Across the aisle: If we kill dissent, we will kill liberty

As the Army’s spokesman said, “this is not the first time and this will not be the last time”. The LoC is a line of truce.

Written by P Chidambaram | Updated: October 18, 2016 11:43 am
indian army, surgical strikes, indian army surgical strikes, manohar parrikar, loc, loc surgical strikes, line of control, defence minister, narendra modi, indian express columns New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, NSA Ajith Doval and BJP chief Amit Shah during an all-party meeting in New Delhi on Thursday following Indian army’s surgical strikes along the LoC on Wednesday night. Indian Army DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh is also seen. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma (PTI9_29_2016_000183B)

According to the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), there were “surgical strikes” on “launch pads” situated “along” the Line of Control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. I believe the DGMO, as we have always believed past Director Generals and past Chiefs of the Army. The DGMO said that “significant casualties” had been inflicted on the enemy but he did not give any number. He was at pains to emphasise that there were “no plans for further continuation”. The nation applauded him and the Army.

WATCH | Pakistani troops violate ceasefire in Jammu Kashmir’s Rajouri District

 

But somewhere in the translation the message was lost. It was certainly lost on one person who ought to have maintained restraint — the Defence Minister. His utterances since the strike have been over the top, gross exaggerations, and invited ridicule even from quarters that generally supported the government.

Truth is the casualty

Pause here and reflect. Is there any truth in, or justification for, the Defence Minister’s statement that —

* like Hanuman, the Army did not know their prowess until I pointed out to them their strength and capacity;
* such an action has never been done before and this is the first surgical strike by the Army;
* nowhere in the world has such an operation been done with such a degree of success;
* thirty years of helplessness and frustration have been lifted by this action and the people erupted in joy.

Much of the above could be brushed aside as the enthusiasm of a first-time Central minister if they had no consequences. Unfortunately, there will be consequences. That is why, I think, the Prime Minister had to caution his ministers not to indulge in “chest thumping”. Who did the Prime Minister have in mind, if not the Defence Minister? But Mr Parrikar is not deterred. He is on a roller-coaster ride and totally unmindful of the fact that he has made a spectacle of himself.

Dividends of strategic restraint

As the Army’s spokesman said, “this is not the first time and this will not be the last time”. The LoC is a line of truce. It is in the mutual interest of India and Pakistan that the understanding to maintain ceasefire, reached in 2003, is maintained by both sides as fully as possible and as long as possible. If the understanding is breached by one side, it will invite retaliation by the other. Both Armies know this simple rule. In the past too, there have been breaches and retaliations. No less a person than General Bikram Singh, a former Army Chief, confirmed this recently. No less a person than Mr Shivshankar Menon, a former NSA, explained the nature of such cross-LoC actions. And The Hindu dug into the records and published an undeniable report on Operation Ginger (2011).

The UPA government followed a policy of ‘strategic restraint’. No one had seriously questioned the policy at that time. It yielded dividends in the matter of reducing the level of violence in J&K.

capture

Only a person who is unusually obtuse will say that the policy of the UPA government was muddle-headed or wrong. The situation began to change in 2014, yet the number of incidents and number of fatalities were under control.
Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Pampore and Uri brought about a qualitative change. The government of the day is entitled to review the policy of strategic restraint. It is also entitled to authorise cross-LoC action and, in its wisdom, take political ownership of the Army’s action. What the government is not entitled to do is indulge in exaggeration and vilification of previous governments and their policies. That is the fault of the Defence Minister.

Criticism is liberty

There will be criticism of the Defence Minister. There will be criticism of the modified (and seemingly muscular) policy. There will be criticism that the government has not weighed the consequences of raising an Army-level ‘tactical operation’ to a Government-level ‘policy instrument’. Alternatives will be suggested.

Questions will be asked. When did “along” the LoC become “deep strikes”? Is not “launch pad” associated with missiles? What is the difference between “cross-LoC action” and “surgical strike”? Did the DGMO give the number of casualties?

Criticism — and questions — will enrich public debate. It is the essence of liberty. The events that will unfold in the weeks and months to come may prove the critic to be right or to be wrong. Even if he is proven wrong, the critic is not unpatriotic or anti-national.

Freedom movements have been criticised. War-time leaders have been defeated. Civil wars have been fought among citizens of a country with neither side forfeiting the right to be called patriotic. Through all the turbulence, the one value that has stood out among people who cherish liberty is freedom of speech and expression. If you kill that voice, you will kill liberty.

I am afraid that there are too many people out there — in political parties, in governments, in the media, in the social media — who seem determined to kill the voice of liberty.

Website: pchidambaram.in @Pchidambaram_IN

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  1. P
    Prashant
    Oct 16, 2016 at 7:33 am
    During past 67 yrs ,Congress did some of the biggest scams of worth Millions n billions,,,,,1 lakh 78 thsnd crore 2G was the latest one,,,,,,,on other hand our soldiers are suffering Because of "lack of bullet proof jacket",,,,,,,of those several scams if Congress would have avoided even one(lyk saving 1 lakh 78 thsnd crore in 2G scam),,,,We could have easily saved the life of soldiers by purchasing/making BF jackets from that saved money
    Reply
    1. R
      Rabindra Paul
      Oct 16, 2016 at 9:53 am
      Freedom of speech and expression from P Chindambaram ,the father of 66A , "Are You Serious "
      Reply
      1. A
        Anonymous
        Oct 16, 2016 at 8:17 am
        Pot aclling the kettle black. This man used his position to his position to fabricate charges gainst opponent . He does not deserve any respect not such access to put his warped views . He has lost all respect.
        Reply
        1. C
          Cauvery Mata
          Oct 18, 2016 at 12:14 pm
          Excellent Article. Must read for all and must share with maximum number of people. History will adore PCji
          Reply
          1. C
            Cauvery Mata
            Oct 16, 2016 at 6:25 am
            What a great article? A masterful narration of shameful behaviour of the "Defense Minister" Modi ran the country without a defense minister for first six months. As a spoiled kid he was trying heavy firing inside Pak which did not work. Pak went to US and got the sympathy of even New York Times. Now the enemy is saying that he is not . scratched and so if we tell them to provide proof, we are shouted down. God save this country from this Trump workshipers and friends of Donald Duck Trump.
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            1. C
              crickin
              Oct 15, 2016 at 9:26 pm
              Mr. PC - can't agree more. Mr. Parr iakar sounds like a jo ker. Modi doe snot have any cont rol on his cabin et members. It is RSS which makes them dance. Modi is a pu pppet show. Sirgi str ike is for UP ele ction, which they will lose. End has start ed...i don 't care whether it will be 3rd partyy dra ama...these edi ots mu st go.
              Reply
              1. J
                Jim
                Oct 16, 2016 at 5:36 pm
                liberty bolaa thaa BC. now stay true to it. doesnt matter who may be
                Reply
                1. S
                  Sharad Joshi
                  Oct 16, 2016 at 8:00 pm
                  Chiddu master...hope u have read all comments...lt;br/gt;Don't do bers like this again.lt;br/gt;U calling Mano First timer...but. He isnot chor like u all.[ am with him for 56 inch thumping n will do it v often...wait n watch till u all land up in Italylt;br/gt;That Manish yari....and the likes have been with u....get ready 4 Tihalt;br/gt;r.lt;br/gt;Have u seen Goa BRICS...the boldness....true 56 inches of chest.we will thump....but yours' would start thudding...wait n see.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    Sharad Joshi
                    Oct 16, 2016 at 3:24 am
                    Chiddu thinks he is smart.lt;br/gt;He n. A K ANTHONY n Italians have. Got the feel of MIRCHI.having f..ckd de f budget for yrs.lt;br/gt;Could some one tell him the meaning of Vice Chief of Army's briefing two days back to Def Stndng Commttee.lt;br/gt;Conges talk of First time Centl Min.lt;br/gt;We all Indians must throw them back to Italy.lt;br/gt;Shame on these rascals.lt;br/gt;We r with M Particular.lt;br/gt;Jai Hind...Jai Namo ji
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      MyTake
                      Oct 16, 2016 at 2:09 am
                      Legitimate and sensible dissent is OK but Dalalo dissent is not!
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        SubbuI
                        Oct 16, 2016 at 5:05 am
                        MR P.C.CHIDAMBARAM SIR. VERY GOOD OBSERVATIONS.WELL EXPLAINED.BUT NO USE .THIS NALAYAK NMODI AND IRRITATING CLOWN PARRIKER ARE IN SEVEN CLOUDS. THEY THINK THEY HAVE DONE WHAT NO ONE IN THE WORLD HAS EVER DONE. THIS GOONS GO TO THE EXTEND OF POSING LIKE LORD RAM. AND COMPARNG OUR ARMY JAWAN TO VANARASENA IN THEIR PUBLICITY POSTERS. NALAYAK NMODI PLAYS GOOD COP AND THE CLOWN PARRIKAR PLAYS BAD CAP.ALL THIS CHEST THUMBING ARE BEING DONE WITH CLEAR UNDERSTANDING.EVEN REPUTED NEWS CHANNELS FOR UN BAISED AND NEUTRAL VIEWS ARE BROUHT TO LINE TO AIR ONLY PRO ESTABLISHMENT AND FEW CHANNELS LIKE TIMES NOW AND NEWSX ARE COMPETING EACH OTHER TO APPEASE RULING CL WITH NEO NATIONALISTIC PROBA AND ABUSING ALL WHO DESENT OR EVEN QUESTION THEIR VIEWS. IF LIBERTY HAS TO BE ACHIVED BY PAYING HEAVY. COST THEN PEOPLE WILL BE PREPARED ONE DAY.I THINK THEY ARE NOT FAR. IN POLITCS NOTHING IS PARMANENT AND NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. NLAYAK NMODI WILL UNDRER STAND. SOONER HE DOES IS BETTER. Ithih gawa hai !
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                        1. T
                          Trichyhar
                          Oct 16, 2016 at 1:01 am
                          A wonderful surgical strike against the idiocy in our society. This drives out the darkness in the minds and hearts and illuminates. Only a great Statesman with real courage can like it. When the 54 inch is full of hollow with empty cerebrals, this one is truly roicking. Sir please come back to power and save us from these s. The media frenzy had reached in new heights. How beautiful the governance was under UPA. Only BJP spoiled it then and spoiling it now. They are the lousy spoilers of India. Thanks sir for being the leading light of intellectual wisdom.
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                          1. K
                            K SHESHU
                            Oct 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm
                            At last he too has realised the importance of liberty ...
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                            1. R
                              Rdabludba
                              Oct 16, 2016 at 6:49 am
                              They have already killed dissent, and in turn killed liberty, they are yet to kill the reviver of these two.lt;br/gt;Who are they? Everyone knows but is scared to tell the truth. Liberty is dead!
                              Reply
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                                Ajay G
                                Oct 16, 2016 at 6:52 pm
                                Freedom of speech is indeed curbed systematically. Anybody questioning action of Modi is bombarded with abusive language. Someone, even if opposed corrupt ways of Congress, who raises valid objections is conveniently termed with choicest names.
                                Reply
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                                  ajaykumar Lokhande
                                  Oct 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm
                                  who is ramdev? is he so important to be mentioned in so serous topic? Ramdev and annaji made a lot of hue and cry about lokpal and black money. now salient.
                                  Reply
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                                    Ajit Kumar
                                    Oct 16, 2016 at 4:02 am
                                    Constructive criticism is welcome. But liberty doesn't give any one license to criticize just for the purpose of criticism for their personal gain. If you are not in the government don't mean you only oppose the government. It is observed that when BJP came to power all the political parties opened a joint front to condemn the government and all its actions. They have even forgotten the normal decency.
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                                      Abhinav
                                      Oct 22, 2016 at 11:49 am
                                      PEOPLE WHO CRITICIZE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT OTHER PEOPLE ALSO HAVE THE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE THEIR CRITISISMS.lt;br/gt;BUT IF OTHER PEOPLE QUESTION THE LOGIC OR INTENT OF THEIR OPINIONS, APPARENTLY THEIR LIBERTY TO CRITICIZE IS BEING CONSIDERED TO BE TAKEN AWAY.lt;br/gt;COMMON. PLEASE BE SENSIBLE.lt;br/gt;THE GUY WHO WROTE THIS ARTICLE SEEMS TO EFFECTIVELY SUGGEST THAT IF SOMEONE MAKES ANTI-NATIONAL COMMENT, THEN OTHER PEOPLE DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO CALL IT ANTI-NATIONAL. IF OTHER PEOPLE CALL THEIR COMMENT AS ANTI-NATIONAL , THEN APPARENTLY THEIR LIBERTY TO CRITICIZE IS BEING TAKEN AWAY. WOW.
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                                        Abhinav
                                        Oct 22, 2016 at 11:35 am
                                        lt;br/gt; -gt; THIS ARTICLE BEGINS WITH THE STATEMENT-gt;lt;br/gt;' As the Army’s spokesman said, “this is not the first time and this will not be the last time” '-gt; When did army spoke man say such a thing? According to former DGMO, the surgical strike accross LOC was the first of its kind.
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                                          Arvind
                                          Oct 16, 2016 at 10:00 am
                                          If there is congress ideology, loot, corruption, sycophancy, dynastic rule, lack of democracy within the party, and governance through foreigners, lack of patriotism and wanton lack of respect of Indian lives lost through Islamic terrorism coming from stan, Mani shanker Aiyar and other traitors - we will have no country and would have sold out to the foreign islamic ideology and pseudo secularism produced in Western universities with issues not relevant to India and Indians relentlessly pushed down our throat by a corrupt self serving civil society of unelected minions living on government dole and conspiring to undermining the people while finding ways to self aggize themselves through influence and statist mechanisms to undermine insutions and the fundamental rights of the people. No more corrupt lawyers in the government.
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                                          1. K
                                            Kris
                                            Oct 16, 2016 at 6:30 am
                                            This person has no shame of talking about liberty. His surgical strike was the attack ordered by him in the mid night of sleeping protesters in Ram leela ground on a chilly winter night resulting in the killing of a lady. This person's personal involvement in fixing Mr Modi when he was the CM of Gujarat is known to everybody. He and his colleagues personally engaged a plethora of NGOs and fake journalists to tarnish Mr Modi day in and day for 10 years from 2004-14. Can this man claim anything of that sort happening now? He and his zero loss theory maker friend were the kingpins of all corruption scandals that were taken place during the UPA regime and he never bothered about who the PM was. This man had no guts to question the a person who never demonstrated any intellectual or administrative capability who claims to be the second most powerful leader of his party tore down the ordinance ped by the cabinet in which he too was a member. We had seen a defense minister in UPA cabinet for 10 years who did not seem to know what the meaning of defense is. That person has almost killed our defense forces. Chidambaram has no right to criticize the present defense minister as he is really working hard to upgrade our defense forces and boost the morale of our forces. A defense minister being the topmost leader of the defense forces should speak up and enthuse confidence among the armed forces personnel and the people at large. Chidambaram is jealous of Mr Parrikar and this piece of writing is as a result of this jealousy.
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