Army veterans, including eight ex-chiefs, write to President Ram Nath Kovind to stop politicisation of armed forces for elections

  • Over 150 armed forces veterans – including three former Army chiefs, four former Navy chiefs and a former Air Force chief – have written to the President

  • The letter urges the President to take all necessary steps to urgently direct all political parties that they must forthwith desist from using the military in any form

  • They have also objected to use of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's pictures in posters used for poll campaign

On Thursday, over 150 armed forces veterans – including three former army chiefs, four former navy chiefs and a former air force chief – wrote to the President and Commander-in-Chief to complain about the manner in which political parties have been repeatedly using armed forces for political gains ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

The letter, shared by The Quint and The Wire, urges President Ram Nath Kovind “to take all necessary steps to urgently direct all political parties that they must forthwith desist from using the military, military uniforms or symbols, and any actions by military formations or personnel, for political purposes or to further their political agendas.”

The army veterans have said that “some concerns have caused considerable alarm and disquiet among both the serving and the retired personnel of the forces.” They have also objected to the use of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's pictures in posters, along with the image of soldiers in election hoardings and campaigns.

Here is the letter written by the group of veterans produced in full:

FROM A GROUP OF VETERANS TO OUR SUPREME COMMANDER

 

April 11, 2019                          

 

Honourable Shri Ram Nath Kovind

President of India and Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces

Rashtrapati Bhavan,

New Delhi

 

Dear Shri Ram Nath Kovind Ji,

We, the signatories, are Armed Forces Veterans who have served in the defence of our nation in various appointments, in peacetime and in operational and war zones over the past several decades.

The apolitical and secular nature of India’s Armed Forces has been an article of faith for every soldier, sailor and airman. India’s Armed Forces have loyally upheld the democratic principle of civil control over the military. Their military professionalism on and off the field, combined with the devotion to duty in protecting India’s territorial sovereignty and national integrity, remains widely appreciated.

The soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Armed Forces owe allegiance to the Constitution of India, of which you, as President of the Indian Union, are the legal custodian. It is for this reason that the President is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and we serve and execute orders at the will of the President and as decided from time to time by the Executive – that is, the Government of the day.

You would be aware that those in active service (men and women of all ranks in the Army, Navy and Air Force) cannot speak out, even on matters which might affect their interests adversely, since they are subject to military law and are governed by the parliamentary Acts of their respective Service.

However, we Veterans being in continuous touch with our own military fraternity, as also with serving personnel at all levels, have a ‘finger on the pulse’, so to speak. And it is for this reason that we write to bring to your attention, as the Supreme Commander of India’s Armed Forces, some concerns which have caused considerable alarm and disquiet among both the serving and the retired personnel of our Forces.

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”. This is in addition to media pictures of election platforms and campaigns in which party workers are seen wearing military uniforms; and posters and images with pictures of soldiers and especially of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, displayed.

We do appreciate that complaints by some senior retired personnel, including a written submission from a former Chief of the Naval Staff to the Chief Election Commissioner, have elicited a prompt response. Indeed a notification has been issued asking for an explanation from those responsible for these statements, including from the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. However we regret to state that these do not appear to have resulted in any substantive change of behaviour and practice on the ground.

With the General elections round the corner, and given the prevailing environment where political parties and candidates seem to be acting in total disregard of the declaration of the ‘model code of conduct’, we fear that such incidents may only increase as polling day draws near.

We believe that you will surely agree that any such misuse of the Armed Forces established under the Constitution of India and under the supreme command of the President of India, would impinge adversely on the morale and fighting efficiency of the serving man or woman in uniform. It could therefore directly affect national security and national integrity.

We therefore appeal to you to ensure that the secular and a-political character of our Armed Forces is preserved.

We hereby respectfully urge you to take all necessary steps to urgently direct all political parties that they must forthwith desist from using the military, military uniforms or symbols, and any actions by military formations or personnel, for political purposes or to further their political agendas.

This communication is copied to the Chief Election Commissioner of the Election Commission of India for information and action.

We, the undersigned, endorse the above.

Yours Faithfully,

(*Signed *)

1

Gen SF Rodrigues, PVSM,VSM

2

Gen Shankar Roy Chowdhury, PVSM,ADC

3

Gen Deepak Kapoor, PVSM, AVSM,SM,VSM,ADC

4

Adm Laxminarayan Ramdas, PVSM,AVSM,VrC, VSM,ADC

5

Adm Vishnu Bhagwat,PVSM,AVSM

6

Adm Arun Prakash, PVSM,AVSM,VrC,VSM,ADC

7

Adm Sureesh Mehta, PVSM,AVSM

8

Air Chief Marshal NC Suri,PVSM,AVSM,VM,ADC

9

Lt Gen Sanjeev Anand

10

Lt General KS Rao, PVSM, SC, SM, Arjuna Awardee

11

Lt General Mohan Ramdas

12

Lt General YN Sharma

13

Lt General Vinay Shankar

14

Lt General Prakash Gokarn

15

Lt General Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM

16

Lt General MA Gurbaxani, PVSM, AVSM

17

Lt General RK Nanavatty, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM

18

Lt General R K Gaur, PVSM

19

Lt General CA Barretto, PVSM

20

Lt General ML Naidu, PVSM, AVSM, YSM

21

Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh

22

Vice Admiral DB Kapila, PVSM, AVSM, VSM

23

Vice Admiral A Britto, PVSM, AVSM, VSM

24

Air Marshal Vir Narain, PVSM

25

Maj Gen A K Shukla

26

Maj Gen PC Panjikar, VSM

27

Maj General KM Bhimaya

28

Maj General Jose Manavalan, AVSM

29

Maj General Shiv Dev Singh

30

Maj General Mohan Singh

31

Maj General Harsha Kakar

32

Maj General Rajendra Prakash, VSM

33

Maj General GH Israni

34

Maj General Anil Sawhny, AVSM

35

Maj General IJS Dhillon

36

Maj General Kshitin Pandya, AVSM

37

Maj General TK Kaul, PVSM, AVSM, VSM

38

Maj General ML Malik

39

Maj General SG Pitre

40

Maj General SG Vombatkere, VSM

41

Rear Admiral Shankar Mathur

42

Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, NM

43

Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak

44

Brig A. A Ramchandani

45

Brig UPS Pathania

46

Brig Vinod Raizada

47

Brigadier VHM Prasad

48

Commodore C Jayaraj

49

Commodore Rajan Mathew, VSM

50

Commodore R Rahmathullah

51

Commodore G Kailath, AVSM, NM, VSM

52

Commodore Dinabandhu Jena

53

Commodore Jal Postwalla

54

Commodore PC Gulati, NM

55

Cmde MS Chahal

56

Air Cmde Sanjay Sharma

57

Col Bharat Haladi

58

Col Sanjeev Choudhary

59

Col Krishna Prasad N G

60

Col Mukesh Trehan

61

Col RP Suhag

62

Col Pankaj Fotedar, VSM

63

Col Vivek Mathur

64

Col Arun Hariharan

65

Col K N Singh

66

Col DM Sharma

67

Col Shantanu Majumdar,

68

Col Gurpinder Singh

69

Col Ramnik Khanna

70

Col Abhay Prasad

71

Col Abhi Chatterjee,

72

Col Manmohan Singh

73

Col. Rajiv Kanwar

74

Col Bharat Kumar

75

Col Jayadev P I

76

Col. Sujit Dutta

77

Col. Lal Kesavan

78

Col. Melwyn D'Souza

79

Col Sanjay Dilwaria

80

Col. K S Kamboj

81

Col Shashi Thoomas Kilo

82

Col K Kataria, SM

83

Col MK Keshwar

84

Col Maniish D Kachhy

85

Col. Aparjeet Nakai

86

Col CMS Babu

87

Col RS Singh

88

Capt (IN) HPS Sodhi

89

Capt (IN) Rakesh Kumar Prabhakar

90

Captain (IN) S Prabhala, VSM

91

Capt(IN) Sandeep Kapoor

92

Group Captain Ashutosh Srivastav (Retd)

93

Gp Capt Rajinder Abrol

94

Gp Capt D. V. Shukla,

95

Gp Capt Philips Jacob, VM

96

Gp Capt Satvinder Singh

97

Gp Capt Deepak Mundade

98

Gp Capt MS Sadanand

99

Lt col Arvind Kumar Singh,

100

Lt Col MS Kanwal, VSM

101

LtCol Sajan Moideen,

102

Lt Col Muruganantham

103

Lt Col Ved Prakash Sharma

104

LtCol  R Pankaj

105

Lt Col Shantanu Rishi

106

Lt Col Sanjeev Kumar Gupta

107

Lt Col SPS Panwar

108

Lt Col Neeraj Sharma

109

Lt Col Shantnu Rishi

110

Lt. Col. Gagan Khanna, DE

111

Lt Col Satish Chari

112

Lt. Col Akash Sachan

113

Lt. Col PP Singh

114

Lt Col Sandeep Chandorkar

115

Lt. Col. SS Nath

116

Lt Col JS Patil

117

Lt Col Amit P Mathur

118

Lt Col Jagjit Singh Judge

119

Lt Col RP Shankar

120

Lt Col NM Saksena

121

Lt Col Raghawendra Singh

122

Lt Col Shamsher Manhas

123

Lt Col DN Yadav

124

Lt Col Janak Raj Vatsa

125

Lt Col Rakesh Mehrotra

126

Lt Col Rajeev Rattan Kotwal

127

Cdr MCV Jose

128

Cdr KC Mahesh Giri

129

Cdr Sam T Samuel

130

Cdr Joji Tom Mundakel

131

Cdr S Manrai

132

Cdr P Pattanath

133

Cdr HS Dabas

134

Cdr Soumya Datta

135

Cdr SA Rawool

136

Cdr Sandeep Kumar

137

Cdr RK Srivastava

138

Cdr Shailesh Jain

139

Cdr Sati Taneja

140

Wg Cdr Gopal Taneja

141

Wg Cdr Sanjay Bishnoi

142

Wg Cdr Nilesh Gandhi

143

Wg Cdr Rajiv Gupta

144

Wg Cdr Sudhir Kumar Virulkar

145

Wg Cdr SK Chopra

146

Wg Cdr Sanjay Nijai

147

Wg Cdr Kuldeep Mathur

148

Wg Cdr SK Nair

149

Wg Cdr Prashant Karde

150

Maj K J Singh

151

Maj P Sirur

152

Maj Priyadarshi Chowdhury, SC

153

Sqn Ldr Narendra Prasad Uniyal

154

Capt Sandeep Shekhawat

155

S/ Lt. (IN) RC Jain

156

Lt HS Ahlawat

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Updated Date: Apr 12, 2019 13:07:17 IST