I caught the glimpses of the Oscar winning movie ‘The Hurt Locker‘ some time back. Though I haven’t seen the complete movie, the glimpses were enough to unsettle my thoughts. The movie is about the plight of a bomb diffusion squad stationed in Iraq, deployed to help the American forces to combat the possible time bombs and suicide or human bombers. The movie is not only about how they diffuse they diffuse the bombs, but also about the plight of the team who is required to fight in challenging conditions for reasons not known to many.
It also made me remember an interview of a soldier Indian Express had published long time ago. He was deployed with the Border Security forces and was required to fight the Bodo ultras. I guess the character of Tarun Chauhan in the movie Tango Charlie was based on him. Today the news papers are full of stories on the Maoist insurgence and how they ran their armed business under our very own nose and without much ado. They have recently slain 73 policemen in one of the deadliest attacks on armed forces by the Maoists in India. A curious journalist interviewed Mr. Vishwa Ranjan, DIG of Chhattisgarh and asked him if we could use air strikes to negate them. To which he said, ‘Air strikes? we are fighting our own men who seem distracted.’ You know how it feels?
Few years back, my own inquisitiveness (probably after watching the movie Tango Charlie) had taken me to the house of my distant cousin, an Army man. A Major today with the Southern Command, he was an officer then, probably leading a company/platoon (sorry I’m not too familiar with the jargon). He had spent a considerable time at the borders in Kashmir and Rajasthan. He had been physically hurt few times during the war times. But he had said, the physical pain is meaningless when you are at war. What matters is the mental toughness. So I asked him a question, ‘What motivates you (or any soldier) to fight?’ The love of motherland and the sense of duty towards the nation was an obvious answer. And then I asked him, what motivates the Americans to fight? Or for that matter any armed force who goes on a rescue mission is motivated by what? He said he didn’t know what would have kept him going if he was with these forces such as the ‘drones’. He recalled his own horrors of the Kargil war when they were given a task to drive out the terrorist outfits in the Dras region. He recalled many incidences where they had to kill young boys pleading for life, just because they had a gun in their hand. He was a part of the platoon who had rescued about 20 young Kashmiri teens from a camp. But there were many who could not be rescued and who could have been killed by their bullets. The army didn’t have much choice but to kill them, though they knew the so called terrorists on the other side of the bullet were as clueless as themselves about the politically motivated wars.
In the end he agreed that most of the times it is the sense of duty that keeps the soldiers going. It is not possible to keep a calm against the maddened but equally innocent young guns… and kill them. But it has now become their job. They need to satisfy their employers. Sadly, for most of these armed men on the borders or in places like Iraq, Afghanistan or any other such troubled country, the employer and the motivator is not their country. It is the politicians.
It is a locker you wouldn’t want to open. Because it is a locker that hurts!