India and Pakistan have locked their horns yet again. Recalling the horrors of war, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur while speaking at a function where he presented the 17th Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award to diplomat and author Gopalkrishna Gandhi, called it a very “unnerving experience.”
In 1965, when he was a boy in a Jammu town, Justice Thakur recalled: “After 18-20 days of fighting, a gentleman, Colonel Roop Singh, who used to bring the spoils of war from Pakistan, took us to the territories we had occupied. That is when I got to see the graveyards of war. Bodies had been buried just on the surface, with a layer of soil over them, because nobody had time to dig proper graves. I saw feet in Army shoes being eaten by dogs.”
CJI added, “It is a very, very unnerving experience… There were all types of rumours floating around — of Pakistani paratroopers coming and killing Indians. The city became desolate because people started fleeing. Only two shops did good business — a trunk-repair shop where people took their old trunks for repair so that they could lock away their valuables before leaving, and the other was a poultry shop because whoever remained behind thought they might as well have something good to eat,” he said.
Thakur said that many in the audience, including the students of Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management had never seen war.
“Even lighting a lamp or a cigarette after sundown would be a problem. Neighbours would protest since any light seen from above could make one a target of the enemy.”
Meanwhile, Gopalkrishna Gandhi in his speech talked about all that had gone wrong with politics and politicians to highlight the fact that Shastri belonged to an era when politics in its present form would have been unrecognisable.
“Would Shastri recognise Indian politics now? He would not. He was the very antithesis of Indian politics as we know it today. Earlier, you needed to know India to be in Indian politics. Now, you need to know politics,” said Gandhi.