Months of acrimony for army chief and the government

Months of acrimony for army chief and the government
New Delhi: The furore over Army chief General VK Singh's letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that has been leaked, is just one among a series of incidents that have severely strained ties between the General and the government this year.

Here is a timeline of the chain of events that has snowballed into an ugly confrontation between the two parties:


This proved to be the near-climax of the simmering age row issue when General VK Singh dragged the government to the Supreme Court over his date of birth. He thus became the first serving Army chief to have taken this unprecedented step. The General contended that he was born in 1951 vis-a-vis 1950 which found mention in at least two Army records. He held his ID card, service record and promotion files to prove his stand. The government, though, held that matters of promotion and seniority of General Singh were based on 1950 as his year of birth, even citing two documents with the Military Secretary's branch.

The General had already applied to the Defence Ministry in December 2011 to accept his claim but without success. This was critical as it would have decided when the General would retire - if the government had accepted his year of birth as 1951, he would have got an additional 10 months to continue in office. General Singh is scheduled to retire in May this year.

The government tried its best to settle the matter outside the court but the row escalated with several former Army officers backing the General's claim. The Centre too refused to budge as it was worried that a change in stand would set an unhealthy precedent and affect its critical succession plan.

FEBRUARY 10, 2012

In the Supreme Court, it was Advantage Government as the judges indicated that they were not in favour of entertaining General Singh's petition. He withdrew it and was told to stick to the schedule and retire by May 31, 2012.

 FEBRUARY 28, 2012

Having already suffered a setback in the court, there was further humiliation in store for General Singh as the government cancelled his two-day official trip to Israel. The Ministry of Defence cited "critical situation in the Middle East" and advised him to go towards the end of the year, knowing fully well that he would have retired by then.

MARCH 25, 2012

The Defence Ministry again tried to sideline General Singh after it refused to consider his proposal in the appointment of a top military official to the post of Director General of Assam Rifles.

MARCH 26, 2012

The bribe bomb that General Singh dropped this week on the government is being seen as a direct fallout of this acrimony. He alleged that he was offered a Rs. 14 crore bribe in 2011 to clear a deal for substandard trucks by a retired Army Officer.

MARCH 27, 2012

In a further bid to corner the government, General Singh said that he had informed Defence Minister AK Antony about the bribery issue.

MARCH 28, 2012

The controversy was quickly followed by a confidential letter that General Singh had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on March 12 2012, detailing deficiencies in the military, which was leaked to the media.

The letter reveals highly-sensitive information including how the Indian Army's entire tank fleet does not have critical ammunition as also how its air defence is 97% obsolete. The letter also outlines how the Special Forces are short of essential weapons and the gaps in surveillance and night-fighting capabilities.

MPs cutting across party lines hit out at General Singh for the leak, even as the source of the letter still remains unconfirmed. 
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