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    Haryana announces Rs 20 lakh and govt job for BSF soldier’s family

    Haryana announces Rs 20 lakh and govt job for BSF soldier's family
    Rai Singh is survived by wife Sunita and sons Hitesh, Paras and Karamvir. Tribune photo: Manoj Dhaka

    Kheri-Sampla (Rohtak), November 22

    The Manohar Lal Khattar government on Tuesday announced Rs 20 lakh and a job for the next of kin of head constable Rai Singh Indora, 39, who died after being hit by a mortar shell from across the border in Kashmir’s Rajouri sector.The announcement was made by Transport Minister Krishan Lal Pawar after Rai Singh was cremated with full state honors at the village here.“The Haryana government has decided to give Rs 20 lakh and a job to the next of kin of Rai Singh,” Panwar told ANI.“A park in Kheri-Sampla will also be named after Rai Singh and a statue of him would be installed at the place of his cremation,” he added.

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    When asked as to whom the government would award the job, Panwar said, “The eldest son of Rai Singh is 16 and he can get it once he is 18.”Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also attended the cremation and paid tributes to the martyr.“Not only Rohtak or Haryana but the entire nation is proud of the martyrdom of Rai Singh. On behalf of the entire Congress Party I pay respects to the martyr,” he said.Rai Singh is survived by wife Sunita and sons Hitesh, Paras and Karamvir.“Through his busy schedule, my father would find time to talk to us. He called daily, to enquire about our well-being,” Hitesh, 16, the oldest of the three, said.Rai Singh’s elder brother, Ramesh, who retired from the BSF in April, said the government should take care of the family of his brother.“The government should look at the plight of his kids. They have lost their father and their future must be secured by the government,” he said. ANI


    Gen Suhag in China on trust-building op

    Gen Suhag in China on trust-building op
    Army Chief Gen Dalbir Suhag

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, November 21

    Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag today led a military delegation to China as part of an effort by both countries to enhance high-level military exchanges aimed at building trust and ensuring peace along the 3,488 km disputed boundary on the Himalayan ridgeline.The Gen Suhag-led delegation’s four-day visit (November 21-24) is the second high-level military engagement this month. The 8th Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD) was conducted in New Delhi on November 8 between Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar and Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC).Yet another interaction is coming up in December when Gen Zhao Zongqi, Commander, Western Theatre Command of People’s Liberation Army (PLA), visits Delhi.“The visit is aimed at engaging with China on subjects of mutual concern and shared interest, which include terrorism, humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping training,” an Army spokesperson said today.The visit coincides with a joint military exercise —‘Exercise Hand-in-Hand’—that is underway in Pune since November 16. Its theme is to “understand and practice” methods to tackle transnational terror. This is the sixth edition of the exercise — and first since December last when Beijing passed a law authorising its military to venture overseas on counter-terror operations and even sent some 5,000 troops to tackle the Islamic State in Syria.Both countries separately face transnational terror in their respective regions—India in Kashmir and China in Xinjiang (north of J&K in India). Besides, both have collective threat of their own youth joining the IS. On October 19, the two armies held their first-ever joint drill in Ladakh, J&K, the same place where the two fought in 1962.Will meet top gunsGen Suhag and his team will be visiting key military installations, including Infantry Division and Army Air Defence Brigades. The Army Chief is also scheduled to meet a number of dignitaries of PLA and CMC. 


    Soldier’s life no cheap, sir Dinesh Kumar in Chandigarh

    Ever wondered about the plight of the Army’s Infantry soldier! Dressed in battle fatigues, the semi-literate rifle-wielding soldier from a rural or semi-urban part of the country spends much of his career patrolling and guarding disputed borders with China and Pakistan in tough terrains that range from hilly jungles to very high-altitude barren, rocky mountains and glaciers and in extreme weather conditions. For the last 60 years, starting the Infantry soldier has been fighting a bleeding and fatiguing irregular war against terrorists and insurgents. Soldiers have silently suffered hostility, at best, indifference of sections of people in parts of J&K and some states in the northeast. Plus, they have to help in times of natural disasters such as earthquake, floods and landslides.Yet the Infantry’s 382 battalions, which comprise the largest arm of the Army, are also among the most neglected and lacking even in some basic equipment. Lost in the race for acquiring the more glamorous and highly expensive ‘big ticket; items such as tanks, artillery,

    surface-to-air missiles, helicopters etc, the not-so-glamorous Infantryman does not evoke the same level of urgency even though it is the public face of the Army and bears the maximum casualties whether during war or peace. In April 2005 the Army conceived a major modernization plan for the Infantry with the fancy title of F-INSAS (Futuristic Infantry Soldier as a System). The project, spread over three phases and originally scheduled to have begun rolling out in stages from 2012 to 2020, is meant to upgrade, if not altogether revolutionize, the Infantry into an ultra-modern fighting machine. The aim is to provide the soldier with lethality, mobility, survivability, communications and situational awareness. The F-INSAS is based on five major technologies: (i) modular weapons; (ii) body armour and individual equipment; (iii) weapon sights and hand-held target acquisition devices; (iv) communication equipment to enable soldiers to transmit and receive complex voice, data and video systems; and (v) portable computers for soldiers and officers. The ambitious programme has made little progress and compares poorly with the ground realities 11 years after the project was conceived. Let alone modular assault rifles with interchangeable barrels (7.62 mm for counter-insurgency operations and 5.56 mm for conventional warfare), the Army has been unable to replace the existing and flawed 5.56 mm indigenously produced INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifle. A global tender floated in 2011 has been cancelled as all the competitors failed to clear the trials. The Infantry needs 1,85,000 new and better assault rifles which continue to remain elusive. But let alone buying new rifles, the Army has been unable to even change the orange colour of the existing INSAS rifles which compromises the camouflage of the soldiers thus putting them to risk.The Infantry presents a microcosm of the existing deficiencies in the Army which includes even basic and non-lethal items. Starting from 1,26,270 mosquito nets, 1,86,092 brown canvas rubber sole shoes with laces and 2,17,388 high-ankle boots, the Infantry is suffering a shortfall of 4,47,000 ski masks (required in the mountains) and three lakh bullet-proof vests, which can help protect the lives of soldiers in counter-insurgency operations and along the Line of Control. There is uncertainty over the current tenders for 44,600 carbines and 4,097 light machine guns that the Infantry is in dire need of even as about 1,000 Infantry combat vehicles need an upgrade. One other ‘small stuff’ is the need to replace the existing thin brown canvas shoes with proper sports shoes. Over 10 years later, the Army continues to await 8 lakh superior quality PT shoes for its troops. The Army is already suffering a woeful shortfall of ammunition including the Armoured Corps, Artillery, Air Defence and Infantry. So severe is the deficiency in ammunition that the Army’s War Wastage Reserve (WWR) has fallen from the required 40 days to between 15 and 20 days. In other words, the Army does not have ammunition enough to fight a war for more than 15-20 days. The depletion of the WWR is partly also because the Army is being forced to divert resources to raise a new Mountain Strike Corps (17 Corps). The first of its kind Mountain Strike Corps, sanctioned in July 2013 and to be raised by 2021, is being established at a cost of Rs 65,000 crore and will add 90,274 more soldiers and 32 new Infantry battalions. This will increase the number of existing Infantry battalions to 414. The WWR is expected to reach 100 percent only in 2019. Owing to delays in the F-INSAS project which has since been restructured and modified, the Infantry is a long way from becoming a fully networked all-terrain, all-weather personal-equipment platform with enhanced firepower and mobility for the digitalized battlefield of the future. The Infantry soldier’s wait has only become longer.

    dkumar@tribunemail.com


    Kin of soldiers who fought for British Crown in WW-2 not entitled to relief for martyrs: HC

    CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that families of Indian soldiers who fought for the British Crown during the World War-2 cannot be given benefits meant for the kin of martyrs.

    “The petitioners cannot claim any kind of benefit until and unless the state government has framed any policy in this regard and no direction can be issued as well,” the HC bench of justice RK Jain said while dismissing petitions of two SAS Nagar residents, Naseeb Kaur and her sister.

    They had approached the court stating that soldiers who had laid down their lives in World War-1 have been compensated with allotment of land but the respondents are not responding to their representation. The state had admitted that 10 acres of land has been allotted to widows of the soldiers who died in 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars, but there is no record available in respect of the heirs of soldiers who died in WW-2.

    The petitioners, daughters one Fateh Singh who died in WW–2, had prayed that a direction be issued to the respondents to allot land or grant cash for the their father’s “sacrifice”.

    “There is a fallacy in the arguments of the petitioners that their father was a freedom fighter. He was a soldier, who fought for the British Crown in World War-2 and not for the Republic of India in the 1962, 1965 or 1971 wars,” the HC said.

    The court refused to give any direction to the respondents for deciding the representation of the petitioners.


    PM: Thanks for patience, expect more:::

    “I make it very clear that if anything unaccounted comes up, then I will check its records since Independence… will deploy as many people as required for this… I salute my countrymen for their patience.” — Narendra Modi, Prime Minister

    PM: Thanks for patience, expect more
    An elderly woman takes a break as people queue up outside a bank at Paharganj in New Delhi on Saturday; and (right) Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits on pilot seat of a bullet train as his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe looks on in Kobe on Saturday. PTI

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, November 12

    Cautioning that it would come down on unaccounted money, the Union Government today claimed that the process of swapping demonetised notes with new ones was going on smoothly and praised the people for showing patience.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking in Kobe, Japan, said those holding unaccounted cash could not expect leniency after December 30. In Delhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the departments concerned were keeping an eagle eye on transactions and bank deposits.Speaking at an Indian community reception, Modi said there was no guarantee that after December 30 something new would not be introduced against illegal holdings.“I make it very clear if anything unaccounted comes up, then I will check its records since Independence…will deploy as many people as required for this… honest people will not face any problem. No one will be spared. Those who know me, they think it is better to offer it in the Ganga than in banks,” Modi said, in an apparent reference to reports that old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes had been found in the river. Thanking the people for accepting the decision despite facing hardship, Modi said, “I salute my countrymen. People stood in lines for four hours, six hours but accepted the decision in national interest…many families had weddings, health problems…yes, they faced inconvenience, but accepted it.”Reviewing the currency exchange arrangement, Jaitley urged the people not to insist on particular denominations and avoid thronging counters for depositing demonetised notes.“Till noon today, the State Bank group, which accounts for a fourth of banking in the country, did 2.28 lakh transactions worth Rs 54,370 crore and received Rs 47,868 crore deposits,” he said.As for complaints regarding ATMs, he said it could take up to three weeks to recalibrate the two lakh machines. Jaitley said while in the short run there could be a contraction in the economy, in the long run it would help with more money in the banking system. Dismissing as rumours messages on the social media about a tracking mechanism in the new currency or digitising lockers, the FM said people were taking liberties with truth. On reports of searches, he said the departments concerned had asked jewellers to report stock-holdings or to ascertain reports of illegal exchange of old currency as there had been a spike in zero-balance Jan Dhan deposits during the past two days.

    Kejri smells a scam, corporate houses ‘forewarned’

    • New Delhi: Alleging a major scam in the name of demonetisation, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday that some corporate houses were informed beforehand about the radical step. He said in the past three months, thousands of crores had been deposited in bank accounts of certain persons and corporate houses, arousing suspicion. “What kind of person holds black money in this country? Is it the Adanis, Ambanis, Subhash Chandras and Badals? Or is it rickshawallahs, cobblers, labourers or farmers?” he asked. ANI

    Newborn dies as parents run out of cash

    Mumbai: A Mumbai doctor’s decision to turn away a pregnant woman in labour as she had only the demonetised Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes for to pay for treatment caused the death of her newborn son.Kiran Sharma and her husband Jagdish, a carpenter, have filed a written complaint. Maharashtra Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant said he was forwarding the couple’s complaint to the state Medical Council for investigation. In his complaint, the Sharmas have named Dr Sheetal Kamath, who runs the Jeevan Jyot Hospital and Nursing Home, for the death of the newborn. According to the complaint, Kiran who was consulting Dr Kamath, delivered her baby prematurely on Wednesday.  When the family rushed Kiran to the nursing home, the hospital did not accept their Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes to pay for the deposit. The baby died on Thursday. Dr Kamath told newspapers that the baby was not admitted to her clinic as it lacked Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and advised the parents to get him admitted to the public Sion Hospital. However, a newspaper on its website posted a recording of the doctor saying thebaby was not admitted as his parents did not have enough money in the legal Rs 100 notes to pay for the deposit. The hospital refused to take calls from this reporter. Shiv Kumar

    Cash-strapped customers loot fair price shop in MP village

    Cash-strapped customers loot fair price shop in MP village
    People decamping with the ration. ANI

    Chhattarpur (MP), November 12Enraged over not getting ration from a fair price shop due to shortage of cash after the Centre’s demonestisation move, people at Bardaha village here allegedly looted groceries from the outlet in protest.Shop owner Munni Lal Ahirwar has alleged in his complaint that the villagers looted food grains as they did not have cash to buy it. Police, however claimed that no such incident took place and it was only a minor scuffle.

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    Bardaha village sarpanch None Lall alleged that the scuffle took place as Ahirwar was not giving food grains and other items for quite some time and the villagers had also complained to the Chief Minister Help Line and local police, but no action was taken.Chhattarpur (MP), November 12Enraged over not getting ration from a fair price shop due to shortage of cash after the Centre’s demonestisation move, people at Bardaha village here allegedly looted groceries from the outlet in protest.Shop owner Munni Lal Ahirwar has alleged in his complaint that the villagers looted food grains as they did not have cash to buy it. Police, however claimed that no such incident took place and it was only a minor scuffle.

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    Bardaha village sarpanch None Lall alleged that the scuffle took place as Ahirwar was not giving food grains and other items for quite some time and the villagers had also complained to the Chief Minister Help Line and local police, but no action was taken.He also denied reports of villagers looting the fair price shop.The villagers were not getting ration from the shop for the past four months and on Friday they demanded the owner to give them their due for the full period but he refused leading to a dispute, Assistant Sub Inspector (ADI) Ram Kishore Tiwari said.The owner asked the villagers to take ration for one month only but they insisted on getting it for the entire four-month period following which they started protesting, he said.Meanwhile, a purported video of the incident shows villagers taking away groceries from the shop.Police were investigating the matter, Tiwari said. PTI

    Car carrying Rs 1,000 notes seized

    • Burhanpur (MP): The police have seized scrapped Rs 1,000 currency notes amounting to Rs 4 crore from a car during a search in MP’s Burhanpur district on Saturday. The police said two suitcases and a bag packed with currency notes were seized from the car of Shabbir Hussain, a resident of Burhanpur, who was travelling with his family. IANS

    Mamata empathises with crowd

    • Kolkata: CM Mamata Banerjee on Saturday hit the streets to mingle with the crowd standing outside banks and ATMs in Kolkata and empathise with them. Banerjee visited at least three banks. “You do not look like someone with black money. Then why do you have to undergo this ordeal,” she told people in the queue. TNS

    Day 3: Queues outside banks grow longer

    Day 3: Queues outside banks grow longer
    People queue up outside a bank to exchange their old notes in Lucknow on Saturday. PTI

    New Delhi, November 12

    A glass door of a bank in Kerala was broken and clashes with bank officials erupted in Gujarat sparking police action as the weekend rush added to the chaos over demonetisation across the country for the third day today with serpentine queues outside bank branches growing longer.The endless wait to get valid currency notes was also taking a toll on people waiting for hours in long queues as there were reports of many elderly people collapsing out of fatigue.

    Security beefed up

    Security was beefed up outside bank branches as millions of anxious people struggling to buy daily items waited for hours to exchange the banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes even as the ATMs went dry soon after they were stocked due to the huge rush.“The crowd is more since it’s a weekend and many people have an off today. The crowd is swelling by the hour,” a senior police officer said in Delhi.To add to the misery of cash-strapped people, several ATMs were non-functional.People break bank’s glass doorAngry customers waiting outside a branch of the State Bank of Travancore at Vavvakkam in Kollam district allegedly broke a glass door after it decided to down shutters due to heavy rush when around 200 persons were inside the premises.At several places in Gujarat, people clashed with bank officials leading to police action, including lathicharge and detention.At a bank branch at Shihori in Banaskantha district, the police resorted to lathicharge after people clashed with bank officials when they refused to dispense money.In the national capital, the Delhi Police deployed more forces to maintain calm and warned of strict action against those trying to spread rumours on the social media.To manage anxious crowds, as many as 3,400 personnel of paramilitary and Delhi Police along with 200 quick reaction teams were deployed at ATMs.In addition to this, RAF jawans were also deployed at certain points to monitor the situation. Senior officers of the Delhi Police were also present at important junctions to oversee the security arrangements.People complained of difficulties with several ATMs remaining closed and banks exchanging the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes with coins and small denomination currency.“Nobody is accepting old currency notes. Even hospitals are now refusing to do so because of which we are facing difficulty. Several ATMs still remain closed,” said Ramesh Agarwal, who came to exchange his old notes at a bank in Ahmedabad. A bank in Mumbai is said to have floated a mobile ATM to dispense money to customers.Shrikant Manohar, who drew money from the mobile ATM said, “It was no less than a surprise. People lined up for hours, while I got cash with this mobile ATM as it came to my doorstep.”Rahul asks Cong men to help people in queueNew Delhi: After himself visiting a bank for cash on Friday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday asked all Congress workers and youth to help people standing in queues to get new currency or old currency replaced. — PTIEveninger’s April Fool prank comes true      Rajkot:  A city-based evening newspaper, which published a news item on April 1 as a prank on April Fools Day saying the government will scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, has been flooded with calls ever since the government demonetised them. The daily — Akila — is at pains now explaining to one and all that it was just a prank. The daily had to publish a clarification it its November 10 issue saying there is no substance in reports that it was based on information leaked by officials. PTI

    A day in the life of a man in queue

    Sandeep Sinha

    “May you live in interesting times,” goes a Chinese saying. It is actually supposed to be a curse. So, unable to make head or tail out of the prevailing currency confusion, I found myself standing in a queue outside a bank to exchange the currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations, confounded by the chaos and not sure if the step was good or bad.With procrastination having become my forte, surprisingly, I found myself up and about early on a Saturday, ready to take the bull by its horns, in a rare show of decisiveness. Now, queues in themselves do not put me off. To me, they are primarily a show of order, a willingness on the part of the hoi polloi to abide by the rule of law. It is in their management that governance gets reflected. In my adolescent years, I remember going to the LPG dealer where there would be long queues — first to get the receipt, followed by another long queue at the godown to fetch the cylinder. There were queues at the PDS depots, railway stations, cinema ticket counters, temples for a “darshan” and in the markets during the festive season. Even at banks, before liberalisation set in, queues were common. Even to get a bank draft, you first had to complete the formalities in the morning and then hear this stock reply, “Teen baje ke baad aa kar le jana.” In the life of an aam aadmi, queues are no fiction but a reality. Been there, done that, I told myself as I steeled my resolve and set off for the bank. The crowd was remarkably enthusiastic. “Modi ji ne dhai saal mein jo kar dikhaya, woh Congress ne itne saalon mein bhi nahin kiya,” said Dharambir, an elderly Haryanavi standing ahead of me. “Sab chor hain ji,” chipped in another, reflecting the disillusionment with the political class. With the media and the government spinning tales of how the step would break the backs of those hoarding money in black, the crowd surprisingly seemed to be remarkably stoic, showing great fortitude in bearing the hardship. Masking their worries over the cash crunch and united in their resolve by their common plight, the ire was directed more against the well-heeled. “Sab setting hai ji. Andar se kaam ho raha hai. Jabhi line aage nahin badh rahi hai.” One got to hear this. Tales of cash flowing in the Ganga and being burnt dominated the queue conversation. Instead of wasting currency, it should have been given away to the poor, some said. “Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 kamane walon ke pas black money kahan hota hai,” asked another. It was surprisingly a security guard, who, taking pity at those standing in long queues, remarked sympathetically, “Bina matlab hungama macha rakha hai.”  The bank staff, on their part, were cooperative. They filled the cubicles, counting cash, doling them out, satisfying queries. Even the security guards were courteous. After a two-hour wait, I was lucky to have my notes exchanged at the private bank I visited. But the queues at most government sector banks seemed longer.Achche din? Well, the millenarian doctrine lives on. The best of times or the worst of times? Well, only time will tell. But Charles Dickens, take a bow, for now. The writer is News Editor 

    DEMONETISATION EFFECT

    Foreigners riled as agents cash in on crisis

    Tourists asked to pay hefty commission to get currency converted

    Foreigners riled as agents cash in on crisis
    People queue up outside an ATM in Shimla on Saturday. Photo: Amit Kanwar

    Lalit Mohan

    Tribune News Service

    Dharamsala, November 12

    The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has affected people, small traders, hoteliers but foreigners, who are here to enjoy the serene atmosphere of the state, are harassed the most.Sanjeev Gandhi, general secretary of the Upper Dharamsala Hotel Association, said long queues in front of banks had left the foreigners in trouble. Taking undue advantage, some money exchange officials and agents were offering them their services in return of up to 70 per cent commission of their currency, he said.Anat Sheena, a tourist from Israel, said she had some Indian currency notes. Now, nobody was accepting the currency. “Today, I went to a bank but there were long queues and I failed to exchange the currency. Then, I went to a local money exchanger but he was asking for huge money in exchange of the currency. I was feeling exploited,” she said.Alexander, another tourist from the US, said: “The Indian Government should have set up special counters for foreign tourists in banks and other places. We have been informed that the foreigners can exchange up to Rs 5,000 at airports. However, there is no such facility at Gaggal Airport in Kangra. Most foreigners coming to India do not have bank accounts here. They keep cash as guest houses and small hotels do not accept credit cards or debit cards,” he said.Pankaj, a restaurant owner in McLeodganj, said most eating joints in Dharamsala, were wearing a deserted look. The people were not coming to the joints as they were short of cash. The situation might improve after some days, but for the time being, the business at restaurants had been hit, he said.Hoteliers and restaurant owners were expecting a slump in their business for at least six months.Arpit Bawa runs a gift shop in lower Dharamsala. He said he used to bring gifts from wholesale markets in Ludhiana or Delhi and sell these here. Now, the entire trading had come to a halt. Uncertainty was prevailing as to how the trading would take place, he said.Jewellers had closed shops apprehending income tax raids. Sources said that banks had refused to accept huge cash amounts from some jewellers in Palampur. The cash was allegedly generated from sales of gold the day demonetisation of currency was announced.Sources said many agents were also making the rounds near banks, offering people to convert their black money into white. Some of them were even giving post-dated cheques as an assurance. They were charging from 25 per cent to 40 per cent of the value of their currency.A source in the Income Tax Department said cheque exchange between people who did not have any business might come under scrutiny. However, for the time being the department was turning a blind eye to such transactions. Sources said people were using the accounts of their near and dear ones to deposit amounts up to Rs 2.5 lakh.

    Demonetisation: England’s Barmy Army stumped!

    Demonetisation: England’s Barmy Army stumped!
    John Hanmer and Bob strike a pose in Rajkot. Sabi Hussain

    Sabi Hussain

    Tribune News Service

    Rajkot, November 12

    “Oh my my…I have been visiting ATMs for the last three days, but there’s no cash. Long queues outside banks, can’t enter,” quipped John Whittaker, a member of Barmy Army, the England team’s travelling supporters.“It’s difficult to manage everyday expenses here. No one is accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes,” added John Hanmer, another fan.Barmy Army, a group madly in love with cricket, are often designated as England’s unofficial 12th man. Fifteen of them are in Rajkot, and they’re facing problems as they have only the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. As everywhere in India, in Rajkot too cash hasn’t been lasting long in the ATMs. Tourists and mediapersons have also been facing difficulties — every business, from local eateries to autorickshaw drivers, are accepting only Rs 50 or Rs 100 notes. “If we want to go out and see some tourist place, we cannot go as the taxi driver is demanding new currency notes or money in lower denomination,” said Henry, who moved from Bolton to Australia after retiring from British Telecom. “We want to taste local delicacies but the restaurant owners are refusing to take Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. We cannot buy drinks or a pack of cigarettes. Gujarat is a dry state and I have the liquor challan (permit) but the shop owner is refusing to take old currency notes. My wife had asked for souvenirs but I think I would have to disappoint her. Like every night, we will go to ATMs today also. Let’s see if we get something.”This group fears that the Indian currency they hold in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations may go waste. Staffordshire-based John displayed his wallet containing wads of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes and said: “I got a good amount of British pounds changed to rupees. What will happen to those notes?”Bob, part of the group, said they have contacted their local agent in Mumbai to provide them with the new currency notes. “But that guy was also sounding helpless. Hopefully, the situation will improve by the time we reach Visakhapatnam for the second Test,” added Henry.

    Baby dies after doctor ‘refuses’ treatment for want of Rs 100 notes

    Baby dies after doctor ‘refuses’ treatment for want of Rs 100 notes
    Photo for representation. Thinkstock

    Mumbai, November 12

    A doctor attached to a nursing home in suburban Govandi allegedly refused to treat a premature baby as the parents could not pay the necessary deposit in the wake of demonetisation, following which a case was registered against her.Jagadish Sharma, father of the newborn, had filed a case in this regard with Shivajinagar police station in the city.On November 8, Sharma’s wife Kiran, who was pregnant, was admitted to the nursing home for tests, including sonography.She was expected to deliver a baby around December 7.On November 9, Kiran went into labour prematurely and gave birth to a boy at home before she could be taken to hospital. Afterwards the mother and the boy were rushed to the nursing home.The woman doctor administered preliminary treatment but allegedly refused to treat the baby further unless Sharma, a carpenter by profession, paid a deposit of Rs 6,000 in notes of less than Rs 500 denomination, police said.Sharma alleged that he requested for some time for getting the Rs 500 notes changed into lower-value currency but the doctor refused and turned them away.The mother and the baby were taken to another hospital where the infant’s condition worsened and he died before getting treatment, as per the complaint.“Today we registered a case against the doctor for causing death by negligence (IPC Section 304A) and disobedience of order duly promulgated by public servant (IPC Section 188),” said Shahaji Umap, Deputy Commissioner of Police, zone VI.There were clear instructions from the state government to hospitals that they must continue to accept Rs 1,000 and 500 notes and a circular to this effect had been issued, the DCP said.“In our investigation we found that the baby died due to refusal by the doctor to treat him,” the officer said. No arrest has been made so far. — PTI

    Long queues, no holidays, demonetisation hits bank staffers hard too

    Long queues, no holidays, demonetisation hits bank staffers hard too
    Many branches are not equipped to handle large crowds. — PTI photo

    New Delhi, November 12

    Tackling endless queues of waiting people, long working hours, and a working weekend, has left bank staffers a harried lot as they bear the brunt of angry customers questioning delays in changing the demonetised currency notes, with sometimes incidents of violence being reported at certain branches.The queues were longer on Saturday, the third day after currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were demonetised by the government, to tackle black money.Bank employees said they were facing a logistics nightmare as many branches were not equipped to handle such large crowds.”We are overloaded with work due to sudden announcement of demonetisation. People are cashless, we understand their problem, but we are doing our best,” Preeti, a bank employee in the national capital, told IANS.”We realise that people require money for meeting their daily needs. They must cooperate with bank officials who are also humans and have sacrificed their holidays for helping people,” Preeti said.She said the work overload was beginning to tell on the health condition of bank employees as they are not getting enough time for rest.Similar story was told by other bank staffers, all of whom have been issued instructions not to interact with media.”We are facing a huge problem as customers are not listening to bank officials and creating chaos inside and outside the banks,” a senior government bank officer said.She added that people standing for hours are getting frustrated and angry, which is making the working environment in the bank difficult.”The crowd is impatient. They are pushing and creating a ruckus. They also broke some glass panes in the bank,” she said.Another bank officer told IANS that he has been returning home late at night for the past few days and arrives in office early the next the morning.”We are not even getting time to drink water or eat, but the crowd continues to grow,” he said.With people panicking, many banks kept their doors shut, and allowed limited numbers inside while queues outside grew longer.Sadly for many customers on Saturday, which was only a half working day for banks, it was closing time before they could make it inside.The manger of a branch of HDFC bank in south Delhi, said they were doing their best, and asked people to be patient.”The directive we got is to keep the branch open till 3.30 pm, we cannot do anything about it,” the manager said, adding that he was not authorised to speak to media.He said they had sufficient currency, but the crowd was too large to handle.”We have a currency chest, and sufficient cash, it will suffice till Monday. Banks are closed on Monday, so we will get more cash then,” the manager said.”But most of the crowd comprises of those who do not have accounts with us. We have limited capacity,” he said.Asked about the ATMs, the manager admitted that they were not able to fill cash.”The cash that was filled was emptied in an hour. We have not been able to fill cash after that,” he said.The new Rs 2,000 notes are not being filled in ATMs, he said, adding that a software update will be needed to give out these notes from the ATMs.He added that the size of the currency will not be a problem for the machines as it was of the same size as Rs 100 notes.Asked about the delays, the manager clarified that cashiers had to check every single demonetised currency note deposited so that there are no fake bills.”The process takes time, we are all working since morning, and we will be working tomorrow as well,” he added. — IANS

    Cong dubs demonetisation another ‘gimmick’

    Demands BJP to make public its poll expenses in UP, Punjab
    Sibal termed the decision as one taken “in haste and without proper planning”. AFP photo

    New Delhi, November 12

    Dubbing the demonetisation move as another “jumla” (gimmick) for political reasons, the Congress on Saturday demanded that the BJP make public all its expenses in upcoming polls in UP, Punjab and other states if it was serious about eliminating blackmoney and corruption.Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal also asked BJP to set up a commission of inquiry into all expenses made by it before 2014 Lok Sabha elections prior to Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister.He also questioned the Prime Minister’s absence from the country at a time when public was facing “harassment and inconvenience”.Sibal also termed the decision as one taken “in haste and without proper planning” due to which people had been put to hardship.“Modiji should make a promise that whether it (polls) is in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab or anywhere else, for every meeting that takes place of the BJP, there will be an expenditure account of the party irrespective of expenses on putting up tents and posters, bringing water tanks as all that are given by cheque.“Who gives the cheque, to whom it is given, all that should be put up on their websites,” he said.“Only then will we understand that he is serious about it and this is not an election jumla,” he said.Raising the demand for a probe on all poll expenses spent earlier, Sibal said, “I would suggest that Narendra Modi ji for all this strike on black money should set up a commission of inquiry with reference to all the money that was spent by the BJP before Mr Modi became the Prime Minister.”Sibal said when the UPA was going to take a decision on demonetisation of currency before 2005 in January 2014, the then BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi termed it as “anti-poor and a mockery with the poor people”.“The BJP had completely opposed it (at that time). Is it not a mockery with the poor people now? It is also a jumla and nothing else,” he said.In an apparent reference to BJP’s campaign during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he alleged that a lot of “black money” went into the 2014 election campaign of the BJP.“The kind of money that was spent (on election campaign), which was displayed on all the television channels, suggested, I can’t say it is a proof, a lot of black money went into it…“Unless there is a commission of inquiry for Mr Modi to investigate as to who was responsible… Because he is against all this (black money), he would not know because he was only delivering speeches,” Sibal said.“He was only making speeches, how would he know that so much of black money is being spent, If he is honest about it, he should set up a commission of inquiry,” the Congress leader said. — PTI

    Ready to work with all Oppn parties, including CPM: Mamata on demonetisation

    Ready to work with all Oppn parties, including CPM: Mamata on demonetisation
    Mamata Banerjee called upon all opposition parties to work together against the “anti-poor government at the Centre”. PTI photo

    Kolkata, November 12

    Upping the ante against the BJP, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said she is not averse to working with CPI(M) and other opposition parties like the Congress, SP, BSP to fight against the “anti-people” the Modi government which has imposed an “undeclared emergency”.”We may have ideological differences with CPI-M but we are ready to work with it and other opposition parties like the Congress, SP, BSP to save the country. The anti-people Modi government has imposed an undeclared emergency in the country,” she told a press conference at the state secretariat.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)”Congress, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh ji, (Arvind) Kejriwal have protested against the demonetisation issue. Let all the opposition parties work together to save the country,” she said, adding that BJP will lose deposits in upcoming elections.Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of conducting a surgical strike on the common people in the name of unearthing black money, she said that the demonetisation move was taken without any proper planning causing immense hardship.”The Modi goverment had misled the people on the surgical strikes (in PoK). The people do not know what had happened,” she said.TMC Parliamentary party will raise the issue on the floor of Parliament and will seek answers on the issue of surgical strikes, she said.Turning to Modi’s statement from Japan on the future steps to curb black money, she said, “Now the Prime Minister is threatening the people of the country from foreign land.”What will he do? He can put us in jail or shoot us for raising voice. I don’t care. He can also declare emergency,” she said.Terming the demonetisation move as “dangerous, disastrous and draconian”, Banerjee demanded that a probe should be carried out by the Chief Justice of India to find out the financial loss in the country during the period after the announcement of demonetisation of high value currency.”I heard that the ruling party (BJP) knew about the demonetisation of the high value notes,” Banerjee said, adding, “Why should the common people be punished?”         Earlier in the day, she visited banks and ATMs in the city to witness the “hardship” faced by the common people and demanded withdrawal of the decision.”I visited several bank branches and ATMs since the morning. I spoke to the people…How they were facing this inconvenience due to an ill-planned and anti-people policy.Those who have black money are not standing in long queues,” she said. — PTI


    MILITARY ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL (MAT)

                I  retired from the Indian Air Force on 31 Oct 2004 after having served the nation for 11972 days.   Armed forces career was a wonderful and right choice even though I had an option to join IIT, having qualified for IIT and NDA simultaneously.  No organization could have given me the quality of life that Armed Forces gave me  and my family.  During my service career I had the opportunity to serve at Air Headquarter only once as a young Squadron Leader in so called elite ‘P’ Staff.  In my 22 months stint I had the privilege to handle sensitive documents eg. Officer’s dossiers (other than my own) as well as numerous complaints/representations by officers of all shapes, sizes and ranks with respect to their postings and promotions.  Many issues were resolved at Air Headquarter itself.  Let me categorically state that in most cases officers making these representations had no case.  As long as officers were posted to Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore or such like places they had no problems leaving their old parents and ancestral  property  thousands of kilometers behind.  But the moment they were posted to Chabua, Naliya, Utarlai and Thoise or such like places their overwhelming desire to look after their ailing parents and ancestral property  suddenly became all pervasive and promptly they made the request for cancellation/deferment/change of posting.  Similarly as long as the officer was being promoted, he sang praises in the bar but the moment he was not cleared for promotion, the officer would curse the organization and/ or his superiors.  A few of these officers went to  civil court to seek redress. 
     
                Contents of all applications were much like X-Rated  film.Different players but same ending.  Officer,s  contentions, always and every time, was the same.  That he was deliberately denied promotion or posted to some inhospitable station.  Honourable courts commenced their act of seeking information and giving dates.  JAG(Air) got into the act and endless flow of queries on inconsequential  and insignificant issues had to be given by ‘P’ staff.  Court cases dragged on for months.  Prior to each court hearing some poor soul in ‘P’ staff   was tasked to reply to each question raised by honourable courts, leaving their primary duty, thus chances of an act of omission increased manifold.  In most cases the officers contention  was rejected by honourable courts, while in few cases it was upheld and relief was granted to the officer.
     
                Discussion of such cases enlivened the evenings in the bar and heated discussions/arguments ensued giving graphic details of what a particular AOC or AOC-in-C  wrote  in a particular officers Annual Report.  Some brilliant and imaginative  officers  even  quoted  verbatim,  the discussion that took place in the conference hall where promotion board was held .  It is a different matter that the officer, who was privy to such utterances ,was not even aware of the date of promotion board.  Due to protracted court hearings and repeated cases of same nature for which all replies etc has to be ultimately typed by staff-Airmen and Civilians hence, men were also privy to graphic details.  Thus even the soldiers knew what a Squadron Commander was alleging against his own Station Commander.    And in some cases what a two/three star General was alleging against his Chief. Obviously the soldiers also talked.  Publicity of such cases by print/visual media invariably added more spice, which had obvious undesirable effect.
     
                Occurrences such as these invariably strike at the very root of any organization, particularly Armed forces.  At the end of my tenure at Air Headquarters lasting 22 months, I was convinced that in the larger interest of the organization no officer/airmen must be allowed to go to court since it resulted in totally avoidable gossip consisting mostly  of irrelevant and derogatory remarks against senior officers. I do believe that an aggrieved military person has a right to represent to the organization about what he/she feels as wrong done to him/her with respect to promotion and posting.  The Chief’s decision should be final in these matters.  However, if a person is still  dissatisfied , he/she should be allowed to seek redress from a Military Administrative Tribunal and not the honourable  civil courts.
     
    Military Administrative Tribunal (MAT) should comprise of last five retired service Chiefs with a rider that each service must be represented.  The senior most amongst   them should head the MAT.  MAT should be given the status of a Quasi-
    Judicial  body.  Strictures passed by MAT, if any, should be endorsed in Annual Reports of officers found guilty of impropriety. It could be reporting officer or the complainant.  MAT should be given the authority to summon related documents eg. Annual Reports, record of posting etc.  If required, MAT could call head of personnel branch of each service viz Air Officer-in-Charge Personnel (AF), Chief of Personnel (Navy) or Military Secretary (Army).  MAT should not   have the powers to summon a serving Chief.  Decision of MAT is to be treated as final and no appeal should be allowed in a Court of Law, specifically with respect to cases related with postings/promotions.    While proposing constitution of MAT, I do not recommend creation of a super headquarters.  There is no requirement to have a separate infrastructure for MAT. Each Service HQ is to house MAT for the durations of case and be responsible for suitable office accommodation, secretarial service and admin support.  No remuneration is recommended.    All   retired Chiefs must  sit on the MAT, if his turn is due. 
     
                While making the  proposal  of establishing MAT, a mention of honourable courts is a must.  May I beg forgiveness lest some honourable lordship charge me with contempt of court having dared to commit blasphemous act such as questioning  the  wisdom of hounourable courts.  I am a man of extremely average intelligence and that is why I have always been amazed as to how lordships are able to absorb nitty-gritty of posting profile over decades as well as promotion chances, when at  times  hearings in the court lasted for a few minutes.  In one such hearing, where I was present, your lordship thought that Air Force Station Nal and Naliya    were one and the same place.  Honourable  lordship  had little idea about geography thus had no clue that Nal was desert and Naliya was sea beach.  Irrespective of all the legal knowledge, no Judge of any court can absorb, assimilate and/ or examine the posting profile  of  an  individual.  Postings and promotions are relative matter, wherein one is competing along with his colleagues.  How can a  judge  pass stricture on a service HQ merely  because  a  military  personnel  complains that his/her posting is malafide?

             Does the honourable judge have time to examine posting profile of thousands of colleagues?  The answer is No.  Similarly in matter related with promotion honourable judges merely have complainants dossier and not everyone else considered for promotion.  Our promotion process is very fair and I do believe most competent of otherwise competent officers are usually promoted.  No system can be without flaws.
     
                Reading the above, some of the honourable lordship might want to hold me guilty of contempt of court.  There is a need for some plain speaking.  A recent judgement wherein the honourable courts  directed  a particular service Chief to reduce discretionary marks was projected in the print and visual media using words to the effect “wings have been clipped/Par Katar Diye Gaye)”.  A brash reporter of a prominent channel reported this in   rather obscene manner.  Your lordships do you know what such action has resulted in? It has allowed tongues to wag  against Chief of an Armed Force. Sir, Chief  of an Armed Force is not an individual, he is an institution.    Do you realise that such actions/events  effect morale?  The Chief is expected to lead his men to war.  Such decisions, therefore, impinge on national security.  I see no reason why your lordships cannot reject the appeal outright and direct the individual to seek redress from parent organization in cases related with posting/promotion.  Your lordships, you shall actually be contributing to national security, albeit indirectly. On numerous pretexts your lordships decline to hear number of cases.  May I then submit as to why can you not decline to hear cases related with postings/promotion of military personnel on account of national security.  I am sure, learned as you all lordships are, you must  have  read a Shloka of Rigveda “Satyam Bruyat Priyam Bruyat, Na Bruyat Satyam Apriyam”.  Translated into english it means “speak truth but do not speak unpleasant truth”.  Indicting a service and/or its Chief in public is unpleasant truth, which impinges on morale of the men, thus national security.
     
                May I appeal to my colleagues not to take to court matters related with posting and  promotion. Filing a court case against your service is like suing your professional parents.  Posting/Promotions   is  an in house  matter.  If  you  cannot  onvince  your parent organisation, you have no right to go anywhere else.  In a highly   pyramidal structure, supersession are  to be treated as a norm.  It is not a   stricture on your performance.  Berths on upper floors of  service  hierarchy are very few.  Only the most competent from a group of otherwise competent people shall occupy those and rightly so.   
     
     
                Would the MOD like to consider setting up MAT?  Friends what about you?  Do you agree or would  you  insist on washing dirty linen in public view and make a hole in your  pocket greasing the ever open palms of yet another advocate? Don’t waste your hard earned money.  If you think you have a case, confront your professional parent, the Chief, and you shall get  justice.  For heaven’s  sake  don’t go to court.  If you must, exercise your right to put in a statutory complaint, a permitted legal process.
     
      Setting up a Military Administrative Tribunal shall be a progressive step, which shall provide succor to genuinely wronged, at the same time  pass recordable stricture against those found guilty of deliberately attempting to harm the individual’s interest merely because they   happened to be in position of authority.  The court can only give relief to the complainant, they cannot direct the service  Chiefs to  record strictures in annual reports of those found responsible for a deliberate act of omission and commission. On the other hand if  five  Service Chiefs (MAT) find “No Case” in your complaint, you indeed have “NO CASE”.
     
                No one should have  any  doubt  that there have been instances in the past/ there would be in future as well, where an officer writing the ACR has been less than professionally honest to his subordinate.  I only pity such  bird-brains  and may I remind them that while writing the ACR they should not consider themselves as God and think that they are writing the destiny of their subordinates.  Destiny is already pre-ordained.
     
                While making this proposal I am acutely  conscious  of the reaction of my colleagues.  MOD may like  to  include it in terms and condition of service of service personnel that they cannot go to civil court for seeking redress on matters related with promotions/postings .  We cannot allow morale of our men  being  affected merely because one of us missed getting next rank. “No courts for Defence personnel” if the grievance is related to promotion/posting.  Promotion/posting is an in house matter and must be resolved in-house.  No civilian judge is competent enough to pass a judgment on such issues. There is no attempt to curb the fundamental rights of Defence Personnel.  It is merely to protect the interest of organization, which takes precedence over individual interest, always and every time.
     
                                                                                                    (TP Srivastava)
                                                                                                    Group Captain
                                                                                                    September  , 2004

    Cong seeks Parrikar’s resignation

    Tribune News Service

    Jalandhar, November 4

    Congress leaders from the district held a protest outside the office of the district administration over the issue of suicide of an ex-serviceman and the post-incident detention of his family and AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi by the Delhi police.Led by Jalandhar MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh, the members demanded resignation of the Union Defence Minister for failing to properly implement One Rank One Pension (OROP). “Congress party stands with the family of Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, who committed suicide in Delhi over the OROP issue,” he said.Lambasting the PM Narendra Modi-led Union Government, the Jalandhar MP said, “The veteran soldiers of country are feeling betrayed and are forced to take these extreme steps to get their rights. On top of that, the way the Delhi police behaved with the family of Ram Kishan Grewal is highly objectionable. The Modi government must apologise for making the family of a soldier suffer.”Prominent among others present were PPCC general secretary Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary, DCC president Rajinder Beri, PPCC secretaries Surinder Chaudhary, Rajkumar Hans, Manjit Saroya, PPCC spokesman Navjot Dahiya, councillor Surinder Kaur, and other leaders including Capt Harminder Singh, Bawa Henry, Amrit Khosla and Sukhraj Kaur Dhillon.In Kapurthala, district president Joginder Singh Mann, Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, Sultanpur Lodhi MLA Navtej SIngh Cheema were among those who participated in the protest. An effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was burnt and slogans were raised. In Nawanshahr district president Satvir Singh, district mahila president Jatinder Kaur Monga, SC Cell leader Raj Kumar Sabharwal, SC Cell district president Sukhi Ram and youth leader Rajwinder Singh Lucky held a protest on the issue.

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    Ex-servicemen’s suicide: Police prevent Rahul from marching to India Gate

    Ex-servicemen’s suicide: Police prevent Rahul from marching to India Gate
    Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi along with party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia being detained during a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

    New Delhi, November 3 Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was on Thursday prevented from marching to India Gate to protest the suicide of an ex-serviceman, allegedly over OROP, a day after he was detained twice while trying to meet the family of the deceased soldier.Rahul was leading a candle light march organised by the Delhi Congress unit from Jantar Mantar to India Gate when police personnel restrained him and whisked him away on a van.He was, according to police, later dropped at a place on Feroze Shah Road, Police said.The Congress leader, however, claimed in a tweet: “Was detained by Delhi police and taken away from Jantar Mantar.””Police vehicle was stopped at 5, Feroze Shah Road, enroute to Tughlak Road PS,” he tweeted.”I have only one thing to say that the way the family was treated was wrong and it may affect the morale of the army.The police should at least apologise to the family,” he told reporters.A police official said the action was taken keeping Rahul’s security in mind as the crowd at Jantar Mantar was swelling by the minute.Yesterday, Rahul was detained twice when he went to meet the family of Ram Kishan Grewal, who committed suicide over the “non-implementation” of One Rank One Pension (OROP). — PTI


    Lt Gen JS Sandhu is 15 Corps GoC

    Lt Gen JS Sandhu is 15 Corps GoC
    Lt Gen Satish Dua hand over charge of 15 Corps to Lt Gen JS Sandhu in Srinagar on Monday. tribune photo

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, November 1

    Amid the tension along the Line of Control (LoC), Lt Gen JS Sandhu on Monday took over as the General officer Commanding (GoC) of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps — the most challenging and strategic corps of the Army.Lt Gen Satish Dua handed over the charge to Lt Gen Sandhu, who became the 46th Corps commander of Chinar Corps, which is responsible for guarding the LoC in Kashmir.Commissioned into the regiment of 5th Gorkha Rifles (FF), Lt General Sandhu has had an illustrious military career spanning 36 years during which he has held varied prestigious command, staff and instructional appointments.The officer has an incisive understanding of J&K having served five earlier stints in the state, including command of an Infantry Battalion on the LoC, a Mountain Brigade and the elite Kupwara Division, a defence spokesman said.A graduate of the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Higher Command Course and National Defence College, Gen Sandhu has also served in Army Headquarters, Infantry School, Army War College and the DSSC. He has also represented the country in the Indian embassy at Kathmandu, Nepal. Earlier in the day, Lt General Dua was given a farewell at Badami Bagh, which began with both officers laying a wreath at the War Memorial to pay homage to martyrs.Lt General Dua proceeded to New Delhi on promotion to assume the charge of Chief of Integrated Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee.Lt General Dua will be remembered for planning and executing the surgical strikes that were launched by the Army on September 29, following the attack on an Army base at Uri that left 19 soldiers dead and over two dozen others injured. During his tenure, 160 militants were killed along the LoC and hinterland.“Operationally, besides addressing conventional preparedness, he ensured strengthening of the counter infiltration posture along the LoC, including the development of habitat and security infrastructure, thus further empowering the soldiers on ground that resulted in foiling of over 50 infiltration bids and elimination of over 100 terrorists,” a senior Army officer said. “The counter-terrorist operations in the hinterland also saw major successes during his tenure with over 60 terrorists eliminated that included 25 leaders of different major outfits. This also bears testimony to the vigour and purpose he was able to further infuse in the synergetic levels among all security and intelligence agencies operating in the Valley.”


    ‘Hang my head in shame’, Former Navy Chief pens emotional letter to President and PM Modi on Diwali

    An open letter addressed to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi written by Former Navy chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas highlighted the ‘deep shame’ he felt pertaining to relentless attacks on minorities in the country.

    The Magsaysay award winner wrote the following in his letter ::

    Honourable President and Honourable Prime Minister,

    It is with a heavy heart, that I write this open letter to you at a time when our beloved country and people are facing severe challenges and threats to our shared heritage.

    I have served in the Armed Forces of India – joining soon after Independence as a 14 year old, to end up 45 years later Chief of the Indian Navy [1990 to 1993] I have witnessed many transitions in India – from the horrors of partition in 1947 to the very different world of digital connectivity that we see today.

    I also write to you as one who was brought up in the Hindu faith. However, the Hinduism I knew and experienced was gentle, inclusive, and filled with extraordinary diversity. My religion taught me values of love and respect for all beings. My brand of Hinduism was not filled with the kind of violence, intolerance represented by the current brand of “Hindutva” that seems to be fanning the flames of division and fear across the country.

    Today, as a veteran in my eighties, I am forced to hang my head in shame as I witness a series of incidents and assaults on our fellow citizens, especially minorities and Dalits. Our armed forces which I have had the honour to serve for 45 years, have been an exemplar of India’s secular ethos. Be it in ships and submarines, or in planes and battle formations, we do not discriminate on the basis of caste or religion – we train, we fight, we live, we eat and we die together.

    So why are we bearing witness to increasing attacks on minorities across the country, ever since the present government came to power in May 2014? It appears that certain communities are being singled out for special attention – for instance Muslims. Today a Muslim has to prove his or her loyalty, and they are being repeatedly put in a situation where their places of worship are under attack, as indeed their eating habits, and other basic freedoms. The instances of completely unacceptable and unilateral mob behaviour leading to many deaths as well as direct insinuations being made by senior leaders, are too numerous and well known to be repeated.

    There seems to be a systematic and well orchestrated attempt to impose a majoritarian single point agenda of creating a Hindu Rashtra in India – led by the RSS and their network of groups, which is disturbing to say the least. This in turn has resulted in a dangerous pattern of mob behaviour including intimidating and lynching people merely on the basis of rumours – in total disregard for the established rule of law. In many cases those responsible for implementing the law, have themselves displayed blatant partisan tendencies and behaviour.

    Most shocking of all is the fact there has been no unambiguous condemnation of such actions and behaviour by those at the helm of affairs in the country. Sadly, time and time again, the response of the government seems to indicate an almost studied, but certainly not benign, indifference. The co-ordinated response of those in government seems to be to downplay the serious and vicious nature of these allegations and attacks – by terming them ‘sad’ and ‘unfortunate’ – whereas there should be outrage and a demonstrated will to ensure that this society will not tolerate such behaviour. That there are MPs, Cabinet ministers and elected Chief Ministers who are in the forefront of these comments and actions, leads one to believe that the ruling party and its satellite organisations are working to a plan.

    I do not need to point out to the top leadership today, that this is playing with fire in a nation where minorities – especially Muslims and Christians, as also Dalits and adivasis, are already feeling discriminated and marginalised. Instead of treating this amazing diversity as our strength, today we are being seen by the international community as increasingly insular, parochial, intolerant, racist and even fascist. The violence visited upon vulnerable sections reinforces the image of India as an imperfect democracy where all forms of dissent are discouraged and human rights trampled upon with impunity.

    The Prime Minister and his ministers in the government are sworn in by the President of India, and they take an oath pledging to uphold the Indian Constitution. Their failure to do so, as evidenced in the foregoing, is a serious matter and does not augur well either for national security or national integrity. The Central and State Governments must act swiftly, unequivocally condemn all such incidents and ensure that justice will be done and the guilty are punished. Such action alone will have a salutary deterrent effect on all those, be they fringe or mainstream, who are speaking and acting in many voices that are totally against and inimical to, our traditional ethos and the syncretic culture of our country and its people.

    India represents a unique blend of peoples and cultures which have evolved over 5000 plus years in a constantly changing and dynamic process. This diversity and unique nature of our society and people can probably never be replicated anywhere on this earth – and for this reason alone, the concept of a single religious identity or mono culture represents an insult to this ancient civilisational heritage.

    Honourable Mr President, Honourable Mr Prime Minister, you have both sworn to honour the right of every single citizen to freedom of speech, worship, association as brilliantly articulated in the Indian Constitution. As a former serviceman and a veteran, like you, I too have promised to uphold the same constitution. It is our bounden duty that the elected Government of this nation must honour the rights of every citizen of this land as amply spelled out in the Preamble of the Constitution and further elaborated in the Directive Principles of state policy. As Supreme Commander and the Chief Executive – this is what you must ensure and implement by all the powers vested in you by the people of India.

    If we do not stem the rot now – it might be too late. Indeed we the people of India look to you to take all steps necessary to restore faith in our democracy and in the promise of bringing dignity, fraternity and equality to each of our citizens.