Gul Panag fact-checks Narendra Modi after PM commits gaffe in Mann Ki Baat address; All India Radio deletes embarrassing portion


Bollywood actor Gul Panag on Monday fact-checked Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the latter claimed that Group Captain Varun Singh was flying the military helicopter carrying India’s first Chief of Defence Staff General Rawat. Faced with embarrassment, the factual error committed by Modi was later deleted from YouTube by the government broadcaster, All India Radio.

In his monthly radio address, Mann Ki Baat, Modi paid tributes to Group Captain Singh by sharing a letter by him and said, “Varun Singh was flying the same helicopter, which crashed in Tamil Nadu this month. In that crash, we lost the first CDS of our country, General Bipin Rawat, his wife and several warriors.”

Modi added, “Varun Singh ji also battled with death bravely for several days, but he too left us.”

Modi was referring to Group Captain Varun Singh, who was the lone survivor of the helicopter crash. The veteran Indian Air Force officer was brought to Bengaluru for treatment but he later succumbed to his injuries.

But the person flying the military helicopter wasn’t Group Captain Varun Singh, but his junior Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, who too died along with General Rawat and 12 others in the crash.

Reacting to the gaffe committed by Modi, Gul Panag tweeted, “Gp Capt Varun was not flying that helicopter. He was an instructor with the DSSC, where the CDS was going to speak.”

Another user wrote, “Yes. Gp Capt Varun Singh was a fighter pilot & experimental test pilot who was nominated to receive CDS as Protocol Officer ex-DSSC where he was serving as Directing Staff. Facts matter.”

Similar reactions followed from other users;

A military helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and other senior army officers had crashed in Tamil Nadu on 8 December.