Army procurement issue gets murkier

Army Chief General VK Singh has asked the CBI to probe against a serving Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: After alleging that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing a deal and exposing the gaps in the country’s military preparedness, Army Chief General VK Singh now want a probe against a serving Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag.

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.

However, he was quoted as saying that though he got a response from the Ministry of Defence that the allegations would be probed, he never actually heared of any inquiry in this regard.
Bribery allegations & leaked report

The shocking development comes at a time when the CBI is already probing bribery allegations by General VK Singh claiming that he was offered a bribe for clearing sub-standard vehicles for the Army. It also holds significance in light of a leaked report written by the Army Chief to the Prime Minister`s Office claiming shortcomings in defence preparedness.

Pressure on PM to act

The bribery allegations by Gen VK Singh and his leakage of his letter written to the PMO about the country’s defence preparedness has evoked sharp reactions from the government as well as former Army officers.

In light of these intriguing developments, pressure is now building on the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to intervene in the matter.

Sources also claim that the government will wait till March 30 giving Defence Minister AK Antony time to collect evidence related to the matter. The other view is that the government may also ask the General to go on leave rather than sacking him.

Prime Minister is also expected to take some Opposition leaders in confidence before initiating any action in this case.

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