Om Puri’s Shameful Tirade: To Walk to Death Takes Valor, Not A Few Rupees
Valor is a quality that very few possess. Valor is not a job. It is not taught in school. You cannot learn it in any University. And money certainly cannot get you to that point.
“You have never lived until you have almost died, And for those who choose to fight, life has a special flavor the protected will never know” ~ Capt R Subramanium Kirti Chakra (Posthumous)
Survival is the fundamental instinct of every living being. Even an ant will bite you when attacked. When you can go beyond your very basic instinct of survival and are willing to die not for your own self or for your own beliefs but for the safety of billions, you attain to valor. Such a walk to death is not a march of personal grudge or of hatred or vengeance. It is a stand of one who looks beyond ones ownself and embraces everyone with whom his/her life is intertwined. It is an action out of gratitude and compassion. Gratitude of being linked, loved and sustained by so many unknown and unnamed people. When a soldier marches into the battlefield knowing that one – just one – bullet can end his life, and his kids, wife, and parents left without support, he does so not just for a song or an abstract idea – but for a reality called a nation. A nation that is a living and breathing entity. A nation where his life is infinitely intertwined with. The people, the culture, the trades, the joy, the banter and the occassional arguments.
No, that action of a soldier is not a job.
There are jobs and there are jobs. There are jobs that pay for expenses for one’s basic living. There are jobs and vocations that one does to express him or herself – like theater or art. There are jobs which are done for money or fame or to stroke one’s ego. But when you are ready to lay down your life for not one but billions of unknown people linked to you only by culture and collective values, then you are certainly not doing a job.
Om Puri, the renowned actor, during a TV debate when asked about the need to back Pakistani artists when terrorists from that nation come and kill our soldiers – like BSF jawan Nitin Kumar in Baramulla, said something truly shameful as a human being. He asked aloud – “Why did he go and join the forces… he shouldn’t have gone. I didn’t ask him to die. He anyway gets paid to fight.” Really?!
That, Puri can have the courage and strength to say what he is saying in a TV studio, someone is dying. Be very clear about this – Freedom to live is not a guaranteed human truth. In every generation, freedom has been a very tough fight. When the British came and colonized us, it wasn’t just that India was occupied. Within a matter of 150 years, India’s GDP had fallen from almost 25% of World’s GDP to mere 7%! During those 150 years, millions died due to many man-made famines triggered deliberately by the British! Hundreds of thousands of artisans and weavers lost their hands and their work because the British wanted to bring the Indian cotton and silk industry down! For the lack of valor in the generations that faced the British, millions of poor and weak suffered. Not the rich or those who worked in dramatics or theater!
To understand the threat of a nation, one needs to understand what that nation represents. If you take the nebulous “Cultural Equivalence” too loosely, you will not understand where you will stand IF you actually WERE within the ambit of that culture!
Pakistan, the Land of Cruel Punjabis who Kill and Rape All Others
To say that in Pakistan, only one community gets the upper hand won’t be incorrect. If you aren’t a Pujabi Muslim – the more Wahabi oriented the better – then you have the worst lot in that nation. Of course, the non-Muslims – as defined by Pakistani constitution, which even debars Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims – don’t even qualify as humans with basic human rights of citizenship! The Bengalis of Bangladesh went through a genocide before they decided that they will be an independent nation. Balochis and ethnic Kashmiris from Pak-Occupied-Kashmir areas in Gilgit and Baltistan have gone through the atrocities at the hands of Pakistan’s ruling elite. Here is what that culture therefore represents:
- International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons claims that 18,000 Baloch were missing by 2014, of whom more than 2,000 were killed.
- Per a 8th December 2005 statement, by the then Pakistani interior minister Aftab Sherpao, there were an estimated 4000 people from Balochistan in the custody of the authorities just detained between 2002-2005!
- More than 210,000 Shias, Zikris, and Hindus from Baluchistan to other parts of Pakistan due to persecution in Balochistan
- Thousands of Baloch have been abducted by the military and are subjected to the most inhumane and disturbing methods of torture in secret concentration camps
Let us look at how Pakistan treats people in Gilgit-Baltistan area:
- Police have established a free reign in the region and have tortured and mercilessly beaten numerous individuals
- Over 500 young Gilgitis have been jailed, including Gilgit’s top political activist Baba Jan, which saw increasing mass street-based movement for his release.
A mindset of an establishment that unleashes the terrorists on India does THIS ALL to its own citizens.
The cost of that young man, Nitin Kumar, and thousands like him, deciding NOT to fight against the Pakistanis will be all of the above! Maybe it may not be a big deal for a Punjabi Indian who thinks it is all same culture – unless of course he comes across some Hindu Punjabi Pakistanis who are persecuted – but for most normal people, interaction with a Pakistani mindset anywhere near the ruling class is nothing short of genocidal!
So if Puri has no care for the facts of the establishment that the young man Nitin fought against, then it is his prerogative of living in ignorance, but to subject the rest of the Indian nation to such a fate is to collude with the devil! For, when he ridicules and belittles the sacrifice of Nitin Kumar and chides him for having chosen to die in lieu of a jawan’s piddly salary – he is undermining the morale and the strength of the brave men and women who secure Indian borders! He is bringing down the very wall of security all Indian people have against the butchers of Bangladesh and Balochistan!
Pakistani establishment is not worthy of contempt because they are Pakistani, but because of what they have done as a signature of their very soul! Millions of rapes and killings in Bangladesh. Ditto in Balochistan and in PoK. We have a Genocidal National Machine which has fought India not just for its greed of Kashmir or “love” of Kashmiris (go figure their sale of part of Kashmir to China!!), but because of their own definition of who they are! A different nation as defined by the religion and how they have defined India as! A zero-sum equation between two religions, conveniently forgeting that India is home to many religious groups! But that is their definition of who they are and who we are!
Not all the British were inhuman or bad or cruel to Indians. Many were indeed very nice. But it took those who held the reins of establishment to push millions to terrible deaths through shameful famines! Similarly, not all Pakistanis are bad, but they don’t matter! And those who matter – the artists – and those who can speak up against the wrongs in a society – for, isn’t that what the voice of creativity should be? – keep mum in the face of clear atrocities. How many Pakistani artists went over and spoke up for the Bengalis or Balochis? So if they have not stood up for their own citizens, how will they ever stand up for the lives of Indians?
Like I said, valor is not learned or taught. It is or it is not. When you have the courage to walk upto your very possible death in a fight for collective and universal good, then you are in that zone of valiant beings. It takes unusual courage Mr. Puri. Salary doesn’t inspire it and certainly cannot pay for it! The day you stand up in a Pakistani studio, where you have been before, and openly talk about the genocides in Balochistan and PoK with the knowledge that you could be thrown out summarily – your Punjabi bonhomie notwithstanding – then you can possibly.. maybe possibly begin to understand the basics of valor!
Until then spare us your utilitarian and material view of sacrifice that reduces the life of a jawan to a few rupees! Coming from a self-proclaimed artist, it demeans the very ethos of expression and creativity!