Army Chief terms leakage of letter ‘high treason’
In a bid to scotch rumours on the fate of embattled Army Chief General V.K. Singh, Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Thursday told journalists, “All the three service chiefs enjoy the confidence of the government.”
On a day Delhi is hosting the BRICS conference, the government's top concern was not just to trace who had leaked Gen. Singh's letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, government sources told The Hindu, but, if possible, push the battle between the General and the government playing out on TV channels to the sidelines. Indeed, an advisory has gone out to all channels underscoring the need not to overplay the contents of a sensitive confidential letter that spoke of India's lack of defence preparedness.
Mr. Antony's comment came shortly after the Army Headquarters released a brief, strongly worded statement from Gen. Singh, currently in Jammu and Kashmir.
Describing his letter to the Prime Minister a “privileged” communication, and its leakage “high treason,” he said the cynical approach to “tarnish” his reputation should stop, and the sources of the leak “should be found and dealt with ruthlessly.”
With the Minister announcing that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had been asked to investigate as to who leaked the letter, an act he labelled “anti-national activity” meriting “the maximum punishment under the Indian Penal Code,” all eyes are now on how the government will proceed on the matter.
The government sources said the top leadership would meet to discuss the issue after the BRICS conference ends on Friday, but clearly no action, one way or the other, can be taken till the IB can nail the culprits behind the leakage.
While Mr. Antony's measured comments on Thursday were reflective of the government's position on the General, the Congress' position, articulated by spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury, held out a veiled threat:
“The country is being visited by leaders, including those from our neighbouring country. There should be restraint,” she said, concluding with, “Our patience should not be viewed as our weakness.”