National

More veterans oppose ‘politicisation’ of Army

Fresh letter to President with more signatures planned

After a letter by over 150 veterans expressing concern at the politicisation of the armed forces came to light last week, several more veterans have endorsed the sentiment and asked to be part of the appeal, said Maj. Gen. S. G. Vombatkere (retd), who has endorsed the letter and also coordinated the effort.

“The focus of the whole exercise was to request the President to advise all political parties not to use the Army in furtherance of their political agenda as it will affect its apolitical character and adversely affect national security,” Maj. Gen. Vombatkere told The Hindu. But the real issue got sidelined after two former Chiefs, whose names figure in the list, distanced themselves from it, he said. “There have been questions if the letter is fake.”

However, after the controversy, several veterans have expressed their desire to be part of the appeal. “We are making the same letter with fresh signatories,” Maj. Gen. Vombatkere said, adding that they would collect some 100 signatures and then send it to the President.

Giving details of the initial exercise, he said that it was initiated and coordinated by three veterans, led by former Navy chief Admiral L. Ramdas, Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury and himself.

As Adm. Ramdas was travelling, the letter was sent from my email account, Maj. Gen. Vombatkere said. “The draft was written and rewritten and then sent off,” he said. Veterans, he said, were asked to go through the letter and give their endorsement by email by 6 p.m. on April 10.

No response

Maj. Gen. Vombatkere said that he had recorded all email responses of veterans who had endorsed the letter, including those of the two former Chiefs, who had denied supporting it.

However, he said there has been no response from the two former Chiefs or the Rashtrapati Bhavan on the issue.

In the letter dated April 11, 156 veterans, including eight former Chiefs appealed, to the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind, to “ensure the secular and apolitical character of our armed forces is preserved” and direct all political parties to desist from using the military in any manner for political purposes or to further their political agendas.

However, Rashtrapati Bhavan sources had denied receiving any such letter. In addition, two former Chiefs whose names are on the list of those who endorsed it, stated that they had not done it.

Major poll issue

The first phase of polling in the Lok Sabha election began last Thursday with the final phase to be held on May 19 and counting on May 23.

National security has become a major poll issue in the run-up to the elections against the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot air strike.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2020 5:09:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/more-veterans-oppose-politicisation-of-army/article26836906.ece

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