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27 Mountain Division / Striking Lion Division

Shaktism, the cult of Mother Goddess and Shakti, the female divinity in Indian religion symbolises form, energy or manifestation of the human spirit in all its rich and exuberant variety. Goddess Durga gradually became the supreme object of adoration among the followers of Shaktism. The very origin of her incarnation as Durga is mainly due to her celestial mount (vehicle or vahana) lion. This lion is usually assorted with her in literature, art sculpture, etc. In the Hindu Pantheon all the deities are associated in mythology and art with an animal as its specific vahana, conceived both on the figurative and the metaphysical plane. The golden skinned hairy lion is an archetypal symbol for the golden rayed sun, the lord of the day, whose appearance kills the god of the night. Durga, the beautiful goddess of dawn, life and victory, riding a lion, defeats the buffalo-demon Mahisasura. In all her exploits the lion is her mount, ferocious in look and action. The lion also symbolised in all ancient civilizations as the solar, igneous and luminous principle of life and knowledge.

Army's 27 Division - Striking Lion Division - was based originally in Kalimpong, West Bengal, but moved to Jammu and Kashmir to contain the situation in the troubled state and along the border with Pakistan. Formations of the Kalimpong-based Army's 27 Mountain Division, which had gone for counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir during Operation Parakaram in 2001.

Rimbick is a remote village near India-Nepal border and is approximately 100 km away from Darjeeling. People living in this village do not have any access to medical facilities. There are a large number of ex-servicemen also living in this area. In 2002 the 27 Mountain Division (Medical) took up many development activities in this area for social and economic upliftment of people. As part of these activities, the Division conducted a medical camp with technical support from 327 Field Ambulance, 163 Military Hospital, 179 Military Hospital and administrative back-up from 123 Mountain Brigade.

The medical camp received an over- whelming response from the people. Totally, 233 ex-servicemen and 509 civilians attended the camp. Free medicines were given to all patients. Besides medical specialists, medical officers including lady medical officers and dental surgeon attended the camp. X-Ray, ECG and lab facilities were also provided. An exhibition on health and hygiene was also conducted at the camp to create awareness among people on AIDS and other common ailments.

Encouraged by the response from the people, 27 Mountain Division organised the medical camp for second time. In addition to the facilities provided in the first camp, the services of Ophthalmologist and gynaecologist from 158 Base Hospital and a medical specialist were provided at the camp. On request, Chief Medical Officer from Darjeeling came forward to provide medicines free of cost to the patients. The 8 Assam Regiment under the aegis of 123 Mountain Brigade provided the administrative support and CSD canteen facilities at the camp. In spite of heavy rains, around 500 patients including 342 civilians turned up for the camp. The local villagers thanked the 27 Mountain Division for coming forward to organise such medical camps.

As a part of the 96th anniversary celebrations in early 2007 of the Corps of Signals, a cycle expedition was flagged off by Lt Gen TK Sapru, GOC 16 Corps. The cycle rally was organised under the aegis of 16 Corps Signal and conducted by 27 Mountain Division, Singal Regiment. The expedition was led by Lt Manojit Sinha and included one officer, one JCO and Seven Other Ranks. The expedition traversed through Jammu, Samba, Mamun, Shahpur, Ahlilal, Mandi, Bilaspur and Shimla.

Amid reports of intrusion by Chinese forces in Bhutan, in December 2007 the Army was reported to have moved more than 6,000 troops to the Sino-Indian border, close to tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China. However, Army Chief Deepak Kapooor said that reported intrusions of Chinese forces in Bhutan was "a matter between the two countries". The shifting of Army formations north of Nathu La came in the wake of reports of Chinese troops coming close to the Siliguiri corridor. But Army authorities brushed it aside, saying that Chinese forces had been coming close to the Dolam Plateau for over two decades as the boundary in the area was still to be defined. Army officials described the movement from Jammu and Kashmir as "routine move-back" of troops to their original locations". An entire brigade of the 27 Division and an additional battalion had been moved back over a period of three-four months, as situation in Jammu and Kashmir had "stabilised".

On 12 December 2007, India relocated 6,000 soldiers of the 27th Mountain Division (units of the 164 Mountain Brigade) from Jammu and Kashmir back to the unit's headquarters in Kalimpong, West Bengal. The media reported the deployment was a response to China's latest move into the Dolam Plateau in Bhutan. However, some believed that the move was more related to the reduced tensions in Kashmir allowing for troops to be shifted back to West Bengal.

Contrary to these media reports, Indian Army officials denied any movement of troops on the China border. The army sources insisted that the movement of units from 27 Mountain Division, which the reports spoke about, had happened more than a year ealier. They returned to their original station, based on the 'situation review' of Jammu and Kashmir, that too under a process that started more than two years earlier. Again in February 2008 sources said the Army had received orders from its higher command to relocate the 27 Mountain Division and the 27 Artillery Brigade from Naria in Rajouri to Kalimpong (Siliguri) under the Eastern Command based in Kolkata. The 27 Mountain Division was looking after the counterinsurgency operations in Rajouri sector. The 30-km wide Siliguri corridor, which links India with rest of North Eastern states. is the weakest point in the Indian defence and if China somehow gained control of the corridor the entire North East region would be cut away from India. Some 40,000 troops were responsible for the defence of Sikkim and the strategically important Siliguri corridor.



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