…to prevent incidents like Malegaon, says Major General (retired) Afsir Karim.
In a wide-ranging interview on secularism in the Indian Armed Forces, Major General Karim answers the most pertinent question facing the defence services today —
How do you prevent incidents like this where army men get involved?
Yes, it’s extremely important to prevent such incidents in future. There should be strict vigilance in the army. In the last 10 years a lot of communal divide has taken place and we have to win away these people who are affected by communal thinking.
It’s not difficult in the army. The regimentation is quite good if it’s properly enforced. If your senior officers are weak, only then is the army in trouble. It is the CO’s moral authority and discipline that counts. The senior officer has to be secular to enforce the same sentiments in his junior officers. By and large, Indian jawans are extremely secular.
…But, society is changing. There will be an effect on the army. We should take greater care. There is no need for alarm. In the army you are not made to feel like a Hindu or a Muslim but the army man of the regiment you belong to. I have never felt as a Muslim in the army. I belonged to my regiment being an Indian. I think if the senior officers are proper, nothing will happen to the Indian Army.