Army Chief Gen Singh justifies notice issued to Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag

New Delhi, May 28: Army Chief Gen V K Singh has justified the notice issued to Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag saying that he could not leave the Army in the dumps only because he was going to retire a few days later. Gen Singh retires on May 31.

In an exclusive interview to India TV Executive Editor Sanjay Bragta, Gen Singh said, the Court of Inquiry began its work in December-end and completed its work by April this year after which they file came to him.

“In such a scenario, what did you want me to do? Say, that I have nothing to do because I am retiring?  Let the army go to the dumps ( fauj jaaye bhaad mein ).

“As the Chief, it was my responsibility to act, but then people began attributing motives to me.

“For me, all are equal. After all, I have only issued a notice, nothing more. To attribute motive behind this action is childish.”

Asked whether Lt Gen Suhag was targeted because he was in the line of succession for Army Chief, Gen Singh said: “The army is not a monarchy, where you have a succession line. There is no such thing as succession here.”

On the Rs 14 crore bribe offer, Gen Singh said, the matter could have been referred to the CBI earlier too. “This could have helped things in the long run. And here, our retired officer goes out and says he wants to take revenge.”

On the Tatra truck issue, the Army Chief said, the Army was being palmed off technology of the Seventies, whereas the Czech army itself was using better, modern trucks.

“The Tatra truck costs Rs 25 lakhs in the Czech Republic, but they (BEML) were selling it to our army for Rs 73 lakhs a piece. Moreover the spareparts too were costlier.”

On the Indian Express report about army units causing a scare in Delhi, the General said, journalists report such activity when they do not know how the Services work.

Every formation commander, every unit commander carries out such exercise to check mobilisation.

The civilians are never informed, not even the Army chief. There is no need for the formation commander to share info at any level.”

On his age controversy, the Army Chief said, the age issue was closed after he was appointed the chief. “Nothing was done from 2006 to 2008.  It was raised again by the same people who were opposed to my appointment.”

Asked whether he felt hurt after going to the Supreme Court, Gen Singh said, “I won’t say hurt, I feel laughing (mujhe hansi aati hai) . My disappointment was only beause there was no verdict. For me, even a day is as important as my whole tenure.”

On the leak of his letter to the Prime Minister pointing out deficiencies in war preparedness, Gen Singh said, “letters are never leaked from the army, where a strong system and workstyle is in place.

The question as to from where the letter was leaked, is a matter to be decided by those who matter.

“An effort was made to give the impression that I leaked the letter. I was the person who wrote the letter, then where was the point for me to leak. These are all efforts to create baseless misunderstandings (be-fazool ki galatfahmi).”

On Pak army chief Gen Kiyani’s offer to demilitarize Siachen, Gen Singh replied; “Kiyani Saheb has not said anything new. Then why should we discuss this issue (demilitarizing Siachen) all of a sudden.

So long as we have our boundary disputes pending with both China and Pakistan, we have to remain alert.”

Asked about his post-retirement plans, Gen Singh said, “my first work will be to finish my PhD thesis”.


Army is family counselling

Indian Army hi­res marriage counsellors to so­lve marital discords involving young and mid-career officers and men, so that they do not suc­cumb to psychological st­ress while deployed on the field.

Deposing before a parliamentary committee, Army officers said marital discords are one of the major causes of stress amongst troops, and marriage counsellors were hired at station level and paid from the station welfare fund for the service they rendered.

Government hospitals and institutions are not the only source for such counsellors. “Formations have been advised to seek the help of non-governmental organisation or trusts, subject to necessary clearance and verification,” the officers informed the Committee on Empowerment of Women, which tabled its report in the Parliament on Friday.

Free legal counselling and aid was being sought and provided by the NGOs and voluntary trusts, the report said.

Though the panel did not establish a formal link between rising level of suicide and stress in the armed forces, the report comes days after the government pointed out that almost every year in the last decade, close to 100 Army men committed suicide.

The count was the lowest in 2005 (77) and highest in 2006 (129).

“The possible causative factors for soldiers committing suicide/fratricide are stress, personal problems and financial problems,” Defence Minister A K Antony stated.

More than 100 officers and men committed suicide every year since 2006 barring 2009 when 96 officers and men took their lives. Till May 2012, the suicide toll is 26. Compared to Army, suicide rates are far less in the Indian Air Force – on an average 20 each year – and Navy, where it is the least.

The suicide cases are in addition to regular instances of fratricide, which too is the maximum in the Army.

All the three services have trained psychological counsellors to help the service personnel manage stress, which is factored in while planning deployment of personnel for counter-insurgency operations. With inadequacy in accommodation being a prime reasons behind marital discord, the defence ministry is building thousands of houses for accommodating married defence personnel.

Indian officer leaked army chief’s letter to PM

NEW DELHI, (SANA): A Joint Secretary-rank officer in the Indian Cabinet Secretariat has been found guilty of leaking Army Chief General V K Singh’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the poor state of preparedness of the Indian army.

A probe into the leakage by the Prime Minister’s Office has cleared General Singh of any wrongdoing in the episode. In his letter, the Army Chief had highlighted the critical shortage of equipment and ammunition in artillery and armoured regiments.

The female officer belonging to the Indian Economic Service (IES) was handling the charge of intelligence agencies under the Cabinet Secretariat and was nailed after interrogation of some suspected persons, media reports said.
The officer has now been repatriated to her parent cadre and further action can be taken against her for leaking such a sensitive document, the reports added.

After the letter surfaced, both the Houses of Parliament were rocked over the issue and certain parties had demanded action against Gen Singh also.

The letter was leaked to the media after Gen Singh made a sensational disclosure in an interview that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore by a retired Lt General for favouring a sub-standard defence deal regarding purchase of Army trucks.

Why are some army officers becoming Dabangg?

Is the Nyoma incident, where a group of army officers allegedly thrashed a jawan for alleged misbehaviour and then defied their commanding officer, an aberration?

Or is the matter more serious than what the army is making it out to be?

Colonel Anil Athale (retd) explains the origins of this Dabangg-giri.

Without the bedrock of discipline, the armed forces would be reduced to a group of violent men. The Nyoma incident, in which a group of officers allegedly thrashed a jawan for alleged misbehaviour with a lady and then went on to defy their commanding officer, can well be dismissed as an aberration.

As the Indian Army has asserted, it was an altercation and NOT a mutiny. But the collective insubordination by a group of officers certainly comes within the legal definition of a ‘mutiny’.

An oft repeated saying is worth quoting here: ‘There are no good or bad soldiers, only good or bad officers!’ It is this aspect in the deterioration of the quality of officers that ought to be the ‘real’ worry for the nation.

Frankly speaking, an odd incident of this kind taking place in a 1.1 million-strong force is not abnormal. In the past, similar — even more serious — instances of indiscipline did take place.

About 30 years ago, an officer occupied a post on the Line of Control near Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir and declared ‘independence’! In the 1970s, a Gorkha battalion revolted due to mismanagement by a bad leader over the issue of food!

These incidents have been known in army circles for a long time, but never received the kind of media attention the Nyoma incident is getting. What is new is the media coverage and wider impact this incident has on the discipline and morale of the whole force.

The media actions have a ‘multiplier’ effect that was absent in the past. It is also necessary to see the incident in the wider national context of ‘climate of impunity’.

One notion that needs to be dismissed out of hand is that this incident was some sort of ‘class’ struggle between the officers and men. For unknown to most armchair critics, the majority of officers in the armed forces today belong to the same socio-economic strata as the jawans.

An overwhelming number of officers today are from the lower middle class; many are themselves the sons of jawans. In addition, close to 20 per cent of the officers are promotees from jawans.

As a matter of record, in the 1970s, four out of the top five generals of the Indian Army had started their careers as jawans. Incidentally, the so-called ‘backward classes’ are in a majority in the officer cadre.

Without fanfare or reservations, the army has indeed been an ‘inclusive’ organisation, but has steadfastly (and rightly) refused to divide its members on caste or communal lines. The so-called ‘class conflict’ theory cannot explain the happenings in Nyoma.

The army chief versus defence ministry standoff has certainly vitiated the climate in the armed forces. As I mentioned earlier, in this ill considered open fracas, the nation and its armed forces have been the losers. Both the principal actors in that sordid drama cannot wash away their responsibility in creation of a climate of defiance.

But there are wider issues that the Nyoma incident has raised. One has to come to the painful conclusion that the actions by a group of officers are more reflective of the wider social malady of taking the law into your hands and the expectation of being able to get away with it.

The Nyoma incident is thus more a reflection of the total collapse of the criminal justice system in India as well as a void in leadership.

Climate of impunity

With Dabangg heroes and ‘Rowdys’ as role models, Bollywood is making its own contribution to the general lawlessness. Our esteemed ‘leaders’ routinely misbehave in Parliament in full view of the television cameras to set an example.

I do not claim legal expertise, but common sense seems to question the fact that such large numbers of VIPs, actors, relatives of politicians, policemen seem to get away with murder, both literally and figuratively.

The infamous Jessica Lal murder case to the actor convicted under TADA in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, the BMW hit and run case, the fodder scam convict, actors accused of killing black bucks, all seem to have got away.

Judicial delays seem to ensure that their cases will continue till eternity! Nothing can otherwise explain the rational calculation of the group of officers in Nyoma who thought that they could also get away with their Dabangg-giri.

Even more intriguingly, to the best of my knowledge, one has not heard of a single person being charged or convicted of perjury or lying under oath in the last 60 years!

Have all Indians turned truthful Harishchandras? Do we live in Satyayuga where everyone spoke the truth and only the truth!

At least the judicial system seems to think so. This rampant practice of lying under oath seems to have brought our criminal justice system to a standstill.

When no one gets punished, why worry about a small matter of thrashing a jawan seems to have been the thinking in the minds of the bunch of officers in Nyoma.

Being an Indian Army veteran is not a license to criticise current incumbents. One is acutely aware that the challenges to the armed forces’ leaders have multiplied manifold.

A jawan today is far more conscious of his rights. The old paternal leadership, that was rooted in the traditional rural background of the jawans, has broken down. There are pressures on the men staying away from their families due to the break-up of the joint family system.

To top it all, the increasingly aggressive media puts all the actions of the armed forces under a microscope! Added to this is the constant engagement in internal security duties.

The job of leading men is indeed a formidable one. But given honesty and fairness in dealing with men, the jawans are capable of delivering the goods. But for the officers to carry out their difficult job, society also needs to do its bit.

If the nation has to survive, it needs efficient and disciplined armed forces. But the armed forces do not exist in a vacuum, they reflect society and its ills.

The Indian Army will certainly give exemplary punishment to all concerned (as it did for instance in the Tehleka sting operation case). But unless society at large and the judicial system end this climate of impunity by delivering timely justice and punishing the mighty, some army majors some other time may well think that they can get away with being Dabangg!

If these incidents become the norm, it will result in the collapse of the system.

Let us not forget that the British ruled India with barely 60,000 people on the basis of ‘rule of law’ with the consent of the majority of Indians for over a hundred years.

Indian Army submits report to defence ministry on Leh clash

Indian Army submits report to defence ministry on Leh clash

“Orderly was thrashed by a group of young officers for misbehaving with a Major’s wife”.

Clash an ‘Isolated Act of Indiscipline’, Says Army

New Delhi: The [Indian] Army has submitted a report to the Defence Ministry about the clash between jawans and officers at a firing range near the India-China boundary in Nyoma, Ladakh. An initial report about the incident has been submitted to the Defence Ministry.

Details about the entire episode would be provided only after the Court of Inquiry (CoI) instituted in the matter submits its findings, army sources said here. However, sources said there seemed to be an attempt earlier on part of the army to cover up the whole incident as it had informed the ministry that there was only a scuffle between jawans and officers and that details were not provide Soon after media reports about the incident surfaced, the army had issued a public statement dismissing the incident as a scuffle.

The army has ordered a Court of Inquiry into a scuffle that broke out between officers and jawans in Ladakh after the Ministry sought a detailed report from it on the incident Army sources said the officers and jawans involved in the clashes will now be attached to the CoI ordered by the superior headquarters and will face action. On whether Commanding Officer of 226 Field Regiment Colonel Kadam was being relieved of his command duties in view of the incident, Army sources denied this saying the officer had anyways completed his command tenure and was expecting a posting in the near future. Sources said there was also a possibility that the unit may be disbanded after the completion of the disciplinary proceedings into the case.

Meanwhile the army today said the clash involving men and officers of the an artillery regiment near Leh can be termed as an “isolated act of indiscipline” and not not a mutiny. It also denied that any arms and ammunition were used during the incident saying “the armoury has not been captured by the troops as is being wrongly reported”. An army release said the 3 Mountain Division Commander Maj Gen A L Chavan and Artillery Brigade Commander there talked to the troops yesterday.

The situation was brought “well under control” and the Regiment is being moved back from ranges to its location with effect from today, it said. In the release, the Army said “misinterpretation and mischievous reporting to sensationalise the incident by some sections of print and electronic media needs to be dispelled.” “The Court of Inquiry will identify the complicity of the officers and men. However, nobody has been removed, dismissed or suspended,” said the statement on the incident on Thursday in which jawans and officers of the 226 Field Regiment clashed.

The army release said it was “wrongly reported” that the Commanding Officer (CO) Colonel P Kadam was assaulted by other officers of the Unit. It added that the CO as well as Maj A K Sharma and Sepoy Suman Ghosh suffered “superficial” injuries and have been given medical treatment.The release said the unit involved in the incident has been asked to go back to its actual location from the Mahe firing ranges in Nyoma. “A CoI to investigate into the circumstances under which the incident took place has commenced,” the Army release said. As per one account, it began when a sahayak (orderly) was thrashed by a group of five or six young officers for misbehaving with a Major’s wife. Other jawans became agitated after the sahayak was not allowed medical treatment by the officers.

The crisis deepened when the officers ganged up to thrash the unit CO, who tried to intervene on behalf of the jawans. This, in turn, led the jawans to vent their anger on the officers and even seize control of the armoury. The other version held that the unit officers had turned the firing drills into a “family picnic” by bringing their wives to the range. The clash was triggered after an inebriated officer abused and thrashed a jawan, identified as Suman Ghosh, in the makeshift mess there for daring to complain about the behaviour of an officer’s wife. This led the jawans to close ranks against to take on the officers, many of whom fled from the area.

The Army headquarters here, however, rejected the versions. “Neither was an officer’s wife molested, nor did young officers thrash the Colonel. There was also no attempt to take control of the armoury. Moreover, the rumour about three Majors being on the run is untrue…everyone in the artillery unit is accounted for,” claimed the senior officer.

Whatever be the case, the incident marks a new low in a continuing series of unseemly controversies dogging the Army in recent months.

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