Sino-Indian logjam: Facts, risks, options and the sum of all fears - The Daily Guardian
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Sino-Indian logjam: Facts, risks, options and the sum of all fears

If winter is here, spring can’t be far behind for Indian Army to trounce China’s People’s Liberation Army. Indian forces should pay Chinese back in their own coin.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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LAC standoff
LAC standoff

China may be reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops, but it does not realise that high-altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies. Isolated more than ever before, China is already in a trap of its own making. Now, Indian forces should hold tight, maintain a low profile but stay vigilant till winter sets in. Once winter sets in, they should start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front.

Battle Indicators: Global Times’ videos indicate that PLA is rehearsing for an offensive. Air defence drills around Lhasa. Fibre optic cables being laid in Spangur. Early battle indicators. The real indicator will be dumping artillery ammunition and build up. When that happens, real business is afoot. Till then relax or chew your nails. Notwithstanding, since the Chinese are chafing to teach us a lesson. So what is in the offing?

Hardening Defences: Indian Infantry has dug in at the heights for two weeks. The defences are hardening and getting coordinated. It means overhead protection, stocking and obstacle laying. A defensive fire plan is evolving with IAF, Artillery, Tanks and Infantry Mortars in the mix. Selected and surveyed targets would be Chinese assembly areas, routes of ingress, forming up places(FUPs) for assault, enemy gun areas, HQs and more. Suffice to say that the Chinese will get a hell of a whack. The Chinese have focused on mechanisation by rote. That is contained in their White Paper as a doctrine. They did not realise that High Altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies.

I hope that Global Times’ editor is around to photograph hilarious Chinese sergeant majors blowing whistles and trumpets to commence ferocious attacks. His story will be different now — how drones used for food are being multitasked for body bag delivery. Everyone says that China will attack and teach India a lesson. Good. Let’s do some honest analysis.

Isolation Reinforced: After Wang Yi’s visit to EU states, Germany has opted on the side of democracies in the Indo Pacific region. That was inevitable. Indonesia refused to provide any bases for the Chinese. They are now objecting to Chinese transgressions in the Natuna Seas. The spat with Australia is worsening. India and Japan have signed a defence pact. The Taiwanese have warned that any more violation of their airspace will invite retaliatory action. There are reports which say that a Sino-US armed conflict is getting more real. China is more isolated than ever. Internally, Inner Mongolia continues to fester. Tibet is getting revived. Xinjiang issue is on the verge of revival. India can help both along. Hong Kong is not out of the news. The right time to ramp up the conflict with another Nuclear Power? Great Chinese strategic thinking.

Lebensraum and Persecuted Victimhood: Before Nazi offensives and pogroms, Hitler sold the ‘Lebensraum Dream’ and the ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ to Germany. Something similar is happening in China. Initially Xi Jinping sold the ‘China Dream’, pronounced a period of great strategic opportunity and started building the greatest military on earth. He brainwashed Chinese that the CCP way was the best during the Wuhan Virus crisis. Pogroms against the Uighurs are well documented. He has spoken of solidifying Tibet security and communising religion. Wayward Hong Kongers are brought in line. He pronounces that China will follow the Communist economic model come what may. He popularises himself with people by visiting them during floods. He is invoking people to overcome hardships due to denial of technologies – imported seeds for agriculture, critical components in manufacturing, dependence on oil imports, distribution of water resources and pharmaceuticals and medical equipment for an ageing population. The position of the CCP inside China is being constantly consolidated.

The emerging picture — ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ of China being denied and pushed into a corner by a disintegrating and inimically jealous world. External picture. China is ordained to rule the world. Only China can win — at any cost. Every one falls in line. Political, economic, diplomatic or military coercion works, always and every time. China will expand based on some mythological irredentism. ‘Aggressive Lebensraum’. The world, ravaged by the Virus from China is being herded into a corner to establish Chinese supremacy. Everything is Xi centric to rule the world. A bipolarity is emerging. Internal portrayal of being unfairly cornered and an external reality of coercively cornering everyone. Such a diabolic schism was last seen in Hitler’s Germany. Nitin Gokhale was right. The transformation to Xitler is complete. We should know who we are dealing with. “The Man Who Would Be King” not by Rudyard Kipling!

Xitlerian Concept: In the Xitlerian concept, India has no right to defend itself. It must subjugate itself to the lord and emperor of the great Chinese people. If not, be prepared for punishment. The great PLA will defend every inch of Chinese terri- tory recently usurped from India by attacking and punishing India for India asking vacation of its territory. The Idea is to take what it wants. Force an unequal piece. After all, China is the greatest. Are there risks and options in this new one sided game? 

Risks: There are four risks in this attempt to teach India a lesson. Firstly, with the available troops India can- not be taught a lesson. The fight will be long, hard and bloody. Everything will be at a cost. That cost will be collected by the US in the South China Sea who will not miss the opportunity. A firefight starts there. Taiwan could declare Independence. End of superpower China.

Secondly, after the bloody battle, even if India is defeated, the long guerrilla campaign will start. Tibet and Xinjiang will be in flames. Srinagar Valley is only 15948 Sq km. Tibet is 1.22 million Sq km and Xinjiang is 1.6 million Sq km. See the difference? China, of the nose bloodied, will have to commit a lot more of PLA to handle the situation on a real long term basis. Its entire global plans go for a toss.

Thirdly, there are very good chances that China will be taught a lesson. In fact I am confident that could happen. If they start a shooting match and India finishes it, the next stop could be Rudok. That will automatically put Tibet and Xinjiang aflame. It could also end with the CCP control over society and lead to a collapse. Fourthly, what hap- pens if China cannot force victory? The saga of defeat continues. Pakistan has the best Army never to have won a war. China will compete for that honour with its rusty iron brother. Whichever way it goes, China’s dream will evaporate. Guaranteed. Risk a war? Go ahead China. You might collapse. BTW, when does the N factor kick in?

Options: China is reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops. The area can hold that many troops only. Any further increase will diminish returns. Secondly, mountains are good for defenders. It is difficult to dislodge entrenched defenders unless there are repeated headlong attacks. China has to also decide where to attack. North of Pangong Tso or South of it. (see picture) North of Pangong Tso offers some scope for employment of armour in the Depsang Plains. However it is a shooting match without manoeuvre space. There is a fair bit of mountainous area North of Pangong Tso also. India can play some tricks, infiltrate and reverse the situation. While it may be feasible to get hold of some territory there is a good chance of losing it too for the Chinese. The key to the whole affair will be the Chusul Gateway, South of Pangong Tso. Can China dislodge us from the strategically important Kailash Range? In an area devoid of cover and a single avenue of approach the attacker is exposed (see picture — 3d view of area beyond Spangur). Headbutting will be very costly. Results will be minimal. Of course, China can expand into other sectors further South. In which case its commitment and imbalance will expand. It will slowly be sucked in and stretched to a point when a counter offensive will happen. Where? Has to be decided between USA and India. The short point is that China is already in a trap of its own making. So far China has used Sun Tsu’s maxim of winning wars without fighting. This is one war they will have to fight to win but will lose. Want to be a superpower? Bleed a little on the battlefield.

Own Option: What should we do? Hold tight. Till winter sets in maintain a low profile. Stay vigilant. Do not get complacent. The enemy is desperate. Do some talking. Stall for time. Play the Chinese game. Two steps forward and no step back. Once winter sets in, start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front. Imbalances and opportunities will surface. Incremental actions to attain tactical and strategic significance or opening up offensive options will be of great value. Create small criticalities. No Hurry. Patience. Vigilance. Go for the kill. A discredited PLA will do greater damage to China. Their soft frontline troops should be targeted. They are our Centre of Gravity. Up front within reach. Mountains offer great manoeuvre space. Develop offensive options. Beyond the Kailash range there are no great obstacles or ridge lines till Rudok and the Western Highway. The Pangong Tso gives a secure flank. At some point we must go on the counter offensive. We need to generate some options to force a recoil. I might sound outlandish. However think coolly. We have their measure. Occupation of the Kailash range has opened up options. Exploit it. They have no defences or a firm base. There are three avenues of approach to hit the Western Highway (G219) look at the map. Manoeuvre through the hills. Force them into defence. Hats off guys. Well done.

Story of India: I need to tell a story. Summer of 99. Op Vijay broke out. My regiment (all Rajputs ) was mobilised overnight from the Eastern to the Northern sector. A number young soldiers on completion of post recruit training were posted to make good our strengths. All of them reported to Siliguri. Around a dozen of them with a couple of NCOs retuning from leave were dispatched to join the regiment in the staging area. War rumours were abound. At Delhi railway station, two young soldiers (from neighbouring villages) gave the slip and went AWOL. They went home and told their mothers that they came on leave. One of the mothers suspected something unusual and quizzed her son. Out came the AWOL story. She gave him a couple of tight slaps, took him to the other village and told the other boy’s mother about it. She in turn slapped her son. How could they become AWOL from the regiment when the nation was at war? One village elder was entrusted to deposit these young soldiers with the unit. He brought them to me and said: “CO sahab inko maaf kar dena. In dono ka mathaon ne inke saath bahut gussa kiya. Rajputon ka be-izzati ho gaya. Desh ka Rak- sha karna hamara kartavya hai. Bcahhe hain. Inko asli Rajput banao aur ladai mein sabse aage le jao.” That was that and life went on. When I last visited the unit those ‘boys’ are now experienced and tough gunners and junior leaders.

The Sum of All Fears: Indian mothers will send their sons to war as a matter of IZZAT and Desh ki Raksha irrespective of caste, creed, Arm or unit. Phillip Mason called it a ‘Matter of Honour’. This spirit of sacrifice is deeply ingrained in Indian blood streams even now. It was on display in Galwan. A country which has such deep-rooted patriotism cannot be defeated by some soft ‘one child Chinese’. Why am I recounting this story? Have faith in our men they will deliver. The sum of all my fears is that some weak bellied and ill-informed politician or diplomat will develop cold feet and fritter away the gains during negotiation. That is our history. We felt diplomacy and international stature will guard the Sino Indian border in 1962. We gave back Haji Pir in 1965. We gave back 93,000 prisoners in 1971. We even went about saving Chinese ‘face’ during Doklam despite stopping them in their tracks. How wrong were we? Totally. There is a palpable fear swirling around that some jittery character will give away everything we have gained by blood sweat and tears. ‘Status Quo Ante’ of April has lost value. The Kailash Range should not be traded at any cost. It is ‘off table’ in all negotiations. We need to look at a new status post ante. That should be northwards into Aksai Chin! Stay tight. This is a defining fight for India. There is more on the cards. The Chinese need a lesson and we will give it to them. Rub their ‘face’ in.

Pakistan Preoccupation: Where are the Pakistanis? Aah! Pak Generals… Lost half their country. Partner- ing with them, the US lost its war on terror. Their advice cost the Saudis two oil- fields. They are now advising Chinese. Any guesses? Well these deep state worthies of the frontline nation are at their frontline at Papa John’s having a board meeting of their remunerative businesses with Dawood as special consultant. What is on their menu? Chinese! What about war fighting? That is for idiots.

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 on his blog www. gunnersshot.com.

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Defence

HAWK-I SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRES SMART ANTI AIRFIELD WEAPON

Ashish Singh

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In a big boost to the indigenous Hawk-i program, HAL successfully test fired a Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW) from the Hawk-i aircraft off the coast of Odisha. The indigenous stand-off weapon developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), DRDO is the first smart weapon fired from an Indian Hawk-Mk132. “HAL has been focusing on the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign. The Company owned Hawk-i platform is being extensively used for certification of systems and weapons developed indigenously by DRDO and CSIR labs” said Mr. R. Madhavan, CMD, HAL.

The aircraft flown by HAL test pilots Wg Cdr (Retd) P Awasthi and Wg Cdr (Retd) M Patel executed the weapon release in a text book manner and all mission objectives were met. The telemetry and tracking systems captured all the mission events confirming the success of the trials. Mr. Arup Chatterjee, Director, Engineering and R&D, HAL said HAL is indigenously enhancing the training and combat capability of Hawk-i. HAL is in discussions with Indian Armed Forces for integration of various weapons on Hawk platform. The Hawk-i is HAL’s internally funded program offering  the Indian Armed Forces an upgrade and combat capability for the Hawk, transforming it into an Advanced Jet Trainer providing training on sensors and weapons in peacetime into a potent combat platform during conflict. The SAAW is an aircraft launched, advanced, precision strike weapon of 125 Kg category used to attack and destroy enemy airfield assets such as radars, bunkers, taxi tracks, runways within a range of 100 kms.  SAAW has been earlier successfully test fired from Jaguar aircraft.

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Navy reveals tableau for Republic Day Parade 2021

Ashish Singh

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Traditionally, the Naval Tableau paraded during Republic Day Parade is aligned with the Navy’s theme for the year. This year’s theme is Indian Navy—Combat Ready, Credible and Cohesive. The nation is also commemorating the golden jubilee of the victory in 1971 war as Swarnim Vijay Varsh. The Indian Navy proved its mettle as a credible force to reckon in 1971 war proving its combat efficiency and hence this year’s tableau aims to showcase the Navy’s stellar role as a credible force during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The forward part of the tableau showcases the attack on Karachi harbour by missile boats. The attacks were undertaken as part of Operation Trident on 03th/ 04th Dec night and Operation Python on 8th/9th Dec night. The tableau depicts a missile boat firing the missile and also the route taken by the attacking units during both the operations as track charts on sides of the Tableau. The rear section of the tableau illustrates the Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikrant conducting flying operations with Sea Hawk and Alize aircraft. The air operations from Vikrant led to sizeable damage to ships and shore installations of East Pakistan and contributed immensely towards the liberation of Bangladesh.

While we celebrate our victory, The Indian Navy has also acknowledged the courage and sacrifice of the Naval personnel who wrote this glorifying chapter of the Naval history. The tableau showcases photographs of eight naval awardees of Mahavir Chakra one of which was posthumous. On the sides of the trailer are murals depicting various ships that participated in the war, commando operations (Operation X) undertaken by the Navy along with MuktiBahini and the surrender ceremony at Dhaka. While the Navy has many other operations to its credit during the 1971 war, the paucity of space on the tableau precludes showcasing all those elements. The tableau is an attempt to highlight the most significant aspects of Naval operations conducted during 1971 war and pay rich tributes to those who were involved in these. I sincerely hope the Naval tableau would evoke the spirit of pride and patriotism amongst the audience witnessing the parade and a sense of nostalgia amongst those who participated.

INDIAN NAVY AT REPUBLIC DAY 2021

Naval Band: World renowned brass band of the Indian Navy led by Sumesh Ranjan, Master Chief Petty Officer (Musician) Class II.

Marching Contingent: Naval Contingent of 96 young sailors, proudly led by Lt Cdr Lalit Kumar as Contingent Commander and Lt Cdr Sune Phogat, Lt Aditya Shukla and Sub Lt Agastya Chaudhary as Platoon Commanders.

Indian Navy Tableau: The tableau being paraded is in pursuance with the Tri-Service theme “Swarnim Vijay Varsh”. The Tableau commanders are Lt Cdr CS Ruben and Lt Cdr Surbhi Sharma. The Indian Navy proved its mettle as a credible force to reckon in 1971 war proving its combat efficiency and hence this year’s tableau aims to showcase the Navy’s stellar role as a credible force during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

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IAF VICE CHIEF VISITS CAW, DRDO HYDERABAD AND AIR FORCE ACADEMY

Ashish Singh

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Air Marshal H.S. Arora, Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS) visited College of Air Warfare (CAW), Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Missile Complex DRDO Hyderabad and Air Force Academy on Friday. On his arrival at Air Force Station Begumpet, he was received by Commandant, College of Air Warfare, who apprised him of various courses being conducted at CAW. During his visit to CAW, the VCAS delivered a talk on contemporary situation to the Course Officers undergoing prestigious Higher Air Command Course (HACC). He also interacted with the directing staff and impressed upon the necessity of Op readiness and expectations from future leadership of Indian Armed Forces. The Air Marshal visited Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Missile Complex, DRDO, Hyderabad. Mr. MSR Prasad, Distinguished Scientist and Director General, Missiles and Strategic Systems along with Dr Dashrath Ram, Director DRDL and. BHVS Narayana Murthy, Director RCI updated the progress on DRDO projects related to IAF.

During his visit to the various technology centres at RCI, the Air Marshal undertook review of MRSAM system which is soon to be inducted in the IAF. He interacted with senior scientists of RCI and DRDL. He emphasised on the need for indigenous and mission mode development of missiles and weapon systems. He also assured scientists of full cooperation and support from IAF for the indigenous R&D efforts by DRDO. At Air Force Academy, the VCAS was received by Air Marshal IP Vipin, Commandant Air Force Academy. He was given a detailed presentation on the training activities being undertaken at the Academy. During his visit to AFA, the VCAS inspected and reviewed progress of various critical infrastructure projects being developed at AFA. He also flew a sortie on Pilatus PC-7 Trainer Aircraft and Hawk Aircraft. Pilatus PC-7 trainer and Hawk aircraft have significantly transformed ab initio and intermediate flying training of Pilots in the Indian Air Force.

Apart from imparting training to the fighter pilots of IAF, Hawk aircraft is also used by ‘Suryakiran’ the aerobatic team of IAF. The Air Marshal lauded the relentless efforts and sincere hard work of the Officers and Airmen of Air Force Academy in the process of transforming young Cadets into professional competent Military Officers.

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Defence

MILITARY INSTITUTE TECHNOLOGY CELEBRATES 10TH RAISING DAY

Ashish Singh

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The Military Institute Technology (MILIT), Girinagar, Pune, celebrated the 10th Raising Day earlier this week. Few events were undertaken in scaled down manner in view of Covid-19.

Addressing, the staff at MILIT on the occasion, AVM Vivek Rajhans, VSM, Commandant, recalled achievements of the Institute through the past year and acknowledged the efforts of MILIT in ensuring conduct of training for tri-service officers even in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other events organised include a lecture by Vice Adm R Hari Kumar, AVSM, VSM, on ‘Theaterisation of the Armed Forces’ which was delivered online and attended by over 150 tri-service officers.

The Institute also undertook a tree plantation drive with the help of Mr Raghunath Maruti Dhole, of Devrai foundation, where in over 650 native trees were have been planted in two separate locations, which would be developed into a ‘Ghann Vann’ (mini dense forest) and a ‘Dev Rai’ (Sacred Grove).

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Defence

INS MUMBAI: 20 YEARS OF GLORIOUS SERVICE TO NATION

The ship has been at the forefront of major naval operations like 2002 Op Parakram, 2006 Op Sukoon, helping evacuate Indian, Nepalese and Sri Lankan citizens from Lebanon, and 2015 Op Rahat, evacuating Indian and foreign nationals from Yemen.

Ashish Singh

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INS Mumbai, a frontline guided missile destroyer of the Indian Navy celebrated her 20th anniversary on 22 January. The ship’s association with Mumbai city is unique as it is the only IN ship stationed at her namesake city.

The ship has an extremely illustrious lineage and rich legacy of dominance at sea since her first avatar of HCS Bombay in 18th century. Of the fifteen ‘Bombays’, preceding the present one, nine were warships. The tenth one is named after “Mumbai” in tune with change in nomenclature of the city. 

The ship’s motto is “Aham Prayptam Tvidametesam Balam”, which translates to “I am Invincible”, resonates with the spirit of the  city. The ship’s crest also draws inspiration from the City depicting the main gateway entrance to the Bombay Castle Barracks commissioned in 1951 in the honour of great Maratha Admiral Kanhoji Angre. 

INS Mumbai, built indigenously at Mazagon Dock, is the latest of three P-15 class destroyers and was commissioned by the then Governor of Maharashtra Dr P.C. Alexander. Since commissioning, the ship has rendered yeoman service to the nation and has always excelled in all her endeavours. She was adjudged the ‘Best Ship’ thrice and the ‘Most Spirited Ship’ twice which is a rare feat for any warship.

With a displacement of over 6500 tons, the ship is manned by 350 sailors and 40 officers. The majestic ship spanning 163 metres in length, 17 metres at the beam, propelled by four gas turbines is capable of achieving speeds in excess of 32 knots.  Fitted with an enviable, state-of-the-art weapons suite, which includes Surface to Surface Missiles, Surface to Air Missiles, Anti-Submarine rockets and torpedoes, the ship can unleash lethal firepower upon the enemy. The ship also operates all kinds of helicopters in the naval inventory, which are its extended eyes and ears.

The ship has been at the forefront of major Naval Operations like Op Parakram (2002), Op Sukoon (2006: evacuation of Indian, Nepalese and Sri Lankan citizens from Lebanon) and Op Rahat (2015: evacuation of Indian and foreign nationals from Yemen). 

With an aim of fostering greater understanding of combat-potential and synergising the available means and resources of the armed forces, the ship is affiliated to Maratha Light Infantry Regiment of the Indian Army. The raison d’etre of the affiliation is to produce a battle winning combination in war.

Interestingly, various parts of the ship have been christened after iconic locales in the city of Mumbai. To name a few, the entrance to the ship is called the ‘Gateway’, dining halls are called ‘Khau Galli’, and the Flag staff light is called ‘Prongs Lighthouse’. Tucked away like ‘Virar’ in one corner is the Quarterdeck, while the Helo deck is known as ‘Sahar Airport’ and the awe-inspiring panoramic view from the ship’s bridge is referred to as ‘Malabar Hill’.

To commemorate her 20th anniversary, various events like blood donation camp, tree plantation drive and a run between two prominent locations of Mumbai; Girgaon Chowpati to JK Kapur Chowk, Worli, where, the ship’s model is installed, were conducted.

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INDIAN NAVY UNDERTAKES MEDICAL EVACUATION FROM MERCHANT SHIP

Ashish Singh

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On 21 January, based on an input received regarding a medical emergency onboard a Singapore flag merchant vessel MV Eagle Tampa received at the Joint Operations Center at Headquarters Western Naval Command, a Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) was executed by the Indian Navy. The ship, which was 18 nautical miles off the coast of Mumbai, reported a patient, Geetha Selvaraja, a 34-year-old Malaysian citizen, to be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease and was experiencing difficulty in breathing.

Attempts by ship‘s agent JM Baxi & Co to transfer the patient to a tug failed due to high swell in the area. The patient being unconscious, also added to the complexity of the transfer. Following confirmation of two failed attempts to transfer the patient to the tug, an Indian Naval Seaking helicopter from INS Shikra was scrambled for MEDEVAC.

The helicopter picked up the patient from the ship and returned to INS Shikra. The patient was then transferred to Saifee hospital by private ambulance.

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