They were "upset" over the force being dragged into "politics" over films after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) demanded that producers of movies employing Pakistani actors pay Rs 5 core to an army welfare fund.

The controversy erupted after Karan Johar's 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' ran into a storm of protests led by MNS because Pakistani actor Fawad Khan has a role in it. The film has been allowed to be released after its producers met with three conditions put forward by MNS chief Raj Thackeray, including payment of Rs 5 crore to Army Welfare Fund.

"All contributions (to welfare fund) are to be voluntary. Extortion is not allowed. We would want people to contribute on their own rather than under any coercion," a senior army official said today. He said the army is "upset" over being dragged into this politics.

"The army is completely apolitical. It is wrong to drag the force into politics," another army official said. "(We) would never support it," Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), former military secretary, said when asked if he supports the move of the MNS. "Why should the armed forces be made a part of this extortion? By accepting this money they would become a 'receiver' of tainted money," tweeted Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd).

Army sources said that they have a system in place to check all contributions and can even reject a contribution made under duress or by any person whom the force does not want to be associated with.