Sanjha Morcha

The safe haven of a cantonment by Vartika Sharma Lehak

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Image result for indian army cantonment

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The families of serving military personnel need to be given special provision

Last year, during a train journey, I happened to share an air-conditioned cabin with a Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology and his family. I was travelling with my four-year-old daughter, and he with his toddler, wife and mother. I was visiting my in-laws in Dehradun. Since there is no direct train from Bhuj, where my husband, an officer with the Indian Army, is posted, I had to take a train from Bhuj to Ahmadabad, then to Delhi and from there to Dehradun.

Travelling is a way of life for those in the forces, and their families. It is almost like a natural instinct. And thus, when the professor shared his travails relating his recent move from IIT Chennai to IIT Delhi, I couldn’t help bursting out in a giggle. To prove his point further, he listed out the grey areas – finding a good school, maids, meeting the travel expenses, and so on. And then I shared my fauji way of life with him.

“Really? How do you manage to move once every two years?” he stared at me in disbelief.

Then with a little hesitation, he asked me, “Is the government taking care of you well? I mean, why Army? You guys are well-qualified. Why not join a corporate job, they pay you good and the perks are awesome.”

My smile broadened, I knew what Army gives. No one can understand that, it’s a feeling deep in your gut.

There was a long silence after that. Was he thanking god for his comfortable life, or something deep was stirred in my heart?

Today, the words of that professor mock me in the face: is the government taking care of us enough?

The Indian Army is an organisation that functions as an organism. Every part, every organ, has a vital and indispensable role to play. Not only our men and women wear the uniform, but the complete family – children, wife/husband and even parents— wear a tint of the olive green. When the officers are deployed in far-flung areas, it is the faith in safety and security of a cantonment that makes them serve the nation without any worry back home. And this is the reason there are no cases of rape or armed robbery in Army cantonments. There might be cases of theft, but no violent crime.

In 2016, when the Pathankot attack happened, we were posted in the vicinity. That was when I realised first-hand how vulnerable the families of the faujisare. There was a random ‘intel’ alert in the middle of the night, and the men changed into combat uniforms in a few seconds. We, families, knew our drill. Lock the doors, switch off the lights. We ate bread with cold milk. As news came about the ongoing encounter, we counted the number of latches that were missing in the doors, the thin plywood doors that needed just a casual kick to be opened. Mothers taught kids to crawl under the bed or climb in the under-roof, some packed chilli-powder in tiny packets.

Unlike ‘normal’ mothers we have an additional fear for the safety of our children when they board Army school buses. Experience has taught us that the cowards will not spare even our children.

The narration will not be complete without a mention of Army accommodations. As is common knowledge, Army wives are very creative and artistic. Most of the accommodation we get are in a bad shape. Sometimes the wall is rotting from seepage, or the doors are damaged, or the ceiling is dangerously cracking up. We all know that in the two-year tenure, more than four to six months will be spent waiting for the accommodation and furthermore for the repair work. So the enterprising ladies paint the panels in beautiful colours or take away attention from the seepage by creating an indoor garden. Often I am asked if I don’t get fed up with the life of a nomad or with the rural postings. No, we are happy as long as we get to stay together.

But, is the government taking care of us well?

Recently, a Minister, commenting on theNavy’s demand for housing in a posh locality, remarked, ‘Why stay in South Mumbai, go patrol Pakistan (sic).’

Two points here. First, most of the so-called posh localities are ‘created’ by Army cantonments, and many businesses have thrived on that. Secondly, our men are already patrolling Pakistan, and the remaining ones are either rescuing flood victims or training for the big day. But what about their women, children? Do they also join them at the border? Where is their right to a good living, opportunities to good education, when their men are away? Today we talk about the human rights of everyone but a fauji. Even a stone-thrower has more rights than a brave officer who decides to give him the taste of his own medicine.

And that’s why the question pops up again: Is the government taking care of us well?

Yes, we get a subsidy in train and air travel, but it comes to nothing if you count the number of trains one has to change to reach a remote destination. It comes to nothing when we have to pack in the middle of the academic session. The places that are considered peace stations for us are ‘field’ for a civil bureaucrat. Even in a peace station, the workload for uniforms is the same, even more. Then why withdraw the rations of officers? It was the privilege, the ‘perk,’ they have earned for their service to the nation.

So, is the government actually taking care of us at all by opening the gates of the cantonment? Are we trying to say that in a peace station, a fauji and his family become vestigial to the system? Opening a road that connects two major civil areas is understandable, but what is the need to open roads that are internal. Have we forgotten the bitter memories of the past, or are we waiting for another Pathankot? In stations like Delhi there are so many women whose husbands are posted in the field areas. And while their men fight the enemies outside, who will guard them from the ‘risks’ inside. Like the VIP roads in Lutyens’ Delhi, the internal roads of a cantonment are also as important for security reasons. From the routine training and drills of our men, they have an integral part to play in our way of life, and in the nation’s as well.

As I said, the Indian Army works like an organism. And what it needs today is a strong and healthy heart. After all, the same Army has given the country legends such as K.S. Thimayya, K.M. Cariappa and Sam Manekshaw. And in those days nobody even cared whether the government was caring or not.

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Indian soldiers shouldn’t be denied their due rights.Read this post and you will know that DC’s and SDM’s hide themselves in calamities.

On 3 Dec 2015 12:19, “Narender Kumar” <> wrote:🗡🗡🗡🗡
I had an opportunity to glance through IDSA study which has been extensively quoted by the Pay Commission to deny or scale down the dues to Armed Forces personnel. But I am surprised that the IDSA study did not mention that in US and UK soldiers get their pensions at the rate of 75% of their salary. Also when the US & European nations deploy their soldiers in war-like situation or disaster relief operations they do not pay income tax.
I wish the study had made the mention that even in Kargil war officers and JCOs paid the income tax, same is the case for J&K and NE insurgency. I was told that the income tax is also charged from the last salary of a martyr, which is nothing short of national shame. I wish these facts should have been included. Since the IDSA study compared the purchasing power of other countries’ soldiers vis a vis India. But the pay commission did not use this analogy while calculating and doling out three increments to IAS , IPS & IFS. A soldier gets 31500/– for serving in Siachen but a central cadre officer gets 50000 to 70000 for serving in so called difficult area such as Shillong, Imphal and Guwahati @ 30% of their salary (In Spite of the acknowledgement made by pay commission cell that most difficult area to serve with no parallel is Siachen).
I was BGS during Uttrakhand Disaster relief operations, three DCs were literally not available during the critical days of disaster. Same was the case with SDMs and Tehsildars. The SDM who was deputed to go to Kedarnath emerged only after five days of relief operation in vogue. DC prefered to park himself inside the Joshimath camp so that public can’t reach him. When DC was forced to at least go and see the condition on ground, the gentleman did not get down from the helicopter fearing that he might not be allowed by public to board the helicopter. DC Uttarkashi did not feel safe to visit and see the conditions of pilgrims at Gangotri and Harsil. The pilgrims kept asking “where is the administration, if the army has to do everything why is government spending national wealth on them”. That is the condition of our so called elite.
It is sad that the public of India does not even know why a soldier defy the logic and conventions? Why does he risk his life? In-spite of the fact that there is no written rule where a soldier is suppose to die while performing his duty, yet he does so. It is ethos, tradition and character of soldiers that prompt them to do so. Second factor is because he knows he is not a government servant, he is an elite and serve the nation. He also knows that he is the last bastion and pillar which nation is dependent upon. Every other department has failed and and can fail, but nation can still recover. But if the soldiers fail, the nation will fail. No other government agency can redeem it. it is elitism that separates soldiers from the rest. Unfortunately over a period of time the elitism has been killed and soldier is repeatedly told he is a government servant that too semi skilled. Whereas soldering is most complex, technical and skilful job which is unparalleled. It is an old saying that the day a soldier start behaving like a government servant it is beginning of erosion of foundation of a nation.
I must quote the examples of US/ Uk and other countries. When the body of a martyr is brought back to US. The Captain of the aircraft makes the announcement prior to taking off “we are privileged to fly back martyr —xyz— on his last journey back home” On arrival of the body of the martyr on US soil and his native place, water canon salute is given. Crew line up on tar to pay last respect. The CEO or the highest authority of the airport receives the body along with the Guard. All passenger stand in line till body is moved out. But when the body of Maj Varadarajan was being flown from Srinagar to Chennai, the Captain was requested by the Officer accompanying the body to announce that Maj Vardrajan is on board on his last journey back home, the Captain of the aircraft refused to announce that he is privileged to fly the martyr on his last journey back home, saying it will send a kind of bad feeling and omen to people flying and thus he will not do so. Incidentally there was another pilot who wrote small message of regretting such an incident. The body of soldiers are taken from the cargo gate which is indeed an insult. And we continue to accept it without highlighting it. It is only Mr Chandrashekher MP Rajya Sabha who is fighting a lone battle.
We need to introspect and make the nation aware. Profession of soldiering is not routine government job. It is different an elitism is must or else, we will have soldier also behaving like other government staff such as the famous DCs of Uttrakhand. Can the nation afford soldiers behaving like government servants? I don’t think so. I heard in the news today that Drs did not turn up in Chennai, the government staff did not turn up for discharging their duties…… But soldiers did their best whole day. Is it that their lives are not precious? I think those of us who have the opportunity to share and proliferate our views must do it.
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Respected Sir, 
1. The undersigned is committed to guide and motivate the armed forces aspirants and regular follower of the blog ‘Sanjha Morcha’. 
2. Media reports from 26 May to 28 May 2018 are enclosed for information and necessary publication through your esteemed website. of Sanjha Morcha
Thanks and best regards, 
Lt Col MP Deshpande (Retd)
23, Yashwant Nagar 
North Ambazari Road 
NAGPUR – 440033 
Telephone – 9890268359


Narrow the gender gap in global peacekeeping

India must help to bridge this lacunae and prevent crimes against women and girls in international conflicts

Ifeel much better prepared to be deployed as UN Peacekeeper to a peacekeeping mission, more accountable for preventing conflict-related sexual violence and responding to women’s socio-economic concerns in and post conflict,” said a graduate of a recently-concluded Female Military Officer’s Course, organised by UN Women and the Center for UN Peacekeeping, India. Recruitment, deployment and focused training of female officers is imperative to overcome existing barriers and for gender parity in UN peacekeeping. Women’s participation in UN peacekeeping is more likely to improve civilian protection, especially the prevention of sexual violence against women and girls. But UN Peacekeeping, whose mandate is civilian protection through military, police and civilian contingents from troop contributing countries, remains a male preserve. As of March 31, 2018, women constituted 5% of the 91,058-strong combined forces of military and police peacekeepers, making up 4% of the military and 11% of the police units.

UN PHOTOIn 2007, for the first time in UN history, the Indian first all­women UN peacekeeping police unit was deployed to Liberia, with subsequent deployments in 2008 and 2009

This is despite women’s demonstrated contribution to peacekeeping worldwide. In January 2007, for the first time in UN history, the Indian first all-women UN peacekeeping police unit was deployed to Liberia, with subsequent deployments in 2008 and 2009. They provided security at local events, engaged in riot control and patrols with local and UN police. They communicated with local women, nurturing trust between the police and local communities through community outreach. While this was hailed by the then UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon and Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as precedent setting in peacekeeping missions, similar contributions of women peacekeepers from other countries have been recorded in West, East, North and South Africa, South America, and South and Central Asia.

From a rights standpoint, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2242 calls for doubling women’s participation in UN missions. While the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1,325 emphasises integrating a gender perspective in all peace efforts, a global initiative was launched in 2009 to increase numbers of women police in UN peacekeeping. As one of the largest troop contributors, India can further lead in bridging the gender gap in UN Peacekeeping and preventing crimes against women and girls in international conflicts. A starter could be adopting a national gender sensitive force generation policy on UN peacekeeping, and examining barriers to recruitment and advancement of female officers, which perpetuate inequality in this sphere.

Jean D’Cunha is head, UN Women Myanmar. Ajita Vidyarthi is security and migration analyst at UN Women Multi Country Office in India. The views expressed are personal

Military purchases worth ₹6k cr soon

NEW DELHI: The defence acquisition council (DAC) on Monday set the ball rolling for buying military hardware worth ₹6,900 crore, including thermal imaging night sights for rocket launchers and equipment that will enhance the capabilities of the air force’s Sukhoi-30 warplanes, a ministry spokesperson said.

The council, headed by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, approved the purchase of the hardware through the indigenous route to boost India’s capabilities to locally produce weapons and systems.

“The thermal imaging sight for 84mm rocket launchers will be used by troops in operations to facilitate accurate and continuous engagement of moving and static enemy targets and destruction of bunkers during hours of complete darkness,” the spokesperson said.

The slow pace of acquisition has hurt India’s military capabilities. The government inked a $100-million contract for 1.86 lakh bullet proof jackets for the army, a decade after the force moved the case. Financial constraints, cumbersome procedures and unrealistic qualitative requirements set by the armed forces are among the key factors that hinder modernisation, said a senior official who did not wish to be named. “Forget the bigger purchases, the system is such that we take a decade to equip soldiers with new assault rifles and bullet proof vests,” he said.

Ammunition is also a problem area. The army told a parliamentary panel in March that it was short of ₹6,380 crore to build ammunition stocks necessary for war for 10 days. The panel was also told that even as China and Pakistan were modernising their militaries at a lightning-fast pace, a looming financial crisis was crippling India’s combat capabilities.

The equipment cleared for purchase on Monday is significant as it will enable the army to “detect and recognise” enemy tanks and soldiers.

The DAC also approved a project for the design and development of Long Range Dual Band Infrared Imaging Search and Track System (IRST) for SU-30 MKI fighters.

Experts said Sitharaman’s predecessors in the ministry had also cleared the decks for weapon purchases worth lakhs of crores but not many of those clearances translated into deals.

“The projects that have been given a go-ahead are at the acceptance of necessity stage (the first step toward making procurement under the Defence Procurement Procedure). The real test would be to see how many of these cases end up as contracts …” said military affairs expert Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd).

IMA Ball at Indian Military Academy

IMA Ball at Indian Military Academy

Lt Gen SK Jha, Commandant IMA, rolls the IMA ball. The IMA ball is held in run up to the passing out parade. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, May 27

In the run up to the June 9 slated Spring term passing out parade, IMA Ball took place at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.The IMA Ball is a precursor to the final event – The Passing Out Parade of the IMA, which is slated on June 9. The evening of joy, merriment and nostalgia commenced with the Commandant IMA, Lt Gen SK Jha, who set the ball rolling. The Gentleman Cadets in evening military attire and the ladies in their dazzling best graced the gala event.The IMA Ball is held towards the end of each term to mark the culmination of the rigorous training schedule of the passing out course. The event is associated with fun and frolic is also termed as the ‘Break Up Party’ for the Third Termers. 

Sainik School games begin

Sainik School games begin

Students of Sainik School, Kunjpura, participate in march past during the opening ceremony in Karnal on Monday. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Karnal, May 28

The six-day North Zone Sainik School games started at Sainik School, Kunjpura, here on Monday. Around 360 students from five Sainik Schools of North Zone are participating in various inter-school events like football, hockey, volleyball, basketball, Hindi and English debates, quiz and cultural programmes.Col VD Chandola, Principal, Sainik School, Kunjpura, opened the games.Sainik School, Sujanpur Tira, defeated Sainik School, Ghorakhal, by 3-1 in a volleyball match. In basketball, Sainik School, Ghorakhal, won by 46-32 from Sainik School, Kapurthala. In hockey, Sainik School, Kunjpura, defeated Sainik School, Nagrota, by 5-0. In football, Sainik School, Kunjpura, beat Sainik School, Sujanpur Tira, by 3-0.

Prisoner threatens to kill Punjab CM in video uploaded on Facebook

Prisoner threatens to kill Punjab CM in video uploaded on Facebook

Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh. File photo

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28

Notwithstanding a crackdown on mobile phones in jails, an inmate of Faridkot jail has uploaded a video on Facebook threatening to kill Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh besides senior police officers.A government spokesperson said an inquiry has established that the inmate identified as Gobind, an under-trial in several criminal cases, including murder, had uploaded the video from within the jail premises.A Samsung phone has been recovered from him.The video was uploaded yesterday but was noticed today. Another inmate, Kuldeep Singh, would also be booked.Gobind Singh, age 30/32 years, of village Bheni of Bathinda district had been living at Jaito in a rented house for the past 15 years. 

IAF choppers help douse forest fire in Pathankot

IAF choppers help douse forest fire in Pathankot

An IAF chopper engaged in firefighting operation in Pathankot.

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 28

A massive forest fire, which engulfed a 100-acre area at Karoli village near the Mamun Army Cantonment, was brought under control after a joint operation by the Pathankot district administration, Air Force and the Army.A thick blanket of smoke enveloped Pathankot city. Information about the fire was received by the Army on Sunday evening following which fire tenders and water tankers were pressed into service. In view of the intensity of the fire, the Army sought the help of the Deputy Commissioner.DC Neelima informed Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sanjeev Tiwari who rushed to the spot at Karoli village and engaged his men in dousing the flames. Hundreds of Army personal too joined the fire-fighting operation.However, an hour later the DFO sent an SOS to the DC, saying strong winds were making the situation difficult and cited some technical reasons and told the DC that the fire could be controlled only through an aerial fire-fighting exercise.The Deputy Commissioner called up the Chief Secretary, who then got in touch with the Air Chief Marshal. An hour later, a helicopter from the Udhampur airbase was sent.The chopper began the operation on Monday morning. Officials claimed that rice stubble burning in the area made things difficult for the chopper which was equipped with a water carrier.The DFO said there could have been several reasons for the forest fire.“Either it could be an accident or a handiwork of some miscreants. A major part of the affected area has been brought under control now,” the Divisional Forest Officer said.At the time of filing this report, operations were under way though officials maintained that a major part of the fire had been doused.

Armed with doctorate, they are picking up arms

In recent years, several highly qualified youth joined militancy in Kashmir; few survived

Armed with doctorate, they are picking up arms

Rafi Ahmad Bhat

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 27

When a young man from north Kashmir disappeared into the militant underground in the first week of the year, a signature announcement followed. His photograph was released on a social media site showing him armed with an assault rifle and with a detailed description of his identity.Organisation: Hizbul Mujahideen, name: Manaan Wani, qualification: MPhil, PhD in applied geology (AMU, Aligarh). It also had Wani’s militant name, Hamzah Bhai.In the subsequent weeks of the year, the recruitment of many new militants was announced in a similar fashion and some of them stood out for their educational backgrounds.Wani was the third doctorate student to join militant ranks in recent years and also the most prominent of its educated faces as a completely new generation of ultras — nearly all of them born after the eruption of militancy in the region — took over the rank and file of insurgency.Three months after Wani’s militant picture appeared on the social media, another young man disappeared. Within days, his picture in the signature style made the bold announcement. Junaid Ashraf Sehrai, son of separatist leader Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, was assigned the code name Ammar Bhai. The details on his militant photograph had his qualification noted, ‘MBA from University of Kashmir’.The addition of education qualifications has been acknowledged by the militant groups in most of the photographic announcements adding to their information blitz and also providing a new perspective to insurgency.The insurgency in Kashmir will complete three decades next year and its various phases include periods of shock introduction, decline, indifference and current stage of immense popularity. A senior police official said the education qualifications of new militants were in consonance with the overall increase in the literacy of society and with the increase in the number of Kashmiri youth opting for graduate and postgraduate courses. “It is alarming that educated youth are becoming militants but it is not entirely unexplainable. There is an increase in the educational standards of society and what is happening on the militancy scene is a reflection of that,” the police official said.The inclusion of highly educated youth into militant ranks first surfaced immediately after the 2010 unrest in the region, when thousands of youth participated in months of protests. The first significant case emerged of Masiullah Khan of south Kashmir’s Tral sub-district who had completed Bachelors in Technology in mechanical engineering before becoming a militant sometime in 2010 and was killed in a gunfight a year later. Khan’s joining and death had passed off unnoticed at that time. However, soon, a trickle of youth with distinctive qualifications began to disappear and appeared in militant ranks. In recent years, at least eight engineering students have joined militant ranks and six of them have been killed. The six slain militants who had studied engineering include Tral’s Masiullah Khan and Saifullah Ahangar, Srinagar’s Eisa Fazili and Kokernag’s Syed Owais who were killed in March this year, Bijbehara’s Basit Dar who was killed in December 2016 and Pulwama’s Musavir Wani who was killed last month. The recruitment of Mohammad Rafi Bhat, an assistant professor at the University of Kashmir, to the militant ranks, however, was the defining addition to the new-age insurgency. Bhat, who survived less than two days as a militant, had a doctorate in sociology and was teaching at the university on the day he disappeared. He was killed in a gunfight later.