Those who forget History are condemned to repeat it.
The terrain was treacherous, the landscape bleak, as the six soldiers of the Indian army, plodded through the freezing snow to reach their goal, the strategically vital Bajrang post. After several earlier attempts in which blinding snow and fierce winds played spoiler, they finally seemed to make it, when suddenly, they were enveloped by enemy fire. They realized dismally that the post was already occupied. But Lt. Saurabh Kaalia and the brave jawans of the 4 Jat regiment were no cowards. Taken by surprise, they soon recovered and fought back fiercely. It was an unequal battle, six Indian soldiers fighting a large number of Pakistanis safely ensconced inside the post. Unfortunately they ran out of ammunition, their signal instruments didn’t work, and seemingly out of nowhere came 200 Pakistani rangers who took them prisoners. On that ill fated day, the 15th of May, 1999, just nine days before the Kargil war, little did the valiant jawans realize that they were riding on a one way ticket to Hell.
For that’s what happened to them. The next 22 days, raving maniacs unleashed a sadistic orgy on Lt. Kaalia and his five sepoys, Sri Arjun Ram, Sri Bhanvar lal Bagariaji, Sir Bhika Ramji, Sri Moola Ramji and Sri Naresh Singhji. The historic gutters under Aurangzeb churned and let the overflowing evil take hold of the Pakistanis who went on a torturing spree. Their bodies were burnt with cigarettes, eardrums pierced with hot rods, eyeballs punctured and plucked out of their sockets, limbs were chopped, heads smashed, bones broken along with taunting laughter and bigoted violence. Even a fiend escaped from hell would have been stunned and shocked to see the hideous faces of the wild men who tore apart the bodies of the valiant jawans. Humiliated, mutilated and scorned repeatedly, they were finally shot, thus ending the dark saga of demonic brutality. Yet our brave jawans stood their ground, revealing nothing, enduring all the mind boggling violence with unprecedented courage and true grit. And even as the enemy gloated and exulted, they knew it was a cowardly act, for none of them could stand face to face with the soldiers of the Indian army and defeat them in a fair battle.
On June 9, when Saurabh Kaalia’s body came back in a coffin, his brother Vaibhav could recognize him only by the eyebrows. There were no eyes, no ears, no face, and no limbs, nothing except a mangled and sorely abused body which arrived even before his first paycheck. The city of Palampur, his place of residence, poured out its mourning heart along with millions of Indians who watched with helpless chagrin and mounting anger at another audacious attack on the politically correct, sleepwalking nation of a billion people.
However, the criminal class of politicians and their cohorts in the media responded as usual by taking the line of least resistance. Even this terrible outrage did not stir them from their cocoon of myopic complacence. There was no statement from anybody, not even a demand for an apology. The media which usually jumps like a cat on a hot tin roof on issues against Modi or Ayodha, or Hindu activism, maintained a deafening silence. Moreover, all the denizens of the human rights camp, the peaceniks, the candle kissers, assorted cultural icons and other secular messiahs coming out of the pipeline of Nehru’s “burning vision” vanished into space like Houdini’s magic. Their huffing, puffing “global” souls froze on their way to their earth shaking mission, and mercifully had nothing to say.
Now let’s see how a self respecting nation should react. Maybe, like the Israelis who avenged the murder of 11 athletes in the “Munich massacre”? In a retaliation that was both quick and swift, Israeli jets bombed and killed over 240 of the sworn enemy, echoing the spirit of the hero in “the Untouchables”, “You send one of us to the hospital and we’ll send one of you to the morgue.” Or like the French who avenged the deaths of 11 French nationals in a 2002 terror attack by breaking the knees of the enemy cohorts in crime. Or like the Russians who wouldn’t hesitate to pick up their hostile enemy from any part of the world and make suitable amends. They all have one thing in common – a sense that humiliation to their soldiers anywhere in the world is a national humiliation and a strong retaliation is the most powerful deterrent against similar attacks.
The least that the Indian Government and media could have done was to flood the media, the airwaves, the cable channels and the very air we breathe with the story of this horror perpetuated by a remorseless enemy. They should have immediately brought charges against violating human rights and flouting the Geneva conventions for Prisoners of War, and taken up the case to International forums like the U.N, or the International court of Justice. They should have vigorously assisted Saurabh Kaalia’s father in his relentless drive to obtain justice for his son, by exposing the accused Pakistanis and hounding them to the courts to pay for their grotesque crimes. Moreover, they should have treated the enemy with ferocious disdain and rattled him with a threatening hand on the levers of the flowing Indus. Instead, they started the stupid peace talks, the samjautha express, played cricket, invited their artists and kept drumming the ever present idiotic chatter, “we are the same people.” In return we got more terror, mayhem and wanton destruction. Something is clearly rotten in the Indian state. It has failed to build a national narrative with a strong sense of National Pride, distorted History by painting the bloody and brutal Islamic occupation as glorious and progressive, and rationalized oppression by denying its existence. Not surprisingly, this has spawned a confused nation, oscillating between Bollywood and Cricket and paying for its inert spine with the precious blood of its martyrs and heroes.
What has happened to Saurabh Kaalia and his brave jawans is nothing less than terrible war crimes, for which Pakistan has not even apologized and India has not even sought one. No Indian should forget this and inscribe this in his memory, never to be wiped out. Have the Chinese forgiven the Japanese for the “rape of Nanjing?” Have the Jews forgiven the Nazis? Have the Armenians forgiven Turkey for their genocide? Every nation which subscribes to honor has bristled with anger and hostility to avenge their humiliation. Only India’s ruling clowns sway to the hypnotic beat of the enemy’s sweet talking tune and have denied justice to martyrs like Saurabh Kaalia and his valiant men.
The death of Saurabh Kaalia and his men must not go in vain. It must become a lightning rod for a new consciousness, a new mental highway marked with resolute messages of “Never Again.”