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Indian Army Veterans Refuse to Take Extortion Money, Slam Thackeray’s Idea on Social Media

Indian Army Veterans Refuse to Take Extortion Money, Slam Thackeray’s Idea on Social Media

Several army veterans have slammed MNS's demand from producers of films starring Pak actors to donate Rs. 5 crore to the Army fund, calling it an extortion attempt.

The question of whether or not Pakistani artistes should be allowed to work in the Indian film industry in the wake of continued violence inflicted by Pakistan on the border has been under discussion for quite some time now. Prior to the release of the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, starring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray asked every Bollywood producer who has worked with Pakistani artistes till now to donate Rs 5 crore to the Indian Army’s relief fund. This condition was viewed as being extortionist by many and Thackeray was condemned for dragging the Army into politics.

While everyone else was arguing over the issue, the Army had been silent so far. Although there has been no official comment from the Army as yet, several ex-army officers and veterans have now broken their silence on the issue.


Image Source: By Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod via Wikimedia Commons

Many serving and retired personnel from the Indian Army have stressed that the army is an “apolitical and secular” organisation and should remain that way. They also feel that the politicians are trying to exploit film producers in the name of the Indian Army for political gains.

Former Indian Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal told Hindustan Times, “The army doesn’t go around begging for funds. If a film producer wants to donate, he can do it like any other Indian citizen. But it’s unacceptable in such a manner.”

Kargil war veteran Brigadier Khushal Thakur (retd) feels that national sentiments are being exploited by Thackeray’s party.

He said, “If something is wrong, it is wrong. How can a forced donation of Rs 5 crore make it right? But the bottom line is the army’s name should not be misused for political gain.”

Many, including ex-army officers, journalists and activists, have also expressed their opinions on social media and strongly criticised the demand. A retired Air Vice Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Manmohan Bahadur, openly condemned Raj Thackeray’s “extortion” on Twitter.

Some politicians too have expressed their uneasiness about the whole controversy. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was quoted by The Economic Times as saying that the donation to the Army should be “voluntary” and he does not appreciate “holding of someone’s neck.” Clearly, the Army is upset at being dragged into political gimmicks.

“The concept is that of a voluntary donation and not catching neck of someone. We don’t appreciate it,” Parrikar told reporters.

He also made it clear that the idea behind the newly created Battle Casualty Fund was to ensure that those who wanted to donate for the welfare of the families of martyrs should be able to do so.

Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also termed the demand by MNS as “wrong”, according to Times of India, and said the Government had nothing to do with it.

Journalist Nirupama Subramanian too expressed her disapproval over Thackeray’s demand in a tweet, saying “What soldiers want is only what’s due to them from govt as salaries & pensions.”

Farhan Akhtar, the co-producer of the upcoming film Raees, has refused to ‘donate’ Rs 5 crore. News18 quoted Akhtar as saying, “No question of giving Rs 5 crore to the Army (for Raees) as they have refused to take it.”

However, despite all the criticism, Thackeray and his party have stuck to their demand and are pushing for it. According to a report by Firstpost, Akhtar has received threats from the party after refusing to make the ‘donation.’

Featured image credit: Times of India

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