The government on Thursday emphasised the seriousness it attached to the leakage of confidential information from the Army Chief to the Prime Minister by ordering a probe into the “anti-national act,” even as General V.K. Singh termed it an act of “high treason.”
After being on the opposite end of the verbal duel over the past two days, the Army Chief and the government appeared on the same side of the fence — Mr. Antony assuring the Ministry's determination to get to the bottom of the issue and take action. He said the Intelligence Bureau had been asked to investigate and the guilty would be proceeded against under the Indian Penal Code.
There had been an outrage over the leakage of sensitive information on the nation's defence preparedness and some Members of Parliament had demanded the removal of Gen. Singh.
The General, who is in Jammu and Kashmir on an official visit, was quoted as saying: “The leakage of the letter should be treated as high treason. Cynical approach to tarnish my reputation should stop. Sources of the leakage should be found and dealt with ruthlessly.”
Seeking to reduce the scale of tension between the government and the Army, Mr. Antony virtually scotched speculations over the continuation of the Army Chief by stating that all three Service Chiefs enjoyed the confidence of the government.
“All the three Service chiefs still enjoy the confidence of the government. They are working...otherwise, how can they continue,” Mr. Antony said at an interaction with media after inaugurating Defexpo here.
However, on persistent queries about a report that Gen. Singh had sought a CBI probe into allegations of corruption against Lieutenant-General Dalbir Singh Suhag, the Minister said while he was not aware of this, a March 22 note from the Army Chief, recommending that the head of the Dimapur-based 3 Corps be promoted as an Army Commander, reached his desk on Thursday. Promotion of Gen. Suhag would place him in the line of succession to head the Army after Army-Chief-designate Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh.
The Minister disclosed that some time back, the Army Chief mentioned about a complaint against a Lt. Gen. and he (Mr. Antony), had suggested that Gen. Singh take action. According to a report in an English daily, Trinamool Congress MP Ambika Banerjee had sent a complaint on allegations of graft.
Call to media
Mr. Antony asked the media to appreciate his approach that military procurement should not be under allegations of corruption, which at times could push timelines, leading to delays.
For instance, in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft issue, he said, the Ministry was looking into complaints questioning how the French Rafale was declared the lowest bidder while negotiations were on with the manufacturer. “Both are going on parallel, but we will take the next step only if satisfied.”