Indian services chiefs told to stay in country, troops on alert

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NEW DELHI: Amid tensions between India and Pakistan following last month’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, New Delhi has started augmenting the country’s defences with a view to reducing to the minimum the time required “to move into full operational readiness”.

The Indian government has also asked the chiefs of India’s three defence services to stay in the country and remain on immediate call. Navy chief Admiral Suresh Mehta was to visit Qatar in mid-December, but his visit was called off after the orders to remain in India, PTI reported.

The PTI’s sources said the services chiefs had also been advised to pass on similar instructions to their key operational commanders so as to be able to affect ‘complete readiness’ to face any eventuality.

Troops that were involved in routine exercises or were on operational alert in the Punjab and Rajasthan states have been asked to stay on well after the duration of these exercises ended this month. No fixed time limit has been given to withdraw with one-third strike elements also being moved in to ensure extra vigil.

The defence forces have also been asked to indicate any equipment or ammunition they would need through fast procurement means. While no proposal has so far been received, sources said each service was still to complete evaluating its immediate requirements.

PTI sources said the effort is to maintain a more alert posture – without causing undue alarm in Western capitals – so that the time taken for full operational readiness is reduced to the minimum.

The PTI quoted its sources as saying New Delhi had no offensive intent but was preparing for any possible situation. online

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