Inequality of impact

There are four terrorist attacks just before PM Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Before that for nearly a month we had border incursions both by Pakistan and China. The following message is being shared over Whatsapp –
Indian Army……untold stories. Recent attack in J&K.
It is unusual for the second-in-command of an infantry battalion to lead a quick reaction team (QRT) responding to a militant attack but when first reports of the fidayeen strike at the 31 field regiment at Mahora, Uri came early on Friday Lt Col Sankalp Kumar rushed first to the spot.

However, for those who knew the officer – who along with two soldiers of the 24 Punjab regiment died in the attack – this was not out of place. While a junior officer – lieutenant or captain – would normally lead a QRT, Lt Col Kumar was known for his never back down attitude.

In fact, the officer was never supposed to be in Uri in the first place. An almost fatal battle injury 11 years ago had written him off for field duty. In an action long ago – April 2003 – Sankalp had received a AK-47 burst in his belly.

His friends say that the injury was very grave indeed – the AK burst ripped a magazine that he was carrying on the belt, injecting live rounds in his belly. A miraculous surgery later – in which live ammunition was extracted – Sankalp received 40 stitches and a recommendation not to serve in a battle area again.

However, the young officer fought against the system for active duty and a posting with his unit in Jammu and Kashmir. Lance Naik Gurmail Singh and Havaldar Subhash Chand of the 24 Punjab died with him in Uri, fighting militants in the field that he so loved.

Rest in peace Braveheart.

Rest in peace indeed and thank you for doing what you did. But is this what these brave soldiers signed up for ? To die in a skirmish that is the creation of some politicians ? A soldier signs up to defend his country when it is invaded by hostile forces. That’s legit and completely fair.

But problems like the Kashmir issue, Naxalite insurgency, or the Mumbai Taj attack, these have been created by politicians and the price is paid with the lives of soldiers, police officers, CRPF, regular citizens and other para military forces. I don’t know enough about the Kashmir issue to comment upon it, but it’s obvious that for the past 60 years we haven’t managed to find a political solution. When the problem started, at Indpendence, there was no Taliban, there was still a democratic government in Pakistan and the army was not in power. Now sixty years later, suddenly it’s a very different problem that we need to solve… And new parties are suddenly interested. In all this the average citizen dies or the soldier dies and without any fanfare. If one politician dies, there is more collateral damage like in the case of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

The media doesn’t help, because it’s often the media house owner’s views or the anchor’s view that is arrived at through shouting matches that pass off for debates. So how do we solve this inequality of impact ? If the context changes, the problem statement should also be updated to reflect the new context and the new stakeholders have to be considered before a solution can be arrived at. Am sure the average Kashmiri wants to lead a peaceful life where he or she earns a living, is not dodging bullets and is able to raise his/her family in relative comfort. Am sure the average Pakistani wants the exact same thing and an average Naxalite wants just this.

We need this government to deliver on just these basics – a citizen should be safe, should have fair means of earning and lead a meaningful life. And can the media play its part a little more responsibly ? Be the watchdog and be the presenter of facts – let each citizen draw their own inferences, we are smart enough to do that. And we as citizens need to get more vigilant and involved, the days of armchair preaching are long gone. Get involved, think of ways to solve the problems and force the government to be more accountable.

The inequality of impact needs to be debated and thought through, so we can reduce it. Doubt if it can be eliminated though.

1 thought on “Inequality of impact”

  1. A very good opportunity was lost when Rajiv and Farooq signed the accord. People were enthusiastic, there was optimism and there was a mandate. But politicians do not want it to end, it serves their purpose. They siphon off the grants, do not want development and least of all a solution. The plight of the common man has only seen a downward slide. Nobody talks of the displaced Pundits rendered homeless overnight. Kashmir needs a Beant Singh as CM, the end defined the means.


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