LT COL NOEL ELLIS | 30 JULY, 2019
Post Kargil - Do We Take War Seriously?
Last few days I have seen many programmes on Kargil. Bravery and valour was the central theme. India’s territorial integrity was preserved by this man in uniform. Most returned after 20 years as veterans, to recall the triumph with a sense of satisfaction for what they did for the country. Above all, to be alive to share their story.
There would be so many who assaulted those icy heights but now are just a tombstone at Kargil. Every man who went up was a Param Vir Chakra, it was unfortunate that many were shot before they even pulled their triggers. Let me assure you none of them were less dauntless.
Do we take war seriously? I am not sure whether politicians can make out head or tail of war. Armed Forces are just an ‘expenditure’ in budget speech. They take this man for granted as he would always deliver as the last bastion. They ‘sing praises’ but pay ‘lip service’ to those who fought wars. This man wounded from within due to flawed policies still smiles and stands proud.
Normal, healthy people were turned into midgets, with nothing left below the knee, standing with pride. He would go back, this time, not to lose a body part but to chop off the enemy into unrecognisable parts. He is an inspiration even with pieces of shrapnel in his body twenty years on.
Here you have a person who covered himself with dead bodies, when his legs were blown off during assault, his arm sliced off due to enemy shelling, still smiling. He may just have got a ‘wound medal’ or he may have a hospital record to say his legs and hands were amputated but he would not find anyone from the political fraternity even knowing his name.
I read journalists’ accounts in bunkers who met those PVC winners before they perished. News rooms also made a tamasha by calling widows and parents of martyrs, who in these 20 years reconciled but are still asked how did it feel when news that your son/husband is no more was given to you. Disgusting!
All those who perished have gone, all those who are maimed are a body part less. Digging out their letters, reading them, hurt more. Countrymen would watch a documentary, clap their hands, listen to a mantriji’s ‘bhashan’. War is the last thing anyone wants but war should not affect normal people. Faujis are used to it.
Are we prepared for war, is the moot question? Or are we expecting that every time the country will be bailed out by the Armed Forces, who fight with ‘whatever they have’. Crores can be spent on wooing politicians to form a government in Karnataka but who cares when the fauji says he is short of a ship or a squadron of air crafts or a few dozen tanks. Priorities are cock-eyed. War can be imposed on us from many fronts but what are we doing about it? Reports of war committees are not there to bite dust Mr Politician.
One day if you have 500 parliamentarians less, what will happen. There would be a horde to fill those vacancies. This country won’t cease to function though? You reduce one division worth of troops from the western sector, the country will know the consequences within twenty-four hours. Once withdrawn it may never be replaced.
Since last week, it is the forces who are out in the floods rescuing citizens. The silent worker doesn’t complain. This man will still risk his life, push his equipment to the limit, share his water and food with all those who he rescues without batting an eyelid. On the other hand, politicians are seen being baby carried, to cross two feet of water. Same man will stand in parliament and question the very man who carried him in his lap.
One bullet fired in the parliament premises, is taken as an attack on India. Pakistan catches us unawares and takes Kargil, we react with utmost caution. Forces keep waiting for orders to ensure Pakistan pays for its misadventure. Orders to cross the border are never given.
Soon, we shall be celebrating 50 years’ victory of splitting Pakistan in two. Are we battle ready for 2021 or shall we keep basking in the glory of 1971? I wonder!
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