Lynching: When Armed Forces Veterans Stood up against Vigilantism

Lynching: When Armed Forces Veterans Stood up against Vigilantism

Armed ForcesBy Maeeshat Correspondent,

“We can no longer look away. We would be doing a disservice to our country if we do not stand up and speak for the liberal and secular values that our Constitution espouses,” said 114 veterans of Indian Armed Forces in their joint open letter to Prime Minister of the country and Chief Ministers of states while expressing their strong concern over rise in mob violence and cow vigilantism which have resulted in around two dozen deaths in the first seven months of 2017.

Without mincing words, the senior retired officers of the three Armed Forces – Army, Navy and Air Force – that included former Navy chief Admiral L. Ramdas strongly condemned acts of vigilantism and attacks on Muslims and Dalits.

What is happening in our country today strikes at all that the Armed Forces, and indeed our Constitution, stand for. We are witness to unprecedented attacks on society at large by the relentless vigilantism of self-appointed protectors of Hinduism. We condemn the targeting of Muslims and Dalits. We condemn the clampdowns on free speech by attacks on media outlets, civil society groups, universities, journalists and scholars, through a campaign of branding them anti-national and unleashing violence against them while the State looks away.

They categorically said that they are deeply concerned at the current situation in the country because of what they were taught and they did in their career in the armed forces.

“The Armed Forces stand for “Unity in Diversity”. Differences in religion, language, caste, culture or any other marker of belonging have not mattered to the cohesion of the Armed Forces, and servicemen of different backgrounds have fought shoulder to shoulder in the defence of our nation, as they continue to do today. Throughout our service, a sense of openness, justice and fair play guided our actions.”

We are one family. Our heritage is like the multi-coloured quilt that is India, and we cherish this vibrant diversity. Our diversity is our greatest strength. Dissent is not treason; in fact, it is the essence of democracy.

Since 1st April this year when Haryana dairy farmer Pahlu Khan, 50, was lynched by a gang of cow vigilantes in Alwar district of Rajasthan, at least 15 people have been lynched on suspicion of beef, cow or child theft. On 22nd July, a young boy Junaid Khan, also from Haryana, was beaten by a group and stabbed to death in a running train near Delhi. On 16th June, social activist Zafar Khan, 55, was allegedly beaten to death by municipality employees in Pratapgarh district of Rajasthan when he tried to stop them from taking photos of women defecating in the open.

However, 18th May was the biggest lynching day in the country when seven people were killed by mobs in two different incidents in Jharkhand. Four people named Naeem, Khali, Farzu and Raju were lynched in Seraikela-Kharsawa district on suspicion of being child lifter. Three others named Vikas Kumar Verma, Uttam Kumar Verma and Ganesh Kumar Gupta were lynched in Singhbhum district later in the day on the same suspicion.

The former soldiers of the country expressed their dismay at the ways society is being divided on communal lines.

“It saddens us to make this appeal, but current events in India have compelled us to register our dismay at the divisiveness that is gripping our country. We also support the ‘Not in My Name’ campaign that mobilised thousands of citizens across the country to protest against the current climate of fear, intimidation, hate and suspicion.”

The veterans urged the central and state governments to take note of their concerns.

We urge the powers that be at the Centre and in the States to take note of our concerns and urgently act to uphold our Constitution, both in letter and in spirit.

Signatories of the open letter included: Lt Col E.N. Ambre, Brig V.K.S. Antony, Maj M.K. Apte, Col C.T. Arasu, Lt Col Israr Asghar, Cdr C.R. Babu, Lt Cdr P.S. Bal, Lt Cdr Rakeh Bali, Maj Gen Dipankar Banerjee, Lt Gen C.A. Barretto, Brig Noel Barretto, Col T.S. Bedi, Surg Cdr P Bellubi, Petty Off Gajanan Bhat I.N., Cdr P.G. Bhat, Gp Capt A.V. Bhagwat, Col V. Bopiah, Maj Gen P.R. Bose, Vice Adm A. Britto, Col R.T. Chacko, Lt Col M. Chandrasekhar, Cdre R. Clarke, Col K.S. Choudhry, Brig T.P.S. Chowdhury, Brig Dileep Deore, Col Samuel Dhar, Lt Gen F.T. Dias, Lt Col A.P. Durai, Gp Capt M.P. Elangovan, Maj Gen Shyamal Ghosh, Col V. Nanda Gopal, Cdre E.C. Govindan, Col V. Govindarajan, Col R.P. Grover, Cdre P.C. Gulati, Cdr M. Hari, Lt Col Muzaffar Hasan, Brig Prem Hejmadi, AVM Kapil Kak, Col A.T. Kalghatgi, Maj Gen MPS Kandal, Col M.S. Kapoor, Maj Gen T.K. Kaul, Lt Col P.B. Keskar, Lt Col V. Kharkar, Wg Cdr R. Khosla, Brig Anil Malhotra, Col Arun Malhotra, Lt Col R.C. Malhotra, Brig G.K. Malik, Cdre G. Menezes, Wg Cdr S.N. Metrani, Maj G.N. Misra, AVM R.P. Misra, Col Biman Mistry, Col R.B. Mistry, Col A.K. Mitra, Col Pradip Mitra and Maj Gen H. Mukherji.

Turkey army group announces takeover on TV

Turkey army group announces takeover on TV

turkey1An army group in Turkey says it has taken control of the country, with bridges closed in Istanbul and aircraft flying low over Ankara.

PM Binali Yildirim earlier denounced an “illegal action” by a military “group”, stressing it was not a coup. He said that the government remained in charge.

Traffic has been stopped from crossing both the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges in Istanbul.

There are reports of gunshots in the capital Ankara.

Gunfire was also heard outside Istanbul police HQ and tanks are said to be stationed outside Istanbul airport. All flights are cancelled.

CNN Turk reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “safe” but did not elaborate.

A statement from the military group read out on NTV television said: “The power in the country has been seized in its entirety.” Who represents the group remains uncertain.

But Mr Yildirim told NTV by telephone: “We are working on the possibility of an attempt. We will not allow this attempt.

“Those who are in this illegal act will pay the highest price,” he added, saying it would not be correct to describe the move as a “coup”.

He said: “There was an illegal act by a group within the military that was acting out of the chain of military command. Our people should know that we will not allow any activity that would harm democracy.”

There are reports Turkey’s top general has been taken hostage at the military HQ.