Our minister or theirs? - The New Indian Express

Our minister or theirs?

Published: 11th August 2013 07:20 AM

Last Updated: 20th January 2014 06:49 PM

It is over six months ago that Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar met a very gory end in Medhar sector in Poonch. Readers will recall that Hemraj was beheaded and the body of Sudhakar was mutilated after they were killed by a Pakistani force well inside the territory that we claim is under our control. There was plenty of sound and fury when that happened. All sorts of promises were immediately made. The Line of Control measures over 700 km of which we have managed to fence over 500 km. We tell ourselves that by this fencing we have cut off in many places traditional infiltration routes and have prevented the areas along the LoC from becoming a jaywalkers’ paradise for Pakistanis.

But is that the reality? Six months after the savage beheading, we have no additional clarity on what really happened. How the Pakistanis managed to find their way into areas under our control and ambush the Rajputana Rifles detail remains a mystery and from the looks of it will continue to remain so. At that time, the Army piously said it would give a fitting response. Our government assured us that it was capable of addressing threats.

We are yet to see evidence of that. Which is why we have five soldiers from the Bihar regiment shot dead in another ambush, again in the Poonch sector, well inside territory we allegedly control. If Pakistan is a repeat offender, we are repeat suckers. Why this should always be the case is also a mystery. Is it because we are more alert, better trained, better equipped, better disciplined and the better Army overall and have wonderful border management? To most of us it simply doesn’t make sense. If the Army had learnt anything from the previous atrocity, it is a well-guarded secret. Shockingly, our defence minister A K Antony has given the Pakistan Army a certificate of good conduct by saying that the marauders were only dressed in Pakistan Army uniform and were “terrorists”. If you thought that he was in his own sweet way urging that the Pakistan Army be labelled a terrorist organisation, you are sadly mistaken. All he is saying is that though the attackers were dressed in Pakistan Army uniform in a general way, he was not drawing any military inferences from their dress sense. We obviously have come a long way from those days when we cried ourselves hoarse that Pakistan was the “epicenter of terrorism”. Now they are a friendly country with which we want to normalise relations and play cricket so Manmohan Singh can visit his erstwhile village in Pakistan.

Naturally, the Pakistan government has denied everything. Why wouldn’t they when our own defence minister has advertised their innocence so nicely? Which brings us to the question: whose defence minister is A K Antony?  Now our government will no doubt bring out spinmasters who will anonymously tell us that what we saw was probably evidence of how difficult the Pakistan Army was going to make it for the new Prime Minister to settle down and would do its damndest to prevent him from reaching out to us and that the Army has not really forgiven him for going to Washington to sign on the dotted line to prevent Kargil from escalating and that we are the bigger country and heavily invested in the stability of our neighbour so we can help Nawaz Sharif find his feet…

Sudarshan is most recently author of Adrift

(sudarshan@newindianexpress.com)

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