Encounter with India’s protesting soldiers

Bikram Vohra with Havildar (sergeant) Bishamber Singh, 87

Bikram Vohra in Delhi to meet soldiers seeking One Rank One Pension

Bikram Vohra with Havildar (sergeant) Bishamber Singh, 87
Bikram Vohra with Havildar (sergeant) Bishamber Singh, 87

The man you see in this picture is Havildar (sergeant) Bishamber Singh. He is 87 years old and is now the face of the protest by ex-servicemen for their demand of One Pension One Rank.

Because he is the soldier who was manhandled by the police and what has got everyone fired up is that the police touched his medals which he had pinned to his chest.

Ergo, that is seen in military parlance as a hugely dishonorable act.

I was talking to him yesterday and we were surrounded by a squadron of Generals and Admirals and Air Marshals and dozens of officers and men who had probably put in 100,000 years of service in uniform.

The Convenor, Major General Satbir Singh and his very active PR Manager Col Anil Kaul who has himself suffered multiple injuries in war informed us that the Commissioner of Police has asked them to come over and make a complaint. This has been rejected on the grounds that there should first be an apology.

What is there to complain about, the whole nation saw the harassment. In fact, the three point simple agenda for the meeting with the Prime Minister should be:

a) An apology from the government and the police for the highhanded conduct.
b) A date that is final for implementing the OROP.
c) No disbanding of the 67 day old Gandhian nonviolent protest until the date is offered.

I, for one, don’t like the idea of anyone going on a hunger strike to death. Service officers don’t do that. Leave it to crummy politicians to take that route.
These men and women should take the parade ground route which they largely have; discipline, dignity under fire and togetherness.

And when they do go to meet the PM they should inculcate three basic premises in their strategy. Mr. Modi is on record as having given his word under the flag on Aug 15. That is a massive defence. If it wasn’t for the police over reaching itself the sympathy would have dried up and support for the PM been tangible.

He is extremely gracious and will be understanding and he is also an outstanding orator on his own turf which is formidable. The aura of the office is also intimidating. Every officer knows that.
Imagine if he turns around and says, trust me, don’t you have faith in me, would I take making a pledge under the flag lightly, it is going to put the delegation on the back foot.
There is no answer.
Which is why no talking, march in silently, salute, sit down if asked, give your three points and let the government do the talking.

The more the OROP reps talk the more ground they will lose. If they get into argument they will surrender the initiative.
Silence is their best weapon.