Binding force of tolerance

Binding force of tolerance

Photo for representaion only. - File photo

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (retd)

Our family followed no rituals. I do not recall anyone going to a temple. My mother was a devoted housewife who single-handedly — since my father was in the Army — brought up six children, reared cattle and supervised farming. That was her religion. After the Partition, my father’s gallantry award land in Okara tehsil of Montgomery district was swapped with an equal measure in a village vacated by Muslims on migration to Pakistan. Unlike our original village, this land was canal-irrigated and more fertile. It also had a metalled road to the town. We shifted to this village for economic reasons.

Settling down there was a unique experience. All settlers had come from different villages, mostly from a military background. There were no carryover disputes or quarrels and life started anew.

The house allotment corresponded to one’s landholding. Since my father had two gallantry awards, we got high priority in choosing a dwelling. The house was an imposing structure. The central hall was 25 ft high with windows on two sides. Limestone was used liberally. Built over a century ago, it has stood the vagaries of weather. The owner had his name — Mustafe Khan Rajput — etched in the walls at two places. It still exists. No one has ever envisioned erasing and replacing that name.

The new village had a mosque. The new settlers started using it as a primary school-cum-panchayat ghar. Later, when a government school came up, the mosque premises were used for housing wedding baraats.

Three of us younger brothers did our schooling there. On joining the NDA, I had five layers of officers as instructors and supervisors. The immediate senior, a divisional officer, was a Christian naval Lieutenant. Except being stingy in awarding grades, he was gentle and friendly. Squadron Commander Major Khader Ahmed was kind and fatherly. As cadets, we even had meals in his house. Beyond that level, our contact was indirect and infrequent. The battalion commander was a Hindu Wing Commander. He drove a Buick car and had a visibly opulent lifestyle. The Deputy Commandant was a quiet Sikh Colonel. And last was the Commandant, Rear Admiral Samson, a Jew, known for outstanding oratory and wit. I don’t believe this kind of diverse hierarchy was designed on purpose. It was just happenchance, as religion has never played a role in the military. We looked up to them as senior officers and never even noticed their religion. I am recalling it only now.

We need to adopt the defence services’ model — use accommodation and tolerance as societal cement. History should remind us of the pitfalls of internal divisions. Invaders are like water, which flows in whenever and wherever it sees a crack.

Tribune Shorts


Top Stories

Opposition leaders meet Naidu, seek suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha members be revoked

Congress-led opposition walks out of both Houses of Parliament over suspension of 12 MPs

They walk out after Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu de...

Omicron scare: 1,000 travellers from African nations landed in Mumbai in last 15 days; 100 tested

Omicron scare: 1,000 travellers from African nations landed in Mumbai in last 15 days; 100 tested

Swab samples were collected of at least 100 travellers out o...

WHO warns that new virus variant poses ‘very high’ risk

WHO warns that new virus variant poses ‘very high’ risk

The assessment from the UN health agency, contained in a tec...

Vinod Dua remains ‘extremely critical and fragile’, says daughter

Vinod Dua remains ‘extremely critical and fragile’, says daughter

Vinod Dua, who was hospitalised with Covid earlier this year...

Long live ‘debate-less’ parliamentary democracy: Chidambaram’s dig at govt

Long live ‘debate-less’ parliamentary democracy: Chidambaram’s dig at govt

Parliament on Monday passed the bill to repeal the three con...

Cities

View All