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'It Goes by Religion': Pakistani Army Spokesperson Defends Rajnath Singh Over Rafale 'Shastra Puja' Row

File photo of Pakistan army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor (Image: AP)

File photo of Pakistan army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor (Image: AP)

Performing the ritual, Rajnath Singh etched an ‘Om’ on the Rafale jet, adorned it with flowers and laid a coconut and lemons to ward off the evil eye. His actions have drawn strong criticism on social media as well as from the Opposition.

Breaking the habit of making indefatigable attacks against the Indian government, Pakistan army spokesperson Asif Ghafoor on Thursday came to the defence of union minister Rajnath Singh who has been under fire for performing ‘Shastra Puja’ after receiving the first Rafale jet in France and said that nothing is wrong in Rafale Puja ‘as it goes by the religion’.

Ghafoor in a tweet on Thursday said, “Nothing wrong in #RafalePuja as it goes by the religion and that must be respected. Please, remember....it’s not the machine alone which matters but competence, passion & resolve of the men handling that machine. Proud of our PAF Shaheens.”

His remarks also come at a time when tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations have peaked since August 5, when India downgraded the autonomy Jammu and Kashmir, downsizing it into two union territories and virtually imposed a communications blackout in the region.

Singh on October 8, received the first of the 36 French-built Rafale fighter jet in the French port city of Bordeaux and performed ‘Shastra Puja’ (worship of weapons) ahead of taking a sortie on the jet on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami.

Performing the ritual, he etched an ‘Om’ on the aircraft, adorned it with flowers and laid a coconut and lemons to ward off the evil eye. His actions have drawn strong criticism on social media as well as from the Opposition.

Senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge described Singh performing Shashtra Puja as “tamasha”. Congress leader Udit Raj also raised objections saying the day “superstition” ends in India, the country will start making its own fighter jets. Several leaders including Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had hit out saying it had been akin to a puja performed for a new truck.

However, Singh on Thursday hit back and said, "People can say whatever they want. I did what I thought was right and I will continue to do so. This is our faith, that there is a superpower and I have believed it since childhood.”

According to Defence Minister, the France visit had been a success and he had also held a 35-minute meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"After induction of Rafale fighter aircraft, the combat capability of the Indian Air Force will increase. We don't want to intimidate anyone by doing so. We will neither fear anyone nor will we intimidate," ANI quoted the Defence Minister as saying.

first published:October 11, 2019, 08:41 IST
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