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Case Study Pandit To Afauzi
The case is based on an actual incident which took place in an Army unit operationally deployed in a field area just a few months before the 1971 showdown with Pakistan. The opposing forces of India and Pakistan were taking their respective positions in a pre-war scenario. The clouds of showdown were looming large over the horizons of both the countries. The rumbling of own tanks and guns, the reconnaissance, leaders of different arms and services establishing liaison with one another in the process of formulating plans for both defence and attack, digging of main and contingency positions was in progress, complete war machinery was being mobilized, camouflaged, and concealed. Ammunition and other explosives were being unloaded and dug down. Junior leaders were being briefed and rebriefed, communications were being checked, and troops were being motivated and looked after as most of them were green because of their sudden induction in the Army in post war days of 1965. Such was the scene which convinced all and sundry that war was imminent. Most of the troops looked forward to a showdown mainly because they wanted to get rid of the heavy ammunition as also for the mere thrill of it. Those who had not seen a battle, seemed excited over the prospects of a war and those who had seen the war, took everything in their stride, displaying a perfect cool, calm and confident countenance.
One Ram Bali Mishra (RBM) was a raw and green jawan of about 20 years of age and two years’ service and naturally had not seen a war. He was relatively tall, well built with fair complexion. He had pleasant manners, turned himself out well and spoke well. He was a complete teetotaler, non-smoker, and a vegetarian. He was well educated and well versed in religious affairs, particularly, of the religion to which most of the unit belonged. In the absence of the religious teacher of the unit, he held religious institute (dharamsthal) and gave religious discourses at the dharamsthal to all officers, junior commissioned officers JCOs), non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and jawans. During the pre-war days, he was performing the duties of a Sahayak (assistant, formerly known as orderly) to Gun Position Officer (GPO), a young officer, of the rank of a Second Lieutenant with one year of service.
RBM’s charter of duties included:
(a) attending all the training activities of his trade (telephone operator) which were being organized in the sub-unit;
(b) making arrangements to get the food from the officers’ mess and water from the tube- well for the office; and
(c) attending the telephone and noting down all the messages for the office.
By virtue of the nature and timings of these duties, RBM was excused physical training in the morning and games in the evening which all other jawans of the sub-unit attended. He was generally happy with these duties and working with the officer: After a short span of a week or so, the officer noticed some changes in the behavior of RBM. He also looked pale and worried. He was less talkative, less lively and his interaction with other jawans decreased. He started keeping aloof except where his duties warranted interaction with others. The officer tried to find the reasons from RBM but nothing emerged except a shy and coy smile and “aisi to koi baat Nai, Sahib”. The officer tried to probe further to find out if some guilt conscience was bothering him because of some bad habit which young man of his age is likely to fall prey to, in the absence, of even visual contact of civil life and members of the opposite sex.
This was denied vehemently. After another week or so, it was noticed that RBM had developed constipation, ate very little, felt tired after walking even a few hundred yards and had become weak. He was interviewed by the officer but nothing emerged once again. He was sent to the Regimental Medical Officer (RMO). The RMO inspected him and gave some medicines. On being contacted by the officer, the RMO mentioned that there was nothing wrong medically with RBM except that he was scared of the prospects of war. He even disclosed that after having been medically examined, RBM even started giving a discourse to the RMO on the bad effects of a war on environment, economy, costs, etc. He stated that people would be loaded with sufferings; killed, injured, maimed, and would become homeless. The children would become orphans, women widowed, and the humanity would suffer. He vehemently advised the RMO to make all attempts to stop the war and if he could, at least oppose it. After a brief conversation, the RMO was convinced that all the symptoms pointed to a fear psychosis of war. He gave some medicines to RBM and sent him to the sub-unit.
The RMO told the GPO that because of the worry about the war, RBM had developed problems of digestion and hence, ate less, became inactive and felt tired quickly. He had earlier been feeling shy of expressing his apprehensions about the war to others, lest they consider him a coward. The GPO gave a thought to the whole problem and interviewed RBM, advising him to attend• all physical activities, including physical training, weapon training, games, etc. thence on. The officer also planned to keep RBM among the persons of his trade, specially in the command post which controlled the firing of the guns, where from the officer himself was expected to control the’ fire in case of breakout of war.
A small cadre (class) was organized for all ranks of the sub-unit to apprise them of the organization of all arms and services in the army, starting from the level of a sub-unit. They were explained the tactics in the battlefields, the deployment patterns of different arms, the pattern and modes of support by the Air Force, the capabilities of weapons held by them, the comparative sizes of the countries, India versus Pakistan, and the level of forces held by them. They were also explained the cause for which they were there. They were there to make their contribution towards the liberation of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), wherefrom about a crore refugees had entered India because of the repression by Pakistan forces. These refugees had become a burden on the Indian economy and social structure which India could not afford. Thus, India, the foremost leader of peace loving nations, had to prepare for war to ensure return of these refugees to liberated Bangladesh. At times, to maintain peace, it becomes necessary to resort to war.
The participants were also told about the strength of their Army and deployment in that area, of course, within the constraints of security requirements. They were also told that none of them would remain alone even during the war and that their sub-unit and the unit would always fight together. They would always have their weapons and ammunitions with them, which they were very good at firing. The process of medical care, the claim of evacuation in case of serious injuries and the enhanced benefits and compensation to families in case of death of a soldier, then announced by the government, were also communicated to them. The reliability of India’s friends on the international scene was also intimated. The tactics, capabilities of aircrafts and weapons, and reliability of Pakistan’s friends were also brought out. The disadvantages and difficulties of supply to the then East Pakistan were explained to the participants. The geographical location of East Pakistan in relation to our country was also described. Everybody was convinced of the great advantages and superiority we had vis-a-vis Pakistan.
Thence on, RBM was a totally changed man. He was noticed to be more active, intermingling with others at the slightest pretext and opportunity, giving discourses about loyalty to the country and martyrdom. He took keen interest in all the training activities, including the digging of a number of contingency gun positions. He volunteered to go with night patrols too, which operated to shoot bursts of rounds with light machine guns in trees and groves close-by, whenever the guns were deployed at a new place. He volunteered to venture out with the line party which was earmarked to lay telephone lines over long distances through sugarcane fields. He started watching the slaughtering of goats in the unit. Above all, he started eating eggs, though he did not touch meat.
This transformation in RBM was a welcome sight and appreciated by all. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief on seeing RBM becoming a brave “Fauzi” from a timid “Pandit”. The RMO was informed of this transformation. He too felt happy. His contribution had been no less in diagnosing the cause of sickness correctly. The cadre was conducted for the whole sub-unit with a view to eradicate any apprehensions from the minds of others too, in case there were any, and to educate all. The cadre proved to be a great success. It motivated the whole lot, made them more confident and ready to face the challenge bravely. This was subsequently apparent when the hostilities started.
Question 1: What was the cause of fear in RBM?
Question 2: What were the symptoms of fear displayed by RBM
Question 3: How did the RMO come to know of the war phobia of RBM?
Question 4: What actions should be taken to avoid building up of fear among the troops? Which of these steps were taken by the officer?
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