Skip to content

In Multiples of Ten Ravanas

January 16, 2013

Some (more) thoughts on Indian and Pakistani soldiers beheading each other at the ceasefire line in Jammu & Kashmir

Hindustan Times Graphic

From the Hindustan Times

In the early hours of 10 January 2013, I published a post here that asked, “Was an Indian soldier decapitated at the Line of Control or not?” Soon thereafter, the family of Lance Naik Hemraj Singh of 13 Rajputana Rifles cremated his body and went on a hunger strike, demanding the government get the head. Several readers commented that now that it was clear a beheading did take place, I owe them an apology. I do not see why I owe them such an apology considering  I never said that an Indian soldier wasnot beheaded. I only pointed to the conflicting reports, the absence of official mention about whether or not a soldier was beheaded, a quoted a Reuters report that categorically said that according to the official spokesperson of the Northern Command, no soldier was beheaded, though the two soldiers’ bodies were mutilated. Despite such an official denial quoted in a trusted news source, I had written, “It is possible the anonymous sources are right, because this is not the first time both sides are blaming each other of showing disrespect to bodies of dead soldiers in violation of the Geneva convention.”
Some readers asked me, “Is Hemraj’s family lying?” They would note that the early news reports I was quoting were so unclear and contradictory that the Hindustan Times said the name of the beheaded soldier was Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh! However, on the technicality of the question, “Is Hemraj’s family lying?” I would like them to more closely hear what Hemraj’s family has been saying:

Jai Singh, the martyr’s brother, who is also on a hunger strike, also sounded a note of doubt. “What was brought to us was a body covered in white sheet. Now it could be anyone’s body. We were not allowed to see what was inside,” he said, highlighting that he has spent his childhood with Hemraj and knew that he had a mole on the back.

“I would have checked it but they didn’t allow me to do that,” he added. [The Hindu]

However, I am still not saying no decapitation happened, not least because by now we have an official confirmation that a beheading did take place. Col. Jagdeep Dahiya, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, issued a statement saying:

“It is clarified that Pakistan has quoted the initial press release given by the spokesman of Indian Army’s Northern Command, on 08 Jan 2012, when the details of the incident were still not clear,” the MoD said. “Subsequently, on the same day, Indian Army made a statement that the body of one soldier was mutilated. Both these statements were made based on the information available at the time of making those statements.”

Seeking to set the details right, Colonel Dahiya said that “it is reiterated that the body of one soldier was found mutilated and beheaded, the body of [the] second soldier was also mutilated during this ceasefire violation on 08 Jan 2013 in Mendhar Sector by Pakistan”. [The Hindu]

Why didn’t the Indian Army make this much official to begin with? That report quotes Col. Dahiya as saying that initial reports were unclear. That is bizzare – it took the Indian defence establishment four days to confirm whether or not an Indian soldier was beheaded?

The Indian Army first does not tell us that a soldier was beheaded, then denies it, then denies its denial and says a soldier was indeed beheaded. Isn’t the Indian defence establishment – by which I mean both the Army and the Defence Ministry as well as the National Security Advisor – tying itself up in too many knots? If you are as outraged as I am about the beheading of an Indian soldier, then you would agree with me that the following are important questions:

  1. Who were these anonymous sources who put out the beheading story?
  2. Were they authorised to pass on such sensitive information to the media when even the Ministry of Defence, as Col. Dahiya says, was unclear about what had happened?
  3. Did someone in the government/Army try to hide this sensitive information?
  4. Amidst allegations that it is not uncommon for Indian and Pakistani soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir to treat each others’ bodies with disrespect and their heads as war trophies, could it be that while such beheadings are usually not reported, this time some within the Indian defence establishment decided to put it out?

Since there is no chance the Indian Army or the Ministry of Defence is going to answer these questions in a Right to Information query, I urge that all of us demand to know. While we are at it, we should also demand that the Government of India issue a white paper about all such incidents where the Geneva Convention’s rules of war have been violated at the Line of Control since the 2003 ceasefire.

Such a white paper would, naturally, have to reveal beheadings and mutilation of bodies by the Pakistani soldiers of Indian ones, but it would also have to tell us of similar inhuman acts, if any, committed by Indian soldiers upon their Pakistani counterparts.

This is important because it takes two to tango, because taali do haath se bajti hain. It is as much an obligation for Pakistan to follow the rules of war as it is for India. If it is the case that India has also been treating bodies of Pakistani soldiers like animals, we lose the moral right to the outrage that has overtaken a large number of people and almost the entire media. As the Business Standard argues in an editorial, the media’s TRP-driven warmongering has itself become a national security hazard. But watching TV News does not mean we have to buy the hysteria that is being sold to us. For all of news TV’s attempts to decide for us, we are also blessed with an individual brain each.

***

In my previous post I had mentioned two allegations of the Indian Army having committed similar heinous acts. One was along quote from senior journalist Barkha Dutt’s recollections of the Kargil war in 1999, where she was shown the head of a Pakistani soldier nailed to a tree,and how nationalism prevented her from doing her duty as a journalist of reporting this violation of the rules of war. Shuddhabrata Sengupta has written how Ms. Dutt has been avoiding any mention of that essay of hers, which is indeed very strange.

However, at least two other journalists who covered the Kargil war, are not disowning similar recollections.

Sankarshan Thakur, Roving Editor of the Calcutta Telegraph, has posted on his website an excerpt from a long essay he wrote on the Kargil War. The essay, Guns and Yellow Roses, was published in an eponymous anthology by HarperCollins India in 1999. Note this:

We saw only one side of the war and most stories we reported were stories told to us by Indian soldiers. A lot of what the jawans had to say mismatched with what the defence establishment thought. Accounts of how well-entrenched the intruders were, for instance; that was anathema to the government because it was handy proof it had let its guard down. Accounts, also, of how our soldiers treated intruders when they could lay their hands on them. New Delhi made quite a show of mutilation of some of its captured soldiers by Pakistanis but much the same was happening on this side. Troops of the Naga and Jat regiments told us quite plainly they had killed a few intruders they had captured alive in the heights above Drass. “It was rage, just rage,” one Naga soldier said, “They killed many of our mates, we were angry. When we got them, we butchered them.” As and when they brought bodies of intruders back from the heights, the tied them with ropes and dragged them down. “We had enough load to carry as it was, who was going to bother carrying their bodies? Dragging them down was a favour.” There was no sense of guilt or remorse there, just plain retelling; it was as if a fire of emotion had cleansed the act of murder. [Sankarshan Thakur]

Harinder Baweja, who covered the Kargil war for India Today and is currently with the Hindustan Times, tweeted about a similar experience, and was kind enough to share with me the relevant passage from her Kargil book, A Soldier’s Diary. Published in 2000 by the India Today Group, the book was written in the first person of a soldier. Here is the excerpt:

“We have their dead. And a head. The experiences of 18 Garhwal also show another side of the war. The frustration that has built up among our jawans and the thirst for revenge. Having captured Point 4700, not without significant casualties, their jawans went berserk. One of them took out his knife and slit the head of a Pakistani soldier in one stroke. The head was sent to the Brigade Headquarters at Drass and pinned to a tree trunk. None of the enemy had yet been captured alive – but this is proof that it is only a matter of time. The enemy head, a grisly trophy, became an exhibition piece. Maj Gen Puri came down from Mughalpura to see it. Other officers dropped in to Brigade Headquarters to take a look. So did some of the journalists who have been routinely visiting the Brigade Headquarters. It was there, pinned on the tree, for anyone who could bear to look at it. In fact, the reporters were shown the head with the warning they they won’t be able to sleep for the next three nights. The sight of the pinched face, hair intact, served the macabre purpose of motivating the troops. Or at least, that’s what some Brigade officers believed. To be honest, it did. This is the first time we have laid our hands on the enemy. We have killed one of them. The sight of the head pinned on a tree has a salutary effect. It kind of makes us feel better. The enemy is no longer invisible. Or invincible. It hangs there for a couple of days before Maj Gen Puri asks for it to be removed, after which it is buried in a corner.”

Baweja says she was not allowed to take a photograph.

***

Kargil was thirteen years ago, have such incidents happened more recently? Some more news reports for you to consider.

1) Shishir Gupta writes:

In July 2011, an infiltrator and cross-border source of the Pakistan army was killed in Keran sector of Kashmir by the Indian army. The Pakistan army’s reply was swift as two troopers of 20 Kumaon regiment — Jaipal Singh Adhikari and Devender Singh — were beheaded. The Indian army apparently kept quiet and waited for an opportune moment. Three months later, heads of three Pakistani soldiers went missing with Islamabad lodging a protest with New Delhi on the alleged killing. In August, 2003, Pakistani troops ambushed an Indian patrol in Nowshera sector and killed four troops of the Jat regiment. The intruders beheaded one soldier and took his light machine gun. A month later, nine Pakistani soldiers were killed in the same sector with heads of two missing. On February 27, 2000, Sepoy Bhausahed Maruti Talekar of Maratha Light Infantry was beheaded by Pakistani troops in Jangad in Rajouri sector but curiously a ranking pan-Islamic jihadist, Ilyas Kashmiri of Al Qaeda, was given credit with Islamabad displaying the badge and weapon of the solider in a macabre display. This apparently was a response to allegations that Indian troops had killed 20 Pakistani villagers in a raid after the Kargil war. [Hindustan Times]

(By the way, Mr Gupta, I love it how Indian soldiers are beheaded by the Pakistani soldiers’ heads simply go “missing”. Perhaps the enemy heads simply detach from their bodies and become UFOs at the mere sight of the Indian soldier!)

2) By now I am sure you have heard the grandmother story The Sources put out. Praveen Swami wrote in The Hindu that it was the Indian Army that is responsible for starting the current round of firing and mutual killings which resulted in the killing of these two soldiers, and thereafter the killing of a Pakistani soldier. Praveen Swami’s story effectively says that tensions were started when the Indian side violated the terms of the 2003 LoC ceasefire between India and Pakistan. The Indian Army did so by building observation bunkers, not allowed by the ceasefire agreement, according to Swami.

Citing civilian sources, Swami’s report even suggested that in the ensuing fighting the Indian Army may also have crossed the LoC:

“Let’s just put it this way,” a senior government official in New Delhi said, “there was no formal permission to stage a cross-border raid to target Sawan Patra. However, in the heat of fighting, these things have been known to happen. Pakistan has done this, and our forces have done this, ever since fighting began in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990.”

Swmi’s narrative also contradicts earlier claims in the media of the Indian Army that the January 6 incident – in which Pakistan says one of its soldiers was killed – was because of the Pakistani Army’s effort to send in militants (in the height of snow!). In other words we were being lied to – it wasn’t about militant infiltration, which everyone is using as a convenient stick to justify the Indian Army having started this current round of tension at the Line of Control.

Swami further writes:

“It is almost certainly a retaliation for what happened in Charonda”, a military official in New Delhi said. “This kind of thing has often happened in the past, though it hasn’t got quite so much media attention.”

Last year, for example, there was fierce fighting Karnah, some 140 kilometres from Srinagar after two Indian soldiers were beheaded in an attack on a forward position by a Border Action Team. Indian special forces responded by targeting a Pakistani forward post, killing several soldiers and, by the account of one military official, which The Hindu could not corroborate independently, beheaded two.

It is shocking that the front page of a major newspaper tells us that in 2012 the Indians and the Pakistanis beheaded two soldiers each and nobody has anything to say. The Defence Ministry does not care to even deny the allegation in its response. And the warmongers ignore this, because they want to continue pretending that the beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj Singh was an unprecedented provocation by Pakistan. If you’ve been watching Times Now, you even have ready conspiracy theories about why Pakistan is doing is (to divert the Pakistani people’s attention from the Pakistani Army’s attempt to dethrone President Zardari).

3) Saikat Datta also confirmed that the provocation was from Indian side, blaming it on a local commander:

The commander of the 161 brigade, stationed in the Churchunda sub-sector, Brigadier Gulab Singh Rawat, had decided to take a very aggressive posture. Sources said that he asked the commanding officer of 9 MLI to take “proactive action”, to launch a quick raid against a post that was harassing Indian positions.

The successful Indian raid led to the death of a Pakistani non-commissioned officer and escalated tensions across the LoC. [DNA]

***

There is enough here that should be cause for introspection rather than warmongering. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who wants 10 Pakistani soldiers’ heads in retaliation, should instead shave off her head – a threat she used to prevent Sonia Gandhi from becoming Prime Minister in 2004. I suggest Ms Swaraj shave off her head to protest such brutalities practised by both the Indian and Pakistani armies at the Line of Control, to demand the government issue a white paper on all such violations of rules of war between India and Pakistan since 1947, and to ask for the Government of India to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir conflict with Pakistan so we don’t have to see our soldiers returning dead.

More firing at the LoC = more dead soldiers = more beheadings and mutilation = more warmongering = more retaliation = more firing at the LoC = more dead bodies = more beheadings… At some point all the soldiers will have killed each other and Pakistan will nuke us.

That is where warmongering will take us. Ravan had ten heads, we all have one each. We wouldn’t want to lose it for a senseless war. We have to stop the cycle if we are outraged by such violence. Ms Swaraj and many others want the bilateral negotiations with Pakistan halted, and have for the moment succeeding in sending back a Pakistani hockey team and stalling the implementation of a visa agreement. Preventing those who are as old or even older than India and Pakistan from getting visa on arrival at Wagah is not going to solve the Jammu & Kashmir conflict. Letting them – and everyone else too – visit the other is going to help solve the conflict.

Those who want retaliation should realise it’s only going to result in more headless bodies. It is ironic that those who are making demands that will lead to more headless bodies are ridiculing those who demand that India and Pakistan end this madness. Ending the madness requires more talks, more parleys, negotiations. Not less.

***

It possibly also requires third party intervention. Given that the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan has presence in various locations on both sides of the Line of Control – including an office in Srinagar – I find it strange that India is not ready for an UNMOGIP investigation into the beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj Singh. I don’t see how this will lead to ‘internationalising’ the Jammu & Kashmir issue. The dispute is already an international one, and besides an UNMOGIP investigation about one soldier is not an effort to solve the Jammu & Kashmir conflict. Not agreeing to an UNMOGIP investigation, as Pakistan suggested, gives out the impression that India has something to hide. The ‘internationalising’ excuse also does not wash because it is third party intervention that solved the dispute over sharing of river waters between the two countries in Jammu & Kashmir, and even today an international tribunal’s arbitration is what prevents India and Pakistan from going to war over the rivers.

Some readers commented on my previous post’s suggestion that the LoC killings underscored the need to solve the Jammu & Kashmir conflict by saying that giving up Kashmir to Pakistan was not an option for India. I don’t see how solving Kashmir automatically means ‘giving Kashmir to Pakistan’. This mentality that treats Jammu and Kashmir as a territory to be given and taken is at the heart of the problem.

Jammu and Kashmir is a place where indigenous people live, it is their land and their world, they have suffered more from this conflict than the rest of us in India and Pakistan. Far more civilians than soldiers die on the Line of Control, and we who claim they are Indian citizens don’t care to mourn their loss.

It is only natural that the people of Jammu & Kashmir should be at the centre of any solution. One solution was being considered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan’s then President Pervez Musharraf.

Lastly, to all blood thirsty jingoists, may I please immodestly recommend an essay I wrote last year on Nationalism and Love in South Asia.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Atul Anand permalink
    January 16, 2013 8:24 AM

    A great article amidst our so-called feeling of patriotism…

  2. manu permalink
    January 16, 2013 11:49 AM

    Seriously, is a war going on at LOC right now ? Kargil was a very different situation from now, so how can you even compare those. Did they also not torture Capt. Kalia ?
    With disgusting people like you , why do we even need an enemy?

  3. Puneet permalink
    January 16, 2013 12:32 PM

    Yaar Shivam, hum Hindustani hein hi bade kharab. Sab hamari galti hai. Hamensha.

  4. January 16, 2013 1:15 PM

    This article open our eyes & a lesson to warmongers. For merely politicians interests common men are suffering. Why soldiers of both sides are so crazy that can’t understand that nobody have enemity to each others. Both are religious having their kids & families. Why committing such heinous act ?

  5. Somnath permalink
    January 16, 2013 1:17 PM

    Shivam,

    One, the question isnt of “decapitation” during armed action (the Gurkha troops of the Indian Army regularly decapitate the enemy with their famed khukris). The issue is of mutilation post facto. That is what is unaccpetable, the fine point being missed both by the TV media as well as (but of ccourse) the left liberalati. And Pakistan is known to mutilate enemy bodies – the father of a certain Lt Saurav Kalia is still battling for precisely that acknowledgement.

    Two, it is highly disengenuous to link Kashmir to everything that happens from Pakistan. Was 26/11 linked to Kashmir? How are Paki actions in Afghanistan for decades linked to Kashmir? How indeed was the Parliament attack linked to Kashmir, or the numerous bombing across cities in India?

    Three, it is strange to make an “equal equal” between the Indian and Pak militaries. Soldiery is an honourable profession, one that does not include disowning one’s own soldiers killed in combat, or honouring terrorists as heros, or running commercial enterprises under the guise of the military – all of which the Pak Army has done, many times.

  6. Irshad Rashid permalink
    January 16, 2013 1:39 PM

    This article very masterfully deconstructs the mainstream jingoistic discourse that only gives rise to antipathy and antagonism.

  7. January 16, 2013 2:25 PM

    They say “you only see what you want to see”

    Probably within minutes of this happening – twitter was abuzz with news that soldiers have been beheaded inside of Indian territory in an outrageous offensive by the Pak army. Pretty much every single report confirmed the beheadings. Within an hour HT officially confirmed the news via reliable sources.

    I have not seen the reports where Indian Army had ‘denied’ it. I did see some links on twitter from Pakis throwing it around – but it was too silly and a waste of my time to even check them out or respond.

    Since then, (i.e couple of hours later) ALL of Indian media – probably 100’s of journalists belonging to different news agencies confirmed, reported and discussed the issue in no uncertain terms.

    Yet if you want to harp on a vague statement probably from some foreign media?, I gotta say – maybe you are intentionally being biased.

  8. Saksham permalink
    January 16, 2013 2:27 PM

    So what you’re saying is that we should sit still…like a dead head?

  9. January 16, 2013 2:59 PM

    the sad song at the end nails it !

  10. January 16, 2013 3:30 PM

    Good one Shivam. Voice of reason. But most probably will go unheard.

  11. January 16, 2013 3:58 PM

    Love how you totally ignore Indian Army accounts, but use Pakistan Army claims as gospel truth to paint a false picture.

    1. QUOTE:
    “Praveen Swami’s story effectively says that tensions were started when the Indian side violated the terms of the 2003 LoC ceasefire between India and Pakistan”

    You continue to claim here – the violations were started due to Indian Army violating the cease-fire agreements & undertaking construction work close to the LoC. NOTE: You do not even mention how this then results in mortar fire from Pakistan, but then quote how the Indian Army Commander ‘deals with this’ aggressively.

    Awesome. But you conveniently ignore the official rebuttal by the Indian army saying, “There was NO radio message from pakistan objecting to the construction – before they attacked and started their mortar fire”. Care to explain?

    2. You mention accounts of how soldiers were killed by Indian army during kargil. And one soldier beheaded during Kargil and some more in retaliations.

    Did you notice how in each case – it was “in retaliation to their actions” or in a “war situation”? Show me a single incident where we went into their territory as an offensive. This is no joke. They feel they can take an aggressive stance towards India and continue to export terrorism unabated for 6 decades. It is ridiculous on our part to not retaliate strongly and teach them a lesson that they’ll remember for life.

    3. Moreover, you are amused by the fact that Indian Govt. does not even deny the beheadings.

    “It is shocking that the front page of a major newspaper tells us that in 2012 the Indians and the Pakistanis beheaded two soldiers each and nobody has anything to say. The Defence Ministry does not care to even deny the allegation in its response.”

    Indian Govt does not need to respond to every allegation. Read the 1st para of your own article here to witness that fact. Maybe you are reading too much into it.

    Even if it were evidence of guilt (as we know beheadings are indeed a reality), it would still prove that WE (i.e Indian army, govt) are honest & choose to remain silent than to lie outright and ‘deny everything’ like Pak.

    4. If you heard yesterdays press conference, the army explained clearly how this indeed is a serious provocation (and NOT something that happens routinely on both sides). Army explained how:
    – the operation was probably planned in detail and executed within 50 hours which otherwise is impossible. How they had already informed their media to carry our an information war (where their media reports the killing of their soldier first and thus they can claim tht we started it all)
    – How the Pakis did not have any reply to the video & pics of their firing during the flag meet
    – how they brought in the UN at a time when they provoked us & expected us to fire back and show that as proof of Indian aggression
    – how we have proof of their call intercepts congratulating each other for the ‘beheading’. Some journos claim, Indian army now has equipment & technology to nail the lies of Pak and prove who started the ceasefires. So good luck with all your denials.

    5. QUOTE:
    ” “Let’s just put it this way,” a senior government official in New Delhi said, “there was no formal permission to stage a cross-border raid to target Sawan Patra. However, in the heat of fighting, these things have been known to happen. Pakistan has done this, and our forces have done this, ever since fighting began in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990.” ”

    This has also been refuted by the Army on how if we had indeed crossed into their side of the border the casulty could have been far higher. And the death of just 2 soldiers (1 immediately & 1 of injuries few days later) was consistent with what would happen with firing from within border.

    We may have done so in the past (and it may not be uncommon), but NOT in this case. An unnamed clueless civil servant of God knows which department has no clue about this particular case. To take such vague comments as gospel truth reminds me of your last article “Was there a beheading” and how it ended.

    6. QUOTE:
    “(By the way, Mr Gupta, I love it how Indian soldiers are beheaded by the Pakistani soldiers’ heads simply go “missing”. Perhaps the enemy heads simply detach from their bodies and become UFOs at the mere sight of the Indian soldier!)”

    These probably were the MOOOOST amusing lines in your entire piece. You seem positively MAD that he only uses the word ‘beheading’ when done by the pakistani army, and NOT when done by the Indian army.

    Thank you – for making it amply cear where your allegiance lies. Need I say more? Reminds me of how Kashmiris call themselves ‘Indians’ in front of tourists but refer to India in the 3rd person. LOL… BUSTED!

    • Alok permalink
      January 18, 2013 3:33 PM

      Shivam,
      Biased, Biased….shades of usage of language and focus in your story (at least seem to) tell you that you probably want to be appreciated as someone who brings out the truth and you have used those shades to your advantage. First of all, why are you even bringing out Kargil here? Those were times of overt war – and you want to belittle Indians telling what they did then in retaliation to how Pak started it in the first place? I would pretty much dissect this article the way Ayush has done, but since he has done it already, will save my effort.
      You forget a few things – they have not only been the aggressor N number of time (65,71,Kargil, 26/11) but also support infiltration the way they do. And if at least mutilation was confirmed – isn’t that bad enough?
      Yes, the nation will be jingoistic to some extent, even the media and leaders maybe, but you forget that Pak cowed down finally, meaning they were culprits in the first place…

      You are hiding behind this technique of journalism, Shivam, to gain some points in some play area for yourself. Wonder if you can justify this to yourself also really.

  12. January 16, 2013 4:34 PM

    At least we have a person in the Indian media who has a head fitted with sense of humour so as to laugh at this ridiculous head hunting game going on! Keep writing till Sushma aunty comes along and proclaims, “Off with Shivam’s head!”

  13. Shambhavi Mitra permalink
    January 16, 2013 4:44 PM

    Did you miss the bit in the Hindu that the story is not corroborated?

  14. January 16, 2013 4:51 PM

    This article is a breath of fresh air in the smog of half-formed ideas and carelessly (or is it carefully?) aggressive nationalism that has seemed to spread over many parts of India, thanks to many in the government and, of course, let’s not diminish the importance of the mainstream media’s contribution.

    War (or its threat) with an external entity is often used as a tool by those in power, to distract from the problems within the country. This reminds me of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and the ‘floating fortresses’ that almost constantly ensured uninterrupted warfare across the world.

    If a beheading has occurred, it is wrong, of course. Who, among us, is so insensitive as to ask ‘who cares’ when such a situation comes to light? But here is a question that is not rhetorical: would there be such an outcry of anger amongst Indians if we ever learned that Indian soldiers have beheaded one of their Pakistani counterparts? Would Sushma Swaraj speak up, then? Apart from a few Human Rights groups and miscellaneous activists and some concerned citizens, would anybody? My answer is, I don’t think so.

    As long as we don’t break out from this ‘Self’ vs. ‘Other’ trap, we’ll continue to view Pakistan as the ‘real enemy’ in a fight that affects neither nations nor those who govern them, but the civilians in both places. And among the civilians, the lesser advantaged. Those who live in the villages. The urban poor. Persons with disability. Women. Women who have experienced sexual assault, women who experience discrimination in so many forms, shunted down in the Hierarchy of Priority by a government that would rather focus on making angry statements about the Pakistani state and military, than look inward and reflect on how they shirk their responsibility to their citizens in so many ways, each and every day. Dialogue, then, is necessary, not just between Heads of State and Chiefs of Defence, but also – and perhaps more importantly – between the government of a country and its citizens.

    What is encouraging is that in recent times, this sort of dialogue seems to be taking place with increasing frequency, but what is worrying is the possibility of this being ‘accepted’ by the government, forced down as a bitter pill. Real change, I feel, cannot ever be effected when it involves parties, one or more of whom nods in agreement solely with the intent of ‘maintaining the peace’. This effectively changes nothing whatsoever, while creating an illusion of progress that – and this is what I fear, most – could serve to co-opt the very groups that previously threatened the establishment’s assumption of dominance. Dialogue is crucial, yes, but when politicians speak with the people they represent, it is important for the latter to be aware of the nuances of political language. It is not the same tongue that we, lesser mortals, understand and speak.

    So, in summation:

    Baying for Pakistani blood now, is not going to prevent future violations of the Geneva Convention, by either of the military forces. If anything, it will distract from things that need to be brought up for discussion, but can be conveniently ‘postponed’ until ‘after the crisis at hand’. Also, dialogue is important, but it needs to move beyond speeches by politicians and other ‘leaders of Indian society’ at elite forums that are not accessible to most in India. People need not behave as though grateful for dialogue with their elected representatives; it is a right that comes with Indian citizenship.

  15. Rags permalink
    January 16, 2013 5:56 PM

    // Sushma Swaraj, who wants 10 Pakistani soldiers’ heads in retaliation, should instead shave off her head – a threat she used to prevent Sonia Gandhi from becoming Prime Minister in 2004 //

    Oh My God !!! Arent facts sacrosanct for you folks, or is it permissible to twist FACTS as per your convenience ???? What kind of a loaded, juvenile statement is this !! Actually the above LIE can cut it both ways.
    Anyone who reads the above sentence would think that Sonia Gandhi was prevented from becoming the PM in 2004 by Sushma Swaraj and Sushma Swaraj achieved this by threatening to shave off her head.
    It wld definitely feed a right-winger’s ego to read the above statement – he can think of Sushma Swaraj as a very powerful leader. The left-liberal can use the same to show how dangerous a leader is Ms. Swaraj. And I am sure in the near future, I can read statements like above in articles written by the KN Panicker-Irfan Habib group of Indian historians. Talk about “re-writing history” :(

    The FACT is that Sushma Swaraj made this statement only once – that too in the year 2000 when she contested against Sonia Gandhi in Bellary (Karnataka) constituency.

  16. Sanjay Kashyap permalink
    January 16, 2013 8:25 PM

    The title of your piece was –
    Was an Indian soldier decapitated at the Line of Control or not?

    Now you are changing your tune and are quoting a dubious report that the Indians beheaded Pakistani soldiers first.

    In times of war (initiated by Pakistan), one expects bad things, but why don’t you consider mutilation of human bodies an act of grave provocation?

    It is fine to take a side, but journalists must practise the highest ethics.

    These people link everything to Kashmir. Even protests against sexual violence against women were hijacked by these people to further their propaganda.

  17. r c tandon permalink
    January 17, 2013 8:02 AM

    I find this article by Shivam Vij ridiculous in the present circumstances. It is a fact that the line of control is recognised internationally as the border between India and Pakistan. It is also in accordance with the Shimla agreement between both countries. It is also a fact that India cannot get back POK and neither can Pakistan snatch Kashmir side of India even if there is a nuclear war. That is why both India and Pakistan have to respect the line of control as their border. Article 370 has long outlived its purpose because POK does not have any such obligation and is firmly occupied and treated as part of Pakistan.

  18. Asghar Khatoon permalink
    January 17, 2013 8:49 AM

    Interesting comments- all muslims here have praised the article but majority of hindu/ non muslims have not. Maybe the majority of the nation needs to introspect a little more.

  19. Piyush permalink
    January 17, 2013 9:10 AM

    Your lot fills me with nothing but outrage. To compare this with Kargil is nothing short of treason. What will you do when you come back from office one evening to find someone raping your wife or sister? Will you politely reason with him to get off in accordance with some grand human right convention or will you strike his head off in one fell swoop? They have even tried to defend Capt Kalia episode by blaming it on animals and here we sitting high on our self righteous pedestal, puncturing holes in our state only to be seen taking the moral useless high ground. Utter filth!

    Sure, we are not crystal clean but they are much worse and deserve all the jingoism and bellicosity that is pouring out from the average Indian today.

  20. January 17, 2013 12:04 PM

    Mr Vij – Kudos on such a sensible and hard hitting piece. Please consider sending this article to a mainstream newspaper. Kafila is read by much fewer people. If your aim is to make people think, change mindsets, it stands to reason that it must reach a larger readership.

  21. Prakriti Prajapati permalink
    January 17, 2013 10:21 PM

    An eye opener indeed.
    Such barbarism in the garb of peace.

  22. January 19, 2013 4:56 PM

    I don’t doubt what you had written here, most of it must be true.
    I see you have done lot of research for it and got many links, but you must have researched thinking from other side too I am sure you will get lots of facts and quotes on that line too.
    You have a soft corner towards Pakistan that is known to all, there’s always other side too.
    What Pakistani Army did in 1965,1971 and 1999 can you justify it ?, did Indian Army did that to them anytime ? Can Indian Army Coup as they had did many a times ? So please do not weigh them on same scale. You can not sit and see your Soldiers getting beheaded you have to take some action.

    For Once I would like you to write about Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja who instead of being taken as POW by Pakistan in Kargil was killed.

  23. nic permalink
    January 28, 2013 1:25 AM

    Asghar Khatoon should the nature of responses be not be a cause for introspection amongst muslims ? What if a true Indian muslim soldier was beheaded ? Why so much fuss about official statements anyway is mutilating dead or dying Indian soldiers acceptable ? should we be concerned only when our soldiers are beheaded ?

Trackbacks

  1. Dear Pakistani friends: Put yourself in my shoes « Kafila

We look forward to your comments. Comments are subject to moderation as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56,773 other followers

%d bloggers like this: