Till not so long ago, jawans were to "nationalists" what Lord Rama was to Hindutva-wadis in the late 80s and 90s.
Jo Raam ki baat karega, wohi desh ki baat karega, the Hindutva brigade screamed as their leaders scythed through the society, dividing it between those who saw a temple as symbol of Hindu asmita and those who saw the sheer absurdity of such muscular majoritarianism.
Then, two decades after Rama outlived his electoral utility, came Jai Shree Jawan, a revised version of the earlier jumla invoking God as part of the strategy of countering facts with faith, reason with propaganda and critical thinking with cheap rhetoric. Like the Rama binary, it was used as a knife for carving out the country into two convenient halves-- the self-anointed deshbhakts and the deshdrohis.
Soon, certificates of loyalty, patriotism and even nationality — go to Pakistan — started being handed out on the slightly tweaked variant of the Rama slogan: 'Jo Jawan ki baat karega wohi is desh main rahega'.
Complaining about ATM queues and demonetisation? Crying over somebody who died while queuing up for cash? What about the soldiers? Still studying in the JNU? Why don't you learn from the jawans who skipped higher education for desh seva? 'While- soldiers-are-dying-on-the-borders-you-are...' turned into the standard weapon of mass destruction of debate.
Crocodiles would have been inspired by their tears!
For the past few days, soldiers guarding our borders have been coming out with damning evidence of the lack of facilities. Three days ago, BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav gave graphic details of the food soldiers are served at posts in difficult, high-risk terrain. Since then there has been a series of complaints and revelations about the quality of rations, supplies and the way soldiers are treated as servants by officers. Independent investigations and reports too have alleged that supplies meant for soldiers are being sold in the market.
Further, soldiers are being victimised and maligned for speaking out, drawing attention to their plight. Yadav, the BSF jawan who posted videos of the diet in his camp, was branded an alcoholic with psychological issues — conditions, as Firstpost argued earlier did not stop the BSF to post him on the border, give him a gun — and derided as a habitual offender, a 'bad hat'.
Another soldier, Lance Naik Yogendra Pratap, has complained that he was harassed for writing to the government about their plight.
What could be more vile than stealing the food of the men who fight under your command? What is more despicable than having colleagues at your mercy like paid slaves? What can be more inhuman that putting soldiers on the borders on a diet that resembles the menu in a Nazi camp — watery soup of turmeric and some inedible slop?
So, to rephrase Saahir Ludhianvi, jinhe naaz hain jawan pe wo kahan hain?
Why isn't the government treating it as a priority, holding prompt probes, making heads roll, cleaning up the corrupt system? Where are the patriots whose hearts were bleeding for soldiers? Do we see them holding candle marches for #justice to jawans?
Where is (retd) General GD Bakshi, whose eyes so easily well-up talking about the Tricolor and the imagined respect to it? Do we see him shedding tears for the hungry jawans of India? Where are the "nationalist" TV channels and their anchors who would begin firing from their studios the moment they perceived a real or imagined insult to the soldier? Where are the lachrymose spokespersons of the 'patriotic' parties who would become overly sentimental every time the word soldiers was mentioned in a TV studio? While the soldier is guarding the borders on a hungry stomach, where are you, dear politicians, who milked their plight and sacrifices for scoring cheap brownie points?
Where exactly is the outrage against exploitation of jawans on the border?
The problem with hypocrisy and fake ideals is that one day they turn against the very people who practise and espouse them. So, it is tragi-comic to see a barrage of comments on the social media branding soldiers — somebody called Yadav a coward because of his caste, another asked him to shut up and go home if he has a problem gulping down whatever is thrown at him — who are speaking out against ill-treatment, inadequate supplies and rampant corruption as traitors. Perhaps only in India can we see the spectacle of those who fired from the shoulders of jawans later turning their guns on them.
The truth is, for the hypocrites who use emotive issues to polarise societies, pulverise opponents and politicise institutional and cultural symbols, there is very little difference between a jawan, a cow and Lord Rama. They will use them for their ulterior motives without the slightest regard for their well-being and welfare. In their hands, cows, gods and soldiers are cheap weapons to bludgeon criticism and opposing voices.
See the similarities between gau mata and soldiers. Both were used as emotive issues over the past year. One was called mother, the other our brother for whom our hearts bleed. And both were left out in the cold to graze on whatever they could find, to survive on leftovers of moral and monetary corruption.
Look at that pseudo-nationalist again, look beyond the glycerine tears and saccharine slogans. Their only principle is this: Gau is our mother, jawan is our brother. But when it is time to feed them, throw them some leftovers. If they complain, put them out in the cold. Or better still, send them to Pakistan!
Updated Date: Jan 13, 2017 14:39:51 IST