After a long episode of controversies, the Indian Army Chief Gen VK Singh is ready to pass his responsibilities to Lt Gen Bikram Singh. With Gen VK Singh’s exit, the Indian Army will definitely want to stay out of controversies for at least some time now. But, the question arises whether the new Army Chief is worthy of the position or not.
In 2007, Indian soldiers, as part of the UN peacekeeping force, were accused of smuggling gold and drugs, selling weapons to the enemy and sexual misconduct in Congo. The most important thing to consider is the fact that the man in charge was none other than Lt Gen Bikram Singh, set to be the next Army Chief.
Lt Gen Bikram Singh was a major general when he took charge of the Indian troops in Congo from Brigadier Satya Narayan in August 2007 as the divisional commander and the deputy force commander. Despite a UN investigation report indicted the Indian soldiers, Lt Gen Bikram Singh did not take any action.
The Indian government, rather than taking action, chose to gloss over the UN report while announcing his name as the next Army Chief. The government also ignored an alleged fake encounter case involving him in the J&K High Court.
A group of senior retired army officers alongside Civil Society members, on Tuesday, sought a review of the Supreme Court’s April order quashing a petition against Lt Gen Singh’s elevation to the Chief of Army Staff. They contended that he should not be made the Army Chief in view of his role in Congo and the pending case in the J&K High Court.
According to the investigation division of the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services(OIOS), substantial evidence was found to support at least six of the 44 charges against the Indian troops. A copy of the UN investigation report has been obtained by the daily newspaper DNA. The Defence Ministry spokesperson did not respond to a detailed questionnaire sent by DNA in relation to the report.
The report reveals that the Indian soldiers dealt in cannabis with rebel leaders they were supposed to monitor or even attack if required. They also sold UN ration meant for the poor to the rebels and exchanged ammunition for ivory, report claims.
According to the report, weapons found with rebels on Oct 1, 2007 were identical to those used by the Indian troops. The Indian troops also maintained sexual relations with the rebels that is strictly banned by the UN in a conflict zone.
The UN investigators also found that the Indian troops had leaked sensitive operational information to certain rebel groups. The report highlights that Indian troops had used Indian military aircraft to illegally export minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Indian government tried to hush-up the matter when the OIOS shared its strictly confidential details with the government-nominated officials. A sexual misconduct report stating that children with distinct Indian features were found near areas where Indian troops were posted, had pressurized the government again.
Selling weapons to the enemy, smuggling gold and drugs happened during the tenure of Brigadier Satya Narayan. But Lt Gen Bikram Singh was in charge when the OIOS filed its report, making his tenure more controversial since his men were accused of sexual misconduct.
-via Daily Bhaskar