M A I N   N E W S

IB to probe letter leak, says Antony
Clarifies that government has faith in 3 Services Chiefs
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, March 29
Defence Minister AK Antony today said all three Service Chiefs enjoyed the government’s full confidence, but refrained from letting out if any action would be taken against Army Chief General VK Singh. Antony promised “strongest possible action” against the person who leaked the General’s top-secret correspondence with the Prime Minister and said the Intelligence Bureau would probe the leak.

“The person who leaked the letter (in which the Army Chief had complained about the nation’s lack of defence preparedness) will not be spared… it is an anti-national act,” Antony said after inaugurating the 7th edition of DefExpo, the defence exposition, here today.

Separately, the Army Chief was quoted by news agency PTI as terming the letter leak as an “act of high treason” and demanding that the culprit get maximum punishment. He was further quoted saying that he had nothing to do with the leak and that the “cynical approach” to tarnish his reputation should stop.

Stating that no patriotic Indian would indulge in leaking sensitive communication that would only help enemies, Antony said the Intelligence Bureau’s report would be available soon. “I assure you that we will not leave it there. We will make every possible attempt to find out the real culprits who have done this anti-national activity and they will be given the maximum punishment under the Indian Penal Code," Antony said. The minister is backed by a mandate of the Parliament where MPs in the Rajya Sabha had taken a serious view of national secrets spilling out and demanded a probe.

The Chief’s top-secret memo to the Prime Minister mentioned detailed figures and gaps in national security and defence. It was leaked and published in a newspaper causing uproar in Parliament two days ago as MPs cutting across party lines asking the government to punish the person who leaked such a sensitive letter.

The Intelligence Bureau has been asked to submit a report at the earliest, said Antony even as he appeared to rule out action against Army Chief Gen VK Singh. “All the three Service Chiefs enjoy the confidence of the government. They are working... Otherwise, how can they continue," he said, when asked whether Gen VK Singh still enjoyed the government's pleasure and confidence.

He was also asked whether the government would continue to "grin and bear" Gen Singh till he retires in May or ask him to go on leave following a spate of controversies surrounding him. Antony told journalists not to drag the Army into all controversies as it could damage the institution.

Asked if he felt a sense of betrayal, Antony said he would not reveal his personal feelings and his judgment would be on the basis on facts. When probed whether he was hurt by the recent developments (he had almost choked while addressing Parliament two days ago), Antony did not answer.

When asked if the Army Chief's recent actions had impinged on his authority, especially the way he was being kept in the dark by the Chief, Antony said, "I am comfortable, and I am not in an embarrassing situation."

Ever since he lost the battle over the issue of his age, Gen Singh has been at loggerheads with the government. He told the media that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh to swing a deal for substandard trucks, a charge Singh refuted.

Antony said the government had zero tolerance against any kind of malpractice or corruption especially in procurement of defence items.

(With PTI inputs)

‘Treat leakage as high treason’

 Gen VK Singh, Army ChiefThe leakage of the letter (to the PM) should be treated as high treason. (The) cynical approach to tarnish my reputation should stop. Sources of the leak should be found and dealt with ruthlessly

Gen VK Singh, Army Chief

Court takes note of libel case

A Delhi court on Thursday took cognisance of a defamation case filed by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh against Army Chief Gen VK Singh, who has accused him of bribery.

Lt Gen Bikram Singh briefed

Army Chief-designate Lt Gen Bikram Singh on Thursday attended the first round of pre-scheduled briefings on the status of various wings at the Army Headquarters in the run-up to his taking over on May 31. The Adjutant General briefed Singh. Another briefing is slated for Friday.





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