Flix Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 05:30
  Reading English media reports on Wednesday, one might be forgiven for thinking that knowledge of medicine is crucial to army operations. To clear the air, that’s not true, and here’s a guide on how to decipher some of the reports. Many reports that appeared in the English media on June 10 had the “inside story” of the “surgical strike”. In a briefing, the Indian Army said it had “inflicted significant casualties” on two groups of insurgents in two separate locations along the India-Myanmar border in Ukhrul and Chandel districts of Manipur, following intelligence tip offs about “imminent threat”. It makes no mention of the number of casualtpries, or even which insurgent groups were the targets of their attacks. Language Writing for The Independent, senior journalist Robert Fisk says certain terms such as “pre-emptive strikes”, “spikes in violence”, which were originally used by the United States military, have now been co-opted by the media.   He says: “This isn't just about clichés – this is preposterous journalism. There is no battle between the media and power; through language, we, the media, have become them.” Some examples of the national English media’s reports on the “anatomy of army’s surgical strike on militants in Myanmar”: “Thirty minutes, from ‘insertion’ to ‘kill’ to ‘out’. Forty of India’s toughest fighting men, commandos from the elite 21 Para (Special Force) Regiment, in two teams. Russian-made Mi-35 attack helicopters of the Indian Air Force. Two rebel camps, four km deep in Myanmar, and more than 20 militants. All destroyed with surgical precision and extreme prejudice.” “The operation began at 3AM on Tuesday when the men were airdropped and the actual neutralisation of the insurgent camps took about 45 minutes.” “Since then, the Indian Army has carried out several small operations but Tuesday’s covert operation is clear declaration of India's new-found readiness to pre-emptive action when it comes to dealing with terror threats.” “… and it wasn't just hot pursuit. The Army says the strikes were pre-emptive and security experts emphasise it sends out a strong signal." Nearly all of the English news reports in the mainstream news organizations described the actions of the Indian military as a “surgical strike”. Some said that this heralded the dawn of an era where India would show everybody (read Pakistan) that it would carry out “pre-emptive strikes”. Terrorists or not? While the defence minister and former army officers called the members of the armed groups “terrorists”, in its press release, the Army itself referred to the groups as “insurgents”. Most news reports however, use the terms terrorists, insurgents and militants interchangeably, with no thought to the goals of the groups involved and the targets of their violence. Insurgents for instance are groups of people who take up arms against a country to gain independence from that country – a perennial situation in much of the north-east. The numbers In 2003 the Indian Bhutanese armies said that they had destroyed 38 camps of insurgent groups in Bhutan in Operation All Clear. Recalling the time, journalist Kishalay Bhattacharjee says: “And while I was on the ground every single day, there was no way of ascertaining what exactly happened. It was one of the most covert operations and very successful. The only confirmations that came were from the militants themselves.” Different reports have different estimates for the number of casualties: between 22-50 dead, 38 dead, 50-100 dead, over 50 dead, six injured and hospitalized. A little item in a Nagaland-focused website called the Nagaland Post claims that the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (K) has challenged the Indian Army to prove that it did indeed attack insurgent camps. The report said: “According to the NSCN(K) source, while the Indian army claimed it launched attacks on the camps, all rank and file of the NSCN (K) were “peacefully paying” paying their respects at the funeral services of their comrades who died in the June 4 ambush incident.  Dismissing the casualties as “baseless”, the NSCN(K) source challenged the Army to display or come out with the dead bodies of cadres supposedly killed in the attack.” Will someone investigate?