The Navy chief appears to have launched his own war against the media.
On Thursday, Admiral Sureesh Mehta once again revealed his disdain for journalists by calling them fools. When a journalist threw a question at him, the response of the senior-most military commander was rather shocking: “I do not talk to fools.”
He made these comments after a wreath laying ceremony at the Amar Jawan Jyoti on Navy Day.
Just two days ago, Mehta had threatened to chop off the heads of two TV reporters for running his interview ahead of the broadcast time he had dictated. Senior defence ministry officials described the utterings of the Navy chief as “unfortunate and uncalled for”. “The Navy Chief should have shown some restraint instead of articulating his personal views on the media.”
Mehta’s hostile behaviour can be partially be attributed to frequent media reports that Defence Minister AK Antony has pulled him up on several occasions for a variety of reasons, including his remarks on deteriorating Indo-Russian ties, pay commission-related matters and the Navy’s alleged failure in preventing the Mumbai attacks.
In his annual press conference on Tuesday, he had said: “You have put my reputation in the dock. By the amount of pulling up I have been subjected to, I should have been taller by a couple of inches. Are you working for some masters? I leave it to your conscience.”
Mehta had also lashed out at the electronic media for its reckless coverage of the attacks. He said the manner in which channels reported had “tactical implications” and might have worked to the terrorists’ advantage.