After Ajaz Ashraf of Caravan reduced martyrs to their caste, he shouldn’t play victim when he is reduced to his religion

Should we reduce everything to people's religious and caste identities now? Should we reduce the highest expression of human existence, sacrificing one's own life so that their brethren can prosper, to mere caste politics? Is this the pits journalism fallen to?

Journalism is universally acknowledged to be one of the most favoured professions for sociopaths. If you ever wondered why you need only look at Ajaz Ashraf from The Caravan magazine who in his report has blatantly attempted to politicize the Indian security forces along caste lines and shockingly, Caravan, a leftist rag, has happily published it.

Article published on the Caravan

Under normal circumstances, focusing on the caste of martyred soldiers is the worst that any journalist would be capable of in a single report. However, Mr Ashraf here has crossed all limits of decency and has behaved in a manner that would even put Radia Tapes journalists to shame. In the report, Ashraf says quite clearly that he called the martyrs of the family to in their moment of unimaginable tragedy to inquire about their caste.

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He writes, “While the names of a few jawans revealed their respective caste identities, for those bearing caste-neutral last names, I spoke with their family members on telephone numbers registered with the CRPF. I also determined the caste identities through conversations with journalists who covered the jawans’ cremation; local politicians; social activists; sociologists; and by scanning media reports.”

Imagine this for a moment, you have lost a family member to a depraved terror attack. Your family is grieving, the atmosphere is heavy with sorrow. Then, you receive a call on your phone from a person who claims to be a journalist. He offers his condolence and sympathy and then soon after the formalities are over for him, he proceeds to address his actual business. “What is your caste?” he asks. How would you feel?

Your family just sacrificed his life for the interests of the nation. Even before your wounds have been healed and before his spirit ascended to reunite with the Gods he cherished, the entirety of his life, the immense magnitude of his sacrifice, the honour of serving the country, the glory and tragedy of a life cut so short by barbarism, the great affection and respect showered at his memory by his beloved countrymen, his entire existence and his legacy reduced to merely his caste, how would that you make feel as his parents, his sibling, his friend? How would you feel if the martyrdom of a person you love is used to the detriment of the very country he sacrificed his life for?

It’s a grave insult to the memory of our martyrs to reduce their sacrifice to their mere caste identity, it’s a grave insult to remember them by a feature of their identity they could not even choose. It wasn’t their choice to be born into a particular caste but it was their choice to serve their country, it was a choice that was made knowing full well what it entailed, it was a choice which was made while being fully aware that an unnatural death is very much a possibility. They did not choose their caste but their martyrdom was the consequence of the conscious choice they made to dedicate their lives to Bharat, and it is that choice that should define his memory, his legacy.

Ironically enough, the people who evaluate the martyrdom of our soldiers through the prism of caste vehemently deny the Islamic nature of terrorist organizations. According to them, people who sacrificed their lives for their country are SC/ST or OBC first and Indians second but someone who blows himself up with tons of RDX while screaming Allahu Akbar has nothing to do with Islam. These people will deny with a straight face the Islamic terror character of Kashmiri separatism even when the terrorists themselves claim to be fighting for Islam but will see reduce martyrdom to caste politics. These are the same people who call others bigots for observing that the overwhelming majority of those celebrating the Pulwama Terror Attack are Muslims.

Should we reduce everything to people’s religious and caste identities now? Should we reduce the highest expression of human existence, sacrificing one’s own life so that their brethren can prosper, to mere caste politics? Is this the pits journalism fallen to?

If Ajaz Ashraf does not want to be reduced to his religious identity, then he should refrain from reducing our martyrs to their caste identity and use them for his petty, distasteful, disgusting, inhuman politics. As a consequence of his report, people will reduce him to his religious identity as well. People will argue that the report, which is clearly intended to hurt the interests of our country by inciting communal disharmony among our armed forces, was motivated by his religious identity.

People will wonder whether he too is a radical Islamist. People will wonder whether he too looks down upon our Indian Army. People will wonder whether he is anti-Hindu owing to his religious identity. People will wonder whether he is trying to give covering fire to the radical Islamists who carry out suicide bombings, owing to his religious identity. When this happens, the author would proceed to own the perennial victim card that has been accorded to him by the ‘liberal’ cabal. But our murdered, mangled martyrs are fair game?

When people wonder, they would be called ‘hyper-nationalists’. They would be called ‘Hindu terrorists”. Some journalists like Barkha Dutt would wonder when the country descended into majoritarianism and ultimately, why Modi should resign. But who inflicted the first wound? Who behaved like a vulture circling a dead body to peddle their agenda, the dead body of our brave soldiers?

People will argue that like so many people from his community who have been celebrating the terror attack. he too was motivated to hurt India’s interests and attempt to destabilize the country by his religion. And he and his ilk will not be able to offer any legitimate counter whatsoever because, in his report, he has reduced nationalism and patriotism to caste identities. If nationalism can be reduced to caste identities, then there’s no reason why anti-national behaviour cannot be reduced to religious identity.

More importantly, the obvious motive of the report is to weaken India by fueling caste divisions within the Armed Forces cannot be ignored. At a time when our neighbouring country is using Indian media reports to justify their persecution of an Indian national they have captured and could very well put to death, it is perhaps time for the Government to consider that a significant section of our media is hand in gloves with the enemies of our nation and is publishing propaganda to serve their interests.


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