Army Veteran Pens a Poignant Letter in Support of Indian Martyrs and the Ban on Pakistani Artists

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Ever since the Indian Motions Pictures Association banned Pakistani actors, singers and technicians from working on Indian films in the wake of recent cross-border conflicts, various members of the film fraternity like Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt and Salman Khan have come out in support of the artistes.

Despite the tension escalating between both countries, several films with Pakistani actors are scheduled for release later this year, such as, Ae Dil Mushkil with Fawad Khan and Dear Zindagi with Ali Zafar.

Some members of the film industry, and supporters of the artistes, are of the belief that art should transcend all boundaries and in fact enable both the countries to have an open dialogue about resolving their ongoing disputes.

But there are others, like Major Gaurav Arya, who wrote an open letter about why banning Pakistani actors is the correct move. He is of the opinion that every Indian should empathise with the 18 soldiers who have left behind widows and orphans, giving up their lives to protect our country’s borders.

In the open letter, which has subsequently been shared more than 3,000 times on social media, he talks about how there is no point to sacrifice and patriotism if all Indians, including influential film actors, do not show solidarity with the soldiers involved in protecting their homeland.

Here is the complete letter:

Our boys have just about returned from across the Line of Control after a very successful surgical strike. The entire nation is delirious with joy; the entire nation, except a few.

Today, I was part of a panel discussion in JNU, interestingly called “Intellectual Terrorism”. The term is self-explanatory, though wide ranging. I will discuss one type of intellectual terrorism here. The proponents of this type of terror are to found in every walk of life, but the roots of this disease are embedded in some institutions of higher learning. More of that some other time.

Karan Johar wants to know if asking Fawad Khan to go back to Pakistan will stop terror. Mahesh Bhatt joins the chorus by saying “stop terrorism, not talks” implying that we must continue to talk to Pakistan. The cricket board will continue to play matches with Pakistan. Certain business houses will continue to do business with Pakistan. All this, while our soldiers are dying on the border.

Will sending Pakistani artists back, stopping cricket and business with Pakistan actually end terror from Pakistan? No, it most certainly will not. But there is an emotion called solidarity. You cannot make films, play cricket and do business as if everything is fine, because it is not. It makes the soldier wonder aloud, “Why should I alone bear the weight of conflict?”

This conflict between India and Pakistan is not the soldier’s personal war. He is dying and killing for you and me. Imagine a situation in which the soldier felt, and behaved, like Karan Johar and Mahesh Bhatt? Imagine if a soldier walked up to his superior and said, “Sir, while I am dying on the Line of Control, these people are going about as if everything is absolutely fine between the two countries.”

How many of you would like it if a soldier felt that this was not his personal war, and he, like Mahesh Bhatt, should walk across the Line of Control and shake hands with a Pakistani soldier? Why should he alone sacrifice for India, when others were making merry?

A soldier will die before the thinks of such treason, but its certainly food for thought, isn’t it?

Patriotism and sacrifice is not the sole responsibility of the soldier. India is Mahesh Bhatt’s country, as much as it is the soldier’s.

The United States boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980, and the Russians did likewise when they boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. This is what happens when national interest is held paramount. And this is what must happen now.

For 70 years, Pakistan has been killing Indian citizens. Are we so inured to the pain of our fellow brethren that making a movie or playing a cricket match takes precedence over a soldier’s mourning home?

18 families have been shattered like glass. Not a word for them by our Bollywood royalty, mind you. But the pain of Fawad Khan’s departure is too much to bear, it seems. A tweet in support of Pakistani artists is mandatory.

These directors and producers will have you believe that before Rahat Fateh Ali Khan sang for Bollywood, there was no music of significance in the Hindi film industry. The cricket board is so busy making money that a widow’s silent sob and an orphan’s scream does not matter. What actually matters are day and night matches between India and Pakistan. The most keenly contested sporting event in history, they say; even better than the Ashes.

And the soldiers? Well, as far as they are concerned, they are on another planet, far removed from the glitzy Bollywood studios, and the teak paneled walls of the stately boardrooms of the BCCI. The blood, the mud, the screams and the exploding gunpowder are just distant and inconvenient, not very different from traffic during the Mumbai monsoons. Life must go on.

Its easy to ask for peace when you are a thousand miles away from the Line of Control, and your primary concerns are which party to attend this evening and where to get financing for your next film.

Peace is not a punch line. It is the end result of war.

There is a 10-year-old girl, Aditi, who under stands the nation and its ebbs and flows far better than Mahesh Bhatt and Karan Johar. See her letter attached. Then see the poster made by Mahesh Bhatt, which he so proudly displays.

I leave it to you to decide who speaks for you. My vote goes to Aditi. This little angel has the spirit of a soldier.

The others have mala fide intent.

Jai Hind.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

To know more about Major Gaurav Arya, click here.

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