Fact Check: Is use of defence ground in Secunderabad for political rally ‘unprecedented’ as claimed by Congress

On October 14, Congress media cell in-charge and close aide of Rahul Gandhi, Randeep Singh Surjewala protested that defence ministry has granted permission to BJP’s youth wing BJYM for holding a political rally on Defence grounds in Secunderabad. In a tweet, he said this must be resisted, and BJP is “habitual offender in using Armed Forces for cheap political gains”.

Mr Surjewala wants to imply that army grounds can’t be used by civilian people and if it is done it some illegal activity.

That is a false claim. Grounds owned by the army is being used for civilian purposes for long, and there is nothing illegal about it. And no, using an army ground after obtaining necessary permission does not amount to using Armed Forces for any gain, political or not.

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The most famous army ground used for non-army purpose is Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The iconic cricket stadium is built on land owned by the army, but there is no ban on holding cricket matches there because of its ownership. Army has leased the land to Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).

Another nearby ground in Kolkata is Brigade Parade Ground, commonly known as Maidan. This is also an army ground, and this ground is always used for political rallies, and other civilian purposes. CPM and TMC have organised numerous political rallies on this historic ground, which is maintained by army’s Eastern high command, which operates from Fort William located in the Maidan.

And the Secunderabad parade ground that Surjewala is talking about also has played host to rallies by political parties regularly, including by the Congress party. In March 2005, Sonia Gandhi had addressed a rally in this same parade ground. Again on 28 February 2009, the then Congress president had attended a massive rally on the Secunderabad Parade Grounds.

A TRS rally on Secunderabad parade ground

Responding to the tweet by Surjewala, BJYM tweeted back giving details of Congress rallies addressed by Sonia Gandhi on the same Parade Ground, and requested to ‘leave Armed Forces from being maligned by fake news factory of Congress party’.

Army owns large areas of land in every part of the country, which includes open grounds. And such grounds are regularly used for civilian purposes, including political rallies. There is not any illegally in it, as long as all necessary permissions are obtained and there is no permanent damage to the ground.

It is evident that Congress party has run out of issues to target the Modi government to target with, and they are now resorting to such juvenile accusations.

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