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Sivaganga’s forgotten suicide bomber whose sacrifice won a war

She escaped to Virupakshi in Dindigul vowing to return to Sivaganga to avenge her husband’s death and reclaim the kingdom…writes Arun Lakshman

Kuyili, the commander-in-chief and personal bodyguard of Rani Velu Nachiyar of Sivaganga, is the epitome of sacrifice in the annals of the independence movement. Her name, sadly, is lost in the footnotes of history.

The queen and Kuyili had valiantly fought against the East India Company much before the first War of Independence in 1857. They not only challenged the new rulers, but also pulled off a historic win, saving the honour and pride of the Sivaganga kingdom. And Kuyili also went down in history as India’s first suicide bomber.

When the King of Arcot attacked Sivaganga with the support of the Company, Sivaganga’s king, Muthuvaduganatha Peria Oodaya Thevar, put up a fight and British and died a valiant death. His wife, Queen Velu Nachiyar, who was a polyglot fluent in English, French, and Urdu, in addition to Tamil, escaped along with their one-year-old daughter, Vellachi, and her trusted Kuyili.

She escaped to Virupakshi in Dindigul vowing to return to Sivaganga to avenge her husband’s death and reclaim the kingdom.

Kuyili’s father, Periyamuthan, a farmer, doubled as a spy of the Sivaganga King and this enabled his daugther to enter the inner circle of Queen Velu Nachiyar. She had even saved her queen’s life on a number of occasions when the king was alive.

Kuyili found out, for instance, that the queen’s Silambam (martial art) teacher was a spy who was planning to kill his royal student. This information saved the queen’s life.

In another instance, Kuyili injured herself while saving the queen when she was attacked in the night by an unknown person. After these two instances, the brave retainer was made the commander-in- chief of the women’s army and bodyguard of Queen Velu Nachiyar.

In the few accounts available about her, Kuyili is addressed as Veerathalapathi (Brave Commander) and as Veeramangai (Brave Woman), though she came from the less privileged Dalit Arunthathiyar community.

After being made the Commander-in-Chief of the women’s army, Kuyili started startegising about getting back the lost kingdom after her queen aligned with Hyder Ali of Carnatic. She knew the enemies with their superior military power could easily defeat them.

Kuyili took advantage of the fact that only women were allowed entry into the Sivaganga fort during the Navaratra period for the Vijaya Dashami celebrations at the Rajarajeswai Amman temple.

She entered the fort with her fellow women soldiers with baskets of flowers, their weapons hidden inside the flowers, and then mounted a surprise attack on the British.

The enemies stored their arms and ammunition in the fort and what she did next was truly one of the greatest acts of courage lost in the cobwebs of history. Kuyili asked her fellow soldiers to pour ghee over her and then she went into the magazine and set herself on fire, destroying all the weapons that the British possessed.

The sacrifice of Kuyili enable Queen Velu Nachiyar and her forces reclaim the Sivaganga kingdom. A memorial to Kuyili still stands at Sivaganga — an ode in stone to a brave young woman who died so that her queen could get back her kingdom that the East India Company tried to snatch away from her.

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Defence India News

Over 800 suicide cases in armed forces in last 5 years

He said various mechanisms to observe and identify armed forces personnel with problems such as depression and suicidal tendencies are in place…reports Asian Lite News

A total of 819 suicide cases have been reported in the armed forces in the last five years, Parliament was told on Tuesday.

“The details of physical casualties (Fatal) occurred due to suspected suicides by serving personnel in the armed forces in the past five years are 642 cases in the army, 29 cases in the navy and 148 cases in the air force,” Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

“However, the government doesn’t centrally maintain the data on suicides committed by the ex-servicemen,” he added.

Bhatt also said that for management of stress and suicides in services, the armed forces are continuously evolving measures to improve the stress mitigating mechanisms. An elaborate mental health programme has been formulated and is in vogue since 2009.

“For management of stress and suicides in services, the armed forces are continuously evolving measures to improve the stress mitigating mechanisms,” Bhatt added.

He said various mechanisms to observe and identify armed forces personnel with problems such as depression and suicidal tendencies are in place.

“Personnel at high risk of stress are identified and counselled by unit commanding officers, regimental medical officers, and junior leaders as per laid down procedures,” the minister said.

He said all the personnel returning to the units after leave are interviewed, counselled and medically examined by the regimental medical officers.

In the Army, he said the issue of stress is being addressed by the commanders in a comprehensive manner at various levels.

“Sessions for stress management are organised by commanders and psychiatrists at all major stations. Counselling is an intrinsic component of 23 psychiatric centres in the Army manned by well trained and qualified psychiatrists and psychiatric nursing assistants,” Bhatt added.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat uploaded the questions on its website on Tuesday.

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Defence India News

Centre’s nod for ‘BRO cafes’ at border locations

The scheme provides for the development and operation of wayside amenities in a public-private partnership mode with agencies, on a license basis, which will design, build & operate the facility as per guidelines of BRO….reports Asian Lite News

Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the setting up of wayside amenities at 75 locations across 12 States and Union Territories on different sections of roads with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

The amenities are intended to provide basic amenities to the tourists on different sections of roads which will lead to boosting economic activities in border areas, besides generating employment for the local people. These wayside amenities will be branded as ‘BRO Cafes’.

“The BRO has its reach in the remotest border areas and besides addressing strategic needs, it has been instrumental in socio-economic upliftment of the Northern and Eastern borders. This has resulted in an increased tourist influx in these scenic locations, hitherto inaccessible,” stated the Ministry release.

It further said, “In order to provide conducive and comfortable transit of tourists on these roads located at harsh climatic and geographical conditions, the need to establish multi-utility wayside amenities along with the major tourist circuits in these regions was recognised. Since the inaccessibility and remoteness of these roads preclude widespread commercial deployments, the BRO, by virtue of its presence, took it upon itself to open such facilities at remote places,” stated the Ministry release.”

The scheme provides for the development and operation of wayside amenities in a public-private partnership mode with agencies, on a license basis, which will design, build & operate the facility as per guidelines of BRO.

“Amenities like parking for two and four-wheelers, food plaza or restaurant, separate restrooms for men, women and differently-abled, first aid facilities like MI Rooms etc. are proposed to be provided in these wayside amenities,” the Ministry stated.

The selection of licensees will be done through a competitive process.

In Jammu and Kashmir, it will be in TeePee, Tragbal, Hussaingaon, Km 95, Km 117.90, Km 58, Galhar, Siot, Bathuni, Budhal, Kapotha, Surankot.

In Ladakh, it will be in Matiyan, Kargil,Mulbek, Khaltse, Leh, Hunder, Choglamsar, Rumtse, Debring, Pang, Sarchu, Agham, Nyoma, Hanle.

In Himachal Pradesh, it will be in Km 8.5, Km .5, Km 11.8, Sissu, Manali, Kharo, Sumdo. In Punjab, it will be in Fazilka.

In Uttarakhand, it will be in Darkot, Km 61, Km 57.44, Bhaironghati, Birahi, Gwaldham, Pandukeshwar, Manera bypass, Nagni and Kamand.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the cafes will be made in Daporijo, Bame, Koloriang, Pasighat, Menchuka, Moying, Thumbin, Yinkiong, Tippi, Durga Mandir, Km 79, Tenga, Rama Camp, SelaTop, Tawang, Jengthu, Hayuliang, Wakro, Changwinti.

In Assam, it will be in Tezpur Town and BP Tinali. In Nagaland, it will be in Jakhama. In Sikkim, the cafe will be in Kupup Dett.

In West Bengal, it will be in Melli.

In Rajasthan, such cafes will come up in Tanot Dett, Sadhuwali Vill, Birdhwal and Arjansar. (ANI)

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Defence India News

Intermediate range ballistic missile Agni-4 successfully tested 

The test was part of routine user training launches carried out under the aegis of the Strategic Forces Command…reports Asian Lite News

The Agni-IV ballistic missile with a range of 4,000 km was successfully tested on Monday. The missile was test fired at 7:30 pm from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha.

“A successful training launch of an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, Agni-4, was carried out at approximately 19:30 hours on June 6 from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The test was part of routine user training launches carried out under the aegis of the Strategic Forces Command.

The launch validated all operational parameters as also the reliability of the system, said the ministry.

“The successful test reaffirms India’s policy of having a credible minimum deterrence capability,” it added.

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-Top News Defence

Indian Army in Bangladesh to participate in joint exercise Sampriti

Over the years, India and Bangladesh have seen close cooperation in defence and security including regular visits by the top military leadership…reports Asian Lite News

An Indian Army contingent is in Bangladesh to participate in the 10th edition of the India-Bangladesh Joint Military Exercise.

The exercise, being conducted at Jashore from June 5-16, will focus on Counter-Terrorism and Disaster Relief operations.

#IndianArmy contingent arrived at #Bangladesh to participate in the 10th Edition of India – Bangladesh Joint Military Exercise being conducted at #Jashore, #Bangladesh from 05 – 16 Jun 22. The Exercise focuses on Counter-Terrorism & Disaster Relief Operations,” the Indian Army said in a tweet on Saturday.

The previous edition of the Joint Exercise was held in Meghalaya, India in February 2020. Exercise Sampriti IX aims aimed at achieving Synergy & Interoperability between the Indian Army & Bangladesh Army. In earlier editions, contingents had worked together & share best practices in Counter-Terrorism.

Exercise Sampriti is an important bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh. The first edition of the joint exercise was held in 2009. The exercise is hosted alternately by India and Bangladesh.

Over the years, India and Bangladesh have seen close cooperation in defence and security including regular visits by the top military leadership.

In 2021, a joint contingent of the Bangladeshi Army had participated in the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi to mark 50 years of the creation of Bangladesh and India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War.

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Defence India News

How Indian Army upheld its highest traditions even after 1971 War

A senior officer in the Army believes that such incidents about that great War need to be highlighted along with the gallantry and valour of our troops…reports Asian Lite News

While 2021 was celebrated as Swarnim Vijay Varsh or the 50th anniversary of the 1971 India-Pakistan War resulting in a crushing defeat for Pakistani forces and the Liberation of Bangladesh, 2022 can certainly commemorate how Indian armed forces upheld their ethos and traditions by punishing their own who fell out of line, even slightly, during the War.

Nearly 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered and were held as Prisoners of War by India after the 13-day War. Though a large number of them, including officers, were involved in the genocide that took place in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), not a single soldier was punished after the surrendered troops were returned to West Pakistan. That marks the difference between the armed forces of the two countries.

In India, one case that comes to mind is the punishment meted out to a young Captain in the Army who may have felt that he was doing nothing wrong in robbing a bank at Hajiganj in Bangladesh where he was posted in 1971. After all, it was December 11, 1971 and the bank could well have been treated as enemy property, the officer — who we will simply call Captain HU here — may have felt. A senior officer in the Army believes that such incidents about that great War need to be highlighted along with the gallantry and valour of our troops.

The officer entered the United Bank Ltd Comilla District, threatened the staff with bodily harm and made off with Rs 11,222.91 in Pakistani currency, some 12 bore guns and cartridges, a wall clock, a couple of telephone sets, pens, winter uniforms of bank staff as well as personal property of the manager and the security guard. From the manager, he took away a Romer Popular wrist watch and from the guard, Rs 6 in Pakistani currency.

Captain HU’s seniors did not take too kindly to this and a general court marshal was convened. On May 3, after the military court pronounced him guilty, the then general officer commanding (GOC) of the 23 Mountain Division noted: “It should be clearly borne in mind that our Forces had been ordered to march into Bangladesh as the liberators of the oppressed people who had been subjected to untold torture and miseries at the hands of Pakistani troops. It is, therefore, clear that our Forces had gone there as guardians and custodians of the lives and property of the people of that country. The conduct of the accused by indulging in broad day light bank robbery is despicable and his stooping so low as to deprive the security guard of the paltry sum of Rs 6 in Pakistani currency as also taking away wrist watch from the manager is indeed highly reprehensible. Such actions on the part of responsible officer of the Indian Army are calculated to bring a blot on the fair name of the Indian Army. It is, therefore, our imperative duty to ensure that such cases dealt with firmly when a verdict of guilty has been returned by the court.”

The military court ordered that the Captain be ‘cashiered’. This is a punishment every officer of the armed forces dreads. He is marched to the parade ground under guard and all his rank badges, ribbons and awards are torn off in the presence of all personnel. He is then made to leave the premises. His commanding officer, though, wasn’t satisfied with such a light sentence and insisted that the Captain serve two years of rigorous imprisonment as well. This order was confirmed by the then chief of Army staff Gen (later Field Marshal) SHFJ Manekshaw. It was Manekshaw who had told his troops to uphold the highest traditions of the Indian Army while conducting themselves in Bangladesh. The Captain challenged the order before the Supreme Court on technical grounds but his petition was rejected on November 27, 1972.

“Just as we celebrated Swarnim Vijay Varsh, we also need to celebrate such incidents. This will show the younger generation that the Indian Army doesn’t spare even its own in case of wrongdoing,” the serving officer said.

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-Top News Defence

‘India needs to significantly step up clean energy subsidies’

The report found that overall India’s subsidies for fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, have dropped notably by 72 per cent to Rs 68,226 crore during the seven-year period between 2014 and 2021…reports Asian Lite News

After peaking in FY-2017, the renewable energy subsidies have fallen in India by 59 per cent as deployment slowed for various reasons and more support — including subsidies — will be needed to scale up renewable to achieve the 2030 targets of clean energy, a new study released on Tuesday said.

“Renewable energy subsidies in India have fallen by 59 per cent to Rs 6,767 crore after peaking at Rs 16,312 crore in FY-2017 as deployment slowed during Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns and grid-scale solar PV and wind achieved cost parity. To achieve the 2030 clean energy targets, more support — which may include subsidies — will be needed to scale up solar manufacturing, green hydrogen, and promising de-centralised renewable energy technologies,” the study said.

‘Mapping India’s Energy Policy 2022: Aligning Support and Revenues with a Net-Zero Future’ is a joint independent study done by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a non-profit research body, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

The report found that overall India’s subsidies for fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, have dropped notably by 72 per cent to Rs 68,226 crore during the seven-year period between 2014 and 2021.

However, subsidies in FY2021 are still nine times higher than renewable energy subsidies.

“The country, therefore, needs to shift support away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy technologies to reach 500 GW of non-fossil power capacity by 2030 and Net Zero emissions by 2070,” the report said.

Overall, India provided over Rs 5,40,000 crore to support the energy sector in FY2021, including nearly Rs 2,18,000 crore in the form of subsidies.

Most notably, in May 2022, India reintroduced LPG subsidies for the beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY) scheme in an attempt to target the subsidies to low-income consumers.

“The Centre and the states must ensure adequate support and financing models for clean energy in the medium-and long-term, in line with India’s stated de-carbonisation goals. Our policymakers should also find ways to offer affordable clean cooking energy to the poor and vulnerable sections. Targeted LPG subsidy in the short-term is the only solution to ensure that the programme goals of PMUY — which help pay the cost of using LPG for the first time — are not left by the wayside,” said co-author of the study Karthik Ganesan, fellow and director of Research Coordination at the CEEW.

The study further notes that electric vehicle (EV) subsidies have more than tripled since FY2017 to Rs 849 crore in FY2021.

During the year, India announced a production-linked incentive (PLI) programme to attract investments in domestic manufacturing of EVs and components. With manufacturing receiving a boost, clean energy financing will be the next step to further scale up deployment.

No public finance institutions (PFIs) have established clear plans for phasing out finance for fossil fuels, the report said, adding: “The annual disbursements by the largest PFIs were three times higher for fossil generation than renewable energy in FY 2021.”

“They (PFIs) should seek to swiftly end new public finance for coal-based power plants or mining to minimize the already high levels of exposure to fossil assets,” said co-author of the report Swasti Raizada, Policy Advisor at IISD.

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Defence India News

Security beefed up in Kashmir Valley

This will be in addition to the forces which will be deployed for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra….reports Asian Lite News

The Centre has decided to deploy additional security forces in the Kashmir Valley in wake of the recent killing of minorities in the Union Territory, security sources said here.

According to the sources, around 15,000 additional para-military force personnel will be deployed soon to tackle the security situation in the Valley and provide better security cover to the people there.

This will be in addition to the forces which will be deployed for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra.

The decision came after Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and instructed that additional forces be deployed.

He directed security forces and police to conduct coordinated counter-terrorism operations pro-actively and also ensure zero cross-border infiltration to wipe out terrorism in J&K.

It is learnt that the Home Minister was unhappy over the handling of the security situation in J&K and asked the intelligence grid to provide more specific information of terrorists and to go for a coordinated counter-terror operations based on the specific intelligence inputs.

The sources also said that the recent killings of minorities have created fear among them and therefore, it was important to provide fool-proof security shield to all and to initiate counter-terror operations quickly.

The terror threat also looms over the Amarnath Yatra which commences on June 30 after a hiatus of two years, so, the security agencies need to work in tandem, they added.

On Tuesday, Shah held a high-level review meeting in his North Block office on the security situation in J&K. The meeting was attended by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Chief of Army Staff Gen Manoj Pande, and senior officials of the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

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China Defence India News

‘China’s intent has been to keep the boundary issue alive’

He stated that in the last couple of years the Indian Army has taken the decision to rebalance and reorient to deal with the situation in Eastern Ladakh…reports Asian Lite News

China seems to lack the intention to find a resolution to the border dispute at the Line of Actual Control, Army Chief General Manoj Pande said on Monday, stressing that Indian troops continue to hold important positions along the LAC.

During an interaction with media persons, General Pande said, “Our guidance to them (troops deployed at LAC) is to be firm and resolute and prevent any attempt to alter the status quo.”

Talking about the current situation at the border and China’s intention, General Pande stated: “The basic issue remains the resolution of the border. What we see is that China’s intent has been to keep the boundary issue alive. What we need as a country is a ‘Whole of nation’ approach and in the military domain, this is to prevent and counter any attempt to alter the status quo at the LAC.”

The Army chief said that his aim and intention is to establish status quo ante prior to 2020 and re-establish trust and tranquility. But he clearly stated that it can’t be a “one way affair” and efforts should be made from both sides.

He stated that in the last couple of years the Indian Army has taken the decision to rebalance and reorient to deal with the situation in Eastern Ladakh.

Ever since the border dispute, the force is carrying out reappraisal and reassessment and taking certain actions to have a robust posture along the LAC. “Adequate forces are available to deal with all types of contingencies,” he added.

The Army’s focus at the LAC is to upgrade Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and build our infrastructure to support operations and logistics. Induction of new technologies is part of the ongoing process of capability development along the entire northern border, he said.

To resolve the border dispute with China, the Army chief said, India is engaging in diplomatic and military talks which so far has resulted in disengagement in the north and south of Pangong Tso, Gogra and PP 14 (Galwan valley).

“We will go forward and will find a resolution through dialogue (military and diplomatic),” said the Army chief.

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Defence India News

BSF hands over 4 Bangladeshi national to BGB

According to a report, at least 4,896 Bangladeshi nationals were nabbed while trying to cross into India in between January 1, 2019 to April 28 this year…reports Asian Lite News

The Border Security Force (BSF) handed over four minor Bangladeshi nationals, who entered Indian territory inadvertently, to its counterpart Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on Saturday as a goodwill gesture.

According to the officials of the South Bengal Frontiers in Kolkata, these minors were detained by the BSF troopers once they entered Indian Territory and they did not have any valid documents with them.

On questioning, the minors said that they did not know that they had entered into the Indian side. Later, following a flag meeting, they were handed over to the BGB.

Similarly, on May 2, the BSF handed over the two Bangladeshi nationals to BGB who had crossed the International Border (IB) illegally at Border Out Posts at Ranaghat and Hakimpur under the South Bengal Frontiers. Out of the two, one was a woman who was lured by the touts for better livelihood in India.

According to a report, at least 4,896 Bangladeshi nationals were nabbed while trying to cross into India in between January 1, 2019 to April 28 this year.

The report also said that the maximum number of illegal immigrants entering or leaving India is from the South Bengal Frontiers.

The officials have admitted that the maximum number of illegal immigrants entering or leaving India take place in the southern part of Bengal because of some unfenced parts and riverine borders.

India shares 4,096 km long boundary with Bangladesh, in which South Bengal Frontiers shares nearly 913 km.

Under the South Bengal Frontiers of BSF, around 50 per cent of the border is either unfenced or riverine belt.

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