M A I N   N E W S

Antony’s message to new Gen: Forget the bitter past
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
General Bikram Singh today took over as the 27th chief of the 1.13-million strong Indian Army, bringing to an end the controversial 26-month tenure of his predecessor General VK Singh, who retired after 42 years of service.

The new Army Chief has his task cut out, an indication of which came from Defence Minister AK Antony. The minister told the officialdom and the Army to “carry no baggage of the past” and that the “bitter developments” should not be carried forward.

Antony’s message comes at a time when civil-Army relations have hit a nadir. At times, it was felt that the Army was by-passing the civilian authority.

Gen Bikram Singh had to surmount many hurdles before he became the Army Chief. Had the Supreme Court accepted Gen VK Singh’s plea that he was born on May 10, 1951 and not May 10, 1950 as recorded in the Ministry of Defence, Gen Bikram Singh would not have made it to the top job. A chief retires at 62 while Lt Generals retire at 60 years of age.

Commissioned in 1972 in the Sikh Light Infantry, Bikram Singh (59) marks a generation shift in the army, being the first chief who has not seen action in a conventional war. The last conventional war India fought was in 1971 against Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh. Known as ‘Bikki’ to his friends, Gen Bikram Singh commanded the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command before his present assignment.

This afternoon Gen Bikram Singh arrived at South Block accompanied by his wife Bubbles Singh. He saluted the outgoing chief on entering the first floor office of the Army Chief located in this British-era building that houses the Defence Ministry.

Gen V K Singh warmly shook hands with his successor. As per Army traditions, the wives of both the officers were present.

Bharti Singh, the wife of Gen VK Singh welcomed Bubbles Singh, who will now be the chief of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA).

Gen V K Singh, after inspecting his farewell guard of honour, said the internal health of the force had improved. He said he was alarmed about an incident where a Major had complained about a fake encounter, and that there was no investigation by
the 3 Corps headed by Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who is in line to head the force in 2014.

Gen VK Singh in reply to a question whether there were too many controversies during his tenure, said, “There is no controversy. If we pay too much attention towards certain things, they become controversial.”





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