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Rashtriya Rifles – Meet The World’s Biggest Counter-Insurgency Battalion Of The Indian Army Deployed In Kashmir

The Rashtriya Rifles battalion undertake a heterogeneous civic action program intended at raising the standard of living of the masses, provide vocational education programs, aiding the education of women and facilitating people-centric initiatives in the region.

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The Rashtriya Rifles – Indian Army’s elite counter-insurgency battalion has been the backbone of operations in the militancy-hit regions of Jammu and Kashmir and has been at the forefront of ferociously combating the Pakistan-trained militants in J&K.

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“For a soldier, the heart normally is where he has served with honour and where he has gained great experience. Thus for me, one of the organisations closest to the heart remains the Rashtriya Rifles, commonly referred as the RR” writes Syed Ata Hasnain, a retired General of the Indian Army.

Rashtriya Rifles at the Handwara Encounter

As EurAsian Times reported earlier, it has only been two days since India lost two of its most decorated officers of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles battalion, besides two army personnel and a sub-inspector of J&K police in an encounter with terrorists in Handwara tehsil of Kupwara district in North Kashmir.

The team of five including four soldiers from 21 Rashtriya Rifles comprising Col Ashutosh Sharma (CO), Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar, Lance Naik Dinesh Singh, and J&K Police Sub-Inspector Shakeel Qazi went incommunicado and later killed while carrying out a decisive onslaught against the hiding terrorists.

In the almost three-decades-long existence of the Rashtriya Rifles, India mourned the martyrdom of only the second Commanding Officer killed in a counter-insurgency operation.

Who are Rashtriya Rifles

In 2018, the Rashtriya Rifles celebrated its silver jubilee having neutralized over 16,300 terrorists, which then included 8,522 killed, 6,737 apprehended and 1,109 surrendered.

The RR unit was raised late in 1990 by the then Army chief Gen V N Sharma with Lt Gen P C Monkotia as its first Director-General. Initially, there were six such battalions, three in J&K and three in Punjab.

Later, all the Rashtriya Rifles battalions were moved to Jammu and Kashmir as the valley got entangled in a bloody conflict with Pakistan-trained militants creating havoc in the region.

With the motto, “dridhta aur virta” (translating to Resolute and Bravery) the force comprises 65 battalions divided into five companies—Romeo Force, Delta Force, Victor Force, Kilo and Uniform Force.

The Rashtriya Rifles being the star of the Indian defence services as the largest counterinsurgency force in the world is not an easy battalion to make one’s way to. One half of the unit comes from the Indian Army’s infantry, and one half from the rest of the Indian Army.

All individuals, prior to joining their respective units, must undergo a four-week rigorous pre-induction training at a Corps Battle School. It is followed by two weeks of ‘on-the-job’ training and a periodic refresher training cadre under sector arrangements.

Along with the coveted deputation of being a part of the most decorated organisation in the army, the recruited personnel receive 25% more salary than regular army soldiers and additional benefits that add up to the whole experience.

Rashtriya Rifles’ Involvement in J&K

In an attempt to ensure that India’s LoC divisions could perform their jobs i.e. engaging Pakistan, unhindered by guerilla action, the Rashtriya Rifles carry out search operations, conduct crackdowns, raid suspected hideouts of militants, make arrests and seize weapons.

The Rashtriya Rifles are themselves equipped with advanced weaponry, aircraft and other defence gear but the classic AK-47 remains their weapon of choice. The RR also has an exclusive network of local spies who are placed within militant organizations to provide ground-level intelligence.

Raised as a para-military force, the battalions of Rashtriya Rifles have been successful in their task to conduct multiple operations and bring back normalcy to many regions of the valley.

One of the battalion’s famed operations includes Operation Vijay in 1999, which was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere along the LoC.

It is true that the primal goal of the battalion is to be at the forefront in counter-insurgency operations and eliminate terroristic activities, however, it simultaneously assists in grassroots development and winning over the locals by carrying out ‘Sadbhavana’ or Goodwill activities.

According to Col S D Goswami, the Rashtriya Rifles undertake a heterogeneous civic action program, intended at raising the standard of living, social, education and cultural betterment of the masses, implementing vocational education to youngsters, assuring their general empowerment, aiding to the education of women and a host of such people-centric initiatives are in progress,”.

According to exerts to the EurAsian Times, this is a major setback for Rashtriya Rifles and its counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir. However, the RR, being the force it is, would have already started tracking and hunting-down all involved with utmost ferocity.

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Pakistan Undoubtedly The Biggest Beneficiary Of India-China Military Stand-Off – Experts

India-China military standoff.: Exploiting India’s vulnerabilities is an essential element of China’s “contain India” policy”. Experts believe that Pakistan has been undoubtedly the largest beneficiary of the indo-Sino conflict.

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India-China military stand-off has tremendously benefitted Pakistan according to experts. Pakistan recently signed a $2.4 billion deal with China for a massive hydropower project in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir which shows how three nations (India, Pakistan and  China) are striving to out-do each other in the highly-contested region.

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Experts have claimed that China is prioritizing dam and hydropower construction projects in Pakistan-controlled-Kashmir over other BRI corridor projects to spite New Delhi.

Amid the flaring tensions between India and China that led to a bloody clash between the troops of two neighbouring countries on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) leaving 20 Indian troops dead and an unknown number of Chinese casualties, Islamabad has been surprisingly silent on the issue, given the close ties between China and Pakistan.

The hydropower project marks the largest power sector investment by an independent power producer under China’s multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

India has opposed the CPEC project stating that carrying out of such projects in territories under Pakistan’s illegal occupation was illegal. “Our position is consistent and clear that entire territory of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been, are and will continue to be integral and inalienable part of India,” said the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi.

“We have consistently conveyed our protests and shared concerns with both Pakistan and China on all such projects in the Indian territories under Pakistan’s illegal occupation,” it said.

Border and Road Initiative (BRI) launched the CPEC programme in 2015 intending to connect Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes. The program was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

After completion of key projects in the first phase, “the second phase will focus on the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), strengthening trade and cultural ties through joint ventures and exchange of delegations,” said Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan.

“Exploiting India’s vulnerabilities is an essential element of China’s “contain India” policy,” said Mohan Malik, a professor of strategic studies at the National Defense College UAE. He added that Pakistan is undoubtedly the largest beneficiary of the China-India military face-off. “The looming threat of a two-front war with China and Pakistan is New Delhi’s worst-case scenario,” he said.

According to NAR, it was revealed in an audit report by the power division of Pakistan that two Chinese companies had inflated the costs of power projects in the corridor by $3 billion. The revelation has made it easy for Pakistan to ask China to delay repayment schedules for corridor power project loans.

Malik said that Islamabad could take advantage of the crisis to renegotiate unfavourable loan terms regarding financially unviable projects.

Last week, Pakistan’s Stock Exchange in Karachi was attacked by four gunmen. The attack was orchestrated by Balochistan Liberation Army, which has been demanding for separation of the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces for decades now.

Incidentally, Chinese companies have a 40% stake in the Stock Exchange. However, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was quick to blame India for the attack. “By blaming India for [the] stock exchange attack, Pakistan has tried to gain the sympathies of China,” said James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the RSIS at Singapore. Dorsey added that Pakistan is trying to exploit Indo-China border tensions for its own financial benefit.

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Has Top Separatist Leader SAS Geelani Laid Down His Arms Or Making Last Attempt On Kashmir?

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Syed Ali Shah Geelani (SAS Geelani) recently announced his resignation from the Hurriyat Conference. Geelani has been vehemently pitching for complete independence of Jammu and Kashmir or a merger with Pakistan and refusing to negotiate with New Delhi.

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In an audio message, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said, “In view of the present situation, I resign from All Parties Hurriyat Conference. I have informed all the constituents of the Hurriyat about the decision.”

According to reports in HindustanTimes, Syed Ali Shah Geelani – the former Hurriyat boss and seen by many as an icon of resistance in Kashmir had been upset about his weakening grip over his grouping’s faction in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK).

90+-year-old Geelani, the most prominent pro-Pakistan leader in Jammu and Kashmir had been chairman of Hurriyat Conference since its inception in 2003. He has been politically inactive especially since the abrogation of Article 370 by Modi-Government.

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HT report claims that Pakistani intelligence agency – ISI had been promoting lesser-known leaders which ignited differences with Pakistan. Geelani had nominated Abdullah Gilani to the top post who is the brother SAR Gilani – acquitted in the 2001 Parliament attack case in New Delhi.

However, Pakistan declined Geelani’s nomination and preferred Mohammad Hussain Khateeb. Mustafa Mohammad Hussain Khateeb as per Pakistan’s media was unanimously elected as the interim convener of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

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HT claims that Geelani had been deeply offended that representatives of the PaK chapter had been sending their relatives to the PaK assembly over the last two years, were indisciplined, engaged in widespread corruption and loot.

As per reports, Pakistan wanted to expel the old horse and bring in younger members to assume a leadership role so that they are more competitive in battling India. Pakistan agencies had been frustrated with Geelani for his incompetence in inciting people to hit streets after New Delhi revoked Article 370 last year.

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In this letter, Geelani had stated – “The activities of these representatives were limited now to seeking access to assemblies and ministries for joining the government there. Some members were expelled while others started holding their own meetings. These activities were endorsed by you by holding a meeting here to ratify their decisions.”

“I sent messages to you through various means so that the next course of action could be decided but all my efforts went in vain. Now that the sword of accountability is hanging over your heads for the financial and other irregularities, you thought of calling the advisory committee meeting,” he alleged.

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“The lack of discipline and other deficiencies were ignored and you did not allow a robust accountability system to be established over the years but today, you have crossed all limits and indulged in rebellion against the leadership,” he added.

Kashmiri experts talking to EurAsian Times says that people are still with Geelani and he holds a massive sway in the valley. The only way to resolve the Kashmir issue is through dialogue and it would be interesting to see of Geelani lays his arms down (to Pakistan) or decides to go down in the history as the saviour of Kashmir (by initiating an earnest dialogue with India).

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Syed Ali Shah Geelani: Top Separatist Leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani No More With Hurriyat Conference

The separatists in Kashmir, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani according to experts, are remote-controlled by Pakistan for anti-India activities mainly in the volatile Kashmir Valley.

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Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the senior Hurriyat Conference leader has resigned from the All Party Hurriyat Conference, reported news agency ANI on Monday, 29 June.

According to The Tribune, in an audio message, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said, “In view of the present situation, I resign from All Parties Hurriyat Conference. I have informed all the constituents of the Hurriyat about the decision.”

 

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Last year, Syed Ali Shah Geelani was reprimanded by Pakistan for his remarks on the condition of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province of China.  Geelani’s remarks did not go down well Pakistan — a country that many experts believe controls the separatist organisations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Geelani had stated in his statement: China was “not behaving well” with Uighur Muslims and that they had been forced into camps forcibly.

The separatists in Kashmir, as experts have suggested, are remote-controlled by Pakistan for anti-India activities mainly in the volatile Kashmir Valley. While China has always been silent on overt Pakistani support to separatists, Geelani’s comments on Uighur Muslims drew angry reactions from Beijing.

Experts talking to EurAsian Times states that it is a chain reaction – China will rebuke Pakistan and Islamabad will reprimand the old-horse – Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

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