February 14 was one of the deadliest days not only for the Indian Army, but for the people of India as well. The country saw blood in the Pulwama district of Kashmir again, but this time not of the separatists, militants, terrorists or innocent Kashmiris but of CRPF Jawans.
Adil Ahmed Dar, a recruitee of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist group which operates from Pakistan headed by Masood Azhar, rammed his bomb-laden car into the CRPF convoy, killing more than 40 Jawans. What followed was anger, pain, and mourning laced with jingoism.
BJP government took a number of immediate steps such as a call for isolating Pakistan on the international front, pulling down pictures of Pakistani cricketers in India, requesting ICC to bar Pakistan from playing the World Cup (which was eventually turned down by ICC), banning Pakistani singers and actors, denying visa to Pakistani players (the Olympic Association snubbed India on this).
But these immature steps did not suffice the revenge sentiments of a large number of Indian people. They were braying for blood and hypernationalists, poisonous media channels added fuel to the fire.
Indian media channels have hit rock bottom in terms of credibility in a matter of weeks. Many of them were using ‘War Room’ tags during their transmissions. Journalists speaking for the establishment rather than reading news, bringing bigots for their debates who left no stone unturned to demonize Muslims, Kashmiris and Pakistan.
Of course, social media was bursting with news and thousands of opinions about avenging deaths and to “teach Pakistan a lesson.” Social media warriors, mostly BJP supporters wanted a full fledged war with Pakistan without even thinking about the repercussions.
All the hatred and jingoism led to a fresh strike not on Pakistan, but on innocent Kashmiris all over India. Kashmiri students, traders, vendors were attacked by right-wing groups. Their shops vandalized and looted and their payments denied. Angry mob surrounded Kashmiri students’ residences, compelling them to question their faults. Once again, India failed the Kashmiris.
The pressure on the BJP government, since the Lok Sabha elections are to take place after two months, allowed them to authorise an air strike on Balakot in Pakistan, an area considered to be the safe haven of Jaish-e-Mohammed. On the morning of February 26, the world woke up to the news of India’s midnight stunt in Pakistan’s territory.
Pakistan army confirmed the breach but also announced no casualties, whereas the Indian media claimed 200 to 300 terrorists had died. Indians started celebrating but it was brief, as the Pakistan Air Force crossed the Line of Control the very next day, shooting down India’s fighter plane and Pulwama Attack: A Timeline Of Everything That’s Happened In Responsearresting Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.
PM Modi’s bravery backfired badly.
There was almost a war like situation. The USA and China asked both nuclear-armed countries to show restrain. India had no choice other than de-escalating because they were on the back foot.
Not only did the PM’s bravery backfire, India failed miserably on diplomatic fronts.