All hell broke loose on Twitter when Air Vistara posted a picture of its staff with Major General (retired) GD Bakshi on April 21. The airline tweeted that it was “honoured” to have Bakshi on the flight and called him “a decorated Kargil war hero”.
A retired Indian Army officer, Bakshi was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal for commanding a battalion in the Kargil War. He later commanded counter-terrorism drives in the Rajouri-Poonch districts of Jammu & Kashmir. He also served two tenures at the Directorate General of Military Operations.
He came into limelight for delivering a lecture at IIT Madras in 2016 when he reportedly mocked India’s freedom struggle, called for Pakistan to be partitioned into four countries, claimed that Dehradun was originally called “Dehradrone” and justified the use of pellet guns in Kashmir. He also praised Major Gogoi for tying a voter in Jammu & Kashmir to the bonnet of a jeep and parading him around several villages in 2017.
Soon after the airline posted the picture, people on social media demanded that Air Vistara take down the picture.
I’ve liked the few @airvistara flights I’ve taken. An advice: They should warn passengers if the flight will be contaminated by the presence of a bigot, so that alternate plans can be made. Vistara may be proud of who it flies; others don’t have to share the pain on that flight.
— Salil Tripathi سلیل تریپاٹھی સલિલ ત્રિપાઠી (@saliltripathi) April 21, 2019
I repeat, GD Bakshi is a disgrace! Vistara honouring this bigot doesn’t change that fact!
— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) April 21, 2019
Ok Now, I am not flying Vistara anymore. I don’t want to fly with stupid obnoxious bigots.
— Bala Krishna (@BalaKrishnarama) April 21, 2019
Sad that Vistara considers honored by presence of GD Bakshi, a rabid warmonger…@RNTata2000
— Sumit Kashyap (@sumitkashyapjha) April 21, 2019
In response, Air Vistara deleted the picture and issued a statement saying that it did not want its platform “to be disrespectful or hurtful to anyone” and that it was deleting the post with the “objective of deleting such comments” that were disrespectful.
Statement from Vistara pic.twitter.com/KJ935w2sfQ
— Vistara (@airvistara) April 21, 2019
However, many were not amused by the airline’s action and started “#BoycottVistara” that began trending on Twitter.
Extremely Cowardly on part of Air Vistara @airvistara to have deleted Major General GD Bakshi Pic after Anti Army Gang Pressure. ITS AN INSULT TO the Army Veteran and #IndianArmy on part Air Vistara #BoycottVistara pic.twitter.com/EAM1ggzMG6
— Rosy (@rose_k01) April 21, 2019
— Darshit Joshi #NationalistChowkidar
I pledged I’ll never ever Fly by Air Vistara for insulting Maj Gen GD Bakshi unless you apologize and restore the Tweet. #bycottVistara
— Anurag (@AnuragSaw) April 22, 2019
While people exchanged war of words and tried to pick sides, those sitting on the fence found the situation to be funny, especially for Air Vistara.
AirVistara tweets a selfie with right wing idealogy supporting Maj Gen GD Bakshi. Liberals got up in arms & vowed to not fly again with Vistara. The airline deletes the tweet, now the right wingers threatening to not fly vistara again. If nobody is flying, can I get free tickets?
— Tinu Cherian Abraham (@tinucherian) April 21, 2019
Air Vistara’s social media in-charge today. pic.twitter.com/VBEFjBxZC5
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) April 21, 2019
— Erza Scarlet (@jellalovee) April 21, 2019
Left Wing is angry with Air Vistara because they tweeted a pic with GD Bakshi. Right Wing is angry because they deleted that tweet.
Left Wing | Vistara | Right Wing pic.twitter.com/uCcT4BETYP
— Sagar (@sagarcasm) April 21, 2019