'We want Shastri, not Manmohan or Modi'

Ayodhya Yadav does not know how old he is; “I must be in the late seventies.” The old man from Baida Banspar village in Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh is angry because he has lost his son Satyanarayan Yadav, an Assistant Sub Inspector (BSF) posted in Akhnoor sector of Jammu and Kashmir, not to an enemy bullet but what he calls an ill-conceived ceasefire agreement. It’s been hot along the Indo-Pak border but Yadav calls down curses on the “cold and callous” attitude of political leaders towards the men in uniform. Yadav said it all to Lokmarg.

 
Satyanarayan’s mother wasn’t happy when he cleared all the tests for joining the Border Security Force. But my younger brother and I felt it would be an honour for our community and the entire village to have a son drafted into the service of the nation. Twenty-five years on, I doubt if I made the right decision. No, not because I have lost my son, but when I watch the TV channels and see the callousness of our political masters who speak of a muscular policy publicly but ask our securitymen to hold their fire because it is Ramzan. Why don’t they ask our securitymen to commit suicide? This is the sentiment today in our village and neighbouring areas. Tell me why only our securitymen should respect the holy month of Ramzan! Why can’t the people on the other side observe a Ramzan peace too? Do they, year after year? Is it a wise decision to offer our soldiers’ lives in the name of peace during Ramzan when they find it a good time to target us? I have lost my son, but why put others who are alive at risk over and over. Do away with this ceasefire business, please. We do not want Modi or Manmohan, give us Lal Bahadur Shastri. That is what the entire village feels today. And you know why our village is seething with anger. Because Satya was a very jovial man and even though his visits to the native village were not very frequent, whenever he would come, he talked about his life at BSF posts and told the youth to join the forces. It was under his guidance that many young men in our village joined the Army or paramilitary forces over last two decades. He was a role model for many in the village. We were faced with not one but two deaths within a few days. Satya enjoyed a special relationship with his chachi (aunt), who would pamper him with good food whenever he came home. When at home, he would sit with her and massage her feet like a son. The day his body bag arrived, his chachi died of grief. The government has declared an ex-gratia amount of ₹20 lakh for Satya but we would be happy only if the government sitting in Delhi promises that they will never ever enter into a ceasefire agreement with Pakistan and terrorists. Our forces take good care of its men, their senior officers visited us, shared food with us. But the political callousness is disheartening. The topiwallas (politicians) visit us only during elections. Shame on them! Satyanarayan’s youngest son Rajesh Yadav is currently in Class 10 and he has vowed he will join the forces and avenge his father’s death. He has also told me to remain alive to witness his passing out parade when he dons the uniform. But I am too old to bear another loss. I can only pray to God that my grandson’s anger subsides and he pursues a more peaceful career.
 

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I’m a proud man, says BSF martyr’s father


With editorial assistance from Lokmarg]]>

I'm a proud man, says BSF martyr's father

The volatile India-Pakistan border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir continue to devour our uniformed young men at a steady rate. Krisna Kumar Pandey lost his son Vijay, a 26-year-old BSF constable who made the supreme sacrifice on June 3, 2018 on the Indo-Pakistan border. Speaking to LokMarg at his village Sathgaon in Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh, Pandey broke down several times while talking of Vijay, preparations for whose wedding were on when the news of his death came in.

 
Vijay’s wedding invitation cards had been distributed. There were about two weeks left for the big day and there was a mix of anxiety and happiness in the family. Vijay himself would be coming home in two days. The young members were insisting that a DJ music night be organized before the wedding. The family was discussing how much space the dance stage would need and how much extra cost it will incur… things like that. And then, it was like lightning struck us. God had other plans for my son, Vijay who was posted at the International Border with Pakistan in the Akhnoor sector. High ranking officials who came along with the body bag, told me Vijay was martyred on the night of June 3 when the enemy resorted to unprovoked firing at his post. What can one do? If God wrote untimely death in his destiny, we cannot replace it with marriage. His sisters had bought a sherwani and pagri for his wedding. But God wanted him to don the tricolor. I must tell you about my son’s childhood and how he was inspired to serve the country in uniform. From a young age, Vijay was mighty impressed with Lakkhi Chacha (Lakshman Pandey) who was a Subedar in the Indian Army. Every time, Lakkhi came home on holidays carrying an iron trunk and a blanket, Vijay would spend hours with him. He would listen Lakkhi’s stories about the life inside an Army camp, their routine, their drills, duties. He always wanted to be a soldier. That was his calling from the beginning. Once I took him to the local Dusshera mela, he chose a plastic gun and a tank for his toys. When he was in Class 8, he asked Lakkhi Chacha for his used Olive Green uniform and got it altered by the village tailor for his own use. The village elders were happy to see this passion in him. When he joined the BSF, the entire village celebrated. Today, the whole village is in mourning. That is the strength of a soldier’s uniform. Dead at 26, Vijay is a hero of our village. The officers who accompanied his body were surrounded by all the youth of the village. Nitesh, Virender, Gokul… they all wanted the officers to tell them about the recruitment process of armed forces. There is also a bit of anger in our village against the government decision to announce a ceasefire. You have tied the hands of our jawans while the enemy continues to violate his promises. There is grief in the family but not without a sense of pride. The sweets that were prepared for Vijay’s wedding were distributed amongst the people who gathered here to honour his mortal remains. We are also planning to build a memorial at the same ground where his tilak ceremony was to take place. The father of the girl who was to get married to Vijay came here and said he wants his granddaughter married to Vijay’s elder brother’s son to keep the two families united with a wedding bond. Even in his death, even in this moment of grief, Vijay makes me feel proud. This is a mixed bag of feelings which few will ever understand.
 

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‘We want Shastri, not Manmohan or Modi’


—With editorial assistance from Lokmarg]]>

MORE THAN COPS, LESS THAN SOLDIERS — THE PLIGHT OF INDIA’S PARAMILITARY FORCES

Border Security Force Director General KK Sharma. (File Photo: IANS)[/caption] The excessive reliance on politically chosen IPS officers as chiefs has meant that these forces are often headed by people who have had little or no experience in dealing with the plethora of challenges they face unlike the military or state police forces, which draw their leaders from their respective internal cadre. In addition, the supremacy of the “IPS control mafia” means personnel of these paramilitary forces have very limited career progression opportunities despite the fact that organisations such as the CRPF and BSF are larger than the armies of many countries. Deploy Fast, Train Slowly Paramilitary personnel have often been deployed to various parts of the country at very short notice in the event of a breakdown in law and order. However, there is often little “acclimatisation” training to adjust to the distinct challenges that each deployment poses. In August 2015, three BSF jawans were killed and six injured in a Naxalite ambush while on patrol on the Andhra-Odisha border. The fatalities were blamed on faulty operational procedures, which was not surprising as a force meant to patrol the international borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh was operating far away from its intended operating area. Work Satisfaction Absent In December 2015, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that satisfaction levels among paramilitary forces like the BSF and CRPF with the quality of residential accommodation provided to them was as low as 22% as very few units got residences and the quality of the provided accommodations was very poor. Further, unlike the military, paramilitary forces don’t have an institutionalised system of providing family accommodation to married personnel near their posting areas, which affects morale. In the kind of quasi-federal political system that India has, with its considerable challenges, maintaining these CPOS remains an imperative for preserving the country’s unity. However, as noted journalist Praveen Swami recently pointed out in a column in The Indian Express, India’s counterinsurgency approach remains rooted in a medieval approach of using force to establish the government’s authority as opposed to restoring and maintaining law and order for its citizens. Until this approach changes, more valiant men of the CRPF and BSF will fall to the bullets of terrorists and // ]]>