When I was serving in the Indian Army, Capt. Abhay (name changed) would lament, always privately, that the countrymen did not acknowledge the army’s sacrifices. Well, it seems that the pendulum has sharply swung the other way. The Indian Army is now the flavor of the season, the new touchstone, which must certify if your gold is actually gold, or an alchemist’s fantasy.
Demonetization has happened. I understand that many have been inconvenienced and many continue to face inconvenience. A creative few have compared themselves standing in long, serpentine queues to soldiers standing on the Line of Control. When I read it in the social media for the first time, I was deeply pained. Where was this coming from, I asked myself? Who were these social media warriors who compared their few days of discomfort with a soldier’s death on the Line of Control?
Did we really need to belittle the soldier to make ourselves relevant?
Yes, there are long queues and money has dried up overnight. Small retailers are hit and daily wagers are struggling. But this inconvenience is temporary. It will end. However, the war on the Line of Control has been going on for seventy years. It is likely to go on for decades more. The Indian Army is fighting a very determined enemy. Every day we hear stories of bodies of our martyrs being brought back from the frontline, to cities and mofussil towns bearing names unheard of. To compare the inconvenience of standing in an ATM line to martyrdom on the border is not only grossly insensitive; it defies all logic.
Everyone’s struggle is worthy of respect, the shopkeeper’s and the soldier’s, both. Each fights their own battle the best they can. To compare is to willfully belittle the other.
Let me tell you what happens on the Line of Control. Maybe that will lend perspective, and make comparisons a little fairer.
The LoC is mostly active at night. It is at night that the shelling, cross border firing, raids by BAT (Pakistan Army’s Border Action Teams), infiltration of terrorists, attacks on posts and bloodshed peaks. By day, soldiers tend to their wounded and dead, replenish ammunition and food and also take much needed rest. There is no Saturday or Sunday. There is no “taking it easy”. If an enemy artillery shell does not find you, an SSG (Special Services Group of Pakistan Army) sniper will. It’s a 24/7 cat and mouse game, in which the game is always played with the highest possible stakes, your life and the life of your brothers. Sometimes you kill, sometimes you die.
Many social media warriors may think that standing in a line outside a bank is as difficult as duty on the LoC. If that were indeed the case, and let us assume for a minute that it is, why not swap roles for a day? Just one day, I ask of you.
When violence on the LoC started peaking a few weeks back (it is still peaking even as I write these lines), many people wrote to me saying that they wanted war with Pakistan. None of them were soldiers, but I understood the emotions. I did tell them that war means a lot of hardship for non-combatants and what we take for granted in our daily lives would be very suddenly disrupted. I mean, seeing enemy F-16s flying over your city is no one’s idea of fun. “We want war”, they said in unison. “We will sacrifice for our nation”, they said bravely.
Well, lets start with the ATM lines.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)