There are two types of people who are idolised in this country,the reel heroes and real heroes.Lately,it has been noticed that copious tears are shed for reel heroes.A larger group pays respect.Real heroes do not receive the same kind of adulation.Two popular film heroes, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, the younger son of Raj Kapoor,left us over a week ago.Both of them had mourners across the country.A little later some soldiers left for heavenly abode.The reaction was not the same.
I do want to say that reel heroes should not be worshipped.What I am trying to suggest is that the real heroes should receive equal admiration and should be mourned at least in the same manner,if not more.Both have done remarkably well.Irrfan has given memorable performance in films like Piku,Lunch Box and Paan SinghTomar. Rishi Kapoor has excelled in films like Bobby,Mulk and Laila-Majnu.He had also hit the headlines for some controversial statements.
Soon after the death of these two, some officers and soldiers of the army and paramilitary forces were martyred while taking on the militants in Kashmir.Five security personnel, including a colonel and a major, were killed in an encounter on May 1 in a village in Handwara region of North Kashmir.Among the martyred security personnel were two army officers, Colonel Ashutosh Sharma and Major Anuj.A sub-inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police Shakeel Qazi was also martyred. But it was noticed that for those who fought the terrorists who were fighting against the country there was a mild reaction.Some people reported the death of these soldiers on their Facebook Walls.After the ‘ Naman ‘ and ‘ Jai Hind ‘ ,there was mostly business as usual.The question now is,did those who sacrificed their lives for the country not deserve something more ? The country will have to re-think and introspect.
I am not comparing Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor with the army warriors. But what I believe is that the country has not paid due regard to the real heroes. This is an embarrassing situation. However, there is one satisfaction that the security forces did not take much time to avenge the sacrifices of five military personnel, including Col. Ashutosh Sharma and Major Anuj Sood .Security forces neutralised two dreaded terrorists in two separate encounters.Hizbul Mujahideen’s commander Riyaz Naiku was also killed. Naiku was killed near his house in Pulwama.He carried a reward of Rs 12 lakhs .Some anti-nationals pelted stones to save Naiku ?How many people who are having long debates on the heroes of reel life know it?It is difficult to understand why film story writers who have written dialogues for Irrfan Khan do not write against the stone-pelters.
Let us look back and think on some other issues.Do the people of the country still remember the CRPF personnel who were killed in the terrorist attack in Pulwama on February 14,2019 ? Have you ever taken care of their families ? The truth is that the families of the martyrs of the Pulwama attack have not yet received the promised help from the government or society.Yes,when that incident took place there were many who shedded tears. Everyone assured the victims some help or other. Sadly, some of those promises have remained on paper only.
Many other related stories have also come to mind. The 2008 Mumbai attack is still afresh. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the main man behind the attack, was caught alive by assistant sub-inspector Tukaram. Kasab shot at Tukaram Ombale to free himself. But that braveheart would not let him go. It is difficult to find another such example of valour and dutifulness. Tukaram has been almost forgotten after awarding Ashoka Chakra.
This is not the only case of neglect.More such cases can be recalled.Vijayant Thapar of Noida was among the heroes of Kargil’s war. After the victory in that war, a road in Noida was named after him. On the plaque where the name of the martyr was written some one has pasted posters . His father and retired Indian Army Colonel Thapar has regretfully said, ” India often forgets sacrifices of the martyrs after the war. Only close relatives and friends remember them. This mindset needs a change”.
The country will have to look for all its real heroes. In the current Corona era, we are face to face with Corona warriors. These include doctors , nurses , policemen , security personnel,sweepers, bank workers and water and power department employees. Safai Karmacharis have also risked their lives and working day and night to beat Corona.Their cotributition is no less significant.
They are others too who are doing social services.Take Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal,an NGO in Delhi-NCR,for example.This group is distributing masks and food to the needy throughout the day and night.Jitendra Shanti, the head of the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal, is being treated as an angel by some. He has performed the last rites of many who have no one else to do so with his own hands. Many other social organizations and their affiliates are active.The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Gurudwaras across the country are doing remarkable jobs.They also deserve admiration.
It is not easy to stand for others during this crisis.These self-sacrificing people also deserve praise. But,unfortunately, only the film stars in this country are treated as Gods.This mind-set has to change.It is not to suggest that they should not be loved and praised.They should be given their dues.But the real heroes should not be cared less, if not more.The country should recognise their services and bow down to them.
( The writer is a Senior Editor,columnist and former MPs )