NEW DELHI: The bitter battle among the top Army hierarchy of 2012 may have died down, but a decorated serving Brigadier still continues to struggle to save his honour.
Being a part of Operation Parakram in 2001 was a major achievement for Brigadier L I Singh. He was awarded the Yudh Seva Medal by former president the late APJ Abdul Kalam. He seems to be trapped between former Army chief General V K Singh and the present chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag.
It all started in 2012, when the then Army chief General V K Singh ordered a disciplinary and vigilance ban on General Suhag for a botched-up operation in Jorhat, Assam. At that time, General Suhag was the core commander of the Dimapur-based 3 Corps, while Brigadier Singh was the Deputy Director General (DDG) of the Discipline and Vigilance (DV) Directorate, which handed the ban to General Suhag.
Though the next Army chief General Bikram Singh revoked the ban within seven days, things took an ugly turn for Brigadier Singh. Soon, he was charged on the grounds of ‘taking away’ official property from Flag Staff House while serving as the Sikkim-based 164 Mountain Brigade Commander. He was accused of pilfering two heaters, three carpets, and two crystal flower vases. There were also allegations that he had borrowed money from his colleagues.
Based on ‘fictitious’ complaints, a Court of Inquiry (CoI) was initiated on June 9, 2012, and a one-member inquiry committee was formed. Incidentally, the CoI was held under the Eastern Army Command, which was then headed by General Suhag. But Brigadier Singh alleged that the CoI didn’t give him a chance to defend himself.
Now, challenging the CoI, Brigadier Singh has moved the Armed Forces Tribunal in Delhi.
In his review petition before the Tribunal, Brigadier Singh has claimed that he was targeted as he was involved in issuing a show-cause notice to General Suhag in May 2012.
In the petition, he mentioned that in his capacity as DDG of the DV Directorate, he had to comply with the instructions issued to him by his superiors as it was a high-profile and sensitive case.
In the Crosshairs
■ Brigadier L I Singh participated in Operation Bluestar, Operation Meghdoot (Siachen), Operation Trident, Operation hino, Operation Vijay, Operation Parakram and Operation Falcon.
■ He is accused of taking away two room heaters, two carpets of 3x2 feet (2003 vintage), one carpet of 5x4 metres and two crystal flower vases
Brigadier Singh was given strict instructions by his senior officers that no officer junior to the rank of Colonel would be involved in processing the case and all the instructions and communication was to be signed by him. Brigadier Singh, being the junior most in the chain of such decision-making process, had to issue all letters and seek follow-up actions.
He also alleged that soon after, General Singh’s superannuation, his ordeal began as many perceived the brigadier as General Singh’s ‘loyalist’.
“Immediately after the change of guard, as a retaliatory action, brigadier was made to face a CoI on most flimsy and wrongful allegations of taking away official property and borrowing money from his colleagues after two months of relinquishing his appointment of Sikkim based 164 Mountain Brigade Commander,” the petition said.
It added that initiation of the inquiry was based on fictitious verbal complaints.
“It has come to fore that there were no written records relating to the allegations against the brigadier before the CoI... and the CoI was based on one-man inquiry. The basis of the CoI has not been disclosed to the Brigadier till date,” the petition stated.