The Infallibility of the Military
The Military should not be shielded from criticism lest we create an institution that is not responsible to the people.
Since the Balakot incident the military has been cited time and again by politicians for political expediency and treated to be a perfect institution, one which cannot be questioned or criticised without risking the label of ‘anti-national’ being smacked down on the critic.
This growing pattern of dismissing all allegations, accusations and even documented cases of atrocities committed by our military is certainly not an India only phenomenon but is regardless dangerous and enables the growth of jingoistic sentiments and a belligerent spirit.
One of the surprising characteristics of the Indian public is their complete unawareness regarding the activities of our military and the multiple time international organisations and watchdogs have issued statements against their procedures and activities.
One of the most well documented cases is the Kunan Poshpora incident in which the 4th Rajputana Rifles was accused of raping women in the village of Kunan Poshpora, this incident was covered in a documentary called the “Ocean of Tears” which was blocked from screening in India on multiple occasions and the allegations dismissed as:
“A massive hoax orchestrated by militant groups and their sympathisers and mentors in Kashmir and abroad as a part of sustained and cleverly contrived strategy of psychological warfare and as an entry point for re-inscribing Kashmir on the International Agenda as a Human rights issue”
There have been multiple instances in which the army has accepted that some excesses have taken place but have maintained that the majority of the allegations pinned on the military are hoaxes and attempts to malign the army itself. The army has also pointed out to the cases in which soldiers have been punished for these excesses, however the major logical flaw is revealed in the working of these trials and investigations.
The investigations usually are done internally by the military, the same institution accused of violations of procedure and human rights codes. The validity, neutrality and ultimate fairness of the assessment made by the military on accusations against itself is thus, questionable at best a point succinctly put forward by an Amnesty International report titled
Another interesting case was of a staged encounter of alleged militants in which
“During investigations, the police discovered that the men had been killed in a staged gun battle in a frontier area. The probe also revealed that a senior officer of the Indian army - a major - had the three men kidnapped by offering them jobs as porters. The troops later informed the police that they had killed three militants. The army also claimed to have found Pakistani currency and arms and ammunition on the three men. The major has been suspended and another senior soldier transferred from his post. The army has pledged to "co-operate" with the police in investigations.”
The Political Aspect of It:
An increasingly political flavour to the military and its actions has been observed lately, one which reached a crescendo during the Balakot incident in which allegations of anti-nationalism were flung around with ease and certain political elements chose to link their political programmes and campaigns with the actions of the military.
This coupled with the almost fanatical defence and hero worship showered on the army by social media platforms and its army of mediocre morons has led to the immense polarisation of the army and its actions along bipartisan political lines.
Unfortunately in the midst of the noise, chaos and idiocy that usually characterises the discourse we find on these social media platforms the true tragedy of this pattern of cover ups, dismissals and outright denial of all allegations unfolds almost perfectly, untouched and unconcerned.
The Source of the Disease:
We are rightfully led to the question, when exactly did this hero worshiping of the military start?
Some can point to the Indo-Sino war in the aftermath of which India began a process of army build up, determined not to be left vulnerable. At this point a popular feeling of pride in the army was also encouraged (similar to how in the aftermath of the German loss in the 1stWorld War, the army was propelled to a position of great virtue to maintain German morale and national pride) which has only grown since then.
During the tenure of Lal Bhadur Shastri, India was facing another war with Pakistan, food grains were low and war apathy was on the rise in such a scenario our Prime Minister gave the call:
“Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”
This simple slogan galvanised the morale of the Indian public and emphasised that India’s two greatest sources of strength were its soldiers and its farmers. Even today this slogan remains popular. This at the time innocent desire to have pride in our nations defenders today has taken an ugly, monstrous shape, guided by demagogues and political manipulators for their own benefit.
An International Phenomenon:
It would be wholly ignorant for anyone to claim that such a fawning attitude towards the military is limited to India only. A militaristic idealisation is indeed, the defining feature of the United States where “the troops” form a big political chip to be used and manipulated by all.
In nations with military juntas and regimes this form of privilege goes even further often leading to the creation of a privileged class within society itself, comparable to the warrior society of Sparta in the ages of Antiquity.
It is simply unwise of any nation to claim that its military is infallible or cannot be criticised either by foreign elements or its own citizens, even more important however is the need to inculcate within society the power to acknowledge that issues are often grey with no distinct line between right and wrong. Such thinking only enables better more nuanced understanding and builds within, the ability to empathise.
After all, those whose cases I mentioned, those who suffered are also Indian citizens, do they not deserve humane treatment? Is it wrong to ask for the military to act responsibly, be transparent in its functioning and not gag its own citizens and its own media?
The system itself is one which is corrupted by the long shadow of colonial oppression, a diseased and putrid procedure put up by those who enslaved us with the clear objective in mind to suppress and brutalise the population. Continuing with this is both counterproductive (if the military truly does wish to maintain an honourable perception of them) and illogical (if we wish to gain international appreciation and goodwill).