Honour, Dignity and Military are words synonymous to each other albeit the connection between the three are not only little understood by some in this country, there are others for whom the first two words are alien and the third word a necessary evil. The neglect of defence over the years has found little discussion in the media. What does get discussed at all is linked with what TRPs would be earned. But at least those who get to read articles in various blogs on the net are aware that as per the Rules of Business of Government of India, the responsibility of the defence of the country remains officially with the Defence Secretary, not the Defence Minister, and that while some 100 amendments have been made to the Constitution of India, no government has ever made any effort to amend the Rules of Business considering the underlying advantage as discussed later. The second major advantage is that that the Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters continue to be ‘Attached Offices’ as in British India, which implies that the MoD bureaucracy remains unaccountable and yet supreme with the military kept away from higher defence organizations, MoD and even the official defence-industrial set up. This system suits the mafia with many successive governments who have used the Defence Minister for boosting the ruling party’s kitty, as well as lining individual pockets through defence deals, both within the country and ex import. That is why despite scores of defence scams, no bureaucrat or politician has ever been questioned, leave aside prosecuted. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan should actually include cleaning this type of filth but even the more recent scams like Tatra, Eurocopter and VVIP helicopter will perhaps be buried or at best blame restricted to persons outside the MoD.
Now we know that the Defence Minister is NOT responsible for the defence of India. But the answer to the question remains ambiguous as to who in the country is responsible for maintaining or shall we say overseeing the honour and dignity of the Military over and above the Service Chiefs heading the “Attached Offices”? This official responsibility cannot be found anywhere or perhaps has been guarded more than the files on Netaji Subhash Chander Bose. If this was not so, how have successive governments successfully downgraded the standing, pay and allowances, and pensions of the military right from the time of the 3rd Central Pay Commission without anyone questioning the political authority responsible for the Honour and Dignity of the Military? In this murky backdrop, it was heartening to hear the Independence Day broadcast by Defence Minister Mohan Parrikar wherein he spoke about his constant endeavour to work towards welfare and well-being of serving and military veterans, and also that his thoughts are with near and dear ones of those who laid down their lives for protecting the nation – indicating he is possibly in-charge of the Military’s Honour and Dignity or at least cares about the issue.
But then something extraordinary and heinous happened on August 14 when Delhi Police and CRPF assaulted the peacefully protesting military veterans and war widows at Jantar Mantar in a bid to evict them, an obvious pre-planned operation. Who planned the operation and gave the nod to go for veterans will remain hazy in the usual web of carefully orchestrated media obfuscation but the fact remains that both the Delhi Police and CRPF function directly under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Bassi, the Delhi Police Commissioner who executed the political nod became notoriously famous overnight with his photograph with the national flag upside down (shown below) receiving thousands of hits globally.
The police assault on the military veterans at Jantar Mantar was was covered live on TV channels. Some in the social media termed it Modi’s Mini Jallianwala Bagh action with Delhi Police Commissioner British Brigadier Dyer. 82 year old veteran Bishamber Singh of 5 Grenadiers (picture below alongside the picture of the Defence Minister) who had fought three wars for India had his medals including his Sena Medal (Gallantry) ripped off his chest by a goon of a policeman. The indigenous Dyer (Bassi) refused to take any calls by the military veterans at the site who were desperately trying to contact him. The situation would have gone uglier but for MoS (External Affairs) General V K Singh who intervened on August 14 against Police action at Jantar Mantar and got the veterans’ agitation restored, with his personal staff running around and securing the permissions for veterans to continue their agitation gracefully. Otherwise the damage would have been much more, as intended by the mafia.
It is not that the political hierarchy cannot fathom that when the military fights for the Honour and Dignity of the country, their own Dignity and Honour being attacked even if they are ignored in the vote-bank calculus will leave deep scars, the kind of which will hollow this country from within. Images of the police action at Jantar Mantar on August 14 against military veterans have gone viral world over. India has indeed become a laughing stock of the world. The previous government was accused of making the system hollow by pitting the IB against the CBI but this government has surpassed all that by making the police attack the peacefully protesting military veterans. Astonishingly, the Prime Minister, referred by some as ‘master tweeter’ because of his all and sundry tweets, has nothing to say about the dastardly action. The Defence Minister’s Independence Day broadcast made no mention of the police action just a day prior either. So was the case with the President who happens to enjoy all the privileges and perks as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Though the police assault on military veterans happened during the same day, his evening address to the nation missed any mention completely. Does the military need a Supreme Commander anyway when the Services HQ are “Attached Offices” and MoD ruled by unaccountable bureaucrats? The bottom-line is that neither the President, the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister feel any remorse about striking at the psyche of the military anyway.
Analyzing why such incident happened, a large cross-section points at the hydra resident in the system that pans all political parties, and in this case is spearheaded by a serpent within the government. The hydra understandably draws its power from organizing funding for elections and more significantly has the power to make or break even top rung political authorities because of foreign support and backing of prominent presstitutes in the media. The situation has aggravated because the government has made no effort to undertake administrative reforms. The hydra has been there for decades, has its tentacles all over including in intelligence agencies and has been constantly working to denigrate the military and keep the defence of the country defunct. So, where the August 14 police assault on military veterans was obviously pre-planned, in early March the President of a so called Patriots Forum had already written to the Prime Minister to strategize and put in place “Anti Coup Measures”. This fellow, former Special Secretary of the Intelligence Bureau, is obviously part and parcel of the hydra and on the payroll of forces inimical to India. There appears to be a carefully orchestrated design to hollow this country from within. The August 14 police assault was meant to be much more brutal and at least one presstitute TV channel task force was positioned to cover the the veterans assessed to react with equal violence against the police but the veterans steadfastly refused to take the bait. And, then came simultaneous intervention by the MoS (External Affairs) Gen VK Singh as mentioned above, which saved the situation.
Whether the orders for the police assault came from Modi himself, is a moot question but it definitely had the stamp of the PMO, with Deep Throat tweeting that matters of internal security go from the NSA directly to PMO with the Home Minister sidelined. To add to this, veteran diplomats acknowledge that in matters of foreign policy, the JS sitting in PMO is more powerful than the External Affairs Minister; matters going directly to the former and the latter not even having the power to change even a full stop or a coma in what comes down the channel from PMO. But the fact that there has not been an inkling of remorse from the Prime Minister exposes the dark truth that he was in full picture. When one attended the pre-election BJP rallies, Modi’s entrance was preceded by the entire congregation shouting “Dekho Dekho Kaun Aaya, Bharat Maa Ka Sher Aaya”. The expectations of the masses and the massive mandate given to Modi was with the expectations that this Sher would vanquish the hydra – symbolized by Kali Nag. It indeed is no easy battle but as the battle lines are drawn, it appears that the hydra is winning. There is still hope that the Sher may able to draw upon his reserves and go for the kill but that the future will be witness. On the other hand, if the Modi government is to join forces with the hydra like the previous government then it would be advisable to disband the military, in line with Nehru’s dream that police forces are sufficient to defend the nation, rather than denigrating the military. Such a move will probably get the unanimous support of the entire opposition with no debate required in the Parliament. According to a veteran diplomat, the SP in Amritsar used to be a personal selectee of Chief Minister, Punjab since the former was supposed to hand over Rs 5 crore to the CM annually. That may figure obviously would have multiplied manifold and may well be a practice pan India. By this token, Bassi would perhaps be an ideal CDS of the police forces charged with defence of India – both external and internal. But perhaps, the hierarchy may take a cue from Dubya Bush who disbanded the trained Iraqi Army, which then became the core of the ISIS. What perhaps the coterie is not letting Modi gauge also is that while the whole world scoffs at India for ridiculing the military veterans and the Military in turn through such actions, Prime Minister Modi stands in the centre of the scorn and mockery.
Prakash Katoch is a third generation army officer hailing from Himachal Pradesh. He is a former Lieutenant General from Special Forces.