Nepal Army Wives’ Association organised a charity concert for the benefit of quake survivors, on Saturday. The star performers of the evening were Bollywood divas Sonakshi Sinha and Malaika Arora. But events surrounding the concert have dragged the force into controversy. That the concert was organised at the army’s parade ground has not gone down well with the public. A Brigadier General going to the airport to receive one of the divas has also given the army some bad press.
Onlinekhabar talked to the army’s spokesperson Brigadier Gen Tara Bahadur Karki about the entire episode. Translated excerpts:
The army does not allow anyone to use its parade ground. Why did it make an exception for the concert?
We did not use the whole parade ground. As the programme was organised by the wives’ association, we allowed the organisers to use a certain part of the ground. I do not think we need to look at it in bad light. This is not the first time that the association has organised a programme for the benefit of the quake victims. We allowed them to use the ground because it was for a noble cause.
The ground is considered by army personnel as being close to their heart. Was it right to organise a concert there?
Before answering this question, we would have to look at the intention for organising the programme. The programme’s intentions were noble. We decided to allow the programme to be staged there because it is in the heart of the city, and it can accommodate a huge crowd. The other thing to note is that the programme did not have any commercial angle to it.
Will the army allow any other organisation to stage a charity concert at the same venue?
No, it won’t. As I said earlier, the programme was not commercial, and it was organised by an association related to the army. The venue was made available under the provisions of the army’s rules. You cannot say the venue was misused just because a heroine danced on the stage.
You said that the programme was organised by an association related to the army. That means you would know the details of the event. Did you pay the local stars and the international stars the same amount?
Only the event management company the association hired would know how much was spent on paying the performers, and how much was spent on setting the stage. Although the association organised the event, it was the event management company that took care of the logistics.
There were reports that the HQ sent a circular to all units to buy tickets.
That is not true. We told them they could buy tickets if they were interested in the event. We did not issue any circular.
What about the reports on a Brig General going to the airport to receive a performer?
The reports are inaccurate. The official seen in the photo was not there to welcome the heroine.
Why was he there?
It was mere coincidence. He was there because he is stationed there. It’s not true that he went inside the arrivals section to receive her. He was in his uniform because he was on duty in his own station. There were other representatives of the association to welcome her.
The Ministry of Defence has also written to the army about Saturday’s programme. Will the army continue organising such programmes in the future?
We haven’t done anything in breach of our rules. I think there will be a discussion on this. But whatever we do, we’ll do it as per the rules.