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Antony mum over army rows

January 29, 2008 21:10 IST

The confusion over the date of birth of Lieutenant-General V K Singh, heading the army's strike corps and who is in line to succeed the current chief is an internal matter, Defence Minister A K Antony said on Tuesday.

"There will be no interference by me or my ministry," Antony said, adding that the matter is being sorted out.

The minister's clarification comes in the wake of reports of the army's internal records showing two different dates of birth of the general, who is in line to take over as the next army chief in November 2009 after the retirement of the present incumbent General Deepak Kapoor.

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While the adjutant general's branch, the official record-keeper of army personnel, shows his date of birth as May 10, 1951, the military secretary's branch that oversees promotions has it as May 10, 1950.

Regardless of whichever date is taken as authentic, Singh will be the senior-most lieutenant-general to succeed Kapoor as army chief, though a year less will shorten his tenure.

The controversy has erupted, army sources said, as rival generals, who could benefit if Singh's tenure as army chief is shortened, have raised written objections.

This has led the army chief to order an enquiry into the matter.

As the army launched a probe, investigations have traced the confusion back to the time when Singh enrolled into the National Defence Academy, where he claimed his date of birth was wrongly entered as 1950 due to clerical error.

Sources said Singh then corrected the mistake and a new date of birth was entered in the AG's branch.

However, the military secretary's branch continued to go by his other date of birth and the problem is that it has been recorded in all his annual appraisal forms.

The matter came to light when Singh's promotion file was moved to the cabinet secretariat. Lt General Singh is tipped to take over as the general officer commanding-in-chief eastern army command.

The defence minister also refused to say anything on the ongoing spat between the army chief and Northern Army Commander Lt Gen H S Panag.

Defence Ministry sources said the minister had declined to interfere in the proposed shifting of Panag to the Lucknow-based central army command.

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