Irresponsible acts

Irresponsible acts

The leak of an internal enquiry into some alleged actions of former army chief V K Singh during his tenure and his responses to it have raised uncomfortable questions about the conduct of both the government and Gen Singh. More importantly, the revelations and the controversy surrounding them have done much damage to national interests in a sensitive state like Jammu and Kashmir.

The report of an army officers’ board inquiry into some alleged irregularities of a covert division raised by Singh, like a reported pay-off to a Kashmir minister to destabilise the state government and attempts to subvert the succession process in the army, made sensational reading. But the timing of the leak of the report, which was with the government for many months, has raised suspicions about the government’s motives.

It could not have been leaked by any source other than in government, which also had not taken any action on its basis. It became public soon after Gen Singh shared a dais with Narendra Modi at a BJP rally in Haryana. What did the government gain by resorting to a covert action against the top officer with whom it had a spat during the last months of his tenure?

Gen Singh also responded without a sense of propriety and regard for public interest when he said that the army had always made payments to Kashmiri politicians and he had merely continued the practice. His charges of payoffs have compounded the situation and are being used by Kashmiri separatists to malign India. They may be used to cast a shadow on India’s policy and actions in Kashmir. There may be questions about the credibility of the charges against him. But some of them are serious. But he has worsened matters by making his own charges.

The government has indicated that it is looking into the charges made against Gen Singh and by him. An open inquiry into matters relating to covert operations is problematic. Many issues like the army’s role and conduct in disturbed areas, government policies to deal with militancy and ways of dealing with actions of agencies and persons in sensitive situations are involved. All of them have a bearing on national security. Personal and political differences, bad blood or even spite should not be taken to the extent where national interests are compromised. Both the government and the former army chief are guilty of losing sight of this basic principle.