By Imran Farooqi
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken the strict notice of the allegations of corruption against the Indian Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh. Gen. Singh also went to the Supreme Court against the government for correction of his date of birth. He is scheduled to retire at end of May this year. He wanted the present regime to accept that he was born in 1951 and not 1950. Army records reflect the both, but the sides reveal that his seniority and promotions have been based on 1950 as his year of birth, and that records cannot be amended now. General Singh withdrew his petition against the after the Supreme Court indication of not agreeing with his arguments.
However, the General was widely criticised for turning his differences with the government into a public battle. He said he was fighting to defend his honour and integrity. He is the third generation 61 years old General who took over the command of the second largest Army in March 2012. He tried to put the force on right track but probably failed in his final exercise of cleaning up the corruption of under command force.
According to him Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Parliament on March 27, 2012 that the Army chief had told him that a retired officer, Lt General Tejinder Singh had visited him in 2010 and offered him a kickback of 14 crores. The minister said he asked the Army Chief to take action, but General Singh said that he did not want to pursue the matter. But the political leadership went against him when a confidential letter appeared covering weakness and deficiencies in equipment, arms and ammunitions. In fact letter was written to the Prime Minister by the Army Chief which was presenting very bleak picture of Indian Defence Forces. The leakage of the under discussion letter and its contents further aggravated, which really has pitched the parliament and defence institution in front of each other. According to the General’s letter, the army’s entire tank fleet is “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”, while the air defence system is “97% obsolete and it doesn’t give the deemed confidence to protect … from the air,” he wrote, according to DNA.
While, he further stated that the infantry is crippled with “deficiencies” and lacks night fighting equipment, while the elite Special Forces are “woefully short” of “essential weapons”. The letter which was leaked on March 28, 2012 to the prime minister was written on March 12 and widely reported by the Indian media listing the shortcomings of the armed forces in embarrassing detail in a blow to the government and the Asian giant’s military prestige.
Nevertheless, when General VK Singh took over the command the corruption in the army was on its peak. The lower ranks of Indian army had taken a long breath after departure of the former Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, since Most of the time former chief remained busy creating war hysteria against neighbouring countries that got him involved in internal and external politics instead of commanding army. As a result Indian Army drifted from its professionalism to other unbecoming activities. Over the years, the confidence of the soldiers over their leadership has been dwindling because of their mall practices, raping women, involvement in sex scandals, becoming party to land mafia groups and involvement in financial embezzlements. Thus, new general while talking to the media on the very first day announced the operation clean-up and said, “We want to set our own culture right… improve the internal health `of the organisation… the Army value system has to be different from the civil society”.
In fact, General VP Singh failed in “Operation Clean up” and became the victim of corrupt mafia of Indian political and military elites. He failed to throw away criminal elements but faced antagonism from the corrupt lot of the army. The corruption in rogue Indian army further deteriorated its image and shattered the confidence of juniors. During his tenure more than 20 senior officers (Brigadier or above) faced charges of corruption or moral turpitude but only few have been punished jailed due to political pressure.
Interestingly , General VK Singh, in his earlier capacity as GOC-in-C of the Eastern Command, who had ordered the inquiry into the Darjeeling land scam, which recommended the summary dismissal of the Military Secretary (MS) Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash. Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali, Lt Gen PK Rath and Maj Gen P. Sen have also been earmarked for stern disciplinary actions in the cases of revealed corruption. Maj Gen AK Lal, was also dismissed after having been found guilty of sexually assaulting a junior woman officer. The woman’s parents, based in Dehradun, had lodged a written complaint against the Major General to the then Army chief Gen JJ Singh.
Consequently, General VK Singh’s position has become controversial after leakage of letter. Corrupt mafia of Indian army with help of crooked politicians wants to get rid of that soldier who tried to restore the image of his force and stated real picture of the force while writing a letter. Most of the politicians are demanding the dismissal of Army chief and also in the opinion that goverment has lost control over Indian Army. Concluding, I would say that Indian army should stand up for his commander since showing real picture for the purpose of strengthening her under command force is the duty of every commander.