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.
Day 39: Normal life still out of gear in Kashmir; schools remain shut, public transport off roads
Srinagar: Normal life remained affected in Kashmir as the stalemate following the abrogation of Article 370 entered its 39th day on Thursday with schools closed and public transport off the roads, officials said.
Restrictions on the movement or assembly of people have been lifted from most areas of the valley, but security forces continued to be deployed to maintain law and order, the officials said.
They said the authorities were also considering easing out restrictions on mobile communications and restoring voice call services.
While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir.
However, normal life remained severely affected across the valley due to shutdown which entered 39th day on Thursday, the officials said.
Markets and other business establishments remained closed, while public transport was off the roads across the valley, they added.
Internet services remained suspended across all platforms, the officials said.
The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne any fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.
Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into custody while mainstream leaders including three former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have also been either detained or placed under house arrest.
NC leader Akbar Lone ‘appreciates’ Pakistan’s role in raking up Kashmir issue
SRINAGAR: National Conference leader and MP Akbar Lone has “appreciated” the role of Pakistan in raking up the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India, even as he said that his party must contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Lone told IANS in an interview that contesting elections has been compulsion in the past though “Kashmiris don’t belong to India”.
“We will have to first understand what powers the new Assembly will have in the event of any elections taking place. As a man from National Conference, whatever the elections, we must contest elections,” he said.
Batting for a united stand by political parties against the abrogation of Article 370, Lone said that all parties must stand together for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“All parties like the Congress, National Conference, PDP and other small and big groups must join hands to carry out agitation against India for the return of the special status of the state,” Lone added.
Lone said the clampdown in Kashmir is stopping people from showing their resentment against the scrapping of the special status.
“It is military rule in Kashmir. Every nook and corner of the state is guarded by the Army, by paramilitary forces, people are not allowed to come out, if they would have been allowed to come out, they would have showed their resentment,” Lone said.
He said that he “appreciated” the role of Pakistan and other countries in raking the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India.
“It is a good thing that Pakistan or China or US any other country rakes up the Kashmir issue internationally and supports the cause, they have exposed India, otherwise India would have taken the move as a success without caring about who is who,” he said.
Lone demanded the release of former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and said the party leadership must be allowed to meet these senior leaders to decide the future course of action.
“We must be allowed to see our leaders and they must be released, we will sit down along with other parties to chalk out a joint course of action,” Lone said.
Kashmir integral part of India, says Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind
Top Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JuH) on Thursday came out in support of the Centre’s decision of abrogating provisions of Article 370, saying Kashmir is an “integral part” of the country and the welfare of people in the Valley lies in their integration with India.
In the resolution passed in its annual general meeting held in New Delhi, JuH rallied for a united India.
“It is our belief that the welfare of the people of Kashmir lies in getting integrated with India. The inimical forces and the neighbouring country are bent upon destroying Kashmir. The oppressed and beleaguered people of Kashmir are stuck between opposing forces,” it said, without mentioning Article 370.
“JuH stands steadfastly for the unity and integrity of the country and has accorded it paramount importance. As such it can never support any separatist movement, rather it considers such movements not only harmful for India but also for the people of Kashmir,” it said.
It also said that the current situation in Kashmir demands that peaceful initiatives be launched to maintain peace and security in the region, especially in the view of the repercussions of clash of “atomic powers”.
The Muslim body also appealed to the government of India to protect the people of Kashmir and their property while respecting human rights.
“It must use every possible constitutional means for bringing back normalcy in the region and winning the hearts of the people of Kashmir,” it said.