Gen Bhimaya writes on Regimental History …

Posted on May 7, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

Brig Gen H. Gordon, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. the former Commanding Officer of the 2 Leistershire Regiment, (a.k.a. “The Green Tigers”) wrote the “Foreword” to Brig Gen Drake-Brockman’s magnum opus: “With the Royal Garhwal Rifles in the Great War 1914-1917”.

While brevity is the defining characteristic of this foreword, the candor and the sincerity with which Gen Gordon paid tribute to the Regiment in general, and Brig Drake-Brockman in particular, is remarkable. Incidentally, “The Green Tigers” had an opportunity to team up again with 1/18 RGR in Burma (Circa 1941-42)

Although my first reaction was to paraphrase this moving foreword, on second thoughts, I felt that I would be robbing the original of its basic features that extol the virtues of the Garhwali riflemen under extreme adversity.

General Gordon is magnanimous to concede that, during the first battle of Festubert, while his own Battalion got held up under fire, the two Garhwali battalions, ably led by their British officers, accomplished their tasks with great élan.

He also has observed that Garhwalis were hardly known when they arrived in France because they were definitely not an advertising Regiment. (Some argue that the reason Garhwalis wear the lanyard   differently from the other, similarly honored Regiments, (5RGR (FF), for example) was their innate modesty not to advertise their accomplishments.

They did not believe in advertising, because their gallantry in the battlefield was their best advertisement! Officers who are aware of this interpretation may comment on this).

I have, therefore, scanned the “Foreword” and attached it for your reading pleasure.

Comments are welcome, but please be courteous to your brother officers and, of course, follow the Internet Etiquette.

I will be traveling in the next few days. If you don’t hear from me, don’t presume I’m AWOL!

Thank you for your patience.


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Indian Army’s Culture of Excellence …

Posted on April 20, 2018. Filed under: Regimental, Searching for Success |

Despite the ongoing degradation of he Military (read Articles with this heading, in this Blog), there is  the Indian Army’s Culture of Excellence & Integrity – as this small incident highlights –

Three units of the Bombay Sappers of the Indian Army were deployed to construct three, foot over – bridges (FOB) at Elphinstone Road, Mumbai in early 2018. Highlights of the construction of the three bridges are as follows:

  1. The Army completed the three bridges within three months.
  2. Three months include planning, design, tendering, material procurement and meeting all statutory requirements of the Indian Railways.
  3. Work was done only during early mornings from 1 AM to 4 AM breaking the biological clock for the entire 3 months.
  4. The Railways gave no special shut downs as is their practice for all their own works.
  5. The Army did not cut corners in any procedures such as tendering, selection of contractors​, material testing by laboratories authorised by the Railways. There were no deviations from any norms, quality and standard procedures although working under time constraints.
  6. The Army also carried out acquisition of a small piece of land for a staircase adopting standard government procedures.
  7. There were no under the table dealings. Hence, all work was done in the shortest possible time in the face of unhappiness on the part of the Railways who were miffed that the job was snatched away from them.
  8. The Railways did not provide local train passes to the Jawans who commuted daily from their base to site. The Railways agreed to reimburse individually knowing full well that the Army personnel would go back to their units after completing the work.

The Indian Army Engineers (The Bombay Sappers) displayed exemplary organisational capacity, integrated teamwork, very high standard of integrity both professional and moral and leadership par excellence.

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‘Bull’ Sheru Negi Goes – Apr 12 …

Posted on April 15, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

 Thank you Gen Bhimaya for correcting me re Brig LS Negi, who was also a RIMCO  ….
If you recall The Regimental 75th Raising Anniversary in 1962 celebrated when you were Adjutant at the Center, you had housed us youngsters in the Barrack like house below No3 – where there is a small Cemetery just across the road. Those were the times of the 1962 War and there was lots of machismo. So much so that after the usual bravado and bonhomie there was a right royal fist fight involving ND, Self and several others – and then comes in Bull Negi and knocks all of us out cold – and — Peace!
Bull was 16th NDA King Sqn which possibly had the finest ever Sqn Cdr – the Great Chandan Singh VrC in ’62, MVC in 71 – who was a Div Cdr in Able when Gen Bhimaya’s 10th passed out. Well even he could not help BULL – whom he loved no end – from getting relegated for academics!
Bull was the type who would come to Pune from Bombay, borrow a friends motor bike and call him from Bombay next day saying the Bike was lying in a Ditch under a culvert – And No Qs asked. Such were his friends who loved him dearly.
Along  with DP, ND, RP, H Ali, Sudesh Bhasin, Doc Sunderam from the Regimental Center n Jojo SenGupta and his AC Crowd and Eli Mirzoeff from Bombay, he attended my marriage in my wife’s dusty decrepit village near Patiala.
And then when my wife and I were housed in a single room in a Barrack – which also housed Brig Bunty Quin – in the Pune RSI, we come back once from a walk in Main St – and what do we see – Bull Negi  dead drunk n fully sprawled on our two beds! And no way was he going to awake! So we pull out some sheets and sleep in the covered verandah!
And on the day our daughter was born, after I drop my wife in the MH, who drops in out of the blue – but Sultan Mal Charupa, !st Course JSW, who needs to be dropped to the Station — followed by Bull and Amrik, who stop me from going to the MH around 2pm when I receive news that my wife has delivered a Baby girl, saying that I would not be allowed to see my wife till at least 6pm – since Amrik is an experienced hand.
And when I do go at 6pm, my wife begins to cry and accuses me of every thing under the sun; my wonderful friends quietly abandon ship and make a quiet get away!
But one must respect space and time.
Those days there were those evil things called promotion exams. The Retention needed a Bottle of Scotch – Parts A n C needed cozying up to the Examiner n Parts B n D needed some writing. Now Bull and Part D became born enemies – specially the subject of Mil History. Even if you gave Bull a book with the needed answer highlighted, he would Not Copy it but write what his opinion was on the subject!
To show the spirit of the times – Once in S Command the COS was Gen Kabraji, who one day called all officers during the Tea Break and showed them a Part D Answer Sheet which had written on it in bold Letters – “HELP HELP LAST CHANCE” And Gen Kabraji thundered, “This Officer has Faith in the System and I am going to PASS HIM”. 
Dear Bull was not That Lucky – but I should say he was More Lucky than Most of Us!  Because he and his wonderful wife Founded a School and made it BIGGER n BIGGER with lots n lots of Greenery n a Huge Main Building for a strength of over 1500 kids ………  n made a Beautiful House with a Pagoda Style Roof – again with lots of Greenery.
And Guess who was the Patron of this Brazenly Big School —
None other than the Dear Wonderful DP – who tried his utmost to make BULL a CO of the FOURTH.
But Bull became something BIGGER ….  GOD BLESS HIM n HIS WONDERFUL FAMILY!!!
Have a Ball Up There, Old Chap – sure as hell, we all will be joining You Sooner or Later – keep some seats empty near you – and the Hell with the RIPs sent you …..
And here is Gen Bhimaya …
I am sorry, indisposition and senility came in the way of doing full justice to what Bert entrusted me: an eulogy to the Late Sheru (Bull) Negi.
I am glad you came to my rescue and filled in the readers with an elegant piece that was moving, comprehensive and, of course, brief, with the soul of wit. I am not sure whether readers would appreciate our banter, but I shall risk it.
Yes, I do remember you and Dhasmana showing up at the Parade Ground–you with a side cap that ill-concealed the bruises, and Dhasmana trying to play hide and seek.
Some of us were products of a culture that, arguably, recognized bars in the officers’ messes as  great learning centers – even if you did not drink. Those were the places, where you recalled regimental episodes (even apocryphal), let the steam out, settled scores arising out of the day’s turbulent interactions, and shook hands when you tottered out of the mess for a good night’s sleep.
The spirit is encapsulated in your words: “and then comes in Bull Negi and knocks all of us out cold – and — Peace!”
Times have changed, and I suppose, they should.
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1971 War – Sam Manekshaw, Kim Yadav, Krishna Menon …

Posted on March 27, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities, Regimental |

A sordid Story which began when Gen Thimayya was Chief and Nehru’s blue eyed Defense Minister – VK Krishna Menon began to under cut and humiliate the Chief in order to pave the way for the rise of the Kashmiri ASC Gen BM Kaul – a distant cousin of the PM.

The Story starts when the Defense Minister visits Maj Gen Sam Manekshaw who was GOC 26 Div and tries to enlist him against his own Chief – Gen Thimayya. Sam of course refuses point blank and thereby begins to  dig his own grave.

This is the cause de terre for the enquiry which was initiated against Sam a year or so later when he was Commandant of the Staff College.

The principle witness against Sam in the enquiry against him was a close colleague and friend – then Col – later Brigadier – Kim Yadav who happened to be the the first CO of a very dear course mate and friend, who vouches his elan and professionalism. Kim was, indeed, an outstanding officer, who was for a while, ADC to Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Years later when Sam took over Western Command where Brig Kim Yadav  was Commanding a Brigade, Sam heard some officers in the Mess, in hushed tones belittling Brig Yadav. Turning to them he says, “Gentlemen, Brig Kim Yadav professionally is  head and shoulders above most of you – all he lacks is character”.

The late PKK Raju, a Rimcollian, was present with the FIFTH when it was part of Kim Yadav’s Brigade and used to narrate this exercise which most every one thought was to fix Kim. This seemed  more so Sam as Army Commander himself attended.

The brigade had performed pretty well and Sam went up for his Summing Up, most every one thought that Sam would now tear apart Kim. But Sam went to the podium, looked round and spoke just one sentence before he shook the Commanders’ hand. He had said was that were he himself commanding the brigade, he could not have done better!

And at the end of the 1971 war, Kim Yadav sent a telegram to Sam, ‘You seem to have won the war all by yourself – without any help from me! My Congratulations’.

Those were the Days and these were the Guys.

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Rajputs – Why they Lost …

Posted on February 21, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Regimental, Uncategorized |

From ……  They were defeated by Ghazni, Ghuri, Khilji, Babur, Akbar, the Marathas and the British.

A thousand years ago, Rajput kings ruled much of North India. Then they lost to Ghazni, lost to Ghuri, lost to Khilji, lost to Babur, lost to Akbar, lost to the Marathas, and keeled over before the British. The Marathas and Brits hardly count since the Rajputs were a spent force by the time Akbar was done with them. Having been confined to an arid part of the subcontinent by the early Sultans, they were reduced to vassals by the Mughals.

The three most famous Rajput heroes not only took a beating in crucial engagements, but also retreated from the field of battle. Prithviraj Chauhan was captured while bolting and executed after the second battle of Tarain in 1192 CE, while Rana Sanga got away after losing to Babur at Khanua in 1527, as did Rana Pratap after the battle of Haldighati in 1576. To compensate for, or explain away, these debacles, the bards of Rajputana replaced history with legend.

It is worth asking, surely, what made Rajputs such specialists in failure. Yet, the question hardly ever comes up. When it does, the usual explanation is that the Rajputs faced Muslim invaders whose fanaticism was their strength. Nothing could be further than the truth. Muslim rulers did use the language of faith to energise their troops, but commitment is only the first step to victory. The Rajputs themselves never lacked commitment, and their courage invariably drew the praise of their enemies.

Even a historian as fundamentalist as Badayuni rhapsodised about Rajput valour. Babur wrote that his troops were unnerved, ahead of the Khanua engagement, by the reputed fierceness of Rana Sanga’s forces, their willingness to fight to the death.

Let’s cancel out courage and fanaticism as explanations, then, for each side displayed these in equal measure. What remains is discipline, technical and technological prowess, and tactical acumen. In each of these departments, the Rajputs were found wanting. Their opponents, usually Turkic, used a complex battle plan involving up to five different divisions. Fleet, mounted archers would harry opponents at the start, and often make a strategic retreat, inducing their enemy to charge into an ambush.

Behind these stood the central division and two flanks. While the centre absorbed the brunt of the enemy’s thrust, the flanks would wheel around to surround and hem in opponents. Finally, there was a reserve that could be pressed into action wherever necessary. Communication channels between divisions were quick and answered to a clear hierarchy that was based largely on merit.

Contrast this with the Rajput system, which was simple, predictable, and profoundly foolish, consisting of a headlong attack with no Plan B. In campaigns against forces that had come through the Khyber Pass, Rajputs usually had a massive numerical advantage. Prithviraj’s troops outnumbered Ghuri’s at the second battle of Tarain by perhaps three to one. At Khanua, Rana Sanga commanded at least four soldiers for every one available to Babur. Unlike Sanga’s forces, though, Babur’s were hardy veterans.

After defeating Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat, the founder of the Mughal dynasty had the option of using the generals he inherited from the Delhi Sultan, but preferred to stick with soldiers he trusted. He knew numbers are meaningless except when acting on a coherent strategy under a unified command. Rajput troops rarely answered to one leader, because each member of the confederacy would have his own prestige and ego to uphold. Caste considerations made meritocracy impossible. The enemy general might be a freed Abyssinian slave, but Rajput leadership was decided by clan membership.

Absent meritocratic promotion, an established chain of command, a good communication system, and a contingency plan, Rajput forces were regularly taken apart by the opposition’s mobile cavalry. Occasionally, as with the composite bows and light armour of Ghuri’s horsemen, or the matchlocks employed by Babur, technological advances played a role in the outcome.

Ossified tactics

What’s astonishing is that centuries of being out-thought and out-manoeuvred had no impact on the Rajput approach to war. Rana Pratap used precisely the same full frontal attack at Haldighati in 1576 that had failed so often before. Haldighati was a minor clash by the standards of Tarain and Khanua. Pratap was at the head of perhaps 3,000 men and faced about 5,000 Mughal troops. The encounter was far from the Hindu Rajput versus Muslim confrontation it is often made out to be.

Rana Pratap had on his side a force of Bhil archers, as well as the assistance of Hakim Shah of the Sur clan, which had ruled North India before Akbar’s rise to power. Man Singh, a Rajput who had accepted Akbar’s suzerainty and adopted the Turko-Mongol battle plan led the Mughal troops. Though Pratap’s continued rebellion following his defeat at Haldighati was admirable in many ways, he was never anything more than an annoyance to the Mughal army. That he is now placed, in the minds of many Indians, on par with Akbar or on a higher plane says much about the twisted communal politics of the subcontinent.

There’s one other factor that contributed substantially to Rajput defeats: the opium habit. Taking opium was established practice among Rajputs in any case, but they considerably upped the quantity they consumed when going into battle. They ended up stoned out of their minds and in no fit state to process any instruction beyond, “kill or be killed”.

Opium contributed considerably to the fearlessness of Rajputs in the arena, but also rendered them incapable of coordinating complex manoeuvres. There’s an apt warning for school kids: don’t do drugs, or you’ll squander an empire.

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Imperial Services Cavalry Brigade Memorial …

Posted on January 15, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

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Military History n Political Correctness …

Posted on January 3, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

Self Evident Exchange of Views –

1. Gen KM Bhimaya

Dalits, proudly celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon, were attacked by some miscreants.

I do not wish to delve into the political ramifications of this incident, except to admire this Battle as one of the very brave actions fought by an Indian Unit of the East India Company.

As a tribute to this valorous action, the designation of this Unit was changed to “Grenadiers.” At the village Bhima Koregoan, Captain Staunton with about 800 Dalit troops defied and defeated a large army of the Peshwa.

It was a battle of maneuver, deception, and raw “guts”. Please also read Gen S.L. Menezes’s “Indian Army”, page 291, for more information. The General was a dyed-in-the-wool ‘Grinder’.

2. Brig Jagtar S Grewal

It is a sad day that defeat of Peshwas is being celebrated. We should celebrate battle honors pre independence only which were abroad. This must be motivated by congress
Rightly said its political ramifications should not be discussed. Even such battles should be played down

3. Col PM Dubey VSM

Thanks Gen Bhimaya for presenting new and hidden face of the military history.

We should not be looking at this battle having been won by dalits or lost by Peshwas, which will dilute the very purpose of history. I think Gen SL Menezes has written this chapter to glorify the ancestors of his Regiment, Grenadiers.

What we need to learn is reasons of loss of battle and not won by whom. We need also to remember that on both sides Indians were fighting, may be the cause/aim was different.

4. Gen KM Bhimaya

I have failed to develop the art of being politically correct. I recall some astounding summing up in various military institutions of learning in which political correctness often clouded one’s judgment.

For a military officer, a feat of arms, regardless of when, or where it occurred, and who the participants were, should be the staple of intensive study. Even though the Confederates fought against the Union Army, some battles of maneuver (Chancellorsville, for example), in which the outnumbered Confederate General Lee inflicted a crushing defeat on the Union Army) are still being analyzed in detail.

This said, the Indian context may be different. As brought out by Puran and Gary, some historical footprints that hurt the national sentiments should not be glorified needlessly.

If I remember correctly, this was the Government’s policy immediately after independence, and battle honors, such as ‘Delhi’ and ‘Lucknow’ that featured in some battalions’ Battle Honors were removed.

Some regiments retained the British forbears’ names: Napier’s, Hodson’s, Queen Victoria’s, to quote a few examples, although these were “unofficial”.

Gen Menezes has not glorified this action in his book, but has lamented the fact, that, despite such gallant performance, the enlistment of these “lower caste” men was not encouraged. Their recruitment virtually discontinued, until the exigency of World War 2 brought them to the mainstream once again.

The Duke of Wellington, when he was the Prime Minister, was asked which was his toughest battle?

Everyone present in the gathering expected the obvious answer: Waterloo. Surprisingly, the Duke proclaimed, “Assaye”. Like Koregaon, this was a touch-and-go battle. The Madras Sappers were the most outstanding of all the participants. Since, under East India Company, the British awards could not be given to Indian troops, Madras Sappers’ services were recognized by awarding them special features in their emblem (I think it is the ‘Elephant’).

In another case of outright prejudice, 41 Bengali Regiment was disbanded because the men resented poor leadership, and, more important because of the activities of many Bengalis in the forefront of the independence movement.

Despite these performances, prejudices against color (the British preferred fair-complexioned men to the dark) and political activism precluded the recruitment of many potentially good soldiers and the “Martial Race” theory ruled the roost.

It is noteworthy that, in 1927, B.R. Ambedkar, one of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution, had visited the memorial at Koregaon and paid his homage. Was he unpatriotic? I do not know.

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Regimental …

Posted on December 6, 2017. Filed under: Regimental | in-faraway-french-commune- ceremonial-send-off-for-two- first-world-war-indian- soldiers

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Veterans be Proud …

Posted on November 28, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Regimental |

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1965 War: Battle of OP Hill …

Posted on November 21, 2017. Filed under: Regimental |

The Story in an exchange of Mails on Regt Website

1. My Mail –


Gen Sher Amir, 2 Dogra and of 10 NDA has written this piece re the Battle

Could I have your inputs pls as I have heard Sudesh Bhasin of the Second often talk about it.
2. Gen Bhimaya –

My dear Bert,

Sher Amir (JSW 1321, and I was 1330) is a good friend of mine, but I think he has made an out-of- context reference to the SECOND. The blatant infiltration took place under 2 DOGRA’S watch in August 1965, when our 2nd was deployed in Sarol, far away from the Op Hill.

Our 2nd mostly depended upon the intelligence provided by 2 DOGRA, who were in contact with the enemy. The intelligence was faulty, and it grossly underestimated the enemy strength.

CO 4/5 GR refused to attack the position because he had correctly estimated the enemy strength to be a well-dug coy plus. CO 2 Dogra had been relieved of command for a lack of aggressiveness.

Col Mazumdar (ex-Garhwali), who took over 2 Dogras provided the guts and spirit required for a challenging task. In the event, 2 DOGRA did well.

Remember, the unsuccessful attack by our 2nd Battalion had been mounted October 2/3, and the final attack by the Brigade (it had five battalions, and ample Arty support, plus 30 days for build up and recce) was launched November 2/3.

5 SikhLI, not 5 Sikh, as mentioned by Sher Amir, also played a very important part in the successful attack. Col (later Brig ) Sant Sing won the MVC. I think the Brigade Commander was Brig (later Maj Gen) Ahluwalia. The previous commander who had ordered our 2nd Battalion’s attack had been relieved of his command! Sher Amir has discreetly avoided to mention this.

Since I was not with the Battalion, I am unable to explain why our 2nd Battalion failed. Sudesh, Satish, and RK Singh would give you a more authentic story than what I can reconstruct.

It appears, insufficient time and deployment, woefully little arty support, and inflexible deadline imposed by the higher commanders may be some of the reasons why the attack failed. I was told that the B and D companies did not move forward rapidly to build on the late Khera’s foothold.

But again, Satish and RK would give you a more authentic version. How could anyone allot one mtn bty to provide support to a Battalion attack in mountains?

3. Col SK Singh –

Dear Sirs

From reading the given text, it appears that the aslt made by Advitiya Bn against an underestimated en posn, OP Hill, was STALLED and we may reconsider labelling it as such, rather than a failed attempt.

Col(Dr) SK Singh
4. Gen Bhimaya –

Dear S.K.,

History should be recorded truthfully lest posterity should misread it. Successes and setbacks are the smooth and rough edges of life, which should be taken together with equanimity. I will refrain from pinning the blame on anyone, because I am not aware of the then-prevalent challenges.

Be that as it may, it would be a stretch to label it as “STALLED.” I would hate to say this, but I have to : It was a failure. And it pains me to accept this, because the best portion of my service, seven consecutive years, was with the Regiment (five of them with the SECOND). Only elements of A and C companies pressed home the attack.

A coy, led my the late,gallant Khera and equally enterprising RK Singh (later Brigadier) almost took the first objective; C coy led by an equally brave officer, the Late Maj Sethi, lost its way to the objective, and suffered heavy casualties on account of shelling. B and D coys did not move forward to reinforce whatever successes A coy had achieved. I shall say no more of this. You can draw your own conclusions.

It is not always appropriate to correlate the intensity of battle with the number of casualties suffered: In Punch, 6 SIKH and other battalions of the Bde, repulsed a Divisional attack with minimum casualties. In Dograi, 3 JAT suffered heavy casualties, but took the objective.

Even the second Bde level attack with five battalions, and one month’s recce, mounted by us on OP HILL, entailed very heavy casualties that were overlooked in the wake of an unjustified triumph of a Pyrrhic victory! You may want to contact Gen Satish Sondhi (former Col of the Regt) and Brig RK Singh for a more authentic account than what has been tentatively reconstructed by me.

I will be glad to take the discussion further, should you so desire.

With regards,


5. Self –

Hope there is a response from Brig RK because I doubt whether dear Satish is even on this site.

A Capt Sethi of whom I heard a lot and who would surely have turned into a great Regtl Soul lost his life soon after the war in a village feud.

Another criticism I heard re this Battle was that the CO, who was a most professional type and became a Brig, was unfortunately overseeing the assault from where the MMGs were giving covering fire. I hope I am wrong.

Btw Gen Sher Amir had his half brother in our Third and this wonderful officer was killed prior to Maj Malhotra just before the Ceasefire.

Re Gen Bhimaya’s comments in the preceding mail, permit me to record my admiration for his strong sense of uprightness. Just after the Centenary two shameful incidents occurred in the same unit and the Regimental senior officers were gathered in the Dy Chief’s Office as he was the CoR and had been called re something by the Chief.

One Gen Officer lamented that what could the COR do? Where upon Gen Bhimaya burst out saying-

“You are asking what can the COR do? I will tell you what he can do! He can walk into the Chief’s Office and get the CO removed forthwith and the unit absolved of all op responsibility and sent into the hills for three months of serious training to sort things out. The Center Comdt can then be ordered to revamp the unit. That’s what the COR can do!”

Gentlemen, What more can be asked of a senior officer!
6. R K Gaur –

Thank you Gen Bhimaya for your very candid and objective inputs.
And my thanks to Brig Bhullar for some very pertinent observations on Gen Bhimaya.

I think these two have contributed some very valuable insights and made this conversation rich for our benefit.

I request Gen Sondhi and Brig R K Singh to please provide their inputs.

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