The festering cold war between the present and previous Army chief has now spilled over into the political arena.
1) On Friday, a “leaked” internal Army report, prepared by a fact-finding “Board of Officers (BoO)” headed by the Director General of Military Operations, Lt-Gen Vinod Bhatia, placed blame on a secret intelligence unit, the 30-man Technica Support Division (TSD), which was under the previous chief General VK Singh, for illegal operations. This triggered a major BJP-Congress slugfest. The BoO was set up under the direct orders of Gen Bikram Singh.
2) One of the key allegations of the ‘leaked’ report is that the TSD gave Rs 1.19 crore to J&K MLA Ghulam Hassan Mir (currently the state agriculture minister) to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government. However, Mir has dismissed the allegation as “incorrect and unbelievable”.
3) The report further alleges that, another Rs 2.38 crore was paid to set up an NGO named Jammu and Kashmir Humanitarian Service Organisation, which is said to have gotten another NGO, “YES Kashmir”, to file a PIL against Gen Bikram Singh for an alleged fake encounter during his tenure as a brigadier in J&K in 2001. The PIL, which was later dismissed and is perceived by many to be an attempt to scuttle the appointment of Gen Bikram Singh, as the Army chief after Gen VK Singh.
4) The secret intel unit also allegedly used two of the off-the-air interceptors, procured at a cost of Rs. 8 crore from a Singapore-based company in November 2010, to tap the telephones of senior MoD officials during the acrimony between the government and Gen VK Singh over his age early last year.
Who said what?
5) The BJP has emphasized that the ‘leak” happened just four days after Gen VK Singh shared the dais with the party’s PM candidate at Rewari though it had been submitted to the MoD in March, labelling it politically motivated.
6) The Congress, on the other hand, said that the report should be followed up by an intensive investigation and I&B minister Manish Tewari speculated on whether the RSS was behind the entire matter.
7) Gen VK Singh has attributed the report and its “leak” to “a simple vendetta” against him. He dismissed the allegations in the report as “motivated and a load of rubbish” on the lines of the “so-called coup reports” last year.
8) The defence ministry, however, justified the decision to not order a probe immediately. The Army report “impinges on matters of national security” and a decision on further course of action will be taken only after “its careful examination,” said the MoD.
There are rumours that
9) Under the tenure of General Bikram Singh, the TSD, General VK Singh’s pet-project, has been completely shut down as the former is rumoured to bear a grudge against the unit which tried to scuttle his chances of being Army Chief.
10) The rivalry between the two generals is well-known and documented. It is alleged that General JJ Singh, forced General VK Singh to accept a certain date of birth (as there were two on record) to ensure that General Bikram Singh would fall into the line of succession, which, later, General VK Singh tired to ensure doesn’t happen. Thus, last year, during the controversy regarding his age, it is alleged that different camps within the army leaked certain information to target and tarnish the other.