Army veteran declines to be present in a function to be attended by Defence Minister, CM
Disgusted with government policies and practices with respect to armed forces, Suresh D Karnik, hero of 1971 war, declines an invitation to attend a function to be attended by Manohar Parrikar and Devendra Fadnavis
Veteran Wing Commander Suresh Damodar Karnik has politely declined an invitation extended by Shiv Shahir Babasaheb Purandare for a function to be held on 28th May in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
In an email reply to Dr Purandare, Wing Commander Karnik, a recipient of the Vir Chakra for his role in the 1971 War, said, "We are unable to accept the invite as we find that in the present dispensation our respected political leaders seem to pursue a Policy towards the Armed Forces which imbibes 'NATO' as our India Policy viz 'NO ACTION TALK ONLY'."
"Alongside the Babus who formulate, guide, decide on behalf of our national leaders seem to be pursuing a policy of inching towards making Defence Forces into a Defiant Force. Being a diehard Nationalist Indian I strongly oppose the above stated Policies," he said.
Wing Commander Karnik was a combat fighter pilot during his service in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and participated in several wars and battles. He actively participated in the acts like 'beyond the call of duty' missions in life threatening environments in the combat zones against enemies.
During the operations against Pakistan in December 1971, (the then) Squadron Leader Suresh Damodar Karnik served as a flight commander of a bomber squadron, the No. 16 Squadron, know as Black Cobras of the IAF. He flew six very important and difficult missions, by day as well as by night, in the Western and Eastern Sectors. These missions involved day and night bombing raids over enemy airfields and interdiction of enemy boats by day. The interdiction missions were flown against a large volume of flak, resulting in damage to his aircraft by enemy fire. Despite this, he pressed home his attacks and destroyed a number of enemy boats. He also carried out a day bombing raid over Chittagong airfield in the face of heavy antiaircraft fire. During this mission, he bombed and destroyed a large oil dump.
For this act, Wing Commander Suresh Karnik was awarded the Vir Chakra, the third in precedence in the wartime gallantry awards, which comes after the Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra.
Recalling the advice given by Chanakya to Mauryan King Chandragupta ages ago, the veteran Wing Commander, said, "The Armed Forces are the successors of the Mauryan soldier even today."
Chanakya had said, "While the Magadha citizenry endeavours to make the state prosper and flourish, the Mauryan soldier guarantees that the state continues to exist! He is the silent 'sine qua non' of our very being, the absolute prerequisite of all imperial welfare and prosperity!"
"To this man, O Rajadhiraja (Chandragupta), you owe a debt for that very guarantee, which is the vital key-stone of our nationhood arch. Please, therefore, see to it, suo motu, that you are constantly alive and sensitive to the soldier's legitimate dues in every form and respect, be those his needs or his wants, including his place in the social order. Do thereafter ('tadanantara') ensure that he receives these in time or preferably ahead of time, in full measure, for he is not likely to ask for them himself."
"This is so because before getting so completely wrapped up in his onerous, harsh and exalted charge, the soldier has assumed with good reason that the State, in return for his extraordinary burden and services, has freed him from all responsibility towards his own present and future welfare as also that of his family back home in the hinterland. He is thus very clear in his mind when deployed at a distant border outpost, fighting lumpen groups within Magadha or when campaigning in faraway lands that he need only look out in front for the enemy of the state and concentrate only on his military onus and aim ('shatrunjaya'), completely free of all temporal worries. This assumption is a holy sacrament and an unwritten covenant that exists between him and the State," Chanakya had said.
Even today, there has been considerable debate in the country on the role of the Armed Forces in defending the borders, countering insurgency and controlling internal disturbances and their importance in maintaining the unity and integrity of the nation. This makes the advice given by Chanakya to King Chandragupta even more relevant for today, feels the Veteran Wing Commander.