Let us try to understand what happened. On a foggy day, an Indian army patrol was ambushed in its own territory in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The throats of two soldiers were allegedly slit and one of them allegedly beheaded. Pakistan has denied that it had anything to do with the incident. It challenged India to call international observers to investigate the incident and prove that they were involved. Are they so confident because their army left no evidence of their involvement? What really happened?
Slitting throat with a commando knife is a standard sentry silencing technique used by commandos during raids in all armies of the world. As the throats of the two soldiers were allegedly slit with knives, it is clear that they were surprised from behind and killed by well trained commandos. They had no chance to warn the rest of the patrol. There was no shooting, no tell tale ammunition cases and killers vanished across the LOC under cover of the fog.
So there is no evidence that the Pakistani soldiers crossed the border. The slain Indian soldiers may have been resting or walking. It is clear that the Indian patrol was out smarted. Obviously, there was no early warning radar or if there was one, it must have been out of order or not attended to. A Pakistani soldier had died in another incident a few days back (Pakistan blamed Indians for the incident but Indian army refuses) . Indian commanders were aware that Pakistani Army would seek to retaliate and the troops should have been on high alert. Whether they were alert enough, whether the patrol was adequately trained and led is for the Indian Army to investigate and take appropriate corrective action.
I was asked by a correspondent why was the soldier beheaded. The answer is simple. Why does a jilted lover throw acid on a girl? It is retaliation. It is also a warning to women in general to be intimidated and submissive. It is a warning to the Indian Army. “Do not mess around with us. Here is an example of our fighting abilities.”
I was asked by the same correspondent as to whether the alleged beheading will affect the morale of the army. My view is that such incidents do not demoralize the army. It fills them with anger and motivates them to seek revenge. If the comrades of the soldiers are not angry and wanting to retaliate, they are not fit to fight. They are a disgrace and should be sent home. What really demoralizes our soldiers is the timid response of our government, our leaders and their senior officers who never stand up for them.
The Indian response to the incident is pathetic. We are a country of 1.2 billion. We have a 1.2 million army, albeit ill-equipped, ill-trained and inadequately led (there is a shortfall of over 15,000 junior officers who led from the front in our victories in 1965 and 1971 wars mainly because the Army practices a deliberate policy of keeping junior positions vacant to improve promotion prospects). We are the fifth largest economy in the world. But we shiver in our pants when we think of retaliating against Pakistan or China for ceasefire violations.
Pakistan violated cease-fire about 75 times in 2012. We responded passively. Pakistan-sponsored terrorists attacked our parliament. We did not strike back. We cannot even hang the perpetrators of the attack who have been found guilty by our courts. Pakistani-sponsored terrorists attack killed hundreds in Mumbai. We responded by protesting and liberalizing trade and visa procedures, by allowing cricket to be played between the two countries, by inviting their politicians and singers to the country. We dare not break off diplomatic relations or recall the High Commissioner. We are worried that Uncle Sam will be displeased.
We keep the armed forces under the bureaucrats thumb, impotent and with no freedom to retaliate. We accept that the Pakistan Army is a non-state actor over which Pakistan government has no control and hence do not hold their government to account for their aid to terrorists. Hafiz Saeed roams free making belligerent speeches while we have special investigation teams rounding up so-called Hindu terrorists who try to respond to Pak-sponsored terrorism in their amateurish ways.
The fact is that we are a Hindu majority soft state led by a timid prime minister. Guru Govind Singh, who raised the Khalsa Army to fight Muslim oppression, must be pacing up and down in heaven tearing his hair in despair at timidity of one of his esteemed followers. Our economic and foreign policies are not decided in New Delhi but in Washington. We do not even publicly acknowledge border incidents and intrusions by China and Pakistan where we always come second best. The son-in-law of the Congress Government, Mr. Robert Vadra rightly called us “Mango people of a Banana Republic”.
The situation was not always so. In 1965, when Pakistan emboldened with the receipt of latest American military equipment, sent infiltrators to capture Kashmir by proxy, the then prime minister Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri gave a free hand to the Indian Army equipped with Second World War tanks and guns to attack bases in PoK from where the infiltrators came. When Chinese forces fired at and killed Indian soldiers at Nathula, Sikkim, in September 1967, Indira Gandhi ordered full scale retaliation which led to a five-day border war in which 62 Indian soldiers were killed. The casualties on the Chinese side are not known but must have been sufficient to deter further misadventures in the sector. In 1971, under Indira Gandhi, India decimated the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan and created Bangladesh in spite of opposition from the US. When the American President Richard Nixon sent the 7th Fleet to assist East Pakistan, Indira Gandhi told the Army to capture Dhaka before the fleet could arrive and they did. Rajiv Gandhi sent Indian troops to Sri Lanka to protect Tamils in 1986. Atal Bihari Vajpayee conducted nuclear tests against the wishes of the West. What is the use of having a 1.2 million army and spend lakhs of crores of rupees on it if it is not allowed to strike back at Pakistani or Chinese aggression or used to further national interests?
India is a soft state with a timid leader. We will continue to be pushed around by China, Pakistan and the US till we don’t produce national leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi or at least Rajiv Gandhi or Atal Bihari Vajpaee.
The youth of India have been outraged by the government’s apathy to crimes against women and taken to the streets in protest. Will they also be outraged by the timidity of our government in dealing with Pakistan’s belligerent and provocative support to terrorism in India and take to the streets and demand a fitting response from the Government?
May God save India.