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

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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.


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Govt directs hospitals to display rate list of tests, lab investigations

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Srinagar, Apr 25: Government has issued a circular to all hospitals and health institutions directing them to display rate list of all available diagnostic tests and lab investigations for easy access of people.

“It is impressed upon all the Heads of Hospitals/ Health care institutions to clearly display/indicate the various radiological examinations/lab. investigations/other tests conducted/available along with the rates chargeable within their respective laboratories/Hospitals, at designated areas and conspicuous places in clear fonts in English/Local language for the information of General Public,” reads the circular.

“These Instructions shall be followed in letter & Spirit,” it added.

 

The orders in this regard were issued by the Commissioner/Secretary Health and Medical Education Department following several complaints that certain basic tests/investigations are being denied/ not carried out in health care Institutions of the State on one pretext or the other.

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Chowkidaar needs your votes to win fight against ‘terror’: PM Modi in Bihar

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday hit out at the opposition over terrorism and national security, saying they deny these affect people and that they aren’t issues to be discussed.

The Prime Minister started his speech in Maithili, the local dialect spoken in the area, in Bihar’s Darbhanga as he picked on the opposition’s attack over India’s airstrike in Pakistan’s Balakot in February this year.

“They question why does Modi talk about militancy. They say it is not an issue. You tell me — aren’t national security and terrorism issues? They do not have an understanding that you have. More than 350 people were killed in an attack in Sri Lanka. Isn’t this an issue?” he questioned.

 

“After three phases of voting on 300 seats, those seeking evidence of India’s airstrikes, have vanished. They are now abusing Modi and the EVMs. These people, who have been cut off from the grassroots, have not been able to sense the mood of the nation,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that it is the poor who have been affected the most by militancy.

“Everyone lived a normal life 40 years ago. But the money that should be used for the poor and used for building schools and hospitals are being now being used to buy bomb and guns,” he said.

He also cited the example of security force personnel, who he said, don’t get to sleep for hours and if something happens they are blamed.

“It’s important to end militancy… This is a ‘New India’ and, we will strike at the heart of militancy and decimate them,” he said.

Modi also referred to the modules busted in Darbhanga over the years and said the people in the region have been affected by militancy.

“Aap ka yeh chowkidar chowkanna hai. Na koi module rahega na hi koi militant bachega (Your security guard is alert. All modules will be busted and all militants will be caught),” he said.

In Darbhanga, Abdul Bari Siddiqui of the RJD and BJP’s Gopalji Thakur are pitted against each other as they face the issues of caste and nationalism from the Lok Sabha seat. Polling will be held on April 29 in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha election 2019.

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Kashmir NEET aspirants alloted four more centres

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Srinagar: To accommodate all the 9,250 aspirants from the Kashmir Valley for this year’s National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) exams, the National Testing Agency (NTA) has allotted four additional centres in the region, officials said on Thursday.

NTA had already set up NEET exam centres in the Valley for 5,750 aspirants. The remaining 3,500 aspirants had been demanding additional centres so that none of them needed to travel to centres outside the Valley.

“Four additional centres allotted now will accommodate the remaining 3,500 aspirants so that none of this year’s NEET aspirants from the Valley have to travel outside to take the test”, an official said here.

 

The four additional centres are being set up here in the Kashmir University, Gandhi Memorial College, Green Valley School and Kashmir Harvard School.

NTA officials said the aspirants are being advised on Thursday through SMS about their centre allotments.

Following the demand for setting up of additional NEET centres in the Valley, two advisors of the Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik — Khurshid Ahmad Ganai and K.K. Sharma — had taken up the matter with the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry.

The test is scheduled to be held on May 5.

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