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    Military and its glory in focus at fest by the lake

    Besides interactions with war veterans and winners of gallantry awards, the festival will have a book exhibition, handicrafts stalls, armament display and live painting corner

    From page 01 CHANDIGARH:City Beautiful is geared up to experience an amalgamation of war stories, experience, and defence literature under a single roof with the twoday Military Literature Festival starting at the Lake Club, on Friday.

    ANIL DAYAL/HT PHOTOSIn the final countdown to India’s first Military Literature Festival, the motorcycle display team of the Indian Army left scores of Chandigarh residents awestruck with their performance at Uttar Marg, near Sukhna Lake on Thursday.The event is a joint initiative of the Punjab government and the Chandigarh administration, and is being supported by the western command of the Indian Army.

    The festival aims to create awareness among people, especially the children, about military history and accomplishments of our forces. The event is open to all and has free entries. The registration for it can be done at

    Besides interactions with veterans, the festival will have a book exhibition, handicrafts stalls, armament display, live painting corner, magic shows for children, selfie with war heros, among others.

    The festival will also host a performance by Punjabi sufi singer Satinder Sartaaj at the Capitol Complex, whereas Gorkha soldiers will stage the famous khukri dance at the lake club.

    Adequate parking facilities have been made and shuttle service will be provided for the last-mile connectivity.


    To provide schoolchildren an opportunity to interact with war veterans, the festival is organising a ‘Children’s Samwad’. These veterans include heros from the Sino-India war of 1962, the Indo-Pak war of 1965, the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971 and the Kargil war.

    Honorary Captain Bana Singh (retd), a Param Vir Chakra (PVC) winner— India’s highest wartime military honour— will share his experience with the children.

    Besides him, Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (retd), a Maha Vir Chakra winner, best known for his heroics in the Battle of Longewala when he was successful in holding the Pakistani forces for a full night with just 120 soldiers, during the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971, is also participating in the festival.

    Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for capturing Area Flat Top, despite being grievously injured, during the Kargil War, and Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav, the youngest person to be awarded the Param Vir Chakra, will also interact with the children. Other decorated officers like Col Balwan Singh and Brigadier Sukhjit Singh, Maha Vir Chakra winners, will also interact with the schoolchildren.


    Talking about the significance of the festival, Major General BS Grewal (retd), director of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Preparatory Institute, Mohali, said, “Cadets at our institute are looking forward to the festival with great enthusiasm. The experience will be very beneficial for them because they will get an opportunity to meet and interact with many veterans.”

    Shubhdeep Singh Aulakh, a student at the institute, said, “These events should be organised more often so that aspirants like us get to know how we can best serve the country. Interacting with the veterans and knowing their experience will be a lifetime opportunity.”

    A FITTING TRIBUTE TO BRAVADO::::Nostalgia marks braveheart’s statue­unveiling at his school

    DS Sandhu and Jaikanta Sandhu, parents of late Rajeev Sandhu, second lieutenant of the Assam regiment, whose statue was unveiled at his alma mater, St John’s High School, in Sector 26, Chandigarh, on Wednesday.

    Second Lt Rajeev Sandhu was killed in peace operation in Sri Lanka

    From page 01 CHANDIGARH : For parents who could not even see the body of their only son, Wednesday was a day that will always remain etched in the memories of DS Sandhu and Jaikanta Sandhu, parents of late Rajeev Sandhu, second lieutenant of the Assam regiment, whose statue was unveiled at his alma mater, St John’s High School in Sector 26.

    HT PHOTO(From left) Lt Col PK Jaitley, Rajiv Chandgothia, Col Michael James, Sanjeev K Sharma, Varun Khurana, Akhil Mehta and Rajesh Bansal, who were Sandhu’s batchmates at St John’s High School.It was an emotional moment for his batch mates, members of the regiment and young students.

    Second Lieutenant Rajeev Sandhu had served in the Indian Army for only four months when he lost his life fighting against the LTTE during a peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka in 1988.

    At 21, he became the youngest officer to receive Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the second highest gallantry award of the country after Param Vir Chakra. He was commissioned in the army on March 5, 1988, and gave supreme sacrifice on July 19, 1988. Seen as an effort to highlight his achievements and motivate students to join the forces and serve their country, principal Kavita C Das shared how the officer embodied the motto of the school— For God and Country.

    The highlight of the day, however, was when the martyrs’ batch mates who turned up in large numbers broke into tears as Justice GS Sandhawalia took the podium and recollected the memories of his friend and class fellow Rajeev Sandhu.

    FUN-LOVING AND COMPETITIVE Unanimously referred to as a loyal friend, a disciplinarian with a competitive spirit, Sandhu’s class fellows were effusive in their praise for their friend. “He was always sure that he wanted to join the army,” said Lt Colonel PK Jaitley, his batch mate, complimenting his never say die spirit.

    His class fellow Akhil Mehta, a consultant, said he owes his roller skating skills to Sandhu who was a national champion in the sport.

    While another alumni Col Michael James (retd), Sanjeev Sharma and Rajeev Bansal added how Sandhu’s fun-loving avatar came out every now and then, be it while going for gehri to Sector 9 near Carmel Convent School back in the 80s or while planning trips to Kasauli and Pinjore airfield.

    Many credit his parents for imbibing this spirit in him from a young age, the soldier’s father, a former para-trainer, and his mother, who was the first woman SP in the Punjab cadre during her time.

    However, the humble parents believe they are best known as the ‘proud parents of the bravest soldier.’

    The beauty of the event was how it brought together people who even though had never met the army officer, but had heard of his valour all their lives.

    Brig Jashi Bawa (retd) from the same battalion in the Assam regiment shared how Rajeev Sandhu is remembered to date and became a source of inspiration for everyone there.

    The function was concluded on a serene note by the students of the school who presented the national anthem in sign language throwing light on the concept of equality for all.

    Besides the Para Olympic soldiers and boys of the school, the audience comprised bureaucrats and other dignitaries from the city, including Congress leader Manish Tiwari and judges of the Punjab and Haryana high court, members of the Assam Regiment. Subedar Major KB Chettri of 7 Assam Regiment, Col Mridul Verma, CO of Assam Regiment, BrigChaudhry on behalf of the veterans, were also present.

    HEADLINES :::27 NOV 2017













    Tearful adieu

    Tearful adieu

    Parents of Sepoy Mandeep Singh, who was killed while fighting infiltrators in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday, at his cremation at Chahal Khurd village in Batala on Thursday. Senior Army officers and officials of the Gurdaspur district administration were present. The martyr’s father, Prem Singh, and mother Bhajan Kaur were inconsolable. Tribune photo


    Battle of Chhamb:Was the ceasefire premature?

    1971 INDO­PAK WAR India should have negotiated the return of its territory under Simla Agreement, says author of a new book

    › I used my father’s diary and many other jottings on the battle to write a detailed, balanced and definitive account of this battle. AJS SANDHU , Major Gen (retd)

    CHANDIGARH: Did former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi jump the gun by declaring unilateral ceasefire in the western sector in 1971? Shouldn’t she have allowed her troops to recapture the lost territory of Chhamb that continues to be with Pakistan even now? This is the question Maj Gen AJS Sandhu (retd) mulls as he sets about bringing to life the Battle of Chhamb in his book “Battleground Chhamb: The Indo-Pakistan War of 1971”.

    KARUN SHARMA/HT■ Major General AJS Sandhu (retd) with his book ‘Battleground Chhamb’ in Chandigarh on Friday.Fought in western sector when the world attention was focused on the liberation of Bangladesh in the East, the battle is the story of raw courage and tactical hits and misses.

    For Maj Gen Sandhu, it is both a son’s tribute and a wellresearched piece of military history. Sandhu was a young captain in the eastern sector during the 1971 Indo-Pak war when his father, then Maj Gen Jaswant Singh, was the general officer commanding of 10 Division in Kashmir, which fought the Battle of Chhamb.

    Interestingly, Jaswant’s three brothers were also fighting the war, two in the eastern theatre and one in the west.

    Sandhu says his father, who kept a diary during the war, wanted to pen a book on the battle but died following a cardiac arrest while he was serving as the vice-chief in 1980. “I used his diary and many other jottings on the battle to write a detailed, balanced and definitive account of this battle,” says Sandhu, who received a fellowship from the United Service Institution of India (USI) to research this book over two-and-half years.


    Sandhu also approached Pakistani army officers who had fought this battle. A chapter titled “View from the Other Side of the Hill”, carries the uncensored first-hand accounts of the battle by four Pakistani officers. Interestingly, one of them is an officer who shot down the plane of Air Marshal Denzil Keelor. “Keelor was flying support missions in Chhamb when his plane was shot down by the Pakistani army,” says Sandhu. He managed to bail out and landed in the no-man’s land. Luckily, Indians managed to evacuate him.

    Chhamb, says Sandhu, saw Pakistan’s biggest land offensive as Maj Gen Yahya Khan wanted to capture the only connecting bridge on the Chenab as that would make it possible for them to wrest Rajouri and Poonch. Sandhu says initially, the Indian Army planned to launch an offensive on Pakistan in the western sector but the plan was aborted at the last minute. “Indira Gandhi felt she could defend her attack on the East Pakistan to the world following 1 million Bangla refugees and her tours to the US and Canada seeking a solution to this problem. But she didn’t want to hazard an adverse world reaction to an attack on West Pakistan,” says Sandhu.


    The 10 Division was in the process of reorienting itself when Pakistan caught it off guard with a massive offensive backed by heavy artillery support. Pakistani forces outnumbered the Indian troops defending Chhamb 4 to 1 in infantry, 10 to 1 in armour (tanks) and 2 to 1 in artillery.

    The battle, which began on the evening of December 3 with air strikes by Pakistan, ended with Indira Gandhi announcing a unilateral ceasefire that took effect on December 17.


    The battle saw a heavy loss of life with Pakistan losing 45% of its strength in the West in it. Pakistan’s Maj Gen Ifthikar Khan Janjua became the highest ranked officer to have died in combat during this offensive. The Indians also captured Col Basharat Raja, the senior-most Pakistani commanding officer in the western theatre.

    Sandhu says later Indira, when being introduced to Jaswant Singh as the general who fought a “tough battle in Chhamb”, intervened to describe it as “not tough, but the toughest battle” in the western sector.

    The battle, Sandhu says, holds many lessons even for the present day warfare. But clearly, what rankles him the most is the loss of Chhamb. “We had 90,000 prisoners of war with us. Shouldn’t we have negotiated the return of our territory in the Simla Agreement?” he questioned.

    ‘US considering Indian request of armed drones for air force’

    ‘US considering Indian request of armed drones for air force’
    Fiile photo of a Guardian drone. AFP

    Washington, October 22

    The Trump Administration is “considering” India’s request for armed drones for its air force, weeks after approving the sale of high-tech unarmed Guardian drones to India.“Yes, yes,” a senior administration official told PTI when asked about India’s pending request about the purchase of armed drones as part of its armed forces’ modernisation drive.

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

    The armed drones, the Indian Air Force (IAF) believes, would help it strengthen its defence capabilities.Early this year, the IAF had requested the US Government for General Atomics Predator C Avenger aircraft. It is understood that the IAF would need 80 to 100 units making it approximately a whopping USD 8 billion deal.The Trump Administration’s consideration in this regard comes months after a successful meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump at the White House on June 26, during which the US announced to sell 22 unarmed Guardian drones to India, which would add to the Indian Navy’s surveillance capabilities in the strategic Indian Ocean region.“We are at ways to, in terms of foreign military sales, but really also in defence cooperation broadly how to strengthen our relationship and cooperation,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.The official was responding to questions on defence relationship and India’s quest for high-tech defence equipments and technologies from the US as part of its long overdue armed forces’ modernisation drive running into several hundred billions of dollars over the next decade.Previous Obama Administration had designated India as major defence partner and the Trump Administration has accelerated the process of considering Indian requests.“The US Navy and the Indian Navy have been cooperating for many years on counter-piracy efforts, on ensuring freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf,” the official said.“I think that (defence) cooperation is only going to increase based on the need for it to increase and the kind of trust that we are building through personal relationships and through a fundamental understanding that our interests aligned so clearly,” the official said.Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said that in keeping with India’s status as a major defence partner and their mutual interest in expanding maritime cooperation, the Trump administration has offered a menu of defence options for India’s consideration, including the Guardian UAV.“We value the role India can play in global security and stability and are prepared to ensure they have even greater capabilities,” Tillerson had said ahead of his visit to India.He did not mention about armed drones. He, however, said “the proposals the US has put forward, including for Guardian UAVs, aircraft carrier technologies, the Future Vertical Lift program, and F-18 and F-16 fighter aircraft, are all potential game changers for our commercial and defence cooperation.” PTI

    Agra E-way closed for IAF touchdown

    Lucknow-Agra Expressway to be closed for IAF touchdown

    Lucknow: The Lucknow-Agra Expressway will be closed for commuters from 10 am on Monday till 2 pm on Tuesday as the Indian Air Force plans to conduct a major touchdown exercise involving 20 planes on the highway. This is for the first time that transport aircraft AN-32 will “land and then take off” from this highway. PTI

    Lucknow-Agra Expressway to be closed for IAF touchdown

    File photo of the Sukhoi-30 MKI jet.

    Lucknow, October 22

    The Lucknow-Agra Expressway will be closed for commuters from 10 am on Monday till 2 pm on Tuesday as the Indian Air Force plans to conduct a major touchdown exercise involving 20 planes, including the AN-32, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi-30 MKI, on the highway.

    This is for the “first time” that transport aircraft (AN-32) will “land and then take off” from this highway, an official said.

    According to PRO, Defence (Central Command), Gargi Malik Sinha, the IAF will conduct the aircraft touchdown exercise on the Agra Expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district.

    “It is for the first time that any transport aircraft will land and then take off (on the highway). The AN-32 are meant for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The aircraft can bring a large amount of relief material and can also help in evacuating people,” Sinha said.

    In all, 20 aircraft including AN-32 transport and fighter planes like Mirage 2000, Jaguar, Sukhoi 30 MKI will take part in the exercise, she said.

    “Two AN-32 planes will participate in the October 24 Expressway touchdown,” the PRO said.

    To ensure a smooth conduct of the touchdown by IAF aircraft, traffic restrictions will be placed on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway for general public from October 23 to October 24.

    In a letter sent to district magistrate Unnao, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) Awanish Awasthi said that Indian Air Force was planning to conduct highways flying operations on October 24 on the airstrip of Agra- Lucknow Expressway in Unnao district.

    The letter further said, “It is to bring to your notice that due to Diwali vacation, a lot of traffic is moving on the expressway. Hence, keeping in view the convenience of the expressway users, it is proposed to stop the use of expressway for general public from 10 am on October 23 to 2 pm on October 24”.

    The CEO asked the Unnao district magistrate to ensure that sufficient police force is deployed to control the public and movement of authorised vehicles on expressway and also take measures to ensure safe flying operations on the scheduled day from 8 am till 1 pm. PTI

    CBI to look into private detective’s allegations in Bofors case

    CBI to look into private detective's allegations in Bofors case
    File photo of a Bofors gun. AFP

    New Delhi, October 18

    The CBI on Wednesday said it would look into the “facts and circumstances” of the Bofors scam mentioned by private detective Michael Hershmam, who alleged that the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government had sabotaged his investigation.

    Hershman, who is the president of the US-based private detective firm Fairfax, claimed in television interviews recently that Rajiv Gandhi was “furious” when he had found a Swiss bank account “Mont Blanc”.

    Hershman, who was here last week to address a conference of private detectives, also alleged that the bribe money of the Bofors gun scandal had been parked in the Swiss account.

    “The agency has learnt of the matter pertaining to the Bofors aired on certain TV channels containing interview of Michael Hershman,” CBI informationa officer and spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said in a statement.

    “Facts and circumstances as mentioned in the interview will be looked into as per due process by the CBI,” he said.

    Hershman was quoted as telling television channels that Rajiv Gandhi got very upset when “our work was uncovered”. He then established a Supreme Court commission to look into the circumstances surrounding then finance minister V P Singh’s hiring of Fairfax.

    In his interviews, Hershman has expressed his willingness to testify and help Indian agencies on the Rs 64 crore Bofors gun pay-off scandal but the effort has to be a credible one. PTI

    Let off for Hafiz Saeed? Pakistan plays off US, India

    Let off for Hafiz Saeed?

    THE absence of a dialogue can hurt, especially if the only Indian strategy to rein in Pakistan is an endless supply of verbal fusillade. Pakistan seized its moment as soon as US President Donald Trump telegraphed his appreciation for its army rescuing five Western hostages from the clutches of the Haqqani network. A day later, the Punjab government (Pakistan) told the Supreme Court that it will not press ahead with militant leader Hafiz Saeed’s incarceration for the fifth time under the anti-terrorism legislation. The Pakistan administration did not feel the need to continue with the façade of pretending to rein in one of its strategic assets once it successfully pulled off the caper of “rescuing” Western hostages from a militant organisation mentored by the spy agency, ISI. Sections of the media will make much of this let off but the fact is that Saeed and his cohorts will remain under house arrest under another law.Pakistan is currently divided over the usefulness of its resident militant leaders. The ISI wants to de-radicalise militant-linked organisations by bringing them into political processes. Saeed duly formed a political party and contested the byelections featuring former PM Nawaz Sharif’s wife. But a section of the Pakistani establishment was not pleased with this rather blatant attempt to whitewash a militant organisation. Its election commission has refused to register his political party because it has links with militants and accused by the US and India of involvement in the Mumbai attacks. This is Pakistan at its quintessential enigmatic best: If a door is shut, a window remains open.However, India under PM Modi has gone through one of the longest estrangements with Pakistan in recent times. The various dialogue formats in the past always helped resurrect the relationship after a period of bitterness. The US seemed to be siding with the Indian approach soon after Trump became President. It may not bother with India’s woes if the Pakistani army appears to be playing ball in Afghanistan. India needs to find its mojo to deal with Pakistan. Raining down verbal fire is neither helpful nor sustainable.

    Dokalam effect? China delays high-speed train project in south India

    Dokalam effect? China delays high-speed train project in south India
    ”Lack of response” from Chinese railways has been stated has the reason behind the delay. — Representative photo

    New Delhi, October 15

    An ambitious high-speed train project in south India has been delayed after Chinese railways, that completed a feasibility study a year ago, did not respond, railway officials have said, suggesting that the “lack of response” may be due to the Dokalam standoff.An internal brief of the Mobility Directorate on the status of nine high-speed projects of the railways, accessed by PTI, shows that the Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor, a 492-km stretch, lies in limbo because the Chinese railways has failed to respond to the ministry’s communiqués.”The Chinese company submitted the final report in November 2016 and after that the Chinese team has suggested for a face to face interaction. No date has been fixed from their side,” said the note prepared by the Mobility Directorate.On the reason for the delay, the brief states — “lack of response” from Chinese railways.The brief also states that the feasibility study by the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC) was submitted to the Railway Board in November 2016 and after that the Chinese company had sought meetings with officials of the Board.However, officials say the Board has been unable to get in touch with officials of CREEC despite repeated communications sent to them via mails in the last six months.”We have even tried to get in touch with them through their Embassy here, but we are yet to hear from them,” said an official.The ministry officials said it was the standoff between the two countries in Bhutan’s Dokalam area between June 16 and August 28 this year that seems to have derailed the project.”The study began in 2014 and they submitted the report in 2016. The entire cost was borne by them. In fact they have shown so much interest in collaborating with us for other projects as well, so we think that it was the standoff that must have raised doubts,” said a senior rail official.An email to the Chinese Embassy by the PTI on the issue did not elicit any response.Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Dokalam since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Dokalam.The brief, prepared by the department in charge of all the high speed corridors, also states that except the Chinese roadblock, work on the eight other projects was on track.China had in fact not only pitched for the Mumbai- Ahemdabad high speed network, which was finally bagged by Japan, but also for the bullet project in the Mumbai-Delhi sector, which is yet to be finalised.China is also training railway engineers in heavy hauling and it is with Chinese collaboration that India is setting up its first railway university.The Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor is one of nine such high speed corridors being developed by the ministry. The aim was to increase the speed from the present 80 kmph to 160 kmph.While the Delhi-Agra route was made operational in 2016 with the country’s fastest train Gatimaan Express running between the two cities, the work on rest seven of eight of 8 is going at a fast pace, the brief indicated. — PTI