Retired Army Chief General V K Singh has invited another controversy with his statement on Monday in a public stage he shared with social activist Anna Hazare. General Singh as we are aware was involved in a very public row over his age with the government when he was heading the Army. The age controversy as per General Singh was raised by none other than the dismissed officer Lt. General Awdhesh Prakash who was found guilty in the Sukhna land scam by an Army court of inquiry.
The statement made by him blames the current government of being silent to corruption issues, of bending to corporate interests, of being anti people. He also blamed the Prime Minister of pushing though FDI in retail when the government as per him was a minority in parliament. He mentioned that the farmers land was being taken from them by the government and 'gifted' to private companies and policies are being made under foreign pressure especially American. None of the issues he has raised are new. They have been alleged by many in past and are not without substance.
There is a lot that has happened in the last few years that has upset many in India. But when these words come from a retired Army chief some people cry foul. General V K Singh is being accused of bringing the morale of the Army down, of setting an unwanted precedent, of mixing politics with Army service. I do not agree with that assessment. He may be accused of saying these things only because he was asked to leave office prematurely because of the controversy of his true age, but there is no doubt that he has fought corruption within the Army head on when he was the Army Chief. Three particular incidents that come to mind are the Sukhna land scam with Lt General Awdhesh Prakash and Lt-Gen P. K. Rath being dismissed, the TATRA-BEML corruption scam with Lt General Tejinder Singh being currently investigated and the issue around Lt. General Dalbir Suhag.
Apart from being named in TATRA scam Lt General Tenjinder Singh was also the general officers commanding Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa region during the Adarsh Scam.General Suhag was served a notice by the then Army Chief General V K Singh for alleged indiscipline in the Army intelligence unit under him. After General Bikram Singh took over as the current Army chief the censure against Lt. General Suhag was lifter by him and his was given a promotion to command the Eastern Army Command. Lt. General Prakash was of course dismissed. It should also be recalled at this stage that the predecessor of General V K Singh, General Deepak Kapoor was one of the allottees in the Adarsh building. So the players involved in slighting Gerneral V K Singh on the age issue are many including his predecessor who made him accept an incorrect age for the sake of a promotion which otherwise may have been denied to him. It needs to be recalled that the year of birth 1950 which he was made to accept was mentioned as such in only one document which was his NDA form and his matriculation certification, his passport, his Army ID card etc were also carrying the year which he claimed 1951. So if General Deepak Kapoor had to be fair he should have got the correct date 1951 accepted in the records but he did not do so. Later on the government and Supreme court on account of his previous acceptance denied him any reprieve.
But that story is past now. Not only is Retd. General V K Singh now a free citizen of this country with every right that we enjoy, he also has a duty to speak on issue of corruption in the Army and the government because he has held the top post in the Army. We should welcome every voice against corruption specially that of retired bureaucrats, retired senior Army officers and retired judges because they are aware of exactly what happens in the institutions they are part of. I don't see any merit in his critics argument that he has brought dishonour to the service or that his statements affect the moral of the forces. He is merely raising his voice against corruption which he as a responsible citizen of this country has an obligation to do.