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'Letter' by military veterans urging President to stop politicisation of armed forces is fake, say ex-chiefs: 'We are apolitical'

Controversy and mystery have shrouded the letter allegedly written by military veterans to President Ram Nath Kovind to complain about the manner in which political parties have been repeatedly using armed forces for political gains ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

Early on Thursday, reports said that over 150 armed forces veterans — including three former army chiefs, four former navy chiefs and a former air force chief — wrote to the President of India Commander-in-Chief urging "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."

 Letter by military veterans urging President to stop politicisation of armed forces is fake, say ex-chiefs: We are apolitical

Air Chief Marshal NC Suri. Image/Twitter@ANI

However, later in the day, sources at the Rashtrapati Bhavan denied receiving any letter supposedly written by armed forces veterans to the President which is circulating in the media. Speaking to ANI, Air Chief Marshal NC Suri said, "This is not Admiral Ramdas' letter (purported letter written by armed forces veterans to President) and it has been done by some Major Chaudhary. He has written this and it was coming on WhatsApp and emails. To put an end to it, I wrote that armed forces are apolitical and support the politically elected government. 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.

Adding to the confusion, former Army chief General SF Rodrigues told ANI, "Don't know what it (purported letter was written by armed forces veterans to President) is all about. All my life, we've been apolitical. Aftr 42 years as an officer, it's a little late to change. Always put India first. Don't know who these people are, a classic manifestation of fake news."

Rodrigues name was the first on the list of veterans who signed the purported letter.

Rodrigues, elaborating on the menace of mushrooming fake news around the world, said, "Anyone can write anything these days... you know that. There's no role for us to be political at all which is why we should not be politicised." Slamming fake news, Rodrigues further added that anything is sold as news these days and such news will be sold as a big scoop.

Former Army Vice Chief Lt General ML Naidu, who is mentioned at 20th in the list of armed forces veterans who purportedly wrote the letter, said, "No, my consent has not been taken for any such letter and neither have I written any such letter."

Major General Harsha Kakkar, who is the 31st signatory on the list, said: "Yes, I had given my consent for being a signatory to the letter. I had given my consent only after knowing the contents of it."

The Letter

Former Army chief General SF Rodrigues. Image/Twitter@ANI

Former Army chief General SF Rodrigues. Image/Twitter@ANI

The letter, released to the media on Thursday morning, was signed by over 150 military veterans and had allegedly complained to the President of India against political leaders who they claim are taking credit for military operations like cross-border strikes and repeatedly using the armed forces for political gains.

In the purported letter, they urged the President 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 letter 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 pictures of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman — who was captured by Pakistan and then released — in posters along with the image of soldiers in election hoardings and campaign.

"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 'Modiji ki Sena'.

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Updated Date: Apr 12, 2019 13:49:48 IST