HOW INDIAN NAVY HELPED IN THE LIBERATION OF GOA - The Daily Guardian
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HOW INDIAN NAVY HELPED IN THE LIBERATION OF GOA

On 18-19 December 1961, the Government of India executed Operation Vijay to liberate the Portuguese
colonies in India. This was the first time in the history of independent India that all three services
operated together, not taking into account the brief ‘Op Peace’ in Junagarh just after Independence.

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This December is special to the armed forces and the nation as we commemorate the commencement of the fiftieth year of our victory in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. However, this should not obscure another significant military action in which the three services operated together and brought to a swift closure—the liberation of Goa, Daman and Diu. This year we step into the diamond jubilee or the sixtieth year of that action and that too needs celebration because with that we excised the last vestiges of colonial rule on the Indian subcontinent.

The remains of the Portuguese frigate Afonso de Albuqurque
The surrender document which witnessed the end of 451 years of Portuguese rule in Goa.
The memorial at Anjadip
Island commemorating the
fallen soldiers who laid down
their lives during the liberation
of Anjadip Island, 1961.
The ships that took part in the action.

While India became independent in August 1947, the Portuguese enclaves of Goa, Daman and Diu continued as colonial entities. As India had got Independence through non-violent methods and as she had regained territories from the French peacefully, she sought to retrieve Goa, Daman and Diu in a similar manner. Hence, several attempts were made to resolve the issue through negotiations at bilateral and multilateral levels. However, not only was Portugal unyielding but it turned more repressive against freedom fighters and more recalcitrant at international forums. Finally, in 1961, the government decided to use military force as the last option.
On 18-19 December 1961, the Government of India executed Operation Vijay to liberate the Portuguese colonies in India. This was the first time in the history of independent India that all three services operated together, not taking into account the brief ‘Op Peace’ in Junagarh just after Independence. This was also the first time the Navy fired in anger. While the Army action has been extensively written about, that of the Navy has not been given adequate attention. This short article recounts the naval action and contribution during the Operation. Geographical contiguity and the need for boots on ground implied that the major component of the operation would be Army led, with the Navy and Air Force in a support role. Accordingly, by 11 December 1961, Indian forces were placed at Belgaum, Vapi and Una, for attacks on Goa, Daman and Diu, respectively.

 The broad tasking for the Navy consisted of control of sea areas off, and seaward approaches to, the three territories, prevention of hostile action by Portuguese warships, shore bombardment using naval guns and search and strike through the Aircraft Carrier Air Wing. In addition, Navy was directed to capture Anjadip Island after the Army conveyed its inability to ‘provide troops trained in amphibious operations’. While the three territories were geographically dispersed, the centre of gravity was Goa given the concentration of force and Portuguese power there. Thus, the Navy’s operations off Goa were intended to secure access to Mormugao Harbour, to neutralise the coastal batteries, sink or immobilise Portuguese Navy ships there and to launch naval landing parties to take Anjadip. 

A naval task force was formed with Rear Admiral BS Soman, the then Flag Officer Commanding Indian Fleet (FOCIF) as the Naval Theatre Commander. The force was divided into four task groups—the Surface Action Group comprising Indian Naval ships Mysore, Trishul, Betwa, Beas and Cauvery; the Carrier Task Group comprising IN ships Vikrant, Delhi, Kuthar, Kirpan, Khukri and Rajput; the Minesweeping Group comprising of minesweepers Karwar, Kakinada, Cannonore and Bimilipatan and finally the Support Group INS Dharini.

While this may seem like overkill, it needs to be noted that this catered for three dispersed sites. The concept of operations needed to cater for all possible threats. Since there was apprehension of the approaches to ports being mined and of possible presence of submarines, naval missions also included aerial surveillance, mine counter measures and anti-submarine measures. Further, initial intelligence indicated that the Portuguese had deployed four frigates. However, when action struck, only one frigate, the Afonso de Albuquerque was available for the naval defence of Goa, the other three having sailed earlier for Portugal.

Earlier, unprovoked firing by the Portuguese from Anjadip on Indian steam ship Sabarmati had injured her Chief Engineer, some fishermen and caused one fatality. To assure the fishermen and as a deterrent, destroyer INS Rajput and frigate INS Kirpan, were deployed off the Karwar coast, as early as 28 November 1961.

By 1 December 1961, foreseeing action, the Naval Headquarters executed surveillance and reconnaissance exercise, Operation Chutney. Two Leopard Class frigates, INS Betwa and INS Beas, commenced patrolling off the coast of Goa. This helped them keep a watchful eye on all ingress and egress – of shipping, aircraft and personnel—and to retaliate with necessary force, if engaged by the Portuguese units in the air or on the surface. The capture of Anjadip Island was entrusted to landing parties from INS Trishul with covering fire from INS Trishul and INS Mysore. The landing party members had been trained in Cochin from early November onwards without compromising on secrecy of the plan. INS Delhi was detached to provide support to the Army in Diu. INS Vikrant with a couple of escorts remained off Mumbai to respond to contingencies either south or north as required.

On the morning of 18 December, the Portuguese frigate Afonso de Albuquerque was anchored off Mormugao harbour. Besides engaging Indian naval units, the ship was also tasked with providing coastal artillery batteries to defend the harbour and providing radio communications with Lisbon as shore radio facilities had been destroyed in airstrikes conducted by the Indian Air Force earlier.  Based on a signal by the Navy Chief, VAdm RD Katari which said “Capture me a Portuguese frigate please”, at about 12 noon on 18 December, the three Indian Frigates – Betwa, Beas and Cauvery—steamed into Mormugao harbour and fired on the Afonso with their 4.5 inch guns while transmitting directives to surrender, in Morse code, between shots. In response, the Afonso lifted anchor, headed out while mingling with merchant ships anchored in the harbour and returned fire with its 4.7 inch guns.

A few minutes into the exchange of fire, the Afonso took a direct hit on its gun director position, injuring its weapons officer and killing two sailors. With continuous gunfire from Indian ships the cloudburst of shrapnel exploded directly over the ship, severely injuring many personnel including its Commanding Officer, Captain António da Cunha Aragão, after which First Officer Pinto da Cruz took command of the vessel. The ship was now burning amidships and her propulsion system was badly damaged in this attack. The Afonso swerved 180 degrees, ran aground at Bambolim beach, where the crew abandoned

ship and she hoisted the white flag of surrender. The overall engagement lasted for about fifty minutes. Concurrently, in the early hours of 18 Nov, Anjadip Island was also stormed. In an act of perfidy, the Naval landing party, under the leadership of Lieutenant Arun Auditto, was duped by the display of a White flag of surrender by the Portuguese and then fired upon, causing seven deaths and wounding nineteen others. In a first person account Auditto, recollects in the book “Blueprint to Bluewater”, by Rear Admiral Satyindra Singh.

“I took charge of the first wave of the assault party and we went peacefully towards the beach and I began to believe that ‘surrender business’ was indeed true. We landed, took position and the boats were sent back to bring the second wave. Fifteen minute later, the second wave, under the command of Senior Commissioned Gunner N. Kelman, approached the beach at about 0745 hours. Suddenly all hell broke loose as sprays of machinegun bullets opened up on the boat from Portuguese gun-post on the south hill top. Kelman, with great presence of mind, continued towards the beach, zigzagging the boat to counter the gun fire. A few minutes later, by the time the boat beached, it had been riddled with bullets. Kelman had been wounded on both his thighs – fortunately only flesh wounds but all the same, seriously. However, owing to Auditto’s leadership and the courage shown by others, the landing operations were successfully carried out. Trishul used her gunfire to telling effect while Mysore provided an additional landing party. The first phase of the operation was completed on the early afternoon of 18 December 1961, while mopping up operations continued. Auditto, Kelman and others involved in the action were, subsequently, conferred gallantry awards. A memorial was later erected on Anjadip Island, to commemorate those who had made the supreme sacrifice.

Meanwhile off Diu, INS Delhi was deployed to provide ‘distant support’ to the Indian Army and directed to be ten miles clear of coast, keeping in mind ‘shore batteries, hostile aircraft, motor torpedo boats and possible submarine threat’. Capt N. Krishnan, its Commanding Officer, was not the sort who could be kept out of the fray in this manner. Early on the morning of 11 Dec 1961, after sinking two5 small enemy ships off the harbour, Delhi learnt that the Army troops were under very heavy and well directed fire from the Diu fortress and were unable to make progress. Krishnan quickly closed the ship to one mile from shore and undertook heavy bombardment—11 broadsides and 66 shells—of the fortress with the formidable 6 inch guns of INS Delhi.

 Within 15 minutes of unleashing the devastating fire that destroyed the lighthouse within the fortress and other fortifications, the white flag of surrender had been hoisted and it was the Delhi’s boat with a young Sub Lieutenant Suresh Bandoola that hoisted our national colours in Diu for the first time. Krishnan’s action came in for huge praise from Lt Gen JN Choudhuri, the GOC-in-C Southern Army Command and overall in charge of Operation Vijay, who wrote to him later “I would particularly like to thank you for the help you gave while commanding INS Delhi. You really saved the situation”. In fact, since the Army did not move in until 19 Dec, Delhi patrolled the area and sustained the situation.

Following the indisposition of the Albuquerque, the Indian Navy continued patrolling till 19 December 1961 and thereafter ships were ordered to return to Bombay. All operations in Goa came to an end at 6:00 p.m. on 19 December 1961. The documents of surrender were signed by Portuguese Governor General, Vassalo De Silva at 8:30 p.m. and Major General (later Lieutenant General) K.P. Candeth was appointed as the Military Governor of Goa. Thus, within 40 hours of the start of the military operations, the centuriesold foreign domination in Goa came to an end, and the Indian Navy emerged victorious in its first action.

The overall ease and smoothness with which the Goa liberation operation was conducted, in part due to the tactical brilliance of Brig Sagat Singh on land, has led many to conclude that it was not much more than a police action and, therefore, this operation has not been given the attention it deserves in the annals of Indian military literature. Further, some scholars, like Prof G.V.C. Naidu, have concluded that the Navy’s role in this endeavour was minimal. However, there are many reasons why the operation in itself and the naval participation had much symbolic and substantive significance.

First, the first tri-service operation saw reasonably close coordination between all three services. Not only were the Force and Theatre Commanders on the same grid but other service representatives were embedded in sister service Tactical Headquarters for better coordination.

Second, India was taking on an erstwhile colonial power. While this resort to violence was deemed ‘uncharacteristic or hypocritical’ by many western commentators, it also sent a message of resolve in a situation where our nation was pushed to the wall.  This was just a few years into a post-World War global order where winds of change were blowing but had still not completely displaced the colonial powers as a global elite. Portugal then had the support of the US, Britain and NATO.

Third, Portugal was the earliest colonial power in India and the Indian Ocean Region, having set up their enclave in Goa in 1510. Thus, their displacement 450 years later had a special historical significance.

Fourth, India had lost her independence due to its neglect of the oceans and a long phase of ‘sea-blindness’ which allowed colonial powers with superior maritime prowess to impose their will on land. Independent India using her Navy to exert force, even modestly, against the earliest colonial power, was a new paradigm, a sign of new dawn. The fact that the Portuguese ship which surrendered, Afonso de Albuquerque, was named after the very Governor who established Portuguese rule in India needs to be underscored for its very symbolic implication. Similarly, it was the naval Battle of Diu in 1509 which proved seminal in ushering Portuguese colonialism; thus, to use our navy there to write its epitaph with withering gunfire was deeply symbolic. 

Fifth, it taught the Navy valuable lessons. The perfidy at Anjadip resulted in loss of lives and injury. While the men on ground showed great courage in land-fighting (which is not Navy’s domain) the need for focused strategizing, better communication, better intelligence, more preparation and lesser naiveté were hoisted and embedded in the naval psyche. The actions elsewhere, the baptism by fire, exposure to violence and the smell of cordite were necessary to ‘groom the Navy’ for future contingencies.

Sixth, it once again highlighted the importance of the maritime dimension, even where wars are continental in nature. By ensuring blockade of the three ports, the Navy ensured uninterrupted Army activity. If Portugal had brought in reinforcements or deployed more maritime forces, the Indian Navy was well placed to prevent that. The bombardment at Diu and the quick neutralising of Afonso, indicate the usefulness and flexibility provided by the maritime domain.

 Seventh, the operation also showcased India’s softer, benign side. Rules of engagement were drawn to minimise casualties, captured prisoners were treated with courtesy and high calibre weapons were not used unless first fired upon. Despite this leading to certain tactical disadvantages, they were scrupulously adhered to. This contrasted with the barbaric way that Portugal dealt with Indians during its initial conquests and colonial rule. A telling illustration of this is in the manner that the skipper of Afonso de Albuquerque,Captain António da Cunha Aragão was treated in hospital with much care and visited by Commander RKS Gandhi and Commander T.J. Kunnenkeril. They both wished him well and gifted him chocolates, flowers and a bottle of brandy. These two gentlemen were the Captains of Betwa and Beas that had damaged Afonso.

Eighth, an anecdote that brings out, possibly, another lasting significance. Two years ago, we met at an official navy function, the Angolan Permanent Representative (PR) to the United Nations (UN). An Army General turned diplomat, this lady had also taken part in their liberation struggle. She said some of their liberation fighters had been in Goa, in December 1961, fighting on the Portuguese side. Their defeat then, ironically, led them to believe that their Colonial masters could indeed be overthrown. This provided inspiration for their Colonial struggle and freedom movement.

Ninth, the liberation realised the dream of all Indians, especially Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the great integrator of states, who in the Defence Committee of Cabinet meeting sought to know if the Fleet could push the Portuguese out. Further, when he embarked Delhi in April 1950 and sailed down the western coast, he wistfully wished that the Indian Navy would steam into Goa and take it.

Finally, the liberation of Goa provided the template and takeaways for future triservice operations. A decade later, many of those involved in Goa, were the heroes of 1971 war—Sagat Singh, Krishnan, R.K.S. Gandhi. Goa was like a trailer to the grand finale that was 1971. It took us just 40 hours to end 450 years of Portugal’s Asian empire. Dec 1961 was the dawn of a new era.

Cmde Srikant Kesnur and Lt Cdr Ankush Banerjee are serving naval officers, associated with the Naval History Project. Views expressed in this article are personal in nature.

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‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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Defence

IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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