The military selects its officers through a system of competitive exams followed by a tough selection board. To help aspirants get into the defence services Colonel IS Deol, an ASC officer set up the Minerva Academy at Shimla in 1955 (subsequently the institution moved to Jalandhar then Chandigarh and is now located near Mohali).
The academy specialises in systematic training of candidates for services selection boards and also offers coaching for written examinations. Till date more than 30,000 of its trainees have successfully become officers in the armed forces. These include General JJ Singh, former army chief and Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon and Captain Vikram Batra, both posthumous Param Vir Chakra awardees. The institution has a fully equipped campus set in an area of 10 acres with excellent infrastructure including playing fields, a hostel and a mess.
What I liked very much about the Minerva Academy apart from the high success rate stemming from the excellence of training was the high level of in-house inspiration imparted to the trainees motivating them not only to strive harder to succeed but become useful citizens too. The dedicated team of Ranjit and Henna Bajaj run the institute under the guidance of the former’s mother, Rupan Deol Bajaj, IAS (retired), the daughter of the founder.
Training is carried out by a faculty of qualified, experienced professionals. As the Minerva Academy moves into the 60th year, it continues to reiterate its iconic status as an institute of excellence. In a great gesture, the academy has pledged to give full scholarships to wards of all martyred and disabled soldiers.
The Panther Division in operations 15 Infantry Division with the formation sign of the panther head was raised in 1964 in the Dehradun-Roorkee complex moving to its current key location plan (KLP) of Amritsar-Jalandhar-Tibri the same year.
As it turns fifty, it is time to review its operational history. The division spearheaded the attack on Lahore on two axes during the 1965 war. The aim was to close up to the BRB Canal and use its wide depth as a reverse defence posing a threat to Lahore thereby forcing the enemy to reduce the pressure on beleaguered Indian forces in Chhamb.
The war’s first day led to a great deal of disillusionment for the formation with one brigade’s advance completely failing and the other only partly succeeding. The divisional commander was removed for the failure. Only 3 Jat achieved more than its brief even crossing the canal along the GT Road.
The next few days saw the division’s fortunes waxing and waning until some determined leadership on the part of Major General Mohinder Singh, MC, the new commander saw it retaking its original objectives. 3 Jat was again in the forefront capturing the canal bank with a determined attack.
1971 saw the formation in a defensive posture this time holding the fixed canal line defences protecting Amritsar and Gurdaspur. At the same time, it launched limited attacks to eliminate enemy enclaves on this side of the Ravi at Fatehpur and Jassar which were ready-made bridgeheads to launch offensives into our territory.
15 Division was again deployed to curb militancy in Punjab and particularly played a vital role post-1990 to win back control of the rural areas of Amritsar from the terrorists.
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