The chorus demanding a price for the blatant, unprecedented and bigotted act by no less than a Union Minister of BJP doesn’t seem to die down easily. Now, a group of former military veterans has issued a public statement demanding the immediate removal or resignation of Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha for supporting eight men accused in a lynching case. The minister is a BJP member of parliament from the Hazaribagh seat. The statement also asks that the minister issue an apology for “publicly sympathising with perpetrators of communal killing”.

Backdrop to Veterans Statement

Since Independence in 1947, and becoming a Republic in 1950, when the Constitution of India came into force, the members of the Armed Forces in India have been ‘a-political’, in so far as they have acknowledged civil, namely political, authority over the military.

However every officer and jawan enjoys the right to vote as free and equal citizens in our democratic Republic . And the exercise of casting one’s vote implies that she or he is also exercising a political choice. Considering that all of us, civil or military, are sworn to safeguard and uphold our Constitution – it is our duty and our responsibility as citizens of the country, to point out those actions and events which clearly are transgressions – wilful or otherwise – that undermine that Constitution and its provisions, namely of assuring:

“Justice – social, economic, and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and opportunity; and to promote Fraternity – assuring the Dignity of the Individual and the Unity and Integrity of the Nation.” [from Preamble to the Constitution]

We have come together on this occasion to share our concern at the ways in which it appears that our Constitution is being weakened. It is in this spirit that we the undersigned have issued this statement on the recent events surrounding actions taken by a Union Minister. We also support our colleagues in the Civil Services in taking the lead on this issue.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, quoted by a senior veteran : ” In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”.

We must not remain silent when injustice is perpetrated with impunity.


STATEMENT

This group of Veterans of the Armed Forces hereby puts on record its revulsion at the recent incident in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, where Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha publicly felicitated a group of convicts that a court has found guilty of lynching a Muslim meat trader in June 2017 in Ramgarh, Jharkhand, for carrying beef in his car.

While the convicts are on bail, pending a High Court decision on their appeal, and are entitled to the due process of law, we deplore that fact that a Union minister has felicitated these convicts as though they were “revolutionaries in a freedom struggle”. Until a higher court finds them innocent, the individuals who Mr Sinha feted are guilty of murdering a minority citizen for a motive directly linked with religion.

This was clearly a cynical political move by Mr Sinha, of a pattern with numerous recent incidents involving members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Whether it is a Union Minister draping the body of a riot accused in the national tricolour, the instigation by ruling party ministers in Jammu & Kashmir in the Kathua rape case, or the efforts to subvert due process of law in the brutal Rajsamand murder case, all such cases point to a violent, majoritarian mindset that seeks to telegraph the message that there is an unwritten license to kill minorities, and that those involved in such crimes will be supported — financially, legally and politically.

“In the past, the Union government has derisively dismissed protests against such communal killings by invoking the constitutional separation of powers – arguing that the locus standi lay with the concerned states, even though many of these states were also BJP-ruled. Now that a BJP Union minister has openly questioned a criminal case that his own party government in Jharkhand had – admirably, in our opinion – prosecuted successfully, we would like to know the Government of India’s stand at this challenge to the rule of law by a minister entrusted with its protection. “

We demand the immediate resignation/removal of Shri Jayant Sinha from the Union Council of Ministers and an apology to the people of India from the party he represents for publicly sympathizing with perpetrators of communal killings, thereby sending out a message of support for such crimes.

We also urge our colleagues in the civil services and judiciary to firmly uphold the rule of law and not be intimidated by the actions of powerful and influential groups that seek to spread the poison of disharmony and enmity in our multicultural society.


LIST OF SIGNATORIES FROM ARMED FORCES VETERANS TO THE STATEMENT ON JAYANT SINHA – UNION MINISTER OF STATE

  1. Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi
  2. Lt Gen Z U Shah
  3. Lt Gen C A Barreto
  4. Maj Gen T K Kaul
  5. Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere
  6. Maj Gen RPRC Naidu
  7. Brigadier H C Ghuman
  8. Brigadier Madhav Prasad,
  9. Brig Jawahar Kaul
  10. Brigadier Baqir Shameem
  11. Brigadier Amardeep Singh
  12. Brig[Dr] A Narayanan
  13. Col Virendra Sahai Verma
  14. Col V P Kapoor
  15. Col M S Kapoor
  16. Col Ajai Shukla
  17. Col Pavan Nair
  18. Lt Col VC Alexander
  19. Lt Col VK Nair
  20. Lt Col Niraj Pant
  21. Lt Col Israr Asghar

  1. Admiral L Ramdas
  2. Vice Admiral Dick Schunker
  3. Vice Admiral Prem Suthan
  4. Vice Admiral I C Rao
  5. Vice Admiral Adolf Britto
  6. Vice Admiral DB Kapila
  7. Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh
  8. Rear Admiral Stanley O’Leary
  9. Commodore Rajan Vir
  10. Commodore Medioma Bhada
  11. Commodore Jal Postwalla
  12. Commodore Ranjit B Rai
  13. Commodore Lokesh Batra
  14. Commodore Anil Dabir
  15. Capt Subba Rao Prabala,
  16. Capt A K Varma
  17. Surg Commander Abe Abraham
  18. Commander S P Taneja
  19. Commander Atul Bhardwaj
  20. Commander C R Babu
  21. Commander P G Bhat
  22. Commander Mani Thomas
  23. Lt Cdr Rakesh Bali
  24. Chief Petty Officer V S Bains

  1. Air Marshal Vir Narain
  2. Air Marshal Kapil Kak
  3. Wing Cdr R Khosla
  4. Wing Cdr A C Mathur
  5. Wing Cdr BJ Vaz
  6. Capt Pushp Vaid

MILITARY-VETERANS-DEMAND-JAYANT-SINHAS-RESIGNATION-OR-REMOVAL-FROM-UNION

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