Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (retd)
Religion has never played a role in the military, we looked up to them as senior officers and never even noticed their religion. History should remind us of the pitfalls of internal divisions invaders are like water which flow in whenever and wherever it sees a crack.
Our Family followed no rituals. I do not recall anyone going to a temple. My mother was a devoted housewife who single-handedly since my father was in the Army brought up six children, reared cattle and supervised farming. That was her religion. After the partition my father’s gallantry award land in Okra tehsil of Montgomery district was swapped with an equal measure in a village vacated by Muslim on migration to Pakistan. Unlike our original village this land was canal irrigated and more fertile. It also had a metaled road to the town. We shifted to this village for economic reasons.
Settling down there was a unique experience. All settlers had come from different villages, mostly from a military background. There were no carryover disputes or quarrels and life started anew.
The house allotment corresponded to one’s landholding since my father had two gallantry awards we got high priority in choosing a dwelling. The house was an imposing structure. The central hall was 25 ft. high with windows on two sides. Limestone was used liberally. Built over a century ago it has stood the vagaries of weather the owner had his name Mustafa khan Rajput etched in the walls at two places it still exists. No one has ever envisioned erasing and replacing that name
The new village had a mosque. The new settlers using it as a primary school-cum-panchayat ghar later when a govemment school came up the mosque premises were used for housing wedding baraats.
Three of us younger brothers did our schooling there on joining the NDA, I had five layers of officers as instructors and supervisors. The immediate senior a divisional officers was a Christian naval lieutenant. Except being stingy in awarding grades he was gentle and friendly. Squadron Commander Major Khader Ahmed was kind and fatherly. As cadets, we even had meals in his house. Beyond that level, our contact was indirect and infrequent the battalion commander was a Hindu wing commander. He drove a Buick car and had a visibly opulent lifestyle. The Deputy commander was a quiet Sikh Colonel. And last was the commander real admiral Samson, a Jew known for outstanding oratory and wit. I don’t believe this kind of divers hierarchy was designed on purpose. It was just happen chance, as religion has never played a role in the military we looked up to them as senior officers and never even noticed their religion. I am recalling it only now.
We need to adopt the defence services’ model - use accommodation and tolerance as societal cement. History should remind us of the pitfalls of internal divisions invaders are like water which flow in whenever and wherever it sees a crack.
Originally published in THE TRIBUNE https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/musings/binding-force-of-tolerance-341204