New Delhi: A Twitter handle of the Army has deleted a tweet it posted earlier this week, showing pictures of an Army-organised Iftaar gathering in J&K’s Doda district. The tweet was allegedly pulled down because of trolling by social media users.
Pictures of the Iftaar gathering were posted on the microblogging site Wednesday, using the ‘PRO Defence Jammu’ handle with the caption: “Keeping alive the traditions of secularism, an Iftaar was organised by the Indian Army at Arnora in Doda district. #Ramadan”.
The Twitter handle, which is technically managed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), also speaks for Jammu-based formations of the Army.
Reacting to pictures of the Iftaar gathering shared by the Army’s Twitter handle, Sudarshan TV editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke said in a tweet, “Now this illness has entered the Indian Army as well? Sad.”
अब यह बीमारी भारतीय सेना में भी घुस गईं हैं? दुःखद … https://t.co/AiRkdLUUBl
— Suresh Chavhanke “Sudarshan News” (@SureshChavhanke) April 21, 2022
Chavhanke’s remarks invoked both praise and criticism with many social media users taking a cue from him to criticise the Army, and others rebuking him for commenting on the armed forces.
The Indian Army has in the past reiterated its commitment to secularism, asserting that it does not follow any one religion. This is why the Sarva Dharma Sthal — a place of worship for all religions — is a key feature at Army bases across the country.
Army tradition demands that every soldier, irrespective of religion, celebrates all festivals.
“In the Army, you will have Muslim officers and me taking part in a Hindu festival or even havan and similarly, Hindus taking part in festival of other religions. Every unit reaches out to the local community on festivals and occasions which are there locally and Doda iftaar has been going on for ages. It is sad to see the Army being targeted like this,” said one senior officer who did not wish to be identified.
Another officer pointed out that the Army has only one religion — India.
Asked about why the tweet in question was deleted, the officer said, “The trolling was too high. The tweet was deleted to ensure that no more controversy remains but yes, the deletion has led to more controversy. But deletion does not mean the forces are supporting any side. Our traditions and celebrations will continue.”
Support for & comments against Chavhanke
“I respect my Indian army a lot but, this kind of stuff suits on politicians,” one user wrote, in support of Chavhanke’s remarks.
Indian army should only perform rituals which r indigenous to India & has essence of ancien, true & pure form of Bharatiyata…there should not be place for any foreign officiality ! I respect my Indian army alot but, this kind of stuff suits on politicians
— MOHNISH SARDDA (@MaheshwariMohn1) April 21, 2022
Another user wrote, “Mr Suresh, keep yourself away from commenting on the working, custom and traditions of Armed Forces. We Don’t need your advice or suggestions.”
Mr Suresh, keep yourself away from commenting on the working, custom and traditions of Armed Forces. We Don't need your advice or suggestions.
— Indigenous 🇮🇳 (@captsinghjs) April 22, 2022
Aakash, social media convener of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), took to the microblogging site to slam Chavhanke for his remarks. “If there is so much problem with [Indian army] go and stay in Pakistan,” he wrote.
भारतीय सेना पर ऐसी घृणित टिप्पणी करता है और बीमार कहता है। कौन सा ज़ू का गैंडा है जी तुम? देशद्रोही। जय हिंद की सेना से इतनी समस्या है तो जाओ पाकिस्तान में रहा करो। भारत की सेना जो करती सोच-समझकर करती है। देशद्रोही क्या समझेंगे?
— Aakash (@OfficialAaKu) April 22, 2022
Many others also expressed their disappointment with the Indian Army for deleting the tweet.
— Mr.Bachpan ™ (@Sirbachpan) April 22, 2022
Lesson: Army can't win hearts and minds if its family jewels are being squeezed by bigoted scum of the Earth.
— Vivek Prasad (@Mallufideintent) April 22, 2022
The official handle of @prodefencejammu deleted its tweet on Iftar after Suresh Chavhanke’s quote tweet. This is very shameful and condemnable. They should take action against Suresh Chavhanke and also explain why the tweet was deleted. @IndianExpress @ndtv @thewire_in @TheQuint pic.twitter.com/veDkLRNHzV
— Mohd Abuzar Choudhary (@MohdAbuzarCh) April 23, 2022
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)