Hardly had this conundrum died down, an army major tied a stone pelter to his vehicle, not in the Israeli tradition of vengeance, but in pure self-preservation.
Howls of protests erupted. The Geneva Conventions were flaunted and human rights quoted, chapter and verse. The same self-serving liberal-left went into an assault overdrive. Major Gogoi replaced Gautam Gambhir as the punching bag.
All these reactions are little more than synthetically manufactured fraud. So are the concerns about violation of Geneva Conventions. Major Gogoi did not, one fine day, get up and say, “Hey, today is the 9th of April and there is no better day to tie up a stone pelter to my vehicle”.
Let us review what happened. Polling officials, ITBP jawans and a small team of J&K Police was surrounded by an estimated mob of 900 odd stone pelters, some of them with Molotov cocktails. They had taken up positions on the streets and rooftops. Hopelessly outnumbered, the ITBP jawans sent out an SOS to the local senior army official, who without delay dispatched a Quick Reaction Team (QRT), led by Major Gogoi. Since “quick” is the operative word, QRTs are small in size. The officer reached the site and did an on-ground assessment. Heavily outnumbered and with no back up, he had two choices – shoot his way out, which would have resulted in a large number of deaths or try something so surprising and unique that a window of opportunity would present itself, so that those surrounded could be safely extricated. He chose the latter, simply because he wanted to avoid killing people.
The young major saved lives of those he had been sent to protect, no civilians were harmed and the mission was successful. I fail to understand what the fuss is about! Optics? Is that what is troubling people? Would they rather have had dead bodies? Those who have criticized this action have not said what Major Gogoi could have done, or should have done, given the circumstances. I have served in J&K. Charm does not work.
Some people have said that the lasting image of the Kashmir conflict will be the man tied to the vehicle. Why? Why not the slapping and humiliation of the CRPF soldier? To me, and to hundreds of millions of Indian, that is the lasting image; of a soldier whose hands were tied by orders, who in spite of having a weapon, did not have the freedom of action to save the honor of his uniform.
It’s easy to find fault with others when you are sitting in Delhi Gymkhana, sipping malt or in a newsroom, lord of all your survey. It’s quite another matter when you are the mission leader of a QRT who has been sent to save soldiers and civilians who are minutes away from being lynched by a “peaceful” mob of 900. The Indian Army is full of hard choices. That’s just the way it is.
For all the left-leaning liberals and Lutyens Delhi journalists lamenting the demise of democracy with respect to the army’s action, I say; the Indian Army is the last argument of the state. When you deploy the army, know this…nothing follows after it. You would do well not to second-guess the army.
Left-liberal journalism has caused more harm to India’s interests in Kashmir then the entire might of the Hurriyat. They question the motives of a young officer surrounded by certain death, who did his best to save the people he was sent to protect, and did so without inflicting collateral damage. These same journalists have nothing to say for the CRPF jawan who was slapped, kicked and punched, except that the soldier displayed “tremendous patience and professionalism”. Patience and professionalism? Is that what you thought the soldier was displaying? What I saw was humiliation of the uniform, and a soldier unable to respond because he was alone with his buddy and the stone pelters were many; a response would have lead to a bloodbath. What I saw was the state failing the soldier.
Those Kashmiri separatist youth did not just insult the soldier and his uniform. They insulted India.
Geneva Conventions were violated when Pakistanis cut off the head of Lance Nk Hemraj and Sepoy Mandeep Singh. Geneva Conventions were violated when Pakistan invaded Kargil and 527 Indian brave-hearts were martyred. The J&K Police’s Director General’s office recently initiated a circular asking policemen belonging to South Kashmir not to go home because it was not safe, is a violation of human rights of the policeman. Pakistan Army denies consular access to Kulbhushan Jhadav for perhaps the fifteenth time. On 16 April, Imtiaz Ahmed Khan was shot dead by unidentified persons in Pinjora Shopian, J&K. He was a lawyer and a social activist, and the cousin brother of a close friend.
This happens all the time and its news as usual; nothing personal about it. Viewers, we will now take a 2-minute commercial break. Don’t go away. Stay with us. That’s it?
It is because of left-liberal intelligentsia and journalists that we have come to such a passé; their writing, opinions and thoughts give impetus to those who would destroy India. What the enemy is not able to do from outside, they are doing from inside. They are opening the gates of the citadel from within.
There is a strange sense of entitlement, of knowing with absolute certainty that what they write and speak is the only truth and they deserve to be put on a pedestal because of that supposed truth. Like the gods of the Roman pantheon, they look down upon the hoi polloi, dripping hubris.
And then there is the soldier. Any patch of even ground is a bed and even cold food is eaten gratefully. He doesn’t ask for much. And we expect him to die for us.
Other countries armies & forces have just the enemy to contend with. They are supported and feted. They are applauded. It is only in India where the soldier not only fights the enemy, but also the politician, the separatist, the journalist, the leftist and an assortment of opinions. He has no support, no back up.
TV anchors will mouth platitudes about “human rights violations” and show the clip of the Kashmiri stone pelter tied to Major Gogoi’s vehicle. Relevant copies of the Geneva Conventions will be flashed on your screens. But no one will offer a solution. Surrounded by a murderous mob of 900, what options did the officer have? No one will address this question satisfactorily, because no one can. To answer this question, you should have gone through similar experiences.
But the wheel is turning a full circle. Social media has a mind of its own, and people have opinions. No longer can a media house dictate what you should think. That monopoly has been broken. It takes less than three minutes to record a video and Tweet it. If the content is right, it will go viral. Like the very recent video of Indian Army troops being applauded and feted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. It was not news for the mainstream media. It became news because it suddenly snowballed into something humongous.
Indians have always respected the soldier. But now we see aggressive manifestations of it. When the CRPF jawan was humiliated, a young man sent a message to me, a message of rage and helplessness. He said, “When I saw those thugs slapping the soldier, I felt as if someone was slapping my father. I felt so helpless and angry”.
The pillars of the left-liberal narrative are crashing down, and in their place we see an assertive India. We see an India that has for too long been kept in intellectual and cultural subjugation, shaking off the dust from its back. A new narrative is taking shape, with India as its core. Tribals from far away Madhya Pradesh, with generations of expertise of using sling-shots to hunt, are volunteering to go to Kashmir and fight stone with stone.
The young are now asking questions; in the seminar halls and on the road. They demand to know why the soldier is being humiliated.
And this is what Indians are telling the soldier…
We are not ungrateful. We respect and acknowledge your sacrifices. You are our brother and your blood is our blood. We may not wear the uniform, but our love for the motherland is no less. We will stand together, fight together and when the time comes, die together.
The left liberal intelligentsia is not just hopelessly wrong. It is also hopelessly outnumbered, outflanked and outdated.
Their time is up. It’s just that they don’t know it yet.
By Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)