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    Ashoka the Great & principles of co-existence by By K. Natwar Singh

    The emperor’s name was restored to honour as a “result not of Indian researchers but the work of European scholars.”

    Ashoka the Great & principles of co-existence
    A portrait of Ashoka the Great.

    HG Wells, the British author, a contemporary of Bernard Shaw and GK Chesterton, wrote in his, Outline of History: “Amid tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history — their majesties, and graciousness, and serenities and royal highnesses and the like — the name of Ashoka shines and shines almost alone, a star…”He was Ashoka Devanampiya (beloved of the gods); ‘Piyadasi’ (pleasant to behold). He is the greatest ruler India has produced. He lived from 273 BC to 232 BC.Ashoka was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya and the son of Bindusara. Ashoka’s empire extended from present-day Afghanistan to Madurai. The Dharama Chakra, incorporated into the flag of India, is taken from the Ashokan pillar at Sarnath.For almost two thousand years, Ashoka the Buddhist was all but forgotten. He himself left a detailed account of his reign on many pillars and edicts he built. Two pillars have survived in Delhi.Romila Thapar in her preface to her book, Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas writes: “The reign of Ashoka began to attract attention of historians well over a century ago. In 1837 James Prinsep came out with his work on Ashoka inscriptions in a series of papers. According to KM Panikkar, Ashok’s name was restored to honour as a “result not of Indian researchers but the work of European scholars.” I conclude this piece with two quotations from his edicts: “All sects deserve reverence for one reason or another. By thus acting a man exalts his own sect and at the same time does service to the sects of other people.” The second is: “All men are my children, and just as I desire my children that they should obtain welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, so do I desire the same for all men.”I have written this as I am reading Romila Thapar’s wonderful book, Ashoka and the Fall of the Mauryas.It gave me much pleasure when I read that the Nobel Prize citation and medallion (pure gold) which had been stolen by miscreants was recovered and returned to Kailash Satyarthi. I have so far not met him, but doubtlessly he is a noble and public spirited individual.It was in the early years of this century that Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel medal was stolen from a room in which the poet lived. I was then External Affairs Minister. The Swedish government was gracious enough to send a replacement. This was handed over to me by the Swedish ambassador in New Delhi. I decided to take the medal to Santiniketan to give it to the Vice Chancellor. From Kolkata Pranab Mukerjee and I flew by helicopter to Bolpur and then by car to Gurudev’s creation. There we were joined by Governor of West Bengal Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and economist Amartya Sen. The ceremony was short and simple. I had first been to Santiniketan in December 1954 escorting a Chinese cultural delegation, led by Chen Chen Tho, a great Tagore scholar. I remember his name because I saw much of him when I was posted in China 1956-58.One more significant memory of Santiniketan has stayed with me. The great Nandlal Bose (a pioneer of modern Indian art) showed me around Kala Bhawan, his creation. Here’s my list of the famous and the infamous politicians of the 20th century: Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), V. Lenin (1870-1924), Winston Churchill (1874-1965), M.A. Jinnah (1876-1948), Joseph Stalin (1879-1953), Franklin D Roosevelt (1883-1945), Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), Mao Tse Tung (1893-1976) & Nelson Mandela (1918-2013).Mahatma Gandhi is a class by himself. Lenin was a revolutionary, intellectual, founder of the Soviet Union, was ruthless. Winston Churchill arch-imperialist, racist, greatest Englishman and Nobel laureate. MA Jinnah was a brilliant lawyer, a clear-headed politician who knew what he wanted and got it (Pakistan). Joseph Stalin, founder of the USSR, killed millions of his own people. He led the Soviet Union to victory in 1945 World War-II. Franklin D Roosevelt was a great US President (four terms) except Lincoln. Adolf Hitler was a charismatic German leader and a brutal killer of millions of Jews. His autobiography Mein Kampf was a bestseller. He committed suicide. Jawaharlal Nehru was a noble humanist, a founder of modern India. Charles de Gaulle is the greatest Frenchman after Napoleon. He was an excellent writer in French and was President of France during 1958-1969. Mao Tse Tung was a revolutionary intellectual and the founder of the People’s Republic of China. He killed seventy millions of his people. Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time. He spent 27 years (1964-1991) in prison. A Nobel laureate, he was President of South Africa during 1994-1999. He died at the age of 95.


    Army Chief on Kashmir Angry words no substitute for efficacy

    The high casualty figures in Kashmir must have been extremely galling for the new Army Chief, Gen Bipin Rawat. For the first time in three decades, the government had breached the unwritten norm of seniority to appoint him as the Army Chief because General Rawat was said to have scored over his two superseded seniors on the strength of his presumed expertise in counter-insurgency operations. His outburst at best could be attributed to two very bad days this month in Kashmir that claimed the lives of six Army personnel, including a Major. What made the situation worse was the injured Major could not be rushed to hospital in time because of protesting mobs, resulting in his death. It is natural that such instances should trigger a temporary feeling of primitive blood lust in the closely-knit Army fraternity. But it does not behove an Army Chief — though schooled in the principle of using minimum force during anti-militancy operations — to overstep his jurisdiction and threaten the civilian population.

    The Army has a well delineated role in anti-insurgency operations. That has been clearly breached. In fact, there is no provision in the extant laws that can make good his threat of treating all those who obstruct the Army’s operations during encounters as anti-national elements. Nor does the Army have the power to “go after” or declare elements who display flags of other countries   as “terrorists”.This is a task best left to the local police. By all accounts, the police had tear-gassed people moving to the encounter site.

    The reason for crowds obstructing encounters in the recent past needs to be deciphered by the civilian authorities, who in turn, need to work out a solution after consulting all stakeholders, including the Army. As General Rawat would be aware, unbridled violence during the early years of insurgency in J&K made a bad situation worse and the wounds didn’t heal. A heavy hand can bring about a temporary and deceptive calm. It can even be misconstrued as a victory. But no one has won the battle by treating all civilians as the enemy.

    RAWAT REMARKS ON J&K CIVILIANS SPARK ROW

    THE GOVERNMENT DEFENDED THE ARMY CHIEF, SAYING HIS STATEMENT WAS IN NATIONAL INTEREST

    Leaders in Kashmir criticised General Bipin Rawat’s statement warning local youth against creating hurdles. The NC said such posturing would increase hostility and the PDP said the Army must exercise restraint. SRINAGAR: Mainstream politicians as well as separatists in Kashmir have criticised army chief General Bipin Rawat’s statement warning local youth against creating hurdles during anti militancy operations even as the government came to his defence.

    Both the camps said such a statement would fuel a spurt in militancy. Opposition National Conference expressed disappointment and dismay over the “belligerent remarks” of the army chief and said such posturing would compound the situation in the Valley. “Youth rushing towards encounter sites and incidents of stone-pelting on the forces during encounters are worrying and alarming signs of the sense of alienation and disenchantment in Kashmir,” NC Spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said in a statement.

    “The need of the hour is to understand and acknowledge the deep sense of isolation in Kashmir and deal with it with statesmanship and magnanimity. Threatening and warning youth will only push them farther from reconciliation,” the NC statement said. PDP general secretary and vice-chairperson of Horticulture Development Board Nizamuddin Bhat said the army must exercise restraint. “This has not happened today, there have been occasions in the past also. That is why we say in any circumstances, a disciplined force observes restraint,” he said.

    The government defended the army chief, saying his statement was in national interest.

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    General Bipin Rawat, please hold your fire

    For the sake of the Kashmiris and soldiers, the national interest would be better served in engaging with the youth

    Let’s start with a disclosure. I’m sympathetic to the fauj and to all men in fatigues who serve in conflict zones. It is far from easy to work in Kashmir where you are alienated from your own people; where you are seen as an oppressor and are constantly told that you’re an ‘Indian dog’.

    APKashmiri youth throw stones at security forces during a protest in Srinagar, February 9. Army chief Bipin Rawat has said stone pelters will be treated as aides of jihadis

    But even for me — and I have fauji blood in my veins — the words used by the army chief jarred. They should, actually, make most of us cringe. General Bipin Rawat, while speaking to the media after saluting the dead bodies of his own men, said that stone pelters in Kashmir would be treated as ‘aides of the jihadis.’ He said a lot more: That those who try to disrupt terror operations in the state would be treated as ‘over ground workers of terrorists’ and would be fired on.

    It is understandable that no General likes to see his men in coffins and he may, therefore, have been overwrought. It is also completely understandable that as the leader of one of the largest armies, he was trying to motivate his men, who have taken two quick knocks in the Valley in the past week.

    What is difficult to stomach, however, is the fact that Rawat — as the senior- most army officer — did not think of what impact his words would have on the people of Kashmir, particularly after last year’s uprising that followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander, Burhan Wani.

    The stone pelting youth brought the Valley to a complete standstill. Boys aged nine to 15 took over the streets and were unafraid of walking up to armed garrisons that dot the landscape of a Valley. The Valley limped back to a semblance of normalcy after an intense phase of stone pelting in the summer of 2016 but the signs of another ‘hot’ summer are visible even before the snows have melted. Neither Rawat nor anyone from his organisation have tried to soften or even clarify the tough words that had almost the same lethal force as the pellet guns.

    The General, in so many ways, articulated a policy that was being practised in the Valley, particularly during the summer of 2016, when hundreds were maimed, blinded and killed. Were they all ‘aides of the jihadis’ and ‘overground workers of terrorists’?

    Rawat is partially right when he says that locals sometimes prevent the army from conducting their operations. There are several instances of a large group of Kashmiri women shouting slogans while the troops are out on operations. Is Rawat now going to shoot at women who dare to vent their frustration because they are tired of living wretched lives in a militarised zone?

    The army has been a part of the protracted Kashmir problem for over two decades. As the head of an organisation that has lost ranks and officers at the hands of terrorists – and sometimes because jawans have turned their guns on their own colleagues – Rawat should be asking some basic questions.

    Rawat, who superseded two competent officers, to don the mantle of the chief mainly because of his experience in dealing with counter-insurgency operations (so we were told) should be asking these questions in particular. Why are the youth so enraged? Why are they unafraid of dying? Why are the women unafraid?

    Why is the Valley back in a phase where local Kashmiri militants outnumber the foreign terrorists? Why is an entire population alienated? The answers are obvious. Rawat, for the sake of his own men – who don’t deserve to be in coffins – should be gently nudging the government towards a political resolution of the problem. There is already a report, painstakingly put together by interlocutors, available with the home ministry.

    The unfortunate bit is that Rawat sounds like the government in Delhi. Rajnath Singh promised to review the use of the pellet guns but stopped short of banning them and now his deputy, Kiren Rijiju has endorsed the General’s stance saying, “There should be action against the stone pelters and whoever works against national interest as national interest is supreme.”

    The national interest would be better served in engaging with the Valley’s youth. For the sake of the Kashmiris, our nation and of course, our soldiers, I fervently hope the General does not carry through with the threat of opening fire.

     


    Army Chief warns of tough action against stone-throwers

    Says forces in J&K facing higher casualties due to local help for ultras

    Army Chief warns of tough action against stone-throwers
    The Prime Minister and the Army Chief during the wreath-laying ceremony at Palam, New Delhi, on Wednesday to pay tributes to the soldiers killed in north Kashmir on Tuesday . PTI

    New Delhi, February 15

    Acknowledging that the hostile conduct of locals was causing higher casualties in the Kashmir valley, Army Chief Bipin Rawat today warned those attacking security forces during anti-militancy operations of “tough action.”The stern message from Rawat came a day after three soldiers faced heavy stone-throwing at Parray Mohalla of Bandipora in north Kashmir when they were about to launch an operation against the militants holed up there.Alerted by the stone-throwers, the militants got an opportunity to lob hand grenades and empty a few magazines from their rifles on the advancing troopers, leaving three jawans dead and some others, including a CRPF Commanding Officer, injured. One terrorist managed to flee the area.General Rawat said the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir were facing higher casualties due to the manner in which the local population was preventing them from conducting the operations and “at times even supporting the terrorists to escape.”Warning locals against supporting militants, General Rawat said: “We will request locals in Kashmir that people who have picked up arms — and these are local boys — and if they want to continue with acts of terrorism by displaying flags of the Islamic State and Pakistan, we will treat them as anti-national elements and go after them.”“They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue,” the Army Chief told reporters here, sending out a stern message to those who support militants.General Rawat’s assertion came after PM Narendra Modi and he paid last respects here to three of the four soldiers, including a Major, who were killed in two encounters in Kashmir yesterday.The PM, in a tweet, said, “Paid tributes to the brave men who lost their lives fighting terrorists in J&K. India will always remember their valour and sacrifice.”General Rawat said those supporting terror activities were being given an opportunity to join the national mainstream but, if they continued with their acts, the security forces would come down hard on them.“We are giving them an opportunity, should they want to continue to (do what they are doing now) then, we will continue with relentless operations may be with harsher measures. That is the way to continue,” he said.Four terrorists were gunned down in two encounters yesterday. Four Army men, including a Major, were also killed in the encounters at Handwara and Bandipora. — PTI


    The legend & a brash Cavalier by Maj Gen Raj Mehta (retd)

    IT was 1984. I was a young Cavalry Major posted at Roorkee. The regiment was tasked to conduct a lecture on the evolution of the Armoured Corps. I was detailed to collect the material and do the basic research. The nearest big town was Dehradun and it was a military cantonment.  The research I managed, but pictures put me in a spot. They were needed to embellish the presentation and in colour, but for that I needed 300 slides to be projected and each cost Rs 50. My budget comprised of cavalry élan, panache and optimism; jugad, no cash.It suddenly struck me that a retired Colonel was heading the ONGC, on whose largesse much of Dehradun floated. I was at his office in minutes and asked his PA for an appointment, which was haughtily negated with a brusque ‘he is terribly preoccupied with a visit by the Prime Minister. Try your luck later’. No way buddy, I thought. I had no time! Pictures, script, rehearsals. It was either my way or the highway to perdition.I saw a crowd of preoccupied, weight-shifting ONGC honchos with weighty files waiting to enter Col SP Wahi’s plush office. The man had style all right, I mused. You could see his natty private helicopter parked outside his campus mansion with its litchi orchard bursting with fruit; his textured lawns. That’s when I chose to be Cavalry; uniformed Cavalry. With an apoplectic doorman behind me, I entered his hallowed space with an unnecessary ‘May I come in, Sir?’ I was already inside.Colonel Wahi, his trademark Hercule Poirot moustaches quivering, looked up, clearly annoyed: ‘Can’t you see I’m busy? Please leave.’ I was unruffled. ‘Sir, all I wanted to say is that the ONGC is Asia’s best performing behemoth. You’ve got us 29 million tons of oil a year and because of you, Bombay High has made India, the PM, the Army and the EME proud. Just wanted to say that.’ I swivelled to go, but was halted in my tracks by his imperious ‘Wait’! Getting up from his chair — it was an amazing office: deep sofas, fancy lights, velvet curtains, rich carpets, paintings — he told his hapless, stunned PA: ‘Major Mehta is an old friend. Send in tea and a crate of litchis.’The Cavalry had struck gold.I sat across his designer table munching ginger biscuits, heavenly cake; sipping Earl’s Grey in translucent chinaware. Colonel Wahi was —  behind his ferocious moustaches — full of childlike wonderment and warmth. ‘Let them wait,’ he chuckled, ‘you Cavalrymen are brash. I know that! So, how are Gurinder, Morris and Hanut? Is Hanut still unrelenting, tough?’ These were Cavalry icons and I sang their paeans…Post-tea and his recall of halcyon days, I made my 300-slide pitch. Collect tomorrow, he said. That was it. That was the man, and his astonishing efficiency and decision making. I still have the slides; wouldn’t part with them for anything.Colonel Wahi passed away on February 13 at Gurugram. His management style is studied worldwide.I miss him. India misses him.


    Maj, 3 jawans killed in Valley

    Majid Jahangir

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, February 14

    In one of the bloodiest gunfights this year, three soldiers and a top Lashkar commander were killed in north Kashmir’s Bandipore district today. At least 12 security personnel, including two officers, were wounded. Protests erupted even while the encounter was on with locals trying to march toward the site. The police lobbed tear-gas shells to quell them.In another encounter at Kralgund (Handwara) in Kupwara late in the evening, an Army Major from Narnaul in Haryana — identified as S Dhaiya of the Army Service Corps, who was attached with 30 Rashtriya Rifles — and three militants were killed, while a jawan was injured. (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd) Sources said a fierce gunfight erupted in the wee hours as the security forces cordoned off a house at Parrey Mohalla Hajin, 30 km northwest of Srinagar, following information that two Lashkar militants were hiding there. Cornered, the militants jumped out of the house, opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed grenades to break the cordon, inflicting heavy casualties.“In the initial gunfight, at least 14 security men, including an Army Major and a CRPF Commandant, who were leading the assault teams, were wounded. Three Army men later succumbed to injuries. A Lashkar commander too was killed,” the sources said. Another militant fled as protests erupted. Chetan Cheetah, Commanding Officer, 45 Battalion, CRPF, sustained multiple gunshots. His condition is  critical. He may be shifted to Delhi. The other injured are being treated at the Army’s hospital in Srinagar.There have been at least six gunfights in Hajin area in the past nearly three months in which seven Lashkar militants have been killed.  The encounter at Kralgund Handwara was backed by locals, the police claimed. “Frequently troubled by militants, the locals helped us. A combing operation was launched during which the militants opened fire, triggering a gunfight in which three Lashkar militants were killed,” Deputy Inspector-General of Police Nitish Kumar said.”In the past three days, three fierce encounters have taken place in Kashmir. Four militants, two soldiers and a civilian were killed in south Kashmir’s Kulgam on Sunday. In the subsequent clashes, another civilian was killed.

     

    Major among four armymen killed in Valley gunfights

    LASHKAR MAN, THREE OTHER MILITANTS NEUTRALISED IN BANDIPORA, HANDWARA

    SRINAGAR: An army major was among four soldiers killed in two different encounters in Kashmir where an equal number of militants were neutralised on Tuesday.

    HT PHOTOSoldiers leave the site of a gunfight at Hajin village in Bandipora district on Tuesday.

    In an encounter in the afternoon in north Kashmir’s Handwara three militants were gunned down while Major Satish Dhaiya who was injured later died in hospital. Deputy inspector general of police, north Kashmir, Nitish Kumar told HT that during the cordon and search operation, militants fired from the house they were hiding. The security forces returned the fire.

    Shortly after the encounter, the army said Major Dahiya had been evacuated. Late Tuesday night, a Srinagar-based army spokesperson said that Major Dhaiya who was leading the operation in Handwara succumbed to his injuries. Earlier in the morning, one militant and three soldiers were killed in a gunfight in northern Kashmir’s Bandipora, police and army said.

    “Three soldiers have been martyred and five others are injured. The operation has been terminated,” the army spokesperson said. The gunfight started at 5.30 am after security forces launched a search operation after being tipped off about the presence of militants in Hajin area.

    Police said that the slain militant belonged to the Lashkar-eTaiba (LeT) and was a foreigner. The Army said the three soldiers who were killed were paratrooper Dharmendra Kumar of Uttarakhand, rifleman Ravi Kumar of Jammu and Kashmir, and gunner Astosh Kumar of Uttar Pradesh. There have been three encounters in Kashmir since Sunday. Two soldiers, two civilians and four militants were killed on Sunday in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. On Wednesday, there is a Kulgam Chalo march called by the separatist leaders. JAMMU: The Border Security Force (BSF) on Tuesday claimed to have detected another transborder tunnel, this time in Ramgarh sub sector of Samba district. The discovery effectively foiled a possible infiltration bid by terrorists into India.

    “In view of security scenario in the past few months on international border of Jammu region and after assessing various threats from Pakistani side, Border Security Force had taken various innovative measures to ensure foolproof security. In this context, an anti-tunnel exercise is being carried out regularly along the border,” said BSF Jammu Frontier DIG D Pareekh.

    On Monday, a BSF patrol specifically tasked to detect tunnels, came across the subway in Ramgarh sector, Pareekh said.

    The tunnel of approximately 20 meters in length with a circumference of 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet originated from Pakistani side and ended 20 metres ahead of the barbed border fence in Indian territory, he added.

    The officer said that the tunnel was yet to be completed and was detected before it reached the fence. “Efforts of alert BSF troops deployed in our multi-tier counter-infiltration grid once again resulted in neutralising another attempt of Pakistan rangers in connivance with terrorists to send them into India for terror attacks”, Pareekh said.

    For the past few years Pakistan has been adopting the tunnel strategy to push terrorists into Jammu. Pakistan’s transborder tunnels have been found largely in the plains of Jammu from Chilyari in Samba district to RS Pura and Pallanwala areas of Jammu district.

    ARMS, AMMUNITION RECOVERED IN POONCH

    Security forces in a search operation on Tuesday recovered a rich haul of arms and ammunition from a forest area near Mendhar in Poonch district “In a predawn search operation, army and police busted a major cache of arms and ammunition in a forest near Mendhar,” said defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta. He said: “Based on inputs from sources, a team of Rashtriya Rifles and JKP personnel launched a joint search operation. Arms and ammunition was recovered from the hideout, including a Pika machine gun with 90-belted rounds, AK 74 rifle, AK 47 rifle, two UBGLs, 22 UBGL grenades, two Chinese grenades, ICOM radio set with antennae and approximately 500 AK 47 rounds.”

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    COMMENTS BY COL CHARANJIT SINGH KHERA(Retd)

    Maj Satish Dahiya (ASC) on attch with 30 RR, attained martyrdom today while fighting terrorists in Langate ( Handwara). The offr hailing from Narnaul haryana has put in 7 yrs of service, est contact with trts around 1700-1730 hrs.

    The offr was fatally wounded in chest. Civilians came up and started stone pelting on soldiers in order to give cover to trts. 3 trts were however gunned down, the rest managed to escape under civilian cover.

    The security forces, as in practice , were order bound to not hit civilians.

    Yet again it’s the army and its brave hearts who are held up in the tussle between upholding human rights and upholding the anti-terrorist agenda of the Union.

    Need to empower soldiers. Need to empower AFSPA. The offr was declared brought dead at base hospital Srinagar. May the brave soul rest in peace. A message to an ungrateful Nation??

    Can we stop harping on surgical strikes  and encashing votes in states on cost of sacrifices made by brave hearts. Need to review 7CPC for degrading Defence forces to the level of para-military Forces.  A real shameful acts and speeches by National Leaders during campaigning . Which leader participated in the Surgical strike across border. Do they know how to hold a gun and handle a grande in self defence. Must stop degrading and winning elections on supreme sacrifice of soldiers and instead pay respect to them and honor them in public with two minutes silence during election rallies than the other way.

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    Those Half-Baked Gold Biscuits

    Police record shows a ‘closed’ case of theft and molestation in summer ’90, but no word on gold seizure

    Those Half-Baked Gold Biscuits

    Right from the time travails began chasing Second Lieutenant Shatrughan Singh Chauhan in 1990, a police station close to Srinagar’s central Lal Chowk filed an FIR against unknown army personnel, accusing them of theft. The complainant, Raja Begum, claimed army men took away two gold rings and Rs 3,000 from her home, after having harassed her daughters during a crackdown at her home in Batamaloo under Shergadi police station area.

    Batamaloo, barely two km from the central Lal Chowk, is where Chauhan said the army recovered 147 gold biscuits (weighing 30 kg) in a search operation on April 11, 1990. According to the FIR filed the next day by Begum, wife of Abdul Wahat Matto, the incident took place near the Sufi shrine of Ziyarat Sharief. People of the locality say no such family lives there. Nor does anybody in the area remember a neighbour by the name of Begum’s husband. In the Banpora area of Batamaloo, which is a km from the shrine, a Mattoo family says they have no information about the 26-year-old matter.

    Equally curiously, police records are silent on the 1990 incident narrated by Chauhan—more so about any recovery of gold biscuits. (Batamaloo today is a separate police station.) According to senior police personnel, the FIR Begum filed was registered under section 380 of Ranbir Penal Code (Jammu and Kashmir’s equivalent of the IPC). The officials are reluctant to disclose the name of the investigating officer of the case. They say the FIR was closed 14 months later as “untraced”.

    “It was a case of simple theft. It was closed on June 8, 1991,” says Deputy Inspector General of Police (Central Kashmir) Ghulam Hassan Bhat. Reason: the army personnel said to be involved in the raid were not found.

    A political observer, pleading anonymity, says there was a “strong rumour” in 1990 that the army that year recovered “a good quantity” of gold from Batamaloo, and sipho­ned it off without ever reporting the reco­very to the police. “Those days, it was normal to use cash and gold to fund hawala transactions for militancy,” he adds.

    In the early 1990s, when militancy in Kashmir was at its peak, places around Lal Chowk were under the command of Mushtaq-ul-­Islam, who led the militant outfit Hizbu­llah. He recalls that the area would, ahead of any crackdown, reverberate with gunfights bet­ween the militants and army-backed paramilitary forces. The militants would challenge the forces and, after a tough battle, retreat—following which the forces would enter the area to conduct house-to-house search operations.

    “During these crackdowns, some rogues in the army and other forces would steal money, gold and other jewellery. That was routine,” says Mushtaq. “But I don’t think of any incident in which the army seized 25 kg or more of gold. Had it happened, it would have been in everyone’s knowledge here.”

    Police officials say the FIR 96/90 of April 12 had been lodged on the complaints of several people including Raja Begam. “All have alleged that the army personnel indulged in theft and harassment,” says an official. “Even a trader has alleged that money was taken from his shop.”

    The official points out to “the only thing that goes to Chauhan’s benefit”: the army had conducted the (pertinent) crackdown on April 11 at Batamaloo and the FIR filed on the behest of locals substantiates it. “The FIR clearly mentions about a crackdown in the area on April 11, 1990 and the army was inv­olved in it,” he says. “All this supports one contention of the army officer that he was part of the crackdown.”

    In 1990, when armed rebellion backed by mass uprising broke out in Kashmir, gunfights between militants and security forces used to be regular in the densely-populated Batamaloo. Paramilitary Centre Reserve Police Force personnel would frequently descend onto the area to raid and conduct crackdowns.


    Armed forces to MoD: Don’t compare us with paramilitary

    Armed forces to MoD: Don’t compare us with paramilitary
    The armed forces are unhappy with certain recommendations of the 7th pay commission. A file photo

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, February 4

    The armed forces have approached the Defence Ministry saying by no yardstick can they be compared, let alone be lowered, in hierarchy to the paramilitary forces.The three forces — Army, Navy and the Force — have petitioned Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar seeking a restoration of earlier status, which has been “disturbed” after the recommendations of the 7th pay commission. The government is yet to announce what all it has accepted or rejected.The representation has termed comparisons with paramilitary as “wrong and misplaced”, citing suggestions made by 7th pay commission.It talks about “progressive decline of status of the forces” and warns that self-esteem of the armed forces’ officers has been hit. Such is the seriousness of the matter that Parrikar called in Chiefs of the three services for a 90-minute meeting on the matter on February 2.The paramilitary forces included the Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).In their representation, which covers an entire gamut of issues, the armed forces have said there can be no comparison with the paramilitary in terms of the mandate, duties, risks in service conditions and tasks assigned.Citing past records, the forces claim the 7th pay panel recommendations will upset laid-down seniorities and placing armed forces’ allowances lower than those of paramilitary forces will change rules for risk allowances like those applicable in the north-east or J&K. It points out the base levels to calculate pensions for the forces are lower than the others.The disability pension for armed forces has been lowered, but it has been maintained at same levels for paramilitary forces. Parrikar has been informed that the pay panel has disturbed the parity between Lieut-Colonels and Commandants of the paramilitary forces.


    Capt raps JJ for ‘berating’ voters

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, February 6

    Reacting to reports that his opponent from the Patiala Urban constituency, Gen JJ Singh (retd), allegedly pulled up voters for not supporting him in the polls, state Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh today called for a review of the process to select the Army chief.According to reports, the former Army chief and SAD candidate, during a visit to localities in Patiala yesterday, asserted that if elected MLA, he would not help those who didn’t vote for him.Terming Gen Singh’s angst against voters as disregard of the democratic institution of elections, Amarinder said the former had forgotten all that he had learnt in his Army career. “One must be humble and inspire the people with one’s leadership. He failed on all accounts,” he added.“From Field Marshal KM Cariappa and Gen KS Thimayya to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, we now come to Gen JJ Singh! Frankly, I thank the almighty that there was no war in his period of heading the Army,” Amarinder added.

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    ‘Don’t ask for help’: Gen grills voters

    ‘Don’t ask for help’: Gen grills voters
    SAD candidate Gen JJ Singh with his supporters in Patiala on Sunday. Tribune photo: Rajesh Sachar

    Gagan K Teja

    Tribune News Service

    Patiala, February 5

    Hours after polling, SAD Patiala Urban candidate General JJ Singh (retd) was seen mingling with voters of his constituency.He literally grilled people asking them as to whom they voted for. After paying obeisance at Dukhnivaran Sahib, he visited Jai Jawan Colony and expressed his displeasure with the residents for holding a meeting with AAP’s Dr Balbir Singh.When the residents told the General that 400 votes from the colony had gone in his favour and 300 to other parties, he was quick to strike back: “In that case, I will be the MLA, but you people better get your works done from Dr Balbir Singh to whom you have cast your vote.”He said the fact that they invited Dr Balbir Singh to hold a meeting with them ahead of polls after pledging their support to the SAD means “they don’t trust the General and Dr Balbir can get the works done which he cannot”.Meanwhile, the General pulled up former Akali councilor Joginder Singh Chhanga for meeting PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh at a booth yesterday. The General went to his house and sought an explanation.Sources claim that the General was also annoyed over the working of a few local leaders and has pulled up many for not living up to party expectations. They claim that the General has decided to send a detailed report on the matter to the party high command.