Before moving further, it would be prudent to have a look at the crucial findings of the Bhatia inquiry board. According to the inquiry report, Rs 1.19 crore was given by the TSD at the behest of General VK Singh to Agriculture Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Hassan Mir to engineer a change of Government in Jammu and Kashmir. This means toppling a democratically elected government in an Indian state. According to law, this is comparable to sedition, and if it indeed was the case, this was committed by the serving Army Chief of India.
Next, the Bhatia report says that Rs 2.38 crore was given on orders from Army Headquarters to Hakikat Singh of an NGO named ‘Jammu and Kashmir Humanitarian Service Organisation’ (JKHSO) which Bhatia report says has links with another NGO, ‘Yes Kashmir’ that filed a PIL against the then Army Commander and present Army Chief General Bikram Singh in the fake encounter case in Jangalat Mandi when he was a Brigadier. However, the PIL was later dismissed by the court. But, the PIL, when it had been filed last year, was widely believed to be an attempt, as the Indian Express reports, to scuttle Bikram Singh’s appointment and change the line of succession in the top brass.
This came at a time when General VK Singh was fighting his own battle of date of birth with the Government of India and took the matter to the court as well. His moves were then seen as an attempt to secure one more year at the helm of the affairs of the army and much to his chagrin, the court rejected his case forcing him to demit the office of the Army Chief a year earlier than he wished to. Consider his fight for securing one more year of power in the light of recent revelations suggesting he had acquired political ambition.
The Bhatia report also says that Rs 8 crore was spent on purchase of state of the art interception equipment from a Singapore-based company in November 2010 ostensibly meant to be deployed in the J&K 15 Corps. In March 2012, following orders of the then DG, MI, Lt Gen D S Thakur, the equipment was physically destroyed after reports of snooping of the govt. establishments in the North and South Blocks.
Again spare a thought for General VK Singh’s attempt to extend his regime by one more year. If the emerging picture is not scary enough, consider one incident reported last year revealing that at least two units of army from Agra and Meerut moved towards Delhi and reached to the outskirts of the national capital in 14-15th January last year without notifying its movement to the government establishment. The move was so alarming that the National Security Advisor, who was abroad had to fly back curtailing his visit and the Prime Minister was informed about the development in the wee hours or the early morning of the fateful winter.
Let’s refer to the Bhatia report for the last to know that the officials of the TSD, who reported directly to the then Army Chief, undertook frequent foreign travels to places like London and Dubai using their personal and not official passports. The report also says that TSD officials doctored documents of other Army officers to travel abroad. Since the motive behind creation of the TSD was to carry out interception and secret operations, the details of the same were not to be found documented as clearly as others. And, all this was done at the direction of General VK Singh!
Now, for the third time recall General VK Singh’s attempt to get an extension in the office by one full year. If all the reports signaling some kind of political interest, if not ambition, of the General have some amount of truth, the picture was definitely scary for a complacent democracy like India’s. But, the same democracy allows one to look at the other side of the coin.
The report was submitted in March, some six months ago. Reading the highlights of a report of and on such an alarming situation by the then Defence Secretary and even by the Defence Minister and the PMO could not have taken much of time. So, why this report is being talked about even by the government for an action? Was the government waiting for the press to get its hand on the report before it acted? The answer should be negative.
So, is the principal opposition party, the BJP is right in saying that this is a political vendetta against Gen VK Singh because he shared dais with its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at Rewari in Rajasthan?
The persons alleged to have been benefitted by the TSD at the behest of General VK Singh have denied having been benefitted. They may be or may not be telling the truth because in either case the expected answer would be the same. One of the beneficiaries is a present minister in the Jammu & Kashmir government. He cannot practically expect himself to become the Chief Minister of the state given the strength of his own party, whose name is not even known by all Kashmiri people. He got the portfolio on the Congress’s quota. Thinking all the ministers in all the governments are corrupt and honesty is only an exception, Ghulam Hasan Mir was said to have been given Rs 1.19 to topple the Omar Abdullah govt. The amount offered for the purpose seems unconvincing.
A certain Hakikat Singh, who runs an NGO and who is said to have got a PIL filed against the present Army Chief through another NGO has denied having done so. He had to, in any case. But, if he is telling untruth, this proves just one thing that General VK Singh might have wanted to change the line of succession due to some personal animosity. If that was the case, the same argument could be held for the General Bikram Singh, who instituted the secret inquiry board under Lt General Bhatia and about whose report even the army officials are reported to have raised some questions. It is being said that all the statements made before the Bhatia inquiry board could be retracted before a court martial or during a CBI investigation and therefore do not hold much water. Doesn’t it also suggest that General Bikram Singh engineered something against General VK Singh for the same reason alluded earlier?
This proposition becomes even more interesting given the fact that the then Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, during whose tenure the inquiry board was instituted and submitted its report, and General VK Singh had crossed swords over the Tatra Truck deal. They have, it has been talked about, had enough bad blood between them. Appointment of Sharma as the CAG of India was also questioned on the same matter with argument that how could a person who presided over the deal can possibly audit it in all fairness. General VK Singh was also supposed to have anguished the defence ministry when he raised the matter of being attempted to be bribed by a retired army officer with the Defence Minister himself.
So, if the other side of the coin is true then the Bhatia report and all the talks of action against General VK Singh could well be a well written script at a very high level. And, the argument that General VK Singh is being persecuted for three prime reasons, that he shared dais with Narendra Modi, that raised the issue of his date of birth with the govt and that he worked to weed out corruption in defence deals by bringing transparency in the arms deals during his stint as the Army Chief.
As of the now, there is mud on the ground and dense cloud in the sky while the truth may be lying somewhere in the power corridors of the country. People are getting restless to know the answers because it concerns their sense of well being. There must be investigation, full and fair. But, who will do it, the CBI, does everyone trust it? Who will get the investigation done, the government, the army or finally, the judiciary?