In an intriguing interview, general Singh revealed that since independence Army has paid Jammu and Kashmir ministers in order to ensure stability in the region and get “certain job done”. He even claimed that the chief minister Omar Abdullah and the defence ministry have been fully aware of the “system”.
Former Army chief general VK Singh has been held in dock. In an intriguing interview to the English news channel, general Singh revealed that since independence Army has paid Jammu and Kashmir ministers in order to ensure stability in the region and get “certain job done”.
In his words, the practice was “nothing new”. “The Army transfers money to all the ministers in Jammu and Kashmir… there are various things to be done. As part of the stabilising factor in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of the activities to be organised,” he told the host of the show.
He even claimed that the chief minister Omar Abdullah and the defence ministry have been fully aware of the “system”. ‘Ask the government why so much money has gone into J&K since independence,” he exhorted.
Saying that he can furnish the records of who was paid how much by the Army and why, he challenged the J&K CM to deny the fact. “If as a chief minister he doesn’t know, he is not running the state,” he said.
He even thwarted the reports that appeared in the English Newspaper Indian Express alleging Singh of transferring Rs 1.19 crore for destabilising the J&K government. Calling the newspaper suitable for going to the “waste bin” he said that the reports were mere an attempt to tarnish his career. He said that he did not consider those as patriotic who said that Army was trying to engineer a coup in Delhi and topple the J&K government.
Singh laughed off the allegation that the Technical Service Division was formed by him for the task. Moreover, he called the agriculture minister Ghulam Hassan Mir a unifying factor in J&K. “He is a very patriotic man as far as I know,” he said.
As for the work done by Army for ensuring peace and stability in the state, he raised the formation and running of Kashmir Premier League cricket tournament as an example. “There are various things to be done as part of the stabilising factor in Jammu and Kashmir. Who funded the KPL? Was it the Jammu and Kashmir government that funded it? Was it the honourable chief minister who funded it? It was the Army. Why was there a requirement for the Army to fund it is a different issue all together,”he said.
Meanwhile, Singh’s counter allegation has sparked a debate in the political and defence circuits of the country. While the ruling J&K party National Conference has dared to him to name the recipients, other parties like BJP and a faction of the Army is supporting him.
“It is indeed a sad and unfortunate day for the Indian nation and the Indian Army in particular that the former Army Chief is making such reckless and unsubstantiated statements”, provincial president of National Conference Devender Singh Rana said while reacting to the allegations made by General Singh.
PDP chief Farooq Abdullah demanded a CBI probe into the matter. He said that Army should not pay anybody, if this is the case it should be stopped immediately.
However, Congress mouthpiece Digvijaya Singh called it a mere ranting. He called it Singh’s mere attention diverting idea. He even questioned his quietness during his service time.
PDP spokesman Sameer Kaul said “I think it is about time that one asked the traditional rurals of Jammu and Kashmir state the NC as to what have been ethics in running the state and how much they have interfered with democracy on the ground.”
BJP leader Jitendra Singh supporting general Singh’s comments said that the Army has been instrumental in ensuring peace in J&K. He accused that the competitive scenario of the J&K politics has made it difficult for the army to work in the region. He said that rather being thankful to the Army for all the work, they (political parties) indulge in Army bashing which comes handy at a time when elections are near.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of BJP said if conspiracies are hatched, such statements are bound to come to the fore. Another leader from BJP, Subramaniam Swamy, commenting on the issue said that nothing happens without government sanction in the Army.
Refraining from any direct comment, Saifuddin Soz, PCC chief, had also claimed that such issues were and are controversies.
Although former Army chief general JJ Singh refrained from commenting on the issue saying that he was only aware of what was already in the media, retired brigadier V Mahalingam said that the central government is merely holding VK Singh to the dock for false reasons. He supported Singh’s comment that the Army has been paying for various works in J&K. He even raised up the issue of leaked letter written by Army Chief to the Prime Minister in the same newspaper. He questioned government’s quieteness and said “aloofness” in the matter.
Retired major general GD Bakshi too suppored Singh’s comment saying that Rs80 crore was given to Army by the government to spend on the Sadbhavana project. He said that the divisie situations in J&K had forced the Army to move forward by paying the leaders. He further added that Genral Singh has only said what people in J&K already know and what everybody in Army does and knows.
Looking at the enormity of the situation, and going by the massive support that general Singh is rendering, the UPA government may have opened pandora box. Till now, the central government has been very prompt in supporting the ridiculous allegations put on general Singh. Now is the time when it should probe the matter and check its viability.
If at all, as claimed by Singh, the central government is indulging in smear campaign against him with baseless allegations, it will have to face public ire when he receives the copy of the report through RTI and furnishes proof of his innocence.
The “reckless” ranting, as called by Singh’s critiques, will then be the darkest reality of J&K relation with the Army.