The secret unit that directly reported to former Army chief Gen V K Singh was set up after the 26/11 attacks with requisite government sanctions, the retired general has claimed.
Singh also insisted that the unit was a human intelligence organisation and at no stage it had any “off-air interceptor in its inventory” as widely perceived in the power corridors of the capital.
In the past, there were reports in a section of the media that Singh had used such equipments to snoop on Defence Minister A K Antony when confrontations with the ministry was running high over his date of birth.
Gen Singh, in a three-page statement released on Saturday over twitter, said the Technical Services Division – a secret intelligence unit – was set up by the Army at the behest of the National Security Adviser after the dastardly attack on Mumbai in 2008.
“TSD was set up following the due process of law with all requisite government sanctions. Hence though its existence, by the very nature of its work was secret, its existence as a secret unit was not true. It was not set up by me as my secret unit,” he said.
There are now serious questions on TSD operations and how it mismanaged intelligence funds. A three member internal committee of the Army investigated the TSD functions and submitted a report to the current Army Chief, who in turn reported it to the defence minister.
Gen Singh said the unit was disbanded after he demitted office by those in power for reasons best known to them. Army sources, however, clarified that the unit was not disbanded but had merely been kept dysfunctional. All officers, junior commissioned and other men had been shifted out of the unit.
The controversy on the covet unit resurfaced recently when a newspaper, quoting portions from the classified army inquiry report, claimed Gen Singh gave Rs 1.19 crore from TSD budget to Jammu and Kashmir minister Ghulam Hassan Mir to topple the Omar Abdullah government in the state.
The report created a furore, which was aggravated when Gen Singh claimed in television interviews that the Army paid politicians in J&K since 1947 for undertaking activities necessary to maintain peace and amity in the sensitive state.
But his claims were denied by Mir, Abdullah as well as other politicians who wanted an impartial probe. Eight former army chiefs also denied Gen Singh's claim in a signed statement.
The former Generals are: O P Malhotra, S F Rodrigues, Shankar Roychowdhury, Ved Prakash Malik, S Padmanabhan, N C Vij, J J Singh and Deepak Kapoor, who headed the force in the last two decades. The only army chief in the last two decades, who was not in the list, is Gen B C Joshi who had passed away.