Sitrep | Reality of counter-insurgency in Kashmir | punjab$regional-takes | Hindustan Times
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Sitrep | Reality of counter-insurgency in Kashmir

Major Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles may have, with his on the spur of the moment tactical decision, saved the lives of the polling party he was called upon to rescue, his own men and not to forget, hundreds of innocent and not-so-innocent civilians in Budgam the other day.

punjab Updated: May 03, 2017 07:35 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh with Brig KS Kahlon (left) and Brig IS Gakhal at the Sikh Regiment’s Baisakhi lunch. Brig Gakhal is an authority on the regiment’s history and lore.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh with Brig KS Kahlon (left) and Brig IS Gakhal at the Sikh Regiment’s Baisakhi lunch. Brig Gakhal is an authority on the regiment’s history and lore.(PHOTO: SIKH REGIMENT)

Major Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles may have, with his on the spur of the moment tactical decision, saved the lives of the polling party he was called upon to rescue, his own men and not to forget, hundreds of innocent and not-so-innocent civilians in Budgam the other day.

But the optics of using a civilian as a human shield will resonate for a long time. While we are certainly winning the military battle, the political struggle for the hearts and minds of Kashmiris is in utter chaos. We have not only to win the military campaign but to be seen to be prevailing using fair, legal, ethically sound means.

While soldiers do bend the rules on occasion for the greater good or in tactically vulnerable situation, such visuals are best avoided in the smartphone-rich environment of the Kashmir valley. Pakistan’s agents in the Valley, who appear to be in firm control of the insurgency, are determined to create similar untenable situations to provoke the security forces to use disproportionate force against civilians. This must be resisted. Easier said than done, but we must learn a lesson from the British experience in Northern Ireland.

Highly motivated Republican supporters in so-called no-go areas used all means possible to thwart, psychologically cow down and provoke their troops. The latter, however, kept their cool except in the case of a few wellpublicised incidents like Bloody Sunday in Londonderry. We must, at all costs, avoid giving Pakistan more ammunition to use against us in what now appears to be a well-organised social media campaign.

Lastly, what of our own constantly under-siege soldiers and their well-being and interest?

Politicians and social media drumbeaters relentlessly urge us to stand behind them while conveniently abandoning the Budgam Ten (a JCO and ten jawans of the same unit who still face the threat of court-martial).

SIKH REGIMENT BAISAKHI LUNCH

Captain Amarinder Singh reiterated his deep commitment to the Sikh Regiment by attending its Baisakhi lunch at Chandimandir on April 9.

The annual affair was also attended by General SK Jha, Colonel of the Regiment and currently commanding XXXIII Corps defending the eastern ramparts, General JS Cheema, Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (Information Systems and Training) and General AK Sharma commanding XVI Corps which confronts Pakistan along the LOC in Jammu province as well as combating insurgency south of the Pir Panjal range.

Veterans and serving officers mixed in a sublime atmosphere replete with that very special awe-inspiring spirit which inspires the regiment on to ever greater heights.

ISSUES WITH THE CANADIANS

Old Canada hands in the foreign and intelligence services can vouch for Captain Amarinder Singh’s allegation that Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan has sympathies with Khalistani separatists.

However, there is another aspect of our relations with that country which directly involves our uniformed services. Dozens of officers and men from the armed forces, intelligence services, paramilitary forces and police have had their applications for visas to visit Canada rejected on extremely dubious grounds of ‘being likely to have been involved in human rights violations’ if they were found to have served in J&K, the North-East and Punjab.

A qualification which just about covers the entire gamut of India’s security forces! I’m glad the Punjab chief minister has stood up for the country. Honour is always more important.

(Please write in with your narratives of war and military life to msbajwa@gmail.com or call/WhatsApp on 093161-35343)