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|January 28, 2002||
Who wants a war?
My friends in the press have always advised me against responding to hate mail through my column. They say that I waste a whole week in giving undue importance to some frustro who has no place else to vent his hate, and that it prevents me from focusing on the current issue. I, of course, differ on all counts: One, the web has made obsolete the take on immediacy, for, unlike surface mail, email reaches a writer within minutes and can be answered in the very next column. Two, there’s no rule that says a person can flame a writer and not get flamed in return; as you all very well know, hate mailers widely circulate their vile responses among like-minded cronies, and my column is the only medium through which I can give it back to the lot. Three, and most importantly, amidst all those abuses, hate mailers sometimes do raise arguments that could exist in many unbiased readers’ minds – doubts that I must try to scotch.
Also, please note, mail sent to my rediff address is not private or personal – no matter how you mark it – because it is a response to the column. Just as surface or electronic mail sent to a newspaper belongs to the publication for printing purposes – along with the sender’s name and address – so is the email sent to me. The web is, indeed, infested by nuts: one psycho threatened to sue me for mentioning another sender’s name in my column (although I had held back the surname, only from the goodness of my pure heart).
That done, I’m gonna give one reader his 15 minutes of fame: Rama Ratnam, “Research Scientist, University of Illinois, Urbana,” wrote, “It should be clear to many readers that only the very rich and the elite of any society are ready to sacrifice the lives of the young in a battlefield. Only they will speak of strong words backed by ready action. They have nothing to lose. Presumably someone in her family will make a lot of money singing patriotic songs while the young march to their death... It must be so easy to relax in a comfortable Mumbai flat, far away from tense border regions, where I can sip my morning tea and crank out reams of pointless prose. So much easier than actually getting out there and observing how Kashmir is bleeding because of ham-handed government policies...”
Perhaps. But it’s easier still to lounge in the US of A and pontificate on what Indians in India should demand. Therefore, let’s examine how the people who do live in the war zone feel. Forget where I’ve travelled and what I’ve found, here are news items from the pinko-infested press, some with the usual sleights that twist any utterance into one pushing for peace with Pakistan:
It is more than evident what those who suffer the non-stop shelling from across the International Border and the LoC want the Indian government to do. In fact, it is only the urban elite, the “educated” “Indians,” who speak the coward’s words. As for the types grazing in greener pastures advocating compromise to the country they’ve abandoned, well, what can they do but parrot the lines of their adopted Secretary of State?? I sympathise, I really do, for their life is stressful. After all, I needn’t worry about green cards, nor can anybody kick me out of my native land, no matter what I say about our foreign policies.
It is the underprivileged at India’s frontiers who’ve been enduring the worst since Partition. And hence, they are the ones ready to sacrifice it all, even their sons, to put an end to this immoral “peace.” It is also they who are, yet again, being manoeuvred into accepting the continuous tension and killings they’ve been facing for 50 years. In the name of “humanity” – to be compulsorily showered via “people-to-people contact” – or that famous “responsible role,” the so-called educated elite summarily sentence India’s border villagers to life-long trauma and poverty, and never mind the daily body bags. The concepts of humanity and dignity – so readily available to moan and groan about minorities or beggars in cities – promptly do a Houdini when such villagers enter the picture.
Eleven years of cross-border terrorism in J&K has taken more lives than all the casualties suffered during the three Indo-Pak wars together: Since 1990, nearly 10,000 civilians were among the 28,000 who lost their lives in Pakistan’s proxy war. 568 men of J&K police, 2,485 men of the security forces, 208 SPOs and 66 VDC members have been killed. But, armed with just 12-bore rifles, young men in Doda or Lilhote or Dandkote still defend their villages from the jihadis – they don’t ask for resettlement, nor do they accept ceding of Indian territory...
You see, people who have much to lose – their pucca homes, their businesses, their cars, their home-delivered newspapers – why would they care about the gains of those in misery at the borders...? Why would they bother to learn the numbers of soldiers and civilians killed in “peace” time? This “humanity” business, and even the oh-so-rational but-what-can-we-gain-from-a-war argument, is just a cover for sheer cowardice and self-centredness. Wimps will be wimps.
Tailpiece: The video from the American Centre’s closed-circuit camera revealed that Calcutta’s armed police officers had actually bolted from the scene when the terrorists opened fire, forcing police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty to admit, “I’m ashamed that not a single shot was fired in retaliation.” Instead of drawing their weapons, the officers had ducked and then moved out of harm’s way, leaving their men, some of whom were unarmed, to face the bullets. Hmm... makes one wonder if such is the result of decades of Communist rule, or that the decades of Communist rule is the result of such character...
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