Head count of Muslims should be debated nationwide

via Raghavan Nair published on February 21, 2006

Reaction from the general public and even the main opposition parties with regard to the head count of Muslims in the armed forces failed to reflect the real danger behind such a move from the Government. The NDA leaders met the President and expressed their concern. Immediately after that, during the Presidential address of both houses of parliament, the President justified such a move. It is common knowledge that during the Presidential address of the houses, what the President reads out are the material provided to him by the Government and he is only the reader. However, what the Defense Minister mentioned in the House about this very serious issue was just a brushing aside and in fact the occasion he used to project the former BJP lead Government as the one that tried to spread communalism in various fronts. Every concerned citizen in the country expected a nationwide protest from the nationalist organizations. But here again, we failed to maintain consistency in pushing forward the issue until met with desired results. It may be due to the general habit of having a distanced relation between the Armed Forces, the public and the politicians when it comes to policy matters relating to the Defense. But here the whole thing must be seen as an encroachment to the very secular structure of the defense services and as a test doze of some major package they have in store to implement.


It is true that only a soldier can understand the importance of having a fighting force that adhere strictly to military canons. Discipline in the three services is being maintained in accordance with the Army Act, Navy Act and Air Force Act passed by the Parliament which carries powers equal to Indian Penal Code. In those Acts, there are no ways to dilute the articles with the pretexts like minority status or rights. That is why former Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General R.S. Kadhyan has taken up this issue with the Supreme Court. In the petition he has mentioned that the recent order from Govt. for the head count of Muslims in armed forces shall sow the seeds of communalism in the secular system now prevailing in the armed forces; thereby the government must immediately withdraw its order in that regard. He added that, any such move shall weaken the morale, professionalism and brotherhood prevalent in the armed forces and will have far reaching consequences.  He has also requested the court for ordering the government to scrap the recommendations made by Justice Rajinder Sachchar Committee to the Government and that the Committee must be asked to furnish to the Court, the circumstances that lead for conducting such a survey in the armed forces, with all the evidences they have collected in regard.


Even though retired, a General has limitations in moving against the Government, but still ventured for it due to the apathy he might have observed from the political parties and the general public. Such a silence in fact amounts to agreeing to the ongoing process and it is surprising that none of the politicians, advocates or concerned citizens moved the court in this regard.  A case in court always get influenced with public concern about the issue; thereby it is the duty of every person to propagate through every possible media and channel to keep this issue alive and the BJP must take up this as a main issue that should be debated nationwide at every platform.


Instead of touching every issue, let us practice consistency in follow up action and keeping the issue alive until solved. Don’t you think that this is something more serious than the cartoons of someone whose face I have not ever seen even as photo?  See the worldwide reaction and even in our home state?  So, the problem is not with the issue, but our perspective. Endeavour to change that, we shall succeed. 


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