A General And His ‘Confessions’

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Gen VK Singh
General (retired) V K Singh addressing a press conference in Gurgaon Photo: PTI

Former Army Chief, General (retired) VK Singh’s 30-minute TV interview on 23 September has left many publicly shocked and outraged. The General stated that the Army directly funds politicians in Jammu and Kashmir to take “measures that are put into place to bring in harmony”. He emphasised the fact that it is nothing new, “this is not something that VK Singh has invented… it has happened since the time of Independence” and that everyone, from the state’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to the Defence Minister, was aware of this practice.

The controversial statement was made by the General in reaction to the accusations levelled by a ‘leaked’ official report. The ‘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, blamed the Tactical Support Division (TSD), a secret intelligence unit directly under the General during his time as Army Chief, for paying Rs 1.19 crore to J&K MLA Ghulam Hassan Mir (currently the state agriculture minister) to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government. General Singh refuted this claim and explained at a press conference held in Gurgaon on 24 September that in 2010, during the widespread protests, it was the army that helped bring normalcy to the valley and that the Chief Minister was still very much in power.

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Hassan Mir: J&K Minister Whom Both General VK Singh And Congress Defend

Both the Congress and General VK Singh have defended J&K Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, who allegedly received Rs 1.19 crore from the army to destabilise the Omar government

Ghulam Hassan Mir
Ghulam Hassan Mir

With former Army chief General  at the top, there is a gaggle of dramatis personae that peoples the alleged elaborate security plot unearthed in the Army probe to topple the J&K Government and change the line of succession in the army. It includes as one of the key actors J&K Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, who is alleged to have received Rs 1.19 crore to destabilise the Omar government. But while the is unsparing in its approach to General Singh, the party harbours a soft corner for Mir. It even choose to defend him in Kashmir, with state president  demanding he be given an opportunity to defend himself.

“Mir’s version has to be given due weightage. He has refuted the allegations and has himself demanded a probe into the issue. Mir has to be given an opportunity to be heard,” Soz said, while terming General  as a “man of controversies”.

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VK Singh
VK Singh Photo: PTI

10 Facts About The General VK Singh Political Slugfest

The festering cold war between the present and previous Army chief has now spilled over into the political arena.

What happened?

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”.

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 ‘When I filed the petition, I hardly knew who Gen Bikram Singh was’

An exclusive interview of Khurshid Ahmad Mir, who heads the NGO that filed the petition against General Bikram Singh in an encounter case

General Bikram Singh (left) and General VK Singh

Khurshid Ahmad Mir is the man responsible for the 2010 petition in the J&K High Court that, according to the internal Army enquiry, threatened to change the line of succession in the Army. The petition charged the then Brigadier Bikram Singh, now the Army Chief, for being involved in a fake encounter at Janglat Mandi in the South Kashmir town of Anantnag in 2001. But Mir, 52, the head of Youth Empowerment Services (YES) of Kashmir (the NGO which filed the petition), is now horrified by the political storm over what he terms an “innocuous humanitarian exercise”.

An Army enquiry has charged the former Army Chief General VK Singh of paying this NGO to file a Public Interest Litigation in the High Court against General Bikram Singh in the alleged fake encounter case. The petition is seen as an attempt of General VK Singh to prevent the succession of General Bikram Singh as the Army Chief.

“At that time, I hardly knew who General Bikram Singh was and what he was going to become,” Mir told TEHELKA. “It is only when the petition was filed and all hell broke loose that I understood what had happened.”

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How Ghulam Hassan Mir Hoped To Take Over As J&K CM Amid 2010 Unrest

As per a news report, Mir was paid Rs 1.19 crore by the army’s Technical Services Division to topple Omar Abdullah government. However, Mir termed these reports baseless

Ghulam_Hassan_MirDuring the unrest in 2010 in Jammu and Kashmir, State Agriculture minister Ghulam Hassan Mir is said to have been lobbying hard with Congress and PDP to emerge as the consensus candidate for the J&K Chief Minister should Omar Abdullah step down as a result of the escalating protests. He got the PDP’s assurance but failed to build on his case with Congress.

“Yes, we told him that we will extend support to him if he succeeds in his attempt to get Congress’ support,” said sources in PDP. “But he failed to get the required backing”.

“Yes, he had thrown his hat in the ring. He wanted to be the Chief Minister,” senior NC leader Mustafa Kamaal told TEHELKA accusing Mir of fomenting violence in Valley to create more destabilisation. He also accused Mir of being responsible for orchestrating the killing of 13 people in Budgam and Tangmarg in September 2010 and the burning of a Christian missionary school following the reports of Quran burning in America. “This was the worst day of violence during the unrest and was designed to push the state over the edge”.

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‘Why Should An Army General Be Motivated To Destabilise A State Government?’

Lt General (retd) Raj Kadyan tells G Vishnu that the government should ask the CBI to probe into the allegation that former chief of armed forces VK Singh had raised a unit to destabilise the J&K government

Lt General (retd) Raj Kadyan
Lt General (retd) Raj Kadyan

What do you make of the charge that General VK Singh had raised a secret unit where funds were misused and an attempt was made to destabilise the J&K government?
The allegations that have appeared in The Indian Express  newspaper today are of an extremely serious nature. If they are true, a serious breach of propriety has been committed. There should be a thorough probe. I am sure even General VK Singh would welcome that probe. Army personnel, whether retired or serving, must be punished if found guilty. The role of the Military Intelligence (MI) doesn’t go beyond three functions. One, counter-intelligence that is prevention of penetration by enemy agents into the army personnel. Secondly, limited human intelligence in areas infested with insurgency or militancy. Thirdly, up to a limited depth — 20-30 km across the border — gain information on topography and enemy deployment and layouts. The MI has no role beyond that. There are different agencies for different purposes. The tasking of these agencies is done by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), not even the defence ministry. For external intelligence, we have the Research & Analsis Wing (RAW). For internal intelligence, we have the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Then we have the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which does not control the MI. The DIA has two intelligence sources. Seventy percent of intelligence comes through signal intelligence. The other is Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), procured through means like satellite intelligence.

I find it totally unbelievable that this unit was used for destabilising the J&K government. I don’t see what motivation an army chief can have in destabilising a constitutionally elected government. It’s well beyond his function. Therefore, only a probe will bring out the truth in these allegations.

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~Political Reaction~

Nasir Aslam Wani, NC   

The issue of destabilising the current government by former army chief VK Singh is of a very serious matter and can’t be brushed aside or dismissed. This issue needs a thorough probe and no attempt should be made to cover it up. We demand a judicial probe under a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or at the least by the CBI. Jammu and Kashmir has suffered at the machinations of people who have tried time and again to demean the elected government and this alleged report substantiates that there are people who want to dent the credibility of the democratic institutions that India is known for.

Mustafa Kamal, NC

This is not shocking, an army chief conspiring to topple a democratically elected state government. This has always been the case with Kashmir. People are hired, bought and used to destabilise governments. And now the army is also into this business. This should tell Delhi why AFSPA is such a favourite with the army in Kashmir. It gives them power.

Naeem Akhtar, PDP

Kashmir politics has always had these shadows over it. This is nothing new. The only difference is that it has been exposed for the first time. New Delhi should take a lesson from this. It is time to look beyond proxies in Kashmir politics. Kashmir needs a clean democratic system and Kashmiris need to be trusted. Only this will solve the Kashmir problem.

Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, CPI(M)

This is serious development. It should be completely probed and the facts should be brought to light. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have the right to know the truth.

 


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