In the Brig Surinder Singh dismissal case, being heard by the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), a mismatch in the replies submitted by the army and the ministry of defence (MoD) has come to light. A question has come up: were Kargil-related documents destroyed after being called to be placed on record by Brig Singh?
In a reply to Brig Singh’s application, dated September 15, 2010, for placing Kargil-related documents, including 11 Situation Reports (SITREPS), the army said on October 20, 2010, that these were available with 121 Infantry Brigade and were classified.
In an AFT order dated October 25, 2010, the court ruled that “the respondents (army, MoD) are directed to keep available the documents for perusal of the court on the next date of hearing.” But on March 4, 2011, a reply was filed by the joint secretary, MoD, that only three situation reports were available and the rest had been destroyed by a board of officers.
“These situation reports are related to hazardous patrols carried out by Brig Singh in the winters of 1998. These would have supported our argument that we had pre-informed about the enemy threat,” said the counsel for Brig Singh, MP Goswami.
Brig Singh is moving a contempt petition before the AFT about inconsistency in the two replies filed.
The army has already submitted before the court that a letter dated August 12, 1998, from the 121 Infantry Brigade to 3 Infantry Division, asking for satellite imagery of the enemy area, is neither available with the originator nor the addressee “as the same was destroyed by burning by a board of officers”.
Another letter written by the 121 Infantry Brigade to the 3 Infantry Division, dated November 17, 1998, asking for additional twin telescopes and procurement of satellite imagery of enemy area opposite to Kargil sector was also destroyed by “burning by a board of officers”.
An army headquarters letter dated November 23, 1998, on satellite imagery was also destroyed by burning.