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September 21, 2000
My own country
As I surfed web-sites, headline links took me to news of a suicide attack on an army camp in Beerwah, 20 km from Srinagar that left a major and 10 Indian soldiers dead.
"Ah, so what's so great about that? It happens everyday, relax," a roommate shrugged (his brother-in-law is a major general in Kargil). Once I heard this casual comment from a friend whose relative is an army major in one of the most dangerous spots in the world, my anger against terrorists turned towards my friend, as my senses went numb.
"Come on,'' I retorted, "will this be your reaction if your brave brother-in-law was in action at the army camp?" He stared at me and said, "I hope he is not."
After he left for office early, as usual, I was left to ponder about the price we are paying in Kashmir, fighting Pakistani terrorists. Do the lives of brave jawans and officers have any value to an insensitive government that does not have a strong policy on Kashmir, to a week-kneed external affairs minister who gladly exchanged dreaded Pakistani terrorists in Khandahar, to a useless home minister who is well protected by Black Cats and is happily far off from Kashmir and finally to my soulless friend who showed no concern about the attack on the army camp.
Where is India going? Where are Indians heading? Right from Laloo Prasad Yadav to Jyoti Basu, J Jayalalitha to Mulayam Singh Yadav, M Karunanidhi to K Karunakaran, what is India made of? A useless bunch of one billion people who don't value the lives of brave army men who protect India's borders.
"For your tomorrow I gave my today," goes the soldiers' song. For whose tomorrow are the brave men giving their todays. For the todays of a corrupt Jayalalitha and Laloo who looted whatever they could, For the todays of Karunanidhi whose only goal is to make his son the next cheif minister, for the todays of Basu, who is fast turning Bengal into a jungle, for the todays of L K Advani who is safely seated in New Delhi, for the todays of our great external affairs minister so that he can hand off another bunch of terrorists.
We all know what filthy stuff these men and women are made of. But what about my friend, who is an ordinary Indian? At worst he should at least show some anger. Nay, he was busy planning his evening movie. The soldier's song should be rewritten thus:
For what are these brave men dying in Kashmir, in Kargil, in Siachen, in Tripura, in Nagaland, in Manipur, in Assam? To protect our corrupt leaders who are hell bent on destroying the nation, to protect useless guys like my friend who chase cinemawallahs as though they are the greatest people on earth, to protect bureaucrats who loot the poor day in and day out.
For every soldier who dies, there is a mother who weeps in Kerala, there is a mother who loses her senses in Gujarat, there is a mother who becomes speechless in Assam, there is a mother who becomes a lunatic in Punjab.
''Oh my son, why are you fighting to protect these scoundrels who loot the mother nation?"
A few week's back, in Israel, when the soldiers launched operations against Hamas terrorists, three Israeli soldiers died in action. There was a big hue and cry in Israel over what went wrong, who botched it up, and whether there was an intelligence failure. The whole of Israel cried. Mothers wept, friends were angry, defence mechanisms were cross-checked and the government was taken to task.
What about India? On an average, five brave army jawans or officers die everyday in either Kashmir or the north-east. Is there any reaction? Nay. The silence from those who should be actually concerned is deafening. Nobody cares, not the government which should protect its citizens, not the home minister who is supposed to guard India internally, not our old prime
pinister who is busy keeping the coalition happy... nobody.
"There will be a day,
"There will be a day,
Balram works as a software engineer in the Bay area of California, USA
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