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HomeOpinionBrahmastraRiyaz Naikoo killing doesn’t avenge Handwara. India must stop glorifying soldiers’ deaths

Riyaz Naikoo killing doesn’t avenge Handwara. India must stop glorifying soldiers’ deaths

The high rate of casualties of security personnel, especially in the recent past, should be a wake-up call for the Modi government and the security establishment.

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The killing of four soldiers and a policeman in an encounter Sunday in North Kashmir’s Handwara has caused concerns and anguish in India’s security establishment. A Commanding Officer of the 21 Rashtriya Riles unit of the Army, twice awarded with Sena Medal (Gallantry), was among the five who lost their life.

The next day, three CRPF personnel were killed by a group of terrorists. Pictures revealed that contrary to the reports of terrorists firing randomly, the deaths were due to clean headshots.

And on Wednesday, India’s most wanted terrorists in Kashmir, Riyaz Naikoo, was shot dead by security forces in an encounter.

Social media erupted with joy with many claiming that Handwara had been avenged. But how, I fail to understand?


Also read: India to push for Pakistan’s blacklisting at FATF after Handwara & Keran terror attacks


Premature celebrations

The terrorists involved in Handwara belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Naikoo belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen.

Even the killing of the LeT chief will not qualify as a revenge. For that to happen the Pakistani army or the ISI has to feel the pain.

For Pakistani Generals, terrorists are nothing more than cannon fodder. And for India, killing such terrorists is a morale booster.

India’s security forces are doing their job, but if one goes by statistics, the ratio of deaths of personnel versus those of the terrorists is a cause of concern.

From 1 April to till date, about 36 terrorists have been killed at the Line of Control and in the Kashmir hinterland.

In the same period, at least 20 security personnel have also lost their lives in encounters with terrorists or in attacks by the terror groups. These deaths include that of the Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police.

While losing no security personnel and killing all terrorists in any operation would be the best case scenario, we know this would be too good to be true.

However, the high rate of killings of security personnel should be a wake-up call for all concerned.


Also read: Intruders, a house besieged, gunfire — 12-hour J&K encounter that killed Indian Army colonel


Stop glorifying deaths

To begin with, India will have to stop glorifying the deaths of its soldiers. While we should honour and respect every fallen soldier, they should not just end up becoming statistics. Besides the glorification on social media and WhatsApp forwards, the fallen soldier remains just statistics.

The top brass in the security establishment should be peeved at every single death of a soldier. India needs to develop a zero-tolerance approach towards this.

Former Army Commander Gen H S Panag (Retd) has argued that instead of organising spectacles, the military must focus on fault lines in Kashmir now.

In 2015, then defence minister Manohar Parrikar was upset with a spate of casualties on India’s side in Kashmir.

“My instruction to the Army is very clear. As far as possible, ensure that you don’t lose any men from your side,” he had said.

Parrikar was very angry and questioned the need to rush with encounters. He believed that the security forces should wait it out rather than take unnecessary risks.

Parrikar believed that the life of a soldier was more important than “martyrdom”.

Militaries across the world accord a higher respect and honour to the death in the fight against the enemy.

But then the problem is not in honouring the fallen soldiers but in glorifying their death so much that we become immune to such losses.


Also read: 15-yr-old boy killed in Handwara encounter was differently-abled and out playing with friends


Don’t call them ‘martyrs’ and move on

The use of the word ‘martyr’ is also problematic.

The Pakistan army and many Islamic militaries across the world refer to the death of their soldiers as martyrdom. That is because all their acts are done in the name of Allah. According to the Oxford dictionary a martyr is “a person who is killed because of their religious or political beliefs”.

In 2017, both the defence and the home ministry had informed the Central Information Commission that there is no term as “martyr” or “shaheed” in the Army or the police, and instead a soldier or a policeman killed in action is called a “battle casualty” and “operations casualty”, respectively.

In 2016, the home ministry had informed the Lok Sabha that the word ‘martyr’ is not used in reference to any casualties from the Indian Armed Forces during a battle.

The defence ministry too had said the same in 2015.

However, despite rules clearly stating so, the word martyr has increasingly been used by many for the glorification of the fallen soldier. Such has been the case than even the Armed forces now refer to their fallen soldiers in their press releases and tweets as martyrs.

This glorification of death is best avoided. It is time to glorify life.

Views are personal.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like it want to demoralize Indian defence forces
    It is anti Indian channel
    Let me quit.

  2. I understand that Naikoo type or rather all terrorists are bound to be killed irrespective of causalities to our assets, soldiers and officers. Martyrdom is not a prestige as life is always precious over death even if it is a glorious death for the cause of society or Nation. What if, there were no causalities on our side in Handwara, Naikoo would have not been cornered and killed! Nop ! he and all terrorists are destined to be shot dead with our forces being completely safe and sound. Therefore the killing of any terrorist does not amount to revenge or avenge of any loss caused to the Nation. Real revenge would only be a befitting surgical strike, wiping en-mass terrorists camps as have successfully been done by our armed forces or better still capturing back POK thus silencing the nuisance of terrorism. However till such time latter is achieved, former is most welcome. I am praying and looking forward for it.

  3. Manohar parikar idea & your idea is wrong. If security personnel will not chase terrorists then they will motivate larger no of people to join millitancy also they will start parallel government. You should know during proxy war every country face casualties .for example Pakistan is facing in Balochistan ,Waziristan. Every day several afgan forces are killing.

  4. Yes you think that the army should be silent as during Manmohan Singh Government which could do nothing for the 26/11 terrorist attack.
    It’s time to get back POK.

  5. Can we stop getting influenced by whatever is written and spoken in the mainstream media? No one is reporting factual information. Today’s journalism is an assault to free minds, values such as liberty and integrity is long lost in reporting. India as compared to china is far better as a democracy since media and people have the freedom to criticize either opposition or the ruling government. Atrocious and corrupt governments such as communist CCP controls state media for their own benefits. Chinese citizens cannot dare criticize their government. If they venture against CCP, their families are threatened by CCP and sent to reeducation camps. I’d request our indian journalists to self reflect and understand the freedom of speech and expression india as a democracy offers in stark contrast to china. How many of our journalists have to be jailed or prosecuted if the present government had to take extreme measures to curb free flow of criticism ? The only reason you can criticize in a country like india is because of the freedom this country gives you. Please dont misuse it, otherwise I wouldn’t mind the ruling government prosecuting journalists for spewing lies. All the views are Personal. What a joker

  6. Can we stop getting influenced by whatever is written and spoken in the mainstream media? No one is reporting factual information. Today’s journalism is an assault to free minds, values such as liberty and integrity is long lost in reporting. India as compared to china is far better as a democracy since media and people have the freedom to criticize either opposition or the ruling government. Atrocious and corrupt governments such as communist CCP controls state media for their own benefits. Chinese citizens cannot dare criticize their government. If they venture against CCP, their families are threatened by CCP and sent to reeducation camps. I’d request our indian journalists to self reflect and understand the freedom of speech and expression india as a democracy offers in stark contrast to china. How many of our journalists have to be jailed or prosecuted if the present government had to take extreme measures to curb free flow of criticism ? The only reason you can criticize in a country like india is because of the freedom this country gives you. Please dont misuse it, otherwise I wouldn’t mind the ruling government prosecuting journalists for spewing lies. All the views are Personal. What a joker

  7. Firstly, Oxford will not decide my emotions. Secondly, even if I go by the Oxford terminology, doesn’t having an international boundary qualify India to have a political characteristic also?
    Lastly, if we don’t venerate our soldiers, how will future generations be inspired to join the defence forces? Captain Vikram Batra became a household name and today is at par with Shaheed Bhagat Singh in instilling patriotism in youth. Remember, a country which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.

  8. We are taking casualties but enemy is taking more casualties. For ur kind information people die in combat n War. Dear Print stop being anti national n report sense not crap.
    In 2018 – 200 terrorists got killed n 95 army soldiers were martyred
    In 2019 – 1 80 terrorists killed 80 army soldiers died
    2020 – 65 terrorists killed 20 army soldiers martyred n rising so stop being cry baby of u can’t appreciate the efforts of Govt.
    Yes more needs to be done for the fighting man in Kashmir proper helmets bullet proof jackets n Better Assault rifles as compared to the outdated AK47 but still our boys are putting a dam good fight… Shame on u The Print for negative news reporting.

    • Armchair soldier – God help us is if you ever served in the forces with your level of ignorance, intellect and character, your data is wrong to start with. Example – 2018: 238 terrorists were killed and 86 security forces (only army does not fight, CAPF and Police also do) were KIA. State your sources or stop spreading BS.

      Give this “enemy is taking more casualties” speech face to face to the loved ones of those security forces KIA, very easy to be cold and clinical when not your loss. The enemy is using proxies, his own security forces are not taking those losses, yours are, so what nonsense are you spouting?

      Why has equipment not improved radically under this nationalistic govt whose efforts you want us to appreciate? People like you cant even question Modi and cant digest criticism of the establishment and then you pretend to be tough delivering sermons to others on “people die in combat”. Heard of a General called Patton and his immortal line about the soldier’s job not being to lay down his own life but to take that of the enemy?

      Is it only equipment that is lacking? What do you know about how RR operates in valley? If you served in RR tell me how its training and tactics have changed for the better fundamentally since its inception. Something went majorly wrong in the Handwara op that Five armymen got outgunned by two (or four) terrorists? Are you too scared to ask the army about the details? Have you asked how the explosive in Pulwama attack got through? No, we should Thali bajao and Candle jalao like puppets,right?

      People like you and other silly commenters here who cant even face the truth have blood of our braves on your hands, not those who are asking the uncomfortable questions. Ask any frontline soldier what he would want his citizens to be doing – empty praise for the govt or ensuring the people on the frotnlines have the best possible training, tactics and equipment

      • As a Kashmiri, explain the at least 4000 (some sources claim 40,000) arrests conducted, including children as young as 9 by the Indian army in the aftermath of the removal of artical 35 A and Section 370. Have you heard of the killing of Basit, the young 12 year old boy burnt in the Nawakadal fire. Torture is so common, almost all my uncles and cousins have suffered it, including me. I was beaten on a road while coming back from tutions, by the Indian army. We aren’t terrorist or stone pelters. Explain the blinding of a baby by the army. Her parents weren’t terrorist or stone pelters. Explain that. The accession to India was temporary, and done by an unjust king who enforced “begar” system, wherein people worked without pay. The number of Kashmiri pandits killed are 210. That is incomparable to the deaths of Kashmiri Muslims. In fact there “exodus”, was done by India who claimed they would be bought back in 3 months. It has been 30 years.

      • Right after you follow your advice to others. Its unintelligent responses like yours why we continue to bleed in Kashmit. All Josh, No Hosh!

    • How can you so easily call a media channel anti-national??? Attacking the press media in a liberal democracy is wrong.
      Try to understand what this article is trying to convey. I think this is the pressing need. Infia compared to other Armies like Russia, US, France loses a serious amount of precious security forces because of both technological and ideological problems.

  9. Time has indeed come to stop glorifying supreme sacrifices of our armed forces except in times of war or under unavoidable circumstances and instead the motto should be to kill the enemy and not be killed. We must change our perspective of bravery and valor to “how many finished?” rather than self sacrifice. We ought to put premium on lives of our soldiers and give them the best equipment to fight and not ask them to do harakiri like Col Sharma did. It takes years to make a professional solider and such trained and skilled force cannot be lost easily. Let Bollywood show hand fights and muscle power when the hero throws the gun he has in his hand and beats the villain enemy blue but in real life, Indian solider must use technology and with minimal physical work, finish off the enemy in no time. Hope Raksha Mantri makes the required changes in the mind set of the armed forces and equips them well.

  10. Well begun on its central point but then this piece also derails with unnecessary discussion on whether the right term is martyr or some other and some of our better Generals also obsess over this rather than single minded focus on why Army continues to incur high casualties in such ops.

    One, the basic equipment, training and tactics of RR units have not improved radically despite 30 years of fighting this war. This is solely the fault of army leadership. That Indian defence reporters have neither the competence nor the courage to ask pointed questions to Army HQ further contributes to this lack of accountability, Do we still know precisely what went wrong in Uri and what were the exact disciplinary measures taken on lapses?

    Two, since this govt took over everything from demonetization to NSG being sent to Srinagar (where are they by the way?) to abrogating Art 370 has been hyped as a masterstroke that will finish terror in the valley once and for all. It is the media’s fault for not exposing this nonsense and allowing govt and its cheerleaders to create a false narrative.

    Three, veterans – especially senior officers with a good track record that know precisely what is wring and what is required to fix these issues think their duty is only to write columns of criticism but nothing further. Are the lives of their comrades so cheap that these veterans cannot organize and exert a more robust and sustained pressure that forces media and govt to stop taking refuge behind the sacrifices.

    • Perhaps arm chair general who has not served a single minute in the armed forces and who does not have a jot of the knowledge about counter insurgency should keep his sordid thoughts to himself rather than preaching tactics to RR battalions. Apply your mind to what you know best and stop sermonising.

      • I know first hand of the gaps in tactics and training – and so does every competent and honest soldier who has served in the valley. It is called demanding accountability not sermonizing. To repeat people like you have the blood of our soldiers on their hands. Discover your spine and start asking political and military leadership some tough questions, Mr Armchair Surgeon!

  11. The insatiable desire of the government to celebrate anything and everything as an event is the root cause of the problem. The inherent desire of the militants to achieve an express entry to paradise on one hand and the government’s penchant to tom-tom any success to show the opposition that their muscular policy is yielding results, it is difficult to imagine that any viable results are likely to emerge.
    Kashmiris are Indians and have to be treated as such. They are being subjected to a double whammy of being Muslims and members of a state whose history is steeped in a string of broken accords and our neighbour’s constant interferences. While the latter has to be dealt with the utmost force, Kashmiris have to be treated as other Indian citizens. Where else has the government jailed so many opposition leaders in their quest to indianize the state? Where else have the other states been subjected to the indignity of their state identity being taken away suddenly and being declared an Union Territory? I agree that all issues should be discussed under the aegis of the Constitution but it should be remembered that the country, too, is responsible in equal measure in mistreating the Kashmiris.

  12. No one is looking at this encounter as a “revenge” stop putting words into the mouth of others. He was a goddamn Terrorist and he needed to be killed. Armed forces were looking for this pig sfor a long now, how can you say they killed him to “avenge” the deaths of our soldiers?

    Irresponsible reporting.

  13. Bhai tu .. zero dark thirty dekh ke aaya hai kya.. ground level pe kya hota hai tujhy ghanta nahi pata.. Kashmir is a war zone.. just like afganistan for many years.. casuàlities aayengi dono side se..

  14. We should glorify soldiers who are martyred. But better planning is necessary to avoid deaths of soldiers. We must investigate if soldiers are being put in harms way without proper planning. I salute the martyrs. I share SNEHESH’s concerns.

  15. An objectively written piece. Forget critical analysis these important security related issues deserve, in our country now social media euphoria is driving debates on TV channels. Nothing except calling names, chest thumping by politicians and anchors using our respected retired fauzis as bargaining tools. Dare Ask one tough question, you’ll be called anti national. Pathetic

  16. If we value life more than death, we should be thinking of Kashmir as more than a war zone.

  17. I agree with the columnist up to a point. Loss of every soldiers life is a serious issue . calling them martyrs is a matter of debate. However can we stop referring to each death on the other side as freedom fighter/ martyr etc. a terrorist is and should be referred to as such.
    The recent glorification of terrorist in the Pulitzer prize photos is certainly questionable.

  18. Nothing in the world can be one sided.
    Taking the high is not always an option.
    As long as our adversaries use the words martyr we are forced to use the same.
    You can’t beat your enemy by not playing the game but by being better at it.

  19. First time i have seen a post from the print supporting army …calling terrorist a terrorist not militant….
    And suggesting good ways to establish peace in kashmir.
    You guys have to do something with your creepy news titles…they scares everyone at first.. though this post was less leftist more nationalist.

  20. Increase in casualty of forces is due to tattling by Pulitzer winners, tubelight sleeper cells. Let’s round up anti nationals first.

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