NEW DELHI: A large number of military veterans have written to President Ram Nath Kovind requesting stern action against those spreading “fake news” on social media about a non-existent “Muslim Regiment” of the Indian Army refusing to fight in the 1965 war against Pakistan.

India has never had any Muslim regiment and such “blatant falsehoods”, which began in May 2013, are still being insidiously spread on the social media at a time when the country is confronted with military tensions with both Pakistan and China, said the veterans.

Signed by 120 veterans, including former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas and 24 two and three-star generals from the armed forces, the letter refers to a blog written in TOI by Lt-General S A Hasnain (retd) that said the disinformation campaign was possibly part of “psy ops” unleashed by Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations wing.

“We wish to point out that Muslims fighting as part of multi-class regiments in the Indian Army have proved their absolute commitment to the cause of our nation,” said the letter.
It cited the examples of top gallantry medals being awarded to Havildar Abdul Hamid (Param Vir Chakra), Major (later Lt-General) Mohammad Zaki and Major Abdul Rafey Khan (Vir Chakras) in the 1965 war, among others.

Even earlier, during the partition in 1947, Brigadier Mohammad Usman chose to remain in the Indian Army when his Baluch Regiment went to Pakistan despite being approached by Jinnah. “Brig Usman fought the Pakistani invasion in Kashmir and was the senior-most officer killed in action in July 1948. He was posthumously awarded Mahavir Chakra for his gallantry,” it added.

Underlining the need to protect the apolitical and secular ethos of the Indian armed forces, the letter said there should be “firm and immediate action” in the matter, with a warning also being issued to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
“Issue immediate instructions also to all state governments that the generation of false and seditious messages in social media should be acted upon with alacrity so as to not jeopardie national security,” it said.

“Social media posts like the ‘Muslim Regiment’ put in the public domain are an insidious attack on the morale of our armed forces. It generates doubt in the public mind that if Muslim soldiers cannot be trusted, then other Muslims too are no different. It exacerbates mistrust and hate between communities,” it added.

Courtesy Times of India