NEW DELHI: “Respected Defence Services Chiefs,

On January 6, 2016 the web portal reported a statement made by Sadhvi Prachi that "...all Muslim officers in the Indian Army should be investigated". Please see the site below:

पठानकोट हमले के बाद साध्वी प्राची ने कहा- सेना में बैठे मुस्लिम अफसरों की हो जांच,

लखनऊ। पठानकोट में हुए आतंकी हमले के बाद फायरब्रांड हिंदू नेता साध्‍वी प्राची का विवादित बयान सामने आया है। साध्वी का कहना है कि अब सेना में बैठे मुस्लिम अफसरों की जांच होनी चाहिए। इससे यह पता चल सकेगा कि कहीं उनके तार पाकिस्तान से तो जुड़े नहीं हैं।

This follows the Pathankot terror attack. There are other statements of hers on the same site which show her not-so-unique bias. There is much silence on these divisive statements.

These are forces around that are bent upon dividing our defence forces (India's last bastion) on communal lines. Is this chargeable as sedition??

Kindly verify the statements and please do take immediate appropriate action with unambiguous statements to the media.

Jai Hind!

Sudhir Vombatkere
(Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)”

This letter being circulated now by Defence officers on the email has been sent by General Vombatkere who retired as Additional Director General, Discipline & Vigilance in Army HQ, New Delhi, expressing deep concerns in the Indian Army. In fact comments on this letter in circulation now also endorse his sentiments, with one comment from a former military defence chief’s wife stating, "I am posting here a letter received today from General Sudhir Vombatkere - one of our rare breed of outspoken former servicemen who do not think twice about calling out and holding responsible, those who should know better than to allow persons like Sadhvi Prachi to get away with this kind of atrocious, anti national and unacceptable comment regarding our armed forces personnel. Ofcourse the caveat is that we need to confirm that this report is indeed true.

But if the report is true, we need to ask how dare she as a member of Parliament, a senior leader of the ruling party and government, trample on the very constitution to which she has sworn allegiance by making this kind of demand/statement.”

Sadhvi Prachi is a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and a Member of Parliament who has established a reputation for hate speech.

The letter by General Vombatkere is part of an overall concern in the military after the Pathankot terror attack that is now widely recognised, as reported in The Citizen, as a ‘botched up’ operation. Retired officers are taking up the cudgels for the defence services, seeking answers to questions, even as fingers of blame are pointed towards National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He has, however, been given a clean chit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who visited the Pathankot Air Force base and expressed satisfaction with the operations carried out under the command and control of the National Security Guards and the civilian authorities.

The senior military officers, however, are coming out openly now against the operation in which seven defence personnel were killed despite advance intelligence information that gave NSA Doval a 8-10 hour headstart. There is growing criticism about the operation itself that is seen by defence experts as having given an advantage to the terrorists, and more now about the effort to cover up the mistakes instead of looking at the entire security gamut afresh. More so, as the decision to keep the military under the NSG has backfired in this instance and needs to be re-examined for future benefit, according to the sources.

In yet another letter to the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the NSA and others, retired Commander r Prem Batra has raised several questions arising from media reports about the Operations claiming that even though the terror attack began on December 31m 2015, the Cabinet meeting was held only on January 6, 2016. And that Parrikar was first heard from on January 2, with the letter raising questions about the standard operating procedures and alleged violations of the same. It has also pointed towards the non-constitutional status of the NSA, wondering how he was authorised to hold meetings that should have had either the PM or the Defence Minister in charge.

Interestingly, officers have also demanded that the post of NSA be done away with. One of the letters exchanged between defence officers and others on the buzzing social media and e-mail trail states very categorically, “My point is that in the Indian context the post of NSA is superfluous and there is no need for this position. This post was created during NDA I for the then PM to reward his buddy Brajesh Mishra a mediocre IFS Officer for God knows what. JN Dixit of the IFS succeeded him briefly. He breathed his last and was succeeded by MK Narayanan of the IPS, a reward for his loyalty to the Gandhi dynasty. He brought in Shiv Shankar Menon of the IFS to perpetrate the clan. Volumes can be written on the havoc they played with Sri Lankan Tamil issue. Now we have Ajit Doval of the Vivekananda Foundation running the PMO where all powers are concentrated.

Over these years our diplomacy has stumbled and India has ended up alienating all its neighbours and antagonising some like Nepal and Sri Lanka. With the Armed Forces being meddled with and marginalised our national security is in disarray. There cannot be a better example than that of the pathetic Pathankot episode.

NSA being the product of the spoils system and not part of the institutional structure would be loyal only to his employer or benefactors. In USA where the spoils system prevails in the upper echelons of government NSA position fits in. But not in India where governance is a combination of elected politicians and professional civil servants and armed forces. Besides we have a fairly well structured Foreign Service and persons of outstanding merit can be laterally inducted if need be.

Better wind up this supernumerary position ASAP and reconfigure our professional set up to ensure proper governance, foreign policy and national security.”