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    Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Friday announced that in consultation with the Union Government and Ministry of Defence the entry fee proposed for the public at the Defence Expo has been dropped. “Whereas on the former occassions, a particular amount of fee has been levied on the public for entry, at the stakeholder discussion in the last two days we have decided to withdraw it,” Chief Minister Parsekar said on the last day of the 12th Assembly session.
    The decision would mean slash of Rs. 1,150 for public entrance at the ninth edition of the four-day exhibition held at Quepem in South Goa to be held from March 28 to March 31. The exhibition run by the Defence Exhibition Organization will feature latest developments and products in Land, Martime and domestic security system.
    However the public entry to the Defence Expo will be allowed only on March 31, and subject to production of valid photo ID card such as Aadhar, Passport, licence and government identification documents.


    POKHRAN: A spectacular display of the Indian Air Force’s combat and firepower capabilities began today in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Manohar Parrikar at the firing range here in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district.
    More than 180 fighter jets, transport aircraft and helicopters are participating in ‘Exercise Iron Fist’, which comprises of six different themes which showcase the operational capabilities of the IAF.
    Homegrown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will be an attraction at the exercise, where India will display its firepower to demonstrate its state-of-the-art capabilities in meeting challenges be it from air, land or sea.
    The dignitaries were welcomed by Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and other senior officers. Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje were also present.
    All the frontline fighters in IAFs inventory, including the Su-30 MKI, will participate in the exercise close to the Indo-Pak border. The IAF had demonstrated its day-dusk-night operational capabilities during Iron Fist 2013.
    The exercise will showcase the journey of the IAFs transformation over the years and cover its glorious history while presenting its lethal side.

    A thinking and analysing General

    The soldier-intellectual used his superior understanding to impart much-needed lessons in training to troops he commanded


    Harcharanjit Panag spent his early years in his village in Fatehgarh Sahib, while his father Colonel Shamsher Singh was away soldiering. Thus, the vigour and practicality of rural life was added to his formidable intellect. He stood first among army cadets in the 33rd Course at NDA and third in the order of merit at IMA.

    Fighting in the Bangladesh Campaign with his battalion, 4 Sikh, he noted that infantry attacks were poorly planned without emphasis on fire and movement.

    A topper on all courses, his focus remained on training. Posted to IMTRAT in Bhutan, he found fresh impetus to his ideas. Transferred to 5/5 Gorkha Rifles, an instructional appointment at IMA followed.

    Panag’s great opportunity to employ his ideas on manoeuvre warfare came with a move to the mechanised infantry.

    He laid stress on the concept of reconnaissance, thoroughly understanding the subject after a course in the USSR.

    Serving with 9 Mech, he took over the command of 1 Mech, moving the battalion to Ladakh, a pioneering effort.

    The general had a number of instructional assignments, including two at the staff college, involving academic development.

    Another foreign assignment involved setting up a staff college in Zambia.

    After command of an armoured brigade and a general staff job, he led the Battalik Brigade. Here, he captured Point 5310 in difficult terrain using the troops of 14 Sikh.

    Pan ag later commanded 33 Ar moured Division during the military stand-off of Operation Parakram. He put his expertise in reconnaissance acquired in the USSR to good effect.

    A move to Army HQ as the director-general of military training was used by him to try out and implement his ideas. Command of the Desert Strike Formation, XXI Corps, followed.

    The pinnacle of his career was his tenure as Nor ther n Ar my Commander, where he refocused ideas, improved skill levels, imparted realistic training, ensured reduction in human rights violations and lessened the emphasis on the notorious body-count syndrome.

    The general laid stress on ethics and moral superiority.

    This crusading zeal led to his lateral move to Central Command for reasons other than professional. (Next month: How General Panag

    implemented his ideas.)


    Beating the Retreat is an ancient military observance denoting the playing of drums, bugles or other musical instruments to recall troops out on patrol or the end of the day’s fighting. As such, this is a ceremony exclusive to the military and must remain so for reasons of élan and tradition. The induction of bands from the police and central armed police forces in this year’s Beating the Retreat ceremony at Vijay Chowk struck a jarring note.

    Out of place also were Indian wind and percussion instruments introduced for the first time.

    The function of military bands is to play while on the march, the objective being to enable troops to keep in step and at the same time uplift their morale.

    Instruments like the sitar and tabla, while superlative in their musical worth, just cannot fill this role.

    Indian instruments that can be played while on the march are among others the sringa (blowhorn) and the nagara (drum).

    However, these did not find a place in the programme. Earlier, Indian troops were led by bands playing dhol and sarnai. But these soon faded away being replaced with Western instruments.

    Not enough jets for two-front war with Pak, China: IAF

    Not enough jets for two-front war with Pak, China: IAF

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, March 10

    The Indian Air Force today sounded an alarm saying it does not have enough fighter jets to tackle a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China.Vice-Chief of IAF Air Marshal BS Dhanoa said at a press conference: “Our numbers are not adequate to fully execute an air campaign in a two-front scenario. Probability of a two-front scenario is an appreciation that you need to do. But, are the numbers adequate? No. The squadrons are winding down.”He was asked if the IAF had the capability to fight a two-front war. “We have conveyed our concerns to the government (which) is seized of the problem,” said the IAF Vice-Chief, a Kargil war veteran.The IAF is now at its lowest combat strength in more than a decade. The Tribune was the first to report this in its February 25 edition. The IAF has informed the government of the gravity of the situation.Three squadrons of the vintage single-engine Soviet Union origin MiG-21 and MiG-27 have been phased out as on January 1 this year, leaving the IAF with only 33 squadrons (16-18 planes in each).This is nine short of the government-mandated 42 squadrons needed to tackle a simultaneous two-front war with China and Pakistan.Of the 33 squadrons, the vintage MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft form 11 squadrons. The Sukhoi 30-MKI populates 11 squadron, British Jaguar of 1970s is in six squadrons followed by French Mirage 2000 and Soviet Union’s MiG-29 in two and three squadrons, respectively. The last three are being upgraded with better missiles and avionics.The country is now facing the reality of projections on IAF fighter fleet made separately over the past 10 years by the Indian Air Force, strategic thinkers, successive reports of Parliamentary Committees on Defence and the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).Warnings on the “lackadaisical pace” of induction of new fighter jets into the Indian Air Force and the resultant loss of “combative edge” in battle were now ringing true, sources said.

    Warhorses come alive for Ghost Regiment’s platinum jubilee

    Warhorses come alive for Ghost Regiment’s platinum jubilee
    WW-II Humber armoured car

    Vijay Mohan

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, March 8

    The war horses of yore that had once blazed a trail of glory across battlefields in India and abroad have come alive to commemorate the platinum jubilee of the Army’s “Ghost Regiment”, a sobriquet earned by 63 Cavalry for the shock and awe its tanks created during the 1971 Indo-Pak War by converging on the enemy from four cardinal directions without any warning.A number of vintage tanks and armoured cars have been restored to running condition and these would be participating in a special parade being organised to commemorate the event at the regiment’s location in Amritsar later this week.The showpiece of the event would be American M-113 Bradley, which would be rumbling on Indian soil for the first time. Interestingly, the regiment was also the first to use this equipment before the Americans inducted it in their inventory.The American Cadillac Stuart-VI tank, British Humber and Daimler “Dindo” armoured cars, which are of World War-II vintage and saw action in various theatres in Europe, Africa and the south-east, along with the more recent PT-76 light amphibious tank and the T-55 tank, both of Soviet origin, are among other vehicles participating in the parade, besides the present generation of T-72 tanks that 63 Cavalry now operates.“The vintage vehicles were brought in from various military stations where they were either displayed as war trophies or were lying in storage,” a regimental officer said. “These were repaired and restored in our own regimental workshop over a period of two months,” he added.Raised at Alwar on January 2, 1957, 63 Cavalry was the third armoured regiment to be raised post-Independence. It served in Congo in 1961-62 under the United Nations mandate, where it earned 12 gallantry awards, and consequently its Humber armoured cars were airlifted to Chushul in wake of the 1962 Chinese aggression. During the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, it was the only armoured regiment in the Eastern Theater that reached Dacca. It was bestowed with the Battle Honour “Bogra” and Theatre Honour “East Pakistan” and earned eight gallantry awards.

    Sri Sri extravaganza: Defence Ministry clarifies Army building bridge ‘for security reasons


    The sources from Ministry of Defence, however, said that the step was taken keeping people’s security in consideration.

    The Indian Army, which has built a pontoon bridge on the Yamuna for the Art of Living Foundation’s upcoming World Culture Festival, is likely to build one more to ease movement of lakhs of people who are expected to attend the controversy-ridden mega event.

    The development came even as there was criticism from some quarters, including the social media, about using Army to build the floating bridge for such an event.

    Social media seemed averse to the use of soldiers to build the bridge for such an event:

    Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources on Monday said the army’s help was sought in view of security and safety concern of lakhs of people expected to throng the function. MoD sources said it was not for the first time that the army was engaged in building bridges for an event. “Army personnel have made pontoon bridges during Kumbh mela. The army has even constructed a foot over bridge for the Commonwealth Games after a bridge collapsed a few days before the games commenced.”

    Besides these, said MoD sources, the army has been requested to construct six pontoon bridges on the Yamuna, but they are making just one. “However, after the Delhi Government and the Delhi Police raised their concern over the safety and security, including chances of stampede, there is a possibility that the army will build another bridge as well,” said sources.

    According to reports the event will feature yoga and meditation sessions, peace prayers and traditional cultural performances from around the world.

    With agency inputs

    242 recruits inducted into Army Kashmiri soldiers better than the best, says Lt Gen Satish Dua

    242 recruits inducted into Army
    Recruits of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regiment celebrate after the passing-out parade at an Army base on the outskirts of Srinagar on Saturday. Tribune photo: Amin War

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, March 5

    As many as 242 recruits from J&K were inducted into the Army’s Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) Regiment at a colourful passing-out parade today.General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt Gen Satish Dua, who recently took over as the Colonel of JAKLI, reviewed the passing-out parade, which was attended by nearly 2,500 parents and relatives of the young soldiers. The soldiers of the regiment hailed from all regions of the state.Lt Gen Dua said soldiers from Kashmir had been proving their mettle in the Army and the number of local youth joining the Army was increasing.“I am myself from JAKLI. When these young soldiers join any regiment, they are no less than any other. They are better than the best. In JAKLI, we have approximately 300 soldiers who have been awarded with gallantry awards in the Kashmir region alone,” Dua told reporters on the sidelines of the function.He said the number of Kashmiri youth in the Indian Army was increasing. “.. All I can say that response to recruitment in the Army in different regiments is very enthusiastic. ..” he said.During his address to recruits, Lt Gen Dua congratulated the young soldiers for their immaculate parade.He asked the fresh recruits to work with dedication to take the name of the regiment to new heights.“Today you have become part of the Indian Army and JAKLI. We are all proud,” he said during his address.During the investiture ceremony, Lt Gen Dua also presented awards to the meritorious recruits.At the end of the parade, emotional scenes were witnessed as parents and relatives were seen hugging and kissing the new recruits. Some of them were seen taking pictures.“It is a proud moment for me and the family,” said a new recruit from north Kashmir whose sister was taking pictures with a mobile phone

    Sher-e-Kashmir Sword of Honour for Rajiv Sharma

    • Rajiv Sharma was awarded the Sher-e-Kashmir Sword of Honour for being adjudged ‘Overall Best Recruit’
    • The Chewang Rinchen Medal was received by Iqbal Mohammad Baba of Baramulla for being adjudged “Best in Firing”
    • Aamir Mushtaq of Bandipora bagged the Bana Singh Medal for being “Best in Drill”

    Days later, govt struggles with its own paralysis

    Days later, govt struggles with its own paralysis

    The fire that has scalded the traditional social and cultural ties between the chattis biradris was set off on Valentine’s Day, when the world was exchanging the message of love. Ever since Jats were perceived to be ‘displaced’ by the BJP’s non-Jat-dominated Manohar Lal Khattar government in October 2014, an uneasy calm has prevailed in the community. Many Jats found consolation in the promise by the chief minister to implement reservation in jobs and educational institutions.Fatigued by assurances, community leaders displayed restlessness as the government delayed its response following legal hurdles. Also, the BJP remained tongue-tied as its Kurukshetra MP Raj Kumar Saini openly chided the Jats. This is perceived as a precurser to the unprecedented anarchy across the state. Yet right from day one, the failure of the government machinery to deal with the emerging situation was visible. There was no heads-up for the “inexperienced” BJP leadership as to how to deal with the quickly unfolding volatile situation. Civil servants and district administration kept waiting for directions, which never came.”When Haryana was burning, the state police turned into mere information gatherers. All they did was brief their political bosses about the nature and the extent of damage. The advice of some officers, such as the IG Rohtak, forewarning the government about calling in paramilitary forces were ignored. In hindsight, the same officer has been transferred and suspended for dereliction of duty,” says a senior Haryana minister.The Jats’ Swabhiman rally at Sampla in Rohtak was a warning enough. The Hindi word ‘Swabhiman’ (self-respect) was chosen in response to a series of ‘invectives’ unleashed by Saini. Temperatures were rising as some youths were not ready to wait any longer for a government response to their ultimatum till March 31. This led to ‘direct action’ to block the National Highway-10.Moderates among the agitators demanded a Jat leader must assure them of reservation. Since both Jat leaders in the state cabinet, Captain Abhimanyu and OP Dhankar, were not available on February 14, no such assurance came. Yet the agitators agreed to lift the blocked if the district administration took their memorandum to the CM. The deputy commissioner spoke to some leaders on phone, but avoided a one-on-one. Humiliated, the agitators started blocking other roads. The agitation had by then began to be run by “invisible forces.” When Dhankar spoke to the CM in the presence of Captain Abhimanyu on February 15 in Rohtak amid the swearing-in of panches and sarpanches, Khattar announced that the government would wait till March 31 for the report of a committee set up to deal with the issue. The Jat agitators felt the government was merely buying time. They started blocking more roads. By Feb 17, Rohtak town came to the emerging might of the Jat protesters. The next day, non-Jats expressed their bitterness and frustration over road blockades and disruption of normal life. Local traders took out a procession that was seen as an ‘anti-reservation’ march. The government’s inability to assess the gravity of the situation set the stage for the havoc that followed. A small clash led to rumours about Jat agitators having been beaten up. Hundreds of Jats from adjoining villages gathered in Rohtak. The police cracked down on Jat students who they alleged had thrown stones at them. The police went inside Jat College and Neki Ram Sharma College and singled out the students after checking their identity cards. All this only added fuel to the fire. For the agitators, it was time to for ‘revenge’. They went to the local IG Office and damaged the property, vandalised the local RN Mall, looted guns and ammunition from a private armoury, burnt vehicles and finally set the house of Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu, with his family members inside, on fire. The protesters also burnt down schools.The rioting then, shifted to neighbouring Jhajjar and Bhiwani. Meanwhile, the Centre realised that the situation was beyond Khattar’s control. BJP chief Amit Shah called Khattar on Feb 20 and told him to step back. The ‘war room’ shifted to Delhi where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju met at Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s residence. State BJP leaders also met separately and concluded that announcing reservation for Jats was the only way out. This was meant to douse the fire. Instead, another squabble began, this time within the BJP with the Jat and non-Jat ministers taking divergent views. Health Minister Anil Vij has let it be known that those who indulged in arson and violence cannot be given compensation. Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma, while briefing the media, did not say anything about the compensation part. Even when his briefing was on, Dhankar tweeted that families of those killed will be given a job and Rs 10 lakh compensation besides protection against registration of false cases. Sharma came back to the media and repeated Dhankar’s tweet. Non-Jat ministers are opposed to this announcement, causing a vertical split in the Khattar cabinet.As normalcy returns, incidents of inhuman tragedy, tales of horrors like the Murthal gang-rape are coming out. The administrative machinery is clearly divided on caste lines with officials taking a stand based on their loyalty to political masters. The manner in which government machinery failed is apparent from the trail of destruction left behind.

    Worst affected

    • Rohtak
    • Jhajjar
    • Bahadurgarh
    • Hisar
    • Bhiwani
    • Jind
    • Gohana
    • Sonipat
    • Kaithal
    • Karnal
    • Panipat

    Death toll

    • Jhajjar 13
    • Sonepat 8
    • Rohtak 5
    • Jind 2
    • Kaithal 1
    • Hisar 1

    Saw women being molested, say truckers

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, February 27

    More witnesses have mustered the courage to speak about the horror on NH-1 near Murthal in the wee hours of February 22 with four of them telling the media that they had seen women, their clothes torn, being dragged out of their vehicles and taken to nearby fields by armed goons.Police personnel have now been deployed at the Ghannaur-Murthal stretch where the women were allegedly raped. Chief Minister ML Khattar told mediapersons today that he was considering setting up a special team comprising women officer to look into the allegations.Meanwhile, the three-member team headed by DIG Rajshree today visited the “crime site”. One of the members said they had been receiving obnoxious calls after their phone numbers were made public yesterday.An eyewitness said not had he seen women being molested, but infants being roughed up too. They said the goons, some riding motorcycles, chased and attacked the terrified women as they cried out for help. But there was no policeman to rescue them. “Calls on 100 went unattended,” he alleged. Truck driver Yadvendra, a resident of Fatehgarh Sahib, said,“I was stranded near Apollo School on NH-1 on February 22. I saw youths  smashing windowpanes and setting vehicles ablaze.” He said he was robbed of his bag containing Rs 6,500. “As I ran towards the fields to save myself, I saw several goons molesting women,” he said.Trick driver Niranjan of Pathankot, who was also stranded near Apollo School, said: “I saw hooligans torching vehicles. Some youths asked stranded women to escape to nearby villages. This was a trap. I did not see women being raped, but their shrieks said it all.”Sukhwinder Singh, whose vehicle was torched, said: “It was near Pipli Khera village (near Ghannaur) that women were molested and their children dragged away.”Satbir Satti of Adampur, who was on his way to Delhi on February 22, said he saw two women (he later learnt they were NRIs)  running helter and skelter without slippers and dupattas as a mob chased them. Satti, whose Ertiga car was set ablaze, said: “While one woman was from Calgary, the other was from Edmonton. I heard people saying they had seen hooligans dragging women to nearby fields.”Satti’s neighbours said he had narrated the horrific incident to them on his return from Delhi on February 25. “My aunt, whom I was to drop at the airport, is yet to come to terms with what she saw that day. She too had to hide herself in a dhaba,” he said.(Inputs by Parveen Arora, BS Malik and Deepkamal Kaur)

    House pays tributes to martyrs

    Tribune News Service

    Shimla, February 25

    The Assembly today paid tributes to the four martyrs who laid down their lives in anti-terrorist operations at Pathankot and Srinagar and mourned the death of former colleague and four-time MLA from Gangath in Kangra district.Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said the nation was proud of the martyrs who had made the supreme sacrifice fighting the militants. “Not just Himachal but the entire country is proud of these soldiers,” he said. He said the state government had decided to give Rs 20 lakh to the families of the martyrs as a mark of respect.He also lauded former MLA Des Raj from Gangath in Kangra who passed away on February 1, 2016. “He remained a member of this House on four occasions in 1982, 1990, 1998 and 2007 and always worked for the uplift of the weaker and downtrodden, for which he will be always remembered,” he said.Leader of the Opposition PK Dhumal said the BJP MLA worked relentlessly for ensuring the development of his constituency. “As Chairman of the Finance Commission and member of various committees, he made immense contribution for which he will always be remembered,” said Dhumal. He also paid tributes to the four martyrs.

    Pak wants good ties with India: Sharif

    Islamabad, February 24

    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said Pakistan wants to have good ties with all neighbours, including India, and asserted that mutual cooperation was vital for the socio-economic uplift of both countries.Sharif made the remarks during a meeting with India’s newly appointed High Commissioner in Pakistan Gautam Bambawale who called on him at the PM House here.An official source said the two discussed various aspects of India-Pakistan relations and agreed on the importance of improving the relations.“Pakistan was pursuing good relations with all its neighbours, including India, as mutual cooperation was vital for the socio-economic uplift of both the countries,” Sharif was quoted as saying by the state-run APP news agency.Sharif extended a warm welcome to the new High Commissioner and hoped he would work to bring the two countries closer. Bambawale, who arrived in Pakistan last month to assume the charge of the High Commission, thanked the Prime Minister for the welcome and expressed the hope that his role would be beneficial in strengthening relations between the two nations.An official of Indian mission refused to share what Bambawale discussed with the PM during a meeting today. — PTI

    Pathankot attack: India awaits Pak SIT

    • India on Wednesday said it was awaiting a visit by Pakistan’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) and other details in connection with the Pathankot terror attack, days after Pakistan authorities registered an FIR in the case
    • Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said NSAs and Foreign Secretaries of the two countries were in regular touch and that Pakistan conveyed to India that leads provided to it about the attack were being probed