Saturday, February 22, 2003 (New Delhi):
Hindutva organisations have now begun spreading their propaganda
within the defence forces. Over the past year, a number of army
officers across the country have been receiving a newsletter with
The banner headline on the letter reads: "Stop Islamisation of India.
Karo ya maro. Hindutva ke naam par shastra uthaao...
This propaganda is cleverly designed to influence the minds of
defence officers who are being sent a 12-page monthly newsletter.
"Everyone has a right to propagate their views but that does not mean
that you spread communal hatred. This is criminal and punishable
under Section 298 of the Constitution," says former attorney general
B L Sharma Prem, a senior VHP leader and former BJP member of
parliament, who is responsible for bringing out the newsletter, says
he is only exercising his democratic right.
"It is for the Indian army and not the Pakistani army. We are sending
this to the police also. If anyone doesn't like it, they can return
it," says B L Sharma 'Prem', Central Secretary VHP and publisher
When NDTV asked Defence Minister George Fernandes whether he was
aware of the propaganda drive, he professed ignorance saying he had
no knowledge of the matter.
"I interact with army and Defence Ministry on a daily basis. But I
don't know anything about this. This is the first time we have heard
of this," George Fernandes said.
One of the great strengths of Indian democracy has been that the army
has remained completely apolitical. Now a number of officers are
upset with this attempt to draw serving officials into what is
essentially a political debate.