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Do men in olive greens have human rights: Why is no one raising voices for the slain soldiers?

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Imphal: Coffins of the soldiers of Dogra Regiment who were killed in an ambush by the militants, draped in Tri-Colours at a wreath laying ceremony in Imphal on Saturday. PTI Photo (PTI6_6_2015_000131A)

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By Rukma Singh

Do men in olive greens have any human rights? If yes, then why no one is coming out and raising a voice for the slain soldiers.

Last week in Manipur’s Chandel district, at least 20 soldiers of the 6 Dogra battalion were slaughtered and over a dozen were injured. The tragic incident was identified as the deadliest blow to the Army since 1982 when 20 jawans were similarly killed in the state leading to the escalation of militancy for years to come.

In Himachal Pradesh, a somber atmosphere prevailed in seven villages where the last rites of slain soldiers were performed with full military honours. Hundreds of people attended the cremations.

Some families did not even get a chance to have a last glimpse of the slain soldiers since the army had asked them not to open the caskets because the bodies were charred beyond recognition.

Strangely, if this would have been an issue of defence personnel going all out against the ultras, the rights bodies would have come out in protest and the issue would have also found support in the social media.

Of Laxity And Lives

Towards this momentous problem related to the rights of Indian soldiers being gunned down, why has there been a laxity in the attitudes of the State, the media and the citizens alike?

A fact that is conspicuous by its absence here is the lack of public response and media participation in terms of delving deeper into the roots of the attack. The contrast between the Manipur incident and the instances in Kashmir where the entire country came together to advocate against violations of human rights is stark. Citizen journalists and advocacy councils spring up every time even if a bird loses its feather.

But absolutely no interest has been shown by the rest of the country to combat violations that have happened in Manipur, in the form of innocent soldiers on duty being shot.

The Humans In Army

In cases of internal insurgencies, army is typically seen as an agent of atrocities. The army, in popular discourse, is portrayed as a raping, murdering entity, which is as insensitive as the weapons its soldiers wield. People who populate the ranks are seen as a solid monolith, not just by the ordinary people of the conflicted area but by the state controlling them too. Army is nothing more than a battering ram, a Trojan horse that is destroyed in the process of destroying.

However, the widows and orphans left behind by the martyrs tell a different story. And after the ashes of the dead settle, the wails of the ones left behind echo in the houses on both sides. Yet the exclusion of soldier from the teary, rosy pages of books written by human right activists is a fact both pathetic and heartbreaking.

Jaya Peesapathy, an Indian woman residing in Hong Kong, runs a radio show based on the Indian Army. When asked about the problems faced by the Indian Army, she points out, “The army men cannot share their emotions very openly. With the kind of work they do, it’s not so suitable. If one actually gives a thought to the kind of trauma they go through emotionally, they’d realize that it is something one can’t easily handle.”

The lives of these army men and their families are in a constant state of turmoil. Chaos, hopelessness and fear have become a part of their routine lifestyle.

It’s frightening to even imagine going to sleep every night with the fear of waking up to the news of not having a loved one anymore, and to live one’s entire life without having been allowed one last glimpse of the departed.

The soldier is a human bound by duty. He is an Arjun in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. And till the time a world without countries or boundaries is achieved, every Mahabharata will have a misunderstood Karan.

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Defence Minister looking into education fund cap issue: Army Chief

The Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare had capped tuitions and hostel fees at Rs 10,000 per month in a letter dated September 13.

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The Defence Minister shall look into the education fund cap issue to resolve the problem
Minister of Defence Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi. Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has promised to resolve the issue of a cap of Rs 10,000 on educational expenses paid to the children of defence forces martyrs.

The Army chief further revealed that the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, has informed the Defence Minister of the issue, and she that has said the issue will be addressed on priority.

Defence Ministry sources reported that the Minister had held a meeting on the issue on Wednesday and a decision is likely to be announced soon.

General Rawat said: “For our martyrs, children are entitled (to) free education. It is a very good thing that the government has done. What has happened is possibly because of some misunderstanding– they have now capped it at Rs 10,000 because somebody must have calculated as to how much a person spends per month on child education,” .

“In our case, we have written to the government. I think the Defence Minister is completely seized of the problem. She is aware of it, and after we explained the reason to her… she said she is certainly concerned about it and will address the issue on priority,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

According to informed sources, Admiral Lanba, the most senior among the three service chiefs, wrote to the Minister to urge her to resolve the problem.

A letter dated September 13 by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare had capped fee for tuitions and hostel expenses at Rs 10,000 per month.

The demand to a rollback on the decision was also raised by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and Union Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh, who is himself an Army ex-chief. (IANS)

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Prime Minister celebrates Diwali with Soldiers at LoC

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Facebook

Srinagar, October 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday arrived in the border town of Gurez to celebrate Diwali with soldiers protecting the country’s borders.

Official reports said in summer capital Srinagar that the Prime Minister arrived at the Dawar Brigade headquarters of the Indian Army in Gurez border town on Thursday to celebrate Diwali with soldiers protecting the Line of Control (LoC).

Sources here said the Prime Minister is also visiting the far-flung Tulial area near the LoC in Gurez sector to spend some time with the soldiers there.

A day ahead of Modi’s visit, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat had visited the area on Wednesday to review the security situation in the Kashmir valley.(IANS)

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Dalai Lama on Three Day Visit to Manipur

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Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama will be in Manipur on Tuesday. ians

Imphal, October 16: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will arrive here on Tuesday on a three-day visit to Manipur, officials said.

This will be his second trip to India’s northeast after his April visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh told IANS on Monday that the government had declared the Dalai Lama a state guest.

“We will extend a warm welcome to him. He will be given all facilities as an honoured guest,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Dalai Lama will be given a public reception at the Convention Centre here. It will be followed by a felicitation programme at the same venue.

The Dalai Lama will interact with members of the public and dignitaries.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since fleeing his homeland in 1959, is coming to Manipur at the invitation of the Speaker of the Manipur Assembly.

His Arunachal Pradesh visit had sparked a diplomatic row between India and China.(IANS)