Panag issue: COAS says transfer orders in best interests of Army

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New Delhi, Jan 14 (UNI) Declining to comment on the recent controversy over the shifting of Northern Command chief, the Army Chief today said his recommendations of the transfers were made in the ''best interests of the Army and the country.'' ''It is the job of the Chief of Army Staff to make recommendations (about such transfers) to the government. Till the government acts on the recommendation, it is a confidential matter, and I am not in a position to comment,'' Gen Deepak Kapoor said at his customary eve of Army Day press conference.

''I will also say that my recommendations were made in the organisational interest and in the best interests of the Army and the country,'' he added.

Asked whether he had been kept in confidence about the Northern Command chief Lt Gen H S Panag's meeting with Defence Minister A K Antony to protest his transfer, Gen Kapoor said he had been aware of it.

A controversy had ensued after Lt Gen Panag had protested his transfer to the less prestigious Central Command just a few months before his retirement and met the Defence Minister in this connection. Eastern Command chief Lt Gen K S Jamwal was also to be shifted.

Army sources had held that the transfers were necessiated by the need to provide their successors -- Lt Gen P C Bhardwaj and Lt Gen V K Singh -- greater experience in handling frontline commands. Both officers, presently Corp Commanders (XIV and II Corps respectively) are tipped to be the frontrunners for being the next Army Chief.

UNI VD AKJ RS1825

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