By K.N. Pandita
“The fact that numerous infiltration attempts have been foiled successfully should not lull us into complacency”, roared the GOC-in-C Northern Command Lt-Gen K T Parnaik while addressing the forces during his recent visit to defence positions in Akhnoor-Poonch sector. His visit had the twin purpose of updating on defence preparedness of his troops, and reviewing ongoing counter infiltration operations in both sectors. The strategy of accelerating counter-infiltration operations all along the LoC at vulnerable points is the brainchild of our legendary Commander of Northern Command. Nailing the infiltrators down at the entry point is the successful strategy of anti-militant operations in Kashmir. It has paid dividends, and in the words of the Commander “the enemy is at run”. But that does not mean the forces will be complacent about the task they are asked to perform. The enemy, too, has its proxy war strategy, and all challenges have to be met.
The saga of Indian Army’s operations in Jammu and Kashmir, right from the morning of 26 October 1947, when the troops of 1 Sikh Light Infantry first landed at Srinagar airport to defend city against the swarming lashkars of the tribesmen commanded and directed by Pakistani regulars, down to the address of the Commander of Northern Command the other day, is unique and matchless in the military history of the world. Heroic resistances of our soldiers in the face of devastating odds and at great sacrifices makes this grateful nation pay tribute to them and raise its head high in pride. Is there an Indian who will not be proud of Brig. Rajendra Singh, Lt. Col Rai, Major Somnath Sharma, Brig Usman, Havildar Hamid and many more martyrs who staked their lives at Kashmir front in the defence of the motherland? These bravest of the brave sons of India performed such feats of gallantry as remain imprinted on our history in letters of gold. To us, to the thankful nation, they are immortal, and their everlasting message to the nation is that this great country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will never be allowed to be tampered with. That is also the message which the Commander of the Northern Command has conveyed to his jawans and to the nation of and on.
Yet, along with the role of defending the country against foreign aggression or internal subversion, our Army has simultaneously taken upon itself the unusual task of socializing with the civilian population by providing succour in whatever way possible to the needy populace in remote and landlocked or snow bound areas of the State. This has been in the form of providing first aid and medical support to the needy, clearing roadblocks owing to landslides or snow storms, rescuing civilians from disaster or natural calamity, providing army schools, taking school going children on Bharat Darshan tours, arranging sports events and exhibitions for awareness, and many more things. All this is done because our army is part of our civil society and shares our good and bad things. In economic terms, army is a big source of generating income for various segments of civil society in the state like labourers, petty shopkeepers, big contractors, transporters and horticulturists. Moving further along the line of socialization, the army interacts with our academia also arranging seminars, symposia and conferences on sensitive subjects where input from our intellectuals and literati is desirable. Subjects like human rights, human migrations, internal displacements, ecological preservation, forest wealth and water resources preservation etc. are of common interest to civil society and armed forces. There is full justification for reflecting on these and other issues from a common platform. Maybe with the passage of time more themes like national security, military-civilian coordination, security related legislation etc. could also be included in joint deliberations. Revolutionary information technology has certainly opened scope for closer and more concentrated cooperation among the researchers in scientific and technological fields in army as well as civilian establishment.
We are at a stage of our history where India of future times is being built. We are on the right track and our army is providing us space and time to go ahead with this herculean task of building a great and prosperous India. We salute our soldiers; we salute the legendry Commander of Northern Command who guards our borders and who keeps long nightly vigils as we sleep in peace.
“The judge, the jury and the hangman” is the old axiom. But in our state it is the “the minister, the law maker and the paymaster” all rolled in one. In a gaffe, last year the legislature passed the bill doubling the salaries of MLAs. This apart, the elected representatives have drawn the arrears each to the tune of 8-10 lakh rupees making in all a bill of 10 crore rupees for the exchequer. Nobody envies the bonanza for them but what about those who vote them to their positions? To the ordinary employees, arrears will be paid in a long drawn installment scheme while to the lawmakers, cash doles were delivered on their table in full. While the salaries of lawmakers have been doubled, the fresh employees are asked to remain content with a small consolidated honorarium for five years. For employees, the government has financial constraints but for ministers and legislative members, the government is liberal and generous. Its largesse accrues not only to the sitting MLAs but to the former MLAs and retired MLCs also. It is legalized loot by the lawmaking fraternity because they are the law makers, the beneficiaries and the paymasters. They are more than the blue eyed boys who are notoriously known to be enjoying the best of life. With no accountability at any stage, with as much secrecy about the funds allocated for the development of their respective constituencies, with all the space to make their word accepted, these blue-eyed boys could ultimately prove a liability rather an asset to the society. They are supposed to care first for the people who send them to the assembly but actually they care first for themselves and then for their families and kith and kin and last of all the people. Are not they sadists?