On February 24, during Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with veterans, General KMKS Baraich addressed the gathering and spelled out the way forward towards implementation of the ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) demand giving out a viable time frame in which the government must act to fully satisfy the ex-servicemen.
It was fitting that he articulated the way veterans want the implementation done since it was he who had as Director General, rehabilitation in the defence ministry in 198485 first expressed concern about the glaring disparity in pensions. Belonging to Jharauli, Kurukshetra district, he was commissioned in 1950 into the Deccan Horse, one of the finest armoured regiments.
Baraich remembers the hard gunnery training done in the 50s and 60s and the emphasis on subunit tactical drills. Since equipment was old and spares in short supply in those financially stringent times maintenance occupied a great deal of their time. All these were modern reiterations of old cavalry values where the care of horses was sacred and training allimportant. This emphasis paid off handsomely in both 1965 and 1971.
Transferring to 62 Cavalry, the first new armoured regiment raised after Independence in 1958 Baraich served as an instructor at the National Defence Academy where one of his cadets was Captain Amarinder Singh whose admirable officer-like qualities impressed him. Taking on Pakistan’s superior Patton tanks with the Sherman Mark IVs of his squadron during the 1965 War in the Sialkot sector Baraich was mentioned in despatches.
He continued up the ladder commanding his regiment in a defensive posture to deter the enemy’s planned offensive into Punjab in 1971 and later armoured and mountain brigades. In 1980, the general raised 22 Division with troops flung all over central India. Retiring to Chandigarh’s Sector 33 in 1985, he takes pride in the fact that his sons, one a serving general and the younger one a retired colonel followed him into the regiments he served with.
FRATRICIDE IN 13 RR
On February 27 at 2.45am, Rifleman Ranveer Singh of 13 Rashtriya Rifles located at Safapora on the banks of the Manasbal Lake in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district climbed down from his sentry post and shot at his sleeping comrades seemingly without provocation. After killing five and wounding one he shot himself dead. The battalion is affiliated to the Kumaon Regiment with elements of the Artillery also forming part of it under command 3 Sector of Counter-Insurgency Force Victor.
This has been the worst cases of fratricide involving army Jawans till date. The reasons for such seemingly irrational actions include both personal and service issues. Stressful counter-insurgency operations heightened by poor living conditions, hostility of the local population, constant lurking danger and lack of cooling-off opportunities including recreational facilities contribute significantly to pressures on personnel. The revolution in telecommunications means that domestic anxieties are conveyed much faster puts added weight on personnel.
A recent seminar organised at Army HQ recognised the changed social trends in the service. Jawans are no longer hardy rural boys overawed by officers. The narrowing gap between the officer class and the other ranks must be taken cognisance of and mental attitudes amended in the best interests of cohesion and harmony within the Army. The tremendous shortage of officers in combat units means that there are less effective leaders present to supervise, redress Jawans; grievances and undertake ameliorate measures. Please write in with your
narratives of war and soldiering to email@example.com or call on 093161-35343