The ‘Dyer’ Moment

‘‘Is Anything Fair in Love and War’’?

Asis Ranjan Sengupta

The situation in Kashmir is very serious, nothing new, it is a crisis zone for a long time. The difference is recently some very hard medicines have been administered to cure the ailment "permanently", consequently, some symptoms have erupted. Now, the issue is whether these fatal symptoms are, to borrow the oft quoted phrase from the eminent Bengali Poet Sri Nirendra Nath Chakravorty, of the disease itself or of their remedial measures? That is the pertinent question.

The most recent outrageous incident, is the episode of using an obedient citizen, as human shield, purportedly for avoiding bigger bloodshed. The justification offered by the army chief, is really astounding, and the innovative officer carrying out such debatable operation, has been awarded with citation by the government of India. The argument is "dirty war with a set of dirty people, must be fought with equally dirty tactics so long as it is innovative and target oriented. The army would have been happier had these people been with guns, rather than with stones, as that would made our task easier". The British Jalianwalabgh killer, Dyer also said "I considered it my duty to fire on them and to fire well". In this age of extreme right wing terrorist era, such provocative fulmination also gets official seal. No problem. The difference is, even in that British era, the hated British killer administrator, Dyer, who committed the crime of Jalianwalabagh massacre, also had to face strong condemnation in and out of India, even in Britain, and he had to face regular enquiry commission.

Prof Partha Chatterjee, internationally renowned, historian and social scientist, attached with Columbia University, USA, wonderfully drew parallel, between the contents of army chief's version of duty bound position, with the justification offered by Gen Dyer, the British administrator, in support of his heinous crime of shooting down, unarmed masses assembled to celebrate Baisakhi in the park of Jaliawalabagh, Punjab in the year 1919. How history repeats itself.

A number of Central ministers have hailed the move as historic, but that is natural, what is important is the explanation offered by one RSS think tank, who is also the chief advisor to the government on Kashmir affairs. He on record commented that "everything is fair in love and war" and this attracted widespread appreciation, among the psychophants.

If one calls the conflict between the forces acting on behalf of Indian Government, and the so-called freedom (Azadi) fighters of Kashmir, a ''war", then New Delhi knowingly or unknowingly, accept that Kashmir is another country, simply because "wars" are fought between two sovereign countries, and not between the government and the rebels within the geographical territory of a country. Such conflicts are known as battles between the government and the insurgents or rebels, at best. Now, the question is, why the army, whose original job is to fight wars with external enemies are engaged in bloodbath to resolve a civilian unrest, for such a long time? They are becoming restive themselves, so the need for dirty innovation to boost up the sagging morale. The normal practice is army may be deployed in combating civilian unrest in case of extreme exigency, but only for a short period, prolonged use and upgrading it to a proxy war, as it is happening in India, is a unique experience, in the history of warfare. So the need of such dirty justification.

So far as the question of love is concerned, from the human history, innovative measures adopted to win over the beloved, as a show of gallantry, are well acclaimed in Epics and mythologies. But there also are some thumb rules, in a misfit of ill-considered gallant none is permitted to indulge in any act of molestation, or rape imposed on the beloved, as that would be considered as encroachment on her right; to agree or disagree. Even forced marital conjugation is illegal. None can rape even a sex worker, as per law. So, "everything" is not an absolute right, but subject to limitations. And that should be kept in mind, while making such loose statements.

Now coming to the issue of war. In wars too there are some thumb rules. In the Kurukhsetra war in Mahabharata, people read, how the great heroes were bound by the rules, practices and principles of warfare. In present day also, after the dreadful experience of two world wars, and wars in Vietnam or Palestine, big powers have framed certain set of dos and dont's in warfare. These are known as Geneva Convention Protocol. India is a signatory to that convention, and the protocols are mandatory for the forces. Kashmir rebels do not represent any country, so they have no obligation to observe any international protocol. As per protocol I of the convention, signed in Rome, no warring force can use, war prisoners as 'human shield', but observing further abuse of 'human shield' tactics, the fourth Geneva Convention additional schedule II prohibits strictly, the use of civilian population also either to hold as ransom or as 'human shield'. This law clearly declares 'human shield' and 'ransom hostage' as illegal, and to be treated as war crime at par. Not only that, the same protocol specifies that any violation by either side does not ratify the counter violation.

So, everything may not be 'fair' in war too as in love. Saffron think tanks are so painfully ignorant, and army chief, displays his ignorance about the laws, practices and principles of international warfare, and obsessed only with 'dirty' tactics.

Hence even the common innocuous proverb that 'anything is fair in love and war' when interpreted by dirty bigots, takes an ugly shape.

Vol. 50, No.2, Jul 16 - 22, 2017