[Assam] Fwd: letters to the Editor

Ram Sarangapani assamrs at gmail.com
Thu May 24 16:15:44 PDT 2007

  *Of Army 'Excess'*
One of the remarks made by Mr Wasbir Hussain in his column entitled "Men
with weapons must have accountability" (The Sentinel, May 19, 2007) could
not help but catch my eye. A direct quote, perhaps, would carry the right
flavour: "The action of the Army, police or the paramilitary in eliminating
any innocent civilian... is unacceptable." True, checks and balances are
necessary, and accountability on the part of the security forces must be
established and responsibility fixed. However, one must understand that the
problem of terrorism cannot be tackled gingerly, nor can it be equated with
the delicate act of delivering babies.
The counter-insurgency operations are a lethal game that entails quickness
and keenness of perception. It is a killing field where the Army has to
fight an invisible enemy, who hides amongst the common masses and does not
wear uniform. It is the terrorist who decides when, where and how, while the
soldier is at the receiving end. In order to overcome this disadvantage, a
soldier must be swift-reacting for which lightening reactions are summoned
into actions, whenever and wherever there is an iota of doubt. By being fast
and unpredictable, a soldier garners the ability to alarm the terrorist
before the latter unnerves him. Time is not on the side of the soldier, and
he lives only if he reacts swiftly. Under this circumstance, human errors
are bound to occur occasionally.
The Army, in essence, is a well-oiled killing machine, who are taught to
annihilate the enemy. Its mathematics is simple: ''anti-national'' means
''you have to eliminate''. Ideally, the Army is not a force to be unleashed
in civilian space. When they are marshalled into a troubled spot to help
civil administration to curb violence, a soldier does not differentiate
between a foreign enemy and a home-grown separatist. His only objective is
to erase the foe. Since the terrorist almost always hides amongst the common
people, the security forces must treat everyone with suspicion and that
keeps the soldiers on their toes. This may cause harassment to the public,
but it is the price one has to pay when the security forces are fighting an
invisible enemy. This is precisely why we get to read the news of innocent
civilians being killed mistakenly by the Army. But then, these cases are
exceptions rather than rule.
It would be worthwhile to keep in mind that the terrorists are certainly not
normal human beings who harbour sentiments such as compassion and love. Had
they been so, they would not have been able to stand to shoot at another
human being's head point-blank — that too, that of a non-combatant civilian.
And this speaks volumes of their mental make-up.
The fact remains that brutes only understand brute force.
Kamaljit Deka,
Sugarland, Texas.
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