NEW DELHI: Accepting he was “hurt” by the turn of events, Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday said the media leak of the confidential letter written by Army Chief General VK Singh was an “anti-national act” and the government will not “spare” the culprit.
Also breaking his silence since his ‘bribe bombshell’ snowballed into a national controversy, General Singh termed the media leak as an act of “treason” and said it was an approach to tarnish his reputation.
Inaugurating the 7th international defence exhibition DefExpo here, Antony vehemently condemned the leak and announced that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has been asked to look into the matter and trace the leak that brought the Army Chief’s letter with damning contents about the country’s preparedness out in the open. He had written the letter to the Prime Minister on March 12.
“Whoever leaked the letter, it is an anti-national act. It helps only our enemies,” Antony said, adding: “Once their report is received we will not stop there. We can’t spare those behind this.”
Earlier in the day, an outraged General Singh said: “This is an outrage! Official communication with the PM, RM (Raksha Mantri) or anybody for that matter with the COAS (Chief of Army Staff) is privileged information. The leaking of the letter should be treated as high treason.”
Gen Singh’s reaction has come against the backdrop of frayed relationship between the office of the Chief of Army Staff and the Defence Ministry. On Wednesday, the Army Chief was accused of “breach of discipline” by some MPs and his dismissal was sought.
Gen Singh criticised the cynical approach taken by the political class after the contents of the letter were made public. “This cynical approach to tar my reputation has to stop. The source of the leak has to be found and dealt with ruthlessly,” he added.