In the wake of vociferous demands for his dismissal, army chief General VK Singh on Thursday said the leaking of his confidential letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, should be treated as “high treason”.
In the letter, dated March 12, Singh had outlined yawning gaps in India's defence preparedness.
“The leakage of the letter should be treated as high treason. This cynical approach to tarnish my reputation should stop. Sources of the leakage should be found and dealt with ruthlessly,” the chief said in a statement. His official communication to the Prime Minister and the defence minister was “privileged communication”, he added.
The chief had written that obsolete air defence systems, shortage of tank ammunition, ill-equipped Special Forces personnel and deficiencies in night-fighting capabilities had dented the army’s capabilities.
Defence minister AK Antony said the Intelligence Bureau has been asked to probe the matter. The person who had leaked the letter was “anti-national”, and such an act would only “help our enemies”, he added.
“We will make every possible attempt to identify the persons who have carried out this anti-national activity, and they will be given the maximum punishment under the Indian Penal Code,” the minister said. He said no patriotic Indian would have indulged in such an act.
According to experts, the contents of the leaked letter could seriously undermine national security. While political parties across the spectrum expressed their utmost disapproval over a sensitive document with such serious implications being leaked, some went to the extent of demanding that General Singh be sacked. The letter leak has heightened tensions between the government and the army chief to an unprecedented level.