"I feel sad that I don’t have another son and that my son wasn’t married and had no children as I would have sent them as well to serve the nation." These were the brave words of Capt. Devender Singh Jass's mother when asked if she was repenting the fact that her son joined the army after he laid down his life for the country in J&K. Such passion and such courage says everything there is to be said about the Indian Army. I felt a sense of disgust while watching a discussion on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 in We the People, a programme that runs every Sunday evening on NDTV. Some so-called human rights experts were accusing the army for all the excesses taking place on the civilians in Kashmir and the North East. Such people conveniently ignore the hardships the Indian Army goes through to make sure that we, including them, are safe. Asking for cutting down the powers of the army in terrorism affected regions like the North-East or Kashmir is like asking Sachin Tendulkar to hold the bat with just one hand while playing cricket. Just that the repercussions in the case of the army are going to be of a much higher scale.
My heart goes out to civilians and their families who have lost their lives during army operations in Kashmir and other parts of the country. There have been accusations that some of these killings have not been fatalities due to the operations but paid killings. I won't say that it is totally untrue as there never is smoke without fire but branding the entire army in the same category and cutting down their powers is no solution to this problem. We must remember that there are bad elements in every group, so we need to have checks and balances in place so that such bad elements in the army are not able to misuse the power that they have been given to serve the nation. But saying that the powers have to be curbed for proper implementation is nonsense. People in favour of this cutting down of the powers highlight the fact that fatalities in Kashmir have come down from 4507 in 2001 to 377 in 2009 which according to them shows that the situation has improved. They just tend to ignore the fact that it is because of AFSPA and the efforts put in by our armed forces that this decrease has taken place. The terrorists have on their end got stronger through better arms & advanced technology. If we commit the fatal error of repealing AFSPA, the situation can become worse than ever before.
Captain Devender Singh Jass used to tell his mother that what is there to live if you don’t live for a cause. By taking away the powers from the army, we would be telling them to fight for a losing cause. Is this how we, who according to a dialogue in my favourite film Lakshya “Are having a sound sleep because someone is awake on the border to take care of us”, want to payback those SOMEONES? Is this how we respect our soldiers? Is this what "We the People" are?