Thursday 27 June 2019, 06:02 AM
Landmines a scourge, a sad leftover of war
By Sushil Sharma | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 5/8/2019 6:18:52 PM
Landmines a scourge, a sad leftover of war

Detecting land mines has always been a risky affair for Army units operating along border areas. Each year a few dozen uniformed personnel and civilians die. India laid huge numbers of mines during Op Parakaram launched in 2002  in the aftermath of the December 2011 attack on Parliament, hundreds of them lie buried posing a risk  to all.

Army units have been carrying out delicate mine-clearing operations manually. There is no full-proof system. Casualties and injuries from mine blasts are reported regularly while anti-personnel mines have proven deadlier.Indian Army‘s Directorate of Combat Engineering is set to acquire a Global Positioning System (GPS)-based minefield recording equipment to help the army personnel during the detection and defusion of landmines.A global Request for Information (RFI) has been issued last year. The equipment will employ both GPS and Geographic Information System (GIS). The Army is looking for equipment that can record locations of mines being laid by the enemy — in varying terrain and weather. 
 
The objective is to reduce a soldier’s direct involvement in the detection and recovery of mines. Several countries have switched to using such systems. The idea is to give an edge to the engineering regiments as this can provide minute details of minefields, down to the centimetre.Currently, the Army is clearing mines in the border districts of Jammu and Kashmir and combat engineers have been working hard to manually detect and defuse explosives. 
 
The DRDO effort: Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has undertaken the trial of a ‘Trawl’ system that can locate mines in the battle field. The indigenously developed system is used for locating land mines and creating a safe lane for vehicles through a minefield for the advancing columns of mechanised forces in a combat zone. The equipment consists of Trawl roller, track width mine plough and electro-magnetic device (EMD). The anti-mine system has components that could detect all type of mines usually encountered by the tanks. A major milestone has been successful completion of blast trials,which demonstrated the survivability of the Trawl, when subjected to successive series of blast directly underneath it.

India and history of Landmines: For more than 100 years armies have used mines to stall the advance of infantry or armored columns. India since its independence, has been a passionate advocate of disarmament measures in the United Nations (UN) system. Officially the Ministry of External Affairs has stated: “India has a long-standing commitment to the goal of general and complete disarmament based on the principles of universality, non-discrimination and verification...”
 
In 1996, India voted in favour of a UN General Assembly Resolution urging states to vigorously pursue an international agreement banning anti-personnel mines. However, in 1997 when the Mine Ban Treaty came into existence, India chose to remain outside it. 
 
In 1999, India joined an Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons, a limited disarmament measure on anti-personnel landmines. The protocol prohibits the use of undetectable landmines, requires permanent marking and fencing of any mined area, but does not comprehensively ban the weapon. In the past, India was a major manufacturer of undetectable landmines and used them along the international border with Pakistan as well as along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

Op-Parakaram the watershed: The largest known use of anti-personnel mines by any government in recent times was India’s and Pakistan’s deployment of lakhs of anti-personnel mines along the international border during Operation Parakram. Land forces were mobilised on a large scale and mine-laying covered a huge parcel of agricultural land along the border, thereby disrupting the lives of citizens. Indian Army, and also the Pakistan Army suffered thousands of casualties while laying and removing minefields.
 
The full extent of areas mined during Operation Parakaram is unknown. However, an estimated 700 sq. km along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, and large areas of Punjab and Rajasthan were mined.  Landmines usually remain active long after fighting is over and become a lasting deadly legacy of armed conflicts. 
 

Tags:

mines,land,Parakaram,DRDO,survivability

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