LAC incursions serious: Modi to Xi
* PM seeks demarcation of boundary
* Chinese Prez wants early resolution of dispute
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 18
India and China today concluded talks amid the overhang of latest incursions in Ladakh with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing serious concern over repeated violations along the border.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said some incidents could occur in areas yet to be demarcated but both sides should work fast to seek amicable relations with each other.
With reports of incursions by the Chinese army and civilians in Chumur and Demchok sectors of Ladakh pouring in over the past two days, both leaders went into talks in both restricted and delegation-level format that lasted nearly three hours.
“I raised our serious concern over repeated incidents along the border. We agreed that peace and tranquility in the border region constitutes an essential foundation for the mutual trust and confidence and for realising the full potential of our relationship. This is an important understanding, which should be strictly observed.
“While our border-related agreements and confidence building measures have worked well, I also suggested that clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) would greatly contribute to our efforts to maintain peace and tranquility and requested President Xi to resume the stalled process of clarifying the LAC. We should also seek an early settlement of the boundary question,” Modi said in his statement at the conclusion of the talks.
President Xi said “boundary issue is a problem which has troubled both sides for long. The China-India border areas have maintained peace and tranquility. As the area is yet to be demarcated, there may be some incidents. China and India are important nations to each other, there are outstanding issues but both sides must work fast to handle them to seek amicable relations with each other”.
Modi said New Delhi's concerns relating to China's visa policy and trans-border rivers were taken up and expressed confidence that these will be resolved early. India has put on hold a liberalised visa regime that China seeks for business visitors to convey its displeasure over issuance of stapled visas for Indian citizens from Arunachal Pradesh.
Both sides also discussed issues of regional and international developments, agreeing to strengthen strategic dialogue since both have shared interest in a peaceful and stable region, including stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.
On regional connectivity and the proposal for the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Economic Corridor, Modi said since India was located at the crossroads of Asia, it believed that reconnecting Asia was important for its collective prosperity.
China welcomed India’s bid to get membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to which it has been an observer since 2005.
“China welcomes and supports India’s full membership in the Shanghai Corporation Organisation, as it expects India to support China in building relations with SAARC so that the two countries can work together to contribute our due share to regional stability and development,” Xi said.
The takeaway from the bilateral talks was a slew of agreements, signed over two days, envisaging $20 billion investment; opening up of Chinese market to farm, pharma, jewellery products; additional route to Kailash Mansarovar; two industrial parks in India; cooperation in railways; addressing concerns of trade imbalance; exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes and start the process of discussion for cooperation in civil nuclear energy. A city in each country will be identified to demonstrate the smart city project.
India, China agree to keep distance in Ladakh
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 18
Indian and Chinese troops, locked in a face-off at Chumar, South Eastern Ladakh, are holding onto their respective positions but agreed late last night to maintain a minimum distance.
Gun-toting troops on either side face each other at an altitude of 14,600 feet. Despite agreeing to maintain a minimum distance, the stand-off continues and the Indian side assesses that a breakthrough was possible over the next 2-3 days. The next flag meeting, which is possible over the next 48 hours, will be crucial. The level of officers may go up to Major General. Till now, Brigadier-level officers have tried to resolve the issue, first on Monday then over two marathon meetings yesterday.
Sources said the agreement to increase the distance between the troops of either side was arrived at last night even as both countries ramped up forces since last evening in a show of strength at two locations in Chumar and other one at Demchok, 70 km east of Chumar. The two armies have used loudspeakers to communicate to each other, asking the either side to stop.
Last night, a flag meeting between Brigadier-level officers agreed to the issue of having a minimum distance between troops of either side, one at a mountain pass named point 'R-30' and another location 2 km away from this spot. Troops of either side are well armed with guns and mountain clothing as temperature falls to minus 3 degrees Celsius at night.
Chinese troops start withdrawing
After tension in the Chumar area in northeast Ladakh, Chinese troops on Thursday night began withdrawing from the Indian territory, official sources said. Chinese troops started retreating into their territory from 9.45 pm, the sources said. PTI
Obama's great dilemma
Fighting unending new war in Middle East
S Nihal Singh
Events are moving at a fast pace in the Middle East, with US President Barack Obama vowing to chase and destroy what appears to be a hydra-headed monster variously known as the Isis, Isil and the Islamic State (IS). And his Secretary of State John Kerry has been clocking many miles conferring with leaders in the region and meeting up with them in Paris to drum up support for a joint attack on IS.
There have been pledges of support from a variety of actors, but at the end of the day it is fair to ask whether such support is solid or consequential. Turkey did not sign the Cairo statement, and while Iran was not invited to the Paris meeting, there are wide cracks among those who attended.
The truth is that while US and allied air strikes are effective in weakening IS, boots on the ground to help Iraqi forces are needed to destroy IS. President Obama has ruled out US boots while his senior military official feels it might come to that. The President has projected air strikes on IS in Syria, but such action opens up another can of worms. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wants coordination and although Iran is helping demolish IS, it is on the other side of the fence in supporting the Syrian regime.
While the Iraqi regime, now under a new prime minister, is delighted that the Americans are back in a military role, many of the Arab states are at best ambivalent over the latest turn of events. For instance, it has been common wisdom that Saudi and Kuwaiti individuals, in addition to those in Qatar, have been funding extremist Sunni organisations. Now the Saudis have got the message that IS represents a different scale of threat to them and they occupy a major role in the American scheme in funding the new anti-IS coalition.
What the Americans and the West want is to see Arab troops helping Iraq on the ground in fighting IS. Financing the effort is easier for countries such as Saudi Arabia and promises to help in other ways, for instance by Jordan, are forthcoming. Turkey has agreed to police its long border, commonly used by jihadi fighters, better but has not agreed to let US forces use its major base to launch strikes on IS.
How then can the United States resolve its conundrum? The picture is further complicated by the fact that at home President Obama is viewed as a reluctant warrior and is particularly blamed for letting events slip in Syria until the extremists were able to capture large parts of the country to build a base, which enabled them to capture roughly one-third of Iraq, including its second largest city of Mosul. President Obama was therefore forced to expand his stated objective as destroying IS to appease his domestic critics. If he keeps his promise, it means an open-ended war in total contradiction to his election promise of ending the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear to the American and Western establishments that IS represents great threat to the region and ultimately the world. It is also agreed that unless the major regional powers are willing to fight the menace on the ground, an outside US or Western force cannot win the war for them.
Here lies the rub. The Arab world and their neighbours are hopelessly divided. There are the monarchies on one side with their own differences. Qatar, apart from Turkey, is sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian military overthrew and is now prosecuting. In fact, the former military chief is now the country's President. Ankara's own role is determined by its Sunni evangelism and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ambition of creating its own sphere of influence in the region and beyond.
There is also the large shadow of the Sunni-Shia divide, with Iran as the regional heavyweight seeking to expand its influence. It supports the Shia regime of President Assad in a Sunni-majority country and funds and supports the Lebanese Hezbollah movement which has sprung to the aid of Damascus. On the other hand, Iran supports the majority Shias of Bahrain ruled by a Sunni king. Bahrain is the home of the US Fifth Fleet.
The question the world is now asking is whether the United States has again bitten more than it can chew. Everyone agrees that the American invasion of Iraq was a major blunder as was the assiduous arming of mujahideen through Pakistan to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But that represents the past and the future is beset with troubling problems.
President Obama is now signalling that the anti-IS fight will last beyond the remaining years of his second term, a grim prospect with which a majority of Americans are coming to terms. Second, it will be Washington's task to make sense of the divergent interests of the major regional powers. The main Sunni Arab powers now agree that they need to act but still fight shy of engaging IS on the ground.
Iran’s planning is, in a sense, easier to understand. It is focused on fighting IS to the extent that it was the first to send military supplies to the beleaguered Kurdish forces. It is equally interested in fighting IS in Syria, but in support of the Assad regime. While the US is still negotiating with Iranians on the nuclear issue, it cannot be a party to buttress the Syrian regime whose ouster was an early aim of President Obama.
While the US military will continue to strike IS forces in Iraq and expand the operation to include Syria, the regional equations are still being juggled. It is ironic that a President who took power to end America's wars is giving the bugle call to fight another open-ended war.
49 years on, India-Pak disputes still intractable
An important lesson from the India-Pakistan war of 1965 is the need to have a clear strategy before going to war. If a strategic aim had been formulated, we could have gone for decisive gains in J&K before agreeing to a ceasefire. But, the then political leadership did not quite comprehend long-term strategic issues of war and peace.
Even 49 years after India and Pakistan fought an indecisive war over it, the Western Front, bordering Kashmir, remains extremely volatile. Clearly, the two neighbours learnt few lessons from the bloody clash, because the contentious border issues that led to the 1965 war have grown only more sensitive.
After Partition, though the two armies had clashed in 1947-48 over Kashmir, it was only in September 1965 that the two fought pitched battles. It was for the first time since World War II that a conventional war using armour and air force on such a scale was fought. The conflict sounded alarm bells across the world.
Although by the end of it, there was a stalemate of sorts, the Indian Army managed to redeem its image that had taken a beating in the 1962 war with China. At the same time, since Pakistan was able to hold off a bigger neighbour, its military and political leadership got emboldened. This perhaps led to the 1971 war with India, resulting in its dismemberment and the creation of Bangladesh.
The clouds of war had started forming in January-February 1965 when foot patrols on both sides started probing the Rann of Kutch area to set up border posts. In April, Pakistan launched an attack to evict the Indian guards from some of the posts. Both armies joined in and after a few weeks of fighting, a ceasefire was brokered by the then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson on June 30, 1965.
The troops of both sides withdrew but remained battle ready. Within one month, Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar, codename for armed insurrection by a few thousand of Pak Army’s airborne paratroopers and guerillas in Kashmir. They were to mix up with the Indian populace and incite locals to join them. Taken aback at first, the Indian Army soon recovered and in mid-August crossed the ceasefire line. While Pakistan managed to make headway in some areas, India captured, besides other places, the strategic Haji Pir Pass between Uri and Poonch.
Having failed in its objective to create mayhem in the Kashmir Valley, Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam on September 1 and made a bid to capture Akhnoor and threaten Jammu with the intention of severing Indian supply lines and also the lines of communication. Pakistan had the advantage of not only surprise but also superior armaments procured from America as a member of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO).
However, due to a last minute change of command of its lead infantry division, the Pak attack on Akhnoor was delayed which gave just about enough time to the Indian Army to recover and rush reinforcements. As the Indian Army held on against the offensive, it opened up another front across the International Border (IB) in Punjab on September 6.
Pakistan had not catered for the crossing of the IB at this juncture for they felt that India would restrict the war to J&K. The Indian offensive in Punjab forced Pakistan to divert its force from Kashmir to save Lahore. Between September 6 and 10, the western plains of Punjab and Rajasthan witnessed some memorable ground offensives. Indian Army’s repeated attempts to cross the Ichhogil Canal in a bid to get to Lahore failed due to Pakistan counter-attacks and also because the breakthroughs which had been achieved by some infantry columns were not followed up.
Meanwhile, Pakistan counterattacked and took Khem Karan. But its armoured columns did not make headway as the infantry support could not fetch up and instead of making a dash for the Beas Bridge and bypass Amritsar, the armoured division withdrew into harbours at night. When they finally advanced, the Indians were ready and the famous Battle of Assal Uttar followed. The Pak offensive was stalled but not before causing panic in some military and political quarters.
Also on the Western Front, the Indian 1 Corps offensive towards Sialkot achieved a measure of success. However, in subsequent battles, the offensive was held off at Chawinda by Pak’s newly raised second armoured division (6 Armd Div).
Meanwhile in Rajasthan, Pakistan managed to advance deep inside Indian territory – up to Longewala in Jaisalmer and Munabao in Barmer sectors (Longewala was to became a battleground once again in 1971).
The unique feature of the 1965 war was the intense use of air power by both India and Pakistan. Though the IAF had the numerical superiority, the two sides were more or less evenly balanced on the Western Frontier since India had to keep a sizeable force in the east for fear of Chinese intervention. Though numerically inferior, the PAF boasted of F-86 Sabres, F-104 Starfighters and B-57 Canberra aircraft. Against this the IAF had Hunter, Gnats, Vampires, EE Canberra bombers and one squadron of MiG-21. Though neither side managed to gain air superiority that was essential for a decisive victory, but there were some heroic tales of valour on both sides. While the PAF played a great role in the defence of Lahore, the Indian-built Gnat earned the sobriquet of “Sabre slayer”.
On the bidding of the PAF, Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG), attempted some daring missions. Three SSG teams of about 40 commandoes each were para-dropped to neutralise the airfields of Pathankot, Adampur and Halwara. However, all three teams failed in their mission as the raids were poorly planned and coordinated. Besides, the exfiltration plan had not been thought through.
After 17 days of intense attacks and counterattacks, both sides were running low on ammunition and a stalemate set in. By then, while India had 3,000 battlefield dead, Pakistan had 3,800. When ceasefire was called out, India had captured 1,800 km territory in Lahore and Sialkot sectors, while Pakistan had captured about 550 km in Sind-Rajasthan, besides the strategic area of Chhamb in Jammu Sector.
On hindsight, tactical failures and lack of strategic foresight were evident during the six-month-long face-off between the two sides. Not only was the Indian response in the Rann of Kutch half-hearted, it lacked punitive action. What was worse, in spite of a clear warning, India was taken by surprise by Pak actions in Jammu and Kashmir, starting from August 1965. When India did react on ground, its response was reactive and poorly coordinated. Though the 1 Corps offensive in the Sialkot sector achieved operational surprise, the gains were frittered away by poor execution.
Lessons from the war
Clearly, prior to 1965 our preparation for war against Pak had been neglected. Our armoured forces were obsolete, except for Centurions and AMX tanks. Our anti-tank capability and artillery were neglected. In the IAF, except for Gnats, there was nothing else which was a match for F-86 Sabres and F-104s. The Army-Air coordination was poor. What is worse, when the war finally broke out in September, half of the Indian Navy ships, including the aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, were undergoing refit and were unfit to give battle. As a result, even when the port of Dwarka was bombarded, the Indian Navy was not allowed to retaliate, despite protestations by the then Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral B.S. Soman. Thus we failed to inflict our full war-waging potential on the enemy.
Since India went to war without a clear-cut strategic aim, it agreed to a ceasefire without decisive results. The war having been started by Pakistan provided a good opportunity to solve the Kashmir problem on our terms by continuing the war. At the end of it, our war-waging potential and ammunition reserves were terribly depleted, but Pakistan was worse off. Besides, Sino-Pak relations were yet to take a concrete shape then. Since India had after the 1962 debacle raised a couple of mountain divisions and the overall force ratio was in India's favour, the ceasefire need not have been rushed through. What was also paramount was that the national patriotic fervour too was strong.
Unfortunately, the political leadership did not quite comprehend long-term strategic issues of war and peace. If a strategic aim had been formulated, we could have gone for decisive gains in J&K before agreeing to a ceasefire. The 1973 Arab-Israeli War readily comes to mind; Israelis, though surprised initially, regained the initiative and surrounded the Egyptian Third Army to dictate terms at the post-war negotiations. Least of all, we ought to have wrested control of Northern Areas. This was a mistake we were to repeat in 1999. We agreed to a ceasefire when Pak intruders had been merely pushed back in Kargil.
What is surprising is that we also did not look at East Pakistan as Pakistan’s vulnerable underbelly. What was achieved in 1971 could have been got in 1965 itself.
Post-war negotiations at Tashkent have also come under criticism. Haji Pir Pass captured by us, which was vital to our defences in the Uri-Poonch sector, was returned while Chhamb captured by Pakistan was got back. Since we were to lose Chhamb yet again in 1971, the return of Haji Pir at Tashkent continues to rankle.
Pakistan in possession of Chhamb is definitely at an advantageous position as it makes Akhnoor vulnerable, which in turn has wider ramifications for the linkage of Jammu to the Kashmir Valley.
Even after 49 years we appear to be found wanting in certain crucial aspects. An effective organisation for higher direction of war and the required politico-military synergy are not in place. Despite repeated rejigs of our intelligence-gathering machinery, correct inputs and assessments have belied us and thus allowed us to be surprised like in Kargil in 1999.
We are still grappling to understand Pakistan’s aims and strategy on Kashmir. Nor have we come to grips with the implications of the Sino-Pak nexus and the response thereof. With China using Pakistan to serve its strategic interests, we are today faced with the spectre of a two-front war.
Despite such a challenge, modernisation of the armed forces has been neglected. The synergy between the three armed forces of the kind required is still missing – as was evident during the Kargil war. Even though Pakistan is continuing to use irregular warfare as a weapon in Kashmir, we have failed to cobble together an effective counter to its strategy before and during a full-fledged encounter. There have been numerous rounds of talks and efforts through back-channel diplomacy but the unresolved issues have only become more intractable with the passage of time. While the 1968 Tribunal verdict resolved the larger issue of the Rann of Kutch, the Sir Creek issue, which is over a 96-km strip of marshy land, still lingers.
Though the Cease Fire Line was converted into the Line of Control (LoC) during the Simla Agreement in 1972, on ground it has made little difference. The continuing LoC dispute in Kashmir has led to tension further North in the glacial heights of Siachen since 1984.The lingering issues have led to large-scale organisational changes and augmentation in force levels and weaponry on both sides. If anything, since both are armed with nuclear weapons, the uncertainty only heightens.
Lack of readiness for war
Prior to 1965, our preparation for war against Pakistan had been neglected.
Our armoured forces were obsolete, except for Centurions and AMX tanks.
Our anti-tank capability and artillery were neglected.
In the IAF, except for Gnats, there was nothing else which was a match for F-86 Sabres and F-104s. Also, the Army-Air coordination was poor.
When the war finally broke out in September 1965, half of the Indian Navy ships, including the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, were undergoing refit and were unfit to give battle.
Even when the port of Dwarka was bombarded, the Indian Navy was not allowed to retaliate, despite protestations by the then Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral B.S. Soman.
We failed to inflict full war-waging potential on the enemy.
India, China push in more soldiers into Chumar but they maintain distance from each other
NEW DELHI: Both India and China have pumped in more soldiers into the crucial Chumar sector of eastern Ladakh, with almost 1,500 troops from each side now engaged in the ongoing faceoff after three flag meetings since Monday failed to defuse tensions.
However, there is "no threat" of the military standoff spinning out of control along the unresolved Line of Actual Control (LAC), where not a single shot has been fired for decades despite regular incursions. The rival troops are also separated by over 500 metres now, after initially being within "touching distance" of each other when the confrontation started last week, in a sign that de-escalation is in the works.
The Indian defence establishment feels the People's Liberation Army troops, given their "weak tactical position" at Chumar, may themselves withdraw after "a few more days of posturing to save face". Intervention at a "higher" government or diplomatic level to de-escalate the situation is also underway, said sources.
The fact, however, remains the PLA decision to rush more soldiers to the standoff site in Chumar, just before the Modi-Xi summit on Thursday morning, took the defence establishment here by surprise about the "strategic intent and message" behind the move.
Tactically, the Indian positions at Chumar are better-placed on the ridge at a height of around 15,000 feet, which "overlook" the Chinese positions. Far ahead of their bases, the PLA troops are now being "sustained" on a regular basis by their helicopters air-dropping rations and supplies.
Moreover, the Indian Army has 15 battalions (800 soldiers each) deployed across eastern Ladakh, including five Ladakh Scouts units as well as four units each under the 70 Kiari and 114 Tangtse brigades, all "acclimatised" for the high-altitude region.
"There are other reserve battalions under the 14 Corps headquartered at Leh. The PLA, however, cannot swiftly build up its troop strength in Chumar beyond a point, unlike many other stretches in eastern Ladakh," said a source.
Much like the 21-day Depsang faceoff at the Daulat Beg Oldie sector in April-May last year just before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to India, this time too there is a disconnect -- contrived or otherwise -- between the political bonhomie at the top and PLA actions on the ground.
It had taken intensive diplomatic intervention to finally defuse the DBO faceoff after India dismantled "a tin shed" at Chumar and the PLA troops simultaneously withdrew from the Depsang Valley.
Similarly, this time the Chinese troops are asking for Indian troops to demolish a recently-built hut at Tible near the LAC in the Chumar sector. The troop faceoff at Chumar was triggered last week after Indian soldiers prevented PLA troops equipped with cranes, bulldozers and other equipment from building a road right up to Chepzi on the LAC there.
If there is political or diplomatic intervention again this time, it will once again junk the stipulation that "local or tactical border issues should be settled locally between local commanders on the ground" instead of letting them escalate to the political level, which was the cornerstone of the new border defence cooperation agreement (BDCA) inked between India and China in October last year.
Though faceoffs and "transgressions" are a regular feature in the western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) sectors along the 4,057-km LAC, Chumar has been a hotspot for the last couple of years. The PLA troops, for instance, had dismantled a surveillance camera of the Indian Army at Chumar in June last year.
Through the BDCA, India had pushed for "greater predictability and stability'' in tackling border flare-ups. But PLA troops have violated the BDCA provision that prohibits either side from tailing each other's patrol in areas where there is "no common understanding" and dispute over where the LAC actually lies. PLA troops, for instance, tailed Indian soldiers on at least two occasions in eastern Ladakh in June, which led India to lodge a formal protest with China.
Maulvi in Army ‘censured’ for saying Jai Hind
CHANDIGARH: Made famous by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the salutation "Jai Hind" was coined by Major Abid Hasan Zafrani of the Azad Hind Fauj. Two decades after Zafrani's death, a Muslim priest of the Indian Army has approached the President of India, the National Commission of Minorities and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav alleging that his superior officers have censured him for using the slogan because it "sends a message of religious hatred and extremism".
Subedar Ishrat Ali alleges his commanding officer has served him a notice warning him to "rise above narrowmindedness", and instead salute by using "Ram, Ram" and "Jai Mata Di" — the official battalion slogans — or face "disciplinary action". Ali told ET from Bikaner that he has protested and written to his superior officers.
He has informed them that it is impossible for him to use the said salutes as they are Hindu religious chants and he is an Islamic priest. On his behalf, his wife Shehnaz Bano has written to the President of India and the National Commission for Minorities, Delhi, with a copy to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister complaining of "mental torture and harassment" and demanding justice.
Ali's commanding officer Colonel Chitra Sen refused to comment on the issue and said Army HQ had all the relevant information. "Army is absolutely secular. We respect salutation of Jai Hind and all battle cries," said Major General Shokin Chauhan, additional director general, public information, without getting into the details of Subedar Ali's complaints.
Leading lawyer Rajeev Anand, who took premature retirement as assistant commandant of Border Security Force, was critical of the notice issued to Ali. "This is totally wrong. Salutations are in the name of the country and not in the name of a religion. They all are soldiers of India. Passing such directives are totally untenable."
The notice issued to Ali asks him to change his salutation. "The task of Army's religious teacher is to enthuse the spirit of patriotism, zeal and unity in the jawans, while the slogan of Jai Hind (Long Live India) sends a message of religious hatred and extremism. If you do not rise above narrowmindedness and do not salute by shouting 'Ram Ram' and 'Jai Mata di', as per the rules of the battalion disciplinary action will be taken against you," it says. "You are a religious teacher and your job is to enthuse patriotism, zeal and spirit of unity in the jawans. Your action (the utterance of Jai Hind) does not only send a message of religious hatred and extremism but also reflects upon your lack of knowledge; and that will not be tolerated."
In his 22 years of service as a maulvi, Ali claims he was never asked not to use "Jai Hind" until July when he was verbally "warned" to shun the slogan and resort to shouting "Ram Ram and Jai Mata Ki" or else face a court martial.
"I have served the Army for 22 years, saluted many chiefs including General VK Singh and others who never objected to it. Jai Hind is a slogan, which marks patriotism. How can I be faulted for being a patriot?" he asks. Ali claims his "harassment" began in May this year after his return from Sudan, after a seven-month special assignment.
According to him, he is being targeted for his earlier complaint against a junior maulvi being sent to Sudan. "I had served at Rajputana Rifles centre, Delhi, for 10 years but was transferred to Rajputana Rifles (3 Raj Rif Bikaner) because I had complained against the move to send a junior of mine to Sudan. After my complaint I was sent to Sudan but immediately after my return I was posted to Bikaner, Rajasthan," Ali told ET over the phone from there.
Ali added that he petitioned the Delhi high court against the transfer citing the ill health of his wife who is a heart patient and is undergoing treatment. In his petition, Ali had also mentioned that since he is left with two years of service and his two daughters and a son are studying in Delhi, he be allowed to serve in the capital.
Although his initial case was rejected on the grounds of delay, his review petition is hanging fire in the Delhi high court.
Ali says that on August 17, he refused to sign his annual confidential report (ACR), which according to him was tarnished "deliberately".
A second notice was issued to him over this issue.
Ex-Army chief slams MoD ‘indifference’ to soldiers, widows
Former Chief of Army Staff, General V P Malik, expressed his anguish over the indifferent attitude of the Ministry of Defence towards soldiers, war veterans and widows. He stressed that until the ministry stops challenging every decision of the Armed Forced Tribunal (AFT), things cannot improve.
Gen V P Malik was one of the people who had pushed the idea of setting up a separate tribunal for delivering speedy justice to soldiers. However, the idea of the tribunal which he presented seems to be different from the present system.
“We had approached the law minister with a proposal to set up an Armed Forces Tribunal which is equivalent to the High Court. The idea was to set up a tribunal whose decision could not be challenged in any other court, but the Supreme Court. It should be headed by the Chief Justice of the High Court or a judge from the Supreme Court,” he said.
However, the situation on ground is completely different. “In majority of the cases, the Ministry of Defence is not executing the orders of the tribunal and is also challenging its decision in the SC. Until the ministry stops challenging the decisions, poor claimants will continue to have problems,” the General said.
He added, “The system that has been given to us has now been corrupted because of the babus sitting in the department of ex-servicemen and challenging every decision.”
Earlier this month, the principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal, New Delhi, has also expressed its anguish over the non-implementation of its orders by the MoD. The AFT has observed how disabled soldiers and military widows are being embroiled in unethical litigation by the ministry.
In its order passed on September 4, Justice Prakash Tatia, Chairperson, AFT, and Lt Gen Sanjiv Langer, member, mentions, “The biggest hurdle in the working of the Armed Forces Tribunal is the non-execution of the orders passed by the tribunal.”
Taking note of this issue, the tribunal passed several orders reminding the Union of India and all its officers in the MoD as well as all those who are not directly under the Secretary, MoD, that the non-execution of the orders of the tribunal is a very serious issue.