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Thursday, 8 December 2011

From Today's Papers - 08 Dec 2011

Changing scenario in Asia-Pacific Chinese ‘assertiveness’ getting challenged
by G. Parthasarathy  China’s new generation of leaders, including Vice-President Xi Jinping, popularly known as “Princelings,” will take charge within a year. They will inherit the mantle of ruling a country that has astounded the world by its path-breaking economic transformation. But they will also face the challenges of having to deal with reconciling the contradictions between an open economy, on the one hand, and an authoritarian and opaque political system on the other. This will happen in an era when people are increasingly yearning for democratic freedoms. The Hu Jintao era has been marked by an effort to subsume democratic aspirations by increasing resort to jingoism, reflecting what the Soviets described as “Great Han Chauvinism”. Military muscle was flexed and territorial claims on its neighbours ranging from Japan and Vietnam to the Philippines and India asserted. Will the new leadership follow this line, or will it seek to address democratic aspirations by greater openness and transparency is a question exercising the minds of governments worldwide?  Just prior to the East Asia Summit on November 19, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, “People’s Daily”, launched a broadside against India’s plans to bolster its defences on its eastern borders, warning that China had “precision-guided weapons” to “easily” eliminate any new forces India deploys. The article was critical of India’s expanding defence ties with China’s neighbours like Japan and Vietnam. China was, in effect, telling New Delhi that while it had the right to assist Pakistan to develop a new generation of plutonium-based nuclear weapons and guided missiles, India should not dare to develop defence ties with its neighbours like Japan and Vietnam.  The Chinese diatribe against India continued even after the East Asia Summit. The official Xinhua News Agency carried an article on November 24 which commenced with a reference to “India’s jitters at the sight of China gaining prestige in Asia”. The article alluded to the 1962 border conflict when India “was beaten by the Chinese army”. It gratuitously mentioned: “Jealousy can sometimes be put in the same breath as inferiority.”  Such Chinese rhetoric is not confined to India. China’s all neighbours that contest its irredentist claims of the entire South China Sea being an area of its “core interest” have experienced similar behaviour and rhetoric.  Incidents in the East China Sea across disputed maritime boundaries with Japan have led to Japanese vessels being rammed by Chinese ships, followed by a ban on exports of rare earth materials by China to Japan. The Philippines has witnessed the Chinese using force to enforce maritime boundary claims, and Vietnam has periodically been subject to Chinese military force over disputed boundaries. China adopts a similar approach to issues of maritime boundaries in its dealings with South Korea and Taiwan. The Chinese now openly boast about possessing missile power to target aircraft carriers of America’s Pacific Fleet.  While China insisted that it would handle the differences on its maritime boundaries with countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia bilaterally, India made the point in the East Asia Summit in Bali that issues involving maritime boundaries and the freedom of navigation had to be settled in conformity with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Laws of the Seas. Roughly 40 per cent of India’s trade with the United States traverses through the South China Sea. Moreover, its entire trade with Japan and South Korea traverses through the waters claimed by Beijing to be areas of its “core interest”.  In these circumstances, undefined and contested maritime boundaries, where one party appears ever ready to use force, are seen as an impediment and inhibiting factor in the freedom of navigation.  The East Asia Summit also saw another significant development. Despite Chinese reservations, five ASEAN member-states — Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Thailand — together with India, Australia and the US raised the issue of maritime boundaries and the freedom of navigation at the Bali Summit. Russia, Indonesia and five other members talked in general terms about maritime security. Only Myanmar and Cambodia avoided any reference to the issue. An embarrassed Premier Wen Jiabao, who was described by American participants as being “a little bit grouchy at first,” sounded conciliatory, but did not give up Chinese insistence on dealing with each neighbour separately and bilaterally. But, with the Americans deciding to participate actively in the East Asia Summit and reinforcing their security commitment in the Asia-Pacific, by agreeing to the deployment of forces in Darwin in Australia, the ASEAN states now appear satisfied that Chinese “assertiveness” will not go on unchallenged.  Beijing would also have not failed to notice that the Australian decision to review and change its policies regarding the sale of uranium to India was announced during President Obama’s visit to Australia. This happened after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton coined a new term, “Indo-Pacific”, to describe the Asia-Pacific region during formal bilateral discussions with Australia. To add to China’s concerns, reflected in the Chinese media, President Obama announced that Mrs Hillary Clinton would soon visit Myanmar, regarded by the Chinese as their backyard. Myanmar’s new dispensation is showing signs of wanting to get free of China’s suffocating embrace.  These developments have vindicated India’s view that Myanmar does not wish to become a Chinese client state. India quite rightly resisted American pressures at the highest level to ostracise Myanmar’s military rulers.  India’s answer to the Chinese diplomatic bluster was effectively given on November 22 when its candidate for a place in the UN’s Joint Inspection Unit A. Gopinathan, India’s Permanent Representative to UN offices in Geneva, trounced his Chinese rival Zhang Yan by 106 votes to 77. Zhang Yan, currently China’s Ambassador to India, is best known for his arrogance. He recently told Indian reporters to “shut up” when they asked him questions about Chinese maps depicting the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as Pakistani territory. A Mandarin speaking friend of mine who met Zhang Yan just after he had arrived in India was shocked when the arrogant envoy remarked: “The Indian media must understand that they cannot treat China in this manner”. India is not a Chinese vassal state, forever ready to kowtow to the whims of the Middle Kingdom’s envoy, Mr Ambassador.   The decision to invite the Dalai Lama to address the World Buddhist Conference in the Capital was laudable. Timing the visit to Delhi by State Councillor Dai Bingguo for talks on the border issue to coincide with this conference smacked of diplomatic ineptitude. Worse still, succumbing to Chinese pressure and cancelling the participation of the President and the Prime Minister at the conference was craven and demeaning.
Won’t sell arms to Pak: Moscow PM to visit Russia; defence, N-deals on cards
Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, December 7 Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow next week, Russia today described India as a ‘super power in the making’ and ruled out selling any military equipment to Pakistan.  The two countries are expected to sign 7-10 agreements in the fields of military, energy and trade during Manmohan Singh’s visit for the annual summit between the leaders of the two countries, Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin said at a press conference here. He said talks were also on to explore the possibility of inking a pact to build Kudankulam nuclear plant’s third and fourth units during the trip.  Kadakin said the Russian Navy would ‘soon’ hand over to India the Akula-II class nuclear submarine K-152 Nerpa to be rechristened INS Chakra.  To a specific question on Pakistan, he said India should not get fixated on Pakistan. “The moment you (India) do that, you become a regional power when you are a Super-Power in the making,” he said.  Kadakin said Pakistan had shown keen interest in buying MI helicopters from Russia but Moscow was bound by its commitment not to supply weapons to Pakistan.  He said despite the "internal" problems in this country on the Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu, Russia was looking forward to expanding its nuclear cooperation with India. The commissioning of the first two reactors at the plant in Tirunelveli district has been stalled due to protests by the people of the area.  The Russian envoy hoped the civil nuclear liability rules framed by India would not affect atomic cooperation between India and Russia. "We are hopeful that the rules will not come in the way of implementation of the grand plan of nuclear cooperation (between India and Russia)," he said.  The Russian Ambassador voiced regretted the low level of Indo-Russian trade for which a target of 20 billion dollars has been fixed for 2015.  The Indian PM will be the first top foreign dignitary to visit Moscow after Sunday’s polls to the Russian ‘Duma’ (Parliament).
Indian Army blinded by controversial equipment
Military Intelligence paid hundreds of crores of rupees for outdated software, documents obtained by The Hindu show  The Indian Army's imagery interpretation capabilities, critical to providing information on the locations of enemy troops and their military assets, have been compromised by flawed contracts placed with a company that has failed to provide critical software upgrades, an investigation by The Hindu has found.  Documents obtained by The Hindu from the Ministry of Defence show that the firm responsible for supplying and integrating software used in critical image intelligence analysis was relieved of its responsibility to provide free upgrades in 2008 — and is now on the verge of receiving a Rs.165-crore contract for the supply of software it may no longer have licensing rights for.  MI17 — the super-secret military intelligence department that analyses data provided by India's spy satellites — relies on software provided by global software giants Intergraph, Oracle, and Bentley.  Rolta, an Indian company, supplied photogrammetry and geographical information system software licensed from these firms to the Army in 1996, integrating them into a single package to meet MI17's specific needs. From then to 2008, things went well — when a new contract for 14 photogrammetry and geographical information system packages came up to be signed.  The earlier contract bound Rolta to provide software “updates and upgrades” free of cost, as part of a maintenance contract. In 2008, though, the phrasing was changed to just “updates”— freeing Rolta of the obligation to provide the most recent software released by the original equipment manufacturer.  Rolta was paid Rs.506.45 crore for equipment purchased between 1998 and 2008. In addition, it received annual maintenance contracts for equipment purchased during this period; as of December 2008, their cumulative value was Rs. 40.66 crore per annum.  But by early this year, highly-placed military sources said, MI17's image-processing speeds had fallen to just a seventh of those being obtained by the National Technical Research Organisation, which also analyses the same data using similar software with the latest upgrades, Intergraph-Erdas.  Dubious negotiations  The records of the contract negotiation committee, or CNC, show a series of questionable decisions led to this outcome. In the fourth meeting of the CNC, one member noted that an odd change had been made to the name of the software being supplied to MI17: “the vendor,” he observed, “had added [the] company name ‘Rolta' in all the software being provided by him.” The change of name implied that the equipment being supplied was not the same as was purchased in 1996, which would have necessitated fresh acquisition procedures to be initiated.  Atul Tayal, Rolta's representative, responded in the fifth meeting of the CNC that only the brand name was changing — not the equipment itself. During Rolta's “association with the Indian Armed Forces over more than one decade,” he said, “the company had developed a number of customised modules specifically designed to address the needs of the Military Intelligence Directorate.”  “These customised modules,” he wrote, “are integrated with the basic equipment and supplied to the user. Due to this the company has decided to supply these equipments [sic.] under the brand name of Rolta India Limited after the necessary approval of M/S Intergraph, USA, and other parties.”  The CNC guarded its flanks, the minutes of its fourth meeting show, with its chairman insisting that “a certificate from the vendor be obtained certifying that software offered in the present and previous contract are the same.” It was further directed, the minutes record, “that adequate provisions will be made in the contract to confirm the fact at PDI [pre-delivery inspection] and ATP [acceptance test procedures] stage.”  In a September 2010 letter, Rolta certified it would “have full guarantee and warranty from Intergraph Corporation with respect to the goods sourced from them for IIT [imagery interpretation team] equipment under replacement.” The certificate was signed by Brigadier Anjum Shahab, the Regional Director of Defence Sales for Rolta – and the same individual who, as Deputy Director General of Military Intelligence in 2008, served on the controversial CNC.  The actual “full guarantee and warranty” from Intergraph was never provided, for the simple reason that the 2008 contract did not call on Rolta to hand it over. From other documents, however, it seems apparent that no such guarantee actually exists. In a letter to the Defence Secretary, written on July 8, 2011, Intergraph said it had “reliably learnt from a number of Ministry of Defence officers that the Indian Army may have been supplied Intergraph GIS software under a different name.”  It asserted that Intergraph had at no point authorised anyone “to customise any of the products and/or to sell the Products under the name and/or branding of the Distributor or any other company.” Put simply, that meant Rolta had no rights to license Intergraph software to the Army — and that Intergraph would not, therefore, supply the periodic upgrades that came with the package.  Nonetheless, the Indian Army is now firming up plans to purchase another Rs.165 crore worth of equipment from Rolta. MI17 sources said no fresh procurement procedure will have to be carried out because the vendor continues to be Rolta — even though its elements are likely to be assembled from modules supplied by a Canada-based software company, PCI Geomatics.  More than half the cost of the new order, sources said, is made up of software giving capabilities that MI17 would have had anyway, if upgrades had been obtained since 2008. Documents available with The Hindu also reveal that the Planning Officer of the Directorate of Planning and Coordination, Department of Defence Procurement, had written a letter on November 17, 2009, recommending that fresh “equipment may be procured through competitive bidding.”  Indian Army officials declined to discuss the contract on record, or to discuss specifics. However, a high military official who briefed The Hindu on condition of anonymity said that while he was aware of complaints about Rolta, they were “being made to malign the operational efficiency of the Army.” He noted that Rolta was not obligated to give upgrades, but did not explain why the 2008 contract, and subsequent ones, had relieved it of its earlier obligation to provide them. For its part, Rolta also pointed out that it had met its contractual obligations. In an e-mail to The Hindu, Rolta said it had “provided all deliverables it has been contracted to under various agreements with MoD.” In response to a question on whether they had permission to supply Intergraph software, Rolta said the equipment it had supplied was delivered “in line with their respective end-user licences.” Mr. Atul Tayal told The Hindu that the allegations “are absolutely baseless and seem to have been made with mala fide and motivated”.
Army Commander calls on Indian service chiefs in New Delhi
Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, now in New Delhi to attend several military ceremonies at the invitation of his counterpart in the Indian Army, on Tuesday paid courtesy calls on Indian tri-service chiefs and deputies.  Four star General V.K Singh, Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army, warmly welcomed the Army Commander at his office and exchanged views on bilateral matters of military importance to both countries with special focus on intensified training programmes between the two armies.  Both Indian Chief of Army Staff and the Army Commander after cordial discussions exchanged mementoes and symbolized their long lasting understanding and cordial relations.  Afterwards, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya called on Air Chief Marshal N.A.K Browne, Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force, Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Naval Staff, and Lieutenant General S.K Singh, Vice Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army, Indian Army’s second senior most officer at their separate offices in New Delhi.  The Indian Chief of Army Staff in honour of the visiting Sri Lankan Army Chief and his accompanying retinue hosted a banquet.  As the final leg of the day’s itinerary, Army Commander paid a courtesy call on Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner, Prasad Kariyawasam at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Delhi.  Mrs Manjulika Jayasuriya on the sidelines of the main programme of the Sri Lankan delegation met several spouses of senior Army Officers in the Indian Army and exchanged pleasantries. Earlier, Indian Chief of Army Staff, General V.K Singh, showing his goodwill and regional cooperation visited Sri Lanka in September 2010 in response to a cordial invitation extended by the Commander of Army, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya.  General Singh was the first trained commando to take over as the Army Chief who has vast experience in counter-insurgency operations. General Singh is a recipient of the ‘Ati Vishist Seva Medal’ (AVSM) for his distinguished service and became the Chief of Army Staff on March 31, 2010. Air Chief Marshal N.A.K Browne, Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force, the 19 Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force took over the office on July 31, 2011.  Before he was appointed the Chief of Air Staff, he served as the Vice Chief of the Air Staff, Chief Operations Officer and Air Officer Commanding of the SU-30 Base and several other key appointments.  Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chief of Naval Staff, Indian Navy took office on July 29, 2011 and served a number of distinguished appointments including Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy and Plans), Chief of Personnel, Vice Chief of Naval Staff and the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief.
Army's Opn Sadbhavna ushers in new life in Ladakh
Kolkata: The Army's 'Operation Sadbhavna' in Ladakh has been able to usher in a new lease of life for many children and has ensured development in 190 villages with a population of 1.09 lakh along the 265 km border with PoK.  "The theme of the movement is the progress of the nation through building up confidence in the areas with the avowed objective of winning hearts of the people to overcome circumstances," Lt Anubhav Tiwari of the Seventh Sikh Light Infantry of 166 brigade of Indian army said today.  Lt Tiwari said that the local population in Ladakh has created mass awareness among students living along the border with PoK.  He escorted 25 students, between the age of 17 and 18, from Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir here as part of 'Operation Sadbhavna'.  The operation, the world’s first civilian initiative to help and initiate peace through education and development, "has been successful in forestalling militancy in Ladakh, which is now a militancy-free zone," the students said.  "Any unknown face cannot escape the eyes of the locals. Information is immediately conveyed to the police. The confidence of the people is the lifeline of the armed forces operating on the borders," the students said.  The thrust areas of the operation include primary education through a network of 16 Sadbhavana schools.  Belle Vue clinic and Priyamvada Birla Aravind Eye Hospital of the M P Birla Group, are partners in the mission.
'Boys with body tattoos cannot join Indian Army any more'
Young boys with tattoos on their bodies may not get an entry into the Indian Army any more as the Defence Ministry has banned their recruitment as soldiers into the defence forces.  Pointing out that a circular in this regard has come last month, Deputy Director General Recruiting for Punjab and Jammu Kashmir, Brigadier Vinod Raizada, said that youth with tattoos anywhere over their body except hands cannot be recruited. The circular has come in view of certain diseases connected with tattoos, he said, adding that those having engraved such marks on their hands, however, would be first sent to the doctor for blood test. It will be after their clearance by the doctor, they will be considered for recruitment, he added.  To a question, he said that nearly 30 per cent of the youth turning up at recruitment rallies carried tattoos on their body or hands. Such youth were mainly coming from Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts, he pointed out.  Ads by Google  Brigadier Raizada had come to Akhnoor in connection with open recruitment rally for five districts of Jammu region – Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch, beginning December 4. The first phase of rally will be completed tomorrow. The rally was also opened for candidates from all the districts of the state for soldier technical, soldier clerk/storekeeper and soldier nursing categories.  Pointing out that response to soldier technical category had been poor from Jammu region, he said that recruitment to this category will now be held at state level and not confined to districts. The candidates having passed 12th class examination in physics, chemistry and mathematics and who are in the age group between 17.6 - 23 years as on the date of screening are eligible, he added.  However, the response to Army’s recruitment rallies was increasing in districts like Kupwars and other border areas, he pointed out.  Nearly 15,000 youth turned up at the recruitment rally despite inclement weather conditions, an officiating defence ministry spokesman S N Acharya said, adding that another 5,000 to 7,000 are expected to come tomorrow.
Demo trial of 'Pinaka' conducted at Chandipur-on-sea
Balasore (Odisha), Dec 7 (PTI) A demonstration trial of India's indigenously developed multi-barrel rocket launcher weapon system, 'Pinaka' was today conducted in presence of personnel from the Indian Army and scientists at a defence base, about 15 km from here.  "Four rounds of test-firing were conducted during the trial," defence sources said. 'Pinaka', an unguided rocket system and an area weapon system aimed at supplementing the existing artillery guns at a range beyond 30 km, is capable of acting as a force-multiplier, they said. The demonstration of 'Pinaka', which has undergone several tough tests since 1995 and is in an advance stage of development, took place at Chandipur-on-sea at the Proof Experimental Establishment by Army and scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation, the sources said.  It was meant to neutralise a large geographical area with a rapid salvo of rockets. With a strike range of 40 km, 'Pinaka' could fire a salvo of 12 rockets in 44 seconds, they said.  One salvo each of 12 rockets from a battery of six launchers could neutralise a target area of 3.9 sq km at a time, they said. Its quick reaction time, accuracy and high rate of fire gave an edge to the armed forces during low-intensity warlike situations, the sources said.  The system's capability to incorporate several types of warheads made it deadly for the enemy as it could destroy solid structures and bunkers, they added.
1971, A War Hero Remembers
War Hero Major General Ian Cardozo (retd)was wounded in the battle of Sylhet in Bangladesh in the 1971 war with Pakistan.  He lost his leg in a landmine blast, but conquered his disability and became the first disabled officer in the Indian Army to command an infantry battalion and then a brigade.  Awarded a Sena Medal for gallantry, General Cardozo is presently Chairman of the Rehabilitation Council of India and has authored The Sinking of INS Khukri -- Survivors Stories and Param Vir -- Our Heroes In Battle.  In conversation with Claude Arpi, the general looks back at the war where more than 93,000 Pakistani prisoners were taken, a region was liberated and a new nation born.  A young major 40 years ago, he recounts the heroic battles fought by the Fifth Gorkha Rifles in the Eastern theatre, where he and a brave band of men played a pivotal role in the defeat of Pakistan.  We are celebrating 40 years of the most resounding victory of the Indian armed forces, tell us about your involvement in the 1971 Operations and the role of your battalion, the Fifth Gorkha Rifles.  I was in the Staff College doing a course. My battalion was already on the front. The second-in-command (known as '2IC') of the battalion had been killed; the army had to replace him.  They looked around and found this guy (then Major Cardozo) in the Staff College. My posting was cancelled and I was sent to the front.  I was permitted to drop my family back home (my wife and three sons). I returned to Delhi by train on December 3.  The war had already started, but we did not know, though we heard aircraft flying above us. In Delhi there was a blackout. Next morning, I went to Palam airport to catch the plane to Assam, but it was cancelled: it would have been a lovely target.  I jumped into a taxi, rushed to the railway station. The train was moving out of the platform, I managed to pull the chain and board it. The next night we reached a place called Dharmanagar. We have a wonderful system in the army of contractors. Over 150 years the same family of banias have served particular units in the army. One of them was there to meet me.  He said: 'Sahib, the hospital train is coming. Wounded officers from our unit are on that train, you should meet them.' I met four young badly wounded officers and then jumped into a jeep and drove night and day to reach my battalion.  »  News » 1971, A War Hero Remembers 'It was the first heliborne operation in the history of the Indian Army' Last updated on: December 7, 2011 14:19 IST Share this Ask Users Write a Comment Print this article Prev  A scene during the 1971 war                Next  I had to reach in time because the Fifth Gorkhas were part of a heliborne operation and the CO (Commanding Officer of colonel rank) was waiting for me. We had to go inside Bangladesh.  I reached the place at 3 am in the morning. Four helicopters were already waiting and four others were on their way back (from Bangladesh).  There were three persons standing there. As I reached, one of them said: 'Who is there? Who are you?' I replied: 'I am Major Cardozo, Sir.' He said: 'I am General (Krishna) Rao (later, the chief of the army staff].' The other two were my brigade commander and an officer from the Corps of Engineers. They said: 'Well done, you came on time.'  The helicopters were bringing the wounded back. It was the first time in the history of the Indian Army that we were going to launch a heliborne operation.  At the Staff College, when you plan an operation like this, it takes two or three days for the army and air force officers to sit together and discuss all the details (routes, arms and ammunitions available, etc.).  In this case at 9 am the battalion was told, 'You are leaving this afternoon at 2:30 pm; you should make your plans. There is a recee at 10 am.'  To go back in time, we had earlier launched an operation for the capture of a battalion at Atgram. Normally, a brigade (about 3,000 soldiers) captures a battalion (about 750 soldiers).  In this case, a battalion was given the task to capture a battalion and this without artillery fire. Normally with the artillery to pulverise the enemy, he is forced to keep his head down, then one can attack.  My CO questioned: 'How can I capture a battalion with my battalion without artillery?' He was told: 'You have no option, just do it. The Americans and the Chinese want to come in; we have to wrap up the operations.'  The CO requested: 'I want two nights for the recee.'
The first night we contacted the Mukti Bahini (the Bangladeshi freedom fighters), and went in with them shouting 'Jai Bangla. Jai Bangla.' The Pakistani forces opened fire.  We were able to locate where their LMG (Light Machine Guns) were. With the light of the firing we also saw their mortars. We repeated the same tactic the next night, and there was less fire with the enemy forces less alert.  The following night was chosen for the attack. The CO instructed us: 'We will go for a khukri (the Gorkha knife) attack. We will use only khukris and grenades. You go into the field, reach the bunkers, throw the grenades in and then use your khukris.'  Two young officers with a lot of josh (enthusiasm) did not follow the CO's instructions. They rushed directly into the bunkers and both were killed: A second lieutenant and a captain. But 32 enemy heads were chopped off.  The CO came and saw many bodies on the ground, but he did not realise that the Pakistani senior company commander was playing dead. When he came close to him, the Pakistani officer shot at the CO. They rolled on the floor grapping with each other. The Gorkhas did not know what to do for sometime, but they finally managed to kill the Pakistani officer.  This was the battle of Atgram in which we lost two officers, three JCO (Junior Commissioned Officers) and 3 ORs (Other Ranks). It is very little compared to the number who could have been killed without the cover of artillery fire.  Then (Lieutenant General] Sagat Singh (commanding 4 Corps) who was one of our most dynamic commanders ordered: 'Send the Fifth Gorkha to Ghazipur.' Why? Because an earlier battalion had been sent and it had failed, a second one went and failed.  Sagat Singh said: '5 Gorkha will do it.' We had already had so many casualties, our 2IC had been killed, many jawans were dead and the CO felt that we should be given a break; Sagat Singh said 'No.'  The Indian Army had not initially planned for the capture of Dhaka. But things changed as the operations went on. We had a very good strategy of bypassing the enemy's strong points and advancing along the weaker ones. The capture of Dhaka thus became a possibility.  Sagat Singh said: 'I want to be there first in Dhaka.' But Sylhet had to be captured before that.  How to get there? 'By helicopter', was the answer.  Who will go? The 4/5 Gorkha battalion.  My CO tried to plead: 'I have already lost so many officers (killed or wounded)'. Sagat Singh ordered: 'You will go. The Pakistani 202 Brigade was there, but they have now gone to Dhaka. There are only 200 or 300 'irregulars' (rakazars) there, what is the problem?' At that time, we had a strength 480 men only.
On December 7, a helicopter with the brigade commander went in for a recee, and they came back saying that there was no opposition, no firing. They thought that the corps commander was right, nobody was there.  The officers were told to 'get ready.' We had no time for plans, no time for strategy. The orders were just 'Capture the area, go on the ground and keep expanding.'  When the first sorties left for Sylhet, we discovered there was tremendous opposition. We did not know it till later, but 202 Brigade was still there; they had not gone to Dhaka.  Though we saw a lot of artillery fire, we thought it must be a battalion; we did not realise it was a brigade.  I went in the last sortie. My company 'johnnies' (soldiers) could not say my name 'Cardozo.' They called me 'Cartoos sahib' (in Hindi, 'cartridge').  When the helicopters landed, they went from helicopter to helicopter till they found me, and fired in the air with satisfaction.  The boys were not worried (about the enemy fire). They put me on their shoulders and shouted: 'Cartoos sahib has come, he is now with us, we can go.' I went to meet the CO who was also happy that I had reached.  We started fighting and after some time, we managed to get an area of 1000 metres by 1500 metres. The CO had told us there would be a link-up in 48 hours. For para-commandos, a link-up must be done within 48 hours or they are finished.  We had no food. We had only ammunition, grenades, one handful of shakarparas (sweet wheat balls), one bandage, one bottle of water and a barsatti to sleep on the ground.  No blanket, no clothes, no shoes, nothing else.  At that time, the war was covered by the BBC, Akashvani (All India Radio) and Pakistan Radio. Nobody believed Pakistani Radio. All India Radio was always giving news two days late, because they had to get the clearance from army headquarters. But the BBC gave news on the spot. They had very committed war correspondents and had got the permission to cover the operations.  We all listened to the BBC. That day we heard: 'A brigade of Gorkhas has landed at Sylhet.'  I told my CO: 'Sir, the Pakistanis are listening to the BBC, we are listening to the BBC, they have more than a battalion, so let us keep pretending that we are a brigade and let us deploy as a brigade.'
There was a risk: They could have taken us apart bit by bit. We took the risk and put LMG nests to fill up the gaps between the companies.  One day, we intercepted a Pakistani vehicle coming in; we picked up the officers and used the khukri. This put more pressure on us. The Pakistanis must have thought: 'We should get these guys.' The operations continued during the following days.  During the day time, we were supported by the air force (Hunters and MIGs) who were breaking the attacks. But at night we were on our own.  One day, a Pakistani patrol went between the companies. We came to the conclusion that they had realised that we were not a brigade. We had hardly any ammunition left. We decided to regroup as a battalion and fight till the bitter end.  The companies had to withdraw just after dusk, so that the enemy could not see us move.  One company came back intact, but the other company came a bit too early and was seen by the enemy while on the move. The CO and I were watching them come back as it became dark. We suddenly heard 'Allah ho Akbar, charge.'  But trust the Gurkhas, they took out their khukris, turned around and shouted 'Ayo Gurkhali.' They fought like in a theatre. After shouts and sounds of battle, silence fell. The company reached us, five, six boys were missing and we could hear the groans of the wounded.  There was an unspoken agreement between us and the Pakistanis: We brought our chaps back and they did the same with their boys.  The next day the fight continued, but (Then General, later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw served Pakistan an ultimatum: 'You surrender or we wipe you out.'  On December 15 morning, 1,500 of them came out (we were 480) with white flags. The company commanders asked the CO: 'There is a huge number of them, what do we do?'  The CO told them, let their emissaries come. But if they come to know that we are only 480, they may change their minds.'  The CO told the emissaries: 'We have no orders to take your surrender. Come back tomorrow.' They said: 'We want to surrender.' 'No,' said the CO: 'Come back tomorrow.'  We spoke on the radio with the brigade commander (in Tamil) and told him: 'For God sake, come and take the surrender.'  The next morning, the Pakistanis came again. The brigade commander had meantime come by helicopter. The Pakistanis asked him: 'Where are you coming from?' He said: 'From such and such place'. The Pakistanis asked, 'But what is here, a brigade?' He told them that it was only a battalion.  A battalion only! They could not believe it. They had never realised that we were not a brigade. This was a big surprise for them.  Our surprise was that we thought that they were one brigade, but there were two brigades (the 202 and 313 Infantry Brigade)! We took the surrender of three brigadiers, a full colonel, 107 officers, 219 JCO, and 7,000 troops.  (Lieutenant General A A K] Niazi (commanding the Pakistani army in East Pakistan) had ordered Sylhet to be held for the defence of Dhaka. The second brigade had landed the same day as us. We were fighting two brigades at the same time.  Anyway, we were very cold, so I told this Pakistani JCO, 'Saab, aap ke pas kambal hain store mein?' ('Do you have blankets in your stores?')  'Haan Sahib('Yes, Sir').'  So I said, 'Main aap ko receipt de doonga (I will give you a receipt), can you give kambals to my men?'  'Kambal nahin laye, saab? ('Sir, you have not brought blankets?')'  'Hum sone ke liye nahin aaye, aap ko barbaad karne ke liye aaye. (We did not come to sleep, but to destroy you.)'  He digested that. Then I said, 'Agar kuch kambal rahe jaate hain, hamare affsar sahiba ko de sakte hain? ('If some blankets remain, can you give them to our officers?)'  'Kya baat karte hain saab, affsar sahiba bhi kambal nahin laye? ('What are you saying sir, even the officers do not have blankets?')'  So I said, 'Saab, agar jawano ke paas kambal nahin hain, to afsar sahiba ke liye kambal kaise ho sakta hai? ('When the jawans do not have blankets, then how can the officers have them?).'  He stood to attention, saluted me, and said, 'Janaab, agar hamari fauj mein Bharat jaise afsar hote, ye din humne dekhna tha ('Sir, if in our army we had officers like those in India, we would not have seen this day).'
Facebook Censors Indian Army Fans Page
Soon after the Minister of HRD told media that he is thinking to regulate the content available on Social Media websites, the Social Networking website Facebook deleted the Indian Army Fans page from the network. According to media reports, the page disappeared eventually after Tuesday evening and whosoever is trying to check the said page is being redirected to personal homepage.  There were around four lakh fans associated with Army Fans Page and they were involved in various kind of discussions related to Indian Army. The members who were subscribing the page are now expressing their anger on other related pages available on FB.  The Indian Against Corruption page was also diapered in same manner but instead of redirection the page says, coming soon. So one can easily suggest that facebook had started to work on censorship and regulation in India.  Opinion: Internet must remain free from all kinds of censorship otherwise one-day we will cry like Chinese government to ban every and each single Facbook Page which will be based on concerned subjects.

1 comment:

  1. This is our tragedy. Instead of undertaking big ticket reforms direly needed, our bosses in their entire tenure can do only such things. One spent his whole time to change the combat dress pattern, another besides his other indulgences, managed only to get all nameplates and eppaullets into black, yet another has spent almost his whole tenure to get the nameplates, at least, back to yellow. As a youngster posted in peace a couple of decades back, have seen an ultimate spectacle. One gentleman floated a case for closing the only Military Prison in the country, being a loss to the exchequer. He won and then retired. Very next year his successor reversed the argument and got it reopened. BOTH GOT PVSM FOR THEIR EFFORTS. LOLZZZZ



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