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2-min read

2 Ex-Service Chiefs Deny Signing Letter Sent to President Against Politicisation of Armed Forces

Former army chief Sunith Francis Rodrigues, ex-IAF chief NC Suri and former army vice chief ML Naidu say their consent was not sought before their names were added to the list of signatories.

News18.com

Updated:April 12, 2019, 6:06 PM IST
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New Delhi: Two former service chiefs are among three top-ranking defence officers to have denied signing a letter written to the President against the “politicisation” of the armed forces in the ongoing elections.

The letter, purportedly signed by more than 150 veterans, including eight former service chiefs, sought the intervention of President Ram Nath Kovind, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces, against use of armed forces for political gains. It registers strong objection to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Modiji ki Sena’ remark.

The letter’s contents are followed by the names of 156 ‘signatories’. But the first name on the list, former army chief Sunith Francis Rodrigues, denied signing the letter, calling it fake news.

“I don’t know what it is all about. All my life, we've been apolitical. After 42 years as an officer, it's a little late to change. We in the services have always done what the government in power ordered us, we are an instrument of the state. Anyone can say anything and then sell it as fake news, I don't know who this gentleman is who wrote this,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Former IAF chief NC Suri, the eight name on the list of signatories, said he had contended that armed forces should remain apolitical, but said his consent wasn’t sought for the letter.

“This is not Admiral Ramdas’ letter and it has been done by some Major Chaudhary. He has written this and it was coming on WhatsApp and emails,” ANI quoted Suri as saying.

“To put an end to it, I wrote that armed forces are apolitical and support the politically elected government. And no, my consent has not been taken for any such letter. I don’t agree with whatever has been written in that letter. We have been misquoted,” he added.

Former Army vice chief Lt General ML Naidu, the 20th name on the list, also denied writing the letter.

Amid the spate of denials, Major General Harsha Kakkar, 31st on the list of signatories, however, said he had signed the letter. “Yes, I had given my consent for being a signatory to the letter. I had given my consent only after knowing the contents of it.”

In the letters, the veterans said it was a matter of considerable concern and disquiet among both the serving and the retired personnel that the armed forces are being used to pursue political agenda.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recently referred to the armed forces as "Modiji ki Sena" at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh, triggering strong reactions from the opposition parties.

The Election Commission too also took strong objection to the comments.

In the letter, the military veterans also expressed disappointment over the usage of photos of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman and other soldiers at election campaigns.


| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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