|Tuesday, April 25, 2000,
over Question Hour
rights and the police
Army off civilian duties in J&K
Unwise and impolitic
The Chief Minister of
Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Farooq Abdullah, has once again
committed a grave constitutional impropriety. By
advocating in Jammu on Saturday that the Line of Control
(LoC) should be declared as the permanent border between
India and Pakistan, he has violated the sanctity of the
oath he had taken to protect and preserve the territorial
integrity of the northern state according to the
constitutional provision and the established
geo-political position. That he has done so in the
presence of Vice-President Krishan Kant at a function
held to unveil a statue of Maharaja Gulab Singh compounds
his offence with a serious sense of unwisdom. Jammu and
Kashmir are two fully integrated territories in the far
north that make up a single state within the Republic of
India. The Instrument of Accession made the three
regionsthe vale in the south of the Great Himalayan
Axis, Ladakh to the north of Kashmir and, of course,
Jammuan inalienable part of India. Uneasy ceasefire
lines were caused to make peace possible after each of
the Pakistani aggressions. The so-called plebiscite
proposition died because Pakistan did not fulfil the
required conditions. In 1950, attempts to flog the dead
horse temporarily stopped. In 1965, it became clear that
a ceasefire line could mean both war and peace and
Jawaharlal Nehru declared that an attack on any
part of the state would be considered an assault on
India. Lal Bahadur Shastri gave realism to the
announcement. The Tashkent Agreement between him and
General Ayub Khan created another Line of Control. The
Bangladesh war and the conciliatory Simla accord drew up
an LoC yet again! The Kargil misadventure presented
before the world the most belligerent violation of the
clear line of truce. Like his father, Dr Farooq Abdullah
witnessed Pakistans attempts to cross the limits of
international decency. The Parliament of India and the
legislature of Jammu and Kashmir resolved to regain the
territory grabbed by Pakistan in the wars. Sheikh
Abdullah said he would live and die for composite
Kashmir. Now that he has to live through his
mismanagement of the state, which has seen the migration
of almost all the Pandits over the years and of Sikhs
recently, Dr Farooq Abdullah is repeating a statement he
and a few others have made in defeatist moments earlier.
Sovereignty is not negotiable. Prime Minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee has announced this from world forums. Hundreds
of people have diedand are dyingto ensure
that Jammu and Kashmir would be with India in its
entirety. Incidentally, what could have been the reaction
of Mr Krishan Kant to Dr Farooq Abdullahs formula?
We should retain what we have and let the
Pakistanis keep what they have with them.... No
Chief Minister has iterated such an impolitic view in
this country on any sensitive issue. What does the
preservation of the character of the state
mean after this pro-truncation remark? The Chief Minister
owes an explanation to the nation.
Swadeshi as dharma
RSS chief K.S.Sudarshan roared in Mumbai on Sunday but no one trembled in Delhi. He declared a war on the present economic system and called for a second freedom movement, this time to win economic independence. He was happy that communism had perished and was confident that capitalism too would go the same way. India should therefore march back to the Gandhian model of placing village at the centre of the economy. Mr Sudarshan passionately pleaded for the immediate revival of the ancient gram panchayat system, momentarily forgetting that through an amendment to the Constitution this institution has been resurrected, at least in form if not in spirit. In his grand design, Vande Mataram will be the axis of the economy and it will inspire all to be Indian and buy Indian. For good measure he attacked the World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organisation as instruments of western powers and making it possible for 20 per cent of the world population to exploit the remaining 80 per cent. Just as Indian independence triggered the collapse of colonialism, Indias successful swadeshi will have a similar worldwide ripple effect, leading to a new swadeshi order. Though Mr Sudarshan invoked Mahatma Gandhis name, his swadeshi is a world apart from the original idea. Gandhi wanted to stop the economic drain caused by colonialism by exporting cheap cotton and importing costly textile. Once snapped, the colonial rulers would have the most powerful prop knocked out. And he offered a swadeshi alternative, handloom. That his successful campaign led to the birth of incipient Indian capitalism is a different story. Mr Sudarshans unshakeable faith in swadeshi is easily explained. He acted as the midwife at the birth of the concept and offered the powerful support of the RSS. But ironically, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch was set up to fight the entry of Enron and the widely rumoured bribe-taking; but the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government not only reinstated Enron but also allowed it to make a higher profit.
In the days to come
there will be analyses and clarification by the BJP that
there will be no change in the economic policy. That is
to be expected but wholly unwanted. Mr Sudarshans
provocative ideas are also totally impracticable. The
country cannot rewrite so many decades of economic
development as the BJP rewrites its constitution. Two,
every section of the population has developed a vested
interest in the existing system and protest is directed
at this or that policy and not at the system as a whole.
To put it differently, there is a consensus on a large
area of economic policy and the difference of opinion is
restricted to two aspects. One is sequencing, rather the
order of reforms, and the second is the the pace of
globalisation. There is therefore no room for those who
want the country to race back to an earlier millennium.
Many believe that Mr Sudarshan is fully aware of it but
occasionally lets off steam because of two compulsions.
He has to live up to his image as an uncompromising
hardliner and the other is the policy imperative of the
Sangh Parivar to occupy all available political, social
and cultural space. It has an offshoot to demand the
construction of the Ram Mandir, another to demand a ban
on all conversion, and a third to roll back all economic
activities. The list is endless. And the Sangh Parivar
has a well-known outfit to reject all these demands and
that is the BJP. Above all, the Sangh Parivar is alien to
economics; after reading a few pages of the BJPs
economic resolution, internationally known economist
Jagdish Bhagwati poured scorn on those who drafted it and
added: If they are economists, I can pass off as a
Christian-bashing must stop
REPORTS of attacks on Christian missionaries in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh confirm the suspicion that the agenda which resulted in the killing of Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa over a year ago has not been given up by those believed to be close to the Sangh Parivar. In the incident reported from Haryana three nuns were attacked by an unidentified man in Rewari while they were on their way to attend the Easter-eve midnight mass. One of the three victims was shifted to the intensive care unit of Holy Family Hospital in Delhi. A spokesman of the All India Christian Council pointed out that Rewari was the fifth incident of violence against members of the Christian community reported from Haryana in the past one year. In the incident of Christian-bashing reported from Agra the Bajrang Dal activist not only beat up members of a group from Hyderabad but also showed the temerity to file a first information report against the visitors from the South. Dal spokesmen have admitted that Biblical literature was set on fire because the 14-member group was allegedly engaged in converting villagers to Christianity through monetary allurement. To say that Bajrang Dal activists got carried away by reports of forced conversion will not do. There is a sinister pattern in the targeting of members of the minority communities, particularly Christians, since the upswing in the political fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The minorities may be feeling equally insecure in non-BJP ruled states, but there is a qualitative difference in the attitude of the administration in responding to reports of violence with communal overtones.However, in states where the Sangh Parivar elements are in power or have an alliance with other parties the local administration appears less enthusiastic in responding to the SOS from members of the minority communities under attack.
In Haryana the BJP has
enjoyed indirect power first as a member of Mr Bansi
Lals alliance and now as an electoral partner of Mr
Om Prakash Chautalas party. Five incidents of
Christian-bashing in one year do indicate official
indifference in the enforcement of law and order in the
state. As for UP, the Agra episode is not the first of
its kind to have come to notice in recent weeks.
According to one report, within a span of 12 days four
Christian institutions have come under attack in UP. The
attacks took place less than a month after the Bajrang
Dal unfolded its plan to create awareness against
the conspiracy of conversion. On April 11 a group
of armed men had entered the premises of St Teresa School
in Mathura and beat up the principal and two nuns. The
district administration claimed that the attack was the
result of a steep fee-hike announced by the school. If
the administration cannot ensure the safety of minority
groups in states under the shadow of the Sangh Parivar,
it should at least not offer stupid excuses for its
inaction. If the Mathura attack was led by angry parents,
has even a single arrest been made for causing grievous
hurt and disturbing the peace? Similarly, if the group
from Hyderabad was indeed trying to force some villagers
to convert by offering them money, the Bajrang Dal
activists should have reported the matter to the police
rather than make a public announcement of having
destroyed Biblical literature. And have the Bajrang Dal
activists been arrested for causing communal tension and
hurt to the sentiments of Christians by burning copies of
scriptural material held sacred by them? A pond need not
be swarming with fish for the water to lose its purity.
But for keeping that one proverbial troublesome fish out
the keeper of the pond should not only be vigilant but
seen to be vigilant. It is evident that lack of effort to
contain the malcontent is at the root of the disturbing
upswing in incidents of minority-bashing in the country.
Queries over Question Hour
QUESTION: What are the governments plans to handle a shortfall in the production of foodgrains?
Answer: That is not agriculture but commerce.
Question: What about the shortfall in grain output?
Answer: Some times nature is kind. There is rain and farmers get a crop. At times, there is drought or a natural calamity.
Replies of a school teacher to his students? No, no. The reply of a minister to an Opposition MP on the august floor of the Lok Sabha last week.
Should one applaud. Join the guffaws of laughter and sniggers of derision. Or puff up in self-esteem and merely shrug it off. Not any. All one can do is to hang ones head in shame. This is the reality of Indias high temple of democracy, which today stands vandalised by the jan sevaks, where nothing seems to be sacred. All one can say is that Indias sanctum sanctorum has been defiled to a zero.
The great tragedy is that the very protectors of this institution have become its denigrators and destroyers. It is irrelevant as to who cast the first stone. In their collective wisdom, all spew sheer contempt for Parliament, wittingly or unwittingly. Further devalue it by throwing all standards to the winds. Reducing the grand red sandstone building, which houses the aspirations of the people, to perspirations and one-upmanship. Turning the voice of the masses into an invoice for themselves.
Nothing illustrates the state of our nation better than what happens in Parliament day in and day out. The ball is set rolling, right from the beginning of the first minute of the days proceedings. One can accept momentary loss of temper and temporary exercise of lung power, even ignore dharnas, walk-outs and boycotts as part of an MPs stock-in-trade. But what is unforgivable is the sacrilege of the sacred 60-minute question hour.
Importantly, the question hour is the hyphen which links the government to Parliament. It provides for daily and continuing accountability of the government to Parliament. Wherein the government through its ministers is forced to answer questions. Anyone among the MPs in both Houses can put a question to the Prime Minister or any other minister and demand an honest answer. It is thus the most powerful weapon available to the Opposition to keep the government on a tight leash. It is based on the fundamental rights of information enshrined in the Constitution via questions. Mercifully, the rules of the House ensure that the government does not avoid questions and conveniently escapes.
Perhaps, this hour, more than any other time, serves as a barometer of governmental efficiency and performance at the macro level, and a ministers effectiveness at the micro level on a daily basis. When they are required to answer queries relating to matters of public importance, the administrative responsibility of which reposes in them. It reflects whether various ministers are in command of their respective departments, competent, agile and receptive to what it takes to leave their mark on governance. In this milieu, the competence of the minister is of paramount importance. It is he who calls the shots and sets the work pace of his ministry. Perhaps, that is why the question hour is by and large not suspended unlike any another business, except adjournment or no-confidence motions which supersede all business.
Alas, over the years with political compulsions dominating political discourse, ministers have been gripped by the chalta hai attitude, reflected during the question hour when ministers come without doing homework to be reprimanded, at times, by the presiding officers. Invariably their stock-in-trade reply is: Information is being collected. At times, they show their ignorance by giving a wrong reply to a wrong question. The less said about their goof-ups over the supplementaries the better.
So what if the ministry works hard for over three weeks to prepare replies to the oral and written questions. What use are the days spent over preparing a list of 20 to 50 probable supplementaries a minister may be asked, if the person who has to answer doesnt even bother to read through the prepared answers! Never mind the entire effort that goes into it.... It is another matter that it is more lucrative to pose a question than get a reply to it. Predictably, the unsatisfactory and incomplete reply leads to compulsive criticism, side-comments, loss of temper and trading of charges.
Tragically, over the years the politics of kursi has been carried to such absurd limits that ministerial berths are decided not by competence, calibre or qualifications, but are distributed as lollipops to chamchas and loyalists or dangled as lucrative bait to mollify and cajole dissenters and opponents. With Indias advent into the era of coalition governance, matters have sharply deteriorated. Forget lollipops and baits, now the Prime Ministerial prerogative of choosing his team itself has been hijacked, wherein selection of the Union Council of Ministers is based on proportional representation. In other words, the Prime Minister is forced to share his prerogative with the leaders of his coalition parties, whose recommendations are binding on the Prime Minister vis-a-vis names, ranks and portfolios.
Discussion and debate largely lose their meaning as the numbers game becomes the criteria of successful Treasury Benches. Inconvenient questions are avoided and, on occasions, sidetracked. Sadly the answers leave much to be desired. They are wishy-washy and evasive. In fact, a sheer waste of time. (An eagerly-awaited question on military preparedness along the LoC in J&K could not be asked in the Lok Sabha last week, even when it was listed as number five because the questioners chose to stay away! Mockery is made of established conventions and procedures.
In fact, not many are aware of the genesis of the question hour, that came into existence in British Parliaments Indian Council Act of 1892, which allowed a member to elicit information by asking questions in the Legislative Council. This was refined in 1919 by the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms, wherein for the first time the first hour of every morning was earmarked for questions only. No business except obituary references or other kinds of purely formal business with the permission of the Speaker could precede questions. Importantly, Parliaments of Britain and India (based on Westminster) are the only two institutions which provide for an exclusive hour for questions.
Alas, Indias Parliament today is where politically motivated bashing has become the raging cult the new order. And an agreed agenda is a luxury to be taken up only when the lung power is exhausted, bringing things to such a pass that the pursuit of power, pelf and patronage is replacing the right to information and law-making.
Is this going to be our basic approach? Is Parliament going to function as though India is now a unitary state, not a Union of States? Is it being used by the ruling and other parties to play their own ruthless vote-bank politics and indulge in a self-serving witch-hunt?
Gone are the days when the sittings were orderly and members would pour over voluminous files before raising issues. When interventions were meticulously planned and clarifications sought. The fifties, the sixties and the early seventies. Then came Raj Narain in the late seventies and Kalpnath Rai as the Congress answer to him, not long thereafter. The shouting brigade in the 1980s. To the absentees of the 1990s. The era of no holds-barred politics. The practice of rushing to the well of the House and of browbeating the Chair with the party bosses sitting nonchalantly and not intervening. A steady downhill.
Indeed, Parliament has changed greatly since the Nehru era. The first Prime Ministers respect for parliamentary institutions was as deep rooted as his faith in the democratic process. Parliament symbolised for him the power of the people, and he was always zealous in guarding its dignity, unlike many among the powers-that-be today, as well as during the past three decades.
How does one restore a strong sense of its own authority to Parliament. Remembering that each minute of the Lok Sabha is estimated to cost Rs 2 lakh! Clearly, our Parliament needs to look afresh at its procedures and adapt them to the changing demands, as was wisely done in Britain in 1976. The House of Commons then gave itself new rules and procedures to ensure control and stewardship over ministers and the expanding bureaucracy. What was true of Britain in 1976 is even more true of India today, if we really mean business.
In sum, as the
thirteenth Lok Sabha continues to work, it is high time
we gave serious thought to rectifying the flaws in our
democratic system. The MPs need to honestly search their
souls. For how long can they continue to mortgage their
conscience to unabashed gimmickry and cheap emotion? When
myopic partisan politics will recklessly paralyse
Parliament, providing cold comfort neither to the actors
nor to the cheer leaders. When will the wheel turn a full
circle back to making Parliament truly the high
temple of our democracy? Our elected MPs need to answer
just one question: Whose Parliament is it any way? Theirs
or the peoples? INFA
Human rights and the police
THE National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was set up in 1993 when the police earned notoriety on account of brutal excesses and its increasing collusion with the underworld. People too frequently asked if police personnel had become a law unto themselves. The answer to this question may perhaps be in the affirmative. It is routine to hear about police barbarity against hapless persons in custody for extracting confessions, wrongful confinement, framing innocent people in false cases, fake encounters, non-registration of cases, extortion and robberies being committed by them. Not only that, several women have fallen prey to the savagery of policemen.
There is no denying the fact that corruption has developed deep roots in the police force. Not only in the lower echelons but among officers too. Rampant corruption can be attributed to the lack of supervision, connivance, protection of the erring officers for monetary consideration, etc, which make them commit crime after crime with impunity while remaining in uniform. The lengthy departmental procedure in dealing with police corruption also does not help.
The National Human Rights Commission found the police echelons wanting in their response to the instructions issued by it from time to time. In order to inculcate a habit of acting only in accordance with the laws of the land, the NHRC organised workshops and seminars in several states to get the police to change its style of functioning, and the methods used to enforce the law. The NHRC has urged police personnel visiting their workshops to inculcate a sense of humanity and discipline into their work. The NHRC also emphasised the need for human rights to be taught as a separate subject in police training schools and colleges.
It is well known that the lower rungs of the police usually abuse their power. Some of their acts were ignored by their superiors as any punitive action against them would have demoralised the ranks. It was here where we erred and discipline and respect for the law started eroding. People were kept in wrongful confinement on the pretext of interrogation. They were tortured to extract confessions; some time wrong confessions were made. It is well known that rough cops usually come from an educationally backward background and are incapable of understanding the far reaching consequences of their brutal and inhuman crimes. The suspects are often kept in wrongful confinement without adequate food and proper medication resulting in custodial deaths.
Custodial deaths are among the worst of crimes attributed to the police. It is only too well known that overzealous policemen in their endeavour to foist as many cases on suspects as possible commit brutal excesses. The need to educate the police force about the dangerous potential of power gone berserk can hardly be overemphasised.
Despite the relentless efforts of the NHRC, instances of police brutality and excesses are not lacking, and deaths in custody continue to be on the rise. Police stations have become a nightmare for the accused and the suspects. Corruption, lack of responsibility, malicious prosecutions, false cases and a vengeful attitude contribute to this crime. Senior gazetted police officers should take it upon themselves to ensure that no person or suspect is detained unnecessarily, and that he is not subjected to torture. They must educate the investigating officers about the proper and scientific methods of interrogation. The policemen need to be told that in the event of custody deaths they have to face suspension, prosecution, rigorous imprisonment, etc.
Recent directions of the Supreme Court on interrogation and custody of suspects must be followed meticulously. Because of human rights violations, the Supreme Court had to intervene to issue guidelines to the police. It is high time the government paid attention to this and enacted legislation to the guidelines regarding the custody of criminals/suspects to give them a shape of law. The government should be committed to protecting human rights. It must formulate a uniform policy to protect innocent persons from the barbaric actions of the police. A heavy responsibility lies on the court which remands the accused in police custody as no person can be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to the procedures established by law within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution.
Accountability for unlawful or criminal acts should start at the supervisory levels. Every supervisory officer must be made accountable for wrongful confinement and torture of suspects by his subordinates. As and when any police remand of suspects becomes essential to the investigation of cases the supervisory officer must satisfy himself that the request for remand is fortified by convincing reasons.
Medical examination before and after police remand may be got done by the supervisory officer to ensure that no torture has been inflicted, and that the suspect is in perfect state of health. Thus, accountability at all levels is a must to check the casual violence unleashed on suspects at police stations.
Article 21 of the Constitution lays down that no person can be deprived of his life and personal liberty except under law. This should be drummed into the thick head of every policeman by the supervisory officer.
Senior officers must ensure that no person or suspect is unnecessarily detained in a police station and there is no custodial torture. Legislation may be enacted to ensure the safe custody. The legislation may, inter alia, cover compensation for the victims family. The compensation may be paid by individual policemen. The recent directive of the Calcutta High Court that there should be continuous judicial monitoring of conditions in lock-ups and jails needs to be implemented in letter and spirit.
Not only custodial deaths have taken place but also instances are there when women were called to police stations and raped while in detention. The law does not permit any police officer to call a woman or child below the age of 15 to the police station. It is the right of every woman to be examined at her own place and that too in the presence of relatives. Needless to mention, custodial rape is a very serious crime and must be taken as such by the law enforcement agencies as also the judiciary. The government must enact a law directing the police to complete the investigation within 90 days. The offence of custodial rape must be made strictly non-bailable.
Last but not the least, the maintenance of public order is largely the responsibility of the police. However, the emphasis of the police and the paramilitary forces should be on correction, and the officers must function within the framework of the law. The police is forbidden by law to punish the criminals on its own as it has no legal authority to do so.
remains the responsibility of the judiciary. The concept
of the rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution
requires the police and the others similarly placed to
act only as custodians of law.
Keep Army off civilian
duties in J&K
COUNTER-INSURGENCY operations have been going on for a long period in J&K and there seems to be no end in sight. This has led to the inevitable frustration, resentment and hopelessness in the minds of the junior ranks of the security forces which, at times, leads to unfortunate incidents within the security forces and also in their dealings with the civil population. Normal values and mores tend to get bypassed. Exhortations from the top, as they percolate downwards, to show fast and tangible results, often lead to the adoption of unethical methods.
This, in turn, has led to the local population becoming more assertive and open about airing its grievances. There is the instinctive reaction by the security forces to deny all allegations which leads to more agitation and finally ends up in open and bloody confrontation and back-sliding. The word and honesty of the security forces and even the government, thus, stands tarnished beyond belief. This only increases the divide between the local population, on the one hand, and the security forces and the government, on the other.
The Kargil war last year brought forth a comparatively new development in the way that the media has started playing a far more active role in reporting which makes events reach the homes of ordinary citizens. The media is now interacting with personnel of all ranks of the security forces to find out details of events. And after the operation is over, a host of books appear, written by reporters based on their experience of seeing and hearing. Earlier such accounts were mainly written by retired personnel who had inhibitions about what to report but no such constraints apply to the media. Thus the efforts of the security forces and the government to sweep unpleasant facts under the carpet are no longer so easy. This again adds to the divide.
A look at some of the incidents are revealing. The most recent one concerns the killing of five alleged militants said to have taken part in the killing of 36 Sikhs at Chattisinghpura. This led to accusations by the local citizens that those killed as alleged militants were actually peaceful citizens denied by the security forces, which had buried the corpses. As the agitation mounted, the security forces opened fire and seven civilians were killed and a number wounded. The bodies of the alleged militants were then exhumed under court orders; the faces were found to be mutilated but the locals identified some of them as innocent locals. The government and security forces are now trying to hide behind the fig leaf of DNA test to establish the real identity of the killed. The fact is that no matter what the DNA test says, the locals are not going to believe it and, on the face of it, their stand appears valid.
This is a pure and simple case of the hue and cry raised for fast retribution on the killings of the Sikhs. It is possible that the lower echelons of the security forces might have found this as the quickest and easiest way of shedding the pressure. If there has been a lapse by security forces, either in first killing innocents as militants or in firing on the agitators that resulted in seven being killed, the need surely is for a very quick acceptance of this lapse and punishing the guilty. There should be no need for any judicial inquiry as an honest in-house one can establish the truth if the authorities concerned are sincere in their intentions.
Such an action would have beneficial effect at various levels. Externally, there would eventually be far greater reliance placed on the word of the security forces and the government and these would come to be seen as fair and wanting to do their job with impartiality, without trying to shield anyone. Internally, the security personnel would thus be warned against indulging in such lapses and wrong acts as they would not be shielded. Overall, the effect of quick transparency would be beneficial to all. And above all, the oft-repeated accusations of human rights violations would be silenced as they would be seen to have been dealt with. It should be the normal practice to permit locals to see the bodies of the militants killed. Further, when any security personnel are held responsible and punished for misbehaviour against the local population, this should be publicised without their name.
A look at the books on the Kargil war also brings out such incidents about which the forces have kept silent but it has to be realised that these can no longer be kept hidden for long and hence an early acceptance takes the venom out of them for detractors.
It is now an accepted fact, in spite of claims to the contrary, that the Army was taken by surprise by the intrusion in Kargil and its magnitude was realised after the initial stage of evicting the few militants within days and suffering many casualties due to insufficient preparations by way of reconnaissance, acclimatisation, special clothing and more artillery. There were cases of units being issued new rifles just in time for the attack without any opportunity to fire them and get used to them. Throwing the blame mainly on the intelligence agencies is not fully valid. The lapses of Army troops holding the responsibility of that area have tried to be white-washed.
The absence of the Northern Command chief during the initial stages is now being ascribed to his going there to hold consultations in Pune with the Army commander who had headed the Northern Command earlier. This does not hold water. The accepted Army practice, during a war or war-like situation, is for the rear commander, no matter how senior, to come forward and not for the one in the front to go back. The real reason for the absence should be accepted: the true magnitude of the intrusions was not realised and these were taken to be of a routine nature.
There is mention in some books that when Indian troops assaulted any position, after having braved adverse weather conditions, heavy fire by the enemy, and being showered with the choicest of abuses by the enemy, no prisoners were taken and the wounded ones were killed. This is very likely to have happened given the emotions that must have been surging in the minds of the soldiers and knowing that sending back wounded prisoners required about 12 men for each.
But what is not so acceptable is an account of the head of some Pakistani soldier who had fought well, being cut off, brought down and fixed on a tree for all to see. Such behaviour is most deplorable and should not be tolerated. The author of the book tried to find out the reason for this act and got the impression that this raised the morale! Surely morale is not built up on inhuman behaviour and cruelty but on correct behaviour, shielding such persons can only lead to indiscipline. The ones responsible for this should have been taken to task and the fact publicised so that others do not indulge in any such acts and the outside world knows that action is being taken.
Where a loud outcry should have been raised, over the torture of Lt Kalia and party, the Army and the government, after the initial muted rumblings, kept quiet. Is this to suggest that there was no torture or that the fate of our own personnel is of little consequence? If torture did take place and an outcry had been raised, supported by photos and autopsy reports, Pakistan would have been put on the defensive even though such labels do not seem to worry that country much.
There are a few collateral issues that need mention. The higher echelons of the Army concerned with the Kargil war, particularly in the initial stages, were certainly found wanting. But typical of our Army, all of them were given awards except two. The young officers performed extremely well but what will they be like when they turn seniors? What goes wrong in the training and upbringing of such officers beyond the ranks of Colonel? There has often been talk of not the correct type coming forward for the Army but this has been proved wrong at least in the ranks upto Lt-Col; what happens then is best for the Army to analyse and take corrective action.
One truth is inescapable: the longer the employment of the security forces lasts against the turmoil in Kashmir, the more the likelihood of lapses and unfortunate incidents taking place. The frustration, tension and tiredness of the forces has to be realised given the curtailed peace-time tenures and family life. Additionally, the training and atunement for the primary role, especially of the Army, gets diluted to dangerous levels.
A POONA message says that two of its prominent citizens are organising a conference to be held in May to consider measures to be adopted for removing the evils of unemployment in Maharashtra.
This is a commendable move. Unemployment and its evils are by no means confined to Maharashtra, but are found in a more or less acute form in other provinces as well. The Government has unfortunately not done anything to relieve the situation.
Unemployment among the poor middle classes is so extensive and distressing that it calls for alleviating measures.
It is the duty of the influential and affluent members of society to hold similar conferences and do something to relieve unemployment to some extent by cooperative action.
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