These messages are thought to have been widely circulated on WhatsApp by serving officers, possibly an indicator of discontentment with PM Modi's remarks on Monday where he is accused by the opposition of politicising the Budgam shootout where two innocent young men had been shot dead by the Army.
One of the messages says, "He proves that all he has is a political agenda and rightly so also as he needs the numbers in the houses of parliament. But the army is just a tool and that too a dispensable one."
In statements to NDTV, senior Army officials have said that this is a psychological warfare operation meant to spring disenchantment in the Army. They say they cannot identify the source of the messages since WhatsApp's servers are in the United States. According to the Army, "all the messages are part of a malafide operation....None of the messages have been written by serving officers of the Indian Army. Army Headquarters is monitoring social media 24/7."
NDTV has also accessed two separate and seemingly unrelated WhatsApp posts which were being forwarded among the large online defence community. One of the messages, claiming to be about the Uri encounter in which 11 soldiers and policemen were killed, says, "The terrorists desperately tried to break the cordon established by Lieutenant Colonel Sankalp Kumar, Havildar Subhash Chand and Naik Gurmail Singh but these brave hearts fought till their last breath."
The Army says that this message is a complete fabrication since the sequence of events described is incorrect and the Commanding officer of the unit has denied that anyone in his unit has posted the message.
For the Indian Army, the battle on social media is one that it is unaccustomed to. The anonymous nature of applications like WhatsApp mean that it is often impossible to get to the bottom of who is posting these messages. But the message from Army Headquarters is clear. These are not our men or women. This is psychological warfare and we need to defend ourselves against such attacks.
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