Whose life is it, anyway

They were all either in their late twenties or early thirties. Barring one or two, most of them have kids under the age of five. They had left their native towns and families behind to answer the call of duty to the nation at its hour of crisis. It did not matter to them that they were fighting for a stretch of land that was both inhospitable and inhabitable for the best part of the year as it is not theirs to reason why.

Neither did the icy heights deter them from their mission nor did the well-heeled cold blooded mercenaries scare them away from the battle front. Indeed, it seems very naive to even think that way, for we have long back taken for granted the lives of those who have been sweating it out in the cold in those glacy terrain, forgetting that they too are humans like us blessed citizens with families and future to think of.

These are the men who have now laid down their lives in defence of the homeland, in the prime of their youth when they could have been better off watching India beat England in the World Cup. Their tots are now busy lighting funeral pyres to the accompanying beat of the army band. For the present at least, their lives and hopes have also gone up in smoke as did their fathers’ corpses.

How are we going to repay them though surely their sacrifice was not for a quid pro quo? What do we tell their wards when they grow up and want to know why their fathers were killed? Can we really look them in the eye and inform them that their dads laid down their lives for the cause of the country?

Can we really do so without a pang of guilt and shame for do we not know that the country and its people, who are in the grip of shameless, spineless and senseless politicians, do not deserve such sacrifices? Can we truly say so with conviction, when the enemies within, the parasite politicians particularly, are already laying the country waste, a waste worse than the barren heights that their fathers died defending?

Is it not a fact that our political pre-occupations during the whole of April and a good part of May, made us shift our focus from the porous borders which actually has necessitated this battle that has taken those precious lives? Has not the current standoff been created as much by our ineptitude as owing to Pakistan’s own reckless ambitions on Kashmir?

Will the endless wreaths, posthumous titles and euologies of their martyrdom erase the utter futility of their sacrifice? Has not the poignancy of their sacrifice and the grief of their kith and kin been burried under the political muddle and stiffled by the din of cricketing euphoria?

Well, it may seem a damper, it may even sound unpatriotic and an attempt to belittle the sterling role being played by our jawans at the border against heavy odds. But that exactly is the point, for what purpose are these avoidable bloodshed? There is no gainsaying the fact that the territorial integrity of the country has to be safeguarded at whatever cost, that too when the enemy is hell bent on causing disturbances with their deliberate acts of subversion and intrusions crossing all acceptable limits.

There is little doubt that it was an invasion and had to be repulsed with all the vigour that the nation could muster. But the point is, where were our political bosses fiddling when Pakistan was cooly despatching all those mercenaries across the border and building such immense reinforcements on our soil?

It is all fine now for the politicians to bleat about the heroics of the armed forces and rhetoricise the death of its cadre. Not that we needed any certification from them about the capabilities of our army, their superiority vis-a-vis the enemy or their willingness to give their all for the sake of the country.

But the battle on the ground which India is now winning, was preceded by an even more audacious battle in the mind which, as it appears now, we had singularly lost out to Pakistan. It now transpires that the bus ride was truly a ride, a decoy put out by a wily, but desperate Pakistan bent on bringing the Kashmir issue to a flash point.

The subsequent political turmoil in the country emboldened them even more as the BJP government itself was busy trying to avert an imminent fall which too became a reality. The Defence Minister for his part had time only for defending himself from the Baghwat onslaught rendering incursions in the border as utterly trivial matters. Politicians and parties of all hue were so hectically occupied with pulling rugs, striking deals and plotting strategies that the nation’s well-being never crossed their minds.

And for a few among them the CBI and such other watch dogs pose a bigger threat than Pakistan. The prevailing anarchy in the country which was solely the handiwork of the self-seeking, paranoid politicos, was such that, let alone arch enemy Pakistan, it would have emboldened even Maldives to take a potshot at India.

Little wonder that the trickle became a deluge by the time the political Neros woke up to the gravity of the infiltration. And promptly, the sacrificial goats were sent to the altar, Bofors guns started booming for a different reason, the air was filled with crisscrossing Migs and the euphoria of war had taken over.

The political lapses have been forgotten quickly, though the politicians are back in command with their daily dose of statements. Of course, they are all still shipshape, alive and kicking, away from the firing line, as they mouth platitudes from the North, South and such other blocks in the Capital, on the exploits of the army of which they dare not seek any share.

It is business as usual for them, even as Ahujas and Saravanans get butchered, more of young India gets orphaned for no fault of theirs, while Indians themselves are dead worried on what fate would befall their country on the field…a week hence at Manchester where India takes on Pakistan.

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Jawahar T R