Date: 21/12/2014



In all 17 lives were lost in multiple fidayeen attacks carried out by Pakistani militants on 5 Dec 2014 at Uri in Jammu & Kashmir. Eight of them including a Lt Col, were army men. Understandably the rank and file of the army are seething in anger.
For long there has been a total dissatisfaction all around on the quality of men who have managed to rise to high ranks in the armed forces. Fingers have been pointed over and over again on the performance of corps commanders and army commanders, particularly in Jammu & Kashmir, right from the days of the Kargil War of 1999.
The reasons for this present Uri debacle is being placed squarely on the laps of the Army Commander Northern Command and the 15 Corps Commanders under him. The men are accusing them of over cautiousness. They are blaming the tight operational restrictions placed on them in the actual war like situation which exists there. They feel their hands are tied. Above all they fear that the senior officers will throw them to the wolves to save themselves.
Some army spokesmen have stated that the attack on 31 Artillery Regiment came at 3 am at which time there is no civilian movement and soldiers were free to open fire. This argument is vacuous.
Could it not have happened that suspicious movements of these terrorists were noted by some jawans or police men on previous day(s) and let pass because they did not want to ‘stick their necks out’? If they had been confident of support of the top brass their actions could have averted the Uri tragedy.
The way these two general officers have conducted themselves of late has gone to make it clear that if there is public outcry against the action of troops they cannot expect the generals to back them even if such actions were correct. This message has emerged clearly from recent events.
On 3 Nov 2014 two Kashmiri young men, probably fidayeen, crashed through two check points near Chattergam village in Anantnag district of South Kashmir. In an attempt to stop them the men of 53 Rashtriya Rifles manning the next check point, which had been erected in connection with the Prime Minister’s visit, shot at the car. In the resulting accident the gate crashers died.
The army ordered a court of inquiry which promptly and illogically found nine soldiers culpable. It does not take much to realize that this finding was solely for the sake of quelling protests. This was followed by the army commander and the corps commander publicly admitting that ‘the army had made a mistake’.
Days later on 13 Nov 2014 a summary-general-court-martial (SGCM) sentenced five army men, including two officers, for killing three ‘innocent’ Kashmiris in what has come to be known as the notorious Machil Case. It is believed that the proceedings of that SGCM are awaiting confirmation and are at present resting on the table of the self same army commander who publicly apologized in the Chattergam incident.
Knowing his ‘political’ outlook it is easy to guess how he will wield his confirmation powers. If he does what we think he will do and ‘plays to the gallery’ all initiative will be sucked out of the troops and they will be mere gun fodder in the designer war being carried out by Pakistan.
The point is Indian generals should not play politicians. They are neither trained to do so nor or they paid for it. And if they do they will defeat the Indian Army.
Now, there is only one way to restore the professional confidence of army men despite the feeble generalship we are blessed with, and that is to look seriously towards the Machil Case. Once the proceedings of the Machil Case are confirmed those who are convicted are sure to appeal in civil courts.
It is then that we should provide them with moral, physical and financial support so that they make a strong defence case with the best lawyers. Simultaneously we should raise such a hue and cry till we draw the attention of the courts and they take a serious view and find ways to provide swift and imminent justice to the affected soldiers.