Tuesday, March 28th, 2023 01:45:49

Why Are Human Rights Of Soldiers  Not Respected In India?

Updated: June 1, 2017 3:36 pm

Martyrdom of two brave soldiers–Naib Subedar Paramjit Singh of Indian Army and Head Constable Prem Sagar of BSF–who were recently badly mutilated and beheaded by Border Action Force of Pakistan has left the nation aghast. This has not happened for the first time with our soldiers. Earlier also, we have seen such incidents happening and what is worse is that still our political leadership very strongly believes that relations with Pakistan are more important than the human rights of soldiers.

Nothing on earth can be more shocking. It were our brave soldiers who won the 1971 war against Pakistan. But see what happened! We released 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war but they didn’t release our 54 soldiers, who were tortured mercilessly as was testified by none other than the then Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who, after being deposed by Gen Zia ul Haq, was thrown in prison, next to where the Indian soldiers, who were prisoners in custody of Pakistan, were lodged and he wrote that the whole night the Indian prisoners of war were beaten mercilessly and their shriek in pain could be heard continuously. Who was responsible for it? The political leadership of that time. Why politicians care a damn for our soldiers and believe only in paying lip service to them?

Truth be told, there are innumerable such reported and unreported incidents. During Kargil war, we all saw how Captain Saurav Kalia and five soldiers of 4 Jat Regiment were mercilessly tortured not for two days or five days or 10 days or 15 days or 20 days but for full 22 days! They were blinded and their eyes were gouged out by hot iron rods, similarly their ears, nose and other parts too were similarly, mutilated. Not stopping here, their whole body bore signs of cigarette torture and even their private parts were not spared and were cut and put in their mouth!

But for our political leadership, relations with Pakistan were more important and it was decided to not rake up this issue not just in any international forum but also in any bilateral forum, even though the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the then Defence Minister Jaswant Singh promised to Captain Kalia’s parents that they would raise this issue in every forum available with full force. As if this was not enough, a head of an Indian soldier–Bhausaheb Maruti Talekar–was beheaded on February 27, 2000, and the dreaded Al Qaeda terrorist Iliyas Kashmiri, who beheaded him, presented the severed head to the Pakistani invader Gen Pervez Musharraf ,who was quick to immediately hand over Rs 1 lakh to him as cash prize and vowed to keep it as trophy with him and this was reported widely in all English dailies! Pakistani media published the photographs of Iliyas Kashmiri carrying the severed head of Kalekar!

Truly speaking, even now matters don’t end. Our political leadership decided to accord a red carpet royal reception to Pakistani invader Gen Pervez Musharraf, on whose instructions Talekar was beheaded by Kashmiri, and who masterminded Kargil war, in which we lost more than 600 soldiers as per official figures, even though unofficially the figure is quite higher. All major political parties were united in treating Gen Musharraf like a royal emperor. Is this the way human rights of soldiers are respected in India?

To put things in perspective, we all also know fully well how the Pakistani soldiers in 2013 entered Indian territory and beheaded our brave soldier Hemraj Singh and took away his severed head as trophy and also mutilated the body of another soldier  Sudhakar Singh. We also saw how the children and wife and parents of Hemraj kept pleading for the head of Hemraj to see him one last time. Above all, the political leadership yet again decided that relations with Pakistan are more important than soldiers and that would continue uninterrupted.

It is known to all that Pakistan trains, arms and fires at Indian troops to ensure that terrorists safely land inside Indian territory to cause maximum death and destruction all around. We all saw how during Uri attack the terrorists specifically targeted Indian soldiers and killed about 20 of them. Still the political leadership decided that relations with Pakistan would flourish.

We all also saw how after the Pathankot terror attack, in which we lost many of our brave soldiers including a Lieutenant Colonel and a Major, yet Centre decided to again not nuke any kind of relations with Pakistan! Instead, they went ahead and decided to invite the officials of notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to visit the site, where terror attack took place, so that they could inspect and help in solving the dastardly terror attack. No prizes for guessing that the net result was a big zero and Pakistan refused to honour its commitment to invite Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials to Pakistan to interrogate the key suspects!

One pities the security adviser to Centre, who advised them to invite ISI officials! It was our national image that again took the worst beating. But our political establishment is least bothered about all this. Why our political leaders, in spite of being betrayed by Pakistan time and again, keep trusting them blindly? Only they themselves can tell this.

Let the Army do its Duty

After a video showing CRPF jawans on polling duty being abused, kicked and slapped by ‘protesters’ in Kashmir went viral and invited condemnation from across India, worried secular-liberals quickly manufactured a counter to deflect attention. A video, shared by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on Twitter, showed a Kashmiri man tied to the front of a moving army jeep, to prevent stone pelting on the Army convoy.

Although the Indian Army ordered an inquiry soon after, full-fledged attempts are being made to advertise the video as standard modus operandi of the Army. Broken facts are being reported and the scenario is being projected as, the brutality of the Indian Army and the Murder of Democracy.

Maistream news reporters ran after the alleged stone pelter, Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was tied to the jeep for a media bite, but no one took time to elicit the views of the CRPF jawans who abused and physically attacked a few days earlier, or tried to present the entire picture and the circumstances under which the Army major had to take such a step.

What is a young major of the Indian Army, in-charge of a particular location, supposed to do when a large mob is after the life of the election officials, ITBP jawans, policemen and Indian army personnel? He had two options to save the life of his colleagues: either open fire on the mob which would have resulted in a bloodbath or to come out with some innovative technique to forestall the loss of lives on both sides.

It is now clear that the video was filmed when polling officers faced a mob of stone-pelters. Nine ITBP and J&K state policemen who were guarding the polling booth were badly outnumbered in front of a blood-thirsty mob and hence they sent an SoS to the Army.

An Army Quick Reaction Team was called in to help the group. While interacting with the media last week, Major Leetul Gogoi had defended his action on 9 April while adding that Dar was tied to the jeep as he could have been the ringleader of many stone-pelters.

The army officer finally broke his silence over the incident when fresh controversy erupted after Gogoi was honoured last week with the Army Chief’s commendation card for “his sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations”.

Narrating the circumstances leading to the controversial decision, Gogoi said that about 1,200 stone-pelters had surrounded a small group of security personnel at a polling booth in Utligam village of Budgam district on 9 April and if he had ordered firing, there could have been at-least 12 casualties.

The mob, which included women and children, was threatening to set ablaze the polling booth, he had said.

Gogoi said that he (and five other army personnel) had gone to that polling booth after a “distress call” about a small group of ITBP personnel and few members of the polling staff being surrounded by a big crowd of about 1200 stone-pelters.

He said that when he reached Bandipora, the crowd had already started pelting stones. He said that despite repeated requests on his megaphone, the crowd, comprising several women and children refused to budge. As the stone-pelting increased, Gogoi ordered his men to take hold of Dar, the man who seemed to be instigating the attacks.

“This thing I have done only to save the local people (sic). Had I fired, there would have been more than 12 casualties… With this idea, I have saved many peoples’ lives,” Gogoi told reporters at the Beerwah camp in Budgam district.

The Major of the Indian Army who was in-charge of the situation has started getting support from many corners. General GD Bakshi (retd.) said that the army officer responsible saved lives on both sides. He wrote on a social network site “They are screaming for the scalp of that young Major Gogoi who tied a stone pelter on his jeep. I think in retrospect that the boy did some out-of-the-box thinking and saved lives on both sides. The standard military solution would have been to shoot the pelters dead. He was authorised to but for some reason our boys seem hesitant to shoot- what with this constant Human rights tamasha. An operation is judged by its end results. He was able to rescue the ITBP boys who were surrounded by a blood thirsty mob.

He seized the stone pelter used him as hostage to get safe passage for his column. The Israelis do it routinely. Why can’t we do it? This way no military or civilian personnel was killed. You can always apprehend a stone pelter for interrogation about his links and take him to your post.”

But the question arises here that can forces control spiraling violence in Kashmir with hands tied behind backs? Eight people died and nearly 100 were injured in unprecedented violence during the recently held Srinagar by-polls held in the shadow of threats and a boycott call by separatists. Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs were damaged and burnt and the voters’ turnout was the worst in 30 years. In recent years, 1000s of security personnel have been wounded in murderous attacks by ‘stone pelters’ – these are radicalized youth, usually funded by Pakistan, who are organized via social media (WhatsApp groups etc.) to quickly assemble in areas where counter-terror operations are going on, and attack security forces to help terrorists escape.

Omar Abdullah, who was nowhere to be found when CRPF jawans were hit, abused and publicly heckled in Srinagar, has at once demanded an enquiry into the matter. Kashmiri politicians like Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Mustafa Kemal have made their position quite clear with inflammatory and pro-Pakistan comments in recent days. The fact that such individuals are still welcomed by the Lutyens’ cabal, shows the sorry state of our media and intellectual establishment today.

The army s decision to confer a commendation letter will go a long way to uplift the morale of the Armed forces which is under constant attack almost every day. thus it was not surprising that Major Gogoi’s act of tying a Kashmiri local to the bonnet of his jeep to avoid violent retaliation of the stone pelting crowds drew mixed reactions. While many lauded his act opponents were quick in condemning the act.  But the real surprise is the failure of these human rights activists, certain journalists, intellectuals and pro- separatist forces to comprehend the real motive of Major Gogoi’s action—which was to prevent the Kashmiri youths from stone- pelting.

While it can be argued that there is no policy per se to avoid such actions but as the officer was faced with a grave situation, he must be commended for his presence of mind through which he could avoid an ugly flare-up. However, our political class are quick to equate army’s action to that of terrorists and cites Geneva Convention for the human rights of stone-pelters, they conspicuously remain silent when the forces are attacked by these same stone-pelters.  Is this how armed forces should be treated? The statements of some of our intellectuals and political class have been outrageous and denigrate the very Armed forces which not only safeguard our boundaries but also come to help when the situation arises like it did during floods in Kashmir. These political leaders and intellectuals should strive to create a conducive environment to restoring peace instead of adding fuel to fire. It is high time that these crass classes should be alienated from defense matters and let the Army do its duty.

(Uday India Bureau)

We have seen so many times that India keeps on submitting proofs and dossiers of Pakistan Army’s involvement to Pakistan in fomenting terrorism only to get no reply. But for how long? For how long will our political establishment keep fooling the people? For more than two decades, Punjab bore the brunt of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan yet our politicians refuse to see the clear writing on the wall.

Why, in,spite of India losing more than a lakh soldiers to terrorism sponsored directly by Pakistan, has the political establishment decided to not let it affect bilateral ties in any manner? Why are the human rights of soldiers not respected in India?

Why the Prime Minister of India has time to visit Kedarnath shrine but has just no time to visit the family of those soldiers who had been beheaded and mutilated?

Why, in,spite of Shashi Tharoor, Subramanium Swamy and many others from different political parties repeatedly pleading to end Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan, is our political establishment ruling at the Centre not prepared? Why is only India bound by WTO rules and not Pakistan, who too is a member? Why have we conferred MFN status on Pakistan since 1996 but Pakistan has still not conferred it on us?

Why is our political establishment adopting such a pusillaminous approach towards Pakistan? Why has Pakistan declared proxy war against India for more than last four decades, due to which we have lost many of our brave soldiers and still for our politicians relations with Pakistan are more important than our brave soldiers, who are ready to sacrifice their invaluable lives for the nation? Why politicians never send their children to army or any other fighting force while exhorting others to join them?

It is most shocking to see that Indian politicians consider Pakistani diplomats more important than our soldiers. They cannot be killed and they have to be honourably treated as we are bound by the Vienna Convention but certainly they can be ordered to leave India and not come back as long as undeclared proxy war is continuing against India. Why do politicians not value the life of soldiers who sacrifice their everything for us and why are politicians hell bent that relations with Pakistan cannot be broken under any circumstances?

Shouldn’t human rights of soldiers too be respected in India? Why people at certain places throw stones and what not at them and yet they are expected to not retaliate? Do soldiers have no human rights? They too have human rights, which must be respected at least by Indians ourselves.

Politicians enjoy security due to soldiers deployed around them and yet they care a damn for their human rights. This alone explains why, in spite of repeated beheading of our soldiers by Pakistani soldiers and terrorists trained in Pakistan, do they still favour a huge army of Pakistani diplomats in India, many of whom work for ISI and also favour retaining MFN status for Pakistan as also according grand welcome to Pakistani invaders like Gen Musharraf? Not just this, they also enjoy going to Pakistan as a surprise like PM Modi did some time back and what did he got in return? More terror attacks on India? This must stop, if we really want Pakistan to take us seriously.

Just one surgical strike is nothing, if it is not backed up by other concrete measures. Stop issuing visas to Pakistanis. Stop playing games with them. Stop the MFN status. which we have unilaterally extended to them since 1996. Stop sending diplomats to Pakistan and stop receiving diplomats from Pakistan in India. Stop declaring ceasefire with terrorists, who mercilessly kill our soldiers, as we saw just recently. Stop holding talks and dialogues with terrorists and stop according them VVIP treatment. Stop appointing interlocutors for terrorists.

The human rights and welfare of our soldiers are paramount. There can be no compromise on it. But most unfortunately, at the behest of our politicians, there has been  repeated compromises on it, which can never be good for the healthy being of our country under any circumstance.

Let us not forget that we owe our lives to soldiers, who defend us from not only terrorists and Pakistan but also from many other things. Whenever there is a crisis like flood it is soldiers who are called in to help and who do their best to provide us all relief, which we need in those trying times. This we must all always keep in our mind, especially our politicians, who are notorious for kowtowing in front of Pakistan knowing fully well that the people are not in favour of it.

One cannot understand why they indulge in such erratic behavior. Are they on payroll of Pakistan or its army or ISI or any other foreign power, who wishes to see India humiliated from them? Only these politicians themselves can reply best. But as long as politicians accord red carpet welcome to Pakistani invaders like Gen Musharraf, who had even threatened to nuke India during Kargil war as he feels that Pakistan alone has the birthright to invade, and continue according MFN status to Pakistan and feel proud in attending wedding ceremonies and birthday ceremonies in Pakistan, things won’t change on the ground.

Why are we tolerating Pakistani diplomats on our soil? Why are we keeping their huge army on our soil? Why are they allowed to meddle in our internal matters and speak on issues, on which they have no right to speak?

Why can’t we expel them until and unless Pakistan starts behaving normally with us for many years together? Why do we unilaterally commit ourself to WTO and accord MFN status to them? Why all parties, who have been in power since Independence, have followed appeasement policy towards Pakistan?

A very hard message needs to go out that India won’t tolerate the killing or beheading or humiliation of its soldiers in any manner and would retaliate with full force, if provoked by any country and not just Pakistan. It is high time the human rights of our soldiers too must be respected on ground and mere lip service just won’t do. It is our politicians, who remote-control all power in India, and who need to understand this the most. Sadly, it is they alone who seem to care the least. No point building more war memorials, if we take for granted our soldiers beheading, mutilation, torture or humiliation in any manner under any circumstances!

What a pity that for a terrorist like Afzal Guru, who proudly confessed his stellar role in carrying out the Parliament attack in 2001, there are thousands of voices from JNU and other universities in his support, but for soldiers, who face bullets for our safety, we don’t get to see any such voices in favour of their human rights! It is we the people who have to reform more than politicians. Politicians are mostly cunning and this alone explains why they spare no opportunity to take up any issue they feel will consolidate their vote bank in order to make them win elections! Why do eminent jurists and intellectuals not speak out vociferously in support of human rights of soldiers as they speak out in case of terrorists like Afzal?

All said and done, human rights of soldiers are supreme and if they are compromised in any manner, as we have been seeing in our country for quite a long time, then no power on earth can save us from complete annihilatio.! For this we can blame no one but our ownselves. Do we ever want this to happen?

The choice is really ours. We have to fight our own battle. No other country, whether it is USA or Russia or France etc, will fight for us.    We have to start learning to truly respect the human rights of our soldiers also, who are always there with us in thick and thin. By doing so, it will not be a big favour from us or our politicians but it is our moral and legal duty, from which we cannot run away under any circumstances.

Finally and most importantly, no citizen of India has any right to obstruct in our soldiers’ operations or work and if anybody does then they must be prepared to face bullets. To attack soldiers is nothing less than a terror attack and they have to be repelled  strongly.  They cannot be exonerated in the name of protecting human rights. Soldiers too have human rights and they must be protected and respected under all circumstances whatsoever. Those who throw stones at soldiers are themselves responsible for putting their own life in peril, for which they have just no rightto blame anyone else. Above all, Pakistan, who is constantly torturing, beheading and mutilating our soldiers, cannot be above our nation itself, which exists because of our brave soldiers, who are always prepared to sacrifice themselves voluntarily and it is high time all relations with Pakistan should be nuked, as they have shown no signs of reforming and this despite Indian politicians always procrastinating and kowtowing in front of them. Politicians must start respecting the human rights of soldiers as also all of us. Only then can our great nation become strong and truly developed.


By Sanjeev Sirohi     



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