Army veterans named in purported letter to Prez on politicisation of armed forces deny signing it

New Delhi: Soon after reports of over 150 veterans including eight former service Chiefs writing a letter to President of India and Supreme Commander of the Armed forces Ram Nath Kovind over politicisation of the military in the Lok Sabha elections, two army veterans named as signatories have denied signing the letter. The Rashtrapati Bhawan has also clarified that it has not received any such letter.

Clarifying on the letter, former Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of the Indian Army, General SF Rodrigues said that “it is a classic example of fake news.”

“Don’t know what it (purported letter was written by armed forces veterans to President) is all about. All my life, we’ve been apolitical. After 42 years of my service as an officer, it’s a little late to change. Always put India first. Don’t know who these people are,” Rodrigues was quoted as saying to Republic channel.

The letter, allegedly sent to President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday 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 “Modi ji ki Sena”.

Sources in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, however, denied receiving any such letter which had signatories like former Army chiefs – General (retired) SF Rodrigues, General (retired) Shankar Roy Chowdhury and General (retired) Deepak Kapoor, four former Navy chiefs and former Air Force chief NC Suri.

In the letter, veterans have appealed the President to “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, so that the secular and apolitical fabric of the armed forces is preserved.

Citing concerns over the rise in such incidents despite reprimands by the Election Commission of India, the veterans have said, “…we regret to state that these do not appear to have resulted in any substantive change of behaviour and practice on the ground,” adding that given the prevailing environment where political parties and candidates seem to be acting in total disregard of the declaration of the ‘model code of conduct’, we fear that such incidents may only increase as polling day draws near.