INS PANVEL: THE SMALL SHIP THAT SCORED BIG IN THE 1971 WAR - The Daily Guardian
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INS PANVEL: THE SMALL SHIP THAT SCORED BIG IN THE 1971 WAR

The story of Force Alpha, which included the INS Panvel, is the stuff of legends. A disparate group assembled from limited resources not only braved challenges and risked capture, but launched a mighty counter offensive against enemy forces and protected and rescued its comrades.

CMDE SRIKANT B. KESNUR AND LT ABHIJEET PATIL

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The India-Pakistan war of 1971 ended on 16 December with the surrender of over 90,000 troops of the Pakistan Military at Dhaka, the largest surrender after the Second World War. This war, for the liberation of Bangladesh, was special in many ways. While the political and diplomatic apparatus worked in tandem towards a common terminal objective, our armed forces fought with great cohesion to achieve a decisive military victory. This war was even more crucial for the Indian Navy, as it was for the first time, since Independence, that the Indian Navy was deployed for large-scale combat in an offensive role. There were innumerable acts of courage and audacity displayed by all the three services and they are rightfully celebrated. The Navy’s catalogue of glory included several feats, many of which are remembered 50 years later—be it the attack on Karachi, the sinking of Ghazi, the achievements of Vikrant’s air wing in the Bay of Bengal or the poignant loss of Khukri. However, one of the lesser known facets of the war is the sterling achievements of a small unit called the Force Alpha and its ‘flagship’ INS Panvel.

‘Force Alpha’ was a strange makeshift arrangement, a maritime task force comprising two gunboats of the ‘flower class’, Padma and Palash, loaned from the West Bengal government, Chitrangada, a watercraft of the Border Security Force (BSF) and INS Panvel, a seaward defence boat, as its command ship. Commander Mohan Narayan Rao (MNR) Samant, an outstanding submariner (the description by Lt Gen JFR Jacob, the Chief of Staff of Army’s Eastern Command) who had earlier commanded a frontline submarine, was the Senior Officer of this force. Padma and Palash were retrofitted with L-60 Bofors guns, machine guns on their bridges and had their decks reinforced. They were manned mostly by Mukti Bahini men. Chitrangada was fitted only with machine guns.

Line drawing of Poluchat Class.INS Panvel.

Table of Poluchat Class.
Lt cdr Noronha.
Cdr Samant
Photo of Cdr Ashok Kumar holding the phoot of Panvel.




Panvel, owing to her two 40 mm Bofors guns, seemed comparatively more ‘powerful’. However, Panvel was a very small ship of the Poluchat class, one of our smallest acquisitions from the erstwhile USSR. It weighed 90 tons and was merely 29 metres long. It had a single toilet, shower and kitchen shared among all personnel. From a small complement of 16, its crew grew to 30 when the Bofors guns were fitted. A latter day analyst may describe this as laughably Lilliputian, but to Lt Cdr Joseph Pius Alfred (JPA) Noronha, the Commanding Officer, this was no less than a Cruiser Command. In addition, the force carried limpet mines, explosives, small arms and other equipment necessary to undertake underwater sabotage, scuttling and boarding operations.

The task assigned to Force Alpha was to undertake a maritime attack on the port complex of Chalna and Mongla, thereby, achieving an offensive on the adversary from the sea and to dislocate its forces, as also to cripple the war waging potential which was being sustained through shipping at these crucial river harbours. Interestingly, the task force was operating directly under the orders of the Eastern Army Command at Kolkata and not the Eastern Naval Command.

In the book Transition to Triumph, Cdr (later Captain) MN Samant is quoted as saying, “After the war was declared, Lt General Arora and Major General Jacob ordered me to organize a maritime attack on Chalna and Mongla. This was because the Indian Army’s 41 Brigade was directly locked in combat with its Pakistani counterpart to take over the Chalna and Khulna area, which was not falling. So the next best alternative was to mount an attack from seaward to dislocate the Pakistan troops.” Attacks on Pakistani shipping in harbours and at the anchorages of Chalna-Mongla also formed part of the plan.

The Force departed on the morning of 07 Dec 71, from Hasnabad, a river port on the Indian side and travelled several miles in the Sunderbans delta. They braved numerous odds like Pakistani direction-finding teams trying to locate them, the lack of precise navigation charts (they had to use Indian Army Ordnance Maps instead) and the passages undertaken in the unfamiliar, narrow and complicated waterways of the Sunderbans, at times in pitch dark conditions. In fact, Palash ran aground on a sandbank soon after departure and had to be yanked out by Padma using her tow rope.

An hour past midnight of 8/9 December ‘71, when Force Alpha was at Akram Point at the mouth of Pussur River, Panvel detected two medium-sized ships fleeing the warzone. As the vessels had greater speeds than him and were out of the range of the force’s guns, Samant relayed information about them to the Eastern Fleet operating in the Bay of Bengal. This, thus, led to the Pakistani merchant ships MV Baqir and MV Anvar Baksh being apprehended by INS Rajput. These ships were carrying Pakistani military personnel and families and large quantities of weapons and ammunition. They were taken as prizes of war by the Indian Navy.

The ships of this task force now turned northwards into the Pussur. The river was the lifeline of Khulna and housed the largest inland port of East Pakistan, the Chalna-Mongla Port complex. These ports accounted for most of Pakistan’s waterborne trade, generated massive revenues for the government and, most importantly, provided the heavily guarded military garrisons at Khulna with critical supplies from West Pakistan through the maritime routes. To achieve maximum surprise, Force Alpha entered Mongla at first light on 10 December.

The enemy forces were nowhere to be found except for brief firing from isolated pockets which was quickly neutralized. The task force came alongside at Mongla and was greeted with joyous cheers by the local populace which had gathered on the jetty. Locals informed that the Pakistan forces had fled and Mukti Bahini was in control of the area. As a follow up, boarding parties were deployed by Samant to clear up small pockets of resistance and salvage whatever crucial information they could from the burning ships which included Pakistani flagged vessels. These boarding parties swiftly accomplished their tasks. Chitrangada was ordered to stay back at Mongla for overseeing salvage operations, rendering assistance to the local population and as a rearguard.

With no sign of the enemy at Mongla, Panvel, Palash and Padma began their journey towards Khulna which was 30 km upstream and arrived there around 1100 hours on 10 December 1971. East Pakistan’s industrial heartland, the Khulna area, was heavily guarded by Pakistani forces. The Indian Army’s 41 Brigade, which was advancing in this area from the west, was locked in fierce combat with Pakistan Army’s 107 Brigade. Force Alpha was ordered to launch a waterborne offensive on these Pakistani forces from their rear, from the Rupsha river (a tributary of Pussur), which lay east of Khulna, in order to dislocate the adversary’s spine.

Apart from being an important commercial hub, Khulna also housed PNS Titumir, an important naval base of East Pakistan. The siege of Titumir would have severely affected the morale of the Pakistani forces in the region. As the ships traversed the length of Rupsha, Pakistani soldiers and Razakars, the pro-Pakistan militiamen, emerged from bunkers on the western bank of the river and commenced firing at the ships with their rifles and machine guns.

Just when the ships had begun silencing the Razakars, Gnat fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) appeared on the scene. These, apparently, were not a cause for concern for Force Alpha as the ships were displaying large yellow flags, their pre-arranged signal for being identified by IAF aircraft as friendlies. Yet, the fog of war intervened. Despite the flags, the Gnats failed to identify the Indian ships and fired at them. Their rockets narrowly missed Panvel but Padma was hit. It burst into flames and was incapacitated instantly. Palash also took a massive rocket hit and was in flames. She managed to quickly head for the eastern bank while her crew abandoned the ship and leapt into the water. As the third Gnat again headed straight for Panvel, her Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Noronha carried out violent evasive manoeuvres to save his ship. He ordered the ship to be beached and abandoned, and within seconds, the crew took cover. Just two men — Sub Lieutenant Ashok Kumar and Raju, an electrical sailor — remained on board, keeping the engines running. Panvel had escaped the attack of the Gnats unscathed.

After the IAF fighters disappeared, Samant, Noronha and the other crew re-boarded Panvel. Using her engines effectively, Panvel unbeached herself and got underway. Samant decided to turn around and pick up the survivors of Padma and Palash, who were stranded in the river and were now facing heavy fire from the Pakistani Army and militia. As she approached to rescue the crew, she simultaneously engaged the enemy bunkers on both banks, thereby, suppressing their fire. At this time, the second wave of Gnats arrived. Panvel repeated the evasive manoeuvring and was saved again. After the Gnats peeled off, Panvel continued the rescue efforts and, by the end of the day’s action, picked up 14 crew members of Palash and Padma.

Thereafter, Panvel unleashed her firepower. She destroyed every single fortification of the adversary on either side of Rupsha. Her 40/60 Bofors gun rattled the town of Khulna for over an hour, annihilating the shipyard, many government offices and other significant infrastructure which stood on the western bank. As Samant recollects, “At about the time that the second wave of Gnats attacked, the Pakistanis opened fire on us, including on those survivors who were swimming in the water to save themselves. This was something which I could not tolerate, so I replied furiously, firing almost all Panvel’s ammunition to subdue the Pakistani attack. After that, I collected the wounded people on board and after hoisting the Bangladesh flag on Khulna Jail, we returned to attend to the wounded.”

Noronha had similar recollections. As he stated, “After rescue, we started the attack on the shore defences. Some Pakistani ships which were hit earlier had been brought to Khulna for repairs and were being used as fortresses. They were firing at us through the port holes and from whatever vantage point they could get. So I used gunfire to silence them”. Ashok Kumar, who was in-charge of the firing, remembers counting 600 shells. He says, “Not a single shell misfired, not a single shell got jammed. My crew was doing all this even though they were facing enemy fire and had no cover. That day, fortune favoured the brave as Panvel rained destruction on Khulna.”

Eleven members of Force Alpha had laid down their lives in this bloody action. They included seven Mukti Bahini personnel, a soldier of the BSF and three Indian Naval personnel. Apart from these, several others were missing in action and later reported as captured by the Pakistani forces at Khulna. These included four Indian Navy personnel who were released after the surrender. In custody, they were initially roughed up—Lt Mitter was almost shot and Petty Officer Chiman Singh’s finger nearly hacked—but, later, they were given good medical care. Further, many others were injured seriously— losing a limb or flesh or having deep searing wounds due to a combination of fire, explosion, shock, exhaustion due to swimming or other reasons. While Noronha narrowly missed getting injured, Samant had a grazing bullet wound and Kumar had a bullet injury through his ribs.

To summarize, Force Alpha’s story is of a disparate group assembled from limited resources scoring big in the war. They braved navigational and other challenges to penetrate deep into enemy heartland. They risked capture with attendant consequences. Be it the interception of Pakistani merchant ships or the destruction at Khulna, the naval task force proved its mettle. To face enemy fire and respond with fury while also taking hits in a ‘blue on blue’ situation and, at the same time, rescuing one’s injured comrades haplessly swimming in the waters, were acts of extreme courage under fire. INS Panvel’s actions in evading Gnats by evasive manoeuvres, beaching and un-beaching, raising smoke to appear as a stricken ship, abandoning ship and re-boarding it, keeping the flock together, rescuing many, protecting itself from enemy fire and then launching a mighty counter offensive, all in the matter of a few hours, is the stuff of legends, in which navigational savvy, bold leadership and cool temperament came to the fore. 

Force Alpha was named after Lt Gen JS Aurora, the GOC in C Eastern Command. The exploits of the force led by INS Panvel would have pleased him undoubtedly. It is, therefore, no surprise that it was the Army that recommended Cdr Samant for a Maha Vir Chakra. This is testimony to the high mutual respect among soldiers. It is nobody’s case that without Force Alpha the eventual outcome of the war would have been different. Possibly, the Force Alpha raid would be classified as no more than a skirmish. However, the riverine action needs to be viewed in terms of the physical and psychological damage caused to Pakistan assets, the possibilities offered by the maritime vector in a theatre of war and ‘fairytale’ like bravado shown by the small team of Indian and Mukti Bahini naval personnel.

This is evident from the large number of gallantry awards which was awarded to this tiny force. Three Maha Vir Chakras (including Samant and Noronha), 5 Vir Chakras, 2 Nao Sena Medal Gallantry and 2 Mention in Dispatches made up the rich haul garnered by this small force of less than 100 people in all. Pro-rata wise, this would possibly be the highest among any unit and certainly highest in the Indian Navy. Force Alpha is, ultimately, the story of a spirited, intrepid bunch of people pulling off a daring act.

In 1971, when INS Panvel was blazing a trail of glory, the town it was named after was a small outpost near Mumbai. The town has an illustrious history as an ‘influential province in the Maratha Empire’. Due to its proximity to Bombay and the maritime connect with the Arabian Sea through the ‘Panvel Creek’, she continued to be important throughout the British Era. Today, Panvel is a bustling, densely populated city and part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. A new Panvel has sprung up on National Highway 4 that connects Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Capt MNR Samant passed away in his beloved Mumbai in March 2019, and Cdr JPA Noronha this year in July in Bengaluru. Apart from close relatives and the military and naval fraternity, their passing went largely unnoticed. We owe it to their memory that their deeds and that of INS Panvel are recounted for posterity. One of the Vir Chakra awardees, Sub Lt Ashok Kumar, retired as a Commander and is now settled in Mumbai. Let us recognize our heroes in their times and not after. Hopefully, the citizens of this nation and the denizens of Panvel will take note.

An interesting piece of trivia to end the story: Noronha perfected the difficult art of beaching his ship—remember it was not an amphibian—on the soft riverbanks of the Icchamati to take freshwater supplies while patrolling there in November for a fortnight. Later, this skill not only saved the ship but enabled the counter offensive.

Cmde Srikant B. Kesnur and Lt Abhijeet Patil are serving naval officers associated with the Naval History Project. Views are personal. References and first-person accounts have been taken from the books ‘Transition to Triumph’ by VAdm G.M. Hiranandani, ‘War in the Indian Ocean’ by VAdm M.K. Roy and ‘Operation X’ by Capt M.N.R. Samant and Sandeep Unnithan.

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SWARNIM VIJAY VARSH CELEBRATIONS AT RASHTRIYA RIFLES SECTOR HEADQUARTERS

Ashish Singh

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NEW DELHI: The Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Flame after having entered the serene Kashmir Valley through the Navyug Tunnel on Tuesday, continued its journey and made its way to Anantnag City, also known as the ‘Land of Infinite Springs’. The Victory flame was received by Commanding Officer of Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, Wuzur and travelled to Khanabal, Anantnag via Mir Bazar, Khudwani and Wampoh and reached Rashtriya Rifles Sector Headquarter, Khanabal.

The flame was received with tremendous fervour by school children, local youth, 13 Veer Naris, 55 ex-servicemen, personnel from Security Forces & Law Enforcement Agencies and many other civilian dignitaries from the local administration. Thereafter, the Victory Flame was escorted through the Khanabal Junction, proudly carried by military personnel & civilians alike before entering the Khanabal Military Garrison. Later, the Victory Flame was handed over to the Commander, Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Khanabal at the War Memorial. Wreaths were laid to pay homage to the unsung War Heroes, by the visiting dignitaries, including Mr Hilal Ahmed Shah, Mayor Anantnag, Mr Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, IAS, Additional DC Anantnag, Mr Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, SSP Anantnag, Mr DP Upadhyay, DIG CRPF, Mr Abdul Jabbar, IPS, DIG (South Kashmir) and Commander Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Khanabal, followed by a ceremonial Guard of Honour. Post the solemn event, the celebrations continued with cultural performances by school children and local artists, followed by the felicitation of Veer Naris, Veer Matas & veterans by the dignitaries present.

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CHINA’S NEW BRI: BRIDE RESUPPLY INITIATIVE

Ashish Singh

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China is facing a mammoth problem due to a huge gender imbalance, with the male population exceeding the female population by more than 30 million, as per the data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. The imbalance in the post-2000s and population of marriageable age have become incrementally vicious & even more urgent.

In 2020, the sex ratio of the total population in China was 105.302 males per 100 females as per data provided by Statistic Times. In total, there are 738,247,340 or 738.25 million males and 701,076,434 or 701.08 million females in China. The percentage of the female population is 48.71 percent compared to 51.29 percent male population.

The most influential factor behind such skewed figures has been the erstwhile infamous “one-child” policy of China from 1979 to 2015, which prompted many parents to decide that their sole child must be a boy. Though China reversed it in 2016 to allow families to have two children as fears grew about the country’s fast-ageing population and shrinking workforce, the change has not yet resulted in a baby boom, with Chinese women often delaying or avoiding childbirth and young couples blaming rising costs and insufficient policy support for families.

China now has a huge, and growing, gender gap among the generations most likely to be seeking a spouse—a bride shortage. As on date there are around 35 million males more than females and this figure is expected to grow by almost 5% every year (as per present sex ratio), meaning that China will have more than 50 million ‘Extra Men’ within next five years. Experts project that many of these extra men will never marry; others may go to extreme measures to do so. The difficulty that these Chinese men now face in finding wives, combined with a lack of protections in China, is driving a brutal business of selling women and girls from neighbouring countries.

BRIDE RESUPPLY INITIATIVE

It has emerged that agents in China and Pakistan have used the garb of CPEC to literally kidnap girls from lower socio-economic backgrounds, especially from minority communities such as Christians, Hindus and marry them off to Chinese men. US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback during a statement in Dec 2020 mentioned this as one of the reasons for designating Pakistan as a country of particular concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act.

Most of these Pakistani brides are given inflated information about the socio-economic status of these Chinese grooms which turns out to be false. These women and girls are typically tricked by brokers who promise well-paid employment across the border in China. Once in China, they find themselves at the mercy of the brokers, who sell them for around $3,000 to $13,000 to Chinese families. Once purchased they may be held prisoner and pressured to produce babies as quickly as possible. Similar stories have been documented by journalists and researchers in some other countries too like Cambodia, North Korea, Myanmar, and Vietnam, among others, although on a relatively smaller scale.

As part of the Belt and Road Initiative’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan received a $ 62-billion infrastructural investment package to develop major works, from roads to power plants. Quite naturally, the Pak government has sought to curtail investigations, putting “immense pressure” on officials from the Federal Investigation Agency pursuing trafficking networks fearing such efforts could sour relationships with the country’s all weather ally- China, says Saleem Iqbal, a Christian activist who has helped parents rescue several young girls from China and prevented others from being sent there. Other countries with trafficked brides face similar asymmetrical power and economic relationships with China, and analysts doubt these nations will discuss difficult topics like action against bride trafficking in negotiations with their powerful neighbour.

The Chinese government’s main response for many years seemed to be simply to ignore growing allegations about authorities’ complicity in these crimes. But the problem is becoming too big to ignore; the government’s stonewalling is gradually being replaced by a mixture of criminal justice and propaganda responses, neither of which get to the real issue of gender discrimination.

As per experts’ calculations, it will take about 50 to 60 years to slowly resolve the gender imbalance formed 20 to 30 years ago if some concrete steps are taken today. Well, while that might be true, Xi Jinping does not need to bother much having a sidekick like Pakistan under his thumb. With a sinking economy, ever rising pile of debts with some requiring immediate payback and the FATF sword looming on is neck since ages, Pakistan is left with very little choice other than complying with the Chinese demands even if that’s at the cost of its daughters.

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AT ASEAN DEFENCE MINISTERS’ MEETING, RAJNATH SINGH CALLS FOR AN OPEN AND INCLUSIVE ORDER IN INDO-PACIFIC

Ashish Singh

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NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called for an open and inclusive order in Indo-Pacific based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations while addressing the 8th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus on Wednesday. The ADMM Plus is an annual meeting of Defence Ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and eight dialogue partner countries – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. Brunei is the Chair of the ADMM Plus forum this year.

Rajnath Singh also stressed on “peaceful resolutions of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.” “India has strengthened its cooperative engagements in the Indo-Pacific based on converging visions and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Premised upon the centrality of ASEAN, India supports utilisation of ASEAN-led mechanisms as important platforms for implementation of our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific”, he added. During thematic discussions on regional and international security environment, Rajnath Singh put forth India’s views before the Defence Ministers of ASEAN countries and eight dialogue partners. He stressed that the emerging challenges to international peace and security cannot be addressed with outdated systems designed to deal with trials of the past.

The Raksha Mantri reiterated India’s support to freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded commerce for all in international waters in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). “Maritime security challenges are a concern to India. The Sea lanes of Communication are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region,” he stressed. The Raksha Mantri hoped that the Code of Conduct negotiations will lead to outcomes keeping with international law and do not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations that are not party to these discussions.

On the ‘Act East Policy’, announced by Prime Minister Narender Modi in November 2014,Rajnath Singh stated that the key elements of the policy aim to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. Terming terrorism and radicalisation as gravest threats to world peace and security, Rajnath Singh called for collective cooperation to fully disrupt terror organisations and their networks; identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable and ensure that strong measures are taken against those who support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists. As a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), he said India remains committed to combat financing of terrorism.

To deal with cyber threats, the Raksha Mantri called for a multi-stakeholder approach, guided by democratic values, with a governance structure that is open and inclusive and a secure, open and stable internet with due respect to sovereignty of countries, that would drive the future of cyberspace. On the most recent challenge faced by the world, COVID-19, Rajnath Singh said the effect of the pandemic is still unfolding and the test, therefore, is to make sure that the world economy moves on the path of recovery and no one is left behind. This is only possible if entire humanity is vaccinated, he stated. “Globally available patent free vaccines, unhindered supply chains and greater global medical capacities are some of the lines of effort that India has suggested for a combined effort,” he highlighted.

Referring to the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, the Raksha Mantri stated that India remains one of the first to respond in times of distress in the immediate as well as extended neighbourhood. As a founding member of the Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting (HACGAM), India seeks to enhance capacity building through collaboration in the areas of Maritime Search & Rescue, he added. Rajnath Singh also underscored the importance India attaches to ASEAN centrality and unity in ensuring peace and stability in the region. He said India shares a deep connect with ASEAN and has continued its active engagement in many areas contributing to regional peace and stability, particularly through ASEAN led mechanisms, such as East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and ADMM-Plus. The India-ASEAN strategic partnership has been strengthened by virtue of flourishing cultural and civilisational links and enhanced people-to-people cooperation, he added. The Raksha Mantri thanked Brunei for conducting the ADMM Plus despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain and other senior officials of Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs attended the meeting.

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INSPECTOR GENERAL M.V. PATHAK TAKES OVER AS THE COMMANDER OF COAST GUARD REGION NORTH EAST

Ashish Singh

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Inspector General MV Pathak took over as the Regional Commander, Coast Guard Region North East, Kolkata from Inspector General AK Harbola on Monday. Inspector General Pathak is an alumnus of the US Coast Guard Academy, Connecticut, having undergone the IMO Course from this academy.

During his illustrious career of more than three decades, Inspector General Pathak has commanded all classes of Coast Guard Ships. The shore appointments held by the flag officer include Chief of Staff to Coast Guard Commander (Western Seaboard) Mumbai, Commander Coast Guard (Kerala and Mahe), Principal Director (Administration), and Director (Manpower, Recruitment and Training) at Coast Guard Headquarters, New Delhi.

Before taking over the reins of Coast Guard Region North East, Inspector General Pathak was the Regional Commander, Coast Guard Region (Andaman & Nicobar) at Port Blair for three years. The flag officer is a recipient of the ‘Tatrakshak Medal’. Inspector General Maneesh Pathak on taking over said that his priority will be strengthening the Coastal Security mechanism through coordination with all State and Central Agencies and to make the seas safe for all fishermen and seafarers. He further added that the Indian Coast Guard is committed to in motto “Vayam Rakshamah” which means “We Protect”.

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INDIAN ARMY CONDUCTS RAIL TRIALS ON DEDICATED FREIGHT CORRIDOR

Ashish Singh

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The recently developed “Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)” by the Indian Railways provides faster movement of freight across the Country. The Indian Army, on Monday, conducted a successful trial by moving a military train loaded with vehicles and equipment from New Rewari to New Phulera validating the efficacy of the DFC. The intricate and synchronised coordination by the Indian Army with Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL) and Indian Railways will significantly enhance the mobilisation capability of the Armed Forces. These trials were part of the “Whole of the Nation Approach” for optimising national resources and achieve seamless synergy among various ministries and departments.

Interactions by the Indian Army with all stakeholders including DFCCIL and Indian Railways will now assist in leveraging the DFC and allied infrastructure into the mobilisation matrix of Armed Forces. Development of infrastructure at certain locations to support mobilisation and trials to validate move of defence owned rolling stock on Roll On-Roll Off (RO-RO) service is being formalised and modalities are being evolved. These trials herald the first step in this process to pave the way for enhancing the operational readiness of the Armed Forces. This initiative would set in place processes to ensure that military requirements are dovetailed in the national infrastructure development at the planning stage itself.

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NORTHERN ARMY COMMANDER FELICITATES ‘VEER NARIS’ AND WAR HEROES OF 1971 INDIA-PAK WAR

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NEW DELHI: Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command laid a wreath to Swarnim Vijay Mashaal and paid tributes to fallen heroes at the Warrior’s Grove War Memorial, Crossed Swords Division, Akhnoor as a part of Swarnim Vijay Varsh celebrations. The Army Commander accompanied by Lt Gen MV Suchindra Kumar, GOC White Knight Corps was briefed on the saga and valour of gallant soldiers of Indian Armed Forces during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. A documentary on the 1971 Indo-Pak War was screened for the audience.

The General officer felicitated Veer Naris and war heroes of the 1971 Indo Pak war at Akhnoor. The GOC-in-C, a war hero and Vir Chakra awardee, appreciated the veterans for their invaluable services for the motherland. He also expressed deep gratitude for the sacrifices of the Veer Naris. Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command interacted with all veterans and Veer Naris following Covid protocol. He expressed gratitude and acknowledged the contributions of the populace of Jammu & Kasmir who have played a pivotal role during various operations. He assured Veer Naris and veterans of full support at all times as was extended during the Covid pandemic. He motivated them to take maximum benefits from the facilities rendered by the Indian Army at their doorstep including Covid Care Facilities, Covid vaccination, Covid preventive measures, and government schemes, etc.

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