A huge controversy has erupted over the purported letter written to President Ram Nath Kovind by over 100 armed forces veterans, including former service chiefs, expressing outrage over political parties using armed forces for their gains in the election season. Soon after the letter was splashed in the media, General SF Rodrigues, whose named appeared as the first signatory, came out with a clarification that he has not given his consent for any such letter.
Describing the incident as a ‘classic manifestation of fake news’, General Rodrigues said he is not even aware what the letter was all about.
“Don’t know what it (purported letter written by armed forces veterans to President)is all about. All my life, we’ve been apolitical. After,42 years as officer, it’s a little late to change. Always put India first. Don’t know who these people are, it’s classic manifestation of fake news,” he told news agency ANI.
Gen SF Rodrigues: Don’t know what it(purported letter written by armed forces veterans to Pres)is all about.All my life,we’ve been apolitical.Aftr,42 yrs as officer,it’s a little late to change.Always put India first.Don’t know who these ppl are,classic manifestation of fake news pic.twitter.com/Cgpo57sVhq
— ANI (@ANI) April 12, 2019
Air Chief Marshal NC Suri also denied signing the letter and added that he has been misquoted in it.
“To put an end to it,I wrote that armed forces are apolitical&support the politically elected govt. And no, my consent has not been taken for any such letter. I don’t agree with whatever has been written in that letter. We have been misquoted,” he said.
Another former Army Vice Chief Lt General ML Naidu, whose signature appears at the 20th spot in the alleged letter, has denied giving his consent for it. “No, my consent has not been taken for any such letter and neither have I written any such letter,” Lt Gen Naidu said.
The letter had signatures of former Army chiefs General (retired) SF Rodrigues, General (retired) Shankar Roy Chowdhury and General (retired) Deepak Kapoor, former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (retired) NC Suri among several others.
The letter, which reportedly sent to President Kovind on Thursday, also had signatures of three former Navy chiefs Admiral (retired) L Ramdas, Admiral (retired) Arun Prakash, Admiral (retired) Mehta and Admiral (retired) Vishnu Bhagwat.
Meanwhile, media reports citing Rashtrapati Bhavan sources said that President Kovind has not received any such letter by armed forces veterans.
Referring to Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Aditaynath’s recent ‘Modiji ki Sena’ remark, the veterans said it was unacceptable by leaders to use military operations like cross-border strikes for their political gains.
“We refer, Sir, to the unusual and completely unacceptable practice of political leaders taking credit for military operations like cross-border strikes and even going so far as to claim the armed forces to be ‘Modi ji ki sena‘,” the alleged letter stated.
The veterans also objected to the use of photos of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and other soldiers by political parties during the ongoing election campaigns.
Earlier, the Election Commission had expressed strong objection over Yogi Adityanath’s statement and warned him to be careful in future.
“Congress ke log aatankwadiyon ko biryani khilate the aur Modi ji ki sena aatankwadiyon ko goli aur gola deti hai (Congress leaders treated terrorists with biryani, while Modi’s army gives them bullets and bombs). This is the difference. The Congress people use ‘ji’ with Masood Azhar to encourage terrorism,” Adityanath had said at an election rally in Ghaziabad.
(With inputs from PTI)