The tragic snuffing out of two innocent lives in Budgam has saddened everyone. Relative absence of unrest in the wake of the deaths has not escaped observers’ attention, pointing towards the improvement in the security situation brought about by the untiring efforts of the military and police. In this case the troops of 53 Rashtriya Rifles appear to have committed an error of judgement. However they seem to have already been presumed guilty of a violation of the rules of engagement. The ball was set rolling by the then defence minister’s hasty tweet on the subject.
Others down the chain of command followed. Maybe they should all have waited for the report of the court of inquiry before pronouncing the patrolling party culpable.
Attempts to link this case with the Machil killings should be resisted. In this case the troops seem to have acted in good faith. The incident portrays vividly the strong potential for human tragedy inherent in insurgencies and operations set in motion to counter them. While respect for human life must be paramount always and there must be zero tolerance for excesses, our Jawans serving under tough conditions must not be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency. The gains of the hard-won peace in the Valley brought about by a successful counter-insurgency campaign must not be frittered away for doubtful political benefits. Is it too much to expect an understanding of our soldiers’ position?
Remembrance Day observed
Remembrance Day (commemorating the end of the First World War on 11th November 1918 and the huge sacrifices made in what was till then mankind’s largest, most widespread conflict) was observed by the British and Canadian consulates in a moving, graceful ceremony at Chandigarh. Captain Amarinder Singh, who was the chief guest, spoke about how India’s significant role in winning the war has been glossed over. This came home to him after watching the series on the conflict made by the BBC in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum and Canadian and Australian broadcasters. In a series stretching over 23 hours there were just two mentions of India lasting just under a minute! To put the record straight he has written a new book on the participation of the Indian Army which was released recently. With the amount of research done by him, including traversing the battlefields of Indian Expeditionary Force ‘A’ in France and Belgium, it promises to be an absorbing and informative read.
TA course concludes at IMA
The closing ceremony of the post-commission training course for Territorial Army officers was held at the Indian Military Academy’s Chetwode Hall on November 8. The officiating Commandant, Maj Gen Yadvender Singh Mahiwal said on the occasion that TA officers were not only an asset in terms of trained specialists in various fields whose expertise is being optimally exploited but also ambassadors of the Indian Army in civil society. For the last decade and more, TA officers after getting commissioned undergo a 13-week training capsule at the IMA. This institutionalised training produces better results than the earlier training which was done in situ in TA units and through a 75-day attachment with an infantry battalion. Of course, TA officers if so desiring can still do attachments as well as attend professional courses at army schools of instruction.
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