Recently, a video had gone viral on social media where some people were seen claiming that soldiers of the Indian Army were acting as a political tool, and were casting ‘proxy votes’ and ‘forcing’ people to vote for BJP.’
Indian Army Soldiers in uniform are caught forcing voters to vote for @BJP4India .Downfall of a nation is when men in uniform starts getting involved in politics.We have the example of Pakistan in front of us.Are we heading towards the same fate @adgpi ? Dismiss them from Service pic.twitter.com/OJfW09wZi6
— ?????? (@ProjectGE2019) May 1, 2019
The almost two minute long video showed some army personnel standing near a vehicle, allegedly near a voting booth, while the persons shooting the video were accusing them of ‘proxy voting’ and influencing people to vote to a certain party.
Many on social media had shared the video, accusing the Army of being the government’s political tool and trying to influence voters.
However, in the video, the soldiers are seen merely waiting near their vehicle, unprovoked by the repeated attempts by the people shooting the video.
Many Army veterans and officials had soon dismissed the video as malicious propaganda, they claimed that certain political leaders are upset because service voters voting at their place of posting disturbs the vote bank politics certain parties had indulged in.
I saw the video. It simply seems that military families were taken to vote at their voting booths, does not disclose anything that the person was complaining about. Looks one-sided too. I don’t feel the allegation is correct.https://t.co/lkI9a5uygr
— Navdeep Singh (@SinghNavdeep) May 1, 2019
It was later revealed that the incident was from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh where army personnel and their families were taken in Army vehicles to cast their votes at the assigned booth. However, some miscreants had reportedly objected to the Army personnel casting their votes and had tried to intimidate them.
The Army had proceeded to file a formal complaint regarding the incident. In a formal complaint to the local police dated May 1, the Grenadiers Regimental Centre in Jabalpur had stated, “On 29 April 2019, the day of voting for parliamentary elections, soldiers and their spouses at the Grenadiers Regimental Centre proceeded to cast their votes via bonafide transport at Booth no 146, at Swami Vivekananda Higher Secondary School, Katanga, Jabalpur. When they were at the process of exercising their right to vote, some miscreants approached and snatched their voter id cards by criminal force and tried to obstruct them from casting their votes.”
The complaint also states that the soldiers who are visible in the video are the ones who had managed to take back their voter id cards from the miscreants and had proceeded towards their parked vehicles. It further states that by circulating the video in the social media falsely accusing the soldiers of influencing voters, the unidentified miscreants had attempted to malign the image of the Indian Army and its soldiers participating peacefully in a democratic process.
Further, Lt General GS Sangha of the Grenadiers Regiment had come out to support the soldiers. In an open letter addressed as “Countrymen”, Lt Gen Sangha has condemned the allegations that say the army is being used as a political tool. In his open letter published in Times of India, Lt Gen Sangha has written, “The Army is not going to be cowed down by any propaganda, internal or external, be it by internal enemies or ISI of Pakistan or any other adversary.”
He has further added, “If India starts believing that Indian Army is favouring a particular party, god forbid, we will be no better than Pakistan. But rest assured dear countrymen, we, the defence forces, will make sure it does not happen, ever.”
It is notable here that though the miscreants who snatched the voter id cards from soldiers and shot the malicious video are yet to be identified, the Congress candidate from Jabalpur, Vivek Tanakha has been seen mirroring the exact lines used by the miscreants. In a complaint to the election commission, Tanakha has reportedly stated that an army officer has ‘friendship’ with the BJP candidate.