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Exodus In Armed Forces: MEET THEIR GROWING ASPIRATIONS, By Col.(Retd) P. K. Vasudeva, 7 Jan 08 Print E-mail

DEFENCE  NOTES

New Delhi, 7 January 2008 Exodus In Armed ForcesMEET THEIR GROWING ASPIRATIONS By Col.(Retd) P. K. Vasudeva, Ph.D. The Indian Army is secular, apolitical and a thoroughly professional force, which is an acknowledged fact. It is arguably also one of the last credible institutions of the country. What is, however, not widely known is that in its 60th year of its Independence, it is facing severe problems.  Officers in the armed forces are keen to shed their uniforms This is despite Defence minister A K Antony’s promise of "a good deal" for them in the Sixth Pay Commission In 2007 over 1,500 officers from the defence services have already applied for premature release/retirement following offers of lucrative jobs in the corporate world.  It is, therefore, essential to have a strong and professionally-led army controlled by capable officers having impeccable credentials, strength of character and integrity, which is vital to the national interest. A strong army can be a great deterrence and support for the Government to face any kind of enemy. Therefore, an exodus from the defence services in large numbers should be a grave cause of concern to the nation.  With the battlefield environment now being dominated by sub-conventional warfare, our forces are engaged in combating a hidden and undefined enemy. The use of high technology and the ever-increasing stress levels calls for leaders and men possessing a high educational standard, physically fitness and mentally alert personality. Technical and professional qualifications other than engineering and medical would also be the need of the hour. Two factors are vital to ensure that the military gets good material for its rank and file. The first is to ensure that the system of military administration, which is increasingly being plagued with corruption, sycophancy and nepotism, is kept clean, transparent and fair. The other is to make the pay and allowances commensurate with the tough service conditions and personal hardships faced by the troops. The remuneration should commensurate with the best available in the corporate world, as life in the Services in the face of the enemy is most hazardous than any of other existing services in the country.  As the Sixth Pay Commission is engaged in revising the pay and allowances of Central Government employees, including the armed forces personnel, the three Service Chiefs have already submitted their memorandum to it. According to reports, the Services are seeking a five-fold increase over their existing salaries to attract the best recruits and to check the growing exodus of officers.  It is for the first time that the three Services have jointly submitted a report to the Sixth Pay Commission. The report was based on a study carried out by the College of Defence Management (CDM), Secunderabad, at the behest of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS).  A group comprising 12 CDM officers from the three Services and headed by a Brigadier made a presentation to Antony in May last about the model, which talks about "military compensation". The report presents a dynamic economic model created after studying the economic models of various developed and advance democracies.  According to recent reports, the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) is seeking a four-fold increase in salaries for its entire staff, besides significant performance-based monetary incentives for scientists from the Sixth Pay Commission. The organisation is also seeking an additional 30 per cent hike in basic salary for scientists as intellectual capital pays for generating intellectual property rights.  Several other incentives such as increased participation in international seminars outside the country to update them on technical developments, increase in study leave for scientists and an additional grant for higher academic studies, are also being sought for DRDO personnel.  Among all the categories of the Army, it is the doctors, followed by the engineers, who are the "most adversely affected". A study undertaken by two senior Army Medical Corps doctors, published in 2004, revealed that there was overall a low level of job satisfaction among medical officers. Besides, other pay and allowances, all doctors are entitled to non-practicing allowance, which is 25 per cent of the basic pay.  Recently, the armed forces went in for a tie-up with the Indian Institutes of Management for conducting capsule courses for officers nearing retirement so that they could re-orient themselves in civilian management practices for post-release employment. Ironically, this arena is overflowing with applications. Here six-month intensive business management course is being held for Service officers in IIMs, XLRI, Management Development Institute (MDI) and Narsee Monjee Institute of Management, which is attracting uniformed personnel in hordes.   The Directorate General of Resettlement has made some earnest efforts to assist the retiring officers to transit to a second career. Such officers are now well-placed in the corporate sector and are drawing handsome remuneration—in some instances, more than what they were drawing in the Services. It is important to note that the defence community has been clamouring for a separate pay commission for the armed forces since a long time. Its argument being that no member of the armed forces is included in the Pay Commissions and that civilians are unable to comprehend the tough service conditions, ground realities and military ethos while deciding the pay and allowances in the Services.  All major democracies have a separate Pay Commission for the armed forces. Even the United Kingdom, whose administrative pattern was followed by India post-Independence, has since then set up a separate Pay Commission for its soldiers.  In a letter to the President recently, former Lok Sabha MP, Lt Gen S.P.M. Tripathi (Retd), and six other retired generals and air marshals have expressed serious doubts over the Sixth Pay Commission meeting the aspirations of the armed forces. They said: "We have experienced that successive Pay Commissions have progressively wronged the defence forces in fixing their pay and allowances and apprehend that this step-motherly treatment may be repeated by the SPC." This, they add “has essentially been so because the Pay Commission members had no knowledge of the armed forces”.   In every democracy, these hardships are termed as the "X" factor and compensated through pay, perks and pensions. However, either the meaning of the "X" factor is not understood by the Pay Commissions or they have deliberately been ignoring it.  The British military is also in the grip of personnel crisis after the departure of a substantial number of servicemen in the past one year, prompting concerns that the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan could push the Armed Forces to breaking point. The latest quarterly figures for the RAF show that it is now more than 3,500 short of a requirement of 45,000 personnel. More than 1,000 have left since April 2007.  One of the veterans of the British army said, "Bribe them to join. The U.S. military is offering $20,000 for veterans to re-join their forces. So why don't we open up the vault and see what happens."  Many European countries still have National Service, though the UK abolished it way back in 1960. This Service was, in fact, a perfect way to give young people coming from  disadvantaged backgrounds a sense of respect for what they can become and can do.  India could consider introducing this to fill up the growing deficiencies. Some other recommendations for retaining the armed forces personnel in the service could be: Pay the armed services personnel properly, i.e. a lot more than they would get in civil life; Provide excellent accommodation for them and, especially, their families;     Provide the best possible arms, training and equipment; Look after the wounded troops in Military Hospitals; Change the warrant of precedence as it was after Partition and pay attention to perquisites like travel, LTC, easy visa facilities for visiting abroad.  Thus, give them a country worth fighting for. Is this too much to ask of this politically correct and inept government? I am afraid, the answer is yes. But if we took the above steps there would be no recruitment problems and no overstretch either. Bring back the pride and respect they commanded in the fifties. Is anyone listening? ---- INFA (Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)
Indo-Us Deal Print E-mail
Heartbreak Of Andher Nagri: LITTLE FOR AAM AADMI TO CELEBRATE, By Poonam I Kaushish;29 December 2007 Print E-mail
 

POLITICAL DIARY

New Delhi, 29 December 2007

Heartbreak Of Andher Nagri

LITTLE FOR AAM AADMI TO CELEBRATE

By Poonam I Kaushish

 

Roll out the drums. Uncork champagne and welcome the New Year. New hopes. New dreams and new promises. Do you really think I am serious? Is there truly something to cheer and cherish? To look forward to?

 

Jokes apart, how should one begin an epitaph of the year gone by? Twelve agonizing months of anger and anguish. Of an all-round decline, barring, of course the booming economic front, with the rich getting filthy rich. Wherein things hit the rock bottom politically, administratively and socially. Of a disparate India searching for her soul under the increasing onslaught of immorality, and criminalization. With little thought for the aam janata, growing minority appeasement, casteism and terrorism. That, dear countrymen, is what the New Year is all about. Underscoring much that continues to be wrong in India.

 

One does not need to look far. Let’s start with our polity. After all, everything begins and ends with them in our democracy. And it needs no reiteration that the way they are going we might as well sound the bugle of the beginning of the end. No, I am not being pessimistic or insensitive. I am only stating a harsh reality. Former President Abdul Kalam was ever so right when he lashed out at India’s “decision makers with small minds” and deeply grieved over the “shortage of leadership with nobility.”

 

Think. Isn’t it ridiculous that a country as vast as India and boasting of a billion-and-growing population is swinging like a yo-yo between hope and despair, thanks to the fracas between partners. The Left has the Congress-led UPA profusely sweating over the Indo-US nuclear deal. Wherein it has threatened to pull the plug if the Government goes ahead with it. This eyeball to eyeball confrontation between gentleman Manmohan Singh and the thorny Left has pushed the country into suspended animation.

 

Today, post the BJP’s resounding victories in Gujarat and Himachal, the basic issue is not the Indo-US nuclear deal or whether the UPA Government stays or goes. Or, who is to blame and why? But the most striking aspect of this crass episode is the sad spectacle of today’s political class capriciously exposing their hollowness and hypocrisy of political commitment and subordinating national interest to petty personal interests and egos. Thus undermining further the people’s eroding faith in democracy as a desirable system.

 

Just see. The country is in the throes of deadly terrorism and instead of coming to grips with it, the UPA and the Left are both humming about a mid-term poll, not about national interest, stability and good governance. Last week, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s brutal assassination underscored as never before that India is in the crosshairs of terrorists, serious and deadly terrorists. Please note. Of the 670 districts in the country, as many as 270 are terror-prone and 70 of these have already been ravaged by terrorists. Terror has already cost India more than 72,000 civilians and 12,000 security personnel.

 

More worrisome is the fact that 15 States are Naxalite-hit and there are 40 Naxalite groups active in India. Having links with Pakistan’s ISI and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Making even the semblance of governance virtually impossible in half the country. Worse, they are running a state within a state, with their own parallel revenues. In Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, teenagers are busy romancing the Naxalites. The terrorists’ war games of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” have earned them more cadres. Even if it is for two square meals a day and chicken thrice a week.

 

Are these merely stray incidents of violence? No, a big no. They are just torch-bearers of the rising peoples anger and discontent against the widening disparities sweeping across the country. They have seen through the “sham of democracy” and refuse to say die. Call it the Chak De effect, they have made poverty their USP. Whereby they no longer will tolerate injustice or inequality. The lathi and gun is now the symbol of their disillusionment with the polity.

 

Tragically, nobody has time for the aam aadmi’s growing disillusionment with the system which explodes in rage. Turn to any mohalla, district or state in the country, the story is mournfully the same. Resulting in more and more people taking law into their own hands. Borne out by the increasing chakka jams, rioting, looting and burning of buses. Capital Delhi is replete with gory tales of road rage resulting in murders. The system has become so sick that women today are being raped in crowded trains with co-passengers as mute spectators. Sporadically converting the country into andher nagri.

 

Another sad reflection of the times is that minorityism and reservations are the flavours of the season. Anyone and everyone is busy wooing the minorities in the garb of reservations in the educational institutions, recruitment in Government services and bank loans if one is a Muslim. More. The Muslims now have the first claim on Government largesse, a la Manmohan Singh. Are the majority of Indians second class citizens?

 

Nothing epitomizes this better than the brazen communal campaigning witnessed in the just concluded Gujarat Assembly poll. Astonishingly, the ball was set rolling by the Congress supremo, Sonia Gandhi. Wherein she denounced Modi as a maut ke saudagar. Why? Because the police killed ‘terrorist’ Soharrabdin in a fake encounter. Retaliated Modi, “It is they who are hand in glove' with maut ke saudagar. Till today, Afzal Guru, who masterminded the attack on Parliament, hasn't been hanged, defying the Supreme Court. “Gujarat ke dharti pe maut ke saudagar nahin rahne doonga!”

 

Raising a basic question: Should democratic elections be fought merely on the negative and ill-defined premise that my enemy is a maut ka saudagar? Why? Because Modi refuses to fall in line with the Congress’s so-called pseudo-secularism? Does he not head a democratically elected Government? Sadly, as oft is the case, power breeds arrogance and absolute power breeds absolute arrogance. Intoxicated by power, all forget that this arrogance often leads to defeat. The BJP’s victory in Gujarat and Himachal should be a lesson to Sonia and her chamchu brigade!

 

Not only that. Rebellion is brewing in the countryside. From Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal to Pune and Vidarbha in Maharashtra, the reaction of the farmers to the Special Economic Zones, the battle of the illiterate village woman in Meerut for her pension or of the weaver in Kancheepuram for his pay are a sure give-away that the aam aadmi is angry, very angry. Either he too partakes the economic cake or else he will stop you from doing so. Anger will no longer be dormant or their life treated as their tryst with destiny. The Asli Bharat wants its share of Brand India.

 

True, the intelligentsia and political pundits will dismiss the foregone as an over-reaction. But that would be both myopic and tragic for the country. The polity’s callous and lackadaisical reaction to the farmers suicide says it all. Compensation is virtually non-existent. Where have the hundreds of crores gone? Even the Prime Minister has rued the fact that the monies are not percolating down to the end user.

 

Yet for our polity, India is Incredible! Economically speaking, our cash tellers are overflowing. Multinationals are wooing everything Indian as never before. India is the flavour and toast globally and on the threshold of becoming a super power. Indian tycoons are the new international takeover kings. The 200 million rich and powerful exult in the luxury of Brand Reel India.

 

Trust our politicians to lap it up and yell from the rooftops: India is set to rule the world, it has arrived. Where? More to the point, from where? Sadly, beyond the financial might of overflowing tillers et al of Brand India lies the squalor and the filth that is the reality of Brand Asli Bharat. Which no amount of sops or verbosity of Mera Bharat Mahan can disguise.

 

Shockingly, 77 per cent of India’s population of more than one billion lives on just Rs 20 a day. Not only that. A staggering 86 per cent of our working population is in the unorganized sector without any security cover. There are over 12 lakh manual scavengers who load human excreta with their bare hands. These scandalous facts have been compiled by Arjun Sengupta’s National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector. Yet, neither the UPA Government or Parliament has so far bothered to respond.

           

Worse, nearly 44 million children aged 5-14 years are engaged in economic activities and domestic and non-remunerative work. Another 74 million children are neither enrolled in schools nor accounted in the labour force and come under the category of ‘Nowhere Children’. And yet we talk of a good deal for Gen Next? Mera Bharat is indeed Mahan!

 

In sum, the country stands at the crossroads of destiny. It is time for the masses, especially its silent majority, to think beyond the country’s petty power-at-all-cost polity, throw out the scoundrels and look at the perilous implications for India’s unity, integrity and the future. True, a people, get the leaders and the Government they deserve. But, at the end of the day, are we going to mortgage our conscience to ‘small minds’? We need leaders and people with grit and determination. To build a new and honourable India in 2008. ----  INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)           

 
Now Communal Budgeting: WILL PM STAND UP FOR INDIANS, By Poonam I Kaushish; 22 December 2007 Print E-mail

POLITICAL DIARY

New Delhi, 22 December 2007

Now Communal Budgeting

WILL PM STAND UP FOR INDIANS

By Poonam I Kaushish

 

Pyare Musalman bhaiya! Ab main aapki aur khidmat kar sakta hoon? (Beloved Muslim brethren. How else can I serve you now?) It needs no guesses to know who could have uttered these words. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of course! Remember, he said not so long ago that the Muslims had the first claim on the country’s resources.

 

Simplistically, minorityism has once again replaced cronyism as the fashion statement of the week. Take a 360 degree turn anywhere and minority appeasement hits you in the face. All in the garb of improving the Muslims’ quality of life (sic) which translates into “please give me your vote.” Never mind that it holds out monsterous portends for India’s unity and national security.

 

How else does one react to the Prime Minister’s latest bonanza for the minorities by earmarking 15 per cent funds of the 11th Five Year Plan “to enable them to become active participants in economic growth”. Sic. Speaking at the National Development Council, Manmohan Singh added, “This Plan lays special emphasis on the problems of the minorities. It has specific, focused programmes, both for skill development and education and also for improving the basic infrastructure in areas inhabited predominantly by these marginalised groups.”

 

But the Prime Minister had not bargained for an angry outburst from the BJP, which lambasted him for his “communal budgeting.” Gujarat’s Hindutva icon, Gujarat Chief Minister, Narender Modi, angrily asked: “What exactly is the message the Government proposes to send across the country by this discrimination?” Demanding a review of the PM’s 15-point agenda for the minorities, he warned that this was necessary “in the interest of maintaining the social fabric of the nation. It will not help the cause of taking the Indian people together on the path of development."

 

A defensive Manmohan Singh tried hard to dispel Modi’s misgivings by asserting that “the plan does not attempt to divide people on the basis of caste, creed or gender or religion." But there were few takers for his argument. The crucial question is: Does poverty have any religion? What has religion got to do with the Government’s strategy for inclusive growth? Does ‘inclusiveness of Muslims’ mean at the cost of other groups?

 

Arguably, how does it better the lot of the masses, if a few Muslims get benefited? When does minorityism supercede equality assured by our Constitution? Are quotas based on religion and community the answer for maintaining India’s social fabric? And more important, it’s crucial harmony?

 

Given the level of dishonesty, populism and irresponsibility which increasingly governs our political system, this step, like the previous ones, will be an invitation to disaster. In fact, a senior member of the Planning Commission was horrified by this “highly divisive” proposal. The member took up the matter informally with some colleagues warning: We will end up dividing each district with a separate authority to oversee the fund dispersal, then towns and cities and their mohallas and, finally, we will be left with 650 new de facto states.” All to no avail. 

In fact, if truth be told, the Muslim vote bank has become the tour de force of Indian politics. Towards that end, the UPA has recklessly moved quite a distance in its pro-Muslim charter. First, it set up a National Commission to examine the question of quotas for socially and economically backward sections among the Muslims.

 

Then came the Sachar Report “on social, economic and educational status” of the minority community. Next a Minority Affairs Ministry. Followed by the Ranganatha Mishra Commission for Linguistic and Religious Minorities, which has recommended 10 per cent reservation for Muslims in Government jobs.

 

Not just that. We also have the latest bonanza. A panel headed by academician Amitabh Kundu to remove anomalies in the representation of Muslims in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. An Equal Opportunity Commission headed by eminent jurist N R Madhav Menon. The Government has also identified 90 minority-concentration districts for focused attention.

 

Clearly, the year 2006-2007 will go down in Indian history as the Year of the Muslim. Thus giving a major boost to diabolical communalism. Statistically, a large section of the Muslims do need a better quality life.

 

Data collated by Sachar and others show that socio-economic indicators for Muslims were below those for OBCs in many cases. (Recall also that most well-to-do Muslims, barring their lowest rung, left for Pakistan in 1947, a fact overlooked by Sachar) About 59 per cent were illiterate, only 10 per cent went to school and a mere eight per cent opted for higher education. Worse, even as they were vastly under-represented in official jobs, they were grossly over-represented in India’s prison population.

 

None can deny that the Government has a special responsibility to help uplift the minorities and the backward classes. But we also need to remember that if reservations based on castes are bad, affirmative action on communal basis is horrendous. It cannot be justified by ominous reasoning that it would bring the Muslims into the mainstream and ensure harmony between the majority and the minority communities. Moreover, it would prevent Muslims from being exploited any more as vote-banks by the so-called secular parties.

 

Really? Aren’t the intentions of the Congress and other so-called secular parties just that? Exploitation of these minorities in the name of social and economic upliftment. With our netagan merrily converting positive affirmation into vote percentage. Specially when they can reap a political windfall of over 70 per cent votes via reservation. Never mind, if it pushes India back by a century and plays havoc with the unity brought about by the Raj.

 

Arguably, the Congress has ruled India for nearly 50 years. What has it done to better the lot of the Muslims? Zilch. Only used them as milch cows for votes in return for promises galore of a better deal. Post Independence, Nehru increasingly politicized religious energy. But he never polled more than 43.6 per cent of the popular mandate. Significantly, the Muslim vote constituted 12 to 15 per cent of his total vote. Consequently, Muslim appeasement became a matter of life and death. To be manipulated and held hostage by dubious promises.

 

Indira Gandhi firmly reused to countenance any demand for reservations for Muslims in Government jobs or Public Sector, formally or informally. But even she quietly acquiesced in the carving of a separate Muslim majority district of Mallipuram in Kerala by the CPM Government headed by Namboodiripad, to keep its nationwide vote bank intact.

 

Rajiv Gandhi bowed to the demands of the fundamentalists in the Shah Bano case. Now his widow, Sonia, as the Congress supremo, has carried the family tradition one step further. The Congress not only came out in favour of a reservation policy on religious basis in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA Government but Sonia has since chosen to play footsie with the Jamiat-ul-Ulema.

 

Let us for a moment think beyond vote-bank politics of our petty power-at-all-cost polity and look at the perilous security implications of all the ‘minority’ decisions. Which are fraught with dangerous implications for the unity of the country. It is willy-nilly encouraging the Muslim leadership to go communal, even resurrect the once-hated and anti-national Muslim League (to promote welfare of the community) and dictate India’s national agenda.

 

All this could eventually result in reservation for Muslims in Parliament and State Assemblies and even separate electorate a la the British Raj. Our self-serving leaders forget that communal virus spreads fast when they turn a Nelson’s eye to forces wedded to religious bigotry, social obscurantism and violence thinking only of themselves. It even encourages recklessness. Remember, how the UP Minister for Haj offered a huge award for killing the Danish cartoonist for caricaturing Prophet Mohammad.

 

Tragically, the Congress is unleashing a Frankenstein. Does it realize the ramifications of its actions? It could well be the first step in sowing the seeds of another partition --- a Muslim India and a Hindu India. There is no place for double standards or the Orwellian concept of ‘more equal than others’ in a democracy. Our Constitution provides for equal opportunities for all irrespective of caste, creed or sex.

 

Or we shall end up condemning ourselves and our country to repeating history. Where a nation can be plunged into communal anarchy once again. Remember, a nation is primarily a “fusion of minds and hearts” and secondarily a geographical entity. This portioning of the mind has brought us virtually to the cross-roads. How long will we allow brazen communalism to continue playing havoc with India’s unity, harmony and integrity? Will the PM please stand up for ‘we Indians’!  --- INFA

 

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)                        

  
Fake Police Encounters: NO USE FOR LIVE TERRORISTS!, By Poonam I Kaushish;New Delhi,15 December 2007 Print E-mail

POLITICAL DIARY

New Delhi, 15 December 2007

Fake Police Encounters

NO USE FOR LIVE TERRORISTS!

By Poonam I Kaushish

 

In the wee hours of 26 November 2005, Sohrabuddin Sheikh was gunned down by the police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The Gujarat Government claimed that he was a member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and was on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi. In Allahabad a year later, Pintu Mishra, described by the police as a small-time criminal, was “bumped” off because of his terrorists’ links. In 2007 an 18-year old boy, Abdul Rehman, was killed in Srinagar by the security forces for being hand in glove with the Jaish-e-Mohammad.

 

All three killings made headlines. All had one tenuous common link: the three were killed in fake police encounters. In, fact, the Supreme Court is presently hearing a petition against the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad Chief, DG Vanzara, for having Sohrabuddin killed as also for 21 other ‘encounters’ between 2003-2006. Modi has been hauled up for contempt for having spoken about Sohrabuddin and his killing during his controversial campaign for the Assembly poll.

 

Lost in the din of moral outrage against “fake killings,” is the larger picture: how does one combat the scourge of deadly terrorism which has enveloped India in its octopus-like embrace. Think. Of the 670 districts in the country, as many as 270 are terror-prone. Of these, 70 districts have already been ravaged by terrorists.

 

Terror has already cost India more than 72,000 civilians and 12,000 security personnel. Self-proclaimed Islamic terrorists alone have killed 5,617 Indians in the last three years. In fact, since 2004, India has lost more lives to terrorist attacks than the whole of North, South and Central America, Europe and Eurasia put together.

 

Each terror attack elicits a predictably standard State response, mostly soft and ritualistic. We continue to wallow in the false belief that wars are games born in the minds of men which can be won peacefully by merely waving the white flag. Or we promptly initiate a blame game. The BJP’s fake encounters vis-à-vis the Congress going soft on terrorism. Besides, terror has become a big yawn.

 

Indeed, Acharya Kriplani was ever so right. When he described Indians as the world’s biggest hypocrites and humbugs. We exhaust precious national energy, time and money on individual issues a la Sohrabuddin, but twiddle our thumbs when it comes to defying the Supreme Court verdict on Afzal Guru and not hanging the mastermind of the attack on Parliament in 2001. Why? Thanks to opportunistic political expediency. Tom-tomming human rights violations nets votes and helps score brownie points with the Muslims and their vote-banks.

 

Most sadly, the UPA Government has callously ignored the strong signal it has sent to the Muslims that the Government will not do anything which may even remotely hurt the Muslim sentiment, terrorism or no terrorism. Plainly, this is appeasement at its crassest worst. Moreover, there is no sense of shame or remorse that the families of those who laid down their lives to defend Parliament have returned the gallantry medals and monies in sheer and understandable disgust.

 

No amount of appeasement will change the intentions of the terrorists who are determined to bleed India whatever it takes. Forgetting that a war can be won only by a bigger war! Between 1998-2000, the special squads of Mumbai police ‘cleaned up’ the 300-strong Mumbai underworld with an average of 100 encounters a year. That is about eight a month. The police went by the Israeli strategy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The officers were feted as super-heroes. Bollywood even immortalized them.

 

In Punjab, mouthing platitudes that the law would take its own course, talking ad nauseum about the iqbal of the State and upholding human rights, did not end the Sikh militancy in the 80’s. In fact, these measures proved to be an exercise in futility. No witness was willing to give evidence and no judge a verdict for fear of the terrorists. Terrorism was finally snuffed out by hitting back with State terror. Today, KPS Gill who spearheaded the State terror is lauded as a hero and his advice eagerly sought.

 

In Kashmir, Indian troops and police are known to commit atrocities day in and day out. Most Indians are shocked by this brazen brutality but accept it as an unavoidable part of the battle against militants. Ditto is the case in West Bengal. In the late 1960s and early 1970s when the Naxalite movement threatened the State, both the ruling CPM and the Congress colluded in crushing the Naxals by counter State terror. In Nandigram too, the CPM has thumbed its nose at the rule of law and described it as “morally and legally” correct. 

 

Arguably, Modi is right in this milieu when he asserts that the Centre and its UPA rulers have adopted double standards. Fake encounters are bad and unacceptable in Gujarat but right and much-needed in Punjab, Kashmir etc. How does one draw a distinction between one fake encounter and another fake encounter? Is, the police more sinned against than sinning in dealing with ruthless terrorists who enjoy the advantage of choosing the target, the place and the time?

 

It is an open secret that the police time and again not only take recourse to third degree methods in order to extract truth from alleged criminals but also kills them with impunity. True, this is abhorrent and unacceptable strictly from the human rights point of view and should be used only in extreme circumstances. It is also true that the security forces have abused power to dispense their own brand of rough and ready ‘justice’ on innocent persons, dubbed terrorists. More often than not to earn a reward and promotions. Or to kowtow to their political masters.

 

However what does one do in a situation where a terrorist holds the State hostage? Can a nation afford to sit back and let militancy gain an upper hand? Where militants call the shots? Isn’t it an inescapable side-effect of the battle against militants. Clearly, when the State’s existence is in peril, the only way to hit back is to carry the fight into the enemy camp effectively.

 

At times State terror can be justified so long as it for the greater common good. Former Punjab Governor, the late Dharma Vira (ex-Cabinet Secretary), was ever so right when under a spell of President’s rule during the height of Sikh militancy in the State he directed: “I have no use for live terrorists!” Indeed, the Kandhar fiasco would never have happened if only the three hijackers, Masood Azhar, Omar Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar had been duly eliminated and not jailed.

 

Remember a terrorist has no caste or creed. For him terrorism is the religion. Be it a Hindu, a Muslim or a Sikh. He is an invisible enemy who uses our resources and freedom to hit us at will. An enemy that has no borders and no scruples. Adept in exploiting the latest technologies, he identifies and exploits our weaknesses. While we talk, he acts. Inflicting maximum loss at minimum cost. All at our expense.

 

Worse. We have failed to give ourselves stringent laws that security experts have been demanding for long. Like the defunct POTA, which is tough but provided for all the safeguards suggested by the Supreme Court in TADA. True, POTA was not able to end terrorism. Parliament was attacked when it was in operation.

 

Nevertheless, POTA helped in speedily tackling cases of terrorism and bringing terrorists like Afzal Guru to book. Such a revamped anti-terror law would send a much-needed signal down the rank and file of terrorists that India means business. But for obvious reasons, the Congress-led UPA Government chose to repeal POTA.

 

India needs to understand that when terror strikes, nations are expected to hit back with maximum force and carry the fight into the enemy camp. It is not enough to possess unrelenting, unremitting muscle power. On occasions it becomes necessary to display that power. Like the US and UK which have tougher laws than our dumped POTA and TADA.

 

Alas, the Centre continues to grope in the dark about how to deal with terrorism. This will go on and on till it is clear about fundamentals. The terrorism we face today is no longer terror in someone else’s backyard. Or the prerogative of spy thrillers. Terrorism poses a deadly challenge that can be met only through ruthless State power, not namby pamby platitudes. Remember, when our liberalism and freedom becomes the enemy’s Kalashnikov it is time for India to wake up and do some honest soul searching a la Mahabharat! ---- INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

 
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