The Pulwama attack by a youth brainwashed by Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed proves beyond reasonable doubt that Pakistan is run by a deep State that uses terror in the way a rogue dentist might use a drill: to deliberately and precisely hit a nerve and cause agony (From All Out War To Controlled War, March 11). Terror for Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex is a technology fashioned over the decades. Only now does the ‘front’—the faux State leadership under former-cricketer Imran Khan talk of a dialogue. This is because Pakistan’s terror groups have now gone out of hand, bringing the country to the brink of war with India.
In the meantime, Kashmir, caught between two nuclear-armed nations, is in a ruinous state. A policy overhaul regarding Kashmir is necessary, even if that proves an embarrassment to Raisina Hill. Call them ‘martyrs’ or traitors, they are all victims of New Delhi’s sustained, callous, ineptitude.
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
We have to remember that Pakistan has been abetting and promoting terrorism in India for the past 20 years before we launch into any discussion about India’s IAF strikes conducted by violating international airspace. Pakistan has tried to fan the fire of secessionism in India in the cases of both Kashmir and Punjab. Therefore, we can’t be lax about any border-related issue. We must completely secure our borders with Pakistan in Kashmir to stop mercenaries of a Jaish-e-Mohammed or a Lashkar-e-Taiba from crossing the border to abet local militants. Also, we need to have special courts and laws to deal with terrorists.
Vikram Dogra, On E-Mail
The news of the successful destruction of terror camps in Balakot was noteworthy. But, winning a war against terrorism is going to be extremely difficult, particularly when there are many militant organisations operative in Pakistan under military and government support. Military and air supremacy over Pakistan is essential while keeping it under fear by other measures like the recent air strikes. Lastly, the safe return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is India’s diplomatic victory.
Sanjiv Gupta, Perth, Australia
The weeks after Pulwama have been extremely tough for the armed forces, Kashmiris and the people living along the border. But for the rest of us—living room Indians (I don’t mean it condescendingly), it has been an entertaining time. The news on TV is full of gunpowder: war masala. The newsrooms are setup as battlegrounds—the CGI department of the news channels are working overtime to get the whole fire and brimstone feel. The news anchors have been shouting at the top of their voices and also encouraging panellists to scream out loud. It’s as if the war is happening on TV. It’s also a great time to go all-out ‘anti-national’ hunting, where anyone is licensed to ask any other citizens questions apparently related to their nationalistic credentials. And if they don’t give you a satisfactory answer, then you can try your hand at a little bullying. It’s like a festival of sorts. On the streets, any group of men can get together and shout “Pakistan murdabad” among other things. What’s wrong with that, one would ask. Well, patriotism gives you a whole lot of entitlement to make anyone within sight anti-national.
Also, thanks to TV, Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed have become household names. Hell, war and terror is the new saas-bahu for the time being.
Ram Avadheesh, Mumbai
There are two ways to look at India’s airstrike across the LoC—as a vote-winning move by the BJP-led government, or as a signal that India is no ‘soft state’. After days of anxious speculation during which, true to his style, PM Narendra Modi kept everyone guessing how India would respond to the Pulwama attack on the CRPF, the country finally did what so many of us had advocated. When Donald Trump said India was planning “something very strong”, most of us had a hunch. Obviously, India could not mount a major offensive without taking the major international powers into confidence.
J. Akshay, Bangalore
The suicide bombing of the CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Pulwama by Jaish-e-Mohammed, the true face of Pakistan PM Imran Khan has been exposed. Indians are seething with anger and none of the patriots among them can forget the tragic deaths of our heroes, nor the misery inflicted by Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists. India had no option but to strike back and teach our neighbour a befitting lesson. It is abundantly clear that Pakistan lacks vision and cannot be trusted. Their state mechanisms have been compromised long ago.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Controlled war is such a nice fuse: it can go off anytime the criticism load becomes unbearable.
Anil S, Pune
This refers to Cheating The Reaper, your story on ejection—the last resort of fighter pilots (March 4). It can be said that Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to cheat death twice in a span of minutes. First, he ejected successfully from his aircraft that was shot down by the Pakistani air force. Second, he got out alive after landing in the khajoor—a mob of villagers. The Pakistan army graciously aided the wing Commander in his second escape, a commendable action, even though it seems it is international protocol. They served him a goodwill cup of tea too. That’s surely not international protocol, although in several homes in India as well as Pakistan it probably is. Now, the tea-sipping Abhinandan with the robust moustache has become a symbol—he has featured in a tea adverstisement.
I couldn’t help thinking how a Pakistani pilot would have fared had he fell in Indian territory. Given our reluctance to stop lynchings happening in broad daylight since the past few years, I wouldn’t have had high hopes for a Pakistani flyer. But how very much like a mirror is the LoC between India and Pakistan. Lynchings in broad daylight happen there too. I think the Indian army would have given a Pak pilot equal respect.
Aalok Giri, New Delhi
This is about the story of a former IPS officer driven to his death by the alleged cussedness of the West Bengal government (Heads Change, Cops Roll, Mar 11). Police officers in general and IPS officers in particular are supposed to compulsorily toe the line of the ruling dispensation. Professional qualities of honesty, sincerity and uprightness matter so long as it suits the interests of the ruling party and local politicians. It’s relevant here to recall the tragic case in which a SHO posted in Bulandshahr district in UP was shot dead. It’s an example how servility has grown in the force and emasculated it thoroughly. It’s no secret that top officers are favourites of some politician or the other, so that a chief minister to a state, after assuming office, chooses his nominees for the offices of chief secretary and DGP, men in whom he has full confidence. The IPS leadership has also become ineffectual through its being organised along party lines. The bitter truth is that only officers with a pliable spine can survive in service beyond a point, with upright officers consigned to a life of shameless victimisation. Ultimately, these men, like Gaurav Dutt, have to opt out by taking VRS. Unfortunately, Dutt had to face harassment even after he had retired, forcing him to take his own life. The grave consequences of the police being a handmaiden of the government of the day is being ignored by all political parties, possibly because they all have a lot to gain from this noxious system.
Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi
Refer to A Telegram From 009 (March 11). Ten year challenges are fun. Ten years back, we wouldn’t even be doing a challenge like this. Facebook was limited to college kids and middle-aged nostalgics, WhatsApp wasn’t known of and chirps were still sounds of birds and not rabble rousing 140...sorry, 280 characters.
Sandeep Krishna, On E-Mail
This refers to All You Need Is Radio Ga Ga, your story on podcasts (March 11). The podcast is a thoughtful cozy thing, holding its own in the age of crazy visual excess. It’s comforting to just listen to long conversations and one can end up learning a lot as listening is a very focussed activity. I also feel that several people are more relaxed while having their voices recorded rather than having a video taken, which makes many super conscious. Once upon a time, I found similar comfort in listening to the radio, but these days, the stations are so full of ads and frenzied RJs that it all ends up sounding very intrusive, unless all hope is lost in a traffic jam. Only the government radio channels, the original podcasts, seem to be holding their own.
Nandini Paul, Bangalore
Refer to the interview of P. Chidambaram ‘Confident That NSA For MP Cow Slaughter Will Be Lifted’ (March 4). In it, his views on the issues relating to Kashmir, the opposition alliances, the Rafale deal and cow-vigilantes are commendable. Indian and Pakistani leaders have never been sincere in finding a peaceful solution for Kashmir because politicians on either side have found enough fodder in the Kashmir issue to manipulate their respective publics. The definitions of nationalism and patriotism have been blurred to produce an emotional, deadly mix of jingoism from the common populace. I expect the Congress manifesto being prepared by Chidambaram to focus on saving the constitutional values of India and the autonomous institutions, which are under threat.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
This refers to your cover story Kashmir Periscope (March 4). The Valley has over the years witnessed huge demonstrations led by students and other young Kashmiris, including women, against the Indian government—proof enough that where there is a political will, there is always a way. Both India and Pakistan must initiate a meaningful dialogue on Kashmir and with Kashmiri people, especially the young. Their aspirations must be listened to and addressed.
Vinod C. Dixit, Ahmedabad