Today while browsing FB, I saw this post from my friend Neeti. Its a letter from Malvika Lamba, an army wife and it brings out the stark difference between the world of a soldier and that of a politician. It reminded me of something that happened earlier.
A couple of weeks back, an important minister in the current government while speaking at the event for laying the foundation stone for an international cruise terminal in Mumbai port, in the presence of Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Commander-in-Chief, Western Naval Command said, “When they come to me asking for land in south Mumbai, I will never give an inch. Everyone wants to have houses and quarters in south Mumbai. Why should they live in south Mumbai? Why can’t they go to the Pakistan border, which they patrol?”. I missed this comment till my friend in the Navy told me about it.
I watched the speech and was shell shocked at the vehemence in Mr. Gadkari’s voice and his tone – all because the Navy had objections over the construction of a floating jetty at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai. Mr. Gadkari in his anger, forgot that it took the lives of Indian soldiers to protect the iconic seafront Taj Mahal hotel from terrorists who came via the sea. He couldn’t have held the fire hose, leave alone drop from a helicopter amidst suicidal terrorists !! Or the very fact that he could angrily thump the rostrum and speak at this event was also because the same Indian Navy was patrolling the borders. If the Indian Navy’s men chose to live in posh South Mumbai and not patrol the seas, Mr. Gadkari would probably be thinner and all cut up in some jail in Pakistan or worse, in some jail in India with no option to have a decent meal. Also, a certain ex-Naval officer named Jadhav is stuck in Pakistan, wrongly accused of spying and without access to justice… guess Mr. Gadkari forgot. But, of course Mr. Gadkari the politician and his friend, the poster boy for corruption, Mr. Sharad Pawar can have “posh” houses in South Mumbai while the Navy can’t get an inch of the land it protects ???? How’s that for logic?
I am waiting for a public apology from Mr. Gadkari … and I will continue to wait because it ain’t coming. And that’s what is different between the Soldier and the Politician. Mr. Gadkari – your house in Nagpur, the bungalow in Lutyens Delhi and the amazing roads that you lay everyday are all protected by the Indian armed forces. Try spending a day patrolling the border with our dear neighbours Pakistan or China and let’s see if you survive the ordeal. The armed forces secure every inch of this motherland of ours and YOU don’t own an inch of it before them. But, the politician in you and politicians like you will never understand this and that’s the true tragedy of India.
Now, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti and her FIR against an Indian army soldier…. I only want to add one question to the brilliant letter that Malvika Lamba has written – Does Ms. Mehbooba Mufti remember 1989 and the kidnapping of her sister Rubaiya ? When dreaded terrorists were released in exchange for her sister’s life, how did it feel? and those terrorists went on to help the ethnic cleansing of J&K, made the Pandits refugees in their own country and turned hundreds of army wives into widows – how did that feel ? felt good, eh? Inspite of all that, remember its the Indian soldier who protects you and the land that you live on. An FIR is what you give by way of thanks ??? What else can one expect from a politician and a politician’s daughter…. its in her genes !!
I am too distressed and pissed off … so I don’t want to write further. Do read this letter to Ms Mufti by Malvika Lamba, an army wife. I will pray for the day when there is compulsory military service and all the political heirs are sent to patrol the borders of our nation before starting their stint to earn “money”. And not to forget, the jackets that the Indian armed forces get to wear cost a pittance and not Rs. 63000/-.
Jai Hind. Jai Hind ki Sena.
OPEN LETTER TO SHRIMATI MEHBOOBA MUFTI, CHIEF MINISTER, JAMMU & KASHMIR By Malvika J Lamba
I am a fourth-generation member of an armed forces family, married into another 4th generation armed forces family, therefore, even before I begin my letter I would like to bring to your notice that nothing I say today comes without deep thought and a feeling of seethed agony to see how our brave men and women in the uniform are being treated by the civil dispensation in your state.
My letter to you today is written in my capacity as an Army wife and not so much as just another pained citizen of India. I would like to know that despite the countless times the country has demanded evidence from men from our fraternity regarding their effectiveness and humanity, what has been your contribution as a politician and the incumbent Chief Minister in ensuring that troops are looked after in a way that they feel motivated to serve you and “brethren” in the valley despite living a life marred with constant humiliation, stress and a an “awaam” that is not only thankless but also hostile.
What steps have you taken to reign in or at least counsel the gentry who leave no stone unturned while comparing a martyr like Lt. Umar Fayyaz with a murderous terrorist like Burhan Wani? Is that not the greatest disrespect to the memory of someone who made the ultimate sacrifice for the Motherland?
I would also like to ask you and by extension the Government of J&K exactly how many FIRs the State Police filed when Operation Clean Up was launched in the early months of 2017 to bring back peace in an otherwise upturned valley?
Was it convenient then to let the armed forces do their job because your fragile political career depended on it? Or is it easier now to prosecute an entire regiment because you need to win the “hearts and mind” of the stone pelting minority?
I am seeking these answers today on behalf of all those women who are sitting far away from the tumultuous events of the valley wondering if today their loved ones are safe from both grenades and stones? And while they are ceaselessly watching your back, I need to know if you are watching theirs? Because, clearly, the events since January 27th are not hinting at a State Government willing to grant our men and women in uniform the support needed to serve their country and the people of J&K with the dignity expected of the Indian Armed Forces. A few months back it was Major Gogoi, today it is Major Aditya, tomorrow it could very well be any of our husbands or brothers, what do we do then?
Did it ever strike you as ironical Madam, that the case against Major Gogoi which was so enthusiastically supported by the more liberal factions of our great country, took place during when he was on election duty defending the Kashmiri people’s right to vote, and used his Army Jeep and thinking on his feet found the best possible solution to send a message to instigators of violence that they would not get in the way of the conduct of free and fair elections on his watch. Sure his method was unconventional, but he was pushed into a corner and he worked with what he had and tied the offender to his Jeep to iterate his point, but why did everyone stop at that? Why did no one notice that the Major also ensured that no violence broke out and voting remains unaffected till the very last vote was cast? Major Aditya before being termed a “murderer” in the FIR, is a decorated officer who has proved his mettle during his tenure in the RR with four kills of Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorists to his name.
Your State Journalists and Politicians are quick to call uniformed men rapists and murderers, but then how do you explain the need to turn to these very “murderers” when the water rises in the Jhelum and there is panic across the valley. Will you please explain to me that what exactly are our “irrational” men doing in Siachen where even nature has given up?
Will you please also care to elaborate the need for the State Government of Jammu & Kashmir to turn to the “marauding” Indian Army to set up Goodwill schools in the valley or run Skill Training sessions for the “Kashmiri Awaam”, because from where I am standing, I see a young world kick boxing champion Tajamul Islam, the student of a local Army Goodwill School, being motivated by our jawans to kick hard and fight like a champion and conquer the world. Is it just us or do you too feel the pride when 9 students coached by the Super 40 Class organized by the Army crack their way into the prestigious IITs of the country?
Our men serve the nation without a flutter of self-conscious worry, I have yet to come across an officer or a jawan who would flinch at the news of being posted to the RR, for them that is the utmost honor to serve & protect the dignity of India from where it matters, the Frontlines. But what kind of an example are you setting by prosecuting an officer of the Indian Army who only chose to act in order to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. How come the police hasn’t registered an FIR against the stone pelting blood thirsty mob causing extensive damage to government property and personnel? Do you think you are any less accountable to the wife of the JCO who got hit on the head and was almost set on fire? Is a stone pelting, violence inciting youngster of more worth that the men who seek to protect and empower everyday life in the valley even if it comes at the peril of their own? I would want to know exactly what has been their contribution towards the constructive social upliftment that hasn’t already been undertaken by the Army? This is the same Indian Army, Madam, which pulled out a terrorist at the end of an encounter and took him to the hospital despite suffering fatalities of their own. Or have you chosen to forget that? Of course you have.
What is it about their selfless service and unparalleled commitment to the nation that scares you, your administration? Need I remind you, that it has been a result of the relentless presence and action of the Armed Forces that tourism has managed to make a comeback in the valley, where the bulk of your economy depends on tourists from across the country and beyond. Do you for a second feel that they would feel safer in the presence of your recently pardoned stone-pelters than they would knowing that there is an Army outpost nearby looking after their security.
It took the likes of Bollywood close to two decades and more, to feel “safe enough” to return to Gulmarg for work, making it possible for your state to reclaim its spot as a favoured tourist destination. Now I really hope Madam, that you alone are not taking the credit for the booming pony business in valley, after all, the visitors are relaxing only because there are those silent ADP marches, ROP routines taking places somewhere in the backdrop.
I can assure you, Madam Chief Minister, it takes a certain amount of courage to sit by the phone every day waiting for the call to come in assuring us that all is well where our men are posted, but it takes even more gumption for most women from our fraternity to live with the knowledge that someday that call may not come. So, I need to know from you just what are you prepared to say to all the women sitting away from their loved ones when things go south and it was your action that let those men down.
I would like to know from the administration of your state exactly how do you justify to the 70,000 plus men who made Operation Rahat a life saver for the citizens of the valley and beyond, that their hard work counts for nothing compared to your efforts to appease 2000 odd stone pelters, who I am sure will not think twice before lynching another policeman outside another mosque or try to set ablaze another olive green vehicle because in their eyes their government understands their murderous intent but does not acknowledge the dedication of the men sworn to guard you all with their lives.
These men too have a life beyond the borders, they too have families and aspirations of their own. And as someone who has grown up with olive green in their blood, I demand that you tell me how is my brother or a brother officer expected to fight with dignity for your safety when you will not even give him the scope to protect his own life and those of others who look up to him as their leader, and are willing to take the bullet should the need arise.
You may feel the need to write to the Central Home Ministry if a terrorist is getting ill-treated in Tihar Jail, but how many times have you tried to write a heartfelt letter to the father of Captain Saurav Kalia who was tortured and killed because he chose to remain loyal to the nation till his last breath.
Madam, you have a lot of soul searching to do and I hope the next time you feel safe enough to venture out on a political rally, you remember to thank the men who keep you safe even as you decide to walk all over them. It is indeed shameful that you are choosing to prosecute a brother officer for not giving in to a diabolical crowd. Its time you answer us as well for Maj Aditya has a whole family backing him up and we call this family the Indian Army and we need your answers too.
I hope better sense prevails soon
Malvika S. Lamba