Citizens' Issues
Siachen: Talk of withdrawing from Siachen cannot be agenda-driven
Thirty-two years after Indian troops secured key passes on the north-south running Saltoro Range to deny Pakistan access to the Siachen Glacier, it continues to dominate the headlines.
 
Tragedy, no stranger to the glaciated region bordering Sinkiang and the Northern Areas under the control of Pakistan, resulted in a 10-man infantry section from 19 Madras, inclusive of a medic from the Army Medical Corps, being buried alive when an ice wall collapsed near Sonam Post at 20,600 ft.
 
In what had to be a major feat of human endurance, braving the extreme cold and lack of oxygen, rescue teams dug through the 35 feet of ice debris and five days latermiraculously pulled out a survivor, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad. Despite the collective prayers of the entire nation and the efforts of army doctors, this brave soldier too joined his other nine comrades three days after being rescued and evacuated.
 
Even as the rescue drama unfolded before the nation, a leading newspaper in the country published an article written by an associate professor from the Jawaharlal Nehru University suggesting that Indian troops deinduct from Siachen and the glacier be declared a peace park.
 
The article, echoing sentiments expressed in the past, claimed that maintaining troops at Siachen cost the government Rs.5 crore (nearly $735,000) daily and that hundreds of lives had already been lost in holding territory that was of no major consequence.
 
"I'm all for an open debate on matters that concern our national security. However, these debates need to be informed discussions that look at the entire picture and are not just agenda driven," said General V.L. Singh, the minister of state for external affairs who is also a former Indian Army chief. "The last time the 'withdrawal from Siachen' issue was raised, it was in 2012 at the behest of the PMO. Once these behind-the-scenes machinations were exposed on social media, the UPA had quietly dropped the idea."
 
A 12-member Track-II committee had been cobbled together in 2011 with the blessings of then prime minister Manmohan Singh. A former air chief, along with handpicked armoured corps officers (all of them never having served in the region) represented India while on the Pakistan side was a group headed by a former army chief. The two delegations then met in various parts of the globe under the aegis of an Ottawa-based think tank.
 
"The Americans have always had an interest in the region," says Lieutenant General Rakesh Loomba, a former head of Military Intelligence. "Even the maps that initially showed the Saltaro range and the Siachen Glacier as being Pakistani territory were issued by the US Air Force."
 
The blatant cartographic aggression had resulted in Colonel Narendra 'Bull' Kumar leading an Indian Army expedition into the area in 1982 that confirmed the presence of mountaineering groups sent in by Pakistan. Subsequently, Indian troops had secured the key passes on the Saltoro, getting into position just a few hours before Pakistani troops also arrived.
 
Lieutenant General Prakash Katoch (retd), a Special Forces veteran who commanded the Siachen Brigade during the 1999 Kargil conflict, said: "All this talk of withdrawing from Siachen is pure bunkum! First, Pakistan has zero presence on Siachen, notwithstanding whatever their army keeps telling their own people. Their positions are to the west of the Saltoro Ridge. For years, they have tried to dislodge Indian troops from there, but they have never succeeded. We've paid in human lives to secure the border there - it is now the de facto Line of Control with Pakistan while towards the north, we have China that controls the Shaksgam Valley. Why should we pull out? That would amount to shooting ourselves in the foot and a betrayal of all those who have died securing the area."
 
While most Indian Army officers dismiss all talk of de-induction from the glacier, Sanjaya Baru, in his book "The Accidental Prime Minister", touches on the subject, saying a former Indian Army chief, General J.J. Singh, had privately told Manmohan Singh that a withdrawal was doable.
 
"All this is fanciful talk," says Gen. V. K. Singh. "The basic question that needs to be asked from those who wish to withdraw - be it (Ajai) Shuklaji and his friends in Trac II or Professor Happymon Jacob from JNU - after de-inducting where do you want your new line of defence to be set up? Do they have any idea what that will entail? Also, what about the rest of the LOC - have these people any idea of the conditions prevailing there? To just mouth off with no idea about the larger picture is extremely dangerous."
 
"It would mean fortifying the entire Ladakh range that runs from west to east, preparing defences along the Shyok river. The quantum of troops required would be almost 15 times what we have in Siachen now, plus it would make Leh a frontline town," says General Katoch who continues to write extensively on the subject.
 
"If we want to honour the fallen who have sacrificed their lives in Siachen, we need to nip this talk in the bud. We must remember that the gates to India have always been opened from within," Gen. Katoch adds.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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D.H. Waghela is new chief justice of Bombay High Court
Mumbai : Chief Justice Dhirendra H. Waghela of the Orissa High Court was on Monday sworn-in as the new chief justice of the Bombay High Court, an official said.
 
Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao administered the oath of office to Chief Justice Waghela at Raj Bhavan here in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, ministers, judges, legal and civil officials and other invitees.
 
Chief Justice Waghela, 61, succeeds Chief Justice Mohit Shah, who retired on September 8 last year. Justice (Mrs) Vijaya K. Tahilramani was officiating as Acting Chief Justice since then.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

D S Ranga Rao

1 year ago

Nearly 6 months time/delay to fill up the vacancy of a Chief Justice of a High Court, that too an important and big state like Maharashtra, is too much to bear with. When we can expect the judiciary and government rise to the occasion?

Call to recognise Romas as Indian diaspora
New Delhi : Following External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj terming people of the Roma community spread across the world children of India, an international conference here concluded on Sunday with a call to recognise them as India's diaspora.
 
"Roma people are an Indian nation, the autochthonous territory of southeastern and western Europe, but also in other parts of the world, with all attributes that make them a special national entity," Jovan Damjanovic, president of World Roma Organisation, said at the three-day International Roma Conference and Cultural Festival 2016 here.
 
"We would like to be treated as the Indian diaspora and can make a contribution to our country of origin's growth," he said at the conference organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP)-Bharat.
 
Inaugurating the conference on Friday, Sushma Swaraj said: "You are the children of India who migrated and lived in challenging circumstances in foreign lands for centuries. Yet you maintained your Indian identity.
 
"A strong 20 million population of your community spread over 30 countries encompassing West Asia, Europe, America and Australia speaks of your unique ability of adapting to foreign cultures. We in India are proud of you... welcome you with an open heart."
 
Said to be descendants of nomadic groups in northwest India like Dom, Banjara, Gujjar, Sansi, Sikligar, Dhangar and others, Romas are known as "Zigeuner" in Germany,"Tsyiganes/Manus" in France, "Tatara" in Sweden, "Gitano" in Spain, "Tshingan" in Turkey and Greece, "Tsigan" in Russia, Bulgaria and Romania and "Gypsies" in Britain.
 
A resolution adopted at the conclusion of the conference on Sunday called for people-to-people contacts between Indians and Romani people to be encouraged.
 
"The cultural recognition of Romani people is of utmost importance for strengthening bonds with Roma," it stated.
 
It also said that there was a need to set up a cell in the external sffairs ministry to study and research the origin of Roma people and examine what status India can accord them.
 
It said their language to be researched to find its roots and heritage in India and Indian students be taught the history of the Roma people and their migration.
 
The 11-point resolution also called for the Romani language to be taught in Indian schools and universities as a recognised foreign language and the preparation of a Romani-Hindi dictionary.
 
"An international cultural festival of Roma should be held in India every two years on the pattern of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas," it said, and also sought a Roma research centre be set up in India.
 
For economic uplift of the Roma people, it also called for provision of micro finance facility to young Roma entrepreneurs.
 
"Economic relations between India and Romani people should be encouraged. Romani people should be invited to contribute and be a part of India's development process in a mutually beneficial manner," it said.
 
The resolution also called on Indian human rights organisations to take up the issues of violation of human rights of Romani people with all national and international agencies.
 
Gina Rubik, niece of Enro Rubik, inventor of the Rubik's Cube, said: "We the Roma are of Hindustani origin."
 
Gina speaks fluent Hindi and sang two of the Hindi songs she has written - "Yadoon ki kahani" (Story of Memories) is written in memory of the bomb blast victims in India, and the second, "Dehshatgardi ka khaatma" (The end of terror), offers a solution against hate and anger which has hindered the peace process in the subcontinent.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Bapoo Malcolm

1 year ago

So we are back to Hindu-Muslim identities. Is there an Indian out there? Just an Indian, nothing else?

We had a Roma girl visiting us and we got very friendly. Nice kid. She had this to say. Their wedding attire is still a sari!

But I doubt they would like to settle here and be subjected to the caste and religious bigotry.

J Pinto

1 year ago

First please welcome all Bangladeshis home to India, there are many who would like to come.

Then think of the Rohingyas.

Only then think of Romas.

REPLY

Anand Vaidya

In Reply to J Pinto 1 year ago

Is that a sarcastic remark? Or are you referring to BD Hindus?

Regarding Rohingya muslims, there are like 70+ Muslim nations. Why dont they take them? Why India?

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