"How many soldiers are we going to lose and with what frequency?" were the words of Naib Subedar Paramjit Singh's kin before the last rites of the soldier was conducted in Tarn Taran. His words not only conveyed his personal loss, but also his frustration with the country's security situation.
Officially, India is not at war. But the number of soldiers of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces getting killed while fighting terrorists or in cross-border fire or in Maoist ambush gives a feel that India is waging a war — internally and externally. Proxy war unleashed by Pakistan is taking a whole new dimension.
The sentiments of the kin of these dead soldiers, demanding retribution and avenging the death of every single Indians or even demanding destruction of an entire country (Pakistan) manifest the feelings of most Indian towards its irresponsible, errant and rouge neighbour.
The daughters of BSF head constable Prem Sagar, who lost his life in line of duty at the Line of Control (LoC), uncle of Lance Naik Hemraj, whose body was also mutilated by the Pakistani army, or relatives of any other soldier, who were killed by the Pakistani army at the LoC or by Maoists, their fingers point at one direction — a befitting response from the government and armed forces.
This comes at a time when the mood of the nation is fiercely nationalistic. But the chorus of "aar ya paar (now or never)" action against Pakistan presents a huge challenge to the Narendra Modi government. The challenge is two-fold — first, improve internal security, bust terrorists and terror modules, Maoists and the worsening law and order and the anti-India protests in the Kashmir Valley; second, contain external security situations emanating from the LoC and borders with Pakistan falling in the Jammu and Kashmir region.
Though the government's response should be left to the armed forces and the political leadership of the ruling dispensation, what is important is that a befitting action is taken at the earliest. Since any effective retaliatory action will have to contain a surprise element in terms of timing, strategy or mode, one can't know whether there would be yet another surgical strike or something else. Sources in the government, however, suggest that India would take appropriate action at a time and place of its choosing.
What has angered India is the fact that after killing Paramjit Singh and Prem Sagar in an ambush, backed by heavy fire from the Pakistani side, Pakistanis entered the Indian territory and mutilated the bodies of the soldiers. The seriousness of these incidents are worrisome for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his colleagues in the government.
They would remember that in 2013, when Pakistanis had beheaded jawan Hemraj and killed five other jawans on LoC, the BJP had made shrill noises and its then Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and some other party leaders had asked for 10 heads from the Pakistani side. The BJP had blasted a weak Manmohan Singh government and raised a fiercely nationalist pitch.
Modi, in contrast to Singh, was seen as a strong and decisive leader who will pursue robust and uncompromising internal and external security policy. His government and the Indian Army's decision to carry out the September 2016 surgical strike at terror camps in PoK was in sync with that belief.
Fresh incidents of firing, terror attacks, mutilation of jawans, death sentence for Kulbushan Jadhav after a farcical trial suggest Pakistan is refusing to learn any lessons from the surgical strike and is back to doing what it is known for doing as a rogue state. Yet again, Modi has to give clearance to the armed forces to speak in a language which Pakistan understands.
All eyes are now on the prime minister and his response. On Tuesday, Amit Shah said at the party's state executive committee meeting in Lucknow, the BJP is a conglomeration of desh bhakts (nationalists) and is ruling at the Centre with a clear majority with 282 seats, has 1,387 legislators across the country, rules 14 states and is part of the ruling alliance in three other states and is one of the biggest political party with 11 crore members. By listing these credentials for his party, Shah has raised popular expectations that India must respond most effectively against its neighbour.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, on Monday, said, "This (mutilation of two soldiers) is a reprehensible and an inhuman act by our neighbour. Such acts don't take place even during war, let alone peace. Bodies of soldiers being mutilated is an extreme form of barbarism. The Indian government strongly condemns this act and the whole country has full confidence and faith in our armed forces, which will react appropriately to this inhuman act. The sacrifice of these soldiers will not go in vain."
Indian Army too has said that the despicable act of the Pakistani army will be appropriately responded. Indians are waiting to hail that moment.
Updated Date: May 02, 2017 21:09 PM