Concerned over murder charges against officers: Retiring army chief (Lead)

May 31st, 2012 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) In a parting shot on the day he hung up his boots as the Indian Army chief, Gen. V.K. Singh expressed “concern” Thursday over murder allegations against officers of an army intelligence unit under the Dimapur-based 3 Corps in the northeast.

The 3 Corps is commanded by Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag, against whom V.K. Singh had issued a show cause notice citing “abdication of responsibility” by him in initiating action against his Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (CISU).

Suhag is in contention for become the army chief in 2014. But for that to happen, he first needs to be promoted as army commander later this year. With the show cause notice and a resultant discipline and vigilance ban imposed on him by V.K. Singh, his promotion is now in doubt.

The alleged murder of three civilians came to light after a major in the CISU wrote a complaint to V.K. Singh seeking action against the unit’s officers.

After he was accorded a ceremonial send-off on the lawns of South Block, the outgoing army chief told reporters that he had received the complaint and had forwarded it to the concerned headquarters for suitable action, but no probe was carried out into the charges.

“When something is written to me, I forward it to the concerned headquarters. They have asked 3 Corps headquarters to investigate. So far as I know, investigation has not been done. That is one of the issues we are seriously looking at,” V.K. Singh said.

“Obviously, everybody is concerned that such a thing (triple murder) should happen and investigation does not take place. That’s why I said it (show cause notice) is at the bottom of what is going on and you will hear about it as the chain of command starts taking action on it,” the retiring chief said.

The whistleblower in the case, Major T. Ravi Kumar, reportedly wrote to the army chief twice in 2011 and again in January 2012 seeking action against the officers responsible for the murder of three civilians picked up by the 3 Corps CISU in March 2010.

V.K. Singh also said that during his tenure at the helm, the functioning of the 1.13-million-strong army had become more transparent and its mindset had changed.

V.K. Singh Thursday handed over the reins of the world’s second largest standing army to General Bikram Singh, bringing to an end his 26-month stint thatsaw major controversies over his birth date, a suit in the Supreme Court and disciplinary actions against fellow officers.

Summing up his tenure, V.K. Singh said: “What we have been able to achieve is change of mindset in the army. We have also been able to ensure hollowness that was affecting the force to be addressed in a cogent manner.”

Progress had been made on the “path of transformation” that aimed at making the army “ready, relevant, agile, much more effective, and leaner” in terms of how it took decisions.

“All that is already in the pipeline. Some things have been implemented and some things, as per our time plan, have a longer time span. They are getting implemented,” he said.

Claiming the support of Defence Minister A.K. Antony for the army’s plans, V.K. Singh said: “We have achieved fairly good targets and those in the pipeline (policy changes and procurements) will address the remaining hollowness.”

He said probity has come in the army and it has made things more transparent.

“Because of transparency now you (media) come to know more things about army. The issues which we said were at the heart of army and its core values. Anybody who wears this uniform will take these forward,” he added.

He also maintained that he had achieved progress on his key result area that he had set when he took over as army chief on March 31, 2010. “There is an improvement in the army’s internal health. I am confident this trend will continue. The key result area on improving internal health of the army was taken forward (during my tenure),” he said.

V.K. Singh also claimed there was “no debate or controversy” between him and the civilian leadership, though some issues were given too much of importance by the media, making them look controversial.

Hailing Bikram Singh as a “capable” successor, V.K. Singh said he was “confident” the new chief will “perform his duties in the interest” of the army.

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