New Delhi: A fresh controversy has erupted over veterans' letter to the President against 'politicisation' of the Armed Forces in the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2019 after three signatories denied signing the purported letter. Even the Rashtrapati Bhavan sources denied receiving any letter supposedly written by veterans to the President.

Earlier in the day, media reports had claimed that eight former service chiefs and 148 other military veterans had written to President Ram Nath Kovind. The signatories of the letter included former Army chiefs General (retired) SF Rodrigues, General (retired) Shankar Roy Chowdhury and General (retired) Deepak Kapoor, former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (retired) NC Suri. Three former Navy chiefs Admiral (retired) L Ramdas, Admiral (retired) Arun Prakash, Admiral (retired) Mehta and Admiral (retired) Vishnu Bhagwat also signed the letter, which was sent to Kovind on Thursday, expressing outrage over what they termed using the armed forces for political purposes.

However, former Army chief General SF Rodrigues and former Air Force chief NC Suri claimed on Friday that they never signed the letter. "This is not Admiral Ramdas’ [top signatory] letter and it has been done by some Major Chaudhary. He has written this and it was coming on WhatsApp and emails," said Air Force chief NC Suri.

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"No, my consent has not been taken for any such letter. I don’t agree with whatever has been written. We have been misquoted," he added.

"Don’t know what it (letter) is all about. All my life, we have been apolitical. After 42 years as an officer, it's a little late to change. Always put India first. Don’t know who these people are, but this is a classic manifestation of fake news," said General SF Rodrigues (retired).

Former Army Vice Chief Lt General ML Naidu (who is mentioned at 20th in the list of armed forces veterans who purportedly wrote a letter to President) said, "No, my consent has not been taken for any such letter and neither have I written any such letter."

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The purported letter, addressed to the President, had raised concerns over leaders using the military for "political gains". The letter, written on April 11 and titled 'From a group of veterans to our Supreme Commander', signed by 156 veterans, had pointed out how "political leaders [were] taking credit for military operations like cross-border strikes.”

The letter appeals to the President to ensure that the secular and apolitical character of the armed forces is preserved and to urgently "direct all political parties to stop using the army, military uniforms or symbols or military operations" for politics.

“We refer, Sir, to the unusual and completely unacceptable practice of political leaders taking credit for military operations like cross-border strikes and even going so far as to claim the armed forces to be ‘Modi ji ki sena’,” the veterans wrote.

Urging President Kovind to look into the matter, the letter said, "As the Supreme Commander of India's Armed Forces, some concerns which have caused considerable alarm and disquiet among both the serving and the retired personnel of our Forces." The letter also expressed veterans’ disappointment on party workers wearing military uniforms, posters and images with pictures of soldiers, including IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar of the Congress came under fire recently for using Abhinandan Varthaman's photo during a roadside campaign in Mumbai.

Interestingly Congress has welcomed the veterans’ letter and said it endorses misuse of armed forces by ruling party by Tweeting the copy of the letter.