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Sunday, 25 November 2012

From Today's Papers - 26 Nov 2012
No armed forces please, we are Indians
The story of Naik Surendra Singh, the former National Security Guard (NSG) commando seriously wounded while combating terrorists during the 26/11 attacks, tells you why less and less Indians seem inclined to serve the armed forces.

Surendra Singh's story, which emerged on the Arvind Kejriwal platform (or a weekly Kejriwal briefing if you will) is remarkable for its content, in the sense that it throws light on what is common knowledge in the services.

The Haryana soldier, seconded from the Indian Army to the NSG fought the heavily-armed terrorists in Mumbai, his raiding party felling a couple of them before a grenade exploded and split Singh eardrums leading to other injuries. On health grounds, he was compulsorily retired. Since then, the commando has been running from pillar to post to get what is justifiably his due. According to him, a lot of money raised in the aftermath of the November 28 attack needs to be accounted for. Whats worse, he claims, even the compensations which came, were distributed selectively.

While the Ministry of Defence (MoD) denied Singh's story immediately, it decided to carry out a point-by-point rebuttal which proved that not all of the commandos charges were completely accurate, even if there was an acknowledgment that there was `considerable delay' in Naik Surendra Singh getting his benefits.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the case, there has been a long history of neglect of soldiers who have fought and have been unlucky to be maimed or seriously injured. A TSI investigation last year had established that soldiers wounded in the Indo-China conflict 50 years ago, are yet to get adequate compensation. There are instances of those injured in Kargil and previous wars hobbling the rounds of officialdom trying to get around chocking red tape, often without much success.

It is critical to emphasise the difference between being, lets say, an engineer or a chartered accountant and a profession where death and injuries are a given. If the system is unable to provide what should be cast iron guarantees and safeguards in the eventuality of death or injuries, then people opting for such careers are bound to decline, as has been the case in India.

And this is the situation in the Indian Army which remains even today an organisation efficient enough and sensitive to the needs of fighters who lay down their lives in the line of duty. There is yet very little known about para-military forces who are victims of all kinds of violence including internal disturbances and a virtually unending spiral of Maoist killings in central India. The BSF, ITPB, CRPF and others face a daily dose of violence: from Kashmir to the North East and in the land mine-infested world of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

There is little doubt that state governments too will have to cooperate. While provinces like Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra, have traditionally been hospitable to fighters giving them land and other facilities, the record of some of the other state governments is not that hot. It obviously calls for greater coordination between the centre and the state.

If the government is so busy eulogising India's growth story, as it should, it would do no harm to safeguard the interests of that segment of society which provides for the security needed for that growth. In a fast growing economy, it is imperative that defence continues to be an attractive option for the youth. Its long-term implications are many and would do no one any credit to overlook it.
MiG-21 crashes in Gujarat

Kutch, November 24
A MiG-21 Bison aircraft of the IAF crashed during a routine sortie near the Naliya Airbase here today. The pilot was, however, able to eject safely. The fighter plane crash-landed in a forest area around 30 km from the airbase, IAF officials said.

However, there were no casualty in the mishap. The pilot received minor injuries in the incident and was admitted to the Bhuj Military Hospital.

The IAF has ordered an inquiry into the crash. According to eyewitness and range forest officer Atul Dave, there was no fire in the plane when the Bison came down. — PTI
Top Jaish commander killed in J-K
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 24
The security forces today killed a top commander of militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad at Chatloora village in Baramulla district.

The militant, identified as Shoaib alias Yasir Tunda, was the divisional commander of the outfit and was carrying a reward of Rs 10 lakh.

Inspector General of Police SM Sahai said Yasir’s killing was a major achievement.

“Shoaib, a Pakistani, infiltrated into Kashmir in 2002 and was operating in and around Rafiabad, Kupwara and Sopore under various names - Showket, Shazeb, Yasir. His killing is a major achievement for the police and security forces,” Sahai told the Tribune.

A police officer in north Kashmir said the militant was involved in the killing of PDP zonal president Ghulam Mohammad Mir in 2008 and National Conference worker Ghulam Mohidin Bhat in Rafiabad, besides other subversive activities.

“Yasir took over the command of the JeM in north Kashmir in March 2011 after the death of chief commander of the group Sajjad Afghani, alias Qari Hammad, who was killed along with his bodyguard in an encounter at Foreshore Road on the outskirts of the city,” he added.

The JeM outfit is headed by Moulana Masood Azhar, who was released in exchange of passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999.

Giving details of the encounter, the police said Shoaib was hiding in the house of Ali Mohammad Bhat. He fired at the Special Operation Group of the J&K police and men of the Army’s 22 Rashtriya Rifles when they went to search the house of Ali Mohammad Bhat last midnight. The police and the Army personnel retaliated and shot him dead inside the cupboard he was hiding in.

Sub Inspector Dilraj Singh of the police’s Special Operations Group, Bhat’s son Aashiq Hussain and a relative of the Bhats were wounded in the incident.

The police claimed to have recovered a Kalashnikov rifle, a pistol and ammunition from the slain militant.

This is the second killing of a top militant commander in Chatloora since 2008, when Hafiz Nasir, chief operational commander of Lashker-e-Toiba, was killed in a shootout that also claimed life of Lt Col M S Kadam.
Indian Army Reports Successful Test of Anti-Ballistic Missile Interceptor
The Indian Army carried out a successful test of its Advanced Air Defense (AAD) anti-ballistic missile interceptor, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti has reported. The AAD missile, fired from the Wheeler test range in the Bay of Bengal in Orissa state, hit a test target launched from India’s Chandipur launch facility, also in Orissa, the reports states. The Indian Army did not disclose what kind of rocket was intercepted, the agency says. The interceptor is to be part of India’s national missile defence system.
Dream comes true for Indian Army officer

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday dismissed two writ appeals by the Ministry of Defence, challenging a decision of the single bench which ruled in favour of an Army Major who wanted to marry a Sri Lankan woman.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Vikramajit Singh imposed a cost of Rs 75,000 and directed the Army to pay the amount to Vikas Kumar, 35, a native of Bangalore and a Major in the Indian Army and his girlfriend.

The bench observed that it passed this order restricting itself to jural discipline, and the cost was imposed only because the Army preferred "a second round of petition unnecessarily, in an obdurate manner without any cogent ground".

"...the world has become a global village; distrust and discrimination against a foreign citizen remains the order of the day. There are several instances where citizens betray their own country. There is no empirical data that a foreign spouse will invariably constitute a weak link in the matter of national security," the bench observed in its verdict.

Vikas Kumar joined the Army in 2000. He underwent a BE course sponsored by the Army. He is presently working as Major in the Corps of Signals in the northeast part of the country.

On June 29, 2011, Vikas Kumar filed an application seeking release from service, saying he wanted to marry a foreign national who was not willing to give up her nationality. The application was rejected, saying it was "incomplete".

Vikas Kumar challenged the order in the high court, where a single judge ruled in his favour. The judge had directed the Army to relieve him from the job as per the Army Order (AO) 14/2004 MI, governing 'Marriage with Foreign Nationals'.

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