Coup story was malafide, orchestrated: Army Chief

General VK Singh said the story that suggested a coup bid on the basis of movement of two key Army units has been "blown out of proportion".

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Army Chief General VK Singh on Friday said the story that suggested a coup bid on the basis of movement of two key Army units towards the capital has been "blown out of proportion".

"The story starts in January. Any journalist worth his name will say there is no story in it... it was blown out of proportion as a scoop," Gen Singh told a TV channel in an interview.

Hitting out at a leading newspaper for running a story in April that claimed the Raisina Hills, the seat of the Indian government, was "spooked" on January 16 after the troop movement, the Army Chief said his side of the story was not taken.

"The story came as a headline by a respected newspaper. The story was dead. My side of the story was not taken. It was orchestrated. It is malafide," said Gen Singh, who is retiring on May 31.

The newspaper story had said the Hisar-based Mechanised Infantry unit and elements from the 50 Para Brigade in Agra moved towards the capital on the night of January 16, without following the standard operating procedure of informing the defence ministry in advance.

The report said since this happened when Gen Singh was waging a judicial battle against the government over his age row, it created unease and suspicion in Delhi. But the paper left it short of calling it a coup bid.

The Army Chief further said that someone within the government must have been behind the leak of the confidential letter he had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apprising him of shortcomings in India’s defence preparedness.

And that “the whole thing (about the leak) was geared to give the impression that it was V K Singh who was leaking it”, he told the channel.

“In Army, we don’t do things like this. It is not our culture...It is a treasonable act. Let us find out who leaked it,” he said. “I am quite sure and let me tell you this my Army, the 1.3-million Army, is sure that their chief will never leak a letter like that. That’s the surety I have.”

Gen Singh also cast doubts on the way the Supreme Court — and a judge on the bench — treated his petition on the date of birth controversy.

“I know what has happened in the Supreme Court,” Gen Singh said. “I will not delve into it. Some point of time, later on, I think I will put it down as to what exactly information we had on how things have gone on. The only thing I can say is that if at all a very senior Supreme Court judge says ‘Blow with the wind’, I actually rue this fact that I went to the court... If all of us are told to ‘blow with the wind’ then we will all become muggers, we will all become corrupt. Wind is going that way. Are we going to go that way? That is why it was the end of it. When my lawyer asked me I said just withdraw. Enough. I don’t want to move (the court),” he said.

While hearing the plea Justice RM Lodha had commented: “We want to ensure (that) as Chief of Army you continue to serve the country as you did for 38 years. This verdict should not come in your way. Wise men are those who move with the wind. We take pride in having (an) officer like you. Credit must go to you.”

(With Agency inputs)