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Sunday 7 June 2020

Shastra puja: Pakistan Army sees merit in worshipping arms

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Pakistan Army spokesperson Asif Ghafoor, known to make statements against India consistently, on Thursday defended Rajnath Singh’s shastra puja (arms worship) of Rafale, a ritual the Indian defence minister participated in while receiving the first Rafale fighter jet from France. The issue was discussed a lot on social media. Now the Pakistan Army spokesman says that there is nothing wrong in the worship of Rafale because it is in line with religion.

Of course, the Pakistani soldier did not forget to add a spin his country required. He tweeted, “Nothing wrong in #RafalePuja as it goes by the religion and that must be respected. Please remember….it’s not the machine alone which matters but competence, passion & resolve of the men handling that machine. Proud of our PAF Shaheens. #PAFtheMenAtTheirBest

Earlier, Chaudhary Fawad Hussain, a minister in the Imran Khan government, had made fun of Rafale, the state-of-the-art French fighter aircraft that India just received, triggering a laugh riot among Indian users of the medium. On Thursday, Hussain tweeted a picture of the Rafale aircraft with lemon and pepper. He actually used the work of an Indian cartoonist who mocked the tradition of Hindus of painting messages believed to be auspicious on new vehicles, shops and houses.

On 8 October, Singh received the first shipment of 36 French Rafale fighter jets. On the occasion of Vijayadashami, he also did shastra puja, too. The fighter planes will begin arriving in India not before May 2020 by when it is expected that India will have built the infrastructure necessary to maintain Rafale in the country.

India’s defence minister had written ॐ (Om) on the Rafale aircraft and offered flowers and coconuts for the shastra puja. Lemons were placed before the wheels of Rafale supposedly to ward off evil forces envious of India’s possession of the aircraft.

The Congress had criticised the ritual. Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had called the shastra puja a “spectacle”. Independent-turned-BJP-turned-Congress leader Udit Raj objected to it, too, as did Sandeep Dikshit. Raj said the day superstition ends in the country will be the day India will start making its own Rafale fighter jets.

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