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Thursday, 24 December 2009

From Today's Papers - 24 Dec 09






Bhimsen Sachar Memorial Lecture
Malik cautions against talks with Pak
Akhila Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 23
Former Chief of Army Staff General VP Malik today cautioned the government against resuming the composite dialogue with Pakistan, unless the latter changed its policy on terrorism. Gen. Malik was speaking in reference to Pakistan’s inertia on bringing to justice the perpetrators of 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.

“Initiating a dialogue with the neighbouring country (read Pakistan) without it changing its policy on terrorism would be a failure,” he said, drawing clear distinctions between India and Pakistan so far as the impact of terrorism goes.
“India is a victim of terrorism, whereas Pakistan is a convict. Hence the argument that both countries were being attacked did not hold ground,” he said, while delivering the 30th Bhimsen Sachar Memorial Lecture on “India’s Strategic Culture and Security Challenges” at Lajpat Bhavan here today.
The General, who authored “Kargil — from Surprise to Victory”, was critical of the government for its failure to pressurise Pakistan to give up assistance to terror outfits, even post the Kargil War.
On China, too, the General warned of the possibility of dispute along the LAC (Line of Actual Control) in the coming months as greater tension was building up on the Sino-India border.
Pointing out that China was increasing its military presence in Tibet, he said the country was backing out of the agreements it signed with India. With growing military and economic strength, the neighbour was getting aggressive and uncompromising, he cautioned.
“We made a mistake by looking the other way when China was invading Tibet,” Gen Malik said, adding that there were numerous examples when India did not stand firm vis-à-vis China. He said while India shares borders with most of the South Asian countries, China had better diplomatic and military relations with all of them, except Bhutan.
On the Maoist threat, he voiced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that Maoists posed the gravest threat to the internal security situation in the country.
“Maoists and separatist outfits are more dangerous than the external forces,” he said, adding that the Maoists were now planning to build a Red corridor, originating from Katmandu.
The former Chief of Army Staff sounded equally wary of the spawning “regional” sentiment across India. “Raj Thackeray wants Maharashtra to be an all-Marathi state, with separate work visas for north Indians. On Telengana, too, the government bowed down to the demand to divide Andhra Pradesh,” he said, referring to the growing clamour in political circles for separate states.
He sought greater security consciousness and political consensus on important security issues in the country, admitting that India’s security concerns would remain compromised till the time government began taking some “strategically hard decisions”.





Mumbai, December 23
The Indian Navy is a major stakeholder in eradicating terrorism and preventing events like 26/11 terror attacks, President Pratibha Patil told seamen aboard INS Viraat today during her first outing on board India’s aircraft carrier.

“Terror attacks are a grim reminder of the
harm that can be perpetuated through the sea route,” Patil said. She further said the Navy acting in concert with law enforcement
agencies could prevent such incidents in future.
Patil promised Naval officers that the government is committed to modernising the Navy. She cited the growing importance of the Navy as a maritime power.
During her first outing onboard carrier after taking over as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, Patil inspected a guard of honour and witnessed steam past by Naval warships and submarines.





Generals in land scam
Bodes ill for the image of Army
As if liquor, fuel and ration scandals were not enough, some of the top army officers of the country have now been found to be involved in a land scam. A Court of Inquiry has recommended disciplinary action against four General-rank officers and several others for alleged bending of rules to favour a private company near Siliguri. The inquiry was ordered after it was found that 33 Corps Headquarters had allowed commercial use of land adjacent to the base and even signed an MoU. The name and picture of one of the Generals figures on the admission brochure of the educational trust. What is particularly galling is that among those against whom the Army inquiry has recommended action is Lt-Gen Avadhesh Prakash, Military Secretary at Army Headquarters and one of the seniormost Generals. It has also recommended court martial proceedings against Lt-Gen P K Rath, whose appointment as Deputy Chief of Army Staff was later cancelled by the Ministry of Defence.
And even that is not the end of it. It has also come to light that the same institution was allegedly in negotiations to purchase another chunk of land belonging to the Ranikhet-based Kumaon Regimental Centre in Uttarakhand. A separate officer has also been recommended to investigate some similar lapses pertaining to military land in the area near Gangtok in Sikkim, which too comes under the territorial jurisdiction of 33 Corps. All that shows that the rot has gone very deep.
It is ironical that while the Army as a whole is doing a good job, some black sheep are out to besmirch its fair name. Two Major-Generals of the AOC faced charges of financial irregularities earlier this year. In 2007, two Lt-Gen ranked officers of the ASC were indicted in two separate cases involving irregularities in procurement of frozen meat for troops posted in Ladakh and discrepancies in procurement of dry rations. Systematic weeding out of all such elements with exemplary punishment will not only help in nipping the evil, but would also establish the fact that the Army men are still gentlemen, a few aberrations notwithstanding. 





Pak plea on composite dialogue
A tactic to divert attention
by G. Parthasarathy
The Defence Minister, Mr A.K. Anthony, announced on December 18 that India was pulling out two divisions comprising 30,000 troops from Jammu and Kashmir. The announcement came in the wake of a reduction in the infiltration of ISI-backed jihadis across the Line of Control and a determined effort by the Omar Abdullah government in the state to expand, train and equip the J&K police to deal with terrorist violence, especially in urban areas. This is an eminently practicable arrangement, as there now appears to have been a change in instructions from across the LoC to the separatist leadership on how the fight for “Azadi” has to be carried forward.
The predominant emphasis on jihad has been set aside. The aim now is to seek opportunities to mobilise people by hurling baseless allegations of atrocities, excesses and even rape against the armed forces. The incident at Shopian involving the mysterious deaths of two young women appears a classical example of mobilisation through hysteria and disinformation.
The announcement of troop reductions also addresses the growingly aggressive anti-Indian propaganda unleashed by even normally restrained Pakistani political leaders like President Zardari and influential academics like Ahmed Rashid, claiming that the Pakistan Army cannot deploy more troops on its borders with Afghanistan to fight the Taliban because of an Indian “threat” on its borders. Pakistan asserts that unless the United States, the European Union and China join hands to force India to the negotiating table and mediate and guarantee a resolution to the Kashmir issue, the level of India-Pakistan tensions would be so high that the West cannot expect the Pakistan Army to confront the Taliban.
These developments are taking place at a time when the Pakistan Army establishment has successfully cornered President Zardari and his close associates by manipulating developments, to lead the Supreme Court to declare the “National Reconciliation Ordinance”, under which the present political dispensation was elected, as unconstitutional. A shaken President Zardari is now finding his close associates like Interior (Home) Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, his PPP and MQM supporters in Sindh and even his own Principal Secretary Salman Farooqui coming under pressure with threats of arrest.
Even prior to these developments, the army had made it clear that it will not yield ground on its control of issues of national security and relations with the US, India and Afghanistan. Sensing that Mr Zardari was attempting to clip its wings, by using American aid legislation to curb its powers, the army hit back by mobilising right wing opinion to claim that Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity was being eroded by American meddling. A rattled Obama Administration responded with Senator Kerry and others paying obeisance to General Kayani. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not bother to shake hands with Pakistan’s Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar while spending nearly three hours in talks with General Kayani and ISI Chief Shuja Pasha.
While President Obama proclaimed: “We cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear,” Pakistan’s Army establishment led by General Kayani has steadfastly refused to act against the Quetta-based political leadership of the Taliban led by Mullah Omar, or the Taliban military leadership of Sirajuddin Haqqani, now operating against American forces in Afghanistan from safe havens in North Waziristan. The Pakistan military is thus prepared to even defy the Americans, to protect its Taliban “assets”. Is it, therefore, at all realistic for anyone in India to believe that a weak and fragmented political leadership in Pakistan can act against the army’s hottest favourite, the Hafiz Mohammed Saeed-led Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)?
There seems to be a total lack of understanding in India, even in high levels of the government, about why Pakistan is frantically pushing for a resumption of the “Composite Dialogue Process”. Pakistan is now becoming more and more uncomfortable about the growing and almost daily revelations of the links of its military establishment with terrorist and extremist groups on its borders with both India and Afghanistan.
The influential Pentagon-related “Stratfor” website recently noted that operatives of terrorist groups like the LeT and the Harkat-ul-Jihad Al-Islami (HUJI), which operate against India, are “able to travel, raise funds, communicate, train and plan operations with seemingly little interference. This is a stark contrast to Al-Qaeda, which is hunted, is on the run and experiencing a great deal of difficulty moving operatives, communicating, raising funds and conducting operations. The links between David Headley and his associates to current and former Pakistani military officers and government officials are likely what is affording LeT and HUJI their operational freedom”.
The almost hysterical calls for the resumption of the “Composite Dialogue” by Prime Minister Gilani, who is a protégé of the military establishment and Foreign Minister Qureishi, are meant to divert attention from the issue which is tearing Pakistan apart, which is ISI-sponsored jihadi terrorism, by claims that the lack of progress in resolving the “core issue” of Jammu and Kashmir is the root cause of the terrorism, which the Pakistan Army has unleashed on Afghanistan, India and within Pakistan itself. This is so after the present military establishment led by General Kayani has returned to old and hackneyed rhetoric of resolving Jammu and Kashmir and disowned all that was achieved in moving forward on this issue, in “back channel” talks with the Musharraf dispensation between 2005 and 2007.
The withdrawal of 30,000 troops from J and K effectively counters the Pakistan propaganda that tensions over Jammu and Kashmir could trigger a conflict. India has to emphasise that it is ISI-sponsored terrorism, not Jammu and Kashmir, which is the root cause of regional tensions.
Given the dynamics of developments within Pakistan and on its borders with Afghanistan, which have arisen primarily because of misguided resort to backing radical Islamic groups, both by the military establishment and even mainstream political parties, there is very little India can do to influence the course of events within Pakistan. It seems unlikely that General Kayani and his cohorts will be able to quell unrest and violence in Pakistan’s Pashtun heartland, even as they remain determined to back Taliban elements, which “bleed” the Americans in Afghanistan. Stability in Pakistan is not going to be promoted by getting carried away by appeals for Indian “magnanimity”. What India has to ensure is the preparedness to deal with the next terrorist strike, whether it is against a nuclear plant or IT establishment, or it involves hostage taking of schoolchildren as Chechens terrorists did in Beslan.




President sails in INS Viraat, addresses sailors
IANS
Mumbai: The Government is committed to modernising the Indian Navy in keeping with the requirements of the 21st century, President Pratibha Patil said on Wednesday.

In July was launched INS Arihant, an indigenously designed nuclear submarine that is an important milestone in the Navy's modernisation process and to ensure an equitable balance of power in the region, she said, while on board the aircraft carrier INS Viraat off Mumbai harbour during a 'day at sea'.

The President said the construction of many new ships and submarines, as also aircraft construction and acquisition projects are at various stages of completion and would help transform the Indian Navy into an even more formidable force.

"It is, indeed, very satisfying to note that a number of these naval projects are indigenous," Patil observed.

Heaping praise on the Indian Navy, the President said the men and women of the force were discharging their duties with a high degree of professionalism, courage and commitment.

The multi-dimensional responsibilities of the Navy in the Indian Ocean Region are important for the prosperity of the nation and the country has implicit faith in the capability and capacity of the maritime forces to secure the sea frontiers to provide a peaceful environment for maritime trade and other activities, she said.

In this context, she mentioned how the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks served as a grim reminder of the harm that can be perpetrated through the sea route by elements inimical to India.

Besides safeguarding the domestic sea frontiers, the Indian Navy is now also making its presence felt in the international arena against piracy, Patil noted.

"The presence of our warships in the area has instilled a sense of confidence in the shipping industry. We now have requests from other countries in the region for increased assistance in surveillance of their exclusive economic zones," Patil said.

"These increased expectations from us in maintaining the balance and security in the Indian Ocean region are a recognition of our growing stature. The strategic location of our island territories along the major sea lanes make them a stabilizing force in the region," she pointed out.

Referring to the bridges of friendship built by the Indian Navy with other maritime nations "by which our fleets have sailed and exercised in the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions to the west and the North Pacific to the East", the President Patil said that these would "strengthen bilateral relationships, enhance inter-operability and help imbibe the best practices from other navies".

Earlier, the President became the first woman supreme commander of Indian armed forces to board INS Viraat at 1100 hrs IST.

During her three-hour visit, she witnessed a flypast of Sea Harrier jets and Sea King helicopters from the vessel, which was refurbished for a year at Visakhapatnam and rejoined the fleet at its home base in Mumbai last month.

Patil's sojourn on INS Viraat came after she became the first woman to fly in an Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 MKI combat jet on November 25.

The Indian Navy will stage a Fleet Review for the President next year. This is conducted once during the tenure of every President.

The 28,000-tonne INS Viraat, a Centaur class aircraft carrier, was originally commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes on November 18, 1959. The Indian Navy acquired the platform in 1987 after it had served the Royal Navy for nearly 28 years.

INS Viraat is pivotal to projecting India's naval and air power beyond the country's borders. It can embark up to 18 combat aircraft and is capable of supporting amphibious operations and conducting anti-submarine warfare.





Sachdeva is 12 Wing chief
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 23
Air Commodore Rajeev Sachdeva took over as the Air Officer Commanding 12 Wing here today. Prior to this, he was the Chief Instructor at the Fixed Wing Training Faculty at Air Force Station, Yelahanka.

He took over from Air Commodore SRK Nair, who has been nominated for the course at National Defence College in New Delhi. A ceremonial parade was organised to mark the change of guard.
Air Commodore Sachdeva has over 7,000 hours of military flying to his credit and has served with the IAF’s VIP Squadron. An alumnus of College of Defence Management and National Defence College, he is an Air Force Examiner and has over 7 years of instructional experience. He has visited 24 countries in the course of duty.
He had earlier commanded the 48 Squadron here, the lifeline to Jammu and Kashmir. Meanwhile, Neeta Sachdeva, a graduate from MCM DAV College, Chandigarh, took over as the president of the Air Force Wives’ Welfare Association (Local) from Geethanjali Nair.





Army NCO gets two-year jail
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 23
A general court martial (GCM) has convicted an ex-Army non-commissioned officer on charges of corruption and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment.

Havaldar Mam Chand of Military Hospital, Jalandhar, had retired from service when his case went for trial and had to be recalled from retirement under provisions of the Army Act.
The accused was tried on five charges pertaining to corruption. He was convicted on three charges and acquitted of the remaining two.
The General Officer Commanding, 7 Infantry Division, had convened the GCM with Col VV Bhaskar as the presiding officer. The court had assembled at Kapurthala on June 8 and the trial concluded yesterday.





MoD lets tainted firms join trials
Manu Pubby Posted online: Thursday , Dec 24, 2009 at 0514 hrs
New Delhi : After months of deadlock that stalled the Army’s modernisation plans, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has given the go-ahead for blacklisted firms to participate in trials to kickstart procurement of five vital defence systems. Trials have been cleared for 155 mm towed guns, artillery shells and light vehicles and rifles for special forces.

As reported first by The Indian Express, seven firms were blacklisted earlier this year following the arrest of former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chairman Sudipta Ghosh. As a result, several procurement were put on

hold. The Army Chief subsequently made requests to at least allow trials in cases where the tainted firms were contenders.

While trials have been allowed in specific cases based on advice from the Law Ministry and the Central Vigilance Commission, the MoD has said that no contracts will be awarded until the firms have been cleared by the CBI.

“The Army Chief had made specific requests that trials should be held as they will take time. The Law Ministry and CVC agreed with the suggestion that trial process can continue in multi-vendor cases but no contracts will be signed till the CBI case is cleared,” said a top MoD official.

Sources said the decision was taken last week, and the Army has already issued orders for trials. The first trial will be held in February for the estimated $-2 billion order to procure 400 much-needed 155 mm artillery guns. The two contenders for the contract are Singapore Technologies (which had been blacklisted) and UK-based BAE Systems.

But another crucial tender to procure over 100 light howitzers for deployment in mountainous border regions adjoining China and Pakistan continues to be on hold as the only contender is Singapore Technologies. “The decision (to allow trials) is only for multi-vendor cases,” the official said. “The light howitzer contract is on hold as it is a single-vendor situation.”

The Army will now also go ahead with trials for artillery ammunition and armoured fighting vehicle tank protection systems — in both, another blacklisted firm, Israeli Military Industries (IMI), was a contender.

Two other contracts for light-weight assault rifles and light strike vehicles for special forces — for both, Singapore Technologies is a contender — will also go ahead with trials.






The jihadi nexus in Pakistan

G Parthasarathy

Defence Minister AK Antony announced recently that the Government is withdrawing two divisions, comprising 30,000 troops, from Jammu & Kashmir. This announcement followed a reduction in infiltration of ISI-backed jihadis across the Line of Control and a determined effort by the State Government led by Mr Omar Abdullah to expand, train and equip the police to deal with terrorist violence, especially in urban areas.

There now appears to have been a change in instructions from across the LoC to the separatist leadership on how the fight for ‘azadi’ has to be carried forward. The predominant emphasis on jihad has been set aside for the present. The aim now is to seek opportunities to mobilise people by hurling baseless allegations of atrocities, excesses and even rape against the armed forces. The incident at Shopian involving the mysterious deaths of two young women appears a classical example of mobilisation through hysteria and disinformation.

The announcement of troop reductions also addresses the growingly aggressive anti-Indian propaganda unleashed by even normally restrained Pakistani political leaders like President Asif Ali Zardari and influential academics like Ahmed Rashid, claiming that the Pakistani Army cannot deploy more troops on its borders with Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, because of an Indian “threat” on its eastern border. Pakistan asserts that unless the United States, the European Union and China join hands to force India to the negotiating table and mediate and guarantee a resolution to the Jammu & Kashmir issue, the Americans cannot expect the Pakistani Army to deploy enough troops to confront the Taliban.

These developments are taking place at a time when the Pakistani military establishment has successfully cornered Mr Zardari and his close associates by manipulating events to lead the Supreme Court to declare the National Reconciliation Ordinance, under which the present political dispensation was elected, as unconstitutional. A shaken Mr Zardari is now finding his close associates like Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, his PPP and MQM supporters in Sind, and even his own Principal Secretary Salman Farooqui coming under pressure, with threats of arrest.

The Army has repeatedly made it clear that it will not yield ground on its control of issues of national security and relations with the US, India and Afghanistan. Sensing that Mr Zardari was attempting to clip its wings by using the American aid legislation to curb its powers, the Army has hit back by mobilising Right-wing opinion to claim that Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are being eroded by American meddling.

A rattled Obama Administration has responded with Sen John Kerry and others paying obeisance to Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not bother to shake hands with Pakistan’s Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar while spending nearly three hours in talks with Gen Kayani and ISI Chief Shuja Pasha. While Mr Obama has proclaimed, “We cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear,” Gen Kayani has steadfastly refused to act against the Quetta-based political leadership of the Taliban led by Mullah Omar, or the Taliban military leadership of Sirajuddin Haqqani, now operating against American forces in Afghanistan from safe havens in North Waziristan.

The Pakistani Army is thus prepared to even defy the Americans to protect its Taliban ‘assets’. Is it, therefore, realistic for anyone in India to believe that a weak and fragmented political leadership in Pakistan can act against the Army’s hottest favourite — the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba led by Hafiz Mohammad Saeed?

There seems to be a total lack of understanding in India, even in high levels of the Government, about why Pakistan is frantically pushing for a resumption of the ‘Composite Dialogue Process’. Pakistan is now becoming increasingly uncomfortable about the growing and almost daily revelations of the links of its military establishment with terrorist and extremist groups on its borders with both India and Afghanistan.

The influential Pentagon-related Stratfor Website recently noted that operatives of terrorist groups like the LeT and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, which operate against India, are “able to travel, raise funds, communicate, train and plan operations with seemingly little interference. This is a stark contrast to Al Qaeda, which is hunted, on the run and experiencing a great deal of difficulty moving operatives, communicating, raising funds and conducting operations. The links between David Coleman Headley and his associates to current and former Pakistani military officers and Government officials are likely what is affording LeT and HuJI their operational freedom”.

The almost hysterical calls for resumption of the Composite Dialogue by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who is a protégé of the military establishment, and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, are meant to divert attention from the real issue which is tearing Pakistan apart, which is ISI-sponsored jihadi terrorism, by claims that lack of progress in resolving the ‘core issue’ of Jammu & Kashmir is the root cause of all the terrorism that the Pakistani Army has unleashed on Afghanistan, India and within Pakistan itself.

This, after the present military establishment led by Gen Kayani has returned to old and hackneyed rhetoric on resolving Jammu & Kashmir and disowned all that was achieved in moving forward on this issue through back-channel talks with the Musharraf dispensation between 2005 and 2007. The withdrawal of 30,000 troops from Jammu & Kashmir effectively counters the Pakistan propaganda. India has to emphasise that it is ISI-sponsored terrorism, and not Jammu & Kashmir, which is the root cause of regional tensions.

Given the dynamics of the developments within Pakistan, particularly on its borders with Afghanistan, which have arisen primarily because of backing radical Islamic groups, both by the military establishment and mainstream political parties, there is very little India can do to influence the course of events within Pakistan.

It seems unlikely that Gen Kayani and his cohorts will be able to quell unrest and violence in Pakistan’s Pashtun heartland, even as they remain determined to back Taliban elements that bleed the Americans in Afghanistan. Stability in Pakistan is not going to be promoted by getting carried away by appeals for Indian magnanimity. What India has to ensure is preparedness to deal with the next terrorist strike, whether it is against a nuclear or IT establishment or involves hostage taking of schoolchildren as the Chechens terrorists did in Beslan.





Defence ministry nod for artillery trials
December 23rd, 2009 - 7:42 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) The defence ministry has given the go-ahead for trials of 155mm towed guns in which blacklisted armaments firm Singapore Technologies Kinetics is the sole contender in the fray, an official said Wednesday. However, a deal will be signed only after the probe in the corruption case against the company is over.
The development is important in the context of the Indian Army’s crucial artillery modernisation programme.

“Acting on specific request from the army, defence ministry has given the nod for the trials of 155mm towed guns,” said a senior Indian Army officer, requesting anonymity.

The Indian Army’s 23-year wait for new artillery guns had got longer with the blacklisting of the Singapore firm on corruption charges.

Singapore Technologies was one of seven firms the defence ministry blacklisted June 5 after its name cropped up in a case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chief Sudipto Ghosh under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Singapore Technologies is also a contender for a Rs.80 billion order for 400 155mm/52-calibre towed artillery guns and the manufacture in this country of another 1,100 howitzers through the transfer of technology route.

However, the official added: “The contract will be signed only after the CBI probe in the corruption case is over.”

The Indian Army had purchased 410 Bofors 155mm howitzers in 1986 but the deal was mired in corruption charges and the name of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was dragged in. The Supreme Court eventually found no wrongdoing but the taint stuck to Bofors, as a result of which it was not considered for the new order.

Corruption charges also knocked out the South African Denel gun, leaving Singapore Technologies as the sole contender in the fray.

The Indian Army is now left with just about half of its 410 guns, with normal wear and tear and cannibalisation accounting for the remaining howitzers.






Will Army Chief punish right hand man?
23 Dec 2009, 0847 hrs IST
In what comes as big trouble for the Indian Army Chief's right hand man -- Lt General Avadesh Prakash, who has been indicted in a land scam, the Judge Advocate General recommended court martial. As the army's Military Secretary, Prakash is one of eight principal staff officers to the Army chief. He reportedly used his official position to further the interests of a businessman in what's known as the Sukhna Land Scam.

The final decision rests in the hands of the Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, even as the Defence Ministry has sought a full report on the case. Earlier, General Deepak Kapoor requested the media not to pass judgment on senior officers of the Army as it brings reduces the image of the Army. He had said, "I would request the media not to pass judgement on very senior officers of the Army as it brings the image of the Army down."

The case came to light after the Army granted a no objection certificate or an NoC to business groups and a private education trust to acquire a 71-acre tea estate adjacent to the Sukna military station. An MoU was subsequently signed between the Sukna station commander and four private entities. One of the officers indicted in relation to the case - Lt-Gen Avadhesh Prakash is one of the eight principal aides to General Deepak Kapoor at the Army HQ, who could now be court marshaled.

The Army, which has remained evasive, had on Tuesday (December 22) night issued a statement saying that it would comment once it obtains a detailed report and subsequently take a decision. The statement read, "The full report is yet to reach Army HQ and even if it does we cannot disclose the results till a final decision is taken."

Meanwhile, the army reacted to the Sukhna scam case. In an official statement the army today said the court of inquiry has been completed and received by the army HQ today. The proceedings of the Inquiry will be analyzed as per the existing standard operating procedures in accordance with the military law.

The Army also reiterated that it is amongst the few organizations which is very sensitive to any irregularities.

The judge advocate of the Eastern Command has indicted four Generals in the army land scam case and recommends action against Lt. Gen Avadesh Prakash, administrative action against Lt. Gen Rath and Major General Ramesh Halgalli, and a court martial against Major General PC Sen. But despite the indictment, Lt. Gen Avadesh Prakash has been attending office and also, important ceremonial functions. The JAG report indicting the generals has been forwarded to army HQ but is yet to reach the defence ministry.







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