Sleep in Peace; We are on the Borders

Sleep in Peace; We are on the Borders

A fauji’s Daughter I am an officer posted on the line of control. Yesterday was Sunday, and also Dussehra. Got to know it only from the newspapers that are spread before me- a day late by the time they reach my post. The nice part is that I receive a whole bundle after they have been pored over in the headquarters. We went out on an ambush last night. There was information that an infiltration attempt could be made through our area. I have been receiving the same information daily since the last six months. Hopefully we will have a fire fight tonight. Seven of us slipped out of our post, 300 m from the line of control, after last light. A half hour walk and we deployed in two groups. The weather gods were not happy (maybe because I didn’t know Navratras had begun). Light rain and mist descended and visibility was down to three metres. We try and peer through the white haze till the eyes hurt. I hear a soft snore on my left and give a hard nudge. Tomorrow, over a hot cup of tea after we return to the post, we will laugh and tease him. It’s midnight, cold and miserable. I flex my index finger to make sure it slips into the trigger guard in time to shoot the terrorist who might suddenly appear three steps from me. Suddenly, the chatter of machine guns jolts us out of complacency. It is followed by the soft ‘thump, thump’ of mortars ejecting their bombs. I am glad for the distraction, as the whole ambush is now fully alert. We wait for the mortar bombs to fall. Shit… they seem to be falling on my post. There are mixed feelings running through me. I am safe, but what about my soldiers on the post. The firing grows in intensity- rocket launchers and mortars open up from our side. It’s frustrating because we can’t see anything. I briefly think of returning to the post but have a job to do tonight, and there are good soldiers back on the post. We return in the morning and thankfully all is well. One splinter injury-flesh wound only,...

Politics on Tosa Maidan

Mushtaq Wani Showing anger and coming out hammer and tongs against the government proposal of extending the lease of Toasmaidan meadow to army, the eighty plus diehard Separatist, Syed Ali Shah Geelani has forgotten that Kashmir is not the personal fiefdom or Jagir of anybody. The government is right in extending the lease of the meadow in favour of the army which is using the strategically located area for many purposes. Toasmaidan is very crucial because in 1965, Pakistani Razakars (Volunteers) along with their army men sneaked into this sector to unleash the diabolical plans of Operation Gibraltar. Falling in the Gulmarg sector, the meadow is only hours away from the capital city of Srinagar. Reason why army has made some portion of the meadow, crucial base to disallow any Pakistani designs aimed at threatening the security of Kashmir valley. Geelani is peeved at the prospect of extending the lease because it will mean in simple terms denial of free movement to his Pakistani infiltrators. Perhaps the avowed hardliner has taken a liking for the new avatar of 1965 Razakars. Today they have transformed into Mujahideen. Soon after Razakars were first pointed out and then arrested one by one, Geelani became MLA from Sopore constituency. He will never resent his being ex-MLA because he gets a good pension for being so. Although spewing fire and brimstone against India and its secular policies, he has never declined to accept the pension for being a former MLA, under Indian political dispensation.  Having said so, the Mujahideen love in Geelani’s frail heart is so intense that he would go to any extent of inviting them in the valley. Eventually, the Kashmir invitation by Geelani and other separatist proved too mouth watering for the restive, lawless tribes of Afridis, Alakjzais and Mehshuds, that they came rolling headlong all through the long years of Pak sponsored proxy war in the valley. Kashmiri boys in Pakistani camps were willing tools in their evil designs. Geelani and other separatists named them Mehmaans (worthy guests). A lively Wanwun (Traditional Kashmiri welcome song) welcomed them in, followed by a sumptuous Kashmiri Wazwan in which cattle were slaughtered though hesitantly to show the Mehmaans...

The Onset of a War!

The Onset of a War!

Nikita Mandhani The world might come down to another interlude of a battle. We are not talking about coarse assumptions and unreasonable possibilities. We are talking about attacks, nuclear power, intimidation, massive killings, devastation and an immeasurable pain. We are talking about the impending war between Iran and Israel which could procreate a new ‘Hiroshima and Nagasaki’. This war has the potential to slay millions of people and tear down entire cities and towns. This war might change the way you and I look at the world. Aftermath of the Hiroshima Bombing (Source: R7 Noticias) Let me tell you the story of Iran, Israel and their severed connection in a simple way. The two countries have not always abhorred each other; in fact Israel supported Iran in their war with Iraq in the 1980s. The two nations upheld close ties and a bond of camaraderie for many years. Nonetheless, things changed in the last decade due to the rise of fundamentalist leaders and the combat to ascent to power in the Middle East. Iran backs Palestine which is constantly on war with Israel. In a number of conflicts, Iran offered ammunition, training, finance and other significant means of aid to Hamas and Hezbollah (Organizations committed to the destruction of Israel). Furthermore, the United States is on Israel’s side because they deem Iran to be a propagator of violence and bloodshed. Iran has several nuclear plants where its nuclear program is evolving and they claim to utilize the armaments for peace purposes. Israel is totally in opposition to Iran’s nuclear activities and hence in the last few years they have evidently murdered some of the best Iranian scientists involved in this nuclear program. Accordingly, the gist of the story says that Israel has time and again threatened Iran to discontinue its nuclear activities lest it will propagate a massive attack on the country. Iran considers Israel as a cancerous tumour that needs to be eradicated from the world and they assent to fight back all these caveats. I agree that the conflicts have been going on for many years now, then why are people anticipating a nuclear war before long? Quite a few reports emphasize that Israel intelligence is convinced that Iran will perhaps have...

The Gas That Stirred the World!

The Gas That Stirred the World!

Nikita Mandhani Two years back, as a consequence of the Arab uprising and the Jasmine revolution, the citizens of Syria stood against the authoritarian government and protested for their civil rights and a broader sense of freedom. Today, two years later, more than 100,000 people have died and about 2 million have fled the country to find a shelter in the refugee camps positioned in the bordering nations of Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. That’s how lives change when you stand for what you believe in, when you yearn to struggle against an autocratic rule and when you make efforts to set your government right. The history of Syria has perpetually been troubled and this Sunni-Muslim majority region has been ruled by the Alawite sect for more than four decades when Hafez-al-Assad, the then dictator and Bashar’s father, took to office in 1970. Syria’s tale always enraptured me and in the first year of this tussle, I followed the movements conscientiously. I would read about the refugees, the camps, the rebels, the government forces, the President Bashar-al-Assad and his extravagant, contemporary spouse Asma. Syria intrigued me; it took me in the interiors of its story; it made me a part of its revolt, though remotely. However, the atrocious butchery, the assaults, the affliction didn’t stop. In due course, I got jaded with my fixation for this uprising. I sort of moved on to read about other things, other political movements, riots and conflicts. Then again, just a few days back, I was compelled to look back upon Syria and it broke my heart, once more. On 21st August, 2013, about 1429 people passed away supposedly because of a chemical attack which was instigated by their dictator and his forces against their own populace. Many researchers assert that the deaths and injuries were the effect of the ‘Sarin’ gas which is intense and venomous enough to take thousands of lives in a go. The President of US, Barrack Obama, and the Secretary of State, John Kerry, detested the act and declared that Assad had crossed the red line. They said that the US would impose a military strike in Syria and Assad would be castigated. All through this phase of affirmations and...

Waiting for the Dawn

Reprinted with Permission of Subhalakshmi Gogoi A swollen river. A ramshackle boat. A frail boatman. Dare to cross the river? The wise will call it foolhardy. But, for the villagers of Phaneng, a hamlet situated in the easternmost corner of Assam and 124 kms away from Dibrugarh, this river is a part of their daily routine. The only way to reach the National Highway-37 is by crossing the Tirap river. The ferocity of the river in monsoons does not daunt them, as they have no other choice. Cocooned in verdant greenery, Phaneng stands unspoiled and pristine on the banks of the river Tirap. The Buddha Vihara that stands at the entrance of the village gives a touch of spirituality to the serenity, which reigns the place. Most of the houses stand on stilts. Almost every house has huge gardens of areca nuts, palms, fruit trees and bamboos. Every household seems self-sufficient. The peace that reigns in the village is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the city life. They are blessedly untouched by the madness of today’s modern world. The story behind how the village got its name makes an interesting history. When the first person, Aiong Khow Pomung came to settle in a place from Pomung, nine miles north of Margherita in 1950, the Tirap river could be seen from afar flowing down the Dehing-Patkai. The river water appeared like a red wall, red because of the mud that it carries during monsoons. So, the village came to be known as ‘Pha-neng’, ‘pha’ meaning ‘sharp incline’ and ‘neng’ meaning ‘red’. Thus, the name means an ‘inclined red wall’ in Tai-Phake. The silence that prevails over the place, and which is broken by the cries of birds and animals only, hides in its fold many problems. The people of Phaneng do not enjoy the basic amenities, which their counterparts in the city do, like electricity, water supply, education, health and proper communication. The village has a population of around 175 families, out of which 23 belong to the Tai-Phake community, and the others are a composition of Ahoms, Kacharis and Nepalis. A well, near Buddha Vihar, is the only source of...

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