Row Erupts Over Charges Of Toppling Omar Govt

Row Erupts Over Charges Of Toppling Omar Govt

20 September 2013
The Daily Excelsior


New Delhi: A huge controversy erupted today over allegations that an intelligence unit set up by ex-Army chief Gen V K Singh misused secret funds to try and topple the Omar Abdullah Government in Jammu and Kashmir with the Centre promising action if any serving or retired officer is found involved. As the allegations in a secret Army report that the controversial Technical Services Division (TSD) was involved in unauthorised operations and financial wrongdoings triggered a political slugfest between Congress and BJP, a Union Minister on condition of anonymity said a CBI probe into the “extremely sensitive” matter is not ruled out. The Defence Ministry said it will take a decision about action on the Army report on TSD after its careful examination while asserting it had measures in place to prevent any such undesirable activities. Stating that the report “impinges on matters of national security”, the Ministry in a statement, however, said it has not yet taken a decision on going for a CBI inquiry, BJP questioned the timing of the report and claimed that Singh was being “hounded” for sharing the dais with its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at the Rewari rally five dasy ago. The report was prepared by Director General(Military Operations) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia as part of a Board of Officers inquiry formed by Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh to review the functioning of the top secret unit set up during the tenure of his predecessor. The report submitted to Defence Ministry in March this year is understood to have recommended a probe by an external agency like the CBI. The Union Minister, who spoke of a possible CBI probe, said the Government has taken serious note of the report. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters that the facts brought out in the report are “extremely sensitive” and if any person–retired or serving–is found involved in the matter, action will be taken. “The contents of the report which have been mentioned in a newspaper are under active consideration of the Government. If any malfeasance is found against any serving or retired officer, appropriate action would be initiated. A media report quoting an Army document said Gen Singh had allegedly misused the secret service funds to destabilise the Omar Government, to pay off an NGO to try change the line of succession in the Army top brass, to buy off-air interception equipment and to conduct “unauthorised” covert operations. Replying to a question on possible action against the retired Army chief and his team involved in this matter, Tewari said this is not a question of being individual- specific but it is more of a systemic and structural issue “wherein there are alleged actions which impinge upon the larger ambit of national security”. BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the allegations against Gen Singh sound absolutely curious and odd not just because of the timing but the contents of the report. “It is obvious that the hounding of the retired Army chief is being done because he was seen seated beside Narendra Modi at the Rewari rally,” she said. Lt Gen(Retd) Raj Kadyan said allegations against TSD are serious and needs to be probed but raised questions, observing its contents are coming out just days after Gen Singh and Modi shared the dais. Maj Gen(Retd) G D Bakshi also shared Kadyan’s views. The TSD was formed in May 2010 during the tenure of Gen V K Singh and its existence came to light in March last year when it was alleged that the unit had tapped the phones of Defence Ministry officials at the height of the controversy over the then Army chief’s date of birth. In Srinagar, the ruling National Conference today demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) enquiry or Judicial probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the allegations of secret service funds used by the former Army chief to destabilise the Omar Abdullah led Government in the State. While addressing a press conference in Srinagar this evening, National Conference provincial President, Nasir Aslam Wani demanded CBI inquiry or a judicial probe under a sitting Supreme Court judge into the functioning of a top secret intelligence unit set up by former Army chief, General V K Singh, to destabilize the Omar Abdullah led Government in Jammu and Kashmir. Wani described the issue of efforts by former Army chief to destabilise the State Government as a very serious matter that can’t be brushed aside or dismissed. “This issue needs a thorough probe and no attempt should be made to cover it up. The matter should be probed and the finding be made public without any delay”, he added. “As such we demand that all the people from the State or outside who are involved overtly or covertly are made public and punished”, said Nasir. Wani said that the State has suffered at the machinations of people who have tried time and again to demean the elected Government. “The report substantiates that there are people who want to dent the credibility of democratic institution that India is known for”, said Wani. Wani said that the report about the efforts made by former Army chief to destabilise the State Government vindicates that NC stand that 2010 protests could have been orchestrated. The 2010 protests started against Machil fake encounter in which Army was allegedly involved. Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan, who was accused of receiving funds from Army for destabilising the State Government, described the allegations levelled against him as baseless. He said he has always been playing a vital role in strengthening the democratic set up in the State and has always been an active player to diffuse the crises in the Valley. “There is no question of conspiring against the Government. People as well as New Delhi knows the fact what role I have been playing in diffusing the crises”, said Mir. Senior NC leader and Rural Development Minister, Ali Mohammad Sagar while reacting to the issue said that it is evident that conspiracies were being hatched against NC over the years. “If the report is true, Mir has no moral right to be in the Cabinet and he should immediately step down”, he added. National Conference leader Mustafa Kamaal who was defeated by Ghulam Hassan Mir twice from once NC strong hold of Tangmarg said that the former Army chief’s action was an attack on democratic credentials of the country. Kamaal made a scathing attack on former Army chief and said that he had communal mindset and that is why he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Provincial President National Conference Devender Singh Rana sought a judicial enquiry headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court to look into the allegations of the former Army chief General V K Singh using secret funds for destabilizing the democratically elected Government led by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Jammu and Kashmir. Addressing a press conference at Rajouri this evening, Mr Rana described the charges as serious in nature and a blot on the democracy. “If true, the unfortunate disclosures have the potential of alienating the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “The revelations cannot be just rubbished because the actor having perpetrated the intrigue has been Chief of the Army Staff”, Mr Rana said while describing the act as first of its kind in the history of independent India. He reiterated that judicial enquiry or at least independent probe by Central Bureau of Investigations alone can bring the truth to fore. The Provincial President recalled the horrific incidents of 2010 wherein scores of young people were killed mercilessly in Kashmir and wondered whether these were part of Gen Singh’s game plan to destabilize the Omar Abdullah Government. “We had forgotten the miseries of 2010 but the revelations have opened up the wounds again”, he said. When asked whether there could be local actors supplementing the Army’s hidden agenda, Mr Rana said whosoever and howsoever high they may be, those involved in the wretched game plan should be exposed. “The people of Jammu and Kashmir have a right to know the truth. Therefore, the role of all those involved, even those from the State, should be scanned and findings made public at the earliest”, he added.