Military veterans ask President to ensure secular, apolitical nature of armed forces
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
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
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
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.