The Reality Show called Kargil
Where media and politicos go berserk with frenzy annually celebrating the Kargil victory, why does this nation treat its war heroes with such organised disdain?
If Shahrukh Khan is asked to wait for a couple of hours for questioning at a US airport, the Indian media screams that 'national honour is at stake'. However, when a disabled Kargil war soldier lives in complete anonymity with abysmally low pension, there is universal silence.
While the government and political parties ponder about expensive war memorials, many soldiers who died or were left handicapped in the much-celebrated Kargil War, have been dumped in the garbage can of history. The celebration is loaded with high patriotic quotient. Like each year, this year too, TV and print journalists, including politicians, celebrated the Kargil anniversary with great gusto while several handicapped soldiers and families of dead soldiers were left to their fate.
Disgusted, most of them have forgotten the rosy assurances offered to them. They have moved on despite everyday hardships they inherited from the war they fought to defend a nation which watches 'live' Kargil war feed with celebrity TV anchors - some of whom have sold and squeezed dry Kargil and its sacrifices with an eye on career, self-promotion and TRP ratings.
Commando Dignedra Kumar - only soldier alive to receive the Mahavir Chakra in the Kargil War - was left disabled after he was hit with five bullets when he recaptured Tololing Hill at 15,000 feet. After he was discharged from the army, he was promised 50 bighas of non-irrigated land. Till date, he has not received one inch of land. Disabled, he somehow survives on a meagre pension of Rs 2,400 and one hectare of land inherited from his father.
Roshan Lal Wazir suffered a similar fate. He is yet to receive the gas agency promised to him. Nine bullets hit Roshan Lal when he and his command tried to recapture Point 4812. He suffered 80 per cent disability with his left limbs almost non-functional. He can barely walk and lives with two sons and wife in Jammu on a paltry pension.
Bahadur Singh of 19 Grenadiers was sent to Palluawal in the Jodian sector during the Kargil war. A bullet brushed through his ears and a splinter hit his eye and legs. He lost his vision and retired from the army. He now lives in a single room without a job and a meagre pension waiting to be rehabilitated.
Several others like Dignedra Kumar, Wazir and Bahadur Singh live in anonymity struggling to make both ends meet in a country where media and politicos go berserk with frenzy annually celebrating the Kargil victory. The Kargil war left 524 Indian soldiers dead and 1,363 wounded many of them young officers and jawans who sacrificed their lives because of the grave follies of the political, defence, military and intelligence establishment. Isn't it deceptively brazen, this 'face of the nation' which treats its war heroes with such organised disdain, dehumanisation and humiliation?