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Updated: April 5, 2012 09:29 IST

Manmohan blasts troop movement story

New Delhi Bureau
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A.K. Antony lashed out at media reports claiming government feared military was acting in support of army chief. Here, Gen. Singh inspects the guard of honour at the Army Day Parade in New Delhi. File photo:Sandeep Saxena
The Hindu
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A.K. Antony lashed out at media reports claiming government feared military was acting in support of army chief. Here, Gen. Singh inspects the guard of honour at the Army Day Parade in New Delhi. File photo:Sandeep Saxena

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has lashed out at media reports that the government panicked for several hours in the face of unexplained troop movements near Delhi in January, saying they were “alarmist” and ought not be “taken at face value.”

The Indian Express reported on Wednesday that the government had, for 18 hours starting from the night of January 16, feared possible action by soldiers in support of Army Chief V.K. Singh, who earlier that day moved the Supreme Court seeking a revision of his date of birth.

“Unauthorised” movements by the Hisar-based 33 Armoured Division and the Agra-based 50 Para Brigade on the outskirts of Delhi, the newspaper said, caused “confusion and unease in the government.” The newspaper was careful to say the movements were not seen as precursors to a coup, but proclaimed that “Raisina Hill was spooked” and got the soldiers to leave the National Capital Region (NCR) immediately.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony attacked the report, asking “all to honour the respect and dignity of the armed forces.” He added that “on the issues of national security and the Indian armed forces, we can’t take the luxury of controversies.”

Reacting to the story, the Indian Army said "routine training at the formation level is carried out to check mobilisation according to standard operating procedure”. Almost all army units carry out this procedure at regular intervals, it noted, and the January 16 movement was to test the readiness to deploy and move through heavy fog. “Once effectiveness is checked, the troops are called back. In this case too the troops were called back according to SOP”.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad asked the government to “ensure that there is no room or apprehension for any sponsored story. The relationship between the Army and the political leadership of the country is at an all-time low.” He would not elaborate on what he meant by a “sponsored story” —an evident reference to rumours in Delhi political circles that the news had been leaked by someone in government to discredit the army.

Muddy facts

Meanwhile, retired army officers and civil servants have disputed a central premise of the news report—that the Army should have informed the MoD about its exercise in the NCR. Lt Gen Satish Nambiar (Retd.), a former Director General Military Operations, insisted no such protocols were followed in his time and Ajay Prasad, who retired as Defence Secretary in 2004, said he was not aware of this requirement.

It is also unclear whether Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma was summoned back from Malaysia to deal with the supposed crisis, as reported. Mr. Sharma arrived in New Delhi on the morning of January 17, instead of that evening — but media reports at the time said this was so that he could help draft the government’s response to the Army Chief’s petition.

Precisely why the government ought to have been alarmed by the presence of two additional formations on New Delhi’s outskirts, when tens of thousands of soldiers are stationed in and around the city, also remains unclear.

Intelligence sources told The Hindu that the political apprehensions might have emanated from assessments given to the government as its conflict with the Army Chief on the age issue escalated in early January. Tens of thousands of soldiers were arriving in Delhi for the Republic Day parade, even as Gen. Singh was preparing to move the Supreme Court, and the Intelligence Bureau feared the inflamed public discourse on his date of birth might spark an embarrassing incident.

The movement of the two units was noted with concern in this context, a senior Intelligence Bureau official admitted to The Hindu, but insisted that “at no stage was the possibility of a coup, or any attempt to overawe the government, ever discussed. We worried about indiscipline, or a show of support by some elements — and it’s our job to consider those possibilities.”

Though the Intelligence Bureau routinely monitors troop movements in sensitive areas across India, the sources said, it had not been conducting surveillance operations seeking signs of threatening military movements. It was only after the 50 Brigade or 33 Armoured Division’s detachments were noticed on the capital’s outskirts that the government was notified of their presence.

In 1984, the Central government had laid down guidelines for troop movements around Delhi, but the sources said these rules had fallen into disuse for over a decade.

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This is below-the-belt cheap journalism from IE. How much did you take
home for this treason Mr.Shekhar Gupta and Co. Shame on you.

Indian public is not moron to believe into these baseless stories. I am
proud that Gen.V. K. Singh has held his head high and made country proud
by exposing these corrupt Babus.

from:  ashwath
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 12:46 IST

Sekhar Gupta of Indian Express along with NDTV chief Pranoy Roy have
been trying through their respective media to pick up anything and
everything and present it against UPA government for some time now. It
seems they enjoy the blessings of some Industrial stalwarts in this
mission.

from:  DAVIS C.J
Posted on: Apr 6, 2012 at 09:58 IST

Indian Express must be sued for publishing such a story. Judiciary
should bring to light if this is careless journalism or a sponsored
story by the government or malicious elements to defame the army and its
chief.

from:  Krishnaprasath
Posted on: Apr 6, 2012 at 08:32 IST

It is a shame that people like Antony are becoming Ministers, especially
the fact they are given an important portfolio like defence. Mr.Antony
did not act when the Army chief complained about the bribery attempt and
after 1 year he claims that he would have acted if the army chief had
given a written complaint. he thinks that Indian people are so stupid
that they will buy his bullshit answers. Now the irony is that they are
worried that these rumors will affect the national security and the
image of the army.

from:  Sathish Kumar
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 21:27 IST

One more possibility is that this may be a sponsored story from across the border. Whatever may be the case Indian Express should be held responsible for this kind of non-sensical story.

from:  A. Subbiah
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 19:17 IST

i dont think there is any need of taking permission before practicing any drill by army. it will only create delays in the process and things will hang up by other govt issues. we all know the how much credible is our govt. so instead of waiting for any other scam in context of issuing permission for drill, its better to go how it is now. MOD is doing nothing. it havn't bought even a single advance weapon in our forces. so respect GENERAL and our prime minister. they are more genuine persons then our other politicians.

from:  himanshu
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 18:07 IST

People need leadership and law and order much more than they need the freedom to elect their representatives and the drama of democracy. It is surprising indeed that despite the Congress govt dividing and dismantling the nation bit by bit over the last 40 years, the Army never stepped in to take control. It is lethargy on part of the Army.

from:  Ashish
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 18:00 IST

Sir,
Denigrating Army Chief without any sound basis is highly deplorable.
The approaching of Army Chief to the apex court of the land is a
glaring example of his conviction to the democratic values. Had he
believed in democratic process and in the Constitution of India he
would not have approached the Hon'ble Supreme Court for getting relief
in his date of birth. In fact, the govt. is at fault regarding Army
Chief's controversy over his DoB. The matter could have been mutually
settled. His actions throughout his whole army life show that he
believes in rule of law. There are apprehensions in some quarters that
arms suppliers may be behind the move to sensationalize the report
published in a newspaper. The report nowhere says that Army Chief
conspired to stage a coup. It only published story what happened
between January 16-17. The main culprit is our intelligence agency
which got the govt. panicked by the analysis of troop movement.

from:  BIMAL CHANDRA JHA
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 15:42 IST

Shekhar you seem to be in a wonderful company of Lalu, Mulayam,Brajesh
Mishra etc bent upon denigrating the office of Army Chief and maligning Gen VK Singh, an upright officer. But in your crude attempt you have damaged the legacy of Indian Express( already on the downhill). Remember the Emergency days.It is too bad and too late in your journalistic career. Never expected this from a sensible editor like. It is neither coup nor scoop but seem to be a soup song.

from:  RK Singh
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 13:31 IST

Just look at the kind of leaders who were given the charge of the Defence Ministry. Tere has been a permanent damage and it will take long time before it is repaired

from:  P M Vishwanath
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 13:18 IST

It is strange that the Government views every normal movement with alarm and questionable reactions cause more unhealthy and unprecedented issues be it the current Raisina Hill spook by army movements, midnight mishandling of Baba Ramdev fast at Ram Lila maidan and the unfortunate arrest of Anti-corruption crusader Mr Anna.
We need bold and proactive Government.

from:  J Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 13:06 IST

I live near a Defense Area and this town is full of retired Army personnel, from Wing Commanders to Colonels, to Brigadiers and having had the good fortune to meet and converse with them have found them to be not only elegant, but also gifted with a delightful sense of humor, courtesy. etc etc. It boggles my mind therefore, how these true defenders of the soil with all their refinement, discipline and put in hard service to the country can put up with taking orders from the likes of so-called (elected by bribes) leaders in the Ruling Body who in session bring down the image of our Parliament to the level of a Fish Market .It would however be an insult to the fisherfolk to compare them to these scoundrels and ruling rogues. Our Defense top brass must go back to the scene when Krishna tells Arjuna what his duties are.When you are being oppressed by your own, it is time for the warrior to take action as this is the Kshatriya's duty or dharma.

from:  angela alvares
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 11:43 IST

Let there be a dispassionate enquiry into the whole incident. If the movements of the Division and the Brigade were as per a schedule fixed earlier there is nothing unusual in it ,but if its not ? Let the enquiry report be published soon so that we can know the exact position. The Govt should not hesitate to order an enquiry.

from:  T.V. Kamalakshan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 11:36 IST


We all stand behind the Indian Military who has served our Country and our people with courage, valour and pride. Each and every true Indian will continue to regard them with esteem above all others. We all know who is looting the peoples money. They don't have any right to tarnish the great image our Military. Nobody will believe them.

from:  Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 11:09 IST

Much fuss is being made of the sudden public display of patriotism and
nationalism of the Army Chief : V K Singh ! It is quite clear from the
facts of the events that have unfolded since the 'age dispute' arose
that V K Singh is no 'saint in shining armour'. He is made of clay. Like a true serviceman he should have stood by his statements not to contest his age at the time of his promotions to reach the highest post in the Army. But he, may be at the prodding of his spouse, members of the family and sinecures, suddenly did not wish to give up the 'trappings' of his office a year shorter than that recorded in his School Leaving Certificate and the Birth Certificate that were produced. Poor chap he shall now have to eat humble pie as I am sure no one, except vily political parties, shall touch with him a barge pole : neither the private sector nor public service beckons !

from:  vr vedula
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 11:02 IST

The present working system of the highly responsible bodies like Prime Minister, Defence, Media, who are suppose to be very honest and sensible persons for guarding the Image and Prestige of the Country. But very unfortunately non of the V V IPs are ever sincerely acted, nor strongly protested in this line.
More so every one are concentrating and reacting about Freedom of Speech, but non is bothered about their DUTIES. However this is, I feel because there is no suitable PUNISHMENT, for the wrong action,in any form, by any Status Person which Ultimately damages the National Prestige/Image or National Integrety.

from:  Vishwanath V.H.
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:49 IST

The culprits of news article on army units around Delhi must be dealt with iron hands. I suppose media also share the same responsibility to take care of national pride where we say that our Jawans are serving on the borders are not power hunger. Our army never interfered in the political establishment and democracy but stand for its guard day and night. Writing news which undermines the patriotism of our brave soldiers, who are destined to fight at borders and not in our own streets with our own people, will ultimately bring us to stand in the same line where Pakistan stands. We are not Pakistan and our military takes lessons from the Geeta and not from the Mughal era mentality where the son killed/jailed his father and brothers to get on the throne.

from:  harish
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:45 IST

its time for a ARMY Revolution...

from:  hemanth
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:34 IST

It is a real shame that the national media is behaving in such an irresponsible manner that they are spreading half truths regarding nation's security.

from:  Mathew Joseph
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:30 IST

Where freedom is above one's country, anything can be said by politicians, media, capitalists and the people by being cinema stars and sportsmen, in the name of 'national interest' and voicing the 'people's right' to know such things! Is it 'investigative' or 'instigating' journalism? Taking the country for a ride is a very serious anti-national offence. Sunday Guardian claims: "a senior minister of the UPA government was the brain behind Wednesday's front page story in the Indian Express which detailed the January 16 troop movements." Who is this senior minister or the source? Media are responsible to answer and are equally punishable.

from:  SK Iyer
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:22 IST


It will be in the interest of all if Gen. Singh packs up and leaves voluntarily, without waiting for his retirement date. Let the government give him every penny he is entitled to until his official retirement day. His presence in the army is bad for the troops' morale. He may be an upright person. But perception is everything. When rumours fly around, the truth becomes a casualty.

The media on its part should be extra careful while reporting matters that can affect the morale of military personnel. The national security is at issue here. If the story is not true, the guilty has to be punished. Rumour-mongering will have disastrous consequences. I hope the concerned media establishment conduct an internal investigation and get to the source of this story.

from:  M.P. Prabhakaran
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:17 IST

The Indian Army stands is always seen in high esteem, corruption
issues which have crept up on them will not be taken lightly. I
strongly feel, days are not far away a Military based democracy will
be back in India. Who is to be blamed? Well, all the political parties
are to be blamed for their way of functioning. Nothing is done to stop
inflation, instead corruption in all possible fields. There has to be
a cleaner to clean this filth.
General V.K.Singh, has had a clean image and was correct in bring out
the issue out in public domain. I heard Congress spokeperson Mr.
Tiwari saying he should have filed a FIR. Can he ensure that the
government would have allowed him to file a FIR if he wished, since
the police is a government body.

from:  umesh
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:03 IST

this time what type of misunderstanding between army and politician .
This type activity is worse for india security and people of India.
other country understand that their is not good relationship between army and Politician , so as soon as possible this issue is solved by both side for country

from:  Ashok yadav
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 09:44 IST

Why do we need 2 units comprising of 1400 military personnel for a 'coup' when there is already a heavy presence of army in the NCR? Where is this protocol of informing MoD for routine practices? The report of IE is devoid of logic and just a piece of competitive-sensational-journalism. I am shocked to see such a piece of shoddy journalism by one of the finest editors Mr. Shekhar Gupta. His logic on various tv channels that it is just a statement of facts is bogus. Any layman glancing at the headline (in such a large font with full one page coverage) can make out the interpretation which the paper tries to bring without using the C-word! I hope the concerned paper publishes an apology on the full page for creating false alarm on sensitive issues.

from:  sanjay
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 09:24 IST

The media should be careful when publishing reports like this. And there
should be punishments when they get the matters of National Security
wrong. What kind of journalism is this? Also IB better concentrate on
the terrorists than Indian Army. No reports will be there when
terrorists come and attack, but all other kind of nonsense is reported
by them.

from:  Nani
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 09:23 IST

Government is taking lightly those terrorist who killed Mahatma Gandhi and have been exposed of having inroads in army for explosions. Recent bomb blasts by these forces at several places including Malegaon etc is being ignored by Panditwadi Congress party led UPA. They are ignoring report of National status News papers who have always played an important role during nation crises and wartime . We demand that government must behave like responsible government and should investigate recent move and happening in army in view of such terrorist link and Gandhiji's killing by such forces.

from:  D.D.Raut
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 09:11 IST

What has the journalists/reporters achieved by bringing out this story? They have done only a disservice to the nation by creating a fear psychosis in the minds of the people. Sometime I wonder if these journalists who talk/write about every issue; politics, economics, defense, business, legal, science, religion, sports etc are really knowledgeable on all these topics!!!!!!!

from:  Raghunarayan.M
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 09:11 IST

Media is the fourth pillar of democracy and it should refrain from these kind of publishings. Publishing reports only to create misunderstandings and buzz among the people is not the purpose of media. Media has the job of highlighting and paraphrasing the things only to help the cause. Now a days few channels just blow the matter out of proprotion when it is really small only to increase the buzz and their TRP. This is not the purpose of the media and strict punishments should be imposed if it is found wanting. And at last I would also like to remind the media that also show some positive things rather than defaming everyone everytime.

from:  Devendra Shukla
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 08:58 IST

The government seems to be non-functioning. It should not give room to
such things to happen. What is the CIA doing despite inofrmation.

from:  N. R. RAMACHANDRAN
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 07:44 IST

India like biggest democracy in the world should not admit this type rumour it will definitely reduce our status in the world countries.

from:  MERCY
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 07:21 IST

i wish i were true, whole indian corrupt middlemen would have been in jail,,,whole govt is now discredited by their follies and blunders they have lost public support, they are simply agents of foreign power and implementing their agenda,,better patriotic india army capture indian govt and make whole work as honest hardworking so that majority of people could get justice,,whole nation is doomed, their is no hope no justice,,

from:  bhupinder
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 05:18 IST

Some sections of the media are being used by external powers to discredit the armed forces and make the government look weak. Even a mobilization exercise is being portrayed as precursors to a coup. If the armed forces cannot move about in our own country, where will they train? Once the armed forces have been discredited with a few of such planted stories in the media, we can expect these external powers to ask India to renounce nuclear weapons and testing since a shaky government may not be able to control them.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 03:47 IST

The rot in the civil and police services is quite apparent. Their fear
of the Army is based on their guilt in manipulating the Chief's age
and other military matters. This report is bureaucratic cowardice.
However if things do go further - there will be no troop movement -
the Army has an infantry brigade in Delhi and numerous units - they
dont have to arrive - they are simply there. This is the us versus
them syndrome at its worst. The Army is a foreign Army which needs to
be kept under the bureaucrats is the philosophy. That is the surest
way to have a real coup. The Army only respects elected leaders not
the clerks that play around

from:  Arvind
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 03:35 IST

There is an unqualified faith in the apolitical Armed Forces of India that it will never resort to
replace the present system of governance thru free elections by what goes by the name of a
'coup'.Those who know intimately the much- varied,yet,the homogeneously- spirited
composition of the Army and its deployment all around the country's borders in operational
commitments or in constant trg elsewhere in the country will unhesitatingly confirm this
notion. However,in the last two decades, a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction has been
widely perceived in the officer cadre arising out of grievances,some real,some virtual and
many just notional. These range from delays in non settlement of monetary inequalities after
successive pay commissions to civil - military protocols to non modernization of professional
needs.Similar grievances may be present in the non officer class but have not been
noticeably articulated so far.Is this Jan exercice a FogHorn -a Wakeup Call or a routine
one?

from:  N.Venkataraman
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 03:30 IST

LOL...even our dumb PM knows to shout....obviously his mistress...Sonia has no prob with this issue...

from:  Rakesh
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 02:33 IST

Looks like media to make a buck or two has is acting irresponsibly adding to confusion.

from:  Senthil Natarajan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 02:31 IST

Trying to stir up a controversy that could endanger national security by
spreading false information is a punishable offence and can also be
considered as 'treason'. Its also bad journalism ethics. The Hindu and
Indian express must stop publishing such reports which aim at spreading
misinformation and confusion in the govt and public. This is NOT some
gossip about Big B or sports corruption scandal.

from:  Rohan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 01:46 IST

It is indeed sad to see such callous reporting on the part of a media
giant. As we push towards a 'clean' government and administration, we
must set an example ourselves by shouldering our own responsibilities
and refrain from cheap journalism. The government, on its own part and
with highest priority, must set in motion a transparent and merit-based
defense related procurement process, lest we let our men die in vain. In
the lack of such a process and in the face of such mistrust, why should
a civilian join the ranks?

from:  Pranab Banerjee
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 01:34 IST

Indian Army is the one of the best army of the world. Uneasy relationship between army & government is hypothetical. It is opportunistic reporting that troop movements on 16jan night were without govt notification, in the background of Gen VK singh date of birth controversy. This type of reporting must be discouraged.

from:  Dr Sanjeev K Singh
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 01:30 IST

It is a shame that newspaper's make stories on issues like this without validating the fact. If the story is baseless some action should be taken against as it is a very serious issue. It will create unnecessary panic. Just in the way we talk about punishing corrupt officials, unethical media stunts should also be punished.

from:  Chitra
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 00:55 IST

There is a smear campaign going on against General V.K.Singh. I am
really proud that he stood for his beliefs and respectfully fought for
his rights. He is also an embodiment for lot of us to stand against
corruption amidst the unpopularity and timing. Thank you very much
General Singh for doing what is right.

from:  Anand Venkat
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 00:47 IST

i pray to GOD please clean up the mess ,, not of my brothers.. serving country at front,, but to clean up 542 or more who call to sack chief .. most corrupt bullshit say all this.. i also live fr that day when defense take this country into thr hand and block all airports ... nobody will leave thr motherland but all 542 big thugs try to leave and after this our mother is no more molested by these thugs ..... who vociferously asked to sack our chief,,,

from:  ldsharma
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 00:30 IST

It seems that the news report was erroneous and published without sufficient research. While publishing reports of such sensitivity and importance, much more care should have been taken. It is sad that the sensationalist element of a story is sometimes deemed more important than the truth by (certain) media. Responsible journalism and a competent regulatory authority for the media are the need of the hour. I also want to commend The Hindu for its balanced reporting.

from:  Gayathri Antharjanam
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 23:59 IST

its strange that Govt and Politicians are so much worried about Indian army near Delhi than the Chinese army surrounding all the Indian borders, and our army without proper ammunition to fight back.

I think more than 90% of people in India would prefer a true patriotic leader from Army to lead the country than the nautanki like MMS and his Majesty and chor congress...

from:  Nitin
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 23:57 IST
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