A day after the Chandigarh municipal corporation used photographs of United States Army personnel on the invitation cards and hoardings to commemorate Martyrs’ Day on Monday, city mayor Poonam Sharma marked an inquiry into the issue, even as former defence personnel criticised the civic body for its indifference.
Speaking to HT, Sharma claimed that though the incident was unfortunate, it wasn’t intentional. “I have marked an inquiry into the goof-up and action will be taken against the guilty as such a mistake is not acceptable.”
She clarified that she had forwarded two photographs for printing, but MC’s assistant public relations officer Sanjeev Kumar did not approve of those pictures, and sourced another picture from the Internet, before finalising the design.
However, Kumar said he had got the job done through a printer, who “told me it was an Indian Army photo”.
Significantly, the US army men’s photo that has been used by the MC actually appears when one searches for ‘Indian Army photos’ in Google. Even on the website that has used the image, it has been processed to add the Tricolour and the words ‘Indian Army’, even as the intention is to talk about jobs in the Indian Army.
In the MC’s case, the image has been further photoshopped to remove the US flag from the uniforms of the soldiers before being used on the invites and hoardings.
Interestingly, after the issue came to the light on Sunday night, the corporation removed all such hoardings erected in various parts of the city. Even the background board, carrying the same picture, set up for the function at Terraced Garden, Sector 33, was replaced with another one.
“The MC hoardings depicting US soldiers reflect the height of irresponsibility. Using American soldiers’ photo is an insult to our heroes who sacrifice their lives for the country. The persons or officials responsible for this blunder should be reprimanded and be made to apologise publicly,” said city resident DP Gautam.
But Lt Gen KJ Singh, GOC-in-C Western Command, Chandimandir, who was the chief guest on the occasion, was evasive on the issue.
“Western Command did not have anything to do with the picture used. It was an MC event, and whatever action required has to be initiated by the corporation,” said defence public relations officer Parvesh Sharma.
Strict action should be taken against the guilty. The blunder is an insult to the entire nation. The incident has exposed the callousness of the MC towards the event.
Kirron Kher, Chandigarh MP and daughter of an ex-serviceman
This can only happen in India. They do not realise the extent of the damage done. It is very embarrassing. One day, they could even use pictures of Pakistani soldiers.
Brigadier Harwant Singh (retd), president, All India Defence Brotherhood
The media is unnecessarily raising hue and cry over the issue, as it was not a deliberate mistake. The MC must be careful in such matters in future, as sentiments of people can be hurt.
Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (retd), war veteran
I will call it lack of meticulousness. The cut-and-paste jobs are sometimes being committed at higher levels too in India, particularly in case of maps of J&K and northeast.
Lt Gen HS Panag (retd), judicial member of the Armed Forces Tribunal