This story is about India, the largest democracy in the world in which the cheapest commodity is the blood of the Indian soldier. This story is about Kashmir.
In the aftermath of the killing of Burhan Wani, more than 3500 CRPF jawans were seriously injured in the stone pelting that ensued. No one knows how many were martyred. The nation does not care. The nation does not want to know.
The nation does not know why CRPF and Jammu & Kashmir Police jawans who are injured or unwell cannot be treated at civil hospitals in Srinagar and South Kashmir. There have been cases in the past wherein jawans of these forces who were admitted in civil hospitals, have been assaulted by mobs inside ICUs and OTs. Now, they are treated in Indian Army’s 92 Base Hospital at Badami Bagh Cantt. Kalashnikov wielding men guard 92 Base Hospital. Under the shadow of the gun, our boys are safe.
Every country, without exception, uses disproportionate force to counter terror. The United States of America invades. Russia launches air strikes on foreign soil. China “reeducates” the entire population of Uighurs. France and England send their armies to fight wars abroad, using all weapons of war.
When Army Public School, Peshawar was attacked on 16 December 2014, Pakistan reacted violently. F-16s took off from air bases and entire villages in North Waziristan and tribal areas were razed to the ground. Heavy and medium artillery was brought out, as were helicopter gunships. Civilian areas were pounded to dust. Military courts were set up overnight and terror accused were dragged out of jails and hanged. No judge, no witness, no appeal; just hundreds of blindfolded men swinging by their necks in cold, dingy cells. Visiting terror upon the doorstep of hapless civilians and use of massive disproportionate force on innocents is a time-honored tradition in the Pakistan Army.
The Indian Army is a moral army. We fight fights terrorists using the same weapons that the terrorists use; AKs, rocket launchers, machine guns, carbines, and grenades. Collateral damage is kept to a minimum. We are extremely proud of this morality. We live by this code. We die by it. Why? Because we are operating inside India. I understand that. All soldiers understand that.
But the nation must also know that this morality exacts a very heavy price. This morality costs fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. And there is nothing heavier than the body of a martyr. I have carried martyrs on my shoulders. It breaks the spirit. It is this weight of our morality that we must carry.
The Indian Army soldier can face the enemy without fear, but ask him to face the guttural scream of a widow and confusion on the face of orphans…he will do the unthinkable. This battle-scarred warrior of a hundred firefights will hesitate and take a step back. This is the price of our freedom.
So, we soldier on.