Tathagata Satpathy, MP

By Tathagata Satpathy, MP

CAUGHT IN A state of shock and numbness, it will take time for the Indian paramilitary forces to recover and come to grips with huge loss of lives in the terrorist attack staged by Kashmir-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir Thursday. Serious questions arise as to how this could happen, what went wrong at various levels of governance and what is the way forward.
After major terrorist attempts on military camps in Uri and Pathankot, the terror-outfits or their masters, wherever they may be stationed, have obviously changed their tactics to limit casualties on their side. It is incredible and difficult to believe that just one suicide bomber could ram his explosives-laden vehicle into a convoy of 60 vehicles carrying over 2,500 CRPF personnel, and kill some 40 plus of them and maimed as many in one go. The nation went into a mixed state of shock and shame. While Pakistan may be blamed for its dastardly acts in Kashmir and elsewhere, India’s shame today is also at the very peak what with the way the security and intelligence apparatuses and police leadership’s complete failure to avert this grim situation.
There is little of relief at the way the Cabinet Committee on Security met and came up with an immediate three-point plan; or at the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised this will not go unpunished. As he smartly claimed, the nation is angry. Not only angry but terribly humiliated, too. The first retaliatory step, the withdrawal of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, is clearly eyewash for the reason that it would affect India, not Pakistan. There is more trade from India to Pakistan and very little from that country to here. As for the move on a diplomatic engagement to isolate Pakistan in international fora, the less said the better. India’s poor performance, and especially the PM’s multiple utter failures in the international stage, may not be ignored.
While Pakistan undoubtedly is China’s close chum, it manages to maintain good ties not only with the US but also with Russia. It rather is India that’s getting increasingly isolated by the day, and more so during the Modi era. The tall talk about teaching Pakistan a lesson for its dastardly acts is by now simply empty rhetoric. For several years, the same ‘threat’ is being held out from India’s side but virtually nothing could be done either against terror organisations or Pakistan to discipline them. To be practical, Indians have to accept that as a military power, we are nothing but wimps. All our patriotic fervour may be limited to Hindi movie songs from the past. Our military/paramilitary leadership is incoherent, inconsistent and totally incapable.
The ties between Jaish and the ISI, the patronage Jaish gets from Pakistan’s political establishment and military brass, and Jaish’s involvement even in the Pakistani electoral process are all well-known facts. It meant, what happens on the ground in the name of Kashmir is a war camouflaged as militancy. India failed to act with firmness when the Mumbai terror attacks took place in November 2008; Pathankot and Uri thereafter did not evoke strong responses. Between January 2016 and September 2018, nearly 3,000 cross-fire or firing incidents took place on the Jammu and Kashmir border with Pakistan. Over 100 people died in those incidents on the Indian side. Yet, India is in a mood for reconciliation with Pakistan, and was happy extending it lollypops such as the Most Favoured Nation status. 
What this goes to show, and tragically so, is that India is too pleased to take too many hits and would, as a matter of state policy, grin and bear with them. The only plausible reason being, India does not possess military human resource capable of facing genuine battle conditions.
The China connection has added a new lethality to the Pakistan-backed terror aggressiveness. Had India settled the matter once for all, at the right time in the past, the situation would not have reached this pass. Past or present, our political and social leadership has failed miserably.
Serious questions are now being raised in respect of the Pulwama attack: How could such a huge convoy of CRPF personnel move from one place to another without proper forward, middle and rearguard cover? Why did the CRPF have to move such a large convoy at one time, which needed advance preparations, the information of which obviously leaked? While it takes time to build a car bomb, why was the intelligence system caught napping without being able to sense what was happening? Was there a disconnect between the senior IPS officials heading the force and its other command and control system – as is now evident within the CBI, CBI versus Calcutta police and all over the country in relation to the IPS officers, and, is there a question of demoralisation among the IPS cadre under the Modi government? How was the suicide bomber’s vehicle allowed to speed on the wrong side of the highway, enabling it to ram a bus into the CRPF convoy? Does this mean there is serious deficiency in the CRPF security systems, and if so, how much blame should fall on the NSA Ajit Doval and home minister Rajnath Singh?
This is not the time for big talk. This is time for action to save the nation’s face, dignity and honour, and to make amends for the vacillation of the past. The parliamentary polls in April-May could as well be a referendum on the state of the nation and the state of its governance process. Talk of going to war to avenge Pulwama attack is childish. Who does India wage war on? Pakistan? Let us be serious and be aware that any military action against Pakistan for our failures to handle internal terror outfits can only, and justifiably, draw in China. Are we prepared to handle the Dragon, is the critical question every right thinking Indian has to analyse for himself or herself. War is no politics of speeches. 
The writer is Chief Whip of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament and Editor or Dharitri and Orissa Post based out of Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

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