Medicine is bitter

“The fallen jawans (soldiers) in Kashmir don’t need anyone’s lip sympathy. They only need the commitment of their countrymen and the leaders. The fallen soldiers are martyrs. As such, after falling in the line of duty, they have justified their existence. They have died for their country. Can their fellow countrymen and the leaders also justify their own existence?

A serious introspection is necessary by all stakeholders to prevent recurrences of this recent heinous and barbaric terrorist act. Why did it happen? Can it happen again? What will prevent it from any recurrence?

India must stay very careful. Now that a truce has recently been declared between the Afghan Mujahedeen and the Americans, Kashmir may witness a sharp hike in similar deadly Afghan-style terrorist attacks on the security personal and the defence installations in Kashmir and the rest of India. History may repeat itself; what led to the militancy in 1989-90 may be raising its head once again.

Before more soldiers are murdered by the terrorists in repeats of similar barbaric acts of terrorism, it is time that the following questions are quickly answered by the stakeholders and, in particular, by the people who were / are responsible for their safe transfer to their new places of posting in Kashmir:

  • Who is responsible for their martyrdom?
  • Who is to be blamed?
  • Who should be taken to task?

If your answer to the above questions is ‘the terrorists’, then think again, deeply. You are misled, or being misled and, therefore, unable to see the true picture. The 22-year old terrorist responsible for the car-bomb blast successfully carried out what he was trained and committed to do on behalf of his terrorist organisation sitting across the Line of Control. But the Indian security agencies that were meant to deter his act and ensure the safe transportation of their troops did obviously not fulfil their commitment; they let down the troops who had trusted in them.

Medicine is bitter, so is the truth! In order to solve a problem, one must first understand and accept the cause of the problem. Problems must not be brushed under the carpet; they must be faced and tackled head-on, with a good and genuine intent, followed by a timely and prudent action. Half-hearted and half-baked solutions only exacerbate the problems. Figuratively, the misuse or under-dose of an antibiotic makes the bug resistant to the drug. The ostrich attitude has never helped anyone. The bull must be held by its horns. Problems don’t solve all by themselves, they get compounded with time if left unaddressed. Waiting games never pay off, they return with a deadly sting.

The fallen soldiers were undoubtedly betrayed. Whose responsibility was it to ensure their safe transportation? The soldiers must have surely relied on their colleagues serving in allied branches of the security for their safe transportation in an area that is known for a guerrilla style warfare. Someone surely did not do his / her job properly, which cost the martyred soldiers their lives. Either someone was careless / incompetent or simply compromised.

Soldiers stand tall and proud in doing their selfless duty towards their nation. In their pride, they prefer to achieve martyrdom but only when they are fighting their enemy bravely in a gun battle, as they are trained to fight. However, soldiers are not trained and expected to fight their enemy while they are being transported in a bus to their new place of posting.

Crying alone does not help; effective and timely actions matter. Offering lip sympathies are a fashion in this day and age of materialism. But how many sympathisers have lost sleep? How many fasted? How many visited the scene of the crime? How many visited the aggrieved families of the victims? It is very easy to verbally condemn a terrorist action or an aggressor, but who really pays any attention to the condemnation? Do terrorists really care? Are they afraid of such condemnations?

Most importantly, leaders must not Tweet condemnations, they must ACT first and then Tweet their announcement that an appropriate action has been already undertaken. Tweeting alone – without first taking an immediate punitive / preventive action – has the potential to embolden the aggressors. How many times will such condemnations be repeated? What is new in it? The repeated Tweeted messages lose their effect when they are played over and over again after repeat incidents.

It is worth reading the following excerpts from a post, dated 15 February 2019, in the Economist – Asia, titled, ‘The beginning of a spiral’:

“A HUGE CAR bomb struck a convoy of paramilitary police in Indian-administered Kashmir on February 14th, killing at least 40 paramilitary police. The suicide attack, claimed by a Pakistan-based Islamist terror group, was the deadliest single blow to Indian security forces … India’s Prime Minister has promised a “jaw-breaking response” … Indian officials were quick to underline Pakistan’s links to Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), the group that claimed responsibility for the attack …

Estimates put the size of the bomb at a hefty 350 kg, enough to leave nothing except tangled undercarriages of the SUV carrying the device and its objective, a bus that was part of a lumbering 78-vehicle military convoy ferrying some 2,500 conscripts from the Central Reserve Police Force. The bomber was identified in a video as a 22-year-old youth from a nearby village …

Although initial responses in India have focused on grief for the fallen and anger with Pakistan, some have pointed to intelligence lapses, as well as policy choices that have failed to address the underlying problems of Kashmir.

Violence has ebbed and flowed in the densely populated Kashmir Valley … By 2012, the number of people killed each year had fallen from more than 4,000 at its peak to below 150 …

The annual number of “terror-related incidents” in the state rose by 177% between 2014 and 2018, according to police statistics. The death toll of security forces increased by 94%, to 91 last year. Perhaps more tellingly, police estimates of the number of active insurgents in the area have also risen, despite the killing of more than 800 of them over the past five years, and despite the fact that infiltration from Pakistan has slowed …

Wiser heads would argue that winning hearts and minds in Kashmir is just as important as getting tough with Pakistan. But the vast majority of Indians have little time for nuance just now.”

But, is anyone listening?’… Bill K Koul

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