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“All nations should come together to fight terrorism”

HAND IN HAND: Indian and Chinese soldiers give a demonstration of traditional martial arts at a joint military exercise in Belgaum on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Xinhua

Devesh K. Pandey

Sino-Indian joint exercise, aimed at enhancing counter-terrorism skills, gets under way

BELGAUM: The Sino-Indian joint military exercise, aimed at enhancing counter-terrorism skills and promoting mutual understanding, trust and inter-operational ability, got under way here on Saturday.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Brigadier S.K. Patiyal said the prime goal of the training was to acquaint the armies with each other’s operating procedures and ensuring better compatibility.

Stating that terrorism had become a global menace, Brigadier Patiyal called on all peace loving countries to join hands to root out the evil. “The exercise is also part of the ongoing efforts of both nations to share their experiences and technological knowhow in curbing terrorism,” he said.

Aptly termed “Hand in Hand 2008,” the exercise is a follow-up of the first-ever joint military exercise between the two countries organised at Kunming in China a year ago. The participating contingents are 8 Maratha Light Infantry and the 137-member No.1 Infantry Battalion of the People’s Liberation Army.

Sharing expertise

“We would like to gain and share the expertise and practical knowledge and try to infuse the same in our training programme,” Brigadier Patiyal added.

His counterpart, Senior Colonel Qin Xiang You, said the training would comprise both basic combat exercises and civil and legal issues pertaining to counter-terrorism. “The training is aimed at enhancing mutual understanding and trust,” he said.

The training programme includes battle obstacles and assault courses, counter-terror tactics by the Chinese Army and a slithering down Mi-8 helicopter exercise.

However, the most important are house clearance and room-intervention drills and road opening drills.

The Chinese contingent spokesperson Huang Xue Ping said the exercise was focused on enhancing military cooperation and fighting extremism and terrorism to ensure peace and stability in the region. Pointing out that the training was meant to strengthen the ties between the two countries at the military and political levels, he said the Chinese Army had undertaken similar exercises with 10 countries.

“All countries should come together to fight terrorism. There should be no double standards. While fighting terrorism, our target should be clear and in doing so, we should not target any particular religion and ethnic group. We should identify the root causes of terrorism to resolve the issue. The causes vary in different countries. They can be poverty, imbalance of social wealth or discontent with the government,” said Senior Colonel Huang, adding that China was also facing the problems of extremism, terrorism and secessionism.

Display of weapons

The opening ceremony was followed by a display of weapons and military equipment of the two armies. While most of the weapons were of a similar nature, the one that stood out was the Chinese multi-purpose 7.62 mm dagger pistol with four barrels.

“It is simply unique. I have never seen a weapon like this before,” an Indian Army officer said, adding that most of the Chinese weapons were lighter than the Indian ones.

Displaying its combat and physical endurance skills, the Chinese contingent gave an impressive performance of martial arts.

The Indians came out with an equally remarkable and breathtaking show of Malkhamb, an ancient Indian form of gymnastics, and Kalari Payattu, the traditional martial arts of Kerala.

Counter-insurgency operations

This was followed by a demonstration of counter-insurgency and counter terrorism operations

On Friday, the Indian Army organised a familiarisation programme during which both contingents interacted with each other over the “Bara Khana” (Big Dinner).

While rendition of the Indian national anthem and a Bollywood song by the enthusiastic Chinese soldiers came as a pleasant surprise to their Indian counterparts, Chinese songs by Lieutenant Colonel S.K. Tiwari and Indian interpreter Sarika won the hearts of the PLA contingent.