Whose man is that soldier fighting in Kashmir?
India must be the only country in the world where being an antinational murderer means a person or organization getting invitations for talks with the government. Mir Waiz and Geelani should have been booked months ago and punished for their anti-India activities. They not only instigated Kashmiri youth to attack our patriotic people and soldiers but also vitiated the entire atmosphere in the valley bringing normal life to a halt and using Kashmiri youth as fodder for their Pakistani plots, resulting in so many killings of young boys. The fact of the matter is that the killers in Kashmir are these two pro-Pakistani elements, who would have been taken to task by any government with a spine much earlier than their fangs grew more poisonous. In such a situation, instead of talking tough and straight, the government is not only giving confused signals to ‘soften’ (whatever that means) the Armed Forces Special Powers Act but making gestures to terrorist supporters to come to talk. Talks, always a welcome way to find a solution, can be held or even an indication for a discussion can be sent only when the atmosphere is ripe for it and the other side, offenders in this case, show a willingness to come to terms. I must say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sounded reasonable at the Armed Forces commanders’ meet on September 13 when he said: "The youth of Kashmir are our citizens and their grievances have to be addressed….We are willing to talk to every person or group which abjures violence, within the framework of our Constitution." But is this the time to extend an olive branch?
Have they ever thought what effect these gestures by the government have on the morale of the soldiers?
For whom is the Indian soldier fighting the battle in Kashmir?
It pains me immensely to see how our secular media sirens show their undiluted love for the separatists on TV screens and they go to the streets of Srinagar only to interview the unpatriotic people. When they invite any of the antinational separatists on their shows, they display an utter lack of sensitivity towards those who love their country and give all the space and time to those voices of insanity and violence with a soft, affectionate anchoring you seldom witness when they put on trial any leader showing patriotic leanings. There was hardly a time, except during the Kargil war, when the voices representing the soldiers were given a chance to come to the TV studios or have their say on the editorial pages of the media empires. He is despised, hated and made responsible for all the bad happenings, in a sweeping manner. No one has treid to see the hardened daily routine a soldier is subjected to from 6am to sunset, and after that the night vigil. Anything untoward happens and rogue actors like Salman Khan say meekly to the Pakistan media: Oh, it was the fault of the Indian security personnel. Salman should have been tried for treason. But we have people who lovingly go to his house and try to ‘settle the issue’. These very people and their governors make this day possible when anyone feels free to speak against the soldiers, against the national psyche of patriotism. A soldier is not a daily wage earner like the stone pelters. He is a representative of the nation’s time-honoured traditions. He is nurtured and nourished on a family's "khandaani izzat" - "Mera beta fauji hai". Ask any politician acting as an apologist for the separatist murderers, has he ever thought of sending his child to the forces? A family offers mannats at the feet of their wahe guru over devatas to ensure their son gets selected in the "fauj". He is trained by the best of the warriors at the National Defence Academy or the Indian Military Academy. Some lucky ones get selected early and go through the National Defence School route and see the pictures when they recommissioned - after a thrilling passing out parade in Dehradun. Their caps in the air and their moms and dads hugging them with moist eyes. Years of training and a life of a great Indian patriotic goes waste before the gang of rogue pro-Pakistan elements who have hardly any idea what they are demanding.
Whether he is in the Army or in CRPF, BSF or ITBP, the story is the same. He is there not because he wanted to loot and rape and maim people. He was sent by the Indian government to safeguard the interests of the nation and the Constitution. He is a uniformed gentleman. Those who blow the case of rights violation must be heard definitely. But can an individual's fault be attributed to the olive green or the khaki fraternity of the soldier? I absolutely agree with Manmohan Singh when he says "The youth of Kashmir are our citizens and their grievances have to be addressed". But this should be done through good governance and a mechanism that can win their trust and not through "Srinagar-CM-living-in-Delhi" type Omars who never find time to place a wreath on the body of a soldier martyred in Kashmir.
In fact, the killers of Kashmir are people like Mir Waiz and Geelani. The angst of Kashmir must be directed against them. The soldier would be too happy to go back to his barracks and celebrate Diwali and Eid with family.
In the secular sultanate of Delhi’s power brokers, a soldier is just another babu, another employee to be denied a justifiable demand of "one rank-one pension" by those politicians who raise their salaries 300% in a jiffy. And in the media he is a punching bag. Just read a poem an Indian soldier wrote (saw it on a blog; Ali, perhaps, was his name).
Why do I still serve you?
How you play with us, did you ever see?
At Seven, I had decided what I wanted to be;
I would serve you to the end,
All these boundaries I would defend.
Now you make me look like a fool,
When at seventeen and just out of school;
Went to the place where they made "men out of boys"
Lived a tough life …sacrificed a few joys…
In those days, I would see my "civilian" friends,
Living a life with the fashion trends;
Enjoying their so called "college days"
While I sweated and bled in the sun and haze…
But I never thought twice about what where or why
All I knew was when the time came, I'd be ready to do or die.
At 21 and with my commission in hand,
Under the glory of the parade and the band,
I took the oath to protect you over land, air or sea,
And make the supreme sacrifice when the need came to be.
I stood there with a sense of recognition,
But on that day I never had the premonition,
that when the time came to give me my due,
You'd just say, "What is so great that you do?"
Long back you promised a well-to-do life;
And when I'm away, take care of my wife.
You came and saw the hardships I live through,
And I saw you make a note or two,
And I hoped you would realise the worth of me;
but now I know you'll never be able to see,
Because you only see the glorified life of mine,
Did you see the place where death looms all the time?
Did you meet the man standing guard in the snow?
The name of his newborn he does not know...
Did you meet the man whose father breathed his last?
While the sailor patrolled our seas so vast?
You still know I'll not be the one to raise my voice
I will stand tall and protect you in Punjab Himachal and Thois.
But that's just me you have in the sun and rain,
For now at twenty-four, you make me think again;
About the decision I made, seven years back;
Should I have chosen another life, some other track?
Will I tell my son to follow my lead?
Will I tell my son, you'll get all that you need?
This is the country you will serve
This country will give you all that you deserve?
I heard you tell the world "India is shining"
I told my men, that's a reason for us to be smiling
This is the India you and I will defend!
But tell me how long will you be able to pretend?
You go on promise all that you may,
But it's the souls of your own men you betray.
Did you read how some of our eminent citizens
Write about me and ridicule my very existence?
I ask you to please come and see what I do,
Come and have a look at what I go through
Live my life just for a day
Maybe you'll have something else to say?
I will still risk my life without a sigh
To keep your flag flying high
but today I ask myself a question or two…
Oh India…. Why do I still serve you?