he news of the arrest of Lt Col Srikant Purohit for masterminding the Malegaon blasts has attracted substantial attention, as this is the first case of its kind—of an army officer being arrested on charges of terrorism
and more importantly because of fears that India’s last genuinely secular institution too has lost its secular sheen. But is it really the case? And can we assume that the fringe has become the mainstream? I would certainly say that this is a one-off case and that the secular credentials of the armed forces in general and the army in particular remain solidly intact.
Politics, religion and women are not discussed by officers, after a British tradition of remaining apolitical and keeping religion essentially at bay. And while it might be argued that the officer corps has become more and more representative of the middle class and therefore is likely to be easily influenced by hardline religious propagandists, right-wing sentiments are certainly never aired.
Yes, our soldiers do worship their gods, and mandir,...