A probe is on to find if the army’s secret funds were used to ‘sponsor’ the October 2011 public interest litigation (PIL) against army chief General Bikram Singh over an alleged fake encounter in the Kashmir Valley.
New army chief General Bikram Singh (R) inspects a guard of honour at the defence ministry in New Delhi. AFP/Prakash Singh
The board of officers set up to probe the funding of the technical services division (TSD) — a controversial military intelligence unit formed during former chief Gen VK Singh’s tenure — is investigating if there is a link between the TSD and the PIL.
The PIL was filed by YES Kashmir, a lesser known NGO, in the Jammu and Kashmir high court and alleges that Abdullah Bhat, a civilian, was killed in a fake encounter in 2001 in Anantnag.
Gen Bikram Singh — then a brigadier in the Kashmir Valley — was injured in the encounter. The PIL claims Bhat was branded a militant by the police.
Sources said the board, headed by DG Infantry Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, is focusing on the PIL, which if admitted by the high court could embarrass the army chief and the government.
Asked for a response, an army spokesperson said: “The board of officers is on, we aren’t in a position to comment.”
During a recent visit to the Kashmir valley, the board of officers met sources of the TSD and asked them pointed questions about the origin of the PIL.
The board is probing if YES Kashmir, which filed the PIL, was in any way linked to J and K Humanitarian Services, an NGO learnt to have been funded by TSD for ‘psychological operations’.
The operations include cricket matches and social work like blood donation camps, particularly during the 2010 stone-pelting protests in the valley.
Sources said the operations were known only to then chief VK Singh and the director general of military intelligence, and J and K Humanitarian Services was paid Rs. 2.40 crore for the purpose.
Documents show the TSD to be behind anti-Hurriyat protests in several Kashmir towns.
The inquiry into the TDS’s functioning is likely to have a bearing on such intelligence operations aimed at countering militant groups.
(First of a three-part series)