‘I would like to state that all the allegations are false and motivated… Since the beginning of 2012, through ‘leaked stories’ I have been subjected to all kinds of canards and innuendos questioning my nationalism, patriotism and integrity…’
On 20 September ‘The Indian Express’ published a front page banner headlines story titled, “Unit set up by VK Singh used secret funds to try and topple J&K government, block Bikram Singh: Army probe” claiming to be a leak of a ‘Top Secret’ Army ‘Board of Officers inquiry’ report on the working of Technical Services Division (TSD), a secret intelligence unit set up during my tenure as Chief of the Army Staff.
At the outset I would like to state that all the allegations are false and motivated. First and foremost, TSD was not set up by me as my secret army, but was set up by the Army at the behest of the National Security Advisor after the dastardly attack on Mumbai by Pakistani tgeerrorists who were subsequently labeled by the media as ‘non-state actors’. TSD was created as a capability mentioned in the operational directive of the Raksha Mantri and set up following the due process of procedures existing in the Army as part of intelligence units under the DGMI. Hence, though its existence by the very nature of its work was secret, its existence as a secret unit is not true. That this unit was disbanded shortly after I retired was a decision taken by the powers that be for reasons best known to them.
As far as the general public is concerned, by its very nature, TSD operations were ‘top secret’. In that event, even the existence of TSD should never have been publicised. Further, if there is exposure of the actual working of the top secret unit, leaking information about it was seditious, regardless of whether information is true or false. Even knowledge of the existence of TSD can help the nation’s enemies. Being treasonous, the consequences for the ‘leakers’ and their collaborators could be very serious. Regardless of the above, false stories about the TSD have been appearing in the media for almost a year and half. The Government of India, most amazingly, has chosen to remain completely silent in this regard and have done nothing whatsoever to either trace the source of the leaks or make any categorical statement putting an end to this malicious and dangerous campaign.
Following the dictum that a lie oft repeated soon becomes the truth, TSD has been the target of malicious propaganda that has now assumed extremely serious proportions, as can be seen from the following narration. Despite repeated requests to the PMO to institute an inquiry to trace the source of the leaks, this has been ignored and left to simmer endlessly. Since the beginning of 2012, through ‘leaked stories’ I have been subjected to all kinds of canards and innuendos questioning my nationalism, patriotism and integrity. Starting with allegations of bugging the Raksha Mantri’s office (TSD was a Human Int organisation and at no stage had any Off-Air Interceptors on their inventory), charges have been leveled of moving troops secretly to stage a coup, leaking my own letter to the PM that drew attention to the tremendous shortage of ammunition and other war stores (that would severely affect our fighting capability) and now finally that I had used TSD to topple the Government of Kashmir.
That this entire campaign is not only motivated and highly dangerous, the following events tell their own story: Picking up from the Indian Express leak, on 24 September 2013 ‘The Hindu’ published a news story titled “V.K. Singh counters charges, admits ‘pro-India NGOs’ were funded” written by their Chandigarh correspondent. The opening sentence, that it was my “first proper interview to a newspaper since details of an internal inquiry into his conduct as Army chief were published in The Indian Express last week” itself is false. The fact is that I was waylaid by her at a friend’s place and at her insistence answered a few questions.
As a corollary several falsehoods, half-truths and distortions were deliberately inserted in the news story published by the newspaper. The most prominent one is that I had claimed that “the panchayat elections of 2011 and the sudden end to the stone-throwing agitation in Kashmir in 2010” were the two major achievements of the TSD. The writer of the news story has actually done some clever ‘cut and paste’ based on information that seems to have been fed to her along with my comments on television. The correspondent has also claimed that senior army officers in 15 Corps have told her (the correspondent is the wife of a serving re-employed officer) that the TSD provided the Corps with Off-the air interceptors which later proved to be faulty. Both these are blatant lies that have been cleverly inserted.
Almost immediately, elements and vested interests political and official are deliberately twisting and distorting this report and are whipping up frenzy with the purpose of alienating J&K and spreading disharmony among the armed forces. ‘The Hindu’ itself has gone into a frenzy by publishing a concocted story on its front page on 25 September under the title ‘Our lives in danger, say sarpanches in J&K”. This news report says that because of my reckless statements, I have caused “an extremely serious apprehension of militant attacks on more than 33,000 panches and sarpanches as I have completely discredited and maligned the panchayat elections of 2011.” Nothing can be farther from the facts. This statement was inserted by the newspaper into the false interview and cleverly manipulated to sound as if I had made this claim. This is nothing but a fabricated lie.
What is worse, the newspaper Editor himself has added fuel to fire by publishing the top front page news item in ‘The Hindu’ (26 September) titled “V.K. Singh’s claims damaged India’s interests, officials say”. Quoting ‘senior officials’ of the Government this story accuses me of causing “enormous damage” to the country through some of my recent statements on Jammu and Kashmir, and that the Government was investigating my claim that military officers had made illegal payments to politicians, and would decide on what action to take once the facts were established.
This news report has been written by Sidharth Varadarajan, Editor of the newspaper from ‘On Board the PM’s Flight’ in which he was travelling to WashingtonDC as part of Prime Minister’s entourage to meet US President and address the UN. Members of this entourage are former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and presently his advisor; former Foreign Secretary and presently National Security Advisor; former Defence Secretary and presently Comptroller & Auditor General of India; Media Advisor to PM; Editors of ‘Indian Express’ and ‘The Hindu’.
The former Defence Secretary (now CAG) initiated the ‘Board of Officers report ’ through the Army and received the report in March 2013; National Security Advisor has been dealing with and examining the report, a former Joint Secretary in the Defence Ministry, who worked very closely with this Defence Secretary leaked the report, Editor ‘Indian Express’ published it and Editor ‘The Hindu’ has taken it to a frenzy suggesting in its front page that lives of 33,000 panches and sarpanches in the valley are in peril because of me.
This is probably the same team that leaked my top secret letter to PM on Defence unpreparedness, promoted the obnoxious ‘line of succession’ in the Army burying merit in the process, accused me of plotting a coup against the Government of India, patroniaed the TATRA truck purchase and indulged in many other defence purchase scams and worst of all wanted to sell out the Siachen Glacier to China-Pakistan through a dubious Track II initiative headed by the now discredited Air Chief Marshall Tyagi in which ‘The Hindu’ Editor was a key member.
These are the facts that cannot be endlessly disguised by this powerful group of people who seem to care little for our national interest, as scam after scam has left the ruling party morally bankrupt. However, to them all, let me just remind them of the National motto: ‘Satyameva Jayate’ – “Truth alone shall Triumph”.
– General (Retd) VK Singh