Monday, April 12, 2010

This is how we treat 'em

This is simply stomach-churning, mind boggling atrocious:

. . . at 2 am on April 7, hours before Chidambaram’s farewell to the dead and barely 18 hours after the CRPF combatants were gunned down, it is only the angry lowly officer, a sub-inspector, representing the State at this government hospital at Jagdalpur town, 150 km north of the site of the deadly Maoist attack. It must be said that he is here on his own and not detailed for the job.

No chief minister, no state home minister, no other minister, no member of Parliament, no MLA, no director-general of police (Vishwa Ranjan, a man popular with journalists in all seasons), no chief secretary, no home secretary, no inspector-general (TJ Longkumer, who Chidambaram later told journalists had planned the dead men’s fatal foray into the forests), no district magistrate (frenzied a few hours later as reporters surged at Chidambaram’s press conference because he didn’t want anyone to throw a shoe at the Union home minister), no superintendent of police, not one high-ranking officer of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), to which 75 of the dead belonged, were here; just the very angry CRPF sub-inspector. “They were like my children,” he says.

Typically, the survivors mattered less than the dead. Head Constable Raj Bahadur and Constables Pramod Kumar Singh and Baljeet Singh are lucky to survive the carnage, having taken bullets everywhere but in the guts. A hundred paces from the mortuary, they lie writhing in pain on dirty hospital linen stained from previous occupants’ dried blood. Only one has a mosquito net. There are no doctors or nurses. Two constables who’ve come on their own watch over their wounded mates. The ward is a hovel; the toilet is a stinking blocked drain. “Our officers are home sleeping,” an attendant says.

Five hours later, just minutes before Chidambaram and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh visit the heroes, bureaucrats and the hospital’s administrators fuss in panic over the non-functioning air-conditioning. “Can’t it run for just 15 minutes?” asks one. Bottles of intravenous fluids now hang from their stands, their needles pushed into the arms of the wounded. These weren’t here six hours earlier. The linen has changed. The hovel is now spic and span. A couple hours later, Chidambaram chokes at a press conference, grieving the dead and expressing his resolve to wipe out the Maoists.

I know this is not a new thing for our country, but this is just sick. This is supposedly under our "best home minister" ever. And while those brave CPRF soldiers sacrifice away their lives, Mr Palipapan Chidambram gets to be the hero because he supposedly "resigned" from his ministry. You know what, "PC", if you really feel that you can't continue doing your job anymore, stay at home and let someone else do it. Otherwise, stfu and do what you were appointed to do and stop acting like a prissy teenage drama queen.

I always wonder what makes all those poor people join our armed forces. The pay is crap, they are most likely to die in combat because of some stupid bureaucrat or politician and if they happen to survive, no one is there to take care of their injuries. Most of them probably do it out of pure-patriotism, for a state which gives nary a thought about them.

Even reality show contestants have better working conditions.

Also, the phrase "Can't it run for 15 minutes?" encapsulates the philosophy of "governance" that is prevalent in India.

Yes, we're Incredible!

Incredibly insensitive, incredibly ignorant and incredibly idiotic.


arayans said...

"no comment."

after almost too long, i've felt so angry that i'd much rather not speak, in fear that i may become too irrational with spite..

especially after a recent event on my institute's campus, which has been stopped from showing-up in-public (via news/etc), and i'm almost violently angry about the callous disregard for human life in this nation of 'too many burdening too little'.

arayans said...

on second thoughts, there is stuff i must state.

for one, you were perfectly correct in pointing a finger at PC for his cowardice. but the manner in which the media reported the story, and the perfect unity among each media channel in showcasing him as a hero - just goes to show that the so-called freedom on the press is completely dead today. the government meddles too deeply into our media channels, and does so at whim. not one of the newspapers/channels had the guts to stand up and call his actions for what they were - actions of giving up. true, he owned-up to his actions and took responsibility for the same - he probably should get a chocolate for being honest - but to be branded a hero for it.. ow.

and secondly, i disagree with your point about how the poor and downtrodden sign-up as security personnel out of patriotism. the driving factors are very different from what you assume them to be. and instead of listing them all down, i'd gently like to suggest that you (and the readers, if they may choose to) could search around a bit (on blogs, media editorials, etc) and unearth the real reasons. trust me, the reasons are there :) but the smiley doesn't reflect the depressing results that you shall stumble on.

Big Foot said...

you forgot to add that we will also forget Dantewada soon, maybe we already have, but will remember forever the team that will win this year's Premier Mujra League (IPL).

Ketan said...


I'm afraid this might anger you, but the article seems a bit sensationalist, & to put it mildly, pro-Maoist.

I am surprised how the article's author has whitewashed tribals' living in camps as coercion by salva judum. This should not be possible to do as by his own admission Maoists are much stronger than the 'forces'.

From what I have learned from my friend from Bengal, locals do not support Maoists, they cannot resist them. In fact, priorly CPM (currently ruling Bengal), and now, TMC, have both used Maoists to win elections. In large parts of Bengal to the north of Kolkata, most of the elections historically have been won through Maoist support. There'd be open threats of destroying the entire village if the candidate supported by Maoists would not be elected. That's what my friend's account had been.

I do not know if things are significantly different in Chhatisgarh.

Moreover, Maoists have liked over 350 tribals & over 10 doctors. If TV news are to be believed, just recently 9 people had been killed in a village in Jharkhand by the Naxals. Given these facts I don't know how wise it would be to believe tribals support Maoists wholeheartedly. TimesNOW had shown a village in Dantewada itself, wherein a village elder had said on camera that Maoists would take their children forcibly away for arms training, & if parents objected, they would be killed/beaten. In the same village, widow had said that her husband had been hung before her & the children. Both the people had spoken into the camera. I am not ruling out the possibility that Times NOW people would've tutored them, etc. (in line with my usual skepticism of the media), but still we can provisionally assume the villagers to be speaking the truth.

The reason I'm pointing all this out is because the author has given a polar opposite picture of Maoists, as in, they're the representatives of tribals and all that (crap).

I would just advise taking the report with pinch of salt.

I am honestly surprised by Tehelka's attack on a Congress leader as I would usually consider them pro-congress.

But then one thing that has started becoming clear is, one has to start making distinction between UPA & the Gandhi family.

I feel somewhat sorry (sic) for the Union cabinet ministers as they have been merely relegated to the role of spokespersons....

Ketan said...

...They have very little power, all the major policies are determined by 'the family', who take the credit for good things, and cleverly go silent when such things happen.

As to the description he have of the hospital's working, it sounds suspect, honestly, because even when someone is injured only minorly, one of the first things done is to establish intravenous access. Since the author was talking of a/c, the soldiers must have been in the ICU. Because I do not expect most of the government-run hospital's regular wards to have airconditioners. I have not seen the picture slide show, but if they have indeed shown things the way they have described (without IV-access), then I must be wrong. IV fluids are necessary to maintain blood pressure (because of bleeding), maintain blood glucose level, & the same access is used to deliver multiple drugs (including antibiotics to prevent infections). Without all this, there is grave risk to severely injured patients' lives.

All this I'm pointing out only in response to: "Bottles of intravenous fluids now hang from their stands, their needles pushed into the arms of the wounded. These weren't here six hours earlier".

Because without IV-fluids, severely injured soldiers would've very likely died!!

Honestly, I believe if rest of the soldiers had died (indicating severity of injuries of survivors), & these people could survive only indicates they might have got a dedicated care. Of course, all these are conjectures.

I'm not saying there's no corruption, callousness or inefficiency in Indian administration, but it seems to have been exaggerated in the account.

Also, Tehelka seems to be Maoist sympathizer. Their employee, if I get her name correctly, Soma Chaudhary, who had interviewed Arundhati Roy, had appeared on NDTV's 'Big Fight', supporting the Maoist cause. It is possible, this could be an 'institutional bias'. So I would take reports coming from them on this topic with added skepticism.

Coming to overall condition of soldiers, CRPF is a paramilitary force, so probably their condition could bad, but at least army people seem to be satisfied with facilities. I had talked to a soldier posted at Nathula pass (Sikkim), where carrying food is extremely difficult, yet, he'd said they had no problems with food, used to have plenty of dry fruits, fatty food (required for survival in cold terrain) & his only complaint was having to stay away from family for long....

Ketan said...

...Lastly, I hope you do not consider me to be schizophrenic for being so suspicious of things, & always looking for attempts at distortion, but this once I couldn't help pointing these things out because Tehelka's description is in sharp contrast with my understanding of the situation.

Also, I find it wrong to blame a cabinet minister sitting in Delhi for wrongs that happen so far away.

Yes, media & Congress were wrong in making a hero out of Chidambaram, but that issue is different from what share of responsibility he should shoulder for what happened in Dantewada. I find it difficult to believe this incident would not have occurred had the home minister been someone else. As I said before these ministers are having to face the music for policies determined by someone else.

As to at what level government has malfunctioned, probably it's wrong prioritization in defense purchases. NewsX had pointed out most of this year's spending was on fighter planes & missiles, instead of spending for land-combat. Purchase of helmets & bullet proof jackets was shelved. Rs. 30,000 crore of the allotted 54,000 crore were returned unspent. But all this was about Ministry of Defense, and not the Home Ministry. Don't know if such insensible decisions were taken by Home Ministry, too.

We're in denial about the seriousness of threat posed by Maoists. They are probably getting funding from China & training from Philippines. Probably, unfortunately such disasters will keep on occurring, Chidambaram or no Chidambaram because of inherent strength of Maoists. Indian forces have try to minimize 'collateral damage' to tribals, whereas Maoists thrive of collateral or even direct damage they inflict on tribals as they would be able to coerce them into submission and support. I feel these tricky challenges faced by Indian forces should be borne in mind.

Take care.

Ketan said...

*Moreover, Maoists have killed over 350...

Over Rated said...

@Aryan: It's good to rant when you're angry. That's what the internet is for. Also, another thing the internet can be used for is anonymous reporting of the events that took place in your college, which no one is covering?

Also, I said "most of them" because not everyone signs up because of their so-called "patriotic" duty. I have spoken to quite a few actual "poor & downtrodden" people who have signed up for the armed forces, and let's st say their reasons were less than kosher.

@Big Foot: That's why I said, "Incredibly insensitive". To be fair, I don't find anything wrong with people going crazy for the IPL, except the fact that I would unfollow them on twitter or not speak to them on the street because that's the only thing they can talk about.

As human beings, we tend to forget all tragic events. That is how history end up repeating itself, maybe? Espl. in India, we loathe to learn from our mistakes.

Over Rated said...

@Ketan: Everyone has a bias. Some are able to hide it well, some are not. And Tehelka of course has a grudge with the BJP, their holding company was literally destroyed during the NDA era.

Also, how can Tehelka have a Congress bias and also sympathize with the maoists? Both these entities are on different sides of the battlefield right now.

I do not believe that Sonia and/or Rahul are running the day-to-day activities of the government. They may sign-off on the major policy decisions, but unlike the caricature, not every file goes to them for approval. It would be humanly impossible to do that.

Also, it is appropriate to blame the central home minister because it is his responsibility to make arrangements for provision of medial aid to injured central personnel. I mean, how about a plan B, for cripes sake?

Gajendra said...