New Delhi: Major General (retd) GD Bakshi, who found himself in the middle of a controversy after Air Vistara shared a picture of his with two air hostesses on board a flight, has said in an open letter that he will not stop travelling by the airline. He also said that some 'leftist magazines’ with a strong anti-Army editorial line targeted Air Vistara and made them delete the tweet.

Why Maj Gen Bakshi was travelling by Air Vistara

Bakshi said that he had gone for a lecture in Raipur; he chose Vistara as he found it very professional.

“The house of the Tatas is renowned for their ethical approach and gentlemanliness (sic). The moment I entered the aircraft, the pilot, who is the son of an Army officer, came up and welcomed me on board. 'Sir, you are an old soldier,' he said. I was quite touched by the gesture,” said the Army veteran in the open letter.

It was only at the end of the journey that the cabin crew requested if they could take a picture with him, to which he agreed, Maj Gen Bakshi says.

Also read: Vistara faces anger and boycott after pulling down GD Bakshi tweet

“However, I had no idea that they had posted it on Twitter or on the Vistara website saying, 'Proud to have General Bakshi on board',” the veteran further wrote.

'Had no idea of these happenings'

The Kargil war hero wrote further, “I understand that there are some leftist magazines, who (sic) have strong anti-Army leanings. They miss no opportunity to demonise and badmouth the armed forces. They were incensed at the honour Vistara had given to a war-veteran and so protested stridently and threatened to boycott Vistara because it had honoured an old soldier like me. Because of their comments, the airline had to delete the tweet.”

Bakshi also said that some people had contacted him and asked whether he had any idea about what the issue was. After such enquiries, he checked social media and was “quite surprised to see how the whole episode had snowballed”.

'No fault of the airline'

In the open letter, Bakshi said, “Vistara is a commercial airline, and I believe that they have to safeguard their business interests. I personally feel that they have no-fault from their side (sic), as all they were trying to do was be nice to an old soldier. It was an excellent gesture by them to honour an Army veteran and I sincerely hope that they will not stop doing so just because of a few anti-Army trolls. However, I do believe that after they hit out a tweet, they should have stuck their guns. I ask, is it wrong to honour war veterans and soldiers? Anyone can make an accusation against me but they are required to do their due diligence (sic) and check whether it is a fact or not.”

The soldier, however, added that he was a little hurt after the airlines deleted the tweet. “I do feel the ire as many of my friends have focussed on Vistara airlines for deleting the tweet. But the focus should have been on the Army-hating trolls who simply cannot stand Army veterans being honoured (sic). I was quite pained and surprised by the personal animosity and venom they have displayed against a soldier,” he added.

'I would still travel with them'

Bakshi clearly stated in the open letter that he will travel by Air Vistara in the future in spite of all this hullabaloo.

“The staff of the airline was really nice, and I would still travel with them. I would just like to advise them that there are all shades of opinion, but one has to take their own judgement call. What they did was honourable and right. They honoured an old soldier and a decorated war veteran. There was no reason to resile from this principled stand. The Army haters do not represent public opinion. To the contrary, they are quite divorced from the mainstream and have no right to foist their views on others.”

Bakshi further wrote, “I reiterate ― Vistara has gone out of their way to be nice to old soldiers and I respect the ethics and values their parent company represents. I fervently hope that the airline will continue to stand by this noble gesture and honour all serving and retired military personnel who travel with them. They are a good airline and I will continue to  patronise them for their high ethical values and sense of courtesy and service.”