Who are the first responders during flood and earthquakes? The Armed Forces.
Who has to protect the country? The Armed Forces.
Who are sent to quell insurgencies? The Armed Forces.
So why are FIRs allowed to be filed against them? This is not only disturbing but blatantly unfair. Today, we see images of our Army and Airforce rescuing thousands trapped in floods in Kerala. I see the people saying, “God came to rescue us and he was in uniform.” This is how much the ordinary people rely on Armed Forces. Till now they have rescued more than 35,000 people.
And yet there are 375 serving officers who have had to go to court to plea that they need to be protected under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act against state-sponsored FIRs. AFSPA was brought in when the states in India were under an insurgency and the Army was told to go in quell it. Insurgencies are worse than war as you don’t have an easily identifiable enemy.
When President Trump was asked if the problems in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan was like war he said it was worse than war as you don’t know who is fighting who.
One needs only to see countless visuals of soldiers fighting very well- armed terrorists in the Kashmir Valley, who are being hidden in safe houses even as violent young men are throwing rocks at them during such encounters. One just has to read day in and day out of yet another death of a Brave Heart and see his children and widow stand by his flag-draped coffin, with so much courage, that it is heartbreaking. And what about the thousands injured? Does anyone even think of their long road to recovery? Whether they will still have a job left after they recover. The army wants fit fighting men and many of the seriously injured are made to leave active service.
I have lived in the US for several years and in Thailand. Never would they allow their army to go through civilian courts. They are protected and respected as they should be for doing the work that no one else is willing to do. They do it professionally and at great risk to themselves. In the last two years in Kashmir alone hundreds of our security forces have been killed, even more, wounded in battle and there have been more than 2,000 violations on the Line of Control. And yet the state has the audacity to file FIRs against the finest in our land for doing what the state has failed to do—Bring peace to the area. It is easy for politicians and writers like Manoj Joshi to say but the soldiers should also be held accountable.
To who and for what, I ask?
For braving machine gun fire and being killed daily? For fighting an insurgency that has been simmering for decades due to a total lack of Political Will? Should not the politicians also be held responsible for asking the Army to step in? What do they expect when highly trained men are asked to protect their country and also made to clean up a mess, decades in the making by venal state politicians who play vote back politics and create the insurgency in the first place.
Politicians in the Kashmir Valley and the North East have more blood on their hands than the Army who is told to kill the insurgents but then in a shameless U-Turn are told by politicians—”I meant the ones who are against us not for us. Both have guns and both want to kill you but please do ask them if they will vote for us as then you should take out the ones who we consider hostile!”
This is exactly what has been happening for decades. Soldiers die for politician’s vote banks. This is perhaps the most shameless but only rationale there is for the FIRs that have forced hundreds of serving officers to plea for their rights in the Supreme Court.
It should never have come to this. I feel sickened by it, and stand firmly behind the men in uniform.
The nation needs to protect our most valued citizens – Our Security Forces—who have fought four wars with Pakistan and never lost. And if we are truthful, we must admit to ourselves and let Indians know that the even the land that was blood-soaked with our Brave Hearts in Pakistani territory was given up by our Prime Ministers such as in the Shimla Agreement. Yes, my countrymen in the 1971 war we had a territory as well as 93,000 prisoners of war from Pakistan. We gave it all back and got years of terror in return. We could have asked for the whole of Kashmir to be transferred to us; we could have had more territory which would have put our Armed Forces in a major advantage in future wars. We had the upper hand, Pakistan had nothing.
How do I know this as a fact? Because my father was involved in looking after the prisoners according to the Geneva Convention. And after the Shimla agreement, he was the one again asked to delineate the Line of Control with the Pakistanis.
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Article written by Ashali Varma