New Delhi: A group of retired military veterans, including eight former chiefs of the Armed Forces, have shot off a protest letter to President Ram Nath Kovind appealing to him to ensure that the “secular” and “apolitical character”of our Armed Forces is preserved.
The letter expresses concern at the use of the military operations for electoral or political purposes.
The President is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The letter was sent on Thursday night through email with copies to the Election Commission.
The letter that has more than 150 signatories, includes three former chiefs of the Army–Gen SF Rodrigues, Gen Shankar Roy Chowdhury and Gen Deepak Kapoor—and four former chiefs of the Navy–Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, Admiral Arun Prakash and Admiral Sureesh Mehta.
It also has former Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal NC Suri (retd) as a signatory.
Besides, the signatories include retired Army Commander-level officers, gallantry awardees, former fighter pilots, among others.
The recent developments have caused “some concern and considerable alarm and disquiet among both the serving and retired personnel of our forces,” says the letter.
They referred 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 “Modiji ki sena”.
This is in addition to the media pictures of election platforms and campaigns in which party workers are seen wearing military uniforms; and posters with pictures of soldiers, especially of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, displayed on them.
“Such misuse of the Armed Forces established under the Constitution and under the supreme command of the President, 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,” the signatories have warned.
The letter urges the President to take necessary steps urgently and all political parties have been asked to 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 soldiers, sailors and airmen owe allegiance to the Constitution, of which you, as President, are the legal custodian, the letter says.
A letter to the Chief Election Commissioner last month had elicited a prompt response. 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,” the letter says.
Soldier killed in cross-LoC firing in Rajouri
An Army soldier was killed Monday in cross-border firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, officials said.
A soldier, manning a forward post, was critically injured in the Pakistani firing in Sunderbani sector and was immediately rushed to the military hospital where he succumbed to injuries, the officials said.
Earlier, a defence spokesman said the Pakistani troops targeted the sector in the early hours, prompting retaliation by the Indian Army.
The cross-border firing started around 6.30 am and continued intermittently for several hours, causing panic among the border residents who have been advised to take necessary precautionary measures for their safety, the officials said.
GSLV rocket carrying India’s moon mission Chandrayaan-2 lifts
India’s second moon mission Chandrayaan-2 aimed at landing a rover on unchartered Lunar South Pole was launched Monday onboard the country’s most powerful geosynchronous launch vehicle from the spacesport here Monday.
The three-stage rocket GSLV-MkIII-M1 blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here at 2.43 p.m amid cloudy skies, a week after the earlier launch was called off on July 15 following a technical snag observed during the propellant filling stage.
It will inject the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 into Earth orbit, about 16 minutes later, marking the first phase of the ambitious mission that will take about 48 days to land on the moon surface.
The three-component Chandrayaan-2 comprising an orbiter, a lander and a rover will undergo 15 crucial manoeuvres before landing on the moon, expected by the first week of September, Indian Space Research Organisation said.
Earlier, a 20-hour countdown for the launch started at 6.43 pm Sunday after ISRO scientists rectified the glitch that prompted them to call off the earlier launch.
Billed as the most complex and prestigious mission undertaken by ISRO since its inception, Chandrayaan-2 will make India the fourth country to soft land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States and China.
Modi govt presents 50-day report card, says ‘walking the talk’ on promises
New Delhi: Presenting a report card after completing 50 days in office, the government on Monday said it is already “walking the talk” on its promise of fast-paced development with “speed, skill and scale” being manifested in the Modi dispensation’s second term.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn-in on May 30 after the BJP won 303 seats — the first time since 1971 that an incumbent government returned to power with such a thumping mandate.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar presented the the report card and achievements of the government in the first 50 days in office, saying the country has felt assured that the pace of reforms, welfare and justice to all has increased as compared to the first term.
The target of USD 5 trillion economy is not just a dream but a roadmap has been given for it, he told reporters.
Javadekar asserted that the first 50 days have shown that Modi government’s second term will be more effective and will build on the success of its previous tenure.
The government has taken historic decisions which shows a clear roadmap of faster development in infrastructure, social justice and education, he said.
The minister said that the government has hit the ground running for the welfare of all sections of the society, including farmers, traders, small businesses, unemployed youth and middle class.
The prime minister’s presence on world forum has made a difference to India’s influence over world politics, Javadekar said.
“With Rs 100 lakh crore of investment to be made in roads, railways, ports, airports and other infrastructure, the formation of Jal Shakti ministry, the mission to reach out to every house by 2024 with assured water supply, we are walking the talk with speed and many historical decisions,” he said.
Citing the setting up of a national research foundation, giving labour, particularly unorganised labour, and small and medium-sized enterprises required help for flourishing, he said these efforts will not only increase the employment opportunities, but also ensure justice and welfare for all sections of the society.
He also expressed confidence that the government will achieve its dream of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy in the period in which it has decided to achieve the target.
In the coming 5 years, new investment opportunities will be provided, Javadekar said.
“Investment will come from across globe. In 50 days so much has been done for all sections of the society that people are assured of what Modi had said after assuming power that ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, aur sabka vishvas’ (with all, development for all, with everyone’s trust) and fast-paced development,” he said.
“People have seen action on this vision. Speed, skill and scale have been manifested in the 50 days. Farmers, soldiers, youth, labourers, middle class, traders, taking India forward, taking India’s relations with neighbours forward, investment, development of resources, fight against corruption and social justice, have been the highlights of 50 days,” he said.
Listing the achievements of the government in the first 50 days in office, Javadekar said important developments were Rs 6,000 assistance to all farmers, increase in Minimum Support Price of several crops by two-three times, and codes for labourers, among others.
The prime minister’s first decision after assuming office for the second term was for children of slain military and police personnel, giving scholarship to them.
Among other achievements of the government, he cited pension for traders, tax benefit for the middle class, and benefits of home loans interest and the GST.
The minister said there is a massive push in the direction of making India a 5 trillion economy, with several measures announced in the budget from assistance to banks to corporate tax benefits.
Javadekar also highlighted government’s crackdown on economic offenders and efforts to bring back those who are wanted, but have fled the country. He also talked about the government bringing a bill to crackdown on ponzi schemes.