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Tuesday, 1 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 01 Jul

When Sam was sidelined
Manekshaw will live on as a legend
by I. Ramamohan Rao

There will be stories of Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw’s performance as a staff officer in the Military Operations Directorate at Army Headquarters during the Jammu and Kashmir operations in 1947-48.
Many still recall how he was sidelined following the remarks made by him at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington on the role of the then Defence Minister Krishna Menon. A Court of Inquiry cleared him and he moved on to head the IV Corps in NEFA after the Indian Army debacle in 1962One of the most satisfying periods of my 40-odd years of career as a communicator was my tenure as a Public Relations Officer of the Army in South Block between 1969 and 1973 when the Chief of Army Staff was Gen Sam Manekshaw.
During those years, the country went through a period of turmoil, which changed the map of the subcontinent. Manekshaw took over as the Army Chief after his successful tenure as the Chief of the Eastern Command.
He restored the morale of the troops in NEFA, brought the underground movement in Nagaland and Mizoram under control, besides helping the administration in West Bengal to control the Naxalite movement there.
Soon after taking over as Army Chief, Sam Manekshaw visited troops in the forward areas of Jammu and Kashmir. I was a member of his party, when he visited a battalion of the 8th Gorkha Rifles, based near Pahalgam.
As was the practice, he inspected the battalion at the parade ground. He stopped occasionally, held a Jawan by the shoulder or by his belt and asked his name.
On getting a reply, he asked a soldier, what is my name? When the jawan looked perplexed, he said my name is Sam, Sam. The Gorkha soldier replied: 'Yes, Sam Bahadur'.
On our return to Delhi that afternoon, I released a handout about the Army Chief's programme in Kashmir and also put out a small item of his interaction with the Gorkha soldier.
It said that the Army Chief had a new name – Sam Bahadur – and narrated the incident. As expected, the item was published as a box item in Delhi newspapers the next day.
Sam Manekshaw was pleased no end, as it identified him with the Gorkha soldiers. From then onwards, he was called 'Sam Bahadur'. The incident also established my credentials with him as a PRO.
On March 26, 1971, Sam Manekshaw was visiting the Southern Command at Pune and one of the items in his programme was to open a swimming pool at the Armed Forces Medical College. The function remained inconclusive as Sam Manekshaw was called to Delhi.
As we were travelling to Delhi in the Air Force TU-124 aircraft, we came to know that the Pakistan Army had cracked down in East Pakistan and the Government of India was seriously considering various options. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted the Army Chief's views on the subject.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted India to go to the aid of the people of East Pakistan, but General Manekshaw advised against it as India may have had to fight on three fronts, in the West, East and the North.
The northern passes were clear during summer. In addition there would be rain in a couple of months, making West Bengal and eastern India difficult for any military movements. The advice of Sam Maneshshaw was to defer operations till the onset of winter when the northern passes would be closed due to the heavy snow.
The government accepted Manekshaw's advice. From then on, he went on frequent tours of different formations to ensure their preparedness. I accompanied him during almost all the tours.
In every formation, he would address the soldiers and tell them: "The country has looked after us well. We have been fed well, paid well, and our families have been well looked after. Why? To defend the country, fight a war and defeat the enemy. You now have an opportunity. We have to be true to our salt. We will not let down our country." Sam Manekshaw would get a thunderous response.
While the Army converged on East Pakistan, crossing all obstacles, the Navy and the Air Force ensured that the Pakistan Army could not hope for any reinforcements. The para-drop in East Pakistan surprised the enemy. India also used psychological warfare operations during the conflict. The broadcast message by Sam Manekshaw had a good impact.
The substance of the broadcast in Urdu directed to Pakistan soldiers, was: "You are living in hostile territory among a population who hate you. You are surrounded by the Indian Army. Your ports are sealed by the Indian Navy. Your Air Force in the East has been destroyed. The Mukti Bahini and the people are all prepared to take revenge for the atrocities and cruelties you have committed. Why waste lives? Don't you want to go home and be with your children? Do not lose time, there is no disgrace in laying down arms to a soldier. I assure you that we will give you the treatment befitting a soldier."
The broadcast and the accompanying surrender leaflets played a major role in securing the surrender of the Pakistani forces. On December 16, 1971, Lt Gen A A K Niazi handed over the document of surrender to Lt. Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, who accepted the surrender of 93,000 prisoners of war to the Allied Command, which included the Mukti Bahini.
When the surrender was announced by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Parliament, a crowd gathered opposite South Block and carried Sam Manekshaw on their shoulders. Every Indian stood taller that day. All of us expected that Sam Manekshaw would be made a Field Marshal soon after. But he had to wait for over a year to be given the rank.
He was granted the rank 15 days before his retirement. Many were envious of him. A Field Marshal is supposed to be in service throughout his life – and Sam Manekshaw had to wait for 30-odd years to get the salary of his rank!
The writer is a former Principal Information Officer, Government of India

Sayonara Field Marshal, you made us proud'

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

"A legendary soldier and formidable leader of men and women who made great contribution to our liberation war in 1971." That is how India's first Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw was described by Bangladesh High Commissioner to New Delhi A Liaquat Chaudhari today (June 30).
"For this contribution Manekshaw will always be remembered by us," the envoy wrote in the condolence book opened to public to mark their grief on the passing away of 'Sam Bahadur', next to the Martyrs' memorial at India Gate.
The Bangladesh High Commissioner was among hundreds of people who braved sultry weather and rains to record their remembrance of the man who led the Indian Army in its finest hour in the 1971 war, which led to creation of Bangladesh.
The mourners were led by the Defence Minister A K Antony who wrote,"Manekshaw was the commander who led his men from the front."
"The Indian Army salutes its bravest son," wrote the Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor. But the most moving comments came from hundreds of anonymous mourners, who had lined up to
record their grief.
The commoners' grief was summed up by an anonymous civilian who wrote "Sayonara, the people's Field Marshal."

Molestation Case
Major-General’s court martial from July 7
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The general court martial (GCM) of a major general for allegedly molesting a woman officer is scheduled to begin at Bathinda on July 7, it is learnt. This is the first time that an officer of the rank of major general is being tried by a GCM on such charges.
Sources say that Maj Gen A K Lal is facing four charges, which include molestation under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, read with Section 69 (civil offences) of the Army Act and holding meditation classes in his bedroom. The other two charges include attempts to influence two officers who were witnesses in the case.
The General Officer Commanding 10 Corps, Lt Gen R.S. Sujlana, is the GCM’s presiding officer, while Deputy Judge Advocate General (DJAG), Eastern Command, Brig A V Tashkar, is the judge advocate.
Sources said that the Army had earlier appointed DJAG, Central Command, Brig P.S. Rathore, as the judge advocate for the trial, but it was objected to by the accused as Brig Rathore is at present serving under Lt Gen H S Panag, who was the GOC-in-C Northern Command when the alleged incident took place. Maj Gen Lal was commanding the strategic 3 Infantry Division at Leh at that time.
The orders to try Maj Gen Lal by court martial were initially issued by General Panag shortly before he moved to Central Command earlier this year. Lt Gen P.C. Bhardwaj, who as GOC 14 Corps was Maj Gen Lal’s immediate superior was elevated as the Northern Command chief.
This technically led to the accused’s commanding officer becoming the court’s convening authority, who would then be required to pass directions in the case. Faced with this legal lacuna, the Army moved Maj Gen Lal out of Northern Command and attached him with the Mathura-based 1 Corps under the South-Western Command.
Last year, a Signals officer, Capt Neha Rawat, had, in a written complaint alleged sexual misconduct on his part on the pretext of holding meditation classes at his residence. In September, the Army ordered a court of inquiry (COI) into the matter and General Lal was removed from command and attached to Headquarters 15 Corps.
When the matter had become public, the general’s family, in a press conference held in Chandigarh, had strongly defended him and had termed the charges levelled against him as incorrect and motivated. The COI, presided by Lt Gen A.S. Sekhon, the then corps commander had, in November 2007, held him prima facie blameworthy.

Confusion over protocol for Manekshaw
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
The in-famous bureaucratic red-tape, that effects the lives of millions across the country on a daily basis, impacted even India’s most decorated soldier, Field Marshall S.H.F.J. Mankeshaw in his death.
Ironically, when Manekshaw died on Thursday night at Wellington in Tamil Nadu, the government did not know what protocol to follow for his cremation and who all from the government were supposed to be present at his last journey. This confusion stemmed from the fact that the rank of “Field Marshall” is so far not even listed in the order of precedence by the Government of India.
The office of the President of India decides the precedence. This indicates what honour is to given to which rank and what protocol is to be followed. For example, this order of precedence further decides what kind of gun salute (number of guns firing simultaneously) is to be given at the time of the funeral.
The Ministry of Home affairs (MHA) enforces this order of precedence. The entire episode has raised questions at the way the government was handling sensitive issue like the death of such a decorated soldier. A top Army official said Manekshaw was given the rank of Field Marshall in 1976 and in 32 years the hierarchy of the rank could not be decided is strange logic. Sources in the MHA said the order of precedence is decided after the ministry concerned - in this case the Ministry of Defence - takes up the matter.
On the other hand, a senior army official said, a notification to appoint a Field Marshall would have gone to the MHA also, why did it, or the President’s office not act in its own. Incidentally, the services chiefs are at number 12 on the list that is headed by the President and followed by the Vice-President and Prime Minister, among other functionaries.
A Field Marshall is treated higher in armed forces than a serving chief of staff. Technically a Field Marshall never retires and is deemed to be serving. The serving chiefs of the three services are supposed to salute the Field Marshall.
Saddled with such a situation, the MoD got working on Friday morning. It is learnt that defence minister A.K. Antony spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and wanted the state funeral be accorded. A source in MoD said a letter from the MoD was then sent to the MHA on Friday quoting the PM that a state funeral was to be accorded to Sam Manekshaw.
Minister of state for defence Pallam Raju was sent from Delhi to attend the last rites. The same Manekshaw, whom the Indian Government has been hailing as the architect of the famous 1971 battle with Pakistan, needed a bureaucratic push to earn the much-deserved honour of a state-level funeral.

Complex to be named after Manekshaw
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
The government will name a complex for Warfare Studies in the Delhi cantonment after Field Marshal S.H.F.J Manekshaw. The complex called Param Vir Complex being constructed at the entrance to Delhi cantonment and be named the Manekshaw centre in memory of the decorated soldier, who died on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, defence minister A.K. Antony, The High Commissioner of Bangladesh in India and Army chief Deepak Kapoor were among the hundreds of people who turned up to pen their feelings in a condolence book kept at the India Gate.
The condolence book was placed next to the martyr’s memorial at the India Gate. Antony was the first to sign it and went on to describe Manekshaw as the Marshal who led from the front.
The country’s sole surviving Marshal Arjan Singh was next and he termed Manekshaw as one of the leading Field Commanders in the Indian history.
Besides Kapoor, the other two service Chiefs, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is also the chairman of chiefs of staff, and Air Chief Marshal Fali Major also signed the condolence book.
Among the others who signed on it were former service chiefs, principal staff officers in the Army, Navy and Air headquarters, defence attach├ęs, politicians, members of Parliament and others.
The condolence book would be placed at the martyr's memorial from 9 am to 4 pm till July 3, an army spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Kapoor said The Mankeshaw Complex would house the centre for land and air warfare studies and a centre for peacekeeping operations and also serve as a hub for seminars, discussions and other important events.
It may be mentioned that the top brass of the defence is facing flak for having missed the last rites of Manekshaw. Kapoor said the Army revers Manekshaw’s bravery, courage and leadership capabilities through which he achieved victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
Kapoor said it would be good if the national war memorial was constructed, which would provide an opportunity to countrymen to salute soldiers who laid down their lives in battlefield.

Did Sam Manekshaw fight wrong enemies?
Junior minister Pallam Raju happened to be highest dignitary representing the government of India at the so-called state funeral of the country's first Field Marshal! The ‘supreme commander’ too was too preoccupied in Maharashtra politics!. ONLY TWO Army appointments have been made by the Government of India since independence in 1947, in the rank of Field Marshal of the Indian Army. Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw was the first to be honoured. It was essentially in recognition of his leadership during the 1971 India-Pakistan war that dismembered the adversary and created Bangladesh. The government led by Indira Gandhi, by far the biggest beneficiary of the war, made the appointment in 1973. His senior KM Cariappa, who preceded him by 15 years, was appointed as Field Marshal only in 1983, long after his retirement.
“In a rare gesture, the government took a decision to give a state funeral,” beamed minister of defence (MoD) AK Antony when Manekshaw breathed his last at the age of 94 on June 27. There can be no controversy – whether in India, Bangladesh or even Pakistan – about giving a state funeral to the legendary soldier. Most people, particularly in the armed forces, however, could not fathom what was so rare about the ’gesture’. State honours to a real war hero is something that is taken for granted in countries with some self-respect left!
The ’gesture’ of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, in reality, was one of shaming the great hero. For, the honourable MoD did not find it prudent to waste his precious time by being present ceremonially. It was not that the senile politician, exhausted due to decades of politicking to become a Central minister, was too sick to stand the strain. (He had recently fainted during a ceremonial occasion but had recovered).
Anyway, the low profile Congress loyalist is not taken seriously even by his colleagues. Last year, the defence minister sheepishly pleaded in the Parliament that his colleague in charge of civil aviation would not exempt Service chiefs from being frisked at the airports. The privilege of exemption is reserved only for the ones chosen by god to lead the country. That included Robert Vadra, the non-descript son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, the Congress Party chief who could not even be a member of the government openly! A colonel recalled to a media person, “It’s only after the media took up this issue that the embarrassing matter was resolved.”
Anthony deputed a junior minister Pallam Raju, who even more low-profile than himself, to represent him at the ceremony. The minister of state (MoS) happened to be highest dignitary representing the government of India at the funeral of the country’s first Field Marshal! When pointedly asked about the poor representation at the funeral in Wellington, Anthony pretended as if he did not hear the question.
President Pratibha Patil, the supreme commander of the armed forces and the constitutional head of the country, was apparently busy in Maharashtra. After all, elections are round the corner and she is known to be loyal more to Sonia Gandhi and Nehru dynasty than anything else. Nobody dared to disturb the VVIP jet, kept in ’stand-by’ mode to cater to her emergency needs! The Prime Minister, of course was defending his master from attack from Left Front allies.
In the bizarre ’state honour’, none of the Service chiefs attended the funeral. A rear admiral of the Indian Navy and an air marshal of the Indian Air Force were asked to register the ’rare honour’ to the departed Field Marshal. Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal FH Major were very busy at their headquarters, perhaps planning top level defence strategies. Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, away in Russia on tour, was represented by vice chief Lt-Gen ML Naidu, who took a civilian flight from Delhi.
A Brigadier put the insult in perspective: “We, as a nation, simply don’t respect or remember our heroes. Cricketing ones are honoured even after 25 years of winning a world cup; soldiering ones are forgotten promptly after the war is over. The nation turns to the armed forces only in times of emergency!”
The adulation of the Field Marshal is however not without controversies. Most people in the neighbourhood and many in India feel that the 1971 war was a diplomatic and economic disaster for India. Particularly the ones to think with their heads, who know what cost had to be paid by the common man in the country for the feat, point out that it only earned yet another adversary in the region. The war, that definitely helped the then Prime Minister to acquire a lot of clout, has not enhanced the standing of India as a responsible big brother. Bangladesh has never felt obliged to India for its creation and is suspicious of New Delhi, which did employ covert actions before the war. In fact, most of its votes in the international arena have been cast in the ’other’ direction.
It would be worth recalling the most plausible explanation doing the rounds as to why Indira Gandhi took the decision in January 1977 that proved suicidal for her absolute rule. Most politicians, bureaucrats and judges were meekly crawling when asked to kneel before the tyrant and her son Sanjay. The Congress president even declared shamelessly, “India is Indira.” Several people in the know have confirmed that Indira feared that Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw, then Chief of Army Staff, threatened to depose her if she did not immediately release all political prisoners and call elections.
The anti-tyranny movement warned Indians that the March 1977 elections might be their last chance to choose between democracy and dictatorship. Though Manekshaw denied any such thing, there could be no other possible explanation. But, no one can deny that most truly democratic governments in the world are set up by military chiefs. With that considered, perhaps Manekshaw fought the wrong enemies!

People from all walks of life pay homage to Sam Manekshaw Special Correspondent
Bangladesh High Commissioner: he will always be remembered by us
— Photo: V.V. Krishnan

A SOLDIER’S GENERAL: Defence Minister A.K. Antony paying homage to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw with Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh; Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major; Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor; and Navy Chief Sureesh Mehta at India Gate in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister A.K. Antony and the three service chiefs along with hundreds of people from all walks of life on Monday paid homage to the soldier’s general, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who passed away in Tamil Nadu last week.
Bangladesh envoy Liaquat Ali Choudhury paid tribute to the man who played a leading role in liberating their country.

Slight drizzle

After Mr. Choudhury left, a slight drizzle made Army personnel prematurely close the condolence book.
The Bangladesh High Commissioner described him as, “a legendary soldier and formidable leader of men and women who made great contribution to our liberation war in 1971. For this contribution Manekshaw will always be remembered by us.”

Available till Thursday

Army sources here said in the period between late morning and early afternoon, about 600 people managed to pen their respects in the condolence book, which will be placed everyday from 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. till Thursday.
In the morning, Mr. Antony was the first to make an entry in the book.
He described the architect of the 1971 war as “the commander who led from the front.”
He was followed by Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh and three services chiefs besides other ranking military officers.
Several veterans of the 1942 Burma War during which the then Captain Manekshaw was decorated for bravery also remembered him.
The Defence Minister and the three services chiefs were unable to attend the funeral of the Field Marshal on June 27.
Sources close to the Defence Minister cited his preoccupation with the hectic political developments while the Chief of the Army Staff, Deepak Kapoor, could not cut short his visit to Russia. However, some senior army officers had been deputed to maintain a constant vigil by his bedside.
Later, Gen. Kapoor announced the dedication of a project for higher military learning in Delhi to the memory of the Field Marshal. This centre will also house an Army-backed think tank, the Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

India's military aircraft MFDs clear air worthiness trials
30 Jun, 2008, 2216 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: India's indigenous Multi-Functional Displays (MFD) for military aircraft have cleared the first hurdle for induction by getting approval for air worthiness and real-time flight trials later this year.
The Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness (RCMA) certified the MFDs as "air worthy" and gave a nod for flight trials on board the Su-30 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) later this year.
"The RCMA has cleared the MFDs as air worthy and approved the flight testing of the device on Su-30s done recently," according to a press note from Samtel Display Systems, a private manufacturer of high-technology avionics for both military and civilian applications.
The MFDs are devices that put all aircraft-sytems monitoring and flight planning functions at the pilot's finger tips, ensuring easy management of the flight safety parameters.
Jointly developed by Samtel with DRDO's Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), the MFDs went through extensive flight and ground tests at Su-30 integration rigs during both day and night to evaluate its display characteristics.The flight tests were carried out at IAF's Barreilly air base, where a Su-30 squadron is based at present, before they were accorded clearance for air worthiness, according to Satish Kaura, the company's chairman-and-managing director.

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