Politics, they say is the game of irony and if you happen to be in India then contradictions too are not far away.
Who would have thought that the same ex-servicemen, who thronged to Rewari in Haryana to welcome a man called Narendra Modi as he embarked on a journey to challenge Manmohan Singh to become India’s next prime minister by addressing what was billed as his first election rally in Rewari on 15 September 2013, would be meted out an appallingly insulting treatment by his police two years later.
Two years ago, Modi had called Congress shameless for not looking after the welfare of India’s men in uniform. He had thundered, “There is a limit of shamelessness friends and the reason of it is that the safety and the safe keepers of the nation are not their priority..!”
Two years later, for Modi’s police, the same ‘safe keepers of the nation’ became a big security threat for Independence Day.
And the contradictions are endless.
The prime minister’s contradictions aside, what happened on Friday morning at Jantar Mantar had far reaching impact on the members of Indian armed forces, particularly those currently serving.
Friday’s development has not gone down well with them and this should ring an alarm bell to the central government.
This is what an army colonel told me this morning, “fauj of any country is like immune system of a body, which can’t be seen but any imbalance in immune system will create havoc.”
Another officer said, ” Be careful how you treat our grandparents because that’s what they are to us. You will regret your decision if we lose our sanity.”
Both these messages have explicitly chilling warnings, which only a naive person can ignore.
Perhpas this is what four former service chiefs were hinting at when they, in their letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, talked about the impact of delay in implementing One Rank One Pension on the morale of serving soldiers.
Similar warnings were given by other officers too in the past. Not so long ago, Jantakareporter.com had spoken to Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh and Col (Retd) Teotia. While Gen Singh minced no words in criticising PM Modi accusing him of betraying the trust of every soldier in the country, Col Teotia even went on to suggest that the continuing neglect by the central government to soldiers’ ‘legitimate demands’ was creating a fertile ground for some of them to even turn naxals.
Whichever way you look at it, things are looking quite dangerous. I should know it because I wasn’t as fortunate as those dozens of my college friends, who were able to fulfill their long-cherished dreams to wear uniform and serve our motherland. Some of them even sacrificed their lives at young age.
Did I regret not attending the Service Selection Board interview, which even my officers knew was going to be a mere formality particularly after doing exceptionally well in Republic Day competition as a Best NCC Cadet representing West Bengal and Sikkim Directorate?
Truth be told, I was devastated as I willy nilly chose journalism as my alternative profession. But, my folks in armed forces think I’m being simply stupid.
One of my NCC juniors, who has done India proud with his heroics and won several gallantry awards, told me other day that he was barely able to make his ends meet.
He said,” At least you don’t have to go through the humiliation we are going through by these politicians. Our biggest worry is that what will happen to our families if, God forbid, we are killed in combat. Rest assured, the government will not do anything to look after them.”
This gentleman officer has decided his children will not follow his footsteps and join armed forces. That should tell us the level of disgust our flawed and opportunistic policies towards our soldiers have caused amongst them.
What happened to Grenadier Bhishambar Singh, whose shirt was torn in scuffle with police, should never happen to any soldier. The Delhi police officer who justified the forced eviction of India’s war veterans because they were perceived to be security threats ahead of the Independence Day, must be hauled up for coming up with this most irrational statement.
War or peace time, these people have served all their life to provide security to every Indian. These are the ones who went to battlefield without caring to ponder on the consequences either on them or their loved ones. They didn’t have the luxury of performing U-turns on the pledge they had made for their motherland. They were and still are only one bullet away from death.
Sooner we recognise their contribution and bestow the respect they deserve, the better it will be for a propserous and sustainable India.
RIfat Jawaid is the editor-in-chief of Jantakaporter.com