Communal overtones in Sachar Committee queries: Major General Karim

via HK Correspondent published on February 19, 2006

NEW DELHI: Afsir Karim, a former Major general of the Indian Army, has termed the move by the UPA Government to go for a headcount of the Muslims in the Indian armed forces as dangerous and carry political and communal overtones. Speaking to “The Pioneer”, a respected national daily, the Major General pooh-poohed the queries by the Rajender Sachar Committee about a demand by former army commander VS Budhwar during the Kargil operation in 1999 that all Muslims be evicted from Turtok, a village along the Line of Control in Ladakh.


“Kargil has a predominantly Muslim population. During the course of an Army operation, it is customary for its officers to tell the local people of an area to evacuate it for their own safety. This is what happened at Turtok but is now in danger of being painted in communal colours,” the Major General told The Pioneer in an interview which has been carried in the Sunday Pioneer dated Feb 19.


Major General Karim points out that most Muslims in the country do not consider the armed forces as a career option. “This is because a majority of Indian Muslims prefer to take up their ancestral professions. For the Muslims in the country, being a soldier is a less attractive proposition than joining one’s father’s profession,” said Major General Karim. He also pointed out that the higher percentage of Muslims in the British Indian Army during the pre-independence days was because of the fact that people in the Punjab and Balochistan provinces preferred to be soldiers. “Now that these provinces are in Pakistan, how can the Indian Army get the services of the Punjabis and the Balochis,?”  asked  the Major General.


Karim has recounted in the interview his days in the Indian Army and the secular ethos of the armed forces. “Service in the Indian Army is voluntary and recruitment is not done on a communal basis. The Indian Army is a professional fighting force which has its task cut out. The order for a Muslim headcount belies a lack of understanding of the secular ethos of the Indian Army as well as a failure to realize the importance of the duties of the armed forces,” the veteran of many a wars blasted the Sachar Committee queries.  

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