Army Chief`s letter leak `anti-national`: Antony

AK Antony said, “We have requested the Investigation Bureau to investigate the matter and once the report is out we will take further action.”

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: As tensions between Army Chief General VK Singh and the government escalated over the leak of his official letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday assured the nation of very strict action against the culprit.

Addressing a press conference here, Antony said, “We have requested the Investigation Bureau (IB) to investigate the matter and once the report is out we will take further action.”

Assuring of strict action against the perpetrator, the Defence Minister said, “We want to know the truth and will go to the root of the matter. The leaking of the letter is an anti-national act; no patriotic person would do this as it will only help our enemies.”

“We will take the strongest action as per the Indian law against whosoever is involved,” Antony further said.

VK Singh’s confidential letter to the PMO about the country’s defence preparedness was leaked to the media.

The media leak of the letter came on top of an acrimony between the Army Chief and the government since early this week over his media interview in which he had claimed that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore by a retired Lt Gen for swinging a sub-standard defence deal.

Commenting on General VK Singh’s reported letter to CBI, which calls for a probe against Lt General Suhag, Antony said, “Some time back, the Army Chief told me about receiving a complaint against a Lt General. I told him if there is anything specific, please take action.”

Reports, Thursday, claimed that the Army Chief has sent a letter written by Trinamool MP Ambika Banerjee (addressed to the Defence Minister AK Antony and Prime Minister) to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which calls for a probe against Lt General Suhag.

Importantly, Lt Gen Suhag commands the Dimapur-based 3 Corps and is in line - after Lt General Bikram Singh- to be Army Chief.

The letter, in question, was written in May 2011 where the Trinamool MP had alleged `procurement scams` in the “secretive” Special Frontier Force (SFF), when Lt Gen Dalbir Singh was its Inspector General. Notably, the SFF is under the administrative control of the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), which is country’s premiere foreign spy agency.

In his letter, Banerjee had named several Army officers, including a former Army Chief, who allegedly received huge kickbacks for defence procurements and amassed “huge” disproportionate assets.

Banerjee also named the middlemen, who allegedly dealt with these procurements. According to the Trinamool MP, the alleged pay-offs were made for the purchase of night-vision devices, communication systems, weapons as well as parachutes.

The Army Chief’s ‘letter bomb’ reached the CBI headquarters barely a day after a team from the agency visited his office to begin a “comprehensive” probe into the bribery charges made by him against Lt Gen Tejinder Singh.

In his letter to the central probe agency, Gen VK Singh had asked the CBI to take Banerjee’s allegations seriously. Another interesting aspect of this new development is the timing of Gen VK Singh’s letter to the CBI as a Delhi Court is likely to hear today a defamation case filed by Lieutenant General (Retired) Tejinder Singh`s in which he has accused Army Chief General VK Singh, and four senior Army officers of criminal conspiracy to defame him.

General Singh had in past opposed the appointment of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh as one of the Army Commanders while the Ministry of Defence backed it.

When quizzed by reporters, the Trinamool MP confirmed that he had actually written a letter in this regard to the Defence Ministry in 2011.