Defense PRO deletes military-hosted iftar tweet at J&K after ‘criticism’
The Ministry of Defense’s Public Relations (PRO) Officer in Jammu reportedly deleted a tweet highlighting the Indian Army’s secular tradition of hosting an iftar party at Doda in Jammu and Kashmir, after the post was attacked by the editor of Sudarshan News.
On April 21, the PRO tweeted pictures of an iftar held by the army in Doda saying: “Keeping alive the traditions of secularism, an iftaar has been organized by the Indian army at Arnora in the district of Doda”. Photographs showed the iftar gathering, the general officer commanding the army’s Rashtriya Rifles Delta Force interacting with local Muslims and a person in uniform offering namaz to civilians.
Later that day, Sudarshan News CMD and Editor-in-Chief, Suresh Chavhanke, tweeted, “Ab ye bimari Bhartiya sena mein bhi ghuss gayi hai? Dukhad…” (Now this disease has spread even in the Indian army? Sad). The comment drew widespread support from several Twitter users.
अब यह बीमारी भारतीय सेना ? दुःखद … https://t.co/AiRkdLUUBl
— Suresh Chavhanke “Sudarshan News” (@SureshChavhanke) April 21, 2022
Although there was no reaction from the military or the PRO defense to Chavhanke’s remarks, the PRO (Jammu) defense deleted the original tweet highlighting the iftar. Lt Col Devender Anand, Defense PRO (Jammu), declined to comment on the tweet’s deletion when contacted.
Reacting to the development, former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command Lt. Gen. Tej Sapru (Retired), who commanded the Nagrota Corps under which Doda reports, expressed dismay at the tweet’s deletion. “There was nothing wrong with the tweet. It should have been vigorously defended. The military holds iftar in the insurgency-prone area because reaching out to locals is an integral part of fighting militants And the Muslims in this part of J&K are more Indian than you or I. The military would do the same for any other religion if there were any conflicts in this area that they were tackling. “, we are also doing this in the northeast by reaching out to the Christian population. It has nothing to do with religion or politics and it is purely an instrument to fight militancy by taking people with you” , did he declare.
Retired officer Major General Yash Mor also defended the original tweet. “The Indian Army has been at the forefront of inter-religious harmony. As officers, we take pride in the fact that we have NO religion, we just adopt the religion of the troops we command,” he tweeted.
The Indian Army has been at the forefront of interfaith harmony.
As officers, we take pride in the fact that we have NO religion, we simply adopt the religion of the troops we command! https://t.co/7nUSPapgq9
– Maj Gen (Dr) YashMor (@YashMor5) April 22, 2022
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lt. Gen. HS Panag (Retired), former GOC-in-C, Northern Command, said failing to defend the original tweet and then deleting it in the face of criticism was to cowardice”. “The concerned PRO and the army should have had the courage to defend the tradition of holding iftar during Ramzan. There is nothing wrong. It is part of the army’s policy to win hearts and the minds of the local people. We also run army goodwill schools for the local people and all these measures are aimed at accompanying the local people in the fight against foreign sponsored militancy. And the locals appreciate these In any case, there is nothing new about holding an iftar at J&K and it has been a practice for many years,” he said.