09 Feb 2012
The face-off between the government and the Army Chief General V K Singh is not in the interest of the nation. While there appears to be a concerted attempt to depict Gen. Singh in bad light, a close scrutiny of available information seems to be in favour of the Army Chief.
Defence minister AK Antony says the government exercised maximum restraint and patience on the issue of determining Gen. Singh’s date of birth and wants to wait for the final verdict of the Supreme Court. There is no legal issue involved for the apex court to lay down any law.
A confidential memo A/4501/01(GEN/MS(1) dated 01 July, 2011, from the Military Secretary’s Branch sent to the Ministry of Defence on the DoB of IC 24134 General VK Singh PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC, by Lt.-Gen. GM Nair, Military Secretary observed, says: “On scrutiny of past records pertaining to Selection Boards, it has been that the MDSs pertaining to Gen. VK Singh which were drawn up at the time of his consideration for promotion to select ranks reflect the date of birth of the General Officer as 10 May, 1951.”
The memorandum said that copies of the relevant MDS sheets were available with the Ministry of Defence for verification and that this had been brought to the notice of the Defence Minister for due consideration.
This memo flies in the face of Antony’s claim that Gen. Singh accepted 1950 as his year of birth when former Army Chiefs asked for it before his promotion as Major-General and Lt.-General.
What was the need for their asking when the Selection Board’s records show his year of birth as 1951?
Gen. Singh earned the wrath of Home Minister P Chidambaram and the powerful mining lobby for his principled opposition to the deployment of the Army to decimate the tribal population of Dandakaranya forests to hand it over to MNCs by saying: “We cannot do this to our own people. Maoists are not secessionists.”
The hard line adopted by the Army Chief against the erring officers in the Adarsh co-operative housing society scandal did not make him popular among his peers in the Army.
The corruption-ridden UPA government has no place for an upright officer like Gen. Singh, particularly at a time when large arms deals are going to be signed.
An error committed by VK Singh while filling an application form for entrance to the National Defence Academy when he was just 14 years old has been ferreted out to change his DoB as 10 May, 1950, and the government is sticking like a leech to this piece of paper to deny justice to the chief of the world’s third largest Army.
To add insult to injury, the government is trying to portray him as someone fiddling with his date of birth to hang on to the power and pelf of the high office.
The President, in her capacity as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has a duty to safeguard the honour of soldiers like Gen. Singh, who has lived up to the credo embossed in Chetwood Hall of the Indian Military Academy.
“The safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time; The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next; Your own ease comfort and safety come last, always and every time.” – TWL Bureau
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