The Indian Army has expressed its uneasiness over MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s demand that Bollywood producers who have worked with Pakistani actors should donate Rs 5 crore to the Indian Army’s relief fund.
The Indian army has finally spoken on the ongoing fracas surrounding Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and the accountability India’s film fraternity should have towards the country’s army.
This comes in wake of the demand Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has made wherein he has asked every Bollywood producer to have worked with Pakistani artists till now to donate Rs 5 crore to the Indian Army’s relief fund.
According to a report by Hindustan Times, several serving and retired personnel from the Indian army told the newspaper that the army is an “apolitical and secular” organisation. They added that attempts to exploit film producers in the name of the Indian Army is just to gain political benefits.
Former Indian Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal was quoted as saying, “The army doesn’t go around begging for funds. If a film producer wants to donate, he can do it like any other Indian citizen. But it’s unacceptable in such a manner.”
Earlier today, Mukesh Bhatt, president of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India Ltd, said that their producers’ body would henceforth not employ Pakistani artists ever again in the future. This came after a closed room discussion with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, MNS supremo Raj Thackeray and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’s producer-director Karan Johar.
Thackeray later said that Bollywood producers have to “give in writing” that they will never cast Pakistani actors in their films.
The MNS’ conditions which were accepted by Karan Johar, the Producers Guild and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, drew a lot of flak on social media, with many comparing Raj Thackeray’s demands to extortion.
In fact, a retired Air Vice Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Manmohan Bahadur, took to Twitter to express his discontent over MNS’ bullying ways. He openly condemned Raj Thackeray’s “extortion”.
Manmohan Bahadur did not stop there. He went on.
“Anyone can contribute to the fund but it has to be voluntary. You can’t force people to make donations and the army wouldn’t like to accept such money,” a senior army officer was quoted as saying.
Kargil war veteran Brigadier Khushal Thakur (retd) also disapproved of MNS’ ways. Thakur said that national sentiments are being exploited by Thackeray’s party.
“If something is wrong, it is wrong. How can a forced donation of Rs 5 crore make it right? But the bottom line is the army’s name should not be misused for political gain,” Thakur said.
Another army officer was quoted as saying, “If the producers have been arm-twisted into paying the money, there’s no way the army will accept it.”
The Indian Army recently opened an Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties bank account in order to collect contributions and donate them to families of battle casualties. A release issued by the Defence Ministry said, “The contribution to the fund is purely voluntary in nature.”