Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has found an unlikely adversary in former general secretary of CPM Prakash Karat.
The Indian Armed Forces are considered to be one of the most professional forces and have stood the test of time for political neutrality and bravery. The CPM, however, thinks otherwise.
An editorial published in the latest issue of Peoples Democracy, understandably written by its editor Prakash Karat, blasts the serving army chief for alleged "blind adherence" to civilian government and comes out with a verdict that the Indian Army under the current dispensation "has let down the high professional standards of the army" and predicts that "the army itself will suffer irreparable damage".
The tone and tenor of the editorial is insulting and demoralising to the army, to say the least. The editorial published with the headline 'Damaging the Army Image' should be taken as the official line of the party.
Karat's disparaging remarks on the Indian Army and condemnation of Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi's action in Kashmir becomes significant considering he is a top-ranking leader of the CPM, a party which is among the seven national parties and that rules two states in the country. His or the party's remarks can't just pass as an irresponsible statement of a Left group.
The editorial begins with a definitive depreciative statement against the army chief: "The remarks made in an interview by the Army Chief of Staff, General Bipin Rawat, about dealing with civilian protestors in Kashmir exemplifies all that is wrong with the way the Modi government is dealing with the situation there."
It looks as though the CPM's anger stems from the fact that the army is not looking kindly at stone-pelters in Kashmir Valley when they come out in large numbers to obstruct the security forces action against terrorist. The Left parties have been supportive of the Hurriyat, but the separatists don't share the same sentiments towards the Left leaders. In September last year, Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani refused to meet CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader D Raja, who had come with a few other people. They were turned away from the gates of Geelani's home in Srinagar. The Left leaders swallowed their pride but continued to bat for the separatists.
The content of CPM's editorial will be music to Pakistan's ears and will probably be a talking point. The CPM leaders, however, are aware of the potential damage their thought process or their written words against the nation's army can cause. The armed forces in Kashmir Valley are faced with the most difficult challenge and despite provocations of all kinds, from Pakistan-sponsored stone-pelters, they have shown exemplary restraint.
In the face of a volatile mob of stone-pelters, Major Gogoi's split-second decision to tie an alleged stone-pelter over the bonnet of a jeep and drive away to protect the lives of a number of poll officials, paramilitary and military personnel, without firing a bullet drew praise from some quarters. Gogoi had to face police and military inquiry. While the controversy around the incident was still raging, the army chief decided to honour him and thereby, restored the morale of Gogoi and the rest of the Indian army. The decision was welcomed by many as it signaled that the army and the government have decided to discard the kid gloves while dealing with stone-pelters.
The CPM, however, termed Gogoi's action as "shocking", "wrongful" and "serious violation".
Pointing at Rawat's quote — “This is a proxy war... It is played in a dirty way... That is where innovation comes. You fight a dirty war with innovation” — the CPM editorial states: "The way Farooq Ahmad Dar, who had gone to vote in the Srinagar bypoll, was caught and tied to a jeep as a deterrent to stone pelters was a shocking incident. The army chief of staff, by commending this act, has let down the high professional standards of the army."
The Left front ideologue didn't have a word to say about the most compelling circumstances under which Gogoi had to take the unconventional step. It looks as though the Left parties think that the Kashmiri protestors have the right to pelt stones, make life threatening moves but the armed forces are bound by ethics, and cannot take action even in self-defence.
Karat is also agitated over Rawat's warning that the army would treat all those who do not support army operations or obstruct them during encounters as “overground workers of terrorists”. For CPM, Rawat's assertion that it was easier for the army to deal with those who had taken weapon against it than those pelting stones as the army knows how to deal with terrorists, is "needless provocation" and "displays an attitude which is unbecoming of a senior army officer." For the CPM, the violence in Kashmir perpetrated by terrorists and stone-pelters is not an anti-national act, but part of political protest.
CPM's criticism of the army chief aside, it is critical that the Narendra Modi government and the armed forces are on the same page while dealing with the situation in Kashmir.
"Unfortunately, the army chief is reflecting the views of the Modi government which seeks to suppress the people of Kashmir, who are voicing their political protest, through the sole reliance on use of force. Not only the people of Kashmir but the army itself will suffer irreparable damage due to the government’s blind adherence to the use of coercive force against the civilian population," the editorial says.
The CPM perhaps does not realise the consequences of a situation when the armed forces start defying the civilian government. Pakistan should come as ready reference to CPM on that count. But the party leaders are so blinded by their distaste for the Modi government at the Centre that it does not mind berating the Indian Army.
Updated Date: Jun 06, 2017 21:34 PM