|National Vol. 2 Issue 33-34||Jan. 22- Feb. 6, 2000|
Addressing officers and men of the armed forces on the occasion of the Army Day,in New Delhi recently. General Malik said that the thrust on improving operational capability continued to meet any future challenges and a number of new weapons, surveillance, night observation and firing devices, mine protected vehicles, etc. had been procured.
Some of these had already been issued to units while others were expected to be delivered shortly, he said adding that the induction of mine-protected vehicles and increased availability of bullet-proof jackets had reduced personal risks while combating insurgency.
"We need to prepare ourselves adequately in weapons, equipment and human resources so that in future we can perform even better and not suffer avoidable casualties. This is the area on which we and our government need to focus," he said. He said modernisation of weapons was a continuous process and schemes were under way for procuring better tanks, artillery guns and associated equipment to improve conventional deterrence capability.
Steps had also been taken to improve human resources. Junior leaders academy and army institute of information technology had been established and more opportunities for training and education in armys own establishments and in universities outside were available.
The Army chief said that after the Kargil war fight against proxy war and terrorism had further intensified. The proxy war required a synergetic approach, proper equipping of the armed forces and national support, he said and expressed confidence that the Indian Army was prepared and where necessary, would prepare itself more. "After Kargil, our ongoing fight against terrorism and proxy war has further intensified .... The Indian Army is prepared, and where necessary, it will prepare itself more to deal with the situation."
The army, Gen Malik said, had to make a continuous effort at modernising itself to meet the challenges of future wars and maintain high levels of operational capability. Earlier the Army chief inspected an impressive parade and gave away several gallantry and service medals that included two Yudh Sewa medals, 17 Sena Medals (including a bar on sena medal to Captain Hemanto Panging of Paras) and 15 Vishisht Sewa medals. Star attractions of the parade included two Kargil heroes scouts and captain Balwan Singh of 18 Grenadiers --besides state-of-the-art air defence equipment.
The Army chief also gave away unit citations to 27 battalions including the prestigious bravest of the brave to two units for outstanding work during the Kargil crisis. The two battalions to get bravest of the brave citation are 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, which earned itself two Param Vir Chakras (Captain Vikram Batra and rifleman Sanjay Kumar), and 1/11 Gorkha Rifles which got one PVC (Capt. Manoj Kumar Pandey) during the Kargil operations.The immaculately turned-out soldiers presented a breathtaking display of rhythm as they marched past the saluting dais in their colourful ceremonial attire.
The countrys formidable air defence equipment was at display with Prithvi missile, Tanguska missile-cum-gun equipment and Reporter radar, besides recently acquired Cassipir anti-mine personnel carriers, snow-mobiles and a contingent of Gypsy-mounted para commandos. A contingent of the 61st Cavalry, the only horse-mounted battalion in the world, was also part of the parade.
Describing the year gone by as "eventful Gen Malik said professionalism, valour, patriotism and dedication were tested in kargil conflict. A special thrust was aimed at tangibly improving the army jawans capability and quality of life in 1999. Attention was focussed on training, accommodation, travel conditions, transit camps, health care and family welfare activities.Farooq foresees more ultra activities in Kashmir Terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir will be much more in number now as the present activities are a do or die attempt for the Pakistani-backed forces operating in the State, opined Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of the State.
Pakistans chief executive, General Parvez Musharraf, had no developmental activity like roads, water or fiscal management to show to his people. Thus his aim is to divert the peoples attention towards the ongoing "jehad" by separatists in Kashmir.
"However, this spurt in militant activity is not related to the change of power at the Centre," Dr Abdullah said while side-stepping questions if a war with Pakistan was foreseeable in the near future. He did not commit himself to an answer on war but added: "The people of J&K will fight till the end. "
On the release of three hardcore terrorists in exchange of 160 people who were held hostage by hijackers on board the Indian Airlines flight, IC 814, Dr. Abdullah said this was "unfortunate but there was no other way out after the plane had left Amritsar". In his view the Taliban were doing only what Pakistan wanted it to do. It was surviving only due to Pakistan patronage .
The destination of the hijackers was Afghanistan and the landings en route were just to fool people. Asked why the Indian Government was not coming out specifically against the Taliban and its role in the hijacking, he said by criticising Pakistan, India was criticising the right country as Pakistan was the mother of terrorism in the region.Indo-Bangla train service from Jan. 26 Train services between India and Bangladesh would be resumed soon through Petropol border in North 24-Parganas following an agreement between the two countries, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee informed West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu.
Railway Minister sought Mr Basus help and co-operation for smooth implementation of the longstanding demand of the people of Bangladesh and West Bengal. Ms. Banerjee said since it was a development project of the State she did not have any hesitation of seeking the co-operation of the Chief Minister with whom she had bitter political relations.
Ms. Banerjee said a draft of the agreement for running train services between the two countries was sent to Dhaka earlier, which the Bangladesh government had approved. A team of Railway Board and countrys Foreign Ministry and Finance Ministry officials will be going to Dhaka next week to sign the agreement. Ms Banerjee hoped train services between the two countries would start operating from January 26, Indias Republic Day, which has been targeted by the Railway Ministry.
In the beginning, only goods trains will start running between the two countries through Petropol-Benapol link. From Petrapol to Benapol (Bangladeshs Jessore district) is a stretch of some 10 km track which needs to be established for running trains straight to Bangladesh from West Bengal. The Railway Board has already earmarked necessary fund for the setting of this 10 km track at the instance of Ms. Banerjee.
The Railway Minister said after the running of goods trains through the Petrapol-Benapol link, steps would be taken to expedite the running of passenger trains which we both countries had been wanting for long.
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