Unfortunately, there is no polite, civilised or prettier way to say this. Major Gaurav Arya is a liar.
This man, the most recent posterboy of nationalists and right-wingers (the time has come to use these two terms interchangeably perhaps because they now mean one and the same thing), is just another dyed-in-the wool BJP supporter who wants to pass himself off as a proud ‘neutral’ patriot with no political affiliations by virtue of his army credentials but is actually more than happy to serve the hate and scare-mongering agenda set by the present political masters.
All of us have had the singular honour of being edified by his passionate speeches and his posts from time to time. They have come to us unannounced as WhatsApp videos, fb posts and blog links. Unless you have completely taken ‘sanyaas’ from social media, the man is impossible to miss. Oh yes, he is also a regular on Crimes Now with Darnab Flaw-swamy where he plays the Shashi Kapoor foil to the angry not-so-young retard. Between the attendant jingoism and clever manipulation of facts and fiction, he almost always manages to make a million chests thump with unalloyed pride.
A man of honour for the hyper-times we live in? Oh, without a doubt.
So why am I being severe on a national hero?
Two days ago, I received a WhatsApp message from a friend, a ‘forward’ bearing Major Arya’s name. It was provocatively headlined, The Fifth Column. Now, I normally don’t give the time of the day to most such forwards but since it came to me from a dear friend and bore the respectable Major’s name I got past the explosive first four paragraphs in a trice.
And this is what the first four paragraphs stated:
What followed after that was a most unseemly concoction of platitudes, generalisations, homilies and bad deductions and the only redeeming bit was that he actually ended up counselling the Shiv Senas and the Owasis to restrain from playing the communal card so as to defeat Pakistan’s nefarious designs.
So far so good. But, I am wondering… Okay, The Senate Report of Pakistan which is available to be shared on the Internet openly calls for… THIS? In which case, undoubtedly, Major Arya must be doing a huge national service.
And here’s the best part. The Major, had not only put up this exact same post on his blog and his fb page (from where it must have gone viral and shared as a WhatsApp message) but in the highest standards of intellectual honesty also helpfully shared this report-all 7 pages of it, to cross check the contents for whoever is interested.
Except for a couple of naysayers, his fanpage was swelling with colourful likes and glowing comments and that meant I actually had no reason to doubt the story at all.
But the report was tantalisingly and helplessly staring in my face, almost cajoling me to download it. (Somebody read me, pretty please, it seemed to say.)
And as Buzzfeed would scream, ‘Vistasp Hodiwala downloaded the Pakistan Senate’s Report and you won’t believe what happened next…!’
I read it once, I read it twice, and just because I am getting old and too passionate about these things, I read it thrice.
Unfortunately, the words refused to do Major Arya’s bidding. They did not even leap off the bloody page. Quite the contrary, the stupid stuff calmed me down. I had visions of Mogambo’s men running amok in our fair nation but here was a report which laid out in dull bureaucratese how Pakistan will try and counter India’s propaganda and expose our nefarious designs by doing civil things like forming ‘Media C0-ordination Committees, holding special briefings, hiring good lobbyists to present Pakistan’s case internationally and hold your breath, even support ‘all issues taken for peace and stability in the region’.
There was nothing even remotely ‘sinister’ in the report. Nothing, except the spin imparted by our friend, the good Major, a spin so delicious, it would leave old rivals Bishan Singh Bedi and Shane Warne rueing for their craft.
Being a hyper-nationalist is a choice. But being disingenuous calls into question everything you stand for.
So I go on to pose him a few questions (in that ocean of the converts where to pose a question is to risk an attack on your identity no less), first, gently and then pointedly. After three posers he comes in with the kind of swagger we have come to associate with primetime patriots and tells me casually that he has merely presented an analysis based on the report. I said, wait a minute. The same report? In an utterly false context? Our friend nonchalantly starts deleting my comments subsequently.
Now, I must leave you to decide if that was a cowardly flight or a strategic retreat.
What is worse, from the vast multitude of people who liked and commented in a rush on that popular post, not one had the good sense to even bother with the report put up by the braveheart so boldly in an open forum.
What? Have we lost our heads completely?
And the right-wing rightly knows that whatever falsehoods it spreads will be taken as Gospel (oh sorry, not that word); because when you feed into a climate of convenient biases, people are too dull to apply their minds and too quick to express their hate.
Major Arya, if you are reading this, there is only one thing I would like to tell you. If you are a good man and really as apolitical as you claim you should know the difference between analysis and speculation. You may be right on every count but then where was the need to upload that innocuous report to give legitimacy to your utterances? Intellectual integrity does not need a uniform to carry itself off but a man wearing one must at all times have the good sense to not divorce himself from it.
One more thing for the daft ones who too will end up reading this: Criticising an individual even if he is a veteran from the army is not the same as criticising the army as an institution (not that I am making any case for an army to be put above scrutiny or criticism, but that’s a moot point here), so before you hyperventilate, please take a deep breath.
First published as a Facebook Note by the author