With the country facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of the raging coronavirus outbreak, citizens of all hues are largely complying with the government-mandated orders to depress the spread of the infection, including the Army personnel, who are amongst the country’s front-line defence against the novel coronavirus. However, some individuals, like AAP legislator, Rajendra Pal Gautam, attempted to stir up public opinion against the Indian Army by claiming that Indian Army jawans are insulted by their superiors with casteist slurs and remarks.
Condemning the incident, Gautam tagged PM Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in his tweet and implored them to take cognisance of the matter and initiate stringent action against the culprit to ensure such incidents are repeated in the future.
However, soon after AAP leader Rajendra Pal Gautam shared a video of an Army Jawan accusing his senior of using casteist slurs against him, the Indian Army issued a strong-worded clarification, condemning the circulation and curation of an outdated video to malign the country’s Armed Forces. It was said that circulating the video without verifying it with the Army was regrettable. The Indian Army said that it is proud of all the soldiers from the Indian society without any reference to caste, creed or religion.
Indian Army strongly condemns posting of such videos (2017), curated & circulated again by enemy agents. Uploading it without verifying with Army is regrettable. Army is proud of braves from whole Indian society without any reference to caste, creed or religion: Indian Army pic.twitter.com/2vLV7nmdYK— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2020
The Army stated that the video is three-years-old and is circulated by elements hostile to the Indian Army. The video that was shared by AAP legislator Gautam today was found with the time stamp of January 2018 on YouTube. In all likelihood, the video could be older, i.e from 2017, as claimed by the Indian Army. In the video, the Army jawan levels serious allegations against the discriminatory conduct of his superiors towards their juniors. However, the Army has refuted the allegations, asserting that videos are outed to vilify the Armed Forces.
After the Indian Army raised its objection over the propagandist video, AAP leader Rajendra Pal Gautam pulled down the video, claiming that a senior Army official called him up and informed him that the video shared by him was three years old. He also added that the Army official told him that the video was created by the disgruntled officer based on his personal enmity with his senior officers.
हालांकि आधिकारिक तौर पर इस वीडियो को लेकर अभी तक सूचित नही किया गया लेकिन उन आधिकारी की बात का भरोसा करते हुए अपने इस ट्वीट को हटा रहा हूं,लेकिन साथ ही साथ मैं यह भी कहना चाहता हूं कि आज भी हर रोज़ जातिगत भेदभाव की घटनाएं सामने आती रहती है और उन पर कोई ठोस कार्यवाही नहीं की जाती।— Rajendra Pal Gautam (@AdvRajendraPal) May 11, 2020
Though the tweet was pulled down by AAP leader, in an attempt to save his face, Gautam continued claiming that caste discrimination is prevalent even today and that no concrete action is taken to nip the rampant discrimination in the bud.
In order to deflect the criticism received for sharing an outdated video of an Indian Army jawan, Gautam further cited incidents of Una, Jhajjar, Rohit Vemula, Payal Tadvi and several others incidents, along with the latest incident in AIIMS Delhi where a doctor had alleged caste discrimination to affirm that caste inequities are very much the part of the society.
…वह तुरंत देश से जातिवाद को खत्म करने की दिशा में काम करें और जहां भी जातिवाद और अस्पृश्यता की घटना हो उन घटनाओं पर मुकदमा दर्ज करके स्पीडी ट्रायल के जरिए ऐसे लोगों जल्द से जल्द सजा दी जाए, ताकि जातिगत भेदभाव की घटनाएं रुक सकें।— Rajendra Pal Gautam (@AdvRajendraPal) May 11, 2020
Shifting the blame on the government for the stray incidents of caste discrimination in the country, Gautam claimed that he is a staunch nationalist and needs no lessons on nationalism from anybody. “We are staunch patriots, we know how to sacrifice our lives for the nation. We will not let the Army’s morale to fall. I request the Central government and the State governments should immediately work towards eradicating casteism prevalent in the country. The government should file cases against the offenders and expedite trails so that incidents of caste discrimination stop,” he said.