Chandgarh: A Muslim cleric of the rank of Subedar in the Indian Army has approached the President of India, the National Commission of Minorities and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav alleging that his superior officers have censured him for using the slogan 'Jai Hind' instead of 'Ram Ram', saying the move amounts to 'sending a message of religious hatred and extremism'.
Subedar Ishrat Ali alleges his commanding officer has served him a notice warning him to "rise above narrowmindedness", and instead salute by using "Ram, Ram" and "Jai Mata Di" — the official battalion slogans — or face "disciplinary action".
"The task of army’s religious teacher is to enthuse the spirit of patriotism, zeal and unity in the jawans [lads] while the slogan of ‘Jai Hind’ [Long live India] sends a message of religious hatred and extremism", said a notice sent to Subedar Ishrat Ali.
"If you do not rise above narrow-mindedness and do not salute by shouting 'Ram, Ram' and 'Jai Mata di' [slogans invoking Hindu deities], as per the rules of the battalion disciplinary action will be taken against you", the notice added.
In protest, his wife Shehnaz Bano has written a complaint to the President of India and the National Commission for Minorities. A copy has been sent to Akhilesh Yadav as well. The letter states that he is being mentally tortured and harassed. It demands justice.
According to her Ishrat Ali’s Commandant Officer Chitra Sen says that as long as he is in his regiment he will have to follow its rules and will not be allowed to salute with the slogan of ‘Jai Hind’ but, instead, will have to salute his superiors by saying ‘Ram, Ram’ and ‘Jai Mata di’.
Shehnaz Bano quotes her husband as saying that during his 22 years’ service he had always saluted with the slogan ‘Jai Hind’ and as a Muslim it is impossible for him to utter ‘Ram, Ram’ or ‘Jai Mata di’. Because of this her husband has been served an official notice.
She said her husband under compulsion has to salute his superiors by saying ‘Ram, Ram’ and because of that not him alone but the whole family is suffering from mental tension.
Ali's commanding officer Colonel Chitra Sen refused to comment on the issue and said Army HQ had all the relevant information.
"Army is absolutely secular. We respect salutation of Jai Hind and all battle cries," said Major General Shokin Chauhan, additional director general, public information, without getting into the details of Subedar Ali's complaints.
Interestingly, the slogan 'Jai Hind', made famous by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, was coined by Major Abid Hasan Zafrani of the Azad Hind Fauj.