Settling Soldiers

From its own point of view, the government of India’s duty to honour and respect its soldiers, or, in the words of BJP MP Tarun Vijay, to “honour and respect those who shed their blood for the motherland in the Valley” were better served if the Indian state, to use technical terminology, would not go to great lengths to protect and shield armed forces personnel accused of breaching the military’s code of conduct, honour and traditions, and bringing to disrepute the service and sacrifice their colleagues may have rendered. Of some help would also be an institutional, pilfer-proof system of caring for those the anonymous soldier who “sheds his blood for the motherland” leaves behind.

Mr Vijay has perhaps been too distracted, and also unnerved, by the raging One Rank, One Pension demand of the evidently-long-suffering multitudes of ex-servicemen and brought out the sangh parivar’s old prescription of settling soldiers in Kashmir, a remedy that satisfies national honour and avenges a historical grouse at once, and for good measure, answers the BJP’s call for development. The MP must undoubtedly have won his former job as an editor of a political mouthpiece purely on merit – his seniors would not have thought of the development bit.

The blood-misted memories of Kashmir carry faint and wispy traces of a few, very few, young army officers, disturbed by aspects of New Delhi’s anti-insurgency operations in Kashmir finding themselves too mortal on standing up for morals, and their stories, whatever the substance therein, along with those of their terrified families, first muffled and then irrevocably stifled by a media that will not let go for weeks, to the point of tearing every remnant of decency and privacy to shreds, when a teenager (of the feminine gender) is found dead in unexplained circumstances in an urban home. Too high a cost of living, and the ordeal of making it through times fashioned by politicians for nearly seventy years, leaves the masses with little energy and temperament for curiosity into the murky underworld of “operations”  and too tired for the questions of right and wrong they necessarily bring up. Why would news networks want their viewers to switch off and go to sleep in bed? Or realize the difference?

The second time the BJP came to power in India was after the Kargil war. This would be more true with a minor prepositional adjustment with respect to the “after,” but images of flash-floods, earthquakes and deluges since are as vivid as the colourful street dancing breaking out across the land on the occasion with political leaders stealing the soldiers’ thunder.  They did remember the soldiers, mostly the Adarsh way, a process attempted to being repeated with characteristic BJP appeal to patriotism.