Almost 2000 Indian soldiers died in the last standoff

Posted by Admin On Thursday, 29 August 2013 0 comments

By Rajat Pandit
NEW DELHI: The life of an Indian Army soldier comes cheap. The US-led coalition forces lost just around 150 personnel during the recent Iraq operations. In sharp contrast, and without going to war, almost 2,000 Indian Army soldiers were killed or wounded during the 10-month forward deployment along the Indo-Pak border last year.
“What else do you expect? We have to soldier on without even basic necessities like decent helmets, proper webbing or bullet-proof jackets. Many accidents during the mobilisation were due to the poor quality of mines and fuses,” retorted an angry young Major.
Usually extremely tight-lipped about casualty figures, the defence ministry had to disclose them in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday in response to a question.
“The number of Army personnel killed or wounded in Jammu and Kashmir and the western sector during the mobilisation, Operation Parakram, from December 19, 2001 to October 16, 2002, was 1,874,” said Defence Minister George Fernandes.
This, by any benchmark, is a truly staggering figure for a 10-month period, even if the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir are taken into account.
In the initial phase of Operation Parakram itself, after the December 2001 Parliament attack, over 100 soldiers were killed and 250 injured during mine-laying operations. Vehicle accidents, artillery duels with Pakistan and other incidents led to many more casualties.
Relentless counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir are also, of course, exacting a heavy toll on the soldiers, with over 1,000 being killed in terrorist activity in the last three years.
The government, however, continues to sleep. Battling extremely well-equipped terrorists, soldiers face a crippling shortage of bullet-proof jackets, night-vision devices, communication sets, sensors and other equipment which can make their gruelling jobs much easier.
Take bullet-proof jackets, for instance. Only 1.24 lakh jackets are available when 3.53 lakh jackets are required for troops operating in counter-insurgency duties and along the Line of Control.
“Sometimes, our jawans are reduced to swiping bullet-proof jackets and assault rifles from slain terrorists for personal use. The bullet-proof jackets provided to us are bulky and restrict mobility,” said an officer, who has done stints in the Valley.


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