Letter By Armed Forces Veterans To The President: Fake Or Not?

13 April 2019 7:00 PM GMT
Letter By Armed Forces Veterans To The President: Fake Or Not?
Image Credit: Indian Express, One India

Recently a letter has been seen making rounds on social media. The letter is alleged to be written and supported by several armed forces veterans to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, asking to put a stop to the use of the military for political purposes. “We… urge you to take all necessary steps to urgently direct all political parties that they must forthwith 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 letter says.

As per the initial reports, the said letter was signed by veterans including former service chiefs, General SF Rodrigues (retired), General Shankar Roy Chowdhury (retired), General Deepak Kapoor (retired), former Air Force chief NC Suri and four former Navy chiefs – Laxminarayan Ramdas, Vishnu Bhagwat, Arun Prakash, Suresh Mehta.

The denial

However, shortly after the letter started going viral, few veterans, who were mentioned among the signatories, including Air Chief Marshal NC Suri and General SF Rodrigues denied signing any such letter.

ANI reported that the signatories have denied writing any such letter. It quoted former Army Chief General SF Rodrigues, “I do not know what it is all about. All my life, we have been apolitical. After 42 years as an officer, it is a little late to change. We have always put India first. I do not know who these people are and it (the letter) is a classic manifestation of fake news.”

According to the report, even sources from the President’s office denied receiving any such letter.

Former IAF Chief, NC Suri, also denied signing any such letter in his statement to ANI. He said in his statement that this was not the letter by Admiral Ramdas, but by Major Chowdhary, which he had been receiving on several media platforms. He further said that to put an end, he replied saying that armed forces are political and support 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 said.

However, as reported by Business Standard, one of the signatories, Major General Harsh Kakkar confirmed his signature. “Yes, I had given my consent for being a signatory to the letter… only after knowing the contents of it.”

Major Chowdhary’s response

While the news was abuzz with the letter being fake, Major Priyadarshi Chowdhary, a retired infantryman from the Sikh regiment who sent the letter countered the statement by the two veterans who denied signing the letter. The other allegation that was being levied was that no letter of such nature had reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Maj Chowdhary retorted by tweeted the screenshot of the mail sent.

As reported by Firstpost, this mail was sent to three different mailboxes in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Two of the three mailboxes are in existence, as confirmed by Firstpost, however, it could not be ascertained whether the letter did reach them.

Furthermore, Major Chowdhary also tweeted “proof” of both Gen Rodrigues and ACM Suri’s endorsement of the letter.

Supporting Maj Chowdhary’s account, veteran Maj Gen Sudhir Vombatkere responded to the controversy with a letter of his own in which he said having meticulously recorded the email responses of veterans.

Interestingly, ANI had earlier reported former Army Vice Chief Lt General ML Naidu of denying giving his consent to the letter.

However, he has now said that ANI had misquoted him and falsely attributed to him saying to have not given his consent, as reported by NewsCentral 24X7.

While talking to Firstpost, Air Chief Marshal Suri who had denied signing the letter, while speaking of the tweeted email exchange between him and Maj Chowdhary, he said that he did talk about the nonpartisan position of the army, adding that he endorses the appeal to the Supreme Commander “in this context”. However, he maintained that while he endorses the fact that armed forces are apolitical, he did not endorse the contents of the letter. He also said that this seemed like a “misunderstanding of messages” and not “a deliberate act”.

However, Lt General Gurmit Singh(Retired) confirmed that the letter to president do exist and many signatories have confirmed writing the same.

Also Read: “Stop Hatred Being Spread By Media”: Admiral (Retd) Ramdas Had Warned In His Letter To President Post Pulwama Attack

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