Martyrdom of two brave soldiers – Naib Subedar Paramjit Singh of Indian Army and Head Constable Prem Sagar of BSF – who were recently badly mutilated and beheaded by Border Action Force of Pakistan has left the nation aghast. This has not happened for the first time with our soldiers. Earlier also, we have seen such incidents happening and what is worse is that still our political leadership very strongly believes that relations with Pakistan are more important than the human rights of soldiers.
It was our brave soldiers who won the 1971 war against Pakistan. But see what happened! We released 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war but they didn’t release our 54 soldiers, who were tortured mercilessly…
Nothing on earth can be more shocking. It was our brave soldiers who won the 1971 war against Pakistan. But see what happened! We released 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war but they didn’t release our 54 soldiers, who were tortured mercilessly as was testified by none other than the then Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who, after being deposed by Gen Zia ul Haq, was thrown in prison, next to where the Indian soldiers, who were prisoners in custody of Pakistan, were lodged and he wrote that the whole night the Indian prisoners of war were beaten mercilessly and their shriek in pain could be heard continuously. Who was responsible for it? The political leadership of that time! Why politicians care a damn for our soldiers and believe only in paying lip service to them?
Truth be told, there are innumerable such reported and unreported incidents. During Kargil war, we all saw how Captain Saurav Kalia and five soldiers of 4 Jat Regiment were mercilessly tortured not for two days or five days or 10 days or 15 days or 20 days but for full 22 days! They were blinded and their eyes were gouged out by hot iron rods, similarly their ears, nose and other parts too were similarly, mutilated. Not stopping here, their whole body bore signs of cigarette torture and even their private parts were not spared and were cut and put in their mouth!
But for our political leadership, relations with Pakistan were more important and it was decided to not rake up this issue not just in any international forum but also in any bilateral forum, even though the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the then Defence Minister Jaswant Singh promised to Captain Kalia’s parents that they would raise this issue in every forum available with full force. As if this was not enough, a head of an Indian soldier–Bhausaheb Maruti Talekar–was beheaded on February 27, 2000, and the dreaded Al Qaeda terrorist Iliyas Kashmiri, who beheaded him, presented the severed head to the Pakistani invader Gen Pervez Musharraf ,who was quick to immediately hand over Rs 1 lakh to him as cash prize and vowed to keep it as trophy with him and this was reported widely in all English dailies! Pakistani media published the photographs of Iliyas Kashmiri carrying the severed head of Kalekar!
All major political parties were united in treating Gen Musharraf like a royal emperor. Is this the way human rights of soldiers are respected in India?
Truly speaking, even now matters don’t end. Our political leadership decided to accord a red carpet royal reception to Pakistani invader Gen Pervez Musharraf, on whose instructions Talekar was beheaded by Kashmiri, and who masterminded Kargil war, in which we lost more than 600 soldiers as per official figures, even though unofficially the figure is quite higher. All major political parties were united in treating Gen Musharraf like a royal emperor. Is this the way human rights of soldiers are respected in India?
To put things in perspective, we all also know fully well how the Pakistani soldiers in 2013 entered Indian territory and beheaded our brave soldier Hemraj Singh and took away his severed head as trophy and also mutilated the body of another soldier Sudhakar Singh. We also saw how the children and wife and parents of Hemraj kept pleading for the head of Hemraj to see him one last time. Above all, the political leadership yet again decided that relations with Pakistan are more important than soldiers and that would continue uninterrupted.
It is known to all that Pakistan trains, arms and fires at Indian troops to ensure that terrorists safely land inside Indian territory to cause maximum death and destruction all around. We all saw how during Uri attack the terrorists specifically targeted Indian soldiers and killed about 20 of them. Still the political leadership decided that relations with Pakistan would flourish.
We all also saw how after the Pathankot terror attack, in which we lost many of our brave soldiers including a Lieutenant Colonel and a Major, yet Centre decided to again not nuke any kind of relations with Pakistan! Instead, they went ahead and decided to invite the officials of notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to visit the site, where terror attack took place, so that they could inspect and help in solving the dastardly terror attack. No prizes for guessing that the net result was a big zero and Pakistan refused to honour its commitment to invite Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials to Pakistan to interrogate the key suspects!
Mainstream news reporters ran after the alleged stone pelter, Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was tied to the jeep for a media bite, but no one took time to elicit the views of the CRPF jawans who abused and physically attacked a few days earlier…
One pities the security adviser to Centre, who advised them to invite ISI officials! It was our national image that again took the worst beating. But our political establishment is least bothered about all this. Why our political leaders, in spite of being betrayed by Pakistan time and again, keep trusting them blindly? Only they themselves can tell this.
Let the Army do its Duty
After a video showing CRPF jawans on polling duty being abused, kicked and slapped by ‘protesters’ in Kashmir went viral and invited condemnation from across India, worried secular-liberals quickly manufactured a counter to deflect attention. A video, shared by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on Twitter, showed a Kashmiri man tied to the front of a moving army jeep, to prevent stone pelting on the Army convoy.
Although the Indian Army ordered an inquiry soon after, full-fledged attempts are being made to advertise the video as standard modus operandi of the Army. Broken facts are being reported and the scenario is being projected as, the brutality of the Indian Army and the Murder of Democracy.
Mainstream news reporters ran after the alleged stone pelter, Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was tied to the jeep for a media bite, but no one took time to elicit the views of the CRPF jawans who abused and physically attacked a few days earlier, or tried to present the entire picture and the circumstances under which the Army major had to take such a step.
What is a young major of the Indian Army, in-charge of a particular location, supposed to do when a large mob is after the life of the election officials, ITBP jawans, policemen and Indian army personnel? He had two options to save the life of his colleagues: either open fire on the mob which would have resulted in a bloodbath or to come out with some innovative technique to forestall the loss of lives on both sides.
Maj Gogoi seized the stone pelter used him as hostage to get safe passage for his column. The Israelis do it routinely. Why can’t we do it?
It is now clear that the video was filmed when polling officers faced a mob of stone-pelters. Nine ITBP and J&K state policemen who were guarding the polling booth were badly outnumbered in front of a blood-thirsty mob and hence they sent an SoS to the Army.
An Army Quick Reaction Team was called in to help the group. While interacting with the media last week, Major Leetul Gogoi had defended his action on 9 April while adding that Dar was tied to the jeep as he could have been the ringleader of many stone-pelters.
The army officer finally broke his silence over the incident when fresh controversy erupted after Gogoi was honoured last week of May with the Army Chief’s commendation card for “his sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations”.
Narrating the circumstances leading to the controversial decision, Gogoi said that about 1,200 stone-pelters had surrounded a small group of security personnel at a polling booth in Utligam village of Budgam district on 9 April and if he had ordered firing, there could have been at-least 12 casualties.
The mob, which included women and children, was threatening to set ablaze the polling booth, he had said.
Gogoi said that he (and five other army personnel) had gone to that polling booth after a “distress call” about a small group of ITBP personnel and few members of the polling staff being surrounded by a big crowd of about 1200 stone-pelters.
He said that when he reached Bandipora, the crowd had already started pelting stones. He said that despite repeated requests on his megaphone, the crowd, comprising several women and children refused to budge. As the stone-pelting increased, Gogoi ordered his men to take hold of Dar, the man who seemed to be instigating the attacks.
“This thing I have done only to save the local people (sic). Had I fired, there would have been more than 12 casualties… With this idea, I have saved many peoples’ lives,” Gogoi told reporters at the Beerwah camp in Budgam district.
In recent years, 1000s of security personnel have been wounded in murderous attacks by ‘stone pelters’…
The Major of the Indian Army who was in-charge of the situation has started getting support from many corners. General GD Bakshi (retd.) said that the army officer responsible saved lives on both sides. He wrote on a social network site “They are screaming for the scalp of that young Major Gogoi who tied a stone pelter on his jeep. I think in retrospect that the boy did some out-of-the-box thinking and saved lives on both sides. The standard military solution would have been to shoot the pelters dead. He was authorised to but for some reason our boys seem hesitant to shoot- what with this constant Human rights tamasha. An operation is judged by its end results. He was able to rescue the ITBP boys who were surrounded by a blood thirsty mob.
He seized the stone pelter used him as hostage to get safe passage for his column. The Israelis do it routinely. Why can’t we do it? This way no military or civilian personnel was killed. You can always apprehend a stone pelter for interrogation about his links and take him to your post.”
But the question arises here that can forces control spiraling violence in Kashmir with hands tied behind backs? Eight people died and nearly 100 were injured in unprecedented violence during the recently held Srinagar by-polls held in the shadow of threats and a boycott call by separatists. Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs were damaged and burnt and the voters’ turnout was the worst in 30 years. In recent years, 1000s of security personnel have been wounded in murderous attacks by ‘stone pelters’ – these are radicalized youth, funded by Pakistan, who are organized via social media (WhatsApp groups etc.) to quickly assemble in areas where counter-terror operations are going on, and attack security forces to help terrorists escape.