At the outset, Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her ilk should stop calling soldiers who lose their lives in action 'martyrs'. They are not 'martyrs' and no service officer or soldier finds any solace or grace in this politically-motivated label.
By historical definition, a martyr is someone who dies for his largely religious beliefs, usually as a result of persecution. Soldiers are killed in action or lose their lives in the line of duty. Joan of Arc, Socrates, Bhagat Singh, Nathan Hale, Thomas Beckett... they were martyrs, just to name a few.
Soldiers are killed. Soldiers are slain. That is the language of the armed forces and their culture. Even Aurangzeb, the jawan who was kidnapped and brutally murdered by militants recently in the Kashmir Valley, was a victim of his uniform and a casualty of conflict, not a martyr.
That he deserves a soldier's funeral and the Last Post Ceremony goes without saying, for in his death is represented the grief of his company, his comrades in arms, his command and the army of which he was an integral member.
The visit by Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat and the defence minister to the family of the slain soldier is the right thing to do, although as far as the BJP is concerned, there is a touch of irony in the visit by its political bigwigs.
This is one Aurangzeb to whom they had to pay adequate honour. Having made so much of a noise over changing Aurangzeb Road in Delhi to Dr Abdul Kalam Marg and the iconic Mughal Serai station to Deen Dayal Upadhaya in an effort to eliminate the legacies of the past with reference to the cruel emperor, it must have been awkward to now salute someone with the same name for having served his nation and given up his life. If it wasn't such a sad occasion it would have been wry in its paradox.
The anti-Mughal tirade has been an ongoing war. BJP MLA Sangeet Som even roped in the Taj Mahal and wanted history to be rewritten, a demand that defies logic because once rewritten it isn't history any longer. A Firstpost report indicated that even textbooks are erasing the pages dedicated to the Mughal era and fiddling with the facts. The BJP website even compares the Mughal viciousness to the Holocaust.
The danger lies not so much in a pointless exercise, of waging war on an enemy that does not exist and has no relevance to modern India, but in giving licence to change history – whether the good, the bad or the ugly. When it is dictated as a lie just to feel good about it, we are in dicey territory. When does it stop and when does the deception take away with it the lessons we must learn from the past so that they are not repeated in the future.
You cannot sanitise what has happened.
There is this old proverb; those that do not learn from the mistakes of the past risk repeating them tomorrow. If the past is made into a lie, these mistakes will be amplified and new ones added.
Perhaps, in a very small way, this Indian Army soldier's death issued a tiny warning that it doesn't matter what you are called if your heart is in the right place.
That if you have to choose your battles, make them worthy of the nation. As he did. Not waste time in inanities.
Updated Date: Jun 20, 2018 16:59:21 IST