When Indian and Tibetan flags were waved at the funeral of Company Leader Nyima Tenzin of the Special Frontier Force who died during the Kailash Range operations, there was widespread belief that the ‘Tibet’ issue will be leveraged. It was short-lived due to haziness in Indian thinking, absolute clarity in China and a return to resigned helplessness amongst Tibetans worldwide. The issue has morphed significantly from the last century and needs deep understanding of new issues and must be played with finesse. Undue military action or rebellious violence will end any action being snuffed out like the Khampa Rebellion in the 1950s. Relevant issues pertaining to India, China and Tibet need to be brought into focus for India to chart out a future course of action. In this part we will see the various facets of Tibet which are very relevant in the crucial strategic triangle of India, Tibet and China.
INDEPENDENCE OR SUZERAINTY, NOT SOVEREIGNTY
Songtsen Gampo (627-649) ruled Tibet as an independent kingdom in the 7th century. He married a Chinese princess to establish relations with China. Buddhism entered Tibet from India around that time. Tibet was independent till Mongols conquered China and Tibet in the 13th century and ruled them both. When Mongols waned, the succeeding Ming dynasty (1368-1644) did not take over Tibet. The next (and last) imperial Qing dynasty (1644-1911), was of Manchus. In 1720, Manchus took over Tibet due to political turmoil and stayed on till their dynasty collapsed. The Qings treated Tibet as part of their empire and maintained a resident in Lhasa. However, Tibet retained its autonomy–own officials and legal system. The Qings did not attempt to formalise Tibet as a Chinese province. This nebulous and unclear relationship was termed as ‘Chinese Suzerainty over Tibet’ by the Britishers. In 1904, Col Younghusband’s expedition established the British presence in Lhasa. In 1912, Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalist Government declared Tibet as part of China. In February 1913, the 13th Dalai Lama declared the independence of Tibet and expelled all Chinese. This created a de-facto independent Tibet with its own flag, army, government, language, currency and border control. The British presence forced the Chinese out of the area. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power in China in 1949. They instigated the Panchen Lama to appeal to them to liberate Tibet. In 1950, the PLA invaded Tibet and the rest is History. The long and short of it is that Tibet was forced to amalgamate into China and it was never an integral or sovereign part of China as often claimed by PRC.
TIBETAN SEPARATIST UNREST
Tibetans have never acknowledged that they are a sovereign part of China. Ever since the CCP invaded Tibet and established their government, there has been strife. The 1959 revolt in Tibet led to the Dalai Lama fleeing to India and setting up a Government in exile. During Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966 to 1976) monasteries were destroyed, religious persecution intensified and political struggle erupted on a major scale. In September- October 1987, Buddhist monks led major demonstrations for independence. The Chinese reacted harshly and crushed the move. This was repeated in March 1988. The Chinese again suppressed the demonstrations ruthlessly. On 5 March 1989, demonstrations for independence re-erupted in Lhasa. It led to martial law in Lhasa till May 1990. Serious public demonstrations for independence occurred again in May 1993. In 2008, five months before the Beijing Olympic Games, anti-China protests escalated into violence not seen in Tibet in 20 years. Pro-Tibet activists even attempted disrupting progress of the Olympic torch relay in many countries. 2011-12 has seen incidents of self-immolation by Buddhist monks and nuns in protest against Chinese rule over Tibet. Though the past decade has been relatively calm and devoid of any serious protests, it would be fair to say that at heart Tibetans have not yet accepted Chinese rule and an underlying sentiment for independence is still alive.
DEVELOPMENT AND INTEGRATION
The CCP has carried out reforms in public life and improved social conditions in step with the rest of China. PRC has also undertaken extensive infrastructure development in Tibet under their Western Development Strategy. Though much of the infrastructure is military in nature, Tibet is now better connected and more firmly integrated into China than ever before. There is a modernization process underway. The economy is stronger and the standard of living has improved for the majority of the people, although disparities are also widening. The cities have benefitted much more from economic growth than the countryside. Despite everything, the Tibet Autonomous Region remains China’s poorest administrative unit. It is also very clearly established that the Western Development Strategy as whole has not benefitted the autonomous regions vis-à-vis others. Overall there is a sense of being discriminated against.
Demographic Issues. Tibetans now comprise 90.48% of the population, Han Chinese make up 8.17% and other population groups 1.35%. There has been clamour of Han inward migration. There is no doubt that Han inward migration has taken place with projects. Construction, management and maintenance is all done mostly by Han. Most of these are not permanent settlers. Many come in as part of project teams and are constantly rotated. However ‘population invasion’ is visible only in the major cities and towns of Tibet. Here Hans are outnumbering Tibetans. It is also an established fact that the Hans get better jobs. To that extent the Tibetans are discriminated against in economic opportunities. More importantly, the PRC still does not trust Tibetans. It is already being reported that 50000 Tibetans have been put in labour camps as part of Xi Jinping’s Tibet Solidification process. An important point is that the Tibetans are a majority in the countryside. This will be a critical factor as days go by.
Tibetan Diaspora: The Tibetans diaspora is mainly in India with major concentrations in Karnataka (44,468), Himachal Pradesh (21,980), Arunachal Pradesh (7,530), Uttarakhand (8,545), West Bengal (5,785) and Jammu and Kashmir (6,920). The Tibetan Government in exile functions from Dharmshala.it is reported that the Tibetan community in India has dropped by 44 percent, from around 150,000 in 2011 to 85,000. Tibetans also reside in other countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, the US, Canada, and Switzerland among others. The annual inflow of refugees used to be 3000. It has now reduced to about 100 annually. This downward trickle is attributed to the attitude of Indian Government, the changed conditions in Tibet and the difficulty in crossing over. With time, the Tibetan Diaspora are better educated and have acquired an international presence. They will be great assets in mobilising international opinion.
Buddhism: Buddhism like Hinduism is not so much a religion but a way of life. The overwhelming majority of Tibetans continue to practice Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism and culture is still rooted in people. It is not in any great danger. However, Buddhism is weaker than it used to be. Like other religions it is partly due to modernization and partly due to active Chinese attempts to suppress it. However as per historic tradition, the Dalai Lama is the political and temporal head for all Tibetan Buddhists. He is revered as such. He is still the prime figure whether he is in or out of Tibet. Any push back against the Chinese will have to come from the Buddhist structure as it always has. The Chinese know that. They see the monasteries as the main centres for anti-Chinese activities. As per the Chinese leadership, the real problem is the Dalai Lama and not the Tibetan people. Though Chinese society has undergone dramatic changes during the past few decades it shows little tolerance for any dissent from ethnic minorities. Any sign of dissent from any ethnic minority, is often interpreted as separatism by the Chinese and invites severe state repression in a situation of very poor human rights. In the case of Tibet, the entire Chinese ire is directed at the monasteries, monks and Dalai Lama. The Chinese state is excessively focused on preserving territorial unity and plugging separatism. Hence it has repeatedly taken a hard line against Buddhism, monks and monasteries. It influences courts to enforce severe and unfair decisions without adequate evidence or proper legal proceedings. This is in line with its general practice in other parts of China with other nationalities.
Dalai Lama succession: The Chinese undermined Tibetan Buddhism in the 1950s. That was how they got a foothold in Tibet. They won over the tenth Panchen Lama on their side against the Dalai Lama. However at the end of his life the tenth Panchen Lama did express regret at his actions. The Chinese installed their own man as the eleventh Panchen Lama after abducting the person appointed by the Dalai Lama. Till date his whereabouts are not known. Today, there are two Panchen Lamas, one installed by the Dalai Lama and another six-year-old picked and installed by the Chinese government, known as Panchen “Zuma” Fake Panchen. With the Dalai Lama getting on in age, the Chinese would be actively plotting a CCP and Xi Jinping nominated succession in similar fashion. There is already speculation and indications they will do so. There is also indication that as part of Xi Jinping’s Tibet solidification program, the Chinese will interfere with Buddhism. They have already spoken of Sinicisation of Buddhism. It implies re-education centres, communism based Buddhist reform and plain old enlargement of penetration and subversion of monasteries to control the Tibetan Buddhist way of life.
Political Issues: 17-Point Agreement’ to ‘Middle Path’
17 Point Agreement: On May 23, 1951, the 17 The Point Agreement was illegally thrust upon Tibet. It gave complete control of Tibet to the CCP -PLA combine. It was signed on behalf of Tibet by a person of no authority. It eventually led to the Dalai Lama seeking refuge in India. However it is reported that the very opening paragraph of the main statement admits Tibet’s status as a separate entity where, for whatever reasons, China did not enjoy any effective control for “over the last hundred years and more”. If this is correct, it is a legal loophole – lying unexploited. This was followed by two decades when PRC was isolated, completely closed and remained incommunicado. Tibet was subjected to intense political suppression and cultural destruction during this time.
Five Point Plan: Later, Deng Xiaoping realised that winning hearts was better than an attack on faith or coercion. In 1979, Deng even said “except independence, all other issues can be resolved through negotiations.” Communist Party Secretary Hu Yaobang even offered a public apology to the Tibetan people when he visited Lhasa in 1980. He termed the unfortunate happenings as, ‘excesses of some over enthusiastic party cadres’ in Tibet in the past. Based on these overtures many parleys took place and delegations visited Tibet with no resolution. On September 21, Dalai Lama in an address to the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus put forth a Five Point Plan. The points were 1.Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace. 2. Abandonment of China’s population transfer policy. 3. Respect for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms. 4. Restoration and protection of Tibet’s natural environment and the abandonment of China’s use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste; and 5. Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and on relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. Nothing happened.
The Middle Path: The very next year, in 1988, the Dalai Lama put forth his ‘Middle Path’ policy when addressing the EU parliament in Strasbourg. He said “The Tibetan people do not accept the present status of Tibet under the People’s Republic of China. At the same time, they do not seek independence for Tibet, which is a historical fact. Treading a middle path in between these two lies the policy and means to achieve a genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People’s Republic of China…The Government of the People’s Republic of China could remain responsible for Tibet’s foreign policy…The Government of Tibet should be founded on a constitution or basic law… a self-governing democratic political entity”. This has been rejected outright by the Chinese since they felt that it would be a precursor to Independence and it would dilute the CCP power. We should never forget that CCP will never share power with anyone. In 1989 the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace which only incensed the Chinese.
An Opportunity Ahead: As China prospered economically, its political clout also grew and Tibet got further marginalised. The 2003 Sino Indian agreement virtually sealed Tibetan fate. It changed the Indian stance on Tibet. Thereafter Tibet issue meandered politically. Just prior to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, China wanted to settle the Tibet issue since it feared that they might end up losing face like the USSR did in the Moscow Olympics with a major boycott. However the whole deliberations ended in violence and nothing came of it. Thereafter as China grew stronger, the margins for Tibet kept getting thinner. However the current Chinese aggression, its international assertion, duplicity and behaviour in the Pandemic period has actually reignited the Tibet issue. While it is commonly understood that the Dalai Lama has given away Tibet’s shot at independence it is not so. Legally the Chinese have rejected his proposal and hence the middle path is not sacrosanct. Secondly the 17 Point Agreement will not hold up legally. Very importantly China is vulnerable to ‘losing face’ in any future international event as was feared prior to the Beijing Olympics. These political leverages can be used.
The future course of the Sino-Tibet-India relations will largely be dictated by what the people of Tibet want and which way they swing. The common belief is that they are in misery under the Chinese. There is also an uninformed perception that Tibet can go up in flames for the Chinese at the flick of a switch. The reality is far from that. It would be fair to assume that there will be three shades of Tibetans. The first shade would be those who have still not reconciled to Chinese occupation of Tibet. The diaspora, the Government in exile in India and the hard core followers of the Dalai Lama will naturally fall into this category. There would be those who have been won over or are aligned with the CCP and are themselves communists. These could be within the walls of monasteries also. After all it was this variety which opened the gates to Tibet for the communists long back. Then there will the huge variety who want to just get on with life. They would generally prefer the relative prosperity of Chinese rule. Will they face danger, death and privation of separatism or dissent? One needs to also realise that the Chinese have made inroads in seven decades. The potential for victory against the CCP is non-existent. Any pull back has to be planned in detail and is a long haul. Also, any chance of change is only feasible if there is full support from India, US and Europe. So far all three have left the Tibetans in a helpless and tangled condition.
In the next part, we will examine the Indian angles. However before that I would request a feedback and observations from people who are better informed and knowledgeable than me to give their ideas or guidance on the issues covered so far. It will be particularly interesting to know what India should do in the current conditions and those which loom ahead.
Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read onwww.gunnersshot.com.
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Emergence of Indian Armed Forces since 1947
The Indian armed forces, with strength of over 1.3 million, are the fourth largest army in the world today. Since independence, the forces have undergone a gradual transformation in their strength, operational ability, and role. As an associated force to the British armed forces in different military operations as well as to maintain internal security, the most dedicated, decisive, and strong combat power of the modern world with the aim of safeguarding the interests of the country against any internal or external threat.
The transformation of the armed forces started with the beginning of the Second World War. The strength of the military had significantly increased from 6 lakh to 2.5 million during the war. However, the impending independence of India led to British apathy towards armed forces, resulting in a drastic reduction of manpower, depleted logistics, and weaponry. The 1947 Indian Independence Act was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom on July 5, 1947 to partition British India into two new independent dominions, India and Pakistan. The act received Royal Assent on July 18, 1947. As a prelude to the Indian Independence Act, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced on February 20, 1947, a grant of self-government to India not before June 30, 1948. The Mountbatten plan was announced on June 3, 1947, having specified an outline of the proposed transfer of power and partition of India.
The partition of armed forces and distribution of military assets were formulated as per the provisions of Sections 11, 12, and 13 of the India Independence Act. A Partition Committee was formed on June 7, 1947, with two representatives from each side and the viceroy in the chair, to decide about the division thereof. As soon as the process of partition was to start, it was to be replaced by a Partition Council with a similar structure. As per the provisions of the act and the consent of the Partition Committee, the division of the British Army took place on June 30, 1947. Out of 11800 officers and 5 lakh other serving personnel, they were divided into a ratio of 64% for India and 36% for Pakistan. Similarly, assets, including ordnance factories and training establishments, were also re-distributed. However, the process of distribution was very complex as various military units had mixed religious structures. Hence, the inter-unit transfer of troops also took place. In the same way, all sixteen ordnance factories were located in India. Hence, it was retained by India and a lump sum payment was made to Pakistan to develop its infrastructure. The defence training institute remained in Quetta, and India had established another training institute at Wellington.
The Northern Command of the British Indian Army was allotted to Pakistan, whereas the Southern and Eastern Commands became part of the Indian Army. The Central Command was raised during the war and was disbanded in September 1946. Later on, Delhi and East Punjab Command were raised on September 15, 1947. During the process of transformation and division, 144 army units were disbanded. 61 units of the Indian Princely forces were returned to the states. The Brigade of Gorkhas, recruited in Nepal, was split between India and Britain. Of the Indian divisions which took part in World War II, the 6th, 8th, 10th, 14th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 26th, and 39th were disbanded, those remaining being the 4th, 5th, and 7th Infantry Divisions, the 1st Armoured Division, and the 2nd Airborne Division. Hence, the Indian Army was left with 88 infantry battalions, 12 armoured regiments, and 19 artillery regiments at the time of independence.
At the time of partition, the nations inherited a split air force that was weak in quantitative and qualitative terms. The assets of the Royal Indian Air Force were divided on a one-third basis, under which India and Pakistan got six and two fighter squadrons, respectively. The Indian Air Force, at that time, was composed of around 900 officers, 10,000 non-commissioned officers, and over 820 civilian technicians and administrative staff.
Reallocation of naval resources reduced the operational capability of the Indian Navy to maintain vigilance and patrol the eastern and western coasts of India as well as the islands of Andaman and Nicobar.
After Second World War in 1945, the Indian Armed Forces had only one Indian General officer, Major General Hiraji Cursetji of the Indian Medical Service officer. In addition to him, one brigadier from medical, three Indian brigadiers from combatant arms, and 220 other Indian officers in the temporary or acting ranks of colonel and lieutenant-colonel were part of the Indian armed forces. Till May 1947, the Indian Armed Forces had only 14 Indian officers at the rank of brigadier serving in combatant arms, with no Indian flag, general, or air officer in the combat arms of the armed services.
Sir Claude Auchinleck was the last Commander in Chief of British India. He was reappointed on August 15, 1947, as Supreme Commander of India and Pakistan till November 11, 1948, when this post was abolished. He played a crucial role in monitoring and executing the division of armed forces between India and Pakistan. It is an irony that the first Indo-Pak War and the intrusion of the Pakistan army took place in Kashmir while he was the supreme commander of both countries. As well, both commanders in chief of the Indian and Pakistan armies were officers of the Royal British Army and were reporting directly to him.
General Sir Rob McGregor MacDonald Lockhart, a senior British Army officer, was the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from 15 August 1947 to 31 December 1947. He was succeeded by General Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher on January 1, 1948, and he handed over the command to the first Indian officer, General KM Cariappa, on January 15, 1949.
Similarly, Air Marshal Sir Thomas Walker Elmhirst was the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Air Force since 15 August 1947 to 22 February 1950. Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee became the first Indian Air officer to took over Chief of Air Staff on April 1, 1954. He continued till November 8, 1960.
Rear Admiral J.T.S. Hall happened to be the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Navy from August 15, 1947, to August 14, 1948. Vice Admiral Ram Dass Katari was the first Indian to become Chief of the Indian Navy on 22 April 1958 till 4 Jun 1962. Hence, the transformation of the Indian Armed Forces was completed in 1958.
The Indian armed forces faced the biggest challenge at the time of partition. This process of transfer of power, assets, and demographic migration on a religious basis has witnessed the transfer of more than 14 million populations across the border, clubbed with massive violence and clashes. During this entire process of independence, responsibility for maintaining law and order was handed over to India’s own Armed Forces. Despite the heavy loss of manpower, logistics, and firepower, the armed forces acted in a very professional manner. Over and above, during this crisis of migration, the sudden attack of the Pakistan army and militia on Jammu and Kashmir was the real litmus test for our defence forces. Undoubtedly, joint operations by the Indian Air Force and Army halted the intrusion and saved Kashmir. Armed forces successfully completed the accession of Junagarh and Hyderabad and later on the annexation of Goa into India in 1961 into India.
Independence and the division of armed forces resulted in a heavy loss to the armed forces and took decades to recover. Since then, the Indian military establishment has gone into phases of transformation, namely post Indo-Sino war in 1962, the recommendation of Gen K.V. Krishna Rao in 1975, followed by the post Kargil war since 2000 onwards. The Indian armed forces have now entered into the era of the biggest reforms since independence, comprising of the creation of integrated theatre command, battle groups, cyber, space, nuclear, and strategic forces, and the implementation of CDS and the Department of Military Affairs. The modern Indian armed forces are in the process of convergence as a global superpower with complete dominance on land, sea, air, and space. Indeed, it is a great transformation of the armed forces since independence.
The author is, SM, VSM Former Additional DG (AFMS) & Expert in Defence, International Strategies & Current affairs.
A SALUTE TO THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF KARGIL BRAVEHEARTS
o commemorate the 23 years of victory over Pakistan in the Kargil War of 1999, the Indian Army on Monday organised a motorcycle expedition from New Delhi to the Kargil War Memorial at Dras (Ladakh).
The 30-member rally was flagged off by Lt Gen B S Raju, the Vice Chief of Army Staff from the National War Memorial, New Delhi on Monday.
Over the next six days, the team of 30 serving personnel who have embarked on this expedition will endeavour to replicate the indomitable spirit of the Kargil brave-hearts by rekindling the spirit of fortitude, courage and adventure synonymous with the Indian Army, said the Ministry of Defence.
The bike rally would pass through Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh before culminating the expedition at the Kargil War Memorial, Dras on 26 July 2022.
2 ARMY OFFICERS KILLED IN ACCIDENTAL GRENADE BLAST
Two Army officers were killed in an accidental grenade blast along the Line of Control in the Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch, the Defence Public Relations Office said on Monday. During the treatment, one army officer and one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) succumbed to their injuries.
JCO Sub Bhagwan Singh
“Last night, an accidental grenade blast occurred in Mendhar Sector, Dist Poonch, when troops were performing their duties along the Line of Control. The blast resulted in injuries to soldiers.
During the treatment, one officer and one JCO succumbed to their injuries, “said PRO Defence Jammu.
According to the Defence PRO, the blast occurred along the Line of Control (LOC) on Sunday night, when the army troops were performing their duties, thus injuring them. All the injured soldiers were immediately evacuated to Udhampur via helicopter.
As per the reports, one officer and one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) succumbed to the injuries.
The Indian Army expressed grief over the death of two officers.
The Indian Army tweeted, “General officer commanding (GOC) @Whiteknight_IA and all Ranks salute brave hearts Capt Anand and Nb Sub Bhagwan Singh who made the supreme sacrifice while performing their duties on the LoC in Mendhar Sector. We offer deepest condolences to their family members.”
MAKE IN INDIA PUSH: IAF TO INDUCT COMBAT AIRCRAFT
Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on Sunday said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to induct Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and Light Combat Aircraft MK-1A and MK-2 along with the 114 multirole fighters. This will be done to bolster India’s combat capabilities through indigenisation under “Make-in-India” in the future.
The IAF chief said that the move will not only “strengthen the Air Force” but also bring a “huge boost” to the Indian aviation industry as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative of the Narendra Modi government. “On the aircraft front, we are looking ahead for the AMCA and the LCA MK-1A and also the LCA MK-2 a few years from now. The case for 114 MRFA is also progressing well. With this, it will not only strengthen the Air Force but also bring a huge boost to the Indian aviation industry,” ANI quoted the Air Chief Marshal as saying.
“We have already committed for seven squadrons of AMCA. The numbers for the LCA MK-2, we will take a call as and when the first production model comes out and we start inducting the aircraft into the air force and we can always increase the quantity based on its performance and rate of induction,” he added while speaking about the number of units of the aircraft that the IAF is planning to induct.
When asked about the timeline of the induction of the S-400 air defence system from Russia into the forces, he said that it will be done as per the schedule adding that all deliveries should be completed by the end of next year. “The induction program of S-400 is going as per the schedule. The first firing unit has been inducted and deployed. The second unit is also in the process of getting inducted. Delivery schedules are on time, hopeful that by the end of next year all deliveries will be completed,” Chaudhari said.
“The threat of multiple fronts always exists. The capabilities of the air force in handling two fronts at a time will necessarily have to keep getting bolstered by the induction of various platforms. On the ground, we will need more radars, and additional SAGW systems and all of these are going to come from indigenous sources, for which the action is already at hand,” he added.
The IAF chief further said that the forces are fully in sync with the Centre’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat push which has resulted in the “quick induction” of platforms such as the light-combat helicopter and aircraft and radar systems.
SEARCHES FOR SURVIVORS ON, ARMY INDUCTS RADAR
The Indian Army on Sunday inducted radars to trace survivors under the debris which was laid after a cloudburst struck the area near the holy shrine of Amarnath on Friday.“Xaver 4000 radar has been inducted and has been operational at Amarnath since late noon for finding any survivors under the debris,” said Indian Army officials. Earlier, Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha on Sunday visited a base camp in Pahalgam and met pilgrims.“The security personnel and administration have carried out an efficient rescue operation. We pay condolences to those who lost their lives. Efforts are underway to resume the Yatra along with repairing the path. Pilgrims should come, we will provide them with all facilities,” Sinha assured.
The Amarnath yatra was temporarily suspended on Friday, till further notice.
However, the pilgrims have been waiting at the Baltal Base camp for it to recommence.As many as 35 pilgrims were discharged following treatment, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) Officials informed on Saturday.“35 pilgrims have been discharged following treatment. 17 people are getting the treatment and are likely to get discharged tonight. All safe and healthy,” said SASB Officials.The critically injured patients were airlifted to Srinagar.“Critically injured people were airlifted to Srinagar. 2 people who were buried but were alive were rescued. We’re taking all precautionary steps. 41 missing as per Jammu and Kashmir police out of which some were rescued. Yatra may resume within a day or two,” said Kuldiep Singh, DG, CRPF.As per the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) data on Saturday, at least 16 people have died in the cloud burst incident near the holy shrine of Amarnath.Meanwhile, four Mi-17V5 and four Cheetal helicopters of the Indian Air Force were deployed for rescue and relief efforts at the Amarnath shrine on Saturday.The Cheetal helicopters flew 45 sorties, carrying five NDRF and Army personnel and 3.5 tonnes of relief material while evacuating 45 survivors from the holy cave.Earlier the officials on Saturday informed that the LG chaired a high-level meeting to review the ongoing rescue and relief operations at Amarnath cave.Meanwhile, the Indian Army informed that they have pulled up “critical rescue equipment” to speed up the rescue operations in the affected areas.“Indian Army pulls up critical rescue equipment to speed up the process of rescue operations and route maintenance in view of recent cloudburst of Amarnath in which 16 people lost their lives while several are assumed missing,” said the Indian Army.
LET TERRORIST TALIB HUSSAIN NOT A MEMBER OF BJP: J&K BJP CHIEF
Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina on Monday said the most wanted Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Talib Hussain who was apprehended from Reasi district is neither an “active member of the BJP nor a primary member”.
Speaking to ANI, Raina said, “Hussain is neither an active member of the BJP nor a primary member. There was a letter circular, on the basis of which it is believed that Sheikh Bashir, who is the President of BJP Minority Front of Jammu and Kashmir had appointed Hussain on 9 May.” He termed the reports fake which claimed that one of the two most-wanted LeT terrorists, who were overpowered by locals and handed over to the police, was in charge of the party’s IT cell.
The BJP leader further said after that Hussain had circulated a letter himself and resigned from the membership of the party on 18 May. “A couple of years ago, Hussain along with with his three colleagues used to come to the BJP office as a media person. He had also interviewed me many times, he used to call himself a reporter for a YouTube channel named ‘New Sehar India’,” Raina said.
“As a journalist, Hussain clicked photos with us many times in the BJP office. Pakistan terror outfit wanted to target the head office of the BJP of Jammu and Kashmir. It has been done through the targeted medium and carried out such incidents,” he said. “It is too soon to say more on this matter as the investigation is going on. Not only the BJP, but all the offices of other political parties need to be more alert now,” Raina added.
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