Editor’s Update – August 1, 2009 – Times of India reports that Facing Flak, India’s Prime Minister decides to attend Kargil celebrations. We are delighted that Indian Society showed some intolerance as we had wished it would. But, the fact India’s Prime Minister had to be pressured into attending celebration of India’s military victory shows us that Indian society has a long way to go.
Several years ago, by sheer chance, we sat next to Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State in the Clinton Administration on a flight from Washington DC to New York. We talked about Indo-US relations and somehow the conversation touched on the 1999 Kargil conflict. Ms. Albright literally raved about the skill with which the Indian Government handled that war. “They did everything right” she said. Clearly, the conflict was a trap by Musharaaf to provoke a wider India-Pakistan conflict and thereby draw the world into the Kashmir issue. Albright said that the Indian Government reversed the trap by treating it as an entirely domestic issue and refusing to cross the line of control. As a result, Pakistani Army was forced to watch helplessly as the Indian Army destroyed Pakistani special forces and troops that had intruded into Indian territory.
Tomorrow is the 10-year anniversary of July 26, 1999, the day victory was declared in the Kargil War. If you an Indian-origin or “Desi” reader, ask yourself whether you remember the 1999 Kargil War. If you are not, ask your desi friends or acquaintances about this war. Chances are they would not know anything about it.
In a democracy, people get the Government they deserve. That is certainly the case in India. In virtually every country, a military victory belongs to the country and its people. Such victories are celebrated by all the parties regardless of which party managed the war.
However, as Neelesh Misra of the Hindustan Times laments in his article 10 years later: The war that India forgot, the Indian Government seems to be doing everything it can to ignore this anniversary.
In his words, “Congress MP Rashid Ali called it “Bharatiya Janata Party’s war”. Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal said he did not know about the anniversary. President Pratibha Patil was requested to come to Drass, but declined, army sources said.”
(War Memorial in Drass) ( A soldier points to a post that Pakistani soldiers had occupied in Drass in 1999 – source HT)
Neelesh Misra reports that “a massive 10th anniversary celebration (is) planned in the operational hub of Drass on the weekend when top generals from across India and the families of slain officers and soldiers are to arrive here.”
But India’s Defense Minister B.R. Antony has decided to stay away from this ceremony. Instead he will “only pay a wreath in New Delhi”.
What does the Indian Army say? Neelesh Misra reports that “A top army officer shrugged it off. “We chose this life. We aren’t cribbing or hankering after praise. We shall honour our heroes ourselves,” said the officer, declining to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.”
What do the families of fallen soldiers say? As Neelesh Misra writes, “But Thapar, whose son Vijayant died fighting as he led an advance on a mountain feature called Knoll, said: “This is going a bit too far. I think we should not expect anything from the leaders and have the army and citizens celebrate.”
That is exactly what seems to be happening. As Neelesh Misra writes:
- Unlike previous years when Drass hosted mostly western backpackers, Indians dominate the tourists who have come here for the summer.
- Yes, the former bombed-out dusty town is now a tourist hub.
- The town where the ‘market’ was a row of crumbling wooden-shuttered shacks, and just a tea shop for some shelling-time reprieve, now has several small hotels “with complete sanitary fittings” — as one proudly advertised.
- “It’s amazing so many Indian tourists are coming this year,” said Mohammed Saleem, 45, of the Afzal hotel. “They want to know what happened at Tiger Hill and Tololing peak and Drass.”
Neelesh Misra is a talented writer. Read his last paragraph.
- Businessman Saleem Iqbal, 25, sees a greater opportunity. “If we get permission to take tourists to Tiger Hill on horseback, there will be a big boom,” he said. Not like the ones he heard everyday in the summer of 1999 as he hunkered fearfully in his first floor marketside home.
Our conclusion is simple. We thank Mr. Neelesh Misra for his wonderful article and we express our disgust at the selfish, unpatriotic behavior of the Indian Government. We know that American society would not tolerate such partisan behavior from its Government. We wish Indian Society had the same lack of tolerance.
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