39 Indians killed in Mosul: Political spat, public discourse in aftermath of newsbreak shows Indian lives still cheap

Even though the media put a fair amount of focus on the killing of 39 Indians in Mosul by the Islamic State, there was no traction in the public discourse.

Bikram Vohra March 21, 2018 14:10:48 IST
39 Indians killed in Mosul: Political spat, public discourse in aftermath of newsbreak shows Indian lives still cheap

You know what is scary. Not so much the political exchange of insults that followed Sushma Swaraj's Parliament address, where she was upfront about the killing of 39 Indian workers kidnapped by the Islamic State in Iraq's Mosul – which is bad enough in itself. But the supreme indifference of the Indian people to this tragic occurrence.

Even though the media put a fair amount of focus on this three-year saga in suspense and asked the right questions, there is no traction in the public. It is like they are saying, 'okay... big deal, it's an old story... life goes on'. It is hurtful and reflects our mindset as a society.

39 Indians killed in Mosul Political spat public discourse in aftermath of newsbreak shows Indian lives still cheap

File image of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

We can confidently predict that while the families come to terms with their loss, there will be no hurrahs from the state governments or compensation for the bereft families. Suffice it to say that this story will wither on the vine a couple of days after the funerals.

And while it is very Patton-esque of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to state that his government will leave no stone unturned to bring the remains of those killed home, one is hard-pressed to ask how many stones have to be really unturned when there is a friendly government in power in Baghdad, the remains discovered, DNA tests completed; the Iraqis have already confirmed that the remains belong to the 39 Indians and would have no hesitation to send them to India.

Thus, there is nothing heroic about sending Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh to escort the remains back and, therefore, this redundant sentiment would be better replaced by state receptions and funerals for all 39, each draped with a tricolour for being casualties of war and carrying Indian passports. They died for their country as combatants. At least give the families that memory.

That is the least we can do as a farewell gesture because it isn't Bollywood and it is not Israel getting even with the killers of their 1972 Olympic team and we really have no idea of the mastermind behind the executions nor do we possess the wherewithal in this scenario to track the guilty.

Meanwhile, as the BJP and the Congress continue their slurring match, all that they are doing is showing disrespect to the dead and their families, who have suffered in ignorance and were kept in the dark about all the developments.

It is almost ghoulish that they were approached for DNA samples and one does wonder if this tactlessness could have been avoided or if just one member of each family could've been taken into confidence and told the truth. It is a conceit by the government to assume that it can decide the appropriate the time for sharing the facts in a matter of life and death.

In a recent episode of Designated Survivor, the successful TV show, the United States president discovers that a busload of Americans have been kidnapped by Cuban rebels. It is not so much the theatrics that is highlighted but a singular sentiment. 'These are American lives', he says, 'and they must count for something, we have to save them. Send in the marines'.

Ditto for Indian lives. If only we can, as a people, start caring about ourselves first.

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