Army movement was nothing unusual, says Antony (Lead)

April 4th, 2012 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Visakhapatnam, April 4 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Wednesday denied that the Indian army had intimidated the civilian government by moving two of its units towards the capital in January without notifying the defence ministry.

“Absolutely baseless,” Antony said when asked about the Indian Express report that two army units suspiciously moved closer to New Delhi Jan 16 without prior notice to the government.

“Nothing like that. There is no trust deficit (between the government and the army),” the minister told reporters on the sidelines of a function here to commission the nuclear-powered submarine into the Indian Navy.

Antony sought to clear the air amid rumours following the Express report that late on the night of Jan 16, the day army chief General V.K. Singh approached the Supreme Court on his date of birth issue, a key military unit from the Mechanised Infantry based at Hisar in Haryana was moved towards the capital.

This was followed by a large element of the airborne 50 Para Brigade based at Agra that also moved towards the capital.

The government secretly but quickly swung into action, and managed to halt both the formations that were sent back within hours, according to the report.

Antony told reporters here that the army movement was “usual and natural activity”. “There is nothing unusual (about it).”

Antony said the army had explained its position on the movement and “we endorse that”.

The minister, looking poised, swore by the “patriotism” of Indian soldiers.

“We (government) are very confident of the patriotism of the Indian armed forces. Don’t question the patriotism of young soldiers dying for service of the nation.”

He said he was proud of the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard.

He said the Indian Army and the other armed forces “will do everything” to safeguard the democratic values of the country. “I can guarantee you that”.

The defence minister asked the media not embroil the armed forces into these controversies.

“My humble request to you is that the Indian Army cannot afford the luxury of these controversies.”

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