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Fortunately, the picture of Indian Army’s elite commandos engaged in the Myanmar ambush flashed by hungry and hyperactive national media is fake. The rat race to claim ‘ownership’ over the picture published two years back by a national daily was a huge irony. The commandos grinning with ‘V’ sign in the backdrop of an army helicopter was an highly unlikely posture for a troop after killing so many– we don’t know the numbers, some say 20 some 100 – people, although they were militants. Besides, the location of the picture appears to be a plateau with a barren hill in the background, which is again an unlikely scene in the dense forests along Indo-Myanmar border. Even if there is such a spot, the commandos will not expose themselves in the volatile region just to get photographed. The soldiers look like a group after a successful drill, not real operation. Another common question that should strike the mind is that as to why the defence ministry or ministry of home affairs would reveal identity of the nation’s special commandos in a blatant manner. We should have reposed some confidence on their common sense – they did such a job that nation could not do for ages.

Besides the competition among the various media, there is another reason for this picture going viral – craze for revenge. There were even television anchors going berserk celebrating the army’s act of “neutralising” (means killing) Manipuri-Naga militants. Despite their base on foreign soil, they still have sympathy left for them among the local public. The national media have totally ignored the fact that celebrating the death of their near and dear ones might make the local people feel alienated.  We should remember that after the Kargil war, it was Indian soldiers who buried the dead Pakistani jawans, as their government refused to claim the bodies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a timely move by sending DoNER minister Jitendra Singh to Manipur soon after the surgical strike. The visit was vital to reassure the Manipuri public that the war is against insurgency and not the people of the land. Significantly, there was no report of any army access in the whole operation. The army and the government have to be credited for it, but there is no reason for celebration. Let the army do their job. A national celebration will not make them any better or the insurgent outfits any weaker.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on June 13, 2015)

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