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Army 'battle' rages in a Ludhiana vilage
May 19, 2006 16:13 IST
A nondescript village near Ludhiana has been the scene of a mock battle by the Indian Army, which is staging one of its largest ever drills in Punjab to test the readiness of its troops in case of a war. The drill on Thursday in the village of Jagraon was part of the weeklong 'Sanghe Shakti' military exercises, the largest by the Army after Operation Parakram in 2001.
The operations are being held 100 to 130 km from the international border with Pakistan. "Over 20,000 personnel are taking part in the exercises which are being held within a radius of 45 km," Brigadier S H Kulkarni told PTI in Jagraon.
The troops have been divided into two opposing sides -- Blue Land or the friendly forces and Red Land or the enemy troops. In Jagraon on Thursday, the task before the 'Blue Land' forces was to mend a bridge over a 57-metre wide canal, which the enemy had 'blown' up. They then had to move swiftly and construct a pontoon bridge to get its tanks to the other side.
As dusk fell, a team of around 100 sappers unloaded pontoons in position, using a combination of ropes and muscle power to set up a bridge over the canal. All this while being under constant 'enemy fire' depicted by loud explosions at regular intervals. The task was accomplished in a mere 70 minutes - in record time considering it was done at night.
"Even if the enemy manages to destroy one or two of the pontoons, we always carry reserve ones so we could easily replace the damaged pontoons," says Kulkarni. A couple of T-72 tanks now roll past the flimsy looking bridge, which as the Brigadier points out, can withstand a weight of up to 60 tons.
The heavy vehicles make it safely to the other side, signalling 'Mission Accomplished.' A barrage of flares was being continually set off at the site so that mediapersons and onlookers from nearby villages could catch a better glimpse of the action after dark. The 'Sanghe Shakti' army exercises, being conducted by the Ambala-based 2 Corps, are scheduled to end later on Friday.