Saturday, July 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Why unkind cuts on a down & out soldier?

Apropos Maj-Gen K. Khorana's letter (June 30), the General has inflicted unkind cuts on a down and out comrade equally unnecessarily imputed a communal twist to his future possible pleas and in the process perhaps uncovered his own community bias.

Undoubtedly, Brig Surinder Singh has been made the "fall guy". While the Brigadier cannot be absolved of all blame, are we to believe that the entire burden of failure at Kargil is to be borne by this one individual?

In the Kargil sector certain posts are vacated during winter because these cannot be maintained in the prevalent snow conditions. If that be so, then demand for patrolling (which is far more dangerous than being in a post) the same areas is somewhat illogical. Every year there are casualties due to snow avalanches in the course of patrolling the less dangerous areas. A few years ago, a complete party of one JCO and 17 other ranks disappeared under a snow avalanche. If the Brigadier were to patrol all the gaps and vacated posts, he could have lost a good party of his brigade.


According to the Kargil Review Committee (KRC), the Brigadier did regularly deploy other surveillance means such as helicopter patrols (WASO patrols) but these failed to detect intrusions. According to the KRC, areas the enemy occupied had not been held for decades.

The Brigadier did appreciate that the enemy might attempt to capture some territory in the Dras sector to interdict the road to Leh and had included this possibility in a war-game he held at the Bde HQ and conveyed his apprehensions to the GOC, 3 Infantry Division, in January, 1999. The committee records that he did not on his own undertake patrolling of the area for fears of casualties due to avalanches and weather conditions for which the commanders on the spot have to bear the blame.

The KRC report has dealt with the poser "was Kargil avoidable?" and come out with the answer: yes, provided the Indian Army had followed a policy of Siachenisation to plug the unheld gaps along the 168 km stretch from Koabal Gali to Chorbatla. I am sure General Khurana does know what Siachenisation of 168 km means. In place of a Bde, now a full Army Corps is doing that job with enormous logistic resources deployed in support.

The officer did not merit the treatment meted out to him and in this the higher command has displayed an element of vendetta. No one can hold a brief for the Brigadier for rushing to the Press and political parties with his tales of woe. He ought to have exercised restrain and displayed discretion in keeping with the service ethos and expected conduct.

Our fears are that the show cause notice served on the Brigadier for the termination of his services and subsequent act of removal from the Army is flawed and the service may end up eating a humble pie.

Brig K.S. KANG (retd), Chandigarh

Unfair to Brigadier: General Khorana appears to have concealed some of the core issues concerning the security and intelligence reports, alleged to have been conveyed by the Brigadier to his immediate superior and also upward in the chain of command.

General Khorana wants the public to believe that the institution of the Chief of Army Staff is not directly involved in the removal of an officer from the command. By saying so he has slighted the status of a service chief who during the war or a conflict of intensity of Kargil is kept informed second by second of all successes and failures on the front where the military intelligence matters the most.

It is the leader who wins a war and is also punished for his failures and flaws. General Khorana appears to have been unkind in his observations on Brig Surinder Singh. The reasons given by the sacked Brigadier and the role played by General Malik during the Kargil conflict deserved to be investigated to reach the truth.

General Khorana should be fair to the readers and tell as to how many soldiers senior to Brigadier Singh have been found guilty of the security lapse.


Consumer protection

One of the amendments proposed to the Consumer Protection Act in the coming Parliament session is to exclude its application where "corresponding remedies of judicial nature are available." This change needs to be opposed tooth and nail.

Public utilities like the Railways, telephones and banks have always fought shy of the Consumer Protection Act by invoking which consumers have sought to make them accountable. In addition, consumer courts order employees concerned to pay compensation to the aggrieved consumers.

To avoid action under the Consumer Protection Act, banks have set up Bank Ombudsmen, but as they are staffed by retired bankers, who are sympathetic to their erstwhile colleagues, bank customers have been disappointed by the working of these Ombudsmen.

Telephone adalats are manned by departmental officers. There is hardly any justice to subscribers who approach them with complaints.

In spite of their shortcomings, consumer courts offer a non-expensive and relatively speedy remedy to aggrieved consumers. This position should not be disturbed by succumbing to the tricks of the bureaucracy for which non-accountability has been an article of faith.

M. R. PAI, Mumbai



Insult to ASI?

A reader has complained that the ASI who owed a debt to a milkman should not have been reprimanded publicly by the Chief Minister. I think the CM did a right thing. It is right nobody should take law into one's own hands, but if all is left to courts, poor people won't get justice immediately.

SARTAJ SINGH BENIPAL, Ghungrali Rajputan

White elephant

The editorial “Dissolve the corporation” (June 29) is not only timely but also based on the actual functioning of the corporation. Chandigarh is a city where financial resources are limited. It is often called a “white elephant”. As such it cannot afford two governing bodies i.e. the Chandigarh Administration and a municipal corporation. It should have only one administering authority — either of the two.

UJAGAR SINGH, Chandigarh

Stamp vendor licence

I am an educated unemployed youth, aged 24. I applied for a stamp vendor licence to the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, on 29.7.1997 and completed all formalities. I have heard nothing from the DC office so far.


Refund cellular deposits

TRAI should instruct the cellular operators to refund excess deposits of old subscribers because lately these companies have reduced deposits from new subscribers. TRAI may intervene to abolish faulty tactics of mobilising money in the form of "minimum airtime commitment" billed as monthly advance, like charged by Airtel in Delhi in their "Talkers delight plan".


HP pensioners

Himachal Pradesh pensioners are being paid Rs 40 only per month as medical allowance. There is no increase of 5 and 10 per cent on attaining the age of 65 and 75 years as in Punjab. The irony is that they have served two masters.


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