Saturday, June 21, 2008

All India ESM Movement: March for Justice 06 July 2008- An upate

Dear Friends,

1. Please refer to my earlier post dated 09 Jun 08 in which we had given the methodology of action plan for the event to be held on 06 July 08. We have received certain suggestions in this regard which have been duly incorporated as under:

  • The event will be called March For JUSTICE.
  • The event will be held country wide at all District HQ, State Capitals and at New Delhi. The local ESM organizations and individual veterans in consultation with each other will decide the location where all veterans will assemble at 11 AM on 06 July 08. They will form in threes and will march to the office/ residence of DC/ CM/ Governor/ PM and will present a Memorandum for the Prime Minister to the DC/ CM/ Governor/ PM.
  • All veterans will wear black arm bands, protest tabs and miniature medals. Suitable placards will be carried by the Marchers.
  • The march will conducted in a dignified manner keeping in mind the discipline and ethos of Armed Forces and no slogan shouting will be carried out.
  • The local veteran organizations/ veterans organizing the event can suitably modify the methodology to suit the local conditions.
  • Maximum participation of all veterans is requested.
  • Efforts are being made for better media coverage. Local veteran organizations are requested to contact local media for maximum coverage. NDTV will suitably coordinate with its units in various parts of the country to cover the event.
  • Suitable leaflets may please be made and distributed to the veterans as well as the general public to apprise them about the injustice done to the Defence Forces by the 6th CPC and our genuine demands.
  • MPs, MLAs, Ministers and political parties may be asked for their support to our genuine demands, asking them to project the same to the Govt at the Centre.

    2. Memorandum is being prepared and will be forwarded to all shortly. Let us unite for the common cause. Go all out for maximum participation to make the March for JUSTICE protest on 06 July 2008 a grand success. "God Bless God Speed to our Movement."

    With kind regards,
    Jai Hind
    Yours Sincerely,
    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
    All India Ex-Servicemen Movement
  • SCPC: Defence Minister assures soldiers satisfactory pay package

    Defence Minister A K Antony with Army Officers and Jawans at a Sainik Sammelan in Baramulla on Wednesday.
    The entire nation recognised the hard work and dedication of the soldiers operating in difficult conditions along the line of control. The anomalies in the sixth pay commission were being looked into and the government would give the soldiers a satisfactory package.
    The Hindu: Soldiers promised better package
    Photographs: Courtesy The Hindu and PIB

    Friday, June 20, 2008

    India China Conflict 1962: 4 Grenadiers Operational Role

    Beyond India

    Lost Between the Two Tracks
    It was nightfall now, darkness comes suddenly in the mountains and we stopped unable to proceed further. We could hear some stray firing, next day also we could hear small arm firing, I reckon that we were just going round and round in circles in same area of a few square miles. At dawn we would start moving but where to we had no clue. Our knowledge was that of Hatungla- Shakti route, which in case was not followed. Now we were in wilderness, some where between the Hatungla-Lumpu and the Karpola- Lumpu tracks. On fourth or fifth day Lt Col RN Mishra the CO 9 Punjab runs in to us. He was quite lost himself. Having got separated from his protection section which was marching, all this time, with us. He did have a few boys with him. The protection section boys assured him. 'Sir don’t worry we are with you'. From some where they produced some biscuits ,some nick knacks some and milk for him and they fed their CO. I have never forgotten this. These small things and how they matter in Army life. This is the strength of the Indian Army; the Soldier.

    Meeting up with 9 Punjab
    With the arrival of CO 9 Punjab we got some assurance, at least he knew the area, the tracks and various places, and where we had to head for. Earlier the problem was that the regiment had come to the area only in early October and was unfamiliar with the area and on top saddled with an IO, the points- man, totally new to the area. I was running up and down like a monkey, up and down the hills, but there is a limit to human endurance. I think it was on the 8th day that we reached a huge open area with a spur running from right to left in front, this I think was the Karpola track going down and leading to Lumpu. It was a sunny day, we were tired, eight days hungry, living on leaves and shrubs. We plonked down to rest our dog tired limbs. We were so tired that LMG was being carried in parts, if I had the barrel some one else had the bipod and another the piston group. Fatigued to the limit it was no more possible for one individual to carry the whole weapon in one piece. The mortars in any case had been abandoned in deep a ravine earlier. You can see the morale, a lot of wounded persons from other battalions had some how smelled and joined us. We lay in the sun resting but not for long, soon resuming the march. My CO's party and the party of the CO of 9 Punjab was in the vanguard. Col Mishra was now leading every body. In the absence of Maps sun was guiding us in trying to cross in to Bhutan. As this group crossed the spur and went on the other side, suddenly fire opened on us. Now in hindsight I feel, a Chinese patrol was coming down the Karpola track and they saw a group of 100 or 150 soldiers resting in the open, realising that this was roughly the line on which we will cross the spur, they went past and laid an ambush.

    Battalion Spirit
    When they fired the people who were ahead, my CO's party and the Punjabis took off. It was an open patch and on the other side also it was open for some distance till the tree line became thick once again. When the firing started on top I saw people slithering down in sheer terror down he steep slope. I had a group of soldiers lying around me and I did not know what to do. Some senior officers were still resting in the rear and two very senior officers had crossed over, and then came a lesson which I have carried all my life and fought for what is the value of the Regimental System in the army. I looked at a six foot tall Jat, Jeevan Singh, one of the finest specimen of human being and admonished him in the most foul language. "Jeevan you so and so, lying like a widow, go put on a skirt". The vanity of the Jat being hurt, Jeevan got up, standing all his six foot; 'You want us to be killed , OK I get up now tell where to go'. He picked up his rifle, Jeevan got up, Ram Singh got up, Shyam Singh got up then some other boys got up, fifteen or sixteen of us got up and others got up, and then we charged up shouting our battle cry at the top of our voice. We fired a few rounds, Chinese who were a small group of eight or ten ran away. We climbed to the top and looked at the other side for our two CO's party. I could see them about a Kilometre away, I shouted from the top of my lung 'CO Saihab please stop the Chinese have run away'. No one stopped, next we met the two CO's only at Tezpur after a break of two weeks when we also arrived there after wandering in the wilderness for so long, hungry, tired, some even wounded. But with sad memories of those left behind; friends and colleagues, some who could walk no more and others dead. Had they stopped on my hailing them, many more would have returned to the anxiously waiting near and dear one at home.

    Chinese Mortar Fire
    The remnants of the other two companies also joined us on top. Oscar Thomas and Major Balbir, now the senior most after the CO also joined. We started, moving down. As luck would have it, we were still to hit the thicket when the Chinese engaged us with mortar fire, We hid under the cover provided by the trees and planned to get away during the night to avoid being observed. Though a moon lit night, yet our movement was painfully slow, once again we halted and sat down. We were almost in the snow bound area. I can't help narrating the death of barber Ganpat, a man who was in the fifties. The company commander 'B' Company, my company told him; 'Go back to the centre, you are too old for NEFA tenure'; which he ignored. I still wonder what he was doing there at this age. Our solders were young.

    Death and Rum to keep our spirit alive
    That night two things happened. One Ganpat died, he froze stiff, sitting in the snow, before he died he cried like an animal, for nearly an hour, not aware that he was crying while others kept shouting at him to shut up worried that Chinese would hear his cries. The second thing that happened wasthat one of my Gorkha Instructors, when I was doing the D&M course, had come to take a promotion examination and got caught. Hav Chhatri shook hands with me and we sat, shivering with cold, huddled together in our two blankets. 'Saihab would you have Rakshi (Rum)', Chatrtri came out with a most welcome query after some time. I do not know from where he produced a bottle of rum, and that night the two of took turns taking swigs from the bottle.

    For the next couple of days we were totally lost and kept wandering aimlessly. Maj Balbir at this point of time gave up, in that he was not coherent enough to lead and Oscar Thomas took over the leadership, who provided excellent leadership otherwise we would all have perished. He daughter had a born recently and that too after three sons, he had not yet seen her being away at the time of delivery. He used to say that nothing could keep him from seeing her, possibly that was his will to survive,

    Fall of Tawang
    We knew where the Chinese were and that Tawang had fallen courtesy, All India Radio, Capt Nagrani had a Transistor Radio and that’s why we never approached a track. We had a war council and observed that all the nallas must be flowing down into Twang Chu, so we took a painful decision to follow one of the nallas. It was a trail, each one for himself. Some fell down and broke their limbs others fell behind and could not be helped yet later joined the group at midnight where you were resting. Some gave up some continued. Our doctor Kasyap, the fifth officer, we lost him some where there, luckily he did survive.
    In these three four days we came across an area full of bushes laden with some kind of berries. We went at the bushes with our hands at the back, like hungry animals. If some one came to share your bush, he was shooed away. I was shocked to see this animal instinct in all of us.

    Escape to Bhutan
    Going further down, we encountered the welcome sight of Gorsem Chorten on the wrong side of Nyam Jang Chu, the river joining Tawang Chu some distance ahead. We started moving down stream on our side on the hill till we reached a spot from where further progress was blocked. Down below we could see the Shakti Bridge now guarded by the Chinese. We halted there for a day and half, we even made a plan to attack the Chinese guarding the Shakti bridge even if it was certain death. We took stock of the ammunition with us, some were down to ten others to eight cartridges or so. Better sense prevailed and we stayed put for one more day. Next day early in the morning, one of the boys who had gone to ease himself stumbled on a narrow track going down from the solitary Chori Hut right on top, on our side of the river. He came running with this good news. Without wasting any more time we moved down this track at a fast clip and came to a village from where we hired a guide to take us to Bleeting (with the bridge across Tawang Chu into Bhutan).

    Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

    Note: Last episode of Gen Kahlon

    Tawang Slideshow: Praveen's Tawang Album

    India China Conflict 1962: 4 Grenadiers Operational Role

    Soldiers Epitaph

    General Kahlon narration (ref post dated 17 June 2008)

    Medical Aid post
    Next day in the night 19th/ 20th oct 1962 we heard some definite noise and I, the youngest officer sleeping in the Chauri hut, was asked to take out a patrol and investigate. I could definitely hear the sound of wood cutting, which I reported back. From where we were at the Chauri Hut, if one went towards Hatungla there was an opening, with sparse cover of trees extending to 300 yards or so, beyond this was located the RAP of some Medical Aid Post. Lt Balsubrramaniam of 51 Mountain Regiment along with his OP party was also located in this area.

    Chinese commenced firing
    On 20th morning, as the day broke, the Chinese started firing on us. We were engaged basically by small arms from close quarters. Now by hindsight, the sound we heard the previous night was of the Chinese cutting the wood and making lanes to mark the area to which they came down and from where they brought effective fire on us. From Thagla, being out of range they could not have engaged us. From that height they could have only thrown stones at us, even now they were firing at us from up down and we were sitting in the valley.

    Bala died in my lap
    Naturally there was a lot of chaos and commotion, the omnibus started ringing, people returned fire, the company across returned fire effectively. Subsequently they pulled back towards the home side of the river. The clearing I mentioned earlier was covered by a Chinese MMG with a clear line of fire. Balasubramaniam, my course mate, knew that I was the IO of the battalion and also that there was a group of officers near the bridge, he tried to move from his location under threat by the enemy fire, he sprinted through this clearing to reach us. The first time the Chinese fired a long burst was when they fired at him. I heard that some one has been hit, being the youngest I ran to investigate and then realised that it was Bala. We put him under cover, but by this time excessive blood loss had taken from his injuries, sadly Bala died in my lap. (Even as the Brigade Signals Officer I had no idea what Lt Bala was doing in that place, what was his communication set up, what fire and from which guns was he supposed to bring down on the enemy. What a waste of a young officer and his team of three gunners who also perished.)

    Hatungla route closed
    Psychologically this opening route was closed for us and it had a very important impact on our further decision. This was the short route leading to Hatungla, and right in the vicinity of the bridge was this opening, the Chinese had effectively blocked it. They had blocked this 500 to 600 Yards of clearing by covering it by MMG, we knew that if we were caught in this clearing we had it. No assault came on us in all fairness; we were assaulted only by infantry Weapons.

    No rounds
    I remember on night of 18 Oct Subedar Kumbha Ram, a fine JCO of 2nd World War veteran subsequently retired as Hony Capt, was the battalion mortar JCO who came to my CO. He spoke bitterly, "I have no Rounds with me, I have only Tubes. I am asked to deploy in a mortar position, you brought me in this, tell me what do I do?" The CO rang the CO Rajputs Lt Col Rikh and Lt Col Mishra CO of 9 Punjab. Punjabis were well established and well stocked having come much earlier. He gave us 32 Mortar rounds so when the battle started 4 Grenadiers had 4 tubes and 32 of 3-inch mortar rounds. We had started with 90 rounds of 303 rifle ammunition each, 60 plus 40 reserve, that is 90 and for LMG 700 plus 500 reserve rounds, if I remember rightly. I was wearing a para jacket, officers generally used to put on the para jackets, purchased from the shop run by Ordnance Corps. As a matter of fact they stood out and the Chinese could make out the officers easily.

    Order to withdraw
    At 1115 the CO got orders from Div HQ to withdraw. I do not know if he personally spoke o the CO or that someone else on his behalf passed the orders. The CO ordered me, as the IO, to lead the Battalion's withdrawal. He did give a semblance of orders. Being the IO a pertinent point came to my mind, we had no Maps, we only had a sketch a cyclostyled /blue print (the only map available from the lowest formation right up to the Army HQ to plan and fight against the Chinese) of the area covering from Bridge one to five. The question was where do you go, the moment you get-out of the boundary of the sketch?

    Fall back to Hatungla
    Our plan, I reckon as given by GOC was for us to fall back on Hatungla and then defend the pass as a battalion, it is a defensible area, rather than sitting in the Nalla. It was a good decision, problem was in its execution. As I started climbing as the no one man of the battalion the, IO asked to use his discretion, no maps, but I had binocular and a compass with me and I knew which way was East, West, North and South.

    Lost Battalion
    By deploying a pair of MMGs the Chinese had ensured that we do not use the easy track. Having attended to Bala my self and seen the casualties in the opening, I made a small appreciation in my mind. This opening on the track where there is a good chance of getting the bullets needs to be avoided at all costs.. I reasoned that if we climb two to three hundred feet up the mountain side, take a detour under the cover of the trees, circuit behind for five six hundred yards and come down,once again, back on to the track once again we would avoid this clearance and be safe from the Chinese observed fire. We would also be able to move faster and by evening would be on the top of Hatungla and able to deploy as planned. I had just gone 500 to 600 yards or so and was veering to my left, when as luck would have it, the CO saw me turning to the left. I was sent for and the Commanding officer wanted to know as to why I was turning left. I said 'Sir I want to get to Hatungla'. He gave m a piece of his mind', You want to get all of us killed, we are well within the range of the weapons that are firing from across, you keep climbing till I tell you and then we will take the necessary detour. That detour never happened, we never turned left because then the hills and the gorges and the ravines took over. In the absence of any maps we did not know as to where we were going and by evening we were a lost battalion. At Hatungla 4 Grenadiers had a section under Naik Prithi Singh or Prithi Chand, Dogra boy of 'Delta' Company, a hero by any reckoning. He along with a group of 8 boys had been left at the pass to guard it. This section stopped the Chinese who had followed us next day for a day and half, ultimately they were overrun and killed. Proving the point that it was a defensible position if any proof was required.

    Rao awarded MVC posthumously
    If only the 4 Grenadiers had landed at Hatungla that day as planned, we would have covered us with glory. God had given us an opportunity but we missed it. It is one of the regrets of my life that why this move of mine was detected, not a big-shake, I was just coming back on to the track, simple. The irony of the story is that one of our officers Kartar Singh with a few boys was located slight farther away from the action, he was not aware as to when the Battalion vacated all the posts, till the boys informed him that the whole battalion had moved out. He followed the short track to Hatungla, crossing the open patch, along with his boys with impunity, some how he carried on I have not been able to find out how he missed Prithi and his group. The point is that the action had died after few hours, once the Chinese realised that there is nothing to worry in the area. In the mean time the Drokung Samba had been attacked on the first day itself and GV Parsanna Rao died manning a LMG himself it was well sited on the home side of Nyam Jung Chu, which the Chinese had to take, I had a hand in siting the weapon. Rao did a great job and was awarded MVC posthumously.

    Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Our Knee jerk Reactions: Get bureaucracy out of the way

    India invariably reacts only when matters come to a head and ends up with knee jerk responses. There is no foresight or forward planning and the nation is constantly being overtaken by events. Whether it is terrorist attacks, followed by cry for draconian laws and a Federal Police Agency, congestion on roads to be resolved by Bus Rapid Transport, similar adhoc solutions for pollution in our cities, the vanishing tigers, or the long pending demands of Gujjars etc. The list is endless.

    When Chinese make forays into our territory we order the raising of two mountain divisions and move one from J and K to Sikkim. While the Chinese have already built an extensive road communication system and military infrastructure in Tibet, we suddenly wake up and order border road construction at a frantic pace. Once these roads come up we will realize that there is hardly any military infrastructure along these roads and as such would merely be convenient routes for ingress. We will then rush to build infrastructure and create military capabilities along these. But all this would invariably come about only as, too little too late!

    Military capabilities take a long time to build whereas policies and the Geo-strategic scene can under go a change faster, threats to national security and clash of interests can manifest all too suddenly. No one could foresee the coming of 1962, 1965, 1971 or even Kargil. All those who seek comfort under the illusion that there is no near threat, to national security or economic interests of the country and that 1.8 % of GDP allocation for defence will suffice for the time being and that first we must become an economic super power and then think of security, are living through India of the fifties. It is already near impossible to catch up with some of the competing powers in the region.

    Therefore it is no surprise that when matters have come to a boil in the armed forces, due to their periodic down gradation in every conceivable manner, and there are few takers for the profession and near exodus from the services, the political executive is digging out decades old cases, on which it had sat through, all this while and is trying to push these through, post haste, i.e. AV Singh-Bagga Committee Report Part-2. Housing projects and more senior posts for medical corps officers are being sanctioned, but still missing out on the core issues of pay and status of armed forces, which is the cases bell for the profession becoming so unpopular and the current turmoil.

    The bureaucracy has no accountability or stake in national security and Pay Commissions are not answerable for the fallout of their perverse dispensation to the defence services. Their prejudice, malevolence and malafide is too apparent and well known to need reiteration.

    Instead of getting to the heart of the problem, the RM is flying off at a tangent. He wants to introduce a hopelessly unattractive proposal of introducing short service commission of 14 years, ending with a gratuity of 28 lakhs,(2 lakhs for every year of service) and pack off the officer to the mean street, at a time when his family commitments will be maximum. When there are not enough takers for the regular commission how does he hope to draw suitable material for this patently unattractive career package.

    No, that is not enough. He wants to know why such bright and possibly ambitious officers do not want to attend the higher Command Course. Is it some mystery that he wants the Army Headquarters to unravel for him, when unexpectedly he should know in some detail the damage the 6CPC has done to the morale of the armed forces.

    Earlier he had, through the press, 'ticked off,' the Army and the Naval Chiefs for no valid reasons and in bad form. Now he tells the army commanders that officers should not 'ill treat troops.' which is resulting in suicide cases. The relationship between officers and troops is friendly and congenial and his remark will undermine that trust. Regrettably no army commander in that conference put him wise on the issue.

    Causes of suicides lie in the stress factor, inherent in counter insurgency operations and other travails on military life in the Indian army. Break-up of joint family system and lack of separated family accommodation has resulted in families being left alone in civil localities with poor facilities and insecure environments which constantly play on the minds of troops. Specter of early retirement with inadequate pension and no second career is equally disturbing. The cumulative effect destabilizes the mind. The suicide rate is lowest compared to other armies committed on much less strenuous tasks.

    So it will not wash by skirting the main issue of making career in the military, both for other ranks and officers attractive enough to draw on the right material and keep it contended. The solution lies in redrawing the contours of the pay packet and status of the military and getting the bureaucracy out of the way. There has to be some equity in life time earnings between those in and others outside the uniform: in the same groupings.

    Lt Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)
    Article appeared in the Hindustan Times (Chandigarh edition) on 18 June,2008.

    Comment: We thank General Harwant Singh for giving us the only solution of redrawing the contours, for the pay packet and status of the Military. The harsh realities of Military Life need to be ingrained in the aspiring IAS Officers. The IAS Officers attachment for training with Military needs to be revised and real life situation of warfare taught to them. A fortnight of jungle warfare in the rebel infested regions of Assam or NE will be in order where "survival of the fittest" are the lessons the bureaucrats carry home. Their service otherwise to the Nation is from the air- conditioned portals of their Office seldom knowing the ground realities of neither the common citizens nor of Military Personnel.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    SCPC: Crux of the Problem in respect of the Defence Forces

    Dear Brig Chander,

    Thanks for your useful information. Now I understand as to why most of the letters do not give the facts of the case with statistical data, but beat about the bush with flowery language to impress that some serious damage has been done to the Defence Forces. I am sending you the facts of the case which need to be set right immediately (given as link below).

    These facts were not presented to the 6th CPC by the Ministry of Defence but were rather hidden and it has created all this stalemate. I feel you should circulate these to all concerned especially to the Defence Minister and members of the empowered cabinet committee that has been appointed, including our chiefs, so that all are on one grid. These facts do not divulge any secrets or service matters but bring out how different the various CPC awards for the Defence Forces has been, even after acceptance by the Government but later benefits have been denied to the voiceless Armed Forces Personnel.

    Brig KP Behl (Retd)
    President Dehradun Ex-Services League

    The crux of the problem of 6th CPC Award for Defence Forces

    The gag Order garbed to silence reporting of corrupt activities

    Dear Friends

    I wonder if you have read the article in The Telegraph of 13 June 2008 (The link is given below). This has very far reaching implications, especially for the Army. According to the news report the order of the personnel ministry has been published in the Gazette of India on March 31, 2008. It is all encompassing and stringent. Failure to adhere to the undertaking "shall be treated as grave misconduct" and the official concerned will be penalised with withdrawal/ reduction of pension "in full or part" and prosecution.

    I am giving below some legal issues concerning the order:

  • The order violates Article 19(a) of the Constitution of India dealing with Freedom of speech and expression.

  • Armed Forces do not come under the purview of the Department of Personnel. Gazette notifications for Armed Forces personnel are published by the MOD.

  • The pension of Armed Forces personnel cannot be stopped/ reduced. It is immune from attachment even by a court of law vide the Pension Act, 1871, (Section 11).

  • In case military officers are prohibited from writing memoirs, it will have a negative effect on military history, which is a basic ingredient of training of military officers. It forms part of the curriculum of promotion examinations and entrance examinations of the Defence Services Staff College. The study material for the subject consists of memoirs and accounts of military campaigns written by retired officers. In India, books written by DK Palit, RD Palsokar, KC Praval, SK Sinha, PS Bhagat, SL Menezes, Harbaksh Singh and Satyindra Singh form essential reading for all military officers.

  • The order applies only to officers of organizations such as RAW, IB, CBI, the Armed Forces and the paramilitary forces. It does not apply to bureaucrats. Officers of the IAS who have held the appointments of Cabinet Secretary, Defence Secretary and Home Secretary are privy to much more sensitive information than most officers in these organisations.

  • The order does not apply to politicians, such as the PM or ministers who have held portfolios of defence, home and external affairs. Surely they know a lot more than the officers in these organisations.

  • Memoirs published by retired officers relate to events that occurred several years earlier. The information cannot be said to "prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific, or economic interests of the state, or in relation with a foreign state or which would lead to incitement of an offence".

  • I am sure the order will not stand the scrutiny of courts. But until that happens, it will deter all forms of writing on security related issues. It is difficult to believe that this is happening in the largest democracy in the World. You may consider getting the views of others.

    Maj Gen VK Singh (Retd)
    Corps of Signals
    Military Historian

    Gag for life on spooks of RAW, the IB, CBI, the army and various paramilitary forces will come under the blanket ban. Those who really know can no longer tell
  • Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    India China Conflict 1962: 4 Grenadiers Operational Role

    Tawang War Memorial

    Bunkers used in 1962

    Loss of Sona Jung Peak after 1962 war

    Kahlon (2/Lt then) reached the Battalion HQ at Bridge I on Namka Chu in company of a link patrol on the evening of 16 October 1962. As generally happens in the Army so often, having just returned from the D&M course was appointed the IO (Intelligence Officer) of the Battalion.

    The battalion at Bridge 1 was deployed with Major Balbir's company across the river, the reason being that the Battalion HQ and the two companies could not housed in the area of the river at the bridge site. The river was no more than a rivulet with a few logs thrown across. Of the other two companies one was at Dorkung Samba and the other at Serkhim at the bottom of Hatungla pass, both directly under the Div HQ. The Battalion HQ occupied the only Chauri Hut in the area, because it gave protection from the elements. All the six or seven officers, including the Commanding officer were loacted in the hut.

    Gen Kahlon narates:
    The whole battalion was huddled behind boulders in a small area, I wonder if any one was beyond 200 yards. We were at the lowest point of the valley with hand built Sangars as our only protection from the enemy and the elements. Thagla rose Phoenix like, steep and tall just across the river. Was it the PM's instructions that Indian Army should occupy the forward most inch of Indian soil, that had forced the commanders to sit in such a hopeless defensive posture or what. No Army School talked about such defensive position. What then forced us in such a self defeating position? With hindsight no one from political hierarchy to commanders on the ground took the Chinese that seriously. Hindi Cheeni Bhai Bhai was too seriously imbedded in our psyche. (Years later our PM's Lahore Yatra had similarly contributed to the Kargil fiasco.)

    The only support weapons of battalion 3inch Mortars were almost non existent. Though our boys had carried four tubes all the way, we had no bombs. One Arty OP party had come in possibly the same morning. However with half the 17 Para field guns dropped to support the Brigade having been lost during the para drop, there was no Artillery support available. So far as the communication was concerned, one telephone line ran along the river (Nullah) as an omnibus circuit when the phone ran it took us good 5 minutes to sort out who was calling whom. (Possibly he was referring to the lateral line to 9 Punjab. Many unconventional things were happening the Punjabis and the Grenadiers had 'Teed' in to the line running from the Brigade exchange to the Div TAC HQ in a clandestine manner. A fact that came to light only on the 20th October, when the Chinese launched their attack). Oblivious of all these snags I was happy to be home with the Paltan and spent the my day in going from Sanghar to Sanghar meeting officers and men and running errands for Maj Oscar Thomas, our Adjutant. Bridge I was closest to the Hatungla Pass over which crossed the old trade track. Next to us on the left were the Punjabis.

    Lunch in the Brigade HQ
    The very next day that is on the 18th I was summoned, along the IO's of the other Battalions by the Brigade Major. "Come for a conference at the HQ, tomorrow morning at 10 O' clock. You guys are talking about so much Chinese movement opposite you. Let us take stock". I called 2 Lt Naveen Kohli, a course junior to me, and the IO of the Punjab Bn to guide me since I was new. We agreed to walk up together to the Brigade HQ, Naveen told me that he was not from an affluent family. Since his commissioning he was stuck here in NEFA and had seen no life though he had ended up saving some money. "On 10th October during the Tseng Jong operations undertaken by the battalion I saw six foot tall Khalsas drop like bananas with a bullet through them and realised how fragile a man is".

    Naveen awarded VrC posthumously
    Two youngsters in early twenties discussing life! As Naveen continued, he became philosophical, Now I believe that one should live life for the day one is alive, who knows if there is going to be a tomorrow. I am expecting to proceed on casual leave, this time I have decided to enjoy life. Little did he know that the sands of his life were running fast with just a couple of day's worth of particles left in the glass to flow down. Sadly, his small wish to ejoy life remained unfulfilled. 2 Lt Naveen died during the withdrawal on the 21 of October, 1962 and was awarded VrC posthumously.

    Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)
    Photographs: Courtesy Praveen

    Indian Army gets respect abroad but faces a siege within

    The Defence Minister, Shri A K Antony paying homage to the Indian Soldiers who died during the second World War at the Berlin War Cemetery, in Germany on May 26, 2008. The Air Chief Marshal FH Major is also seen. (Photograph courtesy Press Information Bureau of India)

    The visit to the Berlin War Cemetery recently by Indian Defence Minister A K Antony, where amid a sombre mood rich tributes were paid to the Indian soldiers who lost their lives during the Second World War.

    As the bugler sounded the “Last Post” at the war cemetery, Antony with senior officials moved towards the memorials built at the cemetery where bodies of 50 soldiers from undivided India were laid to rest during the Second World War. He placed a wreath at the memorial on which “Their Name liveth for ever more” was inscribed. A small detachment of the German Guards stepped forward to aid the minister to place a wreath at the memorial. He showered rose petals as the bugler again blew the “Last Post” signing the end of the mourning period. Two priests chanted prayers as the delegation members placed rose stalks at the graves.

    Indian army gets respect abroad, but faces siege within
    Antony Pays Homage to Indian war Dead in Berlin

    Forwarded by Brig PT Gangadharan (Retd)

    Comment: Do we have any worthwhile war memorials to honour our soldiers who gave their lives in the Indo China 1962 war, Indo Pak wars 1965 and 1971, recent Kargil War and for the many who have perished in Insurgency Operations in Nagaland, NE, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir? Does our Nation have any other means of honouring the memory of our Soldiers? Do we have a consolidated list of those who sacrificed their lives for each Campaign published? Should not the Greatest Democratic Country in the world let its citizens know who died safe gaurding the Nation?

    Impassioned Plea by a Patriot

    During the last few months, we have noted with concern the extraordinary pent- up anger finding expression in many muted ways from the war veterans and retired officers and jawans of the armed forces. The issue goes beyond the temporal concerns of pay rise recommended or not recommended by the 6th Pay Commission.

    The issue is about the utter lack of sensitivity and response from the Empress of 10 Janpath and the surrogate PM, Hon'ble Manmohan Singh and his cabinet. The situation has clearly gone beyond all tolerable levels in any civil society which respect to the jawans. Have the slogans Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan become mere slogans driving the jawan to fury and the kisan to suicide?

    Who is in charge here? Is there a working constitution -- samvidhaan -- or not?

    Isn't there someone out there who can talk to the war veterans, retired officers and jawans- with compassion and with pride for the contribution they have made to the highest call of office in any reckoning- be prepared to lay down their lives for the security of the rashtram?

    I am reminded of what Justice PN Agarwal said in the Supreme Court in a case related to the DMK government's bandh- call in defiance of the SC order. The learned judge said: "Don't play with fire." These are sage words which should reverberate in the corridors of South and North Blocks and in every office. Don't play with the lives of Kisans and Jawans. Don't play with fire.

    I accuse the worthies of UPA Government with an utter lack of sensitivity. Absence of any visible signs of response from the worthies of UPA Government to the life cry of the jawans is beyond despair. It calls for a demand from every citizen of Bharat for the dismissal of the UPA Government forthwith.

    UPA, if you can't govern, quit office. gaddi chhodo. In the name of dharma, GO. Quit office. Read Dayal's impassioned cry and weep before you GO.

    Vande Maataram.
    Dr S Kalyanaraman

    Dr S Kalyanaraman, Phd, is a former Executive Director, Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines. He 'loves' the 'Forces' for its 'discipline' and 'patriotism'.

    Received from Cdr KRISHAN PUNCHHI (Retd)
    Raghu Dayal: India in the Red

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    SCPC: Victory They Had Said

    Kargil Defending the Nation

    The government’s attitude towards the sixth pay commission brings into question its concern for the army’s welfare.

    A nation that compels its army veterans to express public anguish at the treatment meted out to them needs to introspect deeply. We have progressively robbed our servicemen and women of their izzat and iqbal. We have failed to see the writing on the wall even as the admission into the armed services has declined. We have failed to understand the sentiment behind requests for a separate pay commission or at least to have a service member in it. The result was inevitable and we have only ourselves to blame.

    To all those who have spent their entire working lives defending the territorial integrity of our country, April 27 was a sad day. It was a day when the slogan jai jawan resounded loudly in the psyche of the nation, all the more because it is fast becoming memory. Much like the grand loan waiver scheme to take care of the distressed kisan, the government may choose to please the disillusioned jawan with a few generous rupees. But if it does not give serious thought to those who guard its borders, ‘Jai Hind’ may just become the next casualty.

    Writes Brijesh D Jayal in the Telegraph, Calcutta dated 14 June 2008

    Click: Victory, They Had Said


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