With the appointment of present Eastern Air Command chief Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar as the new chief of Indian Air Force’s sword arm Western Air Command (WAC), prominent Pakistani social media accounts started speculating that the previous chief of WAC, Air Marshal Chandrashekharan Hari Kumar had been sacked after the Indian Air Force lost one aircraft to the Pakistan Air Force. Wajahat Saeed Khan, a Pakistani journalist tweeted, ” Mid-conflict, the Indian Air Force has changed its Air Officer Commanding the Western front, with Pakistan? So is the previous guy fired? Or just golfing?”. The tweet suggested that the Air Marshal was fired after the purported ‘failure of IAF’ in an air battle against PAF.

Another Pakistani journalist Omar Quraishi also reiterated the same claim by saying , “the Govt of India has sacked Air Marshal C H Kumar, the Air Office Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Air Command”.

Fact-check

Alt News found that the information propagated about sacking of Air Marshal Chandrashekharan Hari Kumar after India lost one IAF aircraft is false. Air Marshal Kumar’s departure from the army is because he’s retiring, not because he was sacked. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence, it is clearly stated, “Western Air Command Indian Air Force retired on 28 February 2019 after an illustrious career spanning over 39 yrs.”

According to 7th Pay Commission News, an Air Marshal retires at the age of 60. In a statement issued by the MoD, it was also stated, “The Air Marshal celebrated his sixtieth on 26 February and remained a soldier till the last of his service”.

A tweet put out by ANI on the news also confirmed that the Air Marshal C Hari Kumar had retired on the due date of his retirement after 39 years of service.

Media reports

The International News, a Pakistani English daily, published an article on March 1, 2019, which stated, “The Indian government has removed a senior air force officer reportedly after Pakistan’s successful strikes and capturing of a pilot on February 27.”

While the report has been updated with a statement from the Ministry of Defence that the Air Marshal had retired, the headline remained, “India removes senior IAF officer after Pakistan shoots down jets”.

Malayalam website Big News Live had also published an identical report on March 1, 2019, with the same title, “India removes Air Marshal Hari Kumar after Pakistan shoot down jets”. At the time of writing this article, the report has been deleted from the website.

In conclusion, Pakistani social media users and media outlets have propagated misinformation that the Western Air Command Air Marshal Chandrashekharan Hari Kumar was sacked after an IAF aircraft was shot down by PAF, while he had retired on the due date of his retirement.

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About the Author

Jignesh is a writer and researcher at Alt News. He has a knack for visual investigation with a major interest in fact-checking videos and images. He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Gujarat University.