Monday, April 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Turmoil in the Air Force: end the controversy

I have carefully gone through Mr Simranjit Singh Mann’s letter (April 9) in response to the article “Turmoil in the Air Force” by Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd) (March 27).

While the article by the retired General is highly professional, Mr Mann’s letter too appears to be no less professional. It may, therefore, be pertinent to try and ascertain whether the professionalism displayed in both the write-ups is that of the writers themselves.

Lt-Gen Harwant Singh is a professional soldier having retired as a Deputy Chief of Army Staff. The Army, the Navy and the Air Force cannot and do not work in isolation. Senior officers of each service, especially those at command and control level, should have adequate professional knowledge of the functioning of the other services to be able to put in a cohesive effort at the time of war. The General, therefore, to my mind, didn’t need to borrow the knowledge displayed by him in his article.

As against this, a politician’s knowledge of the professional aspects of Defence Services can at best be only superficial. Granted that Mr Mann has a service background being a former IPS officer and that he is a very well-read MP, unlike many of his present colleagues, it still appears that a part of the contents of his letter and the service terminology used are perhaps not his own.

I have great respect for the senior IAF officers including the ousted Air Marshal who I feel has been victimised. I was greatly pained especially to read an irresponsible letter from an ex-corporal who, throwing all service norms and etiquette to the wind, tried to denigrate the senior officer. Let us put an end to the unfortunate controversy in the best interest of the IAF.

WG-CDR C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar


This won’t do

This has reference to Mrs Humra Quraishi’s write-up “Growing unease among Delhi-ites over Gujarat” (April 7). The blame for the Gujarat tragedy squarely lies at the doors of scribes like Mrs Quraishi. These scribes, instead of exhorting their co-religious people to join the mainstream, own national heritage and dissociate themselves from the barbarities of invaders like Babar, have been inciting them to adopt a confrontationist stance vis-a-vis the nationalist and patriotic elements.

The Gujarat bloodbath was caused by the lurking of Ram Bhakts who were massacred because of the attitude of hate and anti-nationalism so assiduously sown and cultivated by the Quraishis.

If Mr Narendra Modi was really bad, things could not have been brought under control so soon.

The silence of the “secularists” over the Godhra carnage speaks volumes for the insensitivity towards lakhs of Hindus. They expect the Hindus to suffer every kind of torture in the name of “secularism”. This is simply impossible.


Seek adequate advice

It has been widely reported that the stationing of the Indian Army in a state of preparedness along the international border with Pakistan and the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K is costing the exchequer three thousand crores a day. Will the nation be in a position to provide even 10 per cent of this amount for catering to the elementary needs like drinking water, healthcare, sanitary living conditions and elementary education to the crores languishing below the poverty line?

People practising secular values plead that the difference between cross-border terrorism and indigenous vandalism be elaborated. If the help of the Army is needed even for restoring internal law and order in the states how an elected government is better than an army controlled regime? How many command officers have been so far shown the way out unceremoniously by the Ministry of Defence?

In the case of natural calamities like famine, earthquake, etc the lowest and the last feel inclined to contribute their mite. In what way they could help control the national catastrophe which has gripped Gujarat?




Threat to security

In the present circumstances, when self-centred persons have intruded into the administrative system of our country, the security situation has become grim. There is a serious threat to internal security, whether at the Centre or in the state, to which social workers and political leaders of various parties are no exception. The internal or external security of the country cannot be separated from the modus operandi of its security and intelligence agencies like the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) etc. And when such agencies come under political influence, they deviate from their designated tasks, putting the country into a critical situation.

These are the agencies on whose shoulders lies the responsibility of protecting the country’s interests from inner or outer foes. Politicians use these agencies for scoring points over opponents for petty interests, and this had happened on numerous occasions in the history of free India. It seems that the country is still in shackles and has not achieved freedom in the real sense.

When we see such things happening, we see degeneration in political standards. About 70 per cent politicians have become victims.

To change the present trend and strengthen security in the national interest, it is desirable that the IB, the CBI, the RAW and other security agencies are kept off politics. The heads of these prestigious security agencies should be selected on the basis of their meritorious performance. To be more precise, this should be done under the supervision of the President with the Chief Justice and Chief of Army Staff to advise and assist him. The same criteria should also be followed in the transfer and promotions of such high-ranking officials. This will make a lot of strategic difference to plan and devise an efficient security system to instill confidence in the mind of the common man.



Medical insurance

On the night of August 2, 2001 my husband Brig Heerjee, developed very high fever, for which I took him to the military hospital. The doctor on duty thought that, this was a case of Parkinson’s disease and refused to admit him. As my husband’s condition was fast deteriorating, I got him admitted to a civil hospital where his disease was diagnosed as a serious heart ailment, namely, ‘Infective endrocarditis and valve vegetation’. A second referral hospital also corroborated this diagnosis. Due to complications setting in, he expired on October 27. I spent Rs 3.81 lakh on his treatment, which could have been avoided had he been admitted to the military hospital in the first place.

I then applied both to the Adjutant General and the Army Group Insurance Fund (AGIF) for reimbursement of the hospital fee I had spent. In spite of sending them the death certificate and diagnostic reports of both the hospitals clearly indicating a heart ailment, my claim was refused stating that, as the treatment of Parkinson’s is not available in Service hospitals and also not covered by AGIF, my claim could not be entertained. My pleas that my husband was treated for and died due to a heart ailment and not Parkinson’s made no difference. The Army HQ stuck to its guns covering up the diagnostic error of the military hospital.

I am writing this letter not as a complaint, but to warn and advice all officers who are about to retire, to take a mediclaim insurance policy before they hang up their uniforms, so that they are not financially stranded as I was. This is a must, knowing that, the government has not still sanctioned any money or authorised medical treatment for retired military officers, as it has done so for civilian central government servants.


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