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Friday, March 11, 2016

Defence Services: whipping boy for the merchants of falsehood

I am not ideologically aligned. I am also not much enthused by the two extremes of the national and anti-national debate since the foundations of India can hardly be shaken by polarized views at both ends. I am not against human rights activists since checks and balances, arguments and counter arguments, make any system more robust. I am even not impressed by retired officers of the military shouting out loud about the ‘sacrifices’ of our uniformed personnel as if other professions have no role to play in the largest democracy. I would say that the milkman who rings your bell every morning is playing an equally important role.

But then, this piece by Kavita Krishnan with a shrill headline talking of ‘Systematic Sexual Violence by the Army’ still makes me queasy. And it is not a random write-up but a drop in a series of such propaganda.

Never the one to defend wrongdoing by uniformed men and women, even by my harsh standards, this tirade mainstreams stray incidents of the past. It broad-brushes an entire organization based on individual aberrations. Should it mean, and I asked this on social media, that tomorrow if a university professor is involved in a theft, we blast off with lines like “Systematic Theft by Teachers”. Or if a Chartered Accountant is involved in an economic offence, “Systematic Fraud by CAs”? No end to such senseless overstretching of logic! How loosely has the word ‘systematic’ been used, where is the data? Where is the empirical backup?

Strange also is the bogey raised time and again by some members of the intelligentsia that the Defence Services let off lightly their personnel accused of crimes. In fact, the opposite is true. Constitutional Courts have time and again reprimanded the Defence Services for awarding punishments that are disproportionate to the offence. We ourselves feel that at times charges are trumped up and exaggerated and a single offence broken up into multiple charges. We have, on the contrary, raised a voice that military law does not meet Constitutional or international norms under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights for separation of powers. And we say this since we find that though discipline is paramount for the forces, the basic judicial norms are hazy in the military leading sometimes to excessive punishment and a much higher incidence of conviction and punishment than normal rates, arguably in order to ‘set examples’. Military Justice hence needs to be rationalized, but not since it lets off people scot-free as is being wrongly propagated, but since, it, at times, results in harsher punishments than warranted.

Any person who has served in uniform, especially of the Defence Services and the Central Armed Police Forces, would be able to say with certainty that much of the officers’ time in operational areas is spent on sensitizing troops on dealing perceptively with the elderly, women and children. Not just in India, but almost in all democracies. Black sheep, just as they exist in our society, are bound to be found in the uniformed forces, being the extension of the same society.

My request to Ms Kavita Krishnan would plainly be not to scandalize the very delicate issue of crime against women. Such baseless headlining not only results in painting a wrong picture of our forces but also trivializes the very grave matter of sexual violence by giving it a backdrop of falsehood. The only thing systematic here is the careful surgical maligning of our forces in an irresponsible and unethical manner. Our forces are being projected as some ragtag militia from the middle ages.

But more than that, it demoralizes our men and women in uniform, who are serving in trying circumstances away from their families, but who, unlike Ms Krishnan, rather unlike all of us, do not have the luxury of effectively voicing their opinion or issuing rebuttals or writing opinion pieces and participating in debates. In fact, bound by service regulations, they have no voice at all, which makes them an extremely soft target.  

India believes in defence services, not offence services, as some would try to fallaciously project. Do not make them your whipping boy. 

15 comments:

Advocate Manoj Kumar Sahu said...

Great nicely articulated. You have demolished her allegations SYSTEMATICALLY.

Alok Asthana said...

Navdeep - You've said that men in forces do not have the luxury of voicing their opinions and are hence soft targets. What are these restrictions that are not on other government employees?

captain dashora said...

Dear maj.navdeep,
I have raised this point at different platforms.I am volutariy released SS officer.All our elected representatives in various houses are eligible for pension altough they are not govt.servants.Thes why ss officers are given pension and other benefits

Suresh Bangara said...

The advent of social media and 24/7 news channels has further exacerbated the problems of a soldier. While a serving soldier cannot express his thoughts even in response to irresponsible reportage, nothing stops the Services to have an official site for placing material based on statistics/facts. We, the retired personnel do that whenever an opportunity presents itself.But the credibility of our responses are diluted by the perceived impression that we remain loyal only to the service. Would you suggest means to make good use of the media by remaining well within the limitations imposed on the rights of the serving community.There is much confusion among the serving community which need to be remedied.

Manohar AM said...

Sir, you said all that is required in this context. Thanks.

Harshad Datar said...

I sincerely hope that matured leadership of Armed forces will be able to defend the forces from such superficial persons who neither have depth nor bandwidth to talk about such issues, using the govt channels to do so. Thinking of likes of Krishnan talking sense rather then being proponents of left ideology is like thinking of hardened criminals chanting Geeta.

Ganesan Srinivasan said...

Timely rebuttal. It has become fashionable to write on like subjects with some regularity for these self-appointed HR protectors. Your rejoinder should put some sense into them that after all, the armymen are given to base human instincts as well, and a few of them do go astray at times.

Hony Nb Sub RPL Baranwal said...

Dear Sir,
U r doing commendable service towards the cause of welfare of veterans as well as to the whole society. I am proud of u and pray God 4 ur longevity and meritorious service. May God bless u. From Hony Nb/Sub RPL Baranwal Lucknow


vibhuti bharati said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,
I appreciate your strong at the same time rational rebuttal to Ms Krishnan. I have heard her speaking on various issues on electronic and social media. I have always felt her views are motivated having hidden agenda, may be to impress the targeted audience or people who matter for her self advancement. No offence meant as every one has right to her opinion in a democratic country. However, to speak on military matters requires some experience ,knowledge, expertise or qualification which apparently she does not posses. Therefore ,her loose remarks are certainly like playing with fire specially when it hurts the sentiments in an unwarranted manner Officers class may see through such mischief but men can easily get agitated with such uncharitable remarks. I appreciate that men in uniform on active service may not be able to put things in perspective to clear the air on such matters. I fail to understand why does so many retired seniors officers who have opinion on everything under the sun and rush to TV channels to do so but when it really comes to protect the honour of the AFs or talk about their entitlements/benefits ,they are found wanting. I wish there were many more 'Navdeeps' among us.
regards.

Ritu sharma said...

its sad that anyone can write in media without having knowledge of subject .it seems the persons writing has never seen operating.

Balwant Sharma said...

I just want to inform SC on 01 March 2016 dismissed UOI Petition against AFT New Delhi order 138/2015. Lt Cdr B R Sharma and others Vs UOI. MOD letter of 14 Jan 2000 for promotion to Lt Col(TS) is applicable now applicable to Majors and Equivalents, who retired after 01 Jan 1996 but with more than 20 Years Commissioned Officers service

Natarajan V said...

Dear Maj Navdeep Singh,..Very appropriately written and truthful....I think the writer must chose better cases of women injustices to portray her ability and capacity to voice such examples....MILITARY HAS ITS OWN SYSTEM TO TAKE CARE OF SUCH A HOSTILE ISSUE, IF AT ALL IT CROPS UP....Otherwise there appeared to be more fiction....

Shabare Kp said...

Great rebuttal sir, but i wonder if the media would like to look at the complete perspective.
rgds
kp

Anonymous said...

Dear sir,

One or two isolated cases of molestation are reported in army. if it comes to the notice of authority, army authority will never fail to react then and there wrongdoers are caught if proved they would be sent home dry without any remorse. I do not say Army is holy cow, some bad apples are there but we have got corrective measures to nullify them, why this krishnan blows out of proportion of the nature of crime she does not have any creative work, from her points of view we army men are rapists sex starved, we are also having our daughter in law, daughters sisters and mothers, we are not animals as she coins us we call other ladies as AMMA do you know what is amma mother. some section should be assigned for conducting censor before publication of such infamous article thank u major sahib

psrao philkhana said...

Great sir. You said it right. Thank You. Steps also should be taken to prorect