Recently, LT GEN H S Panag, in his piece for The Print and Ajai Shukla in his column for South China Morning Post picked a 30 seconds exchange between Rajat Sharma and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the former’s popular chat show Aap Ki Adalat, claiming that the minister admitted that Indian Army desecrates the bodies of dead Pakistani soldiers, something which Pakistan has never admitted to doing with the corpses of Indian soldiers, despite substantial proof. They argue that this “admission” puts India in the spot over violating the 1949 Geneva Convention which prohibits the despoiling of dead bodies of enemy soldiers.
This, as usual, is a classic case of spin doctoring and putting things out of context. One doesn’t really need to be a defence expert- whether self-proclaimed or actual- to understand that the exchange between the anchor and the minister is purely in metaphorical terms. The entire discussion in the segment is over the mock allegation of India being unable to restrain Pakistan’s terrorist activities, and the minister is throughout seen as asserting how Indian army has been constantly retaliating to the sinister activities by Pakistan along the border and in Kashmir.
Hence, the so called admission is basically an admission of paying Pakistan back in kind. Nowhere in the entire 15-20 minutes segment it is mentioned either by the anchor or the minister that India desecrates the bodies of Pakistani soldiers. The term kat rahe hain is used purely metaphorically. In fact, it is quite funny how these people skipped the part just five minutes before the ‘beheading’ statement, where the minister is seen ruing how Pakistan never accepts the bodies of the dead which is handed over to them after following the due procedure. If anything else, this statement by Nirmala Sitharaman only emphasizes how Indian army, known for its exemplary discipline and respect for protocol, follows the Geneva Convention very strictly.
This omission on the part of senior columnists, who also happen to be ex-servicemen, looks less like an honest error and more like a motivated slander. What’s more suspicious is the timing of this allegation which came more than two weeks after the episode was aired at a time when the entire nation was reveling in a sense of pride over the surgical strike against Pakistan in 2016. This raises pertinent questions such as is this controversy being created over the frustration that the current Modi-led government has guts to give it back to Pakistan in the language it understands? Or is it aimed at putting down the morale of the armed forces at a time when the entire nation is celebrating their valor? Funnily enough, one of the two articles even mentions how under Imran Khan, Pakistani army has found a leadership it can trust. This, coming from a defence expert, is not just naive, but also laughable, because the entire world knows that the new Pakistani PM is merely a puppet in the hands of the army, much like the country’s some other Prime Minister. It would be naive to believe that no ulterior agenda was the motivating factor for these two columnists in twisting the words of Nirmala Sitharaman as this is a clearly playing into the hands of ISPR (propaganda arm of Pakistani military establishment) which frequently parrots the notion that Indian soldiers are the oppressors and engage in inhuman practices.
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