In an era when truth is often
made a casualty, everything else becomes secondary. In such circumstances,
there is no scope for things, such as individual freedom, integrity, liberty,
and independence of thought. Post-Pulwama, the whole nation and the world at
large have been treated to such a miasma of mendacity that an attempt to ask
the most natural questions about the veracity of claims regarding the number of
those killed in the air strike on Balokot has attracted not only undeserved
vilification but even death threats.
Amid this sea of falsehood, the
only piece of news that has been allowed to surface involves the death of
40-odd CRPF personnel in a tragic suicide attack in Pulwama about three weeks
ago. The rest is nothing but utter hogwash and falsehood. For once Raj
Thackeray of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is spot on when he says that "To
know the truth behind the Pulwama attack, let Ajit Doval be questioned"
It is in the light of these
circumstances that following the Pulwama attack, the Prime Minister's appeal
for calm involving acts of vandalism on Kashmiris working in other states of
India came at a time when the damage had already been done. By that time, more
than 4,000 students studying in other states had already returned to the valley
under duress. That was a classic case of too little too late, that too after
the Supreme Court ruling, urging state governments to protect Kashmiris. Come
to think of it, all this snugly fits into the electoral calculus of the
Shah-Modi-Doval trio who see nothing unholy in anything that may, in their
view, improve their electoral prospects, including resorting to questionable
How does one distinguish truth
from a lie? Conventional wisdom has it that a lie has no legs to stand. In
contrast, truth is distinguished by the quality of being characterised by a
unique interpretation of its import. Which is why the innumerable and
contradictory versions of the number of those killed in the Balakot air strike,
as provided by the Army, politicians, media and the government should convince
even diehard bhakts that there was no such thing as human casualties in the
air strike, barring perhaps one single casualty- some odd trees in the forest!
This narrative of falsehood does not end there.
The spectacle involving IAF
pilot Abhinanadan finding himself inside Pakistan territory during a dogfight
in the air, his subsequent capture and release by Pakistan, presents yet
another picture where falsehood is pushed to absurd levels. Much as the
government machinery was gaga in praise of the pilot for his bravery and
valour, the fact is that his escapade into enemy air space followed by his
fulsome praise of the Pak army as a 'professional force' has not gone down well
with those who have ended up with egg on their face following his quick and
unexpected release by the Pak authorities.
As if that was not enough, yet
another salvo of falsehood fired was evident in the brazenness of bhakts' unsubstantiated claims involving their hypothetical
role in bringing tremendous pressure to bear upon the "Pak PM who had no choice
but to give in!" They went to the extent of saying that Pakistan had done no
great favour to India by releasing the captured Indian pilot because they were
obliged to do so under the Geneva Convention (GC) on the treatment to be meted
out to prisoners of war. How hypocritical of them to invoke the GC, as they
don't seem to know that the current stand-off between India and Pakistan does
not fall in the category of war, just yet.
Why do hypernationalists forget
their own share of responsibility when it comes to Kashmir whose inhabitants
are treated with unspeakable indignity and inhumanity, even in situations where
they are not even remotely involved in any illegal or anti-national activity?
Recall, the disturbing images of a Kashmiri boy being strapped to an army jeep
and paraded through the streets by one Major Gogoi of the Indian Army when he
was returning home after casting his vote.
What is worse, the whole country
had erupted in rapturous admiration and support for this ignominious act by the
officer when he was acquitted of this heinous crime by a court of enquiry
conducted by the Army. So much for the intellectual honesty of the Indian elite
which has willingly chosen to acquiesce in to this climate of intolerance and
violence by staying aloof.
In this battle of perception,
where the effort to spread lies and falsehood have been employed as a chief
weapon by the spin doctors of the ruling party and the government, I go with
Justice (Retd) Markandey
says that except for a handful, those involved in print/electronic media in
India are ignorant, ill-informed, hardly educated and moronic to the core. The
media's sense of history is so pathetic so as not to understand that the single
source of tension between India and Pakistan has to be pinned down entirely to
the core issue of Kashmir. Everything else is peripheral, including the
oft-repeated reference to what is being referred to as 'cross-border
The bottomline is that all this
will vanish into thin air once the K-issue is resolved once and for all to the
(minimal dis) satisfaction of all those involved - -Kashmiris, India and
Pakistan. It has to be conceded that the Indian position on what India maintains
as 'export of terror against India emanating from the soil of Pakistan' may
have some merit in it. However, the point is that it makes little sense to
expect Pakistan to eliminate terrorism from its soil on its own without India
chipping in. And to this end, all that India has to do is to shun its
reluctance to address the core issue of Kashmir by initiating a process for
dialogue with Pakistan and Kashmiris who are the genuine stakeholders in a
The greatness of India is in the
voices of reason and rectitude that ought to be heeded and acted upon, not in
naked falsehood being propagated by bhakts consisting of sabre rattling, jingoistic,
hypernationalist enemies of this country masquerading as (fossilised) defence
experts, (ill informed) journalists and (self -seeking) politicians.
It is time to lend an ear to
what author Arundhati Roy has to say on that count: "Kashmir is the real
theatre of unspeakable violence and moral corrosion that can spin us into
violence and nuclear war at any moment. To prevent that from happening, the
conflict in Kashmir has to be addressed and resolved".
How one wishes that wisdom
dawned upon those calling the shots to understand that it is the unresolved
K-issue that has spawned so much death and destruction in Kashmir and in the
region- and that everything else is a red herring.
I conclude by the following
words, not by someone of the so-called 'tukde tukde gang', an urban Maoist or by some Trojan horse in the
camp, but by a son of the soil, Rajiv Tyagi, a former IAF pilot.
In his recent essay "Of
limited wars and precision strikes" that had appeared in a newspaper some days ago,
Tyagi aptly sums up the India of today "I don't know what has happened to
our populace. We have become a very stupid and a hysterical nation, almost like
caricatures in a cartoon movie. And we vote politicians exactly like us".
A moment of reflection indeed,
for those who set so much store by deception and falsehood.
The writer is professor in the
Department of Mathematics, Kashmir University, Srinagar.