By Vivashwan Singh:
The death of 19 soldiers in an attack by militants in Uri on September 18 resulted in a huge public outrage. After the Uri attack, large sections of the media filled the minds of the people with so much hatred that many on social media wanted to wage a nuclear war with Pakistan. But no one bothered to think about the damage that it could cause to India. Narendra Modi claimed that he was ready to wage war against Pakistan, but on the parameters of literacy, hunger, employment and poverty.
On September 29, Vikas Swarup, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs along with Director General of Miltary Operations Ranbir Singh held a press conference in which they claimed that the Indian army conducted ‘surgical strikes’ along the Line of Control in Kashmir. Pakistan rubbished this claim and said that no surgical strikes took place. According to Pakistan, the incident was nothing but a cross-border firing in which Pakistan lost two of its soldiers but also gave a befitting reply to Indian soldiers.
Large sections of the media claimed that our soldiers entered Pakistani territory while the DGMO in his statement only mentioned that the army conducted surgical strikes along the LoC. Secondly, we were told that our soldiers reached LoC with the help of choppers, but within 24 hours, Rajyavardhan Rathore, an ex-army man and present I&B minister said that helicopters were not used. The United Nations said that UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan had not observed any “firing across the Line of Control.”
The ‘surgical strikes’ on September 29 have affected the social fabric of our nation to a great extent. There must be millions amongst us who are still uncertain about this operation but are afraid to question it. I don’t think anyone would take the risk of being labelled as a traitor to the country or the army.
When we do a critical analysis of such incidents, we realise that we’ve lost the sense of reasoning. On BJP posters during Dussehra, Modi was portrayed as Lord Ram. This is a blatant politicisation of the ‘surgical strikes’. When I was a kid, I used to go with my grandfather to the nearby ground to watch the effigy of Ravan burn. I would have never thought then that politics would get involved in religion so much that people would portray the Prime minister as god and would want to burn effigies of opposition leaders. We are becoming more dogmatic each day under the current government.
The most shameful thing is that politics is being played over the lives of our soldiers. Our Defence Minister said that the Indian army realised its powers only when the BJP came to power. Did Manohar Parrikar mean that those who fought during the wars of 1947, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 had no courage and capabilities? Did they not deserve any credit?
It seems that the sole aim of the BJP is to build a myth of invincibility around Narendra Modi. The whole party is in turmoil due to BJP’s decision to create a cult of personality around Modi. BJP leaders had guaranteed that the armed forces would get the entire credit for the ‘surgical strikes’ across the Line of Control (LoC). Modi had guaranteed that the issue would not be politicised. Then came another announcement from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar where he gave a huge amount of credit to the Prime Minister. This is the best example of how BJP changed the narrative.
It would be absurd to believe that all these things are happening without the Prime Minister’s knowledge. Under the shield of ‘surgical strikes’, BJP is hoping to win the upcoming UP elections and at the same time trying to make sure that AAP does not come to power in either Punjab or Gujarat. If the surgical strikes indeed did take place, the majority of credit goes to the army. Manohar Parrikar was wrong on his part when he said that no such strikes took place in the past. Former NSA Shiv Shankar Menon explained how covert operations were meant to reduce infiltration and ceasefire violations. He said that it was “not to manage public opinion at home.” Mr Menon’s comment is very useful in understanding the issue because BJP had other plans. They made everything public so it eventually contributes to Narendra Modi being compared to Lord Ram. Modi was compared to Lord Ram and the army to Hanuman by Parrikar and other BJP leaders. It was hypocritical as the Prime Minister had specifically promised the opposition leaders that he would not score political brownie points with it. But the actions of his own ministers are exactly the opposite.
This is the kind of politics that Narendra Modi has built his career on. Intolerance has reached a new height now. Dissent and questioning, the two fundamentals of any democracy are being suppressed in the name of nationalism. An atmosphere is being created where common people are being radically transformed in the name of nationalism. Masses are led to believe that those being sceptical of the government’s surgical strikes are traitors. The ruling Hindu-right wing government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not approve of any debate on this issue. The so-called ‘patriotic’ journalists have become willing allies of the government. The country has been polarised to a large degree. They argue that they are doing this to safeguard the national interest. Is it in the national interest to put restrictions on liberal and secular voices? Is it in the national interest to create a war hysteria in one’s own country? Is it in the national interest to have a media which promotes intolerance and extremist views?
It’s a war against liberty and secularism of India. It is an attack on the voices of sanity and a very well deliberated attempt to silence the voices of dissent against the present government. Moreover, it is a political stunt to divert the attention of the people from the current social, economic and cultural problems that plague the nation today.