The turf war between the former Army Chief General V K Singh and the government has been dragged into the Supreme Court with the General earning the wrath of the apex court over a comment he made against Supreme Court’s judgment regarding his age. As people’s faith in state institutions crumble, the Army now finds itself staring at scepticism regarding its own integrity. This is the same force which had emerged as the ‘Most trustworthy’, ahead of media and Parliament in India Today Group-C Voter Youth poll which was conducted among first time voters in early September this year.
The Indian Army finds itself fighting two parallel battles. A protracted gunfight engages the Army with infiltrators at the Line of Control in the thickly forested Karen heights of Kashmir and the other embedded battle is the fight for its own integrity. Amidst this double assault comes the former Army Chief’s remark that the Technical Support Division (TSD) could have prevented the skirmishes near the Line of Control by infiltrators backed by elements in Pakistan.
The TSD is a brainchild of the former chief formed in May 2010 which was used to siphon off secret funds to destabilize the government in Jammu and Kashmir, according to a leaked internal army document. This secret army unit was disbanded immediately after General Singh stepped down as the Army Chief. But the former chief never went ahead to say how the TSD could have thwarted the frontier attacks. An exposition on the nuances could endanger security and the requisite secrecy but it could also shed light on how the TSD operated. This would have laid bare the abuse of his position as Army Chief by revealing the clandestine operations he conducted through the TSD, which according to the leaked army document reported directly to the chief bypassing standard procedures of reporting to the Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI).
General V K Singh will perhaps be remembered in Army annals as the chief who took the government he served to court, lost and then incurred the wrath of the apex court and the judiciary.
This succession of events took place at the cost of the General’s reputation, honour and integrity-self-professed virtues that he sought to defend when he decided to take the government to court. But why was the General silent at the time when he became the Army Chief based on the same date of birth that he later sought to disown?
There are many more stories up the General’s sleeve. Allegations are rife that General V K Singh in his position as the army chief siphoned off funds meant for secret intelligence to fund politicians and interest groups in Kashmir, one of them being an NGO which was encouraged to file a Public Interest Litigation against the incumbent Army Chief General Bikram Singh,then a brigadier in Kashmir.
General V K Singh’s alleged attempts to scuttle the line of succession in the Army were prompted by his squabble with General Bikram Singh. But the former was just a player in the game of intrigue and vendetta welling up inside the Army. The Army top brass had been divided regarding the successor of General V K Singh. The pro-V K Singh camp responded with the General taking the government to court over his date of birth and hence his retirement age.
General Bikram Singh reacted by forming a Board of Inquiry (BoI) headed by the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) which let out a can of worms that scoured the professional integrity of General V K Singh.
Now the former Army Chief’s war on the government seems to have been triggered by the schism within the Army. An internal conflict in the Army has spilled over into other realms of public life as the government and the judiciary are now locked in verbal combat with the former chief. It is like a festering sore that slowly infects the entire body-politic. The coherence in the Army, one of the few institutions in the country which still commands respect from citizens, is a thing of the past. General V K Singh’s gestures of defiance have only served to steel the government’s resolve to put the General to the sword. For the former Army Chief has only succeeded in politicizing himself while flouting the government. A common ground between the two sides seems far away but it will be in the best interests of everyone to arrive at a consensus and stop the regressive tactic of mud-slinging. Both sides have clung to their own politicized version of the story. This saga needs to be put to rest.