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Saturday, 25 February 2012

From Today's Papers - 25 Feb 2012
MoD withdraws appeals against grant of ‘service element’
Pension to pre-1973 disabled ex-servicemen
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, February 24
Bringing succour to hundreds of disabled ex-servicemen pensioners across the country, the grant of “service element” to whom had been challenged by the government in the Supreme Court, the Defence Ministry today informed the apex court that it had decided to withdraw appeals in all such cases that were bunched and listed yesterday.

The veterans concerned, many of whom belong to this region, would now be entitled to get their dues and arrears in accordance with existing rules and court rulings. Lawyers associated with the cases said some of the affected veterans were in their nineties now.

Disabled personnel are entitled to a disability pension consisting of a “service element” commensurate with the length of service and a “disability element” that depends upon the quantum of injury. Prior to 1964, on disability decreasing below 20 per cent, the disability element used to be withdrawn, but the service element continued if the service rendered was more than 15 years. The service limit for service element was brought down to 10 years in 1964 and 5 years in 1968.

With effect from 1973, the qualifying service requirement for service element was totally abrogated and persons with even one day of service became eligible for service element. Even after 1973, the MoD refused to extend the benefit of service element to earlier retirees with lesser length of service, leading to a spate of litigation. Ultimately, various high courts ruled in favour of disabled ex-servicemen, asking the govt to release service element irrespective of length of service to pre-1973 retirees.

Though the appeals filed by the government against HC decisions were time and again dismissed by the SC, the MoD continued to file SLPs against its disabled veterans, leading to multiple litigation. Sources associated with the issue said the Adjutant General’s Branch and the Army’s Personnel Services Directorate repeatedly requested the MoD’s Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare to resolve the issue, but the requests were not acceded to.

Sources say the current Secretary DESW Samirendra Chatterjee, however, saw reason in the Army’s proposal and played an instrumental role in withdrawing all such appeals and conceding the matter.

On the last date earlier this month, the Supreme Court Bench hearing the case had asked the MoD to “seek instructions” if it did not want an adverse order. The veterans have welcomed the government’s move to withdraw the said cases.
Air Marshal survives Mirage fighter jet crash

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Bhind:  A Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft belonging to the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed today in the Bhind area of Madhya Pradesh. The pilot and the co-pilot reportedly ejected to safety.

Air Marshal Anil Chopra and Wing Commander Ram Kumar were flying the jet when it crashed in Gorelalkapura village, about 100 kms from Gwalior.

The aircraft, which was on a routine sortie, crashed five minutes after take-off while it was still climbing, when it developed a snag in the engine, an IAF spokesperson said in Delhi.

Air Marshal Chopra is one of the senior most officers to be involved in a crash. He is the Commodore Commandant of 1 Squadron and was on an official visit to Gwalior.

The last time an Air Marshal was involved in an emergency was in 2002 when Air Marshal V K Bhatia, on an inaugural flight to Kargil, flew his AN-32 across the Line of Control and was fired upon by Pakistan. He, however, escaped unhurt.

Interestingly, he was also fired upon by Indian gunners when he crossed back into India, but he managed to land unharmed in Leh.

The IAF has reportedly ordered a Court of Inquiry to ascertain the reasons behind the crash.

The Air Force operates a fleet of 51 Mirage aircraft from the Maharajpura air base in Gwalior.

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Indian Soldier Awarded for Fighting Off 30 Train Attackers in 2010
At 11:30 p.m. on September 2, 2010, Bishnu Shresta (left), a 35-year-old Gurkha soldier on his way home following his retirement from the Indian army, was awakened suddenly when the train he was on was stopped by a gang of 30 thugs.

Shresta said, “Suddenly, there were shouts and the sound of running feet. Somebody pulled at my bedclothes. I sat up and found a number of people standing near my feet. They demanded that I hand over all my cash and valuables. There was confusion all around and I shouted that I am an Indian Army jawan [infantryman]. The criminals backed off and turned their attention [elsewhere].... They started snatching jewelry, cell phones, cash, laptops and other belongings from the passengers.”

When some of the thugs started to attack and attempted to rape a young woman in front of her terrified and helpless parents, the girl cried out to Shresta: “You are a soldier! Please, save a sister!”

Something clicked. Shresta pulled out his khukuri knife and in the next 20 minutes killed three of the assailants, wounded another eight, and sent the rest of them running away in fear for their lives, leaving behind their loot. Looking back on what happened, Shresta said:

I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister....

I am a soldier and get paid to protect citizens of this country. I could not sit back and watch as passengers were looted. I pulled out my khukuri and attacked the criminals. Initially, they were taken by surprise and I succeeded in connecting with at least three of them. The blows were severe....

I am proud to be able to prove that a Gorkha [alternate spelling of Gurkha] soldier with a khukuri is really a handful. I would have been a meek spectator had I not carried that khukuri.

Police arrested the eight attackers wounded by Shresta and recovered 400,000 rupees [about $8,000], 40 gold necklaces, 200 cell phones, 40 laptop computers and other valuables. On January 12, 2012 the Indian army presented Shresta with three awards for gallantry and bravery. The Army also temporarily reinstated his commission so he could receive a promotion along with a larger retirement pension, and free airline tickets for life.

Praises for his decision to engage in what appeared to be a fight with overwhelming odds against him came from many sources, including this from the LogicCool website:

Whoa ... holy cow. Every once in a while someone in the world comes along and reminds us what a true hero looks like…

We’ve got movie stars who can only play act what you did for real…we salute you in our admiration.

As retired chief firearms instructor for the Los Angeles Police Department Larry Mudgett wrote,

How does one man defeat 30? How does he summon the courage to fight such odds?

He utilized all the principles of personal defense: Alertness, Decisiveness, Aggressiveness, Speed, Coolness, Ruthlessness and Surprise. He was skilled in the use of his weapon.

Most importantly, he refused to be a victim and allow evil to triumph!

Lessons for those in the freedom fight are obvious. It takes courage and determination to engage the enemy. It also helps to know that the enemy relies on audacity, intimidation, and falsehoods in their attempts to loot the citizens. But their bluster is fraudulent, and they will retreat at the first sign of such resistance and determination. Thanks to Shresta for the reminder.
Indo-US joint exercise from March
JAISALMER: An Indo-US military exercise Yudh Abhyas involving mechanized forces is scheduled to be conducted in Mahajan field firing range in the state from March first week. The latest in the series of exercises between the two countries is designed to improve bilateral cooperation between the two armies and enhance their ability to operate side by side at the tactical level, within the framework of UN peacekeeping operations.

Defence sources said this exercise will see troops of US 25th Infantry Division, US Army Pacific, Hawaii train with Indian soldiers from the South Western Command in a well-designed setting for peace support operations. The participants will engage in a number of defined operational missions that include security of lines of communication, intelligence-based peace enforcement operations and extrication/rescue operations.

A US military delegation comprising around 200 men accompanied by armoured personnel carriers will take part in the exercise, army sources said. American tanks will also take part in Yudh Abhyas which is a company-level military training exercise, the sources added.

Indian Army will have its Russian-origin BMPs along with armoured tanks for the joint exercise.

After the 'Yudh Abhyas, 130 Indian infantry troops will join their American counterparts in the exercise Shatrujeet to be held in April in California.

Later, in the series of joint training exercises, special forces of the two countries will also test their skills in a mountain exercise codenamed 'Vajra Prahar'. Sixty troops from American special forces and an equal number from the Indian Army's 3 Para (Special Forces) will take part in the wargame in Chaubatia in Uttarakhand in August, the sources said.

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