On 18th Sep 2016, a dastardly attack by Pakistani militants on Indian Army Brigade Headquarters in Uri led to the death of 19 soldiers. Eleven days after the attack, Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on militant camps in PoK. This was complemented by tough diplomatic measures like postponement and subsequent cancellation of the 19th SAARC summit and review of the Indus Water Treaty.
The news about the surgical strikes was welcomed by majority of the Indians. Since Independence, Pakistan has been fomenting unrest in India and Indian response has largely been muted. India was always perceived as a weak state that lacked the willpower to give a decisive reply. With the surgical strikes, it now seemed that there was a responsible and action oriented Government that was not willing to ignore loss of Indian lives and was bold enough to take punitive action.
This was a time when the Indian Army needed the entire nation to stand behind them in a show of solidarity. Their base had been attacked by militants and they had lost their comrades. They were the ones who fearlessly ventured in PoK and destroyed militant camps. Was it too much to expect that a grateful nation rallies behind them and supports them?
Apparently yes, it is too much to expect. We had Mamta Banerjee and Nitish Kumar ridiculing the sacrifice by announcing a measly compensation of Rs. 2 lac and Rs. 5 lac respectively for the martyrs’ families. Mamta Banerjee announced a compensation of Rs. 10 lacs for Haj deaths. A soldier’s life is not cheaper than that of a Haj pilgrim. Respect the sacrifice and the sentiments of the bereaved family. Too much to expect, Mamta ji?
We had Arvind Kejriwal asking for ‘proof of surgical strikes’! Surely this must be the first time that an Army which went into a conflict zone is being asked to show proof of its action. In his bid to take potshots at the PM, Kejriwal seems to have forgotten that he is an Indian. He willingly obliged Pakistan by providing them grounds to deny the strikes. Kejriwal worries that lack of proof would dent India’s credibility at the international stage. It would be better if he focused on enhancing India’s credibility by making the capital a little more live-able. Getting rid of Aedes mosquitoes from Delhi may be a good, albeit challenging, start for him. Too much to expect, Kejriwal ji?
Rahul Gandhi could not be far behind. The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty (the dynasty directly responsible for the Kashmir problem) has the audacity to comment on ‘Khoon ki dalali”. Now Kapil Sibal is supporting him by talking legalese. Neither did Rahul Gandhi nor any of his advisors think about the impact of his words on the morale of the Armed Forces. Most of the soldiers are younger than Rahul Gandhi. If they can die for their country, surely RaGa can choose to keep his mouth shut on such a sensitive issue. Too much to expect, Rahul ji?
However it is unfair to criticise only the politicians. We have erudite, thinking people like Karan Johar and Om Puri who have let us down. Sometimes a change in strategy is needed in international relations. Indian has extended the hand of friendship many times in past few years to Pakistan, including MFN status and cultural exchanges. These initiatives failed in curbing Pakistan’s nefarious activities. The call for the ban on Pakistan artists may have been launched by regional parties for political purposes. But there is merit in calling off all interaction with the rogue state for a while – even if it is simply a symbolic show of solidarity with the Army.
The author has travelled to Pakistan, and has friends there. Most people in Pakistan may be wanting peace, but if the State is continuing to sponsor cross border terrorism, then we, the people of India, need to take a stand. Defending the country is not the responsibility only of the Army. Everyone Indian has a role to play so that we send out a strong message collectively – we will not tolerate infringement on our land and attacks on Indian lives. A soldier is supposed to sacrifice his all, but can Karan Johar not sacrifice potential earnings of ‘Raees’? Too much to expect, Karan ji?
Let us not forget Om Puri and his question “who asked them to join the Army.” It is amazing how bold people are when they are safe in their living rooms in Mumbai. It may be prudent to ask Om Puri to read what the Indian Army is mandated to do. The Indian Army is tasked with-
- War fighting to meet external aggression
- Internal security management to include internal threats
- Force projection
- Peace Keeping Operations or Military Assistance to friendly foreign countries
- Render humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and aid to civil authorities
Sometimes, it is not ‘all about loving your family’ …it is about loving your country. It is about being sensitive, empathetic and grateful to the man who is away from his family, one step away from a minefield that could render him a cripple, one bullet away from death. Or like a popular meme doing the rounds of social media, since all the above stalwarts cannot stand behind the soldiers, they should be prepared to stand in front of them. Let us then hear their views about proofs, dalali, creative freedom and career choices when they are in the line of fire.
Read More by the Author:
The Table for One: Eternal wait for soldiers who never returned
Let's blame Narendra Modi for all of India's ills!
India and OROP: The hypocrisy of 15th August
Five observations on 'Ek Saal, Modi Sarkar'
Siachen: 31 years later, the agony continues
Dear India, soldiers are human beings too
Aditi Kumaria Hingu is a marketing graduate from IIM Calcutta, currently she works in the corporate sector. She comes from an army background.