Sit rep: Why are soldiers and veterans so agitated? | punjab$dont-miss | Hindustan Times
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Sit rep: Why are soldiers and veterans so agitated?

On Diwali, I had a drink with director, sorry, Brigadier Seedha-Sadha Singh. Soon we were joined by joint director, sorry, Colonel Bhola Ram. Senior assistant, sorry, Captain Simon Pure came in at the fag end of the evening.

punjab Updated: Nov 06, 2016 17:40 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Brigadier Seedha-Sadha Singh

On Diwali, I had a drink with director, sorry, Brigadier Seedha-Sadha Singh. Soon we were joined by joint director, sorry, Colonel Bhola Ram. Senior assistant, sorry, Captain Simon Pure came in at the fag end of the evening. What am I getting at here? These, my fellow Indians, are the equivalent civil ranks that our armed forces officers have been reduced to on the authority of a ministry of defence (MoD) letter. This downgrading of rank, sought to be done silently, has the approval of no less than the defence minister. He has, however, sought to quell the resultant uproar by limiting the equivalencies to the MoD.

A Gunner veteran, resplendent in his medals, at the venue of the OROP agitation. Like him, Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal was the salt of the earth, determined to fight for a just cause and win. (Photo: IESM)

This is the latest in a series of insidious attempts by conniving politicians and a Machiavellian bureaucracy to cut the military’s pay, pensions, standing and disability allowances. In the latest missive, numerous earlier references have been given to argue that these were the ‘functional equivalencies’ between armed forces and civilian officers. What has been left unsaid, perhaps deliberately, is that a Group of Ministers, after due deliberation, had supplanted all these previous letters in 2009 by fixing the equivalent of a Major General as a civilian joint secretary.

Attack on 30 RR

Early in the morning of October 6, three terrorists attempted an attack on the camp of 30 Rashtriya Rifles battalion HQ at Langate in Kupwara district, Jammu and Kashmir. A classic perimeter defence, followed by a counter-attack took place. The alert boundary sentries opened fire, repelling the assault. The ready-for-action QRT (quick reaction team) engaged the terrorists, fixing them in place. Among the troops resting, second and third responders were quick off the mark, surrounding the attackers. All that remained was to overwhelm the terrorists using larger numbers and firepower. This was done without any casualties to our own troops.

The successful action shows the high motivation of the battalion (affiliated to the Mahar Regiment with 33% personnel coming from other arms and services) instilled by good command dynamics. Colonel Rajiv Saharan, the commanding officer certainly has cause for satisfaction. On a broader plane, the repulse of terrorists at Langate indicates that after the cross-LoC strikes, the Army on the counter-insurgency grid is ready and watchful for any retaliatory attacks.

Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal

What sort of a person was the late Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal? I didn’t know him personally, but can make an accurate guess from his career profile and the work he did after retirement. Joining the 105 Infantry Battalion TA (Rajputana Rifles) in Delhi Cantt, he served for six years before becoming a regular soldier with the Defence Security Corps, in which capacity he protected defence installations. After retirement, he entered public service as the sarpanch of his village. Development works initiated by him and his outstanding social work brought him a presidential award. He was typical of the regulars who made the venue of the OROP agitation at Jantar Mantar their home. Straightforward, selfless, keen to help others and indefatigable in pursuit of their rights – in short, the salt of the earth. These veterans had the courage and stamina to take their endeavour forward. I do not support suicide but if his death shocks this unfeeling nation into caring for its veterans, it would’ve been worth it.

Please write in with your narratives of war and soldiering to msbajwa@gmail.com or call/WhatsApp on 093161-35343