In­dia ap­points new army, air force and in­tel­li­gence chiefs

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW DELHI: The In­dian gov­ern­ment has ap­pointed new heads of its army and air force among a se­ries se­nior mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence ap­point­ments, of­fi­cials said, two weeks be­fore its two most se­nior de­fence force chiefs are due to re­tire.

Vice Chief of Army Staff Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Bipin Rawat was named as the new chief of the army to suc­ceed Gen­eral Dal­bir Singh Suhaag. Air Mar­shal Biren­der Singh Dhanoa, a fighter pi­lot, was cho­sen as the new chief of In­dia’s air force to re­place Air Chief Mar­shal Arup Raha. The ap­point­ments were an­nounced on Twit­ter by a de­fence min­istry spokesman late on Satur­day.

The ap­point­ment of Rawat, a coun­terin­sur­gency spe­cial­ist, raised eye­brows among op­po­si­tion par­ties be­cause he was given the job ahead of two more se­nior can­di­dates. “Why has se­nior­ity not been re­spected in ap­point­ment of Army Chief,” Man­ish Te­wari, a for­mer gov­ern­ment min­is­ter and leader of the op­po­si­tion Congress party, said on Twit­ter.

The ap­point­ment was also ques­tioned by Com­mu­nist Party of In­dia leader D. Raja, but a spokesman for the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it was not a mat­ter for po­lit­i­cal de­bate. “The gov­ern­ment ap­points peo­ple to the of­fice based on what it con­sid­ers to be the most ap­pro­pri­ate choice,” BJP spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao said.

In­dian me­dia re­ported that it was the first time since 1983 that the most se­nior can­di­date had not been cho­sen to re­place an out­go­ing army chief. Rawat also has ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing along the Line of Con­trol, the de facto bor­der be­tween ar­eas con­trolled by In­dia and Pak­istan in the dis­puted Kash­mir re­gion.

The In­dian gov­ern­ment also an­nounced se­nior ap­point­ments to its two main in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. Ra­jiv Jain was named as the new chief of the do­mes­tic In­tel­li­gence Bureau and Anil Dhasmana as the head of In­dia’s ex­ter­nal in­tel­li­gence agency, the Re­search and Anal­y­sis Wing(RAW). Both will serve for the next two years.

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