IB to probe Army Chief's letter leak



Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In view of the controversy over the leakage of Army Chief Gen VK Singh’s confidential letter to the PMO about the country’s defence preparedness, the government has asked the Intelligence Bureau to probe the matter.

Confirming the development, the Defence Ministry sources, Thursday, said that the Intelligence Bureau has been asked to inquire into leakage of the Army Chief's letter to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The development holds significance as the leakage of Army Chief’s letter and the bribery allegations made by him has become a major source of embarrassment for the UPA government, which is now under pressure to act.

Opposition members and former Army chiefs have also stepped up pressure on the UPA government to probe the leakage of Gen Singh’s letter to the media, describing it as a major security breach and an act of espionage inside the Army Headquarters.

Besides launching a probe into the source of the leakage of the confidential letter, a visually embarrassed government is under tremendous pressure to act and minimize the damage done to the reputation of a 1.3 million strong Indian Army.

What is further embarrassing the government is the fact the allegations and shocking exposures made by the Army Chief have come at a time when Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting the country.

The controversy came to the fore after gen Singh’s letter addressed to the PMO having specific references to the Indian Army’s lack of preparedness vis-à-vis China was leaked to the media.

In his letter, Gen Singh had pointed to several shortcomings in the country’s defence related procurements, obsolete air defence, bureaucratic hassles and shortage of ammunition and critical weaponry required to safeguard the country in the event of a war.

The letter blamed the bureaucracy for being least bothered about modernising India’s defence.

“China is unabashedly going ahead with developing infrastructure on the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR)”, but the Indian Army’s presence is “far from satisfactory”, Gen Singh wrote.

In his letter, Army Chief compared the present state of military to its situation in 1962, when it was woefully unprepared to tackle hordes of Chinese sweeping through Arunachal Pradesh, the eastern parts of J&K and considerable stretches of upper Assam.

He alleged that the Army is still ill-prepared. He stated that the government might want to believe all is well on the eastern front but the Army, aware of the ground reality, has been trying hard to get the Centre to sanction Rs 12,000 crore so that our borders with China can be strengthened and a Mountain Strike Corps set up.

But a stubborn bureaucracy has continually thwarted the army’s modernisation attempts, his letter said.

The bribery allegations made by Gen VK Singh and the leakage of his letter have evoked sharp reactions from the government as well as former Army officers.

In light of these intriguing developments, top opposition leaders and former Army Chiefs have called for a full probe into the allegations made by Gen Singh and verify the facts related to country’s defence preparedness.

They have demanded the government to find out who is leaking this confidential information to the media.

The opposition members have sought the full contents of the letter, questioning the security preparedness of the country. Expressing seriousness over the matter, several politicians have sought clarification from the government and raised doubt over the Army Chief's conduct.

In view of the controversy, 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.