Signalling a return of normality after the controversy over the issue of age of General V.K. Singh was settled, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and the Chief of the Army Staff were seen together at an official function at South Block here on Tuesday.

Mr. Antony, who was the chief guest at the presentation of awards to best services hospitals, shared some lighter moments with Gen. Singh. The meeting was the first official interaction between them since February 10, when the Supreme Court disposed of the case. Last week, the Minister emphasised there was no strain in his relations with the Army Chief.

It is understood that the Minister asked Gen. Singh about his visit to the United Kingdom and expressed the hope that the Army Chief was more relaxed now than the day he left India on the trip, soon after the case was disposed of.

Last week, Mr. Antony reiterated that the government had complete confidence in the Army Chief, a statement it had made before the apex court on February 10.

Sources in the Ministry said the top echelons were unhappy that some sections of the media continued to keep the issue alive even days after it was settled in court.

On his part, Mr. Antony had appealed to all, including the media, to leave the past behind and move forward. “It is a closed chapter… work is going on… do not rake up the issue… let us move forward in country's interest. India cannot afford such a controversy in national interest,” he told journalists.

Mr. Antony said that in the backdrop of the year of birth controversy, the Ministry asked the armed forces to reconcile their records so that an issue of this kind would not crop up again.


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