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    25-day trek to mark Engrs Regiment’s Raising Day

    25-day trek to mark Engrs Regiment’s Raising Day
    Brig Sandeep Vohra, Commander, Kharga Sappers, flags off a trekking expedition at Ambala Cantonment on Wednesday. Tribune photo

    Ambala, September 20

    To commemorate the 53rd Raising Day of the Sarvashresth Engineers Regiment, a trekking expedition was flagged off from Ambala Cantonment here today.Brig Sandeep Vohra, Commander, Kharga Sappers, who flagged off the event, said, “To infuse the sense of adventure among troops and encourage junior leadership, esprit de corps and camaraderie among all ranks, the regiment is undertaking an expedition. It will cover a total distance of 151 km from Ambala to Sangla and back via Dehradun–Dhaula–Rupin Pass–Chitkul–Shimla-Chandigarh within 25 days.”The team, comprising 12 members, will cross over Rupin Pass at a height of over 15,000 ft. The expedition members will interact with ex-servicemen as well as college/school students and organise lectures and talks with youth to educate and motivate them to join armed forces. — TNS


    Uri martyrs’ kin seek ex gratia at par with neighbouring states

    Jammu, September 20

    Family members of Uri martyrs, who belong to the Jammu region, have demanded that the families of soldiers should be given ex gratia at par with neighbouring states like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.Raj Kumar, brother of Uri martyr Havildar Ravi Pal, sought to draw attention of the state government towards the ex gratia announced by the neighbouring states. He said apart from enhancing the ex gratia, the J&K Government must provide job to at least a kin of the martyrs. Geeta Devi, wife of martyr havildar, has also applied for a government job, but no action had been taken so far.The Uttar Pradesh government had sanctioned Rs 20 lakh for Uri martyrs, Jharkhand Rs 11 lakh, Odisha Rs 10 lakh plus pension, Maharashtra and Bihar Rs 15 lakh each and the J&K Government has sanctioned Rs 5 lakh.Though the martyrs’ families have received Rs 5 lakh, they were of the view that the amount had been sanctioned by the Army not by the state government. However, the Army made it clear that the amount was sanctioned by the J&K Government, but handed over to the martyrs’ family through the Defence authorities. — TNS


    Army pays tributes to soldier killed in Kupwara

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, September 21

    The Army on Thursday paid tributes to Rifleman Rajesh Khatri, who was killed in a ceasefire violation on Wednesday along the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Keran sector.“Lt Gen JS Sandhu, commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, and all ranks paid homage to the soldier on behalf of the nation,” the Army said in a statement.“In a show of solidarity, representatives and officials from the state government and other security agencies also joined in paying their last respects to the martyr,” the Army said.The rifleman had sustained bullet injuries “due to enemy fire while he was deployed at a forward post in the Keran sector,” the Army said.“He was provided immediate first aid and evacuated from the post but, unfortunately, succumbed to the injuries,” it said.The 27-year-old soldier had joined the Army in 2011 and hailed from Torayan village in Dailekh, Nepal.


    French Rafale ready to make jets in India

    French Rafale ready to make jets in India

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, September 21

    In line with their contract obligations, French major Dassault Aviation has said it was coordinating between French suppliers and Indian companies to manufacture Rafale fighter jets in India.Rafale International comprising Dassault Aviation, Safran and Thales has met over 100 French Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Paris. Indian and French Defence Ministry officials, too, were at these meetings. The French Aerospace Industries Association is the nodal agency producing systems and sub-systems for Rafale.   (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)
    French SMEs were being encouraged to set up production activities in India alongside Dassault Aviation, Safran and Thales as part of the Rafale programme to help the company meet its obligations, said a Rafale spokesperson in India. The move comes two days after a US business chamber expressed its concerns over sharing hi-end technology with Indian companies. “Encouraging French SMEs to come to India is a key condition to participate in the ‘Make in India’ initiative of PM Narendra Modi and will benefit both French and Indian industries,” the spokesperson said. Rafale is looking towards creating opportunities for establishing a full-fledged aero-defence manufacturing eco-system in India, said Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO and GIFAS chairman. The GIFAS is a trade body of 382 members ranging from major prime contractors and system suppliers to small specialist companies. 


    Pakistan PM issues threat of short-range nuclear missiles

    Pakistan PM issues threat of short-range nuclear missiles

    Pakistan PM issues threat of short-range nuclear missiles
    Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

    New York, September 21

    Pakistan has developed short-range nuclear weapons to counter the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine of the Indian Army, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said today.On his maiden visit to the US as Pakistan Prime Minister, Abbasi also said that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was safe and secure.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)
    On the assertion that Pakistan had the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, Abbasi said: “As far as tactical nuclear weapons (are concerned), we do not have any field tactical nuclear weapons.”“We have developed short-range nuclear weapons as a counter to the Cold Start doctrine that India has developed. Again, those are in the same command-and-control authority that controls the other strategic weapons,” Abbasi said in response to a question at the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank.“We have a very robust and secure command-and-control system over our strategic nuclear assets. Time has proved that it’s a process that is very secure. It’s a process that has complete civilian oversight through the NCA,” Abbasi said. The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan is responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding the country’s nuclear arsenals. Abbasi said that the command-and-control systems they have in place are as secure as anybody else’s in the world.“The last 20 years are testament to that,” Abbasi said in response to another question.“So let there be no doubt that any extremist element or somebody like that can gain control of fissile material or a nuclear weapon. There is just no possibility of that. And it’s time-tested, and it’s a very secure system that has been put in place,” he said.The Pakistan premier sought to dispel the notion surrounding the country’s inability to handle its nuclear programmes properly.“We do have nuclear capability. There’s no doubt about that. And we know how to handle nuclear waste. We had a nuclear programme in the early ’60s, one of the first countries in Asia to have a nuclear programme. So if we’ve managed it for over 50-odd years, I think we can continue to manage it,” he said. — PTIWhat is ‘Cold Start’ doctrine

    • ‘Cold Start’ doctrine was developed by Indian Army for a possible war with Pakistan
    • Involves various branches of the Indian Army conducting offensive operations as part of unified battle groups
    • Intends to allow conventional forces to perform holding attacks to prevent N-retaliation from Pak

    ‘India has zero Afghan role’ Pakistan sees “zero” political or military role for India in Afghanistan, PM Abbasi said, weeks after US President Donald Trump sought more help from New Delhi to bring peace and stability in the war-torn country. “We don’t foresee any political or military role for India… it will complicate the situation,” Abbasi said. ‘Indus dispute can be resolved’The disputes between India and Pakistan over the Indus Waters Treaty can be resolved within the context of the agreement itself, Pakistan’s PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said. “That’s been our stance from day one, that the issue should be resolved as per the provisions of the agreement. 


    Pakistan is now ‘terroristan’: India tells UN after Abbasi’s attack

    Pakistan is now ‘terroristan': India tells UN after Abbasi's attack
    In his first remarks to the UN general assembly, Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had attacked India, accusing New Delhi of carrying out war crimes in Kashmir. Reuters

    New York, September 22

    Pakistan has now become ‘terroristan’, India told the United Nations in response to its Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s emphasis that Islamabad was not prepared to be anyone’s scapegoat.“In its short history, Pakistan has become a geography synonymous with terror. The quest for a land of pure has actually produced the land of pure terror. Pakistan is now Terroristan,” India said, in a statement addressed to the United Nations general assembly president.

    Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)

    In his first remarks to the UN general assembly, Abbasi had attacked India, accusing New Delhi of carrying out war crimes in Kashmir.”Pakistan demands an international investigation into India’s crimes in Kashmir,” he said and demanded an inquiry Commission be sent to Kashmir “to verify the nature and extent of India’s human rights violations, secure the punishment of those responsible and provide justice and relief to the victims.” “It is extraordinary that the state which protected Osama Bin Laden and sheltered Mullah Omar should have the gumption to play victim. Even as terrorists thrive in Pakistan and roam around its streets with impunity, we have heard it lecture about protection of human rights in India. The world does not need lessons on democracy and human rights from a country whose own situation is charitably described as a failed state,” India led a retaliatory attack on Pakistan.”Pakistan must understand that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is and will always remain an integral part of India. However, much it scales up the cross border terrorism, it will never succeed in undermining India’s territorial integrity,” India’s statement added.The Pakistan prime minister had also added that India was not willing to resume dialogue to resolve the dispute.”To this end, the UN Secretary-General should appoint a Special Envoy on Kashmir,” he said.During his address, Abbasi further said Pakistan has been consistently active in the war against terrorism and that it has lost more to the cause than any other nation.Speaking about the issue of terrorism and the Afghan conflict, the premier said that Pakistan had sacrificed a lot of lives in the war on terror, and nobody desired peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan.”Our counter-terrorism credentials cannot be questioned. We have lost 2,700 lives and sustained 50,000 injuries in this war,” he said.”From sixteen years of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, it is clear that peace could not be restored by the continuing resort to military force. Neither Kabul and the coalition nor the Afghan Taliban can impose military solution on each other.” “Apart from Afghanistan, Pakistan and its people have suffered the most from four decades of foreign intervention and civil wars in Afghanistan,” he added.During his 20-minute speech, Abbasi stated that Taliban safe havens are located not in Pakistan but in large tracts of territory controlled by the Taliban in Afghanistan.The Pakistan Prime Minister also maintained that Islamabad was not prepared to fight the Afghan war on Pakistan’s soil. “Neither can we endorse any fair strategy that prolongs and intensify the sufferings of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.He also identified two flaws in the global counter-terror strategy. One of this, Abbasi remarked, was state-sponsored terrorism, and the failure of the UN to reign in states that use this as an instrument of their foreign policy. —ANI


    Rawat pays tributes to Major Ahlawat in Doon

    Rawat pays tributes to Major Ahlawat in Doon
    Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat lays a wreath on the mortal remains of Major Vijay Singh Ahlawat in Dehradun on Sunday. Tribune photo

    Tribune News Service

    Dehradun, September 17

    Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat today paid floral tributes to Major Vijay Singh Ahlawat, who met with an accident on September 15.  Major Ahlawat of the 3 Rajput regiment was posted at Kokrajhar, Assam, where he met with an accident on September 15. The Chief Minister also met his family members and assured them of all help. He was a resident of Vijay Colony, Dehradun. Ahlawat’s last rites were performed at Tapkeshwar crematorium. A large number of people gathered at the site to pay their last respect.


    Samba spy case: SC dismisses plea of ex-Army officers

    New Delhi, September 18The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking a direction to the Centre to provide the files on the basis of which the services of some ex-Army officers, caught for allegedly spying for Pakistan in 1978 in the infamous Samba spy case, were terminated.Between August 1978 and January 1979, several Army officers were arrested for allegedly spying for Pakistan in the Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir between 1972 and 1978.A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said a three-judge bench of the apex court had already decided the matter in 2014.Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for these officials, told the bench that a division bench of the Delhi High Court had in 2010, while setting aside the termination order of former officers Major SP Sharma, Captain Arun Sharma, Major Ajwani and Major RK Midha, had held that the action taken against them was bad in law.He said thereafter the matter came to the apex court and a three-judge bench had upheld the Centre’s decision to terminate the services of Army officers while overturning the high court’s verdict.Bhushan claimed that the government had shown some files to the three-judge bench to buttress its argument that these Army officers were Pakistani spies but these were not made available to them.“I am not challenging the termination of service at all,” he said, adding, “at least those files should be shown to these officials”.“This is a huge stigma. Please give us an opportunity to restore our honour,” he said, while referring to a book by a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau who had said the case was doubtful.He alleged that the case was based on false testimonies of two persons and there was no evidence against the officers whose services were terminated.“The petitioners have a right to access the documents on the basis of which they have been defamed, their reputation has been tarnished and on the basis of which the judgment of the High Court of Delhi was set aside by this court.”“Denial of documents which gravely concern and affect the petitioners is not only in violation of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution but the same is also subversive of rule of law and democracy,” the plea said. — PTI


    MIAF Arjan Singh takes last flight

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, September 18

    A solemn military ceremony marked the final rites of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh at Delhi Cantonment this morning.His son Arvind Singh, who flew in from the US, lit the funeral pyre amidst an “ardas” recited by a Sikh priest. Family members of the IAF patriarch, members of the civil society and politicians were present at the cremation.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)Minutes before the final rites, a 17-gun salute was accorded to the veteran officer. It was followed by a fly-past by three Mi17 V5 helicopters. Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets gave the final salute in what is called “missing man formation” for Marshal Arjan Singh’s “final flight”. The “missing man formation” flying is marked to signify the loss of a fallen comrade. It is reserved as a high honour in the IAF.Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Deputy  Prime Minister LK Advani, Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri were among the mourners who paid their respects. A wreath was laid on the mortal remains by IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa.President Ram Nath Kovind had yesterday led the nation in paying tributes by visiting the home of the Marshal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also met his family members.The Marshal was accorded a state funeral and the National Flag flew at half-mast in New Delhi on Monday.The rank of Marshal of the Indian Air Force is equal to a Field Marshal of the Indian Army. The Marshal had died on Saturday.Earlier, the mortal remains were carried in a gun carriage procession that started from his residence at 8.15 am. As the funeral pyre was lit, the tri-services guard ‘lowered arms’ — holding the rifle close to the left side of the chest while standing in a static position. In July 2008, then Defence Minister AK Antony and the three Service Chiefs had not attended the state funeral of Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, and had faced a barrage of criticism.On the Republic Day in 2002, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had elevated Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh to the five-star rank. He is the first and the only Air Force officer to have been decorated with the five-star rank. He is also the third military officer, after former Army Chiefs SHFJ Manekshaw and KM Cariappa, to hold that rank.Last year, the Panagarh Air Force station in West Bengal was renamed Air Force Station Arjan Singh after the veteran officer.


    …and the faujis are angry by Col Dabby S De mello (Retd)

    Ex-servicemen are engulfed by a smouldering disconnect following the inept handling of the OROP issue by the government. In their sunset years, they are being made to feel as if they are a spent force.

    ...and the faujis are angry
    Veteran servicemen at a protest seeking OROP in New Delhi. PTI

    Col Dabby S De mello (Retd)In times of war and not before,
    God and soldier we adore.
    But in times of peace and all things righted,
    God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.

    —Rudyard KiplingManohar Parrikar apparently is an ardent fan of the legendry poet Rudyard Kipling. Within a month of his swearing in as Raksha Mantri, he has revealed to the country that the nation no more holds the defence services in high esteem. His reason: “These days, people don’t look up to the military in high esteem since there has been no war for so many years.”True, there has been no general war, but just count the horrendous losses suffered in the interim years, battling an insurgency and terrorism, largely the creation of the failed political ideologies, and at times open support to anti-nationals. Coming, therefore, from a Raksha Mantri whose mandate is to uphold the morale of the three services, this statement was most shocking. Parrikar is neither rustic nor illiterate. Nobody becomes an IITian with limited knowledge. All the more reason his disparaging remarks are repugnant. But by saying so, did he bare his party’s mindset towards the faujis or that of the collective conscience of the Indians  as a whole? The revelation, true or false, by  the Raksha Mantri, spoke volumes about the way Defence Services will be treated by the NDA (read BJP). The entire defence fraternity was shocked and felt angry.September 15, 2013, remains a sad day for the exservicemen (ESM) for, on that day, they got carried away by the rhetoric and honeyed words of Narendra Modi, the NDA’s prime-ministerial candidate, during the ESM rally at Rewari. Having seen their stock lowered by the earlier governments, they, rightly or wrongly, allowed themselves to be considered a vote bank by the BJP, a decision they now regret. In his election bhashan, Modi promised to honour the long-pending demand of One Rank One Pension (OROP) in its entirety and true essence, if NDA was voted to power. That it was voted to power with an unexpected majority was also due to the faujis voting en bloc for the BJP, a fact it  should remember. Faujis, for whom an oral commitment is sacrosanct, felt utterly cheated and decided to take an unprecedented step — peacefully protest throughout the country with Jantar Mantar as the pivot. To press home their rightful demands, the ESM, mostly in their twilight years, have been sitting on a relay hunger strike on a footpath near Jantar Mantar non-stop for more than two years. How disgracefully can the government and its leaders behave with the faujis is a new and bitter experience for a disciplined force. And they are angry. 

    ESM’s Tiananmen moment

    Early morning of August 14, 2015, was the ESM’s Tiananmen moment, when the might of the state pitted itself against peaceful demonstrators; young policemen were allowed to manhandle grey-haired retired soldiers (many of them war-decorated ones) and widows engaged in a peaceful and permitted protest near Jantar Mantar. No one from the government apologised for this shameful behaviour. The faujis have not forgotten that day, and are angry.To break the protest movement, the government even attempted to create an officer-jawan divide by maliciously goading another set of retired jawans to set up an alternate OROP stage a few feet away from the main protest tent at Jantar Mantar. From there, the misguided jawans denounced their officers by reading out the script handed out to them; what sort of government is this that uses such lowdown methods against its own veterans? Fortunately, this misguided lot soon realised its folly and joined the main protest, but the collateral damage it did to the strong officer-man bond which sustains our military, is frightening; a damage which can seriously impair the fighting abilities of our defence forces. The entire fauji fraternity took no time to fathom the design of the establishment and is angry.  Finding far too many anomalies, some very serious, in the notification issued on OROP, the ESM rejected it outright and conveyed it in no uncertain terms to the government. To address the anomalies, the government on December 14, 2015 constituted a one-man judicial committee comprising a retired chief justice and asked for his recommendations within six months, a job which could be done within a month. After five months, the government maliciously extended its term by six months, apparently to tire out the protesting ESM.  The honourable judge finally submitted his report on October 26, 2016, but more than nine months later, the report has not been made public. Maybe the judge was convinced about the genuineness of OROP demands and has recommended in favour of the ESM. If that be so, implementation of his   recommendations can be a win-win situation for the government as well as for ESM. But the govt hasn’t budged from its hardened stand and as a result, the faujis are angry.

    Babus vs faujis

    The establishment continues to pit the bureaucracy against the defence services, resulting in systematic degradation of the services. An  undesirable and unhealthy civil-military equation exists today.  The faujis are not oblivious to the step-brotherly treatment meted out to them vis-a-vis the bureaucrats and are very angry.Due to the inept handling of the OROP issue, and indifferent attitude of the establishment on many other matters, including the warrant of precedence, a smouldering disconnect has engulfed these men who once were sentinels of our borders during their prime years, but are now considered a dispensable and a spent force. Their collective protest has been on for 27 months, but none from the establishment has bothered to discuss a way out with them. The faujis have started feeling that they are being treated unfairly and are angry. By now, the Pradhan Sevak knows too well that the one-time raise given to the military pensioners is not the OROP approved by the two parliamentary committees; yet he mocks the ESM by repeatedly misinforming the countrymen from just about any platform, “Hamari govt ne fauji bhaiyon ko ek rank-ek pension de di hai!” What an emotional assault on the naïve veterans! No fauji, whether in or out of uniform, remains emotionally unmolested by the government’s highhandedness and indifference, and is angry.There are more counts on which the faujis are angry, the manifestations of which have not gone unnoticed by the BJP thinktank. Their appeasement has commenced and is gathering momentum to bring them back, yet again in good humour. But there is a saying that you cannot fool everyone all the time. The vote bank it created in 2013, and successfully milked in 2014, can’t be left unamused. 2019 is not far and 4.91 crore voters make a formidable electorate. All media is put in high gear to woo the ESM by cosmetic gestures. Courtesy the BJP, faujis are no more apolitical or gullible as in 2014. They know their vote will make a difference, like it did in 2014. The faujis are angry and not without reason. Let us not forget that this patriotic lot of Indians also includes the soldiers in uniform guarding the borders in most adverse conditions. Populist measures of the state to keep their morale to the optimum will never be enough. The cumulative anger of these forgotten soldiers needs to be addressed the soonest in national interest. In military parlance, it is the captain of the ship that must bear responsibility for the errors of his command, no matter who lower in the chain, may have been responsible. Whether by design or by default (heeding to biased advice from biased advisers), whatever, the Pradhan Sevak is responsible for the current state of affairs. PS. Let the statesmanship prevail over ego and faujis be also taken along in the Sab ka Saath venture. Far too many elections have been won on the name of the fauj, faujis and “surgical strikes”. It’s high time the BJP won their hearts by giving the ESM their rightful due. By staging a countrywide peaceful protest, they are only reminding the Pradhan Sevak to fulfil the promise he made to them at Rewari. Can the BJP risk antagonising this large vote bank, if their promises are not fulfilled? I am not too sure. Jai Hind. Jai Hind ki Sena. JaiHind ki Bhootpoorv Sena.