SPITEFUL SPAT: (L) Lt Gen HS Panag, Arnab Goswami, Ajai Shukla & Major Gaurav Arya

Arya had warned two veterans and a journalist of getting a thrashing in public

Most of India woke up on Monday to see 'Gaurav Arya' trending on Twitter. Gaurav Arya, a retired major in the Indian Army, is a media commentator, most prominently associated with Republic TV.

In a unseemly spectacle, Arya had warned two Indian Army veterans and a journalist of getting a "thrashing in public" in a tweet on Sunday. The two veterans were retired Lt General H.S. Panag and Brigadier Sandeep Thapar, while the journalist was Man Aman Singh Chhina.

Panag is a prominent strategic affairs analyst, who had been warning in his articles and tweets in recent weeks that China could launch coercive action in Ladakh. Thapar too is a commentator on defence affairs.

The war of words was apparently based on a recent debate on Republic TV in which journalist Ajai Shukla was criticised by Arnab Goswami and Gaurav Arya. Shukla, who is incidentally an Indian Army veteran, had been reporting extensively on the standoff in Ladakh. Incidentally, Panag, Shukla and Chhina had been critical of the Narendra Modi government's handling of the standoff in Ladakh.

In response to the criticism of Shukla and Panag by Arnab Goswami and Arya on Republic TV, Thapar referred to Arya's short tenure in the Army.

"@ajaishukla is the flavour of the day on @republic. 16 mins into the show, @ArnabGoswamiRTv has named him 49 times.& now it's turn of @rwac48 !@majorgauravarya says I've been tolerating these two for 2-3 yrs now but won't now! मसां मसां (जुम्मा जुम्मा) 5 साल नौकरी और यह तेवर?,” Thapar wrote.

Thapar's tweet earned over a thousand retweets, including responses from Panag and Chhina. Arya responded by tweeting, "Sandy Thapar, Gen Panag and Man Aman Singh Chinna... don’t think that I cannot respond. Don’t cry when you get a thrashing in public..."

The follow-up tweet by Arya triggered a spat between Arya and Thapar, with the latter declaring he had served "36 years in the Army". In another tweet, Thapar argued that Shukla had served 20 years in the Army and Panag worked for 40 years, while Arya saw service of only "5-6" years.

@ajaishukla ex NDA, AC, psc, served in J&K, put in over 20 yrs.@rwac48 an inf offr, later mech inf, vast experience 40 yrs service, participated in 71 war, retd as an army cdr!@majorgauravarya 5-6 yrs service, one tenure J&K, rest nothing to talk much about.

Judge yourself!— Sandy Thapar (veteran) (@sandythapar) June 21, 2020

Bollywood actress Gul Panag is the daughter of Lt Gen HS Panag, like her father she also shares similar sentiments against the present govt.

The spat between Thapar and Arya soon attracted eyeballs on Twitter, with some veterans expressing disapproval of the words used against Panag and Thapar.

Even, a spokesperson of the Indian Army, Colonel Aman Anand, tweeted about the 'veterans code' on Monday, noting soldiers "and the rest of the country look up to the officers".

Thapar apologised for the spat with Arya in a tweet on Monday. Thapar tweeted, "I apologise for what transpired on my timeline last nt. I called out abuse to a former army cdr & what followed was gutter level tripe. I should have known better than getting into an argument with one who uses his veteran status to justify his rabid ideology! Entirely my bad!"