By; Asalu Verma
A salute to our armed forces
As the daughter of a soldier, and 15 years after the Kargil war, I can’t help but the raise the question that to my mind has never been answered. Why did Kargil happen and how did we let Pakistan and Musharraf get away with it?
The fact that we were caught off guard is disturbing but what is worse is while the government of India was making peace overtures with Pakistan, the Pakistani Army under Musharraf had surreptiously entrenched itself in strategic points on Indian territory in order to sever the link between Kashmir and Ladakh and cause India to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier.
It took 522 lives to win the Kargil War. And can one ever forget the fact that Pakistan had the gall to hand over mutilated bodies of Captain Kalia and the brave soldiers who had gone on a recce when they got to know that there had been a serious infiltration.
Why has Pakistan been allowed to get away with going against the very essence of the Geneva Convention?
Is it because we have no value for our soldiers’ lives?
Don’t we owe it to the memory of those who have given their lives for our country to honour them and their families in every possible way?
So why has nothing happened to right the terrible wrong that happened to Captain Kalia, Sepoys Arjum Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh?
Where was the outrage when their mutilated bodies were handed over?
What signal does this give to soldiers who go into battle willing to sacrifice their lives?
Life is cheap in this country. Sadder still we expect our young men to go into battle and play political ping pong with their lives. Inquiries are perfunctory, heads never roll, lessons are never learnt and the same mistakes happen again and again. We are good at brushing things under the carpet–whether it is the Henderson Brooks/Bhagat Report on why we lost to China or why Kargill happened almost 40 years later.
No one is accountable and we forgive the aggressor because it suits us too.
The aggressor thinks India is a soft state and they are right.
The list of hits is endless: Hijackings, serial bombings, the attack on our parliament, Mumbai 26/11, beheading our soldiers, constant infiltration—bodies pile up and yet we wait for more.
Politicians never truly understand the staggering loss of parents losing sons or a young wife left behind with young children.
This was brought home to me when after my father died my mother worked for rehabilitation of army widows and after one of her trips to a village she said, “How can I feel sorry for myself—I had 33 wonderful years with my husband.
These young widows with small children were married just a few years and their husbands were taken away from them.
They looked so bereft and alone. They have no future.”
Yes, we have the highest number of war widows in the world – 25,000! Our culture does not make it easy for them to marry again.
So theirs is a life of endless sacrifice, living with in-laws or alone and often being the brunt of resentment.
We can never do enough for our soldiers.
But let us at least admire their dedication, spirit and sacrifices and promise ourselves that we will not let our politicians or bureaucrats play with their lives.
We owe them that much – so let us make our voices count.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.