Leakage of letter to PM 'high treason': Gen Singh

Leakage of letter to PM 'high treason': Gen Singh

 Facing demands for his dismissal, Army Chief Gen V K Singh today said the leak of his letter to the Prime Minister presenting a grim picture of the force's defence preparedness should be treated as ''high treason'' and the source of leakage dealt with ''ruthlessly.''

The assertion by the General to trace the source of the leak came even as Defence sources said that Intelligence Bureau has been asked to inquire into leakage of the letter to the media.

As tensions between him and the government escalated over the leak of his official letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gen Singh hit back saying a "cynical approach" to tarnish his reputation should stop.

In a brief statement released by Army Headquarters, Gen Singh, who is currently in Jammu and Kashmir, further said his official communication with the Prime Minister and Defence Minister is "privileged" communication.

"The leakage of the letter should be treated as high treason. Cynical approach to tarnish my reputation should stop. Sources of the leakage should be found and dealt with ruthlessly," said Singh, who is due to retire on May 31.

Singh's leaked letter led to demands by SP, JD(U) and RJD for his dismissal yesterday even as Government and Opposition were agreed his concerns should not have come out in the open.

There was a strong demand to launch a probe how the letter was leaked to the media. It was also felt that the Army Chief should have first raised his concerns on the risk to the country's security directly with the Defence Minister. The General was also accused of breach of discipline.

The media leak of the letter came on top of an acrimony between the Army Chief and the government since early this week over his media interview in which he had claimed that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore by a retired Lt Gen for swinging a sub-standard defence deal.

"I have made serious note of the observations. After consulting the Prime Minister and colleagues, we will take appropriate action," Antony said in Rajya Sabha yesterday after members expressed serious concerns over issues of national security.