Rajat Sharma

Let politicians refrain from making snide remarks about armed forces

akb12After a search operation in inclement weather for eight days, an IAF helicopter spotted part of the wreckage of the missing AN-32 transport plane carrying 13 air force personnel, including six officers, in a dense hilly forest at a height of 12,000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

The transport plane had taken off from Jorhat on June 3 and then went missing on the radar. Scores of aircraft were involved in the search operations, and the IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B. S. Dhanoa himself went to Jorhat to coordinate the operations.

Mountaineering teams of IAF, army and civilians have been formed and they will be airdropped, if required, in search of survivors. The nearest ground search team will take at least three days to reach the site of crash. The place is 16 km north of Lipo, a small village with nearly 120 inhabitants.

Searching the 24-metre long AN-32 aircraft with a wing span of 29 metres in a densely forested area of 1,000 sq km was like hunting for a needle inside a haystack. Because of low clouds and rains, IAF teams had a tough time in carrying out the search.

I will now turn to some nasty remarks made by trolls and others in the social media during the search operation. Congress and some other opposition leaders too joined the fray and questioned the government’s ability.

On Tuesday, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel said, if the number of those killed in IAF Balakot air strike could be revealed, then why did the government fail to locate the missing plane. He also raised questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking about armed forces and patriotism during the recently concluded elections. Has nationalism evaporated with elections, the chief minister asked.

The opposition has the right to question the Prime Minister, but it must not raise questions about the capability of our armed forces that includes the army, air force and the navy. Politicians and trolls must stay away from making loose comments about our armed forces, particularly when an air mishap has taken place. We should not demoralize our forces.

Think about the effect such remarks in social media may have made on the minds of the grieving families of IAF personnel, waiting every minute for news about their near and dear ones. Think about the effect such remarks may have caused in the minds of our valiant IAF men toiling hard to locate their missing brethren. At least, on issues like mishaps, we should have some amount of sensitivity.

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