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Reason to ponder: Why Kashmiris didn't show remorse on tragic death of Gen Rawat

Used as human shield: Farooq Dar
By Ajit Singh* 
In a tragic incident of Mi 17 helicopter crash, which happened at a lush green hilly area between Coimbatore and Sulur in Nilgiri District Tamil Nadu, took the life of India's first Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other army personnels. When the news of his demise ringed the ears of Indian news dailies, they didn't even waste an iota of a second to beat their TRP trumpet.
In lieu of not missing any drop of juice (news), media correspondents violated a basic journalistic principle that is to respect the privacy of grieving families. For petty likes and views they live telecasted the personal moments of those who were mourning the loss of their loved ones.
In the meantime we heard nothing of any sort on popular news channels about gross human rights violation in Nagaland by the Indian Army where 14 innocent civilians were gunned down by jawans in a botched military operation, maybe the news was not sensational enough to grab Delhi's attention.
In the era of conservative dominance when ultra-nationalist fervour has taken a center stage, there's a strange phenomenon unfolding in the country. As soon as a person dies, they become a national hero and portrayed as a valuable asset, whose death has caused irreparable damage to India.
For instance, after the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the right wing echo chamber left no stone unturned and used every means to present him as a perfect embodiment of national unity, an unhated personality who is loved and cherished by everyone irrespective of their caste and religious affiliation.
But can someone with a rational mindset forget his controversial role in Babri Masjid demolition that shook the soul of secular India and his contribution in perpetuating the rise of soft Hindutva that is now haunting the very foundation of Constitutional democracy?
The toxic precedent of making messiah out of someone is not just limited to the political figures alone. Thirteen people died in the chopper crash on December 8 but all the attention was reserved for Rawat. In fact, it was only due to CDS and his wife, the media showed it like a test match for four-five days, covering every detail from crash site to her daughter's collecting their parents' ashes.
If the two were not present in the helicopter, it would be narrowed down to a T-20 match, considering the life of the less privileged is treated as collateral damage that is supposed to happen in order to achieve a bigger purpose.
Indeed, his vision to establish theatre commands to integrate the tri-services and other plans for modernization of India's defense forces in a limited budget can make for a good talking point but he should not be represented as a divine entity who has served humanity and the downtrodden. Projecting him with the likes of Ambedkar and Gandhi is a big disservice to a nation as diverse as India.
Not standing with those who cheer and celebrate someone's death (except rapists, war criminals and notorious serial killers) but objective criticism of his (the general's) controversial past should be welcomed and should not be rebuked as an anti-national act.
Take for instance his reluctance to adopt inclusive gender reforms. As an Army Chief, he was against the inclusion of women in combat roles. In one of the TV interviews to a news channel, the general reportedly argued that women have to raise kids, they will ask for maternity leaves and demand for a separate cocoon after accusing jawans of peeping.
One may argue, hasn't he questioned the credibility of the Indian army which is known for maintaining the highest level of discipline and self control in all operations, or at least that's how it is being advertised in the popular culture. And if some of them are really perverts, he should be more concerned about the behaviour of his men rather than egregiously expecting the same from women soldiers.
In 2018, a five judge bench of the Supreme Court unanimously struck down 377 of IPC and decriminalized gay sex in India. The ruling was explicitly clear that a person cannot be discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation. In early 2019 General Rawat stated that homosexuality cannot be allowed in the army because of the conservative nature of the defence forces, and to enter into army, a person need to forgo some of their civilian rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The toxic precedent of making messiah out of someone is not just limited to political figures alone
United States President Bill Clinton in 1993 authorized the gays and lesbians to serve in the military under the policy of "Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, and don’t harass", though the executive order in itself was discriminatory because LGBTQ person couldn't publicily sexualize there identity, even though they were allowed them to serve in the military if they did not publicly reveal there orientation.
In 2010, the Obama administration repealed the President's directive and since 11 years homosexuals are working in US forces without any need to hide their sexual preference.
Critics point out how Rawat effectively violated the right to life and liberty by not allowing the transgenders to serve in the military. By virtue of his position as an Army General, he could have easily persuaded the government to bring diverse gender representation in Indian defense forces but he chose to stand out on the wrong side of history.
Many Kashmiris have been specifically targeted for not showing remorse on the death of CDS. But nobody bothered to ask them: Why?
Rawat in the capacity of Army Chief not only defended the inhuman act of Major Leetul Gogoi who was indicted in 2018 for using Farooq Dar as a human shield. He had awarded him Army's Commemoration Card in the previous year.
There is reason to ask: How can the people of the Valley feel compassion for a person who favoured heavy handed strategies and categorized it as an "innovative way" to curb militancy in Kashmir?
In the Times Now Summit, General Rawat expressed the views that there's no harm in lynching a terrorist. Lynching cannot become a part of any framework in a constitutional democracy like ours.
The Central government superseded two senior most army officers in 2016 to appoint Bipin Rawat as the next Army Chief. His one on one meeting in uniform with RSS head Mohan Bhagwat drew widespread criticism from activists and opposition parties. Many people believe that his close affiliation with BJP's ‘karta dharta’ is the reason for his appointment as India's first Chief of Defense Staff.
The army is supposed to be an apolitical entity whose job is to protect the borders of the state and not to serve the ideology of the party in power. There is a strong view that Rawat indulged himself in politicization of Indian forces by giving uncalled for statements on CAA protest or promulgating the government's contentious view on "so-called illegal" migrants.
Rawat's legacy cannot be separated from his controversial past. His contributions in the making of Indian defense forces need to be scrutinized and studied with a lense of objectivity. The obituary of a man must reflect 360 degrees of his personality. 
We must remember the golden words of top Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto who said: "मैं ऐसे समाज पर हज़ार लानत भेजता हूं जहां उसूल हो कि मरने के बाद हर शख़्स के किरदार को लॉन्ड्री में भेज दिया जाए जहां से वो धुल-धुलाकर आए" (I send a thousand curses on a society where it is the principle that after death every person's character should be sent to the laundry from where he comes out absolutely clean).
---
*Hobbyist writer who has graduated in economics, currently is sophomore in the B Ed programme, has written wide range of issues from education to economics and social justice

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