Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the newspaper report as "alarmist" and defence Minister A.K.Antony, who cam in support of the army, asked `all to honour the respect and dignity of the armed forces.` Even the Indian Army Chief, who was keeping silent, finally reacted calling the story "absolutely stupid" from Kathmandu where he was attending an international seminar.
controversy arose because Singh claimed that the Indian Ministry of
Defence was retiring him a year earlier, following the date of birth
(May 10, 1950) filled in by him in his application forms while joining
the army. Singh maintained that his actual year of birth was 1951, which
would give him a nine-month extension from May-end this year, and thus
dragged the government to the Supreme Court. However, he lost the legal
battle there and will, hence, retire in May 2012. The scandal caused
great embarrassment to India and its army, but it now appears, it nearly
toppled the cart of Indian democracy.
The reported coup attempt
coincides with the date (January 16) that Singh took his case to the
Supreme Court. A belated exposé made by the Indian Express reveals that
fearful of being sacked for his effrontery, General Singh tried to
pre-empt the possible extreme disciplinary action and mobilised an
entire unit of Mechanised Infantry, with its Russian-made Armoured
Fighting Vehicles, carried on 48 tank transporters from its base in
Hisar (Haryana) as a part of the 33rd Armoured Division (which is a part
of one corps, a strike formation based in Mathura) in the direction of
the capital that was 150km away.
While the Indian politicians, babus and spooks tried to gather their
wits to deal with this unexpected development, reports came in of yet
another military movement “towards” Delhi. This unit was identified as a
large element of the airborne 50 para brigade based at Agra. Like all
coup d’états, this ominous troop movement towards the capital was in the
dead of the night. The government posted lookouts and the Minister for
Defence, who had no clue of the march of India’s crack army units, which
are an essential component of its much touted “cold start” doctrine to
overawe Pakistan through a “blitzkrieg” towards Delhi, issued orders to
slow down the traffic by deploying traffic police to check every
vehicle. Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma was asked to cut short his
visit to Malaysia. He returned post-haste and summoned Lieutenant
General A.K. Chaudhary, Director General Military Operations, to seek
The army’s explanation that it was all a simple
fog-time exercise was viewed with scepticism at the highest level.
Questions were raised, as to “why was the well set protocol that any
military movement, at any time, in the national capital region has to be
pre-notified to the Ministry of Defence, not followed? Did the units
have to come so far towards Delhi? Why was the IAF not informed?” But my
question is: why was the story kept under wraps for 11 weeks?
fact is that during the 65 years of India’s independence, its army
stayed absolutely out of politics, yet many Indians are not satisfied
with the present government. Perhaps, none of the political forces in
India will support a military coup, but last year’s broad
anti-corruption campaign and the deplorable results of the Congress at
the regional elections of 2011-2012 indicate that the position of the
central government has considerably weakened, and at the best it can
hold out until the next elections that are planned for 2014.
this was revealed in the course of scandals associated with the name of
General Singh, that India is facing a significant dilemma now: how to
combine its claim for regional leadership with the necessity to live
within its means, as the growth rate of the economy is slowing down, and
the exchange rate of national currency is falling. India is the world’s
largest importer of weapons and that reflects its geopolitical
ambitions. Simultaneously, in his recent letter to PM Manmohan, General
Singh described the deplorable state of the Indian army. “Where there’s
smoke, there’s fire”; India should come clean about the suspected coup
By S M Hali
The writer is a political and defence analyst.
Thank You For Reading.