Indian Army must express remorse but not apology

BY RSN SINGH

Security forces barricade roads to deter and filter terrorists and criminals to neutralize them. They insulate citizens and shield them from evil designs of terrorists. A little laxity, however well-intentioned, seduces terrorists to cause ‘Sarojini Nagar’ (Delhi) type of blasts and mayhem. Innocent citizens, which include women and children, are the targets in such attacks. The perpetrators also invariably approach their target with contrived innocence. They do not come in battle fatigues. Road barricades are not ‘Kashmir’- specific, they are there everywhere, in Delhi as well. Since the 90s, terrorism has economically bled this country in terms of incessant accretion of security forces and concomitant security measures that some may find intrusive. Nobody is happy in instituting and exercising these measures, least of all the Indian Army. Keen and constant vigilance puts unremitting physical and psychological strain on the security forces.

In this age of proxy war, the absence of ‘inconvenient and intrusive’ measures could consign the country to the flames of terrorism. If India, beset with vicious and unrelenting terrorism from insurgency from North, West, East and South; still breathes, it is because of the vigilance and sacrifice of the security forces. Politicians, by profession and relative immunity, can disregard terrorist threat and discourse till it acquires pernicious levels. The very vote-bank, which is the reason for their dismissiveness, becomes the first unsuspecting victims. The latest case in point is West Bengal.

The Indian Army, sans by subverted elements, has never been accused of being ‘trigger happy. On 03 November, the two teenage boys killed in Chattegram in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir were not as such chased or trapped with ulterior motives by the Indian Army personnel. Their identities were not known. The Indian Army resorts to barricading and security measures in Kashmir for security of the Kashmiris, without which they would be devoured by the jihadi flame. But for the Indian Army, Kashmiriyat along with the Hindu, Buddhist and Sufi past of the Kashmiris would have disappeared by the onslaught of Taliban type forces unleashed by Pakistan. Even in the national capital, if a vehicle is intent upon pushing its way through barricades, it would invite fire from the security forces. Why should Kashmir be then an exception?

Even a minor deferment in reaction by security forces may have massive manifestations. If the security forces fail to fire when the security measures instituted by them are disregarded and assaulted brazenly, it would amount to negligence of their sacred duty. What if the Maruti Car involved in the incident was laden with explosives? So many passengers had otherwise passed through the same barriers on that very day unobtrusively. The vehicle was fired upon only after it had disregarded the third barrier. Security checks are not carried out of personal enmity. In this era of proxy war responsible citizens yield themselves for checks at barricades, airports, railway stations etc without demur.

While the inquiries are on, some reports do suggest that there was indeed a specific input regarding use a white Maruti car by militants for terrorist attack. Going by some past instances, it is quite possible that these young boys Faizal Yusuf and Mehrejuddin and their associates were ‘setup’ by the ISI – separatists combine because they are unnerved by the long term ramifications of the forthcoming elections on the separatist discourse in the state. The goodwill earned by the Indian Army and the PM’S Diwali visit has only accentuated the desperation. In the past, such desperation has induced the combine in resorting to deceptive leaks to the security forces and using unsuspecting and gullible children as baits in ruthless pursuance of their separatist objectives.

It was nauseating to see the separatists mobilizing young children for ‘stone-pelting’ in the aftermath of the incident. These are the separatists who looted the flood relief material from the security forces. That they were not killed by the security forces while doing so reflects on the attributes of ‘patience’ and ‘restraint’ of the Indian Army. The separatists, which include the soft-separatists, otherwise in political mainstream, used the teenager status of boys in whipping up anti-India frenzy.

There is nothing new in the machinations of the separatists. The real culprits however are in Delhi. These culprits include some journalists of doubtful nationalistic credentials, as also a personality who has enjoyed privileges and eminence by the accidental virtue of being in Gandhi’s linage. They too found an occasion to vilify the Indian Army. In that they found age of the deceased boys a convenient tool. Is there any age or gender for jihadis? Haven’t the separatists been using young boys for stone-pelting and jihadi activities for past so many years? Aren’t young boys being initiated into jihadi discourse in some madrasas? Are not teenage boys being sent to receive terrorist training in Pakistan? The gentleman of Gandhi’s linage went on an imaginary trip as how Nehru or Patel, would have taken the Indian Army to task. This gentleman ignores that warfare during that time still celebrated some parameters of chivalry. The phenomenon of cowards using young boys as explosives then did not exist. Women then never fired upon innocents.

Only recently the Indian Army was hailed as angels during the floods in Kashmir Valley. They disregarded their own safety and that of their families in rescuing and providing relief to the affected. It included separatists as well. No sooner the flood waters have drained, the separatists with support of some anti-nationals in Delhi have again embarked on the Indian Army vilification campaign. This diabolical cycle of hailing the Indian Army as ‘angles and saviors’ at one moment and ‘criminals’ in the very next, must come to an end. For the people in Jammu and Ladakh region, the Indian Army personnel are epitome of character attributes, but are turned into rapists by these vested interests in the Kashmir Valley. These vested interests are the collaborators within, in the proxy war being waged by Pakistan.

These vested interests did not allow their heart to bleed when policemen were killed by terrorists in Kashmir, when two policemen were killed in a guerrilla attack in Pulwama district recently. The very next day of the Chattegram incident, terrorists attacked a CRPF camp with grenades in Sopore. It only vindicates that the intelligence inputs received in relation to Chattegram were not entirely without basis.

In the hindsight, one can question whether the method used by the Indian Army personnel in Chattegram was most appropriate under the circumstances. Nevertheless it should be considered that the window of opportunity under these circumstances is very fleeting, the same window of opportunity that the security forces are blamed for wasting in Amritsar during the hijack of IC-814 to Kandahar in 1999.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)