This is the post excerpt.
This is the post excerpt.
The London cabbie is an institution. He loves a good conversation, knows London like the back of his hand and is remarkably candid about how he sees the world.
I was invited to the United Kingdom for a series of lectures and appearances. I gave a speech at Oxford, duly acknowledging that for academic disasters like me, a lecture invitation was the only way to enter the hallowed gates of that institution.
I spoke at the UK Parliament. It was an absolute honour. To be able to state my country’s point of view in the halls of the “mother of all parliaments” is not something one forgets in a hurry.
It was the debate at King’s College, London that confirmed my worst fears. London has a very dark underbelly, a city beneath a city. The people who live in The Queen’s London ignore signs of the other city. Let’s call the other city The Caliph’s London.
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They say that after creation, God had some pieces of stone and rock left. And so, He created Afghanistan. It is a cruel and unforgiving land. Since time immemorial, it has also been the gateway for invaders and adventurers, one often masquerading as the other, who have galloped down these passes in search of gold and glory into the fertile plains beyond, in the land known as India.
They say that only the iron will and sagacity of Maharaja Ranjit Singh could subdue the Afghans. But the ruler of the Sikh Empire died in 1839, and the predatory tribes started nibbling at the fringes. His successors were not of the same stuff as the Maharaja. And the British, as it is well known, are nothing if not persistent.
The Tirah Campaign was yet to gather full momentum, and the British considered the North West Frontier areas of be of strategic importance. These tribal badlands were almost impossible to control. The Pathans were a volatile warrior race, and would only understand the language of force. And for that, forts built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, now controlled by whoever fielded greater numbers, would have to be physically occupied.
The winter of 1897 was slowly approaching and the September evenings had started becoming cooler. They were not chilly yet. That would come later. The Afghans had declared war.
Fort Lockhart was situated on the Samana Range of the Hindu Kush Mountains. A few miles apart stood Fort Gulistan on the Suleiman Range. Both forts were strategically important for the British. As luck would have it, they were not in line of sight. The forts were “blind” to each other. So a small heliographic communication post was created in between the two, so that Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan could talk to each other. There was nothing special about this post, just a large mud house block with ramparts and loopholes. On the roof stood a signaling tower.
The most innocuous and ordinary places sometimes make history; they have this unique capacity to make mortals walk with the gods.
The date was 12 September 1897, and the nondescript communication post was Saragarhi.
36th Sikh Regiment of the British Indian Army was tasked with defending the forts. The Sikhs repulsed multiple attacks by the Pathan tribesmen. On 3rd and 9th September Afridi tribesmen attacked Fort Gulistan. Both attacks were beaten back by the Sikhs. In between, Saragarhi was reinforced with more troops. It now had one Non Commissioned Officer and twenty Other Ranks.
The Afghans realized that Fort Havelock and Fort Gulistan were “blind” to each other. They would not fall. The only way to defeat them was to cut off all communication between them and isolate them.
On 12 September 1897 at about 0900 hrs, more than ten thousand armed Orakzai Afghan tribesmen attacked Saragarhi. Defending Saragarhi were Havildar Ishar Singh and twenty jawans of 34th Sikh Regiment.
Sepoy Gurmukh Singh, the signaler, immediately informed Lt. Col. John Haughton, the Commanding Officer of 34th Sikh Regiment, that they were under attack. The CO responded by saying that he was unable to send reinforcements, because he had none to send. Haughton would later go on record to say that he estimated the enemy strength to be between ten thousand and fourteen thousand attackers.
At that point, Havildar Ishar Singh and his men took a decision. There would be no retreat, no surrender. The Sikhs would embrace martyrdom. They would fight where they stood, and they would die where they fought.
Sepoy Bhagwan Singh was the first to be martyred. His body was taken to the inner part of the post. The Afghans howled in bloodlust. The Sikhs stood firm. Twice, the Afghans attacked the main gate and were driven back, with massive casualties.
So great was the Afghan onslaught that a part of the wall of the post caved in. A few Sepoys, who were in the outer circle, engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand fight with the enemy. Havildar Ishar Singh ordered his men into the inner sanctum of the post, while he alone faced thousands of enemies all alone.
Soon, the inner wall of the post was also breached and all the defenders, but one, were martyred.
Sepoy Gurmukh Singh was the last man holding the post. He quickly signaled to Lt. Col. Haughton that he was the last man standing, and that he be allowed to stop signaling and join the battle. The CO gave permission. Gurmukh Singh packed his equipment with great love and care, in his brown leather case. Then, he jumped into the fray. He killed twenty of the enemy before the enemy set fire to the entire post.
As Gurmukh Singh fought, his skin burned, and as his skin burned, he shouted the old war cry of the Sikhs, “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal”. They say that Gurmukh Singh was fighting even when his body had caught fire. Gurmukh’s screams rent the air as the enemy surrounded him.
Soon, there was silence. The brave twenty-one lay martyred.
As the Afghans prepared to attack Fort Gulistan, they came under heavy artillery fire from the British post. The brave twenty-one had bought precious time for the reinforcements to arrive. And they had paid for it with their blood.
The relief party arrived and Saragarhi was retaken on 14 September.
Afghan casualties were approximately 180 killed and thousands injured. This was the damage inflicted by Ishar Singh and his brave men. When artillery fire opened up, a total of over 600 enemy bodies were recovered.
In an anti-climax, in the middle of battle, the Orakzai Afghan Chief, Gul Badshah offered amnesty, safe passage and gold to the Sikhs. He said that the Afghan’s fight was not with the Sikhs, but with the British. Gul Badshah said that the Sikhs could leave in peace. The Sikhs predictably refused.
Many of you may ask why the Sikhs fought for the British. Did the British not enslave us Indians?
The Sikhs at Saragarhi did not fight for the British. They fought for their own honour. That is why they did not withdraw to safety, even after being given every opportunity to do so.
The Sikhs fought so that they would be remembered as men. They chose martyrdom because in the Sikh tradition, death is preferable to dishonor. That was all that there was to Saragarhi; honour of the coat of arms, loyalty to the regiment and the Sikh warrior tradition. For this, the brave twenty-one defied the might of ten thousand Orakzai tribesmen.
Chirian te mein baaz tudaun,
Tabe Gobind Singh Naam kahaun.
When I make sparrows fight with hawks
It is then that I will uphold my name of Gobind Singh.
This is what happened in Saragarhi. The sparrow fought the hawk and forever passed away into the mists of legend.
All the twenty-one martyrs were awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the highest gallantry award that could be given to an Indian. The corresponding gallantry award for the British at that time was the Victoria Cross. The highest award now is the Param Veer Chakra.
The Sikhs were always renowned as great warriors, but after Saragarhi, something changed. These brave twenty-one ensured that whenever the name of Sikh warriors was taken, it would be taken with reverence and awe.
Havildar Ishar Singh
Naik Lal Singh
Lance Naik Chanda Singh
Sepoy Sundar Singh
Sepoy Ram Singh
Sepoy Uttar Singh
Sepoy Sahib Singh
Sepoy Hira Singh
Sepoy Daya Singh
Sepoy Jivan Singh
Sepoy Bhola Singh
Sepoy Narayan Singh
Sepoy Gurmukh Singh
Sepoy Jivan Singh
Sepoy Gurmukh Singh
Sepoy Ram Singh
Sepoy Bhagwan Singh
Sepoy Bhagwan Singh
Sepoy Buta Singh
Sepoy Jivan Singh
Sepoy Nand Singh
34th Sikh Regiment is now 4th Battalion, The Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army.
The Sikh Regiment retains the DNA of Havildar Ishar Singh and his lion hearted twenty. It retains its tradition of never giving in to fearsome odds.
The sparrow still fights the hawk.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
17 Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment (Bhaduria)
#MajorGauravArya #IndianArmy #Saragarhi #TheSparrowAndTheHawk #adgpi #TheSikhs
There were many reasons for creating the elite National Defence Academy. I am not sure if this is true, but many ex-NDA officers have mentioned in passing that maybe the idea was also for cadets of the Army, Navy and Air Force to train together, bond in the manner only possible in the sweat, blood, mud and grime of the academy and then, when they went on to serve in the Army, Navy and Air Force, that bonding was expected to, somewhere down the line, help in what the services like to call “jointness”.
Think of “jointness” as an elaborate orchestra playing a highly complicated musical piece, never one note off-key. Think of it as perfection personified; and in war, think of the Army, Navy and Air Force together fighting a mind-numbingly complex war in perfect harmony. This is what is expected. And, its not happening.
NDA has produced, and continues to produce fantastic officers. It also creates bonding that is the envy of all military academies. However, the three services have not been able to take forward the magic of NDA. “Jointness” remains on paper. The ability of the Army, Navy and Air Force to fight together is not what it should be.
China boasts of the largest military force in the world. It has five theater commands. The United States of America’s military has the most advanced weaponry in the world and a global footprint. It fights wars everywhere. The US has nine theater commands; six geographic and three, functional.
India has none.
Many experts argue that India, given its military commitments, does not need theater commands. I disagree. The solution has to be bigger than the problem. The caliber of your ammunition has to be far more than what your enemy can withstand. If we want our military to be feared and respected across the globe, theater commands are amongst the first and primary steps. A typical theater command will have a common pool of resources, will exponentially boost inter-operability and will present the three services as a unified and potent weapon.
Just imagine one Army General controlling one theater and all the naval and air assets in his theater of command. No more inter-services gaps. That general will be in a position to call an air strike or order a destroyer on a mission. If the theater commander is an Air Force officer, he will have Army corps and Navy under him. A Navy theater commander, apart from infantry, artillery and tanks will have squadrons of fighter jets, helicopter gunships and transport aircraft.
It will change the face of warfare forever.
But before we do that, what we need is structural reforms. We need the office of the Chief of Defence Staff. He should be a five-star general equivalent, to whom all the service chiefs will report into. He may be from any of the three services. He will report directly to the Prime Minister. His position will have to be constitutional, and would ideally have to be ratified by Parliament. He will be the Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister on all defence related matters.
We currently have one Lieutenant General as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, but the position lacks teeth. It’s a fancy sounding position. And that’s about all that there is to it.
When all the theater commands report into the Chief of Defence Staff, the position will not just have teeth. It will be like a pride of lions out on a hunt.
As a next step, we need a new complex that will house the tri-services headquarters, and also the headquarters of the theater commands.
South Block looks majestic from outside, but only from outside. What we need is a twenty-first century space-age complex, high on security, totally digitalized and computerized, with state of the art command and control systems, latest telecommunication networks and air defence systems. It should have its own helipads. All military decisions must be traced back to this complex. It should not just be a new building. It must also have a new culture.
This complex would represent the three services. The only logical name I can think of is TRIDENT. In Sanskrit, it translates into Trishul, the fearsome weapon of Lord Shiva. Each spear of the TRIDENT will represent one service. The Chief of Defence Staff and the Chiefs of Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force will call the TRIDENT their office. And the TRIDENT will be to India what the Pentagon is to the United States of America.
The TRIDENT will be disruptive. It will shatter conventional thinking, for good. Even the seating inside would be structured in such a manner that the personnel from the three services sit together, work together and eat together. Let them totally depend on each other to simply get through the day. This will have to be enforced. That’s the easy part. The services know how to enforce.
Apart from various geographic Theater Commands, the military also needs three functional commands. Space Command, Cyber Command and Special Forces Command are urgent and immediate requirements. They cannot wait. The Strategic Forces Command, which controls India’s nuclear assets, is already a functional reality. It reports into the Nuclear Command Authority. It is directly under the Prime Minister’s Office.
Warfare is shifting to the outer orbit. We have a nascent space command. This needs to be put on an emergency fast track. While there are civil satellites controlled by ISRO, military satellites are few. We need significantly more high-end military satellites. They will help in communication, navigation, mapping and guidance systems. They will also directly help us in peeking deep into any corner of the world that we choose to watch. The Space Command will need to be commanded by a three-star general equivalent, with a direct line of reporting to the Chief of Defence Staff. He will control all military assets in deep space. He will be based in the TRIDENT.
Cyber Command is another initiative that needs urgent attention. Enemies who have expertise in cyber warfare surround us, and we are ill prepared. Pakistani hackers enter our cyberspace at will, deforming, hacking and posting content, which will mislead and deceive. There is data theft on a massive scale. And we do nothing. We are the IT capital of the world. Our young women and men run the gigantic IT engines the world knows as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Dell, SAP, Adobe and hundreds of such companies that crowd Silicon Valley, Electronic City in Bangalore, Cyberabad in Hyderabad, Chennai, Gurgaon and Noida.
And yet, we cannot defend our country’s e-frontiers from cyber attacks. Sloth, an all-encompassing dependence on bureaucracy and a psychotic obsession with hierarchy are what plague our government offices. This is a young person’s game. It’s not going to be done by aging thirty-something government employees who look at it as a nine-to-five job posting.
Cyber Command may take years to shape up. In the interim, the government must think about releasing funds for the short-term solution. Rent space in Gurgaon or Noida. Hire a team of hackers, content writers and creators, social media experts, IT whiz kids and whomever else you need to hire to do the job. Pay them market salaries. Put a senior person in-charge with clear-cut directions on what is needed. Empower that person but keep a close watch. Buy top of the line equipment, and spare no expense. Then, sit back and watch your enemies burn in flames. Yes, it’s really that simple. They will not only attack but also defend our e-frontiers. They will advise government officers on cyber security. This is not all that is needed. It is a very small percentage of what is required. It is not even a small part of the whole picture. But it is much better than what we have now. Nothing.
Knowledge about cyber security in critical government offices is seriously lacking. The equipment is third grade, which no self-respecting IT expert will touch with a bargepole. Our government offices simply do not understand this dimension of war. And if they do, they show no signs of having understood.
We need these e-walls, and not just firewalls, to go up today. This cannot wait. The day is not far when someone will try to manipulate stocks, hack into cargo manifests or simply crawl into a critical mainframe. The Chinese are past masters at this. The Pakistanis are catching up. They are slow but they have Chinese teachers. They will leave an IP address trail that will point to a computer in North Korea. Have fun with that.
That’s why we need this interim team. Once the Cyber Command comes up, this team can dovetail into the command or be disbanded.
Warfare is changing. The future belongs to the Special Forces. They are the shadow warriors who will go deep into Pakistan and China and say “Happy Diwali” whenever the leadership of this nation so desires. I have friends who are serving officers in Para SF. I have yet to see such degree of professional excellence. They can actually do the impossible, at will. I can say the same about MARCOS. And Garud. The problem is that they operate in a vacuum. Each force is individually par excellence. Together, they amount to nothing simply because they have very rarely operated together. The Special Forces Command will end this localization of Special Forces. There will be more seamlessness and jointness. It needs to start with joint training and move to evolution of the office of Director General Special Forces Command. A Lieutenant General rank officer must be DGSFC. He will report directly into the CDS.
Also important is that the Special Forces Command works very closely with Research and Analysis Wing. This is exactly what the Israelis do. Sayeret Matkal and other SF units work very closely with Mossad, Aman and Shin Bet. In the US, the United States Special Operations Command operates globally with the CIA. In UK, the MI6 and SAS/ SBS are like cousins.
You cannot have Special Forces Command working without RAW. It simply makes no sense.
You will be surprised to know that some of the initiatives that I have mentioned are under some form of consideration. But they are either highly diluted or mired in red tape. And they are not likely to take off anytime soon.
Not all delays and pushbacks can be blamed on bureaucracy and politicians alone. The services are notorious for holding on to traditional thinking and operating in silos. Each service looks at itself as a unique kingdom that must be protected. But protected against whom? They must understand that together they will be greater because a force is always greater than the sum of its parts.
If you want to create an Empire, kingdoms will have to cease to exist.
We have fantastic defence forces. But for too long they have been tied to a defensive mindset by the powers that be. We must project our military power outside India. We must have foreign bases in Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East. We must have our navy sailing the blue waters. Let us have a few squadrons of fighter jets in Central Asia along with ground troops. We need military presence in Afghanistan.
There are many who would call this, a dreamer’s rant. Some may well ask, “Can we even afford this?”
My point is simple. A permanent position at the United Nations Security Council is not for the weak. Economic strength is crucial, but a country is not called a superpower unless it has a military that the world fears. The brutal truth is that no one fears us. We live in some strange la-la land, hanging on to old tales of world peace and brotherhood. World peace is like the dodo. It is an extinct animal.
In the last 7000 years of human history, can anyone point out to a period of worldwide peace for a continuous 500 years? No. Because peace, in vacuum, does not exist. Man is the most predatory of animals. And for all his protestations, peace does not come naturally to him. Let us accept this.
A famous Quranic Hadith says, “Paradise is under the shade of swords”. What you love, you must be willing to defend with violence.
It is only in the dictionary that the words fear and respect have different meanings. The real world is ugly. And the lines separating the meaning of fear and respect are blurred.
Some even say that such lines do not exist.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment
#MajorGauravArya #TheTrident #adgpi #IndianArmy
India is often likened to an elephant; slow to rise and lumbering in its gait. A little known fact about elephants is that they reach a certain momentum, and when they do, it is impossible to stop them. They rampage, they break, and they destroy and flatten jungles.
Winds of ill fortune are blowing across Kashmir. It had to happen some day. Gently, without undue ceremony, Kashmir has started slipping back into the nineties. The slide is not gentle, but the momentum is visible only to those who know what signs to look for. The insiders speak in whispers. They say that they see ominous signs of “those dark days”. Perhaps they speak of the nineties.
In the mid-nineties, the Rashtriya Rifles was still growing teeth, still developing that fearsome reputation of possessing supernatural hunting skills. RR’s history is interesting. Army Headquarters was pushing units to send men on deputation to Rashtriya Rifles, in the Kashmir Valley. Now, the role of RR and how it could benefit 17 Kumaon was not clear to a young officer who, much against his will, had been appointed Officiating Adjutant. The year was 1995 and the unit was in Tibri Cantt, Gurdaspur. But I knew that I had to “defend & protect” my best men.
I knew what was expected of me. And so when Brigade Headquarters said that there were three vacancies for RR in 17 Kumaon, I sent the worst I had. I sent men with a history of coming back late from leave, gross indiscipline and borderline violence. There were many such clueless Officiating Adjutants, like me, in the Indian Army then, I guess. And there were hard-core professionals who held on to good troops. Any Adjutant would.
The earliest entries into RR were such men. They were the Indian Army’s “Dirty Dozen”. And the best officers the Indian Army could find led these troops. The cocktail was explosive.
RR started notching up kills. Over a period of time, the QR (Qualitative Requirement) of troops changed. Army Headquarters had perhaps got a clue to what Adjutants were up to. Soon, our best men started going to Rashtriya Rifles.
But the DNA of the force had, by then, been embedded in a different culture. Today, Rashtriya Rifles is a distinct force; part infantry and part special operations. They have their ears close to the ground. At any given time, a part of the force is rotating. There are always a substantial number of men who know the ground intimately. They have sources. They have eyes. They can smell. Rashtriya Rifles is the tip of the spear.
And then there is massive radicalization taking place in Kashmir. The gentle Sufi culture, the culture of shrines, is dead. Is has been centuries in the dying, but it was in the past decade that the last rites were read.
From the pulpit of the mosque, venom flows in Kashmir. When DSP Mohd. Ayub Pandith was lynched by a mob; venom was flowing from the pulpit. Every other day, indoctrination to the Wahhabi ideology is taking place from pulpit of mosques. Funds flow in from Saudi Arabia, that proselytizer of proselytizers. Pakistan diverts funds from its infrastructure, healthcare and education budgets to propagate a mindset in Kashmir, a mindset that is accepting of terror…terror from the pulpits.
The humble mobile phone is the tool that disseminates it. Hour after hour, fake news is generated and spread. A population, whose mind has been numbed by propaganda overload, has lost all capacity of sifting wheat from husk. Once the mind is accepting, it is easy to pass off Syrian mass graves as Kashmiri. When security forces surround terrorists, it is this mobile phone that comes to their aid. WhatsApp groups made for this very purpose are activated. Soon, a mob gathers at the site if the encounter.
The mullah and the mobile…that is the bane of Kashmir.
And then, there is China; inscrutable China who, through decades of opaque propaganda positioned itself as a superpower that would brook no opposition. The lesser we understood it, the more formidable it became in our collective minds. Without firing a shot, much less waging a war, China became a superpower in our collective imagination. What will China think? What will China do? What will China’s position on this or that be? These questions were often asked in Parliaments and Senates across the world. So less was actually known about China that after the Indian surgical strikes in PoK, many Indian were waiting for China to react. Some even thought that China might attack.
Nothing happened. That is the moral of the Chinese story. The dragon breathes fire, but the dragon does not go to war. The dragon is wise. This is exactly what is happening in the icy landscape of Doklam. The Indian and Chinese armies are eyeball to eyeball. Not one shot has been fired. Instead of missiles, we have Chinese newspapers writing editorials. These very editorials quote the mood of the Chinese nation, giving veiled hints to India that the Chinese nation is itching for war. We have armchair experts telling India that China could attack through Kashmir. All is pure and distilled hogwash. I always thought Chinese propaganda would be better than Chinese goods. I am disappointed.
China will not attack. Forget that the area of activity was in Bhutan. Forget that China was building a road. China will not attack. It is all bark and no bite.
China has been defeated in war by tiny Vietnam. It is possible to defeat China, and China knows this. In the area of the current standoff, India is at a strategic and tactical advantage. If China attacks, it needs a numerical superiority of 9:1, at least. To engage every Indian soldier, it needs to launch 9 Chinese soldiers into battle. Some thinkers even say that for the Chinese to have even a fleeting chance of success, the ratio must be as high as 10:1. China simply does not have those kinds of numbers.
This face-off was premeditated. It had to happen. After India opposed One Belt One Road (OBOR) and by extension the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), India had to be “taught a lesson”. It started off with Pakistan pushing the envelope in Kashmir after the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Truth be told, Burhan Wani was no Hafiz Saeed. He was a small time militant who was fond of posing for photographs, holding weapons, duly clad in combat uniform. He loved to flash his made-up persona for the ladies. He was involved in the killing of civil functionaries and also planning the killing and ambushing of security forces.
Burhan Wani was killed because he was the head of the Hizbul Mujahideen, which is a terrorist outfit. Politicians in Kashmir regularly question the killing. They say that they would have spoken to Burhan and brought him back to the mainstream. Burhan became a militant at the age of 15 and by the time he has killed by 19 RR, he was about 22 years old. For 7 years, no Kashmiri politician spoke to him and no one asked him to join the mainstream. After he was killed, he became a political milch cow. Burhan alive was a migraine for security forces. Burhan dead is a treasure trove for separatists and Kashmiri politicians.
Now, they will, forever, milk his memory dry…for votes, for tears and for electoral sympathy.
On 8 July 2007, the Special Services Group (Pakistan Army Special Forces) stormed Lal Masjid in Islamabad. One of the casualties it suffered on that day was Lt. Col. Haroon-ul-Islam of the Zarrar Company (anti terrorism unit), who was killed in action by a sniper. He was a brave officer who led from the front and did not shirk from his duty even in the face of certain death.
Today, I remember the courage of Lt. Col. Haroon-ul-Islam. Had we met in war, we would have been enemies, sworn to kill each other. Yet, he is worthy of respect because he died in the line of duty.
I also remember Lt. Col. Haroon-ul-Islam because his own army forgot him. For this brave soldier, there was that almost perfunctory tweet from ISPR. For a terrorist like Burhan Wani, the Pakistan Army Chief sang praises and the whole Pakistani nation wept.
The death anniversary of a soldier and a terrorist fall on the same day, and Pakistan chooses to remember the terrorist. Such are a nation’s priorities. Such are our enemies.
What is happening on the Line of Control? Look carefully and you will see that without exception, all ceasefire violations are taking place along the Jammu axis. Naushera, Sundarbani, Bhimbar Gali, Krishna Ghati, Mendar, Poonch, Rajouri, Balnoi; all these areas where Pakistan Army regularly violates ceasefire are in Jammu. There is no ceasefire violation in Kashmir.
Here is what the situation is like. LoC along Kashmir has zero ceasefire violations, and terror attacks are very rare in Jammu. Srinagar and South Kashmir see stone pelting. Jammu has no stone pelting.
Pakistan deliberately wants to punish the population of Jammu, which it perceives is loyal to India. It wants to create a Hindu-Muslim divide in the Valley. Since Pakistan was created on the basis of religion, that is the extent of their imagination. Pakistan rarely thinks beyond religion. Or money.
China. Pakistan. Terror in Kashmir. Two and a half wars.
When massive stone pelting and rioting broke out in Kashmir after the killing of Burhan Wani last year, the security forces were taken aback because they based their assumptions on the truth, that Burhan was a nobody and that there would be no reaction. He was not the first terrorist to be killed and certainly would not be the last. Pakistan’s ISI, in cahoots with militant separatists like Asiya Andrabi created the myth of Burhan Wani overnight.
The ISI excels in psychological warfare and its post-Burhan management of the chaos in Kashmir was a master class in psy ops. But the CRPF is a force famous for learning on its feet. It knows the ground intimately. On the first death anniversary of Burhan Wani, ISI and the separatists in Kashmir had planned widespread rioting and stone pelting across the Kashmir Valley. Less than 5% of what they had planned actually happened on ground. Take a look at the local newspapers. So little was the stone pelting that, forget Indian newspapers, even Pakistani dailies did not give it more than a passing mention. The Burhan drama has fizzled out. Even if it picks up later, the initiative is lost. You do not celebrate a birthday a week after the date. It’s simply not done. Same logic.
India has called China’s bluff. China stared at India, and India did not blink. China knows that the year is 2017 and not 1962. Pakistan Army’s adventurism on the border is being responded to with ferocity that it has not seen in a very long time. Their bunkers are being decimated and their troops are dying. For the past few weeks, the infamous Border Action Teams of Pakistan Army are strangely ineffective, because Para SF is now hunting them. The attacks on security forces camps are down to a trickle. Everyday we hear of terrorists being killed. Stone pelters are still stone pelting, but every week their effectiveness reduces.
There is only one way to permanently keep China on the back foot, embarrass it and make sure that it is always on a slippery slope. We have the Dalai Lama. For decades, India has kept this relationship subtle so as to not embarrass the Chinese, and in the interim China has quietly gone about changing the demography of the Tibetan plateau. It is time to come out from the cold. Lets not be bashful about it.
The Dalai Lama should be facilitated in all possible ways so that he can meet the heads of states and the United Nations, and appraise the world of Chinese atrocities against Buddhists. Let black banners meet Xi Jinping wherever he goes. Let Tibetans protest outside Chinese embassies across the world.
Hong Kong has been the bedrock of simmering discontent against Beijing’s rule. Pro democracy protests are becoming commonplace. Very recently, a few public officials refused to take oath on the Constitution of China. That, coupled with a few more incidents prompted Xi Jinping, no less, to issue a very public warning to the people of Hong Kong. He did it because China was rattled.
When India openly supports pro-democracy forces, there will a rumble in the dragon’s belly. China is afraid of social media. It is afraid of contrary opinion. It may not be afraid of our armed forces, but if Tibetan protesters greet Xi Jinping with black flags outside the United Nations, China will not know how to deal with such a scenario. It never has. It is used to applying brute force upon its own citizenry.
The Indian Army has shown us the way. If you don’t blink and if you tell China that you are not impressed with all the optics of size and economy it so brazenly displays, China will be at a loss.
The two and half wars we are faced with are, to a very large extent, China’s doing. And these are power games between China and India.
It is now time to twist the dragon’s tail.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
#MajorGauravArya #TwoAndAHalfWars #adgpi #IndianArmy
They know that the Indian Army is the last argument of the state. They know that after the Indian Army, there is nothing…no fallback. And so, with malice and cunning, they seek to undermine the institution and the man who leads it.
It’s a vicious web of half-truths, outright lies, deceit and ill gotten wealth. It is an eco-system where greed is king and the nation, a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder.
If you want to undermine India, what better way to do it than to undermine the institution with the utmost credibility and integrity? If you want to undermine the Indian Army, what better way to do it than abuse its Chief?
They know that the army will never respond. They know that the Chief of Army Staff will never respond. They are honour bound not to. So, the Indian Army and its Chief will maintain a stoic silence while these two-penny politicians wreck public havoc upon India’s finest men and women.
Do not underestimate these traitors. They cater to a certain constituency which has a certain ideology and a definite agenda. These public utterances are not unplanned. This is a well thought out strategy, and the perpetrators are hand in glove with those who seek to harm India.
For seven decades, the Indian Army has protected us, and our way of life. They have shed so much of their own blood that all the tears in the world are not enough to wash away the bloodstains. And they asked for nothing.
They are still shedding blood and still, they ask for nothing.
But enough is enough. It is time we rise as a nation and stand up for the Indian Army. That army that has always stood between India and misfortune. That very army that gave us Manoj, Arun, Tushar, Pawan, Haneef, Acharya, Vijayant, Vikram, Saurabh, David, Umar and a thousand others who will live forever in our collective national memory.
In life you will meet people who will give you a lot, but you will rarely meet someone who is willing to give you everything, without you ever asking or even being aware that at 15,000 feet on a remote and desolate mountainside, a young soldier is bleeding to death, his stomach torn….his intestines strewn about. He screams in pain and then slowly his eyes begin to fade. Look there….a soldier just died for you and you did not even know about it. Tomorrow, in the middle pages of a national daily, a small writeup will report “Indian Army officer killed in action in Kashmir”. That’s all what we are – unsung, unwept and unforgiven.
Gen. Bipin Rawat leads an army of 1.3 million soldiers. Each one of them is willing to die before any harm befalls you or your family.
It is now time. Time to reclaim lost ground of nationhood that is regularly perverted by a few.
It is time to fight back. It is time to stand with your soldier. It is time to give succour to the young soldier dying on a desolate mountainside.
Your army will never say it. It is you who must feel, and then act against those who seek to tarnish the fair name of the Indian Army.
This time it’s your turn to go to war.
CLICK HERE: https://youtu.be/U3mjYZ3FgAE
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
17 Kumaon Regiment
The Indian Army
#ASoldierSpeaks #MajorGauravArya #IndianArmy #adgpi
The soldier has been mauled, humiliated, insulted, his integrity questioned and his every move analyzed threadbare. Never was there so much scrutiny of those who just wanted to do their duty and live a life of honour.
Soldiers demand nothing. They sleep in the cold. Meals are skipped because they are too busy trying to save others. The last remembered smell is of gunpowder and gun oil. They carry their family in their wallets. They kill. They die. Some say they were “martyred”. Some don’t bother; “killed” is good enough for both soldier and terrorist.
And the soldier is not allowed to speak. He, who has the most to say because of what he lives through each moment, is not allowed to tell the world what he feels. How does it feel when his skin burns at plus 50 degrees centigrade? What does he go through when his limbs catch frostbite and the only way to save him is to amputate that limb? How heavy is the dead body of his martyr brother? What are his loves, longings, victories and defeats? When his body is broken from extreme exhaustion and blood loss, where does he summon that last ounce of energy to walk up to his buddy who is in ICU?
What is the DNA of a soldier?
So we went across the country and spoke to soldiers. They opened up to me because I too, was a soldier once. The brotherhood always endures. The same questions were asked, visit after visit – which course, which regiment, which unit? We were with 17 Kumaon in Naushera (J&K) in the same Brigade in 1998…you were OC Charlie Company. Sir, you are from Jessami-13 OTA, SS 57, right? I was in Kohima, SS 74.
The same soldier talk.
I remember sitting and sharing a drink with this tough young officer from the Para Regiment, who had seen countless operations and bloodshed. He spoke to me (off camera) about firefights. He was telling me about an operation in Kashmir in which a few of his brother officers were involved. He mentioned a particularly funny incident about an officer climbing a rock-face in pitch darkness and then coming face to face with two terrorists. The operation was successful. Later, I asked him about that officer. Suddenly, for a fraction of a second, this big, tough paratrooper crumbled in front of my eyes. And then he recovered his composure as suddenly as he had lost it. “Shaheed”, he said stoically, pretending as if the loss was in the past. But I had seen the truth.
Then there was this CRPF jawan I met in Srinagar who was narrating a story about how his brothers were martyred in ant-Naxal operations in Sukma. He told me how he carried the dead body of his friend for twelve kilometers so that he could give him the final gift; a farewell worthy of a soldier. He too remembered. He remembered it clearly.
No loss is ever in the past. Soldiers have long memories. Very long memories.
“My father was in the Indian Army”, said Arnab on 15 March this year.
I nodded, understanding the emotion. Olive Green changes your DNA forever.
“We must pay homage to the Indian soldier, sailor and airman, Major. Not the equipment, not the weapons but the human being who wears that uniform. The soldier who watches over us while we sleep”, he said. “Will you do it?” Arnab asked.
“I am new to media. Speaking at a panel discussion and creating a TV series are two different things. To speak for the soldier is a sacred trust. I don’t want to fail”, I said.
“You won’t fail. Please do exactly what you do on TV debates. Speak from the heart and be blunt. Just speak soldier to soldier,” Arnab said.
I went home and climbed down to the dingy basement looking for old records and photos from my army days. I found them. They made me smile and laugh and cry.
Over a period of a month, the idea of a TV series took shape.
We mulled over names. What would a TV series on the soldier be called? It was not a work of fiction. It was about a veteran going across India, meeting his brothers. Many names crossed our minds. In the end, we settled for a name that was blunt, to the point and from the heart. Just like my TV debates.
So, we called it PATRIOT.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
17 Kumaon Regiment
#MajorGauravArya #adgpi #Patriot #IndianArmy
Saturday 27 May, 7:30 pm @Republic TV.
Gen. Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army had predicted a violent summer, two months back. It is now unfolding before our very eyes. Yes, we had wished that the prediction would prove untrue, but then the general speaks with decades of experience. He also has on-demand access to technology and intelligence that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. A snap of the fingers and satellites begin to triangulate in deep space. A friendly phone call to Naval HQ, and a nuclear submarine starts transmitting data to his encrypted smartphone, via secure servers. A request to Air HQ sees AWACS (Airborne Warning & Control Systems) peek hundreds of kms inside Pakistan or China.
He controls highly trained Special Forces that can wreck absolute havoc deep inside Pakistan, even before that nation can wake up to morning tea. This I can personally vouch for, if that counts for anything. Para SF can do to Pakistan what Hanuman Ji did to Lanka when Ravana set his tail on fire.
For some mysterious reason this fearsome Katana remains in the scabbard; never used, but always alluded to. We are importing the latest weapon systems and missiles from Israel. Perhaps, we could ask them to send a little political will the next time.
It is also true that we find ourselves in this predicament with no one else to blame. It is we who are guilty of inaction, and when forced to act, of dubious action. We, a nation of 1.25 billion people, cannot find the resolve to handle a bunch of stone pelters. And we petition the world that we be invited to sit at the high table of the United Nations Security Council. We have allowed the infamous Red Corridor to thrive under our collective noses. We have permitted the Hurriyat to cock a snook at us, funding them lavishly for that one elusive day when they may proclaim to the world at large, that India is the better option for Kashmiris.
Till that day, we continue to pay a steep price. Soldiers are martyred, beheaded and humiliated. An entire region descends into Wahhabi-fuelled chaos. Children as young as five years of age are radicalized. Fighters loyal to ISIS start entering Kashmir. Army camps are attacked and soldiers killed in their sleep. An officer is kidnapped and murdered.
Our response? Shut off Internet services in the Valley. This can be one in a series of steps, but if this is your main weapon, you are clearly out of ideas. What’s the plan? That once you deny the terrorists their daily fix of social media, they will surrender in droves?
We are a weak state, and both Pakistan and China know this. Pakistan plays merry hell in Kashmir with a wink-and-nudge from China, and we do a spectacular nothing.
Especially heartbreaking is how some Indians, sometimes react on social media. I have been asked why the Indian Army is making such a fuss about the martyrdom of Lt. Umar Fayaz. Is it because he was a Muslim? Why did the Army not conduct candle light vigils when other soldiers were martyred? These questions speak of a petty mind, a mind devoid of knowledge, experience and common sense. I did not want to dignify such questions by answering them; but keep quiet and those who are devoid of common sense and heart start assuming they are right. They must be countered.
The Indian Army does not organize candlelight vigils or marches. It has never organized a single such event in over 200 years of its history, and shows no inclination towards organizing such an event in the near future. The Indian Army did not organize the said candlelight vigil/ march on 13 May 2017 at India Gate.
Shaheed Lt. Umar Fayaz was from the Rajputana Rifles, or Raj Rif as it is commonly called in the Army. The Raj Rif regimental center is in Delhi. A lot of Raj Rif veterans have settled in and around Delhi. This is true for many veterans from other regiments, as well.
Another unique factor was that Lt. Umar was kidnapped and murdered, while he was on leave. He was unarmed when he was murdered. To kill an unarmed man is not something that the Indian Army can understand or digest. It has never happened in the history of Operation Rakshak in Jammu & Kashmir. This led to a whole lot of rage within the army. You can’t murder an unarmed brother officer in cold blood and then assume that there will be no repercussions.
They killed Lt. Umar because it is stories like him that can change the narrative in Kashmir. Because in a place like Kashmir, Umar is not just a young man wearing Olive Green. He is a philosophy. He is an alternative. He tells the young what it means to be an officer in the Indian Army, and what it means to stand at “saavdhan” inside the Khetrapal Auditorium at IMA and sing “Jana, Gana, Mana”. Because when an Umar becomes Lt. Umar, he does not speak about “azaadi” and Burhan Wani. He speaks about his unit, his regiment, the Flag, the Constitution and the Anthem. It is okay to be Umar. But when you become Lt. Umar, you are on collision course with Jihadi ideology.
Lt. Umar was dangerous. He was changing the thinking of people…telling them that India was their Mother and disloyalty to Mother India was blasphemy. For the very survival of those who seek to harm India, Lt. Umar could not be allowed to live. So, they hatched a cowardly plot and kidnapped him at gunpoint when he was sitting at his sister’s wedding.
Delhi is home to an entire spectrum of media houses. And, Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Greater Noida surround Delhi. Veteran communities are very active in these areas.
A few veterans started off the candlelight march. I was asked to support the march, which I did. The news spread through ex-servicemen networks and soon, I heard of veterans renting buses to come to Delhi. They came from Sonipat, Rewari, Panipat, Bhiwani and Jind. This is the Jat and Ahir belt of Haryana. These semi-arid lands have, for generations, given birth to warriors who drew a line of blood from Ghazni to Burma and from Flanders to Dograi. These lands have also given us the legend of Rezang La.
These are “Fauji” belts. Almost every home has a veteran. Or a story.
At one corner of the park, there were elderly Rajputana Rifles veterans wearing white kurtas with colorful “safas”. I spoke to them. They bore names like Rathore, Chauhan, Shekhawat and Bhati. These were Rajputs from far-flung deserts villages of Rajasthan. They came to pay homage to their “sahab”, an officer they had never even seen. Lt. Umar was probably not even born when these veterans had retired.
What relationship does an octogenarian Hindu from Haryana or Rajasthan have with a twenty-two year old Muslim man from Kashmir? Why does a young Rajput teenager touch his grandfather’s feet and swear vengeance for the death of that young Muslim man? What prompts a serving army officer’s wife to break down and say that her young son, all of 12 years, will one day join the army to avenge Umar? For all those who saw a political angle of minority appeasement in that gathering of 13 May, I have no other words or explanation to offer.
I address the naysayers when I say this. I sincerely seek apology if I sound rude, but unless you have worn the uniform I would find it impossible to explain, and you would fine it difficult to understand. There are bonds that run deeper than religion, caste and race. These are bonds forged by blood spilt together. When a man is dying, screaming in agony, with his head on your lap and he calls you his brother, you tend to forget which God he prayed to.
The Indian Army is not fighting elections in Kashmir that it has to resort to minority appeasement. Please think about this. You have every right to question your army, but I think the Indian Army has earned enough respect that when you do question it; you do not wear the same glasses that you do while questioning your local politician.
Kashmir is no longer a political problem. It was, some time back. It no longer is. As I write these lines, the Hizb-ul Mujahedeen is desperately seeking to bring its willful commander, Zakir Musa, back into the folds. Reports from the Valley say that Musa is forming another terror group, one that owes allegiance to al-Qaeda. Apparently, cutting off the heads of Hurriyat leaders and displaying them at Lal Chowk is no longer a deal breaker.
Why is the HM trying to get Musa back? Because its masters in Rawalpindi know that “Kashmir Mangey Azaadi” no longer pulls at the heartstrings, as it used to. Radical, militant Islam now drives the narrative in Kashmir. Most Kashmiris are being weaned away from the argument of the UN Resolution in Kashmir. The new argument is that Kashmir wants to be part of Pakistan because Pakistan is an Islamic nation. They don’t want “Azaadi”. They want Nizam-e-Mustafa.
What is this fuss about Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat? Kashmiriyat died on 19 January 1990. It was on that day when Maulvis proclaimed loudly from mosques that Kashmiri Hindus has two hours to leave their homes, and that they must leave their women behind. Lets stop beating a dead horse.
We see ISIS flags in downtown Srinagar and it bothers us not a bit. In any other country, it would have been the perfect justification for ordering an air strike. But this is India, after all. Strong condemnation is often the preferred substitute for a Hellfire missile.
The Kashmir Valley is placed precariously on edge. This is also our doing. Let us, for one minute not put the entire blame on Pakistan alone, notwithstanding the fact that its sins are many. Pakistan started the problem. We let it grow due to our submissive approach.
Quoting a famous Quranic Hadees, I have said before that “paradise is under the shade of swords”. What you truly love, you must be willing to defend with violence.
Lt. Umar was from the Rajputana Rifles. The motto of the regiment is “Veer Bhogya Vasundhara”. The brave shall inherit the earth.
The regiment is telling us something. It is time to listen.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
#MajorGauravArya #OnlyTheBrave #IndianArmy #ADGPI