Major R Vikram of 1st Signals Regiment outside the official residence of Gen VK Singh in New Delhi on Saturday
Matters are getting murkier in the military. There was high drama at the official residence of former Army chief General (retired) V K Singh on Saturday afternoon after his family and personal staff detained a major, accusing him of surreptitiously trying to plant a “bug” in the house.
V.K. Singh on Saturday alleged that top hierarchy of the Indian Army was involved in the reported bugging incident that took place at his residence in Delhi Cantonment area.
A red-faced Army headquarters was quick to flatly deny any such snooping attempt, holding that the major and two jawans had simply gone to the house to change the military telephone exchange lines and withdraw the two operators manning them.
The incident gained political overtones as Gen Singh has continued his running battle with theUPA government when he was in service by joining Anna Hazare and being part of demonstrations organised by the Gandhian activist’s group.
The army put down the controversy to a miscommunication. “Resources deployed with Gen Singh are being pruned down after the government’s withdrawal of his Z-plus security cover. There was just some miscommunication and misunderstanding. We have apologized to Gen Singh’s family for that,” said a senior officer.
But it played out like “a spy versus spy” episode. Gen V K Singh, who now fears he is “being spied upon”, himself has been in the eye of a storm over allegations that a secretive military intelligence unit during his tenure as Army chief had illegally used off-the-air interceptors for clandestinely tapping phones of important people in New Delhi.
The drama at the 20 Mandir Marg bungalow, which is allocated to Army chiefs on retirement for six to 12 months , began when Major R Vikram of the 1 Army HQs Signals Unit — in uniform but later curiously seen without a name-plate — entered its premises at about 11.45 am.
“I was not in town, but received information regarding this development that an Army team, consisting of Signals personnel, entered my house in Delhi Cantonment. They said they had orders from the top hierarchy of the Army,” said Gen V K Singh, who is currently travelling in Gujarat.
His elder daughter Mrinalani apparently let Major Vikram inside the house. But when her mother Bharti Singh reached the house soon after, she strongly objected to the Signals’ team presence there without “any prior notice”. She then directed that the two gates of the house be locked to ensure nobody could go out.
Gen Singh’s lawyer Vishwajeet Singh, who also subsequently reached the house, said the major was “found to be fiddling” with the exchange equipment, removing “some card” from the machinery located in a room at the rear of the house.
“The major could not give any reasonable explanation for what he was doing…he had no document/letter authorising him to remove the exchange. It could be anything…he could have come to plant a bug. Recently, they withdrew Gen Singh’s security and now this…it could be something big,” he said.
The former Army chief’s family also summoned television channels to witness the unfolding drama. With images being beamed “live”, the Army HQs promptly swung into action. Delhi Area general-officer-commanding Lt-Gen Subroto Mitra entered the house just after 4 pm to then have a 90-minute “negotiation” with Bharti Singh before being allowed to escort the major out.
The Army admitted it had erred in not giving “prior notice” for changing the telephone exchange and withdrawing the two operators manning it. “The Signals team was mandated to do the job. But there was some misunderstanding and miscommunication. We regret that. The matter was amicably resolved by intervention of the Delhi Area GoC. The exchange will be removed later, this time after prior intimation,” said an officer.
-via The Times of India and TruthDrive