New Delhi, Sep 24: Indian Army Former Chief, Gen (retd) V K Singh, alleged that incumbent Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh might be targeting him.
Former Army Chief Gen V K Singh Monday claimed that the Army has paid all ministers in Indian-administered, Jammu and Kashmir since Independence, and that everyone in the system, including the Defence Ministry, have been in the know.
Speaking to Times Now’s Arnab Goswami, the retired officer claimed that the Army has been giving money to ministers to “ensure that the people are kept together”, and also confirmed that the Army’s controversial Technical Support Division (TSD) transferred money to an NGO based in the state.
“The Army transfers money to all the ministers in Jammu and Kashmir… there are various things to be done. As part of the stabilising factor in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of the activities to be organised,” Singh told the TV channel.
Asked if all ministers are paid, Singh said, “maybe not all the ministers but certain ministers and people who are given a certain sum to get a particular thing done. That job involves bringing stability to a particular area”.
Asked if Chief Minister Omar Abdullah knew about these money transfers, Singh said, “If as a chief minister you do not know this, you are not running the state”.
On being asked whether the TSD paid Jammu and Kashmir minister Ghulam Hassan Mir from secret funds — as alleged by the Army probe — Singh said that “if such a possibility is there I am sure there must be a reason for a particular transaction or number of transactions to this person”.
He also called Mir a unifying factor in Jammu and Kashmir and a nationalist.
The Indian Express had reported that a secret Army panel probe into the functioning of the TSD had found, among others, that Mir was paid Rs 1.19 crore to engineer a change of government in the state.
Singh claimed that money was paid to ministers as many things had to be done.
“There are various things to be done as part of the stabilising factor in Jammu and Kashmir. Who funded the KPL?” he asked, referring to the Kashmir Premier League cricket tournament. “Was it the Jammu and Kashmir government that funded it? Was it the honourable chief minister who funded it? It was the Army. Why was there a requirement for the Army to fund it is a different issue all together.”
Asked if he knew all the instances of money being paid in the state, Singh said Army Chiefs “do not do micro managing. They give a task and this task is given to various commanders and the money is routed through various sources. Certain would be for perception management, certain would be for intelligence operations”.
Asked if money being paid does not amount to interference in a democratically elected government, Singh said that it does not “if a civilian government is unable to get the people together…”
He also claimed that money was being paid to ministers in J&K since Independence.
“It is nothing new, for the last so many years since Independence of this country, this has been going on and has been the practice. This is a system to ensure that measures are put in place to bring harmony…it is nothing new,” Singh said.
Singh said that the TSD could have paid money to an NGO in Jammu and Kashmir, as reported by The Indian Express, but claimed that it would be for unifying reasons. Singh said he was not aware when asked if the NGO was connected to YES Kashmir, a controversial organisation that has been accused of filing a court case to scuttle the appointment of Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the Army Chief.
The former Army Chief also attacked The Indian Express. “To be very frank, I do not consider The Indian Express to be a newspaper…it should be thrown into the waste basket,” he said.
But another former Army Chief, General (retd) Shankar Roy Chowdhury, told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN that he was taking the Army probe report very seriously. “I would take the report of the inquiry headed by the DGMO itself to be extremely credible and whatever facts are brought out from it should form the base line for whatever further investigations need to be carried out,” he said.
Chowdhury said that the credibility of the probe report comes from the fact that the panel was headed by the Director General of Military Operations, Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia. “You do not have the DGMO undertaking any kind of inquiry of this kind…I would rate this as totally credible,” he said.
The BJP too expressed concern and said it does not augur well for the country. It sought to blame the government for allowing this episode to escalate to this level.
“The way the government is handling this episode does not augur well for the country. It demoralises the services and it also goes to undermine institutions, in this case military intelligence. Even worse, if they have an issue with the former Army Chief based on any omission or commission of the office of the Army Chief, it is the right of the government to take legal action as appropriate,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
“These things are to be handled with a great sense of discretion and faults, if any, will have to be punished. But doing it in public hurts the implicit trust and faith of citizens,” she said.
The National Conference took strong exception to Gen (retd) V K Singh’s allegations that ministers in J&K took money from the Army.
Devender Singh Rana of the party said “the bid to sensationalize the matter by the former Army Chief in a bid to divert the attention from the core issue” was unfortunate.
“It is indeed a sad and unfortunate day for the Indian nation and the Indian Army in particular that the former Army Chief is making such reckless and unsubstantiated statements,” Rana said.
He dared Singh to name the ministers who had taken money, and said that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would sack any National Conference leader whose name surfaces.
Courtesy: Indian Express