Military veterans have called for Union Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur’s resignation from the Territorial Army (TA), following his controversial chant inciting a crowd of supporters to “gun down traitors” at an election rally, in the lead up to the Delhi Assembly elections.
The BJP MP was seen stoking supporters at a public meeting in Delhi’s Rithala on 27 January, shouting, “Desh ke gaddaron ko...” with the crowd replying “...goli maaro sa***n ko.” The Election Commission consequently handed him a 72-hour campaign ban.
Following his comments, retired officers took to social media to point out that Thakur, who joined the TA in July 2016, ‘did not deserve to be a part of the military force.’
“Isn't there any regulation in the Army Act to take action against TA officers who make statement like Captain Anurag Thakur did in the Delhi election,” asked retired Lt Gen Surinder Singh on Twitter, formerly the chief of Western Command.
BN Sharma, a former Inspector General of the Border Security Force (BSF), replied to his tweet suggesting that Thakur should have resigned from the TA since he is an active politician.
Other veterans also expressed their disappointment, anger and shame over Thakur’s comments.
Retired Lt Gen HS Panag, in his post, clarified that action against TA personnel under the Army Act can only be taken when they are embodied into service. However, he added, “On propriety, he (Thakur) does not deserve to be (in) the TA.”
Thakur’s Hate Speech Part of BJP’s Vitriolic Campaign
Thakur’s speech was part of a slew of incendiary comments made by BJP leaders in the run-up to the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections, including polarising speeches by senior BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
The elections were eventually clinched by Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in a landslide victory.
The Territorial Army is a military force, composed of volunteers, that can be mobilised in case of an emergency to assist the army and civil administration. The volunteers must already be gainfully employed in civilian professions and receive military training for a few days in a year.
It is currently about 2,00,000 strong with 40,000 first-line soldiers and 1,60,000 second-line troops.