By S Paul
We have heard the news about events in Galwan Valley, Ladakh, through print, TV and social media. We heard that our army soldiers were beaten with iron rods and barbed baseball bats. We lost the lives of a full colonel, the Commanding Officer (CO) of a battalion, and 19 soldiers. We also heard that our 10 soldiers were captured by the Chinese. Without China admitting it, we were also given the news that our boys gave them a befitting response by killing 43 of their soldiers. Later, we were told that the China has released our 10 captured boys, too. In between there was an utterance attributed to our PM that China was not in any Bhartiye territory while simultaneously Lt General level talks were taking place for peaceful settlement of the issue. What the government or the media did not reveal as to how the Chinese felt so ‘generous’ or ‘fearful’ that they quietly released our 10 men? The fact has come out through social media channels that the release of those 10 men was bargained for in exchange of a Chinese (CO) captured by our Sikh troops during the hand to hand to fight at Galwan valley. The government and the military have neither confirmed nor denied this.
It is learnt through the same social media that the officiating CO of the Sikh unit which had captured the Chinese CO refused to hand him back to the Chinese even after being ordered by his two-up commander, until our 10 soldiers were released. This brave lower level commander relented only when a higher-level officer assured him of the release. Bravo to this lower level commander for his stand. We now hope that his bosses do not victimise him for ‘disobedience of orders’. If they do it would be very demoralising for our soldiers and lower level commanders, who actually are the ones who end up facing the enemy. To us civilians it was not disobedience of orders but presence of mind and courage exhibited by that officer and his colleagues. We feel that they should be appreciated and awarded. The description of the entire episode is a reflection of the lackadaisical attitude of the higher echelons of the military and of our government.
At these trying times we do need a military leader of the calibre of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and a PM who listens to him instead of the non-military coterie surrounding him. The visual media too should stop showing the opinions only of the military veterans and give more time and space to our civilian defence and national security experts including the Defence Secretary and the NSA to acquaint the citizens of their ‘valuable’ views affecting our national security. They were so keen to hog the limelight on the Pathankot and Balakot episodes. There was a boast then of a 56-inch chest. Where have all these opportunists, living on the laurels of military efforts disappeared?
The political parties in opposition should also learn to shun their obsession of criticising the government’s efforts to tide over the current crisis. They do it just to be in the limelight but by doing this they give our enemies more fuel to rile us. In matters military, it is not at all necessary for the government to keep the opposition informed of all the planning and policies. It is ‘need to know’ basis and they shall be taken in confidence only when necessary. I feel the way the opposition is viciously critical of all that the government in power is doing, it cannot be relied upon for support in the interest of the security of the nation. In fact, politicians of all parties should rise above their election to election fights and rally around to save our nation. These little skirmishes could build up into battles and the battles could lead to a War. Let our leadership not repeat the humiliating ‘Himalayan Blunder ‘of 1962.