There is an undercurrent of distrust between the army and the defence ministry following an episode where the army is accused of using two surveillance vehicles to snoop near the offices and houses of senior ministry officials.
The vehicles with “off the air interceptors” were alleged to be parked in various localities in the Capital. Similar equipment is used by the National Technical Research Organisation to listen to conversations without bugging the premises.
Even as the army denied such claims on Sunday, an anonymous letter to defence secretary Shashikant Sharma detailed how advanced gear were being used to record conversations of defence officials.
It is alleged that the surveillance was conducted at the time when Army Chief General V.K Singh and the ministry were locked in a bitter court battle over Singh’s date of birth and that it was being carried out at the behest of a colonel rank officer. It also reveals how the media coverage of the controversy was being managed.
“The army has no such vehicles and equipment deployed in the Capital,” an army spokesperson said.
This surveillance came to light following a “bug” scare at Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s office, a fortnight ago. Sources said a bug alarm was raised by a military intelligence (MI) unit entrusted with the task of scanning the defence minister’s office daily. It was the MI officials who alerted Sharma about the bug alarm.
It has not been easy for Singh after he lost the court battle to settle his date of birth. He chose to complete his tenure that will end on May 31 even though he was under pressure to step down after the court upheld the government’s contention that his official date of birth will remain May 10, 1950, and not May 10, 1951, as claimed by him.
Since then several of his decisions have been challenged – the army’s modernisation programme has come to a grinding halt as all its major acquisition programmes have not moved forward.
Fearing division in the top echelon of the army, the ministry had announced Singh’s successor, lieutenant general Bikram Singh, three months in advance.
-via India Today.