Veterans slam two contrasting faces of Indian Army in Manipur and Kashmir

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: Indian army veterans have raised serious questions over the two contrasting faces of the Indian Army on the same day last week — one in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the other in Manipur.

Many have publicly expressed their disapproval on twitter, the social media platform.

One veteran in an interaction with The Telegraph has even asked an uncomfortable question: would the defence forces have done in Kashmir what it was compelled to do in Manipur?

Just last week, the army disclosed that security forces released a dozen militants in Manipur after being surrounded by a mob. The security forces included soldiers.

Media reports stated that some hours earlier on the same day, it was alleged, a major in Kashmir’s Pulwama forced worshippers at a mosque to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.

“A sharp contrast with happenings in Manipur where mobs are forcing release of militants from acquiescing military! Jammu and Kashmir, Pulwama: Major accused of forcing worshippers at mosque to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in Kashmir,” former lieutenant general H.S. Panag tweeted on Tuesday, June 27.

On Saturday, June 24, the Indian army had, in a questionable move, “handed over” 12 cadres of the banned insurgent group Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup, including a militant accused of masterminding the massacre of 18 soldiers in 2015, to a “local leader” at a village in Imphal East district following a standoff with a women-led mob. The army had claimed that the “mature” decision was taken to avoid any “collateral damage” during the ongoing conflict in Manipur that has led to the death of at least 130 people and the displacement of over 60,000 persons.

In southern Kashmir’s Pulwama in the small hours of the very same day, Saturday, soldiers led by a major had stormed two mosques in Pulwama district of south Kashmir and forced worshippers to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.

This clearly partisan conduct in an armed force hitherto hailed for its neutrality and impartiality is extremely worrying. The army has so far maintained silence on the allegations.

Another retired brigadier wondered what would have been the reaction of the army if the defence force was surrounded by residents demanding the release of militants in Kashmir.

In conduct unbefitting a professional force, the army in Kashmir does not even hand over the bodies of slain [martyred] militants to their families, burying them at designated graveyards in remote areas. Besides, the army has frequently used force and detention against protesters in Kashmir, one of the most heavily militarised zones in the world.

“I am sure the army would have responded in a different manner if such an incident had happened in Kashmir. What we are witnessing in Manipur over the past 50 days is a complete collapse of law and order and for that the credit goes to the Prime Minister for remaining silent on the crisis. There has been complete dereliction of duty and violation of obligation to the Constitution in not acting in a resolute and non-partisan manner,” the retired brigadier told The Telegraph.

The retired brigadier also seriously questioned the priorities of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a time Manipur has been gripped by violence since May 3. “It has been over 50 days and he has not spoken a word on the crisis, and today he chose to flag off Vande Bharat trains in Madhya Pradesh and also spoke to booth-level (BJP) workers in the poll-bound state,” he said.

Colonel (retired) Ashok Kumar Singh publicly said in a tweet: “The Major who forced Muslims to chant Jai Shri Ram must face court martial. His services must be terminated.”

Reminding Indians of this stark contrasting two faces of the army, another former colonel recalled how Major Leetul Gogoi had tied a Kashmiri civilian, Farooq Ahmad Dar, to his jeep as a human shield against stone-throwers in 2017. “The major had then earned praise from the army top brass for his horrific action,” he said.

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Disclaimer: Veterans slam two contrasting faces of Indian Army in Manipur and Kashmir - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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