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June 21, 1999

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E-Mail this column to a friend Varsha Bhosle

Trivialising Kargil, my way

Can't kid myself anymore: it's a full-blown obsession. It's, like, scrambling awake at 5 am, knowing very well there's no fresh briefing at that hour; it's in knowing Colonel Bikram Singh's every pause and glare; it's in the acquiring of a new bestfriend, poor Chindu; it's in the waiting for certain mail as if for a lover's caress; it's in the keeping track of contributions (only Rs 909,884 and $ 9,647); it's in the counting of hours for Kargil to open; it's in the Flo Nightingale fantasies. Above all, it's stamped on all the faces around me: You've become so one-dimensional... The only one not surprised is my mom. She remembers the child beseeching cousin Vivekdada to take her to his cadet school: "Don't you wonder why you were so besotted with him? I'd made the mistake of reading Mahabharat when I was carrying you."

So I gave it some thought. Hmm... either you feel or you don't. Thing is, if you do feel, you've felt it right from the beginning -- it's not an acquired trait. It's what made 10-year-old Nachiketa plead for a military uniform -- and make it his forever. One can convince a child to become a doctor, lawyer, businessman -- the incentives range from money and fame, to power and service, to knowledge and tradition, to whatever. But one can't make him join the army: What does one say, You can die while protecting the country...?

It's like the arts -- *he* must want it. And then you can't keep him away. That's how my discharged nephew's made himself available for duty. I'm preening! And devastated that my own life went so astray...

It's only concepts -- patriotism, nationalism -- that drive soldiers. Maybe that's why they're such targets for pinkos. How many times have we read on this very site that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel"...? You can't explain to them how the inviolability of your country becomes the only important thing. You can't explain why a piece of frozen land is more significant than the life of an individual -- whether a soldier or a Tata/Birla. And why, on that very scale, the fallen soldier evokes far more anguish than any other individual ever will -- why it feels like you've lost a beloved member of your family.

And when the soldier is tortured so horrendously? It's inconceivable to find parallels! For it's not just your brother, your friend brutalised, it's not just any crime, it's Mother India raped. Without these few good men, there is no India; no family, no society, no laws -- Nothing.

Do you think I'm over-reacting? Ok, heed the nuances in these sentences and tell me whether the piece appeared in Dawn, Frontier Post, Washington Post or NYT: "According to the government, it all started with heavily armed Pakistan-backed intruders... Pakistan has been accused of utilising the natural lull in Indian preparedness... in the present make-believe world, the fate of Kashmir is being decided by India and Pakistan. The Kashmiri people have not been given even a marginal role. It is strange that JKLF or militants fighting for Kashmir's liberation are nowhere in the picture. The all-embracing label of 'intruder' has possibly engulfed the whole force, fighting for the autonomy of Kashmir."

The author is Ashim Chatterjee, general-secretary of the Communist Revolutionary League of India and a former Naxal leader. The publication is The Asian Age, of June 9...

On that day, even the criminals lodged in Tihar offered their blood to the jawans wounded in the fight against Pakistan. On that day, The Daily Telegraph confirmed that regular Pakistani troops, too, were involved in the intrusion.

But scumbags live in a different world: "When national chauvinism reigns supreme, truth is the first casualty. Even when our jet fighters and helicopter were shot down and pilots captured, our government would have us believe that we did not violate Pakistan's air space... The bogey of 'country in danger' has paid handsomely in the past... one should also ponder over the real identity of these intruders. The answer may lead to a very different story."

On that day, Indian casualties stood at 60 killed, 217 injured, and 14 missing. WHAT other story can there be?

Tarique Niazi wrote in The Frontier Post, "[The] rationality in Pakistan's position has the majority of Indians re-looking at the Kashmir conflict in terms of 'justice'. In survey after survey, the majority of Indians have come to believe that the cost of keeping Kashmir is higher than leaving it alone."

What survey? What "justice"? Who wants to cede Siachen? Who wants the JKLF "in the picture"? Who gives Pakis these ideas?! Scratch an anti-India argument -- and out jumps a pinko. It's like Raj says, "Bombay's just a bunch of buildings, Kerala's just a bunch of coconut trees, let them have it all. Let's just roll over and die. Just like we did when all those barbarians came over the Khyber and Bolan Passes since time immemorial."

Elle Duce declared that Pakistan dared to attack India only because the Vajpayee government was "weak and unstable." Balasaheb retorts, "PoK didn't come into existence during Vajpayee's tenure." We all know how many thousand square kms were given away by whose mother-in-law and grandfather-in-law and to whom. Nehru's 1948 plebiscite fiasco is still stalking us. So zip it.

I've no doubt in my mind that the Kargil attack -- planned in 1985 by Brigadier Azizuddin -- was implemented in 1999 precisely because they *knew* that all these secular patriots and their media flunkies would actively work against a BJP government -- and thus help Pakistan succeed: A harassed, distracted government can't grip warfare by the balls. But Pak hadn't counted on nationalist grit...

Now there's a new issue: Election postponement. Ok, we aren't exactly a banana republic -- but from where is Advaniji going to conjure up the paramilitary troops? Frankly, I can't understand the hesitation. I'm a ghaati; I've been saying since day one: Declare emergency, gag the media, wallop the pinkos, hog-tie Natwar Singh (the guy's wayy out of control), and concentrate on the LoC.

Oh yeah, forgot the Pomeranian: "Een they aul paarty meeting hayld een Delhi, he did not tayl us that they shichuashaan resembeld a waur. But shortly aphterwaurds he made they statemint at a tradors meeting, what does it mean! They PM oph they contry shood not uttair such statemints as it wood haf implicashaans. Iph it ij a waur, let it be dealt accordingly. They inphiltrashaan not only deemonstrated puaar work oph they intellijaance agenshies but it ij also a lapse on they part oph they Gaavermint."

I tell you, only the Shroud -- through her mystic powers and love for this "vaataan" -- can understand Pranab Mukherjee.

On Thursday, the CWC met to ponder on the BJP's "politicising Kargil" (don't demand specifics; aren't any). You've seen the front page photos of the Shroud handing over a cheque to the widow of a slain pilot? Someone should inform Sonia about the need to distribute funds among the families of all the martyrs and the various orgs that do it. But unpublicised donations, shorn of photo ops, would hardly serve her patriotic purpose. Back where I come from, we call it chhotepan ki nishaani...

Then there was the Inflatable Bus: "In an utterly insensitive gesture, completely inappropriate to a time when armed forces personnel were dying in the Kargil sector, Congress supporters displayed in Delhi a structure of the shape and size of an overturned bus, which had written on it 'Delhi-Lahore-Kargil: Atal-George Pvt Ltd Co.' This cheap take-off created such a strong feeling of revulsion that the 'bus' was taken off the road," writes Hiranmay Karlekar.

Then we saw the Shroud flutter into Kala Vihar in East Delhi, ostensibly to commiserate with shaheed Lt Hanifuddin's family. For an hour, residents in the vicinity were forbidden to venture into their balconies, office-goers couldn't leave for work, and all vehicles were s hifted out. One resident fumed, "The security guards took over the apartments at 7.30 and started ordering people to move around. But Gandhi only came after 9.30 am and it was for almost three hours that we were unnecessarily troubled." Do we need these tacky publicity stunts at this time?

Actually, she doesn't have the brains to even politicise Kargil! After all, at the all-important AICC session, she played and replayed the same old dirge of her family tragedies (Mrs G dying in her lap, etc), forgetting all about the ongoing border conflict. Priorities... priorities...

But *I* know how to do it. Here's my new campaign: "Why Flight Lt Nachiketa is better suited to be prime minister." I admit, it's a difficult task, for there's no more perfect being than the Great White Hope. But, I can always try:

SACRIFICE: Sonia has sacrificed everything throughout her life -- the comforts of European climes, the status of an au pair for that of the First Bahu, her privacy, her natural aversion to high office, her inclination to only serve the party, even her own resignation. She has also sacrificed her self-respect: Sonia and her offspring are forced to live in free government housing because the taxpayer demands it. OTOH, Nachiketa flies dangerous sorties for his country, was shot down and held captive in Pakistan, and is ready to face death again. Ok, so no Indian doubts his selflessness... but is it enough?

EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE: Sonia -- None & None. But why harp on negatives? Nachiketa -- At least knows how to fly a MiG-27.

INDIANNESS: Er... umm... ah...

VIEWS: There's no issue on which anyone can allege that Sonia has any view at all. Nachiketa has to have had some view to make him join the IAF.

DIVINITY: Although it's impossible for any mortal to challenge the Oracle of Delphi's powers, we can safely assume that Nachiketa has a modicum of divine blessings, those which brought his back alive.

REGIONAL INTEGRATION: Sonia speaks more Hindi than Karunanidhi, and we need a Hindi-speaking person from the North to combat the Darth Maul forces which are rearing their head there. And, since her husband knowingly sacrificed himself in the South, she's a sacrificing widow of the South. OTOH, Nachiketa is the heart of India, the beating kind...

DIPLOMATIC SKILLS: Since journalists have never heard Sonia utter a single word out of place -- indeed, a single word even in place -- it proves her competence. However, in Pakistan, Nachiketa, too, was exhibited to journos, including BBC and CNN's, and kept his counsel.

COURAGE: To what else can one attribute Sonia's bid for prime-ministership -- without having any education and experience at all nor sufficient support? OTOH, after crashing in Pakistani territory, Nachiketa tried to escape and fired eight rounds from his 9mm pistol when enemy troops located him. (Ok, Sonia wins this one.)

LOYALTY TO COLLEAGUES: Sonia so very considerately and without an eye on personal interests let Sitaram Kesri retire gracefully. Nachiketa only strayed into enemy territory to save the life of Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja.

PERSONALITY: Nachiketa does not wave his arms around like a windmill at the people who receive him at airports. Does not leave difficult situations "in a huff." Gait and sartorial style are his own. No huge sweat stains underarms.

MASS FOLLOWING: For Congressmen, Sonia is Ma, Devi, Obi-Wan, Yoda. As for the janata, all her rallies evince its spontaneous response: In Rajahmundry, the Congress booked 9,200 buses and lorries for the purpose of spontaneous collection of spontaneous supporters; even the RTC was requisitioned for another 1,260 buses for further spontaneous transportation. Nachiketa, I'm sorry to say, loses this round :-(

P.S: If you have more candidates, mail details to the eunuchs HQ.

For Online Transfer of Funds in India & Abroad

Any where in the world in US Dollars

To send remittance for the contributions towards the Army Central Welfare Fund Account, Kargil, the remitter must instruct there bankers with the following instructions:-

Pay: First Union Bank International, 180 Maiden Lane,18th Floor, NY 10038, New York, USA


Routing Number: (FEDWIRE ABA) - 021000021

CHIPS UID No: 340828 for Credit of Account No 2000191000069

ICICI Banking Corporation Ltd: Account No. 01/6823 at New Delhi, INDIA

Name and Address of the remitter to be positively given.

On Line Transfer in India

To deposit the cheque at any branch at the following centres of ICICI Bank in India for credit of Savings Bank Account Number 01/6823 of the Army Central Welfare Fund with New Delhi Branch.

On the back of the cheques the contributor should write his name and address for issuance of the receipt by the Deputy Director, CW-8, AHQ, New Delhi.

Cheques should be drawn favouring ICICI Bank Account Army Central Welfare Fund.

Varsha Bhosle

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