GENERAL UNDER FIRE
Former army chief General V. K. Singh sinks deeper into a quagmire of allegations
With multiple attacks on the Supreme Court and insinuations of payments to Kashmiri politicians, former army chief General V. K. Singh may have blundered into a field commander’s nightmare: Opening multiple battle fronts. The former chief’s statements to TV channels and newspapers, made in the last week of September, have drawn a backlash.
On September 30, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passed a resolution summoning the former army chief. General Singh will be asked to respond to his September 23 allegations that the Army had paid politicians in Kashmir since 1947. On October 1, the Supreme Court issued a suo motu contempt notice for criminal defamation against General Singh and the newspaper which printed the interview. The general is out on bail in a 2012 criminal defamation case filed against him by Lt- Gen Tejinder Singh. In March 2012, the then army chief had, in a press release attributed to him, accused Lt- Gen Tejinder of trying to bribe him. The former chief’s public flirtation with political parties could also cost him his association with Anna Hazare. General Singh had to meet and assure Hazare that he was not joining BJP: The social activist had threatened to snap ties with him if he did not explain why he shared a dias with Narendra Modi at a rally at Rewari, Haryana, on September 15.
But what General Singh should be most worried about is how the Supreme Court will respond to his September 21 statement made to a news agency, ANI. The former army chief said, “If the court can define the age of a rape victim on the basis of his matriculation certificate, then why has the Supreme Court failed to decide my age despite checking and cross- checking my certificate?”
“His statement is grossly irresponsible,” says Supreme Court advocate KTS Tulsi. The court could order a token punishment as it has in previous contempt cases. “The court could give him an opportunity to apologise,” he adds. The general, however, has been anything but apologetic. He has replaced soundbites with enthusiastic chirps from his Twitter handle @ Gen_ VKSingh. He dismissed an unprecedented September 28 joint statement issued by eight former army chiefs denying that money had been paid to politicians. “Had they read what all I have said they would have realised I am saying same as them!”
The Army has maintained a studied silence on the entire controversy. “The issue is closed as far as we are concerned,” says a senior army official. “The matter is now a political one.” The Government is yet to take action on the findings of an internal inquiry report of the Army. The report found serious irregularities in the Technical Support Division ( TSD), an ad hoc spy agency that functioned under General Singh as army chief.
With the Government caught in a quagmire of its own, top government officials say action on the report seems unlikely for now. This could well be the respite that the general wants.