Anger and grief unite Uttar Pradesh as the state bears 12 losses in the Pulwama terror attack
The SP, BSP and Congress are rallying behind the government. The BJP is organising marches. The people want punishment for Pakistan. For now, UP speaks in one voice.
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The country is in mourning over the deaths of over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans in Kashmir’s Pulwama. The grief is accompanied with anger and rage across India.
India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, is mourning too. Twelve of the jawans killed belonged to UP.
Mahesh Kumar Yadav from Meja in Prayagraj and Awadhesh Kumar Yadav from Varanasi were among those who laid down their lives for the country on February 14 in Kashmir.
Twelve jawans from Uttar Pradesh were martyred in Pulwama. (Source: India Today)
A series of protests, processions and candlelight marches are now being held across the state to pay homage to India’s bravehearts who have thus been martyred. This moment of grief has united the entire state.
But, as the mortal remains of CRPF jawan Mahesh Kumar was consigned to flames, people were also angry that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya did not attend the last rites.
However, domestic tensions aside, revenge from Pakistan remains the overwhelming demand from people across UP. The family members of the martyrs also demand that India avenge the dastardly killing of their sons.
Mahesh Kumar’s father, Rajkumar Yadav, who performed the last rites of his son, said that if the government finds itself too weak to give Pakistan a befitting reply, it can let him go to the border to avenge his son's killing.
Political parties too have unequivocally condemned the terror attack. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi spoke to Mahesh Kumar’s family over the phone. Reports suggest that Priyanka will either meet or talk to the family members of the martyrs from Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati are also trying to reach out to the families of the soldiers who died in Pulwama.
The BJP cadres in the state have been busy organising protest marches against Pakistan.
The real challenge before parties such as the Congress, SP and BSP is to condemn the Pulwama terror attack and Pakistan’s involvement in the incident while ensuring that the sentiments of no community are hurt. The parties need to talk of inclusive nationalism with a sense of great responsibility.
All parties, meanwhile, are rallying solidly behind the government in a show of national unity. It is likely that once the current phase of outrage passes though, there will be a fresh wave of blame. The Opposition may accuse the government of being soft on terrorism and of failing in the task of protecting our soldiers.
An outrage against India: The country is seeking revenge for the cowardly killing of its jawans in Pulwama. (Source: Reuters)
This could well become the point of discourse in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections. The political campaign, in UP for sure, may come to centre around the Pulwama attack.
While the Opposition will try to create public opinion against the government, the Narendra Modi-led BJP could defend itself by initiating strong action against Pakistan. The party can then talk about the steps taken to dismantle the terror infrastructure in Pakistan.
Politics apart, the Pulwama attack has united the entire country in anger and in grief. We need to keep the sentiment alive to strengthen our fight against terrorism. A mature nation must use emotion as strength and not let it turn into its weakness.
These emotions could help India emerge united like never before. For now, it seems UP's netas mostly understand that.