Bengaluru, June 11: India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a clarification on Thursday early morning that it has nothing to do with the photo(s) of Special Forces doing the rounds in the media.
A tweet my MoD Spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said: "Clarification: MoD has NOT issued any photo relating to Indian Army action along Indo-Myanmar border in the North East, so far."
With graphic details of a sensitive operation already being reported by all sections of the media, it has become a minor embarrassment for New Delhi. In addition, the office of the Myanmar President's Office too clarified on India's claims on cross-border operation.
"According to the information sent by Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) battalions on the ground, we have learned that the military operation was performed on the Indian side at India-Myanmar border. We will not accept any foreigner who attacks neighbouring countries in the back and creates problems by using our own territory," Zaw Htay, Director of Myanmar's Presiden't Office said in an official FB post.
Too many dated photos doing the rounds
In fact most online defence forums, were engaged in heated debates whether it was right to show the faces of Special Forces (SF) operatives exposing their identities.
With the claims and counter claims taking a political turn, it is left to be seen how New Delhi manages to douse the fire. The ill-timed comment by Rajyavardhan Rathore, Minister of State, I&B, has added fuel to the fire.
A former SF chief, too have slammed the media for showing the faces of the commandoes. It is a norm practice by the militaries and media world over to mask the faces of their SF operatives. The Indian Navy never lets its elite Marine Commandoes (MARCOS) to have their identity revealed.
The sudden appearance of a dated photo (showing 3 SF operatives and a chopper) of an Army operation, claiming to be the one from the Indo-Mynamar border mission, too added to the confusion.
Better we talk less about operations in public
Interestingly, former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F H Major (Retd) commented on an FB post yesterday criticizing too many operational details being divulged by the media.
"The less we talk about these operations in public, the better it will be for our armed forces. These kind of operations must always remain on a 'need-to-know' basis only," commented Major, who is known for his firm views.
The Indian news channels were caught wrong-footed after they aired minute-to-minute details of the post-26/11 commando operations in Mumbai.
Army should be spared from dirty politics
Seasoned journalist and media watcher Dr Gautham Machaiah told OneIndia that hot pursuits are a common occurrence in the border and they are normally conducted with the cooperation and tacit understanding of the country concerned.
"These operations are always kept a secret so that the country in question is not put to embarrassment. While the Indian Army never mentioned Myanmar in its statement, junior Information Minister Rajavardhan Rathore told the media about the Army's operation in the neighbouring country and followed it up with his '56inchrocks' tweet, which was in bad taste," says Dr Gautham.
Asking the netas to spare the Indian Army from dirty politics, the Dr Gautham said: "The Presidential Office in Myanmar was forced to deny any Indian Army operations within its territory. When politicians forget the fine art of diplomacy to score a few political brownie points, the nation and its professional Army are put to acute embarrassment."
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)