One battle tank, please: Surge in campus demand

40 tanks sent for Sardar Patel statue in Gujarat, but their fate unsure

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Updated: October 29, 2017 6:40 am
jnu, najeeb ahmed, jnu missing student, JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, jnu news,delhi news, india news JNU is not alone in asking for obsolete battle tanks and guns from the Army. (Representational)

EARLIER THIS year, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar triggered a debate when he made a public request for installing a battle tank on the campus. However, he is not alone in asking for obsolete battle tanks and guns from the Army. Over the past two years, the demand from private organisations, educational institutions, schools, colleges and NGOs for such tanks and other combat equipment has gone up significantly.

In 2014-15, only three such demands were received from civilian institutions. The number rose to seven in 2015-16 and then shot up to 31 in 2016-17. The Army has already received another 31 requests for battle tanks in the first half of the current financial year. Among the educational institutions which have been given such tanks by the Army since 2013 are: Modern School, New Delhi (one Vijayanta tank), Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, Rampur (one T-55 tank), La Martiniere College, Lucknow (one T-55 tank), Lawrence School, Sanawar (one T-55 tank), Dalhousie Public School, Himachal Pradesh (two RCL guns), Punjabi University, Patiala (one Vijayanta tank), Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune (one T-55 tank against two demanded), Punjab Public School, Nabha (one T-55 tank against two demanded), and Rajkumar College, Raipur (one T-55 tank against two demanded).

The debate over display of battle tanks in educational institutions gained prominence earlier this year, following a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ event at JNU on July 23, where Vice-Chancellor Kumar publicly requested Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and former army chief and Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh (retd) to help the university in “procuring an Army tank”. He said this could be displayed at a “prominent place” on the campus to serve as a “constant” reminder to students of the sacrifices the Army makes.

Besides educational institutions, the Army has also issued a large number of phased out/ obsolete tanks in bulk to civilian government organisations in various states since 2013. While four Vijayanta tanks and 19 RCL guns were issued for Punjab State War Heroes Memorial-cum-Museum at Amritsar in 2016-17, the Lion Safari Park in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, has also received five Vijayanta tanks from the Army.

But the maximum number of battle tanks — 40 Vijayanta tanks — issued to any single institution are to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET) in Gujarat. In 2015-16, the Army issued these tanks to SVPRET, which is a special purpose vehicle created by the Gujarat government for the execution of the Statue of Unity project. The State of Unity, dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is slated to be the world’s largest statue at 182 metres. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

When contacted, a senior official of SVPRET told The Sunday Express: “When we began the project, we were looking out for good quality metal that could be used to construct the statue. We thought, what could be better than Army tanks. We sought the tanks from the Army, but when we conducted a metallurgical study of the same, we realised that the metal of the war tanks was of a far superior quality than what we were looking for. To extract the kind of metal we needed for the statue from these tanks was going to be uneconomical. Therefore, we dropped the idea.”

While another officer working on the project said the committee had discussed the option of using the tanks to create a museum as an added attraction for tourists visiting Kevadia to see the Statue of Unity, the top SVPRET official denied such plans. “We have no plan to use the Army tanks now. We have told the Army that we do not need them anymore,” he said.

The overall stock of obsolete battle tanks and guns for issue is limited to the equipment declared surplus in the previous financial year, out of which, 20 per cent is allocated for issue to private organisations/ educational institutions/ colleges/ schools/ NGOs and others. These organisations have to pay 5 per cent of the book value of the equipment, besides bearing the cost of transportation.

The allocations are made on a ‘first come first serve’ basis, with a proviso that the ministry can make up to 10 per cent out-of-turn allotments. As per the Army, no out-of-turn allotments of obsolete military equipment have been made by the ministry so far.

With inputs from Aditi Raja, Vadodara

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  1. A
    AKB
    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm
    Actually the battle is required outside political party offices and HQ. As they need to know exactly what they are trying to teach in universities. Hope some sense prevails among the political parties, Especially the TOP 2.
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    1. V
      Vnk
      Oct 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm
      This demand of tank from educational ins utions all over India is a big slap on the face of JNU students union of leftists and pro-Islamic terrorists aswll as their supporters like Rahul.
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      1. R
        RANA
        Oct 29, 2017 at 12:24 pm
        Tanks at university is covert message to commies and jihadi that if you try to break india...you must know whats in store for you. And seeing the reaction of these gyaandus message has been delivered loud and clear.
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        1. U
          United India
          Oct 29, 2017 at 11:47 am
          SECURITY ALERT : I could be wrong but read on.,.... there is an article in BBC about savitri devi (Dt. 29-10-2017) on BBC with no author name... I could be wrong but this could be an attempt to create unrest in our country by spreading thoughts.. I appeal to everyone stay united.....as our media is corrupt and politically affiliated SO ARE WESTERN MEDIA....they always carry agenda of unrest in poor underdeveloped nations to carry their agenda......their action is sophesticated and professional....Why would BBC put an article supporting thoughts WITHOUT author name.... British are cunning smart people..... They divide and rule....they try to plant unrest seed to grow in future....So I APPEAL TO ALL INDIANS STAY UNITED HINDU MUSLIM SIKH AND CHRISTIANS ... WE HAVE ONLY ONE NATION AND WE HAVE SUFFERED A LOT DUE TO BRITISH....Stay strong stay united...Long live INDIA..Ban Corrupt hidden agenda Western media
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          1. R
            rajiv
            Oct 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm
            Can you read? The name of the author is clearly written in the article. It is Maria Margaronis. It is stupid people like you who are spreading hate
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            1. S
              Sg
              Oct 29, 2017 at 12:51 pm
              U R Absolutly right... Western countries are trying every tricks to destabalise and destroy India as it's rising economic and technical progress is becoming a threat to their own business interests and subsequently effecting the lazy, affluent and easy going lifestyle of their society. Western media is taking active part in this campaigning and some corrupt Indian media is supporting them. Take example of BBC, it's a British Govt ins ution. Ever since Modi govt assumed power they tied up with NDTV and started turnishing India's image to the international forums. Clearly Britain is waging a war with India, through the media campaiging..
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              Parambikulam
              Oct 29, 2017 at 11:12 am
              IE wanted to indirectly expose something that is inherently fishy in the entire tank obsoleting business. I am trying to understand what that would be. Hm....Any help from Central-Asian-origin-immigrated-Arya-brahmin-Indo-Indic-fake-patriot?
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