GEN­ERAL UN­DER FIRE

For­mer army chief Gen­eral V. K. Singh sinks deeper into a quag­mire of al­le­ga­tions

India Today - - CONTROVERSY - by by San­deep San­deep Un­nithan Un­nithan Fol­low the writer on Twit­ter @ @ San­deep­Un­nithan San­deep­Un­nithan

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.

CHANDRADEEP KU­MAR/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

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