29 SEPTEMBER 2016: YES, WE CAN

It was many years ago, when I first heard of Captain Kalia. He was just 23 years old when he was tortured and killed by Pakistani soldiers before his mutilated body was returned to India. The news left us numbed. Every time I read about his old father running from pillar to post, trying to get justice for his son, I would wince inwardly. How can we let our soldiers and their families down so badly?

A few months ago I saw the movie Airlift and a thought that struck me was, had it not been for the Indian Army, that could have been India’s destiny too. My thoughts ran to the martyred Indian soldier, Lance Naik Hemraj who who was killed and beheaded by Pakistani soldiers in Poonch sector in J and K. What would his mother and wife have felt? And yet, the very same mother and wife would be willing to sacrifice anything for the country. Another son, another husband.

We enjoy the luxury of watching our children grow in front of our eyes, we enjoy the comfort of living in a peaceful country only because our soldiers tirelessly guard our borders. But, too busy with our own lives, at times we forget to speak up for our men and women in uniform.

When Uri happened, my rage knew no bounds. I went about my daily chores, not really knowing what I could do to avenge this outrage. And there were millions like me, trapped in our own hopeless sense of helplessness. I went about my work, depressed with the knowledge that the enemy, with his war of a thousand cuts, was successfully bleeding us in a slow and undignified death.

Was India only capable of a few candle light prayers for our men or perhaps a few angry television debates? A wave of despair engulfed me. And then 29 September happened. For me, it will remain a landmark day. The Indian Army had conducted a complex surgical strike with utmost precision. It gave me great satisfaction that the operation was fully supported and endorsed by our political leadership. Our soldiers went deep inside enemy held territory, killed the terrorists there and destroyed their camps. Anything could have gone wrong. But our soldiers risked everything and came back victorious, without leaving anyone behind.

By crossing the LoC, the Indian Army has crossed the Rubicon. New rules are now in place and the strength of our Army is backed by political will.Our Army is not at war with the people of Pakistan. It is up in arms against terrorists and terrorism. It is protecting its own country and peace. Imagine going to the mall with fears of a terrorist attack. It is “this peace of mind” that we have, that our Army is protecting, daily… and this is what sets the Indian Armed Forces apart. This is what sets India apart. Today, I feel proud.

I know that we still have people from the so called peace brigades – who will talk of peace, even if it means destroying India. They obviously have their vested interests, but fortunately for India, the country has changed. We have a new government in power which backs it’s soldiers and understands the angst of the people vis-a-vis its concerns for the Army. We sleep at night in peace because the Indian Armed Forces guard our borders. It is ‘them’ who bring peace to our nation. Only them.

A poster on FaceBook a few years ago told me to boycott the beautiful festival of Raksha Bandhan. Of course we, my brothers and sisters, (who love this festival) continued to celebrate it year after year. I cannot meet every soldier and tie a rakhi on his hand… but am sure, not just me but all my civilian sisters and brothers send our love and prayers to our extended family at the borders, to wrap it around their wrists, to keep them safe from harm, always- as, come what may, it is our fauji bhais who have always stood by us.

Post September 29, 2016, when we for the first time in years went to bed at night feeling inspired, we have just one prayer – long live India’s Armed Forces. And to those brave, faceless and nameless commandos who went for the surgical strike in the wee hours of 29 September, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for avenging Uri. You are our heroes. Jai Hind.

Ms Aarti Pathak is a mother of two and an Economics professor, who loves to write. She blogs at https:/ / sparrowtimes. wordpress.com/ author/ bloggingsparrow/ .

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