Gen Singh in fresh spy drama, kin allege bugging

File photo of Army chief Gen VK Singh at Rajghat in Delhi. (AFP)

Former army chief Gen VK Singh raked up a fresh controversy on Saturday with his family members alleging that a serving major attempted to bug Singh’s sprawling bungalow in Delhi Cantonment.

The army denied the accusation, saying the situation flared up due to a miscommunication.

An army team had gone to Singh’s house to reconfigure the telephone exchange there and recall two soldiers manning it.

An army spokesperson said the telephone operators couldn’t have stayed on, as the government had on December 1 withdrawn the Z-plus protection given to Singh for six months after he retired on May 31. All former army chiefs are given Z-plus security for the same duration.

Singh’s family members claimed that they were not informed that an army team would visit the house and suspected the major could have been trying to plant bugging devices. The major, who was in his uniform, was not allowed to leave the premises for nearly six hours.

The spokesperson said the family members could not be informed beforehand due to a miscommunication and that had caused some resentment among them. He said the matter was resolved with the intervention of Lt Gen S Mitra, who heads Headquarters Delhi Area.

Singh was entitled to stay in the house only for six months after retirement but was allowed an extension by the government.
“Will an army officer go in uniform to plant bugs in broad daylight? This is the most absurd allegation,” said a retired three-star general.

On the heels of a complaint from Gen VK Singh in December that his house was under surveillance, defence minister AK Antony had asked defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma to inquire into the matter.

Sources said Gen Singh had met Antony to complain that his residence was allegedly under surveillance by intelligence agencies at the behest of Army Headquarters.

Last January, Singh became the first serving chief to drag the government to Supreme Court over a dispute on his age. He eventually lost that battle. He had claimed he was born in 1951, contrary to official records that showed him a year older.

A clandestine military intelligence unit set up by Singh is also on the verge of being disbanded. The unit had faced allegations of listening in on mobile conversations of politicians and bureaucrats at a time when the age controversy was at its peak earlier this year.

(With inputs from Shishir Gupta)


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