A former senior officer of the Indian Army on Saturday countered the claims of some other veterans who have denied endorsing a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind against the politicisation of the Armed Forces during the Lok Sabha election campaign. Kovind’s office had also denied receiving any such letter.
“The writer had meticulously recorded the email responses of veterans who had endorsed the letter to the president, in the time-sequence of their receipt, and the responses of all three senior veterans who had denied having endorsed the letter are on record,” Major General (Retired) Sudhir Vombatkere said in a letter circulated on social media. “Some of these are already in the public domain.”
Referring to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remark that the letter being sent to the president was “fake news”, Vombatkere said the letter was “neither news nor fake”. “The letter is an appeal to the President of India to uphold the apolitical character of the Armed Forces, of which he is the supreme commander,” he added.
Vombatkere said the veterans who denied signing the letter may have had second thoughts after doing so. “Notwithstanding the controversy created by three very senior veterans denying that they endorsed the letter to the president, the fact is that the content of the letter remains the view of the veterans who endorsed it,” he said. “Indeed, there are other veterans who have called in asking why they were not given opportunity to endorse the letter. This writer invites them to send in their endorsements to the letter and its contents, since opinion on such a matter is not time-bound.”
On Thursday, more than 150 veterans of the Indian armed forces reportedly wrote to Kovind urging him to stop the politicisation of the military in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. The letter urged Kovind 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”.
However, Former Chief of Army Staff General Sunith Francis Rodrigues denied signing the letter. Air Chief Marshal NC Suri said this letter was not written by Admiral L Ramdas and was done by a person called Major Chaudhary. Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury countered the veterans’ claims earlier on Saturday, telling Firstpost that he is in possession of emails from Suri and Rodrigues. He had also tweeted screenshots of the letter on Friday.