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    No more concessions on OROP: Parrikar

    Tribune News Service
    New Delhi, November 9
    images (1)

    Even as ex-servicemen have expressed their dissatisfaction over the terms of the ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) scheme, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today ruled out any more concessions on OROP.
    Parrikar said “This is democracy. Everyone has the right to demand. But the maximum… their main demand for same pension for same rank has been given. Rest is everything that we had declared (on September 5). Out of that, the confusion about VRS has been removed,” Parrikar said on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi. VRS is known as pre-mature retirement (PMR) in the forces.
    The minister said the “basic core issue” had been addressed and if there was a problem, the judicial commission would look into that. He was replying to questions on veterans being unhappy with the OROP notification issued by the government on Saturday.
    Meanwhile, Air Force Chief Arup Raha said the government had given directions on the OROP issue and everyone should accept it.
    He said if anomalies were still persisting, these could be sorted out in due course of time. The notification does not include the demands for an annual equalisation of revised pension, for pegging the pension to the maximum of the current pensioners, and for appointing an expert commission with serving military personnel and ex-servicemen representatives.
    Ex-servicemen, who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi since June, rejected the notification. Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement spearheading the protest, had said, “The notification will not be acceptable to the rank and file. It is not one rank, one pension but one, rank, five pensions”.


    Indian Army, PLA commit to peace on LAC in Ladakh

    army_china_festive_meet_07_11_2015
    The Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China Saturday held a meeting along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Chushul Sector of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure peace on borders.

    “A Ceremonial Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) on the occasion of ‘Diwali Festival’ was conducted at Indian BPM hut in Chushul Sector of Eastern Ladakh and at Dulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in eastern Ladakh. The Indian delegation was led by Brigadier R S Raman in Chushul and by Colonel B S Uppal in DBO. The Chinese delegation was led by Colonel Cao Guasheng in Chushul and by Colonel Song Zhang Li in DBO,” defence spokesperson S D Goswami said in a statement.

    He said both the delegations interacted in a free, congenial and cordial environment and parted amidst feeling of friendship and commitment towards enhancing the existing cordial relations and maintaining peace along the LAC.

    “Both sides also sought to build on the mutual feeling to uphold the treaties and agreements signed between the Governments of the two sides to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC,” the defence spokesman said.

    He added that both the sides also sought to build on the mutual feeling to uphold the treaties and agreements signed between the governments of the two sides to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC.

    Indian and Chinese troops, last year, locked in a three-week long stand-off in the Chumar and Demchok areas of eastern Ladakh, which was resolved by way of an understanding reached between the two sides to carry out disengagement and redeployment of border troops to restore the “status quo ante.”


    ਇੱਕ ਰੈਂਕ-ਇੱਕ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਦੀ ਚੁਣੌਤੀ

    ਕੇਂਦਰ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ‘ਇੱਕ ਰੈਂਕ-ਇੱਕ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ’ ਦੇ ਫਾਰਮੂਲੇ ਤਹਿਤ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਦੇਣ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਨੋਟੀਫਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਭਾਵੇਂ ਜਾਰੀ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਗਿਆ ਹੈ, ਪਰ ਇੰਡੀਅਨ ਐਕਸ ਸਰਵਿਸਮੈੱਨ ਮੂਵਮੈਂਟ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਰੱਦ ਕਰਨ ਕਰਕੇ ਰੇੜਕਾ ਹਾਲੇ ਵੀ ਬਰਕਰਾਰ ਜਾਪਦਾ ਹੈ। ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਵੱਲੋਂ ‘ਇੱਕ ਰੈਂਕ-ਇੱਕ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ’ ਦੀ ਮੰਗ ਲਗਪਗ ਚਾਰ ਦਹਾਕਿਆਂ ਤੋਂ ਕੀਤੀ ਜਾ ਰਹੀ ਹੈ। ਇਸ ਸਮੇਂ ਦੌਰਾਨ ਵੱਖ-ਵੱਖ ਸਰਕਾਰਾਂ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਇਸ ਮੰਗ ਦੀ ਪੂਰਤੀ ਲਈ ਸਮੇਂ ਸਮੇਂ ਕੀਤੇ ਵਾਅਦਿਆਂ ਉੱਤੇ ਅਮਲ ਨਾ ਹੋਣ ਕਾਰਨ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਆਰ-ਪਾਰ ਦੀ ਲੜਾਈ ਲੜਨ ਵਜੋਂ ਮੁਲਕ ਦੀ ਰਾਜਧਾਨੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਜੰਤਰ-ਮੰਤਰ ’ਤੇ ਅਣਮਿੱਥੇ ਸਮੇਂ ਦਾ ਧਰਨਾ ਸ਼ੁਰੂ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਸੀ। ਇਸ ਧਰਨੇ ਨੇ ਨਾ ਕੇਵਲ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਇਸ ਮੰਗ ਵੱਲ ਸਮੁੱਚੇ ਦੇਸ਼ ਵਾਸੀਆਂ ਦਾ ਧਿਆਨ ਖਿੱਚਿਆ ਸਗੋਂ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਇਹ ਵੀ ਅਹਿਸਾਸ ਕਰਵਾਇਆ ਕਿ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਦੇਸ਼ ਦੀ ਰੱਖਿਆ ਲਈ ਹਰ ਕੁਰਬਾਨੀ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲੇ ਸੈਨਿਕਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਵੀ ਬੇਇਨਸਾਫ਼ੀ ਕਰ ਰਹੀ ਹੈ। ਇਸ ਧਰਨੇ ਸਦਕਾ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਮੰਗਾਂ ਦੇ ਹੱਕ ਵਿੱਚ ਪੈਦਾ ਹੋਏ ਵੱਡੇ ਉਭਾਰ ਅਤੇ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਪ੍ਰਤੀ ਰੋਸ ਦੇ ਮੱਦੇਨਜ਼ਰ ਕੇਂਦਰ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਨੇ 5 ਸਤੰਬਰ ਨੂੰ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਇੱਕ ਰੈਂਕ ਇੱਕ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਦੀ ਮਹੱਤਵਪੂਰਨ ਮੰਗ ਸਵੀਕਾਰ ਕਰ ਲੈਣ ਦਾ ਐਲਾਨ ਤਾਂ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਸੀ, ਪਰ ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਜਾਰੀ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਕੁਝ ਸਮਾਂ ਮੰਗਿਆ ਸੀ। ਰੱਖਿਆ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਮਨੋਹਰ ਪਰੀਕਰ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਐਲਾਨ ਨਾਲ ਭਾਵੇਂ ਯੂਨਾਈਟਿਡ ਫਰੰਟ ਆਫ਼ ਐਕਸ ਸਰਵਿਸਮੈੱਨ ਨੇ ਧਰਨਾ ਤਾਂ ਖ਼ਤਮ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਸੀ, ਪਰ ਕੁਝ ਮੁੱਦਿਆਂ ’ਤੇ ਸਹਿਮਤੀ ਨਾ ਹੋਣ ਕਰਕੇ ਦਵੰਦ ਬਰਕਰਾਰ ਰਿਹਾ ਸੀ। ਮਗਰੋਂ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਸਪਸ਼ਟੀਕਰਨ ਦੇਣ ਅਤੇ ਰਹਿ ਗਈਆਂ ਊਣਤਾਈਆਂ ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਜਾਰੀ ਕਰਨ ਸਮੇਂ ਖ਼ਤਮ ਕਰਨ ਦੇ ਦਿਵਾਏ ਗਏ ਵਿਸ਼ਵਾਸ ਤਹਿਤ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਆਪਣਾ ਅੰਦੋਲਨ ਵਾਪਸ ਲੈ ਲਿਆ ਸੀ।
    ਦੋ ਮਹੀਨਿਆਂ ਮਗਰੋਂ ਕੇਂਦਰ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਮੰਗਾਂ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਜਾਰੀ ਕਰਨ ਨਾਲ ਵੀ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀ ਸੰਤੁਸ਼ਟ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੋਏ ਜਾਪਦੇ। ਜੰਤਰ ਮੰਤਰ ਵਿਖੇ ਧਰਨਾ ਸ਼ੁਰੂ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲੀ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਜਥੇਬੰਦੀ ਇੰਡੀਅਨ ਐਕਸ ਸਰਵਿਸਮੈੱਨ ਮੂਵਮੈਂਟ ਨੇ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਜਾਰੀ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਨੂੰ ਰੱਦ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਹੈ। ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਅਨੁਸਾਰ ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਦਾ ਆਧਾਰ ਕੈਲੰਡਰ ਸਾਲ 2013 ਦੀ ਥਾਂ ਵਿੱਤੀ ਸਾਲ 2013 ਹੋਣਾ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ ਹੈ। ਜਾਰੀ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਹੁਕਮਾਂ ਅਨੁਸਾਰ ਇੱਕ ਰੈਂਕ-ਇੱਕ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਦੀ ਥਾਂ ਪੰਜ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਵਾਲੀ ਸਥਿਤੀ ਬਣ ਗਈ ਹੈ। ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਇਹ ਹੁਕਮ ਪਹਿਲੀ ਜੁਲਾਈ 2014 ਤੋਂ ਲਾਗੂ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਥਾਂ ਇੱਕ ਅਪਰੈਲ ਤੋਂ ਲਾਗੂ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਕਿਹਾ ਹੈ। ਦੂਜੇ ਪਾਸੇ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਦਾ ਦਾਅਵਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਜਾਰੀ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਨਾਲ 25 ਲੱਖ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਧ ਸੈਨਿਕਾਂ ਅਤੇ ਮਰਹੂਮ ਜਾਂ ਸ਼ਹੀਦ ਸੈਨਿਕਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਪਤਨੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਲਾਭ ਮਿਲੇਗਾ ਅਤੇ ਭਵਿੱਖ ਵਿੱਚ ਹਰ ਪੰਜ ਸਾਲ ਬਾਅਦ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਨਿਰਧਾਰਿਤ ਕੀਤੀ ਜਾਵੇਗੀ। ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਤਹਿਤ ਸਵੈ-ਇੱਛਾ ਨਾਲ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਲੈਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਇੱਕ ਰੈਂਕ-ਇੱਕ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਦਾ ਲਾਭ ਨਾ ਮਿਲਣਾ ਵੀ ਇੱਕ ਵਿਵਾਦਤ ਮੁੱਦਾ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ। ਇਸ ਤੋਂ ਇਲਾਵਾ ਨਵਾਂ ਪੈਨਸ਼ਨ ਫਾਰਮੂਲਾ ਵੀ ਵਿਵਾਦਾਂ ਦੇ ਘੇਰੇ ਵਿੱਚ ਹੈ।
    ਰੱਖਿਆ ਮੰਤਰਾਲੇ ਨੇ ਭਾਵੇਂ ਜਾਰੀ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਨੂੰ ਹਾਂ-ਪੱਖੀ ਤਰੀਕੇ ਨਾਲ ਲਾਗੂ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਵਿਸ਼ਵਾਸ ਦਿਵਾਇਆ ਹੈ, ਪਰ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀ ਇਸ ਤੋਂ ਸੰਤੁਸ਼ਟ ਨਹੀਂ ਜਾਪਦੇ। 5 ਸਤੰਬਰ ਨੂੰ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਮੰਗਾਂ ਪ੍ਰਵਾਨ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਐਲਾਨ ਅਤੇ ਹੁਣ ਦੋ ਮਹੀਨਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਸੋਚ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਮਗਰੋਂ 7 ਨਵੰਬਰ ਨੂੰ ਇਸ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਜਾਰੀ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਨੋਟੀਫ਼ਿਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਨਾਲ ਵੀ ਜੇ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀ ਸੰਤੁਸ਼ਟ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੋਏ ਤਾਂ ਇਹ ਕੇਂਦਰ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਅਤੇ ਰੱਖਿਆ ਮੰਤਰਾਲੇ ਦੀ ਅਸਫਲਤਾ ਹੀ ਮੰਨੀ ਜਾ ਸਕਦੀ ਹੈ। ਜੇ ਇਸ ਸਥਿਤੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀ ਮੁੜ ਸੰਘਰਸ਼ ਦਾ ਰਾਹ ਅਖ਼ਤਿਆਰ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਨ ਤਾਂ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਇਸ ਜ਼ਿੰਮੇਵਾਰੀ ਤੋਂ ਭੱਜ ਨਹੀਂ ਸਕਦੀ। ਸਾਬਕਾ ਫ਼ੌਜੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਆਪਣੀਆਂ ਮੰਗਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਸਬੰਧਿਤ ਵਿਵਾਦਮਈ ਮੁੱਦਿਆਂ ਬਾਰੇ ਆਪਣਾ ਪੱਖ ਤਰਕ ਨਾਲ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਅਤੇ ਰੱਖਿਆ ਮੰਤਰਾਲੇ ਸਾਹਮਣੇ ਪੇਸ਼ ਕਰਨ ਤਾਂ ਜੋ ਢੁਕਵਾਂ ਹੱਲ ਨਿਕਲ ਸਕੇ।


    Notification for implementation of OROP issued

    Ajay Banerjee
    Tribune News Service
    New Delhi, November 7
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    The Central Government tonight notified the much-awaited One Rank One Pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen, a move that comes less than 12 hours before counting of votes for the Bihar assembly elections.
    Giving out details of the OROP, Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said: “The government today issued the notification regarding implementation of One Rank One Pension.”
    Salient features of the OROP include revision of pension every five years. The protesting ex-servicemen had demanded that revision be done every two years.
    Notably, the issue of giving pension to those opting for premature retirement (PMR) has been settled but could have long term repercussions.
    Deciding on the issue of PMRs, the MoD has said those who opt to get discharged henceforth on their own request under Rule 13(3)1(i)(b), 13(3)1(iv) or Rule 16B of the Army Rule, 1954, or equivalent Navy or Air Force Rules will not be entitled to the benefits of OROP. This shall be effective prospectively, meaning officers and jawans who took PMR in the past shall be benefitted but those opting for PMR now onwards will not get the benefit. It also means there will be fewer PMR applications, straining existing housing and infrastructure as officers will stay on. An officer is allowed to opt for PMR after 20 years of service or by the time he is 43 years of age. Some opt out when superceded.
    On pensions to the entire lot of retirees, the notification says, “Pension of (all) the past pensioners would be re-fixed on the basis of pension of retirees of calendar year 2013 and the benefit will be effective with effect from July, 1, 2014.”
    Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners on the basis of the average of minimum and maximum pension of personnel retiring in 2013 in the same rank and with the same length of service. Pension for those drawing above the average shall be protected.
    Arrears will be paid in four equal half-yearly instalments. However, all the family pensioners, including those in receipt of Special/Liberalised family pensioners, and Gallantry award winners shall be paid arrears in one instalment.
    The government has also decided to appoint a Judicial Committee to look into anomalies, if any, arising out of implementation of OROP. The Judicial Committee will submit its report in six months.
    “Detailed instructions along with tables indicating revised pension for each rank and each category, shall be issued separately for updation of pension and payment of arrears directly by Pension Disbursing Agencies,” Sitanshu Kar said.
    The issue of OROP was a long-standing demand. Defence Forces had been demanding it for almost four decades but the issue could not be resolved. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a commitment to implement it for the welfare of the ex-servicemen. Accordingly, the government had announced modalities for implementation of OROP on September 5. The Government Order by Ministry of Defence, which could not be issued due to model code of conduct, has been issued today, a statement of the MoD said.


    J&K FOCUS Evolving Situation in J&K: Summer 2017 (Part I) by Lt Gen Ata Husnain

    Since the turn of the millennium, most military experts have advised the Indian government and the Indian Army to view J&K related issues with a longer and wider perspective. The longer perspective is needed because the year-on-year review and concept does not lead to the desired strategic effect; and the wider perspective is required because all departments of government need to play a joint role without abdicating responsibility only to the Army. The advice has been taken in parts but a comprehensive long term strategy has somehow been elusive.

    The coming together of the BJP-PDP alliance created hope since it could see more equitable balance between the Jammu and Kashmir regions with Ladakh also having its aspirations in line. However, since 2015, those hopes have been belied due to circumstances that prevented any fructification of efforts of the new alliance. The success of a political initiative is contingent on the stability of the security environment. That has remained elusive chiefly due to the avowed intent of the adversaries to disallow cementing of the political alliance and initiative; that intent has been avidly executed through the use of street power, terrorist operations and focused propaganda to lead to alienation. Thus the Indian strategy for the current season can only take a short term view because stabilisation of the security situation before anything long term is the key.  That means a greater focus on security, greater role for the Army and lesser scope for political initiatives.

    This is the reason why there are few initiatives from the government despite pleadings by different delegations that have made way to the Valley. The age old dictum probably applies – one cannot begin looking for peace from a position of weakness as much as one cannot keep reminiscing about initiatives that have become history. So is the Indian position really weak from a security point of view and are the peace delegations being realistic at all? These are worthy issues to analyse as we head into the campaigning season of 2017.

    Most analysts like to quote statistics to analyse the security situation but it is more the nature of incidents and how they have been handled that dictates the course of the security environment. North Kashmir has been quiet in the hinterland and infiltration attempts are taking place in some non-traditional areas; entirely expected. The Army should by now have strengthened the counter-infiltration grid for the summer. A surge in terrorist strength is the last thing that the security set up can currently afford; it will have a cascading effect.

    It is Central and South Kashmir where the local flavor of terror has increased in content, the security forces have suffered attrition, and the J&K police has been targeted with a view to reduce its effectiveness through demotivation and thereby dilute the intelligence grid. The targeting of Lt Umar Fayaz, a Kashmiri officer on leave was designed to send an ominous message to those seeking to be part of the Indian system. An effective response to this has been the success of 14 young Kashmiris in the Civil Services examination, hundreds of them lining up at other recruitment centres despite separatists’ call, and the runaway success of the Army’s Super 40 coaching initiative for the entrance examination to IIT/JEE (being increased to Super 50).

    Yet no one can miss the sullen silence in Kashmir’s youth. None reveal their minds but the parallel track to the turnout at recruitment rallies and skill development initiatives is also a grim reality. Losing sight of this would not help and therefore the security domain has to research sufficiently to ascertain the real factors that drive alienation so vehemently. While many have taken to the streets to demonstrate this alienation, there are others who nurse a grudge and do not display it. The Army’s outreach has always been very cordial but the real challenge for it today is with regard to recapturing the old relationship while also being strong against those who treat law and order with disdain, support flash mobs at encounter sites or target detachments of security forces as it happened in the Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi affair.

    Apt to mention here that a major lesson emerging for a military mind observing South Kashmir over a period of time is the fact that the Army withdrew prematurely after a tenuous stabilisation, without going the full way. It treated military resources in the south as a bank to draw from and hence the imbalance today. The space in the Kulgam-Shupiyan belt was lost due to declaration of premature victory. It needs immediate reoccupation. As and when Kulgam had a Rashtriya Rifles headquarters the area was always more secure. The maximum gravitation of the approximately 100 local youth who have taken to militancy is to this area.

    With no remorse for targeting of locals who have joined the Indian system, there appears a change in the ethics in the militancy too. That is worrisome because Amarnath Yatra, the iconic pilgrimage, will commence within a few weeks. Its security will be of paramount importance. There are rogue elements across the borders that would not stop at anything to see the targeting of India and Indians.

    This commentary is Part 1 of the two-part analysis on the evolving situation in Kashmir.


    Scouts’ honour: The Ladakh Scouts, the army’s newest infantry regiment, will get the President’s colours this month*

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    Image result for Ladakh Scouts

    The Ladakh Scouts, victorious at Dog Hill, during the Kargil conflict in 1999

    The dramatic air landing of two Indian infantry battalions in Srinagar in October 1947, which drove back Pakistani tribal raiders from the outskirts of the capital of Jammu & Kashmir, is the stuff legends are made of. As the Indian Army built up troops in Kashmir, the raiders were driven back and Baramula, Uri and Tithwal liberated. But a similar, less known, crisis occurred in May 1948, when the capture of Kargil by tribal lashkars left the routes to Leh open.
    Defending Ladakh against the tribal hordes were just 33 men of the J&K State Forces. Reinforcing the tiny Leh garrison were 20 volunteers, led by Lt Col Prithi Singh – the legendary “X Force” that dragged itself heroically over the wind-swept Zoji La pass. But, with the snows melting and passes opening, hundreds of Pakistani tribal fighters converged on Leh, driven by the promise of monasteries groaning with wealth, salacious dreams of unprotected women, and the belief that Ladakh’s Buddhist men knew little of fighting.
    “Cometh the hour, cometh the man”, it is said. On May 13, 1948, as Lt Col Prithi Singh raised the tricolour in Leh and called for volunteers to fight the tribals, the first hand to go up was that of Chewang Rinchen, a 17-year-old schoolboy from Nubra. For the next two months, until the first Indian Army troops were airlifted to Leh and built up into a viable force, Rinchen and a band of youngsters that he formed into the Nubra Guards, confronted and thwarted the battle-hardened tribals. For his heroic defence of Ladakh and the leadership he displayed, Rinchen was appointed a junior commissioned officer in the Indian Army and awarded the Mahavir Chakra, the army’s second-highest gallantry award.
    Not content with being the youngest-ever winner of that award, Rinchen went on to win a Sena Medal in the 1962 war with China; and then a second Mahavir Chakra in 1971 for capturing over 800 square kilometres of territory from Pakistan, including the strategically vital village of Turtok. Eventually retiring as colonel, Rinchen is one of the army’s greatest legends.
          (Above: Sheikh Abdullah pins the MVC onto Rinchen)
    Rinchen and the Nubra Guards are also the progenitors of today’s Ladakh Scouts – a regiment so distinguished in war and peace that President Pranab Mukherjee will travel to Leh this month to present it the coveted President’s Colours. These are normally presented to units that distinguish themselves consistently over decades.
    The Ladakh Scouts, in contrast, became a regular army regiment only in June 2001, after their stunning performance in the Kargil conflict. No sooner than the Pakistani intrusions across the Line of Control were detected in May 1999, the Ladakh Scouts swung into action, reconnoitring routes, fixing ropes and enabling the initial successes of regular Indian battalions. The Ladakh Scouts were also instrumental in exposing the role of regular Pakistani soldiers in the intrusions, which Islamabad was flatly denying.
    Embroiled in the fighting at Kargil, the Ladakh Scouts lost 31 men and were awarded 55 gallantry awards, more than any other army unit in per capita terms. Major Sonam Wangchuk, who led his Ladakh Scouts men to the capture of Chorbat La, was awarded a Mahavir Chakra. In recognition of their valour, the chief of army staff (COAS) awarded the Ladakh Scouts the COAS Banner – the only such award ever given. They were also conferred with a Battle Honour for Batalik and Theatre Honour for Kargil.
    The army quickly saw the benefit of converting the Ladakh Scouts into a full-fledged infantry group, on the lines of the Gurkhas, Dogras, Sikhs, etcetera. Unlike other infantry groups, which alternated between peacetime and field deployments, the Ladakh Scouts would remain in high-altitude field postings in the vicinity of their homes – the Kargil and Leh districts of Ladakh.
    For an army that has so many soldiers committed on its Himalayan frontier, mountain men like the Ladakh Scouts are a godsend. Genetically conditioned for high altitudes, with physiological advantages like larger lungs, Ladakhis seldom suffer from mountain sickness. Regular army units, manned by plainsmen or mountain folk from lower altitudes, require up to a week of acclimatization before they can survive at altitudes of 15,000 feet. Ladakhis, however, can be deployed above 15,000 feet without acclimatization.
    Ladakh Scouts are also adept at operating “self sustained” for up to ten days in extreme altitudes – that is only on supplies in their backpacks.
    A display of this unique ability came in February 2016, when an army post called Sonam, almost 20,000 feet high on the Siachen Glacier, was buried by a collapsed ice wall along with ten soldiers from the Madras regiment who manned it. With sensors indicating signs of life, survivors needed to be dug out quickly. Ordinary soldiers were breathless at those heights, so Ladakh Scouts were brought in, without acclimatization, from an altitude of 12,000 feet – something that would kill most soldiers. But the Ladakh Scouts, working non-stop at Sonam, extricated Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad alive. He did not survive for long, but the Ladakh Scouts had again proved their unique worth.
    Since Kargil, the Ladakh Scouts have been built up to five battalions, each one with some 850 soldiers. At any time, two battalions are operationally deployed in extreme high altitudes, including one in the Siachen Glacier. Two more are stationed in Ladakh, with just one battalion in a peace location in Chandimandir. Seeing the value of these soldiers, there are plans to raise another two battalions.
    With only a limited populace to recruit from, soldiers may also be drawn from Lahaul and Spiti, in Himachal Pradesh, which are also reputed for tough mountain soldiers.
    At a recruiting rally at the Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre, however, it does not seem as if the regiment wants for recruits. Defying the cold that has us wrapped in parkas, a crowd of youngsters stand in their underwear, readying for a medical examination followed by a two-mile run. The candidates are well-built, but short, which is not a deterrent since the army has relaxed height requirements for Ladakhis.
    Mohammed Abdullah, a recruit from Phyang, near Leh, tells us frankly that young men in Ladakh have only two career choices: joining the Ladakh Scouts or driving a taxi for tourists. Another recruit, Thinless Norbu, from Chuchot village tells us that soldiers are held in high esteem by local people, and most educated girls would choose to marry a Ladakh Scout.
    Even so, the changing values of Ladakhi society are evident from the controversy over the memorial to Colonel Rinchen. After he died in 1997, the spot in Leh where he was cremated was transformed into a public park. On his death anniversary, the army, administration officials and prominent citizens would lay wreathes in his memory.
    Now, however, the local administration is moving to transform most of Colonel Rinchen Park into a memorial for the local police. Rinchen’s family is protesting this initiative but, with powerful administration officials backing the police, one of India’s most captivating war heroes might soon find his memory slighted.
    Says one of the local officials, responding to a query on how local police in an entirely peaceful and crime-free district can be compared with a national hero like Rinchen: “Why should there be any comparison? After all, whenever anyone salutes the police memorial, they will also be saluting Colonel Rinchen.”

    Emulate Gill, Capt tells young officers

    Emulate Gill, Capt tells young officers
    Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh and senior BJP leader Laxmi Kanta Chawla pay tribute to ex-DGP KPS Gill in New Delhi. Mukesh Aggarwal

    New Delhi, June 3

    Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today exhorted the people of Punjab to work for peace which, he said, would be a befitting tribute to former DGP KPS Gill. The latter, who is credited with crushing terrorism in Punjab, succumbed to a kidney ailment on May 26. He was 82.Speaking at Gill’s bhog ceremony at the Constitution Club here, Amarinder Singh said: “A true tribute to the great man would be to ensure peace in Punjab for which he had fought.” He said Gill had led from the front when the Punjab Police was a demoralised force. “Only those who lived through those dark days of terrorism can appreciate his role.” Recalling Gill’s “Operation Night Dominance” to restore the confidence of the people, he hoped that young police officers would draw inspiration from him and emulate him.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)Asked if he was breaking tradition by attending Gill’s bhog, the CM replied: “He (Gill) was my friend and a great man.” Punjab DGP Suresh Arora said Gill was a “messiah” for the police force. “He led us during the days of terrorism. For the Punjab Police, he never did retire. I continued to consult him even after he had retired.” Promising to protect peace and amity in Punjab, he added: “We will not let him (Gill) down.”Calling him “Punjab ka Jarnail (General)”, former BJP minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla said those who respected the country’s unity and integrity would appreciate Gill’s contribution.Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda arrived along with MLA Karan Singh Dalal. He described Gill as “a true nationalist.” Others at the bhog ceremony were president of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front MS Bitta, Congress MPs Abhijit Mukherjee and KTS Tulsi, former captain of the Indian hockey team Ajitpal Singh, Punjab MLA Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi and adviser to Punjab CM BIS Chahal, besides bureaucrats. No leader from AAP or the SAD attended the bhog. — TNS


    2 Army jawans killed, 4 injured in militant attack on convoy in J&K

    2 Army jawans killed, 4 injured in militant attack on convoy in J&K
    The army at the attack site. Tribune photo: Amin War

    Suhail A Shah

    Anantnag, June 3

    Two army jawans were killed and four others were injured as militants opened fire on their convoy in Qazigund area in Kulgam district on Saturday.The attack took place around 11 am along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.Initial reports say the convoy was moving from Srinagar to Jammu when militants struck near Wuzur village along the highway.

    (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)

    Army sources confirmed the number of injured.“The injured have been shifted to hospital,” sources said.The area, meanwhile, has been cordoned off by police and army and efforts are on to nab the attackers.


    STATECRAFT Revolution, three years later b y Harish Khare

    Revolution, three years later
    Illustration by Sandeep Joshi

    A revolution was deemed to have been ushered in on May 26, 2014, in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Three years later, it is all too obvious that the meretricious cult has not been allowed to go stale; nor, have the “revolutionaries” lost their swagger. If anything, the revolution and its high priests seem inexhaustible and unstoppable. The Prime Minister’s reputation as the greatest demagogue of our times stands undiminished; he has been blessed with, to use Tiruvallavar’s words, “the gift of the gifted tongue.” As a nation, we remain seduced. Our anxieties and animosities are kept bubbling; and, we are all comfortable with #hashtag ill-liberalism. We have been induced to believe that we are being governed by less corrupt and more effective rulers than we were during the days of the parasitic Gandhis; we are unceasingly bombarded with facts and fiction, all intended to convey a sense of competence and accomplishment. Indeed, we are not allowed to catch our breath; we are being constantly transported from one crisis to another — and, a sense of relief that there is someone out there who is willing to use violence against those who threaten us with violence. There is no denying that the new revolution continues to demonstrate untiring political energy and populist verve; perhaps its greatest — uniquely unprecedented — strength remains its ability to control the national narrative, what we think or are allowed to say in public domain. It has mastered the new communication techniques and technology. The result is a bit of national incongruity. The same media that only a few years ago thought its primary institutional responsibility — rather its very raison d’etre — was to ask uncomfortable questions, to show a mirror to power, to speak up to authority, has been enlisted, unresistingly and self-consciously, as a government surrogate. Night after night, dissent and disagreements are shouted down in television studios; those in disagreement with the government are simply told to “stop cribbing.” This has been one of the most remarkable achievements, that too without seemingly any recourse to the coercive instruments available to any government. The media has been seduced to redefine its role: run the Opposition out of town. No other government since Independence has had the media so eagerly eating out of its hand, not even during the infamous Emergency. Yet, three years later, the character and direction of the revolution stand changed. It can be argued, admittedly with a bit of exaggeration, that the “revolution” has been reduced to a fight over Indira Gandhi’s legacy between her biological grandson (Rahul Gandhi) and a putative political grandson (Narendra Modi). The revolution changed direction once the Bihar electorate in the late 2015 put an end to the emerging Modi presidency; and, suddenly, the man who was widely hailed to be an Indian Deng Xiaoping, dexterously changed the course. After the Bihar voter settled Modi’s hash, the reformist platform was pushed on the back-burner (even though the FICCI and the ASSOCHAM continue to sing paeans, perhaps out of habit.) Let us make no mistake. Three years after the revolution, the Indian State is back with a bang — back with all the Stalinist impulses of the Indira Gandhi era. The State and its authorised functionaries breathe down the citizen’s neck, in the most intrusive and demanding manner. At least, three elements of the Indira Gandhi State stand restored as functioning mantras of the new revolution. First, the poor have been discovered, circa 1969. The grand disruption that went by the demonetisation was dressed up in pro-poor rhetoric in a manner that would have earned a nod of approval from Indira Gandhi. All those who thought that the corporate imagination and the market innovation would be relied upon to find answers to our problems of economic stagnation and unemployment, have watched in silence as the State was now charged with the responsibility to ameliorate the poor’s plight. Shades of Garibi Hatao. All the Indira Gandhi acolytes have noted with satisfaction that the 2014 revolution has not meant the withering away of the welfare State. Second, the inspector and his stick are back. In the name of unearthing black money, the raid raj has been brought back. Not since the brief period of VP Singh’s tenure as Finance Minister has the country been invited to celebrate the daily visits from the CBI or the Enforcement Directorate. It is being harshly demanded that taxes be paid up; otherwise be prepared for a visit from the income-tax man. Rather than the citizen being asked to live up to his obligations to the State, a collectivist mindset appears to be at work. And, where the legal functionaries are unable to be persuasive, there is the lynch mob, out to enforce and impose new prejudices and preferences. The State has asserted its right to oversee all spheres of cultural and social activity. The State is more muscular, more muzzling, and more manipulative than at any other time in recent decades. And, the third Indira Gandhi mantra at work is invocation of nationalism and its unremitting demands on our emotions and loyalties. Our nationalism has been reoriented as an anti-Pakistan mantra. Stupid and shallow men in Islamabad and Rawalpindi continue to fuel our sense of righteous indignation. Indira Gandhi remains the historic role model. Our present leaders cannot be faulted for remembering that Indira Gandhi enjoys the status of being the only “Hindu” ruler in our history to have inflicted a crushing defeat on a “Muslim” adversary. Even Atal Behari Vajpayee had to hail her as Durga. History carries its own allurements for the current saviours. And, just as it was Indira Gandhi’s wont, these mantras are being pressed to good use for a single-minded pursuit of personal political dominance and hegemony. The pursuit of personal political hegemony has, necessarily, to be non-ideological, practical, pragmatic and tactically ambiguous. The purists can keep on bemoaning the ideological flakiness and the absence of a Margaret Thatcher-like clarity and conviction, the hegemon has no doubts about his aims and direction: maximalist power as a personal entitlement, as a necessary requisite for orderly and stable governance. A political leader defines himself as much in terms of what his regime stands for as in terms of who he chooses to designate as his putative enemy. The Modi revolution continues to position itself as the anti-thesis of the Gandhis, and to appropriate for itself a moral and spiritual superiority — a very Indira Gandhian ruse, as it seeks to lay its own claim to the historical legacy of Indira Gandhi. In this quest lie the seeds of the revolution’s own disintegration. 


    Lt Gen Anbu stresses relentless ops

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, May 25

    Northern Command chief Lt Gen Devraj Anbu today emphasised the need for relentless intelligence-based operations to sustain pressure on the militant organisations.Lt General Anbu said this with interacting with troops on the ground in north and south Kashmir.An Army spokesman said Lt Gen Devraj Anbu today visited the formations and units in north and south Kashmir to review the prevailing security situation.“The Northern Command chief interacted with troops on the ground and emphasised the need for undertaking relentless intelligence-based operations to sustain pressure on the terrorist organisations,” the spokesman said.Commending the troops for their dedication to duty and high standards of professionalism, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command asked them to continue strict vigil to thwart any nefarious designs of inimical elements, he said.Lt General Anbu also reinforced the need for synergy among all security agencies to effectively meet any emerging security challenges and maintain a safe, secure and peaceful environment for the people.During the visit, Lt General Anbu was accompanied by Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen JS Sandhu.