5 Mountain Division / Ball of Fire Division
The insignia of 5 Mountain Division is a ball of fire, a divine weapon known as a chakra, lifted from Hindu mythology. Brahma is the first of the powerful Hindu Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer. Brahma, the creator, from the cosmological point of view is the Golden Embryo (Hiranyagarbha), the ball of fire, from which the universe develops.
At present, the Division has been looking after the sensitive border areas as well as participating in counter-insurgency operations. A district-level Civil-Military Coordination Conference was organised in August 2008 by the 'Ball of Fire' Division at Tenga. The conference aimed at synergizing the efforts of the civil administration and Army on varied issues ranging form security to disaster management. The conference was attended by the representatives of police and civil administration from Bomdila and Seppa. Maj Gen Manvendra Singh, General Officer Commanding 'Ball of Fire' Division inaugurated the conference. The conference was chaired by Brig Anil Gupta, Deputy General Officer Commanding and Station Commander, Tenga Garrison. Issues related to internal security, disaster management and perception management were discussed. Aspects related to road construction was also deliberated upon. The Station Commander reiterated that it has been an endeavour of Army to appreciate the requirements of the locals and the administration and resolve the issues in a holistic manner so that the affected parties are benefited. The Deputy Commissioner, Bomdila, on behalf of all representatives of the civil administration, thanked the Station Commander on the conduct of the conference. The Station Commander assured the civil administration that the 'Ball of Fire' Division would continue to contribute towards the development of East and West Kameng.
In a unique effort of 'Ball of Fire Division' to bridge the hiatus between the mainstream India and underserved remote regions of Arunachal Pradesh, a comprehensive free medical and assistive devices camp for the Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) was organized in late 2008 at Seppa District East Kameng under Mission Ability Beyond Disability. The camp was the joint effort of Ball of Fire Division and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in an enduring partnership with National Institute of Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Artificial Limb Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO), local NGOs and district administration. The free medical camp for the PWDs was inaugurated by Mrs Ranjana Singh, wife of Maj Gen Manvender Singh, General Officer Commanding, 5 Mountain Division in the presence of Mr Atum Welly, Hon'ble Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Brig Anil Gupta, Dy GOC, 5 Mountain Division, Dy Commander and SP, East Kameng. The camp benefited over 2300 beneficiaries. Over 148 hearing aid and 475 refractive spectacles were distributed. 100 beneficiaries were provided with wheel chairs, elbow and auxiliary crutches and about 30 visually handicapped were provided with blind sticks, walking sticks and Braille equipment free of cost.
Four battalions of scouts will be raised very soon in the state which will provide employment to 4000- 5000 youth of the state General (Retired) J.J.Singh, Governor of Arunachal Pradesh said in November 2008. Ball of Fire Division- Indian Army had already organized a pre-recruitment training camp at Seppa and trained about 250 local youths to begin new era of employment for this region, the trained Nyishi youths were made to interact with the Governor in order to inculcate the sense of confidence and belonging. Recollecting his days as Chief of Army Staff, Governor said that he introduced the policy of "Iron fist with velvet gloves" and it will be continued in the future as well. Army is committed for the social and economic development of the people of remote, underserved and border regions of the country which otherwise is also important for the sovereignty and security of the nation.
Various national flagship schemes launched by the Central Governments were meant to provide water, health, roads, education, and community development for upliftment of the rural people of Arunachal Pradesh. He also emphasized that they should concentrate on organizing better practices on farming, tourism, floriculture and on the cultivation of tea as the same is also conducive for this region
On receiving a memorandum from Shri Sepi Bagang, Chairperson of East Kameng Zilla Parishad soliciting for the permanent stationing of army establishment at East Kameng District, he assured that army will establish camp in east Kameng district and requisite steps will be taken to speed up the issue. He was given warm civic reception at the helipad by the army and civil administration. Stressing the need for good roads the Governor said that Border Roads Organisation should build up international standard surface communication so that Arunachal Pradesh could be a model state in the country. He further stated that the Itanagar is going to be connected by a 4- lane road from Guwahati very soon and Trans- Arunachal Highway, the works of which is scheduled to begin soon, would connect all the 16 districts of the state with the state capital in near future. He assured the people of East kemeng district for the provisioning of a 3 MW Pacha hydel power project which has been inordinately delayed due to various reasons and now the same will be commissioned soon and there will be no shortages of electricity in the district. Expressing his concerns on pollution and continuous degradation of environment the Governor appealed to the common people that all of us take pledge to make Arunachal Pradesh plastic free and create a role model state of the country.
Major General Manvendar Singh GOC Ball of Fire Division first expressed his thanks to District Administration and people of Seppa for their constant support towards mainstreaming the tribal youth of this undeveloped border region, he assured Ball of fire division all requisite support and announced for the army recruitment rally from 15 December to 21 December 2008 at Seppa. He also launched a rolling football trophy in order to put people's attention on the progressive attitude and enhance the people's participation on community and social development.
The Deputy Commissioner Shri Nani Mali thanked the Governor for his kind visit and hailed the unprecedented efforts of the ball of fire division of army, PIB and all other agencies who had immensely contributed for the success of the campaign. He said that the visit of His Excellency to east kameng would augur well for a new chapter in the history of the dsitrict. He also requested the Governor and the GOC to initiate steps for permanent positioning of army in the district considering its strategic location and the growing aspirations of the local people. Cultural presentation from the local artistes, song and drama division and dare devil stunt of the Tornado immensely drew the attention of the spectators. The campaign had set a new trend in the history of the district and would be remembered for its effort in educating the general people on may central flagship programmes otherwise uknown to them previously.
"Ball of Fire" Division was the only formation during the second World War to fight all the three adversaries-Italians, Germans and Japanese in Sudan, Eritrea and Abyssinia in deserts of North Africa and in the jungles of Burma, Kohima and Imphal. The Division which was raised on September 23, 1939 at Secunderabad, was tasked to oversee the surrender of the Japanese in Singapore and Indonesia. In 1962, when the Chinese threatened Assam after advancing upto the foot hills, the nation put trust once again in the "Ball of Fire" Division. This Division was at Ferozepur, and was flown to Assam to thwart the Chinese design. Thus, its insignia of a plain red circle with a black background gradually came to symbolise the "Ball of Fire".
The history of the Division has been documented, and is displayed at the "Ball of Fire" museum at Tenga in Assam. The museum was an effort of the Division to give the younger generation a glimpse of its rich history and its courage, camaraderie and sacrifices. The Division, after its raising, was moved to Sudan in September 1940. It was here that the Division was baptised by fire and fought the Battle of Gallabat, seeing action in Sudan and Abyssinia. They pursued the enemy and fought major battles in Eritrea, Wahni and Kassala, forcing the Italians to surrender along with General Fongoli. It was here that 2/Lt PS Bhagat was awarded Victoria Cross for leading a relentless pursuit through extensive minefields. He was the first Indian to win the coveted Victoria Cross.
The Division then moved to Eritrea, where the Allied Forces were held up by the formidable defences of Keren. It was tasked to reinforce Fourth Division and smash a way through the defences. A bloody battle followed and the enemy launched eight counter-attacks to dislodge the attackers. Keren was ultimately captured, after 53 days of siege, on March 27, 1941. The Italians had employed a total of 39 battalions and 36 batteries in the operations. The Division then attacked Asmara which was surrendered on April 1, 1941.
In May 1942, the Division was tasked to guard Gazala front against Rommel's offensive. It took up defences based on extensive minefields and strong points at Gazala-Bir Hakein-El Adem and Tobruk. Though Tobruk fell after stiff resistance on June 20, 1942, they successfully blunted the German offensive by stubbornly holding onto their defences.
In June 1943, the Division moved to Chas, then in Bihar, where it underwent training for operations in jungle terrain. The Division was then placed under the command of 15 Corps, commanded by Lt Gen WJ Slim. It took part in the Battle of Arakans (Burma), capturing Maungdaw and establishing a bridgehead across Magyi Chaung. When 7 Infantry Division was trapped and cut off by the Japanese, this Division, after fierce fighting, successfully broke through the Japanese siege and linked up with them. This was the first time that a Japanese offensive was beaten back in the second World War.
In March 1944, the Division was relieved in Arakans and was airdashed to Kohima. The Japanese had cut off Imphal-Kohima road and launched two attacks in 14 days. In spite of that, the Division linked up with the troops under siege, and finally managed to relieve them four days later. The battle blasted the myth of Japanese invincibility as jungle fighter and converted Allied's defeat into victory, paving a way for the ultimate rout of the Japanese in Burma.
The Division pursued the Japanese to Manipur and further to Burma, fighting major battles and racing towards Rangoon. After Rangoon, they set sails for Singapore where they were tasked to disarm and interrogate the Japanese troops.
The Division was again called upon in November 1962 to move to the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh, in the wake of Chinese aggression. The placing of this Division along with elements of armour effectively checked the advance. The Division remained in this sector since then, and was redesignated as a Mountain Division.
The history of the Division has been chronicled at the "Ball of Fire" museum. The museum is a treasury of rare photographs and repertoire of weapons, equipment and other items that give an insight to the Indo-Chinese conflict. It speaks volumes of the gallantry of those soldiers who, though outnumbered and outgunned, fought till the last breath for their motherland. "Ball of Fire" museum is an ode to these gallant men who always remain as source of inspiration to the generations to come.
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