A thread of events linked to the controversial movement of two army units to the outskirts of Delhi on the night of January 16, 2012, seems to suggest it may not have been a routine mobilisation. It had happened the day former army chief General VK Singh moved court over his age issue.
A senior official, requesting anonymity, told HT the army’s Jaipur-based South Western Command was unaware about the movement of one of its elements — a mechanised infantry battalion in Hisar.
He also said the director general of military operations (DGMO) was not informed about the movement of elements of Agra-based 50 Para Brigade. Also, the army headquarters’ annual training directive (from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) apparently did not list any such exercise.
In a report dated April 4, 2012, The Indian Express had detailed the “dramatic developments” and claimed that the government was spooked. The issue has resurfaced with then DGMO Lt Gen AK Choudhary declaring there was alarm in the government over the mobilisation.
Weeks after his retirement, Choudhary said he was summoned by then defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma on the night of January 16 and told that the highest echelons in the government were concerned. The units were ordered to return. He claimed the confusion was created due to “distrust” between the former chief and the government.
On Friday, defence minister AK Antony reiterated it was a routine training exercise.
A source close to VK Singh claimed not only was the South Western Army commander but also the Central Army Commander was aware of the movement of the mechanised infantry unit, an assertion denied by one of the two retired generals.
The source also said the director general of military training was informed about the movement of the paratroopers. But a top officer said the mobilisation of the para elements should have been in the knowledge of then DGMO, who has now claimed he was unaware.
On the mobilisation finding no mention in the training directive, the source said the instructions did not specify where the units would be headed.
In his book, Singh claimed the para elements were mobilised as they were training for a possible intervention in the Maldives.