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Thursday, 8 October 2015

From Today's Papers - 08 Oct 2015

Rs 500 cr okayed for war memorial, museum
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7

Fulfilling a promise made more than 50 years ago, the lawns around the iconic India Gate complex will house a National War Memorial while a National War Museum would be constructed at Princess Park on the India Gate Radial Road.

The two sites will be connected through an underground pathway for the convenience of visitors. The existing memorial at the India Gate was built by the British for its fallen soldiers.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today approved the construction of the memorial as well as the museum at a cost of Rs500 crore within an estimated five years.

Mooted during the previous UPA regime, the project was stuck amid discussions that a new structure could alter the layout of the India Gate, a 1914 British built arch-dome shaped structure.

The Delhi Urban Arts Commission was also consulted as the area comes within the heritage area of the National Capital.

The Army had proposed a ‘sunken’ open air gallery between the India Gate and the smaller arch-dome behind it, a design which has been accepted since it won’t hinder the view of the India Gate.

Ministry of Defence spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said, “The National War Memorial will be built at ‘C-Hexagon’ (the lawns around) India Gate and National War Museum at Princess Park (close to India gate).”

“Post-Independence, more than 22,500 soldiers have laid down their life for the country’s sake,” a government statement said.
China to build 4 subs for Pak in Karachi
China will build in Karachi four of eight submarines that it is selling to Pakistan, Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain said. The remaining four will be built in China.

The minister while speaking at the inauguration of the Defence Export Promotion Organisation Display Centre said the deal for the acquisition of submarines from China had been finalised and four of them would be built in Karachi. He said construction of the submarines would simultaneously begin in Pakistan and China.
Sub-Inspector shot while chasing LeT militant
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 7
A Sub-Inspector of the J&K Police was killed in a militant firing while chasing the alleged Udhampur attack mastermind in north Kashmir’s Bandipore today.

The slain Sub-Inspector, Altaf Ahmed, known as “Altaf laptop”, had been instrumental in arrest and killing of a number of militants across the Valley over the last decade and his killing is a big loss for the police and the overall counter insurgency operations in the region. “He was one of the best officers we had and it is a big loss,” Kashmir IGP SJM Gillani said.

The police said they had information about the movement of two militants from Hajin to Bandipore and a checkpoint was set up at Gund Dachina Aragam, 50 km from here this afternoon. “A vehicle was intercepted at the checkpoint but two terrorists travelling in the vehicle opened fire,” Gillani said.

Altaf was critically wounded and was airlifted to Army’s 92 Base Hospital at Badamibagh cantonment where he succumbed to his injuries.

The IGP, however, did not confirm whether Udhampur attack mastermind Abu Qasim, a Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, was inside the vehicle which was intercepted.

Sources, however, said Qasim was travelling in the vehicle that was being pursued by Altaf. “When the vehicle was intercepted by a police team, they opened indiscriminate firing on the car resulting in injuries to Altaf,” a source said.
Defence firms to form industry forum
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Representatives of over 60 Defence companies from various parts of the country met in New Delhi recently and agreed to form an industry forum specifically aimed at promoting the interest of small, medium and large enterprises in the defence manufacturing sector.

The association has been named Association of Defence Companies (ADC) in India.

The meeting saw representation from a large number of MSMEs, SMEs, and OEMs registered in India and well established and large private sector defence companies, all of whom see the defence manufacturing sector growing exponentially over the next few years under the ‘Make in India’ and other initiatives of the Government.

All representatives present in the meeting were unanimous that the ADC would serve as the most representative platform to provide a single unified voice on policy matters with the government, armed forces, PSUs and the Ministry of Defence that directly or indirectly affect their operations.
Over 22,500 Indian Army martyrs to be immortalised
Acceding to a long-pending demand of the armed forces, the government on Wednesday approved a Rs 500- crore project for building a National War Memorial and a National War Museum near India Gate in memory of over 22,500 soldiers who laid down their lives post-Independence. The total time for completion of the entire project at Princess Park here is estimated to be five years.

Post-Independence, more than 22,500 soldiers have made the supreme sacrifice in national interests and in defence of the sovereignty and integrity of the country. However, even after 69 years of Independence, no memorial to commemorate the martyrs has been constructed till date. With the present decision of the Cabinet, a long-pending demand of the armed forces has been redressed, an official statement released after the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said.

It has been decided that the project will be monitored by an empowered Steering Committee chaired by Defence Secretary and assisted by a dedicated project management team, to ensure that the proposed project is completed within scheduled time- frame. Post commissioning, a management body will be formed for maintenance of the National War Memorial and the museum. "This government will be establishing a war memorial and a museum with a deep sense of gratitude to honour those brave soldiers, who laid down their lives.

"The memorial will promote a sense of patriotism in the minds of visitors, and will award an opportunity to citizens of this vast nation, to express their token sense of gratitude to the brave soldiers, who laid down their lives for the mother land," the statement said.

While their final movements would have gone unnoticed and on occasions their final resting place unknown, this museum will capture those poignant moments in history and bring out the variegated nature of their commitments, it said. "Their dedication, this government feels is a part of unfinished work in nation-building. This government resolves with all its humility at its command that they did not die in vain and that Bharat Mata is enriched by their contribution. A visit to the memorial shall inspire us to rededicate ourselves to this great nation with utmost devotion," the statement said.
The General and his delusions
 Retired Lt Gen PN Hoon has made the fantastic claim that the Army had planned a coup against the Union Government in 1987. He provides unsubstantiated material in support. His remarks need to be taken with a load of salt and rebutted with vehemence

We now know of the Army coup in 1987 that, thanks to the then Western Army commander, Lt Gen PN Hoon, did not happen. This and other ‘state secrets’ were recently revealed by the 86-year-old General while releasing his book, The Untold Truth in Chandigarh. The good news for the General is that all personalities (except one), involved or in know of the skeletons, are dead. The one living, then Army Vice-Chief, Gen SF Rodrigues, has already contradicted Gen Hoon. I, as the ADC to the high-profile Punjab Governor, SS Ray, in 1987, had a ringside view of events.

Gen Hoon’s ludicrous claim has three problems: An Army coup is impossible in India; the octogenarian General forgot that he had made verbatim claims (on coup, exercise Brass-Tacks and Siachen) in his earlier book, Unmasking Secrets of Turbulence; and he suffers from delusions of grandeur which come alive in his writings. Instead of keeping quiet at such outlandish claims, Army Headquarters should retort forcefully as such claims may affect reforms in higher defence organisations now under the Government’s consideration.

Here are three reasons why, unlike Pakistan, an Army coup is impossible in India. First, unlike the Pakistan Army where homogeneity of troops (mostly from the Punjab Province from where most Army chiefs hail as well) helps them rally around their boss, India has a heterogeneous army.

Second, unlike the Indian Army, the Pakistan Army has deliberately not created the designation of Army commanders responsible for a war theatre. The nine Corps commanders of the Pakistan Army report directly to the chief. Though operationally undesirable, this arrangement is necessary for the chief to maintain a firm grip. An Army commander with three or four Corps commanders under him would become too powerful for the chief’s comfort.

Third, the Pakistan Army chief is not one amongst the equals but has unprecedented clout as compared to his Air Force and Navy counterparts. He is in an enviable position where he controls the entire spectrum of war. The nuclear weapons are under him and ballistic missiles, also under his command, are the preferred delivery vectors. The Army chief also controls irregular war elements through the Director General, Inter-Services-Intelligence.

The Indian Army chief is one of three Service chiefs with little possibility of the other two supporting him if he oversteps his authority. He is neither in the security policy-making loop nor does he control nuclear weapons. Having always been on the fringes of the Defence Ministry, the Indian Army chief has all the responsibility without authority, the latter resting with the powerful bureaucracy. Why would bureaucrats agree to serve the Army chief when they are already the bosses?

Yet, the General claims that his headquarters in July 1987 received a letter from Army Headquarters for three para-commando battalions — one under his command and the other two under the Northern and the Southern commands. Why would the Army Headquarters write to the Western command to release assets it does not hold? And who allowed him to approach and brief (as claimed) the Prime Minister and his Principal Secretary Gopi Arora, bypassing Army Headquarters and the Defence Ministry to inform them about the impending coup?

Moreover, according to him, at the farewell function for President Giani Zail Singh held in 1987 in the Punjab Raj Bhawan (where I was present and Gen Hoon was not invited), the outgoing President told Governor SS Ray of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s corruption and other alleged misdemeanours. Aware that Ray was close to Rajiv Gandhi, the Giani was too astute a politician to have done so.

One instance of Gen Hoon’s irrepressible urge to be identified close to authority (which probably causes him to hallucinate) deserves recall. When he was Western Army commander, his office in 1987 called me to fix his appointment for a courtesy call (which is normal) on the Governor. Being an impatient man not given to official-social interactions, Ray brusquely told me that he had nothing to do with an Army man (though he was good friends with Gen K Sundarji as his wife and Ms Sundarji were related). I conveyed this message politely to Gen Hoon’s office, which kept pleading. I finally requested the Secretary to the Governor (a senior IAS officer) to clinch a few minutes for the Army commander with the boss; they were indeed few.

On Exercise Brass-Tacks, Gen Hoon repeats what he wrote in 2000, that, “Brass-tacks was a plan to build up a situation for a fourth war with Pakistan”. He even claims that his troops were carrying live ammunition. This is not true.

Brass-tacks in the winter of 1986-87 was not a launch pad for war for three reasons: One, after Pakistan moved its southern strike reserves towards the north, the Indian Army, in panic, launched Operation Trident for build-up of ammunition and war stocks over two months. Two, it was during Operation Trident that the Indian Navy was brought into the picture. And three, the participation of the Indian Air Force during Brass-tacks was minimal.

Brass-tacks was a purely military exercise in which politics got mixed with military matters because of the flamboyant personalities of Rajiv Gandhi and Gen Sundarji, an ill-informed media on both sides, and the visit of top US official Caspar Weinberger to India and Pakistan in October 1986.

Gen Hoon’s exhortations on Siachen are most bizarre. Making no mention of his boss, the Northern Army commander, Lt Gen MML Chibber (he passed away a month ago), Gen Hoon as 15 Corps commander, takes full ownership of the planning and execution of the May 1984 Operation Meghdoot (Siachen conflict). He claims to have briefed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on how Leh would be threatened if Siachen glacier was not occupied. He also claims to have raised a brigade trained in “white shod operations” which in two to three years was to be expanded into “a strike corps for white shod operations”, a ski-expert offensive force.

His then boss, Gen Chibber confirmed to me that there were no such accretion plans. According to Gen Chibber, “Siachen does not have any strategic significance. The importance being talked about is all invention.” The Army had not planned to have a permanent presence on the glacier, as according to Gen Chibber, “In my experience, the Pakistanis were prone to transgressing the Line of Control. But once it was occupied by Indian troops, they usually went back to the original line.”

I wrote in my 2001 book, The Defence Makeover, that Operation Meghdoot was an ill-planned operation; instead of the glacier, the Indian Army should have occupied the nearby Dansum area at lower height (10,000 feet) which controlled routes to the glacier. Gen Hoon, in a newspaper article, had said that doing so would have violated the 1949 Karachi Agreement, as Dansum is east of the LoC extended northwards from map point NJ 9842. I shot back saying that, as point NJ 9842 was identified by an Indian survey team in August 1985, how did he know in May 1984 that the occupation of Dansum would violate the Karachi Agreement? Gen Chibber concurred with me. Gen Hoon did not respond.

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