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Former Indian Air Force, Army chiefs deny writing controversial letter to President

Former Air Force chief NC Suri told India Today that he had not signed any such letter. In fact, Air Marshall Suri has written another letter to the President's office clarifying his stance. General SF Rodrigues said he had no idea about the letter and called it fake.

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Former Indian Air Force, Army chiefs deny writing controversial letter to President
Former Air Force chief NC Suri and former Army chief General SF Rodrigues have denied signing a letter supposedly written by military veterans to President Ram Nath Kovind urging him to stop politicians from using the defence forces for political purpose.

Former Air Force chief NC Suri and former Army chief General SF Rodrigues have denied signing a letter supposedly written by military veterans to President Ram Nath Kovind urging him to stop politicians from using the defence forces for political purpose.

Suri told India Today that he had not signed any such letter. In fact, Air Marshall Suri has written another letter to the President's office clarifying his stance. General SF Rodrigues said he had no idea about the letter and called it fake.

"Don't know what it (letter) is all about. All my life, we have been apolitical. After 42 years as an officer, it's a little late to change. Always put India first. Don't know who these people are, but this is a classic manifestation of fake news," said General SF Rodrigues (retired).

The controversial letter which was made public on Thursday urged 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".

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It was signed by 156 retired servicemen including three former Army chiefs, four former Navy Chiefs and a former Air Force Chief.

The army veterans in the letter complained to the President about the manner in which the political leaders were 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 mention was a reference to the controversy over a recent comment by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath describing the Indian Army as "Modi ji ki sena" (Narendra Modi's army) at an election rally in Ghaziabad which was reiterated by Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as well as several other members of the ruling BJP while taking credit for the Balakot air strike.

Also Read:PM Modi lying when he says Congress will remove immunity of armed forces: P Chidambaram

The letter expressed retired personnel's unease over the way the pictures and images of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and soldiers, in general, were used by the political parties in their election hoardings and campaigns to reap gimmicky electoral benefits.

The veterans also expressed fear that "with the General elections around 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," and 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."

Meanwhile, Congress slammed the Government over the letter accusing it of using the soldiers for votes. The party in its tweet said, "Modi may try to use soldiers for votes, but it's clear that soldiers stand with India and not the BJP. 156 Veterans of the Indian Armed Forces including 8 former Chiefs of Staff write to the President of India urging him to act against Modi for trying to use soldiers for votes."

Also Read: IAF says 'irrefutable evidence' Pakistan used F-16, Abhinandan's MiG 21 Bison took it down

The signatories to the letter include eight former service chiefs - former chiefs of Army Staff of the Indian Army- General Deepak Kapoor, former Navy chiefs- Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, Admiral Arun Prakash, Admiral Suresh Mehta and former Chief of the Air Staff- Air Chief Marshal NC Suri.

Also Read:IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to stay with his men and machines in Srinagar during sick leave

Here is the letter written by the group of veterans to the President

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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