Indian Army is the mightiest bullet in hands of the Indian State. Bullet has a task on being fired, just like Indian Army, to hit the bull’s eye and decimate the intended enemy. There may be an error of judgment but there can’t be an error of intent. Yet today the bullet is being questioned and being dragged into an investigative process for something already over. Let the national conscience answer as to who should be questioned – the bullet or the shooter?
We are celebrating 72nd Independence Day and the Prime Minister from the ramparts of the Red Fort paid homage to the soldiers. The salute by the Prime Minister came in the first stage of his historical speech which rightly reflected the sentiments of a grateful Nation. And this is because the bullet neither ever failed the shooter and nor ever failed the owner; that is the nation.
As we are celebrating the national day, the flood in many parts of the nation has ravaged the daily life. There are many who aren’t there with us. Indian Armed Forces are there yet again, saving lives, moving many octogenarians, bringing succor and building bridges. The tweet by actor Anupam Kher on the eve of 72nd Independence Day reflects in some measure, tasks so well done by the bullet, the Indian Army.
Manipur is at the center point of insurgency since the 1980s and security forces have been performing legitimate and bonafide duties to quell the insurgency. Manipur in the 1980s and 1990s used to be an area of self-proclaimed liberated zones and insurgents used to create unbridled fear psychosis. Even Manipur Government has accepted in December 2017 while extending AFPSA that ‘entire state is in such a disturbing condition that use of armed forces in aid to civil authority is necessary’. Currently, Manipur has Disturbed Area Act in the whole of Manipur excluding Imphal Urban Area (34 SqKm). Even today the situation is such that the bullet is valued and needs to be used.
There have neither been reports in India of mass murders or use of weapons of mass destruction nor of forces acting in anger or revenge, as the trend the world over in battling insurgencies would indicate. No weapon and aerial weapon as that in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have ever been used and maximum restraint policy has been ensured in Manipur. It has been ensured that no collateral damage ever occurs even if it comes to taking personal risks. The bullet never called for its higher caliber brethren.
In Manipur alone since 1991, more than 1900 security forces personnel have died while performing duties in Manipur and more than 3100 have been injured. The sustained pressure by security forces has resulted in killings of 4900 insurgents and surrender of more than 5100 insurgents. Role of Army and security forces have been well-appreciated at all the forums. The bullet just did its job as desired by the shooter and never failed the owner; that is the nation.
It is an established fact that in insurgency or proxy war regions, the presence of honest bullet is always resented, as is evident presently in the valley. The bullet is targeted from all directions – by locals, insurgents, politicians before they are being put into the chamber and once they are fired. All those who resent, fear only the bullet.
Since 1997 till 2012, many cases have been framed against the 'bullet' based on individual testimonials, written complaints, the commission of enquiries, NHRC cases. Many cases are being progressed currently which CBI SIT is investigating. Decades before smartphones, the internet, social media, philosopher and media expert Marshall McLuhan, predicted future wars that will be fought using information and he said ‘wars will be guerrilla information wars with no division between military and civilian participation,’ in his 1970 book of reflections, ‘Culture Is Our Business.’ The prophecy of 1970 is true. The bullet is being subjected to vicious propaganda by those who fear only the bullet.
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), are acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what each act terms ‘disturbed areas’. AFSPA has undergone many dilutions and in a much-diluted form is today people-friendly. However, it provides some fundamental protection for the bullet. Today the bullet has only one protection and that is AFSPA and even that is being questioned through decades-old allegations?
Is bullet only a bullet or does it have any more avatar? Apparently so it has many. Sometimes the bullet becomes a bridge, sometimes boat and sometimes goes down into a bore well. It happens sometimes in Sikkim, sometimes in Bihar, sometimes in Uttarakhand, sometimes in Punjab, sometimes in Kerala, sometimes in Kashmir and almost everywhere in India and sometimes even in UN missions. People in Congo, Sudan, Lebanon and in many other nations, the Indian bullet is held in great esteem. In all the extremities of the nation, the bullet has many appearances – a saint, a soldier, a disciplined citizen, a Spartan, a savior. But the bullet knows that all benign faces are alright but bullet must remain a bullet.
Is bullet not countered or hit? It is hit every day. In 2015, a column was ambushed in Manipur, leading to the death of 18 soldiers. Hitting and being hit is an everyday story for the bullet but it’s fair as it is so desired by the shooter and the owner; the nation.
On August 14, 2018, 356 personnel of Indian Army hesitatingly have gone to the apex court. In the writ petition the petitioners are seeking clarity on AFSPA, so that soldier is protected and no soldier is harassed by initiation of criminal proceedings for actions done in good faith in the exercise of their duties, as mandated by the Union of India, in protection of sovereignty, integrity, and dignity of the Country. Some say that it is a desperate exercise by the bullet to remain sharp, effective and potent as desired by the shooter and the owner.
It is for the conscientious to consider supporting the bullet that battles for the nation, ignoring its own fragmentation.
The conscientious must also consider whether they should accuse the bullet which brings the area back to normalcy? If adopted a policy of vengeance, the bullet will be at peril.
But how do the current questioning and investigative process affect Indian Army? Does the bullet feel bad? Probably a bullet has a heart which it is hiding. Bullet has morale which under the veneer of resolve may get affected. Yet to be the bullet; the bullet must be supported by the shooter and the owner that is the nation.