Rediff Logo News Find/Feedback/Site Index
July 15, 1999

Search Rediff

E-Mail this column to a friend Varsha Bhosle

Mooh-tod jawaab

July 12: "Aayiye, I invite Prime Minister Vajpayee, come, talk... let us save our peoples from the dangers of war and give them a peaceful and secure life... Today we have calmed down the volcano of Kargil, but tomorrow the volcano can erupt somewhere else until Kashmiris are given their just right of self-determination... We are capable of giving a mouth-breaking reply to every aggression." ~ Nawaz Sharief on PTV.

On July 11, Rifleman Durg Singh reaches the top of Tololing and sees the body of Major Adhikari, killed several days ago, lying face down on the rocks. He moves to lift it. An improvised device attached to the body explodes. Rifleman Durg Singh loses his leg. Colonel Bikram Singh later confirmed, "The army was moving forward cautiously to avoid casualty from mines and booby-traps laid by retreating Pakistani regulars."

July 13: "It is absolutely wrong on part of India to make such a claim. The agreement was to complete 'disengagement' only in the Mushkoh sector by that time." ~ Tariq Altaf on Radio Pakistan, referring to the "pack of lies" that Pakistan had accepted July 16 as the deadline for complete withdrawal from Kargil. On the same day, the Pakistan army bombarded Kargil and Drass heavily with heavy mortar and artillery shells. Three jawans of the Signal Brigade sustained injuries when shells hit New Tumail.

On July 14, four militants killed a DIG of the BSF, a deputy commandant and two others in the BSF residential campus at Bandipore, 50 km north of Srinagar. They took a dozen hostages, including four women and five children. Among those killed are constable M Munirajappa's wife Bharati; DIG SK Chakravorty; his staff officer; deputy commandant Mahinder Raj; and sub-inspector K Bhaskaran. BSF spokesman PC Sabharwal ruled out negotiations with the militants or giving them safe passage.

The United Jehad Council says, "For the time being, the mujahideen have formulated a new strategy to carry out their operations by changing their positions on the present Kargil front." The Lashkar-e-Toiba claims the deaths at Bandipore: "I want to tell Vajpayee that Kargil was the first round. We have already started the second round." Ahmed Hamza, of the Al-Badr, proclaims, "We are quite strong at Kargil and Drass and in a position to take back more disputed areas from the Indian armed forces."

The volcano supposedly calmed in Mushkoh has been erupting everywhere.

Exactly who's won, or is winning, the Kargil war...? Are the retreating "intruders" being chased to the LoC, or are they simply dispersing -- like, to Bandipore? Screw the bilateral talks and the musings on what Pakistan will do next and how we should deal with what passes for Pak diplomacy -- NO ONE in India is interested in any of it at THIS point of time.

What we'd like to know is, what exactly is this "grace period" to July 16 -- during which the IAF won't bomb Batalik, Kargil, Drass, Kaksar and Mushkoh, and the army won't use heavy artillery? Is it "safe passage"? But isn't safe passage given ONLY when the enemy accepts total defeat, waves a white flag, and we magnanimously let it off? Is there any evidence of Pakistan admitting that its regular forces had invaded India? Does Pakistan want to save the lives of the "mujahideen" it says it has no control over?

Air Chief Marshal S K Kaul said, "The bodies of the Pakistani soldiers are not being accepted by their own government, because if this is done their theory of the conflict being carried out only by Mujahideen, gets blown out." 600 bodies of "infiltrators", mostly of 5 NLI, and excluding the 300 already buried by the Indian Army, lie unclaimed in India.

ACM Kaul then adds, "We have a tradition of treating our dead and the enemy with the utmost respect. The Mahabharat states that fighting would cease at the end of the day and that time would be used for locating the dead and performing the last rites. We are merely carrying forward this glorious tradition when our men bury the dead according to their religion."

Perched on a similar high moral ground, Georgekaka, vis-a-vis the withdrawal, says, "The Indian army has a tradition not to shoot retreating soldiers in their backs."

Yes, very nice, I feel very virtuous, I'm sure. But isn't it the Mahabharat in which Lord Krishna specified how Karna, while his rath-chakra was bogged down at sunset, should be killed? Or, where and when to deliver the death blow on Duryodhan? In the Shalya Parva, Krishna tells Bheem that he must fight unfairly to win, and so Bheem attacks Duryodhan's thighs -- against all our "glorious tradition".

Then there's the story of Jayadrath: He couldn't be killed in one day before sunset. Krishna arranged it so that Jayadrath would see the sun set, relax and come forward -- at which moment Arjun should severe his head. No mumbo-jumbo: On this 14th day of the Mahabharat War, Krishna knew that a natural phenomenon, similar to a mirage but in reverse, would take place: Sunlight refracts on entering the atmosphere; this refraction of light brings the sun below the horizon into our view. Due to the enhanced heat of weapons on the battlefield (the "arranged" part), the ground became hot and the layers of air played their trick. The sun above the horizon was reflected, producing its image beneath. The last tip of the sun disappeared, not below the true horizon, but a bit above it, at the false horizon. Jayadrath was killed, and the sun reappeared on the true horizon. A nicely planned vadh.

This is what I mean by Indians never paying attention to the lessons history holds. There are tons of battle-related do's and don'ts in the Mahabharat. And there are many more escape routes for every dilemma... WHY is it that the politicians -- and now even the army -- of modern India must choose the way of Sarvatyaagi Ashoka or Sarvapita Mahatma, when all that it could lead to is harm, mischief and extreme damage for India?

The one thing Krishna was very clear about is this: Kauravs are the enemy and must be nullified at any cost. WHAT are the feelings of the Government of India and the Indian army about Pakistan? Therein lies the crunch -- our fatal weakness: Love for the neighbour.

From day one, I've been saying, leave the crossing of the LoC to the armed forces. But, even though I secretly hoped that's what the army would do, I still believe that regaining PoK would be regaining only huge trouble -- in the form of more mad mullahs. Nobody seems to have noticed the speech patterns of these "Kashmiri mujahideen." I've lived for months together in Srinagar -- and I know the unmistakable Kashmiri accent to their Hindi/Urdu. However, not a single "Kashmiri mujahideen" blasting away India on BBC, CNN, PTV or Zee News has one. They all speak in chaste, or Punjabi-tainted or Pushto-tinted Urdu. More than anything else, this feature affirms to me that the Kashmiri involvement in the "freedom struggle" is negligible.

If PoK is taken, these infiltrating bastards will take root in India and demand Punjab next: It is best we barricade them all in Pakistan -- which will remain our enemy till it's nuked out.

Pramod Mahajan crows, "If they do not go by July 16 morning, they will be thrown out." Excuse me, but what is Bandipore? A calm retreat? Are you giving them 4 days to peacefully lay more mines so that more Indian soldiers die? The Al-Badr, in a meeting in Kargil on July 13, has decided to, forget withdraw, re-open more fronts! So are you giving them 4 days to quietly regroup?

I want the war to end, and I'd rather it end through diplomatic channels. However, letting marauders flee to another part of J&K to create havoc there, or letting them go back to Skardu whilst they are still clamouring for revenge -- is part of a BRAIN-DEAD scenario.

This scum has to be terminated with extreme prejudice. Killing Pakistani soldiers on the retreat -- while Pakistan keeps claiming they are not its soldiers -- relieves us from the Geneva Convention. For all practical purposes, they are hostile mercenaries, and the Indian army should encourage them towards the LoC -- preferably with bullets in their backs.

Now, suddenly, Pakistan, which has never conceded that it had deployed its army in Kargil, has asked the Indian government to "go slow" with the burial of its soldiers: The scheduled burial of three Pak officers at the CV depot in Delhi Cantonment has been put on hold. The Pakistan high commission intervened on getting a whiff of the "event" and the damage it could have caused to Pakistan at home and abroad. "The Pakistani high commission has indicated that it might accept the bodies," an army source said

Our Mahabharat army officers had asked our Mahabharat rank and file to take the extra exercise of digging graves for the enemies' corpses at those oh-so-easy-to-breath heights. In Batalik itself, 13 Pak soldiers were buried by the J&K Light Infantry, last week. The retreating jihadwallahs had left their fellow-jihadists' bodies to rot in the open. One of our Mahabharat soldiers even donned the robe of a Maulvi to recite the last prayers to free his enemy's soul.

I tell you, I don't get it. Bring all the bodies down, and for once, let the human rights orgs do some good for a change...

Is the army -- and I don't mean those who "parley" -- happy at the turn of events? NO. The Pioneer spoke to several medium-rungs - officers who actually lead the charge in battle:

* "The army is just an arm of the government, which does things. Sadly, the brains and decision-makers sit at Raisina Hills, which is quite some distance from Tiger and Jubar Hills."
* "I hope these mandarins would spare a thought for the jawans and their morale. Taking also into account the Pakistani record, they must first make sure that the troops of the neighbouring nation actually retreat."
* "The government must allow us to hound the retreating Pakis. They cannot be let off this easy."
* "It is they who started it, didn't they? They entered our house and stepped on our toes. So they must be taught a lesson once and for all."
* "We should blast the bastard who has given them authority to decide when and where they should engage or disengage us. Now that their soldiers are on the run and the Pakistani government is facing unrest from various quarters, they coolly announce disengagement of troops."

No Indian government has ever been fair to our armed forces, and the janata has become acutely aware of this. The Congress consistently bartered away every piece of *our* territory won by Indian blood -- and with nothing to show for our blood. The Vajpayee government would do well to break the 50-year-old mould. Today, a JCO mentioned "Raisina Hill"...

As suggested by an officer, the government must allow the army to hound the retreating Pakis: These are scum who plant not only mines while retreating, but booby-trap bodies, too. And they have every intention of "freeing" Kashmir at a later date. Pakistan should not be allowed to presume: Another Kargil, another safe passage. Nawaz Sharief has threatened India with "a mouth-breaking reply". That, Mr Prime Minister, *requires* a mooh-tod jawaab.

Varsha Bhosle

Tell us what you think of this column