The heroic courage displayed by Indian soldiers while combating their Chinese counterparts on June 15, the day 20 of their brethren were killed literally at the hands of the Chinese, is now a project fully underway.
Across platforms—a news portal (Rediff.com), an English newspaper (Deccan Chronicle), a Hindi newspaper (Prabhat Khabar), a news channel (India Today TV) and a news wire (ANI)—the same story of valour has been implanted into the public consciousness, with minor variations.
This front-page report in the Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad, and its sister publication, The Asian Age, on June 20 set the stage for the valourisation.
Sitting in Hyderabad, Deccan Chronicle journalist Vikram Sharma painted a crystal-clear picture of what happened in the heights of Ladakh, 2,000 km away, courtesy “inputs from multiple sources”.
“Using the most primitive fight methods ever, Indian soldiers launched the most brutal counter-attack against the People’s Liberation Army, snapping the necks of at least 18 Chinese soldiers and smashing their faces with stones, some beyond recognition.
“The 16 Bihar soldiers were reportedly joined by the ‘Ghatak’ troops and unleashed a reign of terror, unheard of in modern military history.
“PLA had a tough time handling the bodies of their soldiers, many of whose limbs were broken or severed. The bodies were scattered all over the ride and the nearby gorge…. Some had their necks dangling from their bodies.”
The next day, Sunday, June 21, the story was on the front page of Prabhat Khabar, the Hindi daily published from Patna and Ranchi, whose former editor Harivansh, a JDU MP, is now the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
And, at 12.27 pm on Sunday, June 21, Asian News International, the video news agency to which Narendra Modi has given the most number of “interviews” since coming to office, tweeted its version.
And at 4.34 pm, on June 21, India Today’s Shiv Aroor reported that there were three skirmishes in Galwan Valley on the evening of June 15, with 16 Chinese fatalities.
But before Deccan Chronicle, before ANI and before India Today, and before The Economic Times, at 9.23 am on June 19, Bhaavna Arora, an “Army brat” turned writer, had woven a 13-tweet thread.
“A CO (commanding officer) is someone next to your father… Around 60 soldiers of the Bihar Regt went on a rampage upon hearing their father figure like CO (Col Santosh Babu) was killed in such a manner… one of the most fearsome attacks of primitive fight methods…
“At least fifteen PLA soldiers were left with their necks snapped, dangling from their body, few had their vertebrae broken… few had their faces charred probably stoned heavily…. the tremendous and ferocious guts which Biharis showed.
Ms Arora’s first three books were The Deliberate Sinner, Mistress of Honour and Love Bi the Way. The second was released at Kargil by Lt Gen Hooda, Army commander northern command, who is now an advisor to the Congress. An upcoming fourth book, Undaunted, has a blurb from Gen Bipin Rawat, the chief of the army staff.
Ayush Tiwari, a journalist at News Laundry, joined the dots between Bhaavna Arora’s tweets and the Deccan Chronicle report, showing the similarity in the phraseology.
But, wait, there’s more.
The day before Ms Arora’s tweets, on Thursday, June 18, the former Business Standard journalist David Devadas, who has authored two books on Kashmir, wrote of the Bihar Regiment’s bravery on the web portal, rediff.com.
“They showed courage beyond the call of duty… Like men possessed, the Bihar Regiment soldiers fought bare-handed with no less intensity than lions.
“A CO is after all something of a father figure to an Indian soldier… “there is no doubt” that the Indian soldiers fought valiantly and with tremendous grit “till the last”.
All the Bihari stuff may play to the BJP base with access to Made-in-China mobile phones in Bihar, but it got to some Biharis. Sankarshan Thakur, the Delhi-based national affairs editor of The Telegraph, called it “crude and cynical”.