What is the weight of the body of a martyr? No one knows. But those who have carried it on their broad shoulders will tell you that it is heavy enough to break the strongest of men.
I have seen soldiers face death with an absolute lack of fear. But ask that very soldier to take the mortal remains of his buddy to his young widow and her small children and you will sense confusion, despair and you will see something very rare; the famous stoicism shattering. You will see a soldier of the Indian Army crumbling in front of your eyes.
This is the price of our freedom.
Every time a soldier dies, the nation buys peace for some time. The blatant truth is that the currency for this transaction is blood. So, we die everyday; in COIN Ops (counter insurgency operations) and on the Line of Control in Kashmir, on the icy wastes of Siachen, in the fetid and humid jungles of the North East and in untold covert and overt missions in India and abroad.
Every strain of the “Jana Gana Mana” is interwoven with the screams of a dying warrior, protecting our freedom. Now you know why you get goose bumps when you sing the national anthem. Every line is washed with the blood of a martyr. What is truly sacred must be protected, whatever the cost.
And yet there are people in India who question these sacrifices, who say that a soldier is paid to die. They live in a deep, dark well, demanding “azaadi” for Kashmir. They malign the soldier. They sit in cafes in Universities and in news studios in New Delhi and peddle their treasonous ware. This venom is spilt against the Indian Army and India itself, knowing with absolute certainty that it is the soldier who protects with his life, this “freedom to abuse”.
These are small people, intellectually and morally stunted. These are people with no great passions. They espouse a perverted ideology, which, in their minds, makes it all right to question the very idea of India.
But the idea of India is neither malleable, nor ductile. It cannot bend and it will not break. The belief of a billion people cannot be held ransom by a treasonous horde. India is, because we believe. And that faith is a miracle that unfolds everyday.
You may be a scientist, a teacher, a trader, an engineer or a blue-collar worker, you are foremost an Indian. And, you are a soldier in spirit. What is the creed of a soldier? To protect the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And, to never leave your buddies behind. Either we all win, or we all die. We do not retreat. We do not surrender.
The soldier standing on the Line of Control is your buddy. He is responsible for you and you are responsible for him, in life and in death. He can defeat the enemy in front, but he is helpless about the enemy behind, in our midst, the treasonous horde.
India is a huge citadel whose gates are guarded by a few. And the enemy has now started smashing into the gates. History is replete with examples of how the gates of a well-guarded citadel were opened from inside, to let in the enemy. We have no dearth of Trojan horses.
India is in danger.
Today, more than any other day, we need to stand with the soldier. He needs us because this war is multi-dimensional. He needs us because he is never going to be able to do this all by himself. Your brother needs YOU.
We must stand with the soldier because we too are soldiers in spirit. And soldiers never leave their buddies behind. This is the soldier’s creed. Either we all win, or we all die. We do not retreat. We do not surrender.
Happy Independence Day, India.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
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