INDIAN ARMY: AN UNNERVING COMMAND
By Zaheerul Hassan
A third generation 59 years old General VK Singh took over the command of the second largest that may not be second efficient Army or second best but could be the second most plagued army of the world. The lower ranks of Indian army must have taken a long breath after departure of the former Chief, General Deepak Kapoor. Most of the time former chief remained busy creating war hysteria against neighbouring countries that got him involved in internal and external politics instead of commanding army. As a result Indian Army drifted from its professionalism to other unbecoming activities. Over the years, the confidence of the soldiers over their leadership has been dwindling because of their mall practices, raping women, involvement in sex scandals, becoming party to land mafia groups and involvement in financial embezzlements. Thus, new general while taking to the media on the very first day announced the operation clean-up and said, “We want to set our own culture right… improve the internal health `of the organisation… the Army value system has to be different from the civil society”.
It’s true that a soldier always feels pride over reaching the top but at the same time responsibilities increases manifolds. General VP Singh might be determined to throw away criminal elements but at the same time should be ready to face antagonism from the corrupt lot of the army. The elimination of corruption from rogue Indian army would definitely be proved uphill tasks for the new Chief since he has to restore the shattered confidence of junior lot and improve upon the deteriorated army image.
Reportedly, he has also made it clear that how he would go about correcting the image of Army. In this context, General VK Singh is very well aware of the facts that more than 20 senior officers (Brigadier or above) faced charges of corruption or moral turpitude in the past three years or so. Only few have been punished and some of them have been jailed. Deaf former chief also helped the culprits in escaping from the cases.
The general masses, retired and serving force’s lot is worried over upward moving of corruption graph in Indian army particularly in last three years or so. In this connection, some senior officers have also been found guilty by the Army Court of Inquiries for liquour scam, dry ration scam, frozen meat scam, accepting gratification for purchases and even for molesting a woman officer.
Interestingly , General VK Singh, in his earlier capacity as GOC-in-C of the Eastern Command, who had ordered the inquiry into the Darjeeling land scam, which recommended the summary dismissal of the Military Secretary (MS) Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash. Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali, Lt Gen PK Rath and Maj Gen P. Sen have also been earmarked for stern disciplinary actions in the cases of revealed corruption.
In the recent past, Maj Gen AK Lal, was also dismissed after having been found guilty of sexually assaulting a junior woman officer. The woman’s parents, based in Dehradun, had lodged a written complaint against the Major General to the then Army chief Gen JJ Singh.
The point to be noted here that year, 2007 in the defence circle is also being memorized as year of corruption. During the mentioned year, two Lieutenant Generals S.K. Dahiya and S.K. Sahni, two Major Generals Anand Swaroop and SP Sinha and more than 50 juniors’ officers were charged in separate cases of irregularities. Again in 2007, the CBI sorted out Maj Gen Anand Kapoor for possessing disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs five crore. In another case Major General Gur Iqbal Singh Multani, found guilty in smuggling of large quantities of defence liquor to his hometown. He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment, stripped of his rank and dismissed from service by a military court.
In July 2008 Captain Poonam Kaur of the Army Supply Corps (ASC) alleged her three colleague officers for mentally and sexually harassment. She also narrated that she had been confined illegally when she resisted their advances. On her complaint, the army authorities constituted a court of inquiry whereby all three officers denied the allegations. However later on the alleged officers have been declared clean and complainant lady officer was convicted on at least 20 counts, including leveling false charges against her senior officers. Indian Army authority has dismissed the lady officer instead taking actions against the male officers. The irony of the case was that the court was headed by a male officer who became party to the alleged officers
In December 2009 reportedly a fire had broken out in Indian occupied Kashmir near Pakistani Balakot sector Poonch. Brigadier General 16 corps, Brigadier Guredeep Singh and local troop’s commanders tried to hush up the matter while declaring; it was an accidental fire that was caused due to dry grass on both sides. In fact it was the deliberate attempt made by local Indian troops to hide out their illegal cutting and selling out of trees. Sources revealed that Indian Brigadier and other local officers are earning millions on the name of forest fire. Such type of narrated fire incidents are occurring as routine all along the Kashmir border to earn handsome amount illegally from the timber mafia of IOK.
Reportedly, Research Analysis Wing and Central Bureau of Intelligence (RAW and CBI) extensively found engaged in blackmailing, bribing, liquor supplying , drug trafficking and offering girls to attract officers of all ranks for completion of their malicious activities against seniors officers, launching them for sabotaging regional peace, and targeting minorities. There are reports that some professional officers starting alleging RAW and other intelligence agencies for unnecessary and illegal interferences in command affairs of the units and formations. The tendency of interference are creating scary effects and resultantly RAW and CBI have become the symbol of terror amongst the troops. Lt Col Prohit is one of the live examples of employment of serving officer against minorities besides employing him against moderate Hindus. In fact, Hindu extremist Shiva Shina Party of Ball Thakray has deep interaction in the extremists Hindus serving in intelligence agencies and armed forces.
Certainly, new Indian Army Chief has to minimize the role and influence of intelligence agencies in the armed forces for restoring confidence in the forces. He should also ask her government to improve upon the pay package of poor soldiers those are employed on internal security against Maoist and in other areas of the country. In this connection, General Singh should learn from neighbouring Chief of Army Staff, General Kayani for uplifting of lives of the soldiers. Moreover General VK, if serious in restoring of regional peace, improvement of Indian Army image, restoring the confidence of his under command soldiers, cleaning out the immorality and materialistic approach from the troops minds, then he has to take the steps like, (one) to change the Indian doctrine of aggression against regional countries and minorities,(two) confining the soldiers in their respective area of sphere, and immediately forgoing with the policies of his predecessor.
Talking to a group of journalists in his office at the South Block in the evening of taking over, VK Singh also stressed, “Our core values, our ethos and tradition will receive due attention”. He further elaborated, “An internal audit will matter a lot to me”. The General identified core values, selflessness, credentials, norms and professionalism of the Army and the strengthening of these. However, some sources also confirmed that extremists opposing forces present in the nerve center of RAW have already made plan to eliminate the General in case he goes for crack down against the corrupt elements of Rogue Indian Army. At the end, I will appreciate the Indian chief aim of eliminating corruption from his army but at the same time should also ask his government to resolve regional conflicts like Kashmir dispute, water and territorial conflicts with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Zaheerul Hassan is a regular writer for www.oly.com.pk He is doing his M Phil in International Relations from National Defence University Islamabad.