4 armed men enter kilometres into our territory. They carefully evade at least three counter-infiltration security nets and then attack a premier army base and kill 17 Indian army soldiers in the small hours of the morning of 18th September. Within hours of that our government condemns the attack and promises ‘punishment’ for those responsible, and the Prime Minister and others dismiss it as a cowardly attack. This is a problem. Calling those who kill our soldiers cowards is not enough to deter our enemies let alone give succour to the grieving families. The Uri army base is surrounded by the LoC on three sides, it is in the hotbed of infiltration and as such is always battle ready. How then was it possible for these terrorists to take out 17 armymen? Surely, this is a huge lapse. We are also told that the attackers managed to overcome several layers of security including surveillance and water fences.
And yet, what we see in the wake of this unprecedented tragedy is nothing more than business as usual. The army chief and defence minister rushed to Srinagar, the defence minister was reported to have said something as banal as, “I have told the army to take firm action”. This is unacceptable, particularly from a government that has been given a full majority by Indians. We don’t need triteness right now, we need visible actions that will lift the morale of Indian soldiers. The defence minister seems to be on an endlessly long leash given the number of fiascos that have occurred under his command. He is also more occupied with petty politics and is often seen making comments that neither behove nor reflect the stature of his post. For instance, on Saturday he was quoted as saying that the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tongue had to be chopped because it had grown too long by his criticism of Narendra Modi.
In Delhi, the Prime Minister has met senior ministers and top officials of the security establishment but they are yet to issue a statement about the possible response. Meanwhile the National Investigation Agency(NIA) has started gathering evidence at Uri, presumably to add to the pile of proof of Pakistan’s complicity. In other words, another potentially futile exercise given the experience of getting Pakistan to act against the Masood Azhars on its soil. The Home Minister Rajnath Singh seems content with calling Pakistan a terrorist state little realising that there is nothing new or bold in that.
Junior and bashful ministers like Jitendra Singh were heard making noises about the “”human rights of our soldiers” while KirenRijiju was seen fumbling something about “it doesn’t matter if Pakistan denies their involvement or not”. It is a travesty of the supreme sacrifice made by our jawans if we let such statements become a norm. No other country in the world would appear to be so calm as India after 18 soldiers have been massacred inside their own base. The sad irony is that this is happening under a government that swayed the public with their anti-Pakistan rhetoric and promised to kill ten Pakistani soldiers for every one Indian jawan. Now, all we hear from them are whimpers about a non-emotional response. Ex-army chief V K Singh and the only one to have become a politician right after retirement was seen sagaciously telling us the importance of a “well-thought out strategic response not based on emotions”. The cynical politics of Pakistan-bashing is now bearing fruit in the form of increased tension in the valley as well as along the LoC.
The BJP general secretary Ram Madhav was the first to post his ‘hard position’ on facebook. He wants the Indian army to take out “the whole jaw for a tooth”. One wonders why should he take to facebook when as a powerful RSS-backed general secretary he has the ear of the Prime Minister himself. The reality is obvious to serious observers of the India-Pakistan conflict- no amount of public posturing will wish away the ground realities. Neither will populist measures like praising the cause of Baloch nationalism. Instead of indulging in schizophrenic tactics the government needs to revisit its Pakistan policy. The Pew Center’s just released report also shows growing disapproval of PM Modi’s handling of Pakistan in the last one year.From 25 per cent people who supported his Pakistan policy the number has fell to 22 per cent. The Prime Minister’s task is cut out, take strong and time-bound action against this latest strike or soon nobody will take the Indian government seriously. In fact, disillusionment with the government seems to have already begun.