Indian Army seniority row ends with lt general’s transfer

April 22nd, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) A seniority row that saw a three-star general taking extended leave as he was averse to serving under his senior has ended with the officer being posted as a principal staff officer (PSO) at the Army Headquarters here. Army sources confirmed Tuesday that Lt. Gen. P.C. Katoch had been posted as Director General (Information Systems) and would assume office shortly. He will replace Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash, who will be the new military secretary at the Army Headquarters.

Katoch, who was the number two at the Udhampur-based Northern Command that is responsible for guarding Jammu and Kashmir, had taken 60-day leave last month after Lt. Gen. P.C. Bharadwaj was appointed its head.

Katoch is a year senior in service to Bharadwaj and had commanded a unit during the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operations in Sri Lanka in the 1980s with the latter as his second-in-command.

Bharadwaj previously headed the Leh-based 14 Corps and his posting as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command was mired in controversy.

This was because he had replaced Lt. Gen. H.S. Panag, who was shifted to the relatively obscure Lucknow-based Central Command at the behest of Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor.

The Indian Army had described the transfer as “routine” but Panag had sought and been granted an interview with Defence Minister A.K. Antony to protest the move. Beyond granting Panag a patient hearing, Antony refrained from taking any action.

Panag had assumed charge as Northern Command chief in January 2006, succeeding then Lt. Gen Deepak Kapoor, who was posted as the Indian Army vice chief and was elevated to the top job in September last year.

Soon after assuming office, Panag had initiated enquiries into purchases made under emergency power during Kapoor’s tenure. This is believed to have had a bearing on his subsequent transfer, though the Indian Army vehemently denies this.

Panag’s transfer was ordered after the completion of the enquiries, which had not found any evidence of wrongdoing on Kapoor’s part, an official said.

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