Eight CRPF soldiers returning from the shooting range were ambushed by militants in Pampore,J&K, and the rickety bus carrying them became their coffin. Another 25 were grievously injured. And in true ‘’character’’ which defines our news traders, this was not given importance of more than one day. After all, what is the life of a paramilitary soldier in comparison to some actress twisting her ankle during shooting.
Elsewhere at the same time in New Delhi, the Pakistan High Commission hosted a grand iftar party, in which Kashmiri separatists were given an honoured place, and to rub salt on wounds, it was proclaimed that Pakistan wants nothing more than friendship with India. No words of condemnation or consolation about Pampore attack were offered.
India is the world’s largest arms importer. It has the third largest standing army in the world. In BSF and CRPF, it has the largest paramilitary in the world. If you look at the numbers, leave the Indian army, navy and airforce aside, India’s paramilitary alone is bigger than most of the country’s defence forces today.
And yet we allow humiliation of the kinds of Pampore Attack to be heaped on us.
And why blame Pakistan? What has been our leaders’ response to this latest attack? The same repetitive reply of we will not fire first but we will retaliate strongly by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh. From the J& K state govt,from CM Mehbooba Mufti, the same oft repeated statement that terror in the name of Islam is wrong (the same people were wailing for AFSPA removal) and that such attacks will drive away tourists . J&K opposition is busy cornering her for her remarks that “she was ashamed as a Muslim” due to these attacks.
But what about the lives of the soldiers lost in the Pampore Attack? How long should they pay for the callousness of the state, where they are not even allowed to fire on murderous mobs who routinely injure policemen and paramilitary soldiers by stoning? We had that horrible situation under the UPA govt where catapults were given to the policemen instead of guns. And during this BJP govt’s tenure too, the army was used during floods in Kashmir to save the same stone pelting crowd because elections were around.
India’s policy with Pakistan is horribly inadequate at least by the value of it. Whether it be returning the 93000 POWs during 1971 war without making actual gains or Kargil war as a gift for Vajpayee’s Lahore bus trip in 1999, or the parliament attack of 2001 , India’s response has not been anywhere to finding a permanent solution. Whatever the soldier wins in the battle, the leaders lose at the table. Pakistan has nothing to offer to India except treachery and terrorism, and yet infuriatingly our leaders indulge in engaging with peace talks and other overtures, only to fall flat in the face.
India has the largest paramilitary in the world, but it has routinely been facing challenges due to lack of good weaponry and facilities. The sub par conditions under which CRPF fights Maoists in red corridor are our shame, where in many cases they are left without basic equipment and even effective training. Central Police Forces have been the unsung heroes of our county, and their role in fighting internal and external threats is hardly acknowledged by the general public or the government. Add to the fact that BSF, CRPF and other Central Police Forces come under the Home Ministry, and are headed by the IPS. It makes bad matters worse. The Indian army is one of the best in the world, but even it is marred by poor equipment.Its shameful for a country that can launch satellites in space and who has ICBMs cannot give its soldiers a decent assault rifle.
Both the Army and the paramilitary face the brunt of bureaucracy blocking clearances for necessary acquisitions or outrightly denying them, be it snowmobiles, or even compensations for the family of slain soldiers. But its interesting to note that politicians and civil servants perks are never found to be unnecessary expense. A country which places the whims of politicians and bureaucrats over necessities of soldiers deserves all the misery it gets.
Agreed that Kashmir terrorism today is a fraction of what it was during 1990s, but under no condition can death of security personnel due to poor equipment be excused.It cannot be denied that there are full fledged efforts to revive terrorism in the valley, with the well established terror groups now bringing in new generation of operational commanders (Pampore attack was orchestrated by Hafeez Saeed’s son in law). If terrorism fails, civil disobedience is their trusted weapon. Would the death and injury been so high if they were provided an armoured vehicle? Is transporting security personnel in vehicles without any bullet proof protection, without a convoy in troubled areas logical? The Home ministry has accepted that there was a serious lapse, intelligence sources had intercepted communications by terrorists planning for an ambush a few hours earlier but the area was unclear. To make the matters worse, CRPF and Army argued over who managed to kill the terrorists.
India was virtually alone in combating the jihad (yes, that’s the proper word, not insurgency) since 1990, after the Soviet Union’s collapse, cornered by China and loaded with sanctions by US, with the mujahideen fighting the Soviet army in 1980s pouring in thousands to Kashmir, backed with Pakistani logistics and US funds (USA used Pakistan to channel weapons to Afghan mujahideen[who later became Taliban], nearly half of which were diverted to Punjab terrorism and later on to Kashmir terrorism by Pakistan, thereby funding a decade and a half long proxy war), while the world did not do much except pay a token of condemning the terror acts.
It remains a fact that in any sane country with competent governance, Punjab and Kashmir terrorism would have been dealt with swiftly. In both Punjab and Kashmir, situations were allowed to deteriorate by vested interests, and in the end it was left to the people and soldiers to die for these follies. But that doesn’t take away anything from bravery of the Indian soldier who has exceeded all expectations to combat terror (speaking of the latest example of Pampore Attack, the injured soldiers in the bus managed to fire more than 90 rounds and prevented the terrorists from doing further damage until backup arrived ), inspite of the apathy and incompetence of the neta babu kleptocracy. But how long can these brave men taken for granted? We have some ‘’leaders’’ who queued up for becoming Ishrat Jahan’s fathers (Her poor mother !) but who couldn’t receive the bodies of dead soldiers on the airport saying “soldiers are meant to die”.
But leave aside the politicians and the news traders, how is the common man in India with regards to all this? The common man, who ‘’bravely’’ calls for war against Pakistan (while never having the courage to stand up to a ruffian) or boycotting Chinese goods (while flooding his house with Chinese made electronics) is little interested in knowing about his country’s army beyond subsidized liquor, or has scant regard for even acknowledging the difficult conditions under which the forces serve. He has zero interest in knowing the difference between a sergeant and a captain or a brigade and corps or infantry and artillery. To find a country where people are as callous to internal & national security like India is nearly impossible (well maybe in the now turned left looney states of Scandinavia, but even they have/had military service). Nowhere in the world probably is the disconnect between the military and civilian as stark as that in India. How many civilians know anything about the ranks of the army, navy or airforce? Or for that matter, the difference between a battalion and a corps? Or leave aside all that, how about any realization how the forces keep us safe?
The Indian citizen’s patriotism starts and ends with waving flag during cricket matches and enthusiasm starts and ends with queuing to watch the latest trash from Bollywood. He will wait for hours to get a glimpse of a film star or a cricket player, sell his vote for cheap rice, vegetables, wifi or some other freebies but will never do anything constructive or have any thought about his duties as a citizen. He should ask himself: – Is he worth fighting for? We are sorry Pampore attack martyrs. We are very sorry.