WUHAN TO GALWAN: THE CHERNOBYL FACTOR - The Daily Guardian
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WUHAN TO GALWAN: THE CHERNOBYL FACTOR

If coronavirus was the Chinese Chernobyl, the Galwan incident is like inserting enriched Uranium rods into the reactor. From here to criticality is a matter of time.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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Do not trouble the trouble until the trouble troubles you. This is common sense and not Sun Tzu. I suppose that is why the Chinese have not heard of it. At Galwan they did trouble the trouble and they have ended up with more trouble than they have bargained for. Despite all their lies, deception, attempting to change facts on ground, disregard for a rules-based order, presenting themselves as an injured party and more, no one believes them since everyone knows the truth. They have got a taste of what India can mete out to them. They will get more if they continue to ask for it. Ladakh is not South China Sea and India is not a Vietnamese fishing boat which can just be run over. 

 I will not get into the intricacies of the face-off incident at Galwan. There is an overload of information about that. There is live action going on. The situation is tense between two nuclear powers at loggerheads. This is a wider assessment of how the Chinese cards are stacked. At the outset, China has miscalculated at each step and achieved results just opposite to what it set out to do. In this sequence, the Galwan clash is a watershed event. If corona was the Chinese Chernobyl, the Galwan incident is like inserting enriched Uranium rods into the reactor. From here to criticality is a matter of time. After that, who knows?

 The situation on the Indian front is ugly. While there were plenty of reasons for China to undertake a premeditated widespread offensive against India from Sikkim to Ladakh using Pakistan and Nepal as its catspaws, it has played a high-stake hand. Fundamentally it has attempted to shut its far Western ‘Rear Door’ in a preemptive offensive when the sea facing Eastern ‘Front Door’ is still intact due to weakness in the US and incoherent global strategic response. It planned this misadventure in late April. China embarked on it on 5-6 May as a low-cost low threshold, muscle flexing, demonstrative and non-tactical operation. Its strategy was Belligerent War Avoidance using classic inner lines. It has not worked. It has hit the Indian Wall. As matters stand tensions have heightened and thresholds are fast rising. This is no longer a low-cost affair. There are heavy casualties on both sides. China has not disclosed the numbers in its typical secretive manner. When it does, it will like its virus numbers — vastly underreported. Its attempt to obfuscate and alter facts has fallen flat. Both armies have mobilized and built up. Suddenly, China is in a situation that it cannot militarily force the issue across the Himalayas. It does not have the strength to do so. Any reinforcements to ratchet up the stakes must come from the mainland. It will be equally matched by India. That will open the East Coast! More importantly China might have to dip into reserves which are meant for internal control. This rod is highly enriched.

The flareup with India will remain heightened and long drawn. In attempting to tie India down on its land borders China will achieve the opposite effect. It will force India to relook at this dormant border through a different lens. China has unlocked its vulnerable rear door inadvertently. Xinjiang, Tibet, Shaksgam Valley and CPEC are waiting to be exploited in the long term. This line action can start alongside the present situation. Incidentally, the longer this situation, the greater the problem for China. Its troops are not available for other situations. By the way have you noticed — all that ‘Wolf Warriorism’ has suddenly disappeared from Chinese Diplomacy! They are playing things down.

What is the situation in the South China Sea? Three US aircraft carriers have entered the area. They are going to pivot around Taiwan, which in my opinion is the fourth unsinkable aircraft carrier. Against this formidable force the Chinese have one recently operationalised aircraft carrier and a yet to be operational carrier. Total outmatch. Despite this, the Chinese are still carrying out some aggressively dicey air manoeuvres. One of these days an incident will occur, and they will get their comeuppance in the East Coast also. Regionally, there is no succour for China. Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Singapore, and S Korea are all victims of Chinese aggression and Salami Slicing tactics. They will push back at the slightest opportunity. Indications from them point that way. Taiwan and Hong Kong are hot thorns in the Chinese flesh. Any day the front door might go on fire. One is seeing a hammer and anvil at play. Where is the hammer and where is the anvil? Ladakh or South China Sea? Take your pick. This rod is getting enriched as days go by.

Where is our Chinese virus? It has either jumped from Wuhan to Beijing through Norwegian salmon or taken the direct route. Does not matter. It has hit Beijing and forced the typical draconian Chinese lockdown in large parts of the city and countryside. There is a pattern emerging. We will continue to see an outbreak of about a hundred odd cases in some part of the country. China, like a cat on a hot tin roof will jump and stomp that outbreak by extensive testing and draconian lockdowns. Then another outbreak will start somewhere. Another cycle will begin. There will be a perpetual lockdown somewhere or the other. Compare this with other countries. They might have suffered but have learnt to live with the virus and continue life. They will eventually recover faster and stronger. China has used draconian communist methods against a very democratic and bipartisan Virus, which does not differentiate its masters from others. It will extract its pound of Chinese flesh over a longer period at greater expense. I have said earlier that the longer this virus lasts, the more difficult it will be for China and its economy, internal politics, geopolitics, and diplomacy to recover. My views are reinforced. The longer the virus lasts, the longer the world will remember Wuhan and Chinese bungling, complicity, delayed response, aggression, censorship, greedy mask diplomacy, wet markets, pangolins, and bats. This stigma is for life. This rod is weapon grade and highly enriched. It could push China into super criticality.

Who wants Chinese global leadership? Barring some parts of Africa, South America, Serbia, Pakistan, North Korea and some parts of Italy, the China story is unraveled. One sees Russia also being evasively neutral. The G7 Plus, QUAD, Five Eyes Intelligence etc are bad news for China and they are gaining strength. The sentiment in the US is steely across the board and it is anti-Chinese. In the forthcoming presidential election there is a good chance that President Trump and the Democratic contender Joe Biden will outdo each other in their anti-China plans. Let us also not forget that the US is putting in place a denial regime encompassing educational opportunities for Chinese, operation of Chinese firms, technology control, banning flights from China, restricting access to financial systems, visa restrictions on Chinese and many more measures to hurt China. US resolve and ability to bounce back from disasters is phenomenal. History has shown that every time the US is hit by a disaster it has come back stronger. Analyze the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, attack on World Trade Center and Lehman’s Brothers initiated global meltdown. Counting out the US post this pandemic will only be foolish by China and many more. Where does China stand geopolitically? Isolated. Fourth rod under fast enrichment.

Economically things are not exactly rosy. Exports are under shock therapy. Imports are down indicating low consumption. Growth is staring at negative zones. Factories are losing orders. CPEC and BRI? Almost collapsing. The alternate Health and Digital Silk Roads are merely sops. The Made in China 2025 plan stands derailed. Yuan as international tender? Even Cambodia, a Chinese beneficiary has continued with the US Dollar and said no to Yuan! Mask industry? Collapsed. Unemployment and job situation are grim. People are working even at ¼th of their original salaries. Internal consumption — weak and going down. There is another reality. DeGlobalisation, decoupling and relocation of industry and supply chains will happen. It could be around 30% or more in the next five years. The Indian push back will be especially hard. Take any index. It is down. If China had displayed a better attitude and been less predatory, there could have been a huge surplus dividend. China has killed its own dream. China might not collapse. However as things stand and with the current trajectory, Chinese economy might not overwhelm as hitherto fore. This fifth rod is unpredictable but might catalyse other rods in enriching them.

 The overall picture is that China has a Navy which is hemmed in the South China Sea. PLA cannot force the issue against India. The Virus is active in the center. Its geopolitics and diplomacy are not working. Its economy is misfiring. Internal tensions could surface and spill over soon. The Chinese are stretched and under pressure. If this continues, they will reach criticality faster than anticipated. If they do not, there will be loss of face internally.

So where does it leave the current Sino Indian Equation? Our PM has made a clear statement. We will not blink. The Galwan incident is overshadowing the limited disengagement which was underway. The mobilsed forces have even staged forward. Will we see de-escalation or escalation? Depends on the next few days. However my feeling is that we are in for the long haul. In this period we must expect Chinese Propaganda, Threats, Psychological Warfare, Twisted Legalities, Violation of Agreements, Altering Facts, Lies and Deceit. China has played its hand and it is our turn now. We need to leverage to get back to status quo ante as of 04 May. That must be led politically. Our response must be politically firm since China has been conducting this entire operation politically. A whole nation approach is the need of the hour. The Indian Armed Forces, in the vanguard, have upheld the honour nation repeatedly. I have full faith that they will deliver again. India does not want armed conflict with China. However if it is thrust on us, China will get more than a bloody nose.   

 What are the options available to India? In my last article I did mention some options. The gallant and brave action of 16 Bihar and the nearby Gunners at Galwan have opened our options further. What is the worstcase option for China? India opening the old silk route with all its insidious implications and a resurgent US establishing an Island base in South China Sea. That is now on the table and could be a reality in the long term. If we do not do that it will be a wasted sacrifice by Col Babu and all those who laid down their lives at Galwan defending India. We owe it to them. We owe it to them to also to weaponise ourselves. If each of us spend a rupee less in buying Chinese items that will be a rupee well saved to honour our gallant soldiers. It is up to us – the people of India to push back against China. In between these options there are a range of options in the political, diplomatic, military, and economic spheres. That will come in my next article.

In conclusion, there is something fundamental. Everyone says that China takes a long term civilisational view and is always strategic in approach. That is a myth. In the past century there are four distinct periods where China has changed course from Chiang kai Shek’s Nationalism, to Mao’s Revolutionism, to Deng’s Consolidation to Xi’s Revisionist Expansionism. There is no evidence that China derives its strategy from the Middle Kingdom. Which civilisation are we talking of? The last generation Chinese Communists led by Mao revised and jettisoned every facet of Chinese civilisation. The current generation communists have not revitalized the Chinese civilisation which was inclusive. They have done exactly the opposite by incarcerating minorities and promoting Han nationalism. They have simply been overtaken by myopic greed to become a superpower at any cost ever. Ever since the corona has made its appearance in Wuhan, they are in some illusion that this is a golden opportunity to attain their dreams in double quick time ignoring the world or a rules-based order. All they have achieved is to put themselves in a nuclear reactor about to go critical. Why are the Chinese committing strategic hara kiri? Ask the Chinese! They are suddenly realising that they were never ten feet tall. 

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

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Defence

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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Defence

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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Defence

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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Defence

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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Defence

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

Ashish Singh

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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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