It’s ironical. India Today executive editor Sandeep Unnithan, who has reportedly been covering the Defence Ministry for over a decade, finds his latest cover story on the alleged dismal state of the armed forces’ finances embroiled in a strongly snowballing controversy.
Titled ‘The Army is Broke’, the story is illustrated by a photograph of an Army General with medals and regimental insignia showing his empty pockets and the sword missing from his side. Taking strong objection to the story and “morphed photograph” is the Indian Army itself and several veterans and serving soldiers who are openly expressing their outrage on social media.
What is ironical here is that Unnithan is the same journalist who lent tacit support to a man he identified as “Lt. Col. Sandeep Ahlawat” for slamming Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar on Facebook for auctioning his Indian Navy costume from Rustom to raise funds for a charity serving stray animals.
Unnithan certified Ahlawat as “one of the finest men in uniform” he knew when the “Lt. Col” threatened the actor and his bestselling author and producer wife Twinkle Khanna with legal action and a bloody nose if they proceeded with the auction. This despite the fact that the Defence Ministry, the ultimate authority on Indian armed forces uniforms you would have thought, had not objected to the auction of the Rustom costume at all.
Now people are asking who is being disrespectful to the uniform? Was it Akshay and Twinkle for raising funds for a charity by auctioning an Indian Navy costume from a film which was nothing more than a piece of memorabilia? Or journalist Unnithan who, to reportedly show the budget squeeze being felt by the Indian Army, allegedly morphed a photograph of a decorated Indian Army officer that “deeply hurt the sentiments of serving and veteran soldiers” and caused the Army to convey its hurt and demand a response from the journalist’s magazine? People have taken to social media to condemn the cover photograph and called out the magazine’s story that reportedly insulted the soldiers.