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Doubts over timing of Marshal Arjan Singh’s death: Will the govt come clean?

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 19 September 2017, 13:23 IST
(Arya Sharma)

With the nation paying tribute to Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force (IAF), an unfortunate controversy appears to have broken out over the timing of his death. 

With a lot of evidence out in the open, many are asking if Singh was already dead when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Twitter that he visited him to wish him a speedy recovery. 

The Union government announced Singh's death at 7.47 pm Saturday (16 September).

PIB

Many Twitter users, however, pointed out that Minister of State for External Affairs and former Indian Army chief VK Singh had tweeted an obituary message much earlier, at 5.26 pm. 

Twitter
Twitter
Twitter
Twitter

That tweet cannot be found on Singh's timeline anymore, leading many to allege that he deleted it before posting a fresh obituary at 8.28 pm.

Twitter

What happened in between Singh's two tweets was Modi's visit to the Army Research and Referral Hospital to see Marshal Arjan Singh. The PM posted two tweets at 5.53 pm and 5.55 pm, announcing his hospital visit and praying for Singh's “speedy recovery”.

Twitter
Twitter

The Press Information Bureau also put out a press release on PM's visit at 6.37 pm.

PIB

So, according to Modi, Singh was alive at least till 5.53 pm, but according to VK Singh, the veteran had already passed away about half an hour ago! 

That something was certainly amiss was also confirmed by media reports on Marshal Arjan Singh's death. Chandigarh-based The Tribune reported that Singh had passed away as early as 3.59 pm.

Tribune Online.

The report said “senior officials and family members” of Marshal Arjan Singh had informed the paper about his death, but the “government officially stated that he is alive”.  

Tribune Online

The report also mentioned VK Singh's original tweet and said he deleted it later. 

A picture's worth

Adding to the suspicion is a mysterious picture circulating on social media that shows the PM standing next to Marshal Arjan Singh's hospital bed. Those circulating it claim that the picture was taken when Modi claimed he had visited Singh and wished him speedy recovery. 

However, the monitor attached to Singh's bed can be seen in the background showing a flat ECG and zero pulse, essentially indicating that Singh was dead by then.

Social media

Some media reports have attributed this picture to the IAF, but no such picture exists on IAF's social media accounts now. Interestingly, it cannot be found on Modi's and PIB's social media either. One can argue that in that case, the picture is probably fake but the story has too many loopholes to ignore. 

VK Singh's first tweet and The Tribune's original report announcing Marshal Arjan Singh's death, much before Modi's hospital visit, converge with the narrative of the photograph doing the rounds on social media. 

Together, they appear to be strengthening the hypothesis that Singh was possibly dead by the time Modi could find time to see him. Is it possible then that the PM got the government’s social media machinery to lie that he rushed to the hospital when the veteran was still alive? Why would he want to do that if this is what transpired? 

VK Singh had already tweeted about the death before the PM's visit. Is that why he was made to delete his tweet?

Is it possible that media reports, social media posts and a mysterious picture gave this exercise away? There are too many unanswered and uncomfortable questions. 

Will the government deny this? Better still, will it come out with the truth? 

Edited by Joyjeet Das 

First published: 18 September 2017, 22:36 IST
 
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.

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