Srinagar: The polarised coverage of the India-China standoff in eastern Ladakh created a storm on social media on Sunday evening with Gaurav Arya, a television panelist known for his jingoistic analysis of the country’s defence issues, trending in the country.
The controversy erupted after a veteran of the Indian Army tweeted in support of Ajai Shukla, the former army officer turned journalist, who has been at the forefront of informing the Indian audience of the current stand-off in the absence of clarity from the central government, while taking a jibe at Mr. Arya, a regular on the Republic TV’s debates.
Brigadier Sandy Thapar (retired) tweeted about the show: “@ajaishukla is the flavour of the day on @republic. 16 mins into the show, @ArnabGoswamiRTv has named him 49 times.& now it’s turn of @rwac48 [email protected] says I’ve been tolerating these two for 2-3 yrs now but won’t now!”
In the tweet, Brig Thapar (retd) also mentioned retired Lieutenant General H. S. Panag, who has been outrightly critical of the Modi government’s handling of the tensions with China. The tweet has since been deleted.
Mr. Arya had warned the veterans “…Don’t cry when you get a thrashing in public”, now also addressing a Chandigarh based journalist, Man Aman Singh Chinna, and specifically attacked Brig Thapar saying, “You’ll get a rocket up your backside.”
Brig Thapar replied: “Shows how much you learned in your limited army service… I guess somewhat erred in your grooming.”
The conversation further spiraled as army veterans and senior journalists joined in and discredited Mr. Arya’s claims. Mr. Arya has had a short service with the Indian Army, also pointed in tweets by several others, including other veterans, upset with Mr. Arya’s behaviour.
A spokesperson of the Army, Colonel Aman Anand, tweeted about the “veterans code” on Monday, noting soldiers “and the rest of the country look up to the officers”.
Tempers have been running high in the country after twenty army personnel were killed by Chinese troops during a clash between the two armies on 15 June. In the incident, the army suffered the highest fatalities in four decades of tensions at the border region in Ladakh.
A day after the twitter spat, on Monday, Brig Thapar deleted the tweet and took the lead in apologizing: “I called out abuse to a former army cdr & what followed was gutter level tripe. I should have known better than getting into an argument with one who uses his veteran status to justify his rabid ideology! Entirely my bad!”
And Mr. Arya followed up: “I called up Brig Thapar and expressed regret over what happened… All tweets have been deleted. This matter is closed.” However, Lt Gen Panag didn’t agree that the matter was settled. “Not only unqualified apology but also an undetaking of not indulging in slander in future,” Lt Gen Panag wrote.
In 2017, Mr. Arya has infamously stirred a debate on social media after his controversial comments: “Sab ke gaal aese laal laal gulabi hoke rakhe hai waha, I want to understand where is the money coming from?” Then, Mr. Arya was called out for his “racism” towards Kashmiris.