In reply to first commander-in-chief of the Indian armed forces, General Sir Robert Lockhart, just after Independence when Lockhart presented a plan for growth of Indian Army, Pandit Nehru said:
“We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. You can scrap the army. The police are good enough to meet our security needs.”
Within a year, the strength of Army personnel had been reduced in half.
“Your views will be communicated to Pranab Mukherjee”, said Sushma Nath, India’s Expendiure Secretary, and went on to explain how Paramilitary forces had objections of placing Lt. Cols in the Pay Band 4.
READ THIS – Part 1 . Part 2 . Part 3 – Three Part Series of How Congress Governments Humiliated the Indian Army
This made usually very calm and thoroughly professional soldiers very irritated and the Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor lost his cool stating that this is not only a very negative attitude but the Paramilitary forces had absolutely no business commenting on what Army needed and otherwise!
After days of fighting and where many a battalions had gone down and only two succeeded to make it up –
The 3rd Dogras and 2nd Sikhs were asked to capture Raja and Rani. The Dogras first attacked Raja but had to retreat in the face of stiff enemy opposition and the fact that the position was located at a considerable height. Word went around that the mighty Dogras had lost their nerve. Our commanding officer (CO), Lt. Col. R.B. Nair, was so upset that he did not eat food for two days. Other officers asked Lt. Col. Nair to give them another chance. Lt. Col. Nair agreed. After performing a havan, I and the 2nd Sikh’s CO, Lt. Col. Khanna, wished each other luck. That was the last I saw him alive. We traversed up to 7000 feet. The Dogras started moving up towards Rani picket through thickets while the Sikhs started moving towards Raja braving mines.
At night, our artillery in Poonch started pounding the positions to soften the enemy located on top of the mountains. The atmosphere was soon rendered with war cries. The Dogras charged and reached the pickets. Hand-to-hand fight ensued. The Pakistanis fought bravely. The Dogras got the picket. The Sikhs, however, lost their nerve and started retreating, angering their CO, Lt. Col. Khanna. With his revolver out, he started marching up. A stray bullet killed him. At this, the Sikhs were enraged. They once again attacked the picket, and captured it. The casualty evacuation started. A Captain had received bullets shattering both his thighs. A jawan’s jaw was shattered with lower jaw hanging out. Soon, there other injured soldiers, a total of 200 soldiers, came one after another. Soon, we ran out of morphine injections. But the day was saved by Poonch’s civilians, who came with cots to carry the wounded down. This was the first major victory in this sector. But at what cost? We had suffered heavy casualties.
And then the soldiers were asked to vacate the post. Many soldiers cried inconsolably and hugged the rocks and would not leave. The entire effort – the going against the line of fire with nothing in between.. and dying by the hundreds and thousands and walking into absolutely sure death! And when they had done the impossible…. one politician without any eye to practicality and any strength in his heart bartered it away. Or was he betrayed by his very own!! Lal Bahadur Shastri was not the only one who was betrayed! So were those many who had died without any ego or identity!
How was the betrayal done?
For a piece of paper with four words scratched on it “Without resort to arms” (words that no one ever meant) one of most popular PM returned the two posts back to Pakistan thus giving away one of biggest strategic piece of land in our relationships.
The talks used to be held late at night. At one point, Kosygin told Shastri, “You will have to give up Haji Pir and Tithwa.” Shastri said, “In that case, you will have to talk to some other prime minister.” The Soviets said the issue would go to the Security Council. Shastri said, “We may return them, but they must say specifically that whatever differences we have should not be sorted through war or violence, but only through negotiations.” Ayub Khan agreed, but Bhutto opposed this.
Our Pakistani friends were packing their luggage. They were told it was all over. Then Kosygin intervened and a formula was reached. Pakistan would say it would never resort to arms and India would return Haji Pir and Tithwa. When the last meeting took place Shastri did not find the specific reference to arms. Shastri showed his displeasure. Ayub Khan, at that very moment, wrote in his handwriting, “Without resort to arms.” That document is still in the ministry of external affairs’ archives.
A young 19 year old daughter of an Army officer writes:
The armed forces will take over the nation, and no one can do a thing about it. Not the police force, not Manmohan Singh(=Sonia Gandhi), not A.K. Antony. No one. A movement will arise so suddenly and with the fury of a raging tsunami, that it will rewrite India’s future, inject discipline in the blood of every Indian, unscrew unopened bottles of potential and terrorise the intestines out of those who dare to oppose them or irrigate the minds of others with vile thoughts. Corruption will be eliminated 90% and progress will double. Indeed, the souls of our forefathers who fought for real freedom, will rest whole-heartily under this military control. Ironic, but true.
The question here is, why won’t they do it?
A Lt. Col. – Retired Lt. Col Purohit – regarded by many as highly patriotic has been arrested and being held for being the master mind for the first truly home grown terror attack.
“Imbued by patriotic spirit and fired by a desire to do something ‘extra-ordinary’ for the country and the society, Purohit had first thought of joining politics but I goaded him to join the army,” Dighe said.
Lt. Col. Jayant Chitale (retired), who headed the services selection board centre in Pune for several years, describes Purohit, the son of a bank officer, as a bright, hard-working student overflowing with patriotic fervour.
“He met me several times after completing his training and I kept getting a very favourable feedback about him all through his stint, particularly the long one in Jammu and Kashmir,” Chitale said.
In 2002 Purohit participated in 15 Maratha Light Infantry’s counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir and his tenure ended in January 2005 while serving in the Awantipura based intelligence unit of the Military Intelligence Directorate.
Where did the high level of Patriotism of a professional soldier of Indian Army go so wrong that he bombed the cities and trains of his own country? How could one who was trained to save his country and its interest, blast its very own?
People have talked of the religious angle ONLY. And I find them short sighted.
But it is not just religious. In fact the religious aspect though sad and vicious, is NOT as important!
Are all these incidents above related? They all depict the utter humiliation and hurt of Indian Soldier by the Indian politician! Indian Defense forces have been used by the bureaucrats and politician in a way that would have broken even the toughest of soldiers – but the Indian soldier was supposed to remain upright and strong.
It is indeed astonishing that it took so long and so few were affected. The humiliation was complete and unwavering – the politician has left NO stone unturned to beat the very will power of Indian soldier –
….sending him to certain death…. without proper equipment… without proper back up…. no political backing…. cutting his salary .. and equating him to police and the corrupt.
And the soldier kept dying, without retaliation.
It was fine when the soldier was in a world of his own and that world was still worth some pride – but now the market value of such a vibrant and intelligent human being has grown manifold and he is also connected to the world through internet and through media.
Time for old and vile shenanigans are over. Now, the soldier will question! And that question will inevitably bring in the flavor that is prevalent in the society.
Criticising and making Lt. Col. Purohit into a monster is ONE way of looking at things. And many – in fact most today – find it to be the ONLY way to look at him and his phenomenon. But is that how you should look at the beginnning of a catastrophe staring right in your face??
No country can succeed by humiliating and hurting its OWN defense!
India won’t too. But if India as a nation gets colonized or humiliated again in the coming future – it will NOT be because of people like Lt. Col. Purohit, but because of people who drove a person driven to save his country to do what he did!
I cannot believe and would not characterize Lt. Col. Purohit as a monster that others are so fond of doing these days – but I am dismayed at the path he took – the decisions he made.. they smell of indiscretion and a certain lack of hope!!
I can empathize and understand with a defense officer and one who wants to save his country even after decades of UTTER humiliation by the VERY people he/she dies for KNOWINGLY, but coming so far in the art of patience and will, it is important that our officers keep their nerves and now express their frustration in a way that is helpful for the nation. It will take lot of creativity..
… it will take the intellect of Swami Vivekananda…. the Valor of the common soldier….. the steadfast, unwavering and unspectacular Patriotism of Chanakya…. the brilliance and sheer anticipation of Subhash Bose and above all love for the weak and the victimized of Guru Gobind Singh.
It is a tall order and it is not easy. In fact it is cruel on my – our – part to expect our common soldier to be such a combination… but that is what the situation is coming to. This country of ours has been hurt and bled in the name of religion, caste and language by the VERY people who have made huge and godly claims of saving it from these curses. It is time to say that Lt. Col. Purohit is not a monster – but ONE soldier who “cracked”. He knew he wanted the best for the country, but could not find the right path to channel his frustration towards. He forgot that those he thought were NOT his “own”, their prosperity was integral to the growth and success of the nation.
Just because Lt. Col. Purohit was swayed by a Hindu nationalist mindset does not in any way reduce the anti-national designs of organizations that take their cue from Pakistan and China and have been relentless in breaking apart our fabric! It does not matter how many Muslims are influenced by them or not.. and how many USE Lt. Col. Purohit to JUSTIFY or attempt to soften the mess that they are involved in.. but the truth is that the minorities need a new direction and their success is of paramount importance!!
So, if out there you are a “Hindu Nationalist” then please do understand that separating yourself from the rest and thinking of taking the nation for ONE community will NOT help it remain for very long. Instead the fanatical elements need to be sorted out through education and common sense.
Same holds true for Hindu nationalists as well. What is required is the intellect of Vivekananda to understand the basics and the strength of Hinduism – which is not what the Shiv Senas and today’s RSS would have us believe.
Featured Image: This image was originally posted to Flickr by cell105 at http://flickr.com/photos/76481380@N00/137395772