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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: ‘Don’t Politicise The Armed Forces,’ Army Slams MNS For ‘Penance’ Fund

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Already upset at the unseemly politicisation of the surgical strikes conducted against terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir on September 29, the Army expressed disappointment on Saturday at the way the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) wanted to force film producers employing Pakistan nationals to pay Rs 5 crore to its welfare funds.

“Don’t play politics with the Army, which has a strong apolitical, highly-disciplined and secular ethos. The armed forces do not want to be dragged into such low-level political wrangling,” said a senior officer. “We only accept funds that are donated voluntarily, not through such coercion or extortion,” added another officer.

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Officers said an “Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties” fund was recently created after the force was approached by a large number of philanthropic organizations and individuals who wanted to donate money to assist the next of kin of soldiers killed during operations.

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“There was a surge of such requests after 10 soldiers perished in the massive avalanche in Siachen on February 3 as well as the terror attack on the Uri camp on September 18 that left 19 soldiers dead,” said an officer.

After extensive deliberations, the 13-lakh strong Army earlier this month decided to accept donations/contributions through a separate and centralized fund, the Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties, created for such a purpose. “But the donations should be purely voluntary in nature. This fund, of course, is in addition to the various existing schemes for the welfare of next of kin and children of battle casualties,” he added.

Ex-servicemen also widely took to twitter to hit out at MNS. In response to a tweet whether he would support Rs 5 crore being extorted from film producers for Army, a retired senior officer, Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd) replied: “Would never support it.”

“I served four decades in uniform and never did I live on extorted money. What’s this happening in my country???” said Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd).

“The Indian armed forces cannot, and should not, become crutches for political ambitions. Unfortunately, this is the trend seen in recent past. Stay away please,” he said.

“The Army never doubts the love and sentiment of countrymen behind contributions to its welfare fund. But it can’t be from Raj Thackeray’s extortion,” he added.

Online Source: The Times Of India.

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