Do you remember those on-board missing An-32 plane of Indian Air Force?

Remember the missing defence personnel of the lost An-32 plane?

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Does the name of R.V. Prasad Babu ring any bell to our ears? Well, he was an army man who, in a country infested with tides of army-worshipping nationalism, just went missing since the last five months. Along with other defence personnel, R.V. Prasad Babu of the Indian Navy was on board of an Antonov An-32 twin engine turboprop transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force on 22nd July 2016. The An-32 plane was lost forever as it went off the radar soon after it started flying towards Andaman and Nicober Islands.

The Modi government that keeps illustrating the army and its role in defending Indian sovereignty on every instance of public dissent against its predatory policies, kept mum over its failure to trace and locate the wreckage of a plane in which there were 29 service men on board.

On 15th September the government simply called off the operation and presumed everyone on-board the An-32 aircraft, dead. The failure of the government to trace and locate a plane that suspiciously went off the radar after flying for sometime didn’t make the news.

The defence person who went missing on-board the An-32 plane:

Air Force: Pilot P Badsara, Flying Officer P K Nandal, Flight Lieutenant Kunal Barpete, JWO R Ranjan, Corporal G Chaudhary, Leading aircraft Man Kapil, Flight Lieutenant Deepika, Sergeant Akhilesh, Sergeant Bipin Kumar, Leading aircraft Man (LAC) L K Tripathi, Aircraft Man Raghuvir Verma, Non-combatant enrolled (NCE) Navjot Singh, NCE Ravidev Singh, NCEP P Chand, NCE Mukesh Thakur, NCE C S Yadav, Sepoy Eknathak,

Army: Naik Vimal IP, Sepoy N Ginzasiam,

Navy: AF (HSK-II) R V Prasad Babu, AF (SK) Purna Chandra, AF (SK) Charan Maharana, TMM Chinna Rao, G Srinivasa Rao, CM (F) S Sambamurthy, Examiner Bhupendra Singh, AF (HSK) P Nagendra Rao, PO Log Sajeev Kumar.

Coastguard: R Muthu Krishnan

As we have earlier discussed on the same topic that this is not the first instance of An-32 plane crashing or vanishing from the radar, the utmost callous attitude shown by the Modi government in carrying out a full-proof search and rescue operation to trace the plane and the missing personnel, who died in their uniforms just like the soldiers in Una or those stationed near the LOC in Kashmir.

There were no loose cannon self-proclaimed “nationalists” or “patriots” to grill the Modi government over its terrible lacklustre attitude in searching the plane using the modern technologies that are available to the defence forces of India and its friendly nations in the nearby region.

The usual xenophobic crowd that will troll people, who rightfully question the excesses of the Indian Army in places like Kashmir and Manipur, with chosen abuses, were conspicuously silent on social media and television channels, including the self-styled “patriotic” news channels where the news anchors are infamous for their cabaret dancing to the tune of the Modi government. No one spoke about the government’s failure and no one spoke about why these defence personnel should not be forgotten.

Soon after the search and rescue operations were withdrawn and all defence personnel on-board of the An-32 plane were declared dead, the government, which was in back foot due to its utmost failure to contain the mass unrest in Kashmir and faced a set-back when army men were killed in Una, suddenly hyped the “Surgical Strike” story with numerous contradictions to prove its credibility among its target audience.

Despite all heaps of praise dedicated to the men in uniform and placing them in the sanctum sanctorum, immune from criticism in a democratic society, the “nationalist” government of Narendra Modi fails on several counts to show its true adherence to the verses it recites on serving the interest of the military forces.

The One Rank One Pension (#OROP) was one instance of how Modi government betrayed the ex-servicemen and the missing An-32 is another instance that how the BJP can sweep unpleasing facts beneath the carpet and hype few deaths, like that of Hanumanth Thapa, to further its own political agenda that aims to silent voice of dissent.

After several outcry over the future of the men who are perceived to have “died” in the incident, there was not much inquiry conducted by the mainstream media, because those who died in the line of duty onboard of the missing An-32 plane of the IAF were not killed by Kashmiri militants or Pakistani shelling that the deaths can be used as propaganda to arouse the jingoistic fervour among the politically backward people.

The Indian military institutions are funded by the money of the common people, not only salaried or elite income tax payer’s money, but from the tax paid by the broad masses of the poor peasants, workers, toiled people and the lower middle class through various indirect taxes imposed on them. Thus the Indian people have all the rights to know how can a plane bought with their hard earned money just vanish from the radar, they have the right to know what steps the Modi government took to search for the lost plane and why those plans failed.

At a time when the Modi government suddenly brought the economic chaos by announcing a demonetisation drive to distract public attention from a ‘purported’ “surgical strike” story concocted by the top leaders of the Sangh to build up a macho image of the government, the An-32 and its missing personnel, much more than those killed in Una by militants, is a signature of the Modi government’s failure in the crucial defence affairs.

It’s imperative that the government that boasts on its propaganda machinery and communal pogrom incitement skills is made accountable to the people whom it wants to hoodwink, but also the people are politically equipped to march beyond the barriers created by the Modi government and raise those uncomfortable questions to those who have got parliamentary majority by garnering the support of 31 per cent of the total number of people who voted in 2014.

If the Modi government is allowed to impose the military in the sanctum sanctorum and above all accountability to the people and immune from prosecution for its excesses on one hand and cause grievous harm to the personnel of the same military force in different ways on the other hand, then it will utilise the opportunity to drive the country and its polity towards a fascist totalitarian era by annihilating the last vestiges of democracy that exist until now.

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