June 30, 2001,
Brig Surinder Singh’s removal & unanswered questions
"General Malik leaked classified papers" (June 25), a sensational headline, verges on vilification of an ex-COAS. That is patently unfair. Of course, the content is merely a continuation of a former Kargil Brigade Commander, Brig Surinder Singh's diatribe against General Malik and the Indian Government. The public may not be aware that the institution of Chief of Army Staff is not directly involved in initiating, recommending or removing officers from command and service. It is not a COAS function. Brig Surinder Singh's unceremonious removal from active operational command at the height of Kargil operations was due to his lack of operational percept on ground and consequent removal from service was only a logical conclusion following due process of service and legal procedures. He stands indicted by all enquiries instituted in the matter. Brigadier Singh has once again reiterated that he is neither responsible nor accountable for events that led to the bitter war in Kargil. He would have the nation believe that his responsibility and accountability ended the moment he "told and informed" his superior chain of command his own threat perception about the enemy's intentions in his sector of operational responsibility. Being the Commander on ground at the time, will Brigadier Singh like to inform the public about the following:
The public may not be aware that the institution of Chief of Army Staff is not directly involved in initiating, recommending or removing officers from command and service. It is not a COAS function.
Brig Surinder Singh's unceremonious removal from active operational command at the height of Kargil operations was due to his lack of operational percept on ground and consequent removal from service was only a logical conclusion following due process of service and legal procedures. He stands indicted by all enquiries instituted in the matter.
Brigadier Singh has once again reiterated that he is neither responsible nor accountable for events that led to the bitter war in Kargil. He would have the nation believe that his responsibility and accountability ended the moment he "told and informed" his superior chain of command his own threat perception about the enemy's intentions in his sector of operational responsibility. Being the Commander on ground at the time, will Brigadier Singh like to inform the public about the following:
Why are some posts vacated during winter and vigilance measures adopted for such posts? When and how did he learn of enemy intrusion and occupation of Indian territory in his operational area of responsibility?
What were the battalions and commanders or other agencies who failed to physically patrol their areas of their responsibility or other forms of surveillance, particularly of the vacated winter posts?
When did he initiate the Situation Report (SITREP) detailing enemy intrusion in his area of responsibility? If and when he came to know of such enemy intrusion and occupation on Indian territory across the LOC in his area of responsibility, what action did he physically take to check or remove such intrusion? If he had truthfully reported and made best effort to contain the situation but was not being "listened to" by his superiors, what stopped him from initiating a request in writing to be removed from command as he was not capable of performing miracles with the resources made available to him.
In a well-staged press meet aired by Aaj Tak TV channel on June 25, Brigadier Singh stated that he was in no way responsible for the creation of 800 war widows and 2000 soldier casualties due to the Kargil war and stated that it was General Malik and the government who were responsible. He also further stated that he was not subject to a court martial as there was no evidence against him.
Obviously, Brigadier Singh does not consider physical presence of the enemy which intruded into Indian territory and occupied posts and heights in his Brigade sector of responsibility as sufficient evidence to prove his culpability and capability.
It would appear that the sacked Brigadier, to cloak his catastrophic command failure, leading to the Kargil war, is using the art of obfuscation and creating doubts in the public mind through misinformation and disinformation. His is an attempt to create three prongs to fight his litigation, i.e trial by the media, trial in a law court and a mistrial by politicians, because his next assertion is likely to be that he has been punished because he belongs to a particular community.
The sensational headline in The Tribune and a well-managed press meet, aired by a TV channel, are the Brigadier's first shots fired in defence of his "honour". Honour of his country and service can come later. What an ironical twist to the Chetwode motto which ushered him into the great Indian Army!
It is not my purpose to patronise the former COAS or the present government. The Subhramanyam Kargil Committee Report has alluded to a massive command failure by the nation — be it the politician, bureaucrat, intelligence pundits or soldiers. But, for the nation’s "Watchman on Site", who should have been the first to know about such an intrusion, to absolve himself of all responsibility is immoral, un-soldier like and lacks character.
K. kHORANA (RETD), Panchkula
In The Tribune issue of June 22 you have two conflicting reports about General Musharraf declaring himself President. In a report "India maintains stoic silence" it is said that India was surprised by the declaration, but in the report "Vajpayee knew of Musharraf's plan" it is reported that Mr Vajpayee knew well in advance about this move.
How could Mr Vajpayee know about this move of General Musharraf when his own Cabinet and civil service did not know this?
YOGESH DATTA, Australia
Shimla's state libraries both in Gandhi Bhavan and on The Ridge are in utter neglect.
Books in the dark, dingy and musty library in Gandhi Bhavan are so full of dust that one has literally to wash one's hands after handling them! Moreover, some books are very old and rare and need to be maintained. Most of the books are of the British times and are virtually just dumped there.
Both libraries cry for space. New books and periodicals are needed. Adequate trained staff, proper furniture, toilets, drinking water with disposable glasses etc are urgently required for proper functioning of both libraries.
The libraries must equip themselves with photostat machines too for the convenience of members to take notes.
ROSHNI JOHAR, Shimla
"Girls outshine boys" read headlines of examination results. Our girls are doing better and they deserve to be complemented. But at the same time it is a matter of grave concern that the performance of boys is going down with each passing year. The reason for this is obviously that boys are a disillusioned and frustrated lot. Job opportunities have almost dried up. The government should come out with result-oriented plans to generate job opportunities.
SINGH, Shahpurkandi township
Some minimum qualification is mandatory for getting into government service. Now even peons are supposed to possess some education. Ironically, no qualifications are required for our MPs and MLAs responsible for shaping the destiny of the nation.
Will the Constitution Review Commission recommend some minimum academic qualifications for our law-makers?
J. K. MAGO, Panchkula
Indian wheat sent under the oil-for-food agreement was found substandard by the Iraqi Grain Board for the fourth time. As a result 23,000 tonnes of wheat sent by a New Delhi-based company to Iraq was rejected. The company should be blacklisted for bringing disgrace to India.
GORAYA P.S, Chandigarh
Kisan Vikas Patra certificates are not available in post offices of Punjab. The government has been launching campaigns to mobilise savings (like issuing lucky coupons) but strangely these certificates have not been made available for nearly two months.
AGGARWAL, Jalandhar cantt
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