New Delhi: Several retired Armymen have taken to Twitter to express dismay at BJP Minister of State and Territorial Army officer Anurag Thankur’s conduct ahead of the Delhi election, when he encouraged crowds to chant “Desh ke gaddaron ko goli maaro…”.
Among these exservicemen is retired Lieutenant General Surinder Singh, who served as General Officer Commander-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Western Command, and currently heads the Punjab Public Service Commission.
Isn't there any regulation in the Army Act to take action against TA officers who make statement like Captain Anurag Thakur did in Delhi election. The proud SIKH Regiment must be ashamed. I hope the Army doesn't ignore the act as it brings Army uniform to disrepute. @adgpi @
— Lt Gen Surinder Singh(Retd) (@Surinder2g) February 11, 2020
“We are an army which has got no religion, no caste, no religion. We have groups from all over, all religions. So when our people speak a language which is inappropriate — they may be retired, or a TA, or anything — it affects our rank and file,” Singh told ThePrint. “Are those who are leading us today, are they thinking the same way? I felt I should express it.”
Several officers, both from the Sikh regiment and outside, were in agreement with him on Twitter.
The proud SIKH Regiment must be ashamed: We are
— K J Singh (@kjsingh2) February 11, 2020
Inaction as bad!
— Lt Gen H S Panag(R) (@rwac48) February 12, 2020
The trenchcoat is drenched!
What did he say? Let's take it up
Best wishes and regards
— Colonel Rohit Dev (Retd)🇮🇳 (@RDXThinksThat) February 11, 2020
Well said sir. If not , law must be enacted to curb the tendency of unscrupulous elements to change the colour of OG .
— Satinder Sangha (@satindersangha3) February 12, 2020
In July 2016, Anurag Thakur became the first BJP member of Parliament who was commissioned as an officer in the Territorial Army. ThePrint reached out to Thakur through calls and text messages but he did not respond. This report will be updated when he replies.
The territorial army
The Territorial Army is the second line of defence after the regular Army, and is composed of volunteers who receive military training for two months in a year so they can be mobilised for the country’s defence in case of an emergency.
“After they are commissioned, TA officers must go to an Army institute for training for a few months a year to be embodied and serving officers,” said military historian Mandeep Bajwa. Officers are disembodied for the time that they are out of service.
“There is a clause that allows you to engage in political activity while disembodied,” Bajwa said, adding, “Once they are embodied, they are subject to the Army Rules.”
According to Army Rules, serving officers are prohibited from making discriminatory speeches or inciting violence, but disembodied TA officers are not bound by the rules.
Thakur is currently disembodied.
During a Delhi election campaign rally for BJP candidate Manish Chaudhary in Rithala on 27 January, Minister of State of Finance Anurag Thakur chanted the now-famous slogan, “desh ke gaddaro ko”, as the crowd responded, “goli maaro saalon ko”.
Among other current political leaders who have been a TA officer is Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. Former Union minister K.P. Singh Deo had also been a TA officer.
This report has been updated to reflect two corrections — the military historian quoted in the copy is Mandeep Bajwa and not Baweja, and it’s K.P. Singh Deo who was a TA officer and not former PM V.P. Singh.