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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Indo-Pak Sports and Cultural Ties as seen from the LOC

Unlike the earlier posts , this is no anecdote, funny or not so funny. I am aware , I am walking on thin ice , when expressing any opinion on Indo-Pak issues. I am no rightist or leftist but just a left-rightist , and would just like to ask some simple questions and leave it to the reader to answer.

Sports has no boundaries, art has no boundaries; fair enough.

Firstly, Will the sports persons and music maestros, continue to disregard the boundaries if some of their loved ones are deployed on LOC and may be shooting or being shot at even while the sports and cultural events are taking place at New delhi or Islamabad ?

Secondly, In case there is a War on , will the sports and cultural ties still  be as important ?

As seen from the LOC, you hardly find any kith and kin of a soldier amongst the people rooting for  sports and cultural interactions and secondly, there is always a war on.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


          In continuation to my last blog post, in this post, I cover, another regular feature on LC, which I have never seen in media reports or discussed in civilian circles . At places, there is an annual ritual of setting fire to our posts (or attempt to set the post on fire). In most of the areas along LOC, the other side is greener, literally. Their villages extend right up to the LOC while on our side we have a wide buffer zone where noncombatants are not permitted. So in the summers the area is covered by dry grass and pine needles, which readily catches fire.

As it happened , one fine day, I noticed that enemy was not firing at the post but was concentrating on the dry grass to initiate  a fire. With persistent firing of tracer rounds,(tracer rounds have incendiary component to let the firer know where his rounds are going), it was only a matter of time before  a line of fire started creeping menacingly, towards my post from three sides. 

Such a situation gives you an opportunity to know your men. It happens that, there may  be fierce looking six footers trembling in their knees while a timid looking guy may remain composed. I myself was not exactly a picture of confidence, till an unassuming NCO walked up to me 'ke baat se. saab, post kagaz ka to bana nahin.. pathar ka hai, hum appni side se ek aag shuru kara dete' (The post is not made of paper and we just need to start a fire in the opposite direction). Sure enough, the fire from our side was started and in a couple of hours, the situation was totally under control. By the end of the day the entire area from the post upto LOC was chaared. The lesson learnt was that as long as you had dry grass all around, you can never be at peace; the earlier it is burnt, better it would be; it did not matter, as to who set it on fire, you or the friends across.

Whatever happened on the LOC, we never thought of it as violation of cease fire , but just a routine problem in a  job to be done. We just had to find the means to stay there, sustain ourselves and hold on to our defences, under all circumstances. Period. If it meant retaliation, ok, if it meant digging down, so be it.


Friday, January 11, 2013


           Of late there is a lot of discussions on 'violation of ceasefire ' along the LOC. The term LC or LOC itself became popular in the country only after Kargil conflict. Otherwise 'border' was just 'border' as in Wagha Border; known for chest thumping and bizarrely aggressive drill movements by the para military forces of both sides. It was all glamour and ceremonial and no hint of the blood, sweat and gory aspects of soldiering on the frontiers.

           For the uninitiated, LOC itself means line of actual control, meaning there is no formally agreed upon international border but whosoever is actually in control of a particular place continues to be  in control unless physically ejected by some external force. (sounds like newton's first law !). That means there is no "no man's land' and the troops are in eye ball to eye ball contact with machine guns trained on each other. What kind of cease fire can you have in such a situation, at best a 'Mexican stand-off' ?

             Now what triggers a fire-fight ? A trigger happy soldier? Both armies are highly disciplined professional forces and the officers exercise strict fire control. In reality, there are many things that can lead to firing across the LOC.

             Someone had tweeted about troops on LOC enjoying Indo-pak cricket as much as other citizens of the subcontinent. It is true, they do enjoy. But LOC paradigm is quite different from watching a match with your family in the comfort of your home. Here's an anecdote from an old soldier.

        It was a fine day , in Apr 86,  I was sitting in a 'hawa mahal' (a hut type of structure open on all sides and covered on top with thatched roof) in the forward defended locality. the hut had benches and a table made of pine planks , like you would find in 'Hagar the horrible' comic strip. I was listening to the commentary of Australasia Cup Final  India-pakistan  cricket match. Incidentally, those days we could catch only Pakisthani channels of TV and even Radio. Die hard cricket fans would remember Javed Miandad's great effort. The match went to the last ball and as soon as the commentator said '....last ball.. and it is a six", suddenly, the entire front erupted . It was all lit up like a diwali night, with tracer rounds from machine guns. The only difference was that while Diwali rockets were headed skywards every projectile from the Pak side was homing on to my  post.

           There was no damage as troops get used to confining their movements to places covered from direct fire. My CO called me up to ask what was up. It would have been too much of a coincidence if the last ball six had nothing to do with the fireworks. So, I told my CO, "all okay sir, there is no damage,   they are just celebrating a win. "

          Sure enough in 10 - 15 minutes, it was all quite on the western front  and it was "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world"

So fragile was, and is, the cease fire at LOC !

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Technology to the rescue

Much has been said and written in the past two weeks about safety of women in our cities. Once the dust settles down and the emotions subside, we need to take some real measures to prevent crime against women. Indian movies are full of depictions of horrendous villains getting after the heroine , but in the nick of time, hero comes to the rescue, much like Krishna Paramatma comes to the rescue of Draupati.

Can it  happen in the reality, that help arrives in time to bring the culprits to book, before a crime takes place, rather than after ?

In my school forum (an all boys school) I came across a post which I cut and paste , complete with credits.
Date : Dec 31, 2012
From : Prabhu Andrews Lazar (2009), 1990 Batch
To : All
Subject: Prevent crime against women
Tech Mahindra had developed an application called “FightBack” – which was being used only by the staff members of Mahindra Group.

After the gang-rape of a woman in New Delhi; it has now thrown open this smart phone application for public use, beyond Mahindra employees.

The FightBack application tracks a user's location and sends SOS messages to selected contacts in case of an emergency.

This application is now available for download on the company website for free & IS ONLY FOR INDIAN MOBILE NUMBERS.

The FightBack app allows the user to press on a panic button whenever he/she feels unsafe.

It tracks the location using GPS and alerts chosen contacts about the location map and is available on Android and Blackberry.

Steps - How to download the application

1 - Register yourself or login through Faceback with Post click.
2 - After the successful Login in the portal, Click to Download.
3 - Enter the mobile number on which you want to deploy for the Fight Back application.
4 - Select your handset on which you would like to download the application from the device list.
5 - Click on Download button, and you will receive the link to download via SMS.
6 - By clicking on the downloadable link within the received SMS your application will start downloading.

I went throgh the site and the app looks promising.
a message from the site/
FightBack, the women's safety application, sends SOS alerts from your phone. FightBack uses GPS, SMS, location maps, GPRS ,email and your Facebook account to inform your loved ones in case you are in danger. Join us and help make our streets safer for women. 

The second issue is awareness. While most TV channels were focussed on India Gate (War Memorial), I switched to Doordarshan for other news. The channel was educating the viewers on Women's legal rights, in  a kind of Presentation format in English and Hindi. Much of this information was new to me and I am sure it would be for many of our citizens.

After some googling I found similar contents here
1. Free Legal Aid

Always be accompanied with lawyer when you go to file a complaint or FIR against any mis-happening. Because being in the world of MEN, a woman is never taken seriously and sometimes even the FIR is not lodged. Also, as per the Delhi High Court ruling whenever a rape is reported, the SHO should inform this to the Delhi Legal services Authority. The Legal body then arranges a Lawyer for the rescue.
2. Right to Privacy while recording Statements
In any case if a woman finds inconvenient to record her statement she can always do the same in presence of only one Police officer and a lady constable in a less crowded place so that no fourth party can overheard. Also it is the duty of Police to keep the privacy of a woman intact and closed. Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman who is raped records her statement in front of the Magistrate when the case in under trail and no one else is needs to be present.
3. Time doesn’t Matter
Filing a FiR by rape victim or someone who is molested has no time boundary. As noted rape is a very severe thing that can happen with a woman and if she reports about it later, her appeal cannot be rejected on the duration of time as after the incident many are in shock or in danger of their family’s reputation or else other reasons.
4. Email to the Rescue
As per the recent report by the Delhi police, if any victim cannot comes to the Police Station she can any how email or file a written complaint and post it to the Head Police officer who will then direct the SHO of the area to look into the matter and also register a FIR against the crime. Also, the Police will then go personally to the residence of the victim and take the statement.
5. Cops Can’t Say NO
A victim can report a FIR in any police station under the Zero FIR ruling. As per the Supreme Court, if a police station refuses to lodge the FIR, a woman in that case can register the same in any police station and then the Senior Officer will direct the SHO of the concerned area to take actions.
6. No Arrest after Sunset
A woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. All the dealings should be done in the day time in presence of a woman constable. Many complaints about women being mis-treated at police station has been called, so now women should be aware and act, as per Supreme Court ruling. If under special and urgent cases a woman has to be arrested after sunset, the Police needs to get a special in written warrant by the magistrate.
7. Cannot be called to the Police Station
Any woman who has faced harassment cannot be called to the Police Station. Her statement should be recorded at her residence in presence of a woman constable and her family. Under Section 160 of CPC, a woman cannot be called for interrogation in Police Station. A woman should not be physically present in the police station.
8. The Doctor can’t decide
A case of rape cannot be declined on the base of denial by a doctor. A full report has to be given in case of a crime of rape happens. A rape victim should be examined medically as per the Section 164 A of Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC), and only the report acts as a proof.
9. Protect your Identity
Under no circumstances the name of the victim can be revealed. Neither the Police nor the media can publish or leak out the name. The identity remains intact and if the identity is disclosed it is punishable as per the Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code.
10. Employers must protect
It is a necessity for every Employer to create a Sexual Harassment Complaint Cell within the organisation for the redressal of such complaints. It is as per the guidelines of Supreme Court issued. It should be headed by a woman and should be 50% as women. Also, a woman of women welfare group should be present.
So at any moment, if you fee that you are harmed or harassed or you face any difficulty in your path, never forget to launch on your rights and get what you should. JUSTICE.