Truth must triumph to keep civilization alive, and law therefore cannot be allowed to be selective in application.
What if General VK Singh had filled 10 May, 1952 instead of 10 May, 1950 in his UPSC application form for entry into the National Defence Academy?
This question begs a response by the Indian Army, the Ministry of Defence, the Government of the day and the Supreme Court.
The moral gumption to answer this question will distinguish India from a Banana Republic.
I also solicit the answer to this question from the readers, who I find more honourable than the present day institutions in India.
Let me declare with all the integrity at my command that I have so far not met General VK Singh, nor have I communicated directly with him in any manner.
Fundamentally, I research and write on strategic and geopolitical issues. I have written extensively on 32 Asian countries and books on Pakistan and Nepal respectively. I never had any inclination or interest on the age controversy of Gen VK Singh because I considered it very trivial.
Like many others, I, too, was a victim of the notion that the General had begun to salivate at the prospect of having an additional tenure of 10 months as Chief of Army Staff.
A few months before the Sukhna and Adarsh scandal had surfaced, a close friend of mine, a senior officer posted in the Military Secretary Branch, a favourite of the then Military Secretary, had confided in me that the said Military Secretary and the Army Chief were keen to have him posted to a “Godforsaken place” (as described by him) called Sukhna, as the Sub-Area Commander, and was expected to swing a contentious land issue in a particular direction.
This officer maintained that he was livid at the suggestion and remonstrated his unwillingness to the staff officer to the Military Secretary. He also mentioned to me about Military Secretary (MS) Branch fixing the date of birth of then Lt Gen VK Singh by overriding the Adjutant General (AG) Branch at the behest of the Military Secretary and the then COAS (Chief of the Army Staff).
For a moment I was a little bewildered as to why and how a COAS could impose the primacy of the MS Branch over the AG Branch on an issue, which is legally the exclusive preserve and responsibility of the latter. This officer was then posted to Mumbai, where only after a few months the Adarsh scam was busted by the media.
I may underscore here that this officer in question is one of the most upright human beings that one could come across and that is why he could and with great difficulty, steer clear of any wrong doing despite incessant prodding by the highest echelons in the Army.
I did not heed any analytical attention to these developments, which as mentioned earlier did not evoke even a passing interest. Nevertheless, now with the benefit of hindsight, based on my interaction with the said officer, I can now clearly establish the links between the Sukhna scam, Adarsh scam and the DOB issue of General VK Singh.
Many months later I bumped into certain people who had intricate and profound knowledge about the entire DOB controversy. They discussed with me at great length, and at the end, I could infer that the DOB controversy is the biggest fraud perpetrated by vested quarters and inimical interests to dislodge an honest man from the helm of the Army, who at best could be tolerated for two years.
Having the necessary ‘intelligence’ background, I could easily discern and unravel the vested interests, and inimical influences in fabrication of the perpetrated controversy.
I immediately posted an article on the Firstpost -- “Who’s trying to fix the Army Chief by raking up his age?” (dated 15 July 2011) -- which talks about the links between Tatra and the DOB issue.
As part of my job profile in the government, I had dealt with a number of countries and had some insights into the functioning of their governments, especially their respective military and defence establishments.
The greed of some important people in these establishments and their incestuous relationship with arms dealers and extraterritorial agencies constantly gave an impression that these countries were up for sale by their own officialdom and the governing class.
I could never imagine that my own country could be reduced to their level. It was then that I decided to unravel the fraud.
I thought that it was my national duty to resist vested interests and inimical forces in perpetrating their ‘succession plan’ in the army.
Also, before taking up the cause I thoroughly apprised myself about the character and integrity of General VK Singh. I elicited responses from his friends, subordinates and superiors. The inputs that I received could not be more ‘glowing’. It further convinced me of the cause and strengthened my resolve to pick up the cudgels.
I gathered all documents pertaining to the DOB issue of the General, and what emerged from the painstaking study and analysis was the brazen criminality of the fraud orchestrated by some senior officers of the Indian Army.
It was nauseating to glean the abysmal level to which ‘sense of justice’ and ‘fair play’ in the top hierarchy of the army has degenerated.
Subsequently this array of vested interests unleashed a disinformation campaign on these lines:
- The General wanting to ‘change’ his Date Of Birth in the last leg of his career
The truth, however, was that he never asked for a ‘change’, as there was never a doubt. Very late in his career, when he was found to be one of the contenders for the post of COAS, he was told by an in-fructuous branch (w.r.t. DOB) i.e. the MS Branch to accept a particular DOB.
- General having accepted his DOB as 10th May 1951
As per one former Chief Justice of India, an Army Chief asking his subordinate to accept a DOB is not only illegal but smacks of intrigue and conspiracy. One wonders why this former Army Chief has not been asked to explain as to why and under which authority or compulsion he asked for such an acceptance. He needs to answer as to why he abdicated the responsibility of acting as a non-partisan father figure in arriving at the truth by ordering an enquiry as suggested by the MoD?
- General was born in 1949
This story was fabricated and telecasted by a media house. A FIR has been registered against some people accused of this conspiracy. Interrogation of these conspirators could well unravel the entire plot and actors.
- General lost in the Court
The truth is that the court refrained from giving a verdict or a judgement. The Supreme Court ‘order’ is ambivalent and steers clear of pronouncement of the actual DOB.
- General wanted an additional ten months
The lawyer representing the General categorically stated in the Supreme Court that his client was fighting for ‘Integrity and Honour’, and if the hon’ble court were to maintain his DOB as contended by him, the General would resign within 48 hours.
- The Tatra case
Thank God that another Indian of integrity Mr AK Antony stood by General VK Singh to say in the Parliament about the offer of bribe to the latter. Very few politicians would do that. If he had not stood up, General VK Singh would have been blown to smithereens by the same vested interests, which includes some retired Generals as well.
- Coup and snooping
But for the denials by conscientious AK Antony, these two fabricated issues would have been flogged till the exit of General VK Singh.
- Letter Leak
Some vested interests, which included some politicians, bureaucrats and retired Generals started baying for General VK Singh’s blood. They had nothing to say when the source of the leak was established somewhere else.
The Critical Question
If a similar case w.r.t. DOB as in the case of General VK Singh comes for resolution to the incumbent Army Chief, how should he proceed? Should he go by the precedence of one Col Ramesh Chander Dixit, whose DOB was held as per the records in the AG’s Branch overriding the in-fructuous Army List (on orders of then COAS Shankar Roy Choudhary) or by the precedence of General VK Singh? It is a legal issue. There are many such cases I am aware of and their resolution henceforth must come under wide legal and public scrutiny.
The Moral Question
Does the incumbent Army Chief believe or is convinced, as the overwhelming majority in the country, that General VK Singh was born on 10th May 1951? If he does not it is another matter. If he does, his moral stance in favour of General VK Singh would have created such luminous history, which no amount of autobiographies and ‘theatrical’ book releases can supplant.
There are mischievous insinuations by vested quarters that the Army has got polarized due to the DOB issue of General VK Singh. Yes, indeed the Army has got polarized, but not on caste or communal lines. Those who were corrupt and crooks while serving in the Indian Army are against him. Courtesy: The television channels, some of these faces are now quite familiar. The readers will do well to delve into their reputation.
Each one of these during their careers had ‘greased palms’ inside ‘velvet gloves’. One of them as Adjutant ran away with his CO’s wife and got married. His house was recently raided because of the involvement of his son-in-law in multi-national bank fraud. The other one was thrown out from the Army for indiscreet womanizing habits. Yet another one spared no sharpener, no pencil, no rubber – his penchant for cleanliness made him snaffle everything he could lay his hands on.
The most vocal among the Air Force officers went to the court on matters related to his promotion. All these ‘gentlemen’ are at pains to invoke ‘honour and dignity’ of the army after having mauled it during their career in the armed forces. In league with this ‘honourable’ gang is also a diplomat, who actually has no locus standi on the DOB issue except for considerations that best impel him.
The crime trail perpetrated by the DOB fraud on General VK Singh is not going to be obliterated. It is going to haunt the Indian Army for all times to come. The fraud can be given a decent burial only if the perpetrators choose to accept their wrong doing and guilt. It is perfectly honourable for soldiers to do so. At the moment they are living in dishonour. Also by R S N Singh: