Amid all jingoism, one inconvenient question

While we mourn the death of our jawans in the recent Indo-Pak border incident, the question that disturbs me, having been part of the paramilitary forces, is whether we are performing our duty properly.

I joined the CRPF in December 1975 and had my strenuous training in the then dense forests of Khandwa in western Madhya Pradesh. The service rules clearly say that under no circumstances can we allow an enemy or intruder to enter our area and that vigilance has to be at its utmost best. I remember I was guarding the pretended line of control during my training period and I stood guard for about 10 hours at a stretch ensuring that no intrusions took place. This kind of commitment, I believe, is missing these days.

Though I left the force in 1980, the training I received remains fresh in my memory and this makes me wonder if our jawans lack commitment. If not, why is it that time and again we read and hear about intruders entering our territory from across the border, killing our jawans, snatching their arms and ammunitions and then getting back into their territory? Why have we been reduced to sitting ducks? This raises serious questions on the attitude of senior officers and their way of functioning. At the end of the day, it is the foot soldier who has to bear the brunt of the situation. I believe that guarding the borders is not just any other job and so critical attention needs to be paid while discharging this duty. When we join the forces, whether military or paramilitary, we are told that defending the country at any cost is our supreme duty. So are we performing our duty? Has there been any relaxation in the rules or is the politics playing havoc with the country’s security? The repeated intrusions by enemies would obviously make one think so.

While no compensation can give one’s life back, it is pertinent to mention here that getting killed in a battle is certainly an honour for the jawan but being killed without even a fight or losing one’s arms while fighting is certainly no martyrdom. I remember that during my training if we dropped our weapons, even accidentally, we were punished. Earlier this month, the Indian and Chinese troops had a face-off near the Tangkar La pass at the height of over 16,000 feet in eastern Sikkim when a Chinese patrol entered into our territory. At the time of the friendly parting, the Chinese troops presented our jawans with cans of beer while they were gifted rasgullas in return!

On the transgressions by Chinese troops, defence minister AK Antony had said, ‘There is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. There are areas along the border where India and China have different perceptions of the LAC and both sides undertake patrols up to their respective position.’ As the records suggest, our army’s total combat personnel strength is over 13 lakh, active reserve personnel strength is over 17 lakh and over 11.5 lakh in reserves. Similarly, BSF’s strength is about 1.8 lakh.

The point I am trying to make here is that huge sums of money being spent on our defence system and its personnel’s training should not go waste. In fact, there has to be commitment from both the individual and the system. This is what the country expects and supports.
On arrangement with Governance Now
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