New Delhi: After the raging controversy triggered by letter bombshell dropped by Army Chief VK Singh, in possible signs of thaw, Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday appeared to be ruling out any action against Army chief Gen VK Singh. READ MORE: Letter leak: Army Chief demands action "All the three service chiefs enjoy the confidence of the government. They are working...otherwise, how can they continue," he replied when asked whether Gen Singh still enjoyed the government's pleasure and confidence. (JPN/Agencies)
The Minister, however, vowed to take the stern action against those responsible for the leak of Singh’s letter to the Prime Minister.
He disclosed that the Intelligence Bureau has been asked to go into the leak of the letter in which the Army chief had said that the ‘country's security might be at stake’.
Defence Minister further stated that leaking of the letter addressed to the PM is condemnable and anti-national move. He assured to investigate the matter by saying, “A stern action will be taken against the man who has leaked the letter and helped the enemy.”
Maintaining that no patriotic Indian would indulge in sensitive communication because it would only help the enemies, Antony said the report will be available at the earliest.
At a press conference at the Defence Expo in New Delhi, he was also asked whether the government would continue to "grin and bear" Gen Singh till retirement in May or ask him to go on leave following a spate of controversies surrounding him.
The Minister's remarks came after Gen VK Singh, who is due to retire on May 31 said, "The leakage of the letter should be treated as high treason. Cynical approach to tarnish my reputation should stop. Sources of the leakage should be found and dealt with ruthlessly.”
"I assure you that we will not leave it there. We will make every possible attempt to find out the real culprits who have done this anti-national activity and they will be given the maximum punishment under the Indian Penal Code," he said.
Ever since he lost the battle over the age issue, Gen Singh has been at loggerheads with the government and has given media interviews claiming he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore to swing a substandard defence deal.
On top of acrimony over the issue, the leak of his secret letter to the Prime Minister enraged the Parliamentarians and political parties. Some of the political hues have also demanded his removal.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, in yet another embarrassment to the government, a Delhi newspaper carried a story that Gen Singh has referred to the CBI a corruption complaint of a Trinamool Congress MP against Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who commands the Dimpaur-based 3 Corps and is in line to be Army Chief after Singh's successor.
Initially Antony sought to parry questions on the controversies surrounding the Army chief urging journalists not to bring Army into all controversies and damage institutions.
Asked if he felt a sense of betrayal, Antony said he would not reveal his personal feelings and his judgements would be on the basis on facts.
The Defence Minister also answered questions on the state of Indian Army, modernisation and acquisition process, issues over which the Army chief had expressed concern to the Prime Minister.
"The government has a zero tolerance policy for corruption and has decided that in the procurement process, if any malpractices are found at any stage, it would not hesitate to cancel the contracts," he said.
According the Minister: “India is located in sensitive security surroundings and its neighbours are modernising their defence forces in a fast pace.”
"We continuously review our defence preparedness. Strengthening of defence is a continuous process and India needs substantial step up in allocation for modernisation of defence forces," he remarked.
New Delhi: After the raging controversy triggered by letter bombshell dropped by Army Chief VK Singh, in possible signs of thaw, Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday appeared to be ruling out any action against Army chief Gen VK Singh.
READ MORE: Letter leak: Army Chief demands action
"All the three service chiefs enjoy the confidence of the government. They are working...otherwise, how can they continue," he replied when asked whether Gen Singh still enjoyed the government's pleasure and confidence.