At 5:00 pm on March 22, Sunday, people across the country wholeheartedly showed their support and trust towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi by following his request to express gratitude towards emergency service providers like doctors, medical personnel etc. for their services by clapping, ringing bells and beating metal plates. “It’s the sound of gratitude, but also the sound of the beginning of victory in a long battle,” said PM.
However the PM, unfortunately, missed out mentioning the armed forces in both of his addresses on coronavirus. While the armed forces, who are the first line of defence, never forget to serve us. Even at this time of the pandemic crisis, armed personnel are risking their lives to serve the nation.
“The Indian Air Force went into affected areas to evacuate Indians stranded in foreign countries. The military bases are being turned into quarantine facilities to support the nation’s need at this time. They are true patriots, the ones who accept their duty willingly and do not have the luxury of self-isolation or even talking about their plight, leaving their families alone.” said Major General (retd) B.D Wadhwa, AYSM.
Ten News conducted interviews with eminent armed forces’ personalities like Brigadier (Retd) Ashok Hak, Colonel (Retd) VN Thapar, Colonel (Retd) Shashi Vaid, Colonel (Retd) P Chandra, Captain Vikas Gupta and Captain Praveen Roy in order to get an insights into the same.
Q: Prime Minister Modi, unfortunately, missed out mentioning about the armed forces in his address to the nation while requesting people to applaud emergency workers. Does it matter to the forces ?
Brigadier (Retd) Ashok Hak:
We are unsung heroes. It’s fine if the leaders are forgetting to mention our names. At this time, the ones who are fighting with the internal corona crisis, like our doctors, need to be given due consideration. We don’t work for appreciation. Irrespective of the fact that we are getting appreciation or not, we are always there for our country. However, we feel proud if our services are recognised.IAF men and women are going into virus affected areas to bring back our stranded citizens.
Q: What measures are taken for armed forces safety by the government?
Colonel (Retd) P Chandra:
In any activity related to rescuing, military, paramedical staff, etc., are involved. People have started to feel that the army is there to suffer, bureaucrats often say that “they are there to die”. This mental block or thought process in people’s mind needs to be corrected. Army personnel will never say that they are lacking resources or any protective layer. Whatever resources they have, they utilize them to the best to perform their duties. So there is a need for the government to take good initiatives by themselves. The armed forces on their part are taking all possible measures as per the WHO guidelines.
Q: As the military bases are being turned into isolation wards, what facilities are being provided to our Medical Corps?
Colonel (Retd) VN Thapar:
Forces do not expect anything in return for their duty and sacrifice. We do our duty whenever the nation and its people are in need. Armed forces personnel are encouraged to work from home as far as possible. Also, all authorized facilities like ration etc., have been provided under strict safety norms at the doorsteps. But, we cannot say no to the fact that our duty has an inherent risk. Whenever we are providing institutional help, we first take all necessary precautions to protect ourselves. Our institution first considers our precautions and then asks us to do anything to serve others.
Q: Our army is being exposed to coronavirus for a larger good, but what about their families and other personnel who are in their contact ?
Colonel (Retd) Shashi Vaid:
When we are performing our duty we forget about our families because that is what we are taught, that is our profession. We concentrate on the requirement of the time and the duties assigned to us. Our families do suffer because of us, so the government should look out to our families and ensure their safety and comfort. Although the entry of outsiders in the defence stations has been restricted which is a positive thing.
Q: Can we afford to give our army the luxury of curfews or isolation.
Captain (Retd) Vikas Gupta:
No, we cannot give the luxury of curfews or isolation to the armed forces, it isn’t possible. As its an essential service like BSF, Police, it can never be at rest and in fact, never should be. We have to be active at each time.
Recently, a 34-year-old soldier in the Indian army was tested positive for the coronavirus in Leh. The soldier was on duty from March 2 but was quarantined on March 7 and later tested positive on March 16. The exposure of those five days must have risked other soldiers as well. Do you think the government was negligent on its part?
Q: Recently, a 34-year-old soldier in the Indian army was tested positive for the coronavirus in Leh. The soldier was on duty from March 2 but was quarantined on March 7 and later tested positive on March 16. The exposure of those five days must have risked other soldiers as well. Do you think the government was negligent on its part?
Captain (Retd) Praveen Roy:
I feel that all possible measures are being taken by the government. The virus is so nasty and at times people are asymptomatic. All other military personnel who came in contact with the affected soldier are in quarantine and under observation.