Correcting date of birth, a personal matter: V K Singh

He sees motives behind the campaign

Army Chief Gen V K Singh on Thursday refused to be drawn into the raging controversy over his date of birth and retirement. He thundered at his critics for “alluding all kinds of spins” to the issue and asserted that correcting the date of birth had always been a personal matter of “integrity and honour”.

“It (correcting the date) has always been a matter of integrity and honour. It is quite reprehensible for alluding all kinds of spins. I don't want to speculate on what the motives (behind the campaign) are, but I know the motives,” he said on the eve of the 64 Army Day.

Asserting that the controversy had not marred the transformation of Indian Army, Singh said, “It plays a role within the four walls of my house and affects my family life but nothing beyond that.”

“It’s not also affecting the image of the Army. You have to leave the retirement issue to my judgment as it concerns me personally,” he said parrying repeated media queries.

For the better part of last year, the Army was engulfed by the date of birth controversy as two sets of date of birth for Singh surfaced after he assumed charge as the Army Chief. The Adjutant General’s branch in the Army shows it as May 10, 1951, whereas according to the Military Secretary’s branch, it is May 10, 1950.

Singh repeatedly petitioned the government appealing for the rectification. The government, on the other hand, is saying it is too late in the day for Singh, who has to accept 1950 as his year of birth on the basis of which he received the last two promotions as the GOC of Ambala-based 2 Corps and the Eastern Command in Kolkata.

Asked to comment, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said, “He is an exemplary officer. The controversy should not have been there in the first place and I hope it will be resolved.”

Even though the ministers appear to be sympathetic, the general opinion in the government is veering towards the fact that Singh is an unfortunate victim but ultimately he has to go because “rules are rules.”

The Army chief said organisational processes had been rectified to ensure that AG's branch and MS branch share all data and no such anomaly of similar nature occur in the future. He denied the controversy affecting working relations between the Army and Defence Ministry.

Singh became the Army chief at a time when the olive green uniform was tainted by Sukhna and Adarsh scams. Two years down the line, he claimed Army was a cleaner place as all ranks received a stern message – guilty would be punished irrespective of the ranks.

The chief refrained from commenting on the surfacing of allegations of a fake encounter in Jammu and Kashmir in 2001 involving current Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh, who is slated to take over as the next Army chief if V K Singh accepts 1950 as his year of birth and retires on May 31.

“There was no enquiry at that time as it was left to the civilian police. But since the relatives have gone to the court and the matter is sub-judice, I will not make any comments,” he said.

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