Army Officer Writes to Actor Sonu Sood to Set Up COVID Facility, Triggers Debate

The CO of an Infantry Battalion at Jaisalmer Military Station told Sood he will be recognised all over the country for any assistance, as he will be joining hands with the Indian Army.

Jalandhar: A letter by the Commanding Officer (CO) of the Jaisalmer-based Infantry Battalion to Bollywood actor Sonu Sood requesting medical assistance to set up a 200 bedded Covid Care Centre has led to a debate within the armed forces community over the officer’s approach.

As per copy of the letter dated May 13, which was seen by The Wire, the CO of the Infantry Battalion requested Sonu Sood to assist in providing critical medical equipment as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

In his letter, the CO highlighted that given the availability of limited resources, there was a requirement for additional equipment and sought four ICU Beds, 10 Oxygen Concentrators, 10 Jumbo Oxygen Cylinders (7000 lts), one X-ray machine, two generator sets 15 KVA at the military station.

But as the letter went viral, Army officers, retired and serving, appeared to be divided over the issue with some terming the Commanding Officer’s act as erroneous and others supporting the move.

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Speaking to The Wire, former Northern and Central Army Commander Lt Gen H.S. Panag said that, in writing a letter to Sonu Sood, the officer appeared to have acted in ‘zeal and overenthusiasm’ to acquire medical equipment. “This will certainly invite action because he has no mandate to deal in such financial affairs. It may also appear that the CO was trying to gain name through his work, which is not done. In my view action is warranted against the officer,” General Panag said.

However, a senior Army officer posted in Delhi said, “Ideally, it is not done but then we should not forget that the country is tackling a pandemic and the situation is similar to a battle. In such circumstances, the focus should be on providing resources and not curbing the positive initiatives to win the battle of COVID-19. Rather, I would like to appreciate the CO’s approach of utilising all resources available to set up the Covid Hospital at the Military Station.”

Notably, Sonu Sood has been at the forefront of providing assistance across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic since last year. From arranging buses to ferrying migrant labourers back home to providing food and medical assistance, Sonu Sood has drawn immense praise from all quarters for his initiatives.