.

This is not the first time Pakistan has mutilated the bodies of Indian soldiers.

During the Kargil war in 1999, Captain Saurabh Kalia, Sepoys Arjunram Baswana, Mula Ram Bidiasar, Naresh Singh Sinsinwar, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria and Bhika Ram Mudh of four Jat Regiment were captured by Pakistani troops and brutally tortured.

The soldiers had their ear drums pierced with hot iron rods, eyes punctured and genitals cut off. The autopsy of the bodies also revealed that they were burned with cigarettes butts. Their limbs were also chopped off, teeth broken and skull fractured during the torture. Even their nose and lips were sliced off.

In another incident, on 8 January, 2013, Pakistani soldiers entered Indian territory in Krishna Ghati sector of the border and killed two Indian soldiers — Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh. Indian officials said both the bodies were mutilated, and Hemraj’s body was decapitated.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 17:02 IST

Mercury at sub-zero levels in Kashmir, Kargil is coldest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most places in Kashmir continued to reel under intense cold with the night temperature staying below the freezing point, while Kargil town in Ladakh region registered the season’s coldest night at minus 9.2 degrees Celsius. Srinagar recorded a low of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius – four degrees below normal during this part of the season, an official of the Meteorological Department here said, adding it was, however, a slight improvement from yesterday’s minus 2.7 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir as it witnessed the lowest night temperature of the season so far, the official said. The Leh town nearby also shivered at minus 8.4 degrees Celsius as the cold wave has hit the region owing to a prolonged dry spell.The minimum in Kupwara, in north Kashmir, also rose from minus 2.7 degrees Celsius yesterday to settle at minus 2.3 degrees Celsius, while Kokernag town in south was the only recorded place in the Valley where the night temperature remained above freezing point at 0.5 degree Celsius. The official said the hill resort of Pahalgam in south Kashmir recorded the minimum of minus 4.2 degrees Celsius, making it the coldest place in the Valley.The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir registered the low of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius against yesterday’s minus 0.6 degrees Celsius, he said.The minimum temperature in the south Kashmir town of Qazigund was minus 2.2 degrees Celsius – same as that of the previous night. The official forecast mainly dry weather till November 20 but predicted light rainfall the next day.

Is the Raheel-Nawaz Sharif face off in Pakistan an echo of Musharraf’s 1999 coup?

The date was 12 October. The year, 1999. Kashmir’s Hurriyat Conference leaders were in Jodhpur jail that day when news came in that General Musharraf had taken power from Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Hard line leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was pleased that the prime minister who had welcomed India’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore seven months earlier had been ousted, and the army chief who had not saluted Vajpayee when the latter crossed the border on a ‘goodwill’ bus was now the leader of Pakistan.

Seventeen years since then, almost to the day, the Hurriyat leaders are in jail again, but not in the same one. So, just in case there is another coup in Pakistan, they might not discuss the news immediately. There are several other similarities, though, between what happened in 1999 and what has occurred in the recent months.

Former Pak president Pervez Musharraf. ReutersFormer Pak president Pervez Musharraf. Reuters

Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf. Reuters

A dramatic rapprochement, led by the two prime ministers, had occurred when Vajpayee went to Lahore that February. It was followed a couple of months later by the discovery of Pakistani military incursions in the Kargil area. From May to July, there were fierce battles along the heights of Batalik, Tololing and Tiger Hill in the Kargil district.

Last 25 December, there was an almost equally dramatic (and even more sudden) show of warmth between the two countries’ prime ministers; Prime Minister Modi dropped in at Lahore on his way from Kabul to Delhi to attend Prime Minister Sharif’s granddaughter’s wedding — on Sharif’s birthday.

The dampener on that detente turned up much faster than in 1999. Just a week after Modi’s visit came a shocking attack at an Indian Air Force facility at Pathankot. The attack at Uri on 18 September substantially worsened the two countries’ relations, albeit less so than the Kargil war did.

The reason that war ended within a couple of months was that the then US President Bill Clinton ticked off Prime Minister Sharif in Washington on 4 July, 1999. The resultant military pullback led to a face-off between Pakistan’s prime minister and chief of army staff, which made it evident that one of them would lose his job soon.

Sharif tried to replace Musharraf, while the latter was on an official visit to Sri Lanka. But Musharraf was ready with a backup plan: his key corps commanders ensured that Sharif was overthrown and the way was cleared for Musharraf’s takeover.

India’s strikes across the Line of Control on 29 September this year, in retaliation against the Uri attack, appear to have caused strains in the relationship between Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan’s current army chief, General Raheel Sharif. There were signs on Thursday that that unease might have become a face-off.

Three facts have given that potential face-off an edge — or rather, three edges. One, the Pakistan Army’s ‘clean up’ in the federally administered tribal areas (FATA) and against domestic terrorists made Raheel Sharif more popular than any Pakistani leader has been in several decades. Two, the general is about to retire in November; for him, the window of opportunity is closing. Three, Pakistani nationalism (which tends to centre on the army) has been consolidated following India’s high profile international campaign over Balochistan — and the way the situation in Kashmir and the Line of Control has been reported in Pakistan.

It is worth asking what various international powers including the US and China would want. Would they prefer multiple power centres so that the army remains domestically leashed, and the situation in Pakistan might remain relatively stable? Or would world powers prefer a single centre of power with which to interact in Pakistan?

India’s preferred answer to those questions might seem like a foregone conclusion. Undoubtedly, the continuation of a civilian government would restrain the army’s belligerence somewhat.

However, it is worth considering that the best possibility for the two countries to eventually come to an agreement over the intractable Kashmir issue would happen between leaders as strong and nationalist as Narendra Modi and a putative President-cum-General Raheel Sharif.

Of course, their personas as much as the kind of political and geopolitical positioning, on which the career of each has thrived — not to speak of the hyper-aggressiveness among many sections on both sides of the border — would seem to make that wishful thinking.

But surely one can wish?

Political parties, civil society groups urge Rajnath Singh to grant union territory status to Ladakh

Political parties, civil society groups urge Rajnath Singh to grant union territory status to Ladakh

Updated: Oct 3, 2016 21:04 IST

#Jammu #Rajnath Singh #Union Territory

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Leh: Political parties, religious communities and civil society groups on Monday urged Home Minister Rajnath Singh to grant Ladakh the status of a union territory with legislature for ensuring speedy development of the hilly region of Jammu and Kashmir.

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

The demand was placed when local heads of around 15 political parties, religious communities and civil society groups met the Home Minister. Singh is on a two-day visit to Leh and Kargil to interact with a cross section of people and take their suggestions on resolution of the Kashmir issue.

The Home Minister said he saw the real unity in diversity among the people of Ladakh and the entire country was proud of the people and the region as they were maintaining cordial relations among different communities, a Home Ministry official said.

Singh appreciated the people of Ladakh for being true and staunch nationalists and standing shoulder to shoulder with the army and security forces in defending the country from both external and internal threats. He also reviewed the security situation in the state with state government officials who briefed him on the prevailing law-and-order situation in the state and on the position of supply of essential commodities as well as the movement of trucks carrying fruits to various parts of the country.

The Home Minister will visit Kargil on Tuesday. Earlier, asked about his trip to Ladakh, Singh told reporters that he has come to understand the problems of the region by interacting with a cross section of people. “Whatever problems the people face here, we will try to resolve them,” he said.

This is Singh’s fourth visit to Jammu and Kashmir ever since the unrest began in the state following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on 8 July. Singh had led an all-party delegation to Srinagar and Jammu on 4-5 September. The leaders of various political leaders met over 400 people who came in 50 different delegations representing various sections of society in Srinagar and Jammu.

Earlier, the Home Minister had visited Srinagar on 24-25 August and 23-24 July. Singh was accompanied by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other senior officials.

I would have counter-threatened India: Musharraf reacts to tough-talk from Indian leaders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf, who was the architect of Pakistan’s Kargil aggression in 1999, has said he would have counter-threatened India in response to the strong statements by Indian leaders in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack. “I would be counter-threatening India,” Musharraf said in response to a question. The former Pakistani military dictator was referring to the statements made by Indian leaders and military officials after the Uri terror attack on September 18.Asked about his suggestion of “counter-threatening”, Musharraf said, “Yes, because they are threatening us that they are going to strike us at the time and place of their choosing. Now, this has been said by nobody less than Prime Minister, Defence Minister and the military general, the director general military operations. This is a very serious matter,” Musharraf, while speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday, stated that he has said in an interview that threats like striking at the time and place of choosing should not be made. “What will Pakistan do? Obviously, we will strike at the time and place of our choosing,” the former President said. “That will escalate the war. So don’t do it. I think the war hysteria that is being created in India, I repeat, India, not in Pakistan, is an issue. They do that always. This is not the only time. Every time they do that,” he alleged.

Surgical strikes along LoC puts South Asia on cusp of new India-Pakistan dynamic

There is a broad consensus after Thursday morning’s daring surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the LoC by Indian Special Forces that we are on the cusp of a new dynamic between India and Pakistan. By shedding the posture of strategic restraint — whatever that meant — the Government of India, in one fell stroke, has called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff. The primary task for planners in New Delhi will now be to assess and exploit this new-found space for extremely limited military action in meeting Pakistan’s penchant for proxy warfare. As such, they will have to pay close attention to the emerging contours — and implications — of the new dynamic.

To belabour a point made in this piece: The cross-LoC action Thursday morning, and the lack of any visible conventional response by Pakistan, shatters a widely-held view that sub-conventional, conventional and nuclear rungs in subcontinental conflicts are inexorably linked when it comes to India responding to Pakistani provocations. The argument thus far had been this: Following a terrorist attack on Indian territory, any Indian military response — as long as it involved breaching the LoC or the International Border — would force Pakistan to riposte conventionally and then, through a spiralling action-reaction logic, lead to a general war under the nuclear overhang.

File image of Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. Getty Images

File image of Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. Getty Images

Pakistan itself has done much to promote this doomsday scenario. Hence, the bluster about tactical nuclear weapons to meet a possible Indian rapid — albeit shallow — conventional thrust into territories of its interest. Indian planners for far too long had bought this logic — of an irreversible climb up the escalation ladder — which acted to self-deter India. By carefully calibrating a surgical response, India has shown that this logic is, at the most fundamental level, flawed. There is indeed space for military action (of an extremely limited nature) to retaliate against Pakistani provocations.

Rawalpindi and Islamabad’s reactions have been curious. By denying that Thursday morning’s surgical strikes ever took place, it seeks to de-escalate the situation. This is, by far, the most convincing sign that Pakistan’s military is not an irrational entity operating according to an exceptional logic that does not match standard strategic thinking. India has also implicitly assured Pakistan that Thursday’s operations have been called off, reassuring Pakistan implicitly. What we have now, in other words, is a tacit understanding between both sides that further escalation will not be beneficial to either party. For all the talk of how South Asia is the most dangerous nuclear flashpoint on earth, both sides are playing a grown-up game.

This is not to argue, however, that there will not be any response from Pakistani side. Pakistan will do what it has done the best in the past: Leverage proxies to hit at India. In the short run, India will be well advised to prepare for terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir, in the Indian heartland, as well as on Indian facilities and assets abroad — such as those in Afghanistan. India, in turn, will retaliate with further limited strikes as well as sub-conventionally, possibly through proxies of its own as well as through covert operations. (On the latter, one should remember that the decision to hit at terror facilities across the LoC comes on top of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Balochistan gambit announced last month from the ramparts of the Red Fort.)

Therefore, the new dynamic would be an oscillatory pattern involving the sub-conventional and the uncoventional (covert special operations support for proxies) or the semi-conventional (overt special operations alone) rungs. There is no escalation ladder for both countries to climb, New Delhi and Rawalpindi would quickly realise, if they haven’t already. Instead, they will chase each other’s tails — which works in New Delhi’s calculations. Instead of a grand conflagration leading to a decisive war — which cockles the hearts of many in Pakistan and also, it must be said, in India, we are looking at an era where both sides will play tic-tac-toe with special operators, proxies, and border action teams.

There is indeed space for military action (of an extremely limited nature) to retaliate against Pakistani provocations

The other facet of the new dynamic is the irrelevance of the LoC in any Indian decision to take the fight to Pakistan. The American game theorist, military planner and Nobel Laureate Thomas Schelling — in his classic study on bargaining, strategy, and conflict — invented the notion of a ‘focal point’: A mental, geographical and/or psychological demarcation between adversaries locked in a conflict which neither side would breach. Focal points arise due to many extra-rational reasons such as history or cartography, and there is a tacit understanding between adversaries that breach of focal points will inexorably lead to instability. The Kargil war of 1999 and Thursday morning’s surgical strikes have now decisively proved that the LoC is not a focal point for India and Pakistan.

This will eventually become extremely important in determining the long-run political solution to the Kashmir imbroglio.

The author is a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi and a national security columnist for Firstpost. Views expressed here are personal. He tweets @AbhijnanRej

India’s surgical strikes across LoC carried out in self-defence, will get US support: Former CIA analyst

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s surgical strikes across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were carried out in self-defence and would receive support from the US but risk further escalation of tensions, top American experts said today. “India can rightly note that the United States has conducted numerous unilateral counter terrorist operations inside Pakistan against targets like Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mansour. India can cite its right to self-defence,” said Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institute. “The Indian operation ups the stakes. The situation is dangerous and escalating,” Riedel, a former CIA analyst who was stationed at the White House during the time of Kargil war and played a key role in US policies then, told PTI.”The question is will this escalates further? With or without outside assistance, the Kashmiri situation will get worse for India unless (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi addresses the legitimate demands of Kashmiri Muslims,” Riedel said. Alyssa Ayres, a former State Department official and currently with the Council on Foreign Relations, hoped that the Obama Administration “sends a firm message” to Islamabad that it “bears responsibility for escalated tensions” by its own refusal to rein in terror groups.Responding to a question, Ayres said she thinks the US will, as expected, express concern about the possibility of escalation. “Pakistan’s irresponsible threats about using nuclear weapons yesterday was extremely disturbing especially since they have done nothing in response to the terrorist attack in Uri,” she said. “It’s clear that the (Narendra) Modi government, having tried sari and shawl diplomacy, then birthday diplomacy, has sent a new signal about their redlines — which have included more diplomatic options considered than we’ve seen in the past,” Ayres said.Lisa Curtis from The Heritage Foundation said that while the US is concerned about “military escalation between the nuclear armed rivals”, US officials would find it difficult to criticise India for seeking to prevent future attacks on its territory. “India’s reported launch of surgical strikes across the LoC against militant infiltrators demonstrates the Modi government’s unwillingness to merely absorb Pakistani provocations,” Curtis said.The attack on Uri eleven days ago was the second major Pakistani provocation in the space of nine months, she said, adding that the Pathankot attack in early January was bad enough. “With the Uri attack, Pakistan upped the ante, seeking to draw international attention to Kashmir at a time when civil protests had been wracking the state,” she said. The Pakistan government’s denial of involvement in the September 18 attack is not credible, given that Pakistanis have done little to nothing to shut down terrorist groups operating from their territory, Curtis said.

Uran alert: From Mumbai to Uri, India’s failure to learn from past is the only common thread

The first war covered live on television in India was the Kargil conflict of 1999. The daily military briefings by the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) was a much-viewed event. But they were military operations, which according to the then Army Chief General VP Malik, were fought with ‘what we have’. He was alluding to the critical shortages of weapons and ammunition and the unduly long process to modernise the armed forces. But, yet again the Indian forces pulled it off with ‘what they had’.

The government was quick to appoint a committee of experts headed by the doyen of matters national security, K Subrahmanyam. Restructuring of the armed forces, revitalising border security and other critical matters were comprehensively addressed. The then deputy prime minister, as the head of a group of ministers, reviewed all the recommendations including one on defence management submitted by a task force headed by Arun Singh and constituted an implementation mechanism which functioned rather efficiently. Then, the government changed and the remaining points for implementations were confined to the proverbial dust bin.

The Mumbai attack of 2008 forced the government to once again review the existing weaknesses and take appropriate measures. Predictably, over time, they too were buried to be redusted during the next episode.

Army personnel in Kashmir's Uri sector. Uran threat highlighted India's security problems. PTIArmy personnel in Kashmir's Uri sector. Uran threat highlighted India's security problems. PTI

Army personnel in Kashmir’s Uri sector. PTI

The point to note is that had the recommendations made post-Kargil been seriously and consistently addressed, perhaps the Mumbai attack may not have occurred. Extending the same logic, had we implemented many of the weaknesses rediscovered during the Mumbai attack along with the recommendations made by the group of interlocutors in 2011, we may not have had the situations in the Kashmir Valley, Pathankot or Uri, to worry about.

Much of our problems are linked to the improper functioning of Parliament and consequently poor formulation of effective legislations and laws to tackle the entire spectrum of economic, social and security related issues that confront us. In many ways, they are all interlinked.

While politicians bash each other up, at times physically as well, we the citizens fret and frown without ever acknowledging that we the people put them into Parliament in the first place; by casting our votes for the incompetent, ignoring elections or not participating in any process of cleaning up dirty politics. Electoral, police, judicial and administrative reforms are long overdue. Not much will change without these reforms.

Since the canvas of corrective measures is vast and long, let me focus on just one issue in this piece: Police reforms.

An ungainly and shameful sight on television is an inadequately equipped, physically unfit and apparently ill led police force in any part of the country. Just compare these pictures with not only the more advanced nations but also with our immediate neighbours. Without exception, the first line of defence or assistance to the citizen i.e. the policeman is the most unfortunate product of State politics. The very states who zealously protect their rights on law and order and object to any intervention by the Centre are guilty of politicising, under equipping, neglecting the welfare of the policemen and his family, and undermining the police leadership.

See the video clips of the Uran alert that occurred on 22 September. When the first reports of suspicious armed personnel in the sensitive location of Uran reached the police, cameras captured policemen with neither bulletproof jackets nor helmets, arriving in hoards with (mercifully) 7.62 mm caliber rifles and not the .303 caliber ones, on motorbikes and lining up on the streets.

You would never, on such occasions, see an officer of the force with them. Any uninitiated citizen would wonder what this ill-equipped band of rag-tag policemen would have done had they been attacked by well-trained AK-47 wielding terrorists. They would have been excellent cannon fodder, for, they neither had protection nor a clue on how to take offensive or defensive positions. After subjecting themselves to a photo opportunity, they climbed on their motorcycles and vanished. There were some who, due to their oversized bellies, could not even have dropped to the ground to take up a firing position.

Yes we have the police commandos, yes we have a quick reaction force, but who would authorise the low-end baton or stick-wielding policemen to counter a terrorist threat? Do we have well-trained adequately equipped rapid reaction capability to reach Uran at short notice? Perhaps not. Would it not have been the best option to seek the immediate assistance of the naval security force until the right-fighting element arrived on the scene?

This was only a random sighting reported by a shocked school girl and not a fire-fight with confirmed terrorists. What chance would these policemen have had to survive an attack? In the event, it might as well have been forest guards equipped with some firearms.

Even after repeated terrorist attacks, we are unable to provide the first sensible and rehearsed reaction as dictated by the threat. Is the police force equipped to tackle rampaging crowds on a short notice? Do they even have the basic attire and accessories for self-protection, counter-disturbances and law and order problems? If not, then why not?

Prakash Singh, who fought for police reforms 10 years ago and more importantly based on which the Supreme Court gave clear directions in 2006, have both witnessed the tenth anniversary go by with little or no action to modernise the force.

Let us at least address the reforms required to provide security at the citizens level at the first instance. The military would be happy to address their primary task – an external threat!

Rafale deal: French Defence Minister to arrive in India on Thursday night

New Delhi: French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian will arrive on Thursday night for signing of the Euro 7.8 billion deal on Friday for 36 Rafale jets which will come equipped with latest missiles and weapon system, giving IAF a cutting edge over arch rival Pakistan.

File image of a Rafale aircraft. Reuters

File image of a Rafale aircraft. Reuters

The deal for the aircraft, the first fighter jet deal in 20 years, will be signed on Friday in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Drian, sources in Defence Ministry said.

Also present will be the chief executive officers (CEOs) of top French companies, including Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale. The deal comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros than the one struck during the previous UPA government, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50 percent offset clause.

These combat aircraft, delivery of which will start in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is inked, come equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like ‘Meteor’ and ‘Scalp’ that will give IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal.

The features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF is its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within India’s territorial boundary.

Pakistan at present has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India had used a BVR of 50 km range while Pakistan had none. However, Pakistan later acquired 80-km-range BVR, but now with ‘Meteor’ the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour.

‘Scalp’, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives IAF an edge over its adversaries. Sources said the “vanilla price” of just the 36 aircraft is about 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet-mounted displays, will cost 1,700 million Euros. The rest of the cost includes spare parts and maintenance.

Army widows want India to avenge Uri attack that killed 18 jawans

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army widows in Mathura demanded “blood for blood” in retaliation to the deadly attack in Uri which claimed lives of 18 Army personnel.”Sushma Swaraj, in January 2013 had assured me of bringing ten heads if her party comes to power,” Dharmavati whose husband was beheaded on January 8, 2013 said, adding that now at least 36 heads must be brought in turn for the killings of 18 army personnel.Ravita, the widow of Babloo kumar who was martyred in Jammu on July 30, held Centre “responsible” for its “unstable policies.””Army should be given free hand to counter such cowardice act,” Kamlesh Devi, widow of Soran Singh who was martyred in Kargil in 1999, stated.Seema Chaudhary, wife of martyr Shaheed Samod Kumar Chaudhary asked for “direct action” in such incidents. “I can feel the pain and separation widows of killed army personnel of Dogra regiment are experiencing.”

Uri terror attack: To reclaim a sense of history, India needs war museums like Hall of Fame in Leh

The Indian Army was attacked in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on Sunday, where 18 jawans were killed in Uri. But, is this the first such attack?

No, this was the 18th major strike on security forces in J&K since 1999, the first one being when ten army personnel were killed in a fidayeen attack on 15 Corps Headquarters at Srinagar’s Badami Bagh.

It is unfortunate that India speaks to a nation that has made the export of terror an instrument of state policy. India’s quest for peace is so strong that we refuse to learn from past betrayals. Actually, we lack a sense of history. Since 1947, our experiences and learnings are inadequately documented and not available in the public domain; thus, the bureaucracy, political class, and civilians make the same mistakes again and again.

Note that India’s principal adversaries on the east and west side have an excellent sense of history; to the extent that they keep reiterating the same lies in the hope that they are accepted as the truth.

The entrance to Hall of Fame Museum in Leh. Photo: www.esamskriti.com

The entrance to Hall of Fame Museum in Leh. Photo: www.esamskriti.com

It is in this context that museums play an important role. The learnings and contents of the Indian Army Museum in Leh are relevant to contemporary India and make a case for setting such museums across the country, and globally.

A board at the entrance sets the tone for what to expect inside. It reads, “The Hall of Fame is as much a tribute to the valour and sagacity of the brave men of the Indian Army who guard the frigid, windswept and barren frontiers of Ladakh as much as it is an expression of recognition, adulation and wonderment of the indomitable spirit, rich culture and a zest unique to the men and women who inhabit Ladakh.”

Someone has correctly observed, “True Ladakh begins where the road ends!”

The museum tells you about the history of Ladakh since the first century AD – key battles of 1948, 1965, 1971, the 1999 wars with Pakistan and the Indo-China war of 1962. It highlights the contributions of the Ladakh Scouts. There is a section on the Siachen Glacier, which briefly tells about the battles fought and the equipment provided to jawans to enable them to guard the border posts at heights between 15,000 to 22,000 feet. It also recognises the contribution of Project Himank in building roads. Lastly, there is a memorial and a Shaurya Sthal where the names of all the martyrs are inscribed in stone.

The Hall of Fame museum presents history through pictures and illuminated boards. A lot of information presented there has strategic value, something that many civilians are unaware of:

1) Information about the battles fought to occupy and retain control of Siachen Glacier between 1984 and 1999.

2) It is only when you see a map of pre-1947 Jammu and Kashmir that you realise that India could have shared a border with Afghanistan, had the then government taken control of the entire princely state.

3) Why did Ladakh develop close cultural relations with Tibet, which continue to this day?

4) Details of battles in 1948 with Pakistan in Zoji la Pass, Kargil and Leh sectors.

5) Capture of Point 13620 and Kala Pahad on NH 1A – at Kargil in the 1965 war.

6) Capture of Turtuk in Nubra Valley during the 1971 war. It was part of Pakistan until then.

7) Details of numerous battles fought to recapture heights in Drass sector in 1999.

Of particular interest are three key battles fought in 1965, 1984 and 1962. Brief details of each battle and learnings are as follows:

Recapture of Point 13620: The Point overlooks the Srinagar-Leh Highway. It was captured by India thrice. First four Rajputs captured it on 17 May, 1965. Following assurances by the UN Observer, it was handed over to Pakistan in June 1965. In the first week of August, Pakistan resorted to mass infiltration in J&K with an intent to enter through Kargil sector and fan out towards Drass, Zanskar etc regions. It was subsequently recaptured by 17 Punjab on 15 August 1965. In July 1966, it was handed over to Pakistan in accordance with the Tashkent Agreement. It was recaptured by India on 9 December, 1971.

Re - Capture of Point 13620. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev NayyarRe - Capture of Point 13620. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Re – Capture of Point 13620. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

What must Team India remember?

Trust Pakistan at your own risk. Never return areas that overlook national highways or a Pass that allows the enemy to sneak in, like the Haji Pir Pass in 1965. “It is through this Pass, infamously returned to Pakistan five months after its capture, that Islamabad has been infiltrating terrorists into J&K for the last 27 years.”

Note that the Kargil War of 1999 was essentially fought to regain control of the heights that overlook the Srinagar-Leh highway.

Secondly, the occupation of Siachen Glacier in 1984. “The operation to occupy the glacier by 13 April, 1984 was planned to pre-empt the Pakistan Army by about four days as Intelligence had reported that Pakistan Army intended to occupy the glacier by 17 April, 1984. About 300 troops dug into the critical peaks and passes on Saltoro Ridge, thus effectively denying the glacier.”

If India had played good boy, gone to the United Nations (UN), we might never have occupied the glacier and would still be arguing over UN resolutions.

Operation Meghdoot 1984. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev NayyarOperation Meghdoot 1984. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Operation Meghdoot 1984. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

Always be pro-active, seize and never lose control, better to attack then defend and take the battle into the enemy camp.

Note that ever since Pakistan started supporting terrorism in Punjab, J&K and rest of India, the Indian State is perpetually defending itself. If India has to counter the infinite Pakistan attack it must keep the rogue nation under pressure 24/7, 365 days a year. Students of history should read BR Ambedkar’s Thoughts on Pakistan to understand the sub-continent Muslim mind.

Thirdly, Battle of Rezang La in Ladakh. It is true that China defeated India in the 1962 war. What is not true is that India went down without a fight in every place.

The Chinese launched a silent first attack on 18 November, 1962. The attack was stalled by the brave Ahirs of 13 Kumaon. At the break of dawn, Chinese attacked the post again only to be thwarted by accurate small-arm fire. Next, the Chinese resorted to heavy shelling. The Charlie coy deployed under Major Shaitan Singh Bhati repulsed seven waves of Chinese human attacks despite heavy artillery shelling. About 113 soldiers and the Major laid down their lives. According to this article, the battle left close to 500 Chinese dead and wounded, although locals put the number at about 1,300.

The Battle of Rezang La. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev NayyarThe Battle of Rezang La. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

The Battle of Rezang La. Photo courtesy: Sanjeev Nayyar

When the local leadership was strong, the Indian Army gave the Chinese a good fight. We lost because of idealism, underestimating the enemy and failure to decipher Chinese thinking. The spiritual concept of ahinsa (non-violence) must not be used in the realm of geopolitics. Accepting mistakes allows us to put the past behind and emerge stronger. Only when India becomes an economic and military powerhouse will be there shanti, shanti, shanti.

Note that the closest land route to Mount Kailash is from Demchok in south Ladakh. It’s unlikely that Indians will be allowed to enter Tibet from there because that means defying the border. Any border settlement with China must include an entry from here as well. The move would be appreciated by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Tibetans worldwide.

It is time to make more Indians aware about such historical facts. Therefore, the government must create similar Hall of Fames in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. This should not be confused with the proposed National War Memorial in Delhi.

The same format could be used. It should include information about other wars and acts of bravery, for instance, Jaswant Singh in 1962, Battle of Longowal and Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Since the Indian Army runs schools and women empowerment centres, pictures of Sadbhavna activities should be displayed. It should have a separate section titled ‘What must Team India remember’.

The benefits of such an initiative would provide reliable data and limits the scope for spreading misinformation. It would give civilians, bureaucracy, and armed forces lessons in history and continuously reinforce learning. Wars have to be fought by the people of India, not the armed forces alone. It would definitely create a feeling of national pride and patriotism.

At a time when social media plays an important role in information warfare, it would empower Indians worldwide to respond to country’s opponents.

Once successfully implemented, the Hall of Fame should be set up in international cities with large Indian populations like New York, London, Dubai and Singapore.

This way the Indian point of view gets communicated globally and more importantly, consistently. Few countries have done this so far. India could be amongst them.

Most importantly, Indians must now realise that they can live in peace only when the country has strong leadership, national strength, and the political will to take tough decisions against the country’s opponents.

The author is an independent columnist. He tweets with the handle @sanjeev1927

Narendra Modi’s talks offer signals end of road for separatists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what can be qualified as a significant statement on the ongoing Kashmir crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed “deep concern and pain” at the prevailing situation in state and called for a “dialogue to find a permanent and lasting solution” within the framework of the Constitution.Though PM’s statement goes one step forward than his last utterance on Kashmir at a rally in Madhya Pradesh on August 9 in which he had broken his silence on the unrest by appealing to the youth to hold laptops instead of carrying stones, it indicates end of the road for separatists by sticking to the oft-repeated “within the framework of Constitution”.It backtracks a long way from the position former PM Vajpayee’s took by indicating that he would go beyond the Constitution to settle Kashmir dispute in his famous quote of Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat.Trying to make an emotional connect with the people of the distraught region, the PM said, “those who lost their lives during recent disturbances are part of us, our nation; whether the lives lost are of our youth, security personnel or police, it distresses us.”The PM’s remarks stand in contrast with those of finance minister Arun Jaitley, who, while addressing a rally in Jammu’s Samba region on Sunday, described stone-throwing protesters as “aggressors out to divide the country”.Interestingly, a day earlier, home minister Rajnath Singh in Lucknow had sought to apply healing touch by saying that “I want to tell the people of Kashmir that we not only love the land of Kashmir but also its people. I would like to appeal to the Kashmiris that we do not want to see stones, bricks and firearms in their hands but pen, computers and jobs. We want to see you employed.”Modi’s statement came soon after he met a delegation of the opposition parties from J&K who called on him to apprise about the “dangerous” situation that is spreading beyond the Valley to Pir Panjaal, Chinab valley of Kargil regions and asked him to find a lasting political solution to the vexed issue through dialogue instead of applying piecemeal administrative measures.Former chief minister Omar Abdullah, who was part of the 20-member delegation, said the PM accepted delegation’s memorandum and agreed that development alone is not an answer to the crisis. “The Prime Minister told us in categorical terms that development alone will not resolve this problem,” said Omar.Refusing to draw any conclusions, Omar added, “I am not going to put words into the Prime Minister’s mouth nor am I going to draw further meaning from what he said.”However, in his statement, the PM indicated that the Centre is keen for a political outreach and is looking for a window to begin the process of dialogue, as he emphasized that “there has to be dialogue and we need to find a permanent and lasting solution to the problem within the framework of the Constitution.”Conveying that his government and the nation stands with the State of Jammu & Kashmir, PM urged all political parties to reach out to the people and convey the same and appealed for restoration of normalcy.The delegation on Saturday had met President Pranab Mukherjee and sought his immediate intervention to impress upon the Central government to find a political solution to Kashmir crisis. It now plans to meet mainstream opposition parties to build more pressure on the government.The PMO said the meeting with the delegation comprising of Omar Abdullah of National Conference, Ghulam Ahmed Mir of Congress, Hakeem Mohammad of People’s Democratic Front, M Y Tarigami of CPM and Ghulam Hassan Mir of Democratic Party Nationalist was held in “an atmosphere of free and frank discussion”.Sources in the home ministry said the Centre would soon make an announcement on banning the use of pellet guns and suggest alternate measures of non-lethal nature to control the agitators.

Indian Army celebrates International Yoga Day at Siachen Glacier

Amid sub-zero temperature, the Army on Tuesday celebrated International Yoga Day at the Siachen Glacier, situated at the height of over 20,000 feet.”The soldiers and the officers posted at Siachen, commonly known as the highest battlefield in the world, today celebrated International Yoga Day”, a defence spokesman said.He said apart from Siachen, the Army’s Fire and Fury Corps also celebrated the day at Leh, Kargil and other forward locations along the Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PTIThe event at Leh was attended by over 900 personnel which included officers, junior commissioned officers and jawans of the Leh Garrisson, the spokesman said.”Large attendances were also organised at Siachen, Kargil and other forward locations along the borders,” he said.PTIApart from giving an impetus to physical fitness, the events were aimed to popularise yoga and also to spread awareness on benefits of yoga among the soldiers, he said, adding large number of soldiers showed interest in learning yoga asanas, pranayama and meditation.The Indian Army has incorporated yoga asanas into the daily routine of the soldiers in high altitude areas with harsh climatic conditions, he said.

Saluting bravehearts: IndiGo pilot shows the way on how to honour a war-hero

Public recognition to brave hearts in our armed forces are rare and hardly forthcoming. But Kargil hero Naik Deep Chand was in for a pleasant surprise when he took a flight recently.

Former IAF fighter pilot and IndiGo captain Harish Nayani with Kargil hero Naik Deep Chand. Image from IndiGo Twitter handleFormer IAF fighter pilot and IndiGo captain Harish Nayani with Kargil hero Naik Deep Chand. Image from IndiGo Twitter handle

Former IAF fighter pilot and IndiGo captain Harish Nayani with Kargil hero Naik Deep Chand. Image from IndiGo Twitter handle

Former Indian Air Force fighter pilot Rajiv Tyagi shared on Facebook how an IndiGo Airlines captain and an ex-IAF pilot Harish Nayani proudly announced of having the war-hero as a passenger aboard the flight.

“Harish Nayani, 62nd course, Kilo Squadron, NDA, erstwhile IAF fighter pilot, now a Captain flying for Indigo Airlines, had a war-hero passenger on his flight the other day. Naik Deep Chand, who lost both legs and his right arm in the 1999 Kargil War, was flying Indigo. Harish announced the presence of the war hero on the flight, to the delighted applause of 180 passengers. This is all the recognition war heroes need, for acts no nation can repay them for,” Tyagi said in his Facebook updated.

Overwhelmed by the response the post got, the former IAF officer posted again.

The airlines also re-tweeted the tweet posted by journalist Man Aman Chhina.

Social media was also abuzz with praises for Nayani.

“Good gesture. There are hundreds of ex IAF pilots flying in civil aviation but none could think of something this. Hope the others too give veterans their due. Well done Capt Nayani from a 117 PC veteran,” said Jagjeet Singh Grewal.

Bureaucrats, ministers acted dishonestly: HC in Adarsh scam ruling

The Bombay High Court, while ordering demolition of the multi-storeyed Adarsh Housing Society here, has squarely blamed its members for conspiring with politicians and bureaucrats to grab a plot “which was not in existence” in the development plan as a residential area. It was “carved out” by eating into a road, it said.Members of the Society happened to be close relatives of highly-placed bureaucrats and or related to politicians or ministers, said a division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Rajesh Ketkar in the 223 page-judgement which became available today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On April 29, delivering the operating part, the HC had sought criminal proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats for “misuse” of powers, holding that the Society, originally meant for Kargil war heroes and war widows, was constructed illegally. “We are more than satisfied that the allotment was not made in a transparent manner and it clearly smacks of favouritism and/or nepotism,” the judgement said.”It cannot be disputed that bureaucrats and ministers are the custodians of government property….People repose confidence in them that the government property is safe in the hands of bureaucrats and ministers.”Prima facie, they have dishonestly disposed of the property in violation of law,” the bench observed. “…the bureaucrats and the ministers are guilty of various offences in acquiring the plot as also misuse and/or abuse of powers. We hereby direct the state government to consider initiating appropriate civil/criminal proceedings against the concerned bureaucrats, ministers and politicians,” the judges further said.The lower courts will, however, decide the cases as per the merit and evidence, uninfluenced by HC’s observations, it added.

Bombay HC orders demolishment of Adarsh Housing Society

The Bombay High Court has ordered the demolition of Adarsh Housing Society, the Mumbai apartment which became centre of a political and bureaucratic corruption issue.The court has given the housing society twelve weeks to appeal to the Supreme Court against the order. The HC has also ordered an inquiry against politicians, ministers and officers who were involved in the Adarsh Housing Society scam.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan who quit after being accused of being involved in the scam refused to comment on the court order saying, “I don’t want to react on the court judgement.”YP Singh petitioner and lawyer in the case said, “There are 2 type of cases in Adarsh . The first one was related to demolition of building, very happy that we have won case. Regarding the second part,we’re confident that corrupt government servants and politicians will be sent to jail under PMLA.”The housing society was built for Kargil war veterans and widows, however, the apartments were cheaply given to politicians, ministers and bureaucrats. Former CM Chavan’s three relatives had been given the apartment in the 31-storey building.Centre had ordered the demolishment of the building in 2011. But the society’s lawyer had challenged the order in court.

JNU has always been a ‘hub of anti-national activities’, says internal dossier

“JNU, financed by the national exchequer, is being massively misused, with total impunity, as a spring-board to launch a heinous sabotage for another partition of India.” – A JNU Professor in 1996

Two decades ago, when Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student union president Kanhaiya Kumar and his comrades were still learning the basics of algebra, unaware of the grammar of politics, a professor of their future alma mater was writing a letter highlighting ‘anti-national’ activities taking place in the JNU campus; something for which Kumar would be accused of, exactly 20 years later.

On 7 February 1996, Badal Ghana Chakravorty, Associate Professor, Department of German, wrote a letter to the registrar of JNU with a subject matter – ‘Rampant anti-national activities of the agents of Pakistan on JNU campus – that gives an eerie sense of déjà vu.

JNU dossier row. Protests in JNU. File photo. AFP

File photo. AFP

The text of the letter is alarming for the allegations made in it. In the letter, Chakravorty wrote, “The agents of Pakistan have become vigorously assertive on the issue of Kashmir in recent times. The valley of Kashmir, following total physical liquidation of all the non-Muslims, has practically become an all-Muslim territory. This has emboldened the agents of Pakistan on the J.N.U campus to intensify their vicious campaign for a full-scale secession of Kashmir from India,”

“A seminar was held on 15 November, where a full-throated declaration was made for another partition of India. According to my information, armed terrorists, staying as guests in Aravali and Gomti, were present with arms hidden on their persons. Some terrorists are staying unauthorised in different hostels even today. Kindly press I.B. into immediate action,” Chakravorty wrote.

The letter forms a part of compilation of ‘proofs’ to stress on how JNU has been a centre of ‘intense anti-national activities’ for a long time and how the university administration had “turned a blind eye to it”.

The dossier put together by a group of teachers of JNU was submitted to the university administration last year. It consists of articles, speeches made by some JNU faculty and students, posters of the numerous events and seminars, and also press releases by Delhi police “highlighting the presence of anti-national elements on campus”.

One such press release, dated 10 April 1991 reads, “The Delhi police has uncovered a major international conspiracy involving persons based in UK, Canada, USA, and Nepal, working at the behest of elements in Pakistan, of funding militancy in J&K. The Delhi police arrested Ashfaq Hussain Lone, a top ranking operator of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, in Delhi and Sahabuddin Gori, a JNU student using the cover of Human Rights activists. Gori was acting as a conduit for funds and communications with terrorists in Kashmir. Rs 16.27 lakhs and incriminating documents have been recovered. The money and the documents were intended to be delivered to terrorists in the valley for expanding their subversive activities.”

The question of ‘some students misusing the tax-payers money’ fomented strong reactions during the entire debate following the February incident. But Chakravorty’s letter is much more scathing than the assertions made by certain sects of the civil society in last few months.

He writes, “Madam Registrar, I am writing these lines more in anguish than in anger. JNU, financed by the national exchequer, is being massively misused, with total impunity, as a spring-board to launch a heinous sabotage for another partition of India.”

While some of the papers and articles in the dossier smacks of strong prejudices as it makes ‘baseless and salacious allegations’ against some eminent professors of the universities, letters like that of Badal Ghana Chakravorty, however, points to the fact that allegations of JNU being the ‘hub of anti-national’ activates’ is nothing new.

One of the articles talks about an incident that took place in the year 2000, which can be corroborated by a notice issued by the dean’s office condemning the incident, that has also become a part of JNU folklore.

“In Aril 2000, an Indo-Pak Mushaira was organised in JNU campus ostensibly as a poetic event, but actually to malign and belittle the Indian victory in the Kargil war of 1999. Two army majors (in civilian dress) who were visiting their friends in JNU were witness to pro-Pakistan slogans. The two army majors, who had just fought in the Kargil heights against Pakistan reacted to such slogans and got beaten up by the student mob that was instigated by anti-national elements in JNU “, the article read.

While the dossier, for the major part, puts together several documents to show how events like that on 9 February have been a routine rather than an aberration.

Some of the posters, photocopies of which are part of the dossier, read, “Tum Kitne AFZAL maarogay, ghar ghar se AFZAL niklega. On the first martyr day of Shahid  Afzal Guru. Mashaal Jaloos. 8 Feb(Saturday) from Ganga Dhaba 9pm and protest march :DSU”.

“Kashmir needs no ‘sensitivity’ Kashmir demands Azadi – the final report submitted by the group of interlocutors for J&K reeks of Indian state’s big nation chauvinism. Article 370 or ‘special status’ can no longer contain Kashmir’s aspirations for freedom,” read the poster. 

JNU Dossier Story by Firstpost

Apart from targeting the students, the dossier also made serious allegations against some of the faculty members of JNU. The dossier has a photocopy of the news report titled – ‘Two day-International Kashmir conference begins in Muzaffarabad’.

Also included are reports that state that attendees included Professor Anuradha Chenoy, and has a remark written on it which read, “Government of India employees and officers not allowed to enter into Muzaffarabad (POK). But how professor Anuradha Chenoy and Kamal Chenoy visa were alloed(Sic). It adds, “Prof Chenoy involved in anti=national activities (Sic).”

The dossier also claims that some eminent professors like Nevedita Menon, Ranjani Mazumdar, Kumkum Roy are engaged in ‘anti-national’ activities by getting “involved in seminar for free Kashmir”.

Close reading of these papers makes it clear that the allegations made are not backed by documented proofs, but rather are based on assumptions and subjective readings of the political positions of these faculty members.

What is most striking in the collection is a paper that makes serious allegations against students in JNU. It reads, “Over 300 Kashmiri and north-east separatist activists are staying illegally in the hostels of JNU. They are the main force behind organising (anti) India activities, protest demonstration, talks and lectures by separatist’s leaders in JNU campus. Beef eating festival, Mahishaswar Diwas and hate campaigns are a regular feature in hostel activities and various seminars/lectures organised by known anti-India elements.”

“Of late, the focus of DSU, AISA etc has been to highlight the cause Azadi (independence) for Kashmir, mass grave and enforced disappearances, martyrdom of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru, recently on 9 February, 2014 a huge Mashal procession was organised in JNU campus in the evening by Prof Ayesha Kidwai, Prof Anuradha Chenoy and Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy through their front organizations (DSU,AISA),”

“These three faculty members have recruited over hundred students  (for instance Ms. Deepti Tamang, Ms Priyadarshini, Rauf, Umar Khalid, Iqbal Majeed Bhat, Dawa Sherpa, Rona Wilson Shehla Rashid…are the most vocal slogan raisers) and activists by feeding then with funds, alcohol and other facilities like placements in different NGO’s, civil society groups, institutes that are run in India with the funding of Ford Foundation, foreign agencies, Action Aid, Oxfam etc,” the paper read.

The most serious allegation made by the paper was about how few academics like Ayesha Kidwai, Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy and Prof Anuradha Chenoy “are misusing JNU and their coveted position of senior teachers in the university for propagating secessionism in Kashmir and North-East, legitimising and rationalising terrorist activities in these states, stoking the fires of hate and anti-national sentiments by organising seminars, lectures, issuing pamphlets, posters, publications and nukkad nataks, rallies demonstrations, sit ins, hunger strikes and strikes in JNU for several years without any fear.”

The reason attributed for doing all this in the paper is “to attack Indian sovereignty in Kashmir, North-East” and to “keep the Indian state as a destabilised state.” And the paper goes on to say that they are doing so by “recruiting young minds in JNU campus and elsewhere by addicting them to night parties/revelries, alcohol and cash payments to carry forward their agenda.”

The article concludes, “And in this process JNU has become a den of organised sex racket in which some hostel karamcharis, maid servants, beauty parlours run in Munirka village and the activists of DSF, DSU, AISA and other rouge elements are coordinating their activities.”

Hari Ram Mishra, Assistant Professor, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, who helped compile the dossier says, “We compiled these papers over the time just to highlight the fact that how badly the campus has been affected by anti-national activities. We just wanted that this campus, which is known for its great academic work, is cleansed of any wrong activities.”

When asked who is the author of the article that talks about JNU as a ‘den of organised sex racket’ he said that he “has no idea who wrote it.”

After the JNU administration rusticated Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid and imposed fines on Kanhaiya Kumar and others on Monday, a second round of struggle by students has already started. While all JNU student and teacher associations defended Kumar and the other accused students in the entire episode, some of the revelations made in the dossier do raise serious questions on the nature of politics in the campus.

West Bengal elections 2016: Actors, players, retired soldier prepare themselves for polls tomorrow

As the six-phase Assembly poll begins in West Bengal on Monday, political greenhorns from various fields, including from cinemas, cricket, football, investment banking enter into fray.LIVE England vs West Indies final T20, ICC World T20The candidates’ list of various parties includes film stars, soccer and cricket players, a retired army colonel, and a former investment banker.Retired Colonel Diptanshu Chaudhary, who had fought in the Kargil War, is now seeking votes on a BJP ticket from the coal belt of Asansol south constituency to fight against the “misrule” of the ruling Trinamool Congress.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During his campaigns he seeks to invoke a spirit of nationalism by proudly recalling the war tales of Kargil. His rival is TMC’s sitting MLA Tapas Banerjee. Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, is banking on former investment banker Mahua Moitra, who left her lucrative job as vice-president of JP Morgan in London to join politics, and is contesting Karimpur seat in Nadia district.Having made the transition from a corporate boardroom to the election war-room of a political party, she is trying hard this time to shed the tag of a political greenhorn.The list of candidates of all political parties show there are at least three soccer stars who are in the fray. Football icon Bhaichung Bhutia is no stranger to politics. He had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on a TMC ticket.This time the former Indian football captain is ready for another battle in Siliguri where he will be taking on veteran Marxist leader Ashok Bhattacharya, also the mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation. Fresh in the world of politics are two soccer stars Syed Rahim Nabi and Dipendu Biswas, both of them representing Trinamool Congress.Biswas, who had played both for Mohun Bagan and East Bengal football clubs, has now been fielded from south Basirhat seat against sitting BJP MLA Shamik Bhattacharya.Indian midfielder Nabi, who has been the skipper of Indian Super League side Mumbai City Football Club, will be trying his luck from Pandua seat. Late cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya’s daughter Vaishali Dalmiya has also entered politics as a Trinamool Congress candidate from Bally in Howrah district.Former Team India skipper Sourav Ganguly is expected to be the star campaigner for her. Film stars in the fray on Trinamool ticket include actor Soham Chakraborty from Barjora seat in Bankura and sitting MLA and actress Deboshree Roy from Raidighi.Singer Indranil Sen is trying his luck from Chandernagore while Soumitra Ray, singer of popular Bengali band ‘Bhoomi’ is luring voters from Chanchal seat.In North Howrah constituency, near Kolkata, the fight will be between actress-turned-politician Rupa Ganguly (BJP) and cricketer-turned-politician Laxmi Ratan Shukla (Trinamool Congress ).From BJP actress Locket Chatterjee will contest from Mayureswar, actors Joy Banerjee from Suri and Suman Banerjee from English Bazar in Malda. Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, who was once arrested for circulating emails mocking Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has also thrown his hat in the ring as an Independent.

Missing soldier’s body recovered from under snow in Ladakh

A day after a massive avalanche hit the army patrol; the rescuers recovered the body of a missing solider from under the huge mounds of snow in the Turtuk Sector in Ladakh region on Saturday.Rifleman Sunil Rai along with Lance Havildar Bhawan Tamang were buried under huge mounds of snow when an avalanche swept away army patrol on March 25. Lance Havildar Bhawan Tamang who was retrieved immediately succumbed to his injuries in the hospital on Friday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mortal remains of Rifleman Sunil Raj were recovered by rescue teams from deep under the snow on Saturday morning.”The mortal remains of the soldiers are being evacuated from the area of the avalanche. Later a wreath laying ceremony will be conducted to honour the martyrs. Thereafter, they will be transported by air to their native places where they will be accorded funerals with full military honours,” said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command.Hailing from Lopshu village in Darjeeling tehsil of West Bengal, Lance Havildar Bhawan Tamang is survived by his wife, a six-year-old daughter and his parents.Rifleman Sunil Rai of Lower Sontook Lungbhung Algarah village of Darjeeling, West Bengal, is survived by his parents and two younger brothers.General Officer Commanding in Chief (GoC-in-C) Northern Command Lieutenant General DS Hooda expressed his deep condolences to the families of the martyrs. “The Indian Army fraternity stands shoulder to shoulder with the bereaved families in their hour of grief,” he said.This is second time in a week when an avalanche has hit the Indian Army troopers in the cold desert of Ladakh. On March 17 an avalanche hit the army post situated at the altitude of 17,500 feet in the Kargil sector. Two soldiers, who were on surveillance duty, were swept away by the avalanche. One of the soldiers was immediately rescued while the body of another was retrieved from under the snow three days later.

MET department issues avalanche warning for next 24 hours in Jammu and Kashmir

The Met Department on Sunday issued an avalanche warning for the next 24 hours in the upper reaches areas of Kashmir advising people not to venture in these areas.’Medium danger’ avalanche warning exists for avalanche prone areas above 3,000 metres altitude of Kupwara, Baramula, Bandipur, Kargil and Gandarbal districts of Jammu and Kashmir, the advisory said. Following two days of gruelling search operations, Indian Army rescue teams on Sunday recovered the mortal remains of Sepoy Vijay Kumar from under twelve feet of snow, after he was swept away in the avalanche on an Army post in Kargil while on surveillance duty.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The search operation continued for three days despite adverse weather conditions and upto fifteen feet of snow in the area of avalanche.The martyr, who belongs to Vallaramapuram village of Thirunelvelli District of Tamil Nadu, is survived by his parents and two younger sisters.

Rescue ops intensify for missing soldier after avalanche hits army post in Kargil

Udhampur: A soldier went missing when an avalanche hit an army post in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The avalanche, triggered by a mild earthquake, hit an army post located at an altitude of 17,500 feet in Kargil sector at about 2245 hours on 17 March, an army officer said on Saturday.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Two soldiers, who were on surveillance duty, were swept away in the avalanche, officer said.

Immediate rescue operations were launched and one soldier was rescued, he said, adding, the second soldier is still missing.

The rescued soldier is medically stable and recovering.

Operations to rescue the missing soldier are underway in spite of the adverse weather conditions, he said.

This incident comes weeks after a deadly avalanche on Siachen Glaciers in Jammu and Kashmir, close to the Line of Control or LoC, killed 10 Army personnel including an officer.

Agencies

Don’t have adequate numbers to fight Pak and China at the same time: Indian Air Force

In a candid admission, the IAF said that given its depleting strength, it does not have the adequate numbers to “fully execute” an air campaign in case of a two-front war involving Pakistan and China simultaneously.It also sought more 5th generation fighter aircraft over and above the 36 Rafales since it was a requirement. The revelation by the IAF comes at a time when the squadron strength of the force has come down to 33 in comparison to the sanctioned strength of 42. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Of the 33, a very large chunk is made up of Russian origin Su-30 jets, the front line fighter aircraft of the country.However, the serviceability ratio of the aircraft is very poor with the figure hovering around 55 per cent. This means that out of 100 aircraft, only around 55 are available at a point of time with the rest being bogged down in service.”Our numbers are not adequate to fully execute an air campaign in a two front scenario. Probability of a two front scenario is an appreciation which you need to do. But, are the numbers adequate? No. The squadrons are winding down,” Air Marshal B S Dhanoa, Vice-Chief of the IAF said addressing a press conference. He was asked if the IAF has the capability to fight a two-front war if it breaks out tomorrow.IAF sources said that a two-front war is not a likely possibility for the next few years and in the meantime, the force hopes to come up with the required capability. “We have conveyed our concerns to the government.Government is seized of this problem and the reason why the government signed the 36 aircraft (Rafale) on G2G basis is because of urgency that they felt because of the depletion in squadron numbers,” Dhanoa, a Kargil war veteran said.Asked if there is a requirement for more Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) type aircraft besides the 36 Rafales, he said yes. “There are various avenues that are being explored. There is a requirement for us to buy a MMRCA class aircraft more than the 36 numbers that we have signed. Which platform may come in, that is something between us and the government. We (both) will have to take a call,” he said.Deputy Chief of the IAF Air Marshal R K S Bhadauria said that a decision on more aircraft will be take only after the conclusion of the contract for 36 Rafale fighter jets.Asked how many more MMRCA type aircraft is the IAF looking at, Bhadauria said he would not like to go into numbers. “I am not going into numbers. MMRCA, you are aware of total numbers (126 fighters). We are getting 36 out of that. So there is a leftover there and we will take a rather holistic view of overall numbers,” he said. The IAF officers said that the Rafale will significantly enhance the capability of the IAF. Talking about the low serviceability of the Su-30, the IAF vice chief Dhanoa said that it is an issue. “It is being monitored at the highest level in Ministry of Defence. We want to sign the long term material contract so as to have a quick turnaround,” he said.Dhanoa asserted that the sale of eight F16s to Pakistan does not drastically alter the air power balance in the region but admitted “it makes my life more difficult”.”I have to put more hi-tech platform against it. The MMRCA is designed in such a way that we need to offset this capability. When does war, conflict or adventure (Kargil) take place? It takes place when he has a doubt in your deterrence. If you demonstrate your deterrence, we should have peace because he will know that he will be hit very badly,” he said. To beef up the IAF, Defence Ministry has decided to procure a total of 120 indigenous Tejas Light Combat aircraft. Of the 120, 100 of them will come with 43 improvements over the existing Tejas, currently being test-flown by the IAF for various parameters and slated for final operation clearance in March.The first upgraded Tejas is scheduled to be produced in 2018 and the target is to complete the requirement by 2022-2023.Tejas will fill the void created by aeging MiG-21s and MiG-27s that will be phased out by 2022.There are 260 Soviet-era single-engine MiG-21 and MiG-27 jets in the IAF fleet. The Air Force needs at least 400 additional jets over the next 10 years.The government is also exploring getting fighter jets through the ‘Make in India route’. A number of fighter jet manufacturers have approached the Defence Ministry with their plans to set up production plants here.

Army to hold three recruitment rallies in Jammu and Kashmir

The army will conduct three recruitment rallies in Jammu and Kashmir between April and August this year, a defence spokesperson said on Sunday. Asia Cup 2016 Live: India vs Bangladesh, Final T20 Cricket Scorecard & Ball by Ball CommentaryThe rallies for recruitment into all categories of the army will be held in Sunjuwan in Jammu, Bandipora in Kashmir and Drass in Ladakh in the coming months, he said. “The tentative dates for Sunjuwan recruitment rally for all candidates from all districts is April 2 to April 18,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At Bandipora, the schedule is planned from July 11 to July 18 for all districts except Leh and Kargil. At Drass, the rally for the candidates from Leh and Kargil has been scheduled from August 22 August 25.The spokesperson said aspirants must apply online on the website ‘http://www.joinindianarmy.nic.in’ for taking part in the recruitment drive.

Nawaz Sharif says Kargil was stab in the back for Vajpayee, MEA calls remark confirmation of truth

India on Thursday called “confirmation of truth” Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s reported comment that the Kargil “misadventure” in 1999 by troops of his country was a stab in the back for the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the two neighbours were engaged in a peace process.”Nawaz Sharif has said something which was known to all. Everybody knew about it. He has only confirmed a truth which we all aware of,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. Addressing a public rally in Muzaffarabad, Sharif had reportedly agreed that Kargil offensive by Pakistani troops was a misadventure and a stab in the back for then Prime Minister Vajpayee.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani troops had occupied a number of positions in Kargil heights, months after Sharif and Vajpayee had initiated a peace processs by signing the historic Lahore declaration. “Vajpayee told me he had been stabbed in the back with the Kargil misadventure because it came soon after the Lahore Declaration. I told him I would have said the same thing if I were in his place,” Sharif has been quoted as saying. The MEA spokesperson said everybody knew about what Sharif had said.On proposed FS talks between the two sides, Swarup said both foreign secretaries are in touch with each other but no dates have been finalised yet. Asked about Pakistan’s offer of sending a special investigation team to India to probe the Pathankot attack, he said India was waiting for a firm proposal from Islamabad on the issue.”We have said that we welcomed the decision of Pakistan government to form an SIT. As and when a firm proposal is received, then the modalities will be worked out,” he said. On Pakistan’s response to evidence given by India on involvement of terrorists from that country in the attack, he said the issue is being handled by NSAs of the two countries.Asked about Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s reported remarks that he was opposed to any joint probe into the attack, the MEA spokesperson said there was no such proposal. “There was never a joint investigation team. Pakistan had proposed sending a special investigation team to India and that time we had welcomed it. Since then we are awaiting a detailed proposal from Pakistan. Once we receive it, we will discuss,” said Swarup.

India’s resolute troops: Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad symbolises every soldier in Siachen

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

Going by queries of media friends about how soldiers live on the Siachen glacier 32 years after India’s occupation of the Saltoro Range one is not surprised that some are so outwitted by the news of an avalanche striking Sonam post held by 19 Madras on 3 February that they suggest Indian Army (IA) should vacate the area, albeit without any inkling about the ground and its strategic significance. Incidentally, George Fernades was the only defence minister who took journalists with him on his numerous visits to the Siachen area, to bring awareness about the region, including its strategic significance and why India pre-empted Pakistani move to occupy the Saltoro Range. There are some who ask why the post was located at such place where such an avalanche could occur, again without knowing the ground realities. The post of Sonam where the avalanche occurred is an essential piece of ground which guards the approach to Bana Post (the highest on the Saltoro Range) from being cut off, Bana being the erstwhile Qaid-e-Azam post of Pakistan at a height of 6,500 metres (21,326 feet) that was captured by Indian troops in 1987 under the leadership of Honorary Captain Bana Singh who was later awarded the Param Vir Chakra.

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad. Image courtesy Indian ArmyLance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad. Image courtesy Indian Army

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad. Image courtesy Indian Army

But this is about the indomitable spirit of the Indian soldier, epitomized today by Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad rescued after six days of remaining buried under 35 feet of snow in temperatures of minus 55-60 degrees centigrade, who was battling for his life in deep comma at the Army’s Research & Referral Hospital in New Delhi and has unfortunately passed away on 11 February. As the whole nation stood by him and prayers were being held all over for his recovery, providence had other plans despite the best of medical treatment provided. His rescue indeed was miraculous and the herculean rescue operation mounted by the Army itself was one of the most daunting and intricate. Sonam post has a number of Fibre Glass Huts (FGH) as also a helipad. It is at an altitude of 20,500 feet where average temperatures are about minus 25 degree centigrade by day and about minus 45 degree centigrade by night. One has had the privilege to spend a night at Sonam as a Brigade Commander during 1998-1999. The recent avalanche reportedly occurred because of part of the Bana ice wall collapsing on to the post.

The ice debris from the avalanche covered an area of 800 metre by 1,000 metre with a depth of 25 to 30 feet. Massive ice boulders, some the size of a small room, had covered the post. Most of this was blue ice, almost as hard as concrete. The Army pulled out all its stops for the rescue. A 200-man strong rescue operation was mounted round the clock with rock drills, electrical saws, radar equipment, medical teams and specialized rescue dogs Dot and Misha airlifted and pressed into round the clock operation, egged on by the weak radio signal received from the buried men on the fourth day post the avalanche. It was an operation in line with the highest traditions of the Army and its spirit of never leaving a comrade behind. Helicopter pilots of both Indian Army and Indian Air Force flew repeated sorties in highly adverse weather conditions. The rescue team worked relentlessly through snow blizzards, spine chilling cold and great personal risk of being buried under an avalanche themselves, cutting, drilling, sawing and dug through tons of ice and snow. Through night and day, six days in a row, they kept at it, throwing everything they had into it.

Chances of finding a survivor in an avalanche goes down with passage of hours but that didn’t daunt or shake the resolve of these 200-odd men. For them, percentages and probabilities did not matter. What mattered was that 10 of their own were trapped under those sheets of ice, and they had to be pulled out even if their chances of survival were being talked of in the negative. Everyone up the chain of command was involved. Then the miracle happened of pulling out Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad albeit with a weak pulse, otherwise inert but fortunately without any cold exposure-related frost bite or bone injury. The balance nine of his colleagues had unfortunately passed into the annals of history, with the nation saluting them.

What prevails is the fact that officers and men of Indian Army resolutely throw themselves willingly into harm’s way, when the occasion demands it. Because they know that no matter what, their mates shall come after them if they were to fall. The logistics of supporting the 200-man rescue team itself was mammoth, where one Cheetah can carry only two kerosene jerrycans at those heights. The fuel and kerosene required to light up the area, fuel the specialized equipment and power communication equipment required scores of flying hours, for pushing in of fuel, equipment, rations, standby troops, medical support, weather warning equipment etc. Even by the most modest estimate, this translates into thousands of man-hours over a six day period. Imagine all this effort to rescue 10 men, who by every acknowledged line of reasoning stood negligible chance of survival. But that is what the Indian Army is about.

Why India occupied the dominating Saltoro Range in 1984 through a lighting helicopter-borne operation was because Pakistan was about to capture this strategic piece of ground. Musharraf rues India pre-empting the Pakistani move in his autobiography. Significantly, troops that occupied the Saltoro Range had no special clothing and no special rations as is provided presently. There were no FGH or snow scooters in those days. Most of the troops that went in for the initial occupation stayed on for more than one year. Over the years, the system has been streamlined. There is proper acclimatization at various heights along the Siachen glacier leading on to the posts on the Saltoro Range. A soldier presently does 40 days of acclimatization enroute to Tiger Saddle which is the northern-most post on the Saltoro Range. More significantly, all troops are put through a rigid pre-induction schedule under supervision of a team from the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) before proceeding to their posts. This includes all types of ice training and dealing with emergencies. Given the difficulty of the terrain, the tenure of soldiers in the northern, central and southern glacier is three months, six months and one year respectively.

Yes, the life on the Saltoro is tough but the soldiers are prepared for it both mentally and physically. Morale is always very high. Vagaries of weather are there but there are units that have successfully completed tenures on the glacier without a single weather casualty, especially units where men have been practicing yoga. There are every day acts of heroism in dealing with blizzards, crevasses and rescuing colleagues that have fallen into crevasses, sometime while riding a snow scooter. At the same time, avalanches have been occurring periodically elsewhere in J&K particularly in Kargil Sector and along the LoC in the Kashmir Valley. Some time back entire crew of a gun position was buried in avalanche in Dras area of Kargil. Doesn’t mean we should vacate our borders.

The strategic value of the Saltoro Ridge can be gauged from repeated Pakistan attempts to capture our posts, though repulsed every time. We are in occupation of Saltoro Range because it is our territory. We can extract heavy price from Pakistani troops deployed on lower ground to the west, when required. The northern tip rests on the Shaksgam Valley (Indian Territory) that was illegally gifted by Pakistan to China in 1963. If we vacate the Siachen area, it would imply: gifting Sub Sector North (east of Siachen Glacier) to China, as positions there will become untenable; our next defence line south of the Shyok River will likely require deployment of minimum two Divisions (instead of the one Brigade on the Saltoro Ridge) at mammoth expenditure; Leh will come within enemy artillery range; through Aksai Chin China will link up with Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan area, enlarging the collusive China-Pakistan threat further. It will open avenues for Pakistani infiltration and terrorism into Ladakh, with reverberations through the Zanskar Range right down to Kulu-Manali in Himachal Pradesh, requiring deployment of perhaps another two Corps to control the area. Siachen Glacier also happens to be one of the largest fresh water reserves of India, vital for our precarious water situation.

Army units and pilots of both Indian Army and IAF take pride in serving on the glacier. No one has ever sought exemption from serving there. On the contrary, there have been many instances where individuals have tried to hide medical infirmities so as not lose out serving on the glacier. Troops on the glacier are a ‘band of brothers’ whose bonding cannot be understood by those who have not set foot in the area. The leadership, brotherhood and elan of troops on the glacier surpasses the icy heights. Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad symbolises every individual on the glacier. That there has not been a single incident of enemy transgression testifies the resoluteness of our troops. Our citizens can sleep in peace.

Dawood was present when Modi met Sharif: Azam Khan

Just as you can count on Narendra Modi to grab a child’s ears in front of a camera, you can count on SP leader Azam Khan to say the most preposterous things feasible. The man who is best known for using the state machinery to search for his missing buffaloes was recently quoted saying by India Today that Dawood Ibrahim was present when PM Modi met Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on Christmas day last year. Saying that he had proof of Dawood’s presence at the meeting: “I will give proof, let PM Modi deny.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Modi had surprised many with his impromptu visit to Pakistan, this is by the far the most startling accusation made about the man who promised to bring back Dawood pre-elections.Paris attacks, a reaction to killing of innocents in Arab countries But this isn’t the first time Azam Khan has made such preposterous claims. He had earlier said that the Paris terror attack was a ‘reaction to the killing of innocents in Arab countries by superpowers’. Even Francois Richier, French Ambassador expressed his sadness at the comments. Reacting to the incident Shahnawaz Hussain, said: “The language used by leaders like Azam Khan is not acceptable. It is unfortunate. IS has become the enemy of Islam. Acts of IS have shamed the Muslims world over. Time has come for the people to eliminate IS and its philosophy. “Kargil was won by Muslim soldier He had also raked up a controversy when he said in a rally in Ghaziabad that Kashmir was won by Muslim soldiers and not Hindu soldiers. He had said: “isliye mohabbat karo ki Kargil ki pahadiyo ko fateh karne wala koi Hindu nahi tha, balki Kargil ki pahadiyo ko nara-e-takbeer Allah-Hu-Akbar kehkar fathe karnewale Musalman fauji the… (love us because peaks of Kargil were not conquered by Hindus, but by Muslim soldiers raising the battlecry of God is the Greatest).”Taliban paid for Mulayam’s buggyIn 2014, during Mulayam Singh Yadav’s 75th birthday celebration, ‘Netaji’ was seen riding a Victorian buggy. When asked about the buggy’s price Mulayam had sarcastically replied: ““Why does it matter where the money for celebrations is coming from? Some have come from Taliban, some from Abu Salem, some from Dawood(Ibrahim), some from terrorists…”

Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra calls for a separate ministry to handle national security

Coming down heavily on security forces, particularly the BSF and Punjab Police, Jammu and Kashmir governor N N Vohra, said Pathankot terror strike could have been prevented if lessons were learnt from previous terror strikes, especially Dina Nagar.He blamed BSF for unable to secure country’s international border with Pakistan because of its limited capacities and said that the country should implement well considered nationwide national security policy for effective security management that should clearly delineate the role of security agencies at the Centre and state and operating procedure of agencies.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vohra suggested carving out a separate Ministry from the Home Ministry to deal with national security and a separate cadre that is specially trained to handle terror incidents should be created.Delivering key note address on 7th National Investigation Agency (NIA) day, Vohra said the five-six terror attacks which took place from September 2013 onwards via Kathua through the IB, part of which falls in Jammu and Kashmir, should have been followed up as closely as the Pathankot attack.”If Dina Nagar would have been properly investigated, Pathankot, I am sure would have been almost impossible because we would have been able to know the routes taken by the terror groups to infiltrate the IB. I also hold very strongly that IB is not well guarded,” said Vohra, who also held the positions of the union home secretary and defence secretary and was part of the Kargil committee that gave extensive recommendations on how to guard the country.”I think there are issues…but we need to do much more. BSF, with its present capacities, cannot safeguard IB which is long stretch of over 200 to 250 kilometres almost including the border in Punjab. It is a difficult area and we need to look at that,” Vohra added.Posed a question by an NIA officer who claimed that the Malda riots in West Bengal were carried out by people with criminal intent who destroyed records of a police station so NIA cannot get any evidence to pursue the probe, Vohra said that he had seen such sabotage during his tenure in various capacities in Punjab, during post Blue Star period, and in Jammu and Kashmir.”The point that you made about certain elements in the state system, whether among the public or the criminal elements or elements within the state police who would subvert the NIA’s objectives–by burning records or doing things like that so that when it comes to prosecuting an offence, you don’t have the wherewithal, you don’t have the evidence.. this is bound to happen,” he said asking government to immediately hand over terror related cases to the NIA.

Mercury drops in hilly areas; Kargil freezes at minus 14 degrees

Temperatures on Saturday witnessed a drop in the mountainous areas in north India with Uttarakhand recording fresh snowfall and the mercury plunging to minus 14 degrees in Kargil, even as 45 trains were cancelled due to fog in the northern region.Mercury hovered above normal levels at the plains, with Delhi witnessing clear skies and registering a high of 22.2 degrees Celsius, three notches above normal, while the minimum temperature was recorded at 10.2 degrees Celsius, three notches above the season’s average.The visibility was recorded at 2000 meters at 5.30 AM which significantly dropped to 200 meters at 8.30 AM and 11.30 AM. However, it increased to 3000 meters at 2.30 PM. Minimum temperatures continued to remain several notches above normal level in most parts of Punjab and Haryana as mercury remained in double digits in some areas.Amritsar continued to remain the coldest place in the two states, registering a low of 4.2 degrees, up by one degree, whereas Chandigarh registered a low of 10.2 degrees, five notches above normal.
In Haryana, Ambala and Hisar registered their minimum at 11.8 degrees and 11.1 degrees, six notches above normal.In Uttarakhand, overnight snowfall in the hills and isolated light showers accompanied by icy winds in the lower areas added to the chill, with Mukteshwar in Nainital district freezing at minus 1 degree Celsius.Heavy snowfall hit Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi for hours last night bringing Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines located in these districts under layers of snow. Chop a and Rudranath peaks in Chamoli district besides Hemkund Sahib, Nandadevi Bio-sphere Reserve and Auli were covered under fresh snow even as icy winds swept the whole of the district. Light snowfall was also recorded at Nagtibba, Buranshkhanda Surkandadevi and Dhanolti near Mussoorie.Dehradun which awoke to a bright sunny morning recorded a miminum of 6.4 degree Celsius followed by Pantnagar at 6.6 degrees. Foggy weather continued to disrupt train operations in the northern region with cancellation of 45 trains and 16 Delhi-bound trains being delayed.Light snowfall of 1.4 cm was recorded in Pahalgam in south Kashmir and areas in the higher reaches, including places near Amarnath cave shrine while other parts of the Valley witnessed a drop in minimum temperature. Kargil town was the coldest place in the state with a low of minus 14 degrees Celsius. The mercury in Pahalgam went down by nearly seven notches to settle at minus 7.1 degrees Celsius. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Bengaluru Islamic preacher arrested for links with Al Qaeda, family says a ‘misunderstanding’

In a speech made by the preacher during a Jamaat Ulema event, available on youtube, Shah appears to be critical of police speaks about youth being falsely implicated by the state and demands compensation for them. He also speaks about “powers trying to make India a Hindu state”. However in the same speech he appeals the government to protect the secularism in India and speaks about contribution and sacrifices made by Indian Muslims .
“There are two types of traitors and terrorism in India. One who plants bombs which kills people, destroys properties and makes widows. Second type of terrorism is conducted by educated people”. Shah goes on to speak about Bofors scandal, Satyam scandal and the Kargil coffin scam.

Azaan Javaid

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