Someone Has Goofed Up, Who?
Lt Colonel NOEL ELLIS
No one will remember these martyrs after a few days. It will be in the media for a little while. Another event and China would be out of the news. What will be left, will be a grave with a tombstone, with his name written in golden letters. That is what remains of a soldier. Forces would be the only organisation in touch with the martyr’s family.
A few ‘Jai’s’, a few ‘Amar Rahe’ slogans, a guard of honour, the last post, a few volleys’ in the air and the tri colour handed over to the NOK. Flame is lit to turn that man to ashes, the coffin is lowered to turn him to dust. Salutes, Jai Hinds, moist eyes, every one departs, so does the soul of the brave men who fought for this nation, leaving behind shocked families.
One day will be dedicated to TV debates, where panelists shall curse all and sundry. Priorities to keep this country safe shall be heatedly discussed. This missile, that aircraft, so many tanks, all in thin air. Result-Zero. At the end of that hour, a cup of coffee, rush to the car for another studio, for another debate, on some other topic. On the way get updated by the social media cell for that debate. Martyrs forgotten and National Security now rests for the night and subsequent nights.
How can soldiers be unarmed when dealing with a known enemy? It needs serious introspection. It is beyond my imagination that we did not anticipate a skirmish to be forced on us. Twenty sons of India vanished in that. Clubbed ruthlessly, thrown off the cliffs into icy waters. Unfathomable!
Then the politics over their bodies would start. It is strange that people who have never worn a uniform make decisions for those who are in the frontline. We are losing a portion of our motherland. Flesh is being carved out of a living nation and we send troops to fold their hands and request the enemy to go back. Atrocious!
When we say ‘hum desh ki akhandta aur samprabhuta’ (integrity and sovereignty) ka ulanghan sahan nahi karenge. Then what has Pakistan been doing all these years and now it’s the Chinese toying with us, testing our limits of tolerance.
What has changed since 1962? Terrain hasn’t. Tactics, Weapons, Equipment by a shade. Intelligence failed then and intelligence failed drastically now. Result is, opening a martyr’s factory. Production is on. Some are in the hospital ready to get into their packing boxes. How sad!
Are we producing and buying all these weapons for show? Do we manufacture them to fire only on our field firing ranges? When do these see action? The soldier on the ground is already fighting a shrewd enemy, bad weather, inhospitable terrain. Isn’t it enough?
Some retired Generals, on debates need to pull up their socks. They think they know it all and done it all and can start the war on their orders. Granted your age, experience and service sirs, there is wisdom in silence too. If your shouting can get back those twenty, I am in for it. Thank you for giving media fodder to ruminate on.
My guts have churned since news of the first three casualties came in. Having walked similar terrain, one could almost feel being part of what was happening. Alas, now that I wear a veteran’s side cap, only anger, frustration and helplessness is what I am experiencing.
Ultimately, it is the political will and diplomatic pressure which has to work. In that case people are not doing their jobs. Enough of ‘Bhashans’ and ‘Gyapans’. It is time to act and get this sorted quickly and be done with it, once for all. Enough of making soldiers cannon fodder. Soldiers don’t fight with bare hands and die, unless they have run out of ammunition and are in hand to hand combat.
‘Jawanon ka balidan vyarth nahi jane denge’, has to be transformed into action. If Diplomats promise to de-escalate the situation with their verbal arrows, doesn’t mean soldiers can keep getting martyred.
Let Parliament function at Chushul from tomorrow. Let diplomats be stationed in Galwan valley. They can be connected to Delhi by Sat phones. Army shall ensure it. Let every patrol have a representative of the constituency of the jawan. Let them experience those bunkers wearing the same clothing and carrying the same loads to the office first hand. Air Force can provide them airlifts, in case they need evacuation on health reasons. Let me count how many survive and how long.
Can anyone spell out, out of those lakhs of crores announced the other day, what will the Armed Forces personnel get? and can the Martyr’s souls forgive us for ‘our’ goof ups? I wonder!
Colonel Noel Ellis is a retired Indian Army officer.