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    Army builds school infrastructure in Doda

    Jammu, December 20

    Delta Force, under Operation Sadbhavana, has constructed two additional classrooms and toilets for students at Government Higher Secondary School, Kilhotran, in Doda district.The newly built infrastructure was handed over to the school today.Following the request of parents, school principal and Kilhotran residents, the Rashtriya Rifles constructed two additional classrooms and toilets for the students at Government Higher Secondary School, Kilhotran, a defence spokesperson said here.Principal TC Sharma, Kilhotran sarpanch, school staff and students, besides a large number of villagers were present on the occasion— TNS

     

    Army teaches Poonch girls basic computer skills

    Tribune News Service,Jammu, December 20

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    In its ongoing efforts to improve teaching facilities for the students of the border areas in Poonch district, the Army organised an IT course for girl students at Ghani village.The closing ceremony of the course was held on Saturday.The course covered basic computer skills like Microsoft Soft Word, Microsoft Soft Power Point, Microsoft Soft Excel, internet operating and its uses. The classes were organised with an aim to impart basic computer knowledge to the girls, a defence spokesperson said.A total of 36 girl students from IX to XII classes benefited from the course. The course was organised by the Romeo Force towards the empowerment of the students, the spokesperson added.The closing event was attended by the school staff.Speaking on the occasion, the sarpanch of Ghani village applauded the efforts of the Army and said small-scale industrialisation and IT development was needed for remote areas.

    Sainik School alumni felicitated

    Tribune news service,Jammu, December 20

    Ex-students meet of Sainik School, Nagrota, was organised at the school auditorium here today.Alumni, from different parts of the country, participated in the meet to relive the memorable moments of their sojourn in the school.Prof Keshav Sharma, Management Studies, Jammu University; Prof Deepak Raj Gupta, Director, Department of Tourism and Travel Management, Central University of Jammu; Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, Advocate General, Jammu and Kashmir; and VK Seghal, Founder Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Tourism Promotion Council were felicitated during the meet.The 1990 pass-out batch of the school commemorated the silver jubilee year and as a token of honour handed over key of a new TATA 407 to the Principal of the school.Principal Col KD Koushal appreciated the gesture of former students and congratulated them for making their alma mater proud.


    Soldier-state bond must never be strained::Lt Gen Baljit Singh (retd)

     

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    Ex-servicemen returning their medals during the agitation for ‘one rank, one pension’ at Amar Jawan Jyoti in New Delhi. PTI/file

    The spirit of accommodation between the state and soldiers must never be strained to the limit where the armed forces’ discipline and steadfast conduct get compromised. The current duelling between the government and veterans is an ugly sight.

    About two months ago, the Western Command Headquarters inaugurated their first “Old-Age Home” at Panchkula (Haryana) as an internal initiative. Napoleon had set up the first state sponsored old-age home in the heart of Paris around 1790, not far from the Arc de Triomphe. Ultimately it became Les Invalides, a state-funded establishment for retired soldiers (especially those devoid of any living kin) and its upkeep was patronised by the Emperor (head of state in this case) himself! Admittedly, times have changed since, but that idea of the state and soldier bonding in a kind of camaraderie should certainly not be out of place, even today.Closer to our times, my mind goes back to one among the several mega-celebrations organised in the UK in 1995 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of WW-II. It was appropriate that the Indian contingent to the celebrations would include soldiers decorated with the Victoria Cross (VC), the foremost British award for gallantry on the battlefield. Of the 32 Indian awardees of the VC during the war, only 11 were alive in 1995.Four VC veterans could not undertake the journey to the UK due to age and infirmness, but the remaining seven were glad to participate. Of these, the six doughty Gorkha veterans had various grades of flab around their midriffs but the seventh, Subedar Major (Honorary Captain) Umrao Singh, over six-foot tall, of ram-rod stance, flat bellied and broad chested, became the cynosure of all eyes. The way he walked up to Queen Elizabeth in the Audience Hall of Buckingham Palace, any drill sergeant-major from the Coldstream Guards Brigade would have been envious. Little wonder that breaking precedence of ceremonial etiquette, the gathering burst into spontaneous applause!The following day when Prime Minister John Major happened to drive past some invitees and from the corner of his eye caught the sun glinting on their VC medals, the Prime Minister had his car halt. Walking up to the veterans, he saluted and greeted each with a firm handshake. In the UK, if a man (nationality notwithstanding) with a VC or MC pinned on the chest were to walk out, chances are that nine out of 10 passersby would halt mid-stride, smile and nod in salutation. In India, even though righteous wars and warriors have been glorified by the gods through the epic Mahabharata, yet not one in a thousand Indians will know what a PVC, MVC or VrC looks like, leave alone greet its bearer.Dismissing his car, John Major escorted them to the venue of the function. Striking a conversation, he inquired if the veterans had any hardships that needed attention. Umrao Singh was prompt to state that although the prevalent currency exchange rate was Rs 50 to a pound, yet the VC pension handed out to them was at the paltry exchange rate of 1945. He asked, would it not be fair to revise their pension, which was last fixed in 1945, and bring it on a par with their counterparts in the UK? John Major was visibly upset at the injustice and promised that Her Majesty’s Government would rectify it.Six months later in March 1996, Christopher Thomas, South Asia correspondent of The Times (London), drove to Umrao Singh’s home at Palra village (Jhajjar district, Haryana) with the news that Her Majesty’s Government had enhanced their VC pension from 100 pounds per annum to 1,300 pounds! And it would be admitted at that day’s prevailing currency exchange rate or a subsequent rate, whichever was higher, but never lower than that day’s!Obviously, Umrao Singh was astounded at this windfall. He rushed to his wife who was frying “parathas” on a wood fire and declared, “Vimla, now we can live in style.” Umrao Singh brought out an unopened bottle of rum. He filled two large steel tumblers almost to the brim. Handing one to Christopher and holding his own in the left hand, Umrao came to attention, and giving a smart salute said, “This is for John Major, the Prime Minister of Britain! He has made me happy and proud.” He could now pass his allotted days with the dignity due to a VC. He passed away on November 22, 2005.When Umrao Singh was in dire financial straits, a VC collector from the UK had made him an offer of 35,000 pounds. Umrao Singh’s response was, “If I give away my medal, I will dishonour the soldiers who fought and died alongside me.” This is how soldiers cherish their medals.The spirit of accommodation between the state and soldiers must never be strained to the limit where the armed forces’ discipline and their steadfast conduct on battlefield get compromised. Unfortunately, nothing seems to have been learnt as there are already dark rumblings of further disconnect between the state and soldiery, emanating from the proposals of the Seventh Pay Commission. Let us not stoke fires of ugly dissent any further, lest we singe the heritage of the spirit of valour of a famed armed force irretrievably.


    Meeting point: Mufti wants Suchetgarh border on the lines of popular Wagah

    Tribune News Service,Jammu, December 18

    CM to raise demand with MEA, mulls amusement park near international border

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    Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today pitched for developing the Suchetgarh international border on the pattern of the Wagah border in Punjab so that people from both sides could meet at this point. He promised to take up the issue with the Ministry of External Affairs. “This is the nearest place from Jammu on the Indian side and Sialkot from the Pakistan side. If developed like the Wagah border, it could attract tourists from all over. Already Rs 7 crore were allotted for developing the area but that is not enough and we need more money,” Mufti said while talking to reporters on the Suchetgarh border, 30 km from here.The Chief Minister was on tour to the border areas today and had a discussion with locals on development in the area. He said people of Jammu had complaints that the tourist footfall had come down in the Jammu after the train service had reached Katra. “If we need to acquire some land to develop this place, we will do that. This is one place in Jammu which can be developed as a tourist destination,” Mufti said.“On the other side it is Sialkot and here it is Jammu. Earlier, when I used to visit this place, people from the other side also used to visit this place. It is my desire to develop this place as a tourist destination on the pattern of the Wagah border in Punjab,” the Chief Minister said.He said the government would try to set up an amusement park near the international border in Suchetgarh. “We are trying our best to develop this place on the pattern of the Wagah border so that this place becomes a meeting point of the people from both sides,” he said. “I feel that this is the closest point between the two sides which can also help become a bridge between the industries on either side,” the Chief Minister said, adding that this place could act as a meeting point between people from both sides, especially schoolchildren.

    Tourism potential

    • This is the nearest place from Jammu on the Indian side and Sialkot from the Pakistan side. If developed like the Wagah border, it could attract tourists from all over. Already Rs 7 crore were allotted for developing the area but that is not enough and we need more money. –Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Chief Ministe

    Panther Division celebrates Vijay Diwas

    AMRITSAR: Panther Division celebrated Vijay Diwas in Amritsar Military Station on Wednesday to commemorate the victory of India against East Pakistan in 1971. Gallant soldiers of the Indian Army made the supreme sacrifice while defending the frontiers of the motherland in one of the most challenging circumstances and inhospitable terrain.

    Veterans from Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts attended the event. A floral wreath was laid at the Panther Inspirational Park by general officer commanding, Panther Division. Wreath laying was also done by veterans, serving army officers and other ranks as a tribute to the martyrs.

    A 24-men guard honoured the martyrs and was followed by the poignant note of Last Post sounded by the buglers. Similar functions were also held at Dera Baba Nanak (DBN) and Batala War Memorials. The general officer commanding, Panther Division, expressed that the sacrifice and professionalism displayed by veterans would always remain a source of inspiration for generations to come.Army release informed that in 1971 Indo-Pak war, Panther Division under the able and gallant leadership of major general BM Bhattacharjee fought the Battles of ‘Dera Baba Nanak’ (DBN) and ‘Fatehpur Burj’. The gallant soldiers of 10 DOGRA, 1/9 GR, 17 RAJPUT and 71 Armd Regt proved their mettle and gave an unforgettable feel of their steely grit and determination to the enemy. On December 6 1971, the Panther Division had the proud privilege of hoisting the first Tricolour in the captured territory of Western Pakistan. The division earned one MahaVir Chakra, one Vir Chakra, three Sena Medal and four mentions in dispatches for the gallant action.


    Doon boy Lalit Thapliyal wins Sword of Honour

    Tribune News Service,Dehradun, December 12

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    Lalit Thapliyal, the winner of the Sword of Honour (extreme left), at the passing-out parade of the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun on Saturday. Tribune photo: Vinod Pundir

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    Academy Under Officer (AUO) Lalit Thapliyal, the winner of the Sword of Honour, says youths should come forward in a large number to join Indian defence forces. Thapliyal is a Rimcollian, a former student of Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), and his father DN Thapliyal was vice-principal of the RIMC. He is from Dehradun. His elder sister, Capt Swarnima Thapliyal, is the person behind his success, he adds.Thapliyal says rigorous training in the Indian Military Academy (IMA) makes Gentleman Cadets mentally and physically tough and helps them to overcome any challenge. He dedicates the award to his parents and says hard work with determinations always helps in achieving goals.The gold medal awardee, AUO Abhishek Kumar Singh, is from Uttar Pradesh. He has done his schooling from Sainik School, Gorhakhal, Uttarakhand. The only son in the family, Abhishek wanted to join the Indian Army in deference to his father’s earnest desire.The silver medal awardee, GC Iqbal Singh, is from Amritsar. He says his father retired Subedar Santokh Singh was his source of inspiration to join Army. Iqbal resigned from a renowned IT company to join the Army.Another silver medal awardee, Battalion Under Officer Ravi Somanagouda Mulimani did his schooling from Sainik School, Bijapur, Karnataka. He says there are many misconceptions about the Indian Army. The Army service is a noble profession. Ravi has no Army background but it was his childhood dream to join the Army as he was always attracted to the olive green uniform.


    Navy, MoD botched sub refit: CAG

    Tribune News Service
    New Delhi, December 8
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    The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) today slammed the Navy and the Ministry of Defence for the delay in carrying out the refit of diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhukirti — a Russian origin vessel.
    The CAG said the Navy has not been able to operate one of its lethal platforms since June 2004. The CAG in its report submitted to Parliament today said that the ‘medium refit’ of the submarine was due for commencement in 2001 but was carried out from January 2006 by which the submarine witnessed extensive deterioration.
    It noted that though it was scheduled to be completed by January 2009, due to the deficiency in manpower deployed by the Hindustan Shipyard Limited, lack of protection to main line cables, delayed supply of yard materials and modernisation of equipment, the submarine was delivered by the shipyard to the Navy in June this year with sea acceptance trials to follow.
    “As a result, the Navy is unable to operate one of (its) lethal platforms since June 2004,” the report said.
    It also noted that the cost of the refit was enhanced from Rs 629.50 crore (June 2005) to Rs 999.52 crore (August 2013) with additional liabilities of Rs 92.17 crore still being claimed (September 2015) by the yard.
    “This apart, improper financial management led to the diversion of funds to the tune of Rs 92 crore,” the report said.
    In its recommendations, CAG said planning and commencement of refits of submarines should be as per schedule to avoid excessive exploitation of submarines as well as extended refit schedule. “The Ministry should ensure that efforts are augmented to improve the scale of utilisation of indigenous materials in line with its own directives. The Navy should establish a dedicated Project Team, the expertise of which is available to each indigenous offloaded refit.”
    The CAG also criticised the Coast Guard and the MoD for the delay in acquisition of inshore patrol vessels. It said that eight of the 13 IPVs decommissioned between December 2008 and July 2013 could be replaced after a delay of four to sixty months, while replacement of the remaining five had not been received.


    Lethality limited

    INS Sindhukirti’s ‘medium refit’ was due for commencement in 2001 but was carried out from January 2006. By then the submarine witnessed extensive deterioration.
    The sub was delivered by the shipyard in June this year with sea acceptance trials to follow
    As a result, the Navy is unable to operate its lethal platform since June 2004, the report said


    Obama vows to defeat ‘new phase’ of terror threat

    Washington, December 7

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    President Barack Obama today vowed to “destroy” the Islamic State while reassuring rattled Americans in the aftermath of the California massacre that the US will overcome the “new phase” of terror threat that seeks to “poison the minds” of people here and around the world.In a rare address to the nation from his Oval Office at the White House, Obama said the threat from terrorism was real, but the US would overcome it. However, he ruled out sending large-scale troops to Syria and Iraq to defeat the “cult of death”.Obama said his strategy to destroy the IS was designed and supported by US military commanders and counter-terrorism experts, together with 65 countries that had joined an American-led coalition targeting the terror outfit. “We will destroy IS and any other organisation that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values or giving in to fear. That’s what groups such as the IS are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless. And by drawing upon every aspect of American power,” he said.In his primetime address, Obama said: “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups such as IS want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. IS fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq.”“But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops and draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits,” he said.Asserting that the US military would continue to hunt down terror plotters in any country where it was necessary, he said: “In Iraq and Syria, air strikes are targeted at IS leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure.” — PTI

    Will ‘destroy’ IS

    • The threat from terrorism is real but we will overcome it… We will destroy IS and any other organisation that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values or giving into fear. That’s what groups like IS are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless —Barack Obama, US President

    Navy ramping up infra in Andaman & Nicobar

    Ajay Banerjee
    Tribune News Service
    New Delhi, December 3
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    Terming the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as India’s strategically extended arm, Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan today said infrastructure on the islands was being strengthened to allow submarines, warships and aircraft to be based there.
    The islands in the Bay of Bengal sit at the ‘mouths’ of the straits of Malacca, which is one of the biggest shipping choke points of the world as an important sea lane of communication (SLOC) passes through it.
    Some 70,000 ships cross the Malacca annually – that works out to eight ships every hour. China’s entire oil supplies from the Persian Gulf pass through these straits and this is India’s biggest military base closest to the contentious South China Sea.
    Addressing a press conference ahead of Navy Day, Admiral Dhowan said “The enhancement of infrastructure is on, particularly in the Andaman and Nicobar islands so that we can deploy ships and aircraft to carry out surveillance on the SLOC and the choke point”.
    The islands are very important, he said, adding that strengthening of infrastructure of ports and harbours and extension of airfield runways was getting the attention. “All are getting due priority and due importance as (it’s) an important strategic location where assets (warships and planes) can be based.
    On what would be the response to an armed conflict in the South China Sea. Admiral Dhowan said: “The Navy is monitoring the ocean all the time and we will be monitoring it even more so in case of armed conflict. It’s a hypothetical question, but we will monitor and take appropriate action at that point of time.”


    Northern Command chief to visit Beijing mid-December

    Tribune News Service
    Jammu, November 30
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    After China denied visa in 2010 to then Northern Command chief Lt Gen BS Jaswal, Lt Gen DS Hooda will be the first Northern Command chief to visit Beijing in mid- December this year.
    Lt Gen Hooda will be meeting his Chinese counterpart. In August 2010, India had cancelled defence exchanges with China after Beijing refused to allow the visit of Lt Gen Jaswal because he was responsible for Jammu and Kashmir, a state that China maintained was disputed.
    “The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen DS Hooda is likely to visit China in mid-December. The exact date of his visit will be intimated later,” said defence spokesperson Col SD Goswami.
    After the denial of visa to Lt Gen Jaswal, New Delhi had refused permission to two Chinese defence officials to come to India for a course at National Defence College. A subsequent visit by Indian military officials to China was also cancelled by India.
    Taking a tough posture, New Delhi had told Beijing that the unexpected decision to block Lt Gen Jaswal’s visit to China was reason behind India’s reactionary decisions.
    While both armies regularly hold border personnel meetings on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh region, Lt Gen Hooda’s visit to China will definitely ensure more synergy and understanding between the two sides, said Army sources.
    During Lt Gen Hooda’s visit, the talks will be held on maintaining tranquillity on the LAC in order to avoid stand-offs, the sources added.
    “Though we have had stand-offs on the LAC but notably not even a single bullet was fired between us because of various
    border mechanisms in place to avoid any skirmishes. It also shows the resolve of both countries to maintain peace and tranquillity on the LAC,” said a source.


    Defence exchanges stopped in 2010

    In August 2010, India had cancelled defence exchanges with China after Beijing refused to allow the visit of then Northern Command chief Lt Gen Jaswal because he was responsible for J&K, a state that China maintained was disputed
    Lt Gen Hooda will now be holding talks with his Chinese counterpart on maintaining tranquillity on the Line of Actual Control


    ‘Armed forces can’t stop terrorism in J&K’

    FAROOQ ADDS TO PoK REMARK CONTROVERSY
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    The only solution is talks (with Pakistan), but it will not happen because of terrorists, who may kill me for saying it but I am not afraid of death and will continue to say so.
    FAROOQ ABDULLAH, National Conference president
    AMMU: A day after drawing criticism for saying that Pakistanoccupied Kashmir (PoK) will remain with Pakistan, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah went a step further on Saturday to say that even if all of India’s armed forces were deployed in the state, they still could not stop terrorism.
    Addressing a function here, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said, “The only solution is talks (with Pakistan), but it will not happen because of terrorists, who may kill me for saying it but I am not afraid of death and will continue to say so.”
    Abdullah recollected how terrorists tried to derail the peace process initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by killing 20 Hindus in Rajouri district a day before he was to embark on a bus trip to Lahore in 1999.
    He said the real power in Pakistan was vested in its army and not Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who could be disposed of in minutes if the army so desired.
    “The Pakistan army continues to tell its people that it alone could save them from Hindu India,” he added.
    Abdullah also took the opportunity to defend his comment on PoK remaining with Pakistan.
    “A lot has been made out of my remarks, saying it’s against the resolution made in the Parliament. How many UN resolutions have been made about J&K, what happened to them? Things cannot improve unless Pakistan realises and understands that it can’t take away this part (Indian part) of J&K,” he said.
    The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, reacted sharply to his comment.

    “He should not make such remarks and we demand that he take back his statement. PoK is a part of India and is in the illegal clutches of Pakistan… He is insulting India and the Parliament,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.

    ‘INDIA’S FAUJ CAN’T STOP TERROR’

    The only solution is talks (with Pakistan), but it will not happen because of terrorists, who may kill me for saying it but I am not afraid of death and will continue to say so.
    FAROOQ ABDULLAH, National Conference president

    JAMMU: A day after drawing criticism for saying that Pakistanoccupied Kashmir (PoK) will remain with Pakistan, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah went a step further on Saturday to say that even if all of India’s armed forces were deployed in the state, they still could not stop terrorism.
    Addressing a function here, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said, “The only solution is talks (with Pakistan), but it will not happen because of terrorists, who may kill me for saying it but I am not afraid of death and will continue to say so.”
    Abdullah recollected how terrorists tried to derail the peace process initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by killing 20 Hindus in Rajouri district a day before he was to embark on a bus trip to Lahore in 1999.
    He said the real power in Pakistan was vested in its army and not Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who could be disposed of in minutes if the army so desired.
    “The Pakistan army continues to tell its people that it alone could save them from Hindu India,” he added.
    Abdullah also took the opportunity to defend his comment on PoK remaining with Pakistan.
    “A lot has been made out of my remarks, saying it’s against the resolution made in the Parliament. How many UN resolutions have been made about J&K, what happened to them? Things cannot improve unless Pakistan realises and understands that it can’t take away this part (Indian part) of J&K,” he said.
    The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, reacted sharply to his comment.

    “He should not make such remarks and we demand that he take back his statement. PoK is a part of India and is in the illegal clutches of Pakistan… He is insulting India and the Parliament,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.