The first time it happened was during the funeral arrangements for Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964. The COAS had ordered up some units to be prepared to assist in the funeral ceremonies with crowd cordoning and VIP security. The DIB interpreted this as a preparation for a coup and warned the acting PM, Gulzarilal Nanda. The Army was asked to explain. Gen. JN Chaudhry replied appropriately and said the Military was sworn to uphold the Constitution and that it was commanded by men of honor.
I recall an acrimonious discussion in the early 90’s related to me by a COAS. The Indian Army was pressing for putting the BSF under full military control in J&K for effective counter-insurgency operations. The BSF balked and its then DG argued before the then HM, with the COAS present, that the BSF must be kept independent of Army control at all times as it was the bulwark against any Indian Army attempt to seize political control. The COAS scoffed at it saying, that knowing the calibre of the IPS in command of the BSF, it would not even take hours for the Army to subdue the BSF and confine it to the barracks. He asked him not to talk nonsense in front of the Home Minister to protect his turf.
The friction between the Army and the IPS is well known, and its testy relations with both the IB and RA&AW, apart from the BSF and CRPF are well known. The Defence and Home Ministry bureaucracies love this situation as it allows them to play off one against the other.
The Government will do well to get to the bottom of this news report and track down its “sources”. But who will the Government turn to trace these sources. The IB?
PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: The front-page, full-page report in the northern editions of The Indian Express this morning, that two units of the Indian Army moved towards Delhi on January 16, 2012—the day the Army chief V.K. Singh‘s petition before the Supreme Court on his date of birth was coming up—has sent New Delhi into a tizzy.
The report, anchored by the paper’s redoubtable editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta, with reporting from Ritu Sarin, Pranab Dhal Samanta and Ajmer Singh—that barely disguises its attempts to hint at a “coup” that wasn’t—has been stoutly denied by the ministry of defence and an official statement from the defence minister A.K. Antony is due.
As the old saying goes, never believe a story until it is officially denied.
Still, is the Express story a “scoop” throwing light on something that was hidden or unknown; a rehash of previously published stuff; or just plain Delhi-style “spin”, against the backdrop of leaks and plants that have been coming in a torrent in the crossfire between the outgoing Army chief and the “establishment”?
To give Express its due, the three-deck, four-byline, eight-column banner headline suggests plenty of leg work.
What blunts the edge somewhat on the Express story is that the Army manoeuvre wasreported by Rediff.com 22 days ago—on March 13, 2012. What also muddies the waters is that the Army itself held an official briefing on the subject 25 days ago—on March 10, 2012—in Agra.
So, regardless of the official denials, is the Express story a scoop, a rehash or spin?
- Leaked Letter Reveals Indian Army Weaknesses (abcnews.go.com)
- 262 BSF personnel committed suicide in last 8 years (indianmilitarynews.wordpress.com)
- 46,000 jawans deserted Central forces in 5 years (indianmilitarynews.wordpress.com)