At the outset of 2019, the BJP started trying to hide the failure of its first term in power by pretending to be patriotic. Their government failed on many fronts like poor condition of agriculture, unemployment, social unrest, economic decline etc. Meanwhile, on February 14, 2019, more than 40 soldiers were martyred in a suicide bomb attack on a convoy of Central Reserve Police Force personnel.
The attack, which took place in the backdrop of the 17th Lok Sabha elections, had a long-lasting impact on domestic and international politics. Given the publicity it received in the media after the ‘Uri terror attack’ and the ‘Surgical Strike’, the release of a film based on it, and the resulting ‘hyper-nationalist’ atmosphere, all Indians expected a reaction to the attack in Pulwama.
Confirming this expectation, in the early hours of February 26, the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control and bombed terrorist positions directly entering into Pakistan in Balakot, Chakothi and Muzaffarabad (the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir). In response, 20 Pakistani aircraft attempted to enter the airspace, but the manoeuvre was foiled by the alert Indian Air Force. In the aerial encounter that took place at this time, the Indian Air Force shot down a Pakistani F-16 aircraft, but while doing so, Wing Commander AbhinandanVarthaman’s MiG-21 Bison aircraft crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Later, he was released safely. All this got a lot of publicity in the media. Indeed, is it possible that India’s old MiG-21 aircraft will shoot down the latest F-16 aircraft given to Pakistan by the US? This question has been raised by many, but largely ignored.
Earlier, it was alleged that the Modi government’s unilateral decision in the Rafale case would help Anil Ambani’s baseless companies earn Rs. 21,000 crores. It was felt that the Rafale issue would continue to haunt the BJP in the coming general elections. However, the reverse effect that emerged out of Pulwama attack was, that, bypassing the issue of ‘Rafale’, votes were sought in the name of ‘Surgical Strike’ and martyrdom of soldiers.
In 2016, Pakistan-based terrorists attacked army camps first in Pathankot and then in Uri, killing Indian soldiers. After that the Modi government played the game of ‘surgical strike’. Earlier, such operations were called ‘Cross-Border Raids’ and were never publicized. But the Modi government celebrated the ‘Cross-Border Raid’ in the name of ‘Surgical Strike’. The jubilation was so great that the BJP was able to pretend that now the issue of terrorists in Kashmir is almost over.
Similarly, the huge decision of demonetisation was announced in one fell swoop, while demonetisation was projected as a ‘Surgical Strike’ on black money, claiming that it would cut off the money supply to extremists. Modi and his government used to take pride in how these two surgical strikes solved the issue of terrorism in Kashmir at one go! Eventually, when the Bhartiya Janata Party ousted the Mehbooba Mufti-led state government in Jammu and Kashmir and imposed President’s rule in the state, it was said that Mehbooba Mufti’s intervention denied the armed forces the opportunity to curb the terrorist activities in the region. That’s why, it was necessary for the central government to rule there. At that time, news of how the Modi government has launched a final military operation for all terrorist and extremist leaders was spread on social media. Thereafter, occurred the Pulwama incident. To avenge Pulwama, the Modi government once again played the game of ‘Surgical Strike’ and Modi devotees and Godi-media continuously clamoured that the new ‘Surgical Strike’ has terrified Pakistan to every cell of its being. More than 300 terrorists were killed in the airstrike. Masood Azhar’s brother was killed in this strike and Pakistan was left flabbergasted. It further tarnished Pakistan’s image at the global level. Pakistan seemed like a beggar and Kashmir was completely cured of terrorism.
Article 370 of the Constitution was almost repealed and the same sort of claims were made once again. However, even after the ‘Surgical Strikes’ and the abrogation of Article 370, there has been no reduction in the number of armed forces personnel being killed every week in Kashmir and along the Line of Control.
In the 1965 war, when Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Prime Minister and Yashwantrao Chavan was the Defense-Minister, the Indian Army stormed the gates of Lahore. In 1971, Smt. Indira Gandhi had divided Pakistan directly into two parts. Siachen area was captured without firing even a single shot and Indian troops were sent to Maldives and Sri Lanka. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee made India victorious in the Kargil war. Nothing better happened during Modi Ji’s tenure. Modi Ji keeps on trumpeting that nothing happened in the last 70 years and everything is happening only now. To keep this belief alive among its supporters, the Modi government has planned to celebrate ‘Surgical Strike Day’ every year.
An interview of Satyapal Malik given to the channel ‘The Wire’ is in headlines these days. Satyapal Malik was the governor of Jammu and Kashmir when the Pulwama attack took place. That’s why his statement is being taken seriously. The army had asked for only 5 aircrafts to carry the troops which they were not provided. The troops were taken by road and a car carrying 300 kgs of RDX rammed into the convoy, causing it to explode. As a result, 40 soldiers were martyred. Malik claimed that the attack happened because of the inexplicable inaction of the Union Home Ministry. Also, in the evening of the same day, he spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but he told me to keep quiet, revealed Malik. At the same time, Satyapal Malik made several claims that Modi government has nothing to do with corruption, including Article 370. This interview later started going viral on social media.
Meanwhile, notorious gangster Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed were butchered publicly outside a hospital in Prayagraj. Despite being surrounded by at least 10 to 12 policemen, the assailants, disguised as journalists, shot the two at close range. Ateeq Ahmed was shot directly on the ear with a pistol. All those who rejoiced at the end of the Atiq Ahmed gang’s terror completely ignored several serious revelations made in Satyapal Malik’s interview. In this way, the aim of the rulers to suppress Satyapal Malik’s interview was successful. On the other hand, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan also raised several issues and tweeted doubting the news of Godi-media openly eliminating Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed to divert attention from Satyapal Malik’s interview.
Satyapal Malik made direct allegations on many other matters in his interview enough to raise goosebumps. Truth be told, even the blind followers of BJP have now gone numb after getting such information from an insider.
The most unfortunate thing is that the opposition parties are not making much hue and cry in this whole matter and this is the biggest problem of this country today. On January 23, 2023, Congress’ Digvijay Singh tweeted that where did the 300 kgs of RDX used in the Pulwama attack, come from? Such a question was raised. Also, when the demand for airlift was being made, why were the CRPF jawans not airlifted?
Winning elections riding on the false and artificial wave created by ‘ultra-nationalism’ is the success of the ruling party in domestic politics, but it is the misfortune of all Indians that in this sentimentality, issues of nationalism have been side-lined. Although in a democracy, people have the right to know the truth, but the truth as presented by Satyapal Malik is standing somewhere in the corner in desperation in the media fraternity; which has risen to lick the palm of the government.
(The author is the Editor of Marathi daily ‘Deshonnati’, Hindi daily ‘Rashtraprakash’ and weekly ‘Krishakonnati’ can be contacted on 9822593921)