Former army chief General VK Singh on Thursday accused the government of compromising national security by leaking a report on the functioning of a covert unit set up by him and demanded those responsible be charged under the Official Secrets Act.
Singh’s comments came a day after the government said it would investigate the findings of the army report on the now-disbanded technical support division (TSD), as well as his claims that the force had routinely paid off politicians in Jammu and Kashmir.“India’s capabilities have been affected because of the leak…if you reveal too much, your assets will be killed” he said during a freewheeling conversation with editors at HT.
On the government’s charge that Singh’s statements had caused “enormous damage” to India’s Kashmir policy, he said, “I can go on oath and say what good work has been done (by the TSD) for Kashmir’s grass-roots democracy. These angles are wrong.”
Singh said he would be the last person to do anything that could be inimical to the country’s interests.
He made it clear that the TSD had only implemented the mandate given to it by the defence minister, refusing to elaborate on the tasks assigned to the covert unit.
“Everything cannot be revealed…let’s leave it at that,” he said.
Asked to comment on why was a covert unit funding stability projects in the conflict-torn state, Singh said anything with a “sarkaari” tag was viewed with suspicion.
“Same goes for sadbhavna or goodwill projects undertaken by the army. If you want work to be done it has to be done covertly,” he said, stressing that politicians were not bribed.
He said the TSD had been set up to ensure that things were alright. “It is a capability…being able to pack a bigger punch.”
Comparing the leaked report on TSD to his letter to the PM on gaps in India’s military capabilities finding its way into the public domain, Singh said, “If our neighbours want to finger us, they know what we are lacking.”
An army probe has revealed that the TSD, set up by Singh in May 2010, had allegedly misused secret funds to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government in J&K.
The TSD, controlled directly by VK Singh, had faced allegations of listening in to mobile phone conversations of politicians and bureaucrats at a time when the former chief’s age row was at its peak.