New Delhi: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar pulled no punches in declaring that donation to the Army was “voluntary” and he does not appreciate “holding of someone’s neck”, amid a row over the MNS diktat asking film producers employing Pakistani actors to pay Rs 5 core to the Army Welfare Fund.
The Army is upset over being dragged into politics and many army personnel had privately expressed disdain over receiving “largesse” like that.
“The concept is voluntary donation and not catching neck of someone . We don’t appreciate it,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference in the capital.
The defence minister said the concept behind the newly created Battle Casualty Fund was to ensure that all those people who wanted to donate voluntarily for welfare martyrs’ families could do so.
“There will be a scheme managed by Ministry of Defense with assistance from Adjutant General Branch concerned. It is a voluntary donation and therefore we are not concerned with anyone demanding something to be donated to that,” he said.
He said the ministry is formulating a scheme through which all families of martyrs will be helped equally.
The controversy erupted after Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil ran into a storm of protests led by MNS because Pakistani actor Fawad Khan has a cameo in it.
The film has been allowed to be released after its producers met with three conditions put forward by MNS chief Raj Thakarey, including payment of Rs 5 crore to Army Welfare Fund.
“All contributions (to the welfare fund) are voluntary. Extortion is not allowed. We would want people to contribute on their own rather than under any coercion,” a senior army official had said.
Army sources said that they have a system in place to check all contributions and can even reject a contribution made under duress or by any person whom the force does not want to be associated with.