SOMEWHERE IN KASHMIR
During the last few weeks Kashmir has seen choreographed bloodshed, at a scale not witnessed in the recent past. And you, my friend, are in the middle of a media firestorm. They say that you have not exercised adequate restraint. They sit in air-conditioned TV studios and claim that you are a killer.
Over 3000 of your brothers have been injured in the past one-month, some critically. Many have been martyred. No one knows about this because for those who disseminate news, the country is inconsequential and you are expendable.
And this is how they want you to die – unknown, unwept, unsung and unforgiven.
All throughout your training and your service, you were taught that the enemy is across the Line of Control. I am afraid that is no longer true. The LoC has shifted from Kashmir to Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai and to hundreds of towns and cities across India. That is where the new enemy is, our own fifth column.
This enemy does not use guns. He uses social media. He uses lies and half-truths to tarnish your image. He tells common Indians that you, the Indian soldier in Kashmir, are a rapist and a murderer. Are you flabbergasted and heartbroken? Welcome to the new war, my friend, a war without honor and rules of engagement.
The enemy knows that you are undefeatable and so he has decided to break your morale.
You ask me what is this “azaadi” that the Kashmiri separatists want? You say that they have their own flag, their own penal code and their own constitution. What more could anyone want? My friend, they want Kashmir to break away from India and merge with Pakistan. That’s why whenever there is a mob on the streets of Srinagar you will never see a Kashmiri flag. You will only see Pakistani flags and the flags of the Islamic State (ISIS). This is the new reality.
Kashmiriyat died the day the first Kashmiri Pandit was killed in the Valley.
Kashmiri separatists love “funeral politics.” Have you ever wondered why the protestors who are hurt during clashes die when they could have easily been saved? Because Pakistan trained terrorists stop the ambulance midway and don’t allow it to reach the hospital. When the injured person bleeds to death, there is a grand funeral the next day. A new martyr is created out of thin air.
Doctored and fake images of bleeding women and children with pellet wounds are being circulated on social media, and young, gullible Indians are being told, “Look, this is what your army does in Kashmir”.
I am afraid for you because I know your own death cannot break you, but the image of a bleeding 5-year-old child easily can. You are a father, too. They want to break your heart so that you lose the will to fight.
But there is hope. Millions of Indians who were dormant are waking up. They now know the truth. They were scattered earlier. They are uniting now and every day they grow stronger. They may not wear the uniform but they are soldiers in spirit. And when the time comes, they will stand with you till the very end. You are not alone.
Soon, the sun will complete its westward journey. It will soon be time to clean your AK 47, fill your magazines and prime four HE-36 hand grenades. Your company commander is waiting for you. He will give you your mission brief for tonight.
Intelligence sources from Brigade Headquarters have confirmation that there are 5 Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists holed up in a single-storied house on the outskirts of Chowkibal, Kupawara. Your mission is to “neutralize” them.
It is 0300 hrs and a large Chinar tree close to the house is blocking the moonlight. This is the opening that you need. You will ask your buddies to quickly surround the house, blocking all exit routes.
As you stealthily move towards the house with four of your buddies, your rubber-soled boots ensure pin drop silence. You position yourself under a window near the main door, your AK’s fire selector switch now on “automatic” mode. The team’s number two takes out a HE-36 hand grenade and pulls out the pin and starts reverse counting. Five, four, three, two, one…the grenade is lobbed inside, followed by a loud explosion after 4 seconds. You kick the door open and storm the house.
There will be gunfire, smoke, screams and explosions. And then there will be the sweet stench of blood. Tonight, you will kill.
Good luck and happy hunting.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)