Tuesday, December 24, 2013

OLIVE GREEN CHRISTMAS







The above three excerpts of letters detailing officers, men and units for the Christmas functions at two different Army formations have been doing the rounds in the social media the entire day today. No one knows for sure how they came to be floating on the internet but some attribute it to a cross-section which does not like Christmas/Santa Claus duties or has some different views on how Christmas should be celebrated in the Army.

One of the letter pertains to an Armoured Division while the other is ostensibly of a Mountain Division. There is no need to reproduce what they say as they are sufficiently legible and can be read in their present form.

My first reaction to these letters detailing Christmas duties among various units was that of amusement as this is how things are done in any military station when a major festival comes along and has to be celebrated in common. Every unit gets a piece of the responsibility and the task is fairly divided among all. This is how it has been done over the years.  However, some of the remarks which have accompanied these letters in the social media, ostensibly by young serving officers, make it very clear that my views are not shared by the multitude.

It appears that some have taken offence to the fact that in one of the instructions, a Young Officer of a particular regiment has been asked to be detailed to dress up as Santa Claus to distribute gifts among children. While it appears to be a delightful task, especially since it involves children, it has not appealed to several who may have played an instrumental role that such orders end up on social media.

Be that as it may, the fact which must be discerned from this episode is that the speed with which information not appreciated by certain quarters is getting disseminated in outside world. Also, the rank and file also seem to be having reservations about performing such tasks, whether in individual capacity, or, as a unit.

There are pros and cons which have to be discussed internally by the Army and these leaks are only a sign of times. The times are certainly changing and the pulse of the organisation must be felt at regular intervals to ascertain their views on such programmes. If need be, there is no harm in outsourcing several functions in order to keep uniformed men out of them. Given the fact that such functions have a positive effect on the general morale of the environment and it is with this aim that these are held and conducted in the first place, there may also be a need to sensitise the participating units so that misunderstandings about the task at hand do not crop up.

This is a changing Army. With more aspirations, more finesse and much better calibre. It should not get reduced to a farcical exchange of comments on social media which damage its ethos and honour. And the onus of ensuring this rests with the senior officers.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

WHY IS THE ARMY HIDING ITS 'POLO BUSINESS' BEHIND A FIG LEAF?


Today's blog is about a shocking lack of transparency, seemingly deliberate, involving one of the premier Regiments of the Indian Army, 61 Cavalry and its association with Army Polo and Riding Club and Indian Polo Association. This continuing opaqueness about the functioning of these organisations raises questions of morality and ethics and has been continuing unchecked right under the nose of the top brass of the Army. It primarily concerns the activities of the Army Polo and Riding Club (APRC) which is utilizing all facilities of the Army without having any legal sanction and without its accounts ever coming under the scrutiny of the the Defence accounts Department.

To begin with, the APRC is neither registered as a society nor as a company but it is functioning since 1995 as an unregistered body under the control of the Indian Army. The Chief of Army Staff was the President of this Club till May 2013. After that Quarter Master General of the Indian Army is the President of this Club. This change in the leadership occurred on the basis of the application filed under RTI Act 2005 to CPIO of Indian Army to know the status of the Army Polo and Riding Club. In response to the RTI Application, CPIO informed that Army Polo and Riding Club is not a Public Authority, so no information can be given regarding the functioning of the Army Polo and Riding Club. 

This reply, thus, makes it clear that despite enjoying all the facilities of the Army and having senior Army officers as its office bearers, the APRC has been deliberately kept outside the purview of a public authority. This raises serious questions about the motive to keep it out of the ambit of public scrutiny.

However, the Army’s reply regarding APRC not being a public body may not stand legal scrutiny. Consider this-To begin with APRC is located in the premises of the ‘B’ Squadron of 61 Cavalry of Indian Army and a serving Colonel of the 61 Cavalry, its Commandant, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Army Polo and Riding Club. The sources and resources of the Indian Army are fully used for the functioning of the APRC.

The APRC organizes polo season every year from October 15 to December 8. Interestingly, the Club allows team whose players are playing members of the Indian Polo Association (IPA) through a Club or Associations affiliated to IPA. IPA itself is presently not a recognized sports body by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The matches are played at the Army Equestrian Centre in Delhi Cantonment, which is located in an area allotted to Army by Defence Estates. The matches are held at Jaipur Polo Ground in Delhi Cantonment which is given on lease By the Ministry of Poverty and Urban Development to Indan Polo Association on long lease. Despite this clear use of Army resources, the Army claims in its RTI reply that the APRC is not a public authority which flies in the face of the definition of public authority under the RTI Act 2005.

Not only Indian but even foreign teams are permitted to participate in the polo matches organised by the APRC. The club is not exclusively for personnel of Indian Army but also have civilians and foreigners as its member. For a civilian to be the member of the Army Polo and Riding Club he has to purchase an Admission form (price printed on the form is Rupees 50/-) but it is given for Rupees 150/. The membership fees per person is Rs 50,000. How and under which rule civilians are made the members and how their admission and monthly subscription is decided, no one is aware about it. The basic issue concerning the membership of APRC is whether the Army, being a government body, can allow membership to civilians and foreigners.

The APRC also takes sponsorship from corporate houses for organizing polo matches. The sponsorship amount is in lakhs for different matches. The prominent sponsors of this year are Yes Bank, Royal Salute of Chivas Brother, Jack Daniels and they have given the contract to Equisports Management Private Limited for getting the sponsorships for polo matches. Equisports management is also managed by some members of APRC. There is no independent audit of the funds collected for the sponsorships and all audit is through an internal auditor of the APRC.
Needless to say, the counting procedures are in gross contravention to orders, thus undermining the image of the Services.

The intertwined relationship of the APRC and the IPA can be gauged from the fact that the Commandant of the 61 Cavalry, Colonel Navjot Singh Sandhu, is also the Honorary Secretary of the Indian Polo Association (IPA). The IPA is a society registered as a ‘welfare body’ and not as a sports association under Section 20 of Societies and Registration Act 1860. Legal experts say there is no provision for a sports body to be registered under the Section 20 of Societies and Registration Act 1860.

IPA itself is not recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Affairs which is the main body looking after sports in India. The fund collected by IPA are used for the overseas visits of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and other senior members of the Indian Polo Association and Army Polo And Riding Club. During the year 2010-2011 as per the balance sheet of the IPA, Rs 18 Lacs were spent on the visit of then COAS to Argentina. It is also surprising that though IPA and APRC is responsible for the promotion of Equestrian sports and they have not been to able to train any individual or team for Asian or Olympics meet.

Interestingly, there is another organization in the name of Army Equestrian Centre, fully controlled by the Indian Army and an Army Establishment operating from the Defence lands and public funds to the tune of Rs 11,85,3000 have been  allocated to it by the Army headquarters. It conducts training and tournaments for Army Polo players and provides venue for the IPA events.  This organization provides venue/infrastructure facilities/polo grounds for the IPA and APRC events and it is directly under the control of Quarter Master General’s Branch of the Indian Army. The access to civilians is permitted for the events of IPA. Foreigners can use these facilities under special permission of the Army authorities.

IPA collects funds as subscription fees from members, clubs and spends money as per the liking of Honorary Secretary and Army Polo and Riding Club get sponsorships for IPA for polo matches and other events. All this leaves enough funds at the discretion of Honorary Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, who in the present case is the Commanding Officer of the 61 Cavalry.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports generally gives grants to the different Sports Federation of India and in its order dated 21 April, 2010, it directed all sports bodies to bring transparency in the functioning of Sports Federation by appointing Public Information Officer for RTI Act, failing which no grants will be given. Amazingly, IPA refused to follow the transparency and did not appoint a PIO without caring for the grants and had refused to take any grants since 2010. It might be argued that the IPA chose not to receive grants in order to avoid appointing a PIO under the RTI Act.

All the above facts make it clear and an independent and fair probe is needed into the activities of the APRC and the IPA in order to ascertain how Army facilities are being blatantly used without any transparency at all. It also needs to be inquired whether there is any complicity of the higher brass of the Army in order to ensure that the dealings of APRC and IPA remain opaque and they are kept out of the purview of the RTI Act for this purpose.

Given the fact that senior Army officers are involved in the dealings with both these organizations, it will augur well for the Service to order a probe immediately on the role of its own officers in these organizations.

Friday, November 22, 2013

IAF VICTIMISES AIR COMMODORE WHO EXPOSED CORRUPTION IN SUKHOI-30 BASE. GAUHATI HIGH COURT COMES TO RESCUE


In a scathing indictment of military system of justice in general and senior serving and retired Indian Air Force officers in particular, the Gauhati High Court has quashed all disciplinary proceedings against a decorated Air Commodore who was framed on false charges of having an affair with junior officer's wife for having pointed out corruption in the construction of an airbase for Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft in Assam.

The Gauhati High Court has severely criticised the role of a former Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal S Varthman, as well as the present Commandant of National Defence Academy, Air Marshal KS Gill, for the “abuse and misuse” of the “power and machinery” of the air force in the framing of the officer who tried to stem the corruption in the airbase which was to house the frontline fighter aircraft of the IAF.

While Air Marshal Varthman has now retired from service, Air Marshal Gill was earlier posted as Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) of Eastern Air Command in the rank of Air Vice Marshal and was accused by Air Commodore Mrigendra Singh of not acting on his complaints of poor quality of work in the air base.

Air Commodore Mrigendra Singh had been posted as Air Officer Commanding Air Force Station Chabua in Assam which was to station Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters and major works of construction for this project were on. He found that the quality of work was sub-standard and complained to his superiors numerous times to no avail.

In the meantime engines of four Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft were damaged because of the substandard quality of work and this caused a loss of crores of rupees to the exchequer.

Air Commodore Singh alleged in his petition that even though there was a nexus between the contractor and the then Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, he was finally able to get the contractor blacklisted. All his efforts were allegedly not appreciated by the top brass and he was falsely accused of sexually exploiting his junior officers’ wives.

A Court of Inquiry was later instituted against the officer for and phone call records of one lady who was falsely accused of having an improper relationship were also illegally procured by air force officers.
The Gauhati high court found that various irregularities were committed by the air force before and during the course of the inquiry and that the officer was deliberately targeted.

The high court has said in its judgement that, ”The mala fide origin of the whole Court of Inquiry and the disciplinary proceedings is apparent from a cursory look at the time-line inasmuch as it was after the petitioner’s complaints that the so-called anonymous letters started materializing out of nowhere and in March-April, 2012, discreet inquiries were initiated and after the petitioner’s final complaint, in May, 2012, seeking enquiry into sub-standard construction work at the Airbase, at Chabua, the petitioner was posted to Jaipur in July and, within a week thereafter, the Court of Inquiry was convened”.

The role of the Armed Forces Tribunal’s Gauhati Bench has also come in for criticism by the Gauhati High court which observed that the AFT bench had passed orders which were “illegal” and “not sustainable in law” while granting no relief to Air Commodore Singh in a petition filed by him. 

The entire sordid affair shows how military authorities do not bat an eyelid in falsely implicating anyone who do not toe their line. It also goes to show that there is complete and utter disregard of rank or decoration or professional competence when anyone is framed with full backing of the "system". 

More sadly, the Air Force authorities did not even care for the reputation of an officer's wife and her husband, a Wing Commander, before falsely implicating her with the Air Commodore. No senior officer through the chain of command cared to interfere in this blatant misuse of power, not even the AFT, and it was only the civilian justice system which ultimately came to the aid of the beleaguered officer. In fact, the less said about the conduct of the AFT bench of Gauhati the better. Serious questions should be raised about the impartiality of certain AFT members and the manner in which they go about dispensing justice, or rather, denying justice.

Air Commodore Mrigendra Singh's case is a stark reminder to all and sundry that there has to be close check kept on the actions of senior officers who try to muzzle the voice of honest and upright officers. This officer played by the book, did not leak his story to the media and expected justice from his brother officers in uniform, but he got nothing. It is a sad day for any service when honest men are castigated while the dishonest reap the benefits of greed.

Monday, November 11, 2013

STEALING THE AFFECTIONS OF BROTHER OFFICER'S WIFE AND ALMOST GETTING AWAY WITH IT

I have written extensively in the past on the lopsided manner of dispensing justice in the military, particularly in the Army. Time and again examples come forth on how, either, deterrent punishments were not awarded to those convicted of crimes of severe gravity, or, punishment meted out for certain offences was too harsh and not commensurate with the offence committed. Yet there does not seem to be any haste being shown by the Army authorities to correct these imbalances which have crept into the system and have now institutionalized themselves. The Judge Advocate General's Branch seems to be too lethargic to initiate any reforms while the Army Headquarters seems supremely indifferent to the adverse effect this can have on the morale of the rank and file.

The present case is extremely distressing. And the manner in which the aggrieved officer has had to run around pillar to post is also a matter of shame. And he is yet to get full justice.

It is imperative that the identities of the two officers involved in this case be kept confidential, at least at this stage, even though I believe that such protection is more needed by the aggrieved officer than by the one who is accused of the offence.

The fact of the matter is that this case pertains to two officers of the rank of Colonel who enjoyed friendship throughout their career right from their days in the College of Military Engineering. This friendship, secured in their youth, continued as they rose in their career and there was nothing amiss in their relationship. And then the aggrieved officer was posted to a field area and he had to leave his family back in Noida.
It was alleged by this officer that taking advantage of his absence from the station, the accused officer took undue advantage and not only established deep friendly relations with his wife but also developed physical relations with her.

The aggrieved officer contended that he found out these facts while packing for moving to another station and found the diary of his wife which contained the incriminating evidence. His immediate action was to have complained to the Colonel of the Regiment who was also then the Vice Chief of Army Staff. he was initially advised to ignore this indiscretion because of adverse effect it might have on his child. However, the officer could not accept the facts and made a formal complaint following which a Court of Inquiry was ordered by the competent authority.

The aggrieved officer contended that the Court of Inquiry found the accused officer guilty of the offence and the convening authority, i.e. GOC 1 Corps, recommended termination of services of the accused officer. However, much to the consternation of the aggrieved officer no action was taken against the accused officer and in the meantime he was approved for the rank of Brigadier by the selection board.

Since he was not promoted to the next rank despite being approved the accused officer moved the concerned bench of the AFT which gave him relief saying that since the Army had taken no action against him and his juniors had been promoted the Army should promoted him too. Inexplicable, the JAG branch did not recommend filing an appeal in the Supreme Court in this case even though they go to the SC on the slightest pretext, even when it concerns the welfare of ex-servicemen!

The aggrieved officer immediately moved the AFT in Delhi praying for justice and pointing out how grave injustice was being done to him. In the meantime, after AFT took notice of the matter the authorities awarded "Severe Displeasure" to the officer who was found blameworthy by the Court of Inquiry. Now this is ridiculous to say the least. Here is an offence where officers, JCOs and ORs have been dismissed from service for culpability yet this officer was awarded a milder punishment! What benchmark do authorities have for awarding punishments? Or do they have any benchmarks at all? Are punishments awarded on whims and fancies by persons exercising their power?

Another more serious question which is raised by this episode is whether there was a concerted attempt to ensure that the accused officer gets away and picks up the rank of Brigadier and which is why no punishment was awarded to him despite the Court of Inquiry having been completed? Also, there are reports that efforts are still being made by certain quarters to see if this officer can still pick up the next rank.

It is time for the people sitting in higher echelons to wake up and smell the coffee. Times are changing. This is the age of information dissemination at real time. News travels fast and bad news travels faster. Get a grip on affairs before things go out of control.
















Friday, October 11, 2013

MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CAPTAIN FACES SUMMARY TRIAL FOR BOTCHED OPERATION





Curtains are finally falling on the infamous Military Intelligence (MI) operation of 3 Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit which had cause cause plenty of controversy just over an year ago.

Capt Rubina Kaur Keer, of the Corps of Military Intelligence, has been ordered to be tried summarily for a botched intelligence operation in Assam in December 2011.

It was in the backdrop of this operation, among other issues, that the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen VK Singh, had held Lt Gen Dalbir Singh, then GOC 3 Corps, responsible for improper handling of 3 Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit and had issued a show cause notice for censure just days before proceeding on retirement. The show cause notice delayed the elevation of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh has General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, and it was only after this notice had been set aside post-retirement of Gen VK Singh, that he was able to assume office.

The charge sheet served on the accused officer reveals that the present General Officer Commanding 3 Corps, Lt Gen SL Narsimhan, has ordered that Capt Rubina Kaur Keer who led the operation in the intervening night of December 20-21, 2011, be tried summarily.

Capt Keer faces two charges under Section 63 of the Army Act and stands accused of ‘An omission prejudicial to good order and military discipline”.

The Charge Sheet accuses the officer of not keeping proper command and control over the raiding party which conducted a counter-insurgency operation in the hosue of one Surajit Gogoi which resulted in the blind folding of eyes and tying of hands of family members of Surajit Gogoi.

In the same operation one 7.65 mm pistol belonging to Gogoi and a cell phone were allegedly stolen by members of the military intelligence raiding party taking part in the operation.

Capt Keer faces a second charge for not maintaining a seizure memo of the confiscated documents and not taking a representative of the local police during the conduct of the said operation.

Capt Rubina Keer is a short service commission officer currently posted in a counter intelligence unit in South Western Command and is attached with a unit in Eastern Command for disciplinary action.

The incident has become very controversial after the person whose house was raided, Surajit Gogoi, complained against the raid to Army authorities. As per news reports of the time, a show cause notice was, thus, issued to Lt Gen Dalbir Singh, who is in the line of succession after Gen Bikram Singh, the present Chief of Army Staff, and accused him of "abdicating responsibility" in handling the inmtelligence and surveillance unit in a "most unprofessional and lackadaisical manner".


Monday, September 30, 2013

GEN VK SINGH CROSSES SWORDS WITH THE HINDU NOW

After his attack on The Indian Express for the news report on the TSD inquiry, Gen VK Singh (retd), former Chief of Army Staff, has now trained his guns on The Hindu and, In particularl, its Chandigarh-based Assistant Editor, Chandersuta Dogra.

Give below is a detailed rebuttal of Chandersuta to Gen VK Singh's allegations against her which were put in public domain by him. The allegations raised by the former General are also reproduced in detail in all fairness.

However I must add that having known Chandersuta for several years, I do not give any credence to the theory that she would have waylaid anyone for an interview let alone the former COAS. 


CHANDERSUTA DOGRA'S REBUTTAL

Gen (retd) VK Singh has put out a rejoinder about what he describes as “false and motivated allegations” made against him by the Indian Express, The Hindu and specifically against me as the correspondent of The Hindu who interviewed him recently. Oddly, he chose to put it on the internet and social media, held a chat on twitter based on this rejoinder but did not send it to me or my newspaper directly with who he claims to have a grievance.

 Neverthless, this is an attempt to set the record straight.   Not only does Gen (retd) Singh deny that he gave an interview to me but goes on to say that I waylaid him at a friend’s place and threw some questions at him. Wrong. The interview was set up by his lawyer Vishwajeet Singh and his daughter Mrinalini,  and my newspaper approved my travel from Chandigarh to Delhi to enable me to meet the General and do the interview. One does not drive 250 kms just to way lay someone in the hope of being able to pose a few questions!

 I also took the precaution of recording all that he said so that he could not back out later. So his claim that he did not say some of the things given in the interview can be exposed by a mere playback of the recording. He disclosed many more sensitive things but my newspaper took an editorial decision not to go public with that information in the larger interest of maintaining  peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

Since the General had made serious allegations against two persons in this interview, it was incumbent upon me to contact them for their responses to the allegations. Their counter to his allegations  were duly inserted into his interview, which is probably what he describes as “falsehoods, distortions and halftruths”. We see it as good journalism.

   Nowhere in my story have I said that the TSD gave the off air interceptors to the 15 Corps. All I have said The 15 Corps did receive this equipment (Not from TSD) but sent it back because it was found unfit for use in counter insurgency Ops as they were not only receivers but also emitters. It was important to include this bit, which I learnt from my sources, because the army’s enquiry against the TSD (as reported in newspapers) details that two such interceptors were used by the TSD to illegally eavesdrop on government functionaries in Delhi and Jammu. The TSD was not authorised to possess this equipment.  When the eavesdropping became public the interceptors were destroyed and dumped into the Chenab, according to the enquiry.

 General VK Singh alleged in his conversation with me, that two interceptors had been shown as destroyed by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh,  the then Director General Defence Intelligence (DGDI) and later sold to a private Singapore based company. Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh countered this by asking the General to substantiate this by providing proof of this to the investigating agencies. That I gave space to Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh’s (who had last year filed a defamation suit against the former Army Chief for other allegations)  responses is possibly what has irked the General and prompted this tirade.

            His ire is also over the fact that I, as the wife of an army officer who is much junior to him, had the temerity to do an independent, unbiased  report based on facts instead of the coloured version that he wanted me to put out. In the hierarchy bound Army, wives of army officers are expected to be just as subordinate to seniors as their husband’s are. I was forced to remind the General’s media managers, who have accused me of “backstabbing” through text messages and have threatened me with dire consequences since then, that I do not work for the General and am merely doing my job as a responsible journalist. Throwing rank at me serves no purpose.

But as I have learnt the hard way in the last two days, the General and his spin doctors have no use for fair and impartial journalists. They see conspiracies where there aren’t  any and think that everyone in the media is either for sale (read those who are critical of the general)  or can be intimidated into swallowing everything that they claim is the ‘real truth’.

I have known Gen (retd) VK Singh since April 2012 when I first met him to do an interview for Outlook magazine where I then worked. It was carefully scrutinised by his media managers who approved every word of what went into print. I have had a first  hand experience of his intimidating tactics even then, because he suddenly threatened to withdraw  the interview if it was not put on the cover of the magazine.

                In his quest for a political career, this army officer who has a reputation for being upright and straightforward  has entered the game of peddling lies, double speak and insinuations, in the same manner as the politicians he has been critical of in the past. Shoot, scoot, deny. The metamorphoses from peaked cap to khadi topi is complete.  
-Ends- 

General VK Singh'S Statement – 26 September 2013
On 20th September ‘The Indian Express’ published a front page banner headlines story titled, “Unit set up by VK Singh used secret funds to try and topple J&K government, block Bikram Singh: Army probe” claiming to be a leak of a ‘Top Secret’ Army ‘Board of Officers inquiry’ report on the working of Technical Services Division (TSD), a secret intelligence unit set up during my tenure as Chief of the Army Staff.
At the outset I would like to state that all the allegations are false and motivated.
First and foremost, TSD was not set up by me as my secret army, but was set up by the Army at the behest of the National Security Advisor after the dastardly attack on Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists who were subsequently labeled by the media as ‘non-state actors’. TSD was created as a capability mentioned in the operational directive of the Raksha Mantri and set up following the due process of procedures existing in the Army as part of intelligence units under the DGMI. Hence, though its existence by the very nature of its work was secret, its existence as a secret unit is not true. That this unit was disbanded shortly after I retired was a decision taken by the powers that be for reasons best known to them.
As far as the general public is concerned, by its very nature, TSD operations were ‘top secret’.  In that event, even the existence of TSD should never have been publicised. Further, if there is exposure of the actual working of the top secret unit, leaking information about it was seditious, regardless of whether information is true or false. Even knowledge of the existence of TSD can help the nation's enemies. Being treasonous, the consequences for the ‘leakers’ and their collaborators could be very serious. Regardless of the above, false stories about the TSD have been appearing in the media for almost a year and half. The Government of India, most amazingly, has chosen to remain completely silent in this regard and have done nothing whatsoever to either trace the source of the leaks or make any categorical statement putting an end to this malicious and dangerous campaign.
Following the dictum that a lie oft repeated soon becomes the truth, TSD has been the target of malicious propaganda that has now assumed extremely serious proportions, as can be seen from the following narration. Despite repeated requests to the PMO to institute an inquiry to trace the source of the leaks, this has been ignored and left to simmer endlessly. Since the beginning of 2012, through ‘leaked stories’ I have been subjected to all kinds of canards and innuendos questioning my nationalism, patriotism and integrity. Starting with allegations of bugging the Raksha Mantri’s office (TSD was a Human Int organization and at no stage had any Off-Air Interceptors on their inventory), charges have been levelled of moving troops secretly to stage a coup, leaking my own letter to the PM that drew attention to the tremendous shortage of ammunition and other war stores (that would severely affect our fighting capability) and now finally that I had used TSD to topple the Government of Kashmir.
That this entire campaign is not only motivated and highly dangerous, the following events tell their own story:
Picking up from the Indian Express leak, on 24 September 2013 ‘The Hindu’ published a news story titled “V.K. Singh counters charges, admits ‘pro-India NGOs’ were funded” written by their Chandigarh correspondent. The opening sentence, that it was my “first proper interview to a newspaper since details of an internal inquiry into his conduct as Army chief were published in The Indian Express last week” itself is false. The fact is that I was waylaid by her at a friend’s place and at her insistence answered a few questions.
As a corollary several falsehoods, half-truths and distortions were deliberately inserted in the news story published by the Newspaper. The most prominent one is that I had claimed that “the panchayat elections of 2011 and the sudden end to the stone-throwing agitation in Kashmir in 2010” were the two major achievements of the TSD. The writer of the news story has actually done some clever ‘cut and paste’ based on information that seems to have been fed to her along with my comments on television. The correspondent has also claimed that senior army officers in 15 Corps have told her (the correspondent is the wife of a serving re-employed officer) that the TSD provided the Corps with off-the air interceptors which later proved to be faulty. Both these are blatant lies that have been cleverly inserted.
Almost immediately, elements and vested interests-political and official-are deliberately twisting and distorting this report and are whipping up frenzy with the purpose of alienating J&K and spreading disharmony among the armed forces. ‘The Hindu’ itself has gone into a frenzy by publishing a concocted story on its front page on 25 September under the title ‘Our lives in danger, say sarpanches in J&K”. This news report says that because of my reckless statements, I have caused “an extremely serious apprehension of militant attacks on more than 33,000 panches and sarpanches as I have completely discredited and maligned the panchayat elections of 2011.” Nothing can be farther from the fact. This statement was inserted by the newspaper into the false interview and cleverly manipulated to sound as if I had made this claim. This is nothing but a fabricated lie.
What is worse, the Newspaper Editor himself has added fuel to fire by publishing the top front page news item in ‘The Hindu’ (26 September) titled “V.K. Singh’s claims damaged India’s interests, officials say”.  Quoting ‘senior officials’ of the government this story accuses me of causing “enormous damage” to the country through some of my recent statements on Jammu and Kashmir, and that the government was investigating my claim that military officers had made illegal payments to politicians, and would decide on what action to take once the facts were established.
This news report has been written by Sidharth Varadarajan, Editor and the Newspaper from ‘On Board the PM’s Flight’ in which he was travelling to Washington DC as part of Prime Minister’s entourage to meet US President and address the UN.
Members of this entourage are former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and presently his advisor; former Foreign Secretary and presently National Security Advisor; former Defence Secretary and presently Comptroller & Auditor General of India; Media Advisor to PM; Editors of ‘Indian Express’ and ‘The Hindu’.
The former Defence Secretary (now CAG) initiated the ‘Board of Officers report ’ through the Army and received the report in March 2013; National Security Advisor has been dealing with and examining the report, a former Joint Secretary in the Defence Ministry, who worked very closely with this Defence Secretary  leaked the report, Editor ‘Indian Express’ published it and Editor ‘The Hindu’ has taken it to a frenzy suggesting in its front page that lives of 33,000 panches and sarpanches in the valley are in peril because of me.
This is probably the same team  that leaked my top secret letter to PM on Defence unpreparedness, promoted the obnoxious ‘line of succession’ in the Army burying merit in the process, accused me of plotting a coup against the Government of India, patronized the TATRA truck purchase and indulged in many other defence purchase scams and worst of all wanted to sell out the Siachen Glacier to China-Pakistan through a dubious Track II initiative headed by the now discredited Air Chief Marshall Tyagi in which ‘The Hindu’ Editor was a key member.

These are the facts that cannot be endlessly disguised by this powerful group of people who seem to care little for our National Interest, as scam after scam has left the ruling party morally bankrupt. 

However, to them all, let me just remind them of the National motto: ‘Satyameva Jayate’ – “Truth alone shall Triumph”.

-ENDS-

Monday, September 9, 2013

MS BRANCH-JISKI LATHI USKI BHAINS?


The recent judgement of the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal has once again laid bare the manner in which those who know how the system works are able to take advantage of it.
The shenanigans which take place in the MS branch has time and again been laid bare by the judicial system yet no measures have been taken to ensure that careers of officers are not harmed because of the loopholes in the branch.
I had some time back written a blog on this very issue pointing out how MS branch plays with the careers of officers.
Senior officers cannot escape the blame by pointing out the collusion of those down below the chain of command. The onus of seeing that the MS branch functions properly is not only with that of MS but also that of the Chief of Army Staff.
If deserving officers are losing out on promotions because of faults in the system then it is high time that the system is corrected. Else, the adverse effect on the morale of the officer cadre will someday be too obvious to ignore.
Given below is the time line of the case in hand pertaining to Brig T Parshad of the JAG branch and it lays bare the callousness with which deserving officers have got sidelined while he got all the favours.

May 2012   -   One additional vacancy of Maj Gen in the JAG Branch announced taking the total vacancies of Maj Gen to two. There were now 4 contenders for the two vacancies out of which Brig T Parshad (Dy JAG Central Command) was the junior-most.

June 2012   -   Brig T Parshad floats a statutory complaint stating that his ACRs should be expunged and he be granted relief in his career profile.

Sept 2012   -    Selection Board for the rank of Maj Gen of JAG Branch was supposed to be held in Sept 2012 but is postponed.

15th Oct to 19th Oct 2012 – Selection Boards of various Arms and Services scheduled and Board for the two vacancies of Maj Gen in JAG Branch was supposed to be held on the second last day, that is, 18th Oct.

16th Oct 2012  -  Out of the blue and totally out of turn, Brig T Parshad is given relief and his ACR as was challenged by him, is expunged. Normally the Army HQ/MoD take about 6 to 12 months to dispose statutory complaints related to ACRs but in this case, the same is done in about 4 months out of turn whereas complaints for redressal of many officers of various Arms and Services who had filed them much earlier than this officer were pending as on date and some remain pending even today.

17th Oct 2012   -  The order granting relief to the officer is sent to the MS Branch on the eve of the selection board and the new career profile is inserted into the dossier and record of Brig T Parshad stealthily thereby improving his record to enable him steal a march over the others by shifting the goalposts of the selection. Over the day, evening and night, the records are changed whereas policy clearly provides that all records are supposed to be frozen 5 days prior to the Selection Board meaning thereby that records were to be frozen and could not be tampered with after 10th October 2012 (15th Oct was the first date of the Selection Board process). If we take the last date of the Board, that is, 19th Oct 2012, then the records were to be frozen by 14th Oct 2012, both dates are prior to the date on which even the relief was granted to the officer thereby rendering the inclusion of his changed profile in the board, illegal.

18th Oct 2012  -  the Selection Board for the rank of Maj Gen of JAG is postponed by a day. The insertion of the changed profile of the officer is completed in a clandestine manner and the MDS (Master Data Sheet) is also illegally amended.

19th Oct 2012 – Selection Board is held and Brig N Khanna (the current ADG Litigation) and Brig T Parshad are empanelled for the rank of Maj Gen. As a result, Brig T Parshad, based on his freshly changed profile, supersedes his two seniors – Brig Dinkar Adeeb and Brig PK Sharma. The members of the Selection Board are however not informed that the profile and marks of Brig T Parshad were changed overnight in contravention of rules that too after granting him out of turn relief again in contravention of policy.

Points which emerge:-

(a)   How could the policy letter No A/17151/MS 4 Coord dated 25/28 April 2009 (which provides that no inputs or change in profile can be taken on record 5 days prior to the board) be so brazenly contravened and flouted without any inkling to the military top brass or members of the board?

(b)  How could the officer be granted out-of-turn relief in just about 4 months in contravention of policy letter No 04480/MS Policy dated 26 Sept 2005 whereas the cases of many other army officers remained pending for a period of more than 6 months to one year with some complaints not even being decided for years together.

(c)  Is it a fact that since JAG officers are controlling major key appointments in the Army HQ including the Military Secretary’s branch (MS Branch) an element of manipulation, deceit and tampering of records and policy is creeping in especially in the case of JAG Branch? Why does the top military and ministry brass remain unaware of tampering and interference of records by JAG officers, is there no system of checks and balances or has nepotism encompassed the entire system?

(d)  Similar flouting of policy and manipulation in the selection board for the rank of Brig was pointed out to the AFT by officers of the JAG branch after which the MoD took suo-moto action and cancelled the board and ordered its re-convening. (Also Recorded in an earlier Court order) thereby giving relief to affected officers, why weren’t checks and balances introduced at that time.  

(e)  Many petitions concerning nepotism in the JAG Branch remain pending before various benches of AFT, has the system taken note of the allegations and ordered any inquiry or corrective measures?

(f)    What message are the seniors who are indulging in flouting of policy and rules and manipulation giving to young officers of the organisation? Jiski laathi uski bhains? Is this the future of the younger generation, especially of the JAG Branch?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOGRAPHS OF CHINESE INTRUSION EVIDENCE IN ARUNACHAL

Recently there was a fresh intrusion by PLA in Arunachal Pradesh. The Chinese came in with platoon strength troops and stayed out for several days before a flag meeting was held and they finally retreated. As per information available, Indian troops too remained in the area till the PLA left and accordingly a platoon of an infantry battalion stayed put.

As per highly placed sources, who kept the information flowing out from the area despite a virtual gag order, the PLA came well prepared to stay on for a prolonged period of time and were accompanied by porters who carried tents and other supplies.

Quite predictably, the public relations apparatus of the Army denied the fresh PLA foray and tried its best to downplay the entire incident. Their knee-jerk response is understandable because of the massive public furore in the country after the Depsang incident in Ladakh. And with the Parliament in session, any leaking of this new incident would have been extremely harmful for the government.

Certain section of the media, however, did their job and brought out the reports pertaining to the fact that the PLA was deep into Arunachal and was refusing to go back. Many others in the media, however, chose to remain silent and complied with the requests of whoever wanted them to stay mum.

However, what has now come to light is the fact that this was not the first time that the Chinese have come into this area and showed their strength. They were here earlier in the year too and left tell-tale signs of their stay. Discarded cigarette packs, candy packets, eatables packs, slogans painted on the trees, rocks etc were discovered by Indian troops and were well documented in the form of photographs.

It is these photographs, evidence of earlier intrusion, which are being put up in this blog. Hitherto unseen evidence of PLA deliberately leaving their tell-tale signs of illegal stay in Indian territory. These signs are also left in a similar manner in other areas where the PLA deliberately enters into the Indian side of the LAC-Himachal, Uttarakhand and Ladakh.

Silence and cover-ups will not make the problem go away. This ostrich-like attitude will harm the nation. But those who do not understand long term implications and are just interested in protecting their own interests, will not understand this.

The pictures speak for themselves.











Tuesday, May 14, 2013

PANEL OF OFFICERS APPROVED FOR PROMOTION TO THE ACTING RANK OF MAJ GEN

The results of the No. 1 Selection Board, which was held on April 12 and 13,  2013, have been de-classified by the Military Secretary's Branch.

The panel of officers approved for promotion includes officers of 1980 batch considered as Special Review-Fresh, officers of 1981 batch and First review cases of 1980 batch.

The following is the list of officers:


PANEL OF OFFICERS APPROVED FOR PROMOTION TO THE ACTING RANK OF MAJ 
GEN IN THE ‘COMMAND & STAFF’ STREAM AND ‘STAFF ONLY’ STREAM : GEN CADRE

SPECIAL REVIEW (FRESH) CASES – 1980 BATCH
1 IC39101 BRIG MA OKA                                     MAHAR                        'C&S'
2 IC39342 BRIG RAJESH SAHAI, SM                  DOGRA                          'Staff Only'

FRESH CASES – 1981 BATCH
3 IC39434 BRIG MS KOHLI                                  ARMD                             'C&S'
4 IC39436 BRIG SK SAINI, YSM, VSM               JAT                                  'C&S'
5 IC39437 BRIG ST UPASANI, SM, VSM            JAT                                  'C&S'
6 IC39438 BRIG PC THIMMAYA                         MECH INF                      'C&S'
7 IC39445 BRIG SS HASABNIS                            ENGRS(GC)                    'C&S'
8 IC39458 BRIG AP DERE                                     ARMD                              'C&S'
9 IC39465 BRIG AS BEDI, VSM                           GARH RIF                        'C&S'
10 IC39492 BRIG A CHAUHAN, VSM                 11 GR                               'C&S'
11 IC39521 BRIG YT JAIN                                   ARTY(GC)                         'C&S'
12 IC39522 BRIG JS NEGI, VSM**                     DOGRA                              'C&S'
13 IC39590 BRIG H THUKRAL                            SIKH LI                              'C&S'
14 IC39607 BRIG IS GHUMAN                           GUARDS                             'C&S'
15 IC39624 BRIG PM BALI, VSM                        PUNJAB                             'C&S'
16 IC39675 BRIG VIJAY SINGH, SM                  9 GR                                    'C&S'
17 IC39676 BRIG DVS RANA, SM, VSM           JAK LI                                  'C&S'
18 IC39864 BRIG VD DOGRA                            ARMD                                   'C&S'
19 IC39868 BRIG S SRIVASTAVA                     ARTY(GC)                            'C&S'
20 IC39871 BRIG SK UPADHAYA, SM             GARH RIF                             'C&S'
21 IC39874 BRIG TARANJIT SINGH                 ARMD                                    'C&S'
22 IC39879 BRIG AK DHAR, SM**                   PARA                                     'C&S'
23 IC39909 BRIG PS SANDHU                          MECH INF                             'C&S'
24 IC39929 BRIG SARANJEET SINGH             SIKH LI                                   'C&S'
25 IC39956 BRIG GS SANGHA, SM, VSM       GRENADIERS                         'C&S'
26 IC39992 BRIG ANOOP KUMAR V               MARATHA LI                         'C&S'
27 IC40007 BRIG YVK MOHAN, SM               11 GR                                        'C&S'
28 IC40022 BRIG AK BHATT, VSM                  9 GR                                          'C&S'
29 IC40098 BRIG DUSHYANT SINGH             MARATHA LI                            'C&S'
30 IC40101 BRIG RK JAGGA                            ARMD                                        'C&S'
31 IC40133 BRIG SC MESTON, VSM               MAHAR                                     'C&S'
32 IC40235 BRIG R GOPAL, SM                       8 GR                                           'C&S'

FIRST REVIEW CASES – 1980 BATCH
33 IC38711 BRIG VINOD KUMAR, VSM        MECH INF                               'Staff Only'
34 IC38714 BRIG RS MALAVE                         ARMD                                      'Staff Only'
35 IC39299 BRIG J BHATI                                MECH INF                                'Staff Only'
36 IC39321 BRIG AK SHUKLA, VSM             RAJ RIF                                     'Staff Only'

FRESH CASES – 1981 BATCH
37 IC38796 BRIG SUNIL YADAV, YSM            JAK RIF                                  'Staff Only'
38 IC39229 BRIG D AGNIHOTRI                       MECH INF                              'Staff Only'
39 IC39435 BRIG SANJIV BAJAJ                       ENGRS(GC)                            'Staff Only'
40 IC39450 BRIG AMRITPAL SINGH                ARMD                                     'Staff Only'
41 IC39457 BRIG MS GHURA, VSM                 RAJ RIF                                    'Staff Only'
42 IC39472 BRIG JK MARWAL                         GRENADIERS                          'Staff Only'
43 IC39491 BRIG AK DAS, SC                           SIKH                                         'Staff Only'
44 IC39500 BRIG CE FERNANDES, SM            BIHAR                                      'Staff Only'
45 IC39572 BRIG S JETLEY, VSM                      RAJPUT                                    'Staff Only'
46 IC39598 BRIG G JAISHANKAR                    MAHAR                                     'Staff Only'
47 IC39609 BRIG A OHRI                                   KUMAON                                 'Staff Only'
48 IC39621 BRIG RK BHARDWAJ                    ARTY (GC)                                'Staff Only'
49 IC39655 BRIG H JONEJA                              8 GR                                           'Staff Only'
50 IC39656 BRIG D SHARMA, VSM                 4 GR                                           'Staff Only'
51 IC39673 BRIG JS YADAV, SM                     ARMD                                        'Staff Only'
52 IC39780 BRIG KK PANT                              RAJ RIF                                      'Staff Only'
53 IC39930 BRIG VPS BHAKUNI, VSM          DOGRA                                      'Staff Only'
54 IC39988 BRIG MK YADAV                         GARH RIF                                   'Staff Only'
55 IC40240 BRIG V NANGIA, SM                    KUMAON                                  'Staff Only'

Monday, April 29, 2013

NYOMA COURT OF INQUIRY FACTS REVEALED-WAS ATTEMPTED RAPE THE TRIGGER TO THE UPRISING?


Access to exclusive documents has now for the first time revealed the sequence of events which led to the unprecedented brawl between officers and jawans of 226 Field Regiment in Nyoma in Ladakh in May last year. The three-member inquiry was conducted by Brig Ajay Talwar, Colonel Ajit Singh and Colonel NK Kanotra.

The documents are a part of the Army’s Court of Inquiry held after the shocking incident. As a result of the fall-out of this inquiry, an unprecedented 168 troops of the regiment will be facing a general court martial. They include four officers, including the commanding officer of the regiment, Col P Kadam, 17 Junior Commissioned Officrs and 147 jawans.

The documents accessed include crucial statements of key witnesses in the court of inquiry which has led the Army to find out the exact reasons behind the break-down of discipline in the regiment which was deployed for field firing in Ladakh. These statements include that of the Commanding Officer, Col Prasad Kadam, wife of a Major, a jawan accused of rape, depositions of medical experts and a crucial report of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh.


The most crucial of all is the testimony of the wife of a Major who has alleged that one jawan of the regiment attempted to rape her in the absence of her husband. This alleged attempted rape has become the bed-rock of the inquiry and it has been suggested by various witnesses that everything else that followed in the regiment was as a result of this.

The lady, whose name is being withheld to protect her identity, has described in detail how the jawan detailed as Sahayak to her husband tried to rape her. She stated this in categorical terms when specifically asked by members of the Court of Inquiry. The lady also told the court that while fighting off the jawan she had hit him with a torch as a result of which he bled. The evidence of bleeding on the lady’s garments were sent to CFSL Chandigarh for matching the samples given by the Sahayak and the report of the laboratory stated that the possibility of the samples coming from the lady and the Sahayak could not be excluded.

In his deposition to the court, the Jawan accused of attempting to rape the lady has stoutly denied the same and has attributed the bleeding and blood stain to an injury sustained while moving he luggage of the officer and his wife. He has instead alleged that he entered the room to switch off the kerosene heater and found the door unlatched. He alleges that the lady was changing her clothes at the time, without securing the door, and got angry with him and abused him. The Sahayak has alleged in his statement that he was beaten up by three officers later in the evening. It is alleged that it was this beating and denial of initial medical aid to the jawan which enraged other jawans of the regiment and caused them to turn on their officers.

Witnesses have also testified that enraged jawans raised slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Inqulab Zindabad, 226 Field Regiment ki Jai on the occasion. They also raised slogans like ‘Raksha Mantri ko Bulaya jae” and “Media ko bulaya jae” when two senior officers visited to pacify the angry jawans. They also demanded that the three offices who beat the jawan should be handed over to them.

During the course of the inquiry the CO, Col Prasad Kadam, also revealed that there was permission to move the wives of the officers only till Darbuk and not till Nyoma. Col Kadam admitted that he allowed them to be moved to Nyoma because they would have been “alone” in Darbuk. Col Kadam also gave details of how he was assaulted by troops of his regiment and hit with stones till he lost consciousness.

Various witnesses have made statements to the effect that three officers badly thrashed the Sahayak. It is, perhaps, keeping in mind all these circumstances that the Army has ordered the court martial of these officers along with the CO.

Meanwhile, the Army has ordered the Summary of Evidence in this case as the next step leading, eventually, to a trial of all the accused officers and jawans.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

PUNJAB POLICE APES INDIAN ARMY COMBAT FATIGUES






The issue of various state police forces, and para-military forces too, wearing combat fatigues has been much debated over the past few years. The para-military forces are now commonly deployed in counter-insurgency operations and need to wear disruptive pattern uniforms for obvious reasons. In fact, all para-military forces, be it BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF or SSB, have evolved their own pattern of disruptive pattern which is absolutely distinct from the one used by the Indian Army.

The Army too has gone in for a standard pattern of the fatigues which bear the insignia of the Indian Army distinctly on the cloth at regular intervals. This was done in order to ensure that no one is able to ape the Army fatigues, especially in counter-insurgency operations, where militants often dressed up as Army personnel and attacked military targets.

However, much to my surprise I saw the same uniform being worn by women cops of the Punjab Police. The occasion as the launch of s special women's task force launched by the Punjab government to counter crimes against women, especially eve-teasing in front of schools and colleges. The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal, launched the special task force in the presence of the Director General of Punjab Police, Sumedh Singh Saini, and other senior police officials.


(Note the IndArmy insignia on the sleeve)

It was indeed shocking to see that the Punjab Police had copied the disruptive pattern of the Army down to the last T. The uniforms even had the Indian Army watermark, complete with the insignia. It appears that the Punjab Police acquired the cloth wholesale from some vendor who also supplies to the Army and then went ahead and got the uniforms stitched for its women cops.   

These women cops are supposed to be 'Commandos', given the flashes they wear on their arms. These 'Commandos' go around on scooters and motorcycles, wearing these combat fatigues to deter eve-teasers and those who may harass women. While the intention is noble, it is not understood why they had to wear Indian Army fatigues to achieve the same. Is it because Khaki is not macho enough? Is it because Khaki does not inspire the same awe and respect that olive green does? Or is it simply the brain-child of someone who thought he could get away by aping Army uniform? Whatever may be the case, it is an offence which has been committed and the Army must take note of it and protest.

It is all the more interesting that the contingent of this special task force which was flagged off also had women cops dressed in Khakis and in a new blue coloured uniform too. Their task is also similar to these  'Commandos' but for some unknown reason they do not get to don the fatigues.

While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, the Punjab Police seems to be taking it too far. The DGP's flag wears three stars on it. A replica of what the Army has started doing to reflect the status of the flag-ranked officer. The previous DGP was a step ahead. He even had a Ashoka emblem on the flag along with three stars trying to bring himself to the equivalent of an Army Commander or GOC-in-C. Mercifully, the present incumbent has refrained from doing so.

Western Command must raise this issue in the next military liaison conference and sensitise the state government and Punjab Police on sanctity of uniforms.