Media is currently the butt of ridicule and contempt from lay citizens

via H Balakrishnan published on April 11, 2010

Dear Sir,

The ‘ usual – silly – Sunday – Hyde Park ‘Speakers Corner ‘- stuff from Vir Sanghvi – ” Safety at the cost of the poor jawans” – (TNSE – 11 Apr).

To give short shrift to Sanghvi’s melodramatic tear jerker – of the way we Indians have reacted to the Dantewada massacre of a CRPF Company. I have attended two gatherings in Chennai in the last four days. On each occassion, the proceedings started with all participants rising and standing in silence for ‘One Minute’ in memory of the departed souls. Maybe, the
‘ chattereti ‘ that come for the ‘maudlin’ T.V. Talk Shows / ‘ so-called ‘ Panel Discussions, don’t feel the way we ‘commoners’ feel. And again, Delhi/Mumbai DON’T REPRESENT ‘INDIA’. And again, I’m attending another gathering on 12 Apr. I’ll be extremely surprised if the One Minute Silence is NOT OBSERVED BEFORE THE PROCEEDINGS START. Time to tell Sanghvi to STOP generalising. In any case, its now a YEAR, since I stopped viewing ANY  of the ‘silly’ (Desi) English News Chanels. I find I’ve MISSED NOTHING. On the contrary, I’ve Gained a lot. Like maintaining my B.P. level!!  What bliss it is NOT to see the screaming, sensation mongering Anchors, who in any case spoke ‘Hogwash’!!

Why did Dantewada happen?

In a hard hitting Article on 10 Apr in a popular website , entitled – ” Dantewada Massacre: Raw face of Central incompetence “, former Dy. Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. N.S Malik wrote:

” Thus all leading [ in the para militray forces ] is left to the lower ranks, at the SI, Inspector or maximum up to the Assistant and Deputy Commandant, who all belong to the para military force cadre. The IPS come in only at the level of IG or DG, and that too for a rest posting or awaiting posting to a prestigious post in their state. This divided leader ship is the major cause of poor training and low morale, as nobody seems to be responsible. There is also a flawed mindset in the country that PMF are only to supplement the police, and that any fighting with anyone armed with anything more than stones and slogans is to be done by the army. This has resulted in a situation where Army is called out to do the task of PMFs, PMFs perform the role of armed police in the states, and local police do only local thana duty without getting involved in the law and order situation. Sadly, the sacrifice of these 76 helpless men will soon be forgotten and nobody will be held responsible, no heads will roll for the omissions and commissions, as the system is structured to ensure that nobody is accountable for such a gigantic operational failure”.


Lets now hear from the ‘author’ of the ‘ Kargil Review Committee ‘, K.Subrahmanyam. In an Article in the Times of India of 08 Apr, entitled ” Where Does The Buck Stop? “, Subrahmanyam wrote (on the Dantewad massacre) :

” This kind of situation was anticipated 10 years ago by the Kargil committee which recorded: ‘There is general agreement that in the light of the  new situation of proxy war and largescale terrorism…the role and the task of the paramilitary forces have to be restructured particularly with reference to command and control and leadership functions. They need to be trained to much higher standards of performance and better equipped to deal with terrorist threats. The possibility of adopting an integrated manpower policy for the armed forces, paramilitary forces and the central police forces merits examination ‘. Insurgency is a combat situation, not a law and order one. The police forces are meant to handle situations where the people to be controlled are not armed. In insurgencies, the adversary is fully armed and trained as a group in combat skills. Earlier, when the police forces successfully tackled the problem of terrorism in Punjab, they were dealing with single or small groups of terrorists. They were not dealing with groups trained to engage in combat. One report suggests the group of CRPF jawans that was attacked had received training from the army. It is one thing to have a few days’ or weeks’ training and a totally different thing to have had actual counter-insurgency experience as ex-servicemen would have “.


In an equally hard hitting Article in the Delhi based English daily ‘ Mail Today ‘ of 08 Apr, entitled – ” Don’t send in the Army but learn from them “ -  Manoj Joshi wrote:

” This simple truth of the Indian experience in counter- insurgency is staring at us in the face, yet, the mandarins of New Delhi are unable to see it. Such experience only resides with the Indian Army – or in a specialised unit like the Assam Rifles. Ambushes are a devastating military tactic that the Indian Army understands well. Besides the element of surprise, the ambusher has the luxury of being able to site his own deployments and carefully prepare what is called the ” kill zone”. The army has a long institutional memory that encapsulates the experience of Burma in World War II , the Naga uprising of the 1950s and the Sri Lanka campaign of 1987- 90. Perhaps no one could beat the Nagas in laying deadly ambushes. But in no one incident did the Army lose 76 men. The maximum I have been able to research is some 14 who were killed on April 1, 1957. So ambush and counterambush are basic small- unit tactics taught to all army personnel. Caught in an ambush, even highly skilled forces find the going tough; for the CRPF company in Dantewada, the chance of escape was nil. Neither through training, nor doctrine and equipment, is the CRPF, or the BSF, oriented towards such combat “.

Again, and most important in the current context. ” The Green Hunt’s disaster is only now becoming manifest. Sending in ill- trained paramilitary forces where others fear to tread,too, is not a new development either. In April 1971, after General Sam Manekshaw turned down Indira Gandhi’s suggestion that the Army act in East Pakistan immediately, the government decided to entrust the task to the BSF. According to Lt Gen J. F. R. Jacob, the BSF commander K. F. Rustomji boasted that his forces would lead a victory parade in Dhaka in a short matter of three weeks. The BSF and their Mukti Bahini allies were so badly plastered by the Pakistan Army, that in May 1971 the government promptly handed over the security responsibility of the entire border to the Army “.


With ” years ” of hands on expreience, the Army has evolved practical Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for counter-insurgency operations. Were these followed by the ill-fated Company of the CRPF in Dantewada?

” NO” according to Pranab Dhal Samanta, in his Article – ” A more military paramilitary “, published in the Indian Express of 08 Apr. He wrote :

 ” This is what is disturbing about the Dantewada massacre. There was hardly any counter. And this then begs the question whether untrained policemen are being sent for the wrong job. The adversary is not just superior in tactical thought but even in motivation, execution and discipline. If an 80-man contingent is on the move, then where were its scouts who are supposed to move ahead? What happened to the “point section”, which is usually a 10-man group — supposed to be led by an officer — that follows the scouts and checks for enemy presence, probes for mines and essentially ascertains whether there is an ambush? Only when all that is clear, is the main body supposed to move, with a platoon-plus section giving it cover from the rear. It is vital to know why the CRPF contingent could not stage an effective counter; because that alone will point to more basic issues of training, organisation and leadership. This will also force planners to understand the importance of imbibing a military approach — because the adversary, in this case the Naxals, is as of now far superior on all three counts — and the sheer amassing of forces has probably just forced a tactical withdrawal, not a clean-up of the sorts the Centre has been hoping for “.


How can the SOPs be followed, when there is a ‘LEADERSHIP VACUUM’ in the para military forces? In an ‘ eye-opener ‘ of an Article in the Kolkata based English daily – The Telegraph – of 11 Apr and entitled : ” Security bosses’ disregard sending boys to bloody murder: Instructor “, SANKARSHAN THAKUR wrote (post his interviewing Brig. (retd) BV.Ponwar, who heads the ‘ Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) in Kanker in central Chhattisgarh ‘) :

” [Brig] Ponwar said: ‘The callous disregard of security bosses for proper training is sending the boys straight to bloody murder. This is the outcome of the arrogance of our security bosses, pure and simple, if these fellows had had the basic training they wouldn’t have suffered such loss. People need to know whose grave error this is, why such outrage is happening. It is impossible to conceive of an 80-man group helplessly trapped if this drill is followed to the last detail. The reason for such drills — tested, tried and modified in the several counter-insurgency operations Indian forces have faced so far — is to guard against precisely the kind of annihilation that happened in Dantewada. This ensures that there is always someone covering the other and not everyone is sucked into an ambush or a trap “.

Again. ” In his analysis of the carnage, the troopers were “totally under-prepared” to be sent into conflict zones. ‘It is evident they cannot site, much less recognise, an enemy
harbour, they have no notion of who can take positions where, they were sleeping in a trap, that is what it was. But then, they have not been imparted such knowledge, not their fault”.

Further. ” None of the Chhattisgarh police units he has trained, Powar claims, has suffered casualties in combat, and five IPS officers who have been through his hands won the President’s bravery medal. But the problem is the senior people. The men who must actually lead these boys in operations do not want to train. Some senior officers who came last year left because they were meant to stay their tenure in tents. Ridiculous! You cannot train for jungle guerrilla warfare if you want to stay in air-conditioning, my institution is about real terrain training, for jungle war you better get used to living in the jungle. I have been pleading with anyone who listens, please come here and get trained before you confront the enemy, fighting Maoists in the jungles requires unique mental and physical qualities. But nobody listens, they are just happy to have our boys killed without giving them the skills to fight the battles they are sent into. I have long said that half-trained men fight half battles, and our boys are not even half trained, many more disasters are in the works ” .

To corroborate Brig. Ponwar, here is something for the IPS leadership of the CRPF / BSF to chew upon. This is  from the memoirs of FIELD MARSHAL THE VISCOUNT SLIM OF BURMA KG. GCB. GCMG. GCVO.GBE. DSO – MC who turned “Defeat into Victory” in Burma during the second World War. ” Officers are there to lead ” : Then Slim relates at one critical point in the retreat in a jungle clearing he came across a unit which was in a bad way. ” I took one look at them and thought ” My God, they’re worse than I supposed.” then I saw why. I walked round the corner of that clearing and I saw officers making themselves a bivouac. They were just as exhausted as their men, but that isn’t my point. Officers are there to lead. I tell you, therefore, as officers, that you will neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor smoke, nor even sit down until you have personally seen that your men have done those things. If you will do this for them, they will follow you to the end of the world. And, if you do not, I
will break you.”

The Indian Army does it. That explains the ‘disproportionately high’ levels in casualities of the young Army officers during Kargil. To put it simply, at the levels of the Platoon and Company, it was the young ‘Vikram Batras’, ‘Anuj Nayyars’, the ‘Manoj Kumar Pandeys’ who  led their men up the Hills of Kargil , from the front, and took the bullets.

In Dantewada – THIS WAS MISSING. PERIOD.Don’t blame the Indian Army !!

Hopefully, Vir Sanghvi is better ‘educated’ now? An interesting point. There were ONLY TWO so-called ‘ National Newspapers ‘, in all the Net surfing that I did, that did not carry any analysis of ‘ What went wrong at Dantewada ‘, as done by other papers above, including  The Tribune of Chandigarh. One was the Hindustan Times. The other – TNIE !! Got me Aditya Sinha?!! Cheers!

Vir Sanghvi had earlier exhibited his ignorance of Indian History – Ayodhya etc !! Now he exhibits his ignorance in matters ‘ military/ para military ‘. And he happens to be The Editor of a widely circulated Delhi newspaper !! Any wonder then, the media is currently the butt of ridicule and contempt from lay citizens ? The nonsense so-called Editors write these
days !!



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