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Parl panel quizzes govt, army on troop movement

delhi Updated: Apr 04, 2012 23:25 IST

The movement of two army units towards Delhi and the leaked letter of Gen VK Singh in which he highlighted "deficiencies" in the force on Wednesday came under close scrutiny of a parliamentary committee as top officials of the defence ministry and the Army appeared before it.

Members of the parliamentary committee on defence questioned defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and vice chief of army staff Lt Gen SK Singh on the media report about unnotified movement of the army units in January but both dismissed it as a routine and rejected any connotations as baseless.

Sharma and the vice chief of army, appearing before the committee in connection with the budgetary allocations for defence for 2012-13, said the movement was normal process of testing the preparedness of the armed forces, sources said.

The committee had intimated them that they would be required to brief members on recent controversies dogging the army, including the deal to procure Tatra trucks, but these issues could not be taken up, the sources said.

Several members felt that the media reports like the one about movement of troops towards Delhi in January created fear in the minds of the people as it was related to civil-military relations, the sources said.

A section of the members also felt that such reports could send a wrong message to the world.

During the post-lunch session of the meeting, the army vice chief highlighted requirements of the force but members pointed out that these did not reflect the "deficiencies" flagged earlier by its chief Gen VK Singh in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Posing questions to the vice chief of army, the MPs said his presentation was not in consonance with the issues raised by Gen Singh. He was asked to come back and identify the shortcomings before the committee on April 9, the sources said, adding he agreed to this suggestion.

When some members of the Committee raised the issue of leakage of the top secret letter written by the army chief, both Lt Gen SK Singh and the defence secretary pointed out that writing a letter to the Prime Minister was routine but its leakage was a serious issue, the sources said.

They said the armed forces were well prepared and the Government was in the process of getting latest and most modern equipment for them in the next two years.

The army chief, in his letter to the Prime Minister on March 12, had talked about poor state of preparedness of armed forces.

In the leaked letter, the army chief had said that the tank regiments were short of ammunition and there was 97% obsolescence in the Air Defence systems.

The defence ministry has also held several meetings to discuss the capital acquisitions and the reasons behind delays in procurements.