» News » Gen VK Singh sings a new song: Resist civilian supremacy if not just and fair

Gen VK Singh sings a new song: Resist civilian supremacy if not just and fair

By Snehesh Alex Philip
Last updated on: June 05, 2012 17:05 IST
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Five days after retiring as Chief of Army Staff, Gen VK Singh on Tuesday affirmed his belief in in civilian supremacy over the military "rooted in justice and fairness", and said any violation of this "must be resisted".

Civilian supremacy must always be rooted in the fundamental principles of justice, merit and fairness, he said, adding that any violation of this must be resisted "if we are to protect the institutional integrity of our armed forces".

Reminded that the ethos of the armed forces was to obey orders of superiors, the former Chief said the ethos was to obey "correct" orders. "If the order is wrong, stand up and say that the order is wrong."

In his first interview since retiring on May 31, Gen Singh acknowledged that his last months in office were controversial and "eventful".

But all the controversies were "manufactured" and there were "all sorts of allegations, from implied coups to communal nonsense", he told PTI.

He cited two media reports in this regard, one hinting at an implied coup because of troop movements towards Delhi in January and the leakage of his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh complaining about lack of defence preparedness.

"The coup story was the most bizarre thing" that happened during his tenure of 26 months, he said, adding that there was no such thing as "unauthorised troop movement" in the army.

That the leak of the letter was "motivated and aimed at discrediting me, is now quite obvious", he said.

The inquiry into the leak must not be "covered up" and the person behind it should be "nailed" because its amounts to treason, the former chief said.

Asked if he had any regrets about the way he had handled issues during his tenure as Army Chief, Singh replied, "none".

"No regrets at all, no regrets, no rancour, no feeling of dismay, nothing. You have to take things as they come," he asserted.

"I have done my job as honestly and sincerely as I could. It is not for me to pass judgement on my tenure. However, as an individual I am at ease with myself".

Describing his equation with Defence Minister A K Antony as "extremely good", Singh said the working relationship between the ministry of defence and the Army headquarters was never an issue with "all lines of communication being wide open".

He strongly defended his decision to take the issue of his date of birth to the Supreme Court, saying, "I fought this injustice with all options that I had available to me within the constraints of the service and as a citizen of India."

Asked why he had accepted his promotion to the post of a corps commander on the basis of his year of birth being 1950, and not 1951 as claimed by him, the former chief said this was a misunderstanding in the minds of the people.

Promotions in the army are not based on date of birth but on seniority fixed in the Indian Military Academy and based on merit. Three years of remaining service was required for the post of corps commander and he had that on the basis of his date of birth in either 1950 or 1951.

He said the issue of his age was raked up in 2006 and "frankly at first I had no clue to suggest it was a motivated attempt to tamper with my records".

Singh took a dig at some retired Generals who had been critical of him and accused them of making wild allegations.

"They have a platform to air their views in a free country and that is fine with me. But it is important for them to stick with the truth", he said.

Defending the show-cause notice issued by him to Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag of the 3 Corps for which he has been accused of being vindictive, Singh said that "extremely serious allegations" against this intelligence unit's commanding officer had surfaced quite some time back.

Complaints against the officer were received from various quarters, including a senior Naval officer of C-in-C's rank. He had then spoken to the Corps Commander asking him to expedite enquiry but no action was taken.

In December last "this same group got caught red-handed when they broke into a civilian's house and behaved in a manner which besmirches the image of the army completely", he said adding that even then the local formation was refusing to take any serious action.

The "final straw" was the phone call from the Assam chief minister asking us not to shield anyone. The matter is now going to be dealt by the new chief.

Asked about the new Chief Gen Bikram Singh's comments that he wants to look ahead and not behind, the former chief said that it was for the new person at the helm to take decisions and guide the Indian army.

"I wish him well and if he ever needs my advice, I am always there for him. I am sure he will do a great job", he said.

To a question on whether he intended to join the anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev, Singh said that he was deeply concerned about issues facing the country, including corruption "that is self destructing the nation".

"But I have just retired and need time to reflect, ponder and introspect. Future is wide open and as of now I have no plans," he said.

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Snehesh Alex Philip in New Delhi
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