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Friday, 12 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 12 Feb 2016

Siachen hero loses battle for life
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
Siachen braveheart Lance Naik Hanumanthappa passed away at the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital here today because of multiple-organ dysfunction after a three-day battle for life. He was rescued from the avalanche-hit Siachen glacier on February 8.

“Lance Naik Hanumanthappa is no more. He breathed his last at 11.45 am,” a senior Army official said. The cremation will take place at Hubli in Karnataka tomorrow.

The 33-year-old soldier of the 19th Battalion of Madras Regiment is survived by his wife Mahadevi Ashok Bilebal and a two-year-old daughter, Netra Koppad. A resident of Betadur village in Dharwad district of Karnataka, he had joined the Army 13 years ago. Hanumanthappa along with nine other Armymen, none of whom survived, were buried under the avalanche that hit the 19,600-ft high Sonam Post on February 3.

He was found alive, but with serious complications on February 8.

In Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi were among those who paid homage to the soldier.

“He leaves us sad & devastated. RIP Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. The soldier in you remains immortal. Proud that martyrs like you served India," the Prime Minister tweeted.

“In his life and his passing, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa has shown the world the meaning of perseverance & courage,” wrote Rahul Gandhi on Twitter.

Dubbed 'miracle man', Hanamanthappa’s condition had deteriorated yesterday. “His circulatory shock is now refractory to all drugs in maximum permissible doses and his kidneys remained non-functional,” a health bulletin released by the Army earlier in the day had said. His pneumonia had worsened and the blood-clotting disorder showed no signs of reversal despite blood component support.
No trace of missing Capt yet
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 11
The Army has initiated massive efforts to trace an officer, Captain Shikhar Deep, who is missing since February 7.

A native of Purnia district in Bihar, the officer was posted at the LoC in Rajouri district of Jammu region and was returning from leave to resume his duties.

Defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta said Captain Shikhar Deep, son of Lt Col Anant Kumar, aged 25 and was wearing black/brown blazer, off-white T-shirt, blue jeans and green jungle shoes.

“The officer was on 30-day leave from January 11 to February 10 and was returning to duty via Mahananda Express from Kathihar in Bihar to Delhi on February 6. He was travelling on a reserved berth number 14 of AB-1, AC-2,” Lt Col Mehta said.

He was last contacted by his relatives on the intervening night of February 6 and 7. “The luggage of the officer has been traced by Railway and Army authorities in Delhi and nothing except cash from wallet is missing from his luggage. A court of inquiry will be ordered by Army authorities as per the procedure,” Lt Col Mehta said.

An FIR was lodged by the officer’s relatives at the Railway Police, Katihar, on February 8. The officer took keen interest in unit’s operational and administrative matters on the Line of Control and had availed 53 days of annual leave in 2015.

His father is a serving Lt Col in the Army and is currently posted at Ranchi. Search efforts are on by Bihar DGP Pramod Thakur, Army units at Kanpur and Katihar, and the Railway Police of Delhi and Bihar.
Saichen: Death (and some glory) at 20,000 ft
PRANAV KULKARNI puts together details of the three-decade-old war at the world’s highest battlefield
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In the northern sector, the Siachen glacier is separated from the Baltoro glaciers by the Conway Saddle (or pass). Several mountaineering peaks lie to the northwest of the Saddle; access to peaks such as K2 is controlled by Pakistan. The Sia La and Bilafond La passes through the Saltoro ridge provide access to the Siachen glacier from the west. The Nubra river emerges from the southernmost tip of Siachen glacier.

The Siachen Brigade is headquartered at Partapur; on the Pakistani side, the Brigade HQ is at Khapalu. Troops are deployed at heights between 18,000 feet and 23,000 feet; forward positions have small posts (perhaps 75-80 along the length of the glacier) manned by 10-15 soldiers each. Forward troops are supported by artillery positions and a logistics supply chain extending to the 14 Corps HQ in Leh, which is under the operational command of the Northern Command. Troops serve for between 1 and 3 months at a post, and move between high-altitude posts and back. Soldiers are trained at the Siachen Battle School, and undergo acclimatisation schedules before being inducted.

Crippling Challenges

The Cold

Temperatures below minus 55 degrees Celsius; blizzards at 100-150 knots (185-275 km/hr) are not uncommon. The extreme cold causes life-threatening high-altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPO), or the accumulation of fluid in the lungs, one of the main causes of death on Siachen. Specialised multilayered clothing prevents excessive sweating; there have been cases of sweat becoming ice inside gloves and shoes, causing frostbites. Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a cause of death — soldiers have sometimes been found dead after having fallen asleep with heating devices burning within fibre huts.

The Terrain

Avalanches, like the one on February 3 that killed Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad and his comrades, add to the dangers of the terrain, which is dotted with virtually bottomless crevasses. Soldiers stick to beaten tracks, and often walk roped to each other. Daily caloric requirements could be as high as 5,000 Kcal per day — and soldiers, despite being given a special high-carbohydrate, high-fibre, low-salt diet, lose 5-6 kg during their deployment.

The Supplies

Supplies and rations are dropped from helicopters that operate from the Leh and Thoise airbases; the logistics chain for the glacier starts from railheads in Jammu and Pathankot from where they are transported to Leh via Srinagar and Kargil. Supplies also reach the base camp via Khardung La. There is no road beyond the base camp; the Army has, however, established logistics hubs along the route. Sometimes, rough weather leads to supplies packets dropped by choppers drifting off course and getting destroyed.

Killing Fields

Since 1984, the Army has lost 879 lives on the glacier, including the 10 who perished earlier this month. On December 11, 2015, the government told Parliament that 33 officers, 54 Junior Commissioned Officers and 782 men of other ranks had died until then.


The Seventh Central Pay Commission has recommended an increase in the Siachen Allowance. If accepted by the government, the monthly allowance of officers will increase from Rs 21,000 to Rs 31,000; that of jawans and JCOs from Rs 14,000 to Rs 21,000.
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Army’s recruitment wing softened assessment norms for DG’s son
Order was reversed after officer complained against ‘violation’ of selection procedure
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The directorate general of recruiting at Army Headquarters changed assessment norms for selection of officer candidates to select branches at a time when the son of the director general (recruiting) himself was attending the Services Selection Board (SSB) procedure, an investigation by The Indian Express has found. The move to change the norms compelled a serving Army officer to complain to the Chief of Army Staff, the investigation revealed.

It was found that the recruiting directorate ordered an immediate softening of norms for selection of candidates to the Territorial Army (TA), Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) branch and Army Education Corps (AEC) in May 2015, when the director general’s son appeared for an officer’s commission in TA. It was only when the serving Army officer, closely associated with the selection process, made a series of complaints that the Army Headquarters reversed the change of norms.

Before he made the official complaint to Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh, the complainant, Lt Col Channpreet Singh, a group task officer (GTO) in 11 SSB in Allahabad, made representations to the commandant of the selection centre (East) and to the director, Defence Institute of Psychological Research, protesting ‘violation’ of procedures for selection of SSB candidates.
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In his complaint, the officer quoted several irregularities. To begin with, the candidate in question appeared for selection in the TA by himself in May 2015, whereas he was supposed to have appeared with his batch at the end of 2014. “The detailment of a single candidate for the batch in question seems quite irrational when there is no urgency on the pretext of his becoming overage for the next TA batch scheduled to be assessed in July 2015,” the GTO said.

The officer also alleged that the candidate was clubbed with a batch of jawans aspiring for an officer’s commission in the Army Cadet College (ACC) wing of the Indian Military Academy (IMA). The GTO challenged this on the ground that the jawans come from a very different educational background and age profile and hence being clubbed with them was not in order.

The third alleged irregularity pertained to a new policy for lowering the datum for discussing candidates for TA, JAG and AEC entries which was promulgated by the recruiting directorate on May 8, 2015, when the batch in question was already under way. The orders issued by the directorate clearly mention that the changes in the selection criteria were to be implemented “with immediate effect” and the SSB complied. The officer complained that the urgency for lowering the datum from 240 to 224 could not be understood as the rest of the batch, of which the candidate was a part, was accessed at 240. “How can the directorate general of recruiting justify the formulation of the final merit list in such a scenario,” the officer complained.

On July 10, 2015, the Adjutant General of the Army, Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, responded to the complaint and set aside the orders of the recruiting directorate. The datum was ordered to be reverted to 240 for TA, JAG and AEC entries and the clubbing of batches was ordered not to be undertaken. No action was, however, taken against anyone for issuing ‘arbitrary guidelines’.

The Indian Express sent a questionnaire to the PRO (Army), Col Rohan Anand, for the Army’s version. The PRO confirmed that the candidate in question is the son of the current Director General of Recruiting and that he had applied for a commission in TA in 2014. The PRO added that ‘it is reiterated that the candidate in question was assessed and qualified as per old higher parameters which existed before May 2015”. He added that ‘the review leading to lowering of datum marks for TA entry was undertaken in May 2015 considering the nature and scope of tasks of TA officers during war and peace and also on account of shortage in TA entry due to low selection rate of SSB”. However, there was no explanation why the norms were reverted to previous levels following the complaint.
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