Sanjha Morcha

HEADLINES :::27 NOV 2017

  • REGISTER YOURSELF FOR INDIA’S FIRST MILITARY LITERATURE FESTIVAL IN CHANDIGARH —-28TH&29 NOV 2017::

  • LET’S NOT PLAY WITH INDIA’S HERITAGE INSTEAD OF RESPECTING THE SANCTITY OF OUR PAST, WHY ARE WE BENT ON DESTROYING IT?

    CHINA’S OROB HITS ROADBUMPS BY VBN RAM, FREELANCE JOURNALIST

    ROHTANG TUNNEL TO BE ACCESSIBLE TO TRIBALS DURING MEDICAL EMERGENCIES

    MANALI-KEYLONG HIGHWAY SHUT DUE TO HARSH WEATHER

    KASHMIR: IT IS A BUMPY RIDE FOR THE ARMY

    MI-17 TO GET ADVANCED NAVIGATION SYSTEM

    KHUDA HAFIZ ISLAMABAD AT IT AGAIN, ABETTING TERROR

    A LOT LIKE A DAMP SQUIB BY MK BHADRAKUMAR

    MILITANTS KILL TERRITORIAL ARMY JAWAN, BULLET-RIDDLED BODY FOUND

    SECURITY AUDIT OF 227 NON-MAJOR SEAPORTS CONDUCTED; SOPS ISSUED

    PAKISTAN’S WEAPONS PROGRAMME SUREST ROUTE TO NUKE-LEVEL WAR: REPORT


REGISTER YOURSELF FOR INDIA’S FIRST MILITARY LITERATURE FESTIVAL IN CHANDIGARH —-28TH&29 NOV 2017::

 FOR REGISTRATION OPEN SITE

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http://WWW.MILITARYLITERATUREFESTIVAL.COM

 

THE MILITARY LITERATURE FESTIVAL

Opening Ceremony 08 December 10:00 to 11:00 Lake Club
Tea 08 December 11:00 to 11:30 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 08 December 11:30 to 13:45 Lake Club
Lunch 08 December 13:45 to 14:35 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 08 December 14:45 to 18:15 Lake Club
Mega Social Evening 08 December 19:00 onwards Capital Complex
Dinner (By Invite Only) 08 December 20:00 onwards CM Residence
Panel Discussions 09 December 10:00 to 13:30 Lake Club
Lunch 09 December 13:30 to 14:30 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 09 December 14:30 to 16:45 Lake Club
Closing Ceremony 09 December 17:00 to 18:00 Lake Club
Tea 09 December 17:00 to 17:30 Lake Club
Dinner with Concert (By Invite Only) 09 December 20:00 onwards Hotel Mt View

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Pakistan’s General Problem.

How Pakistan’s Generals turned the country into an international jihadi tourist resort BY Mohammad Hanif
(Mohammed Hanif is the author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes(2008), his first novel, a satire on the death of General Zia ul Haq)
What is the last thing you say to your best general when ordering him into a do-or-die mission? A prayer maybe, if you are religiously inclined. A short lecture, underlining the importance of the mission, if you want to keep it businesslike. Or maybe you’ll wish him good luck accompanied by a clicking of the heels and a final salute.
On the night of 5 July 1977 as Operation Fair Play, meant to topple Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government, was about to commence, then Army Chief General Zia ul Haq took aside his right-hand man and Corps Commander of 10th Corps Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na daina.” (Guru, don’t get us killed.)
General Zia was indulging in two of his favourite pastimes: spreading his paranoia amongst those around him and sucking up to a junior officer he needed to do his dirty work. General Zia had a talent for that; he could make his juniors feel as if they were indispensable to the running of this world. And he could make his seniors feel like proper gods, as Bhutto found out to his cost.
General Faiz Ali Chishti’s troops didn’t face any resistance that night; not a single shot was fired, and like all military coups in Pakistan, this was also dubbed a ‘bloodless coup’. There was a lot of bloodshed, though, in the following years—in military-managed dungeons, as pro-democracy students were butchered at Thori gate in interior Sindh, hundreds of shoppers were blown up in Karachi’s Bohri Bazar, in Rawalpindi people didn’t even have to leave their houses to get killed as the Army’s ammunition depot blew up raining missiles on a whole city, and finally at Basti Laal Kamal near Bahawalpur, where a plane exploded killing General Zia and most of the Pakistan Army’s high command. General Faiz Ali Chishti had nothing to do with this, of course. General Zia had managed to force his murshid into retirement soon after coming to power. Chishti had started to take that term of endearment—murshid—a bit too seriously and dictators can’t stand anyone who thinks of himself as a kingmaker.
Thirty-four years on, Pakistan is a society divided at many levels. There are those who insist on tracing our history to a certain September day in 2001, and there are those who insist that this country came into being the day the first Muslim landed on the Subcontinent. There are laptop jihadis, liberal fascist and fair-weather revolutionaries. There are Balochi freedom fighters up in the mountains and bullet-riddled bodies of young political activists in obscure Baloch towns. And, of course, there are the members of civil society with a permanent glow around their faces from all the candle-light vigils. All these factions may not agree on anything but there is consensus on one point: General Zia’s coup was a bad idea. When was the last time anyone heard Nawaz Sharif or any of Zia’s numerous protégés thump their chest and say, yes, we need another Zia? When did you see a Pakistan military commander who stood on Zia’s grave and vowed to continue his mission?
It might have taken Pakistanis 34 years to reach this consensus but we finally agree that General Zia’s domestic and foreign policies didn’t do us any good. It brought us automatic weapons, heroin and sectarianism; it also made fortunes for those who dealt in these commodities. And it turned Pakistan into an international jihadi tourist resort.
And yet, somehow, without ever publicly owning up to it, the Army has continued Zia’s mission. Successive Army commanders, despite their access to vast libraries and regular strategic reviews, have never actually acknowledged that the multinational, multicultural jihadi project they started during the Zia era was a mistake. Late Dr Eqbal Ahmed, the Pakistani teacher and activist, once said that the Pakistan Army is brilliant at collecting information but its ability to analyse this information is non-existent.
Looking back at the Zia years, the Pakistan Army seems like one of those mythical monsters that chops off its own head but then grows an identical one and continues on the only course it knows.
In 1999, two days after the Pakistan Army embarked on its Kargil misadventure, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed gave a ‘crisp and to the point’ briefing to a group of senior Army and Air Force officers. Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail, who attended the meeting, later wrote that they were told that it was nothing more than a defensive manoeuvre and the Indian Air Force will not get involved at any stage. “Come October, we shall walk into Siachen—to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians left hungry, out in the cold,” General Mahmud told the meeting. “Perhaps it was the incredulousness of the whole thing that led Air Commodore Abid Rao to famously quip, ‘After this operation, it’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!’ as we walked out of the briefing room,” Air Commodore Tufail recalled in an essay.
If Rao Abid even contemplated a court martial, he probably lacked leadership qualities because there was only one way out of this mess—a humiliating military defeat, a world-class diplomatic disaster, followed by yet another martial law. The man who should have faced court martial for Kargil appointed himself Pakistan’s President for the next decade.
General Mahmud went on to command ISI, Rao Abid retired as air vice marshal, both went on to find lucrative work in the Army’s vast welfare empire, and Kargil was forgotten as if it was a game of dare between two juveniles who were now beyond caring about who had actually started the game. Nobody remembers that a lot of blood was shed on this pointless Kargil mission. The battles were fierce and some of the men and officers fought so valiantly that two were awarded Pakistan’s highest military honour, Nishan-e-Haidar. There were hundreds of others whose names never made it to any awards list, whose families consoled themselves by saying that their loved ones had been martyred while defending our nation’s borders against our enemy. Nobody pointed out the basic fact that there was no enemy on those mountains before some delusional generals decided that they would like to mop up hundreds of Indian soldiers after starving them to death.
The architect of this mission, the daring General Pervez Musharraf, who didn’t bother to consult his colleagues before ordering his soldiers to their slaughter, doesn’t even have the wits to face a sessions court judge in Pakistan, let alone a court martial. The only people he feels comfortable with are his Facebook friends and that too from the safety of his London apartment. During the whole episode, the nation was told that it wasn’t the regular army that was fighting in Kargil; it was the mujahideen. But those who received their loved ones’ flag-draped coffins had sent their sons and brothers to serve in a professional army, not a freelance lashkar.
The Pakistan Army’s biggest folly has been that under Zia it started outsourcing its basic job—soldiering—to these freelance militants. By blurring the line between a professional soldier—who, at least in theory, is always required to obey his officer, who in turn is governed by a set of laws—and a mujahid, who can pick and choose his cause and his commander depending on his mood, the Pakistan Army has caused immense confusion in its own ranks. Our soldiers are taught to shout Allah-o-Akbar when mocking an attack. In real life, they are ambushed by enemies who shout Allah-o-Akbar even louder. Can we blame them if they dither in their response? When the Pakistan Navy’s main aviation base in Karachi, PNS Mehran, was attacked, Navy Chief Admiral Nauman Bashir told us that the attackers were ‘very well trained’. We weren’t sure if he was giving us a lazy excuse or admiring the creation of his institution. When naval officials told journalists that the attackers were ‘as good as our own commandoes’ were they giving themselves a backhanded compliment?
In the wake of the attacks on PNS Mehran in Karachi, some TV channels have pulled out an old war anthem sung by late Madam Noor Jehan and have started to play it in the backdrop of images of young, hopeful faces of slain officers and men. Written by the legendary teacher and poet Sufi Tabassum, the anthem carries a clear and stark warning: Aiay puttar hatantay nahin wickday, na labhdi phir bazaar kuray (You can’t buy these brave sons from shops, don’t go looking for them in bazaars).
While Sindhis and Balochis have mostly composed songs of rebellion, Punjabi popular culture has often lionised its karnails and jarnails and even an odd dholsipahi. The Pakistan Army, throughout its history, has refused to take advice from politicians as well as thinking professionals from its own ranks. It has never listened to historians and sometimes ignored even the esteemed religious scholars it frequently uses to whip up public sentiments for its dirty wars. But the biggest strategic mistake it has made is that it has not even taken advice from the late Madam Noor Jehan, one of the Army’s most ardent fans in Pakistan’s history. You can probably ignore Dr Eqbal Ahmed’s advice and survive in this country but you ignore Madam at your own peril.
Since the Pakistan Army’s high command is dominated by Punjabi-speaking generals, it’s difficult to fathom what it is about this advice that they didn’t understand. Any which way you translate it, the message is loud and clear. And lyrical: soldiers are not to be bought and sold like a commodity. “Na  awaian takran maar kuray” (That search is futile, like butting your head against a brick wall), Noor Jehan goes on to rhapsodise.
For decades, the Army has not only shopped for these private puttarsin the bazaars, it also set up factories to manufacture them. It raised whole armies of them. When you raise Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish Mohammed, Sipahe Sahaba, Sipahe Mohammed, Lashker Jhangvi, Al- Badar Mujahideen, others encouraged by the thriving market place will go ahead and start outfits like Anjuman Tahuffuze Khatame Nabuwat and Anjuman Tahuffuze Namoos-e-Aiyasha. It’s not just Kashmir and Afghanistan and Chechnya they will want to liberate, they will also go back in time and seek revenge for a perceived slur that may or may not have been cast by someone more than 1,300 years ago in a country far far away.
As if the Army’s sprawling shopping mall of private puttars in Pakistan wasn’t enough, it actively encouraged import and export of these commodities, even branched out into providing rest and recreation facilities for the ones who wanted a break. The outsourcing of Pakistan’s military strategy has reached a point where mujahids have their own mujahids to do their job, and inevitably at the end of the supply chain are those faceless and poor teenagers with explosives strapped to their torsos regularly marched out to blow up other poor kids.
Two days before the Americans killed Osama bin Laden and took away his bullet-riddled body, General Kiyani addressed Army cadets at Kakul. After declaring a victory of sorts over the militants, he gave our nation a stark choice. And before the nation could even begin to weigh its pros and cons, he went ahead and decided for them: we shall never bargain our honour for prosperity. As things stand, most people in Pakistan have neither honour nor prosperity and will easily settle for their little world not blowing up every day.
The question people really want to ask General Kiyani is that if he and his Army officer colleagues can have both honour and prosperity, why can’t we the people have a tiny bit of both?
The Army and its advocates in the media often worry about Pakistan’s image, as if we are not suffering from a long-term serious illness but a seasonal bout of acne that just needs better skin care. The Pakistan Army, over the years, has cultivated this image of 180 million people with nuclear devices strapped to their collective body threatening to take the world down with it. We may not be able to take the world down with us; the world might defang us or try to calm us down by appealing to our imagined Sufi side. But the fact remains that Pakistan as a nation is paying the price for our generals’ insistence on acting, in Asma Jahangir’s frank but accurate description, like duffers.
And demanding medals and golf resorts for being such duffers consistently for such a long time.
What people really want to do at this point is put an arm around our military commanders’ shoulders, take them aside and whisper in their ears: “Murshid, marwa na daina.”

India’s first Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh —-28TH&29 NOV 2017::CHANDIGARH

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India’s first Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh 

India’s first Military Literature Festival (MLF) will be held in Chandigarh in December as a tribute to the armed forces, whose contributions to the nation remain etched in history as iconic events, Punjab Local Bodies and Tourism and Culture Minister Navjot Singh Sidhusaid on Friday.

The MLF will be held in Chandigarh from Nov 28 to 29, 2017. Sidhu told media here that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, himself a military historian and author, was pioneering this initiative, which is being jointly promoted by the Punjab government and the Chandigarh Administration with the objective of spreading awareness about the subject among people.
Top thinkers, authors, historians, curators and experts related to defence matters will participate in the event, he said.

“With Punjab standing tall in terms of Param Vir Chakras won by its men, the festival is an apt and glowing tribute to the grit, courage and fearless determination of the country’s defence personnel,” Sidhu said.

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 Punjab Chief Minister’s Senior Advisor, Lt. Gen. T.S. Shergill (retd), said military literature had ancient roots, with the longest poem, the Mahabharata, being all about warfare.
 He also spoke about the relevance of technology to military and literature, underlining the importance of promoting all aspects of the subject.
A two-day military literary festival, the first such event in the country that would focus on contemporary thought and promote recent publications on defence and national security, is being organised here by the Punjab Government from Nov27 to 28.Sources said the modalities and programme of the event were being worked out and different themes explored. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had held a meeting in this regard yesterday.“Books published recently are being shortlisted and their authors would be invited to talk about their work. Panel discussions on the topic would also be held,” an official said. Besides, there could also be talks by eminent persons on current military issues and other aspects of national security as well as subjects like war stories, military history and acts of gallantry, the official added.The idea of a military literary festival was mooted by Governor VP Singh Badnore earlier this year while releasing a book on the legendary Saragarhi battle authored by the CM. He opined that a number of senior and distinguished retired defence officers, including close to a 100 lieutenant generals, were based in Chandigarh and their expertise and experience should be a source of enlightenment for others.

The Military Literature Festival

Opening Ceremony 08 December 10:00 to 11:00 Lake Club
Tea 08 December 11:00 to 11:30 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 08 December 11:30 to 13:45 Lake Club
Lunch 08 December 13:45 to 14:35 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 08 December 14:45 to 18:15 Lake Club
Mega Social Evening 08 December 19:00 onwards Capital Complex
Dinner (By Invite Only) 08 December 20:00 onwards CM Residence
Panel Discussions 09 December 10:00 to 13:30 Lake Club
Lunch 09 December 13:30 to 14:30 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 09 December 14:30 to 16:45 Lake Club
Closing Ceremony 09 December 17:00 to 18:00 Lake Club
Tea 09 December 17:00 to 17:30 Lake Club
Dinner with Concert (By Invite Only) 09 December 20:00 onwards Hotel Mt View

  FOR REGISTRATION OPEN SITE

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http://www.militaryliteraturefestival.com

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Let’s not play with India’s heritage

Instead of respecting the sanctity of our past, why are we bent on destroying it?

Why is there such an outcry over a film about Padmavati that has not even released? For some time last week I broke free from answering this question as I walked through my beloved city Allahabad. This city, while being rebellious by nature, has become a victim of destruction by destiny.

It is not possible that you walk the city’s streets and history doesn’t knock on the windows of your mind. I remembered this when I reached the place where Hindu Hostel used to be located. This was where Chandra Shekhar Azad emerged from and went to Company Bagh before the police surrounded him. After a long and fierce encounter when he realised he was running out of bullets, he shot the last one through his own temple so that the British could not capture him alive. Even today, the statue of Azad twirling his moustache appears to be challenging the British colonialists.

What an incredible setting! Located next to each other, the Hindu Hostel, Company Bagh, Indian Press and Mayor College together recount innumerable stories of education, culture, colonialism, protests and repression.

For the uninitiated, Mayor College is now better known as the Science Faculty of Allahabad University and Indian Press shut down more than half a century ago. This is the place from where Saraswati, the monthly magazine edited by Pandit Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, was brought out and played an important role in helping Indians get conversant with literature, culture and values. Some distance away from Indian Press are located the Anand Bhavan and Swaraj Bhavan. Motilal Nehru played his part to strengthen the Congress’s nationalistic character from here. This is where young Jawaharlal Nehru learned the alphabet of politics and Indira Gandhi opened her eyes. As a young journalist, it is here that I met a grief-stricken Rajiv Gandhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. On the first floor, Rajiv couldn’t hold back his tears looking at the childhood toys of ‘Priyadarshini’.

At that time the multicultural character of Allahabad was still alive.

In one part of the city stayed Firaq Gorakhpuri and in another Mahadevi Verma. Naresh Mehta, Bhairav Prasad Gupt, Jagdish Gupt, Shailesh Matiyani stayed in different parts of the city but all of them strived towards reaching a common destination: Allahabadiyat.

During my Allahabad trip, I also discovered that very few people knew about Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla. During the 1971 war, the Pakistanis had sunk our warship Khukri. Mulla was its captain. In true naval tradition he went down along with the vessel he was commanding. At one time he was a hero for our generation, but today few people remember him. Compared to him, many more people are aware of the family associated with Anand Bhavan. But these days through the university of WhatsApp, an assortment of ridiculous stories are is being spread about them. This is the misfortune of every Indian city. In order to create a new identity, we’ve destroyed the old, but couldn’t create anything that future generations can be proud of.

It is true Indians don’t know how to keep the sanctity of their history intact. If we knew how to do that, so much outrage wouldn’t have been unleashed over Padmavati. Till now six state governments have already said that they won’t allow the film’s release. Before I left for Allahabad, I remembered watching an interview with Arvind Singh Mewar, a descendent of Rana Kumbha, on YouTube. Sitting in his palace, in an interview given to a magazine, he conceded that he doesn’t have any photograph of Padmavati in his possession. The reason? There was no convention of clicking photographs at that time. We are fighting over what happened more than 700 years ago since we don’t have any documentary proof about it. However, the memories of the leading lights of Allahabad and many other Indian cities are still fresh in people’s minds. Why rake up controversies over them?

The reason is clear. Rather than nurture what history has given us, we want to kill it. Why do we forget that humans cannot obliterate history? We should nurture it with care so that we can receive wisdom from it when the need arises. But the exact opposite is taking place. For petty gains, our politicians are ready to change the names of cities, roads and memorials. Going a step further, some of them even talk about demolishing the Taj Mahal. Irrespective of which party gains from this, the common man gets caught in an intellectual morass. This is akin to playing with the nation’s heritage.

Why can’t we Indians understand such a simple fact?

 

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China’s OROB hits roadbumps by VBN Ram, Freelance journalist

China’s OROB hits roadbumps

VBN Ram,Freelance journalist

A slew of setbacks in at least three nations for the OROB (One Road One Belt) initiative have dampened the spirit of Chinese economy policymakers. Pak calls off contractThe biggest setback has come from Pakistan, which has called off its $14 billion contract with China for the construction of the Daimer-Bhasa hydro-electric project. China had laid strict conditions, including ownership of the project. According to Muzammil Hussain, Chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), the project is not viable and hence not doable, besides being against national interests. He stated so while briefing the Public Accounts Committee on the status of this mega water project. However, China might consider granting some concessions to ensure that its OROB remains unscathed — even though Pakistan has made it manifestly clear to China that it being shortchanged is tantamount to going against its national interest. After all, conditions imposed by China were as bad as the Merchant of Venice had imposed, and like the latter, it wanted its pound of flesh. What were the conditions imposed by Beijing: the securitisation of this project by Pakistan’s pledging of another operational project and taking charge of the entire operational and maintenance cost.Setback in NepalIn a tweet on November 13, 2017, the Deputy Prime-Minister of Nepal, Kamal Thapa, has stated that Nepal’s $2.5 billion contract with China’s Gezhouba Group in respect of the Budhi Gandhaki hydro-electric project has been scrapped. “The project was concluded in an irregular and thoughtless manner and rejected under the direction of Parliamentary Committee,” he said. The above was a bilateral deal — the MoU for which was signed in June 2017 — covered the building of a 1200-megawatt hydro-electric project at a location about 80 km from Kathmandu, as a follow-up to Nepal agreeing to join the OROB. This project is in the process of being awarded to India.

Myanmar alert

Nepal’s withdrawal from the bilateral contract comes a few years after Myanmar decided to cancel the $3.6 billion Myitsone dam, which was formalised by former President Thein Sein. China is continuing its efforts with Myanmar quite persuasively to revive this project.Myanmar has quite obviously seen how Sri Lanka has been shortchanged by China with respect to the Hambantota port project.China’s changed requirementsChina’s wily altruism to secure regional economic hegemony is being supplanted by its economic imperative, or more specifically, its necessity for reducing its debt to GDP ratio. The 19-party Congress has emphasised on market-based allocation of resources and a shift towards greater reward to risk the overall profile of investments.As a matter of coincidence, China is encountering these setbacks at a time when India’s outreach to its neighbours has become highly intense. The aftermath of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Philippines has seen significant achievements — the icing on the cake being the impelling need and commitment for a free and open Indo-Pacific region (a strategic initiative by the Quad, ie the US, Japan, India and Australia) to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight and lawful commerce in international waters and overall maritime security and infrastructure development and rule of law in the Indo-Pacific. The regional reference “Indo-Pacific” instead of Asia Pacific has added significance.Mandarins in India’s foreign office can pat themselves on the back because they have been able to convince many neighbourhood nations that commercial and non-commercial ties with India can rejuvenate their economies besides rendering them more secure. India should grab the opportunities. That India is bestowed with robust technological prowess is internationally acknowledged. 


Rohtang tunnel to be accessible to tribals during medical emergencies

Rohtang tunnel to be accessible to tribals during medical emergencies

Abhinav Vashisht

KULLU, NOVEMBER 26

The residents Lahaul and Spiti district will be allowed to cross the 8.8-km-long Rohtang tunnel in case of medical exigencies. Though the boring work of the tunnel has been completed, construction work is still under way.Lahaul valley remains cut off during winters due to heavy accumulation of snow on the 13,050-foot Rohtang Pass, gateway to the Lahaul valley on the Manali-Leh National Highway. The only way in and out of the valley during winters is through helicopter services provided by the state government, which again depends upon weather conditions.Lahaul-Spiti Deputy Commissioner Deva Singh Negi said that Director General, Border Roads (DGBR) Lt Gen Sanjeev Kumar Shrivastava had instructed the Rohtang tunnel authorities to provide passage to medical emergencies through the tunnel after the Rohtang Pass is closed for over five months during winters.Recently, Mandi MP Ram Swaroop Sharma had met Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to request her to give direction to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) authorities to allow traffic via Rohtang tunnel in emergency cases for the convenience of the people living in the tribal district of Lahaul and Spiti. The Deputy Commissioner said that students appearing in various competitive exams would also be allowed to cross through the tunnel after the Rohtang Pass is completely closed. However, there were limitations as the tunnel construction work was still under progress and the North Portal of the tunnel towards Lahaul was prone to avalanches. He said that passage through the tunnel would be allowed after analyzing various factors.Many vehicles were stuck for over six days on the Lahaul side of Rohtang Pass at Koksar due to the recent snowfall. The BRO cleared the snow and evacuated the stranded vehicles and passengers.The Deputy Commissioner said that medical board would be formed to provide certificate to medical emergencies to cross the tunnel. The students would be provided permit to cross the tunnel upon producing the required documents. He said that proper care would be taken that the work of BRO is not hampered and safety of the commuters is not compromised.Generally, the Rohtang Pass is officially closed for traffic after November 15 but vehicles sometimes continue to ply till there is no accumulation of snow and the road is cleared by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). However, the movement of traffic is regulated in view of public safety because due to its high altitude the Pass is prone to sudden heavy snowfall and icing of road, which could pose a serious threat to the lives of commuters.The Deputy Commissioner said that commuters would be allowed to cross the Rohtang Pass on foot depending upon the weather conditions. Rescue posts had been set up at Marhi on the Manali side and at Koksar on the Lahaul side to assist the commuters to cross the Pass. He said that the DG had also instructed the BRO to maintain road connectivity between Keylong-Darcha, Keylong-Udaipur and Keylong-Sissu stretches.

Relief for students as well

  • Lahaul-Spiti Deputy Commissioner Deva Singh Negi said a medical board would be formed to provide certificates in case of medical emergencies to cross the tunnel.
  • Students would be provided a permit to cross the tunnel on producing the required documents.
  • He said steps would be taken to ensure that theBRO’s work is not hampered and safety of commutersis not compromised.

Manali-Keylong highway shut due to harsh weather

Manali-Keylong highway shut due to harsh weather

Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 26

The Manali-Keylong National Highway has been closed to traffic due to inclement weather. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has told the state administration that it would not open the Rohtang Pass in the event of fresh snowfall.The Rohtang Pass was closed twice during November due to snowfall. It was cleared by the BRO to enable the stranded vehicles and the people to reach their destination, but now the BRO will open it only after the winter is over. The road was opened for a day today to enable tribals to return to Lahaul from Kullu.Despite the weather being dry, the mercury stayed 10 to 15 degrees Celsius below the freezing point in the high-altitude tribal areas and mountain passes, resulting in the freezing of water and making driving hazardous.Residents of Lahaul-Spiti are annoyed over the closure of the Rohtang Pass. They said barring a few spots like Rahni Nullah and Byas Nullah, there was no risk and the Pass could remain open until the place witnessed heavy snowfall.Kundan Lal Sharma, a resident of Keylong, said SUVs were made for bad roads and harsh weather and that these should be allowed to ply in the area.Sources said the district administration and the BRO were busy passing the buck, while the Lahaul-Spiti district administration maintained that the road was closed after heavy machinery was removed from Rohtang. The BRO stated that in case, the administration decided to allow vehicles to pass Rohtang, they would help.Meanwhile, the minimum temperature has slightly increased in the tribal areas. Keylong was the coldest minus 2.9 degree Celsius followed by Kalpa 0.4 degree Celsius, Manali 1 degree Celsius, Bhuntar 2 degree Celsius, Shimla 7.1 degree Celsius and Dharamsala 7.2 degree Celsius. The Met office has predicted rain and thunderstorm in the mid hills and rain and snow in the higher hills on November 28.


Closure of Rohtang Pass annoys tribals 

  • The Rohtang Pass was closed twice during November due to snowfall. It was cleared by the BRO to enable the stranded people to reach their destination.
  • Now, it will be opened only after the winter is over.
  • The road was opened for a day on Sunday to enable tribals to return to Lahaul from Kullu.
  • Residents of Lahaul-Spiti are annoyed over the closure of the Rohtang Pass.
  • They said barring a few spots like Rahni Nullah and Byas Nullah, all other roads were fine and that the Pass could remain open until the place witnessed heavy snowfall.

 


Kashmir: It is a bumpy ride for the Army

Kashmir: It is a bumpy ride for the Army
An Army convoy in the Valley. Tribune file Photo

Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 26

Last week thousands of Kashmiri youth participated at an Army recruitment rally at Panzgam garrison in frontier Kupwara district to don the olive green. In July, more than 3,000 youth from J&K took the written exam for the selection of officers in the Territorial Army.In April, Farooq Dar, a shawl weaver, was tied to a jeep and used as a “human shield” by a Major for allegedly escaping stone throwers during the parliamentary bypoll in Budgam. The officer was later awarded the Chief of Army Staff Commendation (COAS). The human shield incident had sparked outrage in the region, deepening the army-civilian divide.These two examples explain the two narratives about the Army in Kashmir which is at the forefront in counter-insurgency and counter-infiltration operations in Kashmir since the outbreak of militancy. The past baggage of the alleged mass rape in Kunanpospora, Kupwara, in 1991 and a series of fake encounters like Pathribal, Machil and ‘enforced disappearances’ have dealt a major blow to the Army’s image. The Army, however, has always denied the allegations of mass rape in Kunanpospora.Over the years, however, the complaints of human rights violations against the Army in Kashmir have considerably reduced as the force has focused on image-building in the Valley.To win the hearts of people, the Army in 1998 started Sadbhavana — a goodwill programme — with an objective to bridge the gap between the ‘jawaan’ (Army) and ‘awaam’ (people). At present over 500 projects of Sadbhavana are underway in various developmental sectors across Kashmir.However, over the years the Army has been successful in bridging the gap only to some extent. In Kupwara, for example, the Army has maintained good relations with people for over a decade but the district witnessed hundreds of stone-throwing incidents during the 2016 unrest.“It is wrong to interpret that Sadbhavana will have an impact on the political situation of Kashmir. Kupwara has the highest military concentration, but when there is a political problem, it also behaves like the rest of the Valley,” said Mohammad Adil, 32, a businessman from Kupwara town.A postgraduate student from Srinagar, Shabnum Kulsum said the Army was “meant for security but their image is negative among youth for killings and creating an atmosphere of fear”.“No matter how many publicity programmes the Army tries to organise in Kashmir, its image will always scare a Kashmiri,” Kulsum said.Political scientist Noor Ahmad Baba said relations between people and the Army are never good in a conflict situation. “Naturally when the Army is in contact with people, especially in a conflict situation, relation are not always good,” he said.However, the surrender of footballer-turned-Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Majid Khan tells a different story of the ties between the Army and people in south Kashmir.“When young Majid Khan decided to return, the Army was contacted and not any other security agency. This shows the level of trust the Army has been able to gain from the people. “Even when one militant was injured in a gunfight where we lost a soldier, we accepted his surrender. It shows the humane face of the Army and the trust it enjoys here,” said an Army officer in Kashmir. “However, there are always elements in some pockets who want to create issues and widen the gap between the locals and the Army. A majority of the people supports us, but due to fear they don’t want to say it in public. We are enjoying excellent relations with the people.”In the early 1990s, when militancy was at its peak, few Kashmiri youth used to join the Army. The trend, however, changed slowly after the Army started holding massive recruitment rallies. Over 5,000 Kashmiris are serving in the Army at present and there are nearly 8,500 ex-servicemen. At least seven Kashmiri Army men, including the unarmed Lt Ummer Fayaz, have been killed in Kashmir.The continuation of AFSPA is another issue with the people. “The Army recently said around 200 militants were active in the Valley. How does the government justify such a large presence of the Army now and AFSPA?” asked Khursheed Ahmed, a Srinagar resident. The Army, however, has been maintaining that time is not ripe for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Bridging the gap

Over the years the Army has been successful in bridging the gap only to some extent. In Kupwara, for example, the Army has maintained good relations with people for over a decade but the district witnessed hundreds of stone-throwing incidents during the 2016 unrest. 


Mi-17 to get advanced navigation system

Mi-17 to get advanced navigation system

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26

The Indian Air Force has approached Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for retrofitting part of its Soviet-origin Mi-17 medium lift helicopter fleet with advanced navigational aids.Under the project, to be executed at No.3 Base Repair Depot in Chandigarh, nearly 60 helicopters will be retrofitted with the Tactical Air Navigation System (TACAN) as well as the VHF Omni-directional Radio Range (VOR) equipment and instrument landing system, IAF sources said.HAL has traditionally been associated with the licence manufacture and repair of western-origin helicopters such as the French Alouette III and the SA-315 Lama, known locally as Chetak and Cheetah, as well as the Dhruv, advanced light helicopter and the proposed Indian Multi-Role Helicopter that envisions to replace older Mi-17 variants in a few years. HAL is not known to have been associated earlier with modifications or upgrades related to Mi-8/17 and Mi-25/35 fleet.TACAN provides the aircrew the exact bearing and distance to a ground station and is primarily meant for military aircraft. Equipped aircraft can use this system for route navigation as well as non-precision approaches to landing fields.On ground, TACAN receivers can be placed on top of a building or in a truck. It is a smaller and more accurate version of VOR that is now the standard air navigational system in the world where aircraft determine their position and stay on course by receiving radio signals transmitted by a network of fixed ground radio beacons.Besides supplying the navigation equipment along with associated accessories and technical support, HAL will also be required to train IAF personnel in the operation and maintenance of the equipment in Chandigarh.Sources said that the project is expected to commence in January 2018, with three helicopters being initially retrofitted and evaluated by the IAF. The remaining choppers will be upgraded in batches within two years.