“Martyrs make myths”

Terrorists never want to get caught alive. So, if they get seriously injured they always make sure to leave some live explosives around them. Army and NSG officials are aware of this and therefore they use specialized equipment like remote-controlled robots to move a body. But, Late Lt Col Niranjan, NSG bomb squad commander, who recently lost his life in the Pathankot attacks ignored this precaution and paid for it with his life and in the process injured four others. Lt Col Niranjan was also not wearing a blast-shield uniform.

When an unsigned editorial “Martyr’s rites” published in the Telegraph raised these points and questioned Lt Col Niranjan’s martyrdom, it irked many. The editorial went on saying that “The question transgresses the customary injunction regarding not speaking ill of the dead. But the transgression is urgently required because it opens up a line of enquiry, seldom pursued, concerning the falling standards of discipline and security in the Indian army.”

Many on social media protested against the Telegraph’s editorial team. A Facebook page by the name “Indian Army Fans”, published a post condemning the article and explained what exactly happened during the operation. According to it, “two terrorists were killed at the same spot. The second terrorist’s body which was dragged closer to Lt Col Niranjan by colleagues had a hidden chest belt based explosive designed to get triggered if disturbed. Lt Col Niranjan realised it and screamed informing colleagues to take cover, simultaneously rolling over to the dead body, lifting it in the air and trying to throw it away. However, the explosive got triggered and ruptured both his hands, chest cavity, and one side of his face.” The post further­ said that Lt Col Niranjan was not wearing a blast-shield as it is heavy and non-flexible, and is not suitable for operations involving huge land terrain.­­

It’s the job of a journalist to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions. But, is there ever a good time to raise them? And was the Telegraph wrong in publishing such an editorial? Moreover, the issue of Pathankot is still fresh in the minds of the readers and if such questions aren’t raised now then they will become stale later. No doubt Lt Col Niranjan deserves the tag of a martyr, he deserves to be honoured but a probe into this matter is certainly needed. We cannot ignore the fact that four other soldiers were also severely injured. In the quest to be fair to the family of Lt Col Niranjan we cannot be unfair to the families of these four soldiers. Truth should be brought out for the greater good of all.

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