Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The sacrosanct soldier

For quite sometime now, I've wanted to confront the notion of the 'super great' British soldier that I've come across in the media and in group discussions back in the college.  A few months ago there was a large debate in media about some British soldiers being tried for violations of human rights while on duty on foreign soil.  There was a huge outcry against the trial itself. The basic argument was that they are men who braved all odds and circumstances, fought on behalf of us all, faced life-threats, were known for their gallantry... The same reasons even in college groups.

Today I got my chance!! In class there was a case study about a group of protesters being prosecuted because they shouted spiteful slogans during a march of British soldiers.  The protesters had sought permission earlier to protest and were all legal, except for going overboard in shouting inflammatory slogans in public.  I was for the prosecution. Others too were, but their main argument was that they shouted against 'British soldiers'!!  Even the professor spoke of how esteemed the profession of a soldier is and all that stuff!  I objected!  I said the act itself was unhealthy, irrespective of against whom it was carried out. And then I added...

The esteem and respect rightly accorded to a soldier for his bravery in battlefield is not to be treated as a license to do anything or get away with any offence.  While on the battle ground, he follows orders, and he is culpable only to the degree that he followed the orders.  However when he attacks a group of militants - that is the view from this side; for those on the other side, they are 'freedom fighters' - he is still right.  Kills them. All that is right and even justified.  But the ill-treatment he metes out to the residents or family members of the 'militants' of the place after the event is in no way justified.  He ought to give account and take responsibility for his misdeeds, no matter how great and bravely he fought the 'militants'.

There was no more discussion on that point! 

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