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.
Also at Lokmarg
—With editorial assistance from Lokmarg