Nation fails its soldiers – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Nation fails its soldiers – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

The Saurabh Kalia case has, for the nth time, underlined the ineptitude and callousness of the political class in matters related to defence, national pride, and soldiers’ sentiments. Once again, a disturbing thought comes to the mind: ours is a country which aspires to become a global power—and is unable to get justice for the men who lay down their lives for it. Lt Kalia, along with his five comrades—Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram, and Naresh Singh—from the Jat Regiment, was captured before the Kargil War in June 1999. All of them were inhumanly tortured for 22 days. Kalia’s parents told Hill Post that the “Pak Army indulged in the most dastardly acts of burning bodies with cigarettes, piercing ears with hot iron rods, removing eyes before puncturing them, breaking most of the bones and teeth, chopping off various limbs and private organs of these soldiers, besides inflicting unimaginable physical and mental tortures.” After the torture, the six soldiers were shot dead. Then they handed over the mutilated bodies of the fallen men to the Indian Army. The action of Pakistan Army was a clear violation of the Geneva Convention and all norms of modern warfare. But what did our great leaders do? Well, apart from making sanctimonious statements, nothing. The then foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, though himself an ex-soldier, just made a few bombastic remarks, but did not pursue the case of tortured Indian soldiers. This was despite the fact that he was a powerful minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government. Nor did anybody else in the supposedly nationalist party do anything for the cause of the murdered soldiers. On its part, Pakistan flatly denied any wrongdoing by its army at that time, and has steadfastly maintained that line since then. This, when the proof of torture is undeniable. Consider what Sourabh Kalia’s brother, Vaibhav told a reporter. Vaibha “identified his body when it arrived in a coffin wrapped in the national flag in Palampur. Saurabh’s face, he recalls, ‘was the size of my fingers, his eyebrows were the only visible feature, no eyes, no jaw, there were cigarette burns… it was very bad. My parents couldn’t have seen...

The Longest Sixty Hours of The Mumbai Mayhem – Col N N Bhatia (Retd)

The Longest Sixty Hours of The Mumbai Mayhem – Col N N Bhatia (Retd)

Misfortunes enter when a window is left open to them. -A Czechoslovakian proverb. When heaven sends down calamities there is a hope of weathering them, but when man brings them upon himself there is no hope of escape. – A Chinese saying. At about 0800 hrs on 29 Nov 2008 after 60 long frightening and uncertain hours of the ‘ fidayeen attacks‘ on Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, the National Security Guards (NSG) commandos victoriously embraced each other with a faint smile playing on their faces while the DG NSG on the electronic media stated that the Taj Mahal Hotel was clear of the terrorists and sanitization operations were being carried out in the premises. Needless to say, the whole nation anxiously remained glued to their TV sets for hours together and had a sigh of relief with pride and jubilation  Almost at the same time my mobile blinked and I had the sms I was waiting for from Brig Bobby Mathews, Commander Mumbai Sub Area who was in thick of operations saying dutifully typically in army lingo ‘Operation over. All OK. Regards – Bobby’. Bobby was my Adjutant when our Battalion 2 KUMAON (Berar) was deployed in Ahmedabad riots in 1954. Notwithstanding the brave and committed effort put up by the local police, the armed forces, especially the NSG and the Marine commandos, the appreciation of the magnitude and handling of the crisis by the political masters and bureaucracy both at the Centre and the State levels were inept with uncoordinated knee jerk responses as if routine localized tragedy had occurred. It is felt our response lacked the leadership qualities of the type exhibited by the Mayor of the New York when twin towers were struck on 9/11.Our responses in spite of the repeated terrorist attacks and disasters suffers from ‘routine chalta hai’ syndrome  and  need to be handled in more professional maturity and proactive way.  Sadly it was again often repeated intelligence failure as we refuse to learn from our past mistakes or else ‘why and how’ could with unprecedented stealth, sweep and speed, the terrorists attacked 10 different locations and then moved into three iconic buildings – the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Hotel Trident-Oberoi and the Nariman House of...

Love Us or Leave Us – Waheed ur Rehman

Love Us or Leave Us – Waheed ur Rehman

Union Minister Kapil Sibal’s Path Breaking Interaction with Kashmiri Youth It was a historic day for Kashmir in general and Pulwama in particular when on 23rd of October 2012, Union Cabinet Minister Shri Kapil Sibal interacted with Kashmiri youth–a large number being students and teachers– and talked to them on  “The New Education Policy of India: What it  Means for Kashmir”. We Kashmiris consider the occasion historic for the following reasons: 1. Central ministers have thus far visited Kashmir only at the instance of Central or State government. Consequently, they address mostly sanitised sarkari functions.They do not venture out of carefully sanitised venues in Srinagar nor engage openly with the people. But Mr Sibal was hosted in South Kashmir which has been dubbed as a citadel of militancy in the Valley. And yet he was given a rousing welcome.  This was perhaps the first time that a Central Minister accepted an invitation from a civil society organization—namely Kashmir Private Unaided Colleges Association (KPUCA) and was hosted in the campus of a private educational isntitution– KCEF College in South Kashmir. This created unprecedented enthusiasm in the Valley. Kashmiris have always felt aggrieved by the fact that while people in India keep chanting that Kashmir is an integral part of India, neither people in the government nor civil society organizations ever include Kashmiris in dialogues and discussions on national policies. This was the first time a central minister came to discuss directly with the people of Kashmir, important progressive aspects of the new educational policy being set into motion by Mr. Sibal in his role as HRD Minister in the rest of the country, while Kashmir’s educational policy remains trapped under the most vicious statist controls which are threatening not just the health but the very existence of private colleges and even private schools in Kashmir. 2. During the present regime whenever a Central Minister or high functionary of the central government visits Kashmir, the state government deliberately prevents direct contact with people by carefully screening people who are to attend the meetings addressed by the dignitary. Curfew like conditions are imposed, causing further alienation. Despite all such neurotic precautions, people manage to vent their anger...

Don’t blow them away – Priti Jain

Don’t blow them away – Priti Jain

Let’s just take two minutes of our lives and think about the recent happenings, political happenings of course. The newspapers are either filled with the poor trajectory of the Indian economy accompanied with a latent reassurance by the Prime Minister or a laggard corruption investigation. Now think harder and trace back the instigators of these investigations. You’ll never find a political opposition in the forefront of any of the disclosures. It’s always either an activist, retired public officer or you and me who go all the way to unearth a scam. The only job left of the opposition is to reiterate their claims or dismiss them altogether. Their unscrupulous political stands never ceased to surprise us and have always managed to keep us in a permanent limbo.  But even though the bigger scams made it to the front pages, somewhere down the line things were still amiss. What about Satyendra Dubey, Shehla Masood, Vijay Pandhare, S. Manjunath, Vijay Bahadur Singh or Narendra Kumar, what have they done? These are the unsung heroes who either lost their lives or livelihood in the process of ferreting the discrepancies in the management. Were they just performing their duties in doing the right thing or getting too meddlesome, disrupting the state of affairs. They were the whistleblowers who cared to step up and bring forth the maligning elements in our society and demand justice on our behalves. They made the perpetrators restless; they made the wrongdoers nervous, made the offenders agitated and flustered the lives out of them. They did what the authorities should’ve done in the very beginning and rid the system off them. The death of Satyendra Dubey, the man behind the exposure of National Highway misappropriation scam in 2003 surprisingly woke the law makers from their deep slumbers and triggered the need for a law protecting the whistleblowers’ interest. This led to the formation of a resolution in 2004 with effect from 2006. But an act supported by the parliament is still in order. The passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha in 2011 and the pending response by the other house stagnated by the parliament logjam is awaiting a nod. When implemented, it...

Understanding the Assassination Bid on Malala and Underlying Perspectives – Adfar Shah

Understanding the Assassination Bid on Malala and Underlying Perspectives – Adfar Shah

After Ahmad Wali Karzai and Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination in the high profile diplomatic green zone of Kabul, the little Swat girl, Malala was targeted for her social activism. While Karzai’s or Rabbani’s murder was a clever tactic of the suspected groups like Taliban; perhaps to negate or turn down the peace keeping measures or any interlocution with the current Afghan government, the brutal attack on the fifteen year old Malala by the infamous TIP (Taliban in Pakistan) was outrageous and shocking. Its aim was to drive fear in the hearts of Pakistan’s liberal component of the society. Taliban’s reasons for such an act and their perspective or ideology of looking at activists like Malala aside, the appalling rather terrifying saga of the failures of the security system in both the vulnerable South Asian States (Pakistan and Afghanistan) ia a telling blow to reconciliation efforts.The state of security apparatus of these nations is such that anyone can shoot at will and run away and there is a growing uncertainty which seems to have no end. While understanding Malala Tragedy, we must not narrow down the assault on Malala merely as the narrative of violence against women or paint it simply as gendered, Speaking from the prism of political sociology, such an assault reflects the impunity with which  a nation is held to ransom by small numbers (the gun wielders). In such a context of unaccounted violence where the State’s regulatory and security apparatus has virtually breathed its last a long time ago, the gap between the value of humanity and the institution of power and informal social control has widened manifold. The assault on Malala must also not be merely mistook as the installation of militant Islam what is so nonsensically believed generally and also not the tussle between the secular and the religious (Ummah vs Secular nationalism). This needs to be looked at purely for the repercussions and ramifications of the Pakistan’s criminal ignorance of the frontiers in all the developmental, security, institutional and management aspects. The secessionist, terrorist and social disharmony tendencies have mainly grown out of the unequal development resulting in acute poverty, unemployment, lack of resources, poor health care and no...

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