Days after photographs of an Iftar party held by the Army in the Doda district of Jammu was taken off the internet after being targeted by Hindu right-wing elements, the Army yesterday released pictures of the Iftar party and senior army officers offering Namaz prayers.
On April 21, the defence ministry’s public relations officer (PRO) released photographs of an iftar held by the Army in the Doda district of Jammu saying: “Keeping alive the traditions of secularism, an Iftar was organised by the Indian Army at Arnora in Doda district”.
The pictures of the Iftar gathering showed the Indian Army’s General Officer Commanding the Delta Force interacting with local Muslims and a uniformed person offering namaz among the civilian devotees.
Minutes later Sudarshan News CMD and editor-in-chief, Suresh Chavhanke tweeted, “Ab ye bimari Bhartiya sena mein bhi ghuss gayi hai? Dukhad…” (Now this disease has spread even in the Indian Army? Sad).
The tweet caused a Twitter storm of trolling, leading the Defence PRO to delete the Iftar tweet. The move, however, was met with flak on social media. Many retired Army generals criticized the Indian Army for bowing down to trolls and deleting the tweet.
Retired officer Maj Gen Yash Mor tweeted, "Indian Army has been at the forefront of interfaith harmony. We as officers take pride in the fact that we have NO religion, we just adopt the religion of the troops we command.”
On April 25 in the ongoing month of Ramzaan, the Army in Srinagar released photographs showing General Officer Commanding, Chinar Corps Lt Gen DP Pandey and other senior officers offering Namaz prayers. The Army press release said a meeting was organized with local citizens hailing from various parts of the valley at Old Air Field, Srinagar under the aegis of Headquarter Victor Force chaired by GOC, Chinar Corps, Lt Gen DP Pandey.
“The evening concluded with an Iftar party followed by Namaz. Everyone attending the meeting expressed their sense of satisfaction towards the Army’s effort to reach out to them and welcomed such initiatives in the future too,” the army spokesman said.
The Army said that a book titled “House of Terror” was also released on the occasion. The book brings out the trials and tribulations that were part of the journey of Mr Anwar from a militant to an Ikhwan. In Kashmir, the Ikhwan are often considered a pro-government militia by the locals, also known as "naabedh". These were mostly former Kashmiri militants who have surrendered to the army. Human rights bodies have previously accused them of committing grave human rights abuses.