Allow me to tell you a story. A coup story, a flop story. On Jan 16, an entire unit of mechanised infantry based in Hisar with its fighting vehicles began moving towards Delhi. It parked near Najafgarh. Sizeable section of the Agra-based 50 Para Brigade also moved to near Palam but both were stopped and ordered to be moved back. What was the reason of this movement? The India Army said that these were exercises to check effectiveness in fog. Now Indian Express’ editor Shekar Gupta was asking some preposterous questions. Why wasn’t Ministry of Defence notified? Did the units have to come so far towards Delhi? Why was the IAF not informed? Why were the troops suddenly called back?
Maj. Gen S L Narasimhan, Additional Director General, Public Information, did not deny the movements, but said these were routine.
“These were routine training at the formation-level to check the effectiveness of mobilisation as per Standard Operating Procedure of local formations. Almost all units of the Army carry out a number of such training at different times of the year.”
The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta created a story out of this Army units movement and indirectly called it coup. Yes, military coup. So, Shekhar Gupta’s highly humorous front-cover page story got large number of retweets and likes on social networks. People made hell lot of fun of him. Both army and government have already trashed Indian Express and said that the report has created “unnecessary alarm” and lacked credence. General Singh has called this report, stupid.
Meanwhile, Hindustan Times.com conducted a poll asking people if they think that a coup is possible in India.
The Indian Army has traditionally been stayed out of politics. It has never conspired against democratically elected governments. However in recent months there were rift and tension between the army and civilian Government but still the military coup seems to be completely out of question.
In my opinion, the Indian Express story is part of the bigger campaign against General V. K .Singh. The arms lobby and corrupt bureaucrats want to malign the image of Gen. VK Singh. I read the article and couldn’t find any sensible reason to believe the mischievous message suggested by this story. I strongly believe that this man called Shekar Gupta has single handedly drowned the prestige of a prestigious newspaper.
You will be surprised to know that this story was sponsored by some of the corrupt elements of Government/Congress Party. According to The Sunday Guardian report, a senior Congress minister was the ‘mastermind’ behind the story aimed at aggravating the ‘friction’ between the political establishment and Army Chief VK Singh. The newspaper has claimed that the minister is connected with the defense procurement lobbies, who have been at loggerheads with the Army Chief. Let me quote The Sunday Guardian,
Sources involved in tracking sensitive developments claim that a senior minister of the UPA government was the mastermind of the April 4 front page item in a daily newspaper about a suspected coup attempt. The sources claim that the minister is connected – through his close relative – with the defense procurement lobbies gunning for Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh, and that the decision to “trick the newspaper into running a baseless report was to drain away support for General Singh within the political class”, who could be expected to unite against any effort at creating a Pakistan-style situation in India. However, the minister in question appears to have miscalculated the response of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defense Minister to the report.” The minister assumed that both would decline comment on the report, in view of their strained relations with the Army chief, but instead both came out foursquare against the newspaper. This surprised both the minister as well as journalists who relied on him for the initial information,” a source claimed.
By the way, the Indian Express has also issued a statement explaining why it stood by its story. It said and I quote
“a meticulous reconstruction and a very sober interpretation of the movement of two key Army units towards New Delhi on the night of January 16-17, the point of the report was to highlight the mismanagement of relations between the government and military. These facts may indeed be officially denied for now. But these will be debated for a long time forcing the UPA to introspect on its mismanagement of the delicate civil-military relationship bruised as it is now with charges of corruption, bribes and bribe offers and indiscipline. These will also have a bearing on the future course of higher defence organisation and control in India”
What’s your take on this coup (flop) story? Do post your comment.