Army chief ducks Sukna bouncers | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Army chief ducks Sukna bouncers

Army chief General Deepak Kapoor admitted on Thursday that the controversial Sukna land deal in West Bengal had hurt the image of his fighting force.

delhi Updated: Jan 15, 2010 00:29 IST
Rahul Singh

Army chief General Deepak Kapoor admitted on Thursday that the controversial Sukna land deal in West Bengal had hurt the image of his fighting force.

He said justice would be “dispensed quickly” as it was a question of the army’s image.

Kapoor has been under pressure over the Sukna case, in which four generals have been indicted by an army court of inquiry for facilitating the transfer of 70 acres to a Siliguri-based businessman, Dilip Agarwal.

Asked how such cases affected the morale of soldiers, Kapoor said, “That is my concern… What precedent it will set? How future officers and men look at it? Will it be demoralising? I am conscious of these facts.”

He said such cases were an aberration and could not belittle the army’s achievements. He said any aberration would be dealt with seriously, depending on the merits of the case.

“It is my responsibility to dispense justice which is fair, based on facts and takes into account the culpability of the individuals involved. I will not be swayed by personal biases or media pressure,” said Kapoor, whose aide, military secretary Lieutenant General Avadhesh Prakash, is among the generals blamed for a string of lapses in the case.

The army chief’s comments come in the wake of concerns that Prakash, Agarwal’s friend, might get away with a rap on the knuckles. Kapoor was speaking to reporters at the annual news conference ahead of the 62nd Army Day on Friday.

The Eastern Army Commander, who is tipped to be the army chief when Kapoor retires on March 31, 2010, had recommended that Prakash be sacked but he has only been served a show-cause notice for administrative action.

Kapoor denied any rift with the Eastern Army Commander. He said, “A rift can be between equals, not between a senior officer and his junior.”

Kapoor has ordered disciplinary action against Lt General P.K. Rath and served show-cause notices on two other generals.

However, Kapoor refused to be drawn into the details of the Sukna case. “Would you expect a judge to speak about an undertrial? I am in that position under the Army Act,” said the army chief.