At one corner of the park, there were elderly Rajputana Rifles veterans wearing white kurtas with colorful “safas”. I spoke to them. They bore names like Rathore, Chauhan, Shekhawat and Bhati. These were Rajputs from far-flung deserts villages of Rajasthan. They came to pay homage to their “sahab”, an officer they had never even seen. Lt. Umar was probably not even born when these veterans had retired.
What relationship does an octogenarian Hindu from Haryana or Rajasthan have with a twenty-two year old Muslim man from Kashmir? Why does a young Rajput teenager touch his grandfather’s feet and swear vengeance for the death of that young Muslim man? What prompts a serving army officer’s wife to break down and say that her young son, all of 12 years, will one day join the army to avenge Umar? For all those who saw a political angle of minority appeasement in that gathering of 13 May, I have no other words or explanation to offer.
I address the naysayers when I say this. I sincerely seek apology if I sound rude, but unless you have worn the uniform I would find it impossible to explain, and you would fine it difficult to understand. There are bonds that run deeper than religion, caste and race. These are bonds forged by blood spilt together. When a man is dying, screaming in agony, with his head on your lap and he calls you his brother, you tend to forget which God he prayed to.
The Indian Army is not fighting elections in Kashmir that it has to resort to minority appeasement. Please think about this. You have every right to question your army, but I think the Indian Army has earned enough respect that when you do question it; you do not wear the same glasses that you do while questioning your local politician.
Kashmir is no longer a political problem. It was, some time back. It no longer is. As I write these lines, the Hizb-ul Mujahedeen is desperately seeking to bring its willful commander, Zakir Musa, back into the folds. Reports from the Valley say that Musa is forming another terror group, one that owes allegiance to al-Qaeda. Apparently, cutting off the heads of Hurriyat leaders and displaying them at Lal Chowk is no longer a deal breaker.
Why is the HM trying to get Musa back? Because its masters in Rawalpindi know that “Kashmir Mangey Azaadi” no longer pulls at the heartstrings, as it used to. Radical, militant Islam now drives the narrative in Kashmir. Most Kashmiris are being weaned away from the argument of the UN Resolution in Kashmir. The new argument is that Kashmir wants to be part of Pakistan because Pakistan is an Islamic nation. They don’t want “Azaadi”. They want Nizam-e-Mustafa.
What is this fuss about Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat? Kashmiriyat died on 19 January 1990. It was on that day when Maulvis proclaimed loudly from mosques that Kashmiri Hindus has two hours to leave their homes, and that they must leave their women behind. Lets stop beating a dead horse.
We see ISIS flags in downtown Srinagar and it bothers us not a bit. In any other country, it would have been the perfect justification for ordering an air strike. But this is India, after all. Strong condemnation is often the preferred substitute for a Hellfire missile.
The Kashmir Valley is placed precariously on edge. This is also our doing. Let us, for one minute not put the entire blame on Pakistan alone, notwithstanding the fact that its sins are many. Pakistan started the problem. We let it grow due to our submissive approach.
Quoting a famous Quranic Hadees, I have said before that “paradise is under the shade of swords”. What you truly love, you must be willing to defend with violence.
Lt. Umar was from the Rajputana Rifles. The motto of the regiment is “Veer Bhogya Vasundhara”. The brave shall inherit the earth.
The regiment is telling us something. It is time to listen.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
(Article replushed from blog of Major Gaurav Arya is Indian Army veteran of anti-insurgency operations in Kashmir)