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Sunday, 30 August 2015

From Today's Papers - 30 Aug 2015

OROP stir: 4th veteran hospitalised, 500 more set to join fast tomorrow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
Come Monday, the protest for ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) is likely to grow in intensity as around 500 ex-servicemen have volunteered to join the fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar here. The move comes amid a fourth veteran, who was observing indefinite fast, being hospitalised due to his deteriorating health today.

“Havildar Abhilash Singh (retd) has been taken to hospital,” said an official from the United Front of Ex-Servicemen, the umbrella organisation of veterans carrying out the protest. Besides Singh, four others who were on fast-unto-death have been admitted to hospital after their health deteriorated.

The deadlock over OROP continues even as the protest entered its 76th day today. The government is increasingly under pressure as the veterans have boycotted all functions organised by it to mark 50 years of the 1965 India-Pakistan war. Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), a key figure in the agitation, said, “On Monday, we will have 500 volunteers for the fast-unto-death.”

No meeting was held today between the protesters and the government. The two parties had last met yesterday when a group of veterans called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Negotiations were also held on August 27 in the office of Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag and a representative of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), but it too ended in a deadlock.

Talks between the government and the ex-servicemen had reached a fresh deadlock last night as both the sides hardened their stance. The retired soldiers, sitting on dharna, agreed to a “concession” and offered a midway point to accept revision of pension. By late in the evening, after getting no response from the government, the “concession” was withdrawn and an announcement was made at Jantar Mantar.

During the talks, the government had proposed that the hike in pensions — to make them equal for same rank and same length of service — would be done once in five years. The ex-servicemen agreed to accept a biennial (once in two years) equalising of pensions instead of an annual equalising, as was their initial demand. As there was no response from the government, this offer too was withdrawn late in the evening.

The system of equalising the pension is crucial as the OROP entails same pension for all those who retired in the same rank with equal length of service.

It means if the OROP is announced and implemented in 2015, a Colonel who retired in 1985 and a colonel who retired in 2014 will get equal pension. But once the period of regular equalisation is okayed, the hikes will depend on it, meaning the next revision would come two years later.
US to provide Ah-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan
Islamabad, August 29
The US has decided to provide Ah-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan to sharpen its counter-terrorism efforts, a media report said today.

The Department of Defence has already awarded nearly $58 million in contract to Bell Helicopter for providing the choppers to

Pakistan as part of a larger $581 million deal, most of which goes to the American Navy, the Dawn reported.

Pakistan had requested the sale of 15 AH-1Z helicopters in April, but it is not clear how many of them have been signed for at this stage. Some of these initial helicopters will be delivered by the end of August 2018, the report said.

A notification by the US Department of Defence stated that 10 per cent ($57.9 million) of the overall contract value covered the sale to the government of Pakistan, which suggests that this is an initial deal for the first two helicopters only, with contracts for the remaining 13 (plus spares and support) to follow.

The original US Defence Security Cooperation Agency notification of Pakistan’s request included 1,000 AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles for “a precision-strike, enhanced-survivability aircraft that can operate at high altitudes”.

The AH-1Z and Hellfire II capability will enhance Pakistan’s capability to conduct all-weather, day and night operations in remote mountainous areas.

Pakistan is battling militants in the remote mountainous areas bordering Afghanistan.  The US has been pushing Pakistan to take action against the Taliban as it withdraws most of its combat troops from neighbouring Afghanistan, which is facing its own Taliban insurgency.

Recently, Pakistan also signed an agreement with Russia to purchase MI-35 ‘Hind’ attack helicopters. — PTI
’65 Indo-Pak war: 50 years on, defensive mindset gives way to proactive approach
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
Fifty years after India and Pakistan fought a war on the western frontier along the banks of the Chenab, Beas and Sutlej, there has been a change in the doctrinal approach towards war waging and wherewithal to meet operational needs.

“The biggest change in strategy is the shift towards the conduct of proactive operations,” said Lt General KJ Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command.

“Over the past years, we have seen major structural reorganisation, force accretion and a massive influx of technology,” he said.

The 1965 Indo-Pak War was primarily fought by the Western Command, then headquartered at Shimla and headed by Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh. Its territorial jurisdiction then included Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan up to Bikaner.

In 1984, the Northern Command was created with the responsibility of looking after Jammu and Kashmir, reducing the area of responsibility (AOR) of the Western Commanded from Bikaner to Pathankot. The year 2005 again saw reorganisation with the South Western Command being created and the AOR of Western Command being redefined from Fazilka in southern Punjab to south of Akhnoor in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Like in all wars, here too we learnt not only from our actions but also from the mistakes of the enemy,” Lt Gen KJ Singh said. “Changing commanders mid-way during a battle like the Pakistani did in Chhamb was a blunder. We realised that technology and superior equipment alone is not enough. They have to be exploited and this is where training and innovations count and that is how the Pakistani Patton tanks lost out. We also suffered from inadequate intelligence and some missed opportunities,” he said.

“A significant development is our ability to undertake varied night operations and carry out all-weather surveillance and recce, which was not there earlier,” he said.

In the 1965 war, our troops advanced during day time, but had to fall back after dark. Over the years, a complex network of defence structures and obstacles has come up on either side of the border, posing a challenge to offensive operations in the region. While the primary task of the Western Command remains the defence of the Western heartland and to take the battle into enemy territory, the biggest challenge that has emerged is to assist the security forces and the civilian establishment to counter terror threats along the Jammu-Samba-Kathua axis – the area that had witnessed the Pakistani offensive in 1965.
Laungewala battle has its memorial
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
The much-described “battle of Laungewala” fought during the 1971 India-Pakistan war now has a memorial for itself and that too at the very spot in Rajasthan where a small unit of the Army held its position in the face of an attack by a tank regiment of the Pakistan Army.

The battle that inspired Bollywood cult move ‘Border’, was fought on the intervening night of December 4 and 5 in 1971. A company — some 120 odd men — of the 23 Punjab Regiment led by Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, has stalled an attack of the Pakistan Army that was using tanks. Chandpuri was awarded the Mahavir Chakra and rose to the rank of a Brigadier.

“A war memorial has been constructed and inaugurated at the very site where the Pakistani offensive was blunted. Over 179 Pakistani soldiers were killed, wounded and 37 Pakistani tanks were destroyed,” Indian Army spokesperson Col Rohan Anand said.

The murals of the soldiers, whose supreme sacrifice led to victory in the Laungewala battle and the 106 mm recoilless gun (main anti-tank weapon) employed to destroy a number of Pakistani tanks occupy a place of pride in the memorial. The memorial also has a state-of-art audio-visual theatre for screening the movies on the battle. Located two hours away from Jaisalmer, the memorial is open seven days a week and the entry is free for visitors, Colonel Anand said.

Separately, the ‘Jaisalmer War Museum’ has been established in the Military Station of Jaisalmer to commemorate the sacrifice of war heroes. The museum was inaugurated by Lt Gen Ashok Singh, the Southern Army Commander, today.

The inauguration of the museum marks the Golden Jubilee Commemoration Year of 1965 Indo-Pak War. The Army had made gains in the desert sector during that war.

There are a large number of captured war trophies and own vintage equipment on display to include tanks, guns and military vehicles. The Indian Air Force has presented a Hunter aircraft for the museum, which was used during the Battle for Laungewala in 1971 Indo Pak War. The entry to the war museum is free for all visitors.
SC fines MoD for filing appeals on settled issues
Chandigarh, August 29
In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court has imposed heavy costs on the Defence Ministry for filing appeals against orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on issues that have already been decided by the apex court.

“The civil appeal is dismissed on the ground of delay with cost of Rs 25,000 since the appeal is filed after the judgment passed by this court in a batch of cases decided against the Union of India,” a division bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice SA Bobde ruled on August 24. — TNS
Major Sudhir Walia’s martyrdom day goes unnoticed in Palampur
Ashok Chakra awardee’s parents in pain
Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, August 29
The aging parents of Major Sudhir Walia, Ashok Chakra awardee, were in pain today as the government ignored the martyrdom day of their son. “The Kangra administration and residents of Palampur have forgotten August 29, the day our son attained martyrdom while fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir 15 years ago. Today we are alone in remembering our son,” said Rajeshwari Devi, mother of the martyr, while talking to The Tribune on the phone.

His father Rulia Ram Walia was also disenchanted. He said Sudhir had laid his life for the country. The country also recognised his valour by awarding him Ashok Chakra. “The martyrdom day of other martyrs from the region is celebrated by the local administration in Palampur while that of Major Sudhir Walia is almost forgotten,” he lamented.

The parents said they had asked the state government for installing a bust of Major Sudhir Walia somewhere in Palampur. However, the demand is yet to be fulfilled. The failure of local organisations and the administration to remember Sudhir on his martyrdom day left his family shattered.

The parents, however, did not have any complaint against the Army. “They have also stood by us and were ever ready to help us out whenever we have called on them,” said Rajeshwari Devi.

Major Sudhir Walia was a resident of Banori village near Palampur. He studied in Primary School at Banori that has now been named after him. He did his secondary education at Sainik School at Sujanpur from where he joined the Indian Army. At the age of 30 on August 29, 1999, he attained martyrdom while fighting terrorists in Kupwara area of Jammu and Kashmir. He fought and killed four terrorists but sustained bullet injuries. He later died due to excessive blood loss. He was awarded Ashok Chakra on January 26, 2000.
18 soldiers hurt in ‘accidental’ blast at Army’s Kashmir camp
7 of the injured critical | Army rules out sabotage | Court of Inquiry ordered
Tribune News Service

Anantnag/Srinagar, August 29
At least 18 soldiers of various units were injured in what the Army described to be an accidental blast inside Army's pre-induction school at Khrew area of Pampore in south Kashmir's Pulwama district today. The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry to investigate into the cause of the accident.

Sources said it was a low-intensity blast, which took place during a training session at the elite 15 Corps Battle School in Khrew, 24 km from Srinagar.

“Seven of the soldiers were critically hurt and all the injured were taken to Army’s Srinagar-based 92 Base Hospital,” said sources. They said helicopters were pressed into service to evacuate the injured. The Army men who are posted to Kashmir from various parts of the country are administered basic 45 days familiarisation capsule at the Battle School in Khrew. They also undergo specialised programme in counter-terrorism here before joining their duties in various places in Kashmir.

Not only soldiers, but the J&K Police's elite counter-insurgency units and other central armed police forces are also imparted specialised training at the battle school. The blast took place around 8:45 am in a unit area of the camp, and not any living area, which might have increased the casualties. Sources said the soldiers were being trained with the use of artillery when the explosion took place. The blast created panic inside the camp as possibility of a sabotage was not being ruled out until later in the day. An Army spokesperson in Srinagar confirmed the incident. "The blast took everybody by surprise. It's ascertained that the blast was an accidental one," the spokesperson said. He said that sabotage had been ruled.

The spokesman, however, did not comment on the nature of the blast maintaining that the investigation had been just initiated. "A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident and let us wait for the investigations," he said.

A senior police official from police district Awantipora said some of the injured had been discharged after first aid. “At least seven are still at the hospital," said the police official.

Khrew is located on the periphery of Srinagar city and is for most part an industrial area with Army and police bases also located in the vicinity. This Army camp of the 15 Corps is located uphill, also housing a diesel depot. The Khrew locality was recently in news as Pakistani militant Naveed who was captured alive in Udhampur after carrying out an attack on BSF convoy on August 5 had stayed at a hideout in the area for 45 days.
Indo-Maldivian Military Exercise to Kick Off Tomorrow

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:‘Ex-Ekuverin 2015’, the sixth joint military training exercise involving the Indian Army and the Maldivian National Defence Forces (MNDF), will be conducted at the Pangode Military Station in Thiruvananthapuram from August 31 to September 13.

As many as 45 marines from the MNDF and 45 soldiers of the Indian Army will take part in this exercise.

The bilateral annual exercise was first held in Belgaum in 2009 and is alternatively held in India and Maldives with the aim of enhancing military cooperation, inter-operability between the two countries and polishing understanding between the Indian Army and MNDF, a defence spokeperson has said. Thiruvanathapuram will host the bilateral exercise for the first time.

‘Ex-Ekuverin 2015’ will be the first joint exercise involving an international contingent to be conducted in the city. The exercise will commence with an opening ceremony on August 31 at the Pangode Military Station.

“The concluding phase will have a tactical exercise to be reviewed by senior military officials,” he said.
Parrikar says media ignored anniversary
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday accused the media of obsessively focussing on the sensational case of Sheena Bora’s murder and altogether skipping the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war victory against Pakistan. Mr. Parrikar, whose Ministry is in the eye of a controversy over the One Rank One Pension stalemate, however, steered clear of the raging issue at a public function held on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan in Panaji on Saturday.

“Such a grand celebration of the 50th anniversary of our victory, which started on Friday, did not feature for an hour when I watched television, while I was working. It was never even mentioned,” Mr. Parrikar said. He, however, conceded that he too was confused by the complexities of the alleged murder of Sheena Bora by her mother Indrani Mukherjea, a former public relations honcho.

“The murder mystery is definitely news, but that was the only thing playing (on TV) all the time,” said Mr. Parrikar, known for his media scrutiny during his days as Goa Chief Minister.

Recalling the television coverage of the 1965 war, Mr. Parrikar said Pakistan had then tried to take a psychological advantage of India’s loss of the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

“It was the first war after 1962, in which India was rattled, and many, including the Pakistan army and Ayub Khan, the head of the Pakistan army then, thought that the Indian defence sector may have been reeling under the effect of the 1962 China debacle and that they could occupy Kashmir,” he said, recalling with praise the role of then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, whom he described as “tiny in stature, but enormous in ability”.

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