Indian Army is completely apolitical: Former chiefs

Eight ex-Army Chiefs on Friday rejected Gen(retd) VK Singh`s statement that Army pays money to ministers in Jammu and Kashmir.

Updated: Sep 27, 2013, 22:09 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Eight ex-Army Chiefs on Friday rejected Gen(retd) VK Singh`s statement that Army pays money to ministers in Jammu and Kashmir.

The reaction came in the backdrop of a sensational remark made by the former-Army chief VK Singh that the Army was paying money to certain ministers in J&K to bring stability in the state.

Allegedly, a controversial Military Intelligence (MI) unit set – Technical Services Division (TSD) – was set up by General VK Singh in May 2010. The TSD’s existence came to light in March last year when it was alleged that the unit had tapped the phones of Defence Ministry officials.

Rejecting all allegations that Army pays money to political parties, the former-chiefs said, "No funds ever provided by Army to any politician or political party in their tenures nor would they have allowed that."

"Army is completely apolitical," the chiefs said in a joint statement issued here.

They are Generals OP Malhotra, SF Rodrigues, Shankar Roychowdhury, Ved Prakash Malik, S Padamanabhan, NC Vij, JJ Singh and Deepak Kapoor.

However, General VK Singh had later clarified that this money was not a bribe and suggested that it was given under Operation `Sadbhavna` of the force towards winning the hearts and minds of the people.

He also said that the unit (TSD) was not set up by him and was established by the Army "at the behest of the National Security Advisor after the dastardly attack on Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists who were subsequently labelled by the media as `non-state actors`".

"TSD was created as a capability mentioned in the operational directive of the Defence Minister and set up following the due process of procedures existing in the Army as part of intelligence units under the DGMI," General Singh said.

Earlier, on the government’s charge that Singh’s statements had caused “enormous damage” to India’s Kashmir policy, VK Singh had said, “I can go on oath and say what good work has been done (by the TSD) for Kashmir’s grass-roots democracy. These angles are wrong.”

Singh had said he would be the last person to do anything that could be inimical to the country’s interests.

He had made it clear that the TSD had only implemented the mandate given to it by the defence minister, refusing to elaborate on the tasks assigned to the covert unit.

“Everything cannot be revealed…let’s leave it at that,” Singh had said.

Asked to comment on why was a covert unit funding stability projects in the conflict-torn state, Singh had said anything with a “sarkaari” tag was viewed with suspicion.

“Same goes for sadbhavna or goodwill projects undertaken by the Army. If you want work to be done it has to be done covertly,” he said, stressing that politicians were not bribed.