People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 45

November 16, 2008


Attempts At Saffronisation Of Armed Forces  Not A "Freak Incident", But A Continuous Process

IT was Sangh Parivar's second U-turn on the enquiry of a case that occurred on September 29, 2008. Initially, they had distanced themselves from the Sadhvi & Co., saying that they are not part of Sangh Parivar. When Sadhvi Pragya was arrested, initially there was a lull in Parivar camp. Hush-hush could be heard, but there was no reaction.

Suddenly, Rajnath Singh, coined a slogan, "Terrorism has no religion". The media took it as a sign of distancing from the accused. Rajnath Singh, at least for a while, liked the focus on him. Suddenly the RSS, the mother organisation, woke up and had parleys with Advani and Rajnath Singh.

Here came another slogan from none other than the president of BJP, Rajnath Singh, "Hindu cannot be a terrorist". And he said that the accused will get legal help from the party. The U-turn was made when the serving Lt Col Purohit was arrested.

Here the Army's response to the arrest also came. It said this is a "freak case" and called it an "isolated incident". The response is all the more disgusting to those who have watched the process of the BJP and its cohorts having tried to communalise even the Army.

The process started when the BJP got the opportunity of sitting in power. On May 31, 1999, two senior military officers drove along with the then Defence minister George Fernandes to the BJP executive meeting to brief on the Kargil operation. The first one was the then additional director-general of military operations, Lt Gen N C Vij who later became the Army chief in 2003. The second officer was Air vice marshal S K Malik.

After their brief, the national executive of BJP passed a resolution urging the international community to condemn Pakistan for the intrusion into Kargil. The oath of secrecy undertook by the military officers was breached, but they were let off without even a mild warning. In fact, N C Vij became general and took over as chief of the Army staff on January 01, 2003.

Next incident came immediately after the Kargil war, when the infantry division commander Lt Gen V N Budhwar had permitted the Sindhu Darshan festival in Leh that was organised by the RSS. The process that started during the Kargil war was carried forward further.

This process did not stop there. The government collapsed due to the withdrawal of support by AIADMK. Portraits of chiefs of tri-services were adorning the stages from where the BJP had carried out its election campaign. They claimed it as a victory of BJP during their speeches. The second rung leaders of BJP had claimed it as a victory of Hindus against Muslims. Communalisation and politicisation of Army was continuing.

Not to forget is the great achievement of BJP led government that dismissed the Naval chief admiral Vishnu Bhagwat. He was the only one Naval chief who was dismissed in India's history. BJP and George Fernandes had no regret in doing that. For none of his mistakes, he bore the brunt. But the then Defence minister, George Fernandes, escaped unscathed though Jaya Jaitley was caught taking bribe in his official bungalow.

 The communalisation and politicisation of military by the BJP and its allies led to the appointment of an honest and upright officer like Air Marshal M S Shekhon into not so an important portfolio. He was posted as Air Officer-in-Charge, Southern Air Command.    He wrote to the then chief minister of Punjab, Prakash Singh Badal to help him to take over as Air Officer-in-Charge, Western Air Command, the most important post in Indian Air Force after chief of Air Staff. The exposure of his letter to Badal had made him to resign.

    In 2004, despite their India shining campaign, BJP and its allies had lost the parliamentary elections, as expected. The recent events have proved that the damage has already been done. Anti Terrorist Squad is looking for more army personnel. The whereabouts of 54 people trained by Purohit are yet to be traced.
These events have escaped the attention of Army intelligence people. Three services have a wide network of counter intelligence operation. But it is very difficult to detect the anti- national activities by the counter-intelligence officer himself. Lt Col Shrikant Purohit is from the Intelligence Corps. This has helped him evade from Intelligence lens while giving arms training for several years. More startling facts are coming out now. "Sadhu" Amirtanand Swami who was arrested by Anti-Terror Squad(ATS) of Maharashtra on November 12, 2008 in connection with the Malegaon blasts is also an ex-serviceman. Eight years ago, he was a non-commissioned officer in Indian Air Force.
Not only in the Defence services, the RSS-BJP combine has an outfit called "Sankalp Sanstha" that brain washes the civil servants and has them in their camp. Knee jerk reactions like "freak case" or "isolated incident" comments will not help to stem the crisis. A thorough enquiry into the events by the political and military leadership will only help in putting an end to such things.
(The writer is an ex-serviceman and served in Indian Air Force for twenty years)