Hours after the defence ministry spokesperson posted a controversial tweet targeting one of India’s famous war heroes and former Naval Chief, Amiral (Retired) Arun Prakash, the spokesperson was sent on leave. This was after her distasteful tweet, dubbed by many as ‘rogue’, evoked angry reactions from former armed forces veterans.
A tweet by Defence Spokesperson posted on its official page read, “Col. Aman Anand, took over as the acting Official Spokesperson of MOD as the Spokesperson proceeds on leave.”
Col. Aman Anand, took over as the acting Official Spokesperson of MOD as the Spokesperson proceeds on leave.
— Defence Spokesperson (@SpokespersonMoD) October 26, 2018
Admiral (retd) Prakash had questioned on Twitter the use of the Army Command’s insignia by a civilian after someone on the microblogging site drew his attention to a photo. Adm Prakash had written, “Even if misuse of an Army Command’s insignia by a civilian is not a cognizable offence, the person needs to be reprimanded by the GOCinC whose ‘Financial Adviser’ he is.”
His tweet did not go down well with the Defence Ministry Spokesperson, who launched a foul-mouthed tirade against the former naval chief of India. The Defence Spokesperson tweeted from the official Twitter handle, “What about misuse of jawans in your residence during an officer’s tenure sir? And how about children being picked up and dropped to school in Fauji gaadis ? Not to forget Madam’s shopping expedition on government vehicles. And endless parties…who pays for that?”
Instead of losing his cool, Adm Prakash tweeted, “Rather than getting excited over indiscreet tweet of @SpokespersonMoD I would suggest sober reflection; (a) by MoD on state of civil-mil relations & (b) by Military Leadership on the aspersions cast by MoD (IDAS?) civil-servant on personal conduct of Service officers.”
But not everyone else was as calm as Adm Prakash. Former Air Force veteran and ex-Air Vice Marshal, Manmohan Bahadur wrote, “This is indeed shameful for @SpokespersonMoD to tweet this to a former Service Chief.” Retired Major General Harsha Kakar said, “Is this inadvertent. It shows the true colours of your MoD Madam. You are meant to protect the military, not insult it. Keeping this spokesperson is an insult to India, its armed forces and their sacrifices. It shows no respect for senior veterans. Your spokesperson is a disaster.”
BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP and the founder of Republic TV, demanded action against the individual managing the Twitter handle of Defence Spokesperson. Tagging PMO, Chandrsekhar wrote, “Dear @DefenceMinIndia @DrSubhashMoS – who is this “Defence spokesperson” who reprsnts MoD ie govt n talks like this ? This is unacceptable conduct n I wud rqst an enquiry into this. This is unconscionable, disrespectful n arrogance tht behooves a response. @PMOIndia.”
Faced with considerable backlash, the Defence Spokesperson quickly issued an apology and wrote, “The tweet was inadvertently done and the same is deeply regretted please.”