Dual Lt Generals up for a duel

…the main
accusation against Suhag is that …he
was shielding the Colonel commanding the Intelligence Unit that had
indulged in the above cases of murder and dacoity….This particular Colonel faces several
other allegations, the most significant of them being narcotics
smuggling on the Indo-Myanmar border…

Indian Army succession battles are becoming more and more frequent and the allegations are getting more and more serious.

The concern now is about possible links to illicit drug trade running from the North-Western border of the country to the North-East. We hope that the Supreme Court will clean up the mess so that the integrity of the Army is not compromised. The last thing we want is Mexico like drug warfare breaking out and the complete destruction of civil society.
Here is where the concern comes in and is reflected in the ongoing
legal battle between two of the senior most Lieutenant Generals of the
Indian Army—Dalbir Singh Suhag and Ravi Dastane. 

Recently, there was a
controversy about the tearing hurry in which the appointment of the
former as Chief of the Indian Army was announced by the UPA government
after it was virtually voted out. 

Strangely enough this appointment was
confirmed by the acting defence minister of NDA government the day he
took charge and was re-confirmed in the Rajya Sabha, though a writ
petition filed by Lt Gen Dastane against the seniority of Lt. Gen Suhag
was pending in the Supreme Court. 

The Apex Court has finally come around to hearing the petition in the
second week of July. It was to have been heard on May 2, but the
ministry of defence (MoD) under A.K. Antony got it deferred to September
which would have rendered the case infructuous
and facilitated the
implementation of the ‘line of succession’ drawn up by the UPA and
adhered to by the NDA government without let or hindrance. In the
event, Suhag would become Army Chief on 1st August 2014 and Lt Gen
Dastane would superannuate on August 31. 

Dastane’s case hinges on the actions taken by General Bikram Singh
who took over as the CoAS from General V.K. Singh on June 1, 2012.  It
is alleged that a cabal of bureaucrats in the MoD, purportedly having
links with the arms lobby and drug traffickers, is hell bent on ensuring
the status quo ante. 

Inter alia Dastane’s writ petition points out that
the MoD had put up only two names to the Appointments Committee of the
Cabinet to fill the vacancy of two Army Commanders in the summer of

According to rules, four names should have been submitted which
would have automatically included Dastane’s as well. Suhag was then
under Discipline & Vigilance (DV) Ban and therefore not eligible to
be promoted.
Had Dastane got his rightful promotion as Army Commander
then, he would have been the one in line to succeed Bikram Singh as the
CoAS based on the principle of seniority and unblemished service

The DV Ban imposed on Lt-Gen Suhag, then General Officer Commanding 3
Corps, was based on the advice and recommendation of the Judge Advocate
General and Vigilance branches of the Army Headquarters for the command
failure to take appropriate action in the Dimapur fake encounter case
and the Jorhat dacoity case. 

While the triple-murder in the fake
encounter case was hushed up, the Court of Inquiry by the Army and later
Court Martial found the Intelligence Unit working directly under the 3
Corps Commander fully responsible for the Jorhat dacoity. Recovery of
most of the loot from the officers of the unit by the police further
proved its involvement. 

Though concealed by MoD and spun differently by the media, the main
accusation against Suhag is that by not initiating stringent action he
was shielding the Colonel commanding the Intelligence Unit that had
indulged in the above cases of murder and dacoity. Because of this, the
victims in both cases were forced to approach the Guwahati High Court
for justice, which is pending. 

This particular Colonel faces several
other allegations, the most significant of them being narcotics
smuggling on the Indo-Myanmar border by abusing Armed Forces Special
Powers Act. This has not been refuted so far. 

MoD officials have only
come out with childish excuses that Lt. General Suhag was either not in
station or was on leave when these horrific offences were committed by
officers directly under his command. They also ensured the promotion of
Suhag as Army Commander by, it is alleged, illegally overturning the DV
Ban against him. This has now become the bone of contention in
Dastane’s writ petition in the Supreme Court. 

As is their wont, in this case also, Army brass and MoD have been
indulging in deception, falsehood and character assassination of those
raising these concerns. And they are determined to bulldoze the
appointment of Lt General Suhag as next Army Chief come what may. 

It is
only hoped that the Apex Court would go into all aspects of the case
and render justice. It is also time Prime Minister took charge of
matters and sort out the MoD mess before it is too late. Because what is
at stake is not mere national security but the nation’s very future.


Link: http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?291305



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