Facing fire over his remarks that ministers in Jammu and Kashmir were given money by the Army, former Army chief Gen. (retd.) V. K Singh on Tuesday sought to do damage control by saying it was not a bribe. The Centre, however, expressed its willingness to order a probe.

The controversial General, who stepped down as Army Chief in May last year, has created a political storm with his statements saying that ministers in the trouble-torn State had been paid by the Army since Independence, prompting sharp reactions from the National Conference and the Congress which are ruling the State.

Gen. Singh called a press conference at Gurgaon on the outskirts of the capital, at which he appeared to soften his allegations by saying that the payments were not for the personal use of the Ministers but for promoting goodwill among people. At the same time, he maintained he had not committed any mistakes in making the allegations.

“When I had said some politicians were given money, it was not for lining their pockets or for a bribe. If somebody says that any minister was given a bribe, it is totally wrong. It was meant solely for stability...to win hearts and minds of people, to wean people away from separatist activities under the overall umbrella of sadbhavna (harmony),” he said.

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