A tweet posted by (Retired) Lieutenant General HS Panag led to concerns over the Indian State's disrespect towards its security forces on Sunday morning.
Seven members of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Army had died in a chopper crash on Friday morning in Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang. On Sunday, Panag shared a photograph of their bodies being flown back in cardboard boxes, hastily tied up with makeshift ropes. He published a couple of tweets with a scathing remark.
Seven young men stepped out into the sunshine yesterday, to serve their motherland. India.— Lt Gen H S Panag(R) (@rwac48) October 8, 2017
This is how they came home. pic.twitter.com/OEKKcyWj0p
2. Seven young men stepped out into the sunshine yesterday, to serve their motherland. India.— Lt Gen H S Panag(R) (@rwac48) October 8, 2017
This is how they came home. pic.twitter.com/rlSbdpJyR4
His criticism of the government immediately sparked off a series of defences as well as more censure from several users of the micro-blogging sites.
Many pointed out the contradiction between the Centre's fierce valorisation of the army and its attitude to its members after their death on the field, summarised below by journalist Nidhi Razdan's tweet.
Shameful. This is how we treat the bodies of our soldiers. What kind of nationalists are we? https://t.co/l8VTkCt9uU— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) October 8, 2017
Security analyst Nitin Golhale asked Panag if the Indian Army had ever used body bags to transport the mortal remains of its soldiers.
Does Indian Army or IAF have these body bags? Did you ever use them while commanding Northern Command Sir? https://t.co/QnWpzz6ABH— Nitin A. Gokhale (@nitingokhale) October 8, 2017
To which, Panag replied that the lack of such civilised provisions and dignified apparatus was precisely what he was interested in highlighting.
Make shift body bags made of canvas were used by all units.Proper body bags not authorised. And that is exactly what I am highlighting.— Lt Gen H S Panag(R) (@rwac48) October 8, 2017
He also cited the rules regarding the matter followed by the US army.
Proper Military Body Bags must be used to transport bodies from forward locations until ceremonial coffins available https://t.co/3Oc3wMOV2a— Lt Gen H S Panag(R) (@rwac48) October 8, 2017
And finally, posted an image of what a proper body bag looks like.
This is a proper body bag. pic.twitter.com/OtEiC3jHUL— Lt Gen H S Panag(R) (@rwac48) October 8, 2017
The incident was more ironic on Air Force Day, celebrated as a tribute to members of the IAF. In another tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "On Air Force Day, best wishes to our courageous air warriors and their families. Their determination and prowess ensure that our skies are safe."
On Air Force Day, best wishes to our courageous air warriors & their families. Their determination & prowess ensure that our skies are safe. pic.twitter.com/rK6I9JfHLJ— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 8, 2017
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