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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gallant Soldiers Die Differently

Received this post in a viral mail. Excellent write up by Karan Kharb. Must read to understand the divisive and vote bank politics working in our country. Surprising that the media also toes the same line.

It is often said that in democracies people get the government they deserve. What is even truer is that they also get the quality of security they deserve. Is there a difference in 'loss' and 'sacrifice'; 'sympathy' and 'pride'; 'innocence' and 'valour'? We all know there is a qualitative difference and the value of 'commission or omission' in performance becomes vivid and clear in events involving high risks.

There should therefore be an appropriate qualitative difference in the Nation's way of conveying its gratitude or sympathy through grant of honours and awards for the sacrifices and assistance to bereaved families.

Here are a few points to mull over:-

1. Innocent Casualties.

Hemant Karkare and his 'Quick Reaction Team' of ATS encounter experts - eight of them in a police Qualis - were surprised, waylaid and butchered without being allowed to use their weapons by two terrorists on prowl in Mumbai on 26 November.

* In this case Hemant Karkare and his team were not aware of the danger lurking on them and therefore they were surprised.
* Their lack of training did not allow them to anticipate and react with operational swiftness.
* The poor quality of weapons could be questioned only if any of them had tried to use whatever they had. Going by their stance, it was unlikely that they would have used MP-5 or AK-47 even if they had these weapons on them.
* Prior to commencing their move, the leader had apparently not carried out analysis of the situation at hand; no quick plans or operational drills seemed to exist; no instructions passed; no contingencies visualized.
* Unfortunately they do not appear to have been vigilant on their way. Given the situation they were reacting to, any professional police officer would be prying for tell-tail signs or traces of the terrorists loitering in the town.
* Much like the hapless unfortunate 187 civilians, they fell to terror bullets most innocently. They deserve our deep sympathy and heartfelt condolences.
* Whereas there is a crescendo in media hype about their heroism, not a word has been said by anyone about how they 'fought heroically.' Sorry to state the harsh truth that they fell due to their inaction and inadequacy of combat readiness.

We pray to God to bestow eternal peace upon them and grant fortitude to the bereaved families they have left behind. Their families, friends and everyone who knew them shall reminisce their gentleness with fondness! They deserve our care and compassion. Hopefully, correct lessons will be subsequently learnt after the Mumbai Police carry out a dispassionate case study of the happenings.

2. Unsung Heroes.

Capt AK Singh, a daring young officer of 51 Special Action Group (NSG), led his team into the Oberoi Hotel. He zeroed on to a room at 18th Floor from where the terrorists were throwing grenades. He closed in towards them risking his life without firing to avoid killing innocent occupants, if any and, after making sure there were only one or two terrorists in the room, he kicked open the door and lobbed a grenade. Almost simultaneously, the other terrorist threw a grenade that came in the way of AK Singh charging in to kill or capture the surviving terrorist. The hostile grenade burst almost in the face of the Commando Captain giving him multiple injuries. He fell unconscious but not before wiping out the terrorist. A number of splinters have been taken out of his body by the doctors of ' Bombay Hospital ' but they could not save his left eye through which a splinter tore through to embed itself deep inside. No TV channel, no newspaper reporter, no politician, no Shiv Sena………. Not anyone even from the Oberoi Hotel management has had the courtesy to visit this real hero who dared and indulged in deadly duel and combat killing the deadly killers.

3. Supreme Sacrifice.

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan arrived with his team at the most crucial site where the savage bloodbath was already on. Unlike Hemant Karkare, Sandeep was fully conscious and aware of the magnitude of danger to the innocent civilians entrapped inside and to himself.

* He knew where the terrorists were, how much damage they had already caused and what devastating potential and unhindered shooting spree they were on.
* Like a professional, he quickly studied and analysed the situation and visualising the gravity of the risk involved, he ordered his team not to come forward until he silenced the terrorist shooting from behind cover.
* Since saving innocent lives was the most important part of his mission, he did not enjoy the freedom his opponents in shooting and bursting grenades at will. Yet he chased them.
* He valiantly pursued the terrorists until he fell in the gun battle that ensued. His team quickly followed and, after some tough hide and seek drama, they neutralised both the terrorists in an engagement that saved the remaining innocent lives in the building.
* Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan gave his life but saved many others. He knew what he was facing and yet he dared. This was a sacrifice with a difference which invokes not sympathy but pride and inspiration; courage and dedication; honour over safety. His death triumphed over an evil; choosing to die differently for a cause, Sandeep immortalised himself!

Major Sandeep Unikrishnan's valour will continue to inspire many soldiers, commandos, constables and civilians. We are proud of such gallant soldiers in our Special Commando Forces and our Armed Forces who always step in when those who run the administration or Prashashan routinely during happier times beat a quick retreat and become invisible leaving the police and the army to deal with the dangers. Their brief? 'Retrieve the situation and make it safe and cool enough for me to resume my bureaucratic control.' No accountability, no risk and yet all pelf and perks served on and under the table!

The upsurge of popular outrage against the politicians as a class is not misplaced. But in this rage public is missing the wood for the trees. What is role and accountability of those who call themselves CEOs of the cities, towns and districts – the magistrates, the Babus, the Brown Sahibs? They must answer some tough questions too.

The soldier today, alas, is not being treated with the love and esteem he deserves as our saviour.

Sadly, quite often he is insulted – look how:-

* Our media and TV viewers go euphoric over a sixer by a cricketer and eulogise him. Chief Ministers and governments lavishly shower crores of rupees on such players.
* Abhinav Bindra wins a Gold Medal in Olympics and gets Rs 3 Crore plus a host of high value commercial ads and bounty rolls on booming like a snow ball.
* India's economy, security or international standing is not least affected even if we lose hundreds of such medals and matches. But can we afford to lose one Kargil or Mumbai to our enemy?
* Lives lost by ticket less riff-raff illegally travelling on roofs of train or in fires in illegal colonies get rewarded much in the same measure as our soldiers who sacrifice their lives fighting to save us.

Think over and compare the value of Rs 5-10 lakh for a soldier's supreme sacrifice against the most triumphant cricket player or a pigeon shooter at Olympics! Do we deserve the selfless devotion to duty and sacrifices of our gallant soldiers and commandos like Sandeep? Don't we owe our soldiers a little more love, honour and respect than we do to our sportsmen and entertainers?

Please circulate if you agree........

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