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Sunday, 10 June 2012

From Today's Papers - 10 Jun 2012
Brows raised over babus in AFT selection panel
Being junior in status, bureaucrats can’t select judges: Petition
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, June 9
Questions have been raised over legality and suitability of including two senior bureaucrats in the selection committee to appoint judicial members of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).

The issue being raised is that judicial members, who are serving or retired judges of the high court, are higher in status and precedence to bureaucrats and hence, IAS officers can’t sit in judgement over their eligibility and merit.

The four-member selection committee comprises a sitting judge of the Supreme Court nominated by Chief Justice of India; Chairperson of the AFT; Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice; and Secretary, Ministry of Defence.

The AFT has an authorised strength of 15 judicial members. At present, a large number of these posts are lying vacant.

A petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court contends that while the first two members may seem acceptable, the secretaries of the Law and Defence Ministries are career bureaucrats who ideally should have no say in the selection of members of a judicial tribunal.

The petition, which seeks judicial intervention to redress various administrative and functional issues affecting the AFT, is pending before the high court.

Stating that an “unnecessary and uncalled-for leverage has been provided to two serving bureaucrats to select judicial members, the petition adds that a serving secretary to the Government of India is junior in status, standing, precedence and in the official pecking order than a high court judge who features in Article 17 of the Warrant of Precedence vis-à-vis a secretary who features in Article 23.

“Having a junior sit in a committee to select a senior and that too a senior appointment in a judicial capacity is directly opposed to the spirit of law laid down by the court,” the petition avers.

It has also been claimed in the petition that the vacancies for appointments are not advertised, but vacancy circulars are simply uploaded in one of the corners of the Defence Ministry’s website or circulars are sent out to Registrars of high courts and military establishments.
Autobiography of former Army Chief JJ Singh released
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung/TNS
Former Army Chief and Governor of Arunachal Pradesh General JJ Singh poses with the cover of his autobiography in New Delhi on Saturday
Former Army Chief and Governor of Arunachal Pradesh General JJ Singh poses with the cover of his autobiography in New Delhi on Saturday. A Tribune photograph

New Delhi, June 9
General JJ Singh (retd), Governor of Arunachal Pradesh and former Indian Army Chief, was in the national capital today for the launch of his autobiography “A Soldier’s General” that not only relates his childhood fancies but also his milestones as a warrior.

Through the book, JJ Singh takes the readers through a vast number of issues, including his tenure as Army Chief, India’s relationships with its neighbouring countries, the Sino-Indian border issue, AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) and ethics in the Army.

Addressing the audience at the book launch, he hinted that he derived his inspiration as author and soldier from his grandfather who had served in the 1/67 Punjab Regiment during the First World War in Mesopotamia and Kut-al-Amara, both in present-day Iraq. “The sound of the bugle reminds me of my grandfather because he was very proficient at playing the bugle and the bagpipes.

“My grandfather once told me that in his time, English officers inspected the Indians. Then, looking at me with pride, he said: And now, my grandson has done an inspection of English soldiers in London,” said JJ Singh.

The Arunachal Governor admitted that it had been difficult to write his autobiography. He said that it was a “tough” decision as he was in a moral dilemma about whether he could write his achievements objectively.

“My present position prevented me from writing about sensitive issues. Nevertheless, the book is a lucid account of a simple soldier who reached the top of the Army without a godfather.

“I have narrated my innermost thoughts and written personalised descriptions of the events that I have witnessed,” he said.

It took the former Army Chief four years to complete the book. He had decided to write down his memoir when he was appointed Army Chief on November 27, 2004.
Demilitarising Siachen
No thaw till Pak signs line on map
Before any movement, Pakistan has to authenticate positions held by India on the map as well as ground
Arun Joshi

Indian troops boarding an air force plane at the Siachen base camp. The last flight out may be a long while off
Indian troops boarding an air force plane at the Siachen base camp. The last flight out may be a long while off. — A file photo

THE defence secretaries of India and Pakistan are going to meet in Islamabad on June 11-12, trying yet again to chart out a solution to the issue of Siachen glacier, festering since 1984, when it turned into the world’s “highest battlefield” as troops of the two countries clashed at heights above 16,000 ft.

Thus far, both India and Pakistan have stuck to their respective positions. However, this time Pakistan has injected a sense of urgency into the dialogue, having suffered more than 140 soldiers in an avalanche on the glacier. The Pakistani establishment has upped the ante on the demilitarisation of the entire 72 sq km glacier, the largest outside the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

India, however, wants Pakistan to delineate the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), and authenticate it both on the map and the ground, as has been done for the 742-km long Line of Control (LoC) that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Pakistan is refusing to do that, making India doubt its intentions.

With the Kargil War in the backdrop, India’s distrust has only deepened. In 1999, Pakistani soldiers occupied the trans-Himalayan heights overlooking Drass and Kargil in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, violating an unspoken agreement that the icy heights would be vacated by both sides during winters to avoid the cost of maintaining troops in the freezing temperature. The intruders bombarded the Srinagar-Leh highway to cut supplies to the border area, hoping to be able to force India to vacate Siachen.

As Pakistan is unwilling to authenticate the 110-km AGPL, India suspects Pakistan would occupy the strategically important heights on the glacier that are currently held by the Indian army. The Army feels it would then be next to impossible to reclaim the glacier.

At the same time, India has the desire to resolve the issue, as was evident from the much-publicised statement of the Prime Minister on making the glacier “a mountain of peace”. That was an echo of the Indian efforts made during late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narsimha Rao’s time, when resolution of the issue was almost clinched, but for Pakistan’s reluctance to authenticate the AGPL.

This authentication is important because without it Pakistan can re-occupy the glacier, and claim control. That would be unacceptable to India.

Although Defence Minister A.K. Antony has warned against expecting any “dramatic outcome” of the 13th round of defence secretary-level talks, yet there are expectations of some movement forward. The war theatre that the glacier was for almost 19 years — 1984 to 2003 — took a huge toll on troops, killed not only by bullets and artillery shells but also the hostile weather. There has been no exchange of fire on the glacier since the November 2003 ceasefire, yet the casualties continue with the temperature dipping to minus 40 degree Celsius.

28 years of freeze

The conflict started in 1984 with India’s successful operation “Meghdoot”, during which it wrested control of the glacier from Pakistan and forced its troops to retreat to the west of the Saltoro Ridge. India established control over the entire Siachen glacier, all of its tributary glaciers, as well as the three main strategic passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier — Sia La, Bilafond and Gyong La.

Pakistan controls the glacial valleys west of the Saltoro Ridge.

With Indian and Pakistani armies deployed heavily on the two sides, the chances of converting the AGPL into an LoC are near zero, especially when India holds sway over two-thirds of the area in the region. Thus, the hype over the meeting in Islamabad notwithstanding, India is wary of compromising its stand. It is also keeping in mind the recurring ceasefire violations and the heavy deployment of Pakistani war machinery along the LoC.

The tone for the dialogue was set at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on June 7, where it was clearly stated that India would not give up its tactical advantage in the glacier area at the cost of national security. In India-Pakistan relations, strategic assets count more than diplomatic breakthroughs.

As with the previous rounds of defence secretary-level talks on Siachen, this time, too, India seems to be in no mood to relinquish its strategic command in the region.

Paying in blood

Since the launch of Operation Meghdoot on April 23, 1984, when the Indian Army led by the Kumaon Regiment moved into the region to occupy strategic heights with tactical support from the Indian Air Force, the country has incurred an expenditure of $50 billion to maintain 150 posts, war equipment, and more than a brigade strength of troops throughout the year. Till date, an estimated 4,000 officers and jawans have lost their lives.

Gen V.K. Singh (retd), the last Army chief, had rightly commented that when Pakistan is not prominently placed in the region, then how does it make any difference in Islamabad whether the glacier is demilitarised or not.

Another question that has India concerned is that why is Pakistan — so keen to demilitarise the region after losing more than 140 soldiers — dragging its feet on the demand for authentication of the 110-km AGPL, if it has no ulterior motives.

There are three phases involved in the whole process: delineation and demarcation on the map, then on the ground, and thereafter authentication of the AGPL.

While consistently refusing to authenticate the AGPL, Pakistan wants India to make the first move because “India is the bigger country and it must show magnanimity”, a theory propounded by former defence minister of Pakistan Ahmed Mukhtiar. The philosophy would have been fine in normal circumstances, but not in the current atmosphere of distrust.

The dominant view in the Indian Army is that demilitarisation of the glacier offers no guarantee that Pakistan will not play games again. If Pakistan does not accept the AGPL, then there is no point drawing lines on the map. A ceasefire agreement would also have no meaning.

China factor

The diplomacy over Siachen spreads beyond the glacier. Pakistan has been trying to get Chinese intervention in the region to combine the glacier with the Korokorum ranges bordering Siachen. If that happens, the security of Ladakh would become a concern for India, along with the question of where would the boundary line be drawn, LoC or the International Border at Sonamarg or Zojila.

In May 2011, during the 12th round of defence secretary-level talks, Pakistan had submitted India a ‘non paper’, wherein it had proposed that since Pakistan had ceded the Shakshgan valley, originally part of J&K, to China in 1963, China should be included in future talks pertaining to Siachen. The suggestion was rejected by India as absurd.

The Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen K.T. Parnaik, says: “The China-Pakistan nexus is a cause of worry and caution. Indian security analysts should not fall into the diplomatic trap of Pakistan. The Chinese already have a presence in Gilgit, Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”

Moreover, Pakistan has never stood by ceasefire agreements on the LoC. It has neither stopped ceasefire violations, nor infiltration. The Pakistani army and its Inter-Services Intelligence continue to harbour militants with anti-India designs.

Param Vir Chakra Capt Bana Singh, who captured Pakistan’s Quaid Post on the glacier, which was later named Bana Post, also rubbishes any opinion in favour of withdrawing from the glacier. Speaking to The Tribune, he said: “Once we withdraw and Pakistan takes over the heights, it will be next to impossible to capture those again. How can we sacrifice the glacier, for which thousands of our soldiers have made the supreme sacrifice? Our strength on ground should not be sacrificed at the diplomatic table, whether in New Delhi or Islamabad.”

From India’s standpoint, thus, the issue needs to be resolved, but without sacrificing either short or long-term strategic interests.

GLACIAL Movement

1949: Karachi Agreement, followed by the Simla Agreement (1972), in which both sides decide that the glacial heights are unfit for human habitation, and maintaining forces would be unfeasible.

1978: Col N. Kumar of India mounts an Army expedition to the Teram Kangri peaks as part of an exercise to defuse Pakistan plans of occupying the hills. Pakistan had started issuing passes for the area to trekkers.

April 13, 1984: Operation Meghdoot launched by India to make way for military occupation of the heights in Siachen. The Kumaon Regiment moves in with air force support. Captures the heights a week before Pakistanis reach the area.

November 23, 2003: Ceasefire agreement. Hot line established between the Directors General of military operations, Lt Gen B.S. Thakar (in India) and Maj Gen Mohammad Yosuf (in Pakistan).

April 7, 2012: Avalanche hits Pakistani posts at Gayari Battalion headquarters, killing 150 men. The Pakistan army chief, General Kayani, visits the region and hints at a desire to demilitarise the region with Indian support.

June 11, 2012: India and Pakistan to hold the 13th round of defence secretary-level talks over the Siachen issue.
'Bureaucratic red tape must be cut for strong defence ties'
As the United States and India deepen our defence partnership with each other, both of us will also seek to strengthen our relations with China. We recognise that China has a critical role to play in advancing security and prosperity in this region. The US welcomes the rise of a strong and prosperous China, which plays a greater role in global affairs and enforces the international norms, that have governed this region for six decades.

And again... India and the US will need to continue to engage Pakistan, overcoming our respective and often deep differences with Pakistan, to make all of South Asia peaceful and prosperous.
And, to improve our practical cooperation, I do believe that the US’ and India’s participation in military exercises, which are already strong, should continue to be more regular and complex. We must move beyond a focus on individual arms sales to regular cooperation that increases the quantity and the quality of our defence trade.

I want to stress that the US is firmly committed to providing the best defence technology possible to India. We are both leaders in technology development, and we can do incredible work together. Indeed, I think a close partnership with America will be key to meeting India’s own stated aims — of a modern and effective defence force. The Obama administration is hard at work on export control reforms, in cooperation with our Congress, in order to improve our ability to deliver the best technologies even more quickly. Meanwhile, we look to India to modernise its own regulations in areas like defence procurement and nuclear liability legislation.

But to realise the full potential of defence trade relations, we need to cut through the bureaucratic red tape on both sides. For that reason, I’ve asked my deputy secretary, Ash Carter, to lead an effort at the Pentagon to engage with Indian leaders on a new initiative to streamline our bureaucratic processes and make our defence trade more simple, more responsive and more effective.

Believe me, I know this is not going to be easy... But that’s the nature of the democratic systems that we share. Your leaders understand the challenges I face, and we understand the obstacles you face. But we both need to persevere to support our defence needs and our strategic interests. Over the long term, I am certain that we will transition our defence trade beyond the buyer-seller relationship to a substantial co-production and eventually high-technology joint research and development.

During my visit to Asia this week, I have sought to bring closure to some of the past chapters of the US’ involvement in this region. The government of Vietnam opened three new areas to search for our missing in action from the Vietnam War.

And, here in India, I am pleased to announce that the Indian government will allow a team to return to India to continue the search for US service members that were lost during World War II. This is a humanitarian gesture by a government with whom we share so many values. The ability to return these heroes and the remains of these heroes to their loved ones is something that America deeply, deeply appreciates. America’s involvement in Asia has an important past, but it has an even more important future. India is at the crossroads of Asia. It is at the crossroads of a new global economy, and it is at the crossroads of regional security. The US will stand with India at those crossroads.

Question: Mr Secretary, the first point I have, 60 per cent of your warships are being moved into the Pacific. Is that enough? Warships can’t operate on their own. I presume that you are moving ground forces, amphibious forces; we have not heard about that. But warships cannot be all alone. They need ground backing. Second is command and control. With the centre of gravity moving to the western Pacific, would Hawaii be a suitable place for command and control? In World War II, you remember MacArthur operated from Australia. So, I hope you are taking that into consideration. Otherwise, you need amphibious forces. Panetta: Thank you. Thank you for your questions. With regard to the rebalancing issue to the Pacific, we will move to a 60-40 balance in the Pacific, and I listed the ships that would be involved in that transition. At the same time, we will not only maintain a significant ground force in the Pacific — we have a large number of forces in the Pacific at present, most of them located in Korea. We have a presence elsewhere. And, our hope is to expand what we have termed a rotational presence throughout the Pacific. The marines are locating in a rotational process in Australia. We’ve already located some there. That will continue to expand. We’re exploring a rotational presence in the Philippines as well as elsewhere. In Okinawa, where we just arrived, in an agreement with the Japanese, we will continue to maintain a presence there, but we are moving those troops as well, these are marines, to Guam. And, we will establish a larger presence in Guam. So, part and parcel of our focus on the Pacific will involve obviously the kind of forces that you identify, to ensure that we have ground forces in place to be able to enhance that capability.

With regard to command and control, our view is that the present PACOM (US Pacific Command), which operates out of Hawaii, provides the kind of joint force capability that is going to be very important for the Pacific. We believe in joint forces. We will have a significant air force as well as army and marine corps and navy presence in this region. But we are not in the process of doing what we did in the Cold War of establishing permanent bases from which we can project our power. Our approach here is to work with the countries in the region to develop their capabilities, so that they can play a larger role in helping to secure and defend their countries in this region.

So, I think the headquarters at PACOM is very efficient at being able to take charge of this rebalancing effort. And again, with regard to amphibious forces, we do have a significant number of marines in the region. We will continue to maintain those.
Former army chief still undecided on joining Anna, Ramdev
Amid apprehension of his joining Team Anna and yoga guru Baba Ramdev, former Army Chief General VK Singh on Saturday said that as a citizen of India he also has sympathy for the common man facing the blatant corruption.

"See, I would not say on anybody individually. We should not go on personalities, but on issues. Everyone has sympathy on issues concerning corruption and the common man. Similarly, as a citizen of this country I also have sympathy over this and hope that there should be welfare of the common man. Nobody knows what is going to happen next," said General (retired) Singh, when asked whether he would be joining Hazare and Baba Ramdev.

"There is full cooperation of the public. I am also with the public," he added.

To a question on whether he would also come up with a similar platform like Hazare and Baba Ramdev to highlight the rampant corruption, General (retired) Singh said: "I have not yet decided about it. The reason is that I have just retired. There are several other things to do. I have to mix up with my people. Then I will see what happens ahead.

The former army chief had earlier said that there is nothing wrong in the movement launched by social activist Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev.

He also said that the issues of corruption and black money raised by Anna and Baba are related to the development and honour of the country.

Team Anna had invited General Singh, who retired on May 31, to join the Lokpal movement.

"We need likeminded people in our team and if interested, Gen VK Singh is welcome to join us after his retirement. It would be his choice," Hazare had said last month.
Rheinmetall At The Centre Of India’s Latest Defense Scandal
Rheinmetall Air Defense (RAD) has been named by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation as having paid $530,000 to a suspected Indian arms middleman, Abhishek Verma to help freeze the blacklisting proceedings initiated by the Indian government against Rheinmetall for allegedly bribing an official of India's Ordnance Factory Board.

      On June 8, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Abhishek Verma and his wife Anca Neacsu- the Managing Director of Ganton India for allegedly receiving kickbacks from the Swiss arms maker. The arrest comes following allegations that the duo transferred funds between Ganton India and its parent company Ganton USA, which are said to be the couple’s front companies.

      The allegations were first leveled against him by a former business associate C Edmond Allen who has filed a series of reports with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CBI. The reports contain details of emails and financial transactions which Allen claims shows the money trail from RAD and several other defence companies.

      Allen has further alleged that Ganton signed a deal with Hellenic Defense System based in Greece to receive a 10% commission on the guns sold through the state owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to the Indian army. He has also named a number of major arms makers such as Italian firm Agusta Westland, claiming Ganton would receive an 8% commission on helicopter sales, US firm Hawker Beechcraft has also come under the scanner for allegedly recruiting Verma to help bag Indian contracts.

      Agusta Westland has since secured a contract to supply VVIP helicopters to India while Beechcraft has been eliminated from a competition to sell trainer planes to the Indian Air Force.

      According to the allegations, funds were transferred through Ganton Limited to Verma Foundation in India, a ‘non-profit’ organisation controlled by the Verma family. The foundation, on its website, says, “Abhishek’s strategic focus on the defense sector business has taken shape with subsidiaries of Verma Foundation AG in Israel, USA and India that are defense contracting companies with revenues of in excess of US$ 2 billion”.

      Ganton Defense Limited claims to have operations in 10 countries providing aerospace, naval, defense, information & electronic warfare solutions and services. The company’s website also says that it has a “global presence and spanning the entire value chain, from prime contracting to equipment”.

      While the India’s defense deals are at an all time high, it appears that the shady underbelly of procurements and bribery scandals has emerged from the woodworks.

      Verma is only the second suspected arms middleman to fall under the CBI scanner. In May this year, a case was filed against British national Ravi Rishi, chairman of the Vectra Group, for allegedly offering a bribe to then Army Chief, General V K Singh, to clear the purchase of all terrain Tatra trucks.

      The Tatra trucks were sold to India through state owned BEML (Bharat Earth Movers Ltd), the CBI then questioned the chairman and managing director, V R S Natarajan, over the company’s involvement in the deal.
Pakistan not hostile towards anyone: General Kayani
Islamabad: Pakistan "harbours no aggression towards anyone", said the country's powerful army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the launch ceremony of a book on an army officer who was killed battling Indian tanks in 1971.

General Kayani Friday said that Pakistan is a peace loving nation and focus of its armed forces always remained on defending and serving the country, reported Associated Press of Pakistan.

"We are a peace loving nation and harbour no aggression towards anyone but at the same time we value our freedom and independence more than anything else," he said at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

He made the remarks at the launch ceremony of book on the life of Major Shabir Sharif.

"What more can a solider desire" is an account of Major Shabir's acts of bravery during the two Pakistan-India wars of 1965 and 1971. The major was killed Dec 6, 1971 while firing and engaging Indian tanks.

General Kayani said the armed forces are fully prepared to ensure sovereignty and dignity of the country.

On the war against terror, the general said: "The young officers have set examples for us and we should acknowledge the dedication of our brave soldiers who are taking pride by laying their lives for the nation."
ndian Army hunts for sniper rifle under F-INSAS infantry modernisation pro

    The Indian Army is looking to identify new sniper rifles for its infantry regiments under the ambitious F-INSAS infantry modernisation effort. The Army expressed its urgency, asking for early responses from interested vendors. The Indian Army currently operates the Russian Dragunov and Israeli Galil sniper rifles, the latter almost solely by its Special Forces units.

    The Army has called upon vendors to quickly respond with information pertaining to calibre, types of ammunition, maximum effective range with various types of ammunition against human targets, length and weight, muzzle velocity, full details of the integrated sighting system, modularity, details of mounting systems for add-on sights, details of flash suppression systems, reliability and effectiveness. Interested vendors will be called upon for quick trials in India under Army conditions. This particular procurement is likely to be a sizeable one, considering that it is for regular infantry, unlike an earlier ongoing purchase for sniper rifles specifically for the special forces units and National Security Guard.

Ex-Indian Army officer kills family, self in U.S.
SELMA, California (AP) – A former Indian Army officer wanted in a 1996 killing in the disputed Kashmir region killed his wife and two of their children in their California home Saturday before apparently taking his own life, authorities said.
Avtar Singh called police at around 6:15 a.m. and told them that he had just killed four people, Sheriff's Deputy Chris Curtice said.

Police asked for assistance from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office because Singh was known to have a military background and was wanted by authorities in India for allegedly killing a human rights lawyer in 1996 in the disputed Kashmir region, Curtice said.

When a sheriff's SWAT team entered the home they found the bodies of Singh, a woman believed to be his wife and two children, ages 3 and 15, Curtice said. All four appeared to have died from gunshot wounds.

A 17-year-old boy also found in the home was suffering from severe head trauma and was "barely alive," Curtice said. The teen was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery. His condition wasn't known.

Singh fled to the United States after he was accused of killing lawyer Jaleel Andrabi in India-controlled Kashmir's main city, Srinagar.

Andrabi disappeared in March 1996 at the height of an anti-India uprising, and his body was recovered 19 days later in a local river. He had been shot in the head and his eyes gouged out.

Singh, 47, was arrested by police in February 2011 when his wife reported that he had choked her, Police Chief Myron Dyck said shortly after that arrest. After Singh was taken into custody, police discovered that he was being sought in India.

Several days later, India requested that the United States arrest and extradite Singh. It wasn't clear on Saturday why Singh had remained free since the request.

Dyck didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Saturday about the 2011 arrest, and Selma police referred questions about Saturday's incident to Fresno County sheriff's officials.

Selma police last had contact with Singh about two months ago when he called to complain that reporters wouldn't leave him alone because of the murder warrant, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims told the Fresno Bee.

Singh owned and operated Jay Truck Lines, a trucking company in Selma. Alli Adan, a driver for the company, said he spent time with Singh this past week, including Friday night, and Singh acted normally.

"He was a nice guy," Adan told the newspaper. "I couldn't believe it because I didn't think he could do something like this."
Soldier hurt in 1965 war fights for pension
Having fought his war against Pakistan in 1965 as a craftsman in the Indian Army, Raj Kumar Gupta (69) has waged another battle, this time with the Indian government itself, for allegedly denying him his due pension after he was forced to retire on health grounds in 1970. During the war, when Gupta was on duty at Sialkot sector heavy bombardment caused battery acid spill over into his eyes, causing him a headache.

Now, to avail of his pension that was denied to him due to what he claims to be “sheer administrative negligence”, he has taken on the Army and the government through series of applications under the RTI Act and letters to the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi, the President, Defence Minister A K Anthony, ex-Army chief V K Singh, Vadodara district collector, Rajya Sainik Board Ahmedabad, and even CM Narendra Modi.

His second letter to President Pratibha Patil, highlighting his case of the “most irresponsible administration existed amongst both military and civil authorities,” was shot off a day ago. “Because of a headache, I was sent to military hospital in Dehradun and then to a hospital in Meerut. My right eye and chest were operated without proper check-up, due to which I cannot stand or walk continuously for five minutes,” Gupta said.

“I was shifted to military hospital in Shillong, where I was in a psychiatric hospital for four months. I was declared unfit,” he recalled.

When another ex-Armyman J A R Krishnan came to know about his case in 1999, he decided to fight on Gupta’s behalf. Since 2007, he has filed a series of RTI applications to Indian Army RTI Cell, Principal Controller of Defence Accounts, Allahabad, Naval Headquarters Mumbai, Headquarters Southern Command, Pune, to know why he was denied his pension “They were all sticking to the same point: the disease which he was affected was neither due to service nor aggravated because of service conditions,” Krishnan said. “His case is 42 years old. However, we have begun pursuing the case only recently. If the President does not take any action, we will take the case to the Armed Forces Tribunal,” he added.
Straight from the heart of ‘A Soldier’s General’

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General (retd) Joginder Jaswant Singh came in for wholesome praise from Arjan Singh, marshal of the Indian Air Force on Saturday.

'A thorough professional who completes the job at hand, honest and one who has complete faith in his subordinates,' Arjan Singh said, surmising the traits of the Arunachal Pradesh governor at the release of his autobiography.

A Soldier's General, published by HarperCollins India, which is part of the India Today Group, is an account of General J.J. Singh's life as a third generation soldier who rose to became the 22nd chief of the Indian Army.

'I have no hesitation in saying it is a must read for all personnel of the armed forces particularly the younger ones,' Arjan Singh said.

The marshal released the book with Subhashini Vasanth, wife of Col V. Vasanth, who was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously, and Jagtinder Kaur, mother of Lt Navdeep Singh, another posthumous recipient of the Ashok Chakra.

Both officers are from General J.J. Singh's Maratha Light Infantry regiment. The retired army chief said that despite the limitations of holding a constitutional position, he has touched upon various issues concerning the security theatre of the country including the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the Sino-India border dispute.

The views, he said, are personal. The who's who of the Capital's power circle attended the launch, including law minister Salman Khurshid, Arunachal chief minister Nabam Kuki, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and a host of serving and former officers, diplomats and bureaucrats.

The retired general's family was part of the launch, with his grandchildren reading out excerpts from the book. His daughter Urvashi said she was proud of her father, who she said was inspired by great warriors such as Guru Gobind Singh, Ranjit Singh, Rana Sangha, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Tipu Sultan and Zorawar Singh.

All through his career as an army officer, General J.J. Singh kept his faith and religion personal. He said when he became army chief, he was described as the first Sikh to head the army.

'I am a secular son of India. I never considered myself as the first Sikh to become the army chief,' he said.

But the retired general added in the same breath that he is proud to be a Sikh and a Maratha. He admitted that writing an autobiography was not very easy and he realised why very few former chiefs have entered this territory.

But whatever he put in came straight from the heart. Gen J.J. Singh said apart from the younger officers, middle and higher leadership of the country would find comments of an army chief who had to deal with a number of issues such as relations with neighbours, defence policy, modernisation of the army, moral ethics and corruption.

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