Handwara encounter in which we lost five of our soldiers- Col Ashutosh Sharma, Maj Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh, Lance Naik Dinesh and sub-inspector Sageer Ahmad Pathan was one of the deadliest counter-terrorist operations since Pulwama attack in 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh led the country in paying tributes to the true sons of Nation. The families of martyrs despite the tragic loss showed exceptional courage. The heart-rending photos of grieving family members that were shared thousands of times on social media drew an overwhelmingly emotional response difficult to be put into words. The families appeared composed, brave and proud at the ultimate sacrifice by their dear ones. These families deserve a salute for their fortitude from a grateful Nation.
Alas we just end up making the fallen soldiers just statistics. Just two days after Handwara, there was another tragic incident in Jammu and Kashmir when three CRPF personnel lost their lives in a terrorist attack in Kupwara district. Encounters in Jammu and Kashmir are on the rise. The stepped up terrorist’s activities only confirm that change from Statehood to a UT has not mitigated the unrest in J&K nor has it stopped Pakistan from fomenting trouble. The scrapping of special status earlier given to J&K was indeed India’s internal matter.
The recurring encounters and increasing number of casualties is a matter of concern showing that even during unprecedented coronavirus crisis, Pakistan’s terror factories keep running with their nefarious designs. Is Pakistan trying to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak and hit Indian soldiers when the entire country is engaged in saving lives through a lockdown? It is time for India to strike hard against Pakistan. Already India has achieved success as security forces have killed Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Riyaz Naikoo in Pulwama district, just days after the Handwara encounter.
Naikoo was on the run for eight years and carried a reward of 12 lakh on his head. Therefore, his neutralization will certainly be a blow to militancy in Kashmir.
However, a point that we all need to ponder over is that when the terrorists and their sponsors in Pakistan have accelerated their anti-India tirade, back home in India, social media platforms- WhatsApp, Facebook timeline posts, tweets, insta were replete with more messages relating to actors, Irfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor than the real heroes. Some media houses are also privy to it, which speaks volumes of misplaced priorities of our countrymen. There is nothing wrong in eulogizing reel heroes but real heroes deserve salutation. We have to realize before it is too late that we have lived without release of a movie for all these days during the lockdown, but we won’t be able to live even for a day if soldiers are not there on the front line.